Archives of Nethys

Pathfinder RPG (1st Edition) Starfinder RPG Pathfinder RPG (2nd Edition)

Deities | Systems & Settlements


Oceanic world of sunken cities and clockwork spacedocks

Source Starfinder #50: Clockwork Demons pg. 62
Location Near Space
Diameter ×3; Mass ×9; Gravity Normal
Atmosphere Normal
Day 32 hours; Year 766 days

The oceanic world of Elpherys is a curiosity. The only hospitable world in its system, Elpherys has a wide orbit around its sun and a temperate surface of which 97% is water. What records remain show the planet’s various sapient inhabitants lived in a relatively peaceful state for millennia before the Gap. However, that all changed when a small black hole passed too close to the system. The gravitational pull threatened to tear Elpherys from its orbital path, forcing the now-lost people to take drastic measures to safeguard their planet.
One of Elpherys’s aquatic civilizations erected a series of enormous pylons, the remnants of which cover the planet’s surface to this day. These pylons pierce the planet’s mantle, rendering its tectonic plates immobile in the wake of the tidal calamities caused by the black hole’s passing, and stretch into the sky to serve as space elevators, granting the ocean-dwelling inhabitants access to four high-altitude spacedocks just at the edge of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, engineers determined that the only technology capable of creating and maintaining these pylons would infuse the planet with a dense electromagnetic radiation just as harmful as the black hole’s gravity.
These scientists turned to their neighbors, a civilization of sages who built magical clockwork cities that sat upon the waves of Elpherys’s oceans. The clockwork scholars agreed to help construct the pylons with one major caveat: the undersea societies must renounce all use of digital technology and could only use the space elevators by the grace of their benefactors. The people of Elpherys had to accept these measures or let themselves be destroyed.
Over the following decades, a caste system evolved on Elpherys with those who wielded clockwork magic oppressing those who lived deep within the sea, forcing them to maintain the pylons. Those who discovered ways to study the arcane were quickly indoctrinated into the customs of the floating cities and began to think themselves better than their fellows. Warfare inevitably broke out between the aristocratic gentry and the workers, some of whom discovered caches of technology hidden by previous generations. Eventually, the ocean-dwelling rebels found a way to destroy the clockwork machinery keeping the floating cities above the waves. As their homes sank, the clockwork mages unleashed a ritual that poisoned the waters of the planet. In the end, all of Elpherys’s inhabitants perished.
Elpherys was a dead world when Pact Worlds explorers discovered it about a year ago. They’ve since established base camps within the spacedocks atop the planet’s pylons. Visiting scientists study the chemical composition of the planet’s toxic waters, while historians pry into the mysteries of the sunken cities. Mercenaries often accompany these academics, acting as bodyguards against ancient clockwork security systems and decrepit robotic golems. While there’s hope that, one day, terraforming will render the planet able to support life once more, the names of its former occupants are thought to be lost to the mists of time.
An Aspis Consortium operation began a large-scale investigation into the sunken settlements on Elpherys, using specialized diving and filtering equipment to trawl the planet’s depths in an effort to find lost technology or pieces of artwork that could be returned to the Pact Worlds for sale. So far, over three dozen skilled Aspis agents have failed to return to their base camp, and the local commander is concerned about what has happened—along with their potential revenues if the expedition gets prematurely canceled. The Consortium leader on Elpherys has secretly reached out to the Starfinder Society, hoping to employ the services of a team of Starfinders to continue the expedition.
What none of the recent expeditions know is that one of the clockwork cities survived its fall into the oceans. The people within have converted themselves into clockwork constructs of differing forms to survive in the poisoned water, but the recent disturbance to their planet has caused them to begin expeditions back to the surface. It’s only a matter of time before the planet’s original inhabitants make a move to reclaim their world.