Gazetteer of Carthas.   Posted by Game Master.Group: 0
Game Master
 GM, 2 posts
Mon 10 Oct 2016
at 03:01
Gazateer of Carthas


  • 1 RC: The Ashen Schism splits the Great Church. The Pyrean Church in the Jazzanid Empire promulgates the worship of the Old Gods above the rest of the pantheon, with Kador the Fire God venerated as chief and axial deity. The orthodox Great Church decries this as diabolist heresy, and the First Sacred Campaign is declared to put down the Pyreans, and breaks the power of the Jazzanid Empire along with it. This becomes the first year of a new dating system, the Reforged Calendar (RC).
  • 24 RC: The first 5th Circle arcane spells are created by a group known as the Invisible Sodality. Contact Other Plane opens up the study of other worlds beyond the divine realms, Scrying allows mages to seek out information with greater specificity than ever before, and Teleportation Circle permits the creation of the first Carthas-wide mystical conferences.
  • 94 RC: Urgus Tauros, regarded as the greatest military mind in the history of the Demisan Empire, leads the conquest of the Eastern Heath (henceforth the Eastern Wastes thanks to his ruthless scorched-earth tactics) and subjugation of the goblinoid races. The Demisan Empire enjoys a period of sustained expansion and colonisation lasting nearly two centuries, the Platinum Era. Wars with the elven tribes in the north are common.
  • 237 RC: The first 6th Circle arcane spells are devised by Arthalia Herax, the Imperial Battlemage. Chain Lightning, Circle of Death and Move Earth prove to be devastating battlefield and siege spells, while thanks to Create Undead many of the most terrible creatures to haunt the shadows and ruins of the land date to this period.
  • 287 RC: Massive spring rains and poorly-designed irrigation and aqueduct projects lead to terrible flooding in the heartland of the Demisan Empire, washing away vast tracts of farmland, drowning many towns and thousands of people. High water mark stains can still be seen on Imperial monuments and buildings that survived the floods. This event commonly marks the end of the Platinum Era in histories.
  • 325 RC: Imperial scouts make their first full survey of the Isles in preparation for settlement there. Humans from the Isles are brought to the mainland as delegates, slaves and curiousities.
  • 373 RC: The first 7th Circle arcane spells are formulated by Ionin Eldarlight, Sage Laureate of the elven realms. Because of the aesthetic significance of the number seven in elven culture, he postulates that these are the most powerful form of arcane magic possible.
  • 438 RC: The Demisan Empire sends its legions to the Isles. A long and bloody war begins, with the human tribes making the halflings and their auxiliaries pay for every league, but the numbers and discipline of the Imperial forces prevail.
  • 511 RC: Prince Hugh Starfostered becomes the High King of the Isles. He ends the decades of slow defeat by surrendering to the Emperor Luconius Chimerix the Younger, on the condition that his people will be allowed the settle on the borders and marchlands of the Empire on the mainland.
  • 560 RC: The Isles' High Kingship model inspires the disparate elven courts to work towards unification, laying the foundations for the Confederated Monarchy.
  • 575 RC: Miners and spelunkers from the surface venture deep enough into Chthonas to discover the vast, dark vaults of Thagirion. Alerted to the threat and potential spoils above them, the duergar begin raiding upwards. Stories from this time speak of whole villages vanishing overnight, castles and homes sinking into the ground with no trace of their inhabitants ever found. People begin sealing up entrances to Chthonas.
  • 620 RC: The Charter of Ivystone is signed, formalising the foundation of the Confederated Monarchy.
  • 656 RC: The Red Weeping, a terrible haemorrhagic plague, ravages Carthas. It kills nearly a third of the populace in some areas an unleashes a wave of peasant revolts and religious disillusionment as the nobility and priesthood alike seem unable to stem its course.
  • 714 RC: A sect of flagellants, ascetics and mystics called the Ascended Ones arises in the Highlands and spreads its message across the land. They preach that people do not need the clergy to commune with the gods, teaching meditative techniques and purification rituals to approach holiness themselves. The Great Church mobilises to combat this heresy, and the Second Sacred Campaign is waged on the Ascended Ones until they are rooted out from their mountain monasteries and fastnesses and destroyed. This catalyses a renewal of activity by conventional religions across Carthas, and the various priesthoods become more involved in rebuilding society after the plague years.
  • 720 RC: The Emergence begins, with the first dwarves making their way to the surface.
  • 788 RC: An order of paladins called the Knigths Adytar begin imposing order and peace on part of the Tattered Marches, creating a safe and prosperous haven called the Bannerlands.
  • 824 RC: Empress Augustina Drakonis IV declares that the Great Church is no longer the official religion of the Demisan Empire, formalising a divorce that has been in the works for a century or more. The Third Sacred Campaign is, briefly, declared to protest this, but the mysterious assassinations of numerous archbishops and paladin-captains causes it to falter before any significant battles occur.
  • 826 RC: The Demisan Empire enters what becomes called the Great Decadence. Its new religious diversity, stalled conquests and colonisations cause it to turn inwards, beginning a period of debauchery and excess spurred by a desire to relive past glories and a sense of fatalism not felt since the Red Weeping.
  • 840 RC: The gnomish mage Quasimard Del Marro creates the first 8th Circle arcane spells, a feat thought impossible by the reigning arcanological paradigms of the day. Control Weather creates a period of bounty for the gnomish city-states, while Telepathy and Trap the Soul offer fascinating and terrifying insights into the non-physical world. Marro also theorises that there may be a further, 9th Circle of spells possible.
  • 850 RC: Lured by their wealth and apparent disunity, the Demisan Empire attempts to annex the gnomish city-states. In response, the gnomes form the Zragansa League for their mutual defence and unleash their magic and newly-invented gunpowder weapons against the legions. The War of Smoke becomes the most costly and humilitating defeat in the Empire's history.
  • 874 RC: Accusations of diabolism by the Knights Adydar spur the Fourth Sacred Campaign. The order is eradicated, and the Bannerlands collapse into chaos.
  • 883 RC: Probing raids and vanguards of the Scourge begin appearing in the east, and skirmishes are fought in the Confederated Monarchy and Tattered Marches.
  • 893 RC: Augustina Drakonis VII takes the throne of the Demisan Empire. She is seen as a weak ruler, causing many magnates of the Familias Regnant and legions to begin plotting and consolidating their own power.
  • 899 RC: House Tauros declares its uprising against the Empire in an attempt to usurp the Amethyst Seat. It misjudges its level of support, however, and is crushed by the loyalist legions when the other Familias abandon it. The surviving members are exiled, and the House itself is subjected to damnatio memoriae.
  • 901 RC: Plague erupts in Porto Magansa, and the city is quarantined. It is feared it might be a resurgence of the Red Weeping.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:13, Wed 11 Jan 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 3 posts
Mon 10 Oct 2016
at 03:14
Realms and Regions
Demisan Empire

  • Government: Aristrocratic republic. The head of state is Empress Augustina Drakonis VII, whose power is carefully circumscribed. Beneath her is the Triumvirate, the three most powerful lawmakers, who head the Concillium, a senate of one hundred and eleven elected representatives. In theory, voting is open to any landowner, but in practise the noble Familias Regnant control electoral blocs that really dictate who sits in the Concillium. Notable Familias include the Drakonis, Chimerix, Manticora and Gorgonid.
  • Capital: Demis and Donus, the Twin Cities.
  • Religion: Diverse, though the Great Church, Urian, Anwyn, Canelle, Aymara, Korak and Naryne are the most popular, in roughly that order.
  • Peoples: Halflings are the dominant race in the Empire, comprising the entire upper class and a significant majority of the population. There is a fair population of gnomes who find the halfling-scale architecture amenable, a number of elves who have made themselves invaluable in the civil service or as retainers to the Familias Regnant, and a sizeable human population in the plebeian class. The Empire controls subject populations of goblinoids; goblins find a place as serfs and servants, hobgoblins form the rank and file of the Imperial Legions' shieldwalls, and bugbears serve as shock troops.
  • Industry/Trades: Agriculture (olives, wheat, wine), quarrying (limestone, marble), mining (copper, gold, tin, lead), dyes, textiles, religious goods, fine metalwork.
  • Stereotypes: Ambitious, Machiavellian, legalistic, militaristic, haughty, decadent, teeming multitudes.
  • Languages: Vox, a language divided into three levels Vox Dei (archaic form used principally in religious sermons and scholarly texts), Vox Regnant (formal, courtly tongue used in politics and law) and Vox Populi (prosaic tongue that incorporates bits of vocabulary and grammar from numerous other languages). Speaking one of these languages allows one to more or less understand and communicate in the others. The goblinoid populations retain their language, Gobble, despite attempts to stamp it out. (The various forms of Vox sound like fantastical Latin - use Roman name lists with some mythical flair; Gobble sounds like standard D&D goblinoid tongues.)

The Empire of Demis was until recently the most powerful and all-conquering nation in Carthas, but late military defeats against the Zragansa League and the coalition-building of the Confederated Monarchy have caused it to stall. With no more newly occupied lands to feed its expansionist economy fractures have begun to appear in the Imperial facade, and ambitious generals and scheming nobles eye the Amethyst Seat or plan defection.

Still, the Legions remain a force to be reckoned with. Highly disciplined ranks of halfling archers, slingers and peltasts form the bulk of the forces, unleashing withering rains of projectiles on their foes. When the enemy draws close the missile legionnaires retire behind shieldwalls of hobgoblins, who were amongst the first conquered populace added to the empire. On the offensive, goblin skirmishers scout and pin down the defenders, while fierce bands of bugbears break their lines, and terror corps of tamed monsters are unleashed to destroy morale. The Empire has extensive resources at its disposal from farmlands to minerals, and its plebeian classes comprise a substantial industrial base of skilled crafters. Because halfling require only a fraction of the food and living space of larger races, they have been able to maintain a population density several times higher than the rest of Carthas. In the upper classes, the Empire's scholars, philosophers, tacticians, priests and poets are culturally influential throughout the neighbouring lands.

The Mother of Nations may be wrong-footed and riddled with dissent, but she is far from fallen.

Confederated Monarchy

  • Government: Constitutional monarchy under Queen Imeril Xayine. The rights and responsibilities of the populace, nobility and monarch are delineated by the Charter of Ivystone, the realm's foundational document and touchstone of its laws. The Charter is interpreted and laws debated by the House of Elders, a parliament consisting of the nobles and leaders of the confederated races.
  • Capital: Lyradon.
  • Religion: The churches of Aymara and Thellyne have special privileges as state religions and many people pay at least lip service to those goddesses, but the population otherwise venerates a wide range of gods. Shalimyr, Morwyn and Rontara are the most widely revered.
  • Peoples: The Confederated Monarchy is extremely diverse, with large populations of elves, dwarves, halflings and gnomes, and smaller enclaves of dragonborn, tieflings, eladrin, aasimar and more. Humans are the only common race that is not reasonably well represented. The majority of the government and high offices, from the army to arcane and academic elite, wealthiest merchants and clergy of the realm are of elven descent. This is seen as only reasonable, as elves are long lived and so have plenty of time to acquire the skills and wisdom to rule, as well as being the most temperamentally suited to the responsibilities.
  • Industry/Trades: Agriculture (fruit and orchards, barley, potatoes), forestry, woodworking, furs, mining (iron, coal, silver, amber), medicinal and culinary herbs, fragrances.
  • Stereotypes: Tolerant, independent, confident, direct.
  • Languages: The languages of every race that dwells within the kingdom can be heard in its markets, streets, taverns and halls. However, the elvish tongue, Elhmine, is the common tongue, and is the language used in all important legal and courtly business. And why not? It is such an aesthetically pleasing, precise, well-structured and melodious tongue that there's really no need for any other. (Elhmine sounds like standard D&D Elvish.)

The Confederated Monarchy is a nation defined by diplomacy. Careful negotiation and treaty-making brought together its diverse races into a prosperous, harmonious and multicultural whole, while a network of defensive pacts secures its independence. It practises the politics of counterbalance in international affairs, supporting the underdog in any conflict to ensure that no one rival grows too strong.

In truth, the country is governed to ensure elven supremacy. Through their longevity and long practise at manipulation, elves occupy the greater part of the nobility and civil service of the Confederated Monarchy, although unlike the halflings of the Demisan Empire there are no explicit laws decreeing this to be so. Using national myths and their control of the education and bureaucratic systems, the elven elite guide the other races of the kingdom into roles that the elves deem most suitable for them. Certainly, should a dwarf with to become a lawyer or artist, no-one would stand in her way; but wouldn't she be more comfortable as a miner or brewer or smith, careers that suit her physical abilities and natural aptitudes? Reinforcement of stereotypes like these are pervasive throughout the realm's culture, softly enforcing the rulers' vision of proper place and harmony through a tacit caste system. For those who fit the elite's plans the Confederated Monarchy can be a comfortable place to live, but those who defy convention and stereotype find it stifling and repressive. Due to their lack of obvious specialities and roles, humans do not fit well in the elven vision for their society, and are subtly or not-so-subtly discouraged from residing in the kingdom.

Humans and the malcontents of other races comprise a fairly small problem for the Confederated Monarchy overall, however. The greatest threat to the realm is posed by the Scourge's incursions on its outer marches. With its doctrine of personal loyalty and individual merit the Scourge represents a powerful philosophical alternative rival to the kingdom, in addition to its military ferocity.

Zragansa League

  • Government: A loose confederation of city-states intended to promote trade, the common weal and mutual defence. The heads of the League members meet regularly to plan and negotiate, and this gathering is chaired by a rotating leader called the Stratagoi.
  • Capital: The League meets in the city of Zragansa, from which it takes its name.
  • Religion: The gods that bring innovation, energy, wealth and enlightenment are the most venerated in the cities of the League. Zheenkeef, Darmon, Tynel and Korak are all held in high esteem. The worship of the Old Gods who represent the elemental constituents of the world is seen as rather antiquated and rustic, and little practised - though the image of Urian in his role as sun-god is prevalent in art, symbolising the Emergence and the revelation of light that came with it.
  • Peoples: Gnomes comprise the largest part of the population, with dwarves and humans also present in great number. Many other races can be found in communities of varying size.
  • Industry/Trades: Metallurgy, clockwork and mechanisms, banking, high fashion, papermaking, painting, sculpture, music, glassmaking, lensgrinding, gunsmithy, mercenaries.
  • Stereotypes: Exuberant, avaricious, creative, artistic, scheming.
  • Languages: Gnomerick utilises dwarven grammar but takes a good deal of its vocabulary from Vox Populi, Elhmine and any other languages that leave useful words lying around unguarded. The marketplaces and workshops of the League are a clamour of many tongues, however, and it is easy to find someone who can converse in almost any language on the face of Carthas in most towns. Many people strive to become multilingual in order to facilitate the free flow of ideas and trade. (Gnomerick sounds like Italian at its most boisterous blended with standard D&D Gnomish. Use a mixture of Italian and Gnomish name lists.)

Nearly two hundred years ago the constant warfare between the dwarves, duergar and derro of Chthona drove members of the former race ever higher in their underground realm. Some were even forced to the surface, where for the first time whey saw the world not by darkvision but in the light of day, in colour, and further than 60' in front of their noses (or as far as the nearest mineshaft wall). This literal enlightenment became called the Emergence, and as more and more dwarves migrated above ground the characteristics of their race began to shift over the course of startlingly few generations. Under the influx of new ideas and experiences their minds opened and blossomed even as the stony toughness of their bodies diminished, and they became a similar but distinct species: gnomes.

The gnomes spread over a wide belt of land, founding independent cities under rulers styled patriarchs, princes or doges. Inventions such as the waterwheel, windmill, telescope and mechanical clock bolstered their economies, while new arts and culture flourished. The development of paper money, trustworthy systems of credit and exchange made their merchants more flexible than those of their neighbours; contracts and letters of credit could be written up and amended swiftly, and were more secure and easier to transport than boxes of coin. The gnomes proved adept at defending their rapidly-accumulating wealth through the invention of gunpowder - arquebus, field cannon and mortars proved decisive in fending off an invasion from the Demisan Empire. The city-states prefer not to retain standing armies, but numerous companies of prestigious mercenaries called condottiere sell their services to rivals in trade and politics - though the League works to resolve such disputes peacefully nowadays, it is more often than not unsuccessful. Engagements between regiments of condottiere are theatrical and flamboyant affairs, featuring as much pomp and parade as pitched battle.

Aside from an external invasion, the thing most likely to bring the city-states together is the biennial festival called the Grand Jubilee. This League-wide celebration draws travellers and opportunists from across Carthas, and features exhibitions of invention, displays of theater and art, religious bacchanals in honour of Zheenkeef and Darmon, competitions of athletics, performance, bawdy weddings, riotous funerals, copious drinking and merriment.

Labourer's Oligarchy of Chthona

  • Government: Socialist republic. Gatherings called Forgemoots collect the will of workshops and guilds, pass it up to larger regional Convocations, which in turn elect members to the Oligarchic Assembly for twenty year terms. Service as an Oligarch is, in theory, based largely on age, experience and skill at a trade or craft rather than political nous or connections. In theory.
  • Capital: Ironhearth.
  • Religion: The official religions of the Oligarchy are the worship of Korak, Rontara and Maal, in that order of precedence. Other faiths are begrudgingly allowed but viewed with suspicion. The worship of Darmon and Naryne is considered undwarven and public expression or proselytism of those faiths is banned. Any cleric or worshiper of Naran found in the Oligarchy would suffer a swift, public and brutally efficient death.
  • Peoples: Dwarves are the overwhelming majority in the Oligarchy. A few gnomes have returned to their ancestral homeland, but other races find life underground uncomfortable and unappealing.
  • Industry/Trades: Mining, quarrying, masonry, engineering, smithing and manufacture of all sorts.
  • Stereotypes: Practical, egalitarian, defiant, materialistic.
  • Languages: Dwaar developed from the slave-tongue of the duergar, a language that had been designed to facilitate orders and prohibit conversation about outre concepts like 'freedom'. It had a rigid hierarchical grammar that made statements from those of higher status into absolute imperatives, and replies from subordinates into deferential debasements. The revolutionary dwarves reclaimed and remade their language along with their lives, turning dwaar into a tongue that defies imperatives and makes collective terms carry more weight than singular ones. (Dwaar sounds like standard D&D Dwarvish with Polish influences. Use a mixture of those name lists.)

In the middle-depths of Chthona, the sprawling labyrinth of caverns, chasms and passages both natural and mortal-made lies Thagirion, the empire of the duergar. Here, dark foundries spew acrid smoke into the underground halls; immense, futile effort is made to contradictory purposes; and groaning slaves build ugliness for their masters to bewail. The dwarves were once the slaves of Thagirion that rose in revolution against the corrupt tyrants and fled to higher levels of Chthona. There they founded a new society, based on common ownership, shared responsibility, egalitarianism and fierce opposition to slavery.

This revolutionary spirit is viewed as reckless and dangerous by the surface nations, but so long as the dwarves by and large keep themselves below ground and do not rabble-rouse in the streets of the Empire or Monarchy, the uplanders are willing to trade for the superior craftsmanship that flows from the co-operative smithies and mines. Meanwhile, the Oligarchy is too busy dealing with rival factions in its worker's paradise, counter-revolutionary elements, duergar saboteurs and the threat of other Chthonan foes such as the drow and mind-flayers to commit to a people's uprising against the oppressive surface tyrants... yet.

The Scourge

  • Government: Stratocracy lead by Auktar, the Scourge of Tyrak, Scion of the War God, Breaker of Kingdoms.
  • Capital: Auktar's mobile war-camp.
  • Religion: First and foremost, the worship of Tyrak as embodied by his self-proclaimed son. There is even a cult that venerates Auktar himself. The church of Morwyn has a small following in the form of an order of battlefield medics the accompany the Scourge, tending to the wounded of both sides. Individuals may worship other gods as they choose, but there is little public or organised ceremony for them.
  • Peoples: Orcs, humans and half-orcs make up the majority of the Scourge's population, but peoples from many overrun nations and races have joined its cause, including monstrous creatures and outlanders from distant realms.
  • Industry/Trades: The only thing the Scourge exports is conquest. Hunters and foragers strive to keep it supplied as it marches, and portable forges produce and repair weapons and armour to keep it battle-ready. An ever-lengthening logistical chain trails behind it, connecting it to previously conquered lands and keeping raw materials and food flowing.
  • Stereotypes: All-consuming horde. For once, the stereotype is pretty much accurate, though there are nuances.
  • Languages: Okaa, the orcish tongue is used as a lingua franca and is the language that orders are issued in and battle plans composed in. Beyond that, the Scourge speaks a motly array of tongues, reflecting its many peoples and nationalities. (Okaa sounds like standard D&D Orcish with Hunnic influences. Use Hunnic names - though because historical sources of these are so limited, feel free to throw in some Mongolian and Orcish.)

Auktar comes to punish the realms of Carthas for their weakness and division, and the Scourge comes with him. This fearsome half-orc warlord wears the crowns of a score of conquered kingdoms at his belt, and wields a hydra-headed flail that sunders thrones and sends armies into panicked rout. Those who have seen his prowess in battle, his strategic genius and terrifying charisma first-hand find it difficult to doubt his claims of demigodhood.

The Scourge will either plunge Carthas into a dark age of bloodshed and barbarism or sweep away the old powers and unleash an era of strength and freedom - though it is hard to imagine this enduring beyond its leader's lifespan.

The Scourge is chaotic, but not anarchic or undisciplined. It is organised into warbands which owe voluntary allegiance to commanders or chiefs, generally referred to as khans. Each khan is free to run their own warband as they see fit, determining tactics and policy towards rules of engagement, prisoners of war, the division of spoils, etc. Some specialise in scouting, others in skirmishing or the garrisoning of occupied lands. However, if a khan is unpopular they may be subject to mutiny or being deposed and replaced through ordeal by combat, and the members of a warband are free to 'vote with their feet' and defect to another band with terms more to their liking. Warbands often use tattoos, branding or scarification as part of initiation rituals, so a warrior who defects frequently may build up a complex array of body markings, and are regarded with suspicion as being opportunistic or flighty.

Everyone who contributes to the Scourge's war effort is considered a warrior - from the vanguard swinging an axe to the smith that made it, the forester who cut down the tree for the haft, the carter who transported it and the farmers and foragers that feed them all.

Tattered Marches

  • Government: None. Or all.
  • Capital: None.
  • Religion: Worshipers of every deity, the Great Church and foreign religions can be found can be found in different parts of the Marches. Some communities cleave to the Great Church for its universalism and ability to serve a diverse flock, while in other places towns and villages devote themselves entirely to a particular god or saint or a particularly auspicious rock.
  • Peoples: Humans make up the majority of the population, but a diverse mixture of races from every corner of Carthas and beyond call the region home - or at least pass through it.
  • Industry/Trades: Most Marcher realms strive to be self-sufficient, relying on agriculture and cottage crafts to service their own needs. They trade raw materials from the forests and mines for luxuries and more sophisticated goods than they can produce themselves. Some communities have produced remarkable specialisations that rival anything the great powers achieve, such as the bookbinders of Reeverton or the whiskey distilleries of Cawdor Valley, which create high demand for their prestigious goods.
  • Stereotypes: Diverse, clannish, unstable.
  • Languages: Strangely, for such a divided and disparate region, the Tattered Marches have one of the strongest shared languages in Carthas. Hugh's Tongue, or simply Common as it is known, is descended from an ancient language from the Isles and is spoken throughout the Marches. It has evolved into a multitude of dialects and accents, but all remain mutually intelligible. Even non-human communities tend to use Common as their daily language. In all but the most insular settlements it is easy to find someone who knows a smattering of Vox, Elhmine or another tongue to facilitate trade. (The various dialects of Common could sound like practically any language from Europe, North Africa, the Middle East or standard D&D fantasy. The original tongue of the Isles has a Welsh and Old English tone.)

The Tattered Marches is the name given to the geographically widespread, politically and culturally diverse buffer states, contested borders, petty nations and pocket empires between the larger kingdoms of Carthas. They are a sprawling belt of fiefdoms, principalities, freeholds, enclaves, bandit kingdoms, steadings and communes, all entwined like a nest of vipers. A day's travel might take one through a warlord's domain, a bishophric, a hermit-mage's estate, a frontier barony and the holdings of the Howling Prophet of the Storm Made Flesh - and when you travel back the next day, those borders may have shifted.

The greater nations hold different attitudes towards the Marches. The Empire has from time to time annexed different Marcher fiefdoms, sometimes adding them to its territory, sometimes finding them too unruly to hold. The League happily trades with them, though seldom on terms favourable to the Marches. The Confederated Monarchy loves to play politics in the region, playing one tiny state against another for their own aims or to foil the plans of their rivals. And the Scourge finds the small, disunited fiefdoms deliciously easy to snap up one after another, tasty little morsels of conquest to whet its appetite for the invasion of the larger realms.

Jazzanid Empire

  • Government: Disunited city-states and satrapies.
  • Capital: Nominally, the city of Huzra.
  • Religion: Once, the Pyrean sect of the Great Church predominated, but it was shattered by the First Sacred Campaign. Faith is not so easily quashed, however, and in secret cellar shrines and lonely altars in the wilderness the fire-worship of Kador continues. By the terms of the ancient treaty that ended the Sacred Campaign the Great Church is the official state religion, and its clerics and inquisitors strive to root out the Pyreans to this day.
  • Peoples: Humans, hobgoblins, halflings and elves comprise the largest proportion of the population, but it is not impossible to find orcs, gnolls, lizardfolk and more besides dwelling there as they have for millennia. The Jazzanid Empire is fairly diverse, but highly segregated; most towns and villages are home to members of a single race, and even in the larger cities neighbourhoods tend to be monocultural, often to the extent of being walled and gated off from each other.
  • Industry/Trades: Agriculture (citrus, figs, dates, lentils, millet, spices), mining (gold, onyx, obsidian, alchemical rarities like quicksilver, cinnabar and sulphur), quarrying (sandstone, basalt, lapis lazuli), textiles (felt, linen), pottery, horses, goods traded along the Road of Wonders.
  • Stereotypes: Insular, stagnant, deviant.
  • Languages: Once, Golsali was the mostly widely spoken tongue in Carthas, but since the Jazzanid Empire's decline is has nearly fallen into disuse, with only a fraction of its vocabulary extant as a trade tongue. Individual settlements now tend to confine themselves to their own particular languages or dialects, increasing the sense of alienation between communities.

At its height, nearly two millennia ago, the Jazzanid Empire stretched from the shores of the Sea of White Claws to the Plains of the Sun in the south, east to the Shoulders of Heaven mountains and with colonies on the islands in the Blue Desert. But its reach exceeded its grasp, and gradually it lost control of its northern and overseas holdings to elven barbarians in the cold woods and human pirates on the ocean. Its other provinces fractured away, including the fertile lands that would become the Demisan Empire with the rebellion of Macimius Fenix, the first halfling emperor. Starved of tribute and bruised in pride, the Jazzanid Empire retreated into stasis and traditionalism, losing cultural ground to more energetic and amibitious successors. The final straw came when it faced invasion from its own wayward children, and a foreign church declared its religion heretical. The Empire sank into despondency and decay from which is has not recovered.

Today, the Jazzanid Empire is a nation in name and aesthetic only. Its cities and towns are more or less self-ruling and usually beset with border skirmishes and racial strife. One of the few things that unites them is an aggressive rejection of the northern realms of Carthas, their politics, trade and culture, which has left it technologically, economically and magically backwards.

Other Realms

South and east of the Jazzanid Empire lies Izhwoune, the land of fortune. This realm of colourful sands and verdant oases is guided by a college of diviners, clerics and magi who peer into the paths of the future and pour over translations and debate interpretations of the writings of great prophets to seek the best way ahead. The Izhwounei have a reputation as being a folk obsessed with omens and fatalism, but this does not restrain them from the practicalities of profitable trade, or from producing great poets, artists and mathematicians.

Travel east along the Road of Wonders, and one will come to Haradhwar, land of a thousand shahs and rajas, where domesticated elephants plow the fields and build the temples for monks who seem to have forsaken the gods in favour of pursuing mental, physical and spiritual perfection through training, introspection and meditation. Human-headed serpents and tiger-headed demons plot in the shadows, opposed by magicians whose power seems to come from the mind itself rather than known arcane techniques.

Go further east still and you will reach Khinrai, an empire that rivals the Demisan and Jazzanid combined in extent and exceeds them in glory and piety (or so they will tell you). The Benevolent Emperor claims to do the will of the gods directly, served by an immense bureaucracy of priest-mandarins whose wisdom and divine power ensures justice and propserity (or so they will tell you), and each night the sky is lit with multicoloured fireworks like alchemical constellations. The people of Khinrai mastered gunpowder centuries before the gnomes of Carthas, and their fire-arrows and thunder-dragons fended off the Scourge and every other enemy that has ever beset them (or so they will tell you).

North of Khinrai lies the homeland of the Scourge, known variously as the Infinite Steppe, Sky's Conquest, the Wandering Lands or the Stormlands. The numerous nomadic peoples of these seemingly endless plains were forged into one by the crucible of Auktar's conquest, and the shock of this seems to not have worn off yet. Orcish horsemen, human bear-riders, elves on hawk-back and halflings mounted on wolves are some of the travelling folk of the Steppe - even the dwarves of the reaches of Chthonas beneath the plains are nomadic, journeying beneath the surface on trained moles and giant worm caravans.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:22, Wed 11 Jan 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 6 posts
Mon 10 Oct 2016
at 07:46

Ruetholm is a town of some 500 souls in the midst of the Tattered Marches, an island of relative stability around which those turbulent political waters lap. It is built inside the stump of an immense tree of truly staggering proportions, half a mile across at the base, with crater-like walls of jagged dead wood and thick bark all around reaching  between fifty and two hundred and fifty feet high. Access is gained by climbing stairs carved into the winding roots that lead up to these bole-walls, which are riddled with chambers, outlooks, overhangs and pierced with giant knot-holes that serve as gates. Inside, a visitor will find a dense and bustling town with houses built top each other around wooden columns, perched on gargantuan bracket fungi on the inside of the walls of built on massive support beams like artificial branches. Ornate rope and plank bridges and elevated walkways connect them, creating a city with height as well as breadth.

Places of Interest
  • The Acorn's Cup: The most popular inn and tavern in Ruetholm is owned and operated by a portly, cheerful, matronly dryad named Rhynwyla. She strives to maintain a friendly and peaceful air in her establishment and has no qualms about charming drunken or unruly patrons and sending them on their way. Speciality drinks of the house include honeysuckle mead and potent maple rum.
  • Cannthorolus's Forge: The most prestigious of the few smiths licensed to operate in Ruetholm, Cannthorolus is an old treant with a peculiar, some might say near-suicidal interest in metalworking and fire. His barky skin is pockmarked with burn-scars from embers leaping from his forge, and his caonpy is leaves has long since seared away. He is a skilled craftsman, however, with nearly a century of experience under his apron.
  • Heartstone Henge: A majority of the people of Ruetholm follow the druidic path perhaps because of the subtle majesty of the giant tree-stump in which they dwell, an undeniable symbol of nature's glory; or, more pragmatically, because it is a faith that asks very little from its adherents beyond a respect for the wilds. The faithful gather in Heartstone Henge, a stone circle in the middle of the marketplace on holy days for worship, attended by several druid acolytes.
  • Starstone Henge: A second stone circle sits not far outside of Ruetholm's walls. Here, the elder druids do the more important (to them) work of carving runes upon the granite menhirs, placing and observing crystal capstones, and taking careful astronomical measurements. They speak urgently and furtively amongst themselves about something they see in the stars, but close their mouths about it whenever outsiders come near.
  • Chapel of Saint Dennivar: For those of other faiths, the town houses a pleasant, airy chapel of the Great Church under a stained glass dome, watched over by a lay custodian, with ministrations provided by any priests who happen to be passing through on their way to elsewhere. The pious can come here to seek blessings and pray to whichever god or goddess takes their fancy, so there are usually a few folks in here at all hours of the day, though mass worship only occurs when a famous preacher happens to be visiting and wishes to sermonise.
  • Olomara of the Green: A famous herbalist that called Ruetholm home, Olomara is the author of the Verdant Codex, a well-respected almanac of natural medicines and plant lores among the scholars, botanists and even druids of Carthas. The halfling woman spends most of her days in the woods around the town or scaling its walls, investigating the magic-warped herbs and fungi that grow in knots and clefts in the wood. Her penchant for taste-testing them leads to her reputation as being as eccentric and vision-prone as a goliard of Zhenkeef.
  • The Dao's Den: Beneath the town, nestled amidst the roots of the great tree is a natural grotto that has been expanded and built into a place of business. It is less renowned that the Acorn's Cup, if only because the sorts of things that go on there are best spoken of in whispers and innuendo. The roots tap into natural hot springs, and these have been directed into a bathhouse that makes the atmosphere of the Dao's Den (literally and figuratively) steamy. The ordinary, decent, somewhat small-minded locals turn their nose up at this decadent den beneath their feet, and it is frequented only by travellers and the disreputable.

Notes on Ruetholm
  • For obvious reasons, fire is a great concern to the locals. Strangers must surrender flint and tinder as well as weapons at the gates, and magicians with a penchant for pyromancy are watched closely.
  • The vast tree that once stood here is known as Skybeam, or Kelthiolas in Elhmine. There are many legends about its creation and fall. Some blame an infestation of abyssal termites; or that the cloud giant king Strathomeer grew tired of the little folk climbing up to raid his treasury and hewed it down with his great axe Thunderfall; others that the wicked green dragon Lhygnovoer poisoned and gnawed down the tree out of sheer spite.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:05, Sun 15 Jan 2017.

Game Master
 GM, 82 posts
Sun 29 Jan 2017
at 19:00
Let this document serve as Solemn and Lawful notice and record of the Charter of the sodality of freelances, sellstaves, rogues of fortune, devil-darers and experts in matters diverse, recondite and perilous known forward and forever as the Guild Of Daring Deeds.

Hereby incepted on this day, the Seventh and Tenth of the Month of Doors, 901 RC, in the Free Hold of Ruetholm, all Signatories of this Charter do affirm and avow the following articles, before the sight of Steel-Eyed Maal and all the Gods, on pain of behexment:

  • Article the First: the Guild shall be an organisation of Peers and Equals. No man nor woman shall be above another by virtue of birth, profession or tenure, kind or sex, and all Guild business shall be determined by unanimous vote, or else a vote of the majority.
  • Article the Second: from the members of the Guild shall be elected an alderman, who shall chair meetings of the Guild, and who shall speak for the Guild when a singular voice is required, and who shall break deadlocks of the Guild with their vote. Notwithstanding these duties, the alderman shall be bound by Article the First. Also from the members of the Guild shall be elected a treasurer, who shall keep accounts of the Guild purse as delineated in Article the Third. Notwithstanding this duty, the treasurer shall be bound by Article the First.
  • Article the Third: one piece in ten of the profits of the Guild shall be placed aside in a common Purse, from which shall be drawn coin to pay for provisioning as needed by all. Also from this Purse shall be drawn coin to pay for the compensation, comfort or curing of any signatory who is afflicted by Infection, Dismemberment, Madness, Infestation, Mutilation, Immolation, Evisceration, Petrification, Damnation, Mauling, Envenoming, Maiming, Gouging in or about the Eyes... (it continues in this manner at some length)... or else for expenses of a Funerary nature.
  • Article the Fourth: the residue of the profits of the Guild shall be divided equally amongst all signatories who participate in those ventures which produce them.
  • Article the Fifth: the Purpose of the Guild is mutual enrichment, promotion of the Good Repute of its signatories, and the accomplishment of deeds grand and remarkable. To this end, the signatories agree that they shall take up any challenge, adventure or assignation brought to them for which a fair price may be rendered, without Fear or Favour of political nature or heed to the dangers to Body, Mind and Soul that may be entailed.
  • Article the Sixth: if a challenge, adventure or assignation be deemed Morally Reprehensible by the Guild (in accordance with the procedures of Article the First), it may be justly refused without Breach of Charter.
  • Article the Seventh: if a challenge, adventure or assignation for which fair price has been tendered is refused or ignored by any members of the Guild, those members shall be held in Breach of Charter.
  • Article the Eighth: if any signatory of the Guild derelicts their duties to the extent of being absent from the company of the Guild for a sevenday or more, they shall be held in Breach of Charter.
  • Article the Ninth: should any knave of bold character and exceptional talent wish to join the Guild, they must affirm and avow all these Articles, and the signatories of the Guild shall place their name to a vote.

This Charter and its Articles shall remain in effect until the Eighth and Tenth of the Month of Doors, 902 RC, unless renewed by vote of the Signatories.

Breach of Charter

Acknowledging that Breach of Charter is a dire matter indeed, invoking the forfeiture of Good Name and a stain upon the Immortal Soul of the one who so violates their sworn oath, the Signatories of this Charter do hereby pledge before Grave Maal and all the Gods that should they fall so far into folly, they accept willingly and justly the following censures, wrought upon them by means Terrible and Arcane:

  • Skylark's wing Aulus Decentus of the Eyries of Urian shall be struck by agoraphobia, and when he beholds Radiant Urian's vast heavens shall know not their glory, but only the knocking of his knees, the trembling of his hands and the watering of his bladder;
  • Sword Cassian Black of the Courts of Maal will know not right from wrong, and shall see not the black of injustice nor the white of law, but only greying shades of moral relativity;
  • Guen Long Kai, called the Sweet Shooter, shall be forsaken by his Patron, and shall know the role of a piece of grit in the cogs of Fate;
  • Largos Kell, freeman of Ruetholm shall know not the satisfaction of being an apprentice to the arts Arcane and Scholastic; nor of being a ne'er-do-well in a band of ne'er-do-wells; nor of being an adventurer and Guildsman of Daring Deeds; nor of being a man of Trade, of Service, of Profession nor of any other good purpose, and shall be as an aimless wastrel all his days;
  • Niccolo Rosso shall meet his great-grandfather;
  • Ser Parreck Chorster, the Golden Hero, the Saviour of Uppersea, the Spearhand, the Rising Hawk, the Dragonslayer, etc, etc, shall be known by his true deeds and worth by all who meet him. Also his manhood, known as the Lance of Love which sets even the divine loins of Fairest Aymara aflame, shall be struck down from three full spans to the proportions of an earthworm, and shall be blistered by the pox, and emit the smell of a musk ox in high summer, and all maidens shall know it is so;
  • Tharnok, of No Last Name, shall be as the beast he is acclaimed to be, and shall not know respite from the Rage that boils in his veins, and shall be driven from civilisation like an animal frothing at the maw;
  • Wyn Auruma of the Peregrine shall have the Fire in her Heart quenched, and know neither passion, nor appetite, nor the powers of sorcery;

Let the faith of this company in the Guild and one another and our courage be a bulwark against these curses ever coming upon our heads!

We, the undersigned:
Cassian Black
Kai Sweetshot
Wyn Auruma
Largos Kell
Parreck Chorster
Niccolo Rosso
Aulus Decentus