A Visitor’s Guide to the Boroughs of Vel Scurra
By Ginger Tullinose
Vel Scurra. The very name conjures up exotic images like the great Malcavas Clock, Black Wall, the iridescent and ubiquitous wind candles, and Sharn’s Hope. It instantly brings to mind veiled Pacovi warriors, graceful Arapawa acrobats, dignified Haunna priests, and silly, pirouetting Harpies. The city inspires patriotic pride in the hearts of all citizens of the Erathian Empire, as it stands defiant in the face of the Dracaneian armies of the North. The history of Vel Scurra has been documented for five hundred years by imperial scholars, but these learned men also know that that the city has existed for at least a thousand years or more. From the ruins of the many cultures that once lived upon this gray limestone plateau, many great wonders have surfaced, such as steam technology, the jack cortex, and the volatile yet mysterious element mercurial. All of this and more bursts from the seams of this dynamic city of some eighty distinctive neighborhoods. It is my honor and duty to guide you through the streets of both the greatest and the most weary boroughs of this great city.
It is here that I hope to gather the scattered notes of my campaign into at single entity. I generally write with the player character’s in mind, but will try and alter that to allow the citizens of the Citadel greater access. Hopefully here you can find the answers, eventually, to the many unanswered questions left behind in my posts.
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CodexThe Malcavas By: Exile ( Lifeforms ) Intelligent Species - Any
In fear, the families fled from the paths into the darkest lands of their despair. When the darkness changed to gray, they returned to the world with new hope.
‘I can see with each generation the grayness of my time shifting to a bright new future. As we come closer to understanding the chains that bind us and with each cleansing of the fated, our blood is made pure. One day the accursed monolith within the nexus will crumble, and peace will smile upon us.’ I’sa’Ir-The Book of Krot
The Malcavas—sometimes called the Gray Ones or Draceneaians—are an ancient people created long ago by an unnamed god of fate. They were the tools of conquest as the deity attempted to gain a foothold on new worlds and alternate realities. They were designed to be quick learners, adaptable to varied environments, and living weapons. Their minds were closely attuned with that of their god, and as new incarnates arose their attitudes would quickly shift with them. In their recent past—the last several thousand years—the Malcavas became involved in a plot to prevent their god from reincarnating. The fear of reprisal from their god has made the Malcavas, once the facilitators of destiny, now the sworn enemies of Fate. Using all that they had learned from their creator and the worlds they had conquered, the Malcavas started an endless war against the multitude of remaining gods. They started with the least of these beings, killing them and gathering the divine energies to use as weapons and protection. As a result, the Malcavas are now a terrifying force to behold; using technologies, magics, and the raw forces of divine power, they can lay waste to all they behold.
The Malcavas generally appear much like humans; their creator had witnessed the rise of that race throughout the multiverse and designed his creations to blend in. However, Malcavas do possess certain universal traits, which, though they might not be enough to completely distinguish them from humans, are consistent within their own kind. All Malcavas have an ash-gray tint to their skin, and dark circles about their eyes testify to the world-weariness of their age-old race. They tend be slightly taller than the average human, generally measuring 1.55 meters (m) (5’10”) to 2.01 m (6’6”) in height. Their hair can be of any type or color, but black and white are predominant. Weight tends to be proportional to their height, except in cases of disease or bio/techno/magical engineering. Generally, the only way to differentiate a Malcavas from a human is by the innate, but weak, magical aura of divination magic that they exude.
Malcavas society is formed around eight clans, which were innately formed when the race was created. The eight clans are as follows: Anord-Atig (The Scattered Unmarked Ones); Anord-Droch (The Destructive Force of Darkness), often called the lost clan; Anord-Frigear (The Embodiment of the Gray Lord); Fri-Maith (The Good People Who Make No Judgment); Lovi-Medi (The Even Rule); Lovi-Vel (The Rule of Enlightenment); Medi-Oloas (The Balancing Night); and Ret-Droch (The Truth of Darkness). The Anord-Droch vanished shortly after their god of fate was prevented from reincarnating. Each of the eight clans represents one aspect of their slain god of fate.
The Malcavas are unified under a single leader, who can be officially changed only once every forty years. This leader is called the Se’maj Sa’mot, and he/she is considered a god by all Malcavas. The Sa’mot is, at the time of his/her rule, the vessel that holds the power of all the divine beings that the Malcavas have slain. At the end of the Sa’mot’s forty-year reign he/she is expected to travel to the birthplace of his people and drain/slay a god upon the Kulori Scurra, also known as the slaughter stone. At this time the Sa’mot can step down and become an I’sa’Ir (The Sage) or attempt to absorb the divine powers of which he had been the temporary custodian. If he/she attempts the latter course and is able to succeed at absorbing that energy, then he/she will continue to be the Sa’mot for an indeterminate amount of time. If not, he/she will die a spectacular death, and one of the clan leaders must step forward to take his/her place. This can be a time of great upheaval, as the clan leaders often battle for the position. In the end, whichever leader is able to absorb the energy is the new Se’maj Sa’mot, and, subsequently, their clan dictates policy.
The goals of Malcavas everyday life are very similar to those of any other civilization: to live, grow, and make a world better for their kin. The common Malcavas fill all levels of society: farmers, builders, poets, scientists…the list goes on. They are all, however, expected to be warriors and to learn as much as feasible from the material collected from both their own culture and those that have fallen beneath their sway. This means that the typical Malcavas has an above-average education and some military training. No Malcavas is considered inherently lesser, and all clan leaders are elected. The only exception is the Se’maj Sa’mot, who is revered if for no other reason than for the awesome responsibility he/she must uphold and the sheer vitality he/she must have to contain the frighteningly powerful divine energies.
The Malcavas use a myriad of technological and magical advances to enhance their culture. Most of these enhancements have been stolen from other cultures, either through trade, espionage, or, most commonly, conquest. They possess war machines that bring together the best traits of magic and technology to destroy their enemies. For battling highly magical cultures, they will bring forth their steam- or gas-powered machines, while arcane devices are used to conquer those that are primarily technology-based. Often they use a combination of both, as they have observed that the psychological impacts of their devices on their targets can be tremendous, as arcane monstrosities enter the battlefield bellowing flames, smoke, and steam.
This bizarre mix of technologies and magics can also be observed among the people Malcavas people themselves. While most Malcavas would be difficult to pick out of a crowd of humans, many have “upgraded” themselves. It is not uncommon to see a Malcavas with magical eye implants or a steam-powered arm. Most modified Malcavas tend to be career military, but this is by no means absolute.
‘The smaller ones inscribed upon their souls with the fires of the universe a truth. If the nexus were ever to be opened, and the smaller ones and smaller ones and smaller ones were to gain access, then the families would be banished to the beginning beyond the temple at the edge of dreams. In fear, the families fled from the paths into the darkest lands of their despair. When the darkness changed to gray, they returned to the world with new hope.’ I’sa’Ir-The Book of Krot
The current homeland of the Malcavas is a location on the planet of Rimead called Gray Draceania. It is a wasteland that only the Malcavas could make into a livable environment. For this reason they are also known as the Draceaneians. It is within this land that they came to hide after the betrayal of their god. For hundreds of miles surrounding their strongholds there are very few resources, and any normal army would be unable to sustain themselves for an extended assault. This is not the only reason for their choice of location, however. Despite their constant activities to prevent the return of their god, they still feel great shame for their actions; this inhospitable land is their self-imposed punishment for their unforgivable crimes.
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The Star of Eleuthisa By: Exile ( Items ) Other - Magical
It sparked with life bathing the room in a serine blue glow almost like I was drifting below the waves of HÃ¢??roon Bay.
The following are remarkably legible pages of parchment found drifting on the Cyan River not far from Anish University.
Bright Song 14, 1763
Yovan warned me that even though the Emerald Oracle had not misled him on any of his many past quests of enlightenment, The Crow said that it could not be trusted. The oracle is still a prisoner, a citizen of the city never-ending. The Crow had told him, this above all will always influence its answers. With this in mind I ask the Oracle one more question, how can I locate this Temple at the Edge of Dreams? It lies in the burrow of death where only the candles remains are found. This answer meshed well with the words scrawled in the pool of blood left behind by poor old Hagan. So now I have a name for the object I seek and directions to the otherworldly entrance of its resting place.
I decide to spend the evening before my departure with the Lady Demerest and her friends at the Heart Flame guild hall. She had managed an extravagant table once again, with the main course of roasted peacock stuffed with a delightful, but slightly spicy goose pate. The event allowed me one more opportunity to speak with Elizabeth before her emanate marriage. Her sky blue eyes filled with tears at my touch, but the passions within my heart could not be quelled. I promised her that tomorrow would be different, and I think I saw a glint of hope in her eyes. I wanted to show her the star, but a voice warned against that action. So, it is with my promise that I left her and the hall.
My need to be with Elizabeth was so intense that I ran, almost like fleeing my dark past, all the way to my flat in Torrin’s Hill. Be it my look of determination or an influence of the star, no incident occurred in the streets as I made the journey back. This was truly and unusual event for me or perhaps a portent of my quest to come. Once home I jumped into bed, but gave the Star one last look before taking my rest. It sparked with life bathing the room in a serine blue glow almost like I was drifting below the waves of H’roon Bay. Sleep came easily.
Bright Song 15, 1764
Last night I had a dream in which Elizabeth and I danced below the oceans waves through pillared ruins. Our dance ended in a garden of coral, anemones exploded in floral colors as we passed. The sun above sparkled through the blue waters above and finally to my beloveds dark tresses. I moved to place a chaste kiss upon her cheek when I saw a large beast moving through the coral garden. It was as big as a Lundy, with a body like a fish and the head like that of a squid. I turned to flee with Elizabeth in hand, but she did not move. I turned to her as she became enveloped in a black cloud of bone chilling ink. Tentacles grasped her and pulled her deeper into the darkness, until there was nothing. As I felt my panicked self reach for the watery surface and the waking world, I spotted the creatures eyes in the darkness. I have seen them before, the eyes of Rickard.
Despite the disturbing dream, I felt energized as I prepared for the quest. After packing what few thing I needed in my bag and slipping Trump inside my jacket, I departed to The Rum Turtle Inn. As I entered I saw that Yovan had gathered the men we needed and was explaining their duties. I took the time to ask the good lady Glidden to bring me a plate of her famous sausages and gravy. I sat next to the portrait of Saint Moorhead, and waited for Yovan to complete his business. When I had finished my meal Yovan introduced me to three men of our party of eight. He first turned to Brandon Toup, a hard muscled mercenary in charge of the other three unnamed men. Brandon had a firm handshake and a twinkle in his green eyes that made me like him at once. The same could not be said for Matt Staluir, a weasel faced man who seemed to sweat even in the cool morning air. Yovan explained that Matt knew the ins and outs of every borough this side of the Cyan. The final man was Marvas Phedelo with eyes so sunken and dark that, had I not known better, I would say that he was Malcavas. Marvas had a certain talent with locks; the Oracle had suggested that we might need someone like him.
After the introductions, we made for the street of Gray Lace as quickly as possible. Matt took the lead, using the clues given to us by the Emerald Oracle and Hagen’s last words; he quickly found the alley we sought. The alley was little more than a crevasse between several ancient buildings. The construction suggested a cultural phase which would not be possible for Vel Scurra, it was not Malcavas but more akin to the ruins found by The Imperial Exploration Society in the Duranina Isles. As we progressed a sense of foreboding overcame me with such power I was caught unaware, I noticed the others were taken back as well. Even though it was early in the day the clear sky seemed to dim, there was no cloud no puff of factory born foulness. It was as if the bright blue had become filtered by a theater gel, spot lighting us as the focal point of some comedy or tragedy. After what seemed to be hours, Matt indicated we had come to a dead end. I squeezed my way past the others and made it to where he stood.
The alley ended in a cul-de-sac which was slightly wider than the alley through which we had entered. To the left was a doorway, which led only two arms-widths to end at a seamless black stone wall. To the right of the doorway, was what appeared to be a stone facade which likely once flanked a grand portal, but has now been obscured by the structure in which the dead end doorway rested. The facade portrayed a raised horse and in several locations a coat of arms, which had been weathered so badly by the Vel Scurrian winters that the House could no longer be identified. Matt looked at me quizzically, and then stated that he could find no path, and no secret mechanism appeared to be present. I smiled and opened the ebony box which I had pulled from my bag. The Star of Eleuthisa glittered brightly, and then the water began to fall.
Events from here on are difficult to remember, but I do remember despair. There were endless steps where the water fell and I thought I saw figures moving from within. I know that at the time everyone was still with me. I remember the domed chamber, the crumbling walls, and the smell of rotting vegetation. We were no longer in Vel Scurra, I think, the atmosphere of the place was still cold and unforgiving but the air was warm, very warm. There are few summer nights, in Vel Scurra, that warm. Brandon had warned of serpents before he and his men vanished. This was not a Slyth ruin, I knew better.
It was Yovan, Marvas and I that stood before the gate. I saw blood dripping from Yovan’s head to the green and blue tiles that adorned the hall. I could no longer see my friend within his eyes, but the gate was all that mattered now. I think I saw Elizabeth’s face within the mirrored emblem, before I covered it with blood. The Star would not open the door, had the Oracle lied? Marvas wept in the corner repeating over and over about the Mad God’s Key. I walked alone in the halls calling to the Gods or Demons of this world to aid me. I believed that if I did not breach the gate then Rickard would win and Elizabeth would be his. At last I was heard, the master was heralded by the footsteps of many. I was not alone, there were many with needs. The master came and placed the answer within my ear, it swirled like a dream within my brain.
I now sit with my bride; she touches my hand as each of these pages drift along the sparkling blue waters. Rickard has lost, she is mine. I now have time to lose myself within the endless emerald depths of her eyes. I am Happy.
An exert from the text: Higher Order Mystic Artifacts, A Study Implemented by the Black Hand
The Star of Eleuthisa
It must be said that all information gathered regarding The Star is conjecture based on rarely surfacing rumors and the occasional page from Ethrin Lundell’s diary often found floating down the Cyan River. No one living has been located, which has first hand knowledge of the stone.
The Star of Eleuthisa is a pear shaped blue gemstone of undetermined type approximately 3.5 cm in circumference. It is often described as having a dim inner light which upon occasion brightens of its own volition. The light is usually linked to descriptions in which the owner feels as though he is submerged beneath crystal blue waters. The stone is regularly described as to being contained within a nondescript ebony cloth lined box.
The name of the artifact seems to indicate powers related to freedom, but accounts studied at the university contradict this. It does show powers of limited portation both of mind and body. All describe destinations; however, appear to be The Temple at the Edge of Dreams. The temple is an obscure reference to a Malcavas mythological local, where their apparently dead god of fate once resided. Portation to a single local can hardly be any indication of freedom.
It is the opinion of the Dean of occult activities at Anish University that the artifact, based on current data, The Star of Eleuthisa poses no immediate danger to the city of Vel Scurra. However, if recovered it is also recommended that the artifact be delivered to Anish University for study before it is allowed to be used within the main-stream community.
Dean of Occult Studies Anish University
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