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Author Topic: Athas - After the Fall of an Empire  (Read 3993 times)

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Offline EchoMirage

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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« on: December 26, 2004, 05:31:02 PM »
Long have the Hyrnan, and their servants, the Zastur http://www.rpgcitadel.com/guild/index.php?topic=1992.0
ruled their slave races, the dwarves and giants they made to toil away in their mines and forges. Yet though the Hyrnan, eternally beautiful and young, strong of arm and keen of mind, were masters of sorcery and saw themselves equal to gods, or even superior, for every one of them was equal to a hundred knights in a fight, and could rival twelve dozen warlocks in the arcane arts, they did not rule eternally. Due to their cruelty and insanity, their subjects forged a plan to cast them from their thrones and end the reign of terror.
There were the Giants, huge and muscular, who grow even taller as they ageand learn, and have memories like set in stone, to remember the misdeeds.
There were the Dwarves, laborious and fervent, to fan the flames of revolution, and upon these flames forge a new order.
There were the Faen, diminutive yet swift of mind and body, to weave magics and fool the adversary.
There were the Litorian, great man-cats proud and stalwart, to strike at the fiends from the shadow.
There were the Verrik, with hair as snow and skinas fire, great thinkers and sages, to aid with comfort and counsel.
There were the Sibeccai, wolf-men, created by the Giants for the rebellion as once the Hyrnan crafted Giants, yet meant to be free. In packs they fell upon the Lords of the lands.
Yet still their ranks were not numerous enough, and they'd be doomed to fail, if they had not called upon the aid from overseas - humans.
The Pernians came over the Northern Ice, wise and faithful, in exchange for a place to worship.
The Norani came in long boats over the sea, for honor, plunder, and a land to call their own.
The Boranians sailed on great galleons across the ocean, to found a new realm free of war, but for that they had to fight.
The Tephet came, led by mage-lords, dry of foot, over the sea, to claim the sorcery of the Hyrnan and return it to the elder gods from whom the fiends stole it.

Long was the war, and the dead outnumbered the living, rivers ran red with blood and ravens were too bloated to fly.
Bones covered the fields to the knees and ashes clouded the skies as the Hyrnan unleashed the most vile of magics and called horrors from beyong space and time.
Still the day came when the heart of the last Hyrnan was pierced and his unholy body burned, the ashes locked up in a warded tomb.

Two hundred years have passed, and still, the legacy of the war lives on. Beasts stalk the countryside, and horrors lurk in the shadows, while the vile Zastur plot the downfall of Man and the return of their masters.

This is a setting of high fantasy, where heroes, a trusty sword by their side, and fireball at hand, charge to mete out justice and slay the spawn of darkness.
The cities are young, and so are the cultures. Decadence has not had time to creep in, most officials are yet not corrupt, and kings care more for the well-being of subjects than their coffers. A liar is looked down upon, and a murderer will hang, regardless of whether he has had a bad childhood or not.
Most of the land is untamed, and there are vast expanses of wilderness where neither Hyrnan citadel nor dwarf fort stood.

The world is young again. And you may shape it.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 03:57:23 PM by EchoMirage »
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Pern - a land of Faith
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2004, 05:32:48 PM »
The strict and ascetic Pernians came as the first flames of war were fanned, and bore the worst of the Hyrnan depravities. Yet they have prevailed, forming a tightly knit society based upon law, trust and duty. Living a virtuous life is highly valued - truth, charity and loyalty, as well as purity of body and spirit.

Certainly the most educated of the newcomers, they value art, mostly sculpture and music, as a form of expression of faith; their school system is public and free, and attending school is mandatory. Faith and education stand high on the list of values, and the schools make sure that students don't leave without a sufficient supply of both.

Pernians do not have a close tie to nature - trees are seen as but a source of building material, animals are mean only to provide food and hide. The wild is seen as an adversary who assaults them with furious storms and curses them with base instincts. While their faith does not see sexuality as inherently evil, the instinctual part of it is considered filthy - thus, the right way of approaching this matter is taught, with will and not some bestial fragment inside guiding one's moves.

Alcohol and drugs are frowned upon, as well as gambling; while they are not forbidden, indulging in them is a sure way to earn low esteem in the eyes of others. Usury is not encouraged: each realm has its own bank that is controlled by the crown and highly reliable, yet only accessible for citizens. A committee of knights has to approve of each loan. Abroad, the banks of Pern lend money to foreigners on fair terms, but charge interest.

The land is ruled by a king and knights. All priests must be knights as well. When times has come to put a new king in place (when the old one dies or is deemed no longer suited to rule), the conclave of knights elects a new ruler. One does become a knight solely by merit, and should one of the Sirs prove to be unworthy of the privilege, it can be withdrawn.

The justice is swift and strict in Pern, with punishment consisting mostly of forced labor and re-integration into society for less serious offenses or death for the worst of crimes. The use of magic is not welcome in Pernian lands - no magic academy calls the four nations its home. Wizards may work their trade only by permit of a knight, and unsanctioned use of magic is harshly punished, reasonably so, for many areas in the Pernian lands are sites of severe thaumic imbalance.

The people of Pern are extremely pale and gaunt, appearing almost like birch trees. Dressing mostly in grays, blues and browns, they merge well with their surroundings. Placing high value on manners and self-control, they are soft-spoken and rarely let their emotions overwhelm their reason.

-----------------------------------------
The people of Pern inhabit lands cold and harsh - in the utmost north, spring, summer and autumn have to fit into a short period of four months. In the coastal regions, the sea and warm winds dull the winter's fangs. The isle of Tahur is verdant and lush most of the year, with temperate and rainy summers and rather warm winters with heavy snowfall.
Important terrain features include:

*The Golden Crescent is a mountain range separating the west from the costal regions. They are heavily wooded, and home to many peculiar creatures. There are no major passes except where the Taasen River breaks through the barrier in a series of deep canyons.  Their name is very fitting - every fall, as the leaves turn red and yellow, the peaks blaze as if covered in molten gold.

*Taasen River: the major watercourse of the north, it connects the landlocked Venra with the coastal kingdoms. It is navigable along almost all its length, except for its passage through the Crescent, where the cargo must be transported over land. In winter, when it freezes over, wagons and sleds can travel all its length easily.

*Table Mountains: in central Venra, mountains with flat tops dominate the landscape, the larger ones displaying multiple successive flat levels. Each plateau is a wholly different world. Many are home to demons and strange occurrences are common there. Quite a few house Hyrnan ruins. Thus, it is easy to understand why only a few daring individuals venture there, and fewer still choose them as their abodes.

*The Nightshroud Woods: south of Venra lies the deepest of forests, a wood housing mighty spirits and secrets not even the Hyrnan managed to discover. The magic of these woods is inimical to civilized men, and guards the inner reaches of the wood jealously. Pernians believe them to be cursed, yet most likely, they are just old, very old, and wary of strangers.

<<religion will follow>>
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 03:59:03 PM by EchoMirage »
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Noran - a land of the Sword
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2004, 05:34:32 PM »
Over Ifirn's Ocean they came in boats driven by sail and oar, clad in steel and fur to smite the Hyrnan fiends. A fractious bunch, they were united by leaders of strong arm and character, as well as a common foe. As they were then, they remain today - rowdy, fiercely independent and fascinated by steel.

The Noran trust in bonds of blood and those forged by honest word, but most of all their personal prowess and a sharp sword by one's side. Much unlike their northern neighbors, they are hotheaded, extroverted and care about how many maids one can bed or a barrel of good drink more than some obscure scriptures. They value machismo, honor and strength, and a man's (or woman's) reputation is the most treasured good - woe to the one who spreads falsehoods about a Noran, for he will earn a merciless foe.

Most Noran are poorly educated, and look up to wise men for guidance in the more elusive matters - while he will respect a great warrior highly, a Noran is taught from childhood on to heed the word of a druid or sage, or at least acknowledge his advice and show him respect.

The Noran believe the human to be closely connected to nature, brother to beast and tree alike. While it does not prevent them from hunting or planting crops, they treat their beasts well, and respect the predators of the wild as well as nature spirits. Their faith populates the shadows of the world with a plethora of entities, amongst which the gods stand out - they are seen as powerful yet human-like, with intelligible motives. The entities are quite similar to the Scandinavian pantheon.

Education is sketchy in Noran lands - most people learn a trade or two, and a way to defend themselves, and seldom bother with finer pursuits. The scholars are few and far between.
The sages and warlords rule the lands - the former by the virtue of knowledge, the latter through the consensus of their peers. The land itself is organized into territories claimed by the various tribes, which are furthermore divided into clans. Valuing their freedom and independence highly, the Noran mostly live in small settlements, and a substantial percentage of them are nomadic.

The law is different in each clan's territory, yet most often a druid will be the judge, sometimes a council of elders or the tribe's thane will fulfill the role. Punishment is rather harsh, often branding, death or exile. As blood calls for blood, feuds are common, and eye for an eye is a common maxim.
The Noran respect mages, yet there are no formal schools of the Art - each student must find a master to teach him.

Like magic, so history is passed on through oral tradition, and bards and keepers of lore are held in high esteem.

The Noran are generally tall, and red-headed o blonde. There are two distinct types amongst them - they will either be very muscular and bulky, or wiry. Their dress will be made of leather, fur, wool and metal. More than happy to show off, the Noran will wear lots of trophies and jewelry.

---------------------------------------------
The lands the Noran inhabit are many and varied, mostly temperate with a fair share of rainfall and ample snow in winter.
Some of the more peculiar are the following:

*The Unbound Plains: a large expanse of flat land with fertile soil, strewn with wandering boulders. The interesting thing is that the boulders, and many rocky hills wander fast. A rock thirty yards across can make five miles a day. Thus, cities are very rare in this region, most of them built atop the larger wanderer hills, while their livestock follows them around. Farmers live in huts of mud and straw, and hope that a boulder does not crush their crops. Certain rocks seem to be more magical than others, and are believed to house fairy creatures or gateways to different realms. A few rocks are sentient and possess a deep wisdom, yet are to persuade to speak.

*The Bloodsky Vast: said to have the most beautiful sunsets in the whole world, this is a land where a man can feel truly free, the sky overhead and a seemingly endless expanse of grass beneath his feet. Freak and wild storms are common in fall, another reason for this land to bear its name. A few canyons break the otherwise flat surface - on their bottoms, water and trees are abundant. Most of the inhabitants are nomadic or miners.

*Limoe River: one of the longest rivers of the continent, it houses the most important Noran cities on its banks. Descending from three successive plateaus, it creates waterfalls that descend a total of two thousand feet into the fertile lowlands. Even when summer is already holding court in the flats, ice floes from its source can be seen as far as the delta, breaking off the glaciers that give birth to the river when the spring finally arrives in those frosty heights.

*The Blackthorns: springing up without a warning from the fertile rolling hills that surround them, these mountains are covered in dark forests and are truly forbidding in their appearance - sheer cliffs and sharp ridges standing as an unveiled threat to all who might dare to brave the mountain range. They were raised by a Hyrnan Archmage in the defense of his stronghold, yet the spell took effect a few months after he was slain by the attackers he tried to ward off by surrounding his fortress by a ring of stone. Much of their power has already drained away, but to this day, the Blackthorns are home to malformed trees and beasts, demons and wild magic. No sane man will enter.

*The Talons: in the south of Noran lands lies a low mountain range with thin soil and harsh weather, consisting of hills from which like knives protrude peaks of barren stone. The area is famous for its mists and extended rainfalls, as well as its mineral wealth. Despite the poor harvest here, the people tend to grow especially large here. Combined with the weather that seems to erode sanity it makes the Talons everything else than safe. A common Narnian saying is "Have you been in the Talons again?" used when someone is acting out of his mind.

*The Broken Land: said to have once been the delta of a river that cut deep into stone before the seas rose, it now resembles a large-scale Venice, with chaotic channels snaking between pillars of stone and rocky islands. The channels are especially rich in fish, and thus home to many fishers, as well as pirates who raid north into Pernian lands as well as south to plunder their Noran brethren.
Many towns are hewn into the walls of the cliffs, and are truly difficult to find. Without an able guide, the channels are almost impossible to navigate.

*The Blind Eye: west of the Broken Land lies a large valley surrounded by tall mountains, barren and dry as bone. One of the last Hyrnan is said to have detonated his stronghold when he saw an army that was coming for his head approach. Even today, the waste is home to many malevolent spirits, yet little that lives.

*The Coastlands: heavily populated, the coast is covered in a mix of dense deciduous woodlands and meadows, with moors and marshes in between. They are the source of the best building wood and exceptional woodcarvings, as well as housing plentiful wild game - it is said that no one can throw a rock here without hitting a stag. Some forests have been cleared to make way for fields, yet the deepest woods remain. The Faen communities here are numerous, and have partly adopted the Noran way of life.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 04:03:28 PM by EchoMirage »
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Boran - a land of the Hammer and Plow
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2004, 05:35:42 PM »
As their homeland turned into desert, they were promised a new land to thrive in for their aid, and that is what they got. The laborious Borans have struggled hard and without a complaint to topple the tyrants from their throne, and succeeded in the end. From the east where their ships first landed to the far west, they forged several kingdoms out of the ruins and wilderness.

But rather than destroyers the Borans are builders, and see little use in war - they prefer to trade rather than take by force, to use fire for warmth rather than burning, and steel for plows more than swords. Still, they are determined warriors if the need arises; yet do not see glory in splitting a foe's skull. The virtues they value are honesty above all, and truthfulness - while they are more than aware that always telling the truth is simply not realizable, they will lie only if lives are at stake. Remaining silent about a matter is a wholly different thing - they are renowned for their tenacity and stubbornness, though they call it resolve. They consider farming, smiting, politics, magic, or the warrior's trade all honest jobs, and deem them all equally important. Any man or woman can rise to any position if his ability and deeds are sufficient, and wealth is considered not a prerequisite but consequence of success.

Generally, Borans are very lively, ingenious and social - artists and inventors are honored, yet so it seems that the highest of arts is deemed to be cooking - a fine chef will earn more renown than a warlord.
Tolerant in terms of religion, Borans believe in multiple deities that get actively involved in mortals' lives, much similar to the Greek pantheon. While a Boranian will pick a patron amongst the gods, he will pray and sacrifice to all of them.

Teaching is done by masters - at the age of ten, children are given into the care of a craftsman, scholar or warrior of good reputation, while nobles hire private teachers. A commoner is expected to know a trade well, and many of them will know several, while a noble is supposed to master many pursuits, from history to statesmanship. Those of the nobility who are found lacking in wisdom and learning earn little respect. Likewise, the basics of math are mandatory for the common folk. As well as that, they will earn the most important laws by heart. Generally, the laws will be simple enough to be understood in their full meaning by everyone.
The masters are experts of proven ability - when a man deems himself accomplished enough, he will approach a noble to be tested, presenting an example of his art. Should he be deemed worthy, he will receive a seal - bronze, iron or silver - denoting the degree of his ability. Bearers of silver seals are the pickiest ones when it comes to choosing their apprentices, and can command the highest fees for their work.

A king and his nobility rule each of the Boran lands, backed up by the knights, and a volunteer army, while the citizens are ready to form organized legions in which many of the men have served in their youth. The basics of military training are taught to every citizen. The law is upheld by knights, who will judge commoners, while the king or a duke will judge nobles. Death sentences are rare, slavery or forced labor being the most common for serious offences. Most punishments are meant to teach the offender a lesson, maiming is rare and torture almost unheard of.
Being considered a trade as well, magic is taught by experts bearing an iron, bronze or silver sigil like their mundane counterparts. Using magic against an unwilling target is considered assault, and carries the appropriate consequences.

Though mercantile and valuing material wealth, Boranians treat their surroundings and livestock well, knowing that a field in bad care will have lesser yields, and that when a forest is cut down in its entirety, rain will carry the soil away. Cruelty to animals is frowned upon.

The people of Boran are of average build, men ranging from 5' 5" to 6', women slightly less. Generally of strong build, men will have broad shoulders, women heavy breasts and broad hips. They have a tendency to become overweight in old age. The hair colors will range from chestnut to dark brown, their eyes will be brown likewise. Boranians have healthy skin tones, and tend to have rosy cheeks and full red lips.
For clothes, they will prefer simple garments made of sturdy materials, shining in bright colors.

---------------------------------
The lands Boranians inhabit are mostly fertile and well suited for agriculture. The winters tend to be rather mild, burying the land beneath a cozy cover of three feet of snow for a month or two. Summer is long, and gradually shifts into a long and temperate fall.
Amongst the unusual locales are:

*The Lyr Noir Woods: lie on the border between Boran and Narnian lands. Numerous battles against the Hyrnan were fought in their vicinity, and before that, the dark masters have exploited them carelessly and hunted its creatures for sport, as well as dumping thaumic waste there.
The Faen of these woods are savage and far more militant than their cousins elsewhere, but that is only the tip of the iceberg - nowhere else dwell so many inimical nature spirits, feral dryads and aggressive tree-men as here. Survival of the fittest is taken to the extreme here, as everything is armed to the teeth here, leaves studded with spikes and rabbits' flesh pure poison.

*The Broken Mirror: resembles its namesake very well - lands that, while fertile, are divided into small pieces by crevices and outcroppings, chaotic rivers and tiny lakes. Logistics are very difficult here, as the land seems to have been designed to house mountain goats and not people or cattle. Stairs, roads and tunnels have been hewn into the cliffs to aid transportation, yet the land is not totally calm yet, and the parts will shift occasionally. There are caves beneath the lands, vast expanses of tunnels and caverns, though they are dangerous to enter - any moment the land might shift and cut you off from your escape route, burying you alive.

*The Golden Fields: if you bury a wheel here, a whole wagon will grow out of it, or at least so goes the saying. Crop fields and orchards as well as ponds and meadows take up most of this bountiful land, and hunger is a word unknown here.
While a good deal of the land is already cultivated, the wilder regions house huge herbivores and packs of predators who hunt them. Huge plant creatures of amazing variety lumber around the countryside, the soil being so fertile that they have to stay rooted but for brief periods to sustain them.

*The Tears of Zeus: Tearing the clouds and almost touching the stars, the Tears are an immensely tall mountain range rising directly from the sea. The blue and gray ranges are covered in sparkling snow for the whole year, their battlements clad in frosty finery. Magic is strong here, as they are said to channel the power of creation from the gods, and few are left untouched, in body or heart.
On one of the mountain slopes, the secluded city of Ingrau teaches the students of the arcane arts reverence for creation and mastery over their talent.

*The Sun's Cradle: is a strip of lowlands along the coast of Boran, covered in dense forests, wetlands and crossed by a thousand streams. While the land is fertile, floods are common here, and the wilderness, untamed and dark, harbors both beasts and diseases in abundance.

*The Dam: in the central lands of Boran, a low mountain range of heavy granite, old and battered by the elements, holds back one of the largest water reservoirs in Athas - the Skydeep, four lakes of such expanse that their other shore cannot be seen. A paradise for waterfowl, they are rather shallow and thus dotted by towns on pillars and reed islands. Some of the shores are hidden by true labyrinths of canals and dense growth where one could get lost - or hide - for all eternity.

*Blackrock: high above the shimmering waters of the Skydeep lies the misty plateau of Blackrock, where many of the rivers nurturing those lakes spring from the ground, calm melancholic ponds or marshes. Fens and peat bogs, dark forests and ragged cliffs shape the countryside, making it a harsh land, more so that this is the westernmost land inhabited by man, with only wilderness and desolate Surtur beyond. This is the final frontier, meant to steel or break anyone who challenges it.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 04:08:16 PM by EchoMirage »
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Dalzoran - a land of freed slaves
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2005, 07:04:15 AM »
Built upon the ruins of Hyrnan palaces and forts by the very slaves who had first raised them to topple them again during the rebellion, Dalzoran is open to all who have taken up sword and banner against the oppressors, having thus become a cosmopolitan state.
Once, the giants and dwarves who form a majority of the population, had to steal knowledge from their masters. Nowadays, they distribute it freely, valuing learning and freedom of choice highly. While heavily scarred by the war, Dalzoran has also profited most from Hyrnan knowledge - experts are excavating their vaults all over the country. The land has become the leader of the free countries, rallying them against horrors spawned in the war and the Zastur, as well as aiding them wherever it can, though resources are still limited.

The people of Dalzoran are mostly driven idealists, enthusiastic and well meaning. While their warrior natures make them harsh and strict, the most strictness they apply to themselves, well aware that discipline is necessary when facing adversity. Due to having their families torn apart by slavery and war, the people of Dalzoran place prime importance upon ties of family and friendship - public displays of affection are common and nothing to be ashamed of, friends will present each other with hand-made gifts and seal their friendship by tattooing their buddy's name on the forearm (this being reserved for the closest soul-mates).

The values Dalzoranians treasure are intelligence, creativity, dedication and quality of character: harming anyone by theft, fraud or violence is punished harshly, as due to welfare, no one has to steal or kill to survive - two pillars, family and public welfare, support any citizen well enough so that he does not have to slip into criminality should he be short on luck. Laziness though is one of the worst vices - there is always work to be done, and no excuse for not aiding the effort if you are healthy. Public schools and hospitals ensure that everybody has access to learning and health care - foreigners are expected to pay if they can afford it. Of course you can lie about this, but risk eviction if you are proven a liar. The society does not treat those labeled as "Blighters" kindly.

A council heads each city, its members being elected directly by the populace. Any citizen can become a council member, yet those with military experience, great scholarly knowledge or talent for craft are most often selected. Magistrates appointed by the council watch over the admission of new citizens and distribution of resources.

To identify himself, every citizen has an amulet attuned to him, the Dal-Kerra. Upon it, his name and city of origin are recorded, as well as his competences: each time one passes a so-called "seeking" under the supervision of a magistrate, effectively a test of craft or knowledge, it will be recorded on it. So might one have passes five successively more difficult seekings at smiting, and three of art, and being thus considered a very competent smith. Another one might have taken three art seekings, and three language seekings, being thus a writer or storyteller, illuminator, or a teacher. The amulet also records one's "karma" - the measure for engagement for the community. You can draw upon the welfare or special resources using this imaginary currency. Everyone receives a small amount each month to allow him to acquire basic foodstuffs and clothes should he become incapacitated or the like, while services to the community like teaching, working in high-danger areas or acting beyond what is expected of you also carry a reward. Decorating the city with art, or inventing something useful might also be rewarded in karma. Using it, you might get a new comfortable home from the city, or rare goods.

The army of Dalzoran is composed of volunteers, yet most citizens are skilled with various arms. The City Watch is composed of citizens who have perhaps one eight hour watch shift a week, during which they guard the town or aid other citizens free of charge. Helping is not limited to the own folks though - Dalzoranians send help to many other countries, such as road crews and teachers, to speed their development.

There is no state religion in Dalzoran, yet the mainstream faith is the belief in three Great Crafters: Laru, the Crafter of Life; Nuram, Crafter of Mind; and Renve, the Crafter of Works. Each of them is a deity with avatars reflecting its aspects - so might Laru have an aspect of Nature or Birth but also Storm or Hunter, while Renve's avatars for smiting and poetry might also differ widely. The antagonists of the gods are Death, Madness and Ruin, intent on downfall of all creation. While tolerant in terms of religion, many a Dalzoranian has raised an eyebrow at the Boran respect for Hades.

------------------------------------------------
The lands of Dalzoran are mountainous or hilly, surrounded by a mountain ridge broken by three distinct passes called Gates.
Two distinct types of areas can be found here: the "Safe-Zones" or "Havens" are areas cleansed of war-taint and generally harmless to reside in and eat food from - this includes most cities, as well as their vicinity, and some roads. The "Badlands" might not be infertile, but are insecure, with mutants, undead and wild magic making them a danger to all who pass.

*The Darkness: is a cave and dungeon system with numerous entrances in east Dalzoran, stretching for miles and miles. Foul magic wafts from all its openings, making it a spawning pit for darkest horrors and a dangerous place to enter.

*Efloe Lake: a great cold inland sea in central Dalzoran, dotted by numerous islands. The waste magic plays with light and sound alike upon its waves, so mirages, light effects, but also visions of past, present and possible futures alike can be seen. The waters are difficult to travel, yet an inspiration to many a mage or artist. The islands harbor magical springs, some of which can taint and corrupt, while others heal body and spirit. The water of the lake is too diluted to have immediate effects, yet still it is not reasonable to drink it. The overflow of the lake descends through the Roonsa River into the Boran lands.

*King's Mountain: the people of Dalzoran have no kings, yet mockingly they called this place thus and interred the remains of the Hyrnan here, and sealed the tombs so that no one may enter. Traitors and the worst of criminals are also buried here as a sign of eternal shame.
The weather is always calm on King's Mountain, rain falls in straight lines to the earth, snowflakes descend in slowly, and the sun shines as if through milky glass. Most feel out of place in this haunted locale, and only the strongest of minds can bear to stay here for long.

*Dragonbone Gate: no one knows whether the titanic bones embedded in the rock formations that line this pass truly are those of dragons, yet the sight is magnificent to behold and terrifying at the same time - half-buried skulls the size of houses gaze upon the traveler, ribcages wall of off caves as if they were prison bars and claws rise up from the ground as if to rip the passerby in two. Between those, the ground is littered with the bones of those who gave their lives to conquer it. It is considered good luck if one picks up a skull here and buries it in a proper cemetery, or cremates it.
Spirits of many sorts seem to have overrun the pass, the wind carries their muffled voices and moans, and oracles frequently suffer seizures here.

*Ironfang Gate: once, a great gate of black iron stood here, barring the entrance to all who would enter the center of Hyrnan lands as enemies. It was able to withstand all that the liberating armies could unleash at it, until the Archmage Arnwaith summoned his Life-Fire and tore it to shreds. Even today, fragments of the huge structure litter the pass, not scratched by the tooth of time or any mortal tool, as only a mage's sacrifice is said to be able to melt them.

*Mournsong Gate: through this pass, the armies sallied out to take the last Hyrnan fortresses in the lands beyond after having taken Dalzoran, yet none of them returned, as the dark mages they meant to defeat took all the brave warriors all with them in their defeat. The tragedy has not been forgotten, and pilgrims venture to the pass to light a candle there, or place some small offering like a trinket or shiny stone in a crack or niche in the cliff sides in memory of those who gave their lives to save others.

*Tes'Thera: once, upon the slopes of the fiery Mount Tobruk, stood the citadel of the mightiest Hyrnan mage of all, and countless soldiers died until finally, in the blazing bowels of the volcano, he was cast into the flames. His death released a vast amount of magic, so large indeed that the ruins of the city are within a surreal world of flame and smoke even today, and the corpses of the dead shamble about as ever-burning carcasses, while floating balls of lava light the soot-covered streets.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 04:14:56 PM by EchoMirage »
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Offline EchoMirage

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Updates! Get your updates while they're still fresh!
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2005, 07:08:57 AM »
So, I updated the Boranians and Posted Dalzoran. Again, critique is encouraged, and good ideas even more.

A note not apparent in the texts themselves - neither Pern, Narnia nor Boran are unified states, but rather composed of several nations sharing a culture - Pern consists of four kingdoms, while Noran does not have an unified government at all - even its borders are uncertain. Sure, there will be a few warlords who call themselves kings, yet their word carries only as far as their might does reach.
Boran consists of several nations as well, and so does Tephet (coming soon! Tephet, a land of mages!)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 04:15:20 PM by EchoMirage »
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Offline Maggot

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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2005, 08:12:32 AM »
I like Dalzorn,but I would like to hear more about how relationships are mantained between the various races. Even in a highly educated society,there are always indiviuals determined to treat others not of his people with scorn and prejudice. How do the city councils deal with this?
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Enforcement of justice
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2005, 10:13:51 AM »
To be a citizen of Dalzoran is a privilege, and exile a punishment. Likewise, a foreigner who misbehaves will be fined, or evicted, without dirtying anoyone's hands. If the guides and road patrols refuse to serve him, and he is cast out into the badlands, his chances of survival are slim.
So: "Because we treasure liberty, so do not reduce our liberty by misbehaving after we gave you the liberty to come here. We give you the liberty to leave."
Most of the lands of Athas are harsh, and societies survive by holding together. Misfits will be cast out. Take Pern for example - half of the year, the temperatures are below freezing. A criminal does not have to be exactly punished. "You don't like it here? Go."

I have especially tried to make this a young world, where law is not convoluted yet, and situations like: "I know he is a rapist, but we must consider that he had a bad childhood and that she did provoke him and he was drunk and thus he should recieve a lesser punishment..." simply do NOT occur. 'Is he a rapist?" "Yes, but.." "Well then, he hangs." is more like it.

As for taxes - while a progressive nation, Dalzoran is still underpopulated, and the towns are not that large. Everyone knows everyone. The people know that their taxes profit their friends and and themselves in turn, and actually don't object to paying them. A neighbor will remind you if you forgot to pay, or a magistrate will do so. If you refuse, you will gather weird looks...
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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2005, 03:11:23 PM »
I see you have crafted a good base for a high fantasy setting with elements of horror thrown in. The overall impression is good given the fact that the setting is in the conception phase. Still if I could advice you on one thing, it would be reformatting the different sections with titles in bold type. You have built your descriptions on subjects such as culture, education and landscapes, and these should prove to be good section titles. When you first created this thread, I did not read more than the Zastur and the first post of the setting, and that was due to the formatting alone (I have lost my glasses so unorganized text is a chore for me to read, but the extra space that I requested between the lines helped a lot, thank you).

Now to the actual review: As I stated above you have crafted a good base for the setting. The Zastur and the Hyrnan are really cool and the setting has a thoroughly grand epic feel.

The different landscapes consist of many, many unique locations, some of which are really cool. Especially nice were the places torn and shattered by Hyrnan magic, like the Blackthorns and the Lyr Noir woods. You have successfully made the traditional black and white alignment aspects of high fantasy more believable with the whole Hyrnan and Zastur vs. the lesser races aspect. It is not often that I read high fantasy without getting annoyed at the moral shallowness of the setting, but you have pulled that one off successfully. Still the world is in its very conception phase, so I expect there will be much more fleshing out and adding of organizations, cities, edifices, personalities, myths, perils, plants, animals, materials and the like. But as for locations you have done a great job and provided many places which any GM is bound to see countless scenario-possibilities within.

Now for some things I did not like: The Kingdom of Narnia! (the name itself, not the setting) I cannot help it, but the name “Narnia” utterly and irrevocably brings my thoughts to the works of C.S. Lewis and his “Chronicles of Narnia”. To me it is as if you had called the place Gondor. C.S. Lewis was a friend of Tolkien and, in the same manner as R.E.Howard and H.P.Lovecraft, the two of them helped each other develop stories.

Another disturbing feature is the wandering and talking boulders. Those reminded me of the movie “The Never Ending Story” and that old Limahl song.

In addition you compare the shattered mirror to an arcade game, and that is not even OOC. When I read such descriptions, I like to dream myself into that fantasy world, and when suddenly such a real life reference interrupts the telling, my brain has a meltdown.  

But do not misunderstand. While these were minor annoyances, the setting as a whole is a great and powerful idea. No doubt you have a diamond in the rough here, and one that I shall enjoy see being developed in the full. The potential is vast and I kept imagining heroes battling the ancient evils and magics of the Hyrnan, all the while struggling to nullify the efforts of the Zastur. Another set of heroics also presented themselves to my imagination; what if the Hyrnan created magics of great use to the world? And what if the slaying of the Hyrnan made those magics unravel? This could prove to be anything from annoying to earth shattering in scope, as the heroes struggle to recreate the Hyrnans’ ancient rituals.
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Lame excuses
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2005, 01:07:04 PM »
I was unaware of the existence of the Chronicles of Narnia - my bad...
currently, I am in a bit of a hurry, studying, courting, drawing, gaming FF X ;)
So the next update will have to wait a bit, but it will come.
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Surtur - a land of distant hope
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2005, 03:41:08 AM »
Before the rebellion, those who managed to flee their leash hid in the wilderness and wastelands southwest of Dalzoran, where little of interest to the Hyrnan could be found. Still, their masters came, founding what they called “Hunting Lodges”, recreational residences from where they’d venture forth to torment the fugitives further. With time, these outposts grew into mining towns, manufactures and fortresses. Likewise though, the people of Surtur grew, forging ties with natives and learning to live of the land, travel unseen and strike from the shadows.

Long have they fought tyranny alone, aiding slaves in their escape, hiding dissidents and sabotaging their former masters. When the revolution began, they came forth and great were their numbers, and strike down many an oppressor they did. After countless battles, they joined with the armies from the east in the siege of a few remaining hunting lodges – the last outposts of Hyrnan rule. As a final act of revenge and spite, the Archmages of the enemy joined forces, and unleashed energies that swept across the entire land. Never having had much life to begin with, much of Surtur was left barren and burnt.

Tenacious and stubborn as they were, the residents did not give up, and have brought forth a new nation in the wastes. Nurturing life wherever they could, their everyday life consists of survival, and a great vision of Surtur alive and green. They are not going to give up a land they fought for so hard.

Much of the society is tribal and nomadic, except for those who dwell in secluded cities around a spring or oasis. Regardless whether sessile or driven by the winds, the people are proud to a fault, determined, and utterly loyal. Extremely polite and thoughtful, they might seem almost surreal to a foreigner, their eyes focused on a distant future, while the spirit is hearing a song of times long gone.

Their values reflect this well: propriety, strength in the face of adversity and quality of character are what makes an adult. What is also highly valued is the strength of the ‘Inner Fire’ – the power of life and creation burning in every sentient, yet in some brighter than in others.
Their code of behavior demands that reputation, property, dignity and privacy are respected. In everyday dealings, you will not enter the dwelling of another, you won’t even see his face. Within the clan and family, the opposite is true: the members are very close and affectionate towards each other, and share most belongings.

The clan as a whole does care for the children, with the stars designating which part of the education is due: the best warrior will be titled the Red Star, and will teach the skill at arms when the Star of War stands high in the skies, while the most sagely tribesman will teach lore and wisdom when his stars, the Unshrouded Eyes, are dominant. Other important stars are The Blessings, a group of blue stars – they show that learning of nature is due. All children are supposed to pass a test of maturity when they hit puberty, being considered adult if they pass. Boys may choose a mentor, who may either accept, or decline; being refused by all adults of the tribe is a great shame, and the unlucky individual will most often wander off. Girls will be married off to other tribes (marrying the tribe as a whole and then picking a mate within – they may alternate freely), where they may choose a teacher.

Surtur is a loosely connected state, the borders are not determined and most citizens are not aware of the existence of a majority of the tribes. Back from the times of war, the state has preserved an organization similar to that of underground groups due to security, so each tribe will be able to contact its neighbors (not exactly knowing where they dwell, but having agreed places where they leave messages, or communicating through smoke and mirror signals).

A conclave of elders determines laws that affect all tribes, and each tribe is allowed to send one representative. When a law the elder dislikes is passed, he may declare his tribe ‘unbound’, from whence on his tribe is not obliged to obey the law, but also does not gain any benefits from any of the laws either.

Surtur does not have a currency – barter is the only trade method here.
The worship of the tribes focuses upon a single force – the all-pervading breath of Life, the En-Ath, which grants the spark of life to all beings and keeps them alive through its love. It is hardly surprising that in Surtur, all life is respected, no matter how humble it may be. No Surturei will kill without a good reason, whether man or beast.

From their temples, called Wells, progressing outward, they try to heal their land, by restoring broken strands of magic and furthering life. They claim that by the villainy of the Hyrnan, life itself was frightened, and hesitates to return to Surtur. Their worship is meant to welcome life back, and make it stay. To this end, they will cultivate oases and gather so-called Salubrious Hearts, rare stones, which they deem to be holy and have a strong affinity to life.

Each temple houses a very special tree in its center – a Pillar of Life, which has come into being by a priest giving up his life and merging with a young tree. Every adult will receive a small glass sphere with sap from such a tree, and, warmed by his life force a miniature garden will spring into being inside. When he dies, the sphere will burst open and the plants flourish in his resting place. It is seen as a good omen if they grow strong and beautiful, while his soul is considered dead if they wither.

*Hin Erchon: once a proud city of the Erech, a race of flesh and crystal, now it lies in ruin, haunted and abandoned, palaces home to naught but sand and wind. Once, the Erech swore to stand by the people of Surtur, but soon they betrayed the trust for material gain, and power offered by the Hyrnan. Thinking themselves safe, little did they expect the swift retribution to come: at night, hundreds of cloaked figures snuck into their city, and slew all inhabitants in their sleep. Not one escaped to mourn the dead.
A lesson is to be learned here: when in Surtur, no good deed will go without a reward, and no slight will be left unavenged.

*The Wailing Mountain: a burial place of a race long forgotten, the entirety of this mountain and several others is carved into tombs and huge windpipes that play dirges all day and night, filling the desert with haunting voices.

*Steel Gardens: one of the Hyrnan felled in the wars wore a body of molten metal, and this tainted iron spread like a cancer through the lands surrounding the place of his death. The land is barren, with razor blades of metal protruding from the ground, and the air itself causes a myriad of tiny cuts that fester and bleed to no end. All the beasts in this unhallowed land are partially made of metal, steel tendrils perforating their agonized flesh, and plants are mostly wines of greenish ore that slither around and strangle anything they can catch.
In the midst of these badlands, a ruined fort stands, inhabited by Zastur changed into steel skeletons by their lord’s death. They are outcasts even amongst their own kind, bitter and lifeless.

*Aranthie: is the holiest place in all of Surtur, and certainly an uncommon sight there – a sparkling blue lake dotted with water lilies, and on its shore the first pillar of life, sprung into being by the self-sacrifice of the greatest leader in the history of Surtur – Dun-Mari.
Hundreds of pilgrims voyage here every year, hoping to be blessed by the vibrant emanations of this place. Children conceived here are considered to be blessed, and the water is said to grant a long and healthy life, though even just sitting here for a day cures mind and body from many an ailment.

*The Canyon of Caged Winds: a forked winding crevice splitting the Witherspine Mountains in two, it is a route much traveled. Due to its peculiar layout, the winds within are always at gale force, twisting and changing direction seemingly at random.
Due to the large quantities of sand the winds carry the orienteering will be difficult at best, and a trek through the Canyon of Caged Winds will be an adventure in itself every time.

*The Chime-Song Deep: Much of the water in Surtur lies underground, likewise in the Chime-Song deep, yet here, the roof of the caverns caved in, revealing the treasured water reserves beneath. Thousands of streams and rivers trickle and flow, through a vast network of caves and tunnels, abundant with peculiar fish and strange creatures. The constant bubbling, tinkling and splashing of water fills the caves with a constant echo.
The center of the deep, the roofless part, is called the Chime-Song Heart. Here, the sun warms the waters and fills the vale with a tender mist, which conceals the lush vegetation and the dwellings of the clans that reside here.

*The Flower Peaks: very rich in metals and mineral salts, these mountains are set ablaze with a firework of colors by the rays of the rising sun every day. Pillars of ore and crystal shoot forth from the ground, lifeless flowers, though possessing a strange beauty.
Numerous lizard and insect species inhabit these mountains, each more colorful than the previous. Their hides and shells are highly valued as decoration.
Storms frequently crash against the steep slopes, unleashing lightning and furious winds. Ironwood trees catch the energy and store it, sparkling with stored electricity, and use it to power their innate spells, whether to communicate, procreate or ward off enemies.
Due to the rare minerals found there, wizards and artisans venture to the Flower Peaks in great numbers, yet their dangers claim the lives of many – one of the dangers being the slightly toxic water that can prove lethal if drunk from a spring with higher metal concentration.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2007, 04:23:28 PM by EchoMirage »
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2005, 05:01:03 PM »
I'm glad you're getting back to this!
I really like Surtur. Keep it up!
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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2005, 05:40:43 PM »
I agree Cap, I agree!
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Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2005, 03:10:05 PM »
Any more?
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Re: Athas - After the Fall of an Empire
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2006, 05:57:09 PM »
I really like the way this world is structered.