It is a world broken. A long time ago, the world was much like ours, with oceans, mountains, plains and deserts. People thrived, and nations grew and fell. But one fateful day, the world shattered. Nobody knows why or how, but the land broke apart, the oceans drained, the mountains crumbled, and the nations of the world disappeared overnight. The world was replaced with a roiling storm, eternal and violent.
However, some things remained. For reasons not yet known, islands large and small alike survived, by floating, of all things. And on these islands… plants, animals, and even people survived and grew. Eventually it was discovered that the floating islands each had within them, large deposits of a crystalline materials, glowing azure with an unknown energy. Over the centuries, that energy became known as Aether, and the crystals were found to be the only substance that could interact with the energy. At its base, when in large deposits, the Aether causes the crystals to float. When held by those rare people who were found to be gifted with a sense for the Aether, it can be used to make other effects. However, mining the crystal is dangerous, because even if it is slightly damaged, it will fracture and lose all properties, causing the island to swiftly fall into the storm.
Over time, those islands close to each other banded together into three nations. The Empire of Kitron is known for its military strength, guided by a strong ruler. The Laurier Republic was founded on the principles of equality and fairness to all. And the Federated Lands of Anbau grew strong in its wealth, as the islands comprising it held many valuable ores. Other smaller nations exist as well, though they rarely match the hundreds of islands that the larger nations comprise of.
A further change from the world before is that humankind is not the sole sapient species anymore. The Fera (a term used to describe any humanoid with animalistic qualities) were discovered on various islands as well, and the opportunistic explorers quickly found them to be… ample servants and slaves. Although the Laurier Republic has abolished the practice of slavery themselves, they remain as second class citizens at best. Many minor nations, however, eschew the practice altogether.
The assorted islands and nations rely on fleets of airships to travel and trade. These airships are powered primarily by steam, lifted by large bags of lighter-than-air gasses. Technology as a whole relies on steam power often, and boilers are quite compact these days.