Traditionally, Dauntonians think of the far lands as places connected to the Near Isles by the ancient portals on the Isle of Opposition. As no living arcanist truly understands the henges of the Isle of Opposition these portals and the exact nature of the far lands are subject to extensive debate; most frequently when the henges change their orientation, opening to new lands.
There have been a number of Far Lands throughout the ages, the two that are currently connected are the Vally of Bone and the Kingdom of Jade. Dauntonians generally view the lands connected to the portals of the isle of opposition fairly benignly. The lands they connect to are often strange and unusual but the peoples on the other side are even more surprised by the appearance of the portals than they are; and are often put off by the forbidding nature of the Transitive Seas.
Dauntonians feel very little warmth toward the third Far Land connected by permanent portal; the Imperium's fierce military reputation had reached even Daunton and mutterings among the people of Daunton about the existence of a "permanent artificial portal" on top of the island where the dark ritual recently performed by the Brotherhood of the Bright Eon concerns many. Naturally, rumors of "difficulties" with the portal have brought no small measure of pleasure to a few Dauntonians.
Another commonly discussed Far Land is Ea, a once great kingdom that has changed drastically in the last decade as powerful warring groups invaded it. Collectively called the Gith, these martially and magically powerful warriors have cut a swath across this once great continent.
Valhyr, also called the Frozen Continent, is another Far Land that occasionally impacts events in Daunton. The once-proud kingdom of bladelings, goliaths, dwarves and others fell into a maelstrom of violence and madness four decades ago, but ships carrying refugees or mad berserker Einherjar still sail into Daunton on occasion.
Far to the north is a Far Land called Valhyr, the Frozen Continent. The population is mostly bladeling, but a number of goliaths, half-orcs, goblinoids and dwarves call the continent home. It is mostly a warrior and tribal culture with a few civilized port cities. By and large, the various races band together to combat both the harsh climate and the frost giants, who are a constant threat to the smaller, squishier races. It was a land of danger, but it was relatively stable. Until the day the sky opened up and the angels came.
When angels descended to Valhyr, they brought with them a phenomenon known the "Einherjar". Everyone who knew how to use a weapon, every hunter, every bodyguard, every tribal chieftan, went suddenly and irrevocably insane. The Einherjar cut down everything around them, seemingly only focused on destruction and ruin. Worse still, the angels helped them in their slaughter, leading them in droves across the landscape cutting down everything in their path. Sensing the disarray, the frost giants attacked in force. All of Valhyr was suddenly at war, and the few remaining humanoids not caught up in the bloodlust found themselves in the middle of the conflict. Desparate, they loaded into ships and fled the continent.
That was forty years ago. Many of the refugee ships found their way to Daunton, where they were welcomed with open arms. Dauntonians sympathized with the Valhyrans; their conflict reminded them of their own flight from Allaria. Every now and then, a new ship arrives in Daunton's port, filled with bladelings and goliaths that were born on the ship and don't even know what they were fleeing from. These lost souls are known as the Seaborn. Einherjar ships appear too, pulling into Daunton and unloading dozens of blood-crazed warriors intent on killing as many living things as possible before being slain by the local militia.
The Valley of BoneEdit
The valley of bone rests within a vast valley with climates stretching from scotching deserts to verdant rain forests. The land is savage untamed wilderness save for the kingdoms of gold the dwarves have carved into the central mountain; the dead and the living mix all to frequently in the valley and things besides the gods are said to live in their spirit worlds. Savage tribes of halflings, humans and stranger creatures predominate, struggling against the dire animals and dinosaurs.
There are several independant dwarven kingdoms in the central mountain, each modelled after native Central American culture. Kingdoms include Choca Paquiliz ("the Kingdom of Glad Weeping") and others.
The Kingdom of JadeEditThe Kingdom of Jade was once a grand empire, a bastion of honor and civilization that spanned a continent. Centuries of conflict with a race of powerful demons called oni has reduced it to a pale shadow of its former self.
Before the Empire's collapse it was ruled by noble Genasi families who ascended to emperorship in turn. Over the centuries each great house became associated with a dragon spirit that shared a common element with the families Genasi members. The elemental touch was considered a blessing bestowed upon the nobles to signify their rights as stewards of the land.
Each emperor was served faithfully by the Iron Legion, a corps of Dragonborn warriors devoted mind, body, and soul to the Empire. The dragonborn were for the most part self governing and concerned themselves with all matters pertaining to war, allowing the nobility to develop the fine arts of swordplay and magic.
As years wore on the nobility became more and more decadent, slowly falling under the subtle influence of the Oni. Eventually the conflict came to a head when the Emperor himself betrayed the Empire. The Oni became a visible threat, mobilizing armies of shadowy and evil monsters to attack and capture much of the Empire. In a desperate coup, the leader of the Iron Legion confronted and defeated the emperor, wresting control of the Empire away from the nobles and becoming the first Iron Shogun.
Since then the Dragonborn have ruled for over 100 years. Many of the surviving noble families still resent the dragonborn despite having saved them from the Oni, and salvaging what is now The Kingdom of Jade. Some of the families have come around and wholeheartedly support the Shogun, but many simply accept it until an opportunity to change the status quo presents itself.Today the culture of the Kingdom has embraced a (zen-like) art and culture as a way to resist the influence of the shadow and maintain their civilization during a state of near perpetual war. By adopting these minimalistic cultural tendencies they seek to purify and strengthen themselves against the Oni. Additionally the Way of Iron is becoming a very popular movement, emphasizing strength, devotion, and self sacrifice for the greater good. Despite these efforts more and more children are born every year bearing the taint of the Oni or there Devilish companions.
The Kingdom of Jade is currently ruled by the 5th Shogun, known by various names including "The Platinum Shogun", "Wielder of the Thousand Edge Blade", "The Iron General" & "5th Savior of the Kingdom of Jade." He is actively waging war in an attempt to reclaim some of the lands captured by the Oni during the century old conflict, while pushing another cultural renaissance in hopes of gaining the support of more noble families.
Personalities and CreaturesEdit
Lao is a court magus (whether singular or part of a group is unknown). She is a water Genasi wizard, and a member of one of the only ruling noble families that supported and aided the original Shogun.
Hedorai is a personal aide to the Iron General. He is a powerfully built Dragonborn with many scars, who has obviously seen many battles, but whose abilities are unclear.
Gouki is the human ruler of the Iron Ring (Turtledome's meaner older brother) in Daunton, and he was dispatched by the Iron Shogun to Daunton in order to help finance the war effort against the Oni. Gouki sells the dead bodies to Rinch the Riser, who in turn sells them to various necromantic forces across the Isles. The cash flows back to the Shogun, paying for food, supplies, and foreign mercenaries. Were the Shogun to learn of the exact method that Gouki was using to secure this income the consequences could be dire.
Kathanki was a master swordsmith. It is said that his very first sword, was so exquisite that he was immediately declared a master in his field. Guided by the spirits of ancient heroes and distant powers, Dreido took years to finish each blade. He only finished seven in his lifetime. It is said, that the master died right before he had finished his last weapon. An incredible powerful silver dragon, was watching him in secret at the time. He allowed Dreido's spirit to finish his work, but in order to do so Dreido's spirit was bound into the blade. It is said that the seventh sword has the power to track down evil demons and destroy their very essence.
The Red River CompanyEdit
A group of Daunton mercenaries that have been fighting in the Kingdom of Jade for nearly four years. They are so named after their heroic stand at the Battle of the Han, where it is said that the rivers ran red with the blood of the oni for three full days after the fighting stopped. The company is currently taking a break from their campaigns, and are relaxing in the Isles.
Cults In The KingdomEdit
It's not enough for the Oni to be a military threat to the Kingdom of Jade. They are also working to destabilize their society, for while it would be a great victory to conquer the Kingdom, it would be even greater to have its people willingly submit to the shadow. As such, several of the more powerful Oni have founded cults dedicated to themselves within the Kingdom itself. While the current philosophy of self-denial makes recruiting difficult, there are still those willing to listen. The cults target those who are dissatisfied with the current status-quo: Genasi who desire their previous influence, human merchant families who desire to advance their station, or Tieflings who are already suspected of being in league with the shadow. These cults are widespread and highly decentralized, and while the authorities have apprehended many cells, they are no closer to finding the roots of the corruption.
In addition, some of the lesser Oni have started their own cults. Some are acting in imitation of their masters, while others are simply seeking to increase their own power. Some of these cults have begun acting hostile towards the others, occasionally going as far as actually attacking each other. While this may seem counter to the Oni's plans, in fact it is not. Any destabilizing of the society furthers the goals of the shadow.
The Order of the Radiant CircleEdit
To many, the Order of the Radiant Circle is simply a society of Genasi astrologers and philosophers. While many of the Order's members were once nobles deeply involved with the Empire's politics, now they seem content to spend their days star/belly-gazing. However, in truth the Order is one of the more dangerous cults operating in the Kingdom. Its members seek to cause a civil uprising that will restore them to their previous power. They have built up their core of true believers, and now they are working to turn a handful of carefully chosen Dragonborn generals to their cause, either through corruption or blackmail. Their patron is a monstrously powerful Oni known as the Lady of Famine.
Unlike many other cults, most of the members of the Blood-Etched are unaware that they serve the Oni. Its members, mostly Tieflings disenfranchised by the current state of affairs in the Kingdom, believe that they are in simply in a street gang that provides an outlet for their anger and gives them somewhere they belong. Even the gang's leaders don't know the identity of the hooded man who leads them in rituals and occasionally directs their attacks against specific targets.
The Imperium considers itself the most civilized nation in existence; and certainly one of the oldest, stretching back for thousands of years. Governed by an elected senate of wise elders chosen by the acclamation of its citizens it has used a potent combination of arcane and divine magic to open great magical portals many distant places; bringing with them order, stability, learning and the teachings of the 12 great gods.
A bastion of good and law the Imperium is famous for its generosity and dedication to goodness; holy warriors travel far beyond its borders fighting evil and bringing the teachings of the gods to blighted lands no-one else dares tread. Crusades of Imperium paladins and clerics against the insectus, servants of the hideous titans and other forces of darkness are the stuff of legend.
The citizens of the the Imperium are taught that it is a great light in the cosmos, and that their status as an Imperial citizen places them above all other sentient beings. Citizenship is gained only by being born to a citizen on Isolate Prime (the name for the Imperium's home) or years of success in the gladiatorial arenas.
Among nations not already blessed to be within the Imperium's civilizing grasp it appears to be an aggressive militant nation dominated by a static core of unchanging eladrin and populated by humans and half-elves; for all the lip service paid to democratic interests they note that the two tiered system of citizenship means that most within the Imperium have little say in their own governance.
The arcane prowess of the Imperium is reflected foremost in their developing of their techniques for fashioning powerful permanent portals; that allow large movements of people. These magical exploits are no less fearsome for reports that they have gone awry in the past, at least once so disastrously that an entire kingdom of goblinoids was completely obliterated.
This reputation for mystical prowess is matched by an equally fearsome military reputation. The Imperium uses its portals to rapidly field hardened legions of spear and sheildmen trained in techniques developed by the Eladrin millennium ago. Backed up by a corps of divine and arcane casters the Imperium is reputed to be a feared military force; however the nature of the Shifting Seas (and possible the will of the gods) largely prevents the Imperium from projecting its force within the seas.
The history of the Imperium is long and convoluted; but two key events stand out in
- More than a thousand years ago a religious dispute between the patriarchal Eladrin and a religious sub-group apparently triggered an exile of eladrin who would go on to become the demon worshiping drow and the shadar-kai.
- Several centuries ago a mystical catastrophe triggered by out of control portal magics both destroyed a goblin isolate and also triggered a second rebellion, a group of Eladrin military officers permanently sacrificed their connection to the feywild, becoming a band of roving elvin assassins calling themselves the Veritas. These Veritas would wage a war of assassination and intimidation that slowed the Imperium's growth to a standstill and ultimately forced the Imperial Senate to agree (in an agreement called the armisti) to cease all military operations a decade ago.
Ea was once a pillar of civilization, a great continent located far off in the Shifting Seas. Dauntonians hoped and perhaps even enviously thought upon Letheon, its dominant kingdom, would replace or even eclipse Allaria. Only distance, close to six treacherous months in many cases, kept Daunton from growing closer. Ea was suddenly, inexplicably, wracked by vicious war almost a decade ago. Forces of gith, apparently a single race in a pitched civil war, or two races with a common ancestor, launched virtually simultanious invasions. Letheon has been horribly challenged and somehow changed by the conflict. Art and culture seems to have died, ambassadors have been recalled, the few Letheons who settled Daunton report that even communication with close relatives has suddenly grown strained. They speak of the new name given to Letheon and the recently annexed neighbouring lands, the Xelgonne Enclave, as if some strange and powerful madness has seized the minds of Letheon's ruler.
Those in the know are aware that the war revolves around a legendary figure called the Liberator, and that an immense invading illithid force had arrived to conquer the lands where she is prophesied to return. Kingdoms of mortals have been enthralled and the search begun, yet soon after they have been followed by their ancestral enemies â€“ the githyanki and the githzerai. The sundered descendants intend to eradicate the illithids and find the Liberator, though neither side will allow the other to succeed. Now war wages between gith and illithid and gith between, as it always have been. Yet the battleground is mortal land, far removed from their planar homes. No one knows for sure if the Liberator truly will or has returned, nor what she or the three parties will do if it happens. Some say she will cleanse the illithids from time itself, others that she will be broken and become their tool to bring the end of her divided people. Most githyanki would rally under her while many githzerai would seal her away forevermore. A few dare speculate that she will unite the giths and make them one people again. Whatever the truth, this war between masters and slaves rages as it never has before and may never will again - a confrontation to decide their fate across worlds.
A Great BattlefieldEdit
The island battle field is Ea; a huge land mass bordering on continental size with more than a dozen small nations. Three dominant factions make war on each others, generally known as the githyanki armada of Neth Ar'Gith, the githzerai crusaders of Zeabutar, and the Xelgonne Enclave; together they currently occupy more than half of all Eaâ€™s lands. A few other factions also have significant influence on the war and geopolitical landscape, including the human Letheon Liberation Front, the controversial gith Reconciliation, and the mysterious aberrations of the Sign of Illiz, but these mostly operate beyond the public eye, rarely mustering more than strategic guerrilla skirmishes on the larger parties. Exact holdings vary frequently as territory is constantly conquered and lost by one side or the other, and though some kingdoms have been reduced to broken wastelands in the wake of war, a few isolated domains and city-states remain seemingly independent. A handful of major ports and cities are clinging to their sovereignty due to ever-increasing fortifications, particularly defensible locations, little tactical importance, or loose deals with one of the three greater factions.
The Imperial Armada of Neth Ar'GithEdit
So devoted to their cause that collective military operations have been named based on the return of the Liberator, the ruthless Neth Ar'Gith armada represents command of all expeditionary githyanki forces sent to the island on behalf of their Astral empire. Though numerous fortresses and ground forces secure the regions they occupy, a pivotal share of githyanki military strength lies in the actual armada, a fleet of massive flying warships and a few wings of red dragons that have transported the expeditionary forces from their planar homes. Githyanki central command operates out of the Silverwind Citadel, a royal castle of the local occupied nation now rebuilt and reinforced to better serve expeditionary command. The bulk manpower consists of well-trained soldiers, but also features a great share of command over arcane magic and psionics. Non-githyankis are few and far between, though the stakes of this war have driven command of both gith races to enlist elite mercenaries. Dragonborn are tolerated more than most in the armada, possibly as a special extension of the pact the githyankis have with red dragons. The githyanki represents a merciless and xenophobic war-machine, though they remain honor-driven and dedicated. Few if any prisons are employed in their territory as they despise slavery and rarely take captives. Githyanki do not go out of their way to eliminate parties unrelated to illithids or githzerai, but those who get in their way are shown no mercy.
The Holy Crusade of ZeabutarEdit
Though the githzerai are generally not a people of conquest and warfare, they prioritize racial history no less than their aggressive related enemies. Hailing from otherworldly homes of discipline amidst chaos, the decree of Zeabutar was made upon news of the Liberators coming return: To find Her and ensure She never become a weapon for neither githyanki nor illithid to wield. How exactly the council of grand masters operating out of the so-called Sanctity of Self-Realization seeks to accomplish this goal is anyone's guess. Some githzerai crusaders have taken to this cause as a holy meeting with destiny, the moment where the true identity of their kin will be resolved as the introspective nature of their people taken to the extreme. Not everyone holds to such devotion of the decree, but all gith have enough motivation in the fact that the hated mind flayers are nested here and need to be eradicated. Most Ea nations conquered by githzerais have over time been stripped down to only feature sparse pragmatic necessities befitting of their ascetic nature, and the commodities channeled to support the war. The occupied countryside now features tons of hidden warcamps and monasteries, where squads of warriors, monks, and assassins enact surgical strikes at their foes. Many refugees survive when they are driven from their home, though they feel no less animosity towards this strain of giths as their cultural history and art slowly fades out of existence.
The Xelgonne EnclaveEdit
The Enclave squats over what was once called Letheon like a malignant blight; ruined and besieged on all sides outsiders have difficultly understanding why the panicked Gith continue to attack it so passionately, or why they seem to be so afraid.
There is a Secret History of the Enclave. You are free to read it, but be aware that your character almost certainly is not familiar with the details.
Ever since they have been known as the githyanki and githzerai the two have been at war, and to treat the opposing side as less than an enemy is a crime both punish with death. There are giths who dare reject this fundament, however, even at the risk of their lives. Such exiles are usually hunted down and killed, and most survivors live a life on the run. Some work against the eternal war, however, envisioning a time where the two people will become as one again. The Reconciliation is such a manifestation, an organization that has come to believe the return of the Liberator may be the event that can realize unity. The Reconciliation faces many challenges on Ea, both from the inside and beyond. They have not the strength to seriously challenge any of the three greater factions, they seek to convert rather than harm their conservative brethren, they constantly must resolve irreconcilable cultural differences, and they are widely split on how to accomplish these goals and to what extent. Those who still cling close to tradition have trouble congregating with their counterparts for more than strategic planning and missions in the field, while others have gone as far as develop intimate relations that would be considered blasphemous among the armada and crusaders. Still, the Reconciliation is growing and has had significant success in recruitment on Ea, as many giths have been swayed by the perspective that a united front can prevent the Liberator falling into illithid hands. The group works in secret beyond both armada and crusader territory, but has spies in the camps of their brethren. They live and die by the mantra "Under One Sky", used as a greeting, a battle cry, and a philosophical pillar of belief.
The Letheon Liberation FrontEdit
The ancient human kingdom of Letheon had long been the dominating force on Ea, but the Xelgonne Enclave changed that in less than a decade. The king had suspected the slow corruption of his neighboring nations but knew not how to counteract it, and with the arrival of the giths the illitihds changed their strategy for Letheon from subtle infiltration to open warfare. Massive brainwashed armies marched on Letheon to consolidate control of the countryside before the giths could establish themselves on Ea, but the humans were strong of mind and spirit, and repelled onslaughts both through arms and mental assault. In the end, their king learned the truth behind his enemy and sent agents all over Ea to expose the illithid threat for what is was. When finally his mountain castle was penetrated, the king forced a hopeless battle to die in such a manner that he never himself become a tool to be used. Now operating mostly as exiles in other nations, the Letheon Liberation Front seeks to do the impossible and regain their homeland. Though the heir to the throne was enthralled and poses as the current monarch, other princes escaped to lead the rebels and strike back when given the chance. Though they share a mutual enemy with the gith factions, relations remain mistrustful at best. What shaky alliances have been made are doomed to fail as the armada and crusaders war on each other and both desire the prize in Letheon as well.
Another Ean nation of note is Surtyr. Located to the north of Letheon, this kingdom was settled many centuries ago by explorers from Valhyr led by the goliath hero Kalf Bluetooth.
Surtyr is a cold, snowy region with wild coasts penetrated by long fjords. It is very active geologically, with plentiful geysers and mineral springs, and its rugged interior populated by a chain of great volcanoes. Its original settlers soon discovered that while their ancestral foes the frost giants were rare in the new land, fierce tribes of fire giants posed almost as great a threat. Because of these characteristics Surtyr is also called the Kingdom of Fire.
The settlers were mostly goliaths and dwarves, plus a handful of bladelings. They brought their warlike culture with them, and the first generations engaged in many raids on Letheon ports and shipping. The powerful Letheon navy was no pushover, however, and continued contact moderated the relationship over time. Raids gave way to trading missions; Surtyri warriors seeking glory formed mercenary companies that fought at the behest of Letheon nobility rather than against them. Human migrants from Letheon moved north, mixing with the Surtyri and creating a new hybrid culture, particularly in the border regions. Bounty from the fishing grounds of the fjords and farms built on rich volcanic soils produced a surplus that supported not only the Surtyr but also helped Letheon to grow and thrive.
Surtyr maintained contact with the fatherland, though due to the long sailing time Surtyr managed its own affairs; the colony was a colony in name only. The fall of Valhyr to the Einherjar came as a shock, and some ships bearing refugees as well as berserkers made their way to Surtyr as they do to Daunton. But the impact was small compared to the invasion of the gith and their great war. The settled, peaceful border regions were drawn in early and largely laid waste. The northern holds and ports struggle to maintain their independence. Heavily fortified in defensible terrain, these settlements and outposts have not been seriously threatened militarily. But they are not safe. Slowly but surely, one at a time, they fall. First, fishing ships return with empty holds, as if something unseen beneath the waves has driven off or destroyed all the fish. Following on the heels of famine, disease strikes. Finally, a new madness comes to them - not the crazed bloodlust of the Einherjar, but a quieter malady which weakens them from within. The skalds and jarls do their best to rally their people but fear that it is only a matter of time before they, too, will succumb.
Comment from the author Dunamin I think Ea serves best as a Far Land since the intended scale of warfare is significant, so you want it distant enough that it doesn't noticeably spill over to the proximate isles (the design principle of modularity). On the other hand, it is intended as a major source of origin for githyankis, githzerais, and other psionically flavored or gith-related creatures (incl many aberrants and red dragons), so you might want it close enough to reach by a long sea voyage and thus a Near Land.
I've tried to allow for the possibility of playing on a lot of githyanki, githzerai and mind flayer lore. For instance, the poisonous fields near the enclave's seat of power is a reference to Torment's Unbroken Circle of Zerthimon (2nd circle), while the phrase "Under One Sky" plays on the "Pronouncement of Two Skies".
I originally envisioned the humans of Letheon as actually being the unspoiled descendants of the same humans who also became the gith, adding a sense of destiny that the giths are returning home in a way, and a sense of tragedy that these lands are being crushed by the war. I was planning to convey this idea through more than hints that the humans have strong willpower and resolve and are driven to overthrow their oppressors, but I didn't want to be too overt so that DMs don't have to use these elements if they don't like it. I tried to avoid IP worries by never directly naming the Liberator as Gith, never calling the yanki-zerai feud the "War of Two Skies", and so on, but do tell me if you're overtly concerned. Major credit for inspiration and the names of Ar'Gith and the Reconciliation goes to Azure of Planewalker.com.
Avenroc is mostly a wild frontier full of mystery and unknown life. Only recently discovered by the general population of Erkemhest, the this continent lies some 2,000 miles east of Milibri. Its southern regions were first colonized by dwarves, who founded the forges of Roc Parvel. Here they produced a curiously strong steel, that made them the foremost power on the continent, and increased the wealth of dwarven kingdoms all over Erkemhest.
Later, humans, unaware of the dwarven presence, discovered and colonized the northern gulf area, launching an expanding empire of trade in glass and textiles. The colonies are small city states established on the main waterways leading into the northern gulf, and national borders have not yet been established. Chief among the colonies is Rioc Alair, known most for its export of extremely potent deck prisms that are coveted by merchant sailors.
As a result of colonization, the full perimeter of the continent has been mapped, but the interior is still a mysterious wilderness waiting to be explored. Deep forests, hot deserts, high mountains, interior islands, magic, and unknown life await the adventurous heart.
The largest established settlement on Avenroc is a city called Rioc Alair that resides on the mouth of the Northern Gulf on Avenroc's western shore. Rioc Alair was founded on a plateau of sandstone whose composition has yielded the highest quality glass. Pulvarizing and melting the sandstone dust, Rioc Alair produces the finest lantern and deck glasses known back on the main continent of Erkemhest (or "The Mainland" as it is called). The inns of Rioc Alair bost glass drinking and and wine storage vessels. Above all of these, the greatest achievement of Rioc Alair has a home on the rocky coast just to the southwest of them main port district. It is a lighthouse that stands 400' high and contains a 6-faceted lens manufactured under the supervision Aaron Hallmaster, once the chief artisan, and now the most successful merchant living in Rioc Alair.
Life in the Port DistrictEdit
The Wharf of Rioc Alair's harbor stretches for some length along the city's coastline. Hugging this section of the coastline is a wide wooden walkway, used for loading and unloading goods that come into and go out of the city. In addition to the regular bustle, merchants and fishmongers often set up carts and booths to sell their wares. This area is constantly crowded and loud. People only have their voices to advertise and communicate. Crates, boxes, carts, rigging, and trash litter the wharf and float in the water.
Smoc Lem is practically a resident of the wharf, parading as a street entertainer, but he hides a darker side. He is a thief and a smuggler. Anything banned by the government or malicious in nature that makes its way into the city usually does so through Smoc.
On any given day, Smoc can be seen with his kerchief out on the planks of the wharf, juggling, singing, or playing his mandolin. Currently, he is low on helpers in his clandestine efforts, and those who approach him with the right amount of tact might be able to land a job with him in his underground world of intrigue.
Jahred Birkand is the leader of Rioc Alair's Night Watch. Jahred is responsible for a team of 45 Night Watchmen and Day Guard, but no matter how many he has, there always seems need for more. A hard working man, he makes the midnight rounds personally, and snuffs the street lanterns as he goes.
Recently, Jahred has been tracking down leads concerning an upsurge in port district burglaries. In some cases citizens have been found murdered in their sleep. At first, he suspected that the string of break-ins was caused by newcomers, but in piecing together evidence, he has developed a theory that the threat is home-grown.
The Day Guard and Night Watch are charged with making sure that contraband doesn't pass into the city. During daylight hours, cargo being unloaded at the Wharf is directed to the Wayhouse where it is declared, searched, and appropriately taxed. This control operation is overseen by a burly human named Aaron Maritim.
Aaron is emotionless and strict. He has little patience, and adheres precisely to the codes outlined by Lord Ekton (see below). Cargo caught not passing through the Wayhouse is seized and immediately becomes the property of the city. Contraband is destroyed, and other goods are distributed among the poor.
Contraband is defined loosely as weaponry or harmful magic items. Anything unidentifiable is also seized and examined by Aaron Maritim himself.
The Wayhouse closes at Night-Bells.
The Crystal MugEdit
'The Mug' as it is called, is probably the first thing that greets visitors when they arrive in Rioc Alair. It doesn't face the wharf, but its enormous sign hangs on its south-facing wall like a beacon to the lost. Here, merchants, locals, adventurers, laborers and officials take a respite from the day's toil and enjoy good food, good drink, good lodging, and, sometimes, good company.
The Crystal Mug gets its name from the fact that its drinking vessels are made of thick, faceted glass. The common room is open from Five-Bells until four hours after Night-Bells. The inn is home to twenty-three single-bed rooms. The neighboring stables can support up to eight horses and a single carriage.
The Mug is run by a corpulent gentleman named Blagarm Barblacken. Blagarm is friendly to just about everyone and has a difficult time saying no to anyone with a copper in hand. As his form would suggest, he loves to cook. Meals are common, and good. A constant supply of wine and ale flow in from the docking ships, and Blagarm is the first in line to buy the best that Erkemhest will send his way.
Despite being a port-side dive, the Mug is kept in pristine condition. Blagarm, being a perfectionist, is never satisfied with the help he's got, and he is always looking to replace any shirking staff with harder workers.
Most of those who stay overnight are sailors or small-time merchants, who are stopping over before putting to sea again, but newcomers to Rioc Alair are not rare, and they often make The Mug their first stop.
As with any Inn, the common room has its regulars. On any given night, the following locals are sure to be seen having a drink at The Mug:
Lars Hallmaster is heir to the Hallmaster estate that lies along the coast of Avenroc just southwest of Rioc Alair. The Hallmasters have been at the head of the glass trade ever since Rioc Alair was founded, and much of the money in the town flows through his hands. Lars fortune has come at a price, he has regular dealings with the less desirable members of the town, and he keeps Smoc on his payroll to fend off business competition and for a percentage of anything interesting coming into town along the black market.
Recently, Lars has acquired a map, and some old stories of which he is trying to make sense. He believes that they may lead him to a lucrative treasure, but he needs help putting the clues together. He might be willing to pay.
A character knows the following information with a successful Perception check.
DC 15: When Lars sits down for a drink, he always sits with his back to the wall.
DC 20: Lars' clothes are extremely well tailored, but they have the faint smell of sewer water.
DC 25: Lars is extremely well connected with important and infamous people in the city. His knowledge may come in handy, or it may become a weapon that is used against you.
Hankel Mast is a dewarf who serves as the town armoror and blacksmith. His work with iron and hammer is without equal in all of Rioc Alair, and the city's entire armory is the result of his years at the forge.
Hankel stops in for at least one drink every night in order to shake off the fatigue of the day. He is stout, strong, jovial, and wise. His hands are rough, but his word is never questioned in the context of a dispute. When complimented for his hearty integrity, he simply says, "My Papa taught me well."
Hankel doesn't know exactly how his father and mother arrived in Rioc Alair. All they ever told him was that they set off to make a quiet, city living. His father would often tell him fantastic stories of dwarven heroes and dragons, and when asked if dragons were real, his father would affirm that they were and warned him not to forget it.
His mother died many years ago of fever, and his father was more recently killed in a burglary. Since then, Hankel has maintained the forge and its adjoining shop. Though he is a hard worker, he is looking for someone to serve as an apprentice, to whom he can delegate a portion of the work.
A character knows the following information with a successful Perception check.
DC 15: Hankel continually wears a sad, wisened expression on his face, and his accent doesn't match that of the other residents of Rioc Alair
DC 20: Hankel is the only dwarf in Rioc Alair
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check (Dwarves receive a +10 racial bonus to this check).
DC 25: "Mast" is not a typically dwarven surname.
DC 25 (For those who remains at the 'Mug' until closing on more than two occasions): You see Lars disappear behind the bar after a short conversation with Blagarm. He does not come back out when Blagarm starts closing down the common room.
The Fortress of Rioc Alair serves as the seat of power for the city. The Fortress was built on the foundations of an existing structure, the origin of which no one was sure. The sandstone plateau that supported these foundations was riddled with catacombs, most of which were desecrated to make room for cellars when the Fortress was built.
The ruling governor, Lord Emril Ekton has enjoyed 21 years of prosperity under his direction.
Rioc Alair was founded less than 150 years ago, so exploration of the surrounding area is always a priority with Lord Ekton. Rumors and legends of monsters, ghosts, and ancient treasures have filtered to him through the farmers and homesteaders of the surrounding forest and mountain areas. If adventurers approach Lord Ekton for employment opportunities, it is possible that he would offer a reward for accurate maps of the surrounding areas.
This compound is the source of metalwork for the port district of Rioc Alair. In addition to this, it serves as the source of armor and weaponry for the city's night watch and militia. Hankel Mast is the master blacksmith who is currently its sole artisan. From Five-Bells to Night-Bells, one can hear his hammer ringing over the bustle of the port district. The work is tiring, and Hankel is often found spending his evening in the Crystal Mug looking for newcomers who might be up to the task of apprenticeship.
Next to the Forge, Hankel shares a shop with the tanner Artur. He's tousle-haired, wiry human who smells of brine. He's a shrewd businessman, and a skilled leatherworker. One can find good quality clothing, accessories, and leather armor here, as well as wares from Hankel's forge. Weapons, however, are only commissioned upon request, and Hankel is required by law to report the commission to Lord Ekton and the Night Watch.
The Library is a 5-story tower that contains the city histories, knowledge, and trade records. For those who can afford it, schooling is conducted on the third and fourth level of this tower, and never has more than 20 students at a time.
The Library's top-most floor is actually a temple to Erathis. Rising from the northwest corner of the Library is a narrow bell tower that rings out every hour from sunrise to sunset. In Rioc Alair, Sunrise is called "Five-Bells" because the day is started with five peals from the Library Tower bell. From then on, a single peal is added to an hourly toll until mid-day, at which 12 peals are rung. Because of this, mid-day is called "Twelve-Bells." In the afternoon, the bell count is reset to one peal, adding to the toll every hour until evening, when six-bells are rung to signify the end of the day. This, event, however, is simply called "Night-Bells."
The first level of the library is the research floor on which porters take search orders, disappearing to the other levels of the tower, from which they will retrieve the requested tomes.
The head librarian is a gentleman named Shear Aelion. He presides over the school curricula and maintains the organization of the Library. Though funds are few, he always, somehow, manages to increase the library's store of literature. He mostly runs things from his office, and rarely surfaces to interact with the researchers unless something extremely unusual is requested.
Even the oldest citizens of Rioc Alair cannot remember who preceded Sear as the head Librarian. To look at him, you would think he was no more than middle-aged, but no one seems to remember a time when the Library had another caretaker. In fact, there is a saying in Rioc Alair that anything that has been around since time out of mind was, "around before the Headmaster."
The Boarding HousesEdit
These buildings serve as tenements for residents of Rioc Alair who work in the port district. Any residents who lose their positions or employment in the port district are asked by the Day Guard to find lodging elsewhere. By this, order, and a facade of economic stability, is kept in the port district.
Out by the farmlands, the Ulmar is a beautiful river, but here in the port district it serves as the city refuse management system. The Ulmar cuts through the sandstone foundation of the city and plunges below the Fortress before emptying its fetid contents into the waters of the Northern Gulf.
As the Ulmar began to choke itself on the city's pollution, the need for fresh water became a priority. At that time, the citizens worked together to construct an aqueduct for the transport of potable water from the upstream areas of the Ulmar. The aqueduct feeds a network of 28 public fountains within the port district alone, and 30 more throughout the rest of the city.
In addition to the aqueduct, a sewer system was carved into the supporting plateau, and paved over once more. Rain runoff, refuse, and waste finds its way into the Ulmar by way of this complex system of grates, pits, and underground channels.
Rumor has it that the sewer was made possible by the discovery of ancient catacombs similar to the ones found under the Fortress. Many, to this day, feel that, though the city lives in relative ease because of the service they provide, the sewers should never have been dug. They fear that other-earthly things roam down in the filthy channels beneath the city.
The Ulmar BridgeEdit
The Ulmar has no fordable areas within miles of the city. The coastal area to the west is extremely rocky, and the area to the east is walled off by the Fortress. Because of this, there is only one way into or out of the port district, and that is over the Ulmar Bridge. This bridge is continually guarded with gatehouses and portcullises at both ends, and is the sole reason that Rioc Alair's slums have been relegated to the inland areas of the town. Merchants don't see the poorer areas of Rioc Alair, and Lord Ekton wishes to keep it that way.
Life in Inland DistrictsEdit
Rioc Alair's inland areas are divided into four districts: The Manufacturing District, The Residences, The Outer Farmlands, and The Western Coast
Residents of the inland portion of the city must apply for a writ of passage from Lord Ekton by submitting a written application to staff of the inland gatehouse stating their business and itinerary. Ship passage is arranged in this fashion as well. Because of this, the inland population makes little contact with the outside world, existing in a somewhat in-bred and uncultured state. There are, however, other, less legal ways of getting into and out of these sections of the city.
The Northern Gulf SettlementsEdit
Outside of Rioc Alair, some smaller setlements have begun populating the coastline of the Northern Gulf. Efil lies at the easternmost extent of the gulf leading into the mountains, and is the site of bountiful agriculture as well as a speculative stone quarry. Other human settlements on the gulf coast include Molc, Tep, and Maltroc, but these are mostly subsistence settlements and have not yet taken root like Rioc Alair. A foresting industry has begun on the northern peninsula based out of a settlement called In-Kal.
The northern peninsula is dense with unusually large Teak, Cedar, and Pine trees forming forests that cover a seemingly unending landscape. Unknown to the human population, the forests of Avenroc's northern peninsula are home to the Elven settlement of Si-Falingalen, that has been there for over a thousand years. The elves of Si-Falingalen are internally divided between their desire to live in isolation from the new human colonies and their desire to fight for the protection of the wild lands of Avenroc that are quickly disappearing under a sprawling urban blight. Even now, the human settlements have no idea how close they are to war.
Rioc Parvel (Removed)Edit
Legend has it that, long ago, Dwarves of Erkemhest colonized Avenroc in the south, and until recently that's all it was - a legend. Just a few years ago, however, a Dwarf named Hankel Mast, claiming to be a decendent of the legendary Arkus Gimlord, found an old dwarven hold on an internal island in the south, and named it after the famed Rioc Parvel of the old stories. When word of this reached Erkemhest dwarves arrived in droves opening up trade in steel that persists to this day.
Note: The section on Rioc Parvel was removed in order to be consistent with the Rioc Alair city setting described above. Apologies if this interferes with anyone's current adventures. The original text remains visible so that you can use it if you want to. --HMGimlord-79440 03:05, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
The forests of Avenroc are home to strange creatures and stories of ghosts. The mountains thunder with unknown dangers. Most of the subcontinent's interior is unexplored, and likely the home to exotic beasts and unknown native, humanoid races just waiting to be discovered.
Though no known portals exist on Avenroc but rumors exist in Daunton of people who have found there way to the Near Islands from either Avenroc or Erkemhest. Some have arrived by sea, and others claim to have come through portals. None, however, have yet found their way back.
As far as is known, there are no indigenous dragonborn from Avenroc. The Terning region of Erkemhest, however, has been home to dragonborn for many centuries. Continual war extends across this group of islands between supporters of Bahamut and Tiamat. The dragonborn of Terning are also very superstitious. Children receive their callings from oracles chosen by their fathers when they come of age. After that, they are considered adults, and they feel it is their duty to fulfill that mission and die with honor.
As mentioned above, the humans that inhabit Avenroc are those who are colonizing the coast of the Northern Gulf. As far as is known, there are no indigenous humans on Avenroc
On the mainland of Erkemhest, humans primarily occupy the region of Medinia, the center of culture, learning, and art. This region is also diverse in landscape from grasslands and mountainous plateaus to deep forests and raging rivers.
Dwarves from the northern hold of Ituk Delvs have captured a corner on works of precious metals and gems, but with the re-establishment of Rioc Parvel on Avenroc, quality steel has drawn craftsmen across the water to be part of histroy.
The elves of Amaria in Erkemhest are your typical fun-loving, accurate-shooting, isolationist, arrogant, magic-filled, forest-hiding, creatures. They've been there forever, but keep to themselves. As long as they remain in Amaria, they feel that they are protected from outside influences. Natural as well as magical barriers keep them safe, but every now and then they come under attack or venture out.
The elves of Avenroc are pure-bread. There are no half-elves...yet. The relationship between the elves of Si-Falingalen and Amaria must be traced back over centuries. Before the arival of the dwarves, elves of Amaria settled in the vale of Si-Falingalen, but they did not spread past the borders of their peninsula. Over the centuries, they became decadent from a lack of adversaries, and with the arival of the humans, they chose to hide rather than to defend the continent. They percieved no immediate threat, but humans began to multiply and spoil the land.
Some elves, however, disagree with the policies of the elders and set out to slow the progress of human colonization. Moving southward to the forests east of the great gulf, they harass loggers and trappers with arrows and insults hurled from unseen positions, sending those allowed to survive back to thier homes with threats of death and humiliation.
Halflings originated centuries ago in the eastern vales of of Medinia. On the whole, they are peaceful, fun-loving folk, but rogue halflings often find themselves among the pirate ranks in the islands of Malibri. From here, they infest the black market trade at just about every major port city between Erkemhest and Avenroc.