Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds / Aquatic

Aquatic Worlds

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 52
Aquatic worlds vary far beyond flat expanses of ocean. In surface or inland aquatic environments, webs of rivers might sprawl over fertile floodplains, or roaring waterfall valleys might lurk behind heavy curtains of mist. The landscape could feature geysers that launch into the air or rivers that drift through the sky. An ocean’s shifting tides might hide trenches with cliffs that plunge into pits of darkness and towering mountain ranges that rise from the seabed to create island chains above the surface. Currents replace terrestrial rivers, and aquatic forests of kelp reach toward the light of the surface. The sun warms the shallows, and aquatic life displays vibrant colors, illuminated by rays of light that pierce the sea. As one descends toward the core of an aquatic planet, the darkness is alleviated only by the lustrous glow of undersea cities or the gleam of magical or bioluminescent species. Looking up from the watery depths, the shadowy underbellies of aquatic life drift by, the danger they present unknown. Deeper still, temperatures drop and water density rises. The crushing pressure might make mobility challenging, and temperatures can verge on extreme, unlivable lows; signs of life are few and far between. The species that thrive in these extreme ecosystems have terrifying advantages over unwary travelers, such as those lying in wait with dancing lights that lure prey into their gaping maws.
Aquatic civilizations, like the ebb and flow of the tide, constantly change. Some develop in caves, are woven into kelp forests, or spring up from the calcified remains of once-fearsome leviathans. Undersea bubble cities designed with the comfort and survivability of non-aquatic species in mind require astronomical resources. Some settlements are constructed out of necessity as avian and terrestrial species flee catastrophic weather on their planet’s surface, while others start out as small research outposts and evolve into cities of science. On the surface, cities might float or be constructed on stilts anchored in lake beds, with floating bridges connecting different districts and buildings. Deep-sea cities might also depend on current-sourced hydroelectric power or volcanic heat, while those near the surface might harness energy from waves or waterfalls to power daily life.