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Valerias

by Cab

PLANET
Venus, Valerias

The second planet of Mystaraspace. A cloud strewn, rocky world casting a greenish reflection into space owing to the vast, thick, living clouds that surround it, this world is of similar size to Mystara (about 7,500 miles in diameter). Valerias orbits the Sun in 225 Mystaran days, however this short year is complicated by long retrograde planetary rotation; Valerias spins, on her own axis, the wrong way, with a rotational time of 243 Mystaran days. Thus a Valerian 'day' lasts for 117 days, with the Sun rising in the West and setting in the East.

Whereas a similar long-day phenomenon on Masauwu led to the development of an essentially nomadic populace, with two populations travelling across the surface of the world, the larger diameter of Valerias coupled with the planets thick, heat retaining clouds ultimately means that there is little difference between day and night; the temperature is always above 80F, and humidity is always close to saturation. The intensity of the Sun on this world, which is much closer to the Sun thatn Mystara, is somewhat masked by these clouds, which retain a hot, moist, sullen atmosphere for the whole day. Valerias knows little of seasonal or latitudinal variation.

Deep oceans separate large, essentially static landmasses on Valerias, and the populations of these landmasses is varied. There are three major continents on the planet; the Northern hemisphere is dominated by the vast continent of Ashanti, while two smaller landmasses occur in the Southern hemisphere, Vanu and Hathor. No volcanic activity has been recorded on Valerias, and sages have suggested that tectonic activity may no longer occur on this world.

Inhabitants and Ecology

Valerias is constantly shrouded with shifting, green clouds. The high intensity of sunlight absorbed by the water rich planet, encourages the growth of green algae at high altitude; the algae are bouyed up by the presence of hydrogen, which they produce using light energy, blocking out most of the high energy blue light, casting a dull red light on the surface below (which is accentuated by a natural red bioluminescence given off by many of the algae; sages postulate that this is a warning to dissuade passing space leviathans from feasting on the Valerian clouds). The long Valerian day causes significant differences in temperature in the upper atmosphere, meaning that storms rage constantly high above the surface of the planet, high winds scour the upper atmosphere without ever reaching the ground below, the winds carrying the algae on a long, constant journey from light side to dark side and back again.

It is an extremely bad idea to have any open source of fire in any air bubble in the upper atmosphere of Valerias. While there is essentially no free hydrogen in the atmosphere, and the algae themselves are not flammable in their natural habitat, the combination of hydrogen filled algae, air, and fire, is not a forgiving one. Many primitive hydrogen-algae consuming creatures reside in this upper atmospheric region.

While little sunlight energy falls onto the surface of Valerias, the red light given off by the algae and the red sunlight that penetrates the clouds us fully utilised by dense vegetation that shrouds each of the three major landmasses. Massive, slow growing, tropical trees drenched with blue-green leaves block even more light from reaching the ground; generations of creatures have inhabited some of the more dense jungles without ever seeing light. Despite being relatively close to the sun, much of Valerias is a dark, forboding place.

While Valerias is a wet planet, there is no true 'fresh' water here. What rains down from above is a rich, soupy mix of dead algae, and rivers and seas are as a consequence richly populated with creatures that filter this material out, as well as their predators. Nutrients are recycled into the upper atmosphere by one of the oddest (and most breathtaking) phenomena in the system; occasional temperature anomalies occur when nutrients in the upper atmosphere become scarce. The algae grow more slowly, absorbing less light and heat, thus the winds begin to slow. Consequently locations occur where algae have time to grow more densely. The darker coloured 'spots' absorb more sunlight energy, become warmer, and start to well upwards. This draws air in from the lower atmosphere, which rises and mixes with the explosive algae, with predictable results. The heat generated by this itself rises, drawing more air from below, and an explosive cascade effect sufficient to draw thousands of gallons of water or tons of earth into the upper atmosphere ensues. This startling (and not as rare as one may wish) phenomenon appears, from afar, as if a massive vortex headed by a series of bright orange explosions.

While Valerias is densely populated, with untold numbers of species making their homes there, the world is devoid of major civilisations. Indeed, permanent settlement has proved top be impossible on Valerias, the frequency of vortex storms making such impractical.

Valerias: The Retrograde World of Nightmares

It is tempting to assume that the fact that Valerias spins in the 'wrong' direction is in some way linked with the high frequency of nightmare dimension creatures living there. While it is true that in this case these two bizarre phenomena are related, it is certainly not true that retrograde worlds are nightmare linked (indeed, many of the outer moons of the system are also retrograde, yet none others are so regularly visited by nightmare creatures).

The Northern continent of Ashanti is known to be home to Diaboli, living a harsh existence as hunters in the dank, humid jungles, and it is known that many primitive reptilian species of nightmare origin also make their home there. Brain collectors, malfera, nekrozon and mujina are frequent predators.

The Southern continents of Vanu and Hathor seem not to be so heavily infested with nightmare creatures, but they are no less daunting. Creatures resembling the dinosaurs found in the Hollow World inhabit most inland regions, where few humanoid races are known. And yet there are some ruins on Hathor suggesting a different past; massive step-pyramids in the Azcan style rise above the jungle in a dozen or more locations, structures rugged enough to survive the vortex storms, yet all meaningful information on those who constructed these pyramids has long since been scoured away. No explorers have yet returned from these pyramids, but it is postulated that more information on their origin may be found deep beneath them.

The coastal regions are home to some species familiar to Mystarans; gator men, cay men, lizard men and tortles live nomadic existances, feeding on shellfish and rich coastal vegetation. While little is known of the denizens of the oceans of Valerias, many massive whale like creatures (feeding on massive shoals of shrimp and fish in the rich waters) have been sighted from above).

The Dark Ocean

Terrain and Interesting Sites

Survival Notes