~In the deepest jungles, crumbling ruins stand as remnants of a forgotten past.
~These ruins are the most dangerous places in Skull Island, but also the most tempting - the crumbling temples are adorned with solid gold!
~Too far from the center of the Spiral for the great powers to exert much control, most of Skull Island is ruled by the Pirates themselves - crews and gangs have taken over failed colonies or built new ramshackle cities of their own: Jonah Town, Flotsam, Scrimshaw, and Skull Island itself, Captain Avery's Pirate capital.
~The southern Skyways of Skull Island are dominated by Pirates, while the north features two great colonies: the thriving Monquistan city Puerto Mico, and the Marleybonian colony of Port Regal. Monquista owes its entire rise to the gold the Monkeys found in the ancient ruins, while the Dogs of Marleybone work tirelessly to corner the spice market. Their power broken long ago, the Cutthroats still prowl the shipping lanes, making as much trouble as they can, while Wharf Rats smuggle all manner of cargoes in and out of Skull Island, building a huge black market.
~Long an inconsequential, isolated backwater in the outer rim of the Spiral, Monquista recently became one of the preeminent powers in the Spiral, almost overnight, thanks to the massive infusion of gold and wealth its inhabitants pried from the ancient ruins in their colony of Skull Island.
~Monquista is home to a race of diminutive Monkeys, the Monquistans, who make up for their slight statures with massive egos and harsh tempers.
~Monquistans have a highly structured (some would even say oppressive) society, where manners, personal dignity, and reputation are valued above all else. Disagreements over the most trivial matters turn into the stuff of generational feuds, and to many outsiders Monquistan politics and priorities can seem downright silly. The Monquistans believe they have brought themselves up out of barbarism through sheer force of will, and that they are the only truly civilized beings in the Spiral – all others are barbarians and pretenders. As a result, the Monkeys are well-mannered to a fault – to imply that a Monquistan is acting wild, brutish, or like a wild monkey is the greatest insult one can levy.
~Well-mannered need not mean friendly: political intrigue between the Monarchy, the Holy Monquisition, and the various Noble Houses is vicious and deadly. Monquistan politics are notoriously fluid: a noble house can find that blood enemies from a month ago are now relatives by marriage, and therefore dear friends. Monquistan nobles and officials often seem, to outsiders, to have no memory: they arbitrarily turn on people they recently supported and praised, or greet blood enemies with effusive praise, never acknowledging any dispute.~Monquista is ruled over by a King and Queen (the power behind the throne changes day to day!), advised by the Holy Monquisition and presided over by the Noble Houses. Each faction seeks to advance its fortunes however it can. Every Monquistan is the member of a Noble House, and thanks to the endless web of marriage alliances and the shifting political landscape, all of them have some claim (however remote) to royal line. Even lowly servants are some kind of distant third cousin to a famous past king, causing everyone in the cluster to have a constant air of superiority.
~Arguably the greatest imperial power of the Spiral, Valencia is home to the Unicorns, a vibrant people with an ancient, rich culture.
~Many of the great discoveries that led to sky-ships and the age of sail were made here - Valencia stands to this day as a center of arts and learning, where scholars and masters from all over the Spiral gather to push the boundaries of knowledge and talent.
~Marco Pollo, Cowpernicus, Da Finchi - the greatest minds and artists the Spiral has ever known did their greatest work in Valencia, and the entire Spiral is richer for their labors.
~The Skyways of Valencia have more Stormgates than any other realm in the Spiral - Valencians say their realm is the heart of the Spiral, and most sky charts are drawn with Valencia at the center. Valencia has used its location to flower into a thriving hub of trade and shipping between the realms.
~Things are changing in Valencia. The recent invention of Clockworks was a wonder, whose full impact has yet to be seen. Kane and his legions revolutionized warfare in Valencia - at the height of the Polarian Wars, King Casimir turned all control of Valencians by land or sea over to Kane. The Armada won the war, saved the Spiral, and has worked tirelessly ever since. With Clockwork ships protecting merchant ships and stamping out smuggling and piracy, Valencia is growing even richer.
~If there is a bright center to the Spiral, Cool Ranch is the realm it is farthest from.
~A stark, beautiful realm of rocky islands and seemingly endless skies, Cool Ranch is a land of desert, cactus, and tumbleweeds, a wild realm where civilization can be as fragile as a cool breeze.
~The proud Bison tribes and the nefarious Toads are the original natives of Cool Ranch - all of the frontier's other inhabitants came here from someplace else.
~The proud Stallions, distant cousins to the Unicorns of Valencia, came to Cool Ranch long ago and built missions and villages throughout the skyways, but their heyday is long over, and now only Santo Pollo remains.
~The most recent arrivals are the Chickens, Cranes, and other Fowl who came to Cool Ranch from parts unknown - they rarely talk about their homeland, describing it only as "Back East."
~A steady stream of bold and enterprising Birds has come to Cool Ranch, hoping to make a new beginning or escape a troubled past.
~Cool Ranch is a land of legendary figures: heroes like the Chicken Rangers, Wild Bill Peacock, and the masked hero El Toro, fighting lawlessness and standing up for the humble settlers; but the wild frontier has also fostered terrible outlaws like Libirdy Valence, El Guapo, and the dreaded Duck With No Name.
~Smugglers and pirates have always been drawn to Cool Ranch - far from everyplace, the dusty realm is an ideal place to hide.
~This ancient, mysterious realm is both one of the most storied kingdoms in the Spiral; and one of the most beautiful- a land of scenic mountains, bamboo forests, and serene skies.
~The citizens of MooShu are famed as skilled artisans, honorable warriors, and great philosophers, and even though MooShu has no colonies or empire, she is still rightly considered one of the Great Powers of the Spiral.
~MooShu is ruled by the Emperor, who is considered the Child of the Spirit of the Sun, and is served by legions of loyal Samoorai.
~For generations, MooShu has enjoyed a special relationship with the realm of Marleybone: in exchange for generous tribute payments, the Emperor grants the Dogs of Marleybone exclusive control of the tea trade and unfettered access to all of MooShu's Stormgates.
~The realm of MooShu is spiritual to its very core: the ancient philosophy of Caoism has long guided mystics and sages toward hidden truths that cannot be named, and the common folk draw comfort from the teachings of the Moodha.
~But recently this has changed. The Emperor lies stricken, cursed by dark magic, and the realm reflects the suffering of its sovereign.