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Empyria is the only planet known to harbor life. 1000 years ago, a disaster suffused the world with a substance called mana, permanently altering the face of the planet and the lives of the humans who inhabit it. Modern humans are slowly reconstructing knowledge of its geography and history, but have not yet been able to explore it fully due to technological limits and the dangers posed by monsters.
Empyria orbits the star Pyre. Various geological evidence indicates it used to have a large moon that has since escaped orbit. In the present, without any satellites, Empyria experiences lower tides and darker nights than it did before.
Human civilization can be found on Ortesia, Milluria, and Aurnica, while the final known continent - the Endlands - is too harsh and monster-infested to be settled. The Central Sea lies between the three inhabited continents, while the sea near the Endlands is variously called the North Sea or End Sea.
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Located in the northeast, Ortesia is the largest of Empyria's continents. Most of it is covered in flat grassland or shrubland, suitable for agriculture and construction, but suffers from the worst of Empyria's weather anomalies. As a result, it is plagued by harsh winds, and much of its land is difficult to use.
Most of Ortesia, other than the Valefar Plains in the west, is under the control of the Orlis Empire.
The mountain range in the north is named Salamander's Teeth for its tall but strangely thin peaks.
Located in the southwest, Milluria is a continent covered in lush temperate forests, with dungeons hidden in the depths.
In theory, the entire continent is ruled by the Kingdom of Wywick. In actuality, the northern mountains are uninhabited and poorly mapped out, as they are infested by a huge number of monsters that migrated south from the Endlands.
The Teale River winds its way from northwest to southeast, across almost the entire continent. It is very spiritually and agriculturally important to the people of Milluria.
Aurnica is a small continent in the southeast. Although in present day it is scarce in useful resources and mostly composed of unusably marshy land, 1000 years ago Aurnica was the heart of the Telos civilization. There are more First Age ruins in Aurnica than Ortesia and Milluria combined. In recent years, there have been several wars over the ownership of these ruins and the valuable artifacts within.
Located in the northwest, the Endlands are an inhospitable wasteland with the densest mana background field on the entire planet. The land generates so many monsters that it would be completely impossible to settle it, and even sailing through the North Sea can be perilous as flying and swimming monsters from the Endlands often drift south and accost travelers. This is because the Endlands were the site of the Cataclysm, and the potent magical energy from the event lingers there to this day.
Scouts who have sailed near the Endlands report seeing First Age ruins on the horizon, confirming that the Telos civilization spanned all four known continents. It is far too dangerous to mount a long-term expedition to study these ruins, though, so they remain untouched.
Most of Empyria has not yet been explored by modern humans. The four known continents represent only a small percentage of the planet's surface. In common parlance, "Empyria" is often used to refer to these continents only, while the rest of the planet is called the Outer Seas.
Little is known about the Outer Seas, but the migrating birds and driftwood that occasionally appear on Empyria's shores make it clear that there is at least one other landmass out there. These hypothesized Outer Continents have captured human fascination and imagination for hundreds of years, and there is no shortage of speculative fiction about what strange creatures or people could inhabit them.
There are even some who believe that the Cataclysm did not reach to the other side of the planet, and if they could only reach the Outer Continents, they could live in peace, far away from monsters. This has inspired a number of expeditions into the Outer Seas, though so far all that's been discovered is more open ocean.
Since the known continents are located in the northern hemisphere of Empyria, average temperatures generally drop as one travels north. However, the mana that permeates the atmosphere affects the climate as much as the latitude. Pockets of fire or water mana can create regions with drastically different temperature and humidity than their surroundings. This causes a strange patchwork-like effect, where tundras and swamps can border each other with barely any transition area.
The difference in temperature at the edges of these regions often causes weather fronts to form. Most places in Empyria suffer from unpredictable and volatile weather; storms, fog, and gale-force winds can all roll in with little warning.
Some parts of Empyria have such a high concentration of mana that it spills over and takes tangible form. These places are inhospitable to human life, and higher-grade ones represent active threats to nearby settlements; therefore, they are commonly referred to as dungeons.
Lower-grade dungeons generate mana storms - a general term for a variety of supernatural weather-like phenomena caused by the condensation of mana. Most dungeons only produce minor effects like colourful fogs and auroras, but miniature cyclones, screaming clouds, and even literal rains of fire have been recorded.
Mana storms can drift out of the dungeons that create them, but they are usually too mild to pose much of a threat to a prepared settlement. Civilians who live near low-grade dungeons tend to regard them fondly as parts of their city's cultural identity, much to the unsettlement of visiting adventurers.
In higher-grade dungeons, mana condenses into solid, animate beings known as monsters. Monsters are actively hostile to humans, seeking to breach the walls of nearby cities and attack the people within.