Long before the existence of men, a world was born. But this world was unlike any other – it was not created by chance, natural forces, or by eons of evolution. This world was birthed in celestial alchemy, divine engineering and godly sorcery.
It is the World Machine.
The World Machine is the godlike creator of everything that is and will be. It makes the sun rise, the tides flow, the seasons roll past and the constellations change. It is the central driving force for life itself. It collects and recycles the dead or lost matter of the universe, reverts it into pure elements and aethers and transmits that back to its respective spoke.
The World Machine is the embodiment of divine complexity itself, and at its core is the Major Plate. Moving about the Major Plate are the Inner Gears that drive along within the Great Ring. Each of the gears has a spire that sits at its center, acting as the axle around which everything rotates, some are comprised of solids, liquids, gases, or raw magical energies, and are held together by the centri-focal forces of the World Machine. Each of the gears has its own, unique landscapes and all have breathable air, gravity that pulls ground-ward, and they can be traversed from end to end on foot. However, that is where the similarities end.
The Elemental Spokes, Steam, Coal, Rust, and Oil, are dominated by matter and move about around the Major Plate and are thought to be reflective of the components of the body. They also create seasonal change: Steam brings Spring; Coal brings Summer; Rust brings Autumn; and Oil brings Winter. The seasons are most severe near the outer teeth of the Major Plate where the spokes pass by closest. Conversely, there is almost no seasonal change at the very center of the Major Plate because of its distance from the Elemental Spokes.
Underneath the Major Plate lies the Minor Plate and surrounding it are the three Aetheric Spokes: The Drive Spoke, the Rhythm Spoke and the Bearing Spoke. The Aetheric Spokes are those that are dominated by raw energy, though they are not immaterial or body-less, they simply possess less physical matter. The Aetheric Spokes rotate around the Minor Plate, bringing not seasons but phases of magical disturbance. These phases cause radical changes in the behavior of native creatures, resulting in long periods of migration and settling, war and peace, excitement and restlessness. These phases, similar to the seasons are most severe near the outer teeth of the hub and weakest near the center.
Beyond the hub and past the spokes of the world is a band that holds the inner gears of the World Machine together. This is known as the Periphery. It is a massive expanse of rugged, untamed land filled with extreme dangers, predatory creatures and harsh weather. Unlike the spokes, the Periphery teeth are inverted, pointing inward, not outward.
The Celestial Ribbon is a circular belt that spins upon the spires of the Periphery. It carries with it the sun and the moon at either end. The ribbon is not rigid, like other parts of the mechanism, but is thought to be flexible and light. It can sometimes be seen in the skies, snaking from horizon to horizon.
The existence of the Underworld is hypothetical, but has plenty of supporting evidence. Scholars believe that there are other inhabitable places that exist on the flip-side of the world gears. For example, there would be both the obverse and an inverse Major Plate, an inverse Coal Spoke, and so on. These places face directly towards the World Machine’s epicenter, and are known collectively as the Underworld. Brood creatures are thought to flourish here making it an extremely hostile environment.
The Astral Orb is the theoretical bubble of air that surrounds and protects the inner gears. The orb contains the necessary means to support life, at least where weather and conditions permit. Beyond it is nothing but void.
Beyond the World Machine itself are other, rogue gears, drifting through the cosmos. A few have been visited via magical means and some can even be seen passing through the heavens like an eclipse. They appear as massive, distant gears, sometimes whole, sometimes fragmented, that travel slowly across the sky. It is believed that these lost gears were once part of the World Machine but were jarred loose during the Cataclysm. Now they float about in the Astral Orb, or even out in the void, like distant relics.