Background and Setting

A game that seems to change settings every couple of years; currently following the Age of Worms Adventure Path.

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Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:40 am

The Age of Worms

Since the beginning of history, humanity has measured time in Ages. Ages of Glory, of Dreams, and even of Great Sorrows mark the human tally of years, giving a sense of order to the events of past centuries. But one age has yet to occur—an age of darkness, of decay, and of writhing doom. Witty bards and wrathful preachers know it as the Age of Worms, weaving it into the peripheries of their passion plays as a mythic era of destruction that could begin at any time. Astrologers, diviners, and the servants of Fate know more. The canniest among them fear that the Age of Worms has already begun.

Even in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy—where life is best described as solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short—the Age of Worms represents something crueler and worse than the times that have gone before. Worse, perhaps, say the sages than the Reign of the evil Markrabs, the Uttermost War, the Time of Sorrows, or the Gnoll Times.
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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:41 am

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy

The Wilderlands comprise an area slightly smaller than the Mediterranean sea and surrounding lands. The Wilderlands are largely unexplored and overland travel is dangerous. There are few “nations.” Instead, the lands are dominated by “city states,” principle among them being the City State of the Invincible Overlord and Viridistan, the City of Spices—also known as the City State of the World Emperor.

Though the civilization of the Wilderlands centers mostly on the largest city states: Viridistan, the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Tarantis, Valon, Rallu and Tula, these locations are small in comparison to the vast forests, expansive plains, open seas, trackless deserts, imposing mountains and wild rivers. The light of civilization in the Wilderlands is a dim spark against the dark wilds. Long ago empires covered the region. But great wars, with the gods themselves fighting alongside men, has reduced the splendor of those past civilizations, leaving them in ruins. The most recent such war was the War of the Pious and Philosophers, pitting the followers of magic against the followers of science. That war was some 6000 years ago (though that date is disputed). Cities that do exist today are generally built on the sites of ancient cities, some among the ruins themselves. Broken roads, crumbled walls, sunken buildings and half-ruined towers dot the landscape, a constant reminder of the faded past.

Life in the Wilderlands can be summed up for the average commoner as follows: Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The average life expectancy is twenty years unless one lives in a walled city or town such as the City State, Viridistan, Thunderhold, Modron, Warwik or other large cities, in which it is only a little higher. Almost all Human families produce at least ten children, of whom two or three may live long enough to have children of their own. In the wilderness villages, wandering monsters and the raids of nomads, brigands and various humanoid species which are inherently evil are the bane of many. Rampant, unchecked disease is common to both walled city and wilderness village; so is infant mortality. The dangers of wandering monsters are lessened in a walled city or town, but the concentration of people in a small area leads to a high crime rate and poor sanitation; therefore, instead of being slain by a marauding dragon, a city dweller may have his throat slit for the contents of his purse. Few men manage to live past the ripe old age of thirty-five, and the fact that a man is fifty or sixty years old indicates great wisdom on his part (or an incredible run of luck).

Welcome to the Wilderlands, where life is cheap, travel is dangerous and a strong sword arm is worth more than a purse full of gold!
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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:48 am

The Ghinor Highlands

While most of this region is lowland filled with jungles and swamps, it is known as the Ghinor Highlands. The Ironfoot dwarves of the Over Doom Mountains are the most powerful political faction present in the area. The dwarves consider themselves the rightful rulers of the land but seem quite happy to keep to themselves and let others live as they wish, as long as their own territories remain undisturbed. The rest of the settlements are mostly small, independent communities with little to tie them together.

It is not uncommon to encounter exiled demonbrood from the Demon Empires in the region, especially in the secluded valleys of the highlands. The lowland regions of Ghinor capture much of the marine moisture, and heavy rains there are frequent. At higher elevations, temperatures are cooler and heavy precipitation less frequent, but still sufficient to create a lush and pleasant landscape. The uplands are considered to have an especially pleasant and tolerable climate, though the occasional demonbrood and other dangerous creatures keep settlers on their toes.
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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 10:54 am

Rastingdrung

Rastingdrung nestles in the lowland hills just north of the Pass of the Ram, about 60 miles southwest of Tula, the famed City of Mages. Although the small town of just under 2,000 people sits on the shores of Wooling Lake, its primary trade is iron and silver from the nearby mines. This trade draws hundreds of skilled and unskilled laborers and artisans, all hoping to strike it rich. As a result, the town’s mostly Ghinoran population has been supplemented with Karakhan merchants, Halfling traders, Dwarven craftsmen from the Ghinor Highlands above Shadow Castle Rise, and even a few Elves and Orcs.

In the hills surrounding the town, hundreds of laborers spend weeks at a time underground, breathing recycled air pumped in via systems worth ten times their combined annual salary. The miners are the chattel of Rastingdrung, its seething, tainted blood. But they are also Rastingdrung’s foundation, their weekly pay cycling back into the community via a gaggle of gambling dens, bordellos, ale halls, and temples. Because work in the mines is so demanding and dangerous, most folk come to Rastingdrung because they have nowhere else to turn, seeking an honest trade of hard labor for subsistence-level pay. Many are foreigners displaced from native lands by war or famine. For many, work in a Rastingdrung mine is the last honest step before utter destitution or crimes of desperation.

The town itself is a splotch of mud, smoke, and blood smeared across uneven terrain marked by countless irregular mounds and massive rocks. The oldest buildings pack the lakeshore, where fishing vessels once docked. That commerce has abandoned the town entirely, for the waters of Wooling Lake are now so polluted as to make fishing impossible. Many old warehouses have been converted into cheap housing for miners and laborers, and no one is safe after dark. As one walks north along the streets of Rastingdrung, the buildings become sturdier. A great earthen road called the Vein bisects the town. With few exceptions, those living south of the Vein enjoy a better life than the wretches living below it.

All of the town’s social classes congregate in the Vein’s central square. Roughly every two weeks, someone in the town upsets someone else so greatly that the only recourse is a duel to the death at the center of a ring of cheering miners. The bookmakers of the Emporium and the Feral Dog do brisk business on such occasions, which tend to draw large crowds. On less violent nights, the square is still home to a thousand pleasures and poisons.
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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:10 am

Visitors Guide to Rastingdrung

This post contains the basic facts about your starting location that just about anyone would figure out after a few days in town. It covers most (but not all) of the numbered locations on the map in previous post.

ENTERTAINMENT AND DINING

1. Zalamandra’s Emporium: Every week, hundreds of miners boil up from the depths, their pockets lined with freshly earned coin. The Emporium exists to separate the men from the money. The first floor’s central corridor features the “Gallery of Science,” a sideshow of freaks and eccentrics. The lushly decorated upper floor features a large gaming hall, with several rotating games of chance, an opium lounge, and the infamous Veiled Corridor, where any pleasure can be obtained for the right price.

2. Lazare’s House: Those seeking a relatively cultured nightspot often congregate at Lazare’s House, a cozy gaming parlor. In contrast to the ostentatious banners and chipped paint on the Emporium across the the street, Lazare’s exudes a quiet sense of class with a stylish stone and timber construction and distinctive crookedpeaked roof. Inside, Rastingdrung’s elite match wits over dragonchess, a popular game in which two sides of 42 pieces contest over three 96-square boards representing the sky, the earth, and the underworld.

3. The Feral Dog: Since both Lazare’s and the Emporium charge a small fee for entry, Rastingdrung’s poorest laborers must turn to a collection of run-down ale halls with more sullied reputations. The busiest by far is the Feral Dog. Every night and especially when the workforces of several local mines let out at the same time, cheering laborers within the bar scream obscenities and wave betting vouchers over two dogs in a lethal pit fight. No one savors the tinny ale, but the place is more about camaraderie, bravado, and desperation than about expecting exemplary quality or service.

8. The Hungry Gar: The head chef at the Hungry Gar claims to serve the finest meal on the Vein. He is mistaken.

14. The Midnight Salute: This by-the-numbers house of ill repute caters to the garrison crowd and anyone seeking a less exotic (and less expensive) experience than that offered by the Emporium’s legendary Veiled Corridor.

15. The Spinning Giant: When not drilling, sleeping, or on patrol, garrison soldiers flock to this raucous two-story tavern to meet with friends, chant drinking songs, and drown themselves in ale and good cheer. A blue-shingled roof tops filthy white plaster walls. A faded fresco painted on the building’s face depicts a dancing imbecilic hill giant in a yellow dress. Patrons must enter and exit via a door positioned between the giant’s legs.

25. The Rusty Bucket: Inside this popular restaurant, green stained-glass windows filter eerie light into the main dining room, where the intertwining melodies of a trio of pipers enhances an ethereal atmosphere. Guests dine in a large common room, with a handful of nicer tables situated in a roped-off area beside the main dining hall.

GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION

4. Church of Sashu: Each of the establishments along the Vein’s central square trade in the exploitation of human vice or false hope, and the tower-flanked Church of Sashu is certainly no exception. Within this austere stucco structure, the poorest of Rastingdrung’s poor huddle in a torch-lit sanctuary listening to fiery sermons.

6. Sheriff’s Office: Home to Rastingdrung’s small police force.

12. Garrison and Chapel of Athena: The refurbished ruin of a much older keep serves as home to more than 60 soldiers, with a few Amazons among them. A cadre of clerics and paladins of Athena provide spiritual and magical aid to the warriors from a stately chapel within the garrison fortress.

23. Kazadaran Covenant: Prominent members of the Mountain Dwarf towns from the south reside here, representing their communities’ interests in Rastingdrung.

29. Boneyard: The town’s overcrowded cemetery; silent followers of Grismal patrol and tend the grounds.

30. The Governor-Mayor’s Manor: The Governor-Mayor’s sprawling manor house squats atop the hill overlooking Rastingdrung, a tangle of scaffolding, wires, and workcrews. Protected by a wooden stockade wall, the manor houses the political apparatus of the town, including several meeting rooms and a courthouse.

33. Menhirs: This worn old stone ring is often visited by worshippers of Ki, and is sacred to druids and rangers.

36. Ziggurat of Many Steps: Adjacent to the garrison keep, this ancient ziggurat dominates Rastingdrung’s skyline. Within the walls dwell the monks of the Way of Many Steps. The senior monks rarely venture out of their well-guarded monastery fortress, although younger initiates may be encountered on the grounds of the garrison keep, or even in the town itself.

SHOPPING AND LODGING

5. Tidwoad’s: This meticulously arranged jewelry shop located on the Vein’s central square is as close to a bank as one can find in Rastingdrung. The gnome jeweler charges a 5% exchange tax on all gems traded for coins, and will buy non-gem valuables. He also hosts gnomish lodgers in the apartments above his workshop.

7. General Store: Tables line the walls within, stacked high with rope coils, lanterns, bottles, gloves, and gear. Wagon wheels rest against barrels filled with nails or candles. The inventory includes most common adventuring gear.

9. Jalek’s Flophouse: Jalek’s Flophouse, situated on Front Street within smelling distance of the lake, is the town’s most famous warehouse, as it houses nearly a hundred pitiful indigents fighting off destitution with a handful of copper. A rotting wooden framework within supports a lurching, mazelike second floor, where every step brings an alarming creak and the walls thrum with muffled conversation. No one has an address at Jalek’s — the room you have is the room you can keep. Most rooms lack doors, let alone locks.

13. Lakeside Stables: While the common folk of Rastingdrung have plenty of reason to despair of their living conditions, they remain several times more fortunate than the community’s horses, who predominantly dwell in the run-down Lakeside Stables.

16. The Captain’s Blade: This weapons shop stocks nearly any melee weapon imaginable, including those of masterwork quality.

17. Venelle’s: A redolence of fresh pine suffuses this handsome establishment, a distinctive structure that incorporates intricate carved patterns and upright logs. The shop is a bit chaotic, with various items piled on tables. Armor sits loosely on too-small dummies. This establishment carries most weapons and armor, including those of masterwork quality.

19. Tilgast Residence: As a private residence, this grand estate normally would be of little interest to a visitor. The owner, however, runs a side business out of his home: he maintains a well-managed stable enclosed in a stockade wall and charges wealthy visitors and a few residents of the town to stable a favorite horse within the compound, where a clutch of meticulous grooms tends to the animal’s every need.

21. Able Carter Coaching Inn: The Able Carter Coaching Company connects Rastingdrung to nearby towns and Tula via a fleet of horse-drawn coaches and an inn positioned at every leg of the journey. This hostelry offers 20 rooms for let and is the primary place of lodging for visitors who can afford better than Jalek’s Flophouse. The establishment includes an unremarkable tavern.

27. Osgood Smithy: The distinctive “O” maker’s mark of the establishment is a regional sign of quality powerful enough that lesser blacksmiths in neighboring communities often forge it to maintain competitive parity. The smith and his team of apprentices and journeyman smiths specialize in masterwork armor and household items like canteens, canisters, tools, and the like.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:10 pm

Humans of the Wilderlands

Humans are the most common race in the Wilderlands. Strictly speaking, the human race has no sub-races, only cultural and ethnic divisions — of which most humans unfortunately make far too much of a difference. Most humans in the Wilderlands are a mix of a number of bloodlines, with the most common being a mix of Altanian, Tharbrian and Ghinoran, though some may have Skandik, Avalonian, Viridian or even Amazonian blood. These mixed blood humans are the most numerous folk of the Wilderlands. Mixed blood humans tend to be rather warlike.

HUMAN SUBRACES

Human (mixed blood, i.e., no subrace)
As mentioned above, this is the default human—a mix of many bloodlines, including Altanian, Tharbrian, Ghinoran and others. These “normal” mixed blood humans constitute the great majority of humans in the Wilderlands and are listed here out of alphabetical order to reflect their numerical importance.
  • Description: Skin color ranging from fair to pale olive to reddish to any other slight tint; brown, blonde, black or red hair; brown, green or blue eyes; 5 ft. 8 in.; 160 lbs; typically Neutral.
Alryan
This is the name applied to the city folk of the large cities of the northern Wilderlands, such as the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Warwik and Modron. They are in fact a mix of Tharbrian and Altanian blood, but they consider themselves “civilized.” Most Alryans have disdain for the “uncivilized” barbarian Altanians to the south, and would be appalled if they knew of their actual close kinship. Wise city dwellers, Alryans have keen eyesight and are sensitive to the body language of many races. They consider a highly developed sense of humor is the prerequisite to civilized conduct.
  • Description: Skin color ranging from fair to olive to reddish skin (due to the Altanian influence), brown hair, brown eyes, 5 ft. 8 in., 170 lbs, average build, typically Neutral.
Antillian
Antillians, centered on the city of Antil, are a further admixture of Alryan with more Orichalan, Tharbrian, elven, and (now extinct) Antili blood. Where Alryans are wise and wryly humorous, Antillians are cunning and disarmingly vicious. Antillians are terrifying merchants, willing and able to swindle at the drop of a copper; they are also a proud people, and they have taken the tradition of vendetta to hitherto unknown heights. Antillians are graceful, with very lithe features and slightly pointed ears, though to mistake one for a half-elf is to ask for a duel. Antillians wear rich, colorful clothing, the more ostentatious the better, and prefer light, quick weapons, such as rapiers and stilettos. Antillians consider women to be chattel, to be used to further political and mercantile relationships. Antillians are notorious slavers, considering other races destined only for servitude. They despise Amazons, and believe them to be fit only for concubinage.
  • Description: Swarthy olive skin, black hair, brown eyes, 5 ft. 6 in., 150 lbs, light build, typically Neutral Evil.
Avalonian
Many of the common humans in the city of Valon share some lineage with their more pure blooded nobles, as well as their affinity for the sea and ice. Common Avalonians are expert craftsmen, sailors and shipwrights. Many common occupants of Valon have taken one level of Sorcerer to aid their sailing skills or crafts, as 0-level spells are freely taught even to children.
  • Description: Pale skin with light blue tints, hair of any color, but body hair such as eyebrows and beards are usually tinted with platinum, gray or black eyes, 6 ft, 200 lbs, sleek and muscular build, typically Neutral Good.
Orichalan
There are few of these folk left, as most people with Orichalan blood have been hunted down by the Altanians. Most that still exist either live in isolated communities (such as the Moonraker Moor Folk or the Roglo River Folk) or live in areas where they are not persecuted (such as in the city of Malikarr or in southern Oricha). Nevertheless, some remain in various regions of the Wilderlands, detailed below. Each share the same racial traits and description.
  • Common Orichalans: These can be found in the southern end of the Orichan Peninsula or in the strange city of Malikarr on Thrinakia Isle. Interestingly, Common Orichalans (particularly those in the southern portion of the Orichan Peninsula) can be some of the most visciously anti-Orichalan, perhaps as a result of their “tainted blood,” over which they had no control.
  • Moonraker Moor Folk: They exist now primarily in the Moonraker Moorlands between the Howling Hills and the Dearthwood, south of Byrny and north of the River Eorlbane. They respect the sanctity of the Rorystone Road, but anyone that wanders off the road is regarded as fair game. Unlike the more “civilized” Common Orichalans, Moor-Folk revere the gods of the moon and nature spirits. They travel far and wide across the Wilderlands to fulfill ancient rituals at long-lost altars and monoliths. Females are rare, and usually are powerful in the ways of sorcery.
  • Roglo River Folk: The Roglo River-Folk descended from the merchants of the long-fallen Dragon Empire. These merchants plied their trade up and down the Great Estuary of Roglaroon, as well as along the seacoast and other nearby river systems, though they maintained their homes in the cities, and mingled with other races. When the Dragon Empire fell millennia ago, the ancestors of the Roglo remained on the waters, as it was the safest place during the terrible barbaric anarchy that followed that time. Today they trade goods from the City State to Modron, and from Modron to the port cities along the north and eastern coasts of the Pazidan Peninsula. They are regarded as a necessary evil by most city folk. The Roglo are allies of the Mer-Elves of the Roglaroon, though they are less friendly with the Cresparine Merfolk, and are mercantile rivals to the Tritons of the Coral Kingdom.
  • Description: Slight purple cast to skin, some of which may also have patches of slight scales like snakeskin; dark hair, often black or with purplish highlights; amber or grey eyes; 6 ft., 180 lbs, lean build, typically Neutral or Neutral Evil.
Viridian
Common Viridians are the basal population of the cities, towns and villages surrounding the Falling Empire of Viridistan. Their primary stock is Tharbrian, dominated for thousands of years by the True Viridians (of which the Green Emperor and his Empress-wife are thankfully the last), and intermixed with a dollop of True Viridian blood. Common Viridians make up the bulk of the farmers, artisans, craftsmen, and merchants of the Empire. The green tinge to their skin is usually looked down upon in the east, while the greener the skin, the better, in the west near Viridistan.
  • Description: Pale skin with varying tints of green, tawny or blonde hair, green eyes, 5 ft. 6 in., 150 lbs, average build, typically Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.
Dunael
Dunael Woods-Folk originated in Dearthwood, where most can still be found, locked in eternal struggle against the Orcs of the Purple Claw. The Dunael are descended from an ancient alliance of Orichalan, Tharbriana, Amazon, and Altanian clans, with a bit of elven blood, blended centuries ago into a single culture. Today they are few in numbers and remain hard-pressed by their orcish enemies. The Dunael, though semi-barbaric today, once had a great culture, and claim to be descended from the ancient Orichalans that inhabited the city where now stands the City State. The Dunael no longer have a king, but are ruled by the Captain of the Rangers, an ally of the Invincible Overlord.
  • Description: Bronzed tan skin, coal black hair, blue or green eyes, 5 ft. 8 in., 170 lbs, average build, typically Chaotic Good or Neutral Good.
Ghinoran
Ghinorans are the remnants of the Ghinoran Successor States from the ancient Kelnoran Empire, which fell thousands upon thousands of years ago. They occupy the lands of the southwestern crescent of the Sea of Five Winds from Lenap to Tlan and across to Chim, as well as the regions to the south approaching the Demon Empires and north above Lenap. Though some vestige of civilization is returning to people are mostly tribal and warlike. Ghinorans may also be found near Tarsh and in the isolated kingdom of Damkina as all are related to ancient Kelnore in some way. The people of Rallu claim to be descended from the ancient Sea Kings of Kelnore and are also Ghinoran (though their lineage comes from Tarsh or Damkina).
  • Description: Various skin colors ranging from bronzed near the deserts to olive in Tlan and dusky in Chim, brown or tawny hair, brown or green eyes, 5 ft. 10 in., 150 lbs, average build, typically Neutral.
Gishmesh
The Gishmesh are the people of the City State of Tarantis and the surrounding lands. The race that is today known as the Gishmesh come from the tribesmen that defeated the declining Kingdom of Kelnore in ancient times. In fact, the Gishmesh were once two very distinct tribes, the Gishemesh and the Paldorian. To this day, people of that region trace their lineage to one of those two tribes, though their joinder has made their physiological distinctions minor. The culture of the Gishmesh still retains its tribal feel. The people are ruled by Sultans and are ruthless merchants and pirates.
  • Description: Bronzed skin, brown or black hair, any color eyes, 5 ft. 8 in., 140 lbs, slight build, typically Lawful Evil.
Karakhan
Known as Horse Lords, Karakhan are the people of the far-off Kingdom of Karak to the east. They trade with Tarantis and Rallu and mercenary bands and outcasts from the kingdom can be found throughout the Wilderlands. Karakhans are ruled by a number of petty kings, all of whom pay homage to the High King. Theirs is an organized and clan-based society with a caste system that stifles advancement and leads some to seek their fortunes elsewhere. They export many exotic items and have some of the best mercantile magicians who produce wondrous craft items — robes that shimmer like stars, sculpture that seems to flow like water and weapons of fantastic craftsmanship. They value ritualized wrestling and arenas can be found in every village. Pointed helms with leather neck guards are common amongst warriors and leaders have dyed leather strips attached to the point for identification. They pride themselves as the best mounted archers in the world (better than even the Tharbrian nomads). Horses are common in their home kingdom and every citizen, it is said, owns at least one horse and rides each day. All citizens are required to keep armor and lance at the ready. The Karakhan of the Wilderlands have developed a strong dislike for Viridians, whether due to imperial pride or culture clash is not known.
  • Description: yellow skin, black or red hair, green eyes, 5 ft. 2 in., 120 lbs, average build though often bowlegged, typically Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.
Skandik
The Skandik Sea Wolves are a well-muscled waterloving race. They are ritually birthed in the water and spend most of their youth learning the ways of the sea. They build their towns only along coastlines and their longships raid the surrounding areas. They pay homage to Jarls and organize themselves into clan villages. Only true warriors are allowed to wear beards, which are a sign of manhood. They are renowned swimmers and sailors. Many, strangely, have webbed toes. They traditionally worship the gods Odin, Thor and the Norse pantheon. They inhabit the northern coast above the City State west of Warwik as well as the southern stretch of the Pagan Coast and a number of the isles in that region of the Winedark Sea.
  • Description: Pale skin, blonde or strawberry blonde hair, blue or green eyes, 5 ft. 9 in., 180 lbs., stocky build, typically Neutral.
Tharbrian
Tharbrians are eternal nomads of the central Wilderlands, having migrated into the Wilderlands from the far West. Their ancestors, the Tharbrian Wild-Men are responsible for many invasions into the Pazidan Peninsula and the lands of the Viridistan and the City State. Though still primarily nomadic and warlike, some have settled into more permanent villages and have become accepted in cities throughout the region. The city of Modron was founded ages ago by less nomadic Tharbrians in honor of the goddess Modron whom the Tharbrians freed from ancient captivity. Most Tharbrian nomads are men and women of honor and battle. They believe in a strict warrior code that forbids the slaughter of innocents or the murder of those that have fought valiantly. Among some, this code seems to be a disdain for all things not dealing with war. The conquered are kept as slaves to tend to the herds and perform other labor that is beneath the warriors of this society. Women are equal to men in Tharbrian society. Tharbrian smiths are renown for their sword making skills, and the Tharbrian saber is infamous in battle, more so when wielded by a Tharbrian warrior.
  • Description: Ruddy tan skin, tawny brown, or raven black hair, blue or green eyes, 5 ft. 7 in., 160 lbs., light build, typically Chaotic Neutral.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:28 pm

Dwarves of the Wilderlands

Sturdy and strong, dwarves are tireless workers and fearsome opponents in battle. They were created in ancient days by their god, Kazadarum, The Rock-Father. Dwarves are very clannish.

DWARF SUBRACES

Dwarf (mixed blood, i.e., no subrace)
  • Description: Dwarves are a short and stocky race, and stand about a foot shorter than most humans, with wide, compact bodies that account for their burly appearance. Male and female dwarves pride themselves on the length of their hair, and men often decorate their beards with a variety of clasps and intricate braids
City Dwarf
The Kazadrach, or City Dwarves, are the most commonly encountered dwarves in the cities and towns. Most city dwarves are smiths, jewelers, merchants, or alchemists. City dwarf men trim their beards short and neat, or simply wear large, flowing moustaches. Women do not grow facial hair. City dwarves can also be found in the southern city of Chim.
  • Description: Tan skin, red, brown or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, 4 ft. 0 in., 160 lbs, portly build, typically Neutral.
Hill Dwarf
The Kazadurul, or Hill Dwarves, are a coarse, insular warrior race. The clan thane is the highest social class of the Kazadurul, as the clan folk believe the only true Dwarf King is Kazadarum. Clan warriors often work together in mercenary troops, fighting for one or more of the human lords, though they will never fight another dwarf troop in such a manner. Kazadurul females are equal to males, as the birth rates are more equal among the hill clans; some even become warriors. Kazadurul are as likely to work with wood as stone and metal, and most of their villages are above ground, with buildings of stone and wood. Hill dwarf men grow beards, but not as ostentatious as the mountain dwarves. Women do not grow beards, but often grow moustaches and sideburns. Hill dwarves are typically armed with greataxes and armored in chain shirt or splint mail. Hill dwarves worship Kazadarum with zealous exclusivity, and consider mountain and city dwarves to be heretical for their polytheism.
  • Description: Bronze skin, brown hair, green eyes, 4 ft. 2 in., 170 lbs, stocky build, typically neutral.
Mountain Dwarf
The Kazadaran, or Mountain Dwarves, are the most ordered and hide-bound of a very stubborn race. Though perhaps best known to reside in Thunderhold, Mountain Dwarves have resided in many underground kingdoms, including the famed dwarf kingdom north of Tarsh. Their society emphasizes honor and obedience to social superiors. They pay very close attention to ritual and precedence; every mountain dwarf has his own position in the social order, and knows exactly where he stands in respect to everyone else. Mountain dwarf women are rare (only 1 in 10 are female), and so are kept secreted from the rest of the world, as they are considered the most precious of treasures. Mountain dwarf men are very proud of their beards, and let them grow throughout their entire lives, braiding them and decorating them with gems and jewels. Women grow beards just like their men, though they are not as vain about them as their men folk. Mountain dwarves are typically armed with warhammers and armored in breastplate or half-plate, while nobles wear full plate or even mithral plate. Mountain dwarves revere Kazadarum, but also worship Goibhnie the Divine Smith, Rosmerta the Bountiful, and Odin the All-Father.
  • Description: Tan or ruddy pink skin, fiery red hair, blue eyes, 4 ft. 5 in., 180 lbs, stocky build, typically Lawful Good.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:35 pm

Gnomes of the Wilderlands

Gnomes are believed to be faeries that have somehow lost their ties to the land, though they are still very earthy, and love the forests and hills. Some sages claim that the gnomish race is descended from a magical cross between faeries and dwarves, though all three races deny this vehemently. Gnomes are actually fairly rare, there being only the single major settlement of them in the east, in the village of Lightelf. Other gnomes are encountered uncommonly in the cities and towns, the deep forests, and haunted hills. Unlike other many other races, gnome subraces vary little in their appearance. The differences among the subraces are primarily cultural.

GNOME SUBRACES

Gnome (typical, i.e., no subrace)
Gnomes are one of the smallest of the common races, generally standing just over 3 feet in height. Their hair tends toward vibrant colors such as the fiery orange of autumn leaves, the verdant green of forests at springtime, or the deep reds and purples of wildflowers in bloom. Similarly, their flesh tones range from earthy browns to floral pinks, frequently with little regard for heredity.

City Gnomes
City gnomes have been found in the cities of man since time immemorial. They are a sorcerous race, steeped in the ways of illusion and phantasms. They also are highly respected as alchemists and herbalists, and, perhaps, second only to the dwarves in renown as brewers of ale and beer. Some are renowned tinkers, and no few city lords have a gnome sage, teacher, or mechanic in their employ, to work on interesting clockwork golems, clocks, and other unusual constructs.

Forest Gnomes
Forest gnomes are pudgy, roly-poly recluses who live in deep forests, away from other creatures save sylvan animals and faeries. They form fast friendships with woodland animals. They live in burrows, tree-stumps, and earth-covered homes, similar to halfling burrows, much like brownies and leprechauns, who are their greatest allies. They wear pointed hats in mixed company (usually brown or green, never red-colored) and rarely leave the forests. Like their city cousins these gnomes are renowned for their herbalism and brewing skills. They are mistaken for simple comical, whimsical, rustic creatures by other races, and as such their powers are often underestimated.

Lightelf Gnomes
Lightelf gnomes are unlike their cousins in that they have abandoned the ways of magic in favor of martial studies. They are hunters, and trappers, farmers and gatherers. They are an embittered people, stuck between the human powers of the Skandiks and the City State, lorded over by the former, corrupted by the latter. Their society is in flux, and on the edge of extinction. Many Lightelf gnomes have left their home to find a better living elsewhere. They seek in most cases to serve their city cousins as guards and mercenaries; most accept them, though they are wary of them, for the Lightelf gnomes are a comparatively grim lot. Forest gnomes dislike them, while the Red Caps hate them no more or less than they hate everything.

Red Cap Gnomes (not a playable subrace)
Red Cap gnomes are an insane breed of gnome that lives in ruins and barren hills. Legends say that they have been so since the Uttermost War, long ages ago. Some legends say that their minds shattered during the great battles of those days, or that their entire race was cursed, or even that they fell into evil and degeneracy when they tried to call upon powers too great for their minds. Regardless of their origins, the Red Caps of today are a race of psychopaths, seeking only to commit the most horrid atrocities they can before they die. However, they are also, for the most part, cowards, and remain in their haunted homes, far from other peoples, festering in their own hate. Sometimes a slightly sane Red Cap will leave the dread burrows and seek out a life elsewhere. Dark lore indicates that the Red Cap gnomes are the forerunners of the Kobold races.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:42 pm

Halflings of the Wilderlands

Halflings rise to a humble height of 3 feet. They prefer to walk barefoot, leading to the bottoms of their feet being roughly calloused. Tufts of thick, curly hair warm the tops of their broad, tanned feet. Their skin tends toward a rich almond color and their hair toward light shades of brown. A halfling’s ears are pointed, but proportionately not much larger than those of a human.

HALFLING SUBRACES

Halfling (common, i.e., no subrace)
The most commonly encountered halfling race is that of halflings of the cities and towns of the Wilderlands. They concentrate on the skills and crafts they consider most valued in the cities, the ones that they tend to perform best, such as cooking, baking, tavern-keeping, and other food service, as well as leatherworking, haberdashery, tabac vending, and mercantile concerns. A fair number of these folk also enjoy working in entertainment, as well as more questionable practices, such as burglary and more esoteric roguish schemes.

Highland Halflings
Highlands Halflings look not unlike small versions of the local Altanians with slightly redder skin and proportionally larger, hairier feet. They are a Shire folk, and prefer to be left alone by the Altanians in order to grow their pipeweed, tend to their small farms of potatoes and maize, and husband their herds of small llamas. They trade regularly with the Altanians, who find favor with the Halfling's weed, their cheeses, vegetables, and wood products. Highland Bounders (the guardians of the boundaries of the Shire) typically wear leather armor and carry short swords and slings. The few priests they have are mostly druidic.

Stouts
Stouts obviously have some elements of dwarven and probably gnomish blood, for they are very stout, and are the only halflings of the region known to wear large, curly beards under their great potato-shaped nose. Stouts are known for their famous Blue Tabac, the most potent pipeweed grown in the Wilderlands. The Bulwarkshire Bounders are, however, a boisterous lot, more than happy to crack open a head or two if that is what it takes for their land to be left in peace. They wear chain shirts, hand axes, and hand crossbows. They do not worship the gods in general, figuring if they leave the gods alone, the gods will return the favor. Some of the Bounders, however, revere Odin or Mitra, for their martial and protective qualities.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 1:57 pm

Elves of the Wilderlands

There are many major elven settlements in the Wilderlands, not counting the scores of small villages and camps found in forest and glade. While each of the different settlements has its own history and idiosyncrasies, most of the elves living therein, regardless of the distance involved, maintain a moderately unified culture. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, and there are a number of strange and unusual elven societies.

Elven Subraces

High Elf (common, i.e., no subrace)
Most of the elves of the northern portion of the Wilderlands are of the high elven race, by far the most common of the subraces of the elves. Most high elven folk consider their settlements to form a single, widely dispersed kingdom, known as Alfheim. Each lord of a settlement is King in his own realm, answerable only to the High King, though there has not been a unified High King for centuries. The high elves are the greatest allies of the Dunael Woods-Folk, forming a united front against the Orcs of the Purple Claw in Dearthwood. A few high elves turn from the merry ways of their brothers and strive to return to the ancient legends among humans and elves.
  • Description: Pale white to silver skin, black hair, blue eyes, 5 ft. 8 in., 140 lbs, lean build, typically Chaotic Good.
Grey Elf
The gray elves are the closest living embodiment of the ancient elvish archetype, though even in their mighty eyes can be seen the eventual passing of their race. Gray elves are stately, contemplative, courtly, exacting beings, not taken to merriment or quick action. They are very rare. The grays that decide to take a hand in modern events make history and forge legends. The most recent such was Vanuviel Glamdring, who helped found the City State of the Invincible Overlord and established one of the most important dynasties in the region. His descendants founded Ashenshaft and Palewood. There is a contingent of gray elves in Onhir as well.
  • Description: Ivory white skin, gold or silver hair, violet or amber eyes, 6 ft. 0 in., 160 lbs, lean build, typically Lawful Good.
Alvar
The northern elves, also known as Alvar, or Blue Elves, arrived from the Great Glacier to the north. These northern elves do not recognize close kinship with other elves, considering all other elves to be cultural degenerates of the original breed, save perhaps the gray elves, whom they respect for their ancient ways but disdain for their peaceable lifestyle. The Alvar claim but a single settlement in the Roglaras for themselves, Seasteadholm on Goodholm Haven, on the Warwik Peninsula.
  • Description: Pale blue skin, platinum hair, blue eyes, 6 ft. 0 in., 160 lbs, average build, typically Neutral.
Altani
The southern elves, also known as Altani Elves, or Red Elves, are a barbaric race from Barbarian Altanis. Like the human folk there they live in savagery, preferring the atavistic ways of the barbarian to the civilized ways of their ancestors.
  • Description: Pale red skin, tawny hair, red eyes, 5 ft. 0 in., 100 lbs, lean build, typically Neutral.
Wild Elf
Wild elves are the most reclusive of the elven folk, next to the dark elves, though unlike their grim cousins, the wild elves do not go out of their way to trouble other races. The Green Elves, as they are also known, just want to be left alone, even by other elves. Many tribes have forsaken advanced technology and only use stone and wood. They reside in the deepest forests and hidden valleys. A tribe of wild elves is known to reside in the Darkling Woods, where they seek refuge from the world at large, and maintain it by slaying all who enter their domain, hanging the bodies from the boughs of trees on the edge of the forest.
  • Description: Nut brown or green skin, green or tawny brown hair, green eyes, 5 ft. 4 in., 100 lbs, lean build, typically Chaotic Neutral.
Wood Elf
Wood elves are the rustic cousins of the high elves, paying lip service to the concept of Alfheim, and living however they please otherwise. They prefer to live in forests and wilderness, away from other races as much as possible, though they are not as murderously xenophobic as their wild elf cousins. Their main realms are the northern Dearthwood (where they actually work with the Elves of Alfheim in Dearthwood), though they may be found in most fair forests and woods of the Wilderlands. They avoid cities and towns, disdaining even the villages of more civilized folk. They are at eternal odds with orcs, goblins, and trolls, even moreso than their wild elven cousins.
  • Description: Tan white skin, blonde or coppery red hair, green eyes, 5 ft. 4 in., 120 lbs, lean build, typically Neutral.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:03 pm

Half-Elves and Half-Orcs of the Wilderlands

Half-Elves are relatively common in the Wilderlands, since their ability to conform to nearly any environment ensures their survival. Half-Orcs, on the other hand, are relatively rare, as few of them survive to maturity. In either case, they are as varied as their parent races. Either may take on cultural or physical characteristics of the subrace of their human parent. In addition, Half-Elves also may share characteristics with the subrace of their elven parent.


Other Races of the Wilderlands (playable races)

ALTANIANS
The “barbarian” Altanians occupy the portion of the Pazidan Peninsula south of the City State of the Invincible Overlord known as Barbarian Altanis. Families are organized into animal totem clans within each tribe. Some clans remain completely nomadic in nature, while most have settled into a semi-nomadic way of life, settling in small ramshackle villages. Clans include Grizzly Bear (the largest tribe), Mountain Lion, Forest Ape, Tusked Boar, Gray Wolf, and Spotted Wolverine. Altanians are among the most renowned trackers in the world. Altaninians maintain their youth and vigor through old age, and then continue with a mature physique until the day that they die — though few ever live to reach the natural end of their life. Altanian society (non-nomadic tribes) is dominated by the women, who own all chattel and property, save the weapons wielded by the warrior men. The men follow the Way of the Sword, which is a quasi-religious cult led by Sword Knights — Altanians that have earned the right to carry Ancestral Swords (mostly Greatswords). Warriors that are not Knights are members of one of several Warrior Lodges, including the Red Lion, Amber Serpent, Blue Bear, Gray Stallion, Black Eagle, White Wolf, and Green Drake Lodges. Warrior women have a single lodge, the Ivory Swan. Most women stay at home, tending to small gardens with their druidic abilities, while the men go hunting and raiding, or form mercenary bands and adventure in other regions. There are reputedly some pureblooded Altanians, with the darkest blood red skin, who claim descent from various Chaos Lords — powerful inhuman creatures from the Chaos Planes of the Netherworld.
  • Description: Copper to reddish brown to blood red (purebloods) skin, sandy to black (pure bloods) hair, hazel eyes, 5 ft. 6 in., 180 lbs, average to stocky build, typically Neutral or Chaotic Neutral.
AMAZONS
Known in the northern lands as “Shield-Maidens” due to their disdain for armor other than shields, the Amazons are a race of humanoids dominated by the female. They are said to have originated in the Ament Lands, far to the south, and over millennia migrated, pillaged, and battled their way north. In the north, Amazons can be found in their castle near Sea Rune on the Pagan coast north of Ossary. They can also be found in the southern lands in and around the city of Rallu and near Ghinor and the Ament Tundra. Mercenary Amazons can be found in nearly every fighting force in the Wilderlands. Friendly with most forest dwelling races, they often unite to protect an area endangered by woodsmen or some natural calamity. Amazons frequently have trained animal companions. The Amazons near Sea Rune are rumored to use trained lions as pets. Highly dexterous and very well toned, they are noted for preferring little or no armor in combat. In grouped combat, they fight in unison as if telepathically linked with their sisters. They often anticipate the tactics of opponents. Amazons take their captives as slaves, though only the female slaves are put to work. Male slaves (including male Amazons) are used solely for reproductive purposes and sport. Pure lineage Amazon males are often traded between queens of different tribes. Male Amazons are not pampered as are the female concubines of other races, they are instead expected to maintain themselves in top athletic condition, though not to learn the ways of war.
  • Description: Fair to light brown skin, blonde or red hair, green eyes, 5 ft. 6 in., 110 lbs., lithe to voluptuous build, typically Lawful Neutral.
NOBLE (TRUE) AVALONIANS
The Avalonians are the noblest of people, in their own minds if nowhere else. The tall, thin Avalonians dress in wealthy clothing, for all the Avalonianclans are of noble blood, and all Avalonians hold a noble title, even the least citizen. They are also merchants by profession and control nearly all trade in the Uther Pentwegern Sea as well as the northern reaches of the Winedark Sea. Their city, Valon, is built right upon the sea, and consists of gold and silver tower-girt islands divided by stone-lined canals which freeze over in winter. Swimming is natural to these folk. They are also superlative sailors and shipwrights. Most Avalonians have some sort of magical training, typically cold, water, and/or ice magic. The wizards and sorcerers of this race are unsurpassed in the North, rivaled only by the wizards of Tula. Some claim to be descended from an ancient admixture of merfolk and an unknown extra-planar folk from the Elemental Plane of Water or Ice. Sage comparisons between the Avalonians and the green-skinned Viridians cause violence to erupt most unexpectedly from this otherwise peaceful folk.
  • Description: Pale blue skin, platinum blonde hair, silver eyes, 6 ft. 4 in., 200 lbs, sleek and muscular build, typically Lawful Good.
DORINS
Desert dwellers that prefer hot climates, Dorins have an extra membrane that covers their eyes; they only blink when surprised, and only close their eyes when sleeping. Dorins travel the great sandy wastes of the Wilderlands as maritime sailors travel the seas. Dorins have a talent for learning languages. They also have an affinity for fire, and pass down pyromancy spells from generation to generation. Affable, their good humor often disarms suspicious strangers. Many tribes follow the Way of Mycr the Unknown, and are a main strength of the Holy Cities of the Desert Lands. They are rare in the regions of the City State and areas to the east, not liking the wet and (for them) cold climate.
  • Dorins have bronze skin, black hair, brown eyes, and stand just over 6 feet tall. They are typically lawful good or neutral good and weigh around 180 pounds.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:50 pm

Deities and Religion in the Wilderlands

From the just rule of Mitra to the coiling evil of Set; from the River Goddess Modron who walks the streets of her town to the evil sea god of Viridistan, Armadad Bog; from the strange and monotheistic Mycretians to the barbarian god Odin, deities and their followers play a key role in the Wilderlands. There are many deities in the Wilderlands—so many, in fact, that even a character with many, many ranks in Knowledge: Religion would be hard pressed to name them all. In the Wilderlands, the word “deity” covers a broad range of beings—true greater “gods” with the power of creation, lesser gods, demigods, animal spirits, forgotten gods, alien gods, god-priests and living gods that wander the world and are worshiped.

All deities, however, by definition, deal in divine magic. “Deity,” meaning a source of divine power, should be distinguished from a “god,” meaning a thing or object that is worshiped. Anything that is worshiped can be a god, regardless of whether there is any divine force behind it. Besides commonly acknowledged “gods,” many spirits live near or within objects, geological features, fauna, flora, artifacts, winds, and buildings. Rare is the natural feature that does not have a corresponding minor deity that is worshiped by the local populace. Some have even achieved some degree of importance, such as the Toad-god of the Mermist Swamp.

Most of the denizens of the Wilderlands are polytheistic, believing in many gods and spirits, with a few notable exceptions such as the Mycretians who follow the god Mycr (monotheistic) and the worshipers of the foreign gods of Pegana (a pantheon of multiple gods that allows for no other gods). Because of the sparse population of the Wilderlands there are few truly large and organized religions, except perhaps for Armadad Bog whose worship has spread due to the influence of Viridistan. Even Mitra, a lawful good god who is widely worshiped, does not have an overarching organization of his clergy over more than one region of the Wilderlands. Thus, worshipers of the various gods—once away from their temple hierarchies—have great leeway in enforcing the will of the deities.


Major Deities Worshipped Everywhere in the Wilderlands
  • Athena, Battle Goddess of Wisdom
    • LG, Good, Knowledge, Law, War
  • Harmakhis, God of Death
    • CE, Chaos, Death, Destruction, Evil
  • Mitra, God of Justice, Fire, and Law
    • LG, Fire, Glory, Good, Law, Protection, Sun
  • Mycr, the Unknown One
    • LG, Community, Good, Healing, Law, Plant, Protection
  • Nephtlys, Goddess of Wealth
    • LN, Animal, Law, Luck, Nobility
  • Odin, Battle God of Knowledge
    • NG, Air, Good, Knowledge, Strength, Travel, War
  • Seker, God of Light
    • LG, Glory, Knowledge, Magic, Protection, Sun
  • Set, God of Evil and the Night
    • LE, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Evil, Knowledge, Law
  • Thor, Battle God of Lightning and Storms
    • CG, Air, Good, Protection, Strength, War
  • Thoth, God of Knowledge and Learning
    • N, Knowledge, Magic, Protection, Rune
Deities Commonly Worshipped in Rastingdrung
  • Athena, Battle Goddess of Wisdom
    • See above
  • Ki, Nature Goddess, Lion's Friend
    • N, Air, Animal, Earth, Plant, Water
  • Grismal, Guardian of the Underworld
    • N, Air, Earth, Fire, Protection, Repose, Water
  • Sashu, God of Justice and Blind Beggars
    • LN, Community, Knowledge, Law, Protection
Other Deities Common in the Region
  • Aladantle (Aphrodite), Goddess of Beauty
    • LG, Charm, Community, Good, Healing
  • Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom
    • LG, Good, Knowledge, Magic, Rune, Trickery
  • Bondorr, God of Swords
    • N, Earth, Protection, Strength, War
  • Braz-Kazon, Battle God of Smoke
    • CN, Chaos, Fire, Trickery, War
  • Bukera, God of Desert Mountains, the Silent Scorpion
    • LN, Destruction, Earth, Law, Strength
  • Cilborith, God of the Elves
    • CG, Chaos, Good, Liberation, Protection, War
  • Dorak, God of Peace
    • CG, Good, Liberation, Protection, Repose
  • Enki, God of Rivers and Oceans
    • LN, Artifice, Law, Strength, Water
  • Enlil, Ruler of Heaven, Air and War God
    • NG, Air, Good, War, Weather
  • Feninva, Goddess of Blood
    • CE, Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Strength
  • Forseti, God of Justice, Peacemaker (Halflings)
    • N, Knowledge, Nobility, Protection, Strength
  • Gunnora (Suthak), Goddess of Fertility
    • LG, Community, Good, Healing, Plant
  • Innana, Goddess of War and Love
    • LE, Charm, Strength, Trickery, War
  • Kale Kala, the Fire God
    • N, Destruction, Fire, Strength
  • Kazadarum, God of Dwarves
    • N, Earth, Glory, Nobility, Strength, War
  • Kodeus, Demigod of Dexterity, Thieves
    • NE, Liberation, Luck, Trickery
  • Kuvartma, God of the Moon
    • LE, Earth, Knowledge, Law, Magic
  • Limtram, Goddess of Meadows (Halflings)
    • N, Animal, Earth, Plant, Travel
  • Manannan, God of the Sea
    • N, Animal, Protection, Water, Weather
  • Margonne, God of Evil Schemes
    • LE, Evil, Knowledge, Law, Trickery
  • Mawdorn, Demigod of Shadows
    • CE, Chaos, Darkness, Evil
  • Mesha, Goddess of Seasons
    • CG, Chaos, Plant, Water, Weather
  • Murulu, God of Assassins
    • LE, Darkness, Death, Evil, Trickery
  • Nanna-Sin, Moon God
    • CG, Chaos, Protection, Sun, War
  • Nin-Hursag, Goddess of the Earth, Gravity, Magnetism
    • N, Earth, Fire, Plant, Strength
  • Pasperus, God of the Southern Stars
    • CE, Chaos, Darkness, Evil, Travel, War
  • Rhiannon, Goddess of Witches
    • N, Animal, Knowledge, Plant, Protection
  • Rosertma, Dwarf Goddess of Wealth
    • LG, Artifice, Good, Healing, Protection
  • Lord Skortch, God of Pillage
    • CE, Chaos, Destruction, Evil, War
  • Teth Tufa, the Deep Rock Mother, Goddess of Gnomes
    • NG, Community, Earth, Good, Healing
  • Thanatos, God of Death
    • LE, Death, Evil, Law, Travel
  • Trameron, God of the Five Seas
    • N, Travel, Water, Weather
  • Utu, the Unbalanced, Sun God
    • CG, Chaos, Fire, Glory, Sun

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:15 pm

Languages of the Wilderlands

Common does not exist in the Wilderlands. Instead, the "common" language varies by region, town, and/or race. So, the following long list of language effectively replaces common:

Alryan: This is the Common Tongue of the City State of the Invincible Overlord and the Roglaras. It is based on the tongues spoken by the Tharbrian, Altanian, and other barbarian tribes that founded the City State, heavily assimilating elements of Viridian. In its modern form it is written using Balozkinarian Runic, a unique alphabet developed by the Warrior-King Balozkinar (he of the horribly inaccurate calendar). Prior to the late 40th century, Alryan was written with a wild array of different alphabets depending on the writer, though most used a variant of the Viridian alphabet, and so only sages who speak and read both Alryan and Viridian can read most City State documents before that era.

Altanian: Spoken by the red-skinned barbarian Altanians, this language is predominant in the Altanian Peninsula and is pervasive among the common folk of the region of the City State. Altanian is historically not a written language, though it could be phonetically written using Balozkinarian Runic.

Amazon: This is the language of the Amazons. It is an ancient tongue, though has been greatly diluted by the long years of wandering of the Amazon tribes. Each tribe has a distinct dialect. Like Altanian, it is a barbarian tongue, and has no specific written form, though some tribes adopt local alphabets for their own use. An Amazon would rather bite out her own tongue than let a man learn how to speak Amazon and the language usually is only taught to fellow Amazons. However, any number of men and women of other race have managed to learn this "secret" language.

Antillian: A common, modern version of Ancient Antillian, this language is spoken in and around the city of Antil and is used as their trade language, though more folk of the region speak Altanian rather than Antillian.

Avalonian: The language of the people of Valon, and the language of Avalonian wizards, Avalonian uses the strange Aquan alphabet.

Demonic: This is the common tongue of the Demonbrood and other denizens of the Demon Empires to the south. Though there are many other languages spoken there, this is the most common. Demonic uses the Demonic alphabet and is derived from the ancient language of the Markabs, who created and kept the demonbrood as a slave race in prehistory. Demonic is not to be confused with Abyssal, which is the actual language of Demonic outsiders from the Netherworld.

Dorin: Spoken by Dorins and by related desert peoples, such as the desert elves and other humans, Dorin has become somewhat of a trade language of the desert. It is the Common Tongue in the Infinite Desert west of the Wilderlands. In its written form, however, it uses the ancient and alien Ignan alphabet, so it is most commonly only spoken, except by Dorins.

Dunael: This language is a bastardization of elven and Alryan, with a few loan words from Druidic, spoken by the human woodmen and rangers of Dearthwood. It uses the Elven alphabet, though it is infrequently written.

Ghinoran: Spoken by the peoples descended from the Ghinoran Successor States of ancient Kelnore, Ghinoran is spoken as the Common Tongue throughout most of the southern Wilderlands. Ghinoran uses a unique and complex alphabet known as Glyphis, which some claim is a simplified form of the complex Glyphic writing of ancient Kelnore.

Gishmesh: Spoken by both the Gishmesh and Paldorian tribes of Tarantis, Gishmesh uses the Tarantine alphabet, descended from misunderstood runes of ancient Kelnore. Gishmesh has been adopted by traders from Karak as the language of the Wilderlands.

Karakhan: This highly structured and complex language uses a system of glyphs and figures said to be handed down since the founding of the Kingdom of Karak by the First Dynasty more than 30 millennia ago. Karakhor, he written form of the language, is nearly impossible for non-native speakers to learn.

Karzulun: A cousin tongue of Karakhan, this language is spoken by the savage tribes south and east of Tarantis. There is no written form, though the tribal priests often use ancient pictograms found on large black stones in their religious ceremonies.

Orichalan: This harsh language is said to be based on the speech of dragons. Though the Orichalan Dragon Lords have all but been extinguished, those of Orichalan blood have maintained the language, though they normally use it only among themselves, and in secret when not in their native lands. Orichalan uses the Draconic alphabet.

Skandik: The language of the Skandiks is a simple language that normally has very few shades of meaning, though they have dozens of words for “boat,” “water,” “axe,” and “blood,” each with a subtle distinction. Though they do not live near any dwarven homeland, at some point the Skandiks adopted Dwarven Runic as their alphabet.

Tharbrian: The Tharbrian language is the language of the nomad Tharbrian people and is a beautiful and musical language, despite the coarse nature of many of its speakers. Many ancient tales and songs were composed in Tharbrian. Tharbrian is historically not a written language, though it could be phonetically written using Balozkinarian Runic or, more readily, Tharbriana Script.

Tlalic: This strange language is a polyglot language based on the language of many races that have come to need a commonly understood magical language. It is not well suited to common conversation or trade, being more focused on precise descriptions of things arcane. The language is spoken almost exclusively among wizards in Tula and knowledge of it is a prerequisite to study in any of the schools there. Tlalic uses the Draconic alphabet.

Troll: In the Wilderlands the troll races have their own tongue, distinct and unrelated to Giant. It is a guttural tongue with much hooting and screeching. There are many different words for “eat,” each depending on context, and not a single word dealing with “hygiene,” “diplomacy,” or “love.” There is no written form, though the ancient predecessor of the tongue had a complex and rich written form.

Viridian: Spoken in and around Viridistan, Viridian (along with Tharbrian and Altanian) is the basis for the Alryan tongue. Viridian is the debased and common version of High Viridian, primarily based on the tongue of the ancient Wild Men who were conquered and later assimilated the True Viridians. Viridian is spoken by many merchants as Viridistan has for so long been a center of commerce. Viridian uses the Viridian alphabet, a variant of Infernal with influence from Aquan.

High Viridian: High Viridian is spoken by nobles of Viridistan. High Viridian itself is a debased form of Ancient Viridian, though unlike the completely bastardized Viridian tongue High Viridian remains based solidly on Ancient Viridian with merely borrowings from the ancient language of the Wild Men. High Viridian is spoken by the nobles and gentry of the Falling Empire; commoners who speak simple Viridian can usually make out what a speaker of High Viridian is saying, when they are being patient and speak slowly. High Viridian uses the Infernal alphabet.

Ancient Languages

In addition to the above spoken languages, there are a number of ancient or dead languages that exist primarily in written form. The primary prerequisite to learning an ancient or dead language is having access to a book or work large enough from which the ancient language can be studied. It ordinarily takes 1 year to learn to read an ancient language given a proper source, unless one has a tutor who can read the language.

Ancient (“Auld”) Viridian: One of the few languages that is not dead, Ancient Viridian is spoken by the remaining Viridians (though there are only two) and by high priests of Armadad Bog during high rituals. Many religious tracts dedicated to Armadad Bog are in Ancient Viridian, so securing a number of books from which the language can be learned is less difficult than with other ancient languages— though such books are not for sale and priests of the god hunt any person stealing such works. Ancient Viridian uses the Infernal alphabet with a strange Aquan influence. To learn Ancient Viridian, a character must first be able to read Viridian, Infernal and Aquan.

Kelnoran: This ancient language is highly complex and uses the near-indecipherable language of Glyphic on which the Ghinoran alphabet of Glyphis is based. To learn to read Kelnoran, one must first speak and read Ghinoran. One must also have access to a source text. This will prove the largest barrier as few surviving works are written in Kelnoran, though it is rumored that the library at Damkina has a collection of such tomes.

Logii: This language is the logical language of the ancient Philosophers based on pure reason. It is written in a precise and unique mathematical alphabet called Physik. Most tracts written in this language were destroyed in the War of the Pious and Philosophers.

Markrab: This language is altogether alien, and often uses pictograms. The spoken language is written in Ancient Demonic, an alphabet from which the modern Demonic language is derived.

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Re: Background and Setting

Post by patransom » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:32 pm

Wilderlands Calendar

Balozkinar’s Corrected Commoners’ Calendar (BCCC) is used throughout the civilized parts of the Wilderlands. The BCCC includes 18 months of 20 days each followed by a 5 day celebration at the end of each year. This calendar is progressive, as our own Anno Domini (AD) system. Thus, the year 100 BCCC would come before the year 101 BCCC just as 100 AD came before 101 AD. The current year at the start of this campaign is 4433 BCCC.

Some people still follow an old calendar known as the “Commoners’ Calendar,” which sometimes leads to confusion as to the timing of certain celebrations. These problems are resolved by the Town Crier. The BCCC Year 0 is tied to the old Commoner's Calendar Year 0, despite the fact that it is generally accepted that the world is much older, having been created some 12,000 to 24,000 years ago. The exact date of creation is contested by just about every religion (and every one of them is completely wrong).

The days of the 5-day BCCC Week are: Airday, Waterday, Earthday, Fireday and Spiritday. The attached file shows the month of the BCCC year.
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