Difference between revisions of "D&D5:NoMansLand"
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==Act 2: Blood, Fire, and Steel==
==Act 2: Blood, Fire, and Steel==
Revision as of 10:29, 7 July 2021
- 1 The Basics
- 2 Characters
- 3 Allies
- 4 Enemies
- 5 Personal Background
- 6 Other NPCs
- 7 Locations
- 8 Background Information
- 8.1 Religion, Gods, and Worship
- 8.1.1 The Seven
- 22.214.171.124 Aenri (Sylverda), Aarim (Wyffleum), Azarn (Zukrut), Anriu (Rau), Ahnar (Darkwood), Atzea (Quetzlan)
- 126.96.36.199 Ymalia (Sylverda), Ynarie (Wyffleum), Ykarna (Zukrut), Yneru (Rau), Ytmata (Darkwood), Yssele (Quetzlan)
- 188.8.131.52 Malam (Sylverda), Wyllam (Wyffleum), Marut (Zukrut), Maht (Rau), Muzam (Darkwood), Mzalam (Queztlan)
- 184.108.40.206 Oshan (Sylverda), Ollym (Wyffleum), Ozhut (Zukrut), Othak (Rau), Ofran (Darkwood), Otlan (Quetzlan)
- 220.127.116.11 Suleri (Sylverda), Suterm (Wyffleum), Samza (Zukrut), Serarm (Rau), Svula (Darkwood), Ussele (Quetzlan)
- 18.104.22.168 Tsuma (Sylverda), Thuma (Wyffleum), Tzuka (Zukrut), Taeme (Rau), Tsulam (Darkwood), Tlalu (Quetzlan)
- 22.214.171.124 Feorn (Sylverda), Fyern (Wyffleum), Feork (Zukrut), Faena (Rau), Felu (Darkword), Ftaek (Quetzlan)
- 8.1.2 Other Worlds and the Afterlife
- 8.1.1 The Seven
- 8.2 Aukroa
- 8.3 The Nations
- 8.1 Religion, Gods, and Worship
- 9 The Story Thus Far
A member of the Eyeless Moon clan and half breed daughter of their leader, Ravekhram the Sky-Cleaver. Terbish was the smallest and weakest of her many siblings in one of the strongest Orc clans in the Khanate, as such she was considered the runt of her family and treated very poorly. When she wasn't outright ignored she was often bullied by her stronger siblings under the pretense that it was simply to help toughen her up. So when talks of succession began to creep up Terbish decided it was finally time for her to move on. Taking her trusted Aurochs Mauden with her, Terbish left her people behind and set out to find her place in the vast world.
While seeking shelter from a vicious storm Terbish stumbled upon some ancient ruins. It was there, while making a pit for a fire, that she unearthed an old crossbow housing the essence of an even older entity. The being addressed itself simply as 'Weapon', and offered Terbish a deal. In exchange for freeing it from its earthly prison Weapon would grant her the power she so desperately wanted. The two entered a covenant of convenience, and armed with new found strength Terbish found herself being guided north. She traveled past the creeping Marsh of the Drowned, through the thick forest of Sylverda, until her journey finally brought her to the small frontier town of Sarnkel. Armed with the ancient weapon and its magic Terbish quickly made a name for herself among the citizens. It did not take long for her skill with bow and spell to draw the attention of the Wayfarers, and after a few trials was deemed worthy to be counted among their ranks.
Terbish and Weapon met their demise at the hands of Mor de Caenen, who unleashed the world rending magic Annihilation upon them. But it was not be their end, as Altana's influence was able to sunder their fate and Terbish was granted life once again. However the process had changed them. What was once a pact of convenience had now become a true partnership, and weapon and wielder now worked together as one.
A former Arcanotek trooper of the Jhorzan Empire branded Hammer-017 that was left to rot in the wasteland after a failed scouting expedition. Its remains were eventually discovered by a scouting party from Sarnkel and brought back to Zhid for repairs and reconditioning. By removing the control gaes that stifled its mind and senses the Tek awoke to an overwhelming cascade of new feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Fearing that it would drown in the endless sea of possibilities Mytahl offered up her library for the Tek to use. There it could find something to focus its attention, and learn more about the world that was kept hidden from it for so long. Hammer's curiosity proved to be nearly insatiable, and it quickly devoured tome after tome. Eventually Hammer came upon a curious book, The Chronicles of the Calamity. Within its pages they learned about the life and deeds of the ancient dragon Auraryuma. They learned how it wielded unfathomable power, but never used it selfishly or recklessly. They learned how people would travel for miles to seek his aid, but only those that sought answers themselves first would receive it. And finally they learned how he gave everything he had: his power, his children, and eventually his life, to protect the people of the realm. Desperate to find some guidance in their life Hammer was inspired to entreat Auraryuma's aid. With great effort they managed to force their mangled and neglected vocal chords to recite the ancient hymns. Whether he was surprised at the nature of his newest follower, or simply impressed by the effort none can say. But for whatever reason Auraryuma answered, and granted the defective arcanotek his blessing. It was in that moment of enlightenment that Hammer became Church, a bastion of faith that offered succor to the weak and weary.
After meeting her end at the hands of Mor de Caenen and the forbidden magic Annihilation Church was reborn as a being of flesh, blood, and flame. Her heart and soul had long outgrown their cold metal shell, and finally she was granted a form befitting her gentle and indomitable spirit.
- Ixtlach, (Lizard-folk Rogue). A friendly traveling merchant clad in colorful garb who is actually a spy for the Quetzlan Resistance. A fact he seems a little too eager to share with wandering adventurers he meets on the road, or perhaps he is simply an exceptional judge of character.
- Iktzura, (Lizard-folk Leader). A leader of the Quetzlan Liberation Faction. He harbors an intense dislike for Colonizers and those who sympathize with them, but is not above accepting their help to clean up his own messes. Mor de Caenen revealed a secret location to Iktzura full of imprisoned Voidborn, claiming that the gullible Lizard-folk could use them to fight the Colonizers. However, the Voidborn quickly turned on Iktzura and slaughtered most of his companions.
The Twin Seedsingers
- Ve'kannae, (Cat-kin Seedsinger). The black haired assertive older twin by 1 hour. She is quick to offer physical chastisement to those she feels deserve it.
- Ve'kathex, (Cat-kin Seedsinger). The white haired passive younger twin. He is the opposite of his sister in many ways, but shares her love of Sylverda and desire to maintain the delicate balance with Mother Forest.
The Wayfarers are a group of enlightened individuals who try to maintain peace and justice within Aukroa. It's a group that people can only join by invitation, usually by having a member observe candidates and recommend them.
It's not exactly a secret society, as the leaders of the Allied States and the Wild Nations and the Empire know of them, but exactly who they are and what they do is more obscure for the common folk, who view them (not inaccurately) as something akin to a social club for do-gooders.
The Wayfarers have been active in Aukroa for several centuries, and like any such society has had its dark times. For now, at least, they remain true to their purpose, and seek to thwart both the tyranny of the Empire, and the less noble impulses of the Allied States. Their activities within the Wild Nations are more restricted, as they're viewed as being tools or fools of the Allied States.
Wayfarers of Note
- Mytahl Exeter, (Land-kin, Diviner). Mythal is middle-aged copper skinned, dark haired human woman, originally from Zukrut, the City of Brass and Gold. While the Wayfarers don't have leaders per se, Mytahl maintains a network of informants and coordinates information sharing among the Wayfarers. She has relatively good relations with the leaders of the Allied States, and was one of the petitioners that awakened Auraryuma. She's quiet about her own past, and the general impression is less one of secretiveness but rather a desire to forget. She's typically found at the Wandering Stars, a inn in Sarnkel, a fortified town in No Mans Land, near the Sylverdan border. The Wandering Stars serves as an unofficial headquarters for the Wayfarers.
- Yayala Sutoto, (Lightfoot, Merchant). Yayala is a blond-haired halfling woman of indeterminate age. She manages financial matters for her more adventurous Wayfarer brethren and often aids in missions financially where she can. Her network of suppliers and traders serves as a supplementary information network. She's usually cheerful, but frets that she can't help more directly.
- Zhid, (Starborn, Arcanoteknician). Zhid is an older starborn man, with slate-grey skin, white hair, and golden eyes and crystal. He defected from the Imperial Manufactuary College during the war and has found a home among the Wayfarers. His passion is creating arcanotek that can improve the daily lives of people. When a Wayfarer needs help with arcanotek, or if a wayward arcanotek trooper is looking for maintenance or modifications, he's always ready to lend a hand. He's assisted by Spike, a halfling man, and Largo, a goliath man.
- Ashvuln, (Wolf-kin, Assassin). Ashvuln is a grey haired human man, originally from Zukrut. Where Mytahl manages the flow of information, he's usually out in the field gathering it from sources within and without the Allied States. He keeps to himself, and prefers to work alone.
- Aidraziel, (Elf, Mercy Monk). Aidraziel is a fair-skinned elvish woman with long leaf-green hair tied in a braid that reaches to her knees. She has a jovial and easy-going personality, a sharp contrast to her partner Pfaffendo. Despite her happy and carefree attitude she harbors a deep hatred for the Empire after the subjugation of her fellow countrymen at Ashgurt.
- Pfaffendo, (Gnome Scribe Wizard). Pfaffendo is a bark-skinned gnomish man with red-hair. Compared to his partner's casual attitude Pfaffendo is much more serious and analytical. Using his keen intellect to solve problems on and off the battlefield.
- Mor de Caenen: The Maker, (Undead, ???). An arrogant and powerful undead apparition who claims to be "unsundered", a trait that only adds to his superiority complex. He was responsible for the rise and fall of numerous empires, with the Jhorzan Empire being his most recent creation. He also created Omega Weapon, the ancient entity that Terbish draws her strength from. He is capable of possessing the bodies of the dead and summoning voidborn to do his bidding.
- Nera zu Scathus, (Starborn, Arcanoteknician). A self proclaimed genius Arcanoteknician whose ambition is only matched by his ego. Nera views the Empire and their grand designs as simply a means for his brilliance to be recognized. His magnum opus was to be a recreation of Perditam Terminam, a massive quadrupedal Arcanotek built to house the ancient Omega Weapon. However his machinations were foiled by the Wayfarers, and the prototype was destroyed.
- Vhalka ze Orzh: The Bloody Viper, (Starborn, ???).
- Beltari Zefaris, (Tiefling Bard). An inquisitive and eccentric young woman with pale grey skin and long white hair. A wandering minstrel by trade, Beltari came to Sarnkel to explore the Wasteland for inspiration in hopes of overcoming a nasty bit of writers block. After several close encounters with the hostile wildlife of the wastes she hired Church for protection. During their time together she grew fond of the confused and awkward arcanotek who was still struggling with her newfound freedom. Beltari taught Church how to speak properly and helped the steel soldier find her own voice.
- Karath, (Orc, ???).
Auraryuma, the Golden Calamity
Auraryuma, first born of Bahamut and Tiamat, had dwelt in Aukroa since time immemorial. Rarely did he stir from the great caldera of Dragonpeak, to the relief of those that live on the continent. To entreat his aid was to entreat his judgement, and few mortals could measure up to his exacting standards. His all consuming breath could immolate armies or, if he was feeling merciful, merely bring them to their knees. His mastery of the arcane allowed him to herald his arrival with a swarm of stars plucked from the heavens.
It was not from malice that he brought destruction wherever he passed, for it was simply a consequence of his passing. Such was it in times past, that people would seek his wisdom, and reach out to him in prayer, or by pilgrimage to the foot of Dragonpeak. From such a remove, he would answer, if the petitioner was sincere, and had exhausted other avenues before reaching out to him.
When the Jhorzan Empire invaded, the leaders of the allied state asked for his advice, and he gave it. And yet the Empire was not halted. They asked again, for his aid, and he sent forth his three eldest children. And the Empire killed them. They asked him again, to intervene personally. And so he stirred.
He spread his great wings and shrugged off 100 years of snow that had fallen on him. He flew across the continent, to the north, each beat of his wings spawning storms in his wake.
And, in a day, his life, that had lasted countless eons, ended. The Empire had committed one of their irreplaceable arcanotek titans, Perditam Terminam, relic of their past before the Starborn fell to earth, to the battle. Such was the devastation wrought that there are few alive who can honestly claim to have witnessed it.
Those who prayed to Auraryuma claim to still receive answers, and that the eternal flame of his spirit still lingers within his ruined body, perhaps to be reborn someday.
Sarnkel is a rough and tumble fortified frontier town. Originally a trading post on the trade route between Sylverda and the former city-state of Ashgurt, now the Imperial Province of Ashgurt, it became a destination for veterans of the war who didn't feel they could return home, Ashgurt refugees, and adventurous souls seeking their fortune picking through the debris field of No Mans Land.
The Wasteland was once an extension the great Mother Forest, where the forest gave way to the rolling taiga and cold plains of Ashgurt.
During the war, it was the site of the front lines, where Imperial soldiers and arcanoteks battled the miitaries of the Allied states and their magics. Men and women of all races fought until the earth was stained red. Arcanoteks battled summoned elementals of flame and wind and earth. Finally, Auryruma battled the arcanotitan Perditam Terminam, and it ended, Everything ended.
The colossal energies released scoured and twisted the land. Strange glowing twisted formations of crystal jut forth from the ground. Multi-hued miasma drifts from cracks in the rocks. Fused and mangled bodies of men and machines dot the landscape. And at the center of it all, visible from miles away, the towering corpse of Auraryuma grapples for eternity with the wreckage of Perditam Teminam.
But the Wasteland is not at peace, even now. Creatures that survived the aftermath have become malformed monstrosities. The spirits of the dead, chained by their regrets and unable to pass on haunt the land. Arcanoteks, shattered but functioning, lurch aimlessly in search of a purpose. And at night, when the twin moons are both less than a quarter full, the energies permeating the Wasteland weaken the barriers between worlds, allowing the Voidborn to cross over. And the day is no safer, for when both moons are more than three-quarters full, the Brightborn can cross over.
Still, if one is cautious, there can be riches to found, scavenged from the battlefields, or mined from the peculiar rock formations.
Religion, Gods, and Worship
The nature of religion in Aukroa and the rest of the world is somewhat fluid. There are seven generally observed gods known throughout the world, though the names differ by region or culture, and even the nature of the gods might be seen as different in different areas. For example, in the City-State of Sylverda, Aenri is the goddess of the Sun, the sky, and weather, whereas in the Khanate of Rau, they are worshiped as Anriu, god of the Sun, judgement, and victory in battle.
Besides these gods, any sufficiently powerful creature, such as ancient dragons like Auraryuma the Golden Calamity, may also be worshiped as a god. Similarly, the spirits of natural areas, such as the Mother Forest where Sylverda is located, may also be worshiped as gods. Even mighty heroes can be worshiped as gods.
Religion and worship is not generally focused on a specific deity, but takes a more holistic approach, combining aspects of pantheism and animism. In a community, a cleric or druid fills the role of one who acts as a go between for the people and the gods, conveying their wishes, asking the gods for blessings for their people, sometimes for curses against their enemies, and leads the people in rituals to honor the gods so that the people's gratitude will reach them.
A typical temple or shrine with honor all of the Seven, ancestral heroes of the community, local spirits, and any sufficiently powerful creatures that may have influenced the community in the past or present.
The Jhorzan Empire is a notable exception. There, the only acceptable form of worship is of Jhorzan heroes, with all other worship suppressed. The state creed of the Empire is one of Jhorzan supremacy, and its central tenet is that only the weak seek power by submitting to so-called gods, who are seen as no more than monsters. If the weak wish to bow their heads to a greater power, then they need look no further than the Jhorzan Empire, as personified in the Emperor.
As noted, how the Seven are seen in the World varies considerably, and the following is just some common views of them. The gender ascribed to the deities varies from culture to culture, often times in relation to how its aspects are seen in that culture.
Aenri (Sylverda), Aarim (Wyffleum), Azarn (Zukrut), Anriu (Rau), Ahnar (Darkwood), Atzea (Quetzlan)
Broadly the deity of the Sun, Dawn, Light, and the Sky. May sometimes cover elements derived from those, such as Weather in Sylverda, or Victory in Battle in Rau (the Orcs are predominantly nocturnal, so battles are fought at night, ending when the Sun rises, leading to the idea that the Sun judges who the victors of a battle were).
Ymalia (Sylverda), Ynarie (Wyffleum), Ykarna (Zukrut), Yneru (Rau), Ytmata (Darkwood), Yssele (Quetzlan)
The deity of the cycle of death and rebirth, nature, and the harvest. In Sylverda serves mainly as the goddess of nature, including non-living elements, such as streams, the wind, and rocks. In the Darkwood, seen as the god of gifts and reciprocity.
Malam (Sylverda), Wyllam (Wyffleum), Marut (Zukrut), Maht (Rau), Muzam (Darkwood), Mzalam (Queztlan)
Deity of farming, fishing, and more generally crafting. In Wyffleum, also the god of war and raiding, for they traditionally till the land in the growing season, and go raiding on the seas in the winter, so for them farmer and raider are near synonymous.
Oshan (Sylverda), Ollym (Wyffleum), Ozhut (Zukrut), Othak (Rau), Ofran (Darkwood), Otlan (Quetzlan)
Deity of wanders, refugees, exiles, couriers, peddlers, and adventurers. In Sylverda, also the god of guards, and seen as the patron of the Warden who protect the Mother Forest. Among the Quetzlan, she is the goddess of sorrow and longing, as they see themselves as exiles from their true home.
Suleri (Sylverda), Suterm (Wyffleum), Samza (Zukrut), Serarm (Rau), Svula (Darkwood), Ussele (Quetzlan)
Deity of writing, knowledge, and tradition. In Zukrut, also the god of merchants due to the connection to ledgers and mathematics. In Rau, the goddess of secrets, representing the hidden knowledge of each of the clans.
Tsuma (Sylverda), Thuma (Wyffleum), Tzuka (Zukrut), Taeme (Rau), Tsulam (Darkwood), Tlalu (Quetzlan)
Deity of the night, the stars, the twin moons, and love. In Sylverda, also the god of mischief, trickery, and children, due to ever changing faces the moons present at night. Darkwood has the same associations, but views the deity as changing genders with the phases of the moons.
Feorn (Sylverda), Fyern (Wyffleum), Feork (Zukrut), Faena (Rau), Felu (Darkword), Ftaek (Quetzlan)
Deity of fate, magic, and law. In Wyffleum, the goddess of the sea and the wind, for sailors are always at their mercy as fate decrees. In Quetzlan, the god of rightful rulership whose visions guides kings on the proper path for the betterment of their subjects.
Other Worlds and the Afterlife
The Afterlife and the Flow
When a creature dies, its soul enters of the flow of energy that courses through the world until it is reborn. This might take a matter of days, weeks, months, or even years. While a soul is in the flow, it can be reached by such magics that allow one to commune with the dead. It is even possible, though risky, for sufficiently powerful magic-wielders to enter the flow and seek out an as of yet unreborn soul.
As such, there is no concept of an 'afterlife' in the World, just of an unending cycle of death and rebirth. The exact number of souls in the world, and whether it is possible for a soul to be reborn as a higher or lower creature, is the subject of much religious debate.
The Void and the Bright
Besides the Flow, there are two other recognized parallel world: the Void and the Bright.
The Void is a world plunged into perpetual darkness and haunted by all manner of horrific creatures, known collectively as the Voidborn
The Bright is, similarly to the Void, a world consumed by perpetual light, and populated by terrifying creatures, known collectively a the Brightborn.
Both the Void and the Bright contain ruins hinting that they were not always as they are. Most adventurers powerful enough to even attempt to explore those ruins never return.
Aukroa is one of the three great continents in the world, along with Zulemna (home of the Jhorzan Empire) and far off Ru-Za-Ma-He. The three continents form a rough horizontal crescent, with Aukroa on the left, Zulemna in the middle at the top, and Ru-Za-Ma-He on the right, in the great world sea.
The north, where Sylverda lays claim, is heavily forested on the inner crescent side, with a low chain of mountains separating It from the steppes on the far side.
To the south, the forest gives way to grasslands and rolling hills, surrounding the vast Lake of the Dragon's Descent. On the lake, and spreading for several miles nearly to the shores of the inner crescent is the nation of Wyffleum.
Still further south, the land turns rough and rocky, and rises again in great volcanic mountains. Mountain streams feed fertile regions thick with volcanic ash, and there the great city-state of brass and gold, Zukrut is found.
The City State of Sylverda
Nestled in the dense forests of northern Aukroa, the city of Sylverda has always prided itself on living in harmony with its surroundings. The city sprawls through clearings in the Mother Forest and many small streams flow through it. Wood is the preferred material for construction, and living trees as sometimes shaped to serve as structural elements. Stone and metal are used where they must be.
Rather than fields of crops, and herds of animals, Slyverdans blend their food crops and game with the forest. Fruit bearing trees, berry-bearing bushes, mushrooms, and various vegetables and beans grow all around the city, free for all to harvest under the guidance of the Foresters. Herds of deer, sheep, and boars call the forest home. Hunting is likewise managed by the Foresters, with all citizens permitted to hunt as needed, or to sell their spoils to those that can't hunt.
The Wardens of the Foresters serve as what standing military Sylverda has, though most citizens are adept enough to bows or spears to make effective skirmishers, particularly on their home ground.
The city-state is governed by the the Lady Ve'meehta, cat-beastkin high druid of Ymalia, goddess of the natural cycle, Lord Tsyramak, brass dragonborn commander of the Foresters, and Lord Hvelien, wood elf master of the Unbroken Circle, the assembly of mages. The Three are advised on all matters by the Elders of the nine wards of the city and the various outlying villages. Ve'meetha is Currently the First of the Three, having been in her position longer than the other two.
The residents of the city are mostly humans, landkin, beastkin, and elfkin predominantly; elves, wood elves and eldarin, but also some shadow elves who hail from the deepest, darkest part of the forest; and dragonborn, brass, copper, green, and black being the most common. All of the other peoples of the world can be found within Sylverda, but not in great numbers.
The most common mounts and beasts of burden are domesticated axe-beaks, who are better suited to the root tangled terrain of the Mother Forest than horses.
The "Wild" Nations
While it is more diplomatic to refer to the Orc, Goblin, and Lizardfolk nations by their proper names, or as the Peoples of the Land, in common usage they are referred to as the Wild Nations. They are the original inhabitants of Aukroa, along with many other across the continent, who lived there for millennia, before the refugees from the fourth continent settled in Aukroa following its destruction in the Rain of Unending Sorrow.
Sylverda, keeping with its governing philosophy of harmony with its surroundings has, in general, had better relationships with the Wild Nations than its sister cities have, but there have been conflicts.
The Khanate of Rau
Across the Low Mountain, in the Steppes of Rau, the Orcs, and those other peoples who dwell with them, live. Ferocity is their guiding principle, though they see it as the way they live with each other, not with other peoples, who they see as inherently weaker. They are nomadic, living and moving with their great herds of aurochs, who serve as food, mounts, beasts of burden, and weapons of war. There are eleven Clans, who are ordered from strongest to weakest. Between the Clans, there is the expectation that only the weaker may instigate hostilities with the stronger; preying on the weak is seen as disgraceful, while the weak seeking to become strong is seen as praiseworthy.
Every three years, the eleven clans come together to have a Grand Battle, where each Clan does battle with their strongest warriors, though typically not to the death. The battle begins as the last sliver of light vanishes at dusk, until the first glimmer of light at dawn. The Clan whose warriors stand within the Circle of Judgement by the time the Grand Battle ends are judged the strongest, and their leader becomes Khan of the Clans until the next Grand Battle. The other clans are judged by their performance in the Grand Battle, and a new order of strongest to weakest is recognized.
The last three battles have seen victory by the Eyeless Moon clan, led by Ravekhram the Sky-Cleaver. The Khantate is usually held by the Eyeless Moon, or their traditional rivals, the Horns of Graz, led by Vrememami the Doom-Eye.
There is a twelfth clan, the Silent Stones, who do not take part in the Grand Battle, and serve as adjudicators between the clans.
There is some mild trade between the Khanate and Sylverda, but neither has much that the other desires. Sylverda would very much like the Khanate as an ally, should war break out with the Empire again, but the Khanate's view is that only the weak seek allies. The sour note in the relations between the nations comes from encroachments on Khanate lands by settlers from Wyffleum. As Sylverda and Wyffleum are allied states, the Khan considers Sylverda to be in part responsible for restraining their fellow Allied State, while Wyffleum seeks to have Sylverda help protect their settlers from Orcish raids.
The Darkwood Demense
Deep in the Mother Forest, is the land of the Goblins and their allies, the Darkwood Demense. It overlaps in part with the villages of the Shadow Elves, but for the most part, their relations are good, and of all the Peoples of the Land, they have the best relations with Sylverda.
Goblins delight in cunning and trickery. They are very territorial, and anyone wishing to enter the Darkwood should try to make contact at the edge, lest they be viewed as a trespasser. People who wander into their woods without permission are likely to find themselves subjected to a series of embarrassing tricks and traps that end with them safely, if somewhat tattered, back outside the Darkwood. People who enter with hostile intent are dealt with much less gently.
To the outside observer, there seems to be very little organization or hierarchy in Goblin culture. Paradoxically, they admire both the very clever, and the very foolish, and disdain those that fall between those measures. Every trickster needs someone to trick, else the trick goes wasted. A complete fool can make a fool of the most clever goblin, and a clever person makes the best target for the most clever of tricks.
Their sense of property is communal, rather than personal, excepting what a goblin might carry on their person. Anything can be used by anybody, as long as a majority doesn't object at the time. They're aware that other cultures have a rather different view property, and generally confine their borrowing to their fellow goblins.
Their lack of hierarchy can make them difficult for outsiders to deal with, but, generally, if an outsider can get a goblin to vouch for them, and doesn't cause too much trouble, the other goblins will abide by what the the first goblins decided. A person who plays their role in a trick with good humor or wit is appreciated.
The main source of conflict are poachers in the Darkwood, for there are many creatures in the Darkwood, such as displacer beasts, that are valued for their hides or other parts. If the goblins feel the Wardens aren't doing enough to stop poachers, they may retaliate by raiding Sylverdan lands for game or forage, or by stealing from nearby settlements. g enough to stop poachers, they may retaliate by raiding Sylverdan lands for game or forage, or by stealing from nearby settlements.
The Queztlan Resistance
On the southern edge of the Mother Forest, between the forest and the Lake of the Dragon's Descent, is the Marsh of the Drowned. There, the Lizardfolk and their alllies make their home. The relations between the Resistance and Sylverda can be described as tense, at best.
The Lizardfolk have never forgiven the ancestors of the inhabitants of Sylverda for driving their ancestors from their homes. What had once been a grand nation of philosopher-priests has become a nations of soldiers under eternal military rule. When The Jhorzan Empire went to war with the Allied States, the Queztlan Resistance joined as co-belligerents, forcing Sylverda to keep troops on its southern border and disrupting the movement of troops from Wyffleum marching to aid Slyverda.
The Queztlans managed to rouse the black dragon Uxetlavanku from her centuries longs slumber, and called upon the ancient pact between their ancestors and her. For a while, the Queztlans made inroads into Sylverda, but a heroic band of individuals battled Uxetlavanku to standstill, forcing her to retreat to nurse her wounds. Before she could rejoin the fight, Auraryuma entered the battle against the Empire on the Allied States side, and rather than risk conflict with her uncle, Uxetlavanku resolved to stay in her lair.
When the war with the Empire reached its current stalemate, Sylverda and it allies were able to drive the Queztlan Resistance back to their previous borders. The High Marshall of Wyffleum, LLyenne Sweynne, wanted to push on and conquer the Marsh of the Drowned, but Lady Ve'meehta of Sylverda insisted that they go no further, stating that she recognized the legitimate grievances of the Queztlan, and while she could not do much to address them, at very least she would do all in her power to not add to them.
Functionally, the Queztlan Resistance is a military dictatorship, and has been for centuries. Its children are raised on stories of their glorious past, and the crimes of the Allied States. What it lacks, are the numbers and the power to carry out their wishes. The current leader is Regent Skerk'sa (regent, because the Queztlans will acknowledge no king until they once again hold dominion over their ancient homeland).
For now, conflict with Sylverda is limited to raids and border harassment. For now, the Sylverdan leaders refuse to retaliate, but there are rumblings of discontent among the Wardens and the villages near the Marsh of the Drowned.
The Jhorzan Empire
The Jhorzan empire was founded nearly 1500 years ago by the Starborn, who arrived on the continent of Zulemna around the same time that the Rain of Endless Sorrow destroyed the fourth continent. The Starborn arrived in Zulemna as refugees, at the mercy of the nations present at the time. Unique among all peoples of the world, the Starborn seem to be completely incapable of using magic directly, and found themselves driven from region to region until they eventually settled in the harsh lands of north central Zulemna.
It was there they discovered thaumium, the crystalline substance that fuels all arcaontek. And with it, they built engines of war. Remembering every slight, every indignity they had suffered, they waged war across the continent. The size of the Empire has varied over its long life, sometimes covering the entire continent and beyond, as it does now, other times just the central provinces as rebellions temporarily succeed, or wars of succession fracture the Empire.
Life under Imperial rule is harsh beyond measure within the conquered provinces, with their inhabitants being seen as little better than animals. The Empire uses a mixture of collaborators hoping to gain citizenship or some measure of rights, and imperial forces to maintain control. Provinces that have been under imperial rule for centuries without rebellion are usually treated as proper imperials, and they tend towards being even more fervent in their loyalty than the Home Provinces. It is these provinces of nion-Starborn that provide the battlefield spellcasters that the Empire would otherwise lack.
The latest wave of expansion, which saw the Empire reclaim dominance over Zulemna, and establish control over portions of Aukroa and Ru-Za-Ma-He began 30 years ago, and paused 10 years ago. The wars of conquest were halted in part by the loss of their offensive forces in Aukroa in the battle between Auraryuma and Perditam Terminam, but the main factor was the death of Emperor Kharza from natural causes, which sparked a war of succession between his brother Kzarna, and his son Lhorma.
For now, in Aukroa, the Empire maintains forces in the north of Aukroa, on the far side of No Mans Land, anchored by the presence of the arcaontek Fortress Umbram. Those forces have been predominantly content to maintain control of the land they've captured, with occasional forays into No Mans Land, searching for something.
But now there is news that the forces of Lhorma have gained the upperhand in the war of succession, and it may not be long before a new emperor sits upon the Stellar Throne. And it was Lhorma who dispatched his trusted deputy, Consul Millitum Vhalka ze Orzh, to take command of Fortress Umbram. Vhalka ze Orzh, the Bloody Viper, who had recently brutally quelled rebellion in the eastern lands held by Lhorma.
The true origin of the Starborn is hinted at by the name they chose for themselves, but the veracity of the claim is more difficult to prove. Regardless, they are a tall, human-like people. Their skin tones range from midnight blue to slate grey to alabaster white. Their hair is rose, purple, cyan, or white. Their eyes are gold, silver, or ruby. In their foreheads, they have a small crystal that usually matches their eye color.
If they have a core tendency, it is arrogance paired with a selective sense of honor. This combination makes them unlikely to consider subterfuge as their first option in their dealings. The strong have no need of trickery. Those that match them strength for strength may receive a certain amount of grudging respect. They value intelligence, competence, and loyalty, but only in those they accept as equals.
The Story Thus Far
Act 1: Echoes of Wars Past
- Chapter 1: A Simple Job
- Chapter 2: The Forest Bleeds
- Chapter 3: Refugees of the Void
- Chapter 4: The Empire Stirs
- Chapter 5: The Founding Festival
- Chapter 6: The Alpha and the Omega
- Chapter 7: A New Home
Act 2: Blood, Fire, and Steel
- Chapter 1: The Queen of the Steppes