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Flora and Fauna: Cloud Spiders

Flora and Fauna: Cloud Spiders published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - cloud spiders Millenia ago, the people of the Valley domesticated an animal known as a cloud spider*. Spider silk is exceptionally lightweight and has extremely high tensile strength, and the humans have been able to tease many uses out of an animal that yields a large quantity of silk.

As humans have done with dogs, cows, etc., the people of the Valley have domesticated the cloud spider and bred multiple variations to suit specific needs. Mostly this is focused on producing different kinds of silk for different purposes, including varieties of silk that can be compacted, hardened, and moulded into all sorts of shapes. The resulting material is extremely durable, lightweight, and flexible. So in place of wood or metal, both of which are relatively scarce, most of their daily-use objects are made of silk.

So yes, the entire structure that houses the country of Pocalo and all its provinces is ONE GIANT SPIDER WEB that has been built up over the course of many thousands of years using construction-grade spider silk. Hence, if you are in any province but the very topmost, when you look up, your view of the sky consists mostly of silk. Hence the name “Valley of the Silk Sky.”

*Don’t worry, arachnophobes, it’s not actually technically a spider! It’s a MONOTREME. There are actual bugs in the Valley, but most of the larger incarnations like the cloud spider are really egg-laying mammals.

Architecture: Wolfcat Platforms

Architecture: Wolfcat Platforms published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - wolfcat platformsA wolfcat platform is a platform you climb to get away from wolfcats. How about that.

While the pillar structure itself is naturally-occurring, it has been augmented to accommodate an about-to-be-eaten person. You will typically find wolfcat platforms clustered near waystations.

The platform itself is about 20 feet up and is accessible only by climbing some steep pillars with narrow footholds. The pillars angle out slightly, making it extremely difficult for a four-legged, dog-footed creature to amble up. The large, flat area allows you to lay low enough to get out of the line of sight of the wolfcat. Once you’re out of sight you wait it out until the wolfcat loses interest and moves on.

The nearest waystation’s attendant works to keep the area clear around the platform so you can actually get to it should you need to. (The attendant does this work during daylight hours when wolfcats are less active, and carries with xer some repellent just to be on the safe side.)

Architecture: Waystations

Architecture: Waystations published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - waystationsWaystations are a common feature of Muru Province, serving as safe ports of call throughout the wilderness. They’re generally roughly a day’s travel from one another or from a city or settlement, since it’s not really a good idea to sleep outside in Muru if you can help it.

The domicile, accessible via a long staircase, is located well up off the ground as a defensive measure, with a freight elevator leading to a storage area. The elevator has to be operated manually, and it usually rests in the “up” position to keep critters out.

A waystation is typically attended by an older runner who has retired from the more death-inducing parts of the biz. They keep the place clean and welcoming to weary travelers. Inside there are dormitory beds, cold running water (that huge bowl on top is a cistern), some not-very-fancy food, a medical kit, and a limited amount of replacement gear like clothing or knapsacks. Don’t get your hopes up re: hot showers.

The cistern collects what little rainwater falls here, and has a supplemental stream from a water source in the next province up. The water is run through a filtration system and mostly uses gravity to produce water pressure flow. If the cistern is full, excess water filters down to the next province below.

In exchange for use of the facility, it’s polite to leave something of value: a coin, a useful thing you found, or (if the attendant trusts you) a promise to bring something on your way back through.

Architecture: The Red Cities

Architecture: The Red Cities published on

Valley of the Silk Sky - red citiesThe Red Cities predate the giant web structure that houses the current provinces of Pocalo, but the people of the Red Cities were the ones who developed the technology to use cloud spider silk as a building material.

The earliest structures in the Red Cities were carved directly out of the mountainside rock. When the people needed to expand or repair the buildings, they initially used the cloud spider silk as a base for concrete or cement, mixing it with dust and gravel leftover from carving.

Later technological developments (domesticating and breeding the cloud spiders for different types and consistencies of silk) allowed them to build without the use of stone at all, thereby reducing the weight of the structures considerably.

The Valley is prone to earthquakes, so solid stone buildings are very susceptible to damage, whereas the flexibility of the web structures make them highly resistant to earthquakes.

The Red Cities were largely abandoned during the War of Light. Some have since been reclaimed (by bandit groups more often than not), while others were left to crumble. Although the Red Cities (both active and ruined) are technically governed by the laws of Pocalo, very few resources are actually spent enforcing those laws, giving the Red Cities a reputation as dangerous places to frequent.

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