5. Life in the Core Worlds
Magic and Technology[
Magic is everywhere in the Aether. However, it is free and untamed magic for the greatest part. It lies in the bubbling Protoplasm and the landscapes of the Core Worlds, not in the hands of mortals. Compared to the Prime of old, there are few things in the Aether that might truly be deemed nonmagical. Plants drink magic from the soul of the demiplanes, animals breathe it in air that has been recently created from primal chaos. Everything has power, here, from the storms of the Spire to the light of Ember.
Sorcerous talent has become rare in the Aether: many sorcerers sacrificed their lives to form the demiplanes that saved the mortal races, and a thousand years of inbreeding amongst small populations did little to save the remaining bloodlines.
Wizardry did not fare much better, though for different reasons. When the Starplane was destroyed, the ways of magic changed. Wizards found that some spells no longer worked, and others had unexpected results. In the years of hardship that followed the Cataclysm, few had the time to study these new laws, as survival was a more pressing matter, and for centuries after that, organized study of the magical arts was the domain of a the few who found the time and resources to do so.
These days, wizards often spend decades pouring over ancient scrolls and tablets, telling of magical feats that could be wrought by the ancients of the Material, when magic was tame and followed simpler rules. Any wizard who manages to find a new spell, by translating an old one into a ritual that works in the Aether, or even by researching something totally new, will be celebrated highly among his peers for thus increasing the total sum of magical knowledge.
As matters stand in the Core Worlds, magic is still a thing for the rich. Most of the population of any world will have seen wizards, and spells being cast, but they won't have directly profited from them. Magic is bought and employed by merchant and noble houses and, of course, by the Guild, which has a neverending appetite for the gifted.
However, whenever a magical formula is found that is stable and secure, it is immediately examined for its economic viability and, whenever possible, turned into technology that no longer requires the presence of a mage to operate. It becomes technology. Of course, the resulting magical items are still far too expensive for even most nobles to afford, but the guild, at least, generously outfits its marines and ships with magical machinery, from the well-known Navigation stones to shipboard weaponry and alchemical goods.
The perhaps most widely distributed of the magical sciences is alchemy. While alchemists continue to search for the universal solvent, the true transforming agent, the pure essence of matter, ways to transform the humanoid soul or the secrets of divinity and creation, they produce truly astounding amounts of useful processes that are used in the production of machinery and in potions causing untold useful effects. Alchemy is, in most cases, the only non-environmental magic the average Core World Peasant has access to, as potions are comparably affordable and ubiquitous.
Currency in the Known Worlds
The most common coin in the Core, but also an increasingly in the outer world, is the official Guild coinage known as the Sirnio, a small coin a bit less than half an inch in diameter. The currency is known as extraordinarily stable, as, so far, any attempt to counterfeit it was met with the deployment of guild marines and, in some cases, experimental weapon artifice.
There are other currencies, of course: the Empire of Ember pays in sparks, small amber pearls infused with the golden light, which are worth more the brighter they grow. Perhaps the second most stable currency is the Ashai standard, a small cube of gold made to weigh one Ashai standard weight, and have sides the lenght of one Ashai standard length. In the end, there are about as many currencies as there are worlds, though most border currenencies are traded at their metal value in the core, at best.