Kyuad's lorebook is a collection of notes he's taken as he's studied and experienced life. It doesn't have a strong theme yet, nor has it aided him in any great and impressive deeds.
- 1 Important Entries
- 2 Study of the Undead
- 2.1 Undead of Aryth
- 2.2 The Price of Death
- 2.3 The Spirits of Aryth
- 2.4 Interacting with Spirits
- 2.5 The Eternal
- 2.6 The Lost
- 2.7 The Trapped
- 2.8 The Fell
- 2.9 Dealing with the Dead... The impact the Fell have on life in Eredane
- 2.10 Becoming Fell
- 2.11 Nature and Behavior of Fell
- 2.12 Known Undead Lords
- 2.13 Necromantic Confluxes
- 3 The Study of Curses and the Accursed
- 4 Ways of the Legates
- 5 Places of the World
- 6 ERETHOR EASTERN FRONT REGION
- 6.1 Road of Ruin
- 6.2 Plains of Ash and Blood, dangers and foes
- 6.3 What lies beyond? - the lands near Baden's Bluff
- 6.4 The Northern March
This creature was being held captive by Possiogn when encountered at ShadowWall. Other research tells me that the Chimera of legend is from the Aruun, and is said to be the only one. However, the one encountered seems to be a young creature. This strange being looked like a conglomeration of different creatures. It had leathery wings, horns across the spine of its back and shoulders, a long serpentine tail, rear hooves like a horse, front paws like a great cat, and three heads. One head was certainly draconic; the center head was feline, like a tiger or lioness; the third head was that of a goat with dark fur. Each of these faces had a look of fear and intelligence that was disturbing. Overall, the beast was as tall as an elf at the shoulder, as long as a Dorn from neck to shanks, and heavy enough to require two boro to pull the cart.
Aranesil, or Spider-Elf
Rumors abound about a group of dwarves who encountered strange spiders in the Kaladruns with distorted and disturbing elvish body parts. These were black-skinned and seemed to be fused with the spider's body. Something matching this description was being held captive by Possiogn when encountered at ShadowWall. This creature, however, was fearsome in its beauty. The elf body, extant from the pelvis upward, seemed to be growing out of the thorax, in place of the head. With the 8 spider legs and two humanoid arms, it looked fully capable of virtually anything that either origin creature may attempt. Upon dissection, it became clear that the amalgamation did not end at the simple conjoining, but extended to every part of the creature's structure. The eyes were wide and uniformly black, just as with spiders. Within the mouth were found very long, extendable fangs just behind the normal row of teeth. The jaw opened suprisingly wide, making it possible for this creature to bit ahold of any size of creature with fangs that were capable of exuding very caustic poison. The poison sacs were found in the base of the spider torso. Each was slightly larger than a human's head and very full of poison that was capable of dissolving wood and other organic material tested. The poison had a milky white consistancy and smelled of mineral.
When encountered the creature spoke Danisil and seemed to be in agony, requesting that we kill him. We were obliging before it became evident whether he was as naturally capable with magic as his kin of likeness.
Possiogn claimed to have been responsible for the creation of this creature, however this is unlikely. It would be interesting to find more. The sexual dimorphism of elf and spider are opposed - in the amalgamation is it the male or female that is larger? Lacking mammalian reproductive organs, how is fertilization performed?
What to call this creature? Araneae and Danisil make strage compounds. Daneae and Aransil are the easiest, but obviously not ideal, as one is a common name and the other is simply too confusing, as it is a homophone of Erunsil. Danider is an acceptable term, though it sounds casual, and is specific to the Danisil. Arachnisil is perhaps the best option, though it does nothing to differentiate the creature from a possible elf-scorpion abomonation. Therefore, I shall classify these as Aranesil. Common names given to racial specifics are acceptable, such as Danider or Carachnid.
Megartkorvid, or Crow Beast
This creature seems to be a bear-sized flightless bird with a second set of wide talons instead of wings. A creature like this was being held captive by Possiogn when encountered at ShadowWall. According to its appearance it most closely resembles a crow or rook, though with arms instead of wings. Because it also resembles a Roc, and it cannot fly, we have taken to calling them Running Rocs.
The size of the things was remarkable for any bird, and the amount of feathers was astounding, especially since these were each considerably large feathers. The colors around the face of the creature were mostly black, with some brown. Toward the extremities the colors shifted to being more tan. The talons were wide-set and all four were front-facing. The "wing-claws" were similar, though with much longer talons. The feathers of the arms and ruff were longest, though the feathers of the arms were not long enough or situated in such a way as to make flight easy (or possible, perhaps) for the creature. The bill was long and very thick, with a slight downward curve. This was black, with a ridge of pale brown along the center of the peak. These appeared very worn on the ends, either meaning a poor diet or that they frequently encountered metal or stone. The eyes were set just behind the beak on either side of the head, which would give it monocular vision.
The creatures attacked by running on its legs and setting down from time to time onto its front legs for stability. The length of the front talons most likely made using the front legs for running difficult. While running it spread the front legs out wide in an impressive display, though it never seemed to gain any loft as other birds do.
The feathers seem to exude a sort of dark magical aura, and cause uneasiness. Undoubtedly the creatures are formed of magic.
Origins of The Sunder Shard
It is told that Vrolk travelled beneath the Spine of the World and back again with terrible artifacts and ideas to build his fortress of death. Hellish deals were made under the mountains, two of the most powerful artifacts he came away with were the Cadaverous Eye and the Sunder Shard. The Eye is all but unknown, however the Sunder Shard is said to have been the seed that grew the black tower in the Dead Marsh.
This Sunder Shard could possibly be from one of two origins, according to Kyuad's studies...
#1. The fact that the Vile gathered it from beneath the Kaldrune Mts. suggests that it is possible that it is related to the things that dwell in the deep... Many terrible things lay in the dark far below in the recesses between rock and Dwarven mines. Their is told tales of the Slumberer, a foul beast old as the mountain itself. It sleeps in the depths below the old city of Moria, feared even by the dark denizens that infest the ancient city buried in the ash and bone of the men of stone who died when the greatest Dwarven city fell. The Shard could be an artifact of volcanic means, a rock which is a type of naturally occurring glass, produced by volcanoes when a felsic lava cools rapidly and freezes without sufficient time for crystal growth. It is found only within the margins of felsic lava flows, where cooling is more rapid. The Slumberer Beneath the Spine of the World nests within this felsic lava flow and as it writhes in hate the Shard may have been formed. The Shard like basalt would be dark because of ferromagnesian enrichment. Obsidian is mineral-like, but not a true mineral because it is not crystalline. Its composition is very similar to that of granite and rhyolite. Because obsidian is metastable at the Aryth's surface. over time the glass becomes fine-grained mineral crystals), no obsidian has been found that is older than the pre-Sundering. If such a Shard were taken it conceivably could be magically worked to grow into such as thing as the black spike knows as the Obsidan Spire.
It is called "Sunder Shard" due to the fact that something that happened during or post-Sundering seemed to have made these mystical materials exist...
#2. A second educated theory would be that the Shard is somewhat less unique but equally as mystical. In difference this theory focuses on the Shard as Tektites (Elven for the Scar glass) which are natural glass objects, up to a few centimeters in size, which were rumored to have been formed by the impact causing the Scar in the Northern Marches when the Shadow fell. Tektites are obsidian shards produced by the lunar volcanic eruptions exposed on the Sundering, though few scientists are able to fathom this hypothesis. Tektites are among the "driest" rocks, with an average water content of 0.005%. This is very unusual, as most if not all of the craters where tektites may have formed were underwater/snow-ice before impact. This suggests that the tektites were formed under phenomenal temperature and pressure. An (unnoted) Sarcoson scientist's terrestrial-impact theory states that the impact melted material from Aryth's surface and catapulted it up to several hundred miles away from the impact site. The molten material cooled and solidified to glass. This impact theory states, tektites cannot be found everywhere on Aryth's surface. They are only found in strewnfields, which are associated with known impact craters. How it would have come to the Vile's attention from the peoples/things under the Spine of the World are unknown. Regardless this Shard would likely have similar makeup of the felsic shards noted above...
It is called "Sunder Shard" due to the fact that these materials seem to have been created as a direct result of the Shadow's fall to Aryth...
Zal didn't just become a succubus, he merged his essence with a succubus using a method pioneered by Ardherin.
When Ardherin became a Night King he was approached by a demon, rather than by a priest as Zardrix was. This demon was Vard, and was either the being, or commanded another being, to merge his body with the elf's. Later, when Vrolk and Dierro were under the Sorcerer's tutellage, they travelled to the Aruun, to Ibun-Suul. When next Dierro emerged from the jungles he had with him the chimera, aranesil, and megartkorvid in cages. His claim to have created them himself seemed at the time to be mere bragging, but in light of his teacher's transformation it's entirely possible he was correct. What might he plan to do to himself with this knowledge?
Within Ardherin's journal Zal found the information explaining the process by which a mortal could be bound to an outsider, and using this process caused himself to become a half-succubus. If the sword was involved in this process, the answers are in that journal. In fact, was this outsider a relative of Zal's somehow?
Zal thinks himself to be extremely important in the grand scheme of things. He believes that at least one part of Aradil's scrolls refer to himself (perhaps "Kasmaelian Childe").
What binds Nazzif/Belal to Zal now? Courtesan imps are known to serve mortal masters and reject the company of their own kind. With Zal's new transformations, would not Belal wish to break the shackles of servitude? Is it perhaps the hide that holds his truename that enforces obediance?
What is it about Zaindal's attacks that got through Zal's protections? Zaindal was skeletal, so the chances of Zal having been hurt so badly by silver or wood are nill. Sonic?
Her panther was a childhood pet, and she never intended him to become an astirax. It is possible that she might warm up to Eranon, who saved the cat for her.
She clearly has mental blocks in place and is being dominated. A curse could prove to her that she is under Zal's control.
Study of the Undead
Undead of Aryth
Izrador’s high priest, Sunulael, is himself an undead creature, but not a randomly risen Fell. He is the product of Izrador’s corrupting will, an eternal creature of jealousy and ambition, something unlike the others. All the other undead of the world have their origins in Izrador, and most came seeking him in order to extend their lives and grow their power. There are rituals known only to Izrador and his high legates that can bestow undeath on a creature, willing or not. Different rituals produce different undead—vampires, ghosts and that known as lich — all of whom reach the other side with new powers, new perceptions, and a complete and utter devotion to Izrador’s cause. For the most part, Izrador leaves these new servants to their own devices, secure in the knowledge that even as they fulfill the desires that led them to this choice they will also be furthering his goals. Sunulael often demands a period of service from those he transforms, and it is hoped that the commanders among his undead army at Cambrial may, if the offensive is stalled long enough, eventually desert his service. If such desertion can be timed just right, it could turn the tide of the war in Erethor toward the forces of good.
Cambrial is the nexus for undead in the world, and the groaning of its mindless denizens can be heard for 20 miles or more on clear nights. Those who wish to undergo the transformation into intelligent undead most often journey there to meet with Sunulael, an event that in and of itself maddens those with weak minds. Of those who survive the mere presence of the Priest of Shadow, many falter in their decisions. No matter to Sunulael, however—they are marked to become mindless slaves and sent to the front lines in Erethor. Those who persevere are rewarded with the curse of eternal undeath and subservience to Izrador. Their minds are scoured by the dark god, but left relatively intact, and then they are sent on their way. Cambrial was once one of the largest cities in southern Erenland and home to a vibrant, mixed-race population. Among the Sarcosan majority lived Erenlanders, Northmen, elven traders, and even a few city-dwelling halflings. Even in the dark days at the end of the Third Age, the city remained a center for interracial trade and was known throughout the southlands as the home of Sarcosan wizardry. When the Shadow’s forces took southern Erenland, they attacked and razed Cambrial as a demonstration of their power and ruthlessness. They killed all who did not flee, filling the city’s streets with blood. At the command of the Night Kings, the bodies were purposefully left untended and soon every last one rose as Fell. Neither time nor decay seemed to diminish the undead horde’s numbers and many believe it is the black magic of Izrador that maintain them. Perhaps charmed by their tenacity, the Night King known as the Priest of Shadow has made Cambrial his most common lair, within which new undead monstrosities are constantly being born from the City of Dead and the Obsidian Spire as well. In the century since its fall, so many of the foul creatures continued to haunt the place that the ruins of Cambrial came to be known as the City of the Dead. The settlement and its environs have become so dangerous that even orc legions stay well clear of the region, if they can. Unfortunately, the Priest of Shadow and his legate servants require guards, servants, supplies, and all the other trappings of a community, so Sarcosans and Erenlanders are commonly rounded up and replanted in the various keeps and secured buildings of Cambrial, forced to do their best to raise food and meet their masters’ needs while avoiding the often uncontrolled Fell and other, more powerful undead that roam the ruined sections of the city and its outskirts. No more than 1,000 humans and halflings live here at any given time . . . though that number begins dropping from the moment a “fresh” shipment of transplants arrives, and must be supplemented every few years. No one knows how many undead roam the city and its environs, but those few who have escaped the place alive say that they must outnumber the living by a ratio of ten to one, at least.
Across Aryth, the more common undead creatures are each actually part of a continuum of decay and corruption, both physical and spiritual. While undead once existed on Aryth thanks to the normal means of restless spirits and foul necromancy, the Sundering caused them to be far more common thanks to a corruption of the natural cycle. Whereas once all souls ascended to some higher place or joined the spirits of their ancestors as part of the Eternal, now they are trapped, either in body or in spirit, to the world that birthed them, unable to pass the veil brought down by the Sundering.
The Price of Death
With nowhere to go, the spirits of the dead far too often remain tethered to their bodies or emerge as the Lost, dangerous incorporeal undead with an unpredictable but often dangerous attitude towards the living. When a creature of aberration, dragon, giant, humanoid, magical beast, or monstrous humanoid and a suitable amount of intelligence, will and drive to survive, the soul of the deceased can possibly depart its body and vanish into the maelstrom of trapped but harmless spirits that wreath the world of Aryth like an incorporeal halo. When the stars are right the deceased is doomed to rise as Fell in less than a week unless it is beheaded or its body is destroyed by fire. There is a small/unlikely chance that the unfortunate soul may rise immediately, and despite whatever lethal wounds may be evident, the newly undead may be completely unaware that he has just been killed. Companions may even try to aid their fallen friend, but these efforts prove useless and it will not be long before those companions realize something is very wrong. In extremely rare occurances something potentially worse happens. Regardless of the how the body is disposed of, it becomes destined to rise as a tormented shade, one of the Lost, within a year of the person’s death. The dead creature rises as a ghost if its mind is right; otherwise, it rises as some other form of incorporeal undead.
The Spirits of Aryth
There is howling wind of unseen forces that encircle Aryth. It is everywhere and nowhere at once, and it is formed by what the people of the world call spirits. Some spirits have always been there, a disembodied, nearly divine group of creatures, or perhaps a single creature, called the Eternal, as well as lesser spirits like fey creatures and elementals. Those who work magic have always been aware of these spirits— they have used them as soldiers, bound them into their artifacts, and even called upon them for knowledge and guidance. It wasn’t until the Sundering, however, that the spirits became as real to most residents of Aryth as the sun, sky, and ground beneath them. With the Sundering, a wall came down across Aryth, blocking it from the other planes. Many of the creatures trapped by that event, with no other form to take and with no afterlife or other worlds to move on to, have become spirits. There are now three types of spirits throughout Aryth, whether they are the dead souls of the once living, refugee extraplanar visitors who cannot find their way home, or eternal elemental forces who have resided on Aryth since its creation.
Interacting with Spirits
Other than via spells and the actions of other, similar creatures, spirits are for all intents and purposes removed from the physical world of Aryth. Normal men and women cannot affect them, and spirits in their natural state cannot affect normal men and women. A bodiless spirit’s presence can be revealed by divination spells and a spell of force effect would affect a spirit, but a fireball would not, and no spells cast by spirits in their bodiless forms affect the physical world in any way. Spirits would seem to be ideal spies, whether for Izrador or his foes. However, just as spirits cannot be detected, neither can they, under most circumstances, see or detect any details regarding the living. Time, place, and distance have little meaning to spirits, and getting spirits to convey meaningful information about what they’ve seen is quite difficult. Each type of spirit has a particular interest in and ability to observe specific things in the physical world; for instance, outsider spirits notice the life forces of other creatures with particular clarity, while elemental spirits are naturally attracted to the elements to which they are attuned.
Eternal spirits are those powers that are beyond the sight and knowledge even of the spellcasters of Aryth. They do not affect the material world, nor does it affect them, unless they will it. They are beyond even the power of Izrador and his legates to control. By the same token, though they are supposedly able to wreck havoc and destruction upon the material world at their whim, they rarely seem to do so, and the actions attributed to their wrath could just as easily be poor luck or violent weather as the actions of the Eternal. Most of the souls of the dead who have joined with the weave of life and magic of Aryth can be said to have joined the Eternal, and benevolent nature spirits worshipped by everyone from the elves to the halflings are also examples eternal spirits.
- The Whisper of the great forest of Erethor is perhaps the largest of the Eternal, spanning the entirety of the Witch Queen’s wood and composed of the souls of hundreds of thousands of deceased elves.
Even those that die and are lucky enough to be spared the fate of rising as Fell are still unable to reach heaven through the murky Veil brought down during Izrador’s banishment. A further travesty is that many of these unfortunate souls are still unable to rest quietly. Instead, they rise as haunts and shades, cursed to roam the place of their death or familiar locations from their lives. These ghosts are the Lost, and they live a half existence only semi-aware of what has happened to them, confused and trapped in a limbo somewhere between the physical and celestial realms. Like the Fell, ghosts are traumatized by their own deaths but the effects are more varied. These haunts are not driven by bloody hunger but instead follow often-cryptic or bizarre motivations that reflect parts of their past personalities. Many suffer insanities upon death that drive them to malevolent and violent acts. Others remain motivated by the things that moved them in life and can be coherent or even benevolent at times. Unlike the Fell, the Lost do not have the release of eventually decaying away to dust but face eternity in their horrific states. Instead, what passes for minds in these spirits degrade, spiraling slowly into incomprehensibility and insanity. In the end, even the ghosts of the most kind and potent souls become dim and dangerous shadows of what they once were. As the years pass and the veil between the heavens and Aryth remains, the frequency of incorporeal undead haunting the realm of the living increases. It is an uncommon person that is lucky enough not to have been haunted by the shade of a deceased ancestor, and a rare traveler that has not been driven from his camp by the chilling wail of a Lost soul.
- Those spirits that haunted "Satan Rock" could be concluded to be some type of twisted Lost.
Whether as messengers of the gods or visitors from other planes, extraplanar visitors have always walked on the face of Aryth. They arrived in forms newly made from the fabric of creation and the magic of Aryth, and if and when they were killed by violence, their spirits returned from whence they came. Others, like creatures with the fey or elemental types, were considered natives of Aryth, though their birthrights were far from mundane. Hundreds of thousands of these extraplanar entities were present on Aryth when the Sundering occurred, and twice as many were banished there along with Izrador when he fell, either due to their association with him or due to the accident of being caught up in the devastating pull that sent him hurtling from the heavens. Regardless of the means by which they arrived, all such creatures that were not present on Aryth at the moment of the Sundering had no bodies of their own, and so were left screaming and formless as spirits. Others became spirits when their corporeal bodies were destroyed by time or violence, and a rare few may still exist in their original bodies. All of these creatures, whatever their means of arrival and current states, are called the Trapped.
Nature of the Outsiders - a spirit subtype with the Trapped template
Outsiders are a special case on Aryth, having been trapped there for thousands of years with no way to get home or call others from their planes of origin. Because the elthedar had built great civilizations and were master practitioners of the arts of magic, there was a significant outsider presence on Aryth before the Sundering. That event caused some outsiders to go mad instantly, affecting them in unexplainable and never-before-seen ways. Some consider these the lucky ones. Others were merely frustrated by their inability to return home, and they endeavored to find a way to break the Veil that enveloped the world. Through the millennia, these angels and demons have made pacts with one another and just about every other powerful creature on the planet in order to find a way home. They have served dragons, and elves, and the Shadow, and siphoned magic from nexuses all over the world. All of their attempts have failed.
Outsiders that exist in their normal forms have either survived in their original bodies since the Sundering or achieved them as a result of their transformation ability.
Outsiders Around Aryth The demon-infested jungles of the Aruun are perhaps the most regarded place on Eredane when the subject of demons is broached—and for good reason. Its humid confines house the majority of evil outsiders in the world, and not many angels to combat them. The demon ruins of Ibon-sul have acted as a prison to demons for thousands of years, so long that not even the eldest Danisil sage has memory of what created such a place. There are fears that since Izrador’s victory, the invisible bonds that trap beings there are being weakened, and that more and more demons are escaping every year. If this is true, it could soon spell an end to Danisil involvement in the war for Caradul, as the jungle elves rally to defend their own home against a threat more vile than the cruelest orc.
Elsewhere, angels, demons, and devils alike have tried to blend in as best they can. Many succumb to the pull of oblivion and lose themselves among the other spirits, joining the Eternal, but others try to find a way home from the physical world or even simply resign themselves to life among the mortals. Indeed, good and evil outsiders often find common cause, and in many cases old hatreds have fallen by the wayside in light of their new circumstances. For a chance to return home, there is barely an angel on Aryth who would not work with a demon or devil, but their natures remain unchanged, and such alliances often do not last long, too strained by old prejudices and differences in philosophy that often have lethal consequences.
RULES NOTE: As a result of their millennia-long entrapment, none of the outsiders on Aryth have the Extraplanar subtype—the Material Plane on Aryth has become their home. All outsiders gain the spirit subtype as well as the Trapped template. So in the future you COULD make Know: Spirit checks for information if you'd like...
Nature of the Courtesan Imp sub-type of Outsiders
Courtesan imps survive through stealth and trickery, lying and stealing as it suits them. All courtesan imps are out to make themselves powerful, every one is a coward first, and a traitor second. On occassion certain people (known as Collaborators) attracts the attention of evil powers outside the perview of Izrador enough to gain a courtesan imp as a follower.
Courtesan imps consider combat to be the same as dying. The promise of protection in combat is often enough to keep a courtesan imp loyal. When caught in a fight, a courtesan imp attempts to talk or feint its way out.
These Imp Outsiders have various abilities that have been the formation of their nature as ambassadors and deal-makers...
- A courtesan imp is an expert intermediary. The imp has the ability of a permanent tongues spell and predisposes others to treat the imp with open-minded indifference rather than hostility. Courtesan imps use this ability to approach new collaborators and open peaceful dialogues with would-be enemies.
- A courtesan imp has a flawless memory for details, rumors, gossip, and secrets.
- Spell-Dealing: In the old days, courtesan imps traded in spells as part of their duties on Aryth. A courtesan imp can “carry” a spell from a book or scroll to a channeler who wants to learn it. [The channeler must spend the time, money and XP necessary to learn the spell from a book as usual, but does not have to physically see or handle the book or scroll himself.] The courtesan imp does not have to be able to use or understand the spell itself. Typically, a courtesan imp charges 25 vp/spell level for this service, but price can be negotiated...
- Spellcasting Ability: Spells believed to be known by these Imps: (5 points of spell energy/day; DC 15 +spell level) 0—mage hand, prestidigitation, virtue; 1st—jump, pass without trace; 2nd—cat’s grace, spider climb, tree shape; 3rd—meld into stone.
Most usually appearing as a small pool of viscid, purple slime lies within a crystalline basin. A pair of rudimentary eyes emerge from the slightly swirling fluid and blink languidly at you, while a burbling voice emerges from the fluid. "What is it you wish to know?”
These beings are of neutral care to and about the world, over the years, many isolated lore pools have become antisocial and neurotic - unable to return home and confined to one spot, they are naturally irritable, grumpy, and prone to irrational temper tantrums.
Lore pools are a race of outsiders originally sent to Aryth to watch and record the development of the fey races and to absorb what they could of the world’s history and culture. The Sundering trapped these small, helpless creatures, who have remained in their hiding places ever since. There is no gravity on their home plane, where they are able to propel themselves from place to place on extruded cilia, but on Aryth they are simply too weak to move.
Lore pools can be found scattered across all of Aryth. Some were found by elves and given new, more comfortable homes in crystalline basins in exchange for providing the elves with their knowledge and other abilities. Still others were captured by the Shadow’s minions and coerced into using their abilities for evil. Even more are sequestered across the countryside or in ancient ruins, where they hide and observe the world around them, instinctively collecting knowledge despite being unable to report back to their masters.
Where they once may have readily provided information, they now must be cajoled or intimidated into revealing what they know to others. They also take a perverse delight in commanding their “mental inferiors” to complete difficult tasks for them, withholding vital information until the job is complete.
Lore pools are somewhat able to protect themselves - a lore pool may reveal some tidbit (which may not be true) about a target’s fate, creating a pit of fear in the target. The old Outsiders have a Vast Knowledge and may cast the greater scrying spell and may, if it chooses, display the results of this spell on its surface. Finally, Lore pools do not need to eat, drink, or sleep. There are no limits to their natural lifespan and many trapped on Aryth are thousands of years old.
Shambling figures of sinew-covered bones, hung with tatters of dried flesh, red eyes glinting in a broken skull... There are many dangers across Aryth, but few as foul and horrifying as the Fell. When Izrador’s fall severed the bond between heaven and the mortal world, it did more than sever the connection between the gods and their faithful. It also trapped the souls of all future dead in the material realm, preventing their ascension to the celestial kingdom. Whether by happenstance or because of some malicious magics on Izrador’s part, one of the terrible consequences of this reality has been that the souls of the newly dead are often unable to leave their bodies, remaining tied to them and doomed to walk the land as horrible undead abominations. These unfortunate, fearsome, undead monsters are commonly known as the Fell.
Dealing with the Dead... The impact the Fell have on life in Eredane
When the Fell first began to appear, the horrified living quickly learned how to dispose of corpses to keep them dead. Now, though the undead are no less a threat, the races’ various practices of body disposal have become culturally ingrained and greatly reduce their potential numbers.
Humans have assumed the practice of burning their dead. They follow little ceremony, as it is widely believed that the sooner a corpse is ash the safer it is for everyone. The Dorns cremate their kin on open pyres inside circles of tall standing stones until even the bones are consumed. They then cast the ashes about within these ancestor rings, freeing the souls to watch over the living that remain. The Sarcosan colonials also burn their dead, but they collect the ash and mix it with the grain they feed their horses. They believe this passes the finer qualities of the deceased onto the steeds and gives them an extra measure of strength and endurance.
The elves are perhaps the most reverent in disposing of their dead, though the end results are also perhaps the most practical. When an elf dies, his body is covered in a wrapping of mystically prepared living vines and then is taken deep into the forest by a Whisper Adept. The vines secure the body, keeping it subdued even if it should wake as undead, for the adept may travel many days before reaching a location suited to her purpose. When the adept has chosen an appropriate site, she conducts an elaborate ritual that involves burying the body within the roots of a large tree. Over the course of the ritual, the spirit of the deceased passes into the tree and becomes one with the tree’s own essence. The new entity that is formed becomes part of the vast network of spirit tree guardians known as the Whispering Wood.
The halflings enact a somber but gruesome ceremony, removing the heads of their dead and collecting a bowl of blood from the body. They bury the heads and corpses separately beneath plots of prairie sod that have been carefully cut away and replaced undamaged and unmarked. They mix the blood with a recipe of herbs, dry the resulting paste, and grind it into powder. The powder is then placed in sacred cloth bags containing the similar remains of other family members. On the holy days of the halfling celestial calendar, families then burn portions of the powder as incense in offerings to their ancestral spirits.
Gnomes, ever practical and fleshbound to the river, tightly bind the bodies of their dead in coils of ceremonial rope and weigh them down with stones. With brief services featuring improvised group songs about the individuals being interred, the bodies are committed to the waters of the Eren to be judged by the enigmatic river spirit the gnomes call the Watcher. In the river, the bodies sink to the bottom where the natural course of life disposes of the remains and the soul is freed to flow with the water.
Dwarves dig elaborate catacombs in which they entomb their dead. When a dwarf dies, she is laid in a shallow sarcophagus-like pit carved out of the stone floor of the catacomb. A heavy stone slab, often intricately worked by the deceased herself when she lived, is then lowered onto the corpse, crushing it and pinning it to the bottom of the pit. The weight of the slab is sufficient to keep any Fell from actually rising and serves as a kind of memorial on which is typically carved a narrative of the deceased’s life. Though dwarves commonly visit catacombs in hopes of speaking to the shades of their ancestors, only the most stouthearted do so before allowing enough time for the body to decay away. The moans, screams, and curses that sometimes rise from under the crushing stones are often too much for even the bravest to bear. The dwarves believe that by keeping the souls of the dead tethered to their bodies, they encourage the spirits to remain to watch over and protect the realm of the living.
Even the races that serve Izrador are not immune to the unwelcome rise of their own dead. Though many bodies are left to the necromancy of the Night Kings, most goblin-kin and orc dead are dealt with in a gruesome yet morbidly effective way—they are eaten by the living. This practical cannibalism not only assures that the dead do not wake to trouble the living but also provides a valuable food supply within a scavenging culture that suffers a great deal of mortality from constant internal fighting.
As a result of the universally diligent disposal of corpses by all of the cultures of Eredane, most Fell arise either from those slain in battle and left to rot or from the bodies of errant adventurers that die in the wilderness. Killing the Fell is not really possible, in that they are already dead. They can be destroyed, however, by freeing the soul trapped inside the body. Fell are destroyed when their bodies are completely dismembered or consumed by fire or other elemental forces (in other words, if reduced to zero hit points). If not completely destroyed, the Fell continue to function and amble about even if large parts of their bodies are missing. Few sights are as purely horrible as the severed torso of a rotting corpse dragging itself across the ground, jaw snapping with an animal hunger.
The initial shock of death and the subsequent realization that one has become undead is a crushing psychological blow and insanity is usually immediate, leading quickly to extreme paranoia, violent rage, and bloodlust. Strong wills may keep these overwhelming impulses at bay, but only for short periods. Fell retain its basic Intelligence and many of its memories, but as its body starts to decay, so does its mind. For every week that passes without feeding, the mental stability decreases greatly. The creature thus decays and gradually loses its intelligence and true sentience, as well as the associated memories and conscious control over its actions. As the creature reaches increasingly loses its mind, it deteriorates into more and more feral states until, eventually, it is nothing more than a walking, eating corpse. From the moment it awakens, a Fell feels a magical craving for the flesh of the living, for only by consuming the living can an undead creature maintain its foul existence. This hunger quickly becomes the driving motivation behind the actions of the Fell and continues to compel it, even after its mind has rotted away. If a Fell consumes a large meal of stillwarm flesh from the body of an intelligent creature at least once per week, it can stave off the decay of its body as well as the rot of its mind. For every week a Fell goes without such a meal, it suffers decay and the associated loss of mental ability scores as described above. Only the flesh of living creatures with similarly potent souls can satiate the hunger of the Fell; an elf that rises as Fell could therefore survive on the flesh of dwarves or goblins but not on the meat of rabbits or bears. Despite their horrific state, the madness of the Fell typically imbues them with a powerful survival instinct, and only the most willful soul can take direct action to destroy, and therefore free, itself. With a strong enough will an undead character can intentionally destroy itself by means of any method that consumes or dismembers its body, such as lighting itself on fire or crushing itself in a rock fall. This sort of action obviously becomes more and more unlikely as the creature’s mind decays and it loses control over its actions. Failure typically results in a period of heightened madness, bloodlust, and a sustained feeding frenzy that can last for days or even weeks.
Nature and Behavior of Fell
Deceased that have recently become Fell are ungral, a High Elven word meaning “tethered dead.” Ungral often appear almost indistinguishable from living creatures, though a violent or debilitating death will typically leave obvious signs. Ungral retain the intelligence they had in life, and not all of them have yet succumbed to evil.
If an ungral fails to feed, it becomes a faengral.
A faengral that fails to feed becomes a maelgral, or “walking dead.”
Finally, as the bodies of the Fell inevitably continue to rot and decay, they eventually become indistinguishable from animated skeletons created through necromancy. When they reach this stage, they are no longer considered Fell.
Ungral, the first stage of unlife for most risen, are typically intelligent enough to hunt on their own, stalking their prey on the edges of civilization, sneaking into and raiding outlying farms or hamlets in the dark of night. Many of these cunning creatures have even learned to hide beneath the surface of swamps, lakes, and other bodies of water during the day. At night, they crawl out of the depths and sneak into river towns and coastal cities to hunt. On the Sea of Pelluria, amphibious dead have become such a problem that most coastal settlements are forced to maintain boat patrols along their nighttime shores.
Faengral and Maelgral, as their minds drop to the level of animals, often turn to hunting in savage, roving packs, where their decaying minds and limited ability are made up for by numbers. Hiding in woods, ruins, or empty caves during the day, these packs shamble deliberately into villages and outposts as darkness falls, attacking without warning. These nightmare bands have forced many human settlements to build high walls and lock their gates when night comes. When they attack, the faengral and maelgral bring down their prey by swarming them, and in their frantic compulsion to feed, they often end up in savage fights among themselves.
The Fell are creatures of darkness, preferring to hide in dim and secret places during the day, avoiding the sun whenever they can, biding their time before stalking into the night to hunt. Though light does not physically harm the Fell, they seem almost afraid of it and it clearly affects their ability to see. Undead will often shy away or even flee from sunlight, and even bright torchlight and lamplight seems to affect them.
The maelgral, or “walking dead,” is the last state of the Fell before total decay. Maelgral have lost nearly all of their personality and are less dangerous, though more durable, than the other forms of undead. They have more durability and an inability to feel pain, but no longer have the ability to claw or bite their prey; instead they can only attempt to bludgeon their victims with desperate clubbing motions of their often handless arms. Unlike a lesser undead (skeletons, ghouls, ghosts or zombies), a maelgral retains some element of animal cunning.
Known Undead Lords
There are currently three undead lords of note around Eredane:
- Zefim Vyle, a lich who lives in a craggy natural tower on the eastern edge of the Forest of the Sahi. Sunulael has made overtures to Zefim, but so far he has resisted the temptation to join the Shadow.
- Gryffith Donne, the vampire lord who residers amoung the mountain city of Idenor.
- The Waylander, a wildlander who went partially insane and tried to reason with Sunulael. He now flies through the woods of the Caraheen as a stalker in the night, preying on scouts and refugees in the night.
Certain areas have an amount of ambient necromantic energy, which can play havoc with the manifestations of newly formed Fell. This may occur in a graveyard, in a series of catacombs near the burial tombs of evil kings, or in an area where a massive unleashing of necromantic magic happened at some time in the past. In such areas, Fell may rise more powerful than normal. In some cases, a necromantic conflux speeds the process of rising, soon after its demise. Another conflux might keep the Fell from deteriorating at the normal rate, perhaps keeping them animate for months, even permanently as long as they do not leave the area. These areas are evil beyond measure, and in the case of the Obsidian Spire it is rumored that the legates are skilled in the necromantic arts and are known to use the area as a generator for a nearly limitless supply of loyal minions for supply in the City of Dead, Cambrial. On the other side of the coin, particularly holy or blessed sites may actually prevent the dead from rising again. The home of a celestial trapped on Aryth by the Sundering may function in such a capacity, as could the burial place of a powerful magic item dedicated to good. When such areas are found near towns or other settlements, they make natural hospital grounds and sickness colonies where those who are ill beyond repair go to die so that they do not haunt their loved ones after they depart.
The Study of Curses and the Accursed
Crossing a legate’s path
Those who cross a legate’s path, if not killed outright, might be cursed. This both serves as a reminder of a master’s or foe’s displeasure, and also serves as walking, talking example of what happens to those who cross him. The unfortunate may suffer either the weakness, ineptness, or madness. These curses are inflicted via a secret ritual, unknown magic item, or other unique method.
The Curse of The Ghost Ship
Sailors of all races tell tales of moonlit nights when the water is becalmed and the air is still. They tell of a fog that rises slowly from the water to roll over the decks and play tricks on the eyes. The stories say that this strange vapor brings with it a curse from a past age, that it brings with it the Spirit Ship of Captain Slynn. In the darkening days at the end of the Third Age, Captain Slynn was a notorious pirate who terrorized fleets across the Pelluria. Gnomes, humans, elves—it did not matter, they were all fair game. Some say Slynn was a Sarcosan princeling banished from his people. Others say he was a dwarrow who led a bloody mutiny against a gnomish trading company. All agree he was as vicious as he was cunning and that he was a supreme seaman, forever out-sailing and outwitting the navies sent to capture him. Even the most notorious eventually meet their ends, and there are many legends about Slynn’s final defeat. One version tells of how he was betrayed by agents within his own crew and fed to a sea dragon. Another tale tells of how the Norfall fleet finally caught up with him, and rather than surrender he lit his own vessel on fire and rammed it full-sail into the Norfall flagship. Still another says that when the orc horde flooded across the Pelluria in prelude to the Last Battle, Slynn and his crew fought like sea demons, sinking a dozen orc vessels before the breath of a dragon incinerated their ship. However Slynn met his end, the tales sailors tell of him now are eerily similar. They say that on nights when the strange mist rises, the sounds of a ship hard under sail can be heard, and that the taint of burning wood and flesh can be smelled in the fog. They claim that a fiery glow is sometimes visible through the mist, and the disturbing sound of raucous laughter fills the night air.
The Curse of The Great Still
Two or three days’ ride northeast of Wogren Moor lies a mysterious region that the halfling nomads avoid and the Erenlanders call the Great Still. The Still is an expanse of plainsland that seems to vary unpredictably in both border and size but is sometimes almost 100 leagues across. As travelers cross into the Still there is little initial sign that they have entered a hexed land, but as they continue deeper into the region, eerie clues hint at something foul. What most notice first is the quiet—a growing silence that increases imperceptibly the deeper into the area they go. The sound of rustling grass, birds, and animals slowly fade, and then the noise of one’s own footfalls and voice dampen and hush until there is almost total silence. Another dread sign is the death of the wind. The plains are a windy land, the air forever on the march. Deep in the Still, however, even the eternal wind fails, slowing first to a gentle breeze then to a dead calm, as if the very breath of the world had stopped. Farther in the air becomes stifling and hard to breathe, as if some great beast has already drawn all the value from its substance. Animals seem to avoid the Still. No birds fly overhead, and vast herds of boro turn away long before crossing into the strange land. As a result the grasses, trees, and other plants grow taller and thicker for lack of grazing. Most disturbing to the halflings are the tales of magic going errant within this cursed land. They claim that even simple enchantments are unpredictable there and can have dangerously random and powerful results. For this fear of uncontrolled arcana alone, the nomads carefully avoid the Still, holding the region in strict taboo. The Still is known to have existed only since the end of the Third Age, and there is every reason to believe it originated it the maelstrom of rampant magic that accompanied Izrador’s invasion of central Erenland. No one knows what the quiet place may be or what dangers it may hold. It is known only that the few brave souls who have entered the region with the intent of exploring its heart have never been heard from again.
The Curse of Foul Bog of Eris Aman
At the very southeastern reaches of the Veradeen on the very edge of Erethor lie the fabled battlefield plains of Eris Aman. In this legendary place, the Witch Queen and her allies defeated Izrador’s forces the first time they rose against Eredane. As the stories all tell, the battle was a fierce one with many terrible magics and cruel spirits unleashed on both sides. Though the allied races were victorious, the fell powers used during the battle left the plain a fearsome ruin that today is still a scarred wasteland of corrupted magics, demon spirits, and befouled creatures. Where this cursed heath meets the edge of Erethor, the lowland forest has become a vile bog that holds only death and madness for any foolish enough to enter. In summer, thick fogs hide the place even when the rare sun shines. Bottomless pits of black water suck down the unwary and hide hungry monsters lying in ambush. Errant black magics, corrupt nature spirits, and the insane shades of the battle dead haunt the bog. In winter, snow and treacherous ice hide the deep holes and frozen mud where evil lies just below the surface. The Foul Bog is a dangerous place, and there is never good enough reason to venture into its terrible wilds.
The Curse of Thutel Dorsargh
Arlaan was born very small and given a name that means "worthless wet rubble." (Ossyllargh) He was a member of the Thedron clan, from the village of Mahan near Calador. Less than a decade ago some travelers came through Mahan, claiming to be in search of the "King of the Dwarves." Arlaan was one of many in a town who helped the mithralthief. Once the secret was stolen by outsiders, the Kaldruns themselves cursed many who helped the thief. The story goes that in a dream, deep in a cavern depth, Arlaan saw a dream of himself being thrown from the mountains into the Northlands. He took on a hideous shape, like a deformed giant-man, naked all over, hands the size of ore carts. In his shame, he lashed out against armies of rodent-like swarming orcs. He thrashed against their ropes and barbs, ever growing, his fists becoming like siege rams on arms, until he travelled to a completely alien place, like nothing he'd ever imagined. There, he found a silver child of pure dwarven beauty, glowing. He picked up the child, which he gave the name "Mithral". Though it burned him to touch the child, Arlaan scooped it up in his oversized mitt and carried him to safety in the mountains again. Many others in his village had dreams and were cursed in various ways. They called this curse Thutel Dorsargh (curse of the mountain's disdain). Arlaan chose to escape when other dwarves arrived and began imprisoning the cursed ones. Many were marked as criminals, but because Arlaan left and his curse had not yet become apparent, he escaped without being officially cast out. He doesn't know if anyone implicated him or not. He stopped in few settlements, until word got out about escaped traitors, cursed by the Kaldruns. Into the wilderness he went. He left his people, and while in the winderness, he saved a bear cub from a mountain puma. The cub's mother was a talking bear. She taught him how to fight, and taught him of his own value to others. She have him his new name, which means, "boulder of the wild's strength" (Arlaan Abarakolor)
The Curse of Izrador's Assassins
Razors are man-like demons, usually standing no more than 7 ft. tall. They have mostly human features, although their skin is dark gray and their eyes are shards of midnight glass with glowing silver pupils. These demons derive their name from the long obsidian talons that rip though their fingertips. Similar shards of obsidian are laced through their gray skin, emerging no more than one inch from the skin’s surface. Unlike most of Izrador’s servants, the razors served the dark god long before his fall to Aryth. They were part of his infernal host when he challenged the gods. These demonic essences fell with him, and they realized that their bodies of darkness and evil could not continue to exist indefinitely in this new organic world. Rather than die, they enacted a bold and vile plan. Using the last of their remaining corporeal days, the razors captured and interbred with as many fey females as they could find. They then performed a horrid ritual that only one out of every four of them survived. When all was said and done, the razors had gained the ability to possess any creature that bore even a trace of their blood, enabling them to continue on in this lesser world. Razors are Izrador’s personal shock troops, sent by the god himself to deal with special problems. Centuries of training, combat, and dedication have honed their fighting skills and tactics to an unholy edge. Although they enjoy blood and torment as much as the next demon, their fierce loyalty to the Shadow prevents them from diverting from their mission. If engaged in combat outside of their mission parameters, razors are efficient and calm, dealing with their foes as quickly as possible so they can continue to their target. When that target is finally within their grasp, however, their demonic heritage emerges: They gore, torture, and mutilate their targets, bathing themselves in blood and pain, before finally delivering the killing blow. Even a single razor represents a deadly threat to even experienced parties of resistance fighters. Unfortunately for the resistance, razors usually travel in numbers. Whether encountered alone, in a pair, as part of a squad, or as an element in a larger unit, razors work together in the most effective way possible. These demons have known each other for centuries; they know the way each member of the unit thinks and fights, allowing them to respond to and support one another as if they had a single mind. A pair of razors is usually a hunting or assassination team sent after a specific target, usually an important part of the resistance command structure. Pairs avoid contact with bystanders whenever possible, preferring to locate the target and dispatch it with a minimal amount of resistance. In all cases, the creatures move at great speed to reach their objective, then set to work with vigor. When breaking resistance in an area, they destroy everything and everyone they encounter. When sent to turn the tide of a battle, they ignore the orders of the local commanders, waiting for the moment when an application of elite force will do the most good. Any group of razors larger than two will have at least twice their number of orc barbarian warriors with them. These orcs stay out of the fighting if they can, although they attack downed or badly wounded opponents. They are highly mobile, extremely tough, and take a continuously defensive stance; they must stay alive, waiting for the moment when one of their masters fall. As soon as this occurs, the nearest orc steps forward, taking the razor seed into his body and allowing the infernal creature to be born anew. When razors die, their host bodies dissolve into a pile of rotted, festering meat. Within the pile is a six-inch diameter, glossy black orb called a razor seed. It is said a Razor who has been “killed” may transfer its essence into any creature bearing razor blood nearby. Once the essence has been transferred, the razor may take over the creature, transforming the new body into a semblance of its old, with normal razor attributes and full hit points. The razor may enact the transformation no sooner than one day after transferring its essence; it may also, however, bide its time, emerging days, weeks, or even years later. When the transformation begins, the target creature writhes in visceral torment as its body changes to accommodate the demonic possession. Through their horrid acts after the Sundering, the razors managed to spread their blood to all of the fey races through unwilling interbreeding. Over the years, the taint of their blood spread thoughout the lands and could possibly carry in their blood the razors’ curse.
The Cursed Patriarch of Dragonkind
This is the story of Xircxi. He was the patriarch of all dragonkind during the Time of Years. He did not fight in the wars that followed the Sundering. This won him no friends, however, and he was considered both a coward and a traitor by the different factions. He went into self-imposed exile for more than a thousand years until word came to him that the fallen god was using dragons in his war upon mankind. He emerged to lead his brethren against the corrupted dragons, an endeavor that culminated in the bloody Battle of the Wall. Here at the wall many of Aryth’s dragons were slain, but some fell to the shadow fear a dragon called Verlathys hid in fear and shame renouncing her promise to the Witch Queen. Xircxi himself was wounded in the battle, though his body was never recovered as a Shadow prize, it is believed due to a malign curse placed upon him by Izrador himself, the wounds inflicted during that battle could never be healed, and never will. Some say he now resides deep in a mountain in the central Kaladruns, beneath a peak of fire... If alive should a key to Xircxi’s recovery were ever to be discovered or the curse cast upon him by Izrador broken, Xircxi would be a force to be reckoned with, rivaling all but the Night Kings and Aradil in terms of power.
Ways of the Legates
- Harrower: Harrowers are granted a considerable amount of autonomy and expected to scour the land with merciless efficiency. The Order of Harrowers is under the leadership of the grim legate Janavar, who oversees his harrowers’ activities from his quarters in Theros Obsidia. Janavar is known for the utter efficiency of his administration, and the fact that his cruelty is entirely unemotional and rational. In many ways, Janavar’s matter-of-fact exterior and businesslike sadism is far more terrifying than any bloodthirsty orc chieftain.
- Curate: A prefix title for temple legates. Curates are aids to the Prelate (Prelate is the highest-ranking temple legate).
- Barrack-Master: A prefix title for temple legates. Barrack-Masters are responsible for the cleanliness and orderliness of the temple living quarters.
- Surgeon Knife: A dominion within the "Umbral Catholicon" group. These legates are clerics who are too weak and ineffectual to carve a niche elsewhere in the order. They are assigned the shameful duty, not of spreading death and pain, but rather preventing them. The Umbral Catholicon follow the orcish warbands, attending the wounded and bolstering the Shadow’s war efforts with magic to knit bone and reconnect muscle. For all that these battlefield healers often turn the tide of a conflict by keeping the Shadow’s troops alive and fighting, the Umbral Catholicon are considered the lowest of the dark god’s priests, openly despised by their brethren and treated as little better than common lackeys by the orcs, who see the need for healing as a sign of weakness.
- Seneschal of Shadow: A rank within the "Soldier Legate" group. The Seneschals of Shadow are often the head of a chapter of the Fulminate Shield, commanding up to 100 knights and hundreds of initiates and common soldiers. Others command the bodyguards of greater legates, sworn and bound by powerful magical bonds to protect their priestly masters from all harm. Scarred veterans of many battles, the devotion of these terrifying battle chaplains to their dark god has been tried by steel and consecrated by the blood of countless enemies.
Places of the World
aka. A Prison of Pain, It’s one of the darkest pits on Aryth. It’s a nest of vile and tortuous hosts, a horrible den of suffering, the lair of the greatest anguish a living mage can know. It’s perhaps the most precious secret of the Shadow’s campaign in the north.
Some mages carried off for execution by legates are spared the mercy of death and driven in slave trains instead to the Arteries for torture, examination, and worse. To the outside world they are dead. No prisoner brought to the Arteries has ever left. None ever will.
A Reservoir of Power, the Arteries are an energy reserve untouchable by Aradil and her followers. When the final days come and Izrador’s ultimate goal is met, the cave master hopes the Arteries will be the great ceremonial gift—the final deliverance of arcane power that returns Izrador to his seat in the celestial realm.
The entrance to the Arteries is some 100-200 miles west of Highwall on the north coast of the Sea of Pelluria. At the edge of a wide shore of sharp rocks and water-worn stones, where the Northlands break off into the sea, is a towering span of cliffs. From the sea they appear as wrinkled stone, like the cloth of the earth was wadded up on shore. Cut into this folded stone is a recessed spot of rock, unadorned except for four stone columns and three arched openings.
The Grey Lands
ERETHOR EASTERN FRONT REGION
Road of Ruin
- Given it's grissly name for the hanged dead along the road. From the walls of Weirhold (a district within Baden's Bluff) a broad road leads south, descending to the lower coastal hills and beyond to the seemingly endless prairies of the Westlands. This highway is known as the Road of Ruin. Men speak its name with fear or smoldering rage, while orcs growl it with spiteful mirth as they grind the bones of Erenland beneath their hobnailed boots.
The Road of Ruin is a wide highway of compacted earth, broken stone and, in the muddier regions, felled logs, which cuts through the gentle hills and wooded lands south of the Bluff. In the shadow of the orc citadel of Vorstuk it meets the Eren Road to Erenhead in the east and the Road of Salt and Tears from Arwich in the west. The Road of Ruin continues southwest until it reaches the River Orh where it turns south again and, with the emerald smudge of Erethor ever on the horizon, follows the edge of the Westland plains to Eisin. Along this route from Baden’s Bluff to the Orh a straggling chain of ghost towns slip slowly into oblivion. In the Second and Third Ages, these market towns and villages were the thriving heart of the Badens’ dominion; now their eerie desertion is a poignant reminder that the Shadow’s knife has pierced that heart and that it beats no more. It was the orcs that caused the inhabitants of these settlements to flee, for to live in the path of Izrador’s armies is to live in the shadow of death. Those who could left decades ago, while those who didn’t were taken as slaves or food. Now, only the truly desperate haunt the desolate towns: scavengers and those who are too weak, too poor, or too scared to flee to safer locales.
The Road of Ruin sees frequent and heavy traffic during the arcs that the Pelluria crossing can be made. Orc forces from the North disembark at Baden’s Bluff before moving in force to join Grial the Fey Killer’s armies in Erethor. Orc-held fortresses like Vorstuk, Orshank, and Gifang are spaced by a day’s forced march to provide secure resting points for the warbands, and are manned by garrisons who enforce the Shadow’s occupation. The orc garrisons mount regular patrols and hunting parties led by goblin sniffers to track down and eliminate insurgent forces that are a constant nuisance upon their flanks. While the orc soldiery are by far the most numerous travelers on the Road of Ruin, there is also a steady stream of wagons and mules carrying food, supplies, and slaves to the fortress garrisons and to the warfronts. These caravans are usually guarded by human or hobgoblin mercenaries; such duty is considered demeaning by the orcs, and besides, their commanders believe that their bloodlust and ferocity is better employed on the killing fields of Erethor.
Plains of Ash and Blood, dangers and foes
- Since the end of the Third Age, the Shadow’s foul minions have hacked and burned the forest, cutting a great ragged swathe of destruction that extends 300 miles west from Eisin’s walls and 100 miles to either side of the polluted Felthera river. A vast wasteland of ash and charred wood is all that remains of 30,000 square miles of ancient wildwood. Where springs and brooks once babbled beneath the arching boughs of giant cedars and homewood trees, blood and hissing sap are the only moisture that remains. Charcoal spires break the monotonous gray of the shifting ash lands, where thick smoke from the still-burning forests drifts in roiling clouds across the desolate scene. Sudden maelstroms of choking soot blow before screaming winds that seem to cry the forest’s anguish between the black skeletal hulks of the trees.
Though there is no sign of the sun through the smoke that covers the sky, the light begins to fade. Things take on a strange black and white, probably an effect of the moon’s light being filtered through the smoke cover.
- Cinder Storms: Wide areas covered by fields of hot cinders that lie on or just below the thin layer of insulating ash. When stirred by the wind, these cinders can become a glowing storm of stining, burning danger as hot pinpricks sear the skin and the air rapidly heats to kiln-like temperatures. Anyone within the storm risks permanent blindness without finding adequate cover. They can be miles across and can easily set new blazes if they reach fresh wood.
- Firestorms: Storms of fire that are more than 30 ft. cubes engulfed by sheets of roaring flame and whirling cinders. The thick black smoke chokes those caught in the blast area, moving at 30 ft. in 6 seconds and burns itself out in under a minute.
- Firefalls: Forests are natually full of gullies, short drops, animal dens, and other depressions. After fire has passed these by, sometimes they are left covered by a layer of ash, mud, and charred branches that can make the ground seem safe when it actually houses a fall into fiery pain. These pits act as reserviours of heat, full of smoldering cinders and occassionaly even hot pockets of natural gas or coal seams that can burst back into flame when exposed to air.
- Firebugs: These massive vermin are perverted by the touch of Shadow on the land. The unholy fires affected these bettle-like bugs that normally lie dormant under the soil, whating for an opportunity to feed on new green shoots and fertilize the ash-laden soil with their excrement; but in the Burning Line their is no regrowth to norish them and they become ravenous predators.
- Faergral Man, Elf, Orc, Ogre, etc... These horrors of the searing heat and chokeing smoke of the Burning Line are a hideous form of Fell. Combinations of unleashed magics, terrible slaughter and the awakened spirits of fire and the dead have created the Faergral, the Flaming Dead. Damned to restless undeath until their bodies are consumed by fire. Even the Maelgral are more cunning, as the pain of theirimmolation often cracked as their outer shells. The risen Faergral focus on lonly one thing: to spread its pain and burning destruction as far as it can before consumed.
- There have been stories told of other things that live on in undeath within the Ash, but none are detailed enough at this time...
What lies beyond? - the lands near Baden's Bluff
- The city of Baden’s Bluff crowns a wide peninsula that juts out into the mockingly serene azure waters of the Sea of Pelluria. The bluff is the last in a series of gentle hills that march north from the River Orh, a rich land blessed with fertile soil and good weather. The estates that the Dorn and Erenlander nobility once held here were famed for their splendid orchards, finely bred livestock, and vineyards that were the envy of the kingdom. Now, once grand manors lie in overgrown ruin or are occupied by traitorous usurpers who serve the Shadow and call themselves lords. The fine flocks and herds are gone, the pasturelands and orchards are reclaimed by the wilds, and the scions of the true lords are dead or live in secrecy among the winding back alleys of Baden’s Bluff. Towns that once dotted this pleasant land lie in echoing abandonment or have become slums where the race of men sinks into fearful ignorance, forgetting who they were and why they had once been proud. The rural folk whose ancestors lived free under the benign auspices of House Baden now eke out cruel lives as serfs forced to toil in servitude to traitors and black-hearted legates. They see little return for their back-breaking labors as the legates’ tithe-masters take most of what they grow to feed Izrador’s growing armies. Meanwhile the hateful orcs arrive from the north in never-ending numbers, their howls and the fearful beating of drums often filling the night air as they march along the Road of Ruin to the war fronts of Erethor.
- Where the blue waters of the southern Sea of Pelluria meet the rocky shoreline, a broad peninsula protrudes into a deceptively gentle sea, its length crenulated by gentle hills cloaked with dreaming woods and pleasant pastures that have long provided a bounty as rich as the sea that lies beneath them. At the tip of this promontory a bluff of gray stone rears above the water; clinging to its sides and crowning its summit is the city of Baden’s Bluff. The west side of the bluff faces the open waters of the Sea of Pelluria, its surface pockmarked by ledges and mine shafts and scarred by the working faces of long defunct quarry works. The shallower tunnels and excavations are now used by the most destitute of the Bluff’s residents as squalid tenements. On the northern and eastern flanks, the ground rises less severely and is carved by a maze of canals and alleyways that make up the Tidewood district. The northern part of this district is the claustrophobic shantytown of the Worm Docks, bound by rotting piers and the sea in the north and the broad Aransway canal to the southeast. Home to dour Dornish fishermen and grim-faced laborers, the Worm Docks are rumored to be the last dominion of the Badens in exile. The Stone Docks lie on the other side of the Aransway canal. Here is the true port of Baden’s Bluff, where ships have for centuries found safe harbor behind the dwarf-built sea wall. Occupying the north-easterly flanks of the Bluff, the craftsmen and merchant quarters of Guildall and the Well make up the Bellows District. Clinging precariously to the northern face, the slums known as the Steep provide shelter of sorts to the downtrodden and desperately poor. These are the squalid breeding grounds of disease, misery, and violence—they are Izrador’s benedictions, and are tools used well by his black priests. Beyond Guildall, the plentiful inns of Hearthhome lie in crowded and incongruous proximity to a bewildering number of sinister temples and shrines to the dark god. Along with the administrative quarter of Kingshand and its imposing halls and governmental offices, and the dilapidated residences of Weirhold, Hearthhome forms the district of Leewall. Above it all, the once splendid Baden Court crowns the bluff, and within its walls pretenders, sycophants, and bastards squat in the Badens’ palace, acting out a charade of governance and power. On the delicate balustrades of the graceful Spire, a winged horror squats where elven diplomats and emissaries once gazed at the stars. Corruption and menace hang over Baden’s Bluff like a bilious cloud, and from its gates march a seemingly endless horde of orcs, newly alighted at the Stone Docks and on their way to war against the fey in Erethor.
The road that leads to the Burning Line passes through the wooded hills of the peninsula and traverses the borderlands bound on one side by the forests of Erethor and on the other by the Westland plains. To the east and west of the port city, the land rolls away in a series of low hills that follow the coastline, providing a northern edge to vast plains that stretch to the lush Eren River Valley in the east and the shores of the Ardune in the south. The Shadow’s grip is felt in the hill country, where the once multitudinous towns and villages of Erenland lie largely in ruin and the proud men and women of the kingdom eke out pitiful lives of servitude and toil. Only in the sea of tall sword grass can men and the last remaining halflings snatch some freedom from the Shadow’s tyranny, but their existence is a hounded one as orc bands led by traitorous men hunt them through the plains.
- The Baden’s Bluff district stretches south and east from the Green March in an almost 200-mile arc around the city. Officially, Count Halrion, the bastard Baden, rules Baden’s Bluff, the largest human city on the southern coast of the Pelluria.
Baden's Bluff Districts
- The Crown
- The Spire
- Baden Court
- The Watch
- The Bellows
- The Well
- The Steeps
- Stone Docks
- Worm Docks
- The Quarries
the Trollskarl forest
- In the Last Battle, the Shadow’s forces teemed with countless orcs, terrifying fire-breathing dragons, foul demons, raging giant-kin, and other monstrous horrors out of the wild places of the world. One of the abominations put to devastating use against the human cities and elven woods were trolls bred in the vile pits north of the Highhorn mountains. These creatures, twisted by malice and hate, were often in the front of the Shadow’s onslaughts and bore the brunt of the defenders’ wrath. It was therefore not surprising when, in the aftermath of the war, a number of trolls fled their orcish masters and hid themselves in the wilds of Erenland. A large group escaped into the woods now known as Trollskarl. Over the last century, the trolls’ numbers have increased and the forest has become infested with them. Quite apart from the trolls, which orcish hunting parties sometimes attempt to capture, there is a palpable menace in the Trollskarl that is said to arise from a great spirit that haunts the dark center of the woods. The trolls are said to serve this entity, going as far as calling it queen. A mysterious series of power nexuses that lay at their center. The nexuses have been masked by this spirit from the attention of the Shadow and luring hundreds of enemy troops inside her woods to their doom.
- Arwich is a rundown border town built on the ashes of an older settlement that lies at the end of the Road of Salt and Tears. A century ago, Arwich was a thriving merchant city that enjoyed great wealth arising from the salt trade and close contacts with the nearby Green March. The city was sacked at the end of the Third Age, its fine buildings reduced to smoking slag by dragon fire and the salt mines claimed by goblins and orcs. After the Last Battle, Arwich was left deserted for decades. As the arcs turned to years and the war in Erethor continued interminably, hunger threatened to halt or even reverse Jahzir’s progress. The great herds of wild boro and gazelle on the Westland Plains required intensive hunting, and the meat spoiled quickly in the hot springs and summers of Southern Erenland. Nor could the decimated halfling and human populations of Erenland support the orcs, either as a food source or as providers of it. In the face of looming disaster wrought of their own voracious and destructive nature, the orcs were forced to adapt to the role of occupiers rather than conquerors, besiegers rather than raiders. The legates began to restore order in the rural communities, slowly resurrecting the devastated society so that it might support the very forces that destroyed it. Soon, thousands of slaves toiled in the countryside of Erenland, growing and rearing food enough to feed Izrador’s ravenous hordes. To solve the problem of spoilage, the legates reopened the salt mines at Aarl and shipped the dirty white powder by the wagon- and boat-load to Baden’s Bluff and Erenhead. The inhabitants of Arwich earn a meager living by providing food and labor to support the mining operation, although the mines themselves are worked by slaves drawn from across Eredane.
The Salt Mines of Aarl
- Aarl is a wide area of rocky badlands and salt-flats that run from Arwich to the coast some fifteen miles distant. The region’s name is a corruption of the elven word for death, and the brackish pools and barren rock stained by dirty bands of crystallized salt are aptly devoid of life. The salt mines are a legacy of Erenland’s heyday. The entrance to the mine was once housed in an ornate stone dome that is now little more than a broken shell, half-buried beneath rubble and drifts of powdery salt crystals.
The Road of Salt and Tears
- Just as the Road of Ruin is the chief inland highway of the area, the so-called Road of Salt and Tears is the principle road of the western coast. In the lee of the granite cliffs of Vorstuk, the rutted track leaves the Road of Ruin to wind through a sparsely populated country of lightly wooded meadowlands and low coastal hills. It wends through this picturesque landscape like a diseased vein carrying the poison of suffering and the Shadow’s hate. The main traffic consists of merchant trains taking cured meat, salt, and grain to Baden’s Bluff and the garrisons of the Road of Ruin, tempting targets for rebels who wish to inconvenience the Shadow’s war effort.
the River El & Elsweir
- Not many miles from Baden’s Bluff, the Road of Ruin crosses the valley of the river El, spanning the gorge by way of a high viaduct that is a testament to the engineering mastery once possessed by the men of Erenland. A few hundred yards from the old stone bridge, a rutted track descends into the valley and follows the river to the sea. The valley is a wild and beautiful countryside of reedy marshland and sloping meadows broken by woodlands of beech and oak. Dense hedgerows and majestic elms dot the landscape, serving with the crumbling stone crofts as reminders of the region’s agrarian past. The only inhabitants left in this part of the valley are the occasional sullen-faced shepherd or goat herder and his milling, mutely staring charges. Five miles along the valley, the road comes to Elsweir, a dirty slum town built around a stone weir on a bend in the river. Long before a traveler reaches the ramshackle collection of tightly clustered hovels and rough-looking taverns, he is assailed by the stench of the town’s industries: the smell of tanning skins, butchered meat and acrid dyes combine to generate a foul miasma that causes the eyes to water and the nose to rebel. The eastern road to Elsweir is little traveled as most of the town’s produce makes its way to Baden’s Bluff by boat: it is only a short journey downstream to the river-mouth, and from there is less than an hour around the peninsula to the Stone Docks of Tidewood. Officials and legates are rare in Elsweir and the orc patrols almost never journey this far down the valley.
the Green March
- In the Green March, Frag Longtusk commands an army of orcs fighting a more mobile war against a scattering of human and elven villages, attempting to bypass the elven defenses. All told a few thousand humans, orcs, gnomes, and goblins would consider themselves permanent residents of the Sea of Pelluria, but for the most part the water’s populace is donated from the shores that surround it. Of these, the southern shores boast 225,000 Dorns, 100,000 Erenlanders, and no more than 15,000 Sarcosans. Most of these populations are focused on Baden’s Bluff and Erenhead, though there is a thin line of humanity stretching along the southern shore from the Green March in the west all the way to the Kaladruns in the east, making lives wherever the resources are available and the orcs will let them.
- The knowledge on this Shadow minion is limited due to the fact that he is a commander of more recent note, not having given time to have collected any intel in your Lorebook or with the Elves. He IS noted on the Maps given by Aradil and taken from Vrolk, so he must be within 1-4 steps from his Night King commander. In the area it is extremely likely he is under the command of the King of Erenland - Jahzir Sword of Shadow... MORE - COMING SOON
- COMING SOON
- COMING SOON
- The knowledge on this Elven person is limited due to the fact that he is a commander of more recent note (and the guerilla style of troop movements), not having given time to have collected any intel in your Lorebook. He IS noted on the Maps given by Aradil and taken from Vrolk, so he must be within 1-4 steps from the Witch Queen...
- The Arrows tell you: COMING SOON
- COMING SOON
The Northern March
Blood Tower of the Northern March
- In the early days of fighting against Izrador, the Blood Tower was known as Rokan’s Hold and was part of the great Fortress Wall of the north. The Hold was a renowned training ground for warriors and it consistently managed to bring in dozens of orc trophies a month. Its walls were adorned with grisly reminders of past battles and the men who served there were amongst the most vicious of all defenders. Even the hint of an orc could send them into murderous frenzies and the dark races eventually learned to avoid the Hold entirely.
- During the second invasion of Izrador, the men of the Hold were put to the test. They were all that stood to stem the tide of the Shadow while the northerners retreated to shore up defenses elsewhere. For weeks, the men of Rokan’s Hold defended the tower, slaughtering any orc who dared get too near. Though the defenders fell to magic and arrows, they whittled away at the forces attacking them.
- The arrival of a contingent of Shadow Minions spelled the doom of Rokan’s Hold. The battle for the tower raged for weeks longer, even after the arrival of the minions, until the interior of the tower was drenched in blood and the walls were plastered with gore. Though the Hold fell, its defenders became legends because they gave the northerners needed time to regroup and reorganize. The Blood Tower became a story to inspire warriors from that time forward.
Powerful magic waits in its lower regions. The powerful nexus somehow escapes the notice of Izrador’s legates and even the astiraxes. : It is told that should heroes be able to infiltrate the Shadow’s defenses and craft magic items in the heart of one of his strongholds, the benefits would be powerful indeed: magic weapons that retain their enhancement bonuses even when within the presence of a black mirror.
- BLOOD TOWER OF THE NORTHERN MARCH
- Spell Energy: 40
- Feats: Craft Magical Arms and Armor
- Affinity: Any weapon enhancement 2
- Recovery: 4
- Special: May only be used in the creation of weapons; may only be used by those who oppose Izrador and his forces; any magic weapons created here retain their enhancement bonuses and powers even when within the presence of a black mirror.
- BLOOD TOWER OF THE NORTHERN MARCH