"The rails fall away. The Wilderness is wide before us."
"'Where to?' asks the Navigator."
The High Wilderness is a vast and seemingly infinite celestial realm, which is basically outer space.
One Giant Step for MankindEdit
Also referred to as the heavens, the High Wilderness constitutes outer space, but rather than being mostly empty, it is filled with winds, mist, fog, and its denizens - sky-beasts like the Curators and Scrive-Spinsters. Avid Horizon serves as a gateway between the High Wilderness and the Unterzee.
There is some breathable air in the High Wilderness, but it is thin and cold; one cannot survive more than fifteen minutes without wearing a proper suit.
At the dawn of the 20th century in the Sunless Skies timeline, Empress Victoria led an exodus from London to the High Wilderness, where a revitalized British Empire established Albion. At the same time, the stars began to die off, providing opportunities for the Empire to expand and industrialize their vacated domains using a new class of vessels: spacefaring locomotives.
LocomotivesEditWe know what you're thinking, yes, London went to space by train! Much like their earth-bound counterparts, locomotives are steam-powered. They feature tough plating made out of steel and the new material Bronzewood which protects occupants from the dangers of the High Wilderness.
"The windows of your locomotive are stained glass, spilling panes of lush colour across you. In the High Wilderness, the light of the stars is enchanting. Looking too long can stir consuming obsessions, or wild fascinations. The coloured glass offers some small defence."
Looking at the stars for too long may cause star-madness, a form of psychosis that drives sky-farers murderously insane. Skyfaring locomotives are equipped with stained glass windows, which can help prevent this malady.
"Holes in the sky, prowled by harrying well-winds which drag reckless locomotives in. Each well is a prison for some enemy of the stars: anything too powerful, too personal, or too useful to kill outright."
Wells - the High Wilderness' version of black holes - are dotted throughout space, often drawing in unwary travelers. Cults often gather around these hungry vortices to perform rites. They're often used by the Judgements to imprison their enemies, though one Judgement, the Garden-King, conspicuously lacked one.
The Wilderness is split up into four regions, each with its own quirks and indulgences.
- Albion - The heart of the British Empire in the High Wilderness, home to New London and Empress Victoria's Throne of Hours.
- The Reach - The lush and verdant frontier beyond Albion, just waiting to be exploited and industrialized.
- Eleutheria - A dark and riotously pagan region.
- The Blue Kingdom - A stretch of space said to be populated by the dead.
All items (50)
- The Clockwork Sun
- The Echo Bazaar
- The Floating Parliament
- The Forge of Souls
- The House of Rods and Chains
- The Most Serene Mausoleum
- The Promise of Days
- The Rat Brigade
- The Royal Society
- The Well of the Wolf
- The Well of Wonders
- The White Well
- Traitor's Wood