The known world consists of dozens of continents floating in an airy void. These continents range from small islands a few square kilometers in size, to great land masses up to 1,000 square kilometers and more.
In these regions, there is a human society, strongly divided into castes. The proprietors, sorcerers, and merchants all live together in each continent, but rarely intermingle. Mining is a strictly a job for the merchants; the other classes wouldn't touch it. Most of the surface land on each continent belongs to the proprietor's class, so the merchants have limited options for mining.
But the underside of these continents is unclaimed. A detailed in popular imagination, the underside is simply and exposed rocky surface, with all sorts of minerals visible to those who care to look. How can the merchants mine and transport minerals available on the underside of the floating continents?
- The continents float by an unknown mechanism. Gravity otherwise works as expected; if you fall off you don't come back.
- The continents are roughly hemi-spherical. A continent 10 km wide would be 5 km deep.
- The continents all float at the same 'level.' Ships can float at the same level as well to trade between continents, but they can't go down to the underside of the continents.
- There exists magic, but it is the province of the sorcerer caste, and is not available to the merchants.
- There are various flying beasts, drakes in particular, that could be of use, but they belong to the proprietor's class, and are similarly not available.
- Most surface land belongs to the proprietors, so the goal is to start mining from the sides or bottom.
- There is no chance the sorcerers or proprietors would assist in a business venture with the merchants.