Some Realms have discovered science: biology, physics, engineering, chemistry. Others have their magics: enchantment, arcana, worship. A few Realms have combined the two for magic guns, airships, and clockwork automatons. In the Realm of Dust physics is advanced and the power of the atom discovered, but magic still runs deep.
There you will find wild, untamable dust bowls surrounded by coastal hotspots of life. The races use trains and machinery run from radioactive materials, cool by water, and manipulated by magic. Cities sit in modernity while the wilds scrounge to survive.
In the 23rd Realm dragons chase trains loaded with wealth. Ranchers ride horses and zebras across dry scrub and grasslands, waiting for the rainy season. Gnomes build incredible pieces of machinery to develop the wastes and the skeletons of towns dot the horizon as danger is ever present here.
A World Of Risks
The people of Aridisea are born to one of two lifestyles. The first, and less common, is one of comfort and luxury. The sprawling, coastal cities are full of nobles and business families that do little but reap the benefits of their enterprises. The only risk they take involves money or choice of meal.
Most other who live upon the Aridisean continent face a great amount of struggle. The poor sectors in cities, desert settlements, and mining towns are full of people with very little means. Not everyone does well, many living in squalor, unable to break free to the slums of the city or over-hard labor work.
The most successful and happy of the poor are the ones who take the greatest risks. These can be found out in the wilds of the land. At the farthest edges of the desert and most isolated grasslands, folk can make their own way with their own choices. For some this still means working the mines, but the mayors of such far off settlements are one of their own and work for them. Without these people life in the city would not be possible and when the problem is so far away, letting them do their own thing is the safest and most stable business decision.
One of the only places not dominated by the cycle of dry season and rainy season are the Aridisean coasts. Here is workable farmland, rich forests, and an abundance of fish. People can make a comfortable living in farming towns and waterside villages. These further provide the support for sprawling modern cities.
In any given metropolis one can find golems, trolleys, and horseless carts. Finery sits in shop windows while folks spend their days without worry. The bustle of city life is ever present with magical lamps lighting the streets at night. Life never quite dies down in the city centers with parties and business alike being done at all hours of the day.
Hidden in every city, though, are the industrial shanty towns. Factory bosses force people to work too long and give them too little money. If they are lucky they are able to find housing controlled by slumlords. The poor live densely and sadly, with just enough hope hovering at the edges to keep most from ever leaving.
Most of Aridisea is desert of some kind. Grasslands dominate many spaces, but even these are dictated by the fickle whims of the rains. Here it is safest for there is food, but water must be hoarded and rationed for any settlement to be successful. Then, of course, are all the animals that live there.
Beyond the grasslands are vast, dry scrublands covered in boulder fields. Little lives here and resources are scarce, but there are also the possibilities of finding gold, platinum, or even radium. Cowboys, trail blazers, and others live out here risking everything to get very little, but they also have the most freedom.
Rumor has it that hidden in scrublands, or perhaps out in the deepest parts of the sand desert beyond, lie the elven oases. It is said that these are advanced realms where elves have cultivated lush forests and created magic advancements to put gnomish works to shame. Whether these are true, or to what degree, is unknown with elves saying very little about their homelands. However, if the tools they carry are any indication they have learned to advance greatly without stripping the land of what it has to give.
Nevertheless, there are elves and they have lived on Aridisea since before the other races moved inland looking for more sources of radium. Where small forests and natural springs can be found, so can small elf settlements. Some of these cooperate and work with ranchers and explorers. When the land is disrespected or mining risks destroying these important resources, things can get rough. Cowboys and mining groups will often find themselves caught between the ideals and simple living of elven clans and the possessive, greedy attitude of businessmen and gnomish scientists.
Magic Of The Atom
Magic in Aridisea is, generally, similar to that of the arcane traditions existing in other Realms. The major point of deviation are in the atomic warlocks. At some point radium was discovered by gnomes and dwarves. While the metal did not have much use in weapons, armor, or tool alchemists found they did interesting things. After years of experimentation, and swathes of radiation sickness, mages discovered how to manipulate and utilize the material.
Now the atomic warlocks and engineers of Aridisea manipulate the natural radiation the metal produces. Steam powered trains use it as a heat source. Golems hold radium cores to power their strength. Magic users siphon off and guard against poisoning or throw concentrated radiation to attack foes. The combination has led the races of the 23rd Realm to an era of successful, if volatile, technology.