The Rockery consists of a number of floating rocks chained to a saltwater ocean in which giant sealife lives. There are 7 major rocks: Anchor, Basin, Clamp, Hook, Link, Rivet, and Shackle, as well as the storm-clad floating rock of Bolt and a much larger number of “pebbles” that are no more than 200 strides wide in the longest direction. Between Anchor and Basin are a number of pebbles and 12 days flight time between them. These form a trade route between the two islands. Many of these are somewhat developed, with small hamlets offering accommodation and entertainments whereas others are simply small outstations supplying fresh water, or even simply barren rocks that a troubled skyship might land on and make repairs.
Scattered around the Rockery are a number of loosely coupled bundles of rocks, spinning around each other violently. It is possible for a steely captain to navigate around these but doing so requires strong nerves and concentration.
The great island of Anchor, where the game is set, is covered in full detail on The City page.
Image: Daisy Wrightson.
Basin is the major source of fresh water for the Rockery, and as such also provides most of its food staples. This overinflates its importance somewhat amongst the islands, certainly in comparison to its size or number of inhabitants. As populations grow across the islands, the importance of food and water grows and the fortune of Basin waxes.
The Basinites know this, of course. As a result their usual staunch peasant demeanour is now often set with flashes of haughtiness and self-importance when dealing with foreigners – and to a Basinite, anyone who can't trace their roots on Basin back several generations is a foreigner. Families tend to be large and friendly towards one another.
The Department of Recycling keeps an outpost here to oversee fertilisation and the Department of Sustenance likewise has an interest. Despite the apparent importance of such postings, it is fair to say that in Bureaucratic circles 'being Basined' is not regarded as a promotion.
The one thing every Anchor youngling knows about Clamp is that it has a lighthouse. The other thing they know is that it doesn't work any more.
Standing tall over the western edge of Clamp, high on a rock, sits the Beacon of Clamp. Whatever once kept the skies around Clamp fog-free has since faded, the technology to keep it alight has been lost over the years. The Church argues that failure to restore the Beacon is not due to a lack of technical prowess but a symbol of the moral degeneration of Clampet society, a society that values simple pleasures and hedonism above the teachings of the Anchorer. Building on these pronouncements, Clampet society has since undergone a revolution fuelled by the younger Clampets growing disaffection with their elders' behaviour. These youths are both strident and fervent in their faith and have the broad support of the Church. It used to be that Clamp was where the Church sent young Anchorites to test their mettle, a kind of missionary role among the moral savages. Now it is the place the Church stations many young Inquisitors and Sergeants, the better to root out the remaining decay among the older generation and bolster the forces of the younger.
It is believed that the elders of Clamp are secretly funded and supported by one of the Noble Houses, though no evidence for this has yet been found and those making such claims had best be able to back them up. Clearly they have backing from somewhere, but to date even the most ardent Inquisitors have failed to discover its source. If they do, the precarious balance of power that exists on Clamp may be tipped forever. Popular legend says that when this happens, the Anchorer will let the Beacon shine again as a sign of approval.
Second in size only to Anchor itself, Hook was also discovered as an island consisting almost entirely of an abandoned city. It was not found by a traditional expedition, however, nor by a troupe of Sky Dancers, but by the crew of the The Hasty Maiden, a Sky Ship fleeing from the justice of Anchor. Hook rapidly became a base for the malcontents and ne'er-do-wells of the Anchor underworld, a viable base from which to conduct Sky Piracy against the shipping lanes of The Rockery and undiscovered by the church or the bureaucracy for the best part of thirty years. Now, Hook is an island divided, with an uneasy truce between the western districts mostly inhabited by Anchor immigrants and the eastern districts, the domain of the crime-lords. The citizenry all depend to some extent on the bureaucracy for administration and logistics and submitting to the Audit but for Found Fashion and rarer commodities they turn to the burgeoning black markets of stolen and smuggled goods.
Rivet was the most recently discovered of the main islands. It is still largely uninhabited wilderness, ranging from coastal swamplands through great forests to the two mountain ranges that form its backbone. Occupation here is limited to the few beach settlements that have sprung up and house the pioneering adventurers between explorations to the interior, as well as the ever-present church and bureaucracy offices. The undiscovered resources here could be vast, but the local flora and fauna make it uninviting. House Dalvicci regularly sent out expeditions to explore (some might whisper 'exploit') the island, most of which did not return. Three years ago, on the day after Audit Day, House Dalvicci moved its main base of operations to the northernmost point of the island without comment. This has led many to speculate just what has been found on the island that could lead to such a groundbreaking move. Gossip on this subject led in the drawing rooms of noble houses and dockside taverns alike. While many wild theories abounded, House Dalvicci did not comment on the matter. At the Centennial Audit the Dalviccis of Livia's Reach requested licences for exploration and revealed to the Bureaucracy that a source of water had been discovered somewhere in the interior. It seems the family secret is now out of the bag.
Once the cradle of civilisation, Shackle is now seen by many in the capital to be a lost cause. Shackles know deep down inside that they will always play second fiddle to Anchor and this resentment, along with the certain knowledge that their culture is waning, gives many Shackles a massive chip on their shoulder and a constant striving to prove their worth.
Whilst Shackle is large in size, many of its villas and townhouses now stand empty, a testament to families who have 'made it' – moved to Anchor – or died trying. Shackles will always celebrate a neighbour 'on the up' to his face, but decry his actions behind his back. For Shackle to be reborn, they think, it needs people to put down more permanent roots. Sadly, this is proving to be a lost cause. Many of the younger generation of Shackles fancy their luck in Anchor and leave their ancestral home as soon as they are able, only to eke out a miserable existence in the Anchor underworld.
The duelling schools of Al La Macchia and Molinetto both have their headquarters on Shackle.
Famed for its artisans, whose work is prized at the very heights of Anchor society, Link is actually a cluster of smaller islands connected by a series of sky-bridges. Link is the sort of place people retire to or where artists go to 'discover themselves'. It is also becoming fashionable for certain Anchor nobles to take a holiday home there away from the bustle of city life.
It is widely believed, though rarely stated (in the Day City, at least) that the free-spirited ideals of Link provide a perfect breeding ground for a number of Heresies and minor cults and that its citizens have links to the University. The Church is beginning to make its presence known there more openly, to be met with hostility that would amount to treason back on Anchor. Linkers like to be left alone to pursue their lives in peace and dislike interference in their way of life wherever possible. This of course only deepens the resolve of the Church and the Bureaucracy, to the chagrin of the free-thinking Linker. If heard on Anchor, the word Linker itself is as likely to be an insult as to refer to a resident of the island. Unless, of course, it refers to a valuable objet d'art.
The duelling school of La Destrezza has its headquarters on Link.
Bolt is a moving island, beset constantly by vicious lightning storms. Arranging passage to Bolt requires the attention of a crew of experienced Sky Dancers - the only ones who possess the sufficient skill and knowledge to navigate to or from it. Luckily, few people want to go to this forsaken place. Unfortunately, many unworthies do end up there, as Bolt is a penal mining colony.
Those who have committed heinous crimes, but are not sentenced to death, usually end up on Bolt, ekeing out what remains of their life in the ore mines which provide much needed metals for Anchor. There are no reformist priests here pleading or persuading the inmates to change their evil ways, just day after day of back-breaking toil until death. No one has ever escaped from Bolt. The judicial officials and the Bureaucracy who negotiate with the Sky Dancers to arrange prisoner deliveries and pick-ups of processed ore are better funded and better organised than any crime factions. It does not mean that people do not try, just that as far as is known none have survived an escape attempt.
It does not help that the underside of the island is inhabited by colonies of large spider-like burrowing creatures that occasionally burrow through into the mines from underneath.
Found Fashion is forbidden on Bolt, but is still sported by some prisoners to demonstrate their high place in the brutal prison hierarchy.
For obvious reasons, 'citizens' of Bolt are not required to attend Audit Day, though there have been exceptions.
Between the greater islands of the Rockery lie many smaller islands, most of which are uninhabited and uninhabitable. These range from tiny clumps of bare rocks through precarious empty streets with a couple of ruined houses to a few arable areas with little biodiversity which do contain some small populations. A few of these smaller islands have obviously been blighted by locusts similar to those inhabiting Shackle. Jurisdiction of these islets falls to the closest of the islands above, with the exception of Bolt since it moves and functions as a prison. Functionally, though, they have no representation at all. Most of them are not even named, the Bureaucracy numbers any new islands found in discovery order (currently 177 have been categorised since The Judgement). Of particular importance is Island 82, which is the closest known island to the Shining Sea. Island 82 serves mainly as a base for fishing expeditions due to its ocean proximity but also houses a small Church, the closest religious edifice to the Gates of Paradise.