The Well of Knowledge [Lore]   Posted by GM.Group: 0
 GM, 2 posts
Wed 9 Sep 2015
at 02:16
The Well of Knowledge [Lore]
Take drink from Mimir's Well and let the world be revealed to you.

The world of Midgard may seem familiar and it does hold within many of the trusted archetypes of fantasy game settings. Powerful wizards and mighty warriors vying amidst medievalesque kingdoms while thieves ply their trades of cunning in the narrow streets of great cities and holy priests champion their varied faith across the lands. Look a bit further and discover while the setting does not upend the traditions of classic heroic fantasy it puts a twist to things to liven up good old ideas.

What are some of these aspects you ask? Our esteemed Kobold-in-Chief has deemed these Seven Secrets of Midgard of worthy of note to any traveler wise in uncommon ventures:

Seven Secrets of Midgard

The World is Flat
Beyond the great oceans, rumors speak of the coils of the Great Serpent rising up around the disc edge of the world, colossal scales gleaming in the pale starlight. What lies beyond the ocean of void is anyone's guess. As for the lands on the reverse of the world, the elves of old may know or they may not, but they've allowed none to be privy to that secret. Perhaps adventurers brave and foolhardy enough will live those very tales.

Shadow Roads and Ley Lines
Ley Lines crisscross the landscape. The Magocracy learned their secret from the elves and seized these lines of magical power to satisfy their whims. The haughty wizards bent them almost to the breaking point and nearly to utmost disaster. The most benign of their follies remain as arcane scars across the Wasted West. As for the malignant ones, the less said about them the better. The elven empire once used the ley lines to command a network of shadow roads connecting their far-reaching realms together. With the disruption of the ley lines the elves have retreated and the shadow roads fell to disrepair. Access to such ways are possible to the bold, but like any road left to the elements, what dangers lurk along these dark roads?

Dragons Reign
Dragons are never content and have never been satisfied to sit at the bottom of their lairs waiting for would-be slayers. Three centuries ago, the most powerful wyrms in the Dragoncoil Mountains forged an alliance to found the Mharoti empire. Their unified sultanate thirsts for conquest, an appetite exceeded only by its hunger for the spoils of war. Solely through blood and grave sacrifices have their successes been stymied. The power of the dragons is enforced by their emissaries, the dragonkin, and that influence transfers to an extent to their kobold cousins. While a kobold may be kicked down elsewhere as little better than vermin, a kobold of the empire may be the undoing of a callous mammalian 'furred one' for even a seemingly slight offense. Make no mistake, humans and their ilk are not the dominant peoples of the Dragon Empire.

Lost Races and Living Mysteries
Humans are the most populous race of Midgard. Dwarves and elfmarked are also common to a lesser extent. Yet other races little known on other worlds make their home here, such as cunning huginn ravenfolk, seafaring minotaurs, living clockwork beings known as gearforged, proud dragonkin, and even fiendblooded tieflings who too have their place in the world. While in far lands beyond the bright world the elves have hidden themselves away, darakhul rule their ghoulish imperium within subterranean realms. What of the lost orcs in the harsh dark corners of the world? The talk of nightmares surely. Familiar races are altered from the familiar and new races have risen to fill their place.

Status Matters, Time Flies
Slain a demon and claimed his fell weapon for your own use? Now what? No good will it do you if requesting an audience with a Morza of the Dragon Empire or gaining an invitation to the Imperatrix's court. The reputation of the persons carry weight beyond strength of arms or spell. Likewise, life is not a string of battering down dungeon doors. The world moves even when the group is wallowing their days in watered-down pubs waiting for the next rumors of treasure. Make of your opportunities what you will.

Gods Meddlesome and Masked
The touch of the gods is felt throughout the world. They squabble and dally, littering the lands with their blessings and curses, in spells and miracles, in wonders and even progeny. Despite these upfront actions, the true motives of the gods are less clear. Why are the gods muddled by masks? Perhaps in the past they have been imprisoned or slain or worse yet enslaved to the will of powerful mortals. Perhaps they have always been this way, known by earthly means but unknowable to mortal minds. What is clear is the dogma espoused by their followers and clergy. Everyone believes their deity to embody the truth of the world and other similar gods are mere shadows cast from the glory of their divine light.

Kingdoms Crumble, Empires Rise
The mysteries and menaces of Midgard are ancient, but much of the impetus is recent and present. Kingdoms and city-states war and feud and their borders shift with each exchange. The whole is set on a precarious balance that is on the verge of tipping over. Which way it builds towards or tumbles down is up to the players inhabiting it. They just have to live in the world they make ... If they survive.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:40, Tue 15 Sept 2015.

 GM, 3 posts
Wed 9 Sep 2015
at 03:28
The Well of Knowledge [Lore]
Regions of Midgard

Midgard is a big place, but it can be divided into more localized regions with a linked history, close dealings, or shared environs. The regions, and the kingdoms within, interact and trade with each other as often as they war. Sometimes even at the same time. Never let war get in the way of business, and some of the best business is war.

The Crossroads is the heartland of the setting, containing the Free City of Zobeck, the dwarven Cantons, and Margreve Forest, as well as the Magdar Kingdom. Filled with shadow elves and clockwork magic, this is where plots come together and blades cross!

The Rothenian Plain with their cold gnomish hells, nomadic Rothenian elves, infernal princes, bloodthirsty centaurs, and crazed slaver despots!

The Dragon Empire of the Mharoti is ruled by its Sultana and her harem assassins. The powers behind the throne are an assortment of lesser dragons who ultimately answer to the dragon lords known as the Morza. It is a place of fierce elemental gods and expanding power. Also included in the region is the rich River Lands of Nuria-Natal with tombs to explore or plunder.

The Seven Cities, once the great urban centers of empire, now these city states feud in a state of perpetual war. Their weapons are poison, guile, and steel.

The Domains of the Princes emcompasses the Grand Duchy of Dornig and its vassals and dependencies. The Domains are the wealthiest of Midgard’s lands, heirs to elven civilization but very much filled with the pride of human accomplishments. Visit the ruins of the elven city of Thorn, dare to enter the Elven Court of Arbonesse, or simply take the ready money of adventuring companies in the Free City of Salzbach and its 10,000 riches.

The Northlands are snowy realms held by the reaver dwarves and thursir giants, home to Thule and the Lands Beyond Knowing. Valkyries come calling, frost oracles and linnorms prowl, and a dozen mysteries await the warrior who can carve a path of steel.

The Wasted West, haunted lands of the wizards’ magocracy, towering horrors on blasted heaths, the wasteland of ruined kingdoms fallen into goblin realms.
 GM, 76 posts
Wed 9 Dec 2015
at 05:23
The Well of Knowledge [Lore]
--- Noble Families of Triolo ---

The Ampelioni: This most recent of noble houses rose within the last two or so generations to prominence from common merchant stock. Their focus is on foodstuff, both in the agricultural and culinary aspects, and are especially known for their wineries, orchards, bakeries, restaurants, and breweries, in that order (just ask the critics).

The Baldovinus: The Baldovinus of Triolo are actually a cadet branch from the greater Trombei-Valeran family, an ancient lineage from the days of the Elven Imperium. As loyal as they are to Triolo, they often encounter additional scrutiny regarding their ties to major families in rival city-states. In spite of the existent discrimination, many Baldovinus have served as the bravest warriors for Triolo. Generations of heroics and sacrifice have earned them a position as a prominent family, though some of the old biases still raise mostly unfounded rumors now and again.

The Baldovinus derive their wealth from various and extensive interests in metalworking and woodworking related services in the Maritime Republic, from the finest armorers and weapon-smithies to common and artisan white metal craft (bronze and brass works, including bells and statuary roughs). The Baldovinus holds seats on the Masters Council in the Blacksmith Guild and the family foundries produce the most popular anchors for navy and merchant vessel alike. They are even a reputable name for furniture and wooden musical instruments. Their industrial ties reach vertically up and down the supply line, they own everything from mines and forestry lands to the mercantile apparatus that sells their wares.

For all their resources, they are a family haunted by their deeds, debts, and deaths. Some of the Baldovinus are prone to fits of melancholy, violent outbursts, madness, scandals, gambling, drinking, and all the sordid mistakes accompany wealth and fame and the attention of the Maritime Republic focused on them at all times. Whether this is from the war shock of continuous military service or from some underlying issues passed through the line is unknown. They take to vendetta easily and many are wary of the judgmental eye other Triolans cast on them. Their merchant empires have been squandered in the past by prodigal sons and dullard heirs, but just as their fortunes seem their worse, once every few generations the ghosts of their past subside and the Baldovinus rebuild their holdings to newfound heights. Only the cycle repeats to deeper nadirs. One day the Baldovinus will either break from their curse or be consumed by it.

The Caeleforos: Records of the Caeleforos are scant during their early generations and the family elders appear disinterested in connecting their name to some mythological progenitor from Triolo's dawning years. In fact, by all indications, the early Caeleforos were a minor name in the scheme of history, perhaps even a band of charlatans who claimed higher status than they could prove. That changed about a century ago when the Caeleforos, once of plain Triolan stock, intermarried with foreigners, some say it was a band of Kariv gypsies, other say it was exiled royalty from the Southlands escaping the ravages of a surging Dragon Empire. Or perhaps the machinations of Baba Yaga and her daughters have a play in this family. No matter their origin, today many Caeleforos have blond hair, green eyes, and a tawny complexion, features not all together unknown to the Septime, but the Caeleforos possess a certain shade for each and in such a combination that puts them just shy of recognizable.

Shortly after, the Caeleforos emerged as the preeminent designers, architects, and builders in the city. They had a hand in many major features of the city and the republic, from extending the harbor works and fortifications on The Sphinx, to rebuilding the city's central district walls, and the construction of numerous buildings, temples and shrines. The latter of which are their favorite commissions. The other Septime cities believe a few of their talented savants have gone to work for the bloody corsairs of Raguza. A branch of the Caeleforos are also premier shipwrights, though this offshoot is recently feuding with the more traditional side known for their masonry work (who still owns a rival shipwright firm).

The Caeleforos are also a family of deep faith, except they are far from unified on their approach and worship of the gods. Factions have developed within the family devoted to the various major deities of the city and entities from elsewhere. Rumors are whispered that dark cults have taken root at the heart of the Caeleforos, but as yet no sacrificial pits have been discovered, at least not in connection to them. The gossip based on fear of the Caeleforos is not unfounded. Where as before their revival the Caeleforos were ignored and forgotten, the current family is unforgettable both in features and attitude. The family has made aggressive expansion into the city's political front over the last three generations, in part launched from their religious connections. Older more established families are not keen on this intrusive challenge by newcomers with too many unknowns.

--- Prominent Merchant Families ---

The Alioni

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:36, Tue 27 Sept 2016.

 GM, 77 posts
Wed 9 Dec 2015
at 05:30
The Well of Knowledge [Lore]
--- Historical Figures ---

Tavidar the Black: Tavidar Vaclav of Valtros, known as Tavidar the Black for his night dark armor was a famed champion of Madgar. In his youth, he roamed the country side as a knight errant extinguishing unnameable evils. In his middle years, he founded numerous legacies though many are now lost. In his last years, he rode forth once again to defend his homeland from mortal foes before resting his mortal coil.
 GM, 165 posts
Tue 27 Sep 2016
at 03:50
The Well of Knowledge [Lore]
I put together a more detailed abstract included below. Hope it is not information overload.

The Magdar Kingdom: This is where Orrin is from, and the envoy team Lady Illona Hajnall and Envoy Bertok Endris. They're one of the few relatively good and mostly safe kingdoms in Midgard. They are a fairly standard fantasy kingdom, complete with king, queen, crown prince, and knights with some paladins orders intermixed within their hierarchy. Their chief deity is Khors the god of light, a divinity who is fading everywhere else but Magdar. They are known for their battle wagons (armored caravans), which can be chained up into a circle at night to form mobile forts. Through these tactics, they are able to maintain control of the open plains of their homelands. They are located north (northeast) of the Seven Cities (and Triolo specifically). The Magdar plains are connected to the area the Dragon Empire is expanding into (also Triolo's backyard), however, the Magdar also have other enemies north of them.

Their closest real world analogue is Hungary, and its relative location to the Seven Cities (Italy) somewhat mirrors that position. (Which reminds me, I should try to get a suitable campaign map up. The best map is unfortunately an iPad app, utterly gorgeous, but not as readily transferable to other formats.)

- How they see everyone else? "The world is a dark place. Home is kind and bright. It is our duty to strive on, and bring that light to anyone who will receive it." (They don't seem to be crusaders, traders and missionaries perhaps.)

- How everyone sees them? "Just another common king and his boys (knights), perhaps with a bit of extra shine."

The Grand Duchy of Dornig: Also known as the Domains of the Princes, Dornig is the last true remnant of the Elven Imperium. The Baron-Envoy Dammung and Yseulde are representatives of this nation. It is also the realm of the last ruling full-blooded elf*. Most of the nobles of Dornig are related to the Imperatrix, since she is so old and has sired so many heirs. She has outlived all her heirs and their heirs and so on. We're quite a few generations gone since (a few centuries). The Domains are a land of intrigue, rival houses and their vassals playing a generations old game of courtly politics. The Grand Duchy is a land of great wealth and splendor, but also peril. The closest real world analogue is Prussia and the pre-unification Germanic Principalities with some Holy Roman Empire thrown in (and fantasy elements interwoven into that, Elves, the Shadow Roads, etc).

*While elves still do exist in Midgard, the Imperatrix is the last elf in the sense of someone who is of mainstream civilization, in a position as sovereign of a major nation, as a public face for the elves, and one who is old enough to have lived during the decline and retreat of the elves through the Shadow Roads (to some other place the elves do not speak of, wishing not to be followed, maybe...). There are elves in the Arbonesse forest, but they are insular and rarely seen. Some elves have reappeared in Friula, but likewise, insular and secretive. There are windrunner elves in the eastern steppes, but they have lost the culture of the Elven Imperium, instead adopting the customs of the the open plains. They are essentially wild elves in other settings.

If the Seven Cities are Italy, Dornig is Germany, Netherlands, that general region bordering the North Sea (the Nieder Strait in Midgard, which also serves as the Baltic Sea).

- How they see everyone else? "We are the true heirs of the Imperium. The other nascent kingdoms are lost children, upstarts pretending to play at proper civilization, though some more adept than others. Long Live the Imperatrix!" (Though, secretly, hopefully not too much longer until she moves aside for someone younger and better suited...)

- How everyone sees them? "Stuck up, pointy earred half-bloods. The younger kingdoms have surpassed the old Empire. Your so-called Imperatrix is a dotting ossified shell propped up to represent something that has long passed." (Or Gackitch put it very succinctly, "Ew, elfmarked.") "Though, the Grand Duchy even as a stump of the old Imperium is a force to be reckoned with, and elf business/coin is still profitable business/coin." To some, the elfmarked (and their human counterparts) do appear glamorous, and rich, and powerful, and sophisticated. There is a draw there, whether as an ally or a raiding target.

The Dragon Empire: Also the Mharoti Empire, named after it's founding great wyrm, Mharot. Here dragons rule and their spawn as the nobles, officers, and prominent citizens (younger wyrmlings, drakes, dragonkin (like dragonborn), and kobolds). They worship the Elemental Dragons, a pantheon based on the four (five) elements given draconic form (they're a bit weirder than that terse description). Humans and other races (called "furred races") are distinctly second-class citizens. The Mharoti have a hierarchy, with the great dragons on top, known as the Morza (there are presently only eight of them), and the humblest of dragonkind at the bottom, the kobolds, non-coincidentally called the Koboldi (they're sort of a merchant or craftsman class). Humans and other races are below them. Actually, the dragons may place ogres and gnolls a bit higher, as they're generally more useful slaves.

The Dragon empire is expansionistic and militaristic. They have consumed a dozen smaller kingdoms  with their maws and razed just as many with their element-laced breath; assailed Nuria-Natal to the point of breaking, reduced once mighty Ishadia to a rump state, battled the famed mages of Khandiria, tore away half the countryside of Illyria (one of the Seven Cities) from her flanks. ("Soon they will be coming for you!") The names of the kingdoms the Dragon Empire fought are not important. What is important is each had to call in their last reserves ("use up their ultimate, go nuclear") just to make the Dragon Empire back off. The nations I did not name, well, no one remembers those anymore, they are deep within the Dragon Empire now.

Real world link, think the Ottoman Empire but with dragons at the top of the food chain, you're not far off (location is also roughly the same as Turkey/Asia Minor, relative to Triolo/Italy). Also, shades of "The Thousand Nations of the Persian Empire" from 300 (the movie), a little of the evil Empire from Star Wars (as in just an awesome powerhouse). They too are not without their internal issues, but when things come together, there is always a reckoning.

- How they see everyone else? "Him, Her, You? Slave, food, or monkey-handed savage to make me shiny things. Pick one, or I will pick for you. Hesitant? Then too late, I will choose for you…"
- How everyone sees them? "Oh my gods! The Dragons are coming, the Dragons are coming." (Though, maybe I can work this to my advantage.)

The Seven Cities: Fantasy Italianesque City States, once unified into a larger empire under the Elves (think Roman Empire). They are as follows with a note on their motif/theme:
  • Triolo (Maritime Republic of): This is us! We're a major mercantile republic notable for its capable sailors and seafarers and more recently the addition of Minotaurs from the Isle of Kyprion (really adept seafarers and fearsome warriors). This alliance was once tenuous, but since the election of the minotaur Cadua as First Duke-Admiral, this alliance has solidified. Not all are happy with this arrangement, however, few are willing to state it outright.

    Triolo also has a history of piracy (and likely founded based on such activities), but most sailors out of Triolo proper have turned to more legitimate pursuits or at least raid under a privateer charter. The really free-for-all pirates still exist in Ragusa, a secondary city of the republic. It's a touchy subject as Triolo needs the edge provided by the (real, and really evil) pirates, but distances itself from their uninhibited activities (Ragusa pirates have been known to prey on ships from the other Seven Cities, even during peace time, and have even raid Triolan vessels).

    Triolo is probably one of the most powerful and influential of the Seven Cities, and indeed nations on the Middle Sea, but it also has many enemies, not the least of which is the Dragon Empire (Triolo is one of the closest cities to the Mharoti, save for Illyria, and that's not turning out so well for them). While Triolo's navy is strong (the largest of the Septime), their land forces is mostly made up of minotaurs, dwarven mercenaries, irregulars from the White Mountains, just whatever they could muster together (and that's always been a bit of a problem).

  • Melana (Canton of): Melana is an industrious city-state (famed for weaponsmithing) of humans, dwarves, and kobolds. It borders the Dwarven Cantons (further north) and takes after them in culture. Usually the humans and dwarves divide the city council between them, but recently a kobold has taken the seat that normally goes to a dwarven representative, to the chagrin of the dwarves and delight of the kobolds. Melana is Triolo's neighbor to the north.

  • Capleon (Barony of): Probably Triolo's main maritime rival (other than the Dragon Empire). Recently they've been making overtures to the Dragon Empire. They may be willing to hand over the other Seven Cities to the dragons so that they make come out on top. Capleon is southwest of Triolo by sea.

  • Kammae Straboli (Theocracy of): A city ruled by oracles. They were feeling the pressure from the other cities, until their high oracle made a deal with Baba Yaga and used her help to enchain the sea god Nethus. Now the denizens of the city use the divine might of the imprisoned god to empower their divinations, their military, everything, but it all comes at a price. Predictably, all the temples to Nethus have become abandoned, his power among his priesthood absent, his sacraments now silent. If Nethus should ever break free, his wrath will consume the city and perhaps beyond. Due to the chaining of Nethus, a once prominent god of Triolo, the Triolans do not much like the Kammae.

  • Illyria (Grand Duchy of): Culturally, Illyria is not of the Septime, but its own older society active since a semi-mythic bronze age (think Greeks, but also parlty morphed with time into the Balkans with Slavic influences). They are noted for their griffon riders and their standing closest to the Dragon Empire. The Mharoti have recently conquered half the country and Illyria is struggling to keep the draconic legions at bay. Illyria is east of Triolo and they share a border.

  • Trombei (Republic of): Is known for its horses, cavalry, and wealth of grain. They are devout followers of Ceres, and unsurprisingly the breadbasket of the region. Personally, I always thought they were the most boring of the Septime, but every group needs the plain stable one so the others can work off of that. Trombei borders Triolo to the west, both partly by land and by sea.

  • Valera (August Republic of): Former capital of the empire which bore its name, it is now partly in ruin and has a run of bad luck over the years. The Valerans are disciplined and stalwart soldiers (strong infantry) who long to return their city to glory. They've been trying to boost their boy-king as the true emperor of the Valeran Empire (the name of the unified Seven Cities). Think legionnaires and centurions (but modernized to a post-Renaissance setting). They were the emperor's guard. Also, they have a tradition of centaurs (from the steppes of the east) serving the Imperial Guard.

  • Friula (City of Secrets): Is a city-state centered around knowledge and boasts impressive libraries. Nominally, Friula is no match for its fellow Septime states, save it has more wizards and magic to bring to bear, which it uses to keep the others off-balance. Interestingly, it was the first city to see a small number of elves return to visit its archives. The city still hosts a small number of them. This has led to suspicions from the other cities of something going on. Have the elves returned? Is Friula to be the new starting point of their empire, or are they searching for some lost lore in the city's ancient records?

  • Verrayne (Green Duchy of): A city-state protected by rangers and druids on the western frontier of the Seven Cities. It sits at the edge of the Wasted West and horrors from the west frequently harass Verrayne. For this reason, the citizens have turned to the sterner side of nature to fend off the marauding goblin tribes or gibbering abominations from the wastes. The Seven Cities are just glad they're there to soak up the troubles.

Interesting to note, only Triolo, Capleon, Kammae Straboli, Valera, Trombei, and Friula are ethnically Septime (that's six cities). Possibly some of Melana is Septime, but they straddle the border with the Ironcrag Cantons (dwarves) and strongly identify wit them (though the northern cantons seem to think otherwise). Illyria is it's own culture, but geographically tied to the Seven cities. Though in terms of influence, it is a contender for the seventh city. Verrayne is a remnant of the western magocracies, one of the few pieces not fully tainted by the fell magics unleashed upon that land, but again identified with the Seven Cities due to geography (and the fact there is not much left of the magocracies not claimed by the wastes.).