Acrozatarim/Nations and Peoples
Huron stretches across a great swathe of plains and hills in the north of the Drakkath region, and is perhaps the dominant power of the area. A nation proud of its traditions of horsemanship and war, Huron labours under a military command structure, a Lord-Commander at its very head. Huron seeks to take up the mantle of the fallen Drakkath Empire, even though in the era of the Empire itself, the Huronese who lived on its northern border were just a minor province. When the lands beyond the great cliff that marks Huron's western edge fell into chaos and destruction at the hands of the Elder Gods, the Huronese clans who lived there migrated east in great numbers, aiding the downfall of the Drakkath Empire as they flooded into the lands of their eastern kindred.
The patron deity of Huron is Urazel. The Huronese are a major military power with aggressive expansionist tendencies, and make heavy use of cavalry in their armies. The Flame Guild has a strong base in Huron, as do several thaumineer organisations. Old alliances wrought by Urazel himself mean that the Huronese can reputedly call upon the aid of several dragons that dwell in the wilder reaches of the Huron lands.
Despite the military power and authoritarian tendencies of the Huronese, the clan-based structure and long, storied history of their people and conquests mean that internal power struggles and unrest are a serious problem, perhaps exemplified by the Black Tower of Zhatan.
It is said that the ancestors of the Huronese swore strange, binding pacts with an inhuman species that once ruled the Myrmec desert, promising to keep certain eldritch horrors bound beneath Huronese soil. It is also said that a rare few of the precious blood-sweating horses of the western Huronese lands survived the fall of that region, and examples occasionally crop up amongst Huronese herds.
The Tower of Zhatan
A major stronghold on the cliffs that mark the western edge of the Huronese lands, the Tower of Zhatan controls a region of the surrounding lands and stands in defiance of the Lord Commander, having broken away from the nation several generations ago. Dominating a region of incredibly rough terrain and reputedly the greatest fortress of this age, the Tower is also the home of the near-legendary Black Knights of Zhatan with their thaumineered arms and armour. The cause of this schism is political, cultural and religious; after several weak Lord-Commanders proved unable to properly project their force to the Zhatan region, the Tower Commander broke away. This was incited by an existing disagreement between the Huronese clans and factions of that area, who wish to see the old Huron lands to the west reconquered as something of a holy duty;they disagree with the Huron focus on conquering the south and building a new empire. They wish to recapture the lands of their forefathers, and also are the strongest believers in the threat from the west, from foul Baalshegarath, pit-city of Elder horrors that now holds court over what should be their homeland.
It is said that Zhatan is a centre of trade, including some that are illegal or restricted in the rest of Huron, and that almost anything can be found for sale in the cramped streets around the Black Tower citadel. It is also said that while the Knight Commander of the Black Tower has been sending expeditions out into the wasteland of the western plains to scout for signs of servitor activity, he has also dispatched actual envoys to Ballshegarath itself.
Myrmec is a swathe of arid land, turning to desert further north. Old ruins mark the ancient servitor races that once held this land in the name of the Elder Gods. Now the Myrmecians who live there are human, with many earth and fire genasi amongst them. The Huronese have conquered much of southern Myrmec but further north a confederation holds sway under the direction of several priestly leaders. The further north, the less there is of worth in this desolate landscape, and so the Huronese advance has slowed and now stopped entirely.
It is said that a strange, sinuous draconic creature wars against desert demons in the deep desert of Myrmec, and that the Myrmecians support one side or another depending on what the auguries and the stars tell them. It is also said that certain holy priest-tribes inhabit strange, Elder-built fortresses far beyond the furthest of the Huronese patrols.
South of Huron, the Drakkath stretches far, once the home to a powerful Dawn empire and now a wilderness punctuated by squabbling states. Increasingly mountainous and forested, the Drakkath is a vast area split by the intrusion of the sea, forming the White Bay on the shores of which many settlements cluster. Most of the states and nations of the Drakkath are former satrapies of the Empire that regained their independence after the Dawn Era ended.
The southern- and western--most regions of the Drakkath rise to the Storm and Sarokean mountain ranges; beyond them to the south lies Kyros and Ascaria.
It is said that much of the ancient Empire was ravaged beneath the frenzied battle of Ishrak and one of the lesser Elder Gods, a struggle that carried on across the sea before they both fell to earth in a crater in Ara, the far eastern continent. It is also said that the last Drakkath Emperor was murdered in the very early stages of the Dawn War, and that the Empire was impotent and leaderless when the Elder Gods' envoys came to demand obeisance.
One of the newest of Drakkath nations, Mirayek is barely a generation old. A western Drakkath polity, it has been forcibly carved out of several old Drakkath satrapies that had fallen to simply being a loose tangle of local warlords and clans. What is notable about Mirayek is that it appears to have the patronage of Kevayek, a deity most closely associated with disease; this may be linked to the region being riddled with swamps and bogs.
It is said that, in Mirayek, those condemned of the most heinous crimes have their lives drained and stored in strange ceramic jars, which can then be used to heal good and law-abiding people. It is also said that there is a very respected monastic sect in the Mirayek swamps, to whom the rigours of the marshes are just another crucible to temper themselves within; these monks have sworn a pact of alliance with the ruler of Mirayek should the Kevayek priesthood decide to take control directly.
Mostly the inheritors of old Drakkath Empire port-towns, the White Bay plays host to several city-states along its shores. Internecine struggles are common; despite the Drakkath region's wild reputation and disorganised state, these cities provide a door into the goods and produce of the region, and serve as the beginning of the trade routes from overseas that head west across land. At various times, the five cities here have fallen into various alliances or even conquered one another. Each is essentially a power in and of itself.
It is said that a black dragon once marauded the coast of the White Bay, but was defeated in a naval battle where all five of the cities rallied against it with their strongest vessels and drove it ashore into a trap; the dragon's skull hangs over the throne in Corinte to this day. It is also said that old ruins can be seen deep beneath the water of the Bay, the wreckage where tidal waves and landslides tore much of the old cities under during the Dawn War, and that if you know the right people, you can trade with the sahuagin scavengers to have sifted up much from those drowned streets.
Pharam Sung: Out on an island in the White Sea, Pharam Sung is a maritime city-state and a power that cannot be ignored when it comes to naval matters. Originally founded by Aasorian cultists, it is a holy centre of worship for the Silver Warder and also a place of prison-ships and panopticons. The Pharam Sungese are both slave-traders and punishingly harsh enforcers of order in the surrounding seas.
It is said that political prisoners from every nation can be found locked away in the prison-hulks of Pharam Sung. It is also said that some Sungese have spoken with very strange envoys from under-sea polities unknown to the other nations of the Drakkath.
Corinte: Corinte is the foremost of the city-states on the White. A powerful state and naval power in its own right, Corinte has recently fallen to internal strife as the traditional monarch (who held pretensions to being the inheritor of the Drakkath Empire) has been overthrown by a council of merchant houses that have assumed control.
It is said that it used to be a faux pas to wear red in Corinte, due to a historical association of the colour with a curse placed on the royal family that ruled the city. However, the conspirators all wore red for their act of regicide, and now it is a very popular colour indeed. It is also said that Corinte marines are amongst the finest sea-going soldiers in the world.
Halstath: Where the White feeds into an array of inland lakes, swamps and marshes, Halstath is a bastion of order on the edge of wilderness and a major crossing point of trade-routes and commerce. It is not a full-fledged city-state, but fends off the acquisitive influence of other Drakkath powers through its positioning and tenacious spirit. Halstath is currently ruled by a former Flame Guildsman; his split from the Guild was apparrently amicable, and Halstath has become a major staging point for Guild activities in the Drakkath.
It is said that strange shapes have been seen in the lake which Halstath sits on the shore of. It is also said that the ruler of Halstath lives in what was once a temple, though it was erected to a Younger God who appears to have ceased to exist.
Lying far inland, Adbar is a tower of civilisation in an area of particular wilderness, meaning that despite a highly military and expansionist approach it hasn't really had much conflict with other major powers as yet. Holding a series of fortress-towns embedded across a region of rocky crags and steep valleys, Adbar is known as a centre of Solanthaar worship and of alchemical science, including the development and refinement of alchemical secrets that they are loathe to share. Furthermore, the aggressiveness of Adbar has mostly been directed at purging the Drakkath of remaining enclaves and infestations of Elder servitors and corruption, as well as serving as a bulwark against the Dread Marches, meaning that it has won no small measure of respect in other nations. The jewel of the Adbar nation is the Drakkath Empire-era cathedral of Solanthaar at its heart, an incredible piece of stone engineering. Huron looks with hungry, envious eyes at Adbar; some form of conflict is probably inevitable.
It is said that Adbar-built walls are the most solid in the world, and that their alchemists know secrets of special cements and masonry that make this so. It is also said that Adbar inquisitors have some method of detecting the taint of spiritual corruption, and can actually smell dreadspawn and Elder servitors at some distance.
A minor nation around the old Drakkath Empire city of Killanon, the landscape here stretches across wild and tangled valleys in the south-west of the Drakkath. With a long and tumultous history, the ruling council of Killanon holds only a weak grasp over the surrounding clans, towns and terrace-farms, but several rich mines that delve into some very strange Dawn-era materials provide the nation with wealth to hire mercenaries; it also has served as a hub of pre-Dawn War learning and scholarship due to the survival of several pre-War Drakkath texts. The councilmen are jealous hoarders of their lore, and are regularly accused of being mere misers rather than true academics with an interest in the potential of what they are sitting on.
It is said that the Killanon texts are guarded by a highly trained martial sect who serve as librarians and protectors, and who can use words and concepts as lethal weapons. It is also said that the city maintains a series of defensive mechanical systems based on Elder technology, attuned to the cycle of the seasons and the stars.
High in the western Sarokean mountains, Grum-Tarath is a small nation that has wormed its way into the rock of the slopes and peaks; the terraces, high monasteries and towers are home to what is often seen as a very isolationist people. Outsiders often wonder at the carved towns that have been gouged from the mountainsides, and it is a not uncommon belief that the Grum-Tarath elders are hoarding Elder tunnelling technology or eldritch science of some sort. Tarath society focuses a lot on duty and discipline, with a process of assignation to caste and role; it is also home to a number of esoteric and elemental sects, a concentration not found anywhere else. The Younger God Grumand is held in most high respect here.
It is said that there are a number of great, hovering spheres of rock over the most holy of Grum-Tarath settlements, apparently a series of meteorites caught by Grumand's will and suspended just short of impact. It is also said that Grum-Tarath practice ritual cannibalism, and while this is probably not true, they do collect and carve the bones of the dead to honour them.
One of the largest of Drakkath nations, Sukumvarang is a thickly forested landscape that juts out into the White Sea at the northern edge of the White Bay; it holds itself as the true inheritor of the Drakkath Empire, having a continuous line of stability from the Empire's fall to the modern day. Sukumvarang is a land of temples and order, a republic at odds with the Huronese who see it as a key region to secure for its rich resources and its symbolic heritage. Phusaratham, its capital, may have fallen far from the glory days of the Empire but it is still an ancient and grand city. If it weren't for the Huronese, Sukumvarang's attempts to conquer the Bay's city-states would probably place it as the foremost power of the region, with its mage-priests and Dawn-era scavenged technology.
It is said that the temple hierophants of Sukumvarang are attempting to create a new Younger God. It is also said that Sukumvarangese meditative practices include certain drugs and concoctions that greatly focus the mind.
A mysterious and feared sect, the Nephians are said to live high in the wildest mountain regions; hence some suspect they are actually part of Grum-Tarath. The Nephians are mercenary assassins, possessed of supposedly incredible talent and skill in the murderous arts. A few have claimed that they are the last remnants of the treacherous Men of Shadow who were otherwise wiped out in the Dawn War, but there are few who can really say anything of the Nephian people that is not supposition or superstition.
It is said that the elders of the Nephian sects turn into literal shadows and fade away. It is also said that the Nephians are actually born of dreams, much as the Elder Gods were, and that they are the punishment for the guilt that the Races of Men dream of in their sleep.
The Thorn Circle
Sometimes described as 'druidic', the Thorn Circle are a sect of priests, wildlanders and mystics who follow particular doctrines of certain Younger Gods combined with some stranger beliefs of unclear source. Effectively a cult of druids, the Thorn Circle bend blood magic and primal energy to their will, and appear particularly concerned with wild holy sites and energy sources. The Circle have a number of gnoll clans who serve them as a military arm, and generally have a lot of influence amongst the other gnoll clans as well, to the point that the gnoll factions are often referred to under the umbrella term of the 'Thorn Circle' anyway.
It is said that the Thorn Circle have entire arcane fortresses deep in the wild, great edifices of wood and spikes that are grown from the earth. It is also said that a single gnoll clan serve as personal guards to the Thornmaiden, and via a dire oath they do not stop fighting when merely killed.
The Drak Tribes
The many satrapies and provinces of the Drakkath Empire have fallen apart into a confusion of petty warlords, isolated town-states and tribes. The major ones include the Merrin and Merrovin confederacies, who have held strong against Huronese influence and power so far, but most are more minor local alliances. The wilderness of the Drakkath has left some of these with only intermittent contact outside their local regions.
It is said that Huronese envoys have finally broken the Merrin confederacy, and with their whispered promises and gifts are finally bringing some of its tribes into the fold. It is also said that one entire remote province has been taken over by a single man, who rules through a strange flower-derived drug that renders the populace compliant and serene.
The Dread Marches
Precisely one hundred years before the beginning of the campaign, the Dread Marches erupted into being. A blighted landscape of twisted forests and waste, the Marches spawned a host of horrific new beings, from the innumerable dreadspawn to the tunneling bulk of the ash leviathan. While the surrounding powers were able to bring the Dread Marches to a halt, retaking and purifying the region has yet to happen. Worse still, the seeming architect of the Marches is a necromantic thaumaturgist who co-opted some of the people who live in the Marches region, and now sends them out as agents and envoys.
It is said that many of the undead and monstrous creations of the Marches have spread far and wide even after their forces were shattered and broken; it is also said that the Dread One is a servant of the Elder Gods.
The sorcerous kingdom of Naseria lies west, over the Sarokean mountains, where its rolling lands reach the Malachite Sea. Ruled by powerful sorcerous Houses under a monarch, the Naserians claim descent from the Younger God Naskha. Powerful orders of Elemental Knights support the armies of the nation, and it prides itself on being a bastion of learning and knowledge in comparison to the more base and savage nations around it. Naseria wars intermittently with Carthagia. Its ports on the Malachite Sea serve as an important trade route for goods and wealth from further west.
It is said that Naskha left the Naserians another holy text, one that is locked away deep in a warded, arcane-sealed chamber and hidden from the view of all. It is also said that a brotherhood of Naserian sorcerers and scholars are assembling a great cache of lore on the pre-Dawn world, hunting for underlying truths that might be found.
A grim, mountainous nation of great mineral wealth, the Carthagians migrated from the far north during the Dawn War, led by their saviour, the Younger God Toran. Carthagia is a monarchy, but both the Church of Toran and the fleshtwisters of the Manipulators are extremely powerful and influential. The landscape is harsh but Carthagia does much trade in ores and minerals, as well as the fleshtwisted beasts that the Manipulators produce; they engage in much trade with Huron. Carthagia has a particular long-running rivalry with Naseria that has often boiled over into open warfare; they also aggressively expand east into the northern Drakkath, and are mainly conficting with the Thorn Circle at the moment as the closest area is home to several gnoll clans.
It is said that Carthagian Manipulators will pay well for many exotic or strange beast parts; the claws of a drazhikar, a huge predatory avian beast, are in particular high demand. It is also said that some Carthagian delves have unearthed eerie subterranean ruins that show little evidence as to what Dawn Age civilisation might have built them.
The people of High Kyros migrated across the White Sea from another continent several centuries ago, settling along the cold southern coast and slowly expanding their influence inland through the rugged terrain, displacing the easternmost Ascarian blood-clans. High Kyros today is a nation of stern order under the command of the Frost Council, a magocracy of practitioners of cryomancy. Kyros now aggressively pushes against the Ascarians, using terrifying war-magics against the southerners. Despite the absolute authority of the ice mages, some of the inland towns and fiefs are remote and far from many Kyros
It is said that the cryomancers can carve and animate vast ice golems through week-long rites, wrenching animated siege-constructs from the flanks of glaciers. It is also said that there are strange, almost reptilian bloodlines amongst the people of High Kyros, though these are rare and largely kept secret from outsiders.
A southern, wild land stretching into the tundra, Ascaria partly fell under Drakkath dominion but was always a source of unrest and raiders even then. Now, the blood-clans stir to war with Kyros but are losing; and as a result, now they push north into the Drakkath, forced aside before the inexorable advance of Kyros power. Still, the Ascarians still retain the most sacred places of their heartlands, the fonts of primal power left behind by the Great Wolf, and their shamen and wolf-warriors still retain much respect and influence.
It is said that the Great Wolf's corpse was left behind after it excarnated, and that the flesh of the god is still preserved and fed in sacred rituals to the leaders of the Ascarian people. It is also said that the pelt of the seremat, a small local animal that trappers hunt, fetches a vast price indeed in some of the distant markets of the west.
Beyond the Drakkath region there are many nations, empires and other strange polities in the world. The trade routes that wind through the Drakkath bear goods, news and even sometimes natives of such places; as you'd expect from the era, local understanding of far-off lands is often poor and wildly inaccurate. However, two particularly notable types of outsider recently noted in the Drakkath are the Ironjacks and the Skyrunners.
Ironjacks: Experts in the mechanical and thaumineering, a wave of Ironjack refugees has reached the eastern shores of Huron, apparently refugees from the eastern continent of Ara; their communities, called 'Rigs', are apparently under attack by a cruel, avian race of blood-sorcerers.
It is said that the Ironjacks sometimes replace entire body parts with thaumineered replacements. It is also said that some are in negotiations with the Lord Commander, offering incredible arcane secrets in return for an expedition east to fight the blood-sorcerers.
Skyrunners: No-one yet has any idea who the 'Skyrunners' are. In the last decade, rare sightings of weird aerial craft have been spotted, but no known examples of successful contact have been made. Remote viewing and scrying attempts indicate that they appear to be crewed by humans.
It is said that the Skyrunners must be scouts, or perhaps raiders seeking easy targets. It is also said that they are the survivors of a strange, aerial civilisation from the Dawn Age, although most people find this rather far-fetched.