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The Aether Trees and the Aetherworld

The aetherworld is the people’s attempt to recreate an afterlife and a home plane for every entity unhoused by the cataclysm. By entering from various portals spread throughout the Flotilla a person can witness the vast emptiness of this void, with only faint gridlike lines to indicate any kind of floor. However areas exist in this empty space growing like house plants in an open room. These areas are attuned to certain types of creature and mold themselves to suit them; a giant imaginary pyre for example might house elemental beings of fire who’ve been coerced into a vessel and brought to the aetherworld.

When many beings converge in the aetherworld, an apocryphal event may occur. A tree, like a parody of the trees of skill grown by the gods sprouts amid these sites that dot the empty landscape. These are known as aether trees.

In Quint, an aether tree is similar to a skill tree in that it contains powers and abilities as well as statistic increases that can be purchased with character points. However one key difference is that player characters do not necessarily start the game knowing about the aether trees. Unless a player chooses to know about a single aether tree as their starting boon, players don’t have initial access to these powers and abilities while the storyteller does. The storyteller uses aether trees to create encounters with fantastic creatures confused by having recently been manifested from the miasma. Players can of course learn about the aether trees; by entering the aetherworld and questing towards a convention of similar beings you might be able to negotiate with them to learn of their tree.

Previously I mentioned a pyre where elemental beings of fire live. By questing towards it and negotiating with these beings a player could gain access to some or all of the relevant tree. In this case, the tree of elements which encompasses fire, earth, air and water. It would be up to the storyteller to determine what these beings might demand in return for access to their knowledge, but rescuing creatures of a similar kind to them from the miasma is a common demand. This is, in game terms, a gameplay loop that is built into Quint which helps accentuate the themes of learning, practice and growth that are being written into the game.

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