A setting submission by Random Goblin
Core Ethos Sentence: Illyria is a world where heroes do mighty deeds and city-states vie with each other for supremacy with great armies and majestic elemental-driven airships.
Who are the heroes? Illyria is a world of mythic heroes who seek out adventure for glory and renown. Many of the world’s heroes are minor nobles, since they have the time, means, and motive to challenge danger for its own sake. The greatest hero of Illyria is Nemo, a noble water genasi. He is a warrior-king who rules the small island of Aragos. His companions are Agesthes, an air genasi bard, and Kidu, a human barbarian whose tribe was destroyed in battle by the armies of Hyklos.
What do they do? Nemo likes to believe that he is in fact the hero that his people make him out to be, and so, much to the chagrin of Agesthes and the delight of Kidu, he constantly seeks out monsters to vanquish, battles to join, and great, heroic deeds to accomplish. When not simply adventuring for his own glory, Nemo defends his home and household against Xenephron and the phalanxes of Hyklos.
Threats, Conflicts, Villains: There is always a fierce rivalry between neighboring city-states and between followers of the three elements (water, air, and fire). From that rivalry arises most of the more mundane conflict. For example, Xenephron, one of the high priests of the gods of fire and the ruler of the city-state of Hyklos, is a scheming villain who seeks to pillage and conquer, dominating the servants of air and water and dragging them into the all-consuming fire. He is also in love with Nemo’s daughter, Nereis, and plans to one day kidnap her and force her to be his bride. However, the greatest menace in Illyria comes from the mysterious Elemental Plane of Earth. The pantheon of earth gods holds an ancient grudge against the three elements, no earth genasi have been seen for years, and earth elementals are impossible to bind. The rocky, stony places of Illyria are trodden lightly, and the deep, dark places are greatly feared. Sages say that the earth deities have called up a terrible champion known as the Deep One to be the sword of their vengeance.
Nature of Magic: Civilization is still new and arcane magic is a very young art. Actual, experienced practitioners are very rare. Most “magic-users” work their magic through summoned and bound elementals of fire, air, or water (the summoning and binding is a fairly common practice, and elementals of varying power levels are often used as a kind of currency, although when a binding goes awry or an elemental manages to free itself, the results can be disastrous). Divine magic is common; there are four separate pantheons of gods, one for each element. Each elemental pantheon has both good and evil deities. The earth gods are, however, distant, frightening, and all but unknown. The various types of genies are held in the same esteem as celestials or fiends in other settings.
What’s new? What’s different? Illyria is a world of rocky, sunkissed coasts, wine-dark seas, rugged landscapes, deep forests, and vast deserts. It is a material plane that is actually coterminous with the four elemental planes. Creatures native to or somehow tied to those planes are therefore very common. Civilization is dominated by the genasi, humans who are touched by and linked to the elemental planes. They are the rulers and the nobles. There are no great empires or continent-spanning kingdoms; most of the civilized world is organized into city-states and small kingdoms that are dominated by the genasi. Airships powered by bound air elementals are common.