Cardinal. Sages long ago discerned specific magics which could lock particular hexads in place. Particularly, any three hexads could be linked together at a node by the construction and enchantment of a monument. Many such monuments litter the landscape of The Vault, often taking the form of menhirs or dolmens, or in more civilized regions appearing as temples or towers. These are collectively called “Cardinals” and are almost universally circular in shape. The magic in them has to be periodically renewed through rituals for them to remain fully effective, though even dormant cardinals tend to ameliorate the effects of soft geography a little. It is also known that roads between two hexads tend to bind them together, particularly when they are frequently traveled.
Hexad. Though this next fact is not known to everyone, it is quite apparent to anyone who has traveled extensively or studied the geography of The Vault that the world is an artificial construction. The feature that makes this artificial construction most apparent is the fact that the world is composed of regular hexagonally shaped areas generally referred to, among the savvy, as “Hexads.” Each of these hexads is 25 miles wide. That makes the distance between any two parallel sides of a hexad 25 miles. Each of the six individual sides of a hexad is 14 and a half miles long (actually 14.4337 miles) and the distance between two opposite points of the hexad, the depth of a hexad, is 29 miles (28.8675 miles exactly).
This curious composition is not obvious on the ground as each hexad abuts relatively seamlessly with the next and the terrains blend together at the borders. Each hexad tends to have a dominant physical characteristic that is featured throughout its area. For instance, a single hexad will tend to have mountains throughout its area, while another will be dominated by plains. At the borders of the hexads contrasting features tend to blend together, but there are some examples of sharp differentiation which make the artificial nature of the world more obvious. In many ways the hexads operate like small, independent tectonic plates, and thus the borders between hexads are sometimes marked by more extreme geographical features. There are quite commonly hills, rivers, or fissures between hexads of differing characteristics. Particularly, most rivers in The Vault flow along the borders between hexads.
Each hexad also tends to support a specific microclimate as well. The vegetation and the creatures within a single hexad will be fairly consistent as will the mineral content of the soil and even the general climate. This makes the borders between hexads, particularly ones with substantially different microclimates, locations of atmospheric disturbance. There are often mists, updrafts and even more violent weather phenomenon at the borders of unlike hexads. Still, most hexads abut other hexads with similar geography and climate, so the fractured nature of the world is not as obvious as it might be if there were frequent and radical shifts from hexad to hexad.
Node. The border regions between hexads have some of the most geographically interesting physical features, particularly where unlike hexads meet. The points where three hexads meet, known as “Nodes,” are particularly remarkable. Nodes tend to have more fantastic and remarkable geographic features than their surroundings and may be marked by hills, springs, river confluences or other major features. Nodes are often the site of monuments or structures, particularly of temples menhirs or dolmens. These structures are often built to take advantage of the raw magical forces that flow along the borders between hexads and concentrate at the nodes (much in the way that ley lines and nexuses work in other worlds). These node structures have another purpose as well. In a very real way they hold and bind the hexads together.
Soft Geography. Not only is The Vault an artificial construct, it also lacks a conventionally stable geography. Though the process by which this occurs is not at all fully understood, hexads within The Vault sometimes change their relative geographic location. Hexads can shift or move, making the large scale terrain of The Vault functionally unmappable and unstable. This trait has come to be known among sages as “Soft Geography,” and has had a number of curious effects on the cultures that have sprung up on The Vault. However, this odd characteristic is not as disturbing as one might expect since hexads seldom move too far in terms of their relative position, most often only swapping places with their nearest and most similar neighboring hexads. Also, these shifts do not happen frequently, though they are more common during the major cosmological events of The Vault (see the calendar section for details). Some fairly large areas of The Vault are also entirely stable and some large geographic features, such as rivers or mountain ranges also tend to lock down the geography of specific regions. Indeed, soft geography is most apparent in uninhabited or sparsely populated regions. In the deep wilderness, far from civilization, the geography can become completely unstable, making travel through such soft geography quite uncertain and even dangerous.
The Vault. The world of The Vault is big. Really, really big. It is not a singular spherical planet. Instead, it resembles (at least superficially) a Dyson sphere: A sun sits in the middle of a giant sphere and people live on the inside of that sphere. The sphere is called The Vault because the whole world is encased in a visible dome that forms a sort of “vault” of the sky overhead. That is, the Vault of Heaven we speak of in the real world is both earth and sky in this one. (Don’t get all hung up on the physics; it’s a fantasy world after all. Not that we don’t have an internal–if somewhat fantastic–explanation for how and why it works. We do.) The visible surface area is about 550 million times the surface area of the Earth. However, the Vault is, in actuality, much larger than even that sum, once one takes into account parallel space, planes, and the like.
Wayfinder. “Wayfinders” have a natural ability to navigate the soft geography of the hexads. They seem to be able to inherently sense the presence of the borders between hexads and are particularly sensitive to nodes. They are also able to navigate, more or less reliably, between unfixed hexads, even traveling through large regions of soft geography. This makes them very valuable as scouts and explorers. (In most versions of D&D, a Wayfinder is anyone with the ability to case commune, commune with nature, or contact other plane — all spells that permit a god’s-eye view of the land. Rangers in their home territory and other characters with a geographic bent may also have a knack for noticing whether a hexad has shifted location and deducing a likely direction and distance to where it has shifted.)