Greater Norland
Old Silvania
The Truscan Empire
The Serpian Empire
The Orient
Assets & Acres
Businesses & Bootlegs
Coins & Currencies
Enemies & Extremists
Fights & Forays
Gear & Gadgets
The One Truth
The Two States
The Three Components
The Four Elements
The Five Eras
The Six Forms
The Seven Sources
The Eight Schools
The Nine Mysteries
Chih Sung-Tzu
Chung Kuel
Lei Kung
Mannanan Mac Lir
Ma Yuan

 ⇈ Title ⇈  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Contents ↑  → Preface ←  ↓ Introduction ↓


 Over thirty-five years ago, two cousins invited me to pass the time at a family reunion by joining a friendly Dungeons and Dragons adventure. I was barely able to follow the action, but it was a welcome change of pace from the usual activities that filled my weekends in a family with an RV. At the next gathering attended by those cousins, I pressed for a chance to advance my character. They could tell I was hungry to learn all I could. In parting they gave me their battered old Basic Set rulebook. My imagination just hasn't been the same since.
Roleplaying Issues Years after the start of this project, a movement emerged within the roleplaying game community to remedy problematic portrayals of racism and sexism. These concerns weighed on my mind even as this document first took shape. Many details were conceived as platforms to explore complex moral issues. Racial, ethnic, and cultural heritages are meant to be important parts of many characters' identities. Though humanity spans the full spectrum of alignments, human beings were given an explicit tendency toward good. It is not so for most of the non-human races populating this world.
 Some large human societies feature troubling norms like patriarchal leadership or a belief in ethnic supremacy. These lands offer abundant opportunities for heroic adventurers to protect the innocent from abusive authorities. Yet even the most egalitarian societies still harbor some villains thriving through the victimization of others. Endless adventures can be conducted without addressing any delicate issues. Seekers of a different path will find these ethnicities, races, and religions collectively create a robust platform on which characters can fight in service to their own beliefs by confronting contrasting values.
 Throughout middle school, high school, and college; I collected all sorts of role-playing game materials. During this time I was often in one or more D&D campaigns. Later, the corporate world allowed me little time for this cherished pursuit. After that stage of life concluded, I sought a new balance with plenty of time for reinvigorating participation in this treasured creative delight. Haphazardly across various legal notepads and accounting ledgers, I began to craft my ideal version of the game. Everything was fragmentary, and some years passed with negligible progress.
 Alongside ideas about game mechanics, a milieu emerged that could apply to almost any fantasy roleplaying game. Yet D&D was always the intent. Abundant details borrowed from real cultures and histories served to flesh out dozens of fictional civilizations. Original geography helped to weave these notions into a sprawling tapestry of narratives. Ideas accumulated even when handwritten notes no longer did. Then the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons proved downright inspiring to me. With interest renewed and refocused, I set out to build a complete world from those scraps of yesteryear.
 D&D has always been an open-ended venue for exploring how intelligent beings interact. Favoring mature campaigns for mature players, I deliberately incorporated elements that intersect with delicate issues like bigotry, religious extremism, and slavery. Adventuring groups with the desire to tell stories featuring mature content will find plenty of relevant specifics. It is a platform for framing complex conflicts involving factions fighting about powerful ideas. Campaigns in this world do not need to explore any of these themes. From innocent whimsies to elaborate theories, this setting has much to offer that is fit for players and storytellers of all ages.
 Atop this foundation I constructed a tale of divine events explaining choices that shaped the history and cosmology of this world. My aim was to facilitate diverse backgrounds for adventure while limiting a rich world of cultural and religious material to a practical scope. Twenty-five gods would collectively influence twenty-five major modern human ethnic groups. As patterns were balanced and details fleshed out, it seemed fitting to name the whole thing after the scheme through which the assembled immortals found harmony together. Thus I present the Immaculate System.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Preface ↑  → Introduction ←  ↓ History ↓


The Immaculate System This scroll is intended as a campaign world for roleplaying games and other storytelling activities. The fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons is an important inspiration, with purposeful nods toward the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the world's history.
 Though it is a setting, the global scope of this material constitutes a foundation on which all manner of original places, characters, and communities could be situated. The many organizations and locations mentioned herein are not comprehensive listings. These are only a subset of all the peoples, factions, faiths, and natural wonders this world contains.
 Gods and devils know this world as Theatron – an anagram of “not Earth” as well as the ancient Greek word for “theater.” Few of its inhabitants would know it as Theatron. Most assume there are no others and simply refer to it as “the world.” This world serves as a venue for both epic dramas and playful comedies.
 Twenty-four centuries into an era preceded by several others, the current state of the world is rich with cultural and religious diversity. Twenty-five major ethnic groups shape human history and the advance of modern civilization. Twenty-four non-human races join them in pursuing all manner of skills and spells. Twenty-five gods remain united in an arrangement that gives them each many opportunities to promote their own beliefs among the mortals of Theatron.
 The bulk of this content is dedicated to background information. It is full of suggestions like appropriate weapons for patriotic warriors or various styles of popular music. Apart from the gods themselves, only historical figures are identified by name. This allows for flexibility in the particulars of character development up to and including current heads of state. The Immaculate System is not intended as a substitute for imagination, but a platform from which it may be launched. Repurpose individual elements as you like, or set your entire saga on this global stage.
The Story of Everything The multiverse contains far more worlds than the number of beings inhabiting the most populous world. Yet few living beings ever venture beyond their native plane of existence. Crossing into an alternate reality is a bewildering and perilous journey for most travellers. Only extremely powerful entities visit new worlds with no more difficulty than stepping through an ordinary doorway. Simultaneously projecting themselves across many alternate realities, deities are best understood as cosmic legions nourished by the spiritual devotion of freethinking mortals.
 Much of space and time is uninhabitable. Creative gods labor, building atop the fabric of reality to make a place for life. Be it a seed taking root or a wild new outcropping, even death gods will take action to expand the scope of healthy life. After all, souls must exist before they can be reaped. From fleeting winds and rains to seemingly eternal mountains and oceans, divine artisans hone their craft through shaping and reshaping entire worlds. Deities have immense power to manipulate conditions in any earthly habitat. Yet divine consensus holds that generating new forms of life capable of spiritual worship is a distasteful perversion.
 Habitually fostering native life wherever they can, deities find this sort of cosmic gardening requires tremendous patience. Such efforts rarely yield much spiritual reward. Always alert for potential worshippers, gods have it in their nature to hear prayers that go unanswered. A little like a bee drawn toward nectar and a little like a shark sensing blood in the water, they are naturally attracted to minds beseeching a higher power for succor. When a faithless race of creatures expresses passionate prayers with the right combination of humility and desperation, a previously unknown world enters the awareness of many deities. Then the celestial floodgates open.

The World Theatron is such a world where pleas for salvation paved the way for actual divine interventions. After more than half a million years of draconic dominance followed by forty-four millennia of fey oppression, humans on Theatron gained access to literacy and arcane lore. They soon discovered spiritual energy and the existence of deities. The first priests on this world were determined to shatter the old order and launch a new age. They did this by willingly acting as brilliant beacons to draw the attention of any god seeking to inspire worship.
 Though the gods often refer to Theatron by name, mortals here are largely unaware that other worlds exist. Dragons, some arrogant enough to approach the gods as equals, introduced the name “Theatron” to other mortal languages. Later literary confusion resulted in notable reference materials and some books of scripture muddling this term with a common word for cave. In service to clarity, academic consensus solidified around usage of the generic vernacular (i.e. “the world.”) Even seasoned planar travellers favor this usage when talking about the world while standing in it.
 With the arrival of deities, the world became a stage for something Shang-Ti labelled the Thousandfold Drama. Known to most mortals as the Age of Heroes, it was an era wracked by constant conflict. Huge populations suddenly developing religion sparked extraordinarily intense struggles among the gods. A steady stream of hungry newcomers introduced unpredictable disruptions. Efforts to coordinate the spiritual flows of the world could not be stabilized. Among mortals, this took the form of extreme political balkanization along with the proliferation of countless small sects.

ApolloCGGod of the Setting Sun
ArawnLEGod of Final Rewards
AresCEGod of Untamed Violence
Chih Sung-TzuNGod of Gentle Rain
Chung KuelLGGod of Just Trials
DagdaNGod of Limitless Might
DionysusCNGod of Drunken Revelry
GebNGod of Solid Ground
HadesNEGod of Tranquil Death
HelNEGoddess of Cursed Afflictions
Lei KungLEGod of Ferocious Squalls
LokiCEGod of Endless Disguises
Mannanan Mac LirCNGod of Briny Depths
Ma YuanCEGod of Bloody Murder
OdinNGGod of the Final Battle
OghmaNGod of Accumulated Lore
OsirisLGGod of Noble Sacrifice
PtahLNGod of Forged Marvels
RaNGGod of the Rising Sun
SetLEGod of Darkest Night
Shang-TiLNGod of the Immaculate System
SilvanusNGod of Verdant Wilderness
ThorCGGod of Rolling Thunder
TyrLGGod of Relentless Crusades
ZeusCGGod of the Heavenly Throne
Divine Tragedy Gods relentlessly vanquished one another, if not through cataclysmic combat then by means of a wager or contest. Winners grew in power as losers gave up all claim to this world. The final act of the Thousandfold Drama began with a titanic lizard encountering a violent struggle between two very weak and desperate gods. The victor was so enfeebled that he was unable to resist being savagely devoured. Theatron became host to that rarest of cosmic events – divine ascension! With a taste for godflesh, the newly minted murder deity Ma Yuan embarked on a brutal spree of cannibalistic deicide.
 A group of old rivals assembled to discuss this growing danger. Ra, Odin, Dagda, Zeus, and Shang-Ti foresaw many lesser gods unwittingly feeding this primitive entity. Released into the wider multiverse, Ma Yuan might become a menace to other divine beings, but he would not be the first. So it was agreed that Shang-Ti would attempt to strike a bargain with this monstrous new god. Ma Yuan would be mentored in the ways of the divine, and in turn he would perform no more deicides on Theatron – after helping a celestial alliance consolidate global control.
 The ferocity of Ma Yuan continues to deter divine interlopers much like a guard dog discourages trespassers. Yet Shang-Ti's Immaculate System promotes tranquility in other ways. His divine cunning orchestrated a network of spiritual channels that contains and recycles the energy of prayers on Theatron. Given unanimous support from his two dozen colleagues, this structure prevents the enormous population of religious beings in the world from attracting the attention of deities not already present. At the same time, these reliably abundant flows are particularly suited to satisfying godly appetites.

Modern Life Shang-Ti's Immaculate System also harmonized control over forces of nature, regulated the process of death, and established protocols for gently influencing the course of mortal history. An overwhelmingly human population would see twenty-five ethnic groups rise to prominence. Unique traditions and folklore from each group grew around narratives focused on a distinct pantheon of five deities. Though each god tends to his or her own worshippers individually, multiple bases of power for every participating deity further stabilize the system.
 This structure promoted the rise of vast yet coherent empires. Fewer and fewer humans in each generation were born into a warzone. After millennia of negligible progress, real technological advances have been fostered by this Great Consolidation. Aqueducts and sewers make metropolitan areas relatively clean and comfortable. Steel is now produced in quantities sufficient for use in ordinary weapons and armor. Machine tools fabricate clockwork components with consistent precision. Powerful spyglasses are now used by stargazers as well as scouts and mariners. All these things would be marvels in the eyes of an ordinary person from Age of Heroes.
 Today educated people generally believe even more wonders will emerge from systematic study the natural world. Scholars catalog and measure all that can be measured and cataloged. Universities often teach sophisticated sciences right alongside traditional subjects like history, theology, and wizardry. Most civilized lands now boast of widespread literacy and at least a few academic institutions, since the value of learned experts is widely understood. Yet it is unclear which particular technologies will be a part of life in the future of this world. Even the most visionary prophets struggle to explain the underlying workings of great inventions.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Introduction ↑  → History ←  ↓ Timelines ↓


“Sages have written of an ominous lingering presence or mysterious beasts glimpsed while scrying into primordial mists. Curious students peering into magical clouds of empty fog generate such reports at a similar rate. Boredom plays tricks on the mind.”

— Nesrin Halil, Iskreshi vizier
Primordial Times (beyond 800,000 years ago) Before the rise of the dragons, no minds documented events on the surface of the world. The most powerful mystics peering back through the ages rarely spot anything recognizable through the heavy mists. When they do, it is always a simple plant or beast. Theories about this most distant past are cobbled together from these fleeting glimpses as well as the study of fossils. Some scholars contend that the age of these finds can be established by the layers of earth accumulated above them.
 Dinosaurs seemed to be abundant in primordial times. The entire world ran hot, intolerably so in some regions that are presently inhabited. Elsewhere, verdant jungles nourished animals, some familiar while others appear alien. Neither dwarves nor elves nor humans could be found in the uncivilized lands of this time. Earthquakes and epic volcanic events transpired frequently, yet life always rebounded. Somehow, over millennia, the greatest of the great lizards accumulated a little arcane power. The dawn of sentience, and dragonkind, was imminent. Draconic reckoning holds that the first generation of their kind hatched into this world 5,840 molts ago.

Marking the Days The world moves through a consistent annual cycle of 365 days. Modern customs typically divide the year into twelve months of thirty each along with five festival days that are not included in any month. It is also common for people to mark the passage of a seven-day week. One day of liesurely rest per week is known to be optimal for enabling workers or soldiers to recover from assorted hardships. Sometimes work is declared taboo for a full weekday to facilitate participation in religious activities. Yet neither practice is universal.
 People best understand age and history through the marking of individual years. Dragons are inclined to think on a grander scale. For them, the molt is an important unit of time. Marked by the passage of 50,000 days, it approximates the interval between natural stages of draconic development. History records the first gods manifesting thousands of years ago, but dragons conceptualize events from that time as slightly more than thirty-eight molts ago. Though they are aware of the concept of a year, most mature dragons have taken longer naps.
The Age of Dragons (~800,000 to ~50,000 years ago) The first minds to roam the surface of the world found it a lonely place. Modern dragons believe their earliest ancestors were truly enormous, if also somewhat dim and capable of only feeble magic. They achieved progress by turning their magic inward. Early generations of dragonkind traded gargantuan bodies and modest intellects for smaller and more practical bodies housing ingenious minds. They eventually became sophisticated enough to shape entirely new forms of life. Cattle, horses, bison, goats, and swine were created to enrich the diets of dragons. Humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings were created as thralls tending to the needs of dragons, but these sentient beings were also consumed as food.
 Across thousands of centuries, draconic supremacy went unchallenged. Even human agricultural techniques could not produce enough warm flesh to satisfy the hunger of populations expanding while the land remained the same size. Quarrels between neighboring dragons became common. Diversifying across a spectrum of five colors only led to greater disharmony. When elves, created to maintain written archives and assist in magical research, established a network of secret schools, it remained unthinkable that any other sort of being might dare challenge a mature dragon. 365 molts ago, the unthinkable happened.

The Imperium Arcanum (~50,000 years ago to 5,224 years ago) Some elves consider the reign of their ancestors a golden age, but popular consensus rests on a different view. It began with centuries of cataclysmic warfare as teams of elven archmagi battled legendary wyrms. A veritable sea of dragons' blood was consumed to energize a global infrastructure of ley lines. Archfey strained the boundaries of magic itself. To wage war they engineered new forms of life including chimerae, dragonborn, gnomes, manticores, ogres, orcs, trolls, and wyverns. Huge fortified cities sprung up with many millions of people taking shelter inside each enchanted bastion. Yet the great fey lords proved nearly as demanding and unforgiving as their draconian predecessors.
“War begets assaults. Assaults beget killings. Brothers and sisters who stand with me in the light, are you prepared to spill elfblood?”

— Helinhend, light fey Prime Overseer
 When dragon sightings became a rare occurence, the elven elite only became more severe. Society was polarized by two extremist factions – one committed to ending violence against dragons and the other dedicated to total extermination. The light fey in their cloud fortresses honed unthinkably intense purification magic. They used this power to hatch the first metallic dragons. Meanwhile the dark fey moved downward, determined to deny any dragon refuge underground. Many elves avoided taking sides, retaining their ancestral coloration and living quietly in harmony with nature. While this growing majority of the elven race dispersed into scenic woodlands, outright warfare erupted between light and dark fey. Their clashes intensified the turbulence of a magical environment that was already prone to wild fluctuations. Imperium Arcanum authorities recorded time in cryptic and possibly inconsistent ways, so there is no scholastic consensus about how to precisely fix events of this era in a historical timeline.

“Does it matter that the Sun will rise again after our people have fallen?”

— Tezcacoatl, doomed king
The Age of Heroes (5,224 years ago to 2,317 years ago) Only the death throes of the Imperium Arcanum saw breaches of fey taboos against teaching magical lore to other humanoids. When desperate people discovered the potential of prayer, it became the fervent habit of many. Some of these prayers were answered amidst the calamities of the dying magocracy. Quetzalcoatl (now a Dead God) was the first to consistently empower faithful and ordained clergy. Hundreds of deities would follow, encouraging organized worship and supporting all manner of legendary champions. For the earliest generations, violent rebellion was the normal human condition.
Metaphysical Lawgivers Structuring the energies moving through an entire plane of existence is a task too demanding for any single deity. Though the lore of the Wŭshén places five gods in a position to oversee this task, only two are among the true Metaphysical Lawgivers. Shang-Ti controls the structure of the Immaculate System. He takes counsel on related matters from several other deities. Much of this association's business is conducted through exchanges of correspondence. Any adjustment to the order of the heavens is filtered through layers of angelic intermediaries smoothly regulating changes. These holy minions also labor so that the deities themselves take no notice of routine spellcasting and ordinary prayers.
 By way of petitions and conferences, each divine advisor gives voice to a crucial agenda. Chung Kuel shapes the rules of evidence, perfecting the group's ability to sort fact from fiction. Arawn is a champion of propriety, insisting that shortfalls be balanced with unwanted surpluses before any personal reserves are tapped. Silvanus advocates for sustainability, condemning anything that degrades the environment mortal worshippers inhabit. Osiris renders opinions about which sacrifices are optimal to resolve otherwise intractable conflicts. Tyr devises penalties harsh enough to be effective yet fair enough to preserve harmony. Shang-Ti may solicit several rounds of input from the entire group before even the smallest amendment to any heavenly portfolio.
 Barely one century after the first divine intervention, no large communities of humans inhabiting the surface were governed by fey authorities. Unholy beings took advantage of this global upheaval. Archdevils, astral warlords, and vampire princes set out to build mighty nations. Each of these regimes was eradicated in spectacular fashion. Tieflings and the rakshasa live on as scattered legacies of two ancient infernal empires. Many great dragons emerged from hidden slumber in the aftermaths of these upheavals. Countless heroic fighters, clerics, magic-users, and thieves rallied to deal with these threats. Thousands of tiny nations and local faiths rose and fell during this time. Historians note dates in this era counting backward from its endpoint, with 1 A.H. immediately prior to 1 G.C.. Thus 504 A.H. indicates 888 years before 385 G.C.

The Great Consolidation (2,317 years ago to the present) The constant feuding of many small kingdoms was not as destructive as the worst strife from eras past, but it obstructed almost every form of progress. Deities clashed in increasingly mysterious ways, eliminating rivals at a pace greater than the influx of new gods. In the end, only the remnants of five esteemed religious traditions would maintain positions in the world, each repesented by five gods. Their divine compact dramatically reduced spiritual turbulence while aligning civilizations toward constructive expansion.
1 G.C. is both the year the Fivesquare Pantheon achieved unanimous consent and the year the Seven Tribes of Truscanny established neutral ground around a cluster of sacred hilltop sites. The city of Septopolis would lead a republic, later an empire, through fifteen centuries of continuous expansion. The regime achieved supremacy over Mainland from coast to coast – Imperial Maximum. Only the hubris to attempt worldwide conquest would reverse this growth. After a failed attempt to invade another continent, the Truscan Empire largely unravelled, leaving a legacy of extraordinary infrastructure.
 The Oriental Empire also rose to power early in this era, constructing roads, canals, and dams to nourish surging populations. Not even two centuries old, the Serpian Empire remains locked in struggle with the Truscan Empire while more than a hundred sovereign nations occupy territory farther west. Scholars nonetheless continue to count these years as part of the Great Consolidation. Academic convention is to note dates in this era numbering forward from the Sevenfold Unification of the Truscans in 1 G.C. Mentions of the present refer to the year 2,318 G.C.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ History ↑  → Timelines ←  ↓ Geography ↓

“We cannot escape our history. We can improve the trajectory of it.”

— Lydia of Demegara, Thracian sage
Timelines History prior to the Age of Heroes is an unclear subject. Before that era, none of the Fivesquare Panetheon were aware of this world. Diviners looking back at the most ancient history can make wild errors in reckoning dates. The oldest documents have their origins with dragons or elves, but this historical lore is fragmentary and extremely difficult to verify. As a language, Ancient Elven was cryptic by nature. Imperium Arcanum recordkeeping deliberately muddled some details of times and places to obscure the identities of the Archfey. Most academics look suspiciously on literature that claims specific dates for major events prior to 2,907 A.H. Fortunately, rigorous scholarship supports consensus views about historical timelines spanning the two most recent eras.
“All endeavors are best initiated at a particular a time or season. Experiences teaches the value of correct timing. Learned experts harbor refined opinions about these matters. Yet years give us age, and age gives us death. Thus it is wise to listen when elders speak of their trades and triumphs while you still have time to listen.”

Doctrine of Contentment, Social Praxis manual
 Early religious leaders gained esteem through reliable calendars. Priests supported and were supported by growing cities insofar as they could provide reliable guidance for seasonal activities like agriculture. The Thousandfold Drama more than lived up to its name, with countless violent conflicts between political or religious factions. Historical preservation became critical to most human regimes as a means to gorify hereditary political power. Kings often funded libraries or bardic colleges to collect and standardize stories. Yet there was little emphasis on using research or magic to confirm the specifics of popular histories during the Age of Heroes. Ancient narratives freely blended fanciful myths with actual events. Today this makes for an endless series of academic inquiries into the actual events featured in popular historic tales.
 The rise of modern sciences spread attitudes that favor verifiable accounts of history over myths and propaganda. Some religious or political leaders still promote false histories to build support for their own agenda. Respectable universities, colleges, and libraries denounce these distortions. The most esteemed historians openly criticize narratives that misrepresent the particulars of events in the past. Yet many issues are legitimately open to interpretation. Major differences of opinion prompt conventions of experts assembling to settle the matter through debates and divinations. Well-documented findings become source material for compendiums and modern oral histories. Large governments often operate bureaucracies to promote accurate historical and scientific teachings. Sages no longer dispute the basics of many important events.

↓ Skip Timeline ↓The Age of Heroes↓ Skip Timelines ↓
2,907 A.H. Archfey imprisoned within the Moon——→←——Quetzalcoatl ordains first clerics 2,898 A.H.
2,853 A.H. Zeus sires first demigod——→←——Dragon Kings ally with the Wŭshén 2,842 A.H.
2,806 A.H. Odin empowers first jarls——→←——Ra convenes Conclave of Sphinxes 2,797 A.H.
←——Rakshasa clans unite under Ravan 2,776 A.H.
2,602 A.H. Dread Erik crowned Overking of Wotania——→←——Imrathur unites Serpian Old Kingdom 2,609 A.H.
←——Ma Yuan becomes a god 2,112 A.H.
←——Elatolian warlords unite under Khaan 1,955 A.H.
1,824 A.H. Helvetican League signs Alpine Accord——→
←——Maharaja destroys Ravanese Empire 1,728 A.H.
←——Elatolian Hegemony unites continent 1,620 A.H.
1,441 A.H. giant statues appear at Titans' Rest——→
1,409 A.H. first expansion of Nameless Empire——→
←——Circe Sultana conquers Serpian Old Kingdom 810 A.H.
278 A.H. falling stars destroy Nameless Empire——→
166 A.H. God-King Silvanus abandons Holy Sylvan Empire——→
←——Elatolian Khaan surrenders to Celedinese Emperor 101 A.H.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Year One The first year of the Great Consolidation generated many volumes of alarming historical accounts. 1 G.C. did not start with a proper winter, but some regions suffered unpredictable frosts. The Sun sometimes lingered in the sky for days at a time only to vanish for a similar interval. Conditions over most of the world for most of that year featured a hazy twilight. This climate of uncertainty drove people to seek answers in religion. Only the Fivesquare Pantheon and the Old Faith continued to offer magical healing. Other traditions were quickly rejected. New perspectives on old conflicts drove various political factions and minor regimes to seek unity with greater powers. Nearly all the seasons and days to follow would be normal, but the tone was set for an era of increasing historical coherence.
 Nearly all modern religious calendars number their years from 1 G.C. Just as the gods joined together in a collective that has held together all this time, the Great Consolidation sees many forms of earthly consensus. The concepts of “holy” and “unholy” are no longer connected to good and evil. Instead they note magical energies that respectively reinforce or undermine the spiritual flows of the world. Prayers to Dead Gods can only be answered now by the grace of a patron from the Fivesquare Pantheon. Not all clergy are scholars of religion, but all true scholars of religion are well-versed in the names, portfolios, and core teachings of the twenty-five deities active throughout this era. These gods abstain from leading armies or nations, instead inspiring mortals to influence earthly events.
1 G.C. was as important in the material realm as it was in the spiritual. Precisely as the Immaculate System achieved unanimous consensus, seven Truscan tribes formed a pact that gave rise to the greatest nation in all of human history. Though the Truscan Empire is now an embattled fragment of its former glory, it once seemed poised to govern all the lands of the world. That same year, the warlords of To-Shin signed a compact securing their opulent retirements in exchange for peaceful annexation of the entire archipelago. Histories of the Orient focus on this event while Truscan Unification is the anchor of Mainlander histories. The modern era has no shortage of conflict and drama, though it features longer sustained arcs as larger populations converge and diverge.

↓ Skip Timeline ↓The Great Consolidation↓ Skip Timeline ↓
1 G.C. Truscan tribes unite——→←——To-Shin annexed by Oriental Empire 1 G.C.
←——Shaba Bhozi built atop ruins of Shackleton 94 G.C.
169 G.C. Truscan Republic annexes Parthens——→
274 G.C. Truscan Republic conquers Leonopolis——→
←——Truscan Republic conquers Iskreshi Sultanate 337 G.C.
426 G.C. Victor Tiberius becomes Truscan Emperor——→
←——Senkhürkhree created by falling star 908 G.C.
1,221 G.C. Thousand Mile Wall completed——→
←——Serpian Empire forms 2,169 G.C.
←——To-Shinese Shogunate forms 2,213 G.C.
←——present year 2,318 G.C.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Timelines ↑  → Geography ←  ↓ Greater Norland ↓



Dominions After many centuries of rising and falling movements, the history of the world has arrived at a remarkable balance in 2,318 G.C. The Regal Deities now preside over territories containing one-fifth of the religious activity on the surface of the world. Each has ordained a single human homeland to exert strong influences on several of its neighbors. Collectively these clusters of spiritual and civic similarity are known as dominions. Some are dominated by one vast empire. Others are divided into many nations. Greater Norland, Old Silvania, the Truscan Empire, the Serpian Empire, and the Orient – every dominion is practically a world unto itself, united by past events.
 These divine territories vary in population, with the greatest religious fervor in the least urban areas. Exchanges of art and trade goods are common across all but the most hostile borders. Ordinary folks usually have some familiarity with other ethnic groups in the same dominion. Distant dominions and their peoples may seem alien. Signage and coins will feature unfamiliar symbols. Language barriers are more likely to create other problems. Customs and laws may be derived from radically different traditions. Trade, education, and adventuring all create valuable opportunities for individuals who know languages and lore enough to thrive across multiple dominions.
 Theatron is a world of dramatic contrasts. One hemisphere is home to large continents while the other is an expanse of ocean where no land consistently rises above the surface. The northern polar region is an uninhabitable ice cap regularly scoured by savage blizzards. A perpetual volcanic eruption radiates enough heat to make the southern polar region equally uninhabitable. Where molten rock meets the ocean, so much steam is generated that all southern lands and seas are obscured by heavy fog. From several perspectives this world might seem an unfit place to make any sort of home.
 Yet more than a billion people are spread across two continents – Mainland and the Orient. Both feature diverse terrains and climates. Some regions have been favorably adjusted through divine intervention. Not every act of the gods has been constructive. Their wrath transformed the center of Mainland into accursed wastes periodically giving rise to the most primitive sort of goblinoid hordes. Despite the growth of great nations in modern times, those who seek danger never need travel far. Ancient guardians patrol forgotten ruins, exotic monsters prowl untamed wilds, fiendish menaces spring up without warning, and there is no end to the intrigues of civilized politics.
 Governments compete aggressively for the loyalty of the most powerful or influential people. Some religions compete aggressively for the faith of any willing to hear their message. Businesses often compete for the most esteemed trademarks as well as access to the best suppliers. Criminal organizations and occult covens must fight for their own survival while pursuing agendas most bystanders would not support. A person need not plunge into the wilds and battle giant monsters to live a rich life of adventure. Powerful factions are always looking to expand, but there are some places that are simply too perilous to claim.
 THE UNCONQUERABLES Even the most ambitious emperors accept that there are territories it would be futile to attempt ruling. Both polar regions are completely uninhabitable. The north provides no relief from deadly cold while the south is blanketed in boiling steam. Though secret paradises can be found among the Veiled Lands, most of those islands feature dangers from Primordial Times. Mortal visitors in the Moon are always at the mercy of the Archfey, as unpredictable as they are powerful. Guests of the Imperium Maris may face a desperate predicament after becoming dependent on local authorities to breathe. So long as the Scarlands continue to generate hordes of savage monsters, civilized regimes maintain some distance between their frontiers and those blighted wastes.
Alien Nations Human governments dominate the politics of the world's surface. Many of these regimes allow non-humans into their aristocracies, but the mightiest non-human rulers merely govern tribal federations or independent city-states. This is not true below the surface of the world. The Greater Ocean is wracked by epic struggles between the noble houses of an empire blanketing the sea floor. These clashes concern surface folk because rogue waves inevitably doom exploratory voyages venturing far east of To-Shin or well west of Danu. There have also been incidents of coastal communities swarmed by hostile sea creatures spilling out of undersea conflicts.
 Subterranean power is likewise largely reserved for non-humans. Though modern dwarven nations never approach one million in population, mountain dwarves maintain several major complexes where over 100,000 of their kind live. Mining operations fund trade both with humans of the surface and dark elves living farther down. At such depths, a malevolent remnant the Imperium Arcanum persists in the form of a global drow empire. Millions of dark elves and millions more human slaves inhabit a network of huge caverns serviced by magical infrastructure.
 Those who dare delve even deeper may enter the Dread Zone. This mysteriously unmappable snarl of tunnels and chambers houses many thousands of nightmarish masterminds protected by greater numbers of guardian constructs and mesmerized thralls. Those who press onward may reach the Sea of Abominations – a surreal expanse of glowing brine. The waters of this deepest sea are home to a menagerie of gibbering mouthers, aboleths, and other profoundly bizarre creatures. The few reports of even deeper layers to Labyrinth are inconsistent and unreliable. Yet scholars ancient and modern alike speculate about the prospect of some great dark secret lurking at the center of the world.
⨂ The Greater Ocean covers nearly half of the world's surface. It features underwater peaks intermittently piercing the surface. Submersible islands controlled by the social elite sometimes rise up to take in the Sun on calmer days. This entire expanse is ruled by the Imperium Maris, a magical regime of triton aristocrats. Humans and other surface natives in that aquatic jurisdiction are often forced into a form of slavery – forever indebted for the privilege of being allowed to breathe. Imperial authorities, guided by religious law, destroy any structures meant to rise permanently above the sea. Often the water does this work for them, since unpredictable swarms of mountainous waves are common far from any coastal region.
⨂ Hel is both the name and the former home of the world's only living goddess. This frigid featureless region of ice often sees savage winds whipping razor-sharp crystals about. The chill alone is enough to kill most visitors who travel too far north for even the sea to remain unfrozen. Hel is home to no permanent structures. Shifting ice produces frequent tremors, with deep fissures forming in unpredictable locations. Life here is virtually impossible to encounter more than a couple of miles from shore. Hel is known as a dumping ground for legendary items that cannot be destroyed yet should never be found. Extremely powerful beings sometimes use this polar ice sheet as a meeting place sure to be free of interlopers.
⨂ The Moon harbors no life on its surface, nor any medium for life to breathe. Rock and dust there are often punishingly cold. Yet long lunar days sometimes make those same features painfully hot. The only structures are shadowy gatehouses and observation posts, all controlled by the empire below. Inside the Moon, the Archfey hold court as ageless immortals with almost limitless creative power. Extreme hedonism does not stave off cravings for new experiences. Scrying on the lives of ordinary mortals is a common entertainment. Capricious terrestrial fey sometimes entice or trick people into visiting an Archfey court. The luckiest guests return with magical favors, but most spend their final days amidst the reckless revels of unhinged exiles.
⨂ The Scarlands sit north of Mainland's geographic center. Burnt wastes formed here after a rain of falling stars reduced an unholy nation to lifeless cinders. Horrifying abominations continue to rise from that charred region over two thousand years later. Nearby lands appear desolate despite abundant grubs and fungi lurking just below the surface. Hordes of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears sustain themselves on such fare. They periodically surpass a critical population density, swarming outward to devour all meat in their path. A buffer zone around the Scarlands sees barbarian tribes maintaining a constant vigil, ready to migrate whenever something wicked is headed their way.
⨂ The Veiled Lands range from pleasant tropical islands to a deadly volcanic furnace. At the bottom of the world, Mount Surtr is a ceaseless fountain projecting magma into the sky above. The surrounding landmass is a lifeless waste shrouded in boiling corrosive fog. As Surtr's lava reaches the ocean, the convergence of elements releases endless torrents of steam. Low visibility in far southern waters creates tremendous navigation challenges. These difficulties become less severe closer to Mainland and the Orient. Countless islands of all sizes lurk within progressively thicker and hotter mists. Secret societies, pirates, and other renegades may build havens or even shrouded cities among these remote and lawless hideaways.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Geography ↑  → Greater Norland ←  ↓ Old Silvania ↓

Patron: Odin the Marauder, Chief of the Æsir
Homelands: Darresteg, Fitchland, Joryanland, Lachland, Norland
Precursor: Wotania
Historic Legends: Dread Erik, jötnar, valkyries
Trade Languages: Norish, Fitch
Court Languages: any
Governments: militant earldoms, principalities, and kingdoms
Dynamics: complex alliances with some open warfare
Standard Coins: øre, sceat, mark, kronor, skjöld
Spiritual Census: Odin 24%, Tyr 16%, Loki 11%, Thor 11%, Hel 10%, Arawn 8%, Mannanan Mac Lir 5%, Geb 4%, Oghma 3%, Lei Kung 3%, Ptah 3%, Ma Yuan 2%
Greater Norland The first thing most outsiders learn about this dominion is that Norish raiding parties pose deadly threats to communities all along the west coast of Mainland. A multi-ethnic coalition participates in these raids today, but outsiders often regard the entire lot as Norish. Various kingdoms, earldoms, principalities, and tribal groups all send representatives to annual Norish Moots. Invariably tense negotiations establish commitments of personnel and funding to launch a fleet of southbound longboats. Most aristocrats in Greater Norland are also accomplished military leaders. Traditions here establish a right to pillage after victory in battle. Marauders generally regarded as villains abroad may serve as role models among their own people.
 Inhabitants of Greater Norland are united in their struggles against the elements. Growing seasons here tend to be short and unreliable. Coping with economic instability is a big part of life in this dominion. Fitchlanders thrive thanks to engineering achievements, and Darresteggers can call upon arcane power to fend off starvation. Elsewhere these methods are insufficient to local challenges. Joryanlanders, Lachlanders, and the Norish feel increasing pressure to battle over herds and granaries in lean years. Violent skirmishes are common, and mercenaries can usually find one or two outright wars being waged within this dominion. Banditry is relatively rare thanks to severe winters as well as the fact that marauder fleets offer opportunities for violent renegades.
“I will always fight on the side of my lord and never forget what he has given me. I will not withdraw the smallest measure from any battle where my lord remains on the field. If my lord is slain, I will not stop until his death has been avenged.”

— Wotanian Oath of Fealty
 Personal power is incredibly important in Greater Norland. Bragging and intimidation are common in most social settings. Trial by combat remains a part of many legal systems here. Most laws do not support imperial forms of slavery. Yet unrelated dependents or prisoners of war may be given the status of thrall. Thralls are thought too weak to survive on their own. Their keepers are permitted to compel labors, inflict beatings, and trade thralls as property. Fugitive thralls are rarely pursued, since this status is thought fit only for the defenseless. Fitchland bans this practice, making criminals of anyone who physically attacks a worker. Well-funded national charities allow elderly and disabled subjects to live with dignity in that orderly society.
 The Fitch are presently ruled by a woman, though she is not the first female head of state in this dominion. Controversy surrounding a queen's rise to power energized one of the factions that fractured the ancient superpower Wotania. Every ethnic group here has since known women as both great leaders and formidable warriors. Yet, just as with men, position here is a function of bold claims paired with the means to make good on them. From the most refined urban constabulary to the rowdiest band of marauders, fitting in requires confidence. Direct words and direct actions are considered marks of virtuous character. Some authorities attempt to enforce verbal contracts. Glorious death is a popular aspiration. Burials and tombs are exceptions to the norm of a funeral pyre.
Norish Moots Wotanian unity was sustained by annual gatherings where all kings would offer personal tributes to their Overking. When the old Wotanians no longer recognized any supreme leader, these assemblies continued as a venue to negotiate trade and plan southbound raids. At their worst, Norish Moots would erupt into duels that sparked major wars. The modern form is never so violent, but it remains tense. This is especially true when harvests are poor and the only alternative to widespread poverty is a campaign of successful marauder activity.
 Darrestygian emissaries attend Norish Moots by projected images and scrying devices. The magocracy refuses to physically attend meetings where international aggression is planned, yet it dispenses abundant arcane support to placate demanding neighbors. Fitch law forbids fighting alongside marauders. Yet Fitch representatives deliver huge sums of gold that ultimately equip and fund these attacks. Meanwhile Joryanlander, Lachlander, and Norish leaders sort out the composition of raiding parties as well as procedures for dividing loot.
 A Norish Moot normally convenes at the start of the summer wheat harvest, since plans are quickly put into action at the end of the growing season. Marauders are often keen to be in warmer climes when winter takes a turn for the cruel. Hosting a Norish Moot is an enormous expense endured for the prestige of it. A typical host spends a fortune to enhance his or her reputation. From time to time, a host may profit greatly by influencing ongoing negotiations. Each gathering concludes by selecting the next host at a raucous celebration where remaining points of disagreement are settled through exchanges of poetic invective and/or direct fisticuffs.
⋈ The Time Before the Gods The Archfey referred to the northwest of Mainland as the Brutal Quarter. Its few fey bastions were modest strongholds. Yet many stone fortifications provided shelters for human armies to train and rest in the field. Almost all nourishment was magically provided by Imperium Arcanum operatives. Many simple formations and lone Standing Stones shaped an intricate network of ley lines. Though this enabled quick teleportation of forces from many garrisons to a single location, it generated interference with magical experiments. Considered an undesirable posting by elven leaders, the only advantage these frigid territories offered was a low frequency of dragon attacks. When the gods exiled the Archfey from the world, it was a wizard in the Brutal Quarter who first violated the ban on human apprentices.
⋈ The Age of Heroes Most people in this area died soon after the fall of the Imperium Arcanum. Famine was everywhere. Eventually a primitive sort of feudalism provided some relief. There was no shortage of sturdy castles. Leaders able to protect a productive territory could keep their subjects alive, their soldiers well-fed, and themselves in power. None did this as effectively as Dread Erik. He forged a superpower dedicated to Odin by beating down many minor kingdoms. As Overking of Wotania, he went on to codify an innovative guild system and establish colonies in distant lands. This regime thrived for a full ten centuries. Then a minor prince questioned the current Overking's ancestry. Wotania dissolved into smaller nations over a series of bloody provincial rebellions.
⋈ Imperial Maximum The remnants of Wotania fell in to a dark age so profound that Truscan scouts reported no lands worth conquering in this dominion. Even the highlands north of Albion seemed to offer more trouble than value, so the Empire marked its boundary with the Thousand Mile Wall. “Norish” was originally a descriptor for anyone from north of that barrier. In distant Hammerstad, traditional Moots gave the struggling peoples of viable kingdoms a way to coordinate misinformation headed south. As harvests in these northern lands took a sustained turn for the better; the ancestors of today's Norish, Lachlanders, Joryanlanders, and Darresteggers united in the pursuit of peaceful expansion through isolation. The people of the Low Towns reached out to Imperial officials in the hopes of stimulating trade, but lack of a suitable harbor foiled those efforts.
⋈ Recent History Some opportunities overlooked by Truscan Emperors have come to fruition. The culture of the Low Towns developed into a great nation, harnessing the wind to transform waterlogged marshes into prime farming country. Their extensive border fortifications and enormous seawalls make Fitchland a haven of peaceful prosperity. Meanwhile other leaders have had limited success developing modern infrastructure. Both in politics and temperature, the climate of Greater Norland interferes with these efforts. Yet where fisheries or river valleys provide enough nourishment, great cities have arisen in each homeland here. Meanwhile Darresteg distinguished itself as a modern magocracy. Powerful spellcasters secured and fostered a prosperous kingdom where practicing wizards are ubiquitous.
“You are a lord. I am a lord. Who will carry our bags?”

— popular greeting at Norish Moots
⋈ Current Events Darresteg and Fitchland have found effective solutions to the problem of unreliable harvests in this dominion. Yet they continue to participate in Norish Moots in order to manage diplomacy. Neither kingdom provides ships or warriors to marauders. Instead, annual financial tributes from the Fitch support preparations while Darrestygian advisors furnish intelligence reports. These arrangements stabilize key international relationships. Yet those prosperous regimes generate unrest among Lachlanders and the Norish. Especially in their urban centers, controversy grows regarding the value of ancient traditions and the glorification of violence. Leaders must strike a delicate balance between courting popularity with cityfolk and securing territory against rivals.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Greater Norland ↑  → Old Silvania ←  ↓ The Truscan Empire ↓

Patron: Dagda the Provider, Chief of the Tribe
Homelands: Albion, Carmatia, Danu, Sivales, Sylvania
Precursor: The Holy Sylvan Empire
Historic Legends: the Archfey, bánánachs, púcas
Trade Languages: Albionish, Silvanian
Court Languages: any
Governments: prosperous kingdoms and republics
Dynamics: loose federation with various internal clashes
Standard Coins: penny, shillling, albus, sovereign, ducat
Spiritual Census: Dagda 24%, Silvanus 16%, Oghma 12%, Mannanan Mac Lir 10%, Dionysus 8%, Arawn 7%, Apollo 5%, Chih Sung-Tzu 5%, Hades 5%, Loki 4%, Hel 2%, Ma Yuan 2%
Old Silvania No other dominion benefits so much from the handiwork of the gods. People from distant lands know Old Silvania as a bountiful place where even the largest cities maintain some harmony with nature. Hunters here are often as productive as herders. It is likewise with foragers and farmers. The people of these lands generally respect the Old Faith. Druids presiding over ancient rites may share sites and followers with modern clergy. Fey blood runs in many human families here. Indigenous fey thrive in wild forests or make homes for themselves in human cities. All varieties of magic are relatively common here. Yet a uniting force in this diverse dominion is fear of blights brought about by unholy powers. All regimes in Old Silvania provide at least token support to an international group operating a bureau of powerful witch hunters.
 The Sylvanian Confederation also dispatches agents to liberate slaves and punish known slavers. This policy does not prevent indentured servitude, even as a penalty for failing to honor a financial debt. Yet it does stop aristocrats from engaging in the capture and sale of civilians after seizing new territory. Though the Confederation cannot prevent war among its members, it facilitates negotiations and peace settlements. Away from the Truscan Empire's Western Front, total war is rare here. Since heavy cavalry units are the standard means of repelling Norish marauders, jousting tournaments provide a way to hone skills with minimal loss of life. Trade disputes and questions of honor are often settled through these festive events rather than outright battle. In this place of plenty, life is more precious than land.
“A full belly on a peaceful evening is all anyone truly needs.”

— motto of the Feastkeepers
 In Old Silvania respect is extended even to the meekest persons. People of all races and ethnicities feel entitled to travel and labor in any harmless way they choose. Some societies even guarantee rights to public gatherings and uncensored speech. Laws here feature minimal gender bias, with almost all military and civic organizations broadly integrated. Even working animals and livestock are afforded levels of respect rarely seen in other lands. Most hunters and butchers pair acts of slaughter with acts of reverence. Apart from the punishment of marauders, murderers, rapists, slavers, warlocks, and witches; cruelty is regarded as a sign of low character across this dominion. Courtesy often requires patience, but it eases peacekeeping efforts everywhere save Carmatia. There even the most polite clans persistently feud with rivals.
The Sylvanian Confederation The first major rebellions in the Western Flank were coordinated by a secret council of tribal elders and criminal fugitives. Teamwork enabled major victories while misdirecting Truscan Legions. This council expanded into a society of political freethinkers. Operatives would gather information, compromise local officials, and popularize songs of fallen empires. This society grew into an international governmental organization with an eclectic mix of assets as many of these bold heroes went on to have places of honor in new aristocracies.
 The Sylvanian Confederation sustains hostility toward the Truscan Empire. Spies and scouts anticipate the movement of western Legions. Irregular rebel forces provide support as needed to defend territories along the front. Drawing assets from across the entire Confederation, these auxiliaries can counter the immensity of full Legions. Confederate agents covertly oppose slavery, organizing escapes and revolts at every opportunity. Some also act as witch hunters. Local officials have the option to make “a federal case” out of any unholy activities they feel unable to deal with on their own terms.
 Member states of the Sylvanian Confederation also benefit from its diplomatic corps. Teams of gifted negotiators are available to affiliated powers in conflict. Charged with restoring harmony while minimizing the loss of life, Confederate diplomats rely on everything from arbitration committees to duelling tournaments. Though this leaves the dominion constantly simmering with internal tensions, it preserves prosperity cultivated under Imperial rule. The Sylvanian Confederation sees uneven support across Danu and Carmatia, but it has the backing of almost every major leader from Albion, Sivales, and Sylvania.
 The resources of this verdant dominion are not limitless. Leaders must settle disputes about how their lands will be exploited. Contested borderlands can lead to hostilities, yet neglected borderlands become havens for bandits and other outlaws. Coastal communities face seasonal risk of Norish marauders pursuing quick plunder. Aristocrats across Old Silvania maintain heavy cavalry units to deliver swift counterattacks anywhere in their lands. Tournaments and other exhibitions serve as ways to make the most of these costly investments in times of peace. Some traditional rivalries born in war are celebrated in sport by later generations. In wilder places, especially where the Old Faith is not joined by modern religion, permanent settlements remain rare. Yet druids and clerics openly collaborate in many towns and cities. Funerals tend to be elaborate, and most cemeteries are considered sacred ground here.
⋈ The Time Before the Gods The Imperium Arcanum was founded in southwest Mainland, labelled the Garden Quarter on official charts. In some ways it was the homeland of the Archfey. Rich forests furnished an array of useful spellcasting components. Foraging parties operated under cover of verdant canopies. The oldest Standing Stones were raised here, including the main hub of the ley line network. The Old Faith has its origins in bits of arcane knowledge accumulated by human caretakers stationed at Standing Stone sites. During much of the Imperium Arcanum, dragons were all but eradicated from these lands while other life flourished. Yet when one of the Archfey's ambitious spells went awry, the Garden Quarter was devastated by vengeful dragons employing a scorched earth strategy.
⋈ The Age of Heroes Dagda and his associates were moved by the plight of the land. Though they arrived to answer the prayers of beleaguered forest-dwellers, their greatest miracles revived the forests themselves. Hundreds of minor warlords fought over pockets of green scattered across ashen wastes. Monstrous gods inspired militant nations of orcs. Legends grew of a man with a giant hammer, crushing all in his path. The God of Verdant Wilderness gradually conquered this entire dominion. He united enormous territory under a theocratic regime devoted to venerating nature. Plants and animals from many other planes of existence were carefully seeded by Silvanus. Before the Age of Heroes drew to a close, the Garden Quarter was more splendid than ever before.
⋈ Imperial Maximum God-King Silvanus abdicated his imperial throne a few generations before the Seven Tribes united to form Septopolis. The Truscan Empire's most successful campaigns eventually secured the bulk of this dominion. Under Truscan rule these lands were known as the Western Flank. Though this regime directed enormous quantities of slaves and natural resources back toward the Truscan heartland, indigenous populations benefited from paved roads, municipal waterworks, and modern sciences. Even as great cities swelled, religious influences minimized ecological harm. Alternating zones of farming country and park-like forest radiate outward from most metropolitan centers. At Imperial Maximum, a typical resident of the Western Flank was a proud citizen of the Truscan Empire.
“Please do not allow your mouth to break your nose.”

— traditional Sylvanian rebuke
⋈ Recent History The push to acquire territory beyond Mainland escalated the demands of Imperial tax collectors. Great druids interfered with aggressive expansion of farming and ranching operations. Then a policy of conscription made soldiers of many citizens and slaves of protesters. Unrest spiraled out of control. Military efforts remained focused elsewhere, giving rebel leaders time to rally popular support. Breakaway states started declaring independence in clusters so that the Legions could not concentrate their forces at each new trouble spot. With more successes than failures, the liberation movement grew. The people of Old Silvania pointedly glorified personal freedom. Successful leaders did less to dictate the circumstances of others' lives and more to create opportunities for advancement.
“Those who love Nature will experience Nature's love in return.”

 — Landwardens' Field Manual
⋈ Current Events Making the most of Truscan innovations, the people of Albion established their own ethnic identity with elaborate legal and financial protocols. On the other side of the Thousand Mile Wall, Carmatian earls struggle to govern contentious clans. Danu faces a different challenge, as hostile fey swarm any community that grows too large. Sivales finds itself both plagued by and enriched by a subculture of opportunistic pirates. Meanwhile Sylvania has become a civic laboratory for the modern world. Traditional kingdoms and tribal federations exist alongside modern republics, economic collectives, and democratic city-states. Their values drive rebellions in western Galloria chipping away at the frontier of Imperial slavery.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Old Silvania ↑  → The Truscan Empire ←  ↓ The Serpian Empire ↓

Patron: Zeus the Emperor, Chief of the Olympians
Homelands: Galloria, Helvetica, Thrace, Transmania, Truscanny
Precursor: none
Historic Legends: Victor Tiberius, empousai, titans
Trade Language: Truscan
Court Language: Truscan
Government: Imperial
Dynamics: elite families lobby for influence
Standard Coins: assarius, denarius, victoriatus, aureus, laureate
Spiritual Census: Zeus 24%, Apollo 16%, Ares 11%, Dionysus 10%, Hades 8%, Loki 5%, Thor 5%, Arawn 4%, Ptah 4%, Silvanus 4%, Geb 3%, Osiris 3%, Set 3%
The Truscan Empire Roughly one thousand years ago the Truscan Empire faced no challenges to its authority over Mainland. The word of the Emperor was law from the Thousand Mile Wall to the harbors of Sonliman. The Truscans spread literacy and modern sciences, with many authors still favoring the Truscan language today. Yet the Truscan regime has been demonized in some societies. Despite intervening centuries, some people in the Orient still resent the Legions' incursion there. Old Silvania aggressively rejects important Imperial traditions and values. Meanwhile the Serpian Empire wages the world's greatest war against its Truscan peer. Students of history know the Truscan Empire came as close as any human government to ruling the world. Today it is a diminished superpower under attack on multiple fronts.
 Early Truscan society was strongly patriarchal. Various reforms and a number of popular Empresses made so much progress that even the Legions now recruit and promote without gender preference. Right alongside strength and cunning, Truscans value the ability to work together as a team. Their cities thrived thanks to engineers planning abundant aqueducts, fountains, and sewers. Pacified territories saw farmland and urban centers improving in tandem. Merchants often hauled goods unescorted, and magistrates were almost impossible to bribe. In the interior, where war has not been known for more than a millennium, the Truscan Empire continues to enjoy this orderly prosperity. Along its frontiers this ancient society faces threats from a breakaway empire of equal stature, lesser rebel kingdoms, and monstrous hordes.
#27. Rank is about leadership, so promote proven leaders.”

 — The 99 Maxims of Victor Tiberius
 Loyalty means everything to most Imperial citizens. Custom calls for each to be raised from birth to honor the Emperor and every duly appointed public official. Even slaves may be given comforts and eventual freedom as rewards for dutiful service. Veterans often muster out of the Legions with a frontier farm or a civil service posting. Diligent building inspectors, firefighters, and sanitation workers keep the public safe even where population density is extreme. In almost all lines of endeavor, following instructions and working selflessly generate more recognition than independent actions. Truscan greatness involves not only exploiting the labors of others, but also recognizing the group effort behind major accomplishments. Here, social advances are best obtained by earning praise from others rather than personally boasting.
The Truscan Legions Septopolis was founded by verbal agreement. A key piece of this agreement established military conscription. For any male member of the tribes to be considered an adult, he would need to complete four years of service in a Truscan army. With a convergence of metalworking traditions, the smiths of Septopolis provided these armies with technological advantages. From their first conquest, the Truscan Legions paired rigid military discipline with innovative tactics and equipment. The result was an unstoppable fighting force.
 Attacks from the Legions are traditionally preceded by an envoy offering peaceful annexation. Brutal enslavement is the only alternative. Yet many local leaders refused to relinquish power, providing the Truscan homeland with a steady stream of fresh slaves. Abundant forced labor quickly expanded Imperial infrastructure while bringing prosperity to the farms and shops of slave owners. Enthusiasm for conquest intensified. The Senate became unpopular through efforts to restrain the power of great generals. Most citizens saw no reason for restraint.
 After completing the conquest of the Gallorians, in 426 G.C. Victor Tiberius marched his personal Legion into Septopolis. Breaking the sacred truce was a great scandal that technically dissolved the republic. Declaring himself ruler of the new Truscan Empire, Victor Tiberius announced plans to conquer all the lands of the world. He presided over thirteen years of severe martial law only to be ambushed and killed during a lengthy battle inside the Senate chamber. Subsequent investigations revealed his most controversial edicts were essential to thwart unholy conspiracies.
 Villified Senators saved themselves by appointing the eldest son of Victor Tiberius as Emperor. The Tiberian dynasty has held on to power ever since. Yet the Legions of today bear little resemblance to their ancient precursors. Many classic weapons and tactics are now outdated. Truscan soldiers employ the best modern steel with both religious and arcane support. Every Legion sees men and women fighting side by side. Some also support substantial non-human elements. Personnel are rarely conscripted, though service still involves years of marching to and occupying distant lands.
 Though the Truscans borrowed much of their own culture from Thrace, these people have long seen themselves as a civilizing force in the world. Centuries of debates and reforms leave the Truscan Empire with only the slightest hints of ethnic bias. Even non-humans can enter the Imperial aristocracy. Attitudes about gender have also evolved much in the past two millenia. No government position excludes female candidates. Today there is little doubt that additional participation is beneficial for the Legions and the civilian administration. The state welcomes all earnest and capable efforts to add to its strength. Most Truscans hope for a legacy of honorable service and prosperous kin. Some are entombed within great monuments. More typically, engraved stone markers are placed atop otherwise simple burial sites.
⋈ The Time Before the Gods The first dragons took wing from the Veiled Lands to settle on the Truscan peninsula. It was here that humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings were created. Imperium Arcanum records refer to south central Mainland as the Cradle. It lived up to its name during that era. Unusually social dragons here made use of fertility magic to hide more eggs than elven archmagi could locate. Countless hatchlings individually provided little blood or experience in defeat. Yet some would survive to become new threats to the Archfey's regime. Even when other parts of the world were essentially rid of dragonkind, some legendary wyrms here were unafraid to remain visible while flying well above the horizons of this dominion. Dormant volcanoes offered mazes of tubes large enough to shelter their less bold kin.
⋈ The Age of Heroes With the fall of the Imperium Arcanum, most of these lands returned to the control of dragon tyrants. Even after many of those tyrants were slain by great adventurers, local tribes lived simply. This changed when a gang of titans, acting against an edict from Zeus, taught ancient sciences to Thracian sages from several different councils. The God of the Heavenly Throne removed all titans from the world, but he could not remove humanity's grasp of logic, arithmetic, geometry, and engineering. This enabled thriving Thracian city-states to develop advanced cultures. Helvetica also saw civilization emerge in the form of mining syndicates uniting to support a league of well-funded peacekeepers. The Truscan people were semi-nomadic and barely literate when the Age of Heroes ended.
⋈ Imperial Maximum 1 G.C. was a year of immense heavenly importance and the year seven great Truscan tribes designated the hills of Septopolis as neutral ground. Markets and meeting halls were soon flanked by temples and workshops. Joint armies known as the Legions consolidated the entire peninsula under one government. Seemingly unstoppable growth was driven by a custom of seizing conquered lands and enslaving vanquished peoples. The Iskreshi Sultanate abruptly collapsed just as Truscan Legions were marching into nearby buffer states. The Holy Sylvan Empire had already been reduced to many smaller nations, none able to defend against the Legions. When Imperial scouts reported little of value in Carmatia, the Thousand Mile Wall was constructed to mark the geographic end of civilization itself.
⋈ Recent History Yet in the far east there were still prizes to take. Transoceanic warfare would prove to be the undoing of this enormous superpower. Elite Legions initially met little resistance in Ontolon, conquering a new province to honor an aspect of Ares. Guided by expert calculations, the Celedinese Emperor waited for invaders to become fully invested in this Camuline Occupation before counterattacking. After tremendous losses, the Truscan Empire withdrew to its native continent. Meanwhile, a wave of rebellions in the Western Flank overwhelmed authorities. Little by little, more permissive regimes established themselves along a receding frontier. Even parts of Galloria no longer provide coin to Truscan tax collectors. Yet no loss was greater than the entire Eastern Flank seceding to become the Serpian Empire, an instantly capable rival.
“Return to us with your shield or on it.”

— traditional parting words to Legion recruits
⋈ Current Events Though the Truscan Empire faces many hardships, its inhabitants also enjoy many privileges. Slaves often have some access to education. Taxpayers are encouraged to attend academic lectures and send their children to excellent public schools. Many private properties have accumulated dozens of generations of improvements. Even when crisis or scandal creates chaos in the markets, well-run Truscan estates remain productive. Away from warzones, opulent abundance is practically the norm in this dominion. Unfortunately, parts of Galloria, Thrace, and Transmania are active warzones. Near the battle lines, the needs of the Legions come before any other concern. Most Legionnaires feel duty‐bound to defend tranquil homelands from violent invaders threatening a noble and just way of life.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Truscan Empire ↑  → The Serpian Empire ←  ↓ The Orient ↓

Patron: Ra the Luminary, Chief of the Ennead
Homelands: Iskresh, Kohadesia, Serpia, Wabahar, Zintu
Precursors: The Old Kingdom, The Iskreshi Sultanate
Historic Legends: Circe Sultana, nasnas, shades
Trade Language: Iskreshi, Serpian
Court Language: Serpian
Government: Imperial
Dynamics: economic and military gains are rewarded
Standard Coins: nummus, aspron, follis, pyron, solidus
Spiritual Census: Ra 24%, Geb 16%, Ptah 11%, Set 9%, Osiris 8%, Mannanan Mac Lir 5%, Ma Yuan 5%, Oghma 5%, Ares 4%, Chih Sung-Tzu 4%, Chung Kuel 3%, Hades 3%, Lei Kung 3%
The Serpian Empire Known as the Eastern Flank of the Truscan Empire only seven generations ago, this dominion has become a rival to that superpower. New technologies and engineering feats had long sustained bounties of grain and cattle for export. Tensions grew with the harvests. The tipping point in 2,169 G.C. saw local officials at many ports warned to expect attacks from the Oriental Empire as retaliation for transoceanic warfare. Outoing grain barges were abruptly halted. Legions composed largely of Iskreshi, Serpian, or Zintu personnel disbanded to join rebel armies. It was all the Truscan Empire could manage to secure seditious communities in Thrace and Transmania. Loyalist holdouts in Kohadesia and Wabahar soon negotiated a peaceful merger with the nascent Serpian Empire.
 This young regime channels wilder spirits into rapid urban economic development while offering strict military discipline to more regimented types. Extreme population growth followed from an embargo on agricultural exports to Truscanny. Even with flourishing universities and trade guilds, many cities in the Serpian Empire struggle to manage constant flows of ambitious newcomers. While at peace with the regimes of the Orient, the Serpian Empire remains at war with its Truscan counterpart. The Padishah in Septopolis benefits from thousands of years of traditional wisdom for dealing with cultural and religious conflicts. While his deceased great-grandfather continues to be universally admired for establishing this nation, today the imperial administration struggles with many controversies.
“A man cannot be my enemy while he shares my bread.”

— Wabahari proverb
 Generosity is the driving force of this dominion. Ancient deserts, steppes, and jungles offered so few safe havens that hospitality became a traditional expectation. Travel and trade would have been virtually impossible if not for local leaders happy to open their homes to visitors. Though ideal guests would respond with gifts like jewels and spices from distant lands, even the most desperate new arrivals can expect some support for nothing more than reports detailing how the needy travellers met with trouble. Prior centuries saw extreme tension, since Truscan officials enriched their families by manipulating prices and setting high export quotas. Recent generations of domestic prosperity cultivated solidarity among the peoples of the Serpian Empire. Many believe helping one another is the path to a great destiny.
Serpian Conclaves Secrecy was an important part of every successful seccession from the Truscan Empire. Six generations after their initial declaration of independence, top officials of the Serpian Empire continue to convene private meetings on an annual basis. In the early months, each Shah confers with nomarchs to focus on problems specific to their provinces. Later in the year, all nomarchs assemble to hear the Padishah's dictates for the nation. Modern nomarchs rely heavily on their subordinates to maintain smooth operations during absences that can last weeks.
 Though all official meetings are held in secure compounds with miraculous countermeasures against espionage, petitioning merchants and diplomats stimulate night life where these conventions occur. Major shipping lines and arms suppliers host lavish feasts hoping to influence procurement plans of huge organizations. Conclaves vary from year to year so that diverse perspectives inform economic plans and infrastructure priorities. When the Padishah speaks, evenings see all manner of specialists conferring about how to translate edicts into actions.
 Every Serpian Conclave creates surges of commerce and intrigue. Even where holy protectors ward off all active spies, officials competing for recognition may plot against one another. Every effort is made to prevent the general public from participating in deliberations of Serpian Conclaves. Yet each gathering concludes with a festival where officials announce new policies and field questions posed by ordinary people. These exchanges are traditionally spirited, giving leaders some sense of rising or falling public support in a society that otherwise discourages political critique.
 Hostility toward all things Truscan causes many ethnic Truscans in this dominion to assume Thracian, Serpian, or Iskreshi identities. Individuals with any history of service to the Truscan Empire will be treated with suspicion by Serpian authorities. Legal variations leave women the equal of men throughout most of this dominion while suffering systematic oppression in Kohadesia and Wabahar. After the rebellion, extremely patriarchal traditions in those lands were revived by public officials looking to win support from regional elites. Ordinary people in this dominion mostly desire to be remembered as having done much to help friends and family. While royalty of the Serpian Empire are only entombed after months of ceremony, almost everyone else here is buried promptly after death.
⋈ The Time Before the Gods Dragons would speak of the Thirsty Quarter with disdain. Some river valleys were valuable territories, but isolated watering holes in this arid land rarely produced enough life to sustain a growing wyrm. Unable to feed easily in this land, most of their kind simply avoided it. Here the Imperium Arcanum was quick to purge remaining dragons, then operate large unsheltered workforces nourished by wide open flood plains. Some crafted objects of use to the fey while surplus labor was occupied with constructing enormous stone monuments. When civil war broke out and high elves rallied over Danu, failing enchantments brought some of these great monuments crashing down. Local sphinxes stepped in to guide a new wave of massive projects. Some of these structures would be completed by religious orders.
⋈ The Age of Heroes From peoples who had long lived openly under the Sun, the gods heard a mix of simple prayers. Early Serpian society saw sphinxes receding into obscurity while mentoring kings known as pharoahs. These gifted human protectors nourished and governed peoples of the greatest valleys. Zintu became a target for slavers from as far away as Wotania. Kohaddic kings banned ironworking and literature in service to an intense xenophobia that kept slavers away. Meanwhile the Isks developed their own culture spread throughout expansive steppes by furtive couriers and brash merchants. After a powerful sorceress united this ethnic group and conquered the Serpian Old Kingdom, the Iskreshi Sultanate went on to be the dominant power in the region. On the brink of war with the Truscan Empire, this Sultanate abruptly collapsed amidst an outbreak of political assassinations.
⋈ Imperial Maximum For nearly twenty centuries this region was collectively known as the Eastern Flank. Truscan rulers improved irrigation and urban development across these lands, but the benefits were often directed back toward Septopolis. Many trading hubs flourished yet fell short of their potential. Rural life remained hard, with grueling work the only path to much in the way of comforts. Outside of military service, most opportunities were reserved for citizens with a traditional Truscan education. Defiance was rare, in part because serious crimes were often punished by enslavement and quick relocation into the service of a distant owner. Even with escalating taxes and production quotas, the provinces Eastern Flank remained loyal, unable to imagine any alternative to this status quo.
“May you be more learned tomorrow than you are today.”

— Serpian salutation
⋈ Recent History The failure of the Legions to hold ground in the Orient planted the seeds of possibility in Serpian minds. A network of whispered conspiracies was catalyzed when threats from the Oriental Empire left the Eastern Flank caught between two superpowers. Some officials felt a greater duty to defend their own homes and families than to preserve the integrity of Imperial government. Indigenous Legions dissolving into rebel armies provided cover for the entire Eastern Flank to unite under new leadership. Complex negotiations empowered cultural throwbacks to restore ancient oppressive customs in some provinces. Even so, most cities expanded rapidly with benefit of huge agricultural surpluses. Borrowing some traditions and structures from the Old Kingdom, this new Serpian Empire quickly became the equal of its Truscan rival.
“Great leaders do not claim the Gods support their actions. Great leaders hope their actions support the Gods.”

— Darius the Brilliant, first Serpian Padishah
⋈ Current Events Trustworthy scholars literate in the Serpian language work tirelessly as old archives throughout the Empire continue to be translated from Truscan originals, now considered an undesirable literary form. Serpian law supports slavery. Yet it effectively liberates all slaves who are not subject to periodic registration with the local malik. Slave ownership is defined as a privilege requiring official license. Truscan slavers only operate here at great expense, while slave traders of local heritage may find relief through special arrangements with Serpian authorities. The Serpian Empire commands a rich variety of military assets, with bashars and archons encouraged to explore unconventional ideas. Officially the Empire respects all holy religions. Yet tremendous scandal surrounds the Shah of Wabahar's personal veneration of Set.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Serpian Empire ↑  → The Orient ←  ↓ Metal ↓

Patron: Shang-Ti the Mastermind, Chief of the Wŭshén
Homelands: Celedine, Elatolia, Ontolon, To-shin, Xe-shan
Precursor: The Elatolian Hegemony
Historic Legends: Dragon Kings, pixiu, yōkai
Trade Language: Celedinese, To-Shinese
Court Language: Celedinese, To-Shinese
Government: Imperial with rebellious territory
Dynamics: officials seek promotion through service
Standard Coins: fen, jiaō, tangka, yuan, ryo
Spiritual Census: Shang-Ti 24%, Chung Kuel 16%, Chih Sung-Tzu 12%, Lei Kung 11%, Ma Yuan 8%, Thor 7%, Ptah 5%, Ares 4%, Tyr 4%, Hades 3%, Hel 3%, Osiris 3%
The Orient Each dominion is like a world unto itself, and the Orient is a world apart from the others. Separated from Mainland by the Lesser Ocean, the cultures of these far eastern realms developed with little outside influence. These lands entered the Age of Heroes with a relatively small human population. Peoples there overcame tremendous hardships to carve out cities and empires from wild places once teeming with monsters. Thoughtful planners made the most of opportunities for growth. Raw military power was once the primary civilizing force in the Orient, but strategic foresight now rules the day. Ambitious investments in infrastructure tamed the elements themselves. What the gods first discovered as a sparsely inhabited dominion has since become the most populous. The upkeep of dams and canals is now essential to sustain many enormous metropolises.
 Both the Oriental Empire and the To-Shinese Shogunate emphasize institutional education. Orphans are tested then placed in academy systems focused on future civil or military service. Public institutions offer quality instruction in literacy and civics to all. Affluent parents often spend lavishly to enroll their children in more elite schools. An emphasis on orderly tranquility elevates the value of sagacity over the prestige of battlefield victories in this dominion. Elaborate bodies of regulations can create conflicting imperatives. Most officials do not object to lengthy proceedings in pursuit of fairness. Many subjects make a respectable living as clerks or couriers sustaining the flows of information generated by all this complexity.
“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, you have made two mistakes.”

— inscription featured on some jiaō
 Reputation is incredibly important in the societies of the Orient. Their archetypical role model is a stalwart champion of the gods, the government, and his or her own family. Lies and betrayals generally lower the prestige of individuals throughout this dominion. Yet a spy or assassin could claim an epic deception as a professional accomplishment so long as it was in faithful service to another master. In most trades, honor is accumulated through reliably honest dealings with others. All merchants claim to sell quality wares, and the best will make every effort to substantiate that claim. All scribes claim to produce faithful copies, and the best are diligent about keeping their work free from error. Dueling is rare here, yet it remains a socially and legally acceptable method for settling questions of honor. Little is completely forbidden to individuals granted special authorizations by working through layers of bureaucratic procedure.
Intelligence Ministries A legendary hero of the Celedinese Ascendance, Master Willow, wrote extensively about the strategic implications of spies and assassins. An emperor's generosity enabled the retired general to endow circles of covert operatives with the resources to perpetuate themselves. Early schools of spycraft eventually grew into networks of elite specialists overseen by ministers. Some of these executives have appropriate portfolios like “military cartography” or “border security.” Others hide behind misleading titles such as the Minister of Market Forecasting or the Minister of Cultural Exchange.
 A typical intelligence ministry divides operations between an office tower dispensing information to senior officials and a network of remote compounds. Even the locations of these bases may be state secrets. Intruders can expect extreme hostility. Those permitted inside will find top quality training facilities alongside storehouses of exotic equipment. Unlike open warfare, many espionage problems cannot be solved by fielding larger forces. Improving the chances of success requires elite operatives supported with extraordinary resources.
 Yet not all intelligence ministries are focused on foreign missions. Some maintain public loyalty or hunt hostile spies. Domestic security services operate large forces of agents trained in covert operations and basic law enforcement. Ideally these organizations keep watch on potential sources of sedition, only acting against confirmed threats to national stability. In the worst cases these organizations spread fear with pervasive networks of informants and severe punishments for even the smallest acts of disloyalty.
 The first Shogun of To-Shin banned every intelligence ministry from the archipelago. Today various rōjū each operate an institution performing similar functions. Paired with extensive recordkeeping, intelligence services throughout the Orient create problems for secretive visitors. Missile weapons and large blades may be confiscated for lack of official authorization. Invasive searches and unprovoked interrogations are routine for foreigners of no particular reputation. Most people in the Orient talk of politics only in bland or cryptic terms for fear their words might be documented in an official archive or prompt a formal inquiry.
 When the Elatolian Hegemony controlled an entire continent, patriarchy was part of the cultural fabric of the Orient. The Celedinese Ascendance was no pure meritocracy, but their culture never made gender a relevant criteria in evaluating fitness for military or civil service. The modern Oriental Empire sees ethnic favoratism among the elite while bias against women is regarded as a backward and barbaric attitude. Both the Empire and the Shogunate consider everyone subjects of their governments, eligible for conscription into military or labor groups. When used unwisely, this authority incites sedition it was intended to quell. Here an honorable death is recorded in government archives and acknowledged with a pension for one surviving spouse or child. Funeral rites tend to be extensive public ceremonies ending in cremation.
⋈ The Time Before the Gods The Orient was essentially alien territory to the Archfey. They made minimal investments in ley line infrastructure here. Bastions tended to be small, functioning only as bases for elite dragon hunting teams. Neither large armies nor pools of laborers were installed at these facilities. Charts from the time refer to this dominion as the Outlands. Resident dragons maintained human labor pools to sate their apetites. Many of these groups became isolated tribes when their tyrants were slain. Yet the Outlands were also home to the largest concentration of ancient dragons to outlive the Imperium Arcanum. Some of the most enlightened wyrms were still conducting experiments to create new forms of life here when the prayers of distant humans drew deities to this world.
⋈ The Age of Heroes Known as the Dragon Kings, the most brilliant native residents of the Orient governed their own civilized nations right alongside the first human kings to rise up from these lands. While many lesser dragons and other great monsters fell to adventurous attackers, most of the Dragon Kings lived for centuries as respected rulers. Some ascended to become companions to the gods themselves. When the son of a khaan personally killed the last Dragon King, an entire continent united under a single Elatolian regime. Remote Xe-shanese cities became havens for powerful heroes seeking quiet retirement from lives of struggle. Most cities of the Orient remained small, but Celedinese engineers systematically improved harvests and sanitation until their homeland housed the majority of humanity east of the Lesser Ocean.
⋈ Imperial Maximum The modern Oriental Empire rose abruptly. Barely two centuries passed between the first ethnic uprising and Celedinese jurisdiction spanning the entire continent. Even the historically independent To-Shinese archipelago was integrated into the larger Imperial regime. With no warring states to inflict losses, the Orient experienced impressive vertical expansion. Mayoral palaces looked out over office towers and apartment buildings stretching to the horizon. Universities and religious centers embarked on investigations of epic enigmas. Experienced administrations coordinated agricultural and urban development to maintain stable food prices, reasonable rents, and abundant employment. Even the Truscan invasion of western Ontolon was a problem solved by superior planning.
⋈ Recent History Decisively expelling the Truscan Legions was a matter of making them first feel welcome. Lightly defended communities often accepted initial offers of peaceful surrender. The invasion led to the lucrative and harmonious annexation of a new Truscan province east of the Lesser Ocean. Once the occupiers were heavily invested in new ventures and expansion plans, the overwhelming might of the Oriental Empire sent Truscan authorities racing to ships that mostly failed to complete the voyage west. Abandoned Legionnaires gave rise to a barbaric subculture that continues to lurk in the jungles of Ontolon. Though this upheaval led to many more losses for the Truscan Empire, it also created an opportunity for To-Shinese separatists to establish an independent Shogunate.
“Do not tally oysters that have yet to enter your basket.”

— Ontolonese proverb
⋈ Current Events With authorities in Suotien focused on regaining the territory ceded to the Camuline Occupation, To-Shinese nationalists were able to misdirect Imperial crackdowns against seditious activities. Already rebellious communities forged solidarity with unfairly punished neighbors. A declaration of independence that shocked most of the Orient seemed downright inevitable across the archipelago. With loyal rōjū able to wrangle several of the world's greatest gargantua, the To-Shinese Shogunate has turned every Imperial invasion into a costly disaster. Meanwhile the ports of Celedine and Ontolon are crowded by brisk trade, some of it transoceanic. The Oriental Empire is officially at peace with every regime except the To-Shinese Shogunate. Their stalemate is a popular subject of study among modern strategists.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Orient ↑  → Metal ←  ↓ Assets & Acres ↓


Exotic Metals Famously indestructible, adamantine is thought to be the remnants of a construct older than the world itself. No mine produces more than a few samples. Each is already pure metal after surrounding materials have been removed. Working with adamantine requires extreme precautions to manage the terrible heat of an adequate furnace. For sufficiently swift and mighty smiths, it is worth the risk to forge fantastically durable items from this material.
 Utilized in place of steel by the Archfey, mithral is the product of transmutations that cannot be stabilized in the current magical environment. The precious substance is much lighter and more flexible than steel, yet no less durable. This metal works well with special cold forging techniques. Mithral inlays are a common feature of enchanted equipment. This metal is not produced by mining. Some mithral salvagers also do the work of archaeologists, while others casually trample ancient history in pursuit of riches.
 The first inanimate objects to hold the interest of dragons were shiny gold nuggets. With fiery breath and persistent effort, pure metal could be extracted from these glittering rocks. Dwarves were created to dig up and process the coveted substance. Their smelters also enabled dwarves to produce tools from bronze, copper, and silver. Early human civilizations were quick to make use of metal weapons. Superior methods of working with iron and steel helped superpowers secure control over vast territories. As teams of armed adventurers eliminated monstrous guardians, access to valuable mineral deposits increased.
 In the ages of humanity, as with the Age of Dragons, a stockpile of gold conveys prestige based on its size. Yet modern civilization also allows that prestige to be parleyed into purchasing power. Soldiers determine who enforces laws and collects taxes in most lands. Laborers create the improvements that make territory more prosperous. Rallying large numbers of either normally requires substantial spending. Modern finances sometimes involve complex schemes of debts and credits. The ability to deliver physical payments on schedule is necessary to maintain confidence in these schemes. Sometimes there is no substitute for a hefty pouch of genuine currency or a shipment of raw ingots.
 Today every major human ethnicity has centuries of smithing traditions featuring steel weapons and armor. Modern metallurgists experiment with alloys to improve the performance of various components. A virtuous cycle of activity sees scientists devising new tools for studying the natural world while tinkers refine crude prototypes into precision instruments. Discoveries established with this technology raise new questions, prompt new experiments, and inspire new apparatuses. There seems no end to the variety of gears, screws, spindles, springs, and wires in demand. Sophisticated metalworking also gives rise to household gadgets and clockwork toys unlike anything from past eras.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Metal ↑  → Assets & Acres ←  ↓ Businesses & Bootlegs ↓

Assets & Acres
Power Structures In a world where almost all communication is spoken or handwritten, controlling a large organization poses many challenges. Major governments delegate powers to regional leaders. Great kings entrust loyal families to control duchies and counties far from the capital and its institutions. Empires divide their territories into provinces and districts to be managed by appointed officials. In exchange for faithful support and reliable tax collection, rulers allow their most elite subordinates generous participation in the prosperity of their society.
 These relationships have value for both parties. Local leaders can specialize in management challenges particular to their lands. Official status creates an incentive to pass more revenue along to higher authorities. The same is true for compliance with laws and customs. Civil servants often aspire to rise within their hierarchies, while feudal lords focus more on building legacies for their families. Noble heirs and appointeees alike feel pressure to serve as a role models. Governments eliminate the worst internal problems and motivate loyalty among remaining officeholders by exercising their power to revoke titles and estates.
Land has been the primary source of wealth throughout history. Gold originates in the ground. Crops and livestock require space to thrive. Development adds to the value of land. Free people will pay to live in a nice home. Mills, forges, and workshops can accomplish tasks much more efficiently than temporary facilities. Clusters of residences and businesses create opportunities for trade. Towns and cities accumulate wealth from the labor of their denizens. The greatest dragon hoard never held as much treasure as the shabbiest modern metropolis. From sprawling urban centers to little farming villages, claiming land is seldom as simple as planting a flag or offering money to existing owners. Taking productive ground and holding it usually requires a position among society's elite.
 The wealth of the aristocracy is largely derived from lands and businesses in their possession. Government officials may insist on reviewing documentation and assessing fees to certify legal inheritances. They will tend to favor one another in resolving ambiguous claims. Without a politically powerful protector, any obvious profit center becomes a target for economic predators. Individuals who have attained sufficient status in society will enjoy more security. Some command the fealty of lesser nobles, and many control a hereditary fief. Rents from owned land enable a titled leader to fulfill social and military obligations. When people carve out a stronghold from wild land or build up a productive enterprise in settled territory, much honor and privilege often accompanies an offer of ennoblement.
 Accepting rank in a government implies loyalty. Titles and lands can be stripped from enemies of the state. Imperial societies expect their appointed officials to be scrupulously honorable at all times. Public integrity is crucial to maintaining stability when a new policy is unpopular. Even small scandals prompt major public apologies and acts of pennance from Imperial officials. Deceptions and vices among hereditary nobles only generate unrest in cases of shocking cruelty heaped upon innocent people. Feudal nobles have much more personal freedom yet less economic opportunity. Appointed bureaucrats more easily blur the line between dutiful oversight and self-serving manipulation of trade. Wherever public morale is high, it is generally understood that the most fortunate have a duty to help those who are less so.

Notable Titles by Rank
NorlandSylvaniaTruscannySerpiaCeledineCarmatiaElatoliaTo-Shin Xe-Shan Zintu
KnightKnightEquestrian Companion GuānChiefKheshigMetsukeGuruChief
Lendmann BaronetMagisterSheikhWardenLairdBeyŌmetsukeWardenObirempon
BaronBaronMagistrate MalikMayorBaronTaishiMayorZamindarTigui
VizegrafViscountTribuneBasharInspector BugyōBashar
Margrave MarquisSenatorNomarchPrefectTaijiPrefectThakurFarba
KingKingGovernor ShahGovernorMaharajaShah
Overking God-KingEmperorPadishah EmperorKhaanShogun
↓ Skip List ↓Aristocratic Positions↓ Skip List ↓
 ⩓ Archon  Balancing competing interests while advancing massive infrastructure projects and keeping multitudes of civilians mostly happy is a big job. The modern Serpian Empire appoints archons to do that job, though the term originally referred to the sovereign of a Thracian city-state. Archons have broad administrative powers as they manage many bureaus of professionals dedicated to keeping order. The most successful surround themselves with elite experts, then delegate almost everything save a pet project or a major crisis response. Micromanaging not only creates time problems, but it also causes more of the blame for unpopular decisions to fall on the archon's shoulders. Yet when all the pieces come together, an archon presides over a spectacular urban jewel.
 ⩓ Baron/Baroness  Scholars consider the barony the smallest stable unit of feudal governance. These fiefs may encompass a substantial town, an expanse of farmland, or a hub of some precious resource. Barons typically govern small populations while controlling large fortunes. Many barons operate out of a fortified structure to better endure hostility from invaders or malcontents. It normally requires generations of bad management to lose one of these territories through economic failure. This wealth and security enables barons to engage in exotic pursuits. It also plays a part in their obligations to the realm. Barons must maintain a guard to police their own subjects, and they must be prepared to send a substantial military detachment to aid their monarch when called upon to do so.
 ⩓ Baronet  Feudal politics in the southwest often makes it expedient to award this honor that blurs the line between knight and baron. Most baronets receive a minor land grant with no associated military obligation, but neither of those conditions is universal. Wealthy merchants intent on purchasing their own buildings may dabble in politics to attain this honor. It is also bestowed on community leaders in frontier towns to encourage greater development. Typical baronets own a modest block of city apartments or a humble country estate. Because of its versatility and related ambiguities, this title does not always command respect. Yet it does almost always mean a ruler agreed it was wise to keep the family on the payroll of the crown, granting them some hereditary asset of real value.
 ⩓ Bashar  The Serpian Empire's defenses are coordinated by a system of military districts of roughly equal strategic value. The result has some bashars patrolling vast stretches of empty desert while others secure just one portion of a major city wall. Their lifestyles and their followers vary based on the security needs of their domain. They tend to favor the services of spellcasters and other elite specialists over personal luxuries. Most bashars do not live as comfortably as maliks, but all maliks defer to bashars when there is a disagreement about how best to serve the Padishah. Where peace prevails, bashars focus on recruiting and training to strengthen the Serpian military. When trouble is afoot, bashars mount up and lead the charge to eliminate warlords, bandits, and other menaces.
 ⩓ Bey  A herder owning livestock and goods enough to provide a large family with nomadic comforts is known as a bey. A typical bey employs a number of wranglers to mind the animals as well as a gang of servants back at camp. Ancient Elatolians sometimes also applied this term to mercenary or nautical captains able to live the good life while commanding a small group of travellers. In modern times this honorific has further expanded to include resident leaders of highly productive teams. Though some may own prosperous businesses or operate other institutions, this title recognizes the synergy of the group rather than any related structures or land. Custom holds that a bey is a worthy civilian leader who can be trusted to make any team dramatically outperform the sum of its parts.
 ⩓ Bugyō  As the To-Shinese Shogunate achieved independence, a problem emerged about what to do with the many hardened warriors no longer needed to drive off the Empire. The rank of bugyō was created to allow for more flexibility in the administration of governance. Each bugyō is assigned to oversee a specific operation. From directing production at a shipyard to managing the Shogun's kitchen, these roles are thought to require the good judgement of seasoned leadership. Yet each is also a chance to convert a potential renegade or warlord into a useful public servant. Landholding bugyō have status more akin to caretaker than vassal. Yet these titles can be inherited by loyal offspring who prove themselves able and dutiful successors.
 ⩓ Chief  Where clans or tribes remain an important part of the fabric of society, small communities and large families may address a single leader as chief. This title tends to convey absolute power within the applicable group. Chiefs typically command the loyalty of 100-300 followers, and they expect aristocratic treatment. In more civilized realms a tribe or clan may enrich its leader through forestry, herding, or mining. This title is usually a birthright, though some societies allow chieftaincy to be claimed through duelling. On those rare occasions an outsider achieves this status, it typically involves leading a splinter group away from some larger tribe or successfully protecting a group recently stripped of its previous chief.
 ⩓ Companion  The original assassins hail from a land within the Serpian Empire. Attacks against public officials were a constant threat during the early years of that regime. Policies were implemented to establish tight control over who would be allowed in the same room as the Padishah or any shah. Over subsequent generations, this official access became a special privilege distinguishing the lowest rank of government insider from ordinary citizens. Companion status authorizes visits to a variety of protected zones where others are forbidden to enter. All companions receive modest financial support, and access to the halls of power offers further opportunities for personal enrichment. People who respect Serpian authorities will look to companions as role models.
 ⩓ Count/Countess  Though this title refers to an official presiding over a county, the modern concept has evolved. The standard county remains mostly productive land with various towns and cities spread across an expanse that cannot normally be crossed in a single day's ride. Yet some modern counties take on a more institutional focus, such as supervisor of royal mints at several remote locations or proprietor of a royal shipping company with offices in distant lands. Even these specialist counties usually come with an opulent headquarters or a proper castle. Counts require their own bureaucracies to handle the diverse needs of their subjects. Those without major military commitments to the realm normally make up the difference as huge financial supporters of the crown.
 ⩓ Daimyō  Strategic control of To-Shin is maintained from massive strongholds situated at critical locations in each province. Daimyōs are both the keepers of these fortresses and the rulers of those provinces. They have broad power to authorize new infrastructure, conscript idle civilians, and regulate trade. Provincial armies are elements of the Shogunate's national force. Yet each maintains garrisons in the shadow of a mountainous fortress, regularly drilling to prepare for potential invaders. Though supremely powerful in their own domains, there are so many daimyōs that they have little influence outside their own provinces. That changes when they travel with the bulk of their armies, each at least 10,000 strong.
 ⩓ Duke/Duchess  More reach than grasp is a common problem facing ambitious rulers. The most prosperous modern kingdoms solve it by granting dukes huge territories and limited oversight. So long as appropriate tax revenues go to the crown and the duchy remains committed to national defense, all is well. Allowing dukes broad lattitude over criminal justice, religious sponsorship, and trade policy enables regions with different economic circumstances or cultural traditions to live harmoniously as neighbors. Dukes typically maintain standing armies with major heavy cavalry assets to swiftly dispatch marauders or invaders. Where tensions run high, many thousands of footsoldiers also stand ready to fight in service to their duke. In better times a smaller army is led by knights of extroardinary skill.
 ⩓ Earl  Long ago in the northwest of Mainland, historic crises were resolved by small number of god-touched warriors known as jarls. Early kings looking to elevate some nobles above others created the concept of an earl in homage to those legends. A vast expanse containing at least one respectable city, an earldom makes it possible to live like a king. Yet these positions of extreme privilege were reserved for the most powerful allies, popular as well as mighty. Earls could be counted upon to keep order across their own territories, raise large armies in time of war, and contribute political support to their monarch. Without some level of mutual respect, a strong earl might be inclined to declare independence. This has happened so often, sovereign earls now govern most of Norland and Lachland.
 ⩓ Emissary  Those chosen to serve as the voice of the Celedinese Emperor each are granted huge palaces and generous access to Imperial funds. In return they are expected to always put the Empire ahead of any other interest. This makes emissaries both reliable and effective spokespersons. Their own comfort and splendor is acceptable to better host foreign dignitaries and conduct poised public addresses. Some emissaries are pacifists, and most are chosen for guile rather than ferocity. Thus all are assigned elite bodyguards to accompany them on travels. Emissaries make frequent use of magic to communicate with centers located just outside Suotien. In this way they can honor their vow to remain faithful to the will of the Emperor even as new developments come to light.
 ⩓ Emperor/Empress  Three dynasties are far more powerful than any other families on the surface of the world. The Truscan, Serpian, and Oriental Empires each maintain standing military forces surpassing one million soldiers. Reigning emperors impose laws that apply across the entire homelands of multiple major ethnic groups. Each emperor commands a civil service allowing swift coordination of a superpower. Since succession is mostly a function of birthright, emporers vary from brilliant planners able to leave a legacy of great progress to unhinged wastrels with no grasp of leadership. The most revered emperor of all was Silvanus – the god himself presided over the Holy Sylvan Empire. That regime is defunct, but the forests he spread across its expanse remain verdant today.
 ⩓ Equestrian  Truscan law heavily restricts the use of horses in urban districts. Senior officials control licenses to ride mounts on city streets. The typical equestrian was born into a wealthy family and served among the elite cavalry of the Imperial Legions. Yet this honor has also been extended to trusted couriers, valuable advisors, and generous philanthropists. Though equestrian status does not convey monetary benefits, it provides access to networks of Imperial stables and waystations. The entire system is engineered to facilitate the swift transit of key personnel throughout an empire of far-flung metropolitan centers. What was once the birthright of every patrician family is now a special privilege reserved for citizens who have achieved distinction in service to the Empire.
 ⩓ Farba  The Serpian Empire considers the Zintu interior an active warzone. Rather than divide the land into conventional provinces, the Shah selects military leaders to command huge irregular armies. As the officials appointed to lead these forces, each farba receives robust support from the Shah of Zintu. Most tap additional revenue streams through harvesting operations in perilous lands. Their role is to advance civilization into some of Mainland's most inhospitable terrain. A typical farba controls a constellation of communities stretching from a civilized market town to a fortified wilderness base under constant threat from deadly creatures and/or hostile tribes. These bases also support collection of rare herbs, spices, minerals, pelts, and ivories.
 ⩓ God-King  Territorial claims made by Silvanus and his mortal disciples became the Holy Sylvan Empire. Populations were dispersed and relocated such as could be sustained by local ecologies. Small armed forces successfully compelled the surrender of much larger armies. The alternative was to face reinforcements led by a living deity. Scattered peoples mingled in thriving towns and small cities nourished by the lands Silvanus healed. He kept no official schedule, delegating many aspects of governance. After the forests of southwest Mainland were healthier than ever been before, the God-King completely abdicated his political role. Years of debate among senior officials eventually elected someone to serve as Emperor. Even so, the Holy Sylvan Empire fractured into many small regimes before the Age of Heroes came to a close.
 ⩓ Governor  Both Truscan and Oriental empires favor huge provinces with much geographic and economic diversity. Governors oversee areas as vast and complex as major kingdoms. Though each governor must answer to an emperor, they are otherwise superior in rank to all others in their respective empires. Most governors maintain multiple teams of elite agents authorized to operate outside the normal bureaucracy. Governors' palaces are usually connected to sprawling complexes of archives, colleges, and courthouses. Huge provincial budgets are supported by even greater tax collections conducted on behalf of the state. Though bound by complex legal systems and elaborate cultural traditions, governors remain able to influence the course of history through the priorities they set and initiatives they sponsor.
 ⩓ Graf  The first great human cities were capitals of kingdoms spanning many provinces each ruled by a graf. While the customary scope of these fiefs remains unchanged, they are no bigger than a modern county. Grafs in the present time have less power than their ancient precursors. Most are bound by a complex body of royal law as well as the oversight of a regional earl. Within those constraints, grafs are expected to administer justice, collect taxes, provide security, and develop infrastructure. Some grafs have the authority to create baronies within their own territories, and those not permitted to grant new knighthoods are sure to finance a squad of worthy retainers. Most maintain a large reserve of potential conscripts along with a standing force composed of various elite military units.
 ⩓ Guān  Scholastic excellence has long been an important virtue in Celedinese culture. The modern Oriental Empire recognizes achievement in this realm by awarding special status to individuals able to pass the most demanding Imperial examinations of knowledge and problem-solving ability. This status conveys the authority to take command of any official project not presently supervised. Guāns are often assigned to specific positions in an elaborate hierarchy. Yet those who conduct themselves honorably retain this status while pursuing personal goals or operating independently as troubleshooters. Compensation varies by the particulars of service, but an at-large guān can cover basic travelling expenses by submitting fresh reports on local institutions and commerce.
 ⩓ Guru  No official governing body decides who is a guru and who is not. The title only has meaning in Xe-shan, where the public seems astute enough that imposters are soon subject to public ridicule if not also exile. Spritually aware people who claim this title are welcome guests wherever their stay is brief. Gurus may be expected to share spiritual teachings or tales of past adventures, but some literally live without money and others may act as if they have none. Their duty is to spread esoteric knowledge and do battle with dark forces that would victimize the innocent. Though many priests and monks become gurus, the title can apply to any profoundly englightened being who shifts focus away from the material world to unravel mystical secrets, spread important truths, or remedy sinister corruption.
 ⩓ Inspector  Many Mainlanders hold the rank of inspector as constables tasked with solving mysterious crimes or bureaucrats assigned to oversee compliance with regulations. The title of inspector is reserved for high ranking Imperial officials in the Orient. Their duties likewise involve mysterious investigations and regulatory oversight. Yet these elite officials always convey their reports directly to ministries in Suotien. Each takes a vow to serve as the Emperor's eyes. Imperial diviners periodically scry to corroborate accounts from the field. Inspectors keep their families near the Emperor's Palace, as much to ensure security as loyalty. On the job they face difficult and dangerous missions, but in residence they are welcome to partake in the finest luxuries.
 ⩓ King/Queen  In modern times a king answers to no one. This was not always so, as Wotania was ruled by an Overking and many kingdoms of Sylvania were once ruled by a divine God-King. Today every king and queen is the leader of an independent nation, though not all kingdoms are equal. Some well-established royal families enjoy widespread popular support and stable relations with neighboring realms. Upstarts and failing regimes must contain the ambitions of rival powers while dealing with aspiring usurpers. The smallest kingdoms find ways to preserve the autonomy of one great city and surrounding lands enough to sustain that population center. The largest kingdoms include multiple metropolises and numerous duchies stretching out far from the monarch's personal domain.
 ⩓ Khaan  Clashing cavalry forces kept Elatolia in disarray until the Shimmering Horde rallied to enforce the will of the first Khaan across a realm that eventually spanned the entire continent. The Elatolian Hegemony allowed local rulers much autonomy provided that they did not interfere with soldiers, couriers, and tax collectors. Today the Khaan rules a province that furnishes an endless flow of horses and skilled riders to the Imperial military in exchange for some autonomy of its own. By custom, the royal entourage spends half each year holding court in a city and the other half driving their herds across open range. Imperial authorities have made a low priority of further exploiting this underdeveloped land. The governor posted here is limited to observing and advising the Khaan.
 ⩓ Kheshig  From the dawn of the Elatolian Hegemony, it has been a high honor to be permitted to ride with the Khaan. Both rider and mount must possess extraordinary precision and stamina to be sure the royal entourage moves with sublime grace. Security was also crucial, since this stern regime generated its share of controversies. Today the Khaan's authority once more stops at the frontiers of the Elatolian homeland, and notables of all sorts have been awarded the title of Kheshig. It continues to convey permission to ride alongside royalty and/or atop royal steeds. Yet the honor now goes to scholars, religious leaders, and entertainers as often as it is bestowed upon elite mounted warriors. Kheshig status is easily revoked by any action that earns the Khaan's displeasure.
 ⩓ Knight  Knighthoods are a reward for exceptional service to a ruler. The lowest level of nobility in much of western Mainland, this rank typically conveys respectable income and special privileges without any official landholdings. Old customs require knights to maintain a full suit of battle dress and be prepared to join an armored cavalry unit in time of war. Most modern kingdoms sponsor both military and non-military orders of knights. Artists who make major contributions to public morale or national prestige may enjoy this honor. It is the same for merchants known to have contributed fortunes in tax revenue or made special concessions to royalty. Though knighthoods are not explicitly hereditary, many can be passed on to a worthy squire through mentoring and official sponsorship.
 ⩓ Laird  Most of Carmatia has never been claimed by any king or emperor. Land ownership is a function of ancient tribal claims and modern military advances. Anyone there who has inherited a substantial amount of productive land is considered to be at least a laird. The ability to defend valuable ground over many years automatically conveys respect. Most lairds maintain their holdings through alliances with powerful clans. These commitments sometimes require them to participate in battles elsewhere, but with obligation comes opportunity. Some lairds aspire to become great leaders uniting a vast territory under one banner, but most are content to farm and fight with the turning of the seasons. Almost every laird hopes for two things – a strong heir and a glorious death.
 ⩓ Legate  Though this term once referred to envoys authorized to negotiate on behalf of a general, it now applies to a cadre of Truscan officials who speak on behalf of the Emperor. Legates are selected for their sacrifices to the state, and many are aging combat veterans. In addition to talks with foreign powers, these officials are responsible for negotiating government contracts, commissioning academic studies, and coordinating intelligence gathering. Some operate academies or archives to better train Imperial personnel. Most spend their lives on the move, going to and from provincial capitals in order to see that the Emperor's agenda is respected. Though some patricians regard this post as a political dead end, old centurions often embrace it as an honorable way to continue service.
 ⩓ Lendmann/Lendlass  The earliest thriving human society organized itself around five castes – slaves, yeoman, soldiers, lendmenn, and the royal family. Prototypical vassals, lendmenn administered territories smaller than some modern baronies. Yet it holds true that a lendmann or lendlass is granted ownership of a fief along with the responsibility to keep order and collect taxes in that locale. In urban settings this asset might only amount to a single building, but it is always suitable for generating income. Lendmenn who are not themselves prepared to serve as battlefield knights are expected to sponsor a champion to serve in their place. Some lendmenn manage to operate huge financial empires while limiting their territorial possessions to a few small estates.
 ⩓ Magister/Magistrix  This Truscan honorific indicates a landholder and employer who has no need to personally perform labor. Centuries ago the title was reserved for owners of working slaves, but hiring voluntary labor is considered no less dignified today. Acquiring property under Imperial law is rarely a simple matter, but the state is inclined to reward success. Prosperous proprietors likely to keep their establishments in good condition may be granted ownership as a reward for long periods of punctual rent payments. Farmers able to maintain a respectable villa may likewise be recognized with this status. Magisters have broad legal authority to buy and sell properties. In return they are expected to pay substantial taxes and otherwise support public institutions.
 ⩓ Magistrate  Each magistrate is offered generous compensation from the Empire as well as a comfortable estate in a convenient location. This arrangement is meant to prevent corruption, since these officials oversee the judicial and legislative functions of local governments. Everything from accident liability cases to sewer engineering problems may be heard by a magistrate. Their primary duty is to maintain peaceful economic growth, though pressing events sometimes dictate other priorities. Some go on to higher positions in Imperial service while other magistrates stand as steadfast pillars of their communities. Heavily bound by precedents and regulations, these officials quickly become unpopular where they impose Truscan ways on resistant populations.
 ⩓ Maharaja/Maharani  Early rajas of Xe-shan struggled to shelter small domains from hostile giants, voracious rakshasa, and tyrannical bird-kings. The first Maharaja led a team of heroes who cleared many lands for farmers, foresters, and miners. Leaders of this legendary regime never instituted a major standing army. Only a few generations later the Elatolian Hegemony imposed its will across the entire realm. Yet these people are slow to follow outside leaders. Modern governors of Xe-shan are always selected from the royal bloodline in order to rule as the Maharaja. These leaders kneel before the Emperor, but powerful secret societies remain loyal only to indigenous authorities. The present Maharani is permitted to maintain the old aristocracy so long as Imperial tax ledgers remain balanced.
 ⩓ Malik  These Serpian government officials conduct regular public addresses to spread news and Imperial proclamations among their subjects. Each presides over a small city, large agricultural zone, or center of religious activitiy. The Empire keeps the civilian administration secure by providing each malik with a palace, guards, and heralds. In addition to relaying reports from Theopolis, each malik settles disputes parties wish resolved by Imperial law. These officials rarely do more than advise local constabularies, but it is their duty to see that Imperial justice is administered consistently while minimizing local backlash. Though not responsible for military matters, maliks are expected to host visiting diplomats and trade missions.
 ⩓ Margave  The border territories of some kingdoms convey special status. These fiefs are reserved for accomplished military leaders, and no taxes are collected for the crown. Instead supplemental funds from the national treasury are dispatched as needed to maintain a network of fortifications and a considerable standing army. Each territory is a potential warzone, and defenses sometimes take priority over commercial development. Margraves may even salt fields, collapse mines, or relocate towns in order to make their lands less desirable for potential invaders. Margraves are held in more esteem than grafs, but in peacetime the latter prosper more than the former. When war breaks out, margraves find opportunities for valor and conquest in offensives launched from their land.
 ⩓ Marquis/Marchioness  In parts of southwestern Mainland, international disputes are often settled through competitions that are more festive than destructive. Where all out war with a neighbor seems a remote possibility, border counties are made to be showpieces of opportunity and luxury. Orderly checkpoints and clean inns are maintained at major crossings. Road workers place artful signage and perform cosmetic surface repairs. Border towns are made affluent and home to frequent celebrations. Though a marquis normally retains a group of renowned knights, standing military forces might otherwise be limited to a palace guard and local constabularies. In support of all this, marquises enjoy greater status than ordinary counts as well as special financial arrangements with their lieges.
 ⩓ Mayor  Each Oriental city's wardens answer to a mayor who is responsible for the overall administration of municipal government. Though other societies also employ professional mayors to oversee the administration of some city governments, these are hereditary landholding titles on par with the status of barons in Celedinese and To-Shinese cultures. Some mayors are not particularly wealthy, either because their communities are poor or they dedicate most of their personal funds to charitable endeavors. Others are fabulously rich and powerful, able to influence events at harbors, mills, or markets prominent in the regional economy. The largest city governments employ many bureaus of constables and regulators all ultimately under the command of the local mayor.
 ⩓ Metsuke  Government officials who maintain compliance with Shogunate authorities, the metsuke are the lowest rank of To-Shinese subjects licensed to wield large blades outside of official military activities. Their status often generates hospitality from other loyalists. Some metsuke are assigned to specific duties like auditing the finances of silk producers or assisting constables with fugitive hunts. Others wander from place to place, solving local problems and recording chronicles of the peoples they encounter. Metsuke have the authority to issue and execute summary judgements in service to their duties as peacekeepers. Between their law enforcement powers and their sidearms, few alive on the archipelago of To-Shin would dare to publicly disrespect a metsuke.
 ⩓ Minister  Each governor in the Oriental Empire maintains a council of ministers. Early Celedinese governance saw Minister of Coin, Minister of Harvests, Minister of Justice, and Minister of War as the four most senior advisors to each governor. Today the traditional four are supplemented by additional experts at this rank. A modern ministry will operate offices in every major city of its province while organizing an entire sector of activity in that land. Some work closely with neighboring counterparts while others are guided only by their governors. Ministers may create lavish apartments for themselves at their headquarters, or they may live apart from their place of work. All have generous household budgets to discourage the temptation to pilfer from provincial funds.
 ⩓ Mirza  Along with the current Khaan's living heirs, the most important Elatolian military leaders are granted this princely rank. It conveys extreme privileges, including the right to make pretty much any verbal demand of anyone who is not royalty. Some mirza maintain massive herds and leave vast swaths of heavily-grazed territory in their wake. Others command elite mercenary units, fighting deadly foes abroad then sharing the spoils of war with the regime back home. Mirza status depends on the Khaan's good graces. This may require navigating complex political situations through frequent visits to the royal court. When there is a major threat to security inside Elatolia, mirzas will rally to the Khaan, forming a modern cavalry horde that charges headlong into trouble.
 ⩓ Nomarch  Each province of the Serpian Old Kingdom was governed by a nomarch. A similar position holds the same title in the modern Serpian Empire. Nomarchs tend to be focused on administration and politics rather than war. Yet their authority extends to all bashars, archons, and maliks as well as other Imperial subjects. Beyond managing their own provinces, all 210 nomarchs participate in semiannual conventions to advise the Padishah and better know their peers. Even though each of these officials operates within a rigid system, nomarchs tend to be distinctive individuals who surround themselves with extraordinary talent. Their ability to address unusual challenges with gifted specialists helps the Empire to weather regional challenges without national disruptions.
 ⩓ Obirempon  Select Zintu chiefs, often distant relations of the Shah, are granted judicial powers by the Imperial government. This legal authority typically extends beyond one tribal group. The rulings of obirempons may have broad consequences and defy established precedent. Later court processes often condemn and forbid specific punitive actions. Yet many punishments cannot be undone, and the overall effect of an active obirempon usually quells local unrest. The most creative will use fines and forced labor to improve their communities. The most corrupt will enrich themselves in this way. Where people are prosperous and peaceful, the local obirempon may see little demand to address greivances. Instead these officials organize festivals and promote their own popularity to become personally associated with ongoing success.
 ⩓ Ōmetsuke  Elite field agents of the To-Shinese Shogunate's law enforcement and intelligence apparatus, ōmetsuke often travel with their own entourage of specialists and assistants. They file their reports directly with officials in Ōiyōsai. Their tasks sometimes involve matters of great national importance. Each ōmetsuke is supported by a small estate which doubles as a base of operations for his or her team. These centers may become archives, workshops, or schools to pass on skills these investigators and their associates use in their work. Some gain permission to operate small armies for dealing with problems like bandits or monsters. Each of these forces must be fully integrated into the national military chain of command.
 ⩓ Overking  Between his personal might and a truly massive suit of armor, Dread Erik had a well-earned reputation for invincibility. When Dread Erik commanded a dozen other kings to kneel before him in a single ceremony, he became known as the Overking of Wotania. The civilization ruled by Dread Erik and his offspring did much to spread feudalism across Mainland. When Wotania was torn apart by civil war, the last Overking accepted that he had become a mere king. Most Mainlanders who know history are familiar with this story. In areas with heavy Norish influence, some people talk of a glorious future when a new dynasty of Overkings will rise up to rule a superpower. Related tales of salvation and prosperity are popular in regions struggling with violence and hunger.
 ⩓ Padishah  Just after the collapse of the Iskreshi Sultanate, a century of home rule saw the shahs of Serpia redefine the culture of a proud people. Many popular customs and laws did not continue after Truscan annexation. When relatively recent political and economic tensions drove the Eastern Flank of the Truscan Empire to seceed, it became a great empire of its own in search of a non-Truscan identity. The world's newest emperor declared himself Padishah Darius I, installing shahs to create centers of power far from Theopolis. The Padishah quickly restructured the Serpian Empire's armed forces and civil services. With so much less grain and gold flowing west, his new nation was able to maintain its defenses while growing ancient cities into modern metropolitan centers.
 ⩓ Pontifex  For each faith with a major institutional presence in a Truscan province, a single pontifex is appointed to serve as supreme authority. Each pontifex settles questions of theological dispute and renders opinions on important matters of the day. They are expected to support the state. Social critque is traditionally an acceptable form of support, though an overly provocative pontifex may cause a religion to lose favor. In exchange for loyalty, they are themselves supported. Each pontifex is granted a palace seperate from but near to a major center of worship. The Imperial bureaucracy also assigns a large staff of clerks, couriers, and household servants to each pontifex. These titles tend to be lifetime appointments, giving less active pontifices ample opportunity to research, pray, or partake of earthly delights.
 ⩓ Prefect  Each prefecture of the Oriental Empire is an administrative district with no clear subdivisions. The prefectures of the To-Shinese Shogunate are each divided into several provinces. Thus each To-Shinese prefect must work with and through a group of daimyōs while prefects elsewhere in the Orient are free to set up their own administrations as they see fit. Yet in both cases the job involves everything from overseeing a bureau of cultural censors to approving and funding the latest flood control plans. Because of their immense social standing, prefects' families often mingle with the royal family. Some prefects are responsible for more than a million lives, so this post is never awarded to inexperienced or unreliable persons.
 ⩓ Raja/Rani  Though this is the ancient Xe-shanese term for king, a modern raja is regarded as a regional official. Most govern populations smaller than the average duchy. Yet each raja was born into a respected family and raised to rule. They act as extensions of the Maharani's authority into lands that trade little with the isolated capital of Shambala. This makes rajas work as taskmasters over lesser officials, keeping order and harmonizing Imperial oversight with Xe-shanese culture. Most still manage to live like kings, drawing on a seemingly endless supply of lost or hidden treasure caches. With their wealth they transform their own estates into models of prosperity and productivity. Advances in education, enchantment, and farming are selectively copied by subordinate leaders.
 ⩓ Rōjū  Great leaders who have earned the personal trust of the Shogun may find themselves honored with the title of rōjū. With that title comes the authority to act in the name of the Shogun, even to the point of overruling a prefect. Each Rōjū has a unique mix of skills and supporters. Most maintain a fortified base as a personal headquarters, but these adventurous aristocrats spend much of their time travelling. Their duty is to inspect and improve the operations of other government personnel. Be it constantly reinforcing national defenses, making adjustments to optimize economic development, or promoting cultural trends thought to increase public loyalty; every rōjū maintains a robust schedule of official activities.
 ⩓ Senator  The Truscan Senate was once famed as the world's most august deliberative body. That reputation was lost when the Empire accepted dictatorial leadership. Today most senators are travelling advocates speaking on behalf of elite interests in Truscan society. Each appointment carries with it a salary large enough to live like a count. Many senators make the rounds visiting with powerful families, especially those with pending government business. Through both correspondence and personal appearances, senators apply pressure to the bureaucracy. Most have the ear of a governor or the Emperor himself. A senator's duty is entirely focused on communications. The most respected will take to public squares in times of crisis and rally citizens in support of patriotic action.
 ⩓ Shah  Rarely appearing without an array of glittering jewels, these hereditary overseers of the Serpian Empire each control a personal domain of 42 provinces. They relate to the Padishah as a duke might to a king, but each shah commands the influence and wealth of a king. Imperial law applies to them, but it also grants shahs limited power to rule by decree. Official findings not personally certified by the Padishah may be overturned by a shah. Most in these positions shamelessly enrich their families, and some are guilty of further corruption. Yet these authoritarian leaders enjoy dutiful obedience from archons, bashars, maliks, and nomarchs under their jurisdiction. This unity is crucial to the effectiveness and integrity of the world's youngest Imperial regime.
 ⩓ Sheikh  Originally the term for a Wabahari tribal elder, sheikh is now used throughout the Serpian Empire to designate local leaders with a long history of rallying support from their people. Special business opportunities and other privileges induce these popular figures to show respect for Imperial authorities. Yet it is not a term than can be stripped away by any official act. A renegade sheikh may enjoy the status of a folk hero, support growing with every season of continued defiance. Likewise a sheikh with the full support of the Empire may be discredited and shunned in the wake of a sufficiently major scandal. Most who bear this title enjoy financial support from many prosperous houses, and some also act as legal authorities operating outside the Imperial system.
 ⩓ Shogun  To-Shinese independence started with neglect. The bureaucracy noted without alarm that famous families were effectively turning mid-level positions into birthrights. Prefects with an agenda of ethnic nationalism managed to install enough Celedinese immigrants that the idea of hereditary indigenous officials became wildly popular. Crackdowns on minor rebellions were misdirected to bring woe upon innocent communities. Resentment built up until a full rebellion broke out. Able lords fighting for the resistance selected one among them to serve as dictator. Imperial officials were expelled with remarkable swiftness, and the To-Shinese Shogunate declared independence. Even today the Shogun exercises absolute power by way of enormous intelligence gathering and military hierarchies.
 ⩓ Taiji  These distant relatives of the Khaan are considered quasi-royalty. Only mirza and the Khaan himself need not make way for a taiji's procession. Most taiji possess both a family stronghold and an enormous herd of valuable stock. Those strongholds feature a formidable fort overlooking a town full of loyal artisans and merchants. Some taiji improve their community with the profits from livestock while others improve their herd with taxes from the town. Taiji are required to pay some taxes of their own, though these can be mitigated with major contributions of warhorses or trained soldiers. Factors like weather and whimsy often influence the ratio of time these nobles spend on the open range to time spent holding court in a more sheltered setting.
 ⩓ Taishi  While most of Elatolia remains open range, royal land grants remain an organizing principle there. The humblest fiefs are accompanied by the title taishi. Each of these territories contain some tracts of farmland, a thriving town, and/or excellent waters to fish. Any diligent taishi with a small body of followers can live well by protecting and taxing local commerce. Along with the position, successors are expected to inherit the lore of their predecessors. It is only through generations of thoughtful expertise that the realm's valleys and ports provide enough food for the Elatolian homeland. Taishi sometimes channel surplus resources into a college or temple. The most successful grow large prosperous communities by investing in their own domains.
 ⩓ Talukdar  Through special arrangement with the Oriental Empire, the Maharani personally pays taxes for all of Xe-Shan. Much of that revenue is gathered by talukdars operating out of mountainside or hilltop fortresses. They are legal owners of their fiefs, which tend to be the size of counties. Most are speckled with non-human enclaves and exotic monasteries that pose unusual peacekeeping and tax collection challenges. Though talukdars are governed by Imperial law, their authority in areas like work opportunities, housing assignments, and sanitation plans makes it possible to impose new policies on a population. Most talukdars maintain peace and prosperity across their territories without any need for executions, mutilations, or reinforcement from Imperial authorities.
 ⩓ Thakur  The prefects of Xe-Shan are known locally as thakurs. The Maharani and the Imperial bureaucracy negotiate the elevation of these officials from talukdar status, a position they normally resume after leaving office. As Imperial prefects these officials have law enforcement powers, conscription authority, and funding sufficient to maintain a standing army. Thakurs tend to employ a diverse collection of small units with exotic training and tactics. The total numbers of their forces are not imposing, but the capablities of some are legendary. Thakurs respond to complaints from talukdars and zamindars about violent activities or criminal organizations on their fiefs. Thakurs also head into wild lands as needed to conduct monster hunts in service to public safety.
 ⩓ Thane  Carmatian landholders who are defenders of many prosperous towns or at least one respectable city are known as thanes. Though this status sometimes rests on the politics of clans clashing in the area, most thanes are battle-tested. Some are living legends. There is no uniform approach to defending a thanedom in the highlands, so standing forces and ready reserves vary greatly. Likewise with the lands themselves. Few regions produce consistently good harvests, and some offer little working farmland at all. The most infamous thanes are little more than warlords, raiding regularly to restock their own treasuries. The most admired are noble protectors giving many thousands of people a place to flourish. Always they expect to be treated as dignitaries both at home and abroad.
 ⩓ Tigui  Early Zintu adventurers with the wherewithal to lead an expedition into the interior and return with valuable resources would be addressed as tigui. Today the same term is a noble rank that indicates command of an extraordinary operation at work. Tigui landholdings may encompass a large plantation or a productive mine. Yet some of these elites take a more traditional approach. Their estates are secure compounds where supporters can keep homes and raise families in peace. On a seasonal basis, the tigui and key associates make camp in the wild interior. From taking down big game to literal treasure hunting, the group often returns slightly less numerous and much wealthier. Higher officials award this title to give leaders legal authority over their teams while encouraging complete tax compliance.
 ⩓ Tribune  An office bestowed on people of common birth by means of popular vote, tribunes play a unique role in Truscan society. Under the Republic they were outspoken advocates for the welfare of the plebian class. Today most tribunes require the support of elite financiers to win votes for election or retention. Both custom and law holds that tribunes are never to be punished for their public remarks nor barred from entry into any government building. Ideally, it is their role to speak truth to power on behalf of people who have no other voice in the regime. Yet a tribune who makes too much trouble may be replaced. Many serve the state with nothing more than tactful reminders of the costs new policies impose on ordinary citizens and soldiers. Most are rewarded with a respectable salary and modest estate.
 ⩓ Viscount/Viscountess  This title is used little or not at all by some monarchs. Yet others award many of these fiefs that are technically superior to a barony and inferior to a county. This range might encompass a medium-sized city or the entire homeland of a tiny isolated culture. Viscounts who do not live in a proper castle will instead inhabit a lavish palace fit for hosting royalty. These domains are usually lucrative, but each poses its own set of challenges. Some viscounts benefit from family traditions that unlock the secrets of motivating local industries to be more productive. Others maintain the right mix of military and political assets to harmoniously secure an otherwise troubled locale. Some of these officials retain exotic knights specially trained to address the unique difficulties of their viscounties.
 ⩓ Vizegraf  Though most barons maintain a fortified tower or keep for their own protection, by definition a vizegraf's holdings include a proper castle. Their income may be derived from the productivity of surrounding lands or it may come chiefly from a superior's treasury. Every vizegraf accepts a duty to maintain a capable garrison securing his or her territory against a full invasion. Strongholds durable enough to serve as rallying points in time of crisis make a crucial contribution to social stability. Vizegrafs who are not formidable military commanders in their own right are expected to fund knights able to provide that leadership. These houses often employ masons and engineers to maintain defenses. Provided taxes are not too severe, common folk tend to support these noble protectors.
 ⩓ Vizier  As with the viceroys of the Old Kingdom, most Serpian viziers maintain order and prosperity in outlying lands. They host their shah for official visits, otherwise presiding over headquarters fit for a king. Viziers rarely deviate from Imperial policies. Yet they command tremendous respect ruling on regional controversies while managing the apparatus of government. Some oversee multiple provinces and metropolitan centers. Yet the domain of some viziers is conceptual rather than territorial. One might oversee all minting under a shah while another is responsible for building and maintaining roads. These specialist viziers will be granted palaces and personal estates adequate to host royalty, but their authority is otherwise limited to a category of public endeavor.
 ⩓ Wang  The Elatolian Hegemony arose when the first Khaan systematically conquered dozens of small kingdoms. This ancient word for king now refers to an Elatolian aristocrat who controls a considerable expanse of land including at least one large permanent settlement. The domains of these nobles tend to line river valleys or sit on the edge of forests. Wangs show particular interest in irrigation to expand the scope of productive farmland. Their fiefs account for much of the food production and commerce in modern Elatolia. Many educational and religious institutions owe their establishment to the patronage of a wang. Within their domains these nobles still rule like minor kings. Yet they are expected to furnish the Khaan with enormous financial tribute during official visits.
 ⩓ Warden  This is not an aristocratic title in Mainlander societies, where it is bestowed upon law enforcers ranging over large areas with little or no population. By contrast, wardens of the Orient govern small territories with high populations. Their rank conveys the authority to deputize and arm civilians. These officials are tasked with keeping the peace and overseeing compliance with government regulations. Officials who rise high in the bureaucracy often got their start as popular wardens who brought prosperity and happiness to a troubled neighborhood. In exchange for their salaries and badges, these local leaders are expected to support all Imperial activities taking place in their territories, especially criminal investigations and tax collections.
 ⩓ Zamindar  The original zamindars were tax collectors appointed by a legendary Maharaja. When his royal court cut off contact with the outside world, zamindars went beyond administering censuses and gathering tributes. Today they control their fiefs according to distinctive traditions. Zamindars have broad latitude to reassign farms, alter rents, order labors, and set productivity quotas. Though they collect those rents for themselves and taxes for the Maharani, zamindars have no special authority to impose criminal justice beyond penalties for non-complaince with economic plans. Some still maintain order by applying pressure through the powers within their purview. Other zamindars depend heavily on higher authorities to keep the peace inside their own territories.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Assets & Acres ↑  → Businesses & Bootlegs ←  ↓ Coins & Currencies ↓

Businesses & Bootlegs
Banks Dragons hoard gold in their lairs because luxuriating in it gives them a sense of blissful ecstasy. Humans pile gold into vaults because it is easier to secure one large treasury than many small repositories. Modern societies typically allow private banking houses as a popular way to build up financial reserves without having an account at a government office or keeping all funds on hand. Complex networks of credit exchange between banks and shipping companies constitute a financial infrastructure within which profits can be concealed from tax collectors and/or shareholders.
 Many realms see growing political pressure to regulate lending and other financial practices. Some governments facilitate the worst abuses, enforcing contract provisions no less severe than enslavement. The most honorable banks negotiate compromises with delinquent debtors, while the least scrupulous impose punitive penalties and employ violent collection agents. Long-established banks are safe places to store wealth. They will also lend from their reserves, but only when they are extremely confident of repayment on their terms.
Once halflings started delivering small items from the territories of different dragons, merchandise joined coins and land as a form of wealth. Sometimes a full purse is no substitute for goods on hand. Providers of secure shipping played crucial roles in the earliest human societies. Caravans grew larger and more frequent. Merchant mariners found adventurous ways to accumulate respectable fortunes. A virtuous cycle unfolded – new commerce supported more specialization, which in turn helped expand trade. Parallel cycles saw many great cities expanding to sustain more than one million people together in a single community. Modern prosperity ripples through surrounding lands. Many working families can afford luxuries like a diverse wardrobe, locking doors, and a few books or musical instruments.
 The wealth of a thriving society becomes plunder from a different perspective. Norish marauders launch seasonal raids with financial goals. Pirates and bandits have long preyed upon civilians thought to be hauling ample cargo or treasure. Artisans and shopkeepers must remain vigilant against thieves. Fencing stolen goods can be a lucrative trade. It often involves speedy export, since concerned authorities sometimes employ magic to seek out nearby stolen objects. Even financial enterprises constituted entirely by rented buildings and legal documents must be wary of fraud and embezzlement. Just as criminals target those who accumulate wealth, authorities may use legal means to pursue control. Partnerships and other investment schemes can convert these conflicts into harmonious arrangements.
 Major trading corporations admit aristocrats to boards of directors. In return for personal enrichmeent they secure warehouses, satisfy regulators, manage offices, negotiate tax relief, and protect trademarks. Some shipping lines are wholly owned by royal charter. The norm is a partnership allowing some corporate officers to handle politics while others focus on logistics and market analysis. The largest employ many thousands of people spread all over the world. Some go beyond anticipating trends, directly manipulating trade itself. Stockpiling inventories makes it possible to drive up prices of specific goods. Flooding an area with merchandise may cripple competitors, enabling buyouts at extremely favorable terms. Either tactic leaves the corporation in a position to exploit a vulnerable population.
“Nothing written in any spellbook surpasses the power of compound interest.”

— Demeter Sarantos, Thracian Tribune
 Large mercantile companies may enter into exclusive arrangements with suppliers. Either by adding another member to the board or paying rent on production facilities, exporters gain control of sources like the harvest from a famous tea plantation or the goods crafted by a renowned guild. Any well-run commercial enterprise generates value beyond basic compensation for workers. Owners can become fabulously wealthy from surpluses. Some companies even sell shares of ownership to otherwise passive investors. These speculators provide more funds to cover expenses and make acquisitions, participating in subsequent profits and losses. In many lands these financial schemes are subject to little government oversight. Frauds are all too common among smaller operators, while large trading companies sometimes motivate official corruption.
Borders Every nation maintains some sort of surveillance in border lands so that incursions are promptly detected. Some borders see much greater attention, including heavily garrisoned forts and efforts to modify the terrain. The entire boundary between Albionish and Carmatian homelands is a massive stone wall. Where neither tensions nor populations run high, regular security may give way to bandit territory. Yet where trade is brisk, checkpoints and regular patrols make it difficult to move goods in bulk undetected. At borders between hostile powers, any crossing involves an element of risk.
 Internal borders can also have bearing on trade. Many cities have strict legal codes that do not extend beyond bowshot of their outer wall. Laws may also vary between fiefs, districts, or provinces. Regulators and tax collectors are a common sight at any secure crossings between different jurisdictions. Back roads and lesser waterways may provide alternatives, though lack of oversight is often exploited by brigands and predators. While border guards are dutybound to prevent smuggling, other obligations place competing demands on their attention. Also, some guards are more dutiful than others.
 Businesses operating out of established premises in a civilized area will require support from local leaders. Many societies do not recognize claims of land ownership asserted by ordinary citizens or subjects. Initially favorable rents tend to escalate after new businesses accumulate inventory, develop a clientele, and invest in their facilities. Working with a commercial landlord often amounts to an unofficial partnership. Some artisans' guilds have legal authority to compel cooperation from upstarts attempting the same craft anywhere in an entire city. Without an aristocratic sponsor, lucrative businesses in populated areas will be seen as prizes to be acquired by society's elite. Only ventures owned by or allied with a titled official can be confident the power structure will support steady accumulation of private profit.
 Yet some opportunities involve actively working against officialdom. Luxury trademarks often inspire counterfeit merchandise. Rising taxes generate interest in secret methods of storage and transportation. Rigid regulations leave some producers with large supplies of unapproved goods. Some laws explicitly forbid the possession of particular substances or items. These conditions generate needs served by illicit commerce. Its grave risks pair with tremendous rewards. Criminal syndicates require secrecy. Witnesses to criminal activity can become problems for the group. The number of informed insiders must be kept small. From fearless smugglers sailing treacherous waters to gangs of urchin peddlers plying busy streetcorners, there are many ways to profit while covertly circumventing legal methods of trade.
 Running arms and military equipment through hostile territory to embattled forces generates especially lucrative opportunities. Bulky cargoes and aggressive patrols make every warzone delivery challenging. The smugglers' speciality, avoiding interdiction, becomes a matter of survival. Informants can reveal the search plans of diviners. Planting a little incriminating evidence may misdirect authorities away from a larger haul. Fugitive transport often involves eluding trackers while rushing customers to their destinations. The best profits come from trafficking mind-altering substances. These controversial commodities can provoke extreme policies like punishingly high taxes or outright prohibitions. Sneaking this sort compact contraband through borders, harbors, or city gates is the source of many substantial incomes.
↓ Skip Lists ↓Major Commercial Sectors and Mind-Altering Substances↓ Skip Lists ↓
 ⧫ Animals being bred or transported will attract official attention. Tax assessments may be informed by the size and health of herds. From ecological concerns to religious taboos, some realms have reason to enforce severe penalties for attempts to import specific creatures. Rulers adjacent to wealthy nations may place heavy taxes on the export of livestock and working animals, hoping to retain productive capacity in their own lands. Occasionally a formal declaration recognizes a particular breed as a national treasure or a military asset. These acts can lead to outright bans on activities like exporting, capturing, hunting, or use as food.
 Even where there are no controversies or unreasonable tariffs, the live animal trade remains problematic in other ways. Stock usually requires food and water, not to mention plenty of cleanup while housed in barns or aboard ships. This sort of cargo can be difficult to conceal. Many types of animals persistently betray their presence with distinctive smells, sounds, and tracks. Without proper care, animals can develop disease that may spread among their kind or even pose risks to people. Runaways and attacking beasts can create serious hazards. Being caught in a major stampede is an experience that rivals the horrors of war.
 ⧫ Arms/Armor are subject to government oversight in every civilized realm. Some impose severe restrictions, criminalizing specific equipment for wielders without official rank or license. Even where private use of military weapons is encouraged, informants gather intelligence allowing rulers to monitor the groups, locations, and motives associated with potentially threatening buildups. Arms dealers can run afoul of international conflict when trade with one faction leads to political tensions with a hostile power. Most bladesmiths, armorers, and weapon merchants make a point to work with local authorities so as not to be suspected of working against them.
 Groups with official military ties or aristocratic support may oppose upstarts in their communities. Enforcing impractical regulations or plotting to associate a rival with a crime problem can spark official interference with trade. Guilds in this sector are often willing to work with outsiders, albeit on terms that serve their financial interests. Major population centers usually sustain a robust covert arms trade nearby, with dwarves and/or dark elves operating facilities both literally and figuratively underground. This sort of cargo can prove lucrative for daring smugglers, since bandits and soldiers alike see these hauls as valuable prizes.
 ⧫ Art/Fashion sees endless fickleness driven by trends. Creative visionaries strive to please their patrons through bold experiments and extreme displays of technical ability. Wealthy consumers will seek simlar decor and attire for themselves. Ordinary consumers see elements of the experimental turning up at the markets and shops they frequent. Some clothiers cultivate reputations for practical and durable attire. This sort prospers only a little unless retained to produce uniforms. The greatest profits in this sector involve transforming textiles into the fashions of the season.
 Apart from collecting taxes on trade in the rarest and most prized of raw materials, governments rarely show much interest in this area. The value of many objects of art is subjective. What a vendor might promote to the public as fine robes fit for royal courtiers could be listed as common garb on ledgers meant for official inspection. Also, it is often impractical to establish which items of clothing and decoration are inventory for trade and which are personal possessions. Apart from urban guilds hostile to local independents, literally going out of style is the main hazard of endeavors in this sector.
 ⧫ Books/Papers are the material component of information channels vital to vast organizations. Logbooks, ledgers, and digests are constantly being duplicated and circulated throughout governments and trading companies. Some cities see more than one-tenth of their inhabitants employed as scribes or clerks. Their ranks may be doubled by adding arcane, religious, and scientific disciplines steeped in literature as well as students in those areas. Roadworthy persons and seaworthy vessels can collect modest fees for carrying mail pouches between civilized communities. Trusted professional transporters earn generous fees by delivering secret reports or magical texts, some actively sought by hostile organizations.
 Modern leaders consider archives and libraries among their most precious resources. The upkeep of these facilities requires not only scribes, but also experts in bookbinding and the organization of large collections. Stationery and inks are rarely subject to special taxes, since literacy is immensely popular. Concentrations of books and papers are ideal fuel for a fast-spreading fire. A disastrous loss of knowledge can be compounded by as the conflagration quickly consumes a building or vessel. Yet large shipments of literature are common. No major city lacks multiple booksellers. Also, many libraries share knowledge by exchanging crates of older volumes after penning fresh copies for their own collections.
 ⧫ Construction requires a building site. In civilized lands this almost always involves permission from or partnership with a landowning aristocrat. Wilder territories pair no government interference with no protection. Homes and businesses in unclaimed lands become targets for attack by monsters and bandits. Independent builders often find opportunities in smaller towns where minor lords encourage commoners to show initiative in land development. Larger cities see strict regulators and local guilds both blocking these efforts. From architects to roofers, working within the established power structure is the only way to make an enduring contribution to an urban skyline.
 Construction materials are not normally subject to special taxes. Most regulations are about protecting the land, like banning quarries that undermine inhabited hills or requiring loggers to purchase licenses with limited use. Long distance shipping of these supplies rarely attracts aggression. Slow barges are common for loads of rock or bundles of timber. Only the most exotic stone or wood is handled like valuable cargo. Responsible city governments not only inspect existing buildings, but also guard against the use of damaged or otherwise inferior building materials that could lead to future collapse. Criminal organizations sometimes profit from risky substitutions in the provision of building materials.
 ⧫ Entertainment is a significant part of every major economy in modern times. Playhouses and concert halls are rarely quiet more than two evenings per week. The most elite eateries and boutiques employ educated musicians to create an ambience for patrons. Common drinking houses often serve up a few pints and a few coins to entertainers who keep a crowd amused late into the night. Even where hardships are intense, the comfort of a familiar ballad or the distraction of an engaging drama may drive people to continue funding performances. Outsiders are often welcomed by local talent. Yet competition can be fierce for the most lucrative opportunities. Some cities impose official censorship and/or criminalize busking without a license.
 Many entertainers travel to learn the songs and tales of distant lands. Troubadors spread news of recent events while working a circuit of familiar communities. Famed celebrities tour arenas to participate in huge public spectacles. Many churches and temples sponsor entertainers in efforts to attract outsiders. Yet outspoken clergy have also been known to condemn specific sorts of music or theater. Rulers may be moved to impose legal bans. In many realms it is common for public officials to punish entertainers thought to be challenging authorities. Where political tensions run thick, the timing and momentum of a rebellion can be influenced by charismatic agitators working through artistic performances.
 ⧫ Grain/Produce is essential for sustained economic development. Immigrants do not flock to hungry cities. Talented professionals normally favor neighborhoods offering a wide variety of food vendors. Surplus goods in this sector may be distilled into valuable spirits. Even tax collectors get their taste of the best harvests. Each growing season is a big investment with uncertain outcomes. Economic planners, landlords, and clergy may all be strong advocates for specific crops or farming practices. Grain storage is often a simple matter of pest control, though fine dust in the air can create a fire hazard at granaries. Barges are used to move these inexpensive and durable commodities over water.
 Swifter transport is preferred for more perishable goods. Apart from various nuts and roots, most produce is best consumed within days of harvest. Swift horsecarts transport fresh fruits and vegetables quickly from farm to table. Some teamsters even specialize in hauling both ice and produce from the countryside, allowing the former to preserve the latter. Inspections are common in this sector, since unscrupulous vendors have been known to add filler to sacks of grain or conceal rotten produce under their best samples. Much of the teleportation traffic at urban Standing Stone sites is driven by demand for off-season and foreign foodstuffs.
 ⧫ Leathers/Furs serve as trade goods even in the most primitive communities. Some aristocrats favor cloaks or coats of rare fur on ceremonial occasions. Wherever the weather is capable of delivering bitter cold, heavy fur garments become everyday attire. Extremely rugged clothing can be produced from leathers. Yet the finest of these materials are prized by elite fashion designers. From a basic pair of hiking boots to a literal mantle of royalty, the skins of other creatures are an important part of how most people clad themselves.
 Materials sourced from the wild may see hunters requiring special permission to operate in civilized territory. Trapping may be even more heavily restricted, and that practice risks hostility from wild fey or reclusive druids inhabiting untamed wildereness. Finished goods produced or sold in urban environments sometimes require the approval of a local trade guild. Merchants able to walk comfortably among both cityfolk and isolated tribes sometimes accumulate enormous profits by exchanging outland pelts for basic tools and supplies. Though poaching can bring severe penalties, it generates income for sufficiently sneaky hunters.
 ⧫ Magic Items are always coveted, some valued far more than their own weight in gold. Even self-heating kettles and perpetually-inked quill nibs fetch higher prices than a full suit of non-magical chainmail. Many spellcasters possess the means to discern enchanted objects from ordinary matter, and curiosity is a common trait among them. The rarest of relics have been known to manipulate the minds of guards into disloyal violence. Yet even minor magic items create some risk of pilferage. Caravans and shops with abundant selections require extraordinary security. Only the most legendary vendors can stock and protect a broad assortment of truly powerful items.
 Some brokers specialize in acquisition of specific magic items. Through a blend of contacts, divinations, and legwork; these professionals are constantly questing while steering clear of personal violence. Their rewards come in the form of fees collected whenever a hopeful buyer is united with a potential seller. Even magic shops that lack enchanted items will offer an array of spell components and magic item precursors. Imbuing these materials with arcane power requires the correct formula. Since so many formulae are obsolete or impractical, each working process is a closely guarded secret. Some require a quest of their own to earn the trust of a capable teacher or to make sense of details buried inside allegories and riddles.
 ⧫ Passengers/Pilgrims would be able to purchase a sailing ship outright for the cost of an intercontinental round trip by way of the ley line network. Thus those ships continue to cross the Lesser Ocean since few travellers can afford the magical alternative. Almost every land sees wayfarers in need of guidance and support. Even the poorest people may attempt great journeys for an urgent purpose. Prosperous families sometimes seek new experiences or visit kin by taking vacations in distant lands. Students must attend an institution or live near a master to be available for lessons. Some religions require a holy pilgrimage of all worshippers, and many more teach that certain sacred sites offer the prospect of miraculous blessings.
 Transporting people poses more demanding versions of the challenges associated with livestock, particularly in terms of feeding and quartering. Passengers may insist on stopping to see the sights, visit a market, or interact with potenatially unfriendly locals. Though wealthy travellers tend to offer generous compensation, they are also targets for skilled robbers and kidnappers if not also assassins. More than a few modern shipping lines offer a regular schedule of passenger service between distant ports. Fees at border checkpoints are customarily reasonable, though inspections may be otherwise. Captains and caraveneers can develop problematic reputations if they become known for transporting fugitives or monstrous-looking persons.
 ⧫ Tools/Gadgets are crucial to the development of new territories. From gathering resources with axes and picks to surveying boundaries with spyglasses and plane tables, many tools are required to raise buildings and coordinate other labors. When an isolated colony taps a valuable resource, years of lucrative trade opportunities may follow from exporting that commodity in exchange for working tools and household comforts. Speciality shops offer clockwork toys for children of all ages, from mesmerizing displays to hang near a newborn's crib to gambling machines that collect and randomly payout uniform tokens. Yet many people fail to appreciate how delicate the springs and gears inside mechanical devices can be.
 As with the original purchase of a gadget, upkeep and repairs can be costly. Well-placed experts grow rich while dealing precision-crafted components. Rock gnomes are naturally gifted tinkers, and the Apparatus Society shares its lore with agreeable supplicants. Guilds have difficulty monopolizing this complex sector. Innovations are both frequent and unpredictable. Yet tinkers often face unrealistic demands from customers. Workers may blame toolmakers when equipment fails in critical situations. An even greater loss of life is caused by mechanical traps. Though inventors have been awarded fortunes for rigging a vault or fortress with deadly features, some designers have been put to death by paranoid employers obsessed with the secrecy of their defenses.
 ⧫ Treasure is a powerful motivator for people and dragons alike. Sites known to yield precious metals and/or gems are typically protected by armed guards and mined only by loyal professionals. Many humans see this work as unpleasant toil in an uncomfortable environment. Yet goblins and kobolds work well in dark tunnels. Dwarves share that trait and find it deeply satisfying to extract quality ore from underground. Smelting commonly takes place near precious metal mines. Mints sometimes operate in the vicinity as well. Securing a treasure caravan is always risky work. Where aristocrats are unable to put military commanders on the task, secrecy and misinformation become essential.
 Government and corporate payrolls are always targets for daring thieves. Banks are an even greater lure, though successful bank robberies are not at all common. Abundant steel and powerful spells join forces in defense of any major treasure vault. Synod Jewellers maintain a global standard of ethical integrity across commerce in this sector. Precious items not need be sold at unconsecrated establishments for far below their intrinsic value unless they are stolen. Yet some lords legally confiscate or place heavy taxes on treasure hoards recovered inside their territory. Heroic adventurers serving a civilized realm are well-advised to negotiate in advance the status of loot recovered from the lairs and persons of defeated foes.
 ℞ Alcohol has been popular for tens of thousands of years. The Archfey personally shaped many varieties of grape in pursuit of the finest table wines. Modern worshippers of Dionysus both covet and revere alcoholic beverages. In one form or another, beer is a common ration as well as a tavern staple. Most modern cultures also have their own winemaking traditions, and many are no strangers to strong spirits. Agricultural surpluses and distillation technology maintain the flow of booze into thirsty cities.
 Yet chronic or excessive drunkenness gives rise to serious concerns. Most societies closely regulate and heavily tax the production of alcohol. Bootlegging and smuggling can lead to violent conflicts with authorities. Public drunkenness is rarely punished with more than a turn in the pillory, though some authorities enforce more severe prohibitions. The primary harm from alcohol is not so much the drinking itself as the street fights and other gang activity often fueled by aggressive consumption. Even so, few aristocrats abstain from this pleasure.
 ℞ Ambrosia is seen by some as a gift given by the gods, while others regard it as a stolen secret. This light foamy foodstuff tastes of honey. A hearty portion is always satisfying yet never fattening. Consumption tends to emphasize feelings of fitness and youth, often accompanied by a general sense of bliss. It does wonders for elevating people out of sad or angry moods. Ambrosia also offers temporary respite from chronic pain and other physical discomforts. There is no excuse for remaining glum at a celebration where this dish is served.
 Unfortunately this effect ceases the day after an indulgence. Continuous dosing shortens its duration. Meals of ambrosia must become increasingly frequent to maintain a sense of well-being. Dependent consumers may resort to desperate measures in the quest to fund a habit. Infused with holy magic, genuine ambrosia is typically produced by a team of skilled cooks working with clergy. Churches may freely distribute the stuff on special occasions, but they zealously guard supplies. Most societies have popular laws with severe penalties for the hoarding or resale of ambrosia by persons operating without the support of a respected religious organization.
 ℞ Cheerpaste is produced by compressing a blend of berries, nectars, and fungi into a sticky gel. Initially it tastes sweet, and if eaten it has a numbing effect that makes all other foods taste sweet. In larger doses, it can cause slurred speech along with colorful staining of the tongue, teeth, and lips. Though cheerpaste can be used to make a bland meal taste like dessert, the substance is consumed primarily by people sitting or standing in an audience. It normally promotes quiet attention, but cheerpaste also seems to amplify the emotional impact of a crowd's shared experience. Tragic moments in a play will seem even darker, while triumphs of art or sport will be profoundly satisfying to witness.
 Cheerpaste loses potency within a day or two of its manufacture, so it can be an expensive treat in areas where the ingredients are rare. Yet it is a feature of many Old Faith gatherings, making silences more reverent and howling more fervent. When eaten alone in the absence of any spectacle, the chief effect of the substance is to raise awareness of just how boring the present moment happens to be. Actual cheerpaste is rarely involved in criminal matters, but vendors peddling old or counterfeit cheerpaste may work the crowd at major public events.
 ℞ Chromestools seem psychedelic on the outside, given the way light plays off the shimmering exteriors of these small mushrooms. When eaten raw, they taste of well-cooked beefsteak. Beyond that, they also alter minds to think in ways both more creative and less orderly. With a moderate dose, all forms of entertainment seem more intense and amusing. A truly heavy dose can produce temporary confusion, hallucinations, and synesthesia. Fringe groups and rebellious youths may eat chromestools to enhance revelry. Some artists and scholars indulge in search of inspiration. Yet many people find the experience unpleasant, and some local leaders go so far as to ban trade in chromesools.
 Actual harm involving these mushrooms is likely to be a result of a ban rather than the behavior of users. The heaviest doses can be disorienting or even sickening, but chromestools are not popular with the sorts of people who accept life-and-death responsibilities on a regular basis. The tales of tragedy attributed to chromestools are typically fictions concocted to discourage juvenile experimentation. Being almost as controversial as they are shiny, this ware is normally stocked by herbalists in a secret compartment or opaque container.
 ℞ Fizzwater is produced with the simplest of magics. Given the correct formula, any beverage can be infused with tiny bubbles that impart both relaxing and refreshing qualities. Some favor it as a substitute for alcohol, since fizzwater binges typically conclude with peaceful slumber. Parties fuelled by fizzwater tend to be quiet and serene, yet no less euphoric than their alcoholic counterparts. Where available, fizzwater is particularly welcome in the aftermath of a great labor or a stressful day. It is often effective in calming disturbed or traumatized individuals.
 The chief hazard of fizzwater is its explosive nature. Fizzwater containers must be tightly sealed, as its gaseous infusion will disperse into the air within an hour or two of exposure. Yet if a sealed fizzwater container becomes agitated, the pressure within will increase. Being highly flammable, a strong concentration of those gases can prove downright disastrous. This trade is rigorously taxed, restricted, and licensed. Public backlash is common against any government that fails to protect its citizens from detonations of major fizzwater stockpiles.
 ℞ Hushbalm is a blend of fragrant oils with a unique and memorable aroma. When deliberately inhaled or applied just under the nose, it produces a profound state of calm. Pain and distress somehow seem to matter little under the influence of hushbalm. Yet it also tends to be disorienting, with even light doses leading to a highly suggestible state. Recreational use typically involves the oversight of a sober minder. Medical experts may administer this substance to sedate the wounded.
 Hushbalm is not popular at festive events, but some revelers will use the stuff as a sleeping aid. This can be dangerous. Habitual use will cause a tolerance to build up, and extremely heavy doses of hushbalm can be deadly. Social concern about hushbalm stems from the practice of using rags daubed with the stuff as tools of abduction. Also, less scrupulous suitors may attempt to administer a dose by offering up a medicated flower so that its scent may be sampled. Hushbalm production and sale are tightly controlled in some societies for fear of these abuses.
 ℞ Mindglass is the product of an alchemical process so exacting that even the weather must be considered when preparing a batch. After proper mixing and cooling, the finished product should have the look of stained glass. No specific color is better than another, but any cloudiness or haze suggests the presence of impurities. When vaporized in a small heated vessel, inhaled mindglass renders a person intensely ecstatic. Consumers report being more able to focus their attention and being free from fatigue. In small doses it may help a person become more diligent in labor or study. Large doses may trigger a frenzy of intense activity.
 Consumers also become sleepless, with some prone to incoherent ravings. It is possible to maintain precise dosing given consistent supplies and great personal restraint. Yet variations in purity and mood drive some mindglass users to take larger and larger doses, falling into a spiral of elevated tolerance and deeper desire. Many societies have outlawed mindglass entirely, and elsewhere it is subject to extreme restrictions. Even so, the stuff is popular with mercenaries and other military organizations. Forced marches and late night patrol duties seem less tiring with a good dose of mindglass to stay sharp.
 ℞ Pipeweed is a naturally occuring plant still found wild in most parts of the world. Modern pipeweed benefits from millennia of magical adjustments and selective breeding. Some varieties are most noteable for causing a strong euphoria. Others are famed for their relaxing effects. Yet all tend to stimulate hunger, promote calm, and remedy nausea. As its name suggests, the herbal material is normally smoked for immediate effect. It is also potent as a food additive. Pipeweed is more popular in some cultures than others, but authorities rarely prohibit the stuff.
 Nevertheless, conflict often arises around pipeweed. Though the plant is easily cultivated, special strains able to grow the highest quality product require a convergence of factors. Farms with a reputation for fine crops often face steep taxes. Some governments require growers to be licensed and submit to regular quality checks. Smugglers and illicit growers profit by undercutting heavily regulated suppliers. Though pipeweed smokers tend to be peaceful and harmless, the pipeweed business can get downright brutal when producers and vendors compete for their share of the lucrative trade.
 ℞ Poppymilk is a concentrated extract taken from a common plant also known for its beautiful blooms. Basic alchemical processes turn sticky white sap into a powerful painkiller and sedative. A small splash of poppymilk in some other beverage will do much to soften the impact of a sorrow or lessen the pain of a fresh injury. Larger doses result in a blissful sense of cosmic awareness. Yet too large a dose functions as a poison, sending its victim off into a peacefully fatal slumber. Some herbalists refuse to sell supplies of poppymilk, instead only dealing with customers willing to have a carefully measured dose administered personally.
 Habitual consumers often find it difficult to avoid escalating their dose. Building tolerance demands more of the substance to achieve the same effect. Apart from considerable expense, regularly consuming high doses of poppymilk will cause a person to seem pale and sickly the whole day through. Deadly overdoses sometimes claim those who cannot be weened off the substance. Fortunately these fatalities are uncommon due to expense. Tremendous amounts of raw material must be harvested to fill a small container with finished product. Applicable regulations are easy to enforce and taxes easy to collect because no competent government fails to notice vast swaths of land covered in bright red flowers.
 ℞ Tea is available in almost every civilized community. Prepared with a boiling vesssel, this beverage is a safe alternative to alcohol in places where the water supply is questionable. Varieties exceed the scope of any catalog, in part because some palaces and temples grow unique teas only available at that particular site. Tea typically has an extremely mild effect on the mind, providing just a little bit more focus and energy. It is an ideal afternoon refreshment for people looking to stay sharp through the end of a workday. A few varieties have a much stronger effect, causing bouts of hypervigilance paired with insomnia. Such brews are popular with guards, teamsters, and other workers with a duty to resist fatigue.
 There is no law in the world that prohibits tea consumption. Yet some lands have rigorous laws about the gathering, preparation, and distribution of the stuff. A supply of especially rare tea may fetch a high price. This creates opportunities for counterfeiters who would package low grade leaves as something finer. Elite tea producers are often influential with regional government, so these crimes may generate aggressive responses from authorities. In lands where beer or wine are not customary offerings of hospitality, a hot cup of tea tends to fill that role. Afternoon tea is a daily event in proper Albionish households. Among the To-Shinese, the act of sharing a small pot of tea has become an artform unto itself.
 ℞ Tobacco is available in as many strains as pipeweed, yet all varieties of tobacco have essentially similar effects on users. Either smoked or chewed and spat out, this intoxicating leaf is simultaneously stimulating and calming. A pipe full of tobacco can make a smoker more alert and less drawn to distractions. Stress is often reduced during consumption. Yet the indulgence easily becomes a habit. Despite the mild effects of consumption, regular tobacco smokers can become severely agitated when deprived of this vice.
 Much like tea, tobacco is traded the world over. While flavor and scent are the only major distinguishing features of specific varieties, many smokers develop intense loyalty to a favored type. Tobacco shops offer material from exotic locations. Supportive climates will also see homegrown offerings available in bulk. Civilized locales often feature ash trays and spittoons to manage this otherwise dirty habit. Legal prohibitions on tobacco are rare, though institutions like libraries and art galleries normally ban smoking indoors.
 ℞ Witchroot is unearthed as gnarly masses of dry fibrous material. The stuff is often powdered before use. In this form it can be consumed by snorting a generous pinch. It can also be administered forcibly by puffing a handful into someone's face. A light dose causes general relaxation while inducing a state of open-mindedness. Potential beliefs or friends will be evaluated from a favorable perspective. Stronger doses bring forth primal instincts. This often includes craving for full contact physical activities ranging from dance to brawling. Small hot beverages infused with witchroot are ideal refreshments at events where inhibitions are unwanted. Yet too much of the stuff can lead to a frenzy that only relents after total exhaustion.
 Witchroot is controversial, but bans are rare since it is an ingredient in a great many useful potions. The stuff also enjoys popularity for puprposes of stimulating amorous impulses. Some cultures promote this practice while others explicitly outlaw the administration of witchroot without prior consent. Consumers who overdo it with this substance are usually happy to wait a few days before indulging anew, awaking with assorted aches and pains. Concern about witchroot as a social problem is often dismissed as excessively austere moralizing. Yet some young people plan their entire lives around weekly gatherings where large groups of people take witchroot, make loud music, and frantically writhe together in the shadows.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Businesses & Bootlegs ↑  → Coins & Currencies ←  ↓ Enemies & Extremists ↓

Coins & Currencies
Personal Wealth Most modern people inhabit a thriving society where common folks live with dignity and comfort. The plight of ordinary people during the Age of Heroes was rarely both comfortable and stable. Constant conflict made broad prosperity fleeting. Then the Great Consolidation set the stage for long periods of stable economic growth. Aqueducts and sewers allowed vast cities to resist plagues. Enormous markets hungered for whatever the surrounding lands could produce. Even tenant farmers now enjoy a little taste of modern prosperity. Ordinary people often have a few pieces of gold hidden away. A talented artisan may profit as much from a single day's labor. Any free adult is likely to regard a single gold piece as an insignificant bribe.
 There are many measures of wealth beyond money. Synod Jewellers faclitate fair trade in objects fashioned from precious metals and gems. Land rights, from permission to hunt in a specific forest to title over a personal fief, may generate income and convey social status. Some cultures see livestock, working animals, and slaves as important indicators of means. Adventuring companies and mercantile organizations have been known to offers shares of earnings for logistical or political support. Basic financial awareness is widespread. Esteemed holy orders safeguard the integrity of major currencies everywhere. Yet systems of credit and debt are only reliable to the extent collectors can work within relevant laws and traditions.
 The concept of wealth has changed dramatically through the ages. Like many creatures, dragons are instinctively drawn to shiny objects. Their earliest kin were able to amass troves of gold nuggets simply by exploring and occasionally clawing at the ground. Treasure hoards have always been status symbols, but playing with piles of glittering gold gives dragons an intoxicating satisfaction. When the surface of the world had been scoured for gold deposits, dwarves were created to dig out deeper supplies. Dragons amassed, seized, and inherited wealth; but they had no real concept of trade. The first commercial transaction in the world would give rise to the first coins in the world.
 An ancient dwarven mining foreman believed that, if his people had permission to hide in the small tunnels created by their work, they would not be so vulnerable during terrible fits of draconian rage. A volatile tyrant acknowledged this humble request with the condition that the cowering dwarves would die upon leaving the mines unless they each emerged with one hundred new gold objects – a seemingly impossible quota. The first working mint was a bold gambit. It was also a great success, widely copied. Little coins gave dragonkind a whole new way to enjoy their hoards. Even bragging protocols changed, and the wealthiest wyrms invented new numbers to quantify how many pieces of gold they possessed.
 Trade remained an extremely rare practice. Illogically, most dragons would part with a large number of skilled workers before they would give up a small number of precious coins. Arcane knowledge was conveyed with some sense of value, but no true medium of exchange existed. Even during the Imperium Arcanum, nothing much resembled a marketplace. The Archfey ordained how resources would be allocated, and their power sustained vast populations. What few mints they operated mostly produced false hoards. Shiny lures containing very little actual gold, ancient fey troves could be effective traps or distractions, yet they would also prove unsatisfying to any dragons able to make a claim.
 Commerce in the modern sense was not widespread before the Age of Heroes. Refugees from collapsing Imperium Arcanum strongholds struggled to survive in wilderness areas. This economy of desperate bartering saw many short-lived efforts to sustain a form of currency. The enormous proliferation of gold coins provided the first enduring solution. The earliest dungeoneers recovered treasure hoards that were essentially undefended. There resources provided the means to enter the aristocracy. Emerging local governments endeavored to standardize and stamp currency, promoting trust among merchants and customers. Only a few generations passed before this modern approach to money created the desire for even more gold than long-dead dragons collected for themselves.
Minting Practices The oldest treasure hoards tend to contain strange coins of inconsistent purity. Their precious metal content may vary greatly from one piece to another. With the international trade on the rise in modern times, official currencies have drifted into rigid standardization. Uniform weight and high purity result in predictable purchasing power with simple exchange rates. Yet diverse minting practices create variety in the names and appearances of modern coins.
 Cultural values are revealed through the prism of money. The sturdy pewter-mounted skjöld is intended as a fair price for a reliable shield or a week of service from a Norish warrior. Elegantly simple, the Sylvanian ducat is a fitting token of gratitude from an actual duke. Each Truscan laureatus is gilt just enough to emphasize that achievement merits reward. The Oriental ryo is a dull coin meant to draw minimal attention while conveying the value of feeding one person for one month. At the other extreme, the solidus of Serpia bears a scintillating gold fringe in numismatic tribute to the Sun. Each of these platinum coins has equivalent monetary value despite their diverse appearances and origins.
 Mining became a lucrative trade for those with the skills to perform it. Coins of other metals began to circulate. Entire monetary systems took shape. Yet the rise and fall of most currency standards would be a function of politics. Thriving nations would issue valuable coins to enjoy favorable clout in trade with neighboring realms. Failing governments would devalue their currency in the struggle to fund essential institutions. Between all that volatility and the traces of curse or poison lingering on many fey troves, coins found to predate 500 A.H. are often melted or otherwise destroyed to recover precious metal content that rarely matches face values.
Copperørepennynummus assariusfen
Electrummarkalbusfollisvictoriatus tangka
Goldkronor sovereignpyronaureusyuan
 The chaos of so many nations each managing their own coinage was substantially untangled during the Great Consolidation. Cultural variations linger, but every civilized area accepts currency in a set of several denominations with equivalents all over the world. Synod Jewellers have a sacred duty to be honest about the purity of precious metals they inspect, and Celestial Accountants likewise cannot mark an object with a misleading weight. Major mints and precious metal exchanges often work closely with these holy orders to ensure best practices in the production of coins and trade ingots.
 Most likely with some divine guidance, a system of twenty-five currencies became dominant across the five broad cultural groups. Counterfeiters and coin shavers are hunted down by powerful authorities, sometimes helped along by institutions dedicated to maintaining public confidence in circulating currency. Great trading houses and banks rely on their reputations to conduct international business. This makes currency fraud extremely rare, though it also gives upstart financial enterprises much difficulty becoming established or expanding aggressively.
“Even troubles that drive your friends away will not keep your creditors at bay.”

— Albionish proverb
 Convenience and reliability make the money supplies of today optimal for growing small businesses. Modern coinage is almost never counterfeit. Extremely powerful religious organizations are quick to act against anyone whose actions are likely to undermine the integrity of any modern currency. Their role in certifying the integrity of mints provides funding enough for thorough magical investigations guiding fanatical enforcement teams. Governments and corporations feel obliged to support these anti-counterfeiting crusades so that the integrity of coins they issue remains beyond doubt.
 While the particulars vary, all major societies have some concept of contract law. Cities grow slowly without a reliable system of financing large projects through the lending of money for interest. Many banks make personal loans to fund building improvements, vehicle purchases, and trade missions. The most noble creditors offer reasonable rates and fair terms, but exploitation of debtors is a serious problems in almost every great city. Coercive abuses are especially severe in lands where authorities do not agressively regulate or even fully comprehend the most sophisticated financial arrangements.
↓ Skip List ↓Coins of the Realms↓ Skip List ↓
 ○ albus (pl. albi, value 1 ep) Sometimes simply referred to as “whites,” these distinctive electrum coins present almost no color as they shimmer. Some mints employ an alchemical bath or even a touch of magic to further whiten the alloy without diminishing gold or silver content. A traditional Sylvanian compensation for the untanned hide of healthy deer, albi remain in widespread circulation thanks to the robust trade of hunters and trappers bringing woodland resources to urban markets across southwestern Mainland. A standard albus features the head of an indigenous game animal on the obverse with a detailed tree leaf or flowering plant on the reverse.
 ○ aspron (pl. asprons, value 1 sp) In ancient times, a vast nation of Isks spread their version of the silver piece across half of Mainland. Their sorcerous aristocracy established hundreds of remote trading posts. The legacy of this network is the distinctive $ symbol marking nearly all the silver coins minted in the Serpian Empire. Some say the overlay of I and S means “Imperial silver,” though the glyph was originally intended to indicate “Iskreshi Sultanate.” Serpian mints continue this tradition, often detailing the iconic symbol to depict a serpent coiling loosely around a staff. The reverse of an aspron normally features a great monument or the image of a thriving modern city.
 ○ assarius (pl. assarii, value 1 cp) Some consider these humble copper coins fit only for use by slaves. Nonetheless ubiquitous in metropolitan Truscanny, these pure copper coins speckle city streets and clutter the pockets of ordinary citizens. Some shops leave trays of them out to ease purchases made by customers who insist on having exact change. Though Truscan formal wear is designed to incorporate coins so that light fabrics drape properly, it would be unseemly to use assarii for this purpose. Minted today more out of tradition than economic need, the modern assarius features two different perspectives on a single important building or monument.
 ○ aureus (pl. aurei, value 1 gp) Literally the gold standard, the weight of these coins is so consistent that merchants often use stacks as counterweights in their scales. After annexing Helvetica, the Truscan Empire pioneered precision machine tooling used by modern mints. Sophisticated production techniques were first put to use making these coins more than a millennium ago. Designs are invariably simple, with the name and face of the reigning Emperor on the obverse while the reverse depicts a large flying creature. Eagles, griffons, pegasi, and dragons have all graced this denomination. Precisely thickened edges make it possible to stack these coins into near-perfect golden cylinders.
 ○ buck (pl. bucks, value 1 gp) Across the land now covered by the Sylvanian Confederation, thousands of years of tradition shape a subculture of prosperous hunters. Previously informal and unregulated, the exchange of golden bucks among these people was a trusted practice. After aristocrats started restricting hunts in their own realms, a few outright democratic regimes rose up to protect what many regard as traditional Sylvanian freedoms. Now bucks are standardized and blessed in modern mints operated by sovereign governments. Yet these coins, typically featuring a proud stag's head opposite the hind end of the same beast, remain a defiant challenge to modern business practices.
 ○ denarius (pl. denarii, value 1 sp) Incredibly common across the Truscan Empire and its many former possessions, this simple silver piece just might be the most abundant coin in the world. Once the lifeblood of incalculably huge military payrolls and tax collections, many millions of people continue to find a place for it in their coinpurses. Several modern languages derive their word for “money” from the name of this Truscan coin. A typical denarius features the face of a general or governor on the obverse with the full figure of a deity or legendary hero on the reverse. Rare specimens of historic value can be found circulating among common denarii, making this coin a favorite with collectors.
 ○ drachma (pl. drachmae, value 1 sp) Some of the first efforts to standardize currency involved silver coins in early Thrace. Philosophers applied alchemical standards of precise measurement to the weight and purity of official coins. Consistent currency promoted social integrity and economic stability. Drachmae are no longer widely produced, but some ancient coins remain in circulation, and many more linger in buried stashes. As the conflict between Serpia and Truscanny seems to focus on Thrace, both sides are entertaining the idea of a drachma revival to garner the support of indigenous people. These coins traditionally feature the face of an Olympian deity with a simple rendering of that god's holy symbol on the reverse.
 ○ ducat (pl. ducats, value 1 pp) Originally minted for use exclusively at aristocratic events, these “coins of the dukes” epitomize dignity and elegance. Ducats are the preferred token of some legendary high stakes gamblers. Simple, round, and platinum; their tasteful heraldic imprints feel smooth to the touch. Yet they feature intricate art that often seems to change depending on the angle of a major light source. Even the most free-spirited of Sylvanians often shows respect for area aristocrats in the hope a ducat might be discreetly bestowed as a token of appreciation. Some of southwestern Mainland's most elite figures refuse to allow any other coins in their purses.
 ○ fen (pl. fen, value 1 cp) Celedinese traditions emphasize the importance of precise accounting. Though there is little demand for it among merchants and financiers, the local copper piece is nonetheless widespread and in ongoing production. Fen are typically stamped with a Celedinese alchemical symbol on the obverse and a moral platitude on the other side. Many shopkeepers in the Orient offer inexpensive items, like a cup of hot tea or a morsel of fresh fruit, as a means of engaging personally with their customers while justifying few fen of additional expense to end a transaction with an auspiciously round number. This harmonizes precise bookkeeping with convenience.
 ○ follis (pl. folles, value 1 ep) In modern times, these large thin coins spell out an important Imperial decree on the reverse while depicting the Padishah on the obverse. Older folles featured the Truscan governors of Serpia, while the oldest of these coins picture Pharoahs. Serpian electrum reserves dwindled in the aftermath of cheap gold parting techniques, but these coins continue to be produced at major financial centers. Particularly loyal soldiers or laborers may receive them as a token of encouragement, an echo of the Truscan incentive that substitutes electrum for silver. The follis is vital to international trade as well, since it provides a clear equivalent to common coins like the mark or the guilder.
 ○ florin (pl. florins, value 2½ gp) These large gold coins glitter enticingly in the hands of recruiters and merchants. Authorities in Fitchland produce them in great quantities. Yet most florins are the result of gold processed by private mints, producing culturally neutral currency to sustain politically delicate trade relationships. Notable for elaborate embossed designs, florins are crafted to draw and hold attention. Mint markings and other details about the issue are always engraved in delicate script around the perimeter of one face, detracting minimally from the coin's florid imagery. Some customs hold that money is an acceptable peacemaking gift so long as it takes the form of well-packaged florins.
 ○ groat (pl. groats, value 4 cp) Found all over Albion and Carmatia, these undersized silver coins are also known as fourpence. They are popular with farmers and builders who employ temporary low wage workers. Each groat is worth less than a decent meal, but still worth enough to express gratitude for a simple task. Custom fixes the value each groat at one tavern drink, though prosperous cityfolk often favor less affordable establishments. Because groats have developed a reputation as dirty and common, issuing mints have taken to stamping them with images of local wildlife or natural vistas rather than the faces of dignitaries. Satirists have been known to issue modern groats with caricatures of unpopular leaders.
 ○ guilder (pl. guilders, value 1 ep) This little Fitch coin has become incredibly popular all around the world. Galleons laden with them constitute that kingdom's tribute to Norish Moots. Round discs of pure gold, they bear a profile of the monarch's face on the obverse while the reverse features a radiant seashell in acknowledgement of the role the merchant marine plays in refilling the treasuries of the homeland. Many Fitch tailors and outfitters have a knack for fashioning hidden pouches and secret compartments sized for concealing quantities of these half-pieces of pure gold. Some professional guilds pay their apprentices in local silver pieces and their journeymen in guilders issued specifically for that organization.
 ○ jiaō (pl. jiaō, value 1 sp) These coins are identical to the yuan in every way save for silver composition and different markings. Those markings offer simple yet profound appeals to virtues like industriousness and loyalty. The term “cash” originated to describe coins of this exact shape and size. A central square hole makes it possible to carry many jiaō on a single string or rod. Keen observers have noted that the words on this coin seem directed to motivate laborers or soldiers while loftier language on the yuan appeals to artisans and scholars. Yet both invariably promote traditional Celedinese values, and together as cash they dominate everyday commerce in the Orient.
 ○ kronor (pl. krona, value 1 gp) Norish kings refuse to put their faces on any coins less valuable than gold. Lesser nobles are welcome to appear on as many marks as they might like. The faces of these “crown coins” are reserved for the monarch of the realm where they originate. New rulers in the region are often eager to melt down old gold currency so that they might see their likenesses spread far and wide. While the obverse is always a clear image of the issuing ruler, the reverse of a traditional kronor features that monarch's s name in bold runic. Those eager to flout custom may instead opt for highly detailed imprints of their own thrones, palaces, or capital cities on the reverse face.
 ○ laureate (pl. laureatei, value 1 pp) The first major issue of standardized platinum coins was among the many ways the ascendant Truscan Empire signaled dominance. Their traditional design has changed only to accommodate tiny gold inlays emphasizing select details like the Emperor's laurel crown or the soaring dragon featured prominently on the reverse. In some border territories, laureatei will be carried and used as badges to indicate allegiance to Septopolis. By custom they are the amount of wealth a patrician parts with in gratitude for a personal favor. Yet the coin is controversial in some regions, and authorities elsewhere may be quick to convert the metal into ingots or a coin local residents are happier to see.
 ○ liekki (pl. liekkit, value 1 ep) Despite the frigid climate, hospitality is not an implied expectation from strangers in Lachland. Where food and fuel are scarce, every source of warmth must be protected. Fire is practically sacred to the northernmost among these people. After Lachlander leaders began exploiting abundant electrum deposits, they were quick to produce currency for exchange with outsiders. Liekkit are always engraved with the image of a torch, hearth, bonfire, or pyre. Though normally enough for one night in a private room with a clean bed, by custom these coins are the amount of money one pays for the privilege of spending the night warmed by someone else's fire.
 ○ mark (pl. marks, value 1 ep) First minted in Transmania, both faces of this electrum alloy coin are stamped to display a simple numeral 1. They were originally intended as accounting tokens, then later used as meal tickets. While Maniacs turned to Truscan currency, the peoples of Greater Norland embraced this design for their electrum pieces. Modern examples typically feature the name of a king or an earl, a royal motto, and mint markings all stamped in a ring around the prominent 1. Even today, the mark retains its customary value of a single hearty meal. It sees widespread use for many sorts of purchases throughout Greater Norland.
 ○ noble (pl. nobles, value 1⅔ gp) Ancient aristocrats facing a currency crisis would sometimes produce these uncommonly thick slugs of solid gold. With well above the standard precious metal content for an unadulterated gold piece, a batch of nobles' coins could sustain a large household or a small army even after faltering faith in common currency. With a clear portrait on the obverse and a flower or family crest on the reverse, these hefty coins might also be distributed as badges of affiliation. Nobles stand out as the most collectible coins in the world because so many unique designs saw only one small production run, often just prior to the fall of a great capital.
 ○ nummus (pl. nummi, value 1 cp) The legions of laborers employed to raise the mountainous monuments of Serpia posed a management challenge. They were kept happy and well-rested with generous evening rations of beer, but uneven distribution created disorder. The original nummi were simply accounting tokens meant to track the number of refills a worker was authorized to collect. When the Imperium Arcanum collapsed and the Serpian Old Kingdom arose, these abundant coins became the basis for the realm's first offical currency. Though nummi have little value today, they are still produced with modern coin faces preserving a few cryptic symbols from the defunct empire of the fey.
 ○ øre (pl. øres, value 1 cp) When dwarves first taught men to collect precious metals by tunneling deep into solid rock, substantial hauls would often be traded for chests of cheap coins. Bedtime stories teach a preference for the dirtiest gold over the shiniest copper. To reinforce this lesson, children traditionally collect øres in ceramic egg banks. It is a coming of age moment when the delicate vessel is shattered, years of accumulated coins conveying only a little purchasing power. The modern øre typically features the visage of a dangerous monster on the obverse with its full body illustrated on the reverse. Each design is yet another lesson as well as a distinctive gaming token.
 ○ penny (pl. pence, value 1 cp) Wherever tribal hunter-gatherers trade with more sophisticated societies, they are likely to overvalue the cheapest coins. Early rulers among the Albionians, Sylvanians, Maniacs, and Gallorians exploited this by making “pawns' coins.” Kept clean and burnished to shine, these prototypical pence often fetched goods far in excess of their metal value. Educated people rarely mistake a penny for a valuable object, but these copper coins still develop quite a shine with a little effort. Modern pence often feature a folk hero or spiritual leader on the obverse with a scene of natural beauty or an important monument on the reverse.
 ○ pound (pl. pounds, value 5 gp) Common across much of Mainland, these small platinum coins are equal in value to one pound-weight of asprons, jiaō, denarii, drachmae, qirshes, sceats, or schillings. They originated with Albionish bankers eager to simplify the process of accepting silver deposits. Now the pound is a widely circulated denomination among the affluent. The little coins are more discreet than typical platinum pieces, and their use is particularly popular wherever great cities authorize local financial institutions to issue their own coinage. Typical imagery on a pound depicts a two different perspectives on an important building from the coin's city of origin.
 ○ pyron (pl. pyrons, value 1 gp) When Serpian alchemists devised an innovative new method of parting gold from silver, incalculable hoards of old electrum were transformed into shiny new asprons and pyrons. The land somehow seemed richer, though also a more desirable target for Truscan conquest. The original pyron was only produced for a few generations before a foreign empire took total control of Serpia. Soon after, most pyrons were melted down. Yet the same currency that enticed invaders long ago has more recently bankrolled independence for the modern Serpian Empire. These coins present the face of a ruler or historical figure with a little biographical detail on the reverse.
 ○ qirsh (pl. qirshes, value 2½ sp) These large silver pieces were produced in enormous quantities by the Iskreshi Sultanate. As that regime reached the height of its power, this coin regularly turned up in markets all over the world. Modern trading companies headquarted within the Serpian Empire sometimes produce fresh issues of qirshes so that their mariners, teamsters, and clerks can be paid in coins with no Imperial association. At twenty to a pound, qirshes even sound hefty when clattered in a stack or jangled in a pouch. Most of these coins possess a dull finish with basic mint markings and plain text attribution for the official or corporation behind each particular issue.
 ○ ryo (pl. ryo, value 1 pp) These oblong platinum coins are in widespread circulation due to Celedinese and To-Shinese treasuries disbursing immense quantities in recent decades. Traditionally representing the amount a host is due after feeding one soldier for one month, the ryo is also the basis for funding projects like dam construction or canal excavation. One face is featureless save for mint markings to substantiate precious metal content. The obverse may bear the portrait of a leader or it may contain a whole paragraph about the specific endeavor motivating the issue of new currency. This practice makes the mints of the Orient places where spies learn of planned government initiatives.
 ○ sceat (pl. sceattas, value 1 sp) Modern coins retaining the small diameter and substantial thickness of their precursors, the sceat is now the basis of everyday market commerce across Greater Norland. Some priests employed to monitor and certify mints find themselves uncomfortable at facilities converting pillaged silver into new sceats. These durable little slugs are engraved with scenes of heroism involving Odin, Thor, or Tyr. Though some of these pieces are artful, many remain true to primitive imagery derived from ancient stone carvings. A substantial collection of sceats probably contains all the pieces required to play a traditional Norish board game.
 ○ sestertius (pl. sestertii, value 2½ cp) These tiny pieces of Truscan silver are valued at a rate of four to one denarius. Along with a pair of dice, twelve of these coins provide the equipment for a common Imperial parlor game. Affluent urbane folk often use sestertii to avoid handling the very lowest denomation of coinage. Yet one alone still conveys little value – rarely enough to obtain a snack at a public event or purchase a single arrow. These quarter-pieces of silver still see much use with retailers making change and gamblers intent on keeping the stakes modest. Traditionally the face of this coin bears a portriat of a great war hero while the other side depicts the force that hero fought for.
 ○ shilling (pl. shillings, value 1 sp) These simple coins are widely produced by vassals throughout the Sylvanian Confederation. Each presents the face of a particular leader with a reverse illustration dedicated to some honor or achievement associated with that person. Some recently elevated to noble rank may issue a batch of these coins as a means of spreading awareness of his or her title. In less prosperous times, this coin represented the value of employing one laborer for one day of hard work. Though not conceived as such, some even refer to them as “shills' coins." The shilling may not buy what it once did, but it is still the currency of choice for everyday commerce throughout southwestern Mainland.
 ○ skjöld (pl. skjölde, value 1 pp) Literal Norish for “shield,” this hefty platinum slug is pressed between two rugged discs of pewter. By custom it is both the cost of a sturdy metal shield and the pay due a basic mercenary after a day of heavy fighting. Swapping pewter faces enables military commanders to cheaply rebrand their payrolls without destroying mint markings on the edge of the platinum. This design of the skjöld also literally shields the precious metal with less valuable material. Foreigners unfamiliar with the coin may mistake it for an object of little value while hastily searching the possessions of fallen or captured Norish marauders.
 ○ solidus (pl. solidi, value 1 pp) Constantly living under its harsh glare, the people of Serpia practically worshiped the Sun before they ever encountered the concept of a deity. While under Truscan rule, the Serpians began to mint provincial platinum pieces with scintillating gold adornments. Most do not mention Ra by name, but each of these valuable discs is a work of art dedicated to glorifying the Sun itself. This may take the form of a small gold inset or geometric patterns of gilded sunrays. This eyecatching coin played a part in financing the successful secession of the Serpian Empire, and it continues to be presented with pride by paymasters from that regime.
 ○ sovereign (pl. sovereigns, value 1 gp) When Sylvanian realms started breaking away from the Truscan Empire, actual currency scandals were amplified by effective propaganda. The Sylvanian Confederation formed in part to restore faith in governments and currencies working to keep the Empire at bay. Trust has been restored today, but only through many generations of kings and queens putting their faces on honest and pure gold pieces of varying design. The obverse of a sovereign may range from a close portrait to the image of a leader astride a mount. Reverse imagery customarily depicts Standing Stones or a natural vista from the issuing realm.
 ○ stuiver (pl. stuivers, value 2½ cp) The least precious of the three coins issued by the Fitch government, one hundred brass stuiver are equivalent to one florin. Stuivers are less common internationally, but they are a staple of commerce on the streets of Fitchland. Known for loud clattering, these hefty coins sometimes serve as improvised percussion pieces for dancers and musicians. Their particular alloy enables the conversion of large shipments of stuivers into raw material for the manufacture of precision tools or durable clockwork. The coins themselves feature the faces of sages or scientists on the obverse with images of marvelous devices on the reverse.
 ○ tangka (pl. tangkas, value 1 ep) This is not so much a piece of electrum alloy as it is a coin made by fusing together slugs of gold and silver. The two faces of the tangka are plainly different in color, though their principle adornment tends to be identical glyphs or geometric patterns. Unusual optical effects can be created by spinning or flipping these coins. Mesmers the world over favor the tangka when their craft calls for a shiny object. Though this denomination has fallen out of favor with most producers of Oriental currency, Xe-Shanese aristocrats seem particularly fond of making and spending tangka. Also, it provides an equal counterpart for the exchange of albi, folles, guilders, liekkit, marks, or victoriati.
 ○ victoriatus (pl. victoriati, value 1 ep) Notable triumphs in the Truscan Empire are often commemorated by the issuance of these coins. Most are promptly distributed at the site of the achievement. New designs are unveiled by surprise, with soldiers or other citizens involved in the accomplishment collecting quintuple bonus pay. Taverns and merchants anticipating the completion of a great task may stock up to accommodate free-spending celebrants. The obverse of this coin is usually the same portrait of the Emperor featured on current aureii. Yet the reverse of a victoriatus depicts a scene glorifying the conquest, construction, or competition associated with its issue.
 ○ yuan (pl. yuan, value 1 gp) The Celedinese rose to power in part because their amassed wealth was sufficient to sustain a ten-to-one custom of using generous payrolls to buy the loyalty of enemy commanders. The modern Oriental Empire has adopted this generic term for coin as the standard denomination of gold, a reminder of how freespending Celedinese paymasters can be. Each yuan features a central square hole for carrying the coins on a string or rod, being one of two types of coin giving rise to the term “cash.” The faces of yuan are decorated with sagacious messages that promote traditional values. Emperors and governors have been known to recall yuan bearing proverbs that clash with an official agenda.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Coins & Currencies ↑  → Enemies & Extremists ←  ↓ Fights & Forays ↓

Enemies & Extremists
Conflict The Fivesquare Pantheon orchestrated an era of profound peace and prosperity. Inspired leaders built upon the achievements of their predecessors, sparing nations from the ravages of famine, plague, and war. Some regions saw centuries of prosperity uninterrupted by any major crisis. This harmonious order allowed the global population to surpass one billion humans. Yet the Great Consolidation is not entirely tranquil. Empires and major kingdoms struggle with rebels and each other. Armies clash more intensely than ever before, yet warfare largely spares civilians.
 Most inhabitants of the modern world know conflict chiefly through the pursuit of personal and professional advancement. The support of influential people often involves performing arduous tasks on their behalf. Elite schools and monasteries are never large enough to educate every hopeful student. Competition can be fierce for the best apprenticeships, market stalls, and duty assignments. In crowded cities a residence that is simultaneously affordable and comfortable is a particularly coveted prize. Negotiations can be tense, sometimes shaped by personal favors as much as money.
 Substantial wealth provides a solution to many problems of modern living. Those who succeed financially must worry about theft in addition rivals possibly usurping lucrative opportunities for themselves. People with little material challenges are nonetheless likely to face hardships in their social and spiritual lives. Some groups sustain constant internal clashes, and some face unavoidable hostility from oustiders. Even leaders of largely peaceful organizations tend to be formidable, having endured countless prior conflicts. Of course, not every adversary can be dealt with through words or payments.
 Modern international wars are enormous in scope. Raw numbers of combat troops and warzone refugees presently surpass ancient totals. Both groups generate particularly passionate prayers. Far from the lines of battle, even the most well-governed cities always seem be near pockets of wilderness containing outlaws or monsters. Aspiring adventurers easily learn where to find dangers, but it can be difficult to identify which conflicts novices are likely to survive. The advice of a highly experienced benefactor or mentor can do much to shed light on this subject.
There was a time when the only deadly clashes between rivals involved feuding dragons. Anyone defying their tyranny was seen as a nuisance rather than an enemy. Long after dragons created so many forms of life, elves introduced the concept of genocide to the world. Yet the Archfey did not successfully exterminate dragonkind. Instead their empire splintered, giving rise to new forms of warfare. The coming of the gods introduced religious conflict alongside much more complex political struggles. Those who did not enjoy the protection of an army were likely to become the victims of one. Some say the term “Thousandfold Drama” understates the extent of violent turmoil during the Age of Heroes.
 The modern era elevates the scale of warfare to new levels. Three different empires maintain standing armies in excess of one million soldiers. Wealthy kingdoms can afford to deploy thousands of heavily armored lancers on horseback – an unstoppable force on open plains. Combatants of all sorts benefit from thousands of years of martial lore. Even a ragtag band of adventurers can become a legendary squad of slayers with a grasp of sufficiently advanced techniques. Whether heroic or villainous, violent actions tend to attract the attention of organizations with their own capacity for violence. These groups are too numerous to catalog. Yet most fit in to one of six categories that may be understood through the study of individual examples.
 ‡ CONSPIRATORS Some secret societies quickly murder outsiders who know much about the workings of the group. All create at least a little disorder through covert gatherings, coded messages, countersurveillance magic, and misinformation. Benign secret societies safeguard esoteric lore while helping like-minded people connect in their communities. Sustaining secrecy may involve anything from curfew violations to judicial corruption. Secret societies sometimes support violent rebellions, promote occult studies, or facilitate criminal activity. They may indirectly employ many people while only a small group is fully initiated into the core conspiracy. Truths about the group are only shared with members of proven discretion and value.
 ‡  Hashāshīns never work through less than two intermediaries between a client and an operative. These professional killers always slay their targets or die trying. When not working or training, Hashāshīns inhabit pleasure gardens where their every desire is satisfied. Fees for their services also support a web of elite brokers and discreet contacts enabling desperate people to fund contracts. While Hashāshīns often strike without warning and leave nothing to identify themselves, they are known to have perpetrated many political murders. Members of this conspiracy are also fanatics, quick to kill others or even themselves before allowing group secrets to be compromised.
 ‡  The Highwaymen of Hell are nomadic bandits who employ fiendish iconography and provide protection for unholy covens. Captured leaders of affiliated groups have reported contacts and funding from “the original chapter.” Some theorists believe this original chapter is an association of demonologists and infernal beings. Yet efforts to confirm specifics are misdirected by endless outbreaks of robberies and smuggling perpetrated by Highwaymen of Hell. Only individuals with years of experience leading a violent mounted warband are thought fit for the first of many steps toward initiation in the original chapter – a process purportedly involving death and resurrection.
 ‡  The Innermost Circle is believed to be a myth even by most druids. Working from a few secret wilderness bases, the organization purportedly studies ecology on both global and regional levels. Their agenda supports healthy natural balances. This typically involves influencing the leaders of public druid circles to favor particular priorities in the management of their own territories. Yet tales are told of both light and dark deeds. Some chronicle interventions like heroic sacrifices to thwart cult activities posing risk of environmental devastation. Others imply that the Innermost Circle inhibits population growth by orchestrating major wars.
“Are we free because we can choose which street to walk? Are we free because we can choose what color cloak to wear? What does it really mean to be free? I say our freedom is not real until we can choose what we say to each other, even when what we choose to say is something our rulers would not choose to hear.”

— Monique Verne, Liberationist preacher
 ‡  The Therian Fellowship is a secret society dedicated to supporting the activities of shapechangers. Initial investigations suggest this group is a non-religious alternative to the Arcadian Runners. Informants only discover unusually fit people gathering in natural settings to exercise and frolic with wild beasts. Yet the Therian Fellowship employs experienced abjurers, enchanters, and forgers to create false identities and build trust. The group infiltrates oversight of census taking and monster hunting. It is their mission to understate the number of shapechangers and downplay any associated dangers. Provided they are willing to practice reasonable restraint, murderous lycanthropes may call upon this group for support.
 ‡  The Uncensored are committed to the principle of preserving forbidden lore. They maintain secret meeting houses and stashes of banned literature. At regular gatherings, members of this group exchange obscure books and duplicate what writing they can. The popularity of the Uncensored often reflects the attitudes of local rulers. Where governments are especially oppressive, many upstanding families will contribute to a club allowing taboo conversations as well as taboo literature to be shared with others. Especially permissive regimes inspire little participation in this group, driving it to seek support from enthusiasts of occult lore. Most urban centers feature at least one reading room or safehouse secretly dedicated to this organization.
 ‡ CONSTABLES Operating amidst crowds of bystanders presents a unique challenge. Some law enforcers work the same locations day after day, learning to recognize when anyone new is on the scene or the usual routine is amiss. Others are frequently given new assignments, working with unfamiliar places and faces. In addition to combat techniques, constables are trained to gather information about crimes from witnesses and other informants. Though it is their duty to apprehend or eliminate wanted criminals, decent constables make every effort to spare the innocent from harm. Less honorable members of this trade rely heavily on intimidation, extort protection money from merchants, and/or collaborate with criminals.
“The constables are not here to create disorder! The constables are here to preserve disorder!”

— Richard III of Shamstag in his final public address
 ‡  The Corvang Night Watch is a separate organization from the constabulary responsible for daytime law enforcement. Their duties make it impossible to ignore powerful undead beings roaming those streets after dark. Breastplates and greatswords do not save disrespectful officers from being taken as a vampire's feast. Being funded by a consortium of merchants, the Corvang Night Watch does much to secure property rights. Markets and warehouses require protection. Guards sometimes work with vampiric allies in the pursuit of thieves as well as any renegade bloodsuckers operating without the blessing of the local aristocracy.
 ‡  The Festistad Harbor Patrol operates nimble craft in familiar waters. Each officer is issued a rapier and multiple daggers for contested boarding actions. All are trained in many uses of rope as well as the life rings Fitch vessels use to minimize drowning deaths. When the weather is good this service is primarily occupied regulating traffic in a crowded body of water. When conditions take a turn for the worse, continuing patrols provide emergency assistance to mariners in distress. This service also documents illicit ship-to-ship cargo transfers, forwarding reports to local tax collectors.
“Censorship is about much more than the specifics of any particular ban or rule. It is about limiting imaginations so creative endeavors naturally turn away from destabilizing scenarios.”

— Empress Sun Hua, Ministry of Harmony Charter
 ‡  The Ministry of Harmony is officially a governing body of acceptable practices in music. Outreach across the Oriental Empire enables this group to quickly standardize and popularize favored compositions. Yet the true mission of the Ministry of Harmony is social. Often working indirectly through local officials, agents suppress anything construed as inspiring rebellious sentiment. Even plays and sermons are not free from this editorial pressure. Ministry personnel tend to avoid violence. The tools of their trade are scrolls and journals for reporting seditious content. Only after refusals to comply with citations are soldiers brought to bear.
 ‡  Spellhölm City Guards operate from a web of wardhouses where holding cells can be sealed with magical locks and interview rooms make it difficult to deceive. Each is also home to a team of diviners assisting with investigations or a squad of violent spellcasters trained to neutralize powerful threats. Standard issue gear includes a fine cloth uniform, a quarterstaff, manacles, and an S.C.G. badge – a symbol that generates respect for efficient law enforcement. Most of these municipal peacekeepers train to use their staves in defense of others, though some instead specialize in discreet takedowns using poisoned blowgun darts.
Sacrifice Few components contribute more energy to ritual magic than the sacrifice of a living self-aware being. The slaughter of dragons brought the Archfey to power. Sacrifice remains an important part of ritual activity for some advanced spellcasters. Each event unleashes torrents of life and thought energies that may ignite grand reactions unlocking the potential of a large structure or rare cosmic event. Alternatively, these tremendous bursts of energy may be pleasing offerings to otherworldly beings. Sentient sacrifices are always controversial. Where permitted at all, legal rituals must not involve fiendish magic or involuntary offerings.
 Beings who inspired largest human sacrifice events from the Age of Heroes have since become Dead Gods. The sorts of clerics popular in modern cities often condemn all forms of ritual killing. Most faiths support no sacred events involving the sacrifice of intelligent beings. Yet the Old Faith and a minority of modern religions do otherwise, sometimes coordinating festivals around the final days of unwilling victims. Though clergy who identify as civilized do not work magic through killings, some promote their faiths by slaying unrepentant heretics or political rebels at public events.
 Druids and some pastoral clergy use sacrifices to amplify the power of sacred sites promoting natural growth. The Old Faith teaches that the worst criminals should be caged until the last day of the season, then sacrificed to bring prosperity in the next. Other sacrificial rituals associated with druids are said to infuse gatherings with frenzied euphoria, break curses applied to land, or generate cryptically insightful prophecies. Many modern leaders contend human sacrifice proves the Old Faith is barbaric. The lure of productive fields and thriving herds perpetuates rural support for these deadly traditions.
 Witches and warlocks comfortably claim involuntary sacrifices, since many of those practitioners are already outlaws. Techniques range from the quiet exsanguination of a sleeping victim to ordeals most torturous and vile. Many unholy rituals do not require a specific venue. Most pact patrons reward sacrificial killings, and relatively inexperienced gatherings may be able to draw real power from these rituals. Seasoned constables know that an active coven is a plausible explanation for sudden outbreaks of ritual killings or mysterious disappearances. Though witch hunters perform no sacrificial magic, many accumulate fame and stimulate commerce by turning executions into brutal public spectacles.
 ‡  Spirit Regulators need nothing but a walking stick and a personal seal to move freely between Carmatian clans. Almost everyone respects these venerable distillers for their grasp of the arts and sciences behind extremely potent beverages. A Spirit Regulator's stamp of approval is widely regarded as the mark of a quality whiskey. In a land where wily trickery is sometimes celebrated, these master distillers go against the grain with incorruptible authority. None dare risk the shameful loss of this status by leaving a personal mark on a barrel of substandard booze.
 ‡ FANATICS Inspiration has driven many people to sacrifice themselves in service to a bigger purpose. Clashing with fanatics is rarely an inconclusive event. Most will not even consider faltering in service to their chosen cause. Daily purification rituals are often part of the routine for this sort of combatant. Whether driven by a holy, unholy, or earthly passion; the most extreme zealots can be quick to make enemies over minor disputes. Some of these groups have splintered from a mainstream religion or political faction unwilling to match their level of intolerance. Others are valued by a larger community where they are well-integrated as specialists performing a function thought to demand absolute commitment.
 ‡  Eternal Obelisks have been guarding the greatest monuments of southeastern Mainland since the Archfey ruled the world. These unyielding protectors follow a simple code of honor. Each glyph of their creed is reproduced precisely on hundreds of stone pillars, some older than any religion. Most Eternal Obelisks are tall individuals, and all of them are committed to relentless physical conditioning. Nothing satisfies them more than physically preventing an intruder from gaining entrance to a structure sheltering ancient secrets. Some operate alone, while others act as guards in the service of a sphinx.
 ‡  The Numismatic Detectives are often respected by constabularies, but these deadly enforcers only answer to a higher power. Most are devoted to the worship of Ptah, and all believe that widespread faith in modern currency is an essential element of civilization's expansion. Fieldwork is conducted by a capable diviner working with an experienced investigator. Together Numismatic Detectives trace the path of shaved or counterfeit coins back to the party responsible for that offense. Their sacred duties also involve destroying coins unfit for circulation and spot checking mints to verify the integrity of supervising clergy.
 ‡  The Shadow Sentinels strive for the privilege of serving as palace guards in Suotien. Many have gone years since last breaching a vow of silence. Most are recruited as orphans, and all are encouraged to avoid forming personal loyalties apart from devotion to the Emperor or Empress. Hopefuls train in graceful martial arts while protecting lesser officials or performing espionage missions. The particulars of their equipment and tactics vary from generation to generation, always a closely guarded state secret. Shadow Sentinels never hestitate to sacrifice their lives for the empire that provided help when they were truly helpless.
 ‡  The Temple of the Striped Lotus is a magical mountaintop garden ringed by monastaries preserving seven exotic styles of unarmed combat. Situated where Celedine and Xe-Shan converge, this high altitude training center has repeatedly withstood long sieges by Imperial forces. Recent emperors have suspended legal bans on the monastic orders safeguarding this site. Yet tensions continue, with heroic renegades and rebel leaders employing deadly combat techniques associated with these facilities. The Temple of the Striped Lotus persists through the sheer devotion of so many powerful residents willing to die in its defense.
 ‡  The Voices of R'lyeh have communed with beings so bizarre that even the gods find them disturbing to contemplate. Many of these individuals become completely obsessed with a single activity. They are unable to abandon it or explain their motivation. The most gifted Voices of R'lyeh immerse themselves in the study of esoteric lore. They derive profound magical insights from tangles of incoherent theory and meaningless words. Without rhyme or reason, some become eager to share this lore while others kill to protect its secrets. Efforts to study the Voices of R'lyeh are confounded as experts often succumb to the same madness.
“I call upon the sky above to keep my fuel warm, dry, and ready. I call upon the land at my feet to make a place for the blaze both level and clear. I call upon the deepest pits of Hell to unleash an unholy inferno. Three times I call out, and this Circle will come to order as the flames illuminate us all.”

— Constellation Coven convocation
 ‡ HERETICS Almost all clerics agree that unholy magic weakens the spiritual fabric supporting growth and progress throughout the Great Consolidation. More than a few also warn that the era is ripe for upheaval. Though some heresies are genuine apocalyptic cults, others may have harmless or even helpful aims. The greatest living witches and warlocks tend to show support for these causes, while witch hunters and religious police violently persecute heretics. Anyone who publicly contradicts an official spiritual authority risks this status. Yet not all official proclamations are popular. Some heresies grow to prompt major reformation within a faith. Others become entrenched subcultures challenging traditional perspectives.
 ‡  The Brimstone Body is an association of demonologists, warlocks, and witches operating openly throughout the Empire of Shadows. Leaders of this group are famed both for profound lectures on arcane topics and deadly duels between formidable spellcasters. Members in good standing often enjoy library access and secure lodgings while visiting underground bastions of dark elves. Being so large and well-resourced, the Brimstone Body operates many covert facilities on the surface. Secret safehouses stocked with spell components sustain the most ancient elven traditions. Holy persons often feel obliged to destroy these dens of fiendishness and witchcraft.
“Witch hunters and witches are two sides of the same accursed coin. Both spread terror and outrage in service to greater powers. Both favor malicious torment and gruesome spectacle over fair swift justice. Unholy magic has given rise to no blight more pernicious than the professional perscutors of its practitioners.”

The Cynic's Guide to Mainland
 ‡  A Constellation Coven consists of thirteen witches and warlocks each capable of travelling by flight. They infiltrate large communities, initiate others in the ways of unholy magic, then flee when they begin to feel personally threatened. Though these practitioners are capable of devastating magic, Constellation Covens operate covertly, showing only enough of their power to entice and educate new contractual spellcasters. Each exodus is covered by fledglings and fiends fighting in the street against witch hunters or religious police. Authorities trumpet success in the aftermath even as other survivors quietly continue to pursue infernal empowerment.
 ‡  Darkstar Temple was destroyed centuries ago in a violent act of divine intervention. Yet this mountainous complex dedicated to the Great Old Ones was virtually abandoned at the moment of its obliteration. Brilliant researchers deciphered cryptic warnings, then evacuated college after college of minds awakened by occult lore. None of the original masters at Darkstar Temple survive today, but their teachings live on as a distinctive tradition of unholy magic. Behind their wholesome motto, “the Temple lives on in our heads and in our hearts,” lurks a network of secretive spellcasters wielding profoundly alien energies.
 ‡  Friends of the Henge meet regularly at Standing Stone sites neither too busy nor too remote to be practical as gathering places. The rites of this group test the integrity and courage of initiates, confirming these qualities to their elders. Sacrifices made in the names of the Archfey forge a bond of defiance against sanctimonious spiritual leaders. Most chapters of this group foster a healthy civic counterculture that harmonizes with rural power structures. Yet all take an oath to support pact magic practitioners with Archfey patronage. Wherever Standing Stones come under attack, this group may rally in defense.
Conformity Persons of every adventuring race are normally drawn toward communities. While some are more at home among a small isolated tribe and others in the thick of a great city, building trust with neighbors has long been an important survival strategy. Out in wild places, law enforcement and medical assistance are rarely convenient. Sometimes simple hospitality makes the difference between life and death. Yet where resources are scarce, it is important to avoid overreliance on potential allies in the region. People living far from civilization often value their privacy, making it doubly important to announce any approach with respectful greetings.
 Some of these values are inverted among the urbane. Cityfolk are crowded together such that friendly salutations are reserved for family and the closest acquaintances. Most residents want to go about their business while interacting with strangers as little as possible. Able constables are generally available along with institutions offering medical relief and charitable support. Approaching a neighboring residence for aid or protection is considered unseemly. Inhabitants are expected to pay taxes and abstain from violence. Even where they do not result in criminal penalties, fire hazards and sanitation problems often generate backlash from concerned cityfolk.
 The moderate density of larger towns and smaller cities generates the most intense pressures to conform. Often the fabric of these communities is held together by a single aristocratic family and/or one dominant faith. People can become outcasts simply for questioning a popular leader or custom. Social status may be closely linked to position in a specific congregation or commercial guild. Some cities see nearly every resident clad in one among a few styles of uniform garb indicating caste or occupation. The most narrow-minded communities tend to stifle free thinkers, though these places are also resistant to corruption from outside influences.
 ‡  The Unity Seekers Alliance supports theists who believe in “the one true God” – a being more powerful than all the Regal Deities combined. They claim known gods interfere, misleading all divinations to deny the existence of such a supreme being. Despite extensive prayer and cosmological research, Unity Seekers only create any appearance of success at practicing the spiritual form of magic through hoaxes. Likewise, no amount of devotion enables affiliated warriors to smite their foes with divine radiance or relieve the afflicted with a holy touch. Even so, the appeal of monotheism as a concept causes a fringe from every generation to embrace this belief.
 ‡ OUTLAWS Known lawbreakers are hunted by authorities. For some this means maintaining bases in remote places where deadly creatures run wild. For others it means secrecy and stealth must be a way of life. Though outlaws are traditional enemies of constables, the two serve as information sources for one another. Deeper collaborations take place where official corruption is prolific. Though the life of an outlaw is fraught with danger, some bandit leaders live like royalty from the spoils of their minions. Smugglers and major distributors of illicit goods often accumulate secret fortunes. Professional bounty hunters lead lives of adventure capturing or killing criminals condemned by legal authorities.
 ‡  Instant Couriers rely on conjurations to personally deliver items while bypassing all checkpoints and gates. Some have been known to assist with prison breaks. Travelling aristocrats employ these specialists to maintain vices despite local taboos. What this approach to smuggling lacks in economic efficiency it makes up for in difficulty of detection. Instant Couriers who specialize in trafficking contraband may haul magical containers, turning a personal journey into a significant shipment. By nature furtive and cunning, these teleporting spellcasters almost always keep a little personal power in reserve to escape authorities.
 ‡  Norish Marauders view themselves as military forces, and some operate with tactical sophistication. Yet they always attack territories where no official state of war exists and no tradition of looters' rights holds sway. In legal terms, these seasonal swarms are highly effective coastal bandits. Small independent forces with varying levels of leadership and navigational ability make the timing and location of raids difficult to predict. Many coastal regimes keep elite heavy cavalry forces at the ready to hunt Norish Marauders lingering in hostile territory. Yet survivors end each season with homecomings enriched by the spoils of pillaging.
 ‡  Pirates of the Veil use mist-shrouded seas and a network of hidden bases among the Veiled Lands to sustain a campaign of cargo thefts in southern waters. Some fugitives take well to this extremely volatile and violent lifestyle. All three human empires are quick to destroy any pirate bases when located, so most never grow beyond a cluster of ramshackle shelters flanking a crude shipyard. Yet these nautical bandits are always aware of multiple options for unloading stolen cargo or recovering from losses. Pirates of the Veil often use magical fog to obscure their travels, hoping to evade detection outside close range.
 ‡  The Pirinşehri Thieves' Guild operates brazenly, even to the extent of sponsoring popular charities. Their speciality involves sophisticated heists employing advanced mechanical contraptions. Professional thieves from distant lands visit in search of top quality training and gear. When the Pirinşehri Thieves' Guild cannot divert blame for a major crime to outsiders, strategic secrets purloined from threatening Legions provide the means to strike a deal. Dispirited local constables often respond to theft complaints with advice about improving locks or money handling practices.
“You say murderers are cowards. You say soldiers are brave. What does a soldier risk to kill – claiming a trophy, earning a bonus, perhaps gaining a promotion? Each murder risks the ultimate punishment. It is only cowardly to stab an unarmed person in the back when the deed is done under color of law.”

— Dremric Lightfoot, Redcap Syndicate enforcer
 ‡  The Redcap Syndicate maintains a reputation for murderous ferocity, though it is much more focused on theft and the shipment of stolen goods to markets in Labyrinth. Favoring goblins for positions of leadership, this organization expects hopeful members to work for years as pickpockets, burglars, grifters, or thugs. Only after committing a planned murder in service to the Redcap Syndicate is the eponymous headwear awarded. Full members are trusted to protect their loot both above and below ground. Savvy thieves and seasoned constables both know this group offers modest amounts of clean cash in exchange for valuable stolen goods.
 ‡ SOLDIERS Military organizations favor standardization. Personnel will be well-equipped with uniform gear and garb. Movements are often conducted in formation. Camp and facility perimeters will be systematically patrolled by alert guards. Where possible, redundant systems of visual and acoustic signalling will be in place to raise alarms when a unit is under threat. All soldiers are part of an organization that was built to fight. Apart from the greenest troops and least competent commanders, responses will be tactically sound. Yet this can make them predictable. Inside information is sometimes invaluable to those who face opposition from a military unit.
“An army of jackals commanded by a lion would defeat an army of lions commanded by a jackal.”

— Serpian proverb
 ‡  Bellerophonian Cavalry may be the most iconic combat assets along the front between the Serpian Empire and the Truscan Empire. Though secessionists were quick to abolish many Truscan traditions, little effort was made to introduce changes into the delicate process of breeding and training pegasi. Both empires use elite pegasus-mounted warriors as couriers, raiders, and scouts. When a large formation of Bellerophonian Cavalry flies together, the spectacular sight may inspire allies and intimidate hostile forces. Yet these units with fantastically valuable mounts will only plunge into large battles as a desperate gambit.
 ‡  Elatolian Cavalry are a crucial element of many battles in the Orient. In a previous era these warriors were part of the Khaan's Shimmering Horde. While that organization lives on only in the eyes of historical enthusiasts, people and horses from the same steppes now contribute power to modern Imperial armies. With shortbows and large quivers, groups of these horse archers sometimes eradicate substantial enemy units while taking no losses of their own. When innocent lives are at stake, they may instead use their curved swords to carve a path through adversaries. Though they make no attempt at stealth, Elatolian Cavalry excels at intimidation as well as attack.
“The portents warn I will meet my end here today. Yet they also declare Avalon will be a thriving kingdom the likes of which Danu has never seen. Exchanging my life for this dream is a gift I gladly give to my children's children.”

— King Cedric the Wise before his final battle
 ‡  The Knights of the Unbroken Circle are warriors or spellcasters each worthy of serving as generals in the army of Avalon. Their abilities are put to the test by hostile fey posing a constantly changing series of threats to the kingdom. Some crises require traditional border control or victory on an open battlefield. Others demand investigations, abjurations, or deceptions to thwart magical creatures intent on destroying all major military forces on the island of Danu. The Knights of the Unbroken Circle find these endless challenges as rewarding as they are dangerous.
 ‡  Shamus's Slayers are a famously versatile set of irregular mercenaries. Though they favor skirmishing in light armor, they can perform a hard cavalry charge or defend a fortified position just as effectively. With a smattering of magic and sneaky tactics, each squad of Shamus's Slayers excels as a team. Their commanders often negotiate some political clout alongside generous payment. Rather than take land for themselves, these mercenaries use their influence to seat the most capable and militant prospects from traditional aristocratic families. This network of allies provides a steady stream of future employment opportunities.
“#86. Every general worthy of glory has fought a battle in the mud.”

 — The 99 Maxims of Victor Tiberius
 ‡  Tiberian Legions remain formidable fighting forces despite relatively inexpensive gear. The studded leather armor, large shield, short sword, and two javelins issued to each Legionnaire are consistent with standard infantry gear used by the Truscan war machine early in its expansive phase. This traditional kit leaves them at risk of being outmatched today, but these intensely patriotic units perform well under pressure. Today this affordable tradition makes efficient use of auxiliary forces while honoring the glory days of the Empire. This makes Tiberian Legions a logical choice for garrisons well away from active warzones.
Tribal Customs The simplest communities often make little use of coins, and even less of legal documents. Nomads are limited by what they can transport. Even tribes with permanent homes rarely accumulate much in the way of material possessions. Tribal libraries and arsenals tend toward tiny collections of varied quality. In harsh lands where no greater civilization could be sustained, tribal groups dedicate much of their energy to gathering food and maintaining shelters. Tribes must engage in some mix of peaceful trade and violent defense to hold their ground in more abundant territories.
 Tribal societies typically teach that land cannot be owned. It certainly can be used, and chiefs have the authority to direct the labors of others. Yet the idea of treating the ground itself like a possession seems deeply wrong to most people raised in a tribe. Extremely isolated groups may underestimate the powers and ambitions of foreign visitors. Modern tribes anywhere near a significant city will be informed about the need to protect their ancestral lands if they wish to remain autonomous. Tribes reaching a few hundred members often fracture into multiple communities. Yet aligned tribes can coordinate activities as a formidable federation able to fend off major invasions.
 ‡ TRIBES The smallest communities are practically impossible to infiltrate since everyone literally knows every other member. Some tribes move from one hidden locale to another to avoid civilization. Others participate in federations where the collective power of many tribes makes it possible to defend an the territory of a sovereign nation. Some tribal communities rely on barbaric warriors and uneducated shamans for their well-being. Yet many embrace modern ways, fighting with the finest steel and keeping a household of well-read spellcasters in the mix. To outsiders, a tribe with the most elite martial or arcane traditions may appear no different from any other group of hunter-gatherers.
 ‡  Communities of the Angry Remnant blur the lines between warband, cult, and tribe. Descendants of Truscan Legionnaires abandoned during the withdrawal from Ontolon, most among the Angry Remnant now have mixed ancestry with some indigenous blood. Even so, they remain a hostile counterculture only able to survive Imperial eradication efforts by taking shelter in misty jungles and treacherous swamps. With religious leaders exclusively devoted to Ares or Hades, there are few hopeful stories in the folklore of these isolated and beleaguered people. Strangers discovering their hidden camps are sometimes killed on sight.
 ‡  Rawhide Drovers are a quarrelsome culture of nomadic groups who live by herding and hunting along the frontier of the Scarlands. Many other tribes inhabiting that belt are short-lived, but Rawhide Drovers endure by wrangling both cattle and bison with reliable expertise. They measure wealth in livestock, and equestrian ability is particularly important to them. They rarely maintain camp long enough to produce proper leather, so their tents and outerwear are often made of simple hide. Vigilant scouting patrols and speedy migrations are the secrets of their survival in harsh lands where goblinoid hordes periodically swarm.
 ‡  The Silverpoint Nation is a federation of communities under the protection of militant wood elf tribes. Though not particularly religious, these elves harbor an abiding hatred of lycanthropes. Persons hostile to shapechangers may find eager allies or mentors among these gifted fey warriors. While the Silverpoint Nation strictly limits the growth of communities within its territory, each market town is affluent through trade in furs and produce. Tribal warriors not only keep the forests clear of bandits and unwanted settlers, but they make a significant contribution to the armed forces of the Sylvanian Confederation.
“Is there any sadness greater than knowing you have defeated your last rival?”

— Erguth Silverhand, orc general
 ‡  The Soulless Legion is a coalition of orc tribes known for their close family connections and featureless black eyes. Several times they have risen up to carve out their own small nation, sheltering an orcish city-state or pacifying a land packed with deadly monsters. Yet Soulless Legion chiefs are notoriously unwilling to engage in diplomacy. Small conflicts inevitably lead to large clashes, escalating until an inevitable invasion by overwhelming numbers of humans. Survivors typically migrate to an area suitable for peaceful rebuilding. Yet when the Soulless Legion is in top form, it is as powerful as any human army of comparable size.
 ‡  The Xhoshanba people inhabit an ancient temple complex deep in the Zintu interior. They speak their own language, practically unknown outside that single locale. This complex was originally dedicated to Huhueteotl and Tlaloc. Their eternal bonfires and perpetual cascades continue to comfort residents. Yet the Xhoshanba have no ancestral link to the builders of those structures, and likenesses of Dead Gods have been replaced by Ma Yuan. Gargantua seem reluctant to tread near the walls of this holy place. This tribe opens its sanctuary to small groups of visitors, though the least fortunate go on to be sacrificed in gruesome rituals.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Enemies & Extremists ↑  → Fights & Forays ←  ↓ Gear & Gadgets ↓

Fights & Forays
Killings The Age of Heroes gave hope to ordinary people. No single race or creed dominated all others. Yet it was an era when few lands enjoyed a long span without destructive invasion or tyrannical oppression. Fear of violence was everywhere. The history of the world became less volatile after its spiritual flows were regulated. The modern era sees many cities, towns, and even rural districts where violent deaths have been rare for centuries. For people well away from any warzone or wilderness frontier, a secure uneventful life is a realistic ambition.
 Not everyone seeks tranquility. The greatest cities contain so many people that murder claims several victims on an average day despite remaining rare. Practitioners of unholy magic are natural targets of witch hunters. Smugglers, spies, and thieves need not be armed to be attacked by guards. Persistent offenders sometimes face execution. Personal rivalries and family feuds can erupt into violence, especially in societies where duelling is tolerated. Even in the most secure places, conflict is never far from those who go looking for it.
 Where duelling is permissible, authorities only interfere to enforce regulations and document proceedings. These killings are not only legal, but sometimes vital to rising within an organization or cultivating the reputation of a great warrior. Such a reputation can draw hostility from other duellists intent on making their names by clashing steel with a renowned foe. Wherever a state of war exists, the slaughter of enemy forces may be strongly encouraged. The most elite assassins command the deadliest attacks, but larger body counts can be claimed by the most decorated soldiers.
 The killing of dangerous monsters is rarely controversial. Persons of monstrous appearance need be especially wary in societies where they enjoy no legal protections or those protections are unevenly enforced. Particularly in the aftermath of violence from a horde or warband of similar-looking beings, civilized folk may feel anger toward the monstrous. The persecution of other non-humans as well as human ethnic groups can lead to horrific events. Fortunately, the worst forms of bigotry are not normal. Most people feel that most other people have an intrinsic right to life.
 This notion is not normally applied to livestock and wild beasts. Yet their killings can create conflict. Herders and ranchers are quick to defend their property. Some aristocrats criminalize hunting on their lands without an official license. Druids may be inspired to attack hunters so effective or numerous as to threaten the local ecological balance. The most extreme wilderness defenders so despise civilization as to lash out at every stranger they encounter. Though there are other paths to greatness, most legendary adventurers have more than a few killings in their personal sagas.
People have been trying to kill each other with weapons ever since hunger swept the first failing Imperium Arcanum bastion. Tools originally created for fighting dragons or hunting wild game became instruments of human slaughter. No special knowledge is required to shove a blade into a warm body. Yet skill provides an edge of its own. Extensive training with the most gifted combatants hones this edge. Some boldly adventurous warriors do not work with an instructor. Surviving enough deadly struggles reveals experience to be a fine mentor. Even unschooled combatants eventually develop a personal style, provided they do not die first.
Lore accumulated over thousands of years details countless fighting techniques, martial stances, and tactical insights. From an Imperial officer drilling squads of fresh recruits to a reclusive hermit training a lone student, the best teachers draw on battle-tested traditions. Formal training may be tailored to facilitate group maneuvers, prepare for particular enemies, or make use of specialized equipment. Modern military science emphasizes the Six Qualities that distinguish highly effective warriors. Doctrine holds that competent commanders must learn lessons associated with each of the Six Qualities to better recognize and encourage those traits in subordinates. No doubt each trait is a virtue for anyone in the midst of deadly combat.
 AGGRESSION  Great warriors strike with unreserved fury.  Inexperienced murderers are sometimes identified as such by small cuts inflicted while hesitating to attack forcefully. Weak attacks can be turned aside by armor or a defensive maneuver. Some weapons only deliver their best results while striking fiercely with the intent to follow through. Profound hostility is a reliable way to motivate mighty attacks. Aggressive warriors put the desire to defeat their foes above any concern about their own well-being. Most evident in the berserk rage of charging barbarians, aggression swiftly eliminates enemy combatants and other targets, hastening the arrival of victory.
 Combatants known for their aggression serve best as assault troops or brutal enforcers. Profoundly enraged attackers deliver devastating offensive pressure. Anger propels these warriors right through volleys of arrows and stones to personally deliver their wrath. This approach achieves victory quickly or not at all. Aggressive forces can be countered with decoys and delays meant to exhaust the best energies of attackers. The right ruse can even turn berserk warriors against each other. Getting the most out of aggressive soldiers requires careful timing and target selection, directing their surges of violence into efficient threat elimination.
 COMMITMENT  Great warriors kill with unwavering purpose.  Some defeats result from failure to overcome superior resolve. Morale during battle has an enormous impact on the effectiveness of participants. Fanatical dedication to the mission at hand is ideal. A holy purpose can intensify militant passion. Yet even atheists are capable of pledging their lives to a cause or crusade. The truly steadfast cannot be turned aside even with bribery or mesmerism. Extremely devoted warriors view their weapons as conduits for deadly fervor, infusing might with a moral imperative. Paladins embody this quality when they smite foes standing in the way of victory.
 An abiding commitment makes an individual ideal for service to principled causes. Depending on their creed, these individuals may be well-suited to law enforcement or tax collection. Such paragons of loyalty are incorruptible whether hunting down sworn enemies or defending a sacred stronghold. Many would sooner die than falter in their duties. This dedication can be exploited. The most committed combatants often have higher priorities than victory in battle. They may be compelled to distraction by threats against an innocent bystander or a sacred taboo. The most effective use of intensely committed soldiers involves harnessing zealous passions by harmonizing core beliefs with official duties.
 DISCIPLINE  Great warriors relentlessly seek perfection.  Physical fitness furnishes the force behind force of arms. This may involve the muscle to move freely inside a metal suit while dishing out punishing strikes, the agility to evade attacks while lashing out with pinpoint precision, or some blend of both gifts. Serious martial artists will train with every spare moment, always striving to improve upon personal bests. Repetition is crucial, since adapting amid the chaos of combat benefits from muscle memory of flawless form. The extensive regimens of monks exemplify discipline while paving the way to victory with superior execution of advanced techniques.
Military Education Many sovereign nations feature institutions dedicated to training military officers. Even some mercenary companies maintain a war college to formulate and teach superior tactics. In the best cases, these institutions resemble their Imperial counterparts, promoting high standards of conduct and competence. Extreme rigor makes the titles and decorations awarded by their instructors reliable indicators of battlefield capability.
 Lack of veterans and funding may seriously degrade a nation's officer corps in times of peace. Academies may be reduced to social clubs for retirees. Neglected war colleges often embrace obsolete lore or unproven new ideas. As peace falls apart, modest establishments struggle with major recruiting or conscription drives. It is rare that a small nation systematically maintains the levels of professionalism and coordination associated with Imperial training.
 Extremely disciplined warriors need neither metal nor magic to be effective in battle. Many cultivate their abilities as part of a spiritual or philosophical path. Others are forged in raw violence, each streetcorner brawl or arena fight one more step on a journey of empowerment. Unarmed enforcers give organizations the ability to project power where authorities would not tolerate armed outsiders. Combatants noted for this quality tend to be highly mobile. That can be countered with cavalry to maintain separation or an enclosed space to prevent it. The most disciplined troops excel at the use of non-lethal techniques to disable their foes.
 GUILE  Great warriors exploit favorable circumstances.  Few people would die in battle if the losing side could foresee the outcome. Violent clashes are innately unpredictable. The tide may turn when a moment of opportunity is recognized and seized by a cunning combatant. More effective attacks follow from orchestrating and exploiting situational advantages. This may involve an unexpected angle of attack or violence concerted with an ally. From concealed snipers to nimble skirmishers, wily warriors make heavy use of hazards, distractions, and cover. The sly tactics of rogues demonstrate guile, making the most of every opening in pursuit of victory.
 Truly guileful combatants work best alone or in small groups. Large formations and rigid procedures inhibit their ability to improvise. Covert operations are their strong suit. The same minds that constantly work all the angles of tactical scenarios often thrive while maintaining false identities and serving multiple agendas. Warriors notable for this quality excel at ambushes and perform unexpected maneuvers throughout the course of combat. These evasions and misdirections may be mitigated by battling on open ground or applying some form of immobilization. Personnel with great guile are particularly suited to tasks involving theft, espionage, or assassination.
Imperial Training Three Emperors personally rule superpowers collectively containing most of the world's human beings as well as most of the world's tax revenue. These vast nations each maintain a standing military force of over one million people – large enough to constitute respectable kingdoms unto themselves. The thousands of officers organizing these huge armies are schooled by networks of service academies and war colleges. Some institutions give junior officers opportunities to interact with living legends. Others focus on specialities like covert reconaissance or artillery operations. These institutions also enable officers to study the latest recommended tactics and drills.
 The phrase “Imperial training” implies extensive formal military education. Consistent practices enable any qualified Imperial officer to integrate with any affiliated unit. Officers are likewise prepared to recruit, relentlessly drilling new personnel to achieve proficiency with standard issue equipment. Generations of violence have seen an evolution in each empire's military doctrines. Folk wisdom accumulated during times of peace has been purged to make way for battle-tested insights. Master Willow's Rules of Command, a manual famously authored by the most decorated general to fight for Celedinese Ascendance, contains the earliest reference to the Six Qualities. Today his ancient treatise is highly regarded in every human homeland, and all three superpowers school their officers to identify the Six Qualities of effective warriors.
 TENACITY  Great warriors rally and triumph despite injury.  Normally one side is defeated when a battle ends conclusively. For any combatant still willing and able to strike, the clash is not over. Seasoned warriors find ways to push through the most difficult struggles and remain effective even when suffering from heavy wounds. Reserves of staying power influence the tempo of battle, sometimes producing a reversal of fortune. The most stalwart soldiers may invite attack, confident they will endure and recover. So long as rugged warriors continue to weather an onslaught, allies may be spared harm. Tenacity is the quality that enables fighters to overcome setbacks and persevere to victory.
 Many commanders emphasize this quality above all others in training. It is the backbone of military service. Regular infantry forces are trained to hold their ground as a unit. Supportive allies give wounded comrades opportunities to recover or fall back. Through training and battle they bond into an enduring collective. The dedicated determination of professional soldiers is crucial to the security of all many regimes. Overcoming this quality requires coordinated attacks to dispatch wounded foes before they can rally and strike back. Truly tenacious warriors are especially effective at defending fortified positions.
 VERSATILITY  Great warriors avoid strengths and attack weaknesses.  Every method of fighting has benefits and drawbacks. Tracking and stalking a foe may shed light on which methods are most effective against that particular target. The best-equipped warriors are walking arsenals, easily adapting from one enemy to the next. Every additional option increases the chance that one will prove suitable, if not ideal, for a given clash. If the weather or some other factor thwarts a plan, a robust set of alternatives may yet save the day. Rangers display versatility by being prepared to attack weaknesses, seeking the one that will serve as a path to victory.
 Able to snipe, skirmish, or plunge into melee; truly versatile soldiers often serve in light cavalry units. Others encounter all manner of potential adversaries while assigned as scouts or sentries. Being prepared for almost anything enables this sort of warrior to live off the land. Less militant rangers make their way by gathering resources from wild places, possibly also acting to prevent poaching and other destructive activities. Limiting their mobility is usually the best way to deal with versatile adversaries, since that also limits their tactical options. This quality enables many to excel at fighting rare monsters and other exotic enemies.

Highway Patrols The greatest cities require robust avenues of reliable trade. Enormous quantities of food and other essentials must be constantly imported. Imperial governments are famously strict about policing major roads. Other regimes gain respect by enabling civilian travellers to feel secure. Small teams of riders make watchful trips to detect threats or assist travellers in distress. Significant bandits and vandals are hunted by larger military units. These efforts promote prosperous commerce, but they also allow rapid mobilization of soldiers by way of clear roads.
 As with armies, large caravans employ scouts to prevent the main group from unknowingly moving into danger. Couriers may rush past or sneak around a hazard, then convey warnings they continue forward with their own journeys. Many routes in prosperous territories can be safely travelled by defenseless persons with no escort. Yet prudence and patience are never amiss on the road. Even the safest highways are not completely free of tragedy. Where there has been recent violence or there are credible warnings of future violence, a road may literally swarm with armed authorities keen to protect the innocent.
 Modern times see safe travel across many populated areas. The health and wealth of a society depends on its ability to secure internal trade. Most constabularies are quick to apprehend or eliminate urban murderers on the prowl. Empires and other great nations patrol their own roads enough to make robberies and monster attacks rare along major routes. The dangers of travel can often be minimized through careful planning. Even with preparation, these dangers become unpredictable risks for those who venture away from secure territory. Most wilderness areas are home to fearsome beasts. Some locales teem with deadly creatures. Where a seemingly safe place remains uncivilized, a hidden danger likely lurks. Bandits and dragons are two among many types of cunning threats known to see loners and small parties as potential victims.
 Abundant ancient lore about wild places is supplemented today by copious scientific research. Universities pride themselves on galleries of preserved specimens enabling students to look firsthand at plants and animals from distant places. Sufficiently powerful aristocrats may maintain private menageries. Some large cities dedicate sprawling institutions to the public display of exotic animals in captivity. The land itself can be no less deadly than its inhabitants. Much uncivilized territory is so because it cannot support agriculture. Even where they are at risk of becoming food, travellers also require it. Along with sound instincts, accumulated knowledge of the natural world can prove crucial to surviving expeditions far from any inn or waystation.
 BARRENS The heart of the Scarlands provides foul yet edible fungi and bugs to any who persist in digging through its accursed filth. Away from that interior, those blackened wastes offer virtually no nutrition. What surface water can be found is often poisoned by a mix of stagnation and ash. Even when the weather permits clear sight, these gloomy expanses lack for landmarks as well as life. Permanent residents are often powerful exiles who sustain themselves through magic while advancing some pursuit civilized folks find intolerable. Locals fortunate enough to control a spot suitable for gardening are sure to conceal their vulnerable outcropping of greenery. While the outer Scarlands are the most famous barrens in the world, blights and curses have inflicted this status on other areas.
“To walk the Scarlands for yourself, to feel ashes on the breeze, to trod upon dark seething ground, to inhale that awful unrelenting smell . . . while you are out there, it becomes difficult to imagine anything more offensive to the Gods than this product of their own handiwork.”

— Primo Cartesia, Truscan mapmaker
 “Go around,” is the standard advice for travellers contemplating a journey into barren land. Warriors sometimes venture across barrens to prove their courage. Running out of food or water is a dire predicament on this terrain. Though most transits are uneventful, others involve horrific discoveries like goblinoid hordes, undead armies, and lurking fiends. Establishing a benevolent stronghold is an invitation to be overwhelmed by such threats. The boundaries of barrens generate much interest from druids and clerics. Some provide relief to exhausted visitors while others promote processes to heal the land. Walls and forts are common near barrens known to unleash waves of violent monsters. Other areas, like Hel or the surface of the Moon, are technically barrens despite no permanent residents and visits only from incredibly powerful beings.
 DESERTS Water is precious wherever there is none in sight. Hunting and foraging tend to be difficult even for experts in desert terrain. Fortunately relief can be found at oases scattered across otherwise desolate land. An oasis may be a permanent natural watering hole or a pool replenished through magic. Most offer limited hospitality and trade opportunities to visitors. Yet armies and large caravans can deplete these lifegiving sanctuaries. Defenders often include a minor aristocrat working with a team of clerics or druids strongly attuned to the land. A flourishing oasis town might sustain a few small farms and a large temple. Construction is viable in most deserts, though some areas are nothing but dunes in constant gradual motion. The arid expanses between oases and river valleys are often unpatrolled as well as undeveloped.
“After two years in the desert, the sight of a public fountain seemed entirely miraculous.”

— Nigella Leighton, Albionish explorer
 Basilisks, manticores, wyverns, and giant birds of prey sometimes make meals of lone desert travellers. Any dragon hunting over this terrain may be ravenous enough to fight for a meal. Though few serpents and fewer scorpions could devour an adult human, both sorts of creatures have killed many in these climes. Jackals and vultures make quick work of any carrion left to the desert Sun. Some deserts feature enormous burrowing sandworms. Sphinxes are also at home in this environment. Though rarely aggressive outside personal territories, they are demanding by nature. Desert journeys often see teamsters favoring camels or lizards, since horses are less tolerant of long trips without water. With ample supplies, Sun protection, and rest stops; desert travel can be low risk. It takes a turn for the deadly when shifting sands confound navigation or water reserves have been exhausted.
Campfires Members of every adventuring race find it comforting to spend time near a fire before settling down for the night. Tritons new to the surface regard the flavors of cooked food and the warm glow of a hearth as exotic treats. Others are relieved of coldness and wetness while basking in strong firelight. Travellers establishing a campfire send a signal to the group that it is time to rest. They also send a signal to nearby creatures that people are in the area. Most wild animals will keep their distance from outdoor fires. There are techniques to conceal the light and smoke produced by small fires, but it takes a substantial blaze to warm a group of people.
 Military scouts keep notes of the positions and times where campfires have been sighted. Bandits and intelligent predators sometimes treat camps as places to loot or feed. Gathering useful fuel for campfires is extremely difficult in the most desolate, cold, or wet terrain types. Underground, an absence of fuel can be compounded by stagnant air unable to clear accumulating smoke. Where the land is thick with dry vegetation or a room is cluttered with old papers, a small ember can quickly give rise to a dangerous conflagration. Even in less volatile conditions, druids and awakened animals have been known to menace campers being irresponsible about fire safety.
 FORESTS Finding something to eat is never difficult in a forest. The risk for unskilled foragers involves being sickened by unknown fare. Fresh water is often safe to drink here, though wise consumers favor fast flows and falls. Creeks and ponds often offer fish to supplement local berries, eggs, fruits, nuts, roots, and wild game. Tribal cultures can live comfortably in harmony with most forests. Modern nations export resources from forests under their control. Forestry policies can be controversial. Some aristocrats restrict lucrative hunting and logging privileges to personal associates. Thick forests are unfit for travel by horse, and the thickest make progress difficult even for persons on foot. Limited visibility facilitates covert activities in this terrain.
 The fey are a strong presence in most forested areas. Elsewhere they may be furtive, but the fey creatures of Old Silvania are generally comfortable around other races. Forest creatures and local druids fight back against any threats to their sylvan way of life. Irresponsible fires, aggressive logging, and permanent construction are all likely to generate hostility. Even where local people are benign, fey tricksters tempt travellers into misfortune. Bears, wolves, and other ordinary residents can be deadly. Many forests are also home to an assortment of giant animals living alongside animated plants and trees. Though wood elves intimidate outsiders with volleys of arrows erupting from hidden platforms in the forest canopy, nothing terrifies quite like the trees themselves rallying to crush a band of destructive intruders.
 GLACIERS Inhospitable sheets of ice pose a constant challenge to all but the most well-adapted creatures. Hel, lands of the extreme north, and the highest mountain peaks all share some of the characteristics of barrens. There is virtually nothing to hunt or forage, though clean water is available to any able to warm enough ice or snow. Weather is almost always extreme, with blinding blizzards that end as suddenly as their onset. Even trained mountaineers see glaciers as terrain to be crossed rather than inhabited. Every step is treacherous, and refreshing rest breaks do not come easily. Some travellers rope themselves into groups, saving each other from deadly falls. In addition to climbing gear, skis and snowshoes sometimes prove useful in these environments.
“To be a successful mountaineer requires two qualities – an extreme love of life and an extreme love of death.”

— Kalsang Dawa, Xe-Shanese explorer
 While there are alpine military specialists, history has nothing kind to say about cavalry doing battle on snowbound wastes. Elephants struggle with the chill, but mammoths thrive on tundra. Goliaths and certain sorts of giants are also comfortable with this climate. Where coastal ice does not prevent all fishing, villages may support human tribes as well. Keeping supplied with food and fuel is a constant struggle for most communities. Well-built structures on mountaintops or in the most frigid parts of the north tend to be operated by reclusive spellcasters or supplied by distant regimes. These secret outcroppings of civilization often serve as prisons or training facilities. An unwelcome approach to one of these structures can be more hazardous than remaining out in the cold.
 GRASSLANDS Flat expanses with short native vegetation are ideal horse country. Human governments often covet these territories since the least arid are also ideal for farming. Where water or Sun are not reliable enough for settled agriculture, plains often become home to large herds of grazing beasts. Skilled riders wrangle these herds and breed for superior stock, giving rise to wealthy nomadic traditions. Fences are rarely practical, leaving herders to respect each other and the land itself or risk overgrazing. Many grasslands are in a transitional state with zones of irrigated farming country or enchanted forest pushing back frontiers of established steppeland. Travellers in wild grasslands may be at risk of unpredictable swarming by monstrous hordes or undermining by gargantuan worms.
“Care for your horse, and your horse will care for you.”

— unknown, possibly of prehistoric origin
 All sorts of travellers can maintain their best speed on this clear flat terrain. Cavalry forces are essential to political power here. Though the landscape can be boring, it is rarely so monotonous as to complicate navigation. Foraging also tends to be effective here, with wild game easy to spot yet difficult to approach. At the extremes, floodplains sometimes risk abrupt inundation while the dryest steppes make it hard to keep any herd fed and watered. Other grasslands tend to provide well for grazing beasts. Peaceful isolated communities can grow to considerable size when surrounded by green pastures. Though wolves and snakes wander these places, harmless animals are far more abudant. The skies above may see griffons and pegasi along with the occasional dragon on the hunt. Many modern aristocratic titles trace back to families who secured a patch of grassland or displaced an indigenous tribe only to develop the land into a lucrative fief.
Burial Mounds Modern practices call for corpses to be destroyed, entombed, or buried under a stone slab. Dead bodies were handled differently by some cultures long ago. Also known as barrows, kurgans, or tumuli; burial mounds were built atop important remains. Complete buildings would sometimes be buried to house ancient aristocrats alongside their most prized possessions. Other burial mounds covered mass graves containing combatants who did not survive a great battle or deadly plague. For many, the event that killed them would not be their final struggle.
 Once hallowed and now forgotten, some of these artificial hills send forth savage supernatural defenders when disturbed. Wights and wraiths are particularly common around these features. Other burial mounds eventually erode, exposing human remains liable to arise when next the land is cursed or a Remnant Wrangler pays a visit. Many archaeologists take an interest in ancient burial mounds. Gold, jewels, mithral, and magic can be found together in the most impressive sites. Risks are appropriately dire, since persons receiving great honors in death potentially wield great powers in undeath.
 HIGHLANDS Hill country is naturally difficult to govern. Every vista offers plenty of nearby slopes able to conceal a smokeless camp. Small caverns and canyons provide convenient lairs for bandits and monsters alike. The terrain often allows for some grazing, though it is far from an ideal environment for cavalry. Farming is likewise possible but limited. Only highlands that have been politically stable for centuries are likely to feature many scenic vales and terraced estates. Elsewhere a low population clusters around scattered mines and other productive sites. Unprotected travellers may become targets for outlaws or monsters, especially at night. The roughest country may be more ominous than barrens with so many possible threats spread across so many changing horizons.
 Signal towers are an effective way of spreading the news across this terrain. Drums, fires, flags, and magical lights all can be put to the task of sending coded messages. A network of these towers coordinates military activities during the arduous process of civilizing hillfolk. The absence such a network suggests mutually hostile tribes or clans control any secure communities in the area. Some highlands remain neutral zones between great nations. Dwarven cities are often situated under hill country with a single surface stronghold to facilitate smelting and trade. Some hills provide homes for cyclopes or the simplest sorts of giants. This terrain is also home to ordinary beasts that rise to the level of deadly threats. The wildest badlands see outlaw strongholds hidden among many independent monster lairs.
 JUNGLES Expeditions into the hottest and wettest forests tend to be high on risks and rewards. Even in modern times, much of the Zintu economy is driven by the exports gathered from lands too perilous for permanent development. The challenges of access keep prices high for gems, spices, ivories, and skins unique to jungles. Even the smallest jungle creatures may strike with deadly venom. Yet gargantua are also known to thrive in this terrain. Many of the Veiled Lands are overrun with huge carnivorous reptiles. Jungle tribes rarely endure unless they excel at hiding. Some groups are immediately hostile to outsiders, while others look to prey upon small parties first induced to relax. Though independent upstarts may grow rich presiding over civilized jungle strongholds, these communities are invariably short-lived.
“‘Kill or be killed’ is not the law of the jungle. It is the prevailing condition wherever legal authorities are effectively powerless. It is the absence of law itself.”

— Sigrun Magnusdotter of the One-Handed Legion
 Fey are rare but not always unkind here. Some avoid more settled climes to practice unconventional lifestyles in peace. Jungle druids are not so rare, though most dedicate themselves to the protection of animal allies in the area. Greater abundance of poisons and diseases makes foraging in jungles trickier than conventional forests, though the challenges are otherwise similar. Vegetation is almost everywhere, making most movement difficult. Inhospitable living conditions discourage aristocrats from attempting to govern most jungle territories in conventional ways. Out in the thick of it, survival skills and pure grit matter more than the opinions of distant authorities. Many modern jungles were once territories of interest to Dead Gods. Lost temples and overgrown cities now lurk in these wilds.
 LAKES Easy access to clean water and good fishing encourages lakefront development. Great cities often arise near a lake, while even small towns here tend to prosper. Lakes in rural or wild places are often hubs of life. Fish, reptiles, and amphibians inhabit the waters. Grazing beasts and their predators drink from the shallows. Some lakes are protected by local druids, fey, and/or nature spirits. The most formidable will deploy elemental creatures as needed. Securing control of a valuable lake can be more challenging than ridding hill country of bandits and monsters. Smaller villages and some tribal cultures may find ways to live in harmony with wild lakes, offering sacrifices while strictly policing their own fishing and dumping activities. Lakes near large populations require special constabularies to coordinate so much aquatic activity.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we can form a more useful system of government than allowing the selkies who bestow magic weapons to decide which among us will rule.”

— King Cedric the Wise before his coronation
 Most lakes feature clear calm water that is easily navigable. The largest make it possible to venture beyond sight of land. While huge lakes are sometimes turbulent, Mannanan Mac Lir does not treat them as his playthings. Lakeborne travellers are almost never counfounded by devastating waves or wandering points of reference. Many lakes give rise to lore of resident monsters, with some stories substantiated by small populations of huge reptiles or amphibians. Lake lore also features tales of sunken treasures. A fraction of these are based on ancient fey troves or modern submerged caches. Even lakes adjacent to great cities may be unsafe far from shore or at great depth. The deepest and darkest lakes often enable strange creatures to thrive, from inland tribes of alluring aquatic beings to seething pools of unholy abominations.
 RIVERS Even where surrounding lands are inhospitable, the flood plains of rivers tend to support excellent farms. Convient access to fresh flowing water irrigates crops and herds alike. River valleys in wild places also tend to be especially rich with life. Plants and animals that might be unable to survive nearby habitats can thrive in pockets of verdant growth. Most rivers contain a diverse array of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. For those who are not able swimmers, the swiftest rapids and deepest channels might as well be oceans. Trolls seem to instinctively hunt near logical river crossings. Major bridges often feature guardposts that collect modest tolls compensating squads formidable enough to defeat those monsters. Where no bridge exists yet fording is impractical, enterprising people may operate a ferry raft.
Checkpoints Major governments control too much territory to place personnel on watch over all places at all times. Power is projected through outposts and garrisons at strategic locations. Established border communities and all major cities shelter within walls featuring no more than a few gates. Travellers passing through face whatever inspections and fees authorities require. Cooperation and patience are useful tools here. Bribery or trickery may also facilitate passage. Where there is no funding for guards at a major bridge or mountain pass, greedy outlaws and deadly monsters hunt for victims in the flow of traffic.
 Many checkpoints are staffed by well-mannered local constables, though more remote or dangerous posts typically receive detachments of well-armed soldiers. These outposts often serve as waystations for couriers and government agents. Over time some will grow, perhaps developing huge fortifications. Funds collected locally as tolls and tarriffs are supplemented by investments from senior economic or military planners. An aristocrat in control of a major bridge or border crossing may grow wealthy through oversight of trade even if local agriculture and industry are poor.
 Modern engineers undertake increasingly bold interventions in the flows of rivers. Encouraging alternative natural channels or digging artificial canals makes it possible to irrigate dry lands. Diverted water can operate mills and provide fountains to communities downstream. The largest projects accumulate enormous reservoirs behind mountainous stone walls, enhancing the agriculture and industry of an entire region. Hazards vary widely depending on the surrounding climate and the topography of each flow. A drop over the largest cascades is almost certain to end in death, while the smallest rivers can be traversed at most points by a reasonably cautious human on foot. Local lore is often crucial to safe river navigation, be it keeping a barge clear of sandbars or knowing to portage a small boat around rocky shallows.
 SEAS Well west of Danu and far east of To-Shin, the Greater Ocean destroys all who would dare to sail upon it. The God of Briny Depths is keenly focused on events in the Imperium Maris. His whims effectively keep half the world unavailable to those who are not comfortable underwater. The Orient and Mainland are surrounded by many gulfs and minor seas fit for voyages keeping within sight of land. Encounters with other seagoing vessels are common along populated coastlines and inevitable in urban harbors. Even within sight of a coastline, pirates and sea serpents pose serious hazards. The Lesser Ocean and some of the waters around the Veiled Lands are navigable, though constant peril befalls vessels without the charts of a Cardinal Navigator or the inspiration of a Crossbones Corsair.
 Far out to sea, dangers abound. Waves and weather seem completely unpredictable without a spiritual link to Mannanan Mac Lir. Ley lines play inconsistently over water, rendering one popular method of navigation unreliable. Krakens and other enormous sea monsters sometimes crush wooden vessels simply out of curiosity. Only a respectable regimen of prayers and preparations enables a captain to avoid the worst hazards of the Lesser Ocean and waters around the Veiled Lands. Even then, minor sea monsters and storms of normal intensity can pose great challenges for mariners. Encounters with other vessels on open water are rare yet fraught with danger. The line between military action and piracy can be unclear to some. Crews running low on critical supplies while far from port may be driven to acts of desperation.
“Anyone can lead horses into a swamp. Getting them back on solid ground is the tricky part.”

— Jerry O'Shannan, Tuathish jester
 SWAMPS Wetlands are often considered undesirable habitats even when they are surrounded by politically stable territory. Few lucrative resources are abundant in swampland. Yet crocodiles often are, swimming unseen right at the surface of dark waters. Lizardfolk are also drawn to these places, being naturally acclimated and lacking other options at the end of their exodus from the Veiled Lands. This terrain is extremely problematic for construction and other development. Great cities in wetlands tend to be ports at the mouths of rivers channeling endless torrents of cargo to the sea. Otherwise swamps tend to see villages and small towns arise on patches of high ground while other residents lead a tribal life if they exist at all. Fishing, hunting, and some specialized crops provide sustenance.
“Here you either sink or swim. You live longer if you become very good at both.”

— Itztli Snapjaw, lizardfolk monster hunter
 As with jungles, swamps feature many plants and animals containing poison. Also, swampwater is rarely clean – civilized institutions advise both straining and boiling prior to any attempts at drinking the stuff. Decomposition occurs quickly in swamps. Necromancers sometimes conceal their wares in these areas, hiding rotting things in rotting places. Cultists may likewise exploit swampland to perform unholy rites. Some swamps emit dangerous or deadly gasses. These may produce haunting displays of nocturnal light. Swamp fey sometimes imitate these lights, deliberately luring curious onlookers into deadly perils. Hags, ogres, trolls, and other widely-despised monsters regard swamps as havens from civilized authorities. As with barrens, “go around,” is often the best advice for travellers headed into a swamp.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Fights & Forays ↑  → Gear & Gadgets ←  ↓ Magic ↓

Scientific Instruments Some metallurgists, glaziers, and toolmakers specialize in precision production. Many guilds calibrate equipment based on exacting duplicates of official measures maintained by a major government. With three different sets of Imperial units and dozens of others featured in the laws of lesser realms, quantifying the material world can be a confounding endeavor. Yet many institutions fund small armies of researchers taking measurements to investigate unproven theories or challenge established beliefs. Significant adventure may follow from efforts to gather exotic specimens or survey locations that have not already been subject to extensive study.
 There is no end to variation in the devices researchers use in their specialized work. From the warmth in the air to the loudness of a sound, it seems like any phenomenon can be measured by the correct contraption. A significant slice of the tinkering trade meets demand for the tools of science. Components of some devices require gemcutters to polish lensed crystals, alchemists to synthesize exotic catalytsts, or tanners to treat elastic membranes. The best scientific toolkits are impressive, if not easily resold, concentrations of wealth. They mainly have value to other scholars who might also pay a premium for log books full of information gathered by esteemed experts.
Gear & Gadgets The Great Consolidation has seen over two millennia of continuous technological progress. While the previous age featured wars and other tragedies that destroyed entire libraries of useful knowledge, modern archivists systematically reproduce and exchange essential literature. Some magical secrets remain closely guarded, but excellent scientific writings are quick to spread across distant lands. Though no global study of animals, plants, or minerals is comprehensive; a tremendous variety of locales have been subject to one form or another of meticulous cataloging. Building upon well-documented particulars and broad theories, each new generation of scholars adds something to the foundations of their ancestors.
 The Age of Heroes saw cycles of growth and pestilence or famine in part because economic development was not treated as a serious discipline. The Celedinese defied this norm through calculated investments in canals and dams. By 1 G.C. their concept of a virtuous cycle – investment to create prosperity that funds additional investment – had become the prevailing paradigm of economic stewardship. Truscan engineers improved urban living with efficient ways of directing water into cities and sewage away from them. Many peoples contributed innovative techniques of building roads and bridges. Proper planning and funding utilizes these technologies to grow sprawling cities and productive villages where inhabitants may find safety and comfort. Rising in harmony, urban centers improve profits for nearby farmers and miners while outlying communities reduce costs for raw materials in demand at markets and guilds.
 Respectable rulers in modern times almost never destroy bridges, dams, aqueducts, sewers, libraries, or universities. The value of these assets is not controversial among educated people. Attacks against any of these structures give aggressors a reputation as savage warlords rather than civilized leaders. Thriving infrastructure and education require taxpayer support, yet they also enhance a population's ability to pay. Wealthy individuals sometimes sponsor supplemental projects, cultivating prestige through charity. Cities with inadequate or incompetent leadership depend heavily on private efforts to sustain economic development. One measure of a community's well-being is the ratio of charitable resources addressing basic problems, like sanitation or housing, to those supprting loftier goals, like public concerts or scientific inquiry.
 The crowding of any modern city is managed by a professional constabulary trained and equipped to suppress criminal activity. Specialists at investigation and detention help these organizations deal with formidable troublemakers. The rigors of the job turn the most experienced law enforcement officers into seasoned adventurers. Yet commanders must also master the art of allocating limited resources based on predicted patterns of criminal activity. General theories of crime prevention and harm reduction must be paired with a deep understanding of local lore to deploy constables effectively. Inadequate policing slows commerce as merchants and shoppers feel insecure. Yet excessive control produces general tension with escalating risks of sabotage and violence. Optimal conditions feature the appearance of justice without an atmosphere of oppression.
The Pressure Problem Many spellcasters have abilities useful in support of scientific inquiry. Yet the ambient energy of the world limits a few forms of technological progress. Sufficient levels of heat and pressure force some transitory magical resources into violent reactions. Fleeting wisps and ethereal particles produce momentary weaknesses in otherwise durable materials. Together these phenomena make it almost impossible to build containment vessels for explosive forces. Many books have been penned about the Pressure Problem as a barrier to certain avenues of scientific inquiry.
 Rockets designed to surpass twentyfold the speed of a warhorse always disintegrate in transit no matter how stable the fuel or rugged the vessel. Boilers meant to prepare hot beverages or distribute heat through buildings are relatively safe. Yet where steam lacks adequate outlet, pressure quickly rises toward an explosive level. Magical containment only prolongs a chain reaction, increasing the intensity of the inevitable blast. The Carmatian steam engine may resemble transportation, but those contraptions actually serve as a spectacularly destructive alternative to the battering ram.
 Planar travellers have produced enough detailed accounts of working firearms for military scientists to grasp the underlying principles. Yet imported guns and cannons destroy themselves when fired with adequate propellant. Replicas produced from native materials fare no better, thwarting all efforts to protect firing chambers against corrosive and explosive magical phenomena. Among other things, the Pressure Problem prevents advanced technology from competing with traditional metal and magic on the battlefield.
 That approach assumes the goal of a regime is good government. After a hard-fought conquest, some authorities deliberately weaken their own territories. Rulers may even take on a punitive attiude. Where a violent resistance movement already exists, brutal enforcement practices can increase public safety over the long term by thwarting that movement. Some crackdowns facilitate unpopular policy changes, like a new tax or a ban on a popular vice. Harsh governance drives both workers and investors to seek fortune elsewhere – substantial future losses in exchange for a purposeful cultural shift or a short term revenue boost. Scientific analysis of government remains fraught with speculative pontifications. Some other areas of inquiry generate copious data supported by an academic consensus including wizards and priests.
 The math behind modern understandings of economics and politics is verified through queries posed to all-knowing sources. Efforts to gauge quantities can achieve precision through systematic use of “is it greater than?” divinations. Detailed sketches or the memories of eyewitnesses can direct scrying toward sights that merit further study. Transmuters create affordable, if temporary, supplies of rare materials to be consumed in alchemical experiments. Summoned minions can collect samples from places too hazardous for conventional exploration. Some of the most sophisticated scientific instruments feature enchanted components. Spellcasters may benefit from empirical observations like a log of local pan evaporation rates or an index of the temperatures at which various materials melt. Magic blends with science blend in all manner of ways.
 Practicing spellcasters are often secretive about their most advanced techniques, believing those abilities dangerous in the hands of the unworthy. By contrast, practicing scientists see all lore as worthy of publication so that errors might be corrected and truths popularized. Military science is the exception to this norm. From mechanical calculators assisting trebuchet operators to signaling lanterns only visible through a particular sort of goggles, generals pay well for technology that might give their forces an advantage. Spymasters likewise fund sophisticated crafting endeavors to support operatives tasked with assessing the nature and effectiveness of hostile forces. Both military science and espionage tend to be extremely risky and extremely lucrative areas of technological endeavor.
 While some cultures celebrate ancient traditions and treat tinkering as a frivilous pursuit, others glorify accomplished scientists and sustain robust demand for shiny new contraptions regardless of practical value. That said, many modern inventions offer supstantial improvements to quality of life. Once rarely seen outside gnomish kitchens, arsenals of specialized tools and clockwork appliances ease various cooking and washing tasks today. Constant refinments see an array of inexpensive, safe, and effective cleansers contributing to good hygiene and housekeeping. The latest trends in cosmetics, from simple moisturizing lotions to blended pigments that change color over the course of a day, have been known to make fortunes for some alchemists and herbalists. This diversity of goods raises modern levels of trade far above anything sustained during the Age of Heroes.
Poisons Venom predates dragonkind. In the modern era, countless species of plants and animals generate substances with the potential to weaken, sicken, or kill people. Tribes with minimal access to education may nonetheless know how to poison their weapons using these natural substances. Some alchemists and herbalists excel at concentrating dangerous fluids or powders to produce more damaging versions of natural poisons. With the right sort of rare yet fresh ingredients, extremely lethal concoctions can be prepared. This work poses plenty of dangers, including the risk of personal exposure to a toxic brew.
 Manufacturers of poison also risk social backlash. Tribal societies may produce poisons from a rare resource that must be conserved to be sustained. More organized societies often punish vendors of poisons used in the commission of other crimes. This drives specialists in the field to associate with secret societies and outlaws. Outright bans on the production of poison are problematic for several reasons. Some officials employ poison for their own security. Many beneficial potions are derived from poisonous precursors. What works well as medicine in small doses may become a poison in greater quantities. Some common wares like inks, paints, and cleansers can kill if quaffed.
 Just as poisons are derived from a vast array of substances, their effects are widely varied. Some only do harm after drinking a large amount of a foul-tasting substance. Others can kill with a drop of odorless colorless fluid. The least intense spread on a blade merely nauseates victims, while the most potent can cause death in a matter of seconds. There are poisons with unique tactical applications, such as those that render victims sluggish or altogether immobile. Sufficiently skilled spellcasters with an appropriate formula can create poisons empowered through their own magic. Be they alchemical, herbal, or magical; the most potent poison recipes are well-guarded trade secrets.
 ⩺ ALCHEMY Experience with magic helped dragons and elves understand that blending different things together can create a mixture with useful effects. The first true alchemists were concerned with improving inks to better preserve fine detail over time. Huge varieties of medicines and poisons were understood by the time the Age of Heroes got underway. Many alchemical achievements during this era were poorly documented, lost within a generation or two. The Great Consolidation changed all that. The prestige of authoring a popular alchemical formula can open up lucrative opportunities with guilds and large trading houses. Librarians systematically preserve and share the most useful literature in this field. Today alchemy is an immensely popular and practical science studied at every great university.
 ⩺  Dyes Anyone with an eye for color can mix pigments well enough. Advanced paints allow for this precise color matching while remaining vivid over time. For outdoor surfaces this often means multiple coats of different substances. Upkeep is easy enough that merchants with dirty or faded signs are often thought to be out of business. Likewise, neighborhoods in good repair will sport what colors local custom allows. Most dyers' guilds use alchemical knowledge to turn local supplies into a few distinctive shades slow to fade from cloth even after heavy wear. Whether uniformed or otherwise, the common garb of most communities tends to combine elements from a distinctive regional palette. Some specialized inks fade over time or remain unseen until exposed to an additional substance. Though spellbooks and magical scrolls are often prepared with enchanted ink, top quality precursors are an essential component in that process.
 ⩺  Explosives Early Thracian alchemists developed a mixture that spreads fire when exposed to air. Its underwater method of preparation was as revolutionary as the incendiary oil itself. Many experimenters have died in the centuries since, some uncovering valuable secrets. Celedinese and To-Shinese organizations preserve the export value of pyrotechnics by jealously guarding techniques of rocket fuel production. Sappers everywhere seal bundles of small charges, such as agitated fizzwater bottles, inside containment vessels meant to deliver the force of them all in a single blast. The most dangerous known explosives are fusion bombs – sophisticated mechanical devices that quickly blend multiple substances to create an unstable mixture that promptly explodes. Formulae for these devastating devices are researched by scrying the final minutes in the lives of alchemists obliterated by their own experiments.
 ⩺  Solvents The Archfey so detested the smells of overcrowded fey bastions that soapmaking duties were assigned to a significant part of the non-combatant labor pool. A small variety of ancient cleansers were used almost exclusively until the Great Consolidation inspired new thinking about the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. Well-appointed homes now have cupboards and cabinets full of products made for specific tasks. Some alchemical solvents only destroy specific sorts of stains and grime. Others are much less selective. Reasearch easily turns up formulas for deadly acids, but their safe preparation and handling requires extraordinary skill. Vitriols hurl significant amounts of these costly corrosives as a form of attack. Some artisans and artists use these substances to perform etchings or deposit metal inlays. The right alchemical solvents can even extract perfectly pure deposits of a single metal from batches of alloy plates or crushed ore.
 ⩺ ENGINEERING While dragons clawed haphazardly, dwarves have an instinct for sound tunneling techniques. Their excavations often benefit from extensive reinforcement. The greatest structures of the Archfey could not remain upright without the assistance of powerful magic. In their aftermath human and dwarven builders devised ways to construct stone fortifications both huge and sturdy. The right combination of digging and building can change the flow of a river. Sophisticated structural supports enable bridges to span huge gaps. The Truscan concept of an aqueduct made it possible to build overland bridges conveying channels of clean water into cities. Rising metropolises created demand for colossal attractions. Churches, theaters, and arenas grew to accommodate crowds bigger than a Legion.
“Just like this sprocket or that lever, each of us alone is a part that can be replaced with a single operation. It is only by acting together that we command the power within this great engine of prosperity. It is our choice . . . our choice to give everything to the corporation and take the pittances we are offered in return . . . our choice to halt production and demand more for our families. Fellow workers, I ask if you want to just make it through today, or if you want to unite with me in pursuit of a better tomorrow!”

— Sartak Jadebrace in his final public address
 ⩺  Architecture Alongside spellcasters and warriors, guilds known to train masons have always enjoyed the robust patronage of authorities. Century after century of conflict during the Age of Heroes produced accumulations of lore about construction and demolition. Modernity brings with it scientific methods. Types of stone, wood, and bamboo are graded for durability. Mortars and sealants have been adapted to the particulars of various climates. Cheaper stonework usually produces basic geometric constructions derived from local quarries. Premium fortifications will stand out from the surrounding terrain through both color and elaborate artistry. Though rare, the most advanced buildings in the world rest on frames of large steel girders. These durable towers can attain extraordinary heights.
 ⩺  Mills The Age of Heroes saw countless small mills slicing timber, crushing ore, or grinding grain; though today's industrial complexes are another matter. Clockwork on a massive scale, some modern mills are unforgiving places with machinery able to inflict certain death. Animals, laborers, water, or wind may provide power to a system. Even when that energy source can be disengaged, momentum causes the works to keep turning for a time. The most sophisticated installations produce valuable wares like precision machine-tooled parts or rolled sheet metal. Though dangerous, employment at large mills is also rewarding to the extent that laborers enjoy the profits from enormous productivity. Alas, some societies allow mill owners to become fabulously wealthy while treating their workers like cogs in the machinery.
 ⩺  Waterworks Public fountains and underground sewers make the difference between charmingly crowded urban neighborhoods and stinking dens of disease. Priests fight a losing battle to support community health in any metropolitan area without access to clean water. City governments can derive considerable funding from fees paid by owners of private fountains. Some modern irrigation techniques make it possible to work more land with less water than traditional methods. Other techniques employ canals to bring massive amounts of water from far off places. These same canals also open up the possibility of shipping by boat. In recent centuries all educated rulers understand that investing in aqueducts, sewers, canals, and dams will cause local populations to grow and prosper.
“Any person with patience and steady hands can become a tinker. It is fun and easy to assemble new gadgets in a well-stocked workshop. The great challenge lies beyond the assembly of devices already known to be useful. What divine inspiration could be more precious than a vision of how to improve life for people everywhere?”

— Lestin Chipwick, Apparatus Society Bishop
 ⩺ MECHANICS Ancient dwarves built collapsible sections into their mines, finding a hard dig less troublesome than some horrors of the era. Dwarves also pioneered smithing and invented many hand tools, but the Age of Dragons saw almost no true tinkering. The earliest complex clockwork was created to repair magical constructs in failing fey bastions. Thus blending magic and mechanics is a tradition that goes back to the dawn of the discipline. Yet the Age of Heroes saw quality builds only emerging from workshops that painstakingly handcrafted every component. Modern tinkers near great cities enjoy affordable access to reliable brass and steel parts adhering precisely to standardized forms. Trade in these components gives inventors more time and energy to innovate new technological wonders.
 ⩺  Automata Animated figurines can perform considerable activity using only the energy stored in a spring by winding a crank or key. On a small scale, air pressure and steam power can also drive physical actions. Larger creations require something more. Pressure vessels rupture at forces great enough to propel a massive boiler. Apparatus to store manual energy also becomes impractical. Arcane artificers know methods of translating cosmic, draconic, fey, holy, and unholy energies into motion. With permanently enchanted power cores or internal reserves of magical fluids, modern automata incorporate advanced gadgetry into constructs with the strength and durability of golems. Some can be devastating in battle, but these creations are too costly to see combat often.
Fathers of Invention Typical priests encourage reverence among the faithful by embracing ancient traditions. Houses of worship tend to be well-appointed with comforts and spectacles of magical rather than technological origin. Ares, Geb, Lei Kung, Mannanan Mac Lir, Oghma, Ptah, Set, and Zeus encourage a different attitude among their clergy. Known as the Fathers of Invention, these eight deities promote the incorporation of sophisticated gadgetry into holy sites and rituals. Many of their temples feature mills or workshops harnessing the labor of devoted novices.
 Alongside spiritual spellcasting, those hard-working novices seek the secrets of constructing the traditional paraphernalia of their faith. Some use technical instruments as holy symbols. In communities without a guild dedicated to tinkering, a congregation devoted to one of these deities is likely to arise as a hub for trade in mechanical components. Unauthorized use of the most sacred trademarks invites the wrath of powerful priests. Yet even the least religious tinkers sometimes incorporate motifs from scriptures devoted to the Fathers of Invention.
 ⩺  Toys Wealthy cities often feature wondrous toy shops where people can see various dioramas and puppets come to life. Security may be intense at these establishments, as even the simplest clockwork contraptions cost far more than a cloth doll or a diecast figurine. These costly gifts remain popular both as displays of prosperity and effective methods of keeping children occupied. Many tinkers do a brisk business in toy repair, since wild young hands can inflict damage on delicate moving parts. Mechanical games and puzzles are also popular with adults. Common gambling machines collect individual coins from people hoping a random event will win them a pot where most of those coins accumulate. The most sophisticated locks are secured by arrays of buttons responsive only to a sequential code.
 ⩺  Traps Some primal beasts excel at placing and exploiting traps. The rise of modern technology has transformed several related arts into a discipline of intruder countermeasures. Primitive rockfalls and pitfalls now exist alongside reliable trapdoors and repeating crossbows. With properly machined components and the application of scientific principles, the slightest motion of the smallest trigger can start a cascade of powerful events. Today no magic is required to turn a corridor or vault into a gauntlet deadly for anyone less than the most capable intruders. Even modern strongboxes may feature poisoned needles to deter unauthorized tampering or incendiary fluid rigged to destroy any documents within unless opened correctly.
 ⩺ METALLURGY Before any sort of people walked the land, dragons would spit fire at golden nuggets until metal flowed freely from raw ore. Human ranchers discovered copper in the remains of fires sprinkled with malachite by early entertainers. Dwarves invented copper tools, then developed bronze and iron in search of more durable mining implements. Ancient elves manufactured mithral in such quantities that even the foraging parties of the Imperium Arcanum were equipped with that lightweight magical metal. When the world changed to interfere with mithral production, the Age of Heroes saw the return of conventional smithing and the rise of steel. Today every major culture has its own steelmaking traditions, and steel equipment is now standard for soldiers as well as many other professions.
“Only use bad steel to gain possession of a better blade.”

— Commandments of the Apex Predators
 ⩺  Alloys Modern alchemical knowledge makes it possible to produce ingots of near-perfect purity. Silvering and gilding is often accomplished through the use of stencils and pastes to deposit precise filigree. Scientists believe copper, gold, iron, nickel, platinum, silver, tin, and zinc are the eight “fundamental metals” – naturally occuring materials that cannot be parted into other substances. Experts blend these metals along with other additives in the pursuit of specialty alloys featuring exotic properties. Brass is popular among precision toolmakers because it resists expansion and contraction, yet it also takes on a remarkable shine when polished. Steels vary widely in quality and cost, though not even the most esteemed iron-based alloys are as light as mithral or as durable as adamantine.
Technological Imports There are other planes of existence where libraries contain accumulations of advanced scientific knowledge. If magic cannot be made to work on site, documents may be obtained and taken to this world for reliable interpretation. Yet particulars of recovered data do not necessarily apply back on this side of interplanar journeys. Some findings of alien scientists have been categorically disproven. Consensus among sages holds that planar exploration for the sake of science is a dangerous folly. Imported lore has no better standing than religious scripture for purposes of informing academic opinions. Reputable scientific scholars only accept new theories after rigorous study and testing in this world.
 The consequences of doing otherwise can be disastrous. Firearms and combustion engines consistently self destruct when used as intended on Theatron. Even with fuel and munitions, recovered alien military vehicles are far more useful as exhibits than combat platforms. Some technology imported from other worlds fares better. Yet there are no dedicated vendors of these unique wares. Decidedly non-magical auras and origins make these devices extremely valuable if they produce amazing effects. Such items often lose their abilities soon after arriving in this world. Researchers study the internal workings of these objects in pursuit of advances in the field of tinkering. Non-functional gadgets containing alien technology are numerous enough to support active collectors.
 More substantial commerce involves inanimate materials. The most ambitious builders procure stockpiles of large steel girders from other worlds. There are places where powerful alchemical preparations can be bought for less than their weight in silver, and many more where a bag of gold has enormous purchasing power. Legend tells of advanced societies that place little value on any metal while compensating unskilled laborers with diamonds. Unearthly textiles provide a means for the elite to distinguish themselves through fashion. Extraplanar trade is fraught with dangers for parties on both sides of the exchange, but the rewards often justify the princely fees collected by Cosmic Conduits.
 ⩺  Furnaces All adamantine forges are magical installations. Only those immune to heat, like some elemental creatures, can work effectively under conditions intense enough to soften the legendary substance. Lesser fires are fine for steelworking, though coal-fueled furnaces equipped with strong bellows are preferred. Large smelting facilities run afoul of the pressure problem during attempts to contain great masses of molten metal. Many brave workers lost their lives in attempts to manufacture huge steel girders or metal cladding intended for a ship. Technological progress has been more rewarding on the level of small batch operations. Quickly pouring as much as two hundred pounds of molten metal into multiple molds enables teams of foundry workers to be extremely productive.
 ⩺  Mints Technological leaps late in the Age of Heroes paved the way for the marvels that are modern mints. The coining process typically begins when a Synod Jeweller approves a large sheet of the relevant metal. Hardened steel presses cut uniform blanks from these sheets. Each blank is then heated and rolled through a press that shapes the rim to prevent shaving. These blanks become coins when struck in a die imprinting relevant detail. On site inspectors, typically Celestial Accountants and Synod Jewellers, have a sacred duty to withhold or destroy these costly tools if there is any indication outgoing coins are not true to their face value. Across long periods of stable operations, the entire process pays for itself by stimulating robust trade both within and between nations.
 ⩺ OPTICS Dragons and ancient elves used magic whenever they needed to bend or bounce light. Though primitive silver mirrors saw widespread use early in the Age of Heroes, optics became a true science only in modern times. Thracian insights into geometry were essential to calculating the mathematics of curves. The advanced furnaces of the Truscans took the glazier's art to new levels, creating materials ideal for the manufacture of flawless lenses. The spread of this technology has produced amazing architecture. Some modern buildings sport wall-sized windows, and the most daring designs are almost entirely clad in durable glass. Even ordinary homes are likely to have at least one large glass mirror. Only the grandest or finest arrays of decorative glass objects constitute a real show of wealth to the urbane.
 ⩺  Mirrors A quality hand mirror is often recommended while packing for an adventure. Under the correct conditions it can serve as a useful signaling device. Much larger mirrors do so on a regular basis. They can be an effective way of relaying messages between ships and coastal facilities. Some shopkeepers install large convex mirrors in the corners of their establishments to better monitor visitors browsing their wares. Mirrors placed behind a bar enable staff to turn their backs while keeping an eye on customers, and these installations also make supplies of liquor appear doubly abundant. The most educated glaziers even know techniques of producing panes that function as mirrors when viewed from one side and windows when viewed from the other.
 ⩺  Eyewear Modern specialists can produce spectacles to address a variety of serious vision problems. While these efforts can be costly, basic reading glasses tend to be affordable for just about anyone who lives to a ripe old age. It is likewise with sunshades, allowing people to go hatless while dark translucent lenses keep their eyes in shadow. This fashion accessory is also popular with nefarious characters keen on concealing the focus of their gaze. Despite dealing in all manner of precious stones and metals, Synod Jewellers often prize nothing more than their sacred loupes. Featuring an array of lenses each able to be raised or lowered into view, these tools make it possible to spot the smallest flaws in objects that are themselves tiny.
“This marvelous array of lenses will reveal the condition of vessels long before they approach port.”

— Claude Leonidas, telescope merchant
 ⩺  Scopes To observe the most minute details of objects, scientists build complex optical arrays atop fixed platforms. When everything comes into focus, it is possible to visualize complex substructures within ordinary materials. Some constabularies allow their criminal investigations to be informed by this microscopic analysis of trace evidence. Tubular arrays put to a different purpose make it possible to visualize distant objects. The smallest can be contained in a folding box no bigger than an adult human hand. While such compact optics are best suited to watching artistic performances from balcony seating, much larger field glasses make it possible to clearly see the faces of persons well beyond longbow range. The grandest of them all allow astronomers to focus clearly on the incredibly distant lights of the night sky.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Gear & Gadgets ↑  → Magic ←  ↓ The One Truth ↓


What is Magic? The modern spellcasting environment is an accumulation countless past events. All living things exude an unseen aura and leave traces of energy where they linger. Because the most voracious among early dragons devoured so many creatures, accumulated concentrations of life force stewed and transformed within their bellies. As they learned to vent and shape this energy, their actions created ripples in the magic of the world.
 Increasingly sophisticated spellcasting produced a more complex and turbulent environment. Elves launched their age of dominance by exploiting subtleties lost on their draconian makers. Psychic abilities emerged among strange creatures and the rarest of people. Gods and devils (among other things) opened channels of power to reward spellcasters for completing various rites and observances. Each wave of new influences produced metaphysical snarls in the environment. Magic itself seemed to be destined for incoherence.
 The Immaculate System brought some stability, but magic remains an ever-present seething tumult of countless energies and forces. When scholars write of the Seven Sources, this is no reference to specific wellsprings of magic. Each is instead a category energies and forces with related origins. These phenomena often have important properties in common. Individual resources are as abundant and varied as living creatures – of such diversity that no comprehensive catalog is possible.
 As a shepherd minds a flock without knowing all there is to know about animals, working spellcasters need not learn all there is to know about magic. Arcane textbooks and treatises document small collections of the most useful resources. Be it inspiration furnished by some higher being, formulae refined through extensive study, or well-practiced lessons of personal experience; spellcasters command the secrets of some invisible powers while remaining mystified by the vast remainder of the world's magic.
 The world appears to have always been a magical place. Life energy permeated the lands, seas, and skies long before any intelligence was apparent here. Dragons later belched and roared their own distinctive contributions to that environment. Ancient elven scholars studied the surrounding convergence of cosmic forces. Their discoveries made it possible to construct a network of stable channels providing global access to fey power. Gods and devils brought with them entirely new conduits – magical pathways more conceptual than spatial.
 Mortals find it difficult to focus their attention whenever studying magical energies. The immensity of ambient turmoil defies complete comprehension. Practitioners learn about specific resources as needed for their form(s) of magic and repertoire of spells. Unseen forces can be indirectly detected with knowledge of relevant environmental cues. Much arcane lore informs predictions about the periodic availability of some energies or reveals techniques of calling on otherworldly powers. Given enough practice and sensitivity, it is possible produce a potent reaction by entwining otherwise latent energies.
 The most ancient magical formulae no longer function as originally written. Yet they retain value as sources of lore offering clues about the origins, properties, and interactions of esoteric energies. For example, the Archfey did not approve of prayer, but the number nine seemed to have mystical importance in their society. Mortal sages classify magic spells by level of power, with nine being the highest. The arcane environment has undergone two profound upheavals in the past 6,000 years. What scholars describe as the Ninefold Nature of Magic held constant even across these transformative events.
 A comprehensive understanding of the Six Forms must be internalized to begin practicing any specific form of spellcasting. Many educational and religious institutions offer sanctuaries devoted to pursuit of this goal. Aspirants may be enlightened and indoctrinated by the same instructors. Since even basic spellcasting is a valuable ability, rulers often make investments to increase the availability of specialists suited to the needs of their people. From horsecart ice vendors to illuminated boulevards, signs of a robust magical administration attract immigrants and tourists. Much greater feats of spellcasting often play crucial roles in matters of political intrigue and national security.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Magic ↑  → The One Truth ←  ↓ The Two States ↓

The One Truth⇒MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD. All sane people believe magical forces exist. Initiation of a novice spellcaster requires growing awareness of energies constantly seething and coursing through every place and thing. Numerous beyond counting, each phenomenon is a potentially useful resource. Spellcasters must rally their comprehension, dedication, finesse, passion, precision, and sensitivity to craft each effect. Teaching methods are diverse. Yet all aspiring spellcasters must understand a broad array of basic details about the substance of magic. Building up great power first requires establishing this foundation.
“There are many roads to the One Truth.
You must walk all of them
to behold the beauty of it,
and find the path that will
allow your journey to continue.”

— “Spelldove,” a canticle of the Ascended Legends
 Be it methodical study and experimentation, open-minded immersion in nature, or purposeful prayer and meditation; all spellcasters have dedicated ample time to thinking about various phenomena that can be shaped to create magical effects. Some draw power to themselves, preparing personal reserves to be unleashed by subsequent cues. Others call out to holy or unholy beings, volunteering to serve as conduits for the energy of an immensely powerful entity. Spellcasters may also tap the land. Observing subtle details of the locale and its inhabitants informs inferences about ambient magical resources. Like air to a fire, energies directed into spellcasting tend to circulate. The environment replenishes quickly.
 Magic abhors a void. Even zones that inhibit spellcasting do not involve the total absence of magic. Instead they feature patterns of interference that thwart mortal efforts to control nearby flows of energy. Many spellcasters learn a technique for visualizing this energy, clearly discerning enchanted items and active spell effects from the roiling turbulence of background magic. This visualization is not required to cast spells. Be it knowledge of timing and geometry, sensitivity to environmental indicators, or collaboration with an immensely powerful patron; spellcasting taps into pervasive unseen forces to create effects ranging from a flicker of thought to a cataclysmic explosion.
 Distinctive magic courses through the blood of all fey, fiends, and tritons. There are a dozen established traditions of racial spellcasting each shaped by a mix of natural tendencies and cultural practices. Children of these races are typically encouraged to play with a magical effect inspired by instinct. This provides a foundation for experienced adults to learn basic and expert spells associated with ancestral traditions. More advanced spells are available to the most dedicated practitioners of racial magic. Mixed bloodlines and transformative initiations can confer these abilities to individuals of other races. Likewise, there are some adults who never develop any of the spellcasting customary among their kind.
Races by Innate Spellcasting
Race & Form  Cantrip 1st Level 2nd Level 3rd Level
CambionsProduce FlameCharm PersonSuggestionHypnotic Pattern
Drow ElvesDancing LightsFaerie FireDarknessNondetection
Forest GnomesMessageSpeak with AnimalsAnimal MessengerMeld into Stone
FirbolgsResistanceDisguise SelfPass without TraceProt. from Energy
High ElvesLightFeather FallLevitateFly
NymphsPrestidigitationCharm PersonMisty StepGaseous Form
PixiesMage HandColor SprayInvisibilityHaste
SatyrsMinor IllusionSleepEnthrallFear
SpritesMendingFaerie FireInvisibilitySlow
TieflingsThaumaturgyHellish RebukeDarknessBestow Curse
TritonsShocking GraspFog CloudGust of WindBreathe Water
Wood ElvesShillelaghEntangleSpike GrowthSpeak with Plants
Speak with AnimalsSpeak with AnimalsSpeak with AnimalsSpeak with Animals

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The One Truth ↑  → The Two States ←  ↓ The Three Components ↓

The Two States Change is the essence of magic. Not all spells transmute matter, but they are all the causes of effects that would not otherwise occur. Magic is also powered by change. All magical forces are in some state of flux. Some slowly rise and fall with rhythms as regular as daylight. Others surge with the chaos of storm winds. To exert reliable control over these forces, it is vital to possess some understanding of the Two States.
“Do not wish for smaller challenges. Wish for bigger victories.”

— Kohaddic proverb
 ↟ RISING Forces identified by terms such as “growing,” “ascending,” or “intensifying” are most simply known as “rising.” Some of the simplest spells produce dramatic effects with the merger of two highly reactive magical flows. The product of these reactions may be a jolt of energy, building to a great peak then fading back to nothing, all in a flash. To shape this energy, the moment of its existence must be understood as intensity rising and falling over time, however short that time may be. Minor common magical phenomena can be depleted to produce useful effects with relatively little effort.
 The most successful spellcasting involves aligning intended effect(s) with greater rising magical energies. Many spells require input throughout the duration of a substantial effect. While some may thrive from a single rising channel, as when a god's will grants a mortal prayer; sustaining others requires a tangle of connections. Energy sources at peak levels are near to falling, perhaps precipitously. Complex spellcasting may require managing redundant flows so that the sum of the inputs remains sufficient even after a portion of those inputs have fallen away.
The Decline of Magic Some of the earliest human books on the subject claimed that magical forces were waning. This was not true at the time. Yet some authors could not shake this feeling as they walked among the ruins of colossal Imperium Arcanum strongholds that fell when critical enchantments could no longer be maintained. It was truly a dark age in terms of arcane knowledge, but the rise of religious magic more than compensated for the absence of the Archfey.
 Modern times see another wave of fashionable publications on the decline of magic itself. Scientific progress in areas like alchemy, clockwork, and optics offer technological alternatives to magic use. Although the total number of active spellcasters continues to rise, their ranks swell so slowly that they diminish as a proportion of the population. Colleges and universities thrive like never before. Yet no major centers of learning remain exclusively devoted to the study of magic.
 Measurements systematically recorded by scholars suggest recent centuries have seen a gentle decline in the overall sum of magical energies present in the world. This apparent trend clouds debate about larger matters. There is no evidence that magic is destined to be entirely absent from the world, yet there is also no evidence that this decline is part of a natural cycle. Countless debates see intense clash between speculative predictions.
 At the highest levels of power, the art of the cascade becomes a factor. Some forces intensify as a reaction to the presence of other magical phenomena. Legendary spellcasters orchestrate feedback loops, sculpt containment fields, employ lensing effects, and engage in other manipulations to achieve the most wonderous or terrible outcomes. The tumbling of a single pebble may be the beginning of a great avalanche. True masters of magic can identify these metaphorical pebbles, assemble a complex mix of resources, and guide a chain reaction until the intended result is let loose on the physical world.
 ↡ FALLING Forces identified by terms such as “dwindling,” “descending,” or “dying” are most often described as “falling.” Though it is easier for students to comprehend the importance of rising phenomena, it is no less important for spellcasters to understand falling magic. All resources used to weave spells will experience a falling stage. For some, like the brightness of the Moon, a cycle of renewal will occur after a nadir is reached. For others, like a shooting star, the fall is an end to existence. Through what scholars term “negative action” the accelerated fall of some minor magical phenomena can produce reactions giving rise to useful magical effects.
 Likewise, awareness of presently falling forces may reveal crucial opportunities. Just as a combatant may momentarily lower his or her guard, a magical environment's normal resistance to action may fade with the dwindling of one force or another. The ability to recognize and act on these instances can make the difference between dabbling in magic and becoming a great spellcaster. Command of falling forces is also vital to counter arcane attacks, break enchantments, remove curses, etc. Ambient magical phenomena will quickly refill any space purged of magic, but a spell can be snuffed out in an instant by quashing the specific flow(s) supplying energy to it.
 Many spells can be the cause of a permanent effect, such as killing with a bolt of force. Yet if a spell itself is to be permanent, some arcane engineering is required. The greatest spellcasters combine magical flows to create create repulsion fields, energy sinks, distribution channels, or other phenomena that impose a strong falling pressure on some concentrations of nearby energy. Such fortification equips a spell to endure erosive forces pervading the environment. Less rugged efforts require constant attention and adaptation to avoid quickly failing from the ordinary wear and tear of magical turbulence.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Two States ↑  → The Three Components ←  ↓ The Four Elements ↓

Magic Shops The need for material components and spellcasting implements creates lucrative opportunities for specialized merchants. Those with power over magic tend to be reliable paying customers. Metropolitan areas may feature an entire neighborhood of establishments that cater to spellcasters, academics, alchemists, and herbalists. Furnishing supplies to practicioners at the edge of civilization often paves the way for more robust trade once new settlements expand. Maintaining a highly diverse stock of quality goods is not easy. Still the trade is prized because the oldest magic shops in an area often become social hubs for the most powerful local spellcasters.
 Some magic shops also deal in genuine treasures. Magic items may be auctioned alongside unique art objects or rare jewels. Where trade is sufficiently brisk, a selection of modest items may be available on demand. Such trade also takes place through procurers and brokers. Agents may be hired to inquire about private owners willing to sell or trade a specific magical item. Yet these investigations take time and money with no assurance of success. Major cities sometimes feature a guild of enchanters eager to produce magic items on commission. Even so, a journeyman artisan purchasing a relatively common variety of magic sword would likely need to spend more than a full year's wages.
The Three Components The act of casting a spell may be as simple as speaking a syllable while focused on a specific intention or it may be so complex as to require epic ritual incantations and the sacrifice of a small fortune in precious objects. All spellcasters understand that utterances, gestures, and supplies can be used to control magical energy. Taken together, the Three Components categorize all the means by which a mortal might weave magic.
 ∋ VERBAL Practitioners consider it misleading to speak of “magic words” or “the language of magic.” Words can be powerful triggers, but even the simplest evocations must be backed by intention and understanding. Without understanding, magical energies cannot be gathered and tapped. Without intention, magical effects cannot be directed and shaped. From the most bookish wizard to the most intuitive sorcerer, spellcasting demands an extraordinary pairing of precision with improvisation. Basic utterances often require adaptation with an elaborate grammar of affixes, accents, and emphases. Verbal spellcasting is to “just saying the words” as swordfighting is to “just swinging the blade.”
 ∋ SOMATIC Physical motion can be instrumental in redirecting magical flows and triggering effects. Many methods of magical attack benefit from bodily expression. The most feared spellcasters need only a quick gesture to kill someone outright. Given normal anatomy, hands are the only features able to perform motions of magical power. Gestures are the primary tool for reconciling the geometry of energy sources and intended targets. Like utterances, these gestures may be subject to complex systems of subtle adaptations to meet the needs of the moment. Some employ snapping or clapping as a sort of punctuation. The somatic component explains why so many war wizards favor the usage “throwing a fireball” over “casting a fireball spell.”
 ∋ MATERIAL Many spells can only be cast in the presence of a specific object or substance. Some of these items are sacrifices consumed in powering the spell. Others are useful tools of spellcraft serving as focal points for magical energies, catalysts for magical interactions, or templates for magical effects. Material components are typically inexpensive if not also easy to obtain. Yet the some of most powerful spells require gems of immense value and/or an item intensely personal to the intended target. Holy orders, druid circles, and unholy covens often stockpile supplies needed to work their signature spells. Material components and objects of focus create a special set of mercantile opportunities in areas where many spellcasters are active.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Three Components ↑  → The Four Elements ←  ↓ The Five Eras ↓

The Four Elements
Elemental Beings The elemental planes are not hospitable to ordinary people. Inhabitants of those planes are composed chiefly of the same elemental stuff. Some spells conjure elemental beings, but this can be delicate business. Such efforts bring forth creatures both bound and eager to complete a short term of service so that they may return to their extraplanar homes. Should the magical bonds of servitude be broken, a sufficiently strong elemental may lash out against a former master or mistress now regarded as a cruel abductor. Dispelled and slain elementals are recycled into the base substance of the plane from which they were drawn.
 These elemental planes are unthinkably vast. Raw material appropriated for spellcasting purposes seems to have no impact on this abundance. University libraries often feature atlases of these planes along with lesson plans to help spellcasters harvest the most useful elemental phenomena. Far more books have been written about the possibilities of blending the four elements in magical processes than combining ordinary materials in the manner of alchemists or metallurgists. The elemental planes are not the only reserves of extraplanar matter a spellcaster might tap. Yet they are so convenient and extensively studied that working with alternatives tends to pose greater challenges.
Early Thracian philosophers asserted that all physical things in the world are composed of four basic elements – air, fire, earth, and water. Scholars of modern science reject that ancient theory, though their inconclusive debates about the basic building blocks of matter are endless. Even if the theory of the Four Elements is not true, magical energies have clear and distinct peaks of effectiveness when focused on related elemental effects. Most spellcasters find study of the Four Elements useful in the advancement of their practice.
 Turning magical energy into durable solid material is especially difficult. A common workaround involves tapping other planes of existence for resources. The four Elemental Planes may be limitless in their bounty. Accessing and blending their substances is far less demanding than converting energy into matter. The simplest approaches open a channel through which raw elemental stuff will flow. With advanced techniques, it is even possible to pluck denizens from the Elemental Planes, binding them until they have completed a term of service.
 AIR Simply taking control of the air's movements may be enough to decide the outcome of a naval battle. Wind also interferes with archers and artillery. Given broader control of the weather, it is possible to impair the effectiveness of specific types of troops without reducing the effectiveness of others. A wise general or admiral pays well for magic that can command the sky. Air is closely associated with coveted powers like flight and invisibility. Simpler applications may push back threats or sweep away fog. Air is an essential constituent of gas clouds, storms, and effects that prevent drowning or suffocation.
 △ FIRE The most destructive of elements, fire is as specatcular as it is unpredictable. Simply directing the smallest wisp of elemental fire is a deadly attack that also ignites combustibles. Uncontrolled fires are always a serious emergency in urban environments as well as wooden vessels. Even armies with no magical personnel find ways to incorporate fire into their attacks. Yet it is also the preferred tool of most war wizards. Such raw power always commands respect. Less violent applications of this element may provide illumination, mesmerize onlookers, or create energetic barriers.
“You cannot wash under the same cascade twice. The falling water is not the same. Neither is the person cleansed by it.”

— Archinaeus, Thracian philosopher
 EARTH The essence of durability, earth can furnish solid substance otherwise scarce among magical effects. Simple ramparts have their uses, and stone walls provide extradordinary defense. Yet power over this element also serves to breach fortifications. When applied on a personal level, it may petrify an enemy or render an ally exceptionally resilient. Any effects that produce stone, metal, or gems likely make robust use of this element. Prospective applications span the spectrum of power from a disorienting dose of sand in the face to a tremor capable of demolishing buildings.
 ▽ WATER Essential for life, water is often associated with healing and recovery. It also promotes plant growth, playing a role in many spells cast to support agriculture. Yet water can be destructive, from a great tsunami down to the quenching of an ordinary torch. It offers many ways to reshape the clash of warships. This element plays a vital role in most storms, as well as furnishing the primary constituent of effects producing ice or steam. More exotic water magic includes methods of scrying, distorting images, and creating reflections.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Four Elements ↑  → The Five Eras ←  ↓ The Six Forms ↓

Ancient Magic In the thousands of centuries since the first spell was cast, the fabric of magic has been repeatedly transformed. Techniques developed before the Great Consolidation are likely to fail or produce unexpected results when attempted in modern times. Only a small number of magic items dating back to the Imperium Arcanum have retained power through the intervening millennia. Most are now inert items of value only to archaeologists and collectors. Arcane lore preserved from that era is often incomprehensible, but what can be deciphered is also largely useless today.
 Items and spells developed during the Age of Heroes may fare better, as most are less than 5,000 years old. The Great Consolidation began with a sudden sweeping global change. Many spells ceased to function at all, while others behaved differently than before. Likewise, some magical items changed in function or even lost all enchantment. Yet the general trend was toward more stable, predictable, and consistent magic than previous eras. Magical formulae from the Age of Heroes are best regarded as incomplete or flawed – in need of major revision to be effective in modern times.
The Five Eras The past features several fundamental changes in the fabric of magic. Academics define the top tier of historical boundaries based on these transformative global events. The first spell cast, activation of the ley lines, the first prayer answered by a god, and the Fivesquare Pantheon's consecration of The Immaculate System – each division is marked by a specific event that reconfigured the magical environment worldwide. Even if it were possible to travel into the past, modern practitioners might find it difficult or impossible to weave spells from resources available in previous eras.
 I. PRIMORDIAL TIMES There were no signs of intelligence, never mind spellcasting, during this span of history. Lands and seas alike were home to strange beasts. The surface of the world was blanketed in warm heavy mists, yet thick vegetation was pervasive on land. Scrying so far into the past is unreliable and minimally informative. Fanciful speculations abound regarding hidden civilizations thriving in the jungles of the distant past. No solid evidence exists to support such theories.
 Little is known about the magic of this time. With life thriving on virtually every available surface, it seems likely the environment teemed with energy that could be tapped to work the spells of druids. Yet time travel is not a reality, and scrying has never turned up evidence of any primordial magical effect save for other efforts to scry from the future. One controversial theory holds that magic created itself, with diviners' efforts to investigate Primordial Times serving as a spark to ignite the fires of the first true magical effects.
 II. THE AGE OF DRAGONS The dominant predators of Primordial Times were dinosaurs of colossal size. Over the span of many millennia, intellect slowly accumulated in their reptilian brains. Ravenous feeding habits concentrated the magic of life force in their bellies. The most well-fed developed the power to breathe fire. The most creative developed skill at shaping this power. The progenitors of dragonkind transformed themselves into godlike beings. They also transformed all manner of wild beasts. Cows, goats, horses, pigs, and yaks were each shaped to suit the dietary preferences of great wyrms.
“We were all created to make life easier for tyrants. The best of us choose to make life harder for them.”

Common Independence, a Liberationist gospel
 Ever wary of threats, these cosmic lizards also used magic to reduce the size of their offspring. Modern chromatic dragons, while comparatively small, eventually wiped out their most ancient ancestors. Yet they also created new forms of life – edible servants to accomplish work they were not industrious enough to perform alone. Humans farmed the land to sustain large herds of livestock. Dwarves burrowed into the ground to extract precious gold. Elves penned libraries to archive arcane knowledge. Halflings, so easily overlooked, were created to serve as unobtrusive grooms and messengers.
 For thousands of centuries these races served dragons without any real power of their own. Effective resistance to this tyranny only became possible when elves started compiling secret libraries and stockpiles of rare spell components. While dragons continued to bellow their distinctive form of magic into the world, whispering cabals of elves developed an entirely new manner of spellcasting. They studied nature and the heavens, but their greatest triumph would involve turning the power of dragons back upon itself.
The Three Unholies Clerics and other practitioners of modern religion are deeply troubled by the spellcasting of witches and warlocks. This goes beyond personal taste or cultural bias and into the metaphysics of how these abilities actually work. While masters of the arcane normally manipulate magical forces in the environment around them, occult pacts channel magical power from a greater being. The Immaculate System lives up to its name when regulating the power of prayer. These sorts of bargains, known to theologists as the Three Unholies, allow ungodly powers to exploit alternative methods of channeling energy requested by mortal spellcasters.
★ The Grandfather Clause Hundreds of centuries before gods came into the world, leaders of the Imperium Arcanum harnessed the power of their enemies through sacrifice. Vast quantities of dragons' blood spilled into the appropriate rituals and energized a global network of fey power. This infrastructure of ley lines enabled Imperium response teams to answer any threat against a major stronghold or a nexus of power. The Immaculate System is concordant with this global structure so deeply ingrained that even the gods lacked a practical method of demolition. Echoes of the Archfey reach out like ghosts in the machine. They empower adepts who diligently study the system and boldly praise their memory.
★ The Spiritual Underground Mere scavangers compared to deities, the greatest demons and devils may grant infernal boons when they hear twisted forms of prayer. This unholy energy often travels along dark channels hidden in the shadows of The Immaculate System's sacred flows. Inspired by cryptic clues seeded in works of art, animal behaviors, and the ravings of the insane; some mortals pursue unholy pacts with genuine fervor. Yet diabolic and demonic influences hunger so strongly for a greater connection with this world that sincerity is rarely required of the witches and warlocks they empower. Consorting with demons and devils on any level enhances their ability to manifest on this plane and deal directly with other mortals.
★ The Extraneous Signals There are entities as powerful as gods, yet not at all like gods or devils. Their natures and agendas remain shrouded in mystery. Many who investigate such phenomena wind up losing all sanity. Yet some manage to piece together enough lore to attempt useful communion. Profoundly alien beings empowering profoundly alien magic, the Great Old Ones defy classification within The Immaculate System. Their invocations do not register as prayers and their boons lack any signature of divinity. Even cultists who achieve immense power with this path have but fleetingly glimpsed the motives of their cosmic patrons. Not all religions promote fear of the unknown, but they are in accord about fearing this particular category of mysteries.
 III. THE IMPERIUM ARCANUM The mightiest dragons could only be slain when a squad of elven magi launched a surprise attack. Yet the innate arrogance of dragons thwarted repeated efforts to band together in mutual defense. Many fortified their lairs with lesser monsters or armies of loyal servants. Teleportation was crucial to the downfall of dragons. Having already enchanted monuments facilitating travel to and from their hidden meeting places, elves started to pour the blood of their enemies into rituals forging mystical links between those sites.
 One success led to another. Soon a global web of connections was energized by unthinkable amounts of fey energy derived from the blood of defeated dragons. Not only did the Archfey introduce their own form of magic to the world, but they also studied both cosmic and natural power sources. Rising to power through the use of epic enchantments, the leaders of the Imperium Arcanum were able to maintain vast self-contained strongholds complete with food and water enough for millions of people to inhabit the same structure. During this era, the well-governed magical environment made it practical to sustain effects of immense scope.
 Yet elven hegemons were also crafty, relying heavily on charms and illusions to maintain morale among the surging human populations within their bastions. Some scholars continue aggressive debates about how much of the Archfey's power was real and how much was mere trickery. Whatever the mix, it was enough to dramatically reduce the world's population of dragons. Life proliferated through arcane experimentation, generating most of the diversity we see in modern fey. Dragonborn and metallic dragons were also the result Archfey initiatives. Increasingly wild experiments caused magical forces to splinter and diverge. Politically and metaphysically, chaos reigned when the Imperium Arcanum collapsed amid internal strife.
 IV. THE AGE OF HEROES Struggles to survive after the fall of elven civilization created unfathomable desperation. Multitudes long nourished by the Archfey's glamorous bounty now fought over the modest returns from hunting and gathering. Feudal agriculture slowly elevated humanity out of a savagely dark period. With famines and plagues devastating every major population center, frantic people would look to anyone or anything in search of hope. They even took to prayer, calling out to the cosmos in search of salvation.
 So many sentient people with no gods of their own – this is a deity's concept of treasure. Hundreds of new religions inspired their own prophets and evangelists. Holy orders of clerics and paladins became effective spellcasters, calling down power from their divine patrons. Spiritual magic flowed through an increasing number of channels. Also, a new fusion of fey and nature magic emerged. Human caretakers watching over Standing Stones blended animistic beliefs with working remnants of elven arcana. Practitioners of this form called themselves druids, serving a single global organization commited to protecting nature while steering clear of civilized politics.
 Elves and their gnomish minions retained considerable magical knowledge, but the greatest arcanists of this era were human. Only truly accomplished magic-users could claim the title of Wizard. Early in this era, only illusionists practiced their speciality, while the most powerful dweomers remained the exclusive province of Arch-Magi. Over time each of the Eight Schools joined the growing list of arcane specialties. The study of magic all but incoherent as new techniques and new phenomena proliferated.
 Ambient energies of the era were mentally invasive. Memories were exposed to erosive forces while recollecting magical formulae. New study or prayer would be required after each casting. Preparing spells demanded forethought, and deploying them to good effect required difficult judgements. Meanwhile, the gods themselves fought thousands of battles. Divine clashes sent ripples across every corner of the world. This competition squandered the bulk of a rich spiritual harvest. Social and technological progress stagnated amidst the violence of countless holy wars and territorial conflicts.
 V. THE GREAT CONSOLIDATION Centuries before its implementation, events started to set the stage for Shang-Ti's Immaculate System. Warring deities exiled vanquished rivals from this world. Likewise, human politics saw minor tribes and city-states merging to form great nations. 1 G.C. was a year of epic upheaval. Only modern methods of spellcasting continued to function as expected. Wizards normally specialized in one of the Eight Schools while entering an apprenticeship. Only magical phenomena associated with one of the Seven Sources remained useful. Teachings outside the Six Forms failed to improve the capabilities of spellcasters.
“A world without change supports neither life nor magic. Divine power shapes the lands and the seas to make space for life. The action of this shaping, change brought into the world, energizes sparks of vital possibility. Even cataclysmic upheavals that end countless lives can set the stage for a new era of greater growth, growth only made possible through change.”

 — Cosmic History, a Temporal Custodian primer
 Entire libraries had to be revised. Yet the loss of old lore was offset by the emergence of new techniques. Increased stability in many common magical flows gives spellcasters greater flexibility. Personal energy can be applied to any preparation, and the process no longer exposes the caster's memory to the scouring forces of arcane turbulence. Cantrips, once dismissed as parlor tricks, now include effects every bit as deadly as weapons in the hands of a skilled warrior. Bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards refined distinctive approaches to magic. In their own way, each unlocked some secrets at the highest level of personal power available to mortals. Other classes of adventurers, save for barbarians, developed their own limited spellcasting lore and training.
 This great upheaval saw the Fivesquare Pantheon establish complete control over all the spiritual magic of the world. Clerical spellcasting can only succeed when supported by one of those twenty-five deities. Good and evil alike, the entire pantheon is considered holy. No one knows how many entities grant power through unholy pacts, but it is no secret warlocks and clerics generally condemn each other. In some lands, pact magic violates laws against witchcraft. Except for warlocks, humanity tends to judge spellcasters by their deeds rather than their favored form of magic. Today, spells play a vital role in the economy and the culture of every civilization on the surface of the world.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Five Eras ↑  → The Six Forms ←  ↓ The Seven Sources ↓

Spellcasting Style Each of the Six Forms is a distinctive approach to magic associated with a prominent class of practitioners. These relationships are definitive. They determine which spells might possibly be cast. They formalize the method by which new spells are learned. They even designate which personal attributes influence spellcasting aptitude.
 Musical (Charisma) ⇒ Bard
 Spiritual (Wisdom) ⇒ Cleric
 Natural (Wisdom) ⇒ Druid
 Visceral (Charisma) ⇒ Sorcerer
 Contractual (Charisma) ⇒ Warlock
 Intellectual (Intelligence) ⇒ Wizard
 When it comes to a philosophy of magic, many spellcasters follow the institutional teachings of a single college, temple, or guild. Others embrace ancient mystical traditions or pattern their efforts on the work of a legendary practitioner. Profoundly creative individuals may even develop an essentially original approach to the craft. All are united in that every spellcaster grasps some blend of lessons and lore from each of the Six Forms.
The Six Forms Different magical traditions emphasize different aspects of the craft. Any well-rounded arcane education entails systematic training in each of the Six Forms. While the university experience is not required to work magic, all spellcasters possess some grasp of the principles at the heart of every form. Understanding sufficient to consistently weave an actual spell can only be achieved through the synthesis of basic ideas from all of these diverse perspectives. Any deficiency leaves a student prone to fizzled efforts while at risk of dangerous mishaps.
 Countless holy orders, bardic colleges, arcane universities, druid circles, and secret covens teach distinctive approaches to magic. Like martial arts styles or types of dance, these forms vary in emphasis and technique. Scholars generally believe Shang-Ti's Immaculate System called for five forms of spellcasting. If true, this part of the plan did not execute flawlessly. Spiritual channels engineered to contain and recirculate the power of prayers cast metaphysical shadows. Those shadows shelter channels through which unholy entities connect with mortals seeking empowerment. Thus there are truly six forms of magical practice in the modern world.
 CONTRACTUAL  All magic requires bargaining with mysterious forces.  Every respectable spellcaster has an answer to the question, “what have you sacrificed for your power?” Be it years of study, honoring holy vows, or relentless rehearsals; real magical power is always one side of an exchange. Most spells must be prepared by way of study, exercise, meditation, or rite. Some spells also consume precious material contributions. To take hold of magical power, one must first contribute much in time and effort if not also supplies.
 There are also concessions required during the act of casting a spell. Circumstances may force a practitioner to improvise adjustments to a formula, substituting some readily available flow of energy for a similar yet absent flow. Subtle tweaks in the timing or composition of a spell may be needed to work around magical interference caused by transient phenomena. Even spell selection may require compromise, since a foe might be immune to a specific type of damage or an especially draining effort might best be reserved for a future challenge.
 Making sacrifices and striking bargains is the essence of the contractual form, exemplified by witchcraft. Contractual magic is best practiced by the guileful, able to present minor acts of service as grand gestures of devotion. Legendary abominations, alien gods, Archfey, demons, and devils may be unmentionable in polite company. Yet mighty boons await spellcasters willing to praise their secret names and act as conduits for their powers. This form is an anethema to many, especially practitioners of the spiritual form.
Magical Formulae The act of spellcasting is often completed with no more than a momentary flurry of syllables and gestures. Yet even the simplest effort to weave real magic requires profound understanding of how to draw upon appropriate energies as well as how to control the spell's effect. Preparing to cast a spell requires so much more than memorizing a few words and motions. Particulars of powering, positioning, and timing cannot be ignored. All manner of inflections and additions must be understood so that each casting can be adapted to the circumstances at hand. From the number of targets to the local wind speed, many variables demand adjustments during casting efforts in the field.
 A magical formula is packed with notes or lessons addressing a wide range of contingencies. Spellbooks, bardic performances, holy scriptures, and occult manuals are all laced with information about the workings of specific spells. Written formulae may be supplemented with charts, diagrams, and sketches. Rhyming verse is popular with spellcasters since it is easily committed to memory. Novices are often amazed to discover well-known doggerels they learned in youth have hidden meanings when interpreted as commentaries about an arcane force. Any effective mnemonic device is an asset to practitioners learning crucial information about new spells or preparing for a fresh day of making magic.
 INTELLECTUAL  All magic requires the study of complex interactions among unseen energies.  If spellcasting was simple, everyone would do it. Modern arcane experts benefit from progress achieved over thousands of years. Countless scholarly studies and even more magical experiments contribute to a downright awesome breadth and depth of written knowledge. Some academics make entire careers out of testing and documenting the properties of one specific interaction of magical forces. Most focus on distilling wide-ranging expertise down to essential lessons taught to aspiring spellcasters in preparation for an apprenticeship.
 Even the most intuitive practitioners must develop some grasp of the energies and synergies that give power to magic. Through the experience of using lesser spells effectively, fresh insights give rise to understandings that unlock more potent techniques. For example, a sorcerer reviewing an ancient book may read that ley lines pulse with four times the frequency of the dominant solar wave, while a bard playing near Standing Stones on a sunny day observes that sounding a double octave seems to weave a connection unifying those two forms of ambient energy. Completely different paths sometimes lead to the same useful knowledge.
 Typified by wizardry, the intellectual form primarily relies on expert study of these interactions. At the heart of it all are arcane formulae and personal observations recorded in writing. The academic demands of this form require a keen mind, as do the complexities of achieving intended results. Yet the right combination of learning and genius has the potential to command the most potent magic accessible to mortals. During the Age of Heroes, this form alone unlocked mysteries at the highest levels of power.
 MUSICAL  All magic requires patterns of rhythm, melody, and/or harmony be performed artfully.  Superb timing is essential for spellcasters intent on deploying instantaneous effects or utilizing transient resources. Every gesture and utterance of a spell must be coordinated with respect to patterns in the magical environment as well as the positions of intended targets. Complex spellcasting may involve crescendos to sculpt rising forces, pitch bends to direct one flow into another, overtones to preserve constituents of a partially completed weave, etc. Spellcasters need not be musicians, but all must be precise with the pacing and intonation of their efforts.
“When performed properly there is a little bit of magic in any music.”

— Connor Fillean, founder of Ayrdee College
 The phrase “practice of magic” is especially meaningful. Reliable spellcasting requires exhaustive rehearsal. The basic pattern of each spell must be deeply ingrained for effortless recall. Without prior rote learning, it is impossible to confidently adapt and improvise as needed during the actual casting of a spell. Being satisfied with the bare minimum is a recipe for failure. Truly effective spellcasting, like truly great musical performance, overlays inspired creative expression atop comfortable mastery of the standard procedure.
 The musical form, normally associated with bards, taps into magical energy through specialized compositions. Effects are triggered by the performance of excerpts from those great works. Star quality is the best indicator of natural aptitude for this approach. The need to rehearse extensively limits the size of each practitioner's repertoire. With a mix of relentless practice and inspiration drawn from personal growth, new magical songs are learned and refined. Some bards even infuse their music with patterns borrowed from other spellcasters' techniques.
Inspired Magic Not all spellcasting is learned from lecturing masters or arcane texts. Some practitioners seize upon sources of inspiration to improve their own magical techniques. Druids learn much from observation and meditation in wild places. Their spells often feature sounds derived from animal calls and gestures based on shapes found in the wild. After all, nature is an excellent teacher offering a global classroom full of valuable lessons. Any spellcaster may benefit from study of the natural form, though it is the essence of druidic magic.
 Many religions feature scriptures, and these scriptures contain magical formulae. Yet clerics also draw great inspiration from gospel stories as well as prayer and meditation. The gods are fond of sending signs to their most loyal servants. It is likewise with devils and other unholy entities. They may favor the ominous, like clues buried in the ravings of the insane or remarkable details at the scene of a freak accident. Students of the contractual form recognize these messages as invitations to expand the scope of an occult pact. For those who wish to be led, any magical guidance is a profoundly inspiring experience.
 NATURAL  All magic requires awareness of the local environment.  The wilderness speaks to those who will listen. Some spellcasters find it especially challenging to clear their minds of distracting thoughts. Clear attention to one's immediate surroundings reveals much about unseen forces. From the most spectacular birdsong to the simple chirping of a cricket, the presence or absence of specific energies may be indicated through animal behaviors. The same is true of so much else – the clouds in the sky, ripples in a puddle, a flickering fire. This is just as true in a deep dungeon or a crowded city as it is at the heart of a verdant forest. Even the play of shadows over uneven surfaces may indicate specific magical resources are at hand.
 Taking control of these resources and directing them with intention is the general method of all spellcasting. Some efforts stand out due to the technical complexity or extraordinary timing of the weave. The greatest feats of natural spellcasting reflect a practitioner's gift for living off the land – sensing and gathering the best available resources for the task at hand. Even while a spell is underway, effective magic requires vigilance enough to pick up on nearby cues. This makes it possible to deal with problematic phenomena in the area before they cause ongoing magic to fail. Environmental awareness is as crucial for the upkeep of a spell as it is for the initial composition of its weave.
 The natural form has roots in the primitive shamanism performed by the first druids. Their lore originated as a blend of the most basic primal techniques with an ecclectic mix of fey arcana. Immersion in and meditation on the beauty of thriving wildlands was a path to enlightenment even then. Perhaps it was only their temperament that caused dragons to overlook this source of power. The true student of nature, tranquil and content, experiences a yearning to comprehend the unseen. Sensitivity and patience are crucial qualities for excelling with this form. Bonding with nature becomes devotional for earnest practitioners. Yet the magic works equally well whether that devotion is dedicated to a god among the Druidfriends or an abstract concept of nature.
“If you believe in things you cannot see and hope for things you do not possess, then you already understand the value of faith.”

Scrolls of the Aegis Church, NMG version
 SPIRITUAL  All magic requires humility in the face of miraculous power.  The true mind of a deity is beyond the comprehension of any mortal being. Accepting the mystery with reverent awe is first step taken toward faith-based spellcasting. Heartfelt prayer is essential, though commitments often run deeper. Many holy orders impose strict codes of behavior. Priests are expected to see ceremonial duties as an opportunity to spread the faith or at least deepen their own connection to the divine. Association with a specific religious institution may involve being subordinate to harsh and unreasonable superiors. At the very least, some tracts of sacred verse or holy scripture must be memorized.
 In answering the call to serve a god, a personal spiritual connection may form. Motes of divinity itself can be channeled through the body of a true believer. Practitioners of this form also habituate sacred words, gestures, and rites developed to express prayers in ways that satisfy a particular deity. Given proper technique and a sufficiently strong relationship with a godly patron, this holy magic may reach beyond the world to channel power into miraculous effects. Even when priests or philosophers use ambient magical resources to cast relatively simple spells, fidelity to core beliefs remains a thread essential to the structure of their weaves.
Magic Fatigue Casting spells is an effort unlike any other. During the Age of Heroes, spellcasters would open their minds to the magical turmoil of the world, scouring away memory of any formula during the act of its use. This intrusive effect is not at all normal in the modern magical environment. Yet even the most accomplished practitioners can experience magic fatigue. Be it serving as a vessel for divine energy, constantly scrutinizing the area for subtle clues, calculating the progression of a chain reaction, or singing a particularly high note – the act of casting a spell takes a toll.
 Untapped magic often seems intent on disrupting spells. Effective magical weaves are strenuously laced together with a caster's purpose. Any success at all is rare without years of relentless training. Effectiveness requires simultaneous awareness of many profound lessons. Experienced practitioners improve their spellcasting potential in both quantity and quality. When that potential is exhausted, the flows of energy empowering spells will seem as elusive and confounding as they always are for struggling apprentices. A good long rest is usually sufficient for spellcasters to recover from the effects of magic fatigue.
 Epitomized by clerical magic, the spiritual form is all about calling upon some source of higher power. Metaphysically speaking, energy descends through conduits linking believers to the gods. One must be both steadfast and judicious to serve and survive as a living vessel for faith-based power. Yet the channels guiding this energy are equally real to unbelievers. To completely ignore them risks troublesome interference with unrelated spellcasting efforts. Also, each deity has a portfolio within The Immaculate System. Without resorting to earnest worship, any spellcaster may use a gesture or verbiage to show respect to relevant deities. When attempting to conjure a mighty storm, it does no harm for a wizard to offer a tip of the hat to the Sky Gods.
 VISCERAL  All magic requires strong emotional projection.  Just as a warriors use strength to give power to a blade, spellcasters use intention to give purpose to energy. The best effects seem motivated to accomplish their creator's goal. Focus on a simmering hatred can help a magical combatant deliver vicious attacks. Likewise, efforts to heal and restore others are best paired with sincere compassion and concern. Dwelling on the feeling that inspires a casting establishes a pattern to shape and guide constituent energies.
 Practitioners of this form look inward for potent fervor. They are driven to generate effects bigger, longer, and stronger than ordinary outcomes. Cultivating the ideal state of mind for a particular magical exploit requires an intimate connection with each spell, so visceral casters learn few. Yet they find ways to strain the limits of each. Advanced techniques support emotional nuance, like sympathy for a bystander caught in the midst of many despised foes. A sufficiently intense feeling of urgency may even enable a spellcaster to use an abridged formula to produce a complete effect.
Sorcerers avidly explore the visceral form. Their greatest results surpass the best efforts of any other practitioners utilizing the same spell. Force of personality and sheer willpower are the attributes that enable emotional impulses to enrich the weave of magic being cast. All spellcasters act with intention to some degree, using personal resolve to set energy in motion. The visceral form goes beyond mere initiation, exploiting passion as a catalyst for arcane reactions. Practitioners with the most explosive tempers are literally the cause of the biggest explosions.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Six Forms ↑  → The Seven Sources ←  ↓ The Eight Schools ↓

Magical Spectra Different minds percieve the same magical phenomena in different ways. Recent centuries have seen growing standardization of the techniques practitioners use to visualize underlying energies. To promote common ground and useful discussion, many modern colleges and cloisters teach the Simple Spectral Structure. This has no bearing on the color of effects produced by spells, but many practitioners find clarity in this consistent approach to analyzing the constituent energies of magic.
███ Red distinguishes power of draconic origin.
███ Orange indicates personal mental effort.
███ Yellow suggests the presence of a holy spirit.
███ Green marks the vital energy of living things.
███ Blue is characteristic of cosmic energy.
███ Indigo signifies a fiendish force at work.
███ Violet designates power of fey origin.
 Illusions, paint, and puffs of colored powder can be useful in demonstrating the behavior of magical resources. The best spellbooks are illuminated with rare inks enabling small illustrations or diagrams to contain tremendous amounts of information. As teaching techniques, colorful representations shape the expectations of aspiring spellcasters. Both the general study of magic and progress within a particular tradition are well-served by detection approaches that distinguish each of the Seven Sources from one another.
The Seven Sources In the beginning, there was only life. As they acquired intelligence, dragons formed the first thoughts. Soon after they flooded the world with their own variety of magic. Elves rose to power by converting much of this into a new type of energy. They went on to analyze the heavens and integrate cosmic forces into the arcane environment. Countless gods and devils intervened to directly empower mortal followers. The Immaculate System did much to stabilize and regulate the magic of the world. Even so, it remains a ceaselessly turbulent blend of energies and forces collectively known as the Seven Sources.
 Unlike material objects, multiple magical phenomena can occupy the same space simultaneously. Some fields span the globe. Various sorts of waves or rays also cover tremendous areas, like the light from a full moon. Ley lines and holy channels each comprise separate worldwide networks. Other resources are ubiquitous in some environments and scarce in others. For example, clouds and pools of ambient life energy accumulate heavily in thriving forests while comparatively rare and small on icy tundra. Many magical phenomena are the byproducts of prior spellcasting or an event of downright metaphysical importance. Their number is too vast for a complete accounting, but any energies useful for powering magic spells can be categorized among the Seven Sources.
 COSMIC Energy from beyond this world constantly flows down from the sky. Its forms are many and mysterious, yet they include sunlight – a magical resource familiar even to the uninitiated. Dozens of cosmic forces take the form of fields or rays covering much if not all of the world. Some even permeate the deepest recesses of Labyrinth. Spellcasters cannot manipulate the whole of such vast phenomena, but local interactions often prove useful. Many fields can be amplified, their energies accumulating around a specific attractor. Also, the correct lenses or reflectors can concentrate widespread energy into a single focal point. Intensified by enough orders of magnitude, invisble rays comfortably experienced by all may be transformed into a brilliant spectacle or a downright deadly power.
 A legendary bard once said of spellcasting, “sometimes, it's about the energies you don't weave.” Plenty of magical effects require shielding from a pervasive cosmic field. Complex arcane reactions may generate byproducts that would be disruptive to other constituents of the same effort. Refraction, reflection, absorption, and dissipation all provide ways to keep unwanted magical energy from interacting with a delicate process underway. Like a cloud passing under the Sun, cosmic fluctuations sometimes sweep across the local magical environment. Maintaining an active spell may require constant adjustment to the mechanisms that shield against disruptive energies.
Transient Magic Gods and devils often package energy channeled through spells cast in their name. These magical resources only exist for the moment of their transmission. Unstable products used in cascading reactions may be similarly short-lived. These transient resources often prove ideal for weaving spells that produce an instantaneous effect. They have been studied extensively despite the fact that they barely manifest long enough to be observed or measured.
 The quest to analyze fleeting magic requires peering intently into the deepest mysteries. Millennium after millennium of spellcasting filled the world with arcane echoes. Patterns of interference form where otherwise undetectable ripples converge. Faded remnants of draconic resources may rise abruptly where other forms of magic collide or swirl in particular ways. Wisps and streaks of unidentified energies randomly flicker across a typical scene. The only constant is turmoil. Mainstream scholars generally agree that prolonged continuous scrutiny of background magical phenomena is corrosive to sanity.
 At some point in the journey from novice to archmage, wizards shift their studies from casting spells under normal conditions to spellcasting under extreme conditions. The most ambitious arcane fomulae concentrate or exclude particular forms of cosmic energy, creating tiny instances of these extreme conditions. For example, lightning effects are often launched from a tiny field of static. With an intense magnetic flourish, such a field can be uniformly polarized in the instant before it is tapped. The end result unleashes more destructive energy while providing more control over that energy. Learning the properties of cosmic forces and the techniques for shaping them often makes the difference between basic spellcasting and advanced magic.
 DRACONIC When the earliest dragons creatively shaped their own fiery breath, the magical environment of the world was forever marked by their efforts. It is unclear if dragons chose to imbue certain words with mystic power or if their original language was derived from verbal magic discoveries. Either way, the earliest speech was not intended to describe things so much as change them. Popular sentiment associates draconic magic with furious bursts of destructive energy, but arcane scholars understand that the true essence of it is transformative.
 Their bodies, their offspring, their lairs, and their prey were all subject to extensive modifications. Before there were dragons, forms of life thrived or perished as a function of fitness for the natural environment. By the time the first generation of spellcasting dragons completely died off, the world was packed with new forms of hooved or humanoid livestock shaped by the will of godlike wyrms. The ease with which dragons tapped into a simple magical environment gave way to turbulent complexity. Volatile interactions between the ambient energies of life and resources forged by dragon magic made reliable spellcasting increasingly difficult.
“One conclusion is inescapable. The only way we live to see tomorrow is by striking today.”

— Palando Silvercrown, the first dragonslayer
 Dragons found themselves unable to shape the world as their ancient ancestors had. Their language of imperatives did not lend itself to the sorts of analytical study needed to command magical resources in a world awash with the echoes of so much prior arcane activity. Many dragons went insane struggling to make sense of magical turmoil. Modern spellcasters can find powerful draconic resources around the jets, vortices, and wakes generated by volatile interactions of other magical phenomena. With proper direction these intense energies can inflate an effect to fill an area, disrupt a spell in progress, or change the shapes of objects and creatures.
 FEY Cunning and graceful, it was elvenkind that dragons tasked with making sense of magical inquiry. The first fey used piles of skin and blood to record more information than an adult dragon could carve into an entire mountainside. Soon the elves developed parchment and inks. Bound volumes of arcane lore were second only to piles of gold coins as status symbols among dragons. As archivists and researchers, elves crafted their own language of whispers and flowing script. Through many generations of serving dragonkind, secret elven lore accumulated into its own sophisticated magical tradition. Little by little, elves grew in power by misinforming their masters and skimming supplies for their own purposes.
Magical Infrastructure Few events altered the history of the world like the ritual that first energized the ley line network. Leaders of the rebellion against dragonkind immediately understood that they would rise to positions of unrivaled power. They organized into the Imperium Arcanum – “the empire of secrets.” Countless mature dragons were sacrificed to build a small web of mystical connections into a robust global network for channeling magical energy. Incorporating flows from both the natural world and the cosmos, ascendant Archfey fortified their network to be self-replenishing and impervious to disruption.
 Even today, ley lines influence the availability and behavior of other magical resources. The path of the nearest line as well as the relative location of the nearest convergence are two facts many spellcasters find informative. All druids along with some bards, rangers, paladins, and warlocks cultivate keen awareness of the power coursing through this network. Practitioners may reach out to this energy even when far removed from the nearest ley line. Some merely use knowledge of the network to hedge against the interference it creates. On land, ley lines provide fixed geographical references in a magical environment where constancy is otherwise rare.
 Unable to replace or repurpose ley lines, the Fivesquare Pantheon established their own network of magical conduits. Reaching to sources in the heavens, spiritual channels collect holy energy from prayers then return much of it to devoted spellcasters. Any plea for divine assistance may open such a channel. Sacred rituals and consistent prayers cause these links to grow stronger. Priests are often eager to consecrate lands and structures, making it more convenient for a patron deity to furnish magical resources. Fervent worshippers report feeling closer to their patron deity when visiting shrines and temples.
 A deep commitment to that patron deity or a related set of beliefs can lead to reliable use of holy power. Devotion functions as a spiritual tether to the broader network. Some practitioners believe holy symbols and readings from scripture help deities to find their mark when channeling energy into unfamiliar territory. Others believe the entire network is less a literal structure and more an association of ideas. This theory holds that declaring and promoting faith introduces a location or person to the mind of a god. It follows that the vast spiritual network is constituted by pathways of divine awareness.
 Abominations, demons, and devils have all found ways to reach out through covert magical channels. They employ an unholy underground of occult rituals and cryptic spellcasting techniques. With the proper bargains, the most nefarious warlocks and paladins learn how to call upon magical resources from ungodly patrons. Lurking inside the shadows under holy spiritual channels, these transmissions link the mortal realm to hellish places. The Archfey also do business with such spellcasters, though their resources typically emerge from ley lines. All this channeled power enables both contractual and spiritual spellcasters to spend less time learning magical theories and more worshipping the divine or performing occult rites.
 Those purposes included activating a network of connections that would ease the process of teleporting to or from secret meeting places where elven magi honed combat techniques. Long thought to be invincible, dragons fell by the thousands when the attacks began. Ritual sacrifice of their blood supercharged the elven network, sending new vibrations across the world. Emboldened fey leaders soon looked beyond the world, further complicating the magical environment by exposing it to cosmic energies. As more sources mingled in a cacophony of power, many surviving dragons turned away from spellcasting. Yet the elves only grew more capable.
 The greatest magics of the Imperium Arcanum were elaborate constructs of gargantuan size. These impossibly tall bastions provided not only security, but also food, water, and entertainment for the millions of humans housed within each structure. These labor forces helped elves gather and process materials to expand their empire and continue war against dragons. Fey magic now permeates the world, though its most lively concentrations flow along ley lines or circulate near Standing Stones. Often taking the form of hazy wisps or swarms of shimmering motes, remnants of this ancient magic can be used to project phantasms, alter the behavior of creatures, or transform material objects. Capricious and unpredictable, these resources prove especially useful in the production of random effects as well as spells intended to influence luck.
 HOLY Quarrels among the gods once made divine energy a disorderly tangle of forces in opposition. Tremendous powers were cancelled out while deities labored to foil one another. The Immaculate System harmonized the world's divine energy, turning bitter rivalries into concerted efforts at popularizing sacred narratives. The same heavenly reforms established a robust infrastructure of channels and protocols. Religious spellcasters now form personal connections with their patron gods. Consecrated observances and consistent prayers serve to reinforce these links as well as the broader network of spiritual conduits. When properly invoked, holy energy is delivered on demand, powering downright miraculous effects.
 Without faith and prayer, the best of these resources are not normally available to spellcasters. Yet there is always some chance that a deity invited to support a spell might choose to do so if its purpose is aligned with that god's agenda. Also, all practitioners need to be aware of holy magic since the global network can interfere with some efforts. Wards and veils must be incorporated into vulnerable weaves, sheltering effects otherwise undermined by a holy presence. Yet some arcane casting may interact usefully with ambient holy energy. Basic illumination, warmth, and calm are all effects that can be achieved with spillage – residual traces of overflow from these spiritual channels. The success of The Immaculate System generates considerable surpluses.
 For well-connected spellcasters, even greater applications of this energy are possible. It outperforms other sources for effects that restore, protect, or heal. The energy of each deity bears its own unique signature. Yet it all flows along the same shared network, coordinated to prevent conflicts that might generate losses. From the most desolate wastelands to the deepest dungeons, there is no location left untouched by this apparatus of the divine. Faithful clergy maintain their spiritual connections wherever they travel, and religious rites leave traces of holy energy in their wake. The reach of the gods extends to every place an earnest prayer has been given voice.
 LIFE Before any spells were cast in the world, the land was covered with living things, and the sea likewise bounteous. All this life is innately magical. Living creatures leave traces of this magic wherever they linger. It tends to coalesce and diffuse in slow cycles governed by the Moon or the seasons. Wild habitats thrive all the more when these energies are recycled through spellcasting that benefits local plants and animals. Life is naturally inclined to proliferate and diversify. Aligning with this process provides harmonious access to abundant magical resources.
 Yet this energy may be manipulated in other ways. Some necromancy pulls the life right out of victims, causing creatures to weaken and decay. Infusions of this same energy provide an alternative to the gods as a source of healing. Like the dragons and elves of ages past, the boldest modern spellcasters can manipulate life energy change to the shape of living things. This source also has a particular affinity for the land, the sea, and the elements. With variants beyond the scope of any writing, it is impossible to calculate how many possible combinations of life energy might be woven together.
 Awareness of local plants and animals can guide spellcasters reaching out for magical resources. Practitioners may imitate the calls or movements of specific creatures as a means to better tap these resources. In addition to detailed illustrations of related flora and fauna, arcane formulae often feature prose or verse packed with information about techniques for harvesting specific resources. Practitioners with an especially strong connection to nature may maintain vast reserves of these resources. This proves useful for spellcasting in barren lands as well as crowded urban environments where ambient life energy tends to be less diverse.
Pinched Magic Time challenges even the deepest thinkers. Is it a force? Is it an energy? Does it come in waves? With little relevant experimental evidence, modern universities tend to address the subject as a question of philosophy rather than physics. Spellcasters can modify the relative passage of time for substantial targets, but more divergent ratios require greater effort. Anything beyond doubling or halving relative speed of a target is a challenge only the greatest practitioners of time magic might attempt.
 Yet this is only true of living beings and material objects. A pair of elementary efforts can alter the relationship between time and one local magical resource. Each of these adjustments creates a feedback loop amplifying the change to its theoretical limit. This process and the extreme effects it can produce are known to arcanists as “pinching” to generate a “flare” or a “hold.”
 A resource on hold becomes inert to magical reactions. The rate of change due to its rising or falling state is indistinguishable from zero. Complex spellcasting often requires putting several resources on hold until a weave is nearly finished. Many arcane formulae list “a pinch” of something to instruct that a constituent energy should be held until the spell's effect is triggered. When a weave is complete, holds are released to coordinate intended magical reaction(s).
 “A pinch” may also refer to the act of consuming a magical resource by compressing its remaining existence into a single instant known as a “flare.” A normal candle may offer hours of light and a little bit of warmth. Yet if all that energy could be released in less than a second, the result would be a blinding flash and a small fiery explosion. Consider this technique applied to death echoes – the magical ripples that form in the wake of violent killing. They are sometimes experienced as a slight chill lingering near the site of the slaughter. If a skilled spellcaster recognizes one of these resources then pinches it into a flare, the entire potential energy of the death echo can be tapped to power significant effects producing fear, frost, or necrosis.
 THOUGHT At the heart of every spell is an intention. Even the lengthiest rituals are not shaped entirely by words and gestures. All biology exudes life energy, and all sentient beings generate a second source of magical power. Contemplative creatures develop the potential to project extremely faint yet highly reactive magical phenomena. From a sorcerer spinning a fireball out of a dragon's wake to a cleric reaching out to cure a blind man, it is the delicate magic of thought that conveys intention to other resources in a pending weave.
 During the Age of Heroes, rare individuals and several varieties of creature developed extraordinary powers by generating tremendous levels of thought energy. Though some of these psychic creatures still exist, the minds of humans and the other civilized races of the surface world no longer brim with deadly energies. Even for effects like reading minds or scrying, modern spellcasters must pair their intentions with at least one of the other six sources to achieve results. Yet those results can include effects like mind control, paralysis, and telekinesis.
 Thought energy phenomena are regarded as tools of the trade, perhaps most akin to harnesses placed on beasts. Wizards and sorcerers perform mental calculations to optimize their spellcasting. A moment of calm reflection helps a cleric or druid administer relief. Passionate expression intensifies the efforts of bards and sorcerers. Humble pleading is essential for clerics and warlocks alike. A quick scan of the area informs wizards and druids of the best resources at hand. Bards and warlocks achieve excellent results by being mindful of aesthetics while performing magic. Unlocking the power of thoughts is the beginning of every practitioner's journey toward effective spellcasting.
 UNHOLY Where solid objects block light, shadowy hiding places are the result. Some magical resources defy mortal comprehension. In doing so, they create opportunities for concealment. The Fivesquare Pantheon's network of spiritual channels is so stable as to cast persistent magical shadows. Ungodly powers reach through the darkness to empower students of obscure occult practices. The greatest Archfey, abominations, outsider gods, demons, and devils all channel energy to spellcasters in exchange for assorted pledges and rites performed on behalf of these secret patrons.
 Just as with holy magic, unholy channels gain capacity through repeated use. Resistance is eroded by regular transmissions. While unholy magic has been around since early in the Age of Heroes, it only became a reliable source of power in the modern era. Even the holiest of large libraries is likely to house documents containing taboo knowledge. Covens and cults can escalate with alarming speed. Theoretically, any local group focused on unholy power could develop into an apocalyptic crisis. Monstrous beings and social outcasts alike are drawn to the prospect of channeling this forbidden energy. Clergy typically condemn the use of unholy power, and some governments outlaw all practices associated with the term “witchcraft.”
 Unholy energy is well-suited to effects that deceive or manipulate others. It is ideal for generating magical temptations. It is also easily woven into spells that do direct damage by inflicting bodily harm or promoting future misfortune. Even where witches and warlocks are not outlaws, they are often feared. Few scholars are versed in the cryptic lore of unholy energy. It sometimes reveals its presence through freakish coincidences as well as disturbing behavior among animals or people. With countless possible patrons, unholy magical resources are extraordinarily diverse. Yet they are alike in leaving an unsettling strangeness in the aftermath of effects primarily energized by this source.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Seven Sources ↑  → The Eight Schools ←  ↓ The Nine Mysteries ↓

◬ Arcane Honorifics ◬ Magic is such a complex and diverse subject that no expert can claim comprehensive knowledge. Even practitioners with extensive spellcasting ability may know only the basics of other forms and even less about spells outside their personal repertoires. Though wizards tend to be the most particular about titles earned through spellcasting achievements, practitioners of all sorts may be eligible for honorifics based on the ability to consistently generate specific magical effects.
 For example, a true Leyforce Sculptor has the power to raise a wall of force at least once per day. Those versed in lesser applications of similar techniques might claim to be studying Leyforce Sculpting. Gifted and persistent students of sufficient experience may learn enough to earn the honor. Unworthy claimants to the title risk extreme peril for being unable to perform a crucial duty on command, not to mention extreme hostility from actual Leyforce Sculptors intent on protecting a proud tradition against charlatans.
 Though expert spellcasters dispense arcane honorifics through universities, temples, and colleges; independent practitioners do likewise. Even self-recognition is acceptable for thoroughly capable individuals. Arcane honorifics are not regulated by any official bodies. Plunging standards or proliferating frauds can reduce a valuable professional credential to a bit of empty puffery. It is incumbent on legitimate holders of each title to maintain its value by providing reliable services and taking bold action against pretenders.
The Eight Schools Unlike the elves and dragons before them, many human spellcasters show eagerness to share their theories and techniques. Accumulations of lore provided a foundation to guide more advanced research. Early wizards adopted a system associating each dweomer with one of eight schools of magick. Thousands of years later, the same Eight Schools classify the spells of modern times. All spellcasters possess a basic grasp of this system. Arcane universities tend to require some formal study in each of the Eight Schools. Specialization conveys both power and prestige, so most established wizards show a strong affiliation with one of the Eight Schools.
 ABJURATION The wisest spellcasters understand that this school of defensive magic holds the keys to survival in a crisis. Some political leaders keep their most learned abjurer close, since there is no better way to thwart the wrath of a hostile spellcaster. Just as some abjurations disrupt hostile magic, others block conventional attacks. Spells from this school may also generate interference obstructing magical efforts to locate or investigate the target. The most basic abjurations set alarms triggered by danger, while major persistent efforts can fill an entire tower with magical defenses.
 ◬  Gordian Cleavers specialize in freeing others from magical torments. Most practitioners make heavy use of personal reference libraries to assist in their analysis of unwanted spells, hauntings, and posessions. Novices are discouraged from identifying themselves as Gordian Cleavers, since the title implies the ability to break spells held together by extremely persistent weaves. These rarified experts seldom maintain long term employment, instead shifting their attentions from case to case. The most unscrupulous Gordian Cleavers partner with malicious spellcasters to generate demand for their services.
 ◬  Hermetic Sappers often carry an arsenal of scrolls to support their diverse repertoires of security-related spells. These popular magical experts install defenses, set alarms, and places weaves to counteract divinations. Hermetic Sappers are often welcome in elite company, since their support makes it possible to conduct business while shielded from magical espionage. They also feature prominently in many military organizations. Their triggered effects may detect, impede, or even assault intruders. Any homes or storehouses owned by Hermetic Sappers are likely to be filled with magical runes poised to harm uninvited visitors.
 ◬  Starguards are vigilant protectors trained to provide arcane security for persons with extraordinary resources. These professionals typically work in five-person details with powers ready to encircle protectees. Regardless of the angle of an attack, multiple Starguards should be in a position to react. Some make their presence known by adorning tall hats or other attire with five-pointed stars. Most favor discretion, blending in with ceremonial roles and courtly garb. In addition to thwarting attacks, all Starguards are prepared to go beyond abjurations to eliminate nearby threats.
“Would I be up here overseeing a construction crane if I could grant wishes?”

— Sharif Skystrider, djinni laborer
 CONJURATION Many children first learning about magic simply assume the wish spell exists. It does, placing the most coveted of all magic in this school. Much conjuration bestows assistance, from the tiny familiar spirits so popular with apprentice wizards to the glorious heavenly allies well-favored clergy may call upon from time to time. Even the most aggressive spells in this school generate indirect threats, like a cloud of poison gas or a cluster of grasping tendrils. This same category of lore helps spellcasters out of harm's way with techniques of movement that entirely bypass the space between departure and arrival.
 ◬  Leyline Riders are fully proficient in the arcane protocols required to utilize Standing Stone sites as transportation platforms. Many find lucrative work making travel possible for others. With the proper sacrifices a facility requires little energy from its operator, allowing one Leyline Rider to coordinate at least a dozen departures in a single day. Yet these practitioners tend to be a carefree lot. Some use their knowledge to roam the world, enjoying brief stays at one exotic locale after another. Be they residential or itinerant, these spellcasters are famously difficult to confine.
“If all the world were a library, those who do not travel would never see beyond the edges of a single scroll.”

— The Codex of Constructed Marvels
 ◬  Primordial Wranglers use extensive knowledge of the elemental planes to conscript and command powerful beings of pure air, fire, earth, or water. These reluctant servants perform feats like working the bellows of an adamantine forge or washing out a vast complex of unkempt stables. Primordial Wranglers sometimes create social tensions when their services undercut labor crews that would otherwise employ many workers to eventually achieve similar results. The boldest of these spellcasters are also quick to take sides in time of war. One battlefield elemental sometimes amounts to decisive reinforcement.
 ◬  Toxic Terminators tend to favor eyecatching attire treated with fluorescent dyes. This garb is a warning to savvy bystanders. These spellcasters perform pest control in times of peace. Clearing infested cellars or abandoned buildings with clouds of deadly vapors, Toxic Terminators consider it a job well done when they walk away from a totally lifeless space. This same thoroughness applies to their wartime role. The signature blend of poisons conjured by these spellcasters is ideal for sweeping through tunnels and trenches. The most experienced practitioners have killed many opponents without so much as looking at them.
Oracles and Seers There are metaphysical differences between a true claim and a falsehood. When ideas are evaluated as magical thoughts, properties of earnestness and accuracy may become apparent. For questions of present or past conditions, many details can be confirmed with certainty. Fleeting moments of cosmic communion provide diviners with absolute truths normally unavailable to mortals.
 Deities deliberately obscure many of their activities. The popularity of myths involving gods adds a general haze of uncertainty around religious inquiries. Some theologists believe spirituality was made nebulous to better generate energy from passionate debates. Mortals can also shield themselves from scrying and divination by employing abjurations or bonding with a special sort of talisman more valuable than a pound of pure platinum. Nothing is truly hidden without magical secrecy.
 Even where blind spots do not obstruct efforts to learn about the past or present, it may not be easy to drill down to specifics. Some names are common, and famous people provide inspiration for imposters. History confirmed by magical means is often the result of a spellcasting team dedicating months of effort to a single investigation. Though vital for gathering intelligence, oracles and seers are notoriously vague when called upon to predict the future. No prophecy is certain until it has actually come to pass.
 DIVINATION Magic can be a powerful tool for learning. From illuminating the true meaning of secret messages to conferring with higher powers, this school of spellcasting offers many ways of acquiring information. The future is not fixed by prophecy, so predictive divinations are unreliable, especially when reaching beyond a few moments. Yet many spells can provide absolutely reliable information about present or past conditions. This school can be instrumental in tracking down fugitives or locating dangers in unfamiliar territory. It also enables mortals to connect by thought alone, sharing knowledge without being required to share language.
 ◬  Metaphysical Arbiters communicate with powerful entities ranging from ancient nature spirits to senior heavenly administrators. These parleys provide opportunities to obtain definitively accurate knowledge. New information is sometimes no more than the confirmation or repudiation of a single claim. Some inquiries generate unclear responses. Yet any decisive results obtained are certain to be true in the present moment. Getting a numerical estimate from Metaphysical Artbitration involves testing a series of “more than” or “less than” propositions. Legitimate practioners only furnish false answers when their service is involuntary.
 ◬  Psychic Moderators are often motivated by a natural aptitude for reading minds as well as tomes. Fully qualified practitioners can coordinate telepathic conferences allowing several nearby beings to completely transcend language barriers. Novices hoping to become a Psychic Moderator often spend their days using magic to find the meaning of otherwise unintelligible writing. At night they probe minds to gain advantages while carousing and gambling. Aristocrats sometimes keep one of these spellcasters in their entourage so as to be forewarned of hostilities. These mentalists also function as silent, non-violent, yet highly effective interrogators.
 ◬  Vision Merchants literally sell scrying services to the general public. Private executive councils with the means to do so often obscure their proceedings from just this type of espionage. For large enough payments, these seers may dedicate weeks to observing a group of associates or mapping out the interior of a secure compound. Yet far more often Vision Merchants perform uncontroversial work. Checking on the status of distant relatives, assessing inventory levels at a foreign warehouse, tracking the progress of an expedition in the field – the surveillance these spellcasters provide often functions as instantaneous scouting.
Routine Magic Many minor spellcasters earn a living through professional use of a single technique. Adventurous people see working the same basic spell over and over as a dreary dead end. Such practice often leads to decades without any progress toward greater magical power. Yet for people who enjoy reliable prosperity and security, a day of routine magic feels like satisfying service to the community. Few students of spellcraft do not dream of commanding legendary power, yet many are destined to carry on one of these humble, if useful, arcane trades.
 ◬  Aura Editors adjust the way energy flows around matter. These efforts conceal or mimic the metaphysical properties of magic items, fey beings, unholy persons, etc.
 ◬  Gold Bonders create magical locking devices from piles of precious metal. Paired components fuse into a sold gold fixture on contact, parting only under specified conditions.
 ◬  Lightweavers create perpetual feedback loops that cause an object to emit flickering light. In collaboration with glaziers and tinkers they produce lamps that never need oil.
 ◬  Locktappers use magic to unlock and safely open otherwise secure containers and doors. Urban areas generate plenty of legitimate demand for this service.
 ◬  Pigeon Wranglers maintain rooftop facilities accommodating many working birds. Most charge modest fees for delivering a short message to a specific person in a nearby community.
 ◬  Spellbinders protect authorities by thwarting attacks and halting aggression. Some team with constables, using a magical method of arrest to minimize street violence.
 ◬  Spirit Bestiaries imbue individiuals with exceptional animal traits. This form of support temporarily boosts performance in areas ranging from hard labor to delicate negotiation.
 ◬  Vocal Encoders weave a spoken message into a physical object. From magical alarm systems to self-narrating museum exhibits, there are many uses for this enduring effect.
 ENCHANTMENT Using thoughts to manipulate the minds of others gives a symmetrical quality to the weaves of many enchantment spells. Some of these efforts alter attitudes, creating appeal or revulsion of unnatural intensity. Others assert direct control, freezing motor functions or imbuing instructions with unearthly authority. The most powerful application of this school teaches a method of issuing commands that snuff out life itself. Enchanted people often live to discover that their feelings or actions were magically altered. Though some automatically react with violence, many regard the experience like any other form of persuasion or coercion.
 ◬  Compelling Taskmasters are able to assign even the most reluctant operatives to missions they must carry out under penalty of recurring psychic trauma. Some of these spellcasters serve noble authorities by ordering conspirators and thieves to assist in solving problems associated with their misdeeds. Other Compelling Taskmasters are employed by conquering generals to secure the compliance of key personnel during a difficult regime change. The most infamous of these arcane elites work with cruel lords or murderous secret societies to see dark deeds performed by hopeless perpetrators entirely unwilling and unwitting.
 ◬  Flesh Puppeteers excel at controlling the actions of others. Some aristocrats favor this sort of arcane protector, since the same power that freezes a charging beast in its tracks also works to humiliate or torment individuals who give offense. As a practical service, Flesh Puppeteers are uniquely qualified to secure chains on ferocious monsters. The bravest wrangle creatures few others would dare approach. Their magic can also alter policies while they are being announced. Somehow, efforts to ban the latter practice never seem to become law. The most vile of these practitioners spark internal conflicts to undermine or destroy groups.
 ◬  Mnemonic Revisionists have so dedicated themselves to the study of memory that they can tamper with the recollections of others. Some governments outlaw the sale of this service since it can obstruct investigations. Others apply it to serve justice, releasing outlaws with no memory of arrest and interrogation. Though often a serious crime, business negotiators and romantic suitors have been known to employ Mnemonic Revisionists to replace actual first impressions with false memories of more favorable encounters. Associates of these spellcasters should be suspicious if they recall sharing only happy experiences together.
 EVOCATION Some fledgling spellcasters follow their first successful experiments with ambitions of unleashing destruction to rival dragon's fire. Those who survive long enough may learn spells from this school for just such a purpose. Evocations can deliver all sorts of energies, including the vital essences required to heal the living. Raw magical force can even be crystalized to create temporary yet solid non-material phenomena. With the right elemental additives, these spells generate massive amounts of substance. The mightiest evokers can direct a rain of falling stars able to destroy buildings outright.
 ◬  Instant Masons create sturdy walls that quickly cure into permanent structures. A task that would normally require cartloads of materials and a score of bricklayers working all day is instead accomplished through a single spell. Cities undergoing rapid economic development often have plenty of work for these magical builders. The most urgent projects generate extravagent fees. Instant Masons can provide critical support during seiges, patching damaged fortifications before enemies exploit the breach. Some who claim this title learn transmutations needed to integrate their efforts seamlessly into any surrounding architecture.
“You can only cast the spells you have practiced. Each act of training sees the next battle already underway.”

— Ghostquill, Hashāshīn sorcerer
 ◬  Leyforce Sculptors study profoundly ancient elven battle techniques. They concentrate and solidify fey magic into unerring bolts able to penetrate even the thickest scales. Esoteric lore and extensive practice make it possible to access great quantities of this coherent energy. Masters of the technique can raise a temporary barrier durable enough to withstand multiple blasts of dragon breath. Leyforce Sculptors thrive while hunting monsters or waging war. At universities where the Imperium Arcanum is extensively studied, staff likely includes at least one expert in what some wizards consider the world's oldest martial art.
 ◬  Thermoelectrics take their name from Edwynn Tryffinson's Manual of Thermoelectric Warfare. In the eight centuries since it was penned, this guide to spreading deadly energies over subtantial areas has become fundamental to the education of war wizards. A proper Thermoelectric can eliminate entire squads of soldiers with either fire, frost, or lightning. That trio allows many tactical scenarios to be addressed by one coherent body of elemental lore. These same energies also have assorted practical and scientific applications. Accomplished Thermoelectrics are welcome at universities, trade guilds, and military rallies.
“By night I dream of paradise to remind me of my chance to earn a place in the paradise hereafter. That hope keeps me true to my faith and my people.”

— Inyene Komara, former Shah of Zintu
 ILLUSION People who do not understand magic may dismiss much of it as trickery. The part of magic that actually is trickery can be found in this school. Yet magical illusions go far beyond sleight-of-hand. Spellcasters working only with harmless light and sound can hone subtle techniques of expression. Wizards generally do not regard this school as nefarious, instead recognizing a collection of methods for shaping energy with artistic finesse. Modest exercises of these abilities might leave an audience delighted by dazzling imagery. The most powerful illusions could literally frighten those onlookers to death.
 ◬  Banner Chameleons are the stuff of generals' nightmares. These experienced spellcasters can alter the appearance of an entire encampment to seem affiliated with a different faction or even a different race. Though these deceptions do not hold up to close inspection, they often allow elite military units to move unchallenged through hostile territory. More than one major coup has succeeded because Banner Chameleons enabled key assets to launch direct attacks on political leaders. Practitioners of this technique also help smugglers evade notice, conceal the wealth of merchant caravans, or help refugees escape warzones.
Ultimate Power Aristocrats believe an example of ultimate power would be legal authority to issue a death sentence. Magical scholars consider killing with a word to be a form of ultimate power – a spell nine orders of magnitude more energetic than a cantrip. For mortals, only rituals performed as part of a large spellcasting team could be more intense. Individuals attempting to harness such power are either destroyed instantly in a volatile chain reaction or destroyed gradually by the madness of an obsession with the impossible. Spellcasters content with the highest level of mortal power may claim some of the rarest of arcane honorifics.
 ◬  Amorphous Bestiaries are individual spellcasters known to do battle by changing into all manner of mighty creatures. It is impossible to overstate the versatility of this fighting style.
 ◬  Arcane Dungeonmasters can confine others inside weaves of such integrity as to hold indefinitely. They are called upon to rid the land of menaces that cannot or should not be put to death.
 ◬  Celestial Demolitionists can command the power of falling stars to devastate armies or bombard fortifications. Directing this magic at civilian populations is considered an atrocity.
 ◬  Cosmic Conduits know how to build a temporary bridge between their location and another plane of existence. They are crucial for diplomacy and trade with otherworldly realms.
 ◬  Flesh Editors achieve flawless artistry in the alteration of physical forms. Most often employed to restore the youth of aging aristocrats, these spellcasters can also alter gender or race.
 ◬  Fulfillment Brokers can provide wishes to others. They prefer to work with thoughtful clients, offering alternatives while casting the actual wish spell only as a last resort.
 ◬  Immaculate Advisors always seem to know the perfect thing to say. They load brief speeches with guidance to keep an ally clear of folly throughout the day to follow.
 ◬  Soul Beacons do not require any physical remains to bring a long dead person back to life. They also employ communion or planar travel to reach spirits unable to return from the afterlife.
 ◬  Dream Painters enable wealthy and powerful persons to live out their fantasies night after night. Some of these spellcasters work alone, but most utilize the services of actors and other entertainers. As their employers slumber, distinctive magic creates an alternate reality where anything is possible and events unfold as directed. Dream Painters also work as spies or interrogators, staging unreal scenarios in the hope of extracting information from sleeping sources. Malicious practitioners of this art can undermine the effectiveness of others, reaching through the night to plague distant targets with terrifying nightmares.
 ◬  Spectral Speakers practice projecting images of themselves until they can deliver substantial orations without being physically present. Instead their voices and senses move through these magical projections. Such spellcasters are often appointed to replace public officials struck down by assassins. Spectral Speakers also excel at infiltrating hostile strongholds thought unlikely to spare the life of a conventional emissary or spy. These wily spellcasters often command an array of techniques for getting themselves out of trouble should enemies ever locate the person communicating through these images.
 NECROMANCY Never without controversy, necromancy has always held its place as one of the Eight Schools. Unholy power is not required to extract vitality from the living or imbue the dead with new purpose. Those effects may terrify observers all the same. Academics have largely eliminated institutional stigmas associated with this school of magic outside Greater Norland. Even so, many people find the undead deeply disturbing to behold or contemplate. This creates some reluctance for practitioners to identify with this speciality. Basic feats of necromancy produce only minor afflictions or augmentations, while the most ambitious of these spells breach barriers between this world and the afterlife.
 ◬  Remnant Wranglers excel at animating and commanding the undead. Particularly practical generals value the unsettling yet effective technique of turning fallen warriors into zombified reinforcements. Killing the same enemy more than once creates a feeling of futility. Reanimated soldiers can also assist in handling the most gruesome aspects of a battle's aftermath. Even in urban settings, Remnant Wranglers may be in demand as a source of expendable labor crews. From dredging sewers to probing monster lairs, exploiting undead creatures for horrible or suicidal tasks generates less backlash than ordering living people to perform those duties.
 ◬  Spirit Revivalists can perform one of the most miraculous feats available to spellcasters. While many healers can pull life back into the body of a person slain moments earlier, a Spirit Revivalist can do likewise even with a corpse that has grown cold, stiff, and foul. Highly accomplished clerics are joined by few others in earning this title. Many decline opportunities for commerce, instead extending the lives of prominent believers in their communities of faith. Any who sell this service cannot afford to do so cheaply. Merely entering a plea with the Court of Souls requires sacrifices on par with those required to create a magic weapon or purchase a fine warhose.
 ◬  Whispering Reapers are experts at killing with incantations. Many learn other destructive techniques to supplement signature spells that rip the life energy right out of victims. Some wear only black, and even the most cheerful of these spellcasters makes a morbid remark from time to time. Their services are prized by generals who benefit once from the support of lethal spells and a second time from the demoralization of intimidated foes. Some Whispering Reapers find places for themselves as assassins or bodyguards. Then there are those who serve no other, finding the practice of death magic rewarding enough on its own.
The River of Time As a concept, time engages and confounds the most brilliant minds. Unlike wind or stone, time is not an easy target for magical effects. The difficulty and energy demands of a time spell tend to scale upward radically as the extent of the change increases. Simply sensing out of time is complicated mainly by the fact that glimpsed futures are only possibilities – not certain to come to pass. Looking into the past is increasingly challenging as the span of time grows, but even the hundreds of millennia back to the time before dragons is not a barrier to the most capable and persistent seers.
 Actually altering the behavior of time is much more demanding. Experienced users of magic may learn to create a modest distortion around one target for a little while. The most powerful spells can create a huge rift between the transmuter's timeframe and the rest of the world, facilitating an unopposed surge of activity. It is also possible to leap forward in time, just a little, though the magic of stepping in and out of other planes is less troublesome. Attempts to actually visit the past have produced one of three results – disappointment, disappearance, or death. There are very few stories about time travellers, and learned people give no credence to them.
 TRANSMUTATION Change is the essence of magic, and this school is all about making changes in the material world. Anything composed of animal, vegetable, or mineral substance is a suitable target for these spells. Modern transmutations are nothing like the epic effects dragons achieved in the earliest days of magic. Yet the versatility of this school is unrivaled, supporting tactics beyond the scope of any catalog. Through the most complex weaves it is even possible to change the way a being relates to time. One grants the caster an instant of blindingly fast activity. Another can transform someone else into a younger version of himself or herself.
 ◬  Cloud Merchants prove themselves by showing command over air and water. While only the most elite have also achieved the distinction of Weather Controller, every legitimate Cloud Merchant can replenish water towers and other small reservoirs. In battle they impede advancing troops or thwart incoming missile attacks. They are extremely effective at supporting amphibious assaults. Their spells also enable skilled sea captains to execute otherwise impossible maneuvers. All this gives seasoned tacticians a high opinion of this fluid-focused approach to spellcasting.
 ◬  Mineral Editors apply magic to stone the way some sculptors apply tools to clay. In prosperous times these practitioners are paid to maintain castles and palaces. Their efforts produce consistently-styled stonework rich in decorative detail. Towering statues and other great monuments are often shaped by Mineral Editors working alone or under the guidance of a famed artist. Yet these elite spellcasters are also prized in time of war, as their abilities make it possible to open a passage through almost any wall. Many sieges have been broken by a Mineral Editor motivated enough to risk an approach and create a breach.
 ◬  Promethean Naturalists embrace their title as an homage the titan vanquished by Zeus for spreading enlightenment among mortals. These spellcasters grant the gifts of intelligence and speech to common animals, doing likewise while also animating ordinary plants. Such faculties are never bestowed lightly, since each act requires a material sacrifice of greater value than an armored warhorse. Many Promethean Naturalists awaken wild creatures hoping to gain informants or travelling companions. Others cater to the wealthy willing to exchange significant treasure for a talking hound or steed.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Eight Schools ↑  → The Nine Mysteries ←  ↓ Monsters ↓

The Nine Mysteries While religious folklore provides easy answers rooted in myth, the best available scholarship offers no clear answers to some incredibly important questions. Academics refer to the Nine Mysteries when discussing these topics outside the scope of well-established history and science. With sufficient resources, almost any quibble can be settled by turning to reference material, a capable diviner, or an esteemed expert on the subject at hand. The Nine Mysteries are popular topics of conversation precisely because they raise questions even the most knowledgeable sages cannot definitively answer.
Cosmic Context Scholars often refer to their native plane of existence as the Prime Material Plane. This acknowledges a multiverse with countless other worlds which, from indigenous perspectives, could be likewise named. Deities endeavor to cultivate large populations of thinking beings on worlds where magic runs strong. From this spiritual energy, a well-venerated god may feast. Theatron is an unusual natural bounty, since it was a highly populated and magically active world long before the first religious awakening. A divine punster might describe the world as “a prime Prime Material Plane.”
 As with so many of those parallel worlds, Theatron is not far removed from the Elemental Planes nor the Ethereal Plane. Even novice spellcasters learn ways of interacting with energies and materials from those places. Yet reality extends much farther. The Astral Plane is a realm of abstraction. Creatures somehow live there, but material beings ordinarily pass through with no interactions during journeys to and from the Outer Planes.
 That incomprehensibly vast ring features many worlds of its own, each shaped by distinctive moral and physicial forces radically different from those that shaped Theatron. Many believe the Outer Planes are the true homes of the gods. Religious scriptures often support this perspective. Enough adventurers have returned from such extreme journeys to confirm that places like Nirvana, Olympus, and Asgard can be found among the Outer Planes. Taken in this broader context, Theatron begins to seem like a downright tiny place.
 ⦻ How did the world form?  Theatron is a mystery even to the gods. Discovered worlds are rare. Among them, large populations of potential worshippers are rarer still. Great scholars know that all religious folklore about the origin of the world is myth. Yet none can peer past the mists of Primordial Times to witness any process of creation. The world, this plane of existence, and the multiverse in general are all real. No theories explaining how they came to be are supported by anything resembling compelling evidence. Philosophers can only speculate about the origin of the cosmos while scientists still lack ideas about how to approach the question empirically.
 ⦻ Is the world a sentient being?  It is only natural that people anthropomorphisize the world even if it is not alive. Some earnestly believe it is not only alive, but aware and mindful. Many speak of “the way of the world” as if they understand its intentions. Such speculation raises more questions than it answers. Could a world perceive, or perhaps even care about, the actions of individuals on its surface? How would a globe influence events of individual significance? What languages might the world understand? Some claim to have experienced communion with the world. Many learned and powerful experts have failed to duplicate or otherwise verify those experiences. The world does not grant prayers to any formal priesthood, but . . .
 ⦻ What empowers the Old Faith?  Simply invoking “the world” is not an effective approach to natural spellcasting. Yet dedications to “nature” or “the natural world” are effective. Druids do little to channel energy from more powerful beings. Instead, even those druids actively praying to a deity like Silvanus or Dagda will draw most of their spellcasting energy from accumulations of life force residue in the local environment. Only reverence for nature is an absolute requirement. Simultaneously a religion and not a religion, the Old Faith vexes modern theologists and metaphysicians. Some masters of natural spellcasting hold mutually exclusive opinions about the essence of their craft. Thus even their ability to work powerful spells does not settle these debates.
 ⦻ Could the Imperium Arcanum be restored?  In the time of elven domination, most people lived in vast fortresses shielded by layers of amplified magical defense. Bastions clad in colorful feyglass taunted dragons unable to smash the pretty windows and devour human workforces framed therein. When gods brought a new sort of magic into the world, an already fractured Imperium Arcanum quickly fell to shambles. Yet the gods could not dismantle the ley line network. Students of taboo lore continue to channel energy from reservoirs established by the Archfey. Persecution of these “white witches” is motivated by fear that their efforts could bring back the tyranny of the elves. Is such a thing even possible? If so, what would the Archfey be like after five millennia of hedonistic exile?
Secret Realms Faced with lore both confusing and conflicting, academics continue to debate the nature of Feywild and Shadowfell. Spellcasters are able to magically interact with each place, so they must exist. Some argue that they are particular zones of the Outer Planes with a strong connection to this world. Some contend Feywild and Shadowfell join the Elemental Planes to constitute a cluster of conveniently accessible Inner Planes. Another popular theory holds that these are regions of the Prime Material Plane designated as prisons for beings the gods thought unfit to roam the cosmos.
 History records the bulk of the Imperium Arcanum's magocracy accepting confinement inside the Moon in 2,907 A.H. With no dragons to hunt, legions of immensely powerful archmagi formed a society dedicated to self-indulgence. Personality clashes led to increasingly intense melodramas across the centuries. Most trips to Feywild involve wandering alone through impossibly beautiful landscapes or having profound conversations with talking animals. Other visitors report being swept up in relentless revelry where overwhelming magical intoxicants and incomprehensibly elaborate dances delight and exhaust participants. Leaders of these lunar courts go by the names of ancient Archfey.
 Could these be the same entities? If so, could they possibly return from exile? Also, if Feywild is a prison for the Archfey, might an even greater power be confined in Shadowfell? Intriguing speculation suggests it could be an epic evil imprisoned within the core of the world itself. Returning visitors often report pervasive gloom with little in the way of distinct sights or sounds. Yet a few tell of living shadows populating a kingdom of relentless dread. Denizens of this realm do not communicate willingly with outsiders. More than one team of legendary superheroes failed to return from an expedition to identify the Lords of Shadowfell.
 ⦻ Is divinity extremely powerful magic?  Academic consensus holds that the Archfey were magic-users who became godlike after participating in the slaughter of so many powerful dragons. Ma Yuan's ascension involved the opportunistic consumption of two wounded gods. One perpsective holds that gods have somehow unlocked magical powers beyond the command of mortal spellcasters, having previously been mortal themselves. No deity has offered public comment on the subject. All sane experts agree that divine ascension is not a reasonable goal. Kings and emperors are not known for limiting themselves to reasonable goals. Developing a personal cult, killing a god on Theatron, battling gods on other planes, negotiating directly with Zeus or Shang-Ti – speculation abounds about potential paths to godhood.
 ⦻ What are the Great Old Ones?  Utterly alien and gratuitously cryptic, even the most powerful servants of the Great Old Ones know little about these beings. As with the Archfey, devils, and gods; the Great Old Ones bundle magical energy for use by mortal spellcasters. Yet they seem to need no infrastructure, conveying mostly cosmic resources from unpredictable angles. No patterns emerge from analysis. Their invocations may be indistinguishable from jibberish. How do they connect with pact partners? Where are they from? Why do they spread both power and insanity? Who or what the Great Old Ones are remains a mystery and a topic of conversation disturbing even to the gods.
 ⦻ What lurks at the center of the world?  Tunneling through the land or even below the sea floor eventually leads to the Dread Zone, a dense layer of iron-bearing minerals where most of the voids are incorporated into one impossibly confusing network of tunnels and caverns. It is the mind-bending maze from which Labyrinth takes its name. Few return from this depth. Yet some have ventured beyond, discovering hatches that open over the enigmatic Sea of Abominations. There are too few credible accounts of efforts to tunnel under that sea to reach any conclusions about an even deeper layer. Yet peoples living below and above ground generally believe something ominous inhabits the core of the world. Even today, the area remains an inaccessible mystery.
 ⦻ Will technology displace magic?  The modern era sees human intellects shifting from arcane studies to the pursuit of invention. Optics and machine tools have made life better for millions of people. Though magic remains an integral part of modern living, it is fashionable to speculate about a world where spellcasting is no longer possible and technological wonders abound. Planar travellers have confirmed the existence of more advanced technology on other worlds, but nothing establishes that these advances are inevitable. Also, a high-tech future is not mutually exclusive with continuity in the spellcasting environment. Even if technological progress continues or accelerates, it is as likely to supplement magic as to marginalize it.
 ⦻ How will the world end?  Many religious teachings hold that the world will end when Odin challenges Zeus for the right to sit on the Heavenly Throne. Some sages dismiss this religious prophecy as nothing more than an allegory condemning betrayal. Should a dispute arise among the Regal Deities, it could disrupt The Immaculate System and open the world to a new flood of cosmic interlopers. This would not be the end of the world so much as the beginning of a new era plagued by divine conflicts. Then again, the full power of the gods is unfathomable. It is within the realm of possibility that one day Odin and Zeus will wage war in a manner that literally destroys the world itself. Even if this foretold doomsday never occurs, the idea that the world is eternal is no less strange than the idea that it will eventually end.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ The Nine Mysteries ↑  → Monsters ←  ↓ Peoples ↓



“The magic of dragons is the magic of shaping. Even their breath transforms energies it touches. We study Draconic words of power to better configure the spells we cast. Enough study of the oldest magicks reveals the secrets of changing shape. We races made by dragons can exploit ripples of their earliest efforts to take the shapes of dragons for ourselves.”

— Mettius Sirinium, Truscan Amorphous Bestiary
 The gods are among many of the world's notable inhabitants to originate on another plane of existence. Most of these cosmic immigrants are not immortal. Some produce descendants significantly shaped by this world. Reciprocally, many native forms of life reflect patterns that did not start here. It is unclear if dragons borrowed inspiration from other planes of existence or simply happened upon echoes of universal forms. The dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans they created are strikingly similar to those found on many other worlds. It is likewise with with cattle, goats, horses, and swine. Some philosophers believe life naturally takes to a particular set of forms. Others insist this is evidence the world itself grew from a seed planted in an entirely different plane of existence.
 Distinctive methods of shaping new life arose successively through the ages. Ancient dragons altered themselves and various wild beasts to suit their needs. These efforts focused on accomplishing practical goals. The Archfey developed more artistically expressive techniques. Early projects completed by the Imperium Arcanum produced graceful forms characterized by intricate beauty. Many centuries of war drove that regime toward a brutal aesthetic. Turbulent struggles between dark and light factions had many unintended consequences. Though the light fey created metallic dragons, the resources to continue those experiments were lost long ago. That tragedy also drove fomorians and firbolgs apart. Once kindred spirits engaged in similar work, they became mutual enemies when only the latter escaped cruel magical mutations.
“All great designs were once unlikely ideas.”

— Lindrew, Imperium Arcanum Prime Overseer
 The Age of Heroes saw new forms of life proliferating as gods manipulated mortals, empowering chosen emissaries and inspiring creative outliers. The greatest curses could transform entire cities through a single ritual. Some religions existed only for the purpose of protecting the population of a fledgling species. Wizards pushing at the boundaries of arcane power attempted all manner of experiments, from infusing creatures with elemental energy to literally grafting unrelated animals together. This form of magical research raises a variety of controversies in most societies. Beings capable of creating an original form of life are not to be challenged by minor authorities. While some are esteemed scholars, others operate secret facilities or remote strongholds to avoid public scrutiny.
SHANG-TI: “The remaining heavenly legions will stand down immediately. Evermore it is their duty to secure and increase the connections binding our worshippers to us. The multitudes of angels are now privileged witnesses of the prayers we collect and privileged bearers of the miracles we bestow. Through their adoring eyes each of us will clearly see the wonders of faith. Through their pure hearts each of us will wholly partake of the rewards we have earned.”

— Minutes of the Wŭshén
 ANGELS Reliable champions of charity, honesty, and justice; these celestial beings are bound to service in the bureaucracy of the Immaculate System. Most are engaged in operation and upkeep of spiritual channels. Angels gloriously bask in raw divine power while facilitating routine clerical magic. They instantly notify superiors of particularly important prayers. Any earthly encounter with these beings is a sign of cosmic turmoil. Some angels become twisted renegades after centuries of enabling holy evil. Loyal agents of the gods walk the land to hunt these strays along with any threats to the system itself. Lesser angels may disguise themselves to conduct investigations. Senior angels intervene quickly and decisively whenever possible. Each is capable of tremendous destruction in service to the greater good.
 BASILISKS The lairs of these scaly monsters are often littered with fragments of broken statues. Popular myth holds that the mere sight of a basilisk will turn a person to stone. This is only true if the gaze of the creature is held while its jagged crest is upraised. Petrification is an act of purposeful aggression for basilisks. Extremely daring and patient wranglers have been known to raise these excitable killers from hatchlings. With the mind of a simple beast, even a well-behaved basilisk can become a menace. They often struggle to make distinctions between unfamiliar guests and intruders. Mirrors are particularly problematic, as these creatures may regard their own reflections as rivals. Basilisks require little food. Those without victims to slowly consume need only petrify something the size of a pony or a boar several times per year.
“If we do not live in harmony with the land, then we die in harmony with the land.”

— Moya Reese, Innermost Circle heirophant
 CATOBLEPONES Many aristocrats believe the worst consequence to fear from pollution is a new wasteland where nothing will grow or pay taxes. This is not so. Both agricultural runoff and urban sewers can produce toxic marshes that become breeding grounds for creatures twisted from lives spent drinking befouled water and eating rotten things. Among the most feared of these unfortunate monstrosities is the catoblepas. Large grazing beasts with boar-like heads that always seem to droop from serpentine necks, catoblepones are cursed with keen smell in habitats where almost every odor is harsh. Even the creatures themselves exude repugnant fumes. Misery and decay so permeates their nature that people have been observed spontaneously decomposing during close encounters with a catoblepas.
Socialized Monsters Every large city contains a large number of monsters. Dangerous predators such as dopplegangers, lycanthropes, rakshasa, and vampires hide behind false identities, often with support from otherwise ordinary people. Most large cities are home to persistent struggles between criminal organizations and other secret societies. Important figures in the covert clashes of these factions may also be human-appearing monsters leading public lives. Powerful leaders often enforce strict rules limiting bloodshed so that official backlash remains a manageable problem – never pointing investigators toward senior leadership.
 Yet not all citydwelling monsters make a secret of their status. Even a powerful monstrosity may be welcome so long as efforts are made to minimize public disruption and unrest. Many dragons are comfortable assuming human or dragonborn forms. Some societies welcome centaurs, genies, giants, unicorns, and/or exotic fey into their ranks. Dutiful monsters like gargoyles, golems, nagas, and sphinxes may be regarded as support staff for a respected organization. The legal status of sentient plants and awakened beasts is an area of uncertainty in many realms. There are Sylvanian regimes quick to offer these creatures every opportunity available to human citizens.
 CENTAURS The first centaurs were gifts from the Olympians to armies practicing their religions. In each case a generation of reliable warriors sired a population of indulgent revellers. They would inevitably be cast out of the city-states their ancestors defended. Wild centaurs adopted a tribal lifestyle, yet they continued to practice sophisticated fighting techniques and develop advanced dweomers. Ordinary adult centaurs can outclass mounted soldiers. The most accomplished centaurs hold their own in battles between superheroes and supervillains. A few centaurs may be accepted in some cities, though costly accommodations are required. They idealize open country with plenty of space to run and plenty of wine to drink. Simultaneously wise and impulsive, these beings often worship Dionysus or practice the Old Faith.
 CHIMERAE Fusing different forms of life together was not a common experiment during the Age of Dragons. Every subsequent era has seen many spellcasters explore this practice. The classic result of these efforts blends parts of a dragon, a goat, and a lion to produce a chimera. As troubled and violent as these three-headed monstrosities are, enough exist to constitute multiple breeding populations. At fabulous expense, agents from the underground empire of dark elves may furnish one of these relentlessly aggressive creatures. Just the sight of a chimera causes most thieves to turn back from a treasure vault. Variations ranging from a basilisk-cobra-jackal combination to an aquatic alligator-shark-squid trio have been catalogued, though it is believed these fused creatures are not able to reproduce.
 COCKATRICES An expression of both whimsy and horror, dark fey archmagi created these monstrosities resembling little dragons with the heads of roosters. Launching into a frantic assault against even the largest threats, a cocktrice knows only to attack until it has struck every potential enemy in motion. The wounds from its bites are rarely fatal, but each carries with it a blight that might temporarily petrify just about any victim. Some ancient elven dragon hunters deployed waves of cockatrices, rendering their targets helpless before personally completing their missions. Almost no one in modern times is willing to capture and sustain enough of these vicious creatures to revive that monster hunting tactic. Ironically, the cockatrice has become one of the most common menaces monster hunters are retained to slay.
“As the great god Hephaestus, Crafter of Many Devices, melted into the earth, he performed one final act of service to his king. The hand of the dying god outstretched toward a village of cyclopes already trained in the ways of the forge. Masters among them could keep Zeus well-armed with bolts of divine power. In celebration, the God of the Heavenly Throne ordained cyclopean disciples, sending them to spread enlightenment among all their kind.”

Scrolls of the Aegis Church, NMG version
 COUATL An entire pantheon of Dead Gods employed these winged serpents as minions. They were so abundant that couatls carried on raising new broods and finding new purposes after the last of their divine masters departed this world. Modern people may assume they are deadly monsters, so these heavenly beings often enter and depart communities in the form of a bird or a human. Their auras are unmistakably holy, but the absence of any connection to the Fivesquare Pantheon makes couatls a disturbing presence that can fill clerics with unease. Leaders able to achieve mutual trust with these compulsively honest entities find them useful allies. Couatl excel at gathering information and abducting persons. Some specialize in internal investigations – operating independently to uncover corruption within an organization.
 CYCLOPES Worshippers of Zeus often regard these towering one-eyed beings as sacred. Their ancestors fought valiantly, enduring heavy losses, so that the God of the Heavenly Throne could defeat a challenge to his authority. In banishing titans from this world, Zeus gained so much power that he was able to gift these simple brutes with great cunning and charm. Modern cyclopes still have difficulty aiming at distant targets, but that does not prevent them from hurling deadly bolts of lightning or shaking the ground with waves of deafening thunder. Some are gifted artisans capable of weaving powerful magic into equipment of almost any size. Most live in communities of no more than a few dozen, sustained by herding giant animals. Making a cyclopean enemy was the final mistake of many heroes and at least a few kings.
Monster Cults Especially powerful monsters are often surrounded by lesser allied creatures. These minions handle menial tasks and generate an alert when trespassers are afoot. Such arrangements may be as simple as a pack of scavengers subsisting on the scraps left from the feasts of a major predator. At the other extreme, legendary monsters sometimes find their lairs surrounded by a compex community of fanatical followers. Where intelligence and tool use or magic converge, these communities may become fortified strongholds. Some even collect tributes from nearby farms and villages.
 Sentient patrons may be able to bestow special training or equipment on their supporters. Contractual magic is especially easy to empower where routine rituals renew pacts through personal communion. Yet any form of magic can be taught or inspired by the right entities. From alien music to traditional wizardry, any awestruck proves unusually quick to learn spells closely associated with the being they revere. If this reverence becomes sufficiently intense, it rises to the level of religious worship. Such cults bring even greater power to the monster at their heart, but civilized authorities invariably see them as a threat that must be eradicated.
 DEMONS Demons are staunch individualists. It is in their nature to break rules and challenge authorities. Relationships between demons and mortals often begin with some form of temptation. Coveted rewards will be placed just beyond the bounds of propriety, with each new offering breaking another taboo. Demons spread corruption for its own sake. They are indulgent and wasteful by nature. Some channel unholy power for the sheer joy of violating the Immaculate System. Most favor personal relationships with any witches and warlocks they empower. Though demons may rise up and do battle directly, physical death forces them to endure decades or centuries of planar exile. Selfish to the last, they will rarely accept that fate when trickery or escape remain viable options.
 DEVILS Many religious leaders share a constant concern about devil worship. Covens dedicated to these unholy entities sometimes give rise to coordinated ritual activity intent on bringing the Immaculate System to an end. Witches and warlocks can cultivate considerable power with minimal bargaining if they are deeply versed in diabolic arcana. The result is an impersonal pact that nonetheless serves a devil's interest by developing unholy channels. Practitioners tend to find one another and form associations for purposes of sharing magical lore. When these gatherings reach a critical mass of mortal support, an apocalyptic conspiracy begins to unfold. Devils taking direct action in this world often do so as part of a large group. Leaders will sacrifice hordes of minions to avoid personal defeat and hellish exile.
 DINOSAURS Most dragons feel contempt for these primitive lizards despite their shared ancestry. Dinosaurs were nearly exterminated throughout the Orient and Mainland even before elves were created. Though abundant in the Veiled Lands, other remaining dinosaur populations are limited to remote stretches of primevil wilderness. Their most powerful predators deliver the slashes and bites of a great dragon. Yet even placid behemoths can destroy small structures simply by passing through the area. Many druids undertake risky expeditions to study these particularly powerful animals. Menageries featuring dinosaurs are prohibitively costly to establish and maintain while being almost impossible to secure. Nevertheless, the modern era has seen a series of plutocrats ruined by precisely this undertaking.
Spellcasting Monsters Any intelligent being possessing free will, a clear speaking voice, and the capacity for purposeful gesticulation is a potential spellcaster. Nearly all colleges, monasteries, and temples ban the spread of arcane knowledge beyond the adventuring races. This is no problem for monsters with the ability take human form, access to a trove of ancient lore, the support of a renegade mentor, intrinsic magical energy, or a connection to a greater power. Every class of spellcaster has been documented among exceptional individuals who are clearly not humanoid.
 Monstrous magic is typically limited to a repertoire of innate abilities. Still, it is never safe to assume formidable foes have failed to grow beyond the basic powers possessed by all adults of their kind. Gifted individuals from the non-adventuring races may dedicate themselves to cultivating and flaunting spellcasting ability. Similar behavior had a part in raising the legal status of goblinoids, kobolds, minotaurs, and orcs throughout many lands. Naturally brilliant monsters like dragons, genies, rakshasas, and sphinxes have less difficulty attaining the highest levels of magical power than human spellcasters. Even legendary sorcerers and wizards sometimes learn from these creatures so profoundly steeped in the arcane.
 DOPPLEGANGERS Also known as changelings, these nefarious creatures have a natural ability to take on the precise physical appearance of other people. With loyalty to no one but their own kind, dopplegangers can rarely be trusted to use their abilities as spies. Yet they often infiltrate organizations, uncovering information needed to plan a major theft before abandoning a set of false identities. Most move between phases of larceny and self-indulgence, living the good life on stolen coin until it runs out. Yet some are even more destructive, ruining relationships and orchestrating murders for their own amusement. Worshippers of Loki sometimes revere dopplegangers, though these shapeshifters themselves are not known for acts of reverence.
 DRAGONS The Imperium Arcanum hunted dragons to the brink of extinction. Then a civil war saw one faction bring metallic dragons into the world. Modern dragons take many forms, comfortably altering their own features from molt to molt. Ordinary dragons are largely out of touch with the arcane environment, breathing and moving as their ancestors did, yet casting no spells. Some of dragonkind continues the most ancient magical traditions. In addition to these potent forms of sorcery and wizardry, some reverent dragons practice spiritual magic. The intellect of dragons is widely respected, and well-mannered individuals may be awarded lofty positions within human aristocracies. Yet civilian authorities generally discourage awe-inspiring displays of a dragon's natural body.
 DRAKES Dragons and elves belittled each other savagely across tens of thousands of years. Verbal efforts sometimes escalated into the realm of the metaphysical. The curses of dragons gave rise to many sorts of atomies and feral fey. Reciprocation was less impressive, since downsized dragons often remained intimidating monsters. Nonetheless, those efforts took place often enough to leave many varieties of drake walking the land today. Though technically dragons, these wingless creatures lack any great spark of magic or intellect. Drakes socialize and fight more like wolves. They form packs in the wild, using teamwork to hunt larger prey. If raised from a hatchling, a drake will imprint on any handler known to provide regular supplies of fresh meat, becoming a vigilant and loyal protector.
“There is no safe amount of wild magic, only greater risks and lesser risks.”

— Risalee, Imperium Arcanum dissident
 FOMORIANS Originally working together on Imperium Arcanum projects to develop new forms of life, firbolgs and fomorians are now bitter enemies. Acts of sabotage exposed both giant races to huge doses of wild magic. While firbolgs gained control over their forms enough to blend in with ordinary folk, fomorians had a tragic reaction. Their bodies grew larger in crippling and unsightly ways. This condition spread to kin with no direct exposure to wild magic. Some sky castles were brought down by fomorian mutinies. Modern fomorians almost never develop the grace and wit of their ancient ancestors. Instead they seethe with resentment at their plight, angrily spreading their kind's affliction to others. Civilized peoples see fomorians as a scourge, yet fomorian tribes persist even today in remote caverns or wilderness areas.
“Your prayers should not be requests so much as questions. 'How will I know the righteous path?' and 'What do you desire of me?' are appropriate things to say to a god. Their blessings will only provide for worthy supplicants. Deities are not royal genies patiently waiting to fulfill wishes.”

— Horatio the Red, Jovian Bureau Pontifex
 GARGANTUA When some giant animals surpass a critical threshold of dietary success, they begin to change in ways observers find downright terrifying. In addition to achieving enormous proportions, most develop entirely new anatomical features. These gargantua are highly resistant to magic. They also ignore many sorts of attacks. Even for experts aware of how to harm these titanic beasts, victory is never an easy or simple matter. In spite of their size, most gargantua move with extreme grace and speed. Many quickly recover from all but the most severe injuries. All are easily able to swallow a person whole. Authorities rarely prioritize anything above efforts to divert wandering gargantua away from cities they might otherwise devastate. The mere sight of one on the horizon completely disrupts normal business.
 GENIES Genies were intensely polarizing figures throughout the Age of Heroes. Some served unpopular rulers, trading decades of personal indulgence for assurances of a secure reign. Others advanced noble causes, granting guidance and useful boons to adventurers struggling for the benefit of others. These incredibly rare and mighty elementals have gone on to sire many lesser beings in their own images. Each still has considerable innate magic, but few ever grow to command spells at the ninth level of power. Individuals with that gift may continue to make themselves indispensable allies of powerful leaders or wealthy merchants. The rest make their way much as human spellcasters might – practicing a peaceful trade or serving as an extraordinary military asset.
Giant Animals Vital energy accumulates in locations with many plants and animals yet little spellcasting. Where it becomes especially thick, this energy permeates local life forms, promoting health and growth. Sometimes especially voracious individuals will accumulate so much magic within their own bodies that it permanently enlarges them. There are also giant animals made so, or descended from those made so, by the efforts of powerful spellcasters. Some of these beasts are harmless curiosities mainly notable for their ecological impact. Others are savage predators or territorial defenders quick to lash out with deadly force.
 Civilized authorities work to keep most giant animals far from developed areas. Exhibitors and adventurers can be held responsible for damages caused by beasts in their entourages. Constables may demand payment for permission or official license to bring dangerous animals into their jurisdiction. Sufficiently intimidating creatures will be forbidden altogether, in light of inevitable disruptions caused by their appearance. For the most formidable hunters and herders these massive creatures sometimes provide valuable resources. Beyond the obvious dangers involved, the care and feeding of giant animals poses bigger versions of the problems ordinary wranglers face.
 GIANTS No amount of eating seems to transform a normal person into a giant. Even so, many varieties of giant exist, and their origins are diverse. The Age of Dragons saw some giants created to test the combat skills of young wyrms. This practice ended soon after the first renegades broke loose. The Archfey recognized this threat and created various sorts of giants to aid in their war with dragonkind. By the Age of Heroes, populations of giants had spread to many lands. Though some are simple brutes, others are learned beings with civilized values. Their destructive potential makes giants unwelcome around human population centers. Even so, some giant villages or strongholds are loyal to human regimes. Independent giants have been known to offer their services as mercenaries. Yet most of these enormous men and women are averse to the company of ordinary people.
 GRIFFONS This fusion of lion and eagle is associated with some of the earliest human leaders. The most ancient Serpian and Thracian histories tell of treasures being stored under griffon rookeries and heroes taming griffons for use as steeds. Success in these efforts results in an aerial mount almost as swift and graceful as a pegasus. Sivales sees so many trained griffon riders that most cities there maintain a quadrant free of horses to avoid problematic encounters. Hungry griffons can be distracted by the smell of horseflesh, and wild griffons are a menace to horse breeders. Highly effective units of griffon air cavalry can fall into disarray when engaging conventional ground cavalry. Many griffon riders prefer to act alone, offering their services as scouts and couriers.
 HAGS When witches manage to cheat death, they often strike bargains that turn them into hags. The deal not only withers their bodies into hideous forms, but it also twists their spirits. Hags cannot help but despise all mortals, and their auras are unmistakably unholy. Most can disguise themselves with illusions, and some are able to assume more pleasing forms on a temporary basis. Though now ageless and unable to starve or drown, hags are driven to advance the goals of fiendish masters. Some spread strife by corrupting religious leaders or distributing occult lore. Others favor isolation, quick to lash out at anyone who wanders too close. Where their numbers are sufficient, hags may gather in covens to better serve their unholy patrons and empower one another as spellcasters. Rarely, hags have been known to mentor mortal witches.
Air Travel Some superheroes and supervillains fly long distances as comfortably as a soldier marches. Many druids find the swiftest journey between two places involves assuming the form of a bird. Air power is a tremendous source of pride for governments able to maintain it. Large armies may breed aerial mounts at dedicated compounds staffed by esteemed experts. Such steeds are also status symbols among adventurous aristocrats. Even small governments often employ a few scouts and couriers capable of swift flight.
 Travelling close to the horizon limits visibility, yet it is the safest option for many. Soaring high into the sky reveals conditions across a vast area while also drawing attention from many eyes. The best search techniques require winding routes well above any skyline or canopy. Dragons, rocs, sphinxes, and military air patrols routinely investigate unidentified flying creatures. Their territorial sensibilities are not limited to the ground. Whether skimming treetops or cloudtops, air travel allows for direct transits. Only extreme weather events and hostile flyers create any need to divert from a straight flight at best available speed.
 After landing it is another matter. Extraordinary mounts often require extraordinary support. Most winged creatures need extensive feedings to recover from long days spent aloft. Specialized training is required to fight effectively astride a flying steed. Intelligent mounts often demand their riders share a particular moral outlook or provide costly comforts. Even simpleminded steeds can become problematic when subjected to abuse or neglect. Anyone who takes to the sky by virtue of another creature's power of flight is engaged in an act of profound trust. Soldiers in some air cavalries are issued minor magical items to facilitate safe falls from great heights. The rest face certain death if unseated at high altitude.
 HARPIES The Olympians first dispatched harpies to steal valuables from cities doing too little to support places of worship. Other deities also found these angry bird-women a useful way to motivate reliable tithing. Treasure hoarded at remote harpy lairs lures many to their doom, as does the beguiling magic of these cruel winged creatures. Harpies employ their calls to gather loot, attract mates, and disable prey. Though they can sustain themselves on almost any meat, mature harpies almost always crave human flesh. They experience ecstasy in escalations from trickery to savagery. Some have learned to make use of magic items in their possession. Despised by most other creatures, harpies socialize in flocks that share duties like child care and lair defense. Most range over considerable territory in search of suitable victims.
 HIPPOGRIFFS Magically fusing an eagle with a horse resulted in flying mounts not much more difficult to train and maintain than ordinary warhorses. Many dignitaries are reluctant to take a hippogriff aloft because these creatures are also no more resilient than an ordinary warhorse. Snipers and war wizards often target hippogriffs over the battlefield. The sight of an enemy plunging to the ground is usually good for morale. Though they prefer a varied diet including some fresh meat, hippogriffs can be kept in good health by supplementing common livestock feed with berries, nuts, and roots. If properly trained they respond to any competent riders, making these mounts ideal for transitioning from travel on the hoof to travel on the wing.
 HYDRAE Perhaps the only hunger to surpass that of dinosaurs and dragons is the cravings of hydrae. These dangerous mutants have been transformed by wild magic in a process similar to the creation of trolls. Yet every hydra is empowered by an accident of chance rather than a criminal penalty. These creatures grow huge through a cycle of wounding and surplus recovery. When decapitated, which typically happens several times before a hydra reaches full size, two functional heads and necks replace the lost anatomy. Additional heads may grow even after the body of the hydra no longer does. Such monsters can devour entire herds or villages if allowed to roam near human settlements. Often they favor wetlands where swiming and hiding come naturally to these massive predators.
 LAMIAS The Age of Heroes saw scores of these serpentine seductresses charged with imparting humility to excessively boastful kings. Each doomed monarch would find himself unable to defy a new mistress. He would neglect matters of state to lavish treasures upon her. As his realm crumbled about him, the fallen king would watch his beloved lamia ensnare new servants to provide for her. At the end of their usefulness, victims meet their fate as meals slowly savored by these avaricious monsters. With ruined castles as their natural lairs, lamia offspring either seek out such a place to make their own or infiltrate a royal court in an effort to spread ruin. Over time they fortify their lairs with arrays of mesmerized defenders, deadly traps, and cunning illusions. Many poets on both continents have lamented the temptations of lamias.
“Even though most who feel it perish within a year, it might be worth the risk to know the touch of a lamia.”

— Solon Spiros, Stygian Archivist restorer
 LEUCROTTAS Seasoned combat veterans recognize a congregation of these foul-smelling predators as a sign battle is imminent. Keeping to the fringes of human populations, leucrottas prey upon wounded individuals then mimic pained outcries to ambush aspiring rescuers. Often appearing weak and harmless at first glance, these contemptible creatures can be quick to lash out with a flurry of violence. Leucrottas are particularly probematic for highway patrols. Their tracks are almost indistinguishable from common game animals. Even when engaged, they are adept at bursting free and escaping into wilderness. They will do so when faced with formidable opposition. Leucrottas regard weaker opponents as prey, perhaps even calling out for reinforcements from the pack before rushing in for a taste of fresh meat.
The Undead All clerics and paladins can bring spiritual power to bear against undead creatures. Holy water also works as a weapon against them. Yet necromancy is not condemned by the Immaculate System. Most universities include the academic study of animating corpses alongside other bodies of arcane and religious lore. Even so, skeletal guards and zombie servants are never welcome on city streets. Communities with religious police will see them quickly dispatching these creatures. Elsewhere, ordinary constables or mob violence address related reports.
 Necromancers sometimes use long hooded cloaks or heavy furs to disguise undead in their entourage. Even so, Remnant Wranglers often work by night to minimize encounters with excitable civilians. Even undead not put to work in sewers will tend to emit foul smells. Though flowers and perfumes can miminize the discomfort to bystanders, the stench of death is almost never welcome. Ghosts, poltergeists, and specters avoid this by lurking as invisible odorless spirits. Their hauntings are not rare in older cities. Fortunately, they are normally limited to a single structure, killing ground, or grave site.
 The true scourge of undead hunters are intelligent, often ingenious, creatures able to maintain personal followings. Vampires have infiltrated many aristocracies. Ennoblement ceremonies often involve priests precisely because of the dangers posed by these charming bloodsuckers. Aura Editors may enable vampires to pass magical scrutiny. The same cannot be said for liches, whose powerful spells are seldom up to the task of concealing their extensive decay. Often based at a stronghold far from any major city, liches rely heavily on minions. While most serve out of fear or magical compulsion, some evil wizards see liches as esteemed mentors.
 Large accumulations of corpses always pose some risk of undead activity. Ancient tombs of the Old Kingdom were stocked with mummified warriors sworn to defend their royal charge throughout eternity. Even the simplest burial mounds may feature ghostly tribal warriors drifting out to challenge potential looters. Neglected battlefields and disaster areas attract spellcasters in need of corpses to practice techniques of reanimation. Some create plagues of hostile undead simply to spread misery on behalf of a Divine Villain or unholy patron. Most civilized people believe the undead are tormented souls, able to receive no greater kindness than the eternal rest of a proper death.
 LYCANTHROPES These volatile shapeshifters bear a communicable curse. Whenever the Moon is at its fullest, they spend the night transformed into savage creatures. They gain new powers while becoming powerless to resist their own urges to hunt, kill, and devour. The most ethical literally restrain themselves in anticipation of these urges or harness them in battles against worthy villains. Few leave their victims alive, especially since a wounded survivor may acquire the same curse. Yet lycanthropy can also be a blessing. It bestows durability, and seasoned lycanthropes learn how to transform without provocation from the Moon. Various holy orders and secret societies exist to support lycanthropes both in ordinary public life and as supernatural predators. Other specialists hunt these deadly shapeshifters, sometimes on behalf of ruling authorities.
 MANTICORES The final stages of the Imperium Arcanum saw artistic refinement give way to raw savagery. The manticore is an embodiment of this aesthetic. They were created to quickly eliminate exposed labor pools, forcing dragons to find their own food. Striking in a small swarms, manticores can annihilate a lightly defended village or caravan. These aggressive creatures thrive in wilderness environments, being natural hunters. Yet manticores are most at home supporting armies or warbands. They are too vicious and undisciplined for regular forces, but these creatures collaborate well with orcs and goblinoids. Favoring a diet of fresh dwarves, elves, humans, and halflings over any alternatives; manticores are only employed by extremely cruel masters. Yet when well-fed, they make inquisitive guards and scouts or devastating shock troops.
 MERROW Mannanan Mac Lir assumed control of territory in turmoil when he wrested the seas from rival deities. Unholy mysteries were bubbling up from chasms in the sea floor. Dark waters made it all too easy for covens and cults to operate just outside thriving cities. The Imperium Maris formed quickly so that triton authorities could purge all aquatic communities of unholy conspiracies. Those merfolk who were most severely corrupted became unsightly outcasts in search of a new society. Now most often encountered in coastal waters of the Lesser Ocean, these merrow have been known to raid ships and small ports. Unlike merfolk with freewill, merrow seem compelled to pursue theft over trade and violence over negotiation. Some tritons feel dutybound to hunt and exterminate any merrow colonies they encounter in their travels.
 NAGAS A society of ancient human spellcasters grew fabulously wealthy by selling a service that could bind one of these ageless spirits to a location. Many great adventurers during the Age of Heroes maintained secret treasuries secured by one or more nagas. Manifesting as serpentine bodies with human faces, their venemous bites are a last resort. Most employ magic to deal with trespassers. They are also comfortable communicating, either to engage in reasonable dialog or to intimidate. Some temples employ nagas to secure their inner sanctuaries, relic vaults, or secret archives. Most of these beings have long outlived their original masters. Presiding over forgotten hoards or abandoned ruins, they may be hostile to all outsiders. A common yet cruel grift involves selling “treasure maps” that lead to a site guarded by aggressive nagas.
 NIGHTMARES Traumatizing dreams of being trampled by a great unholy horse are a recurring theme in withcraft accusations. Victims awake struggling for breath with clear memories of a fiendish equine bearing down on their chests. These creatures are not only real, but they are coveted aerial mounts exclusively loyal to the worst sort of villains. Some unholy powers grant nightmares as boons rewarding exemplary service. Beyond flight, they can breach the boundaries between planes. No terrain or structure blocks this form of travel. Nightmares pose tremendous security risks because they can penetrate any sanctum lacking strong magical protection. Yet riding a nightmare is always a risk. Both steed and rider may be summoned without notice and tasked with service to a profoundly evil patron.
“You think it is a crime to teach an ogre magic? I assure you teaching them to sing is much worse.”

— Orrin Dustwater, halfling jester
 OGRES The standard penalty for murdering another elf in the Imperium Arcanum involved becoming an ogre. Many great wizards wept as they felt their minds melting away and their muscles surging to grotesque proportions. Captive ogres were bred in large numbers, producing shock troops to assist in attacks against dragon lairs. Both then and today, ogres could be manipulated by cunning handlers able to serve up copious supplies of fresh meat. Across every dominion, wandering ogres were a common menace throughout the Age of Heroes. Some work with brutal warbands, though even orcs are unsettled by the casual violence and explosive fury of ogres. Most cities refuse entry to ogres, and few institutions would attempt to train them. Today they live as loners or members of small tribes, often possessed by a rage they do not understand.
Constructs Animating elaborately crafted objects requires either magical or mechanical lore. Many constructs see arcana and science blended together to make the most of all relevant knowledge. Yet magic remains the most effective and reliable source of power. Some constructs eventually fail when enchanted crystals or vital fluids become depleted. Others are built to renew their own energies from ambient sources. Constructs may also be powered by springs, air pressure, or steam. Yet these purely mechanical automata rarely have much strength or range.
 Tribes working with stone tools have been known to produce juggernauts travelling on deadly rollers. Makers with ample resources typically opt for quality materials and flawless fabrication. The most sophisticated mechanical constructs can fight with spring-loaded harpoons, slash with whirling sawblades, climb with spider-like limbs, or deploy a devastating array of alchemical preparations. Some clockwork wonders were designed to demonstrate techniques of combat or serve as sparring partners for formidable warriors. Damaging and destroying constructs is widely regarded as an ethical alternative to using people in similar exercises.
 Clockwork technology emerged from efforts to maintain the arcane constructs of a fallen magocracy. Some spellcasters still eschew these mechanical innovations. Secret collections at the most prestigious libraries may contain entire books on the subject of crafting golems. Great wizards often utilize these constructs as both servants and bodyguards. Golems are a popular, if costly, alternative to conventional hirelings. Extremely powerful spellcasters may take to animating entire arsenals of armor and weapons, if not also nearby rugs and tapestries. Archaeologists often encounter ancient constructs or their remains. When modern experiments cause combative constructs to run amok, they create an urgent need for heroic action.
 PEGASI A traditional sign of favor from Zeus, these heavenly winged horses have become wildly popular with elites from several societies. Today the most accomplished spiritual spellcasters of any faith may pray for the appearance of such a steed. Others must depend on incredibly costly breeding and training programs. No pegasus tolerates abuse. Preventing escapes requires a team of fun-loving and generous experts working with an endless flow of valuable supplies. Herds will only grow when they are confident their offspring will live a good life. Pegasi will only accept riders when approached with respect. When that respect is mutual, the result is a mount as swift as a racehorse yet more rugged than any warhorse. Of course, even more remarkable are their long distance flight and graceful aerobatic abilities.
 PERYTONS These voracious fusions of deer and eagle were created to make wildlands unsafe for refugees from the Imperium Arcanum. Their proliferation did little to preserve the failing regime, but it added a predator with a hunger for humanoids to the skies over many lands. Perytons combine swift attacks with an innate resilience that minimizes susceptiblity to conventional weapons. Quick to savagely kill any fallen foes, perytons often become terrifyingly gory in the midst of battle. Any known to roost near a populated area will soon generate a bounty for monster hunters. Magic is essential to dispatching a peryton with ease. Though their fanged teeth are the only features distinguishing their heads from those of ordinary stags, many peryton trophies are mounted on walls as evidence of hunting prowess.
 RAKSHASAS The Ravanese Empire was firmly established even before the Elatolian Hegemony. Perhaps that is because immortal spirits with advanced mind control powers served as its aristocracy. Early rakshasa families practiced a tyranny similar to that of dragons – abruptly devouring subjects responsible for displeasure. Ravenese customs evolved into the modern form of slavery after their culture produced respectable cities and a robust intercontinental trade network. Only through mystical warfare was the first Maharaja of Xe-Shan able to expel Ravan from the world and drive his cruel followers into hiding. Today some rakshasas operate secret strongholds funded by illegal slave trafficking. Others hide in plain sight, adopting new human identities every few decades.
 ROCS True gargantua are too massive to fly. The largest birds in the world cannot smash a small fortress with a single footstep nor swallow an adult human whole. Yet rocs remain enormous creatures able to seize and haul giants aloft. Their titanically powerful talons and beak quickly slice most victims to pieces. Rocs have excellent vision even for birds of prey. Thus they often roost on mountain summits where few others can reach and much more can be seen. Giant animals are their preferred prey. Rocs have also been known to strike at wooden ships, merchant caravans, and armored patrols. Some communities form symbiosis with a local roc by regularly staking out offerings from their own herds. This practice spares villagers and their remaining livestock, but it does not convert these enormous avians into dependable defenders.
“As serene as it seems, the smile of the sphinx is often a warning.”

— Kiana Parihep, Dunewalker elder
 SPHINXES These fierce yet sagacious beings were created by the Imperium Arcanum to guard great monuments constructed in the Thirsty Quarter. After the regime of the Archfey collapsed, some sphinxes remained at their posts. Others roamed the world in search of encounters with the wisest and most learned people. Sphinxes tend to be territorial. Within what they consider to be their territory, unwelcome intruders may be met with deadly aggression. Fortunately, these cunning creatures are curious and playful by nature. They are fond of posing riddles and engaging strangers in mind games. Sphinxes may be persuaded to grant safe passage if their respect can be earned on an intellectual level. Most have accumulated a profound understanding of magic in the millennia they have lived.
“I will coordinate our attacks with the plans and signals of your generals. None of us will carry your banner. We are here to safeguard the forest against dangerous invaders. That is the beginning and the end of politics among my kind. Even this support we grant only because your foresters and hunters have always conducted themselves with due reverence. May the blessings of Nature yet preserve us all.”

— Tower-of-Redheart, treant elder
 TREANTS Silvanus has not walked the land in many centuries. Still, his efforts to preserve and enrich its forests continue today. His priests and worshippers embrace a holy purpose to promote thriving wilderness. Large forests in all lands are normally home to a small community of sagacious animated trees including some as old as the surrounding woods. These treants do not normally engage in acts of worship despite knowing much lore from the Old Faith. Outliers are likely to be relatively young individuals favoring Apollo or Ra depending on how they prefer to take the Sun. All treants share the ability to temporarily awaken the trees around them. When their peaceful ways turn to wrath, even stone forts cannot resist long. Treants do not value wealth enough to engage in mercenary work. Yet they will ally with armed forces acting against a threat to viable woodlands.
 TROGLODYTES A pervasive threat throughout the Dwarfdeep, these filthy savages barely have enough brainpower to be malicious. Yet they seem uniformly so, with no credible accounts of a civilized troglodyte. The very concept seems a contradiction. Their ambush attacks are often anticipated because any area where they linger in a group is sure to reek. Troglodytes do not hesitate to kill simply to acquire meat. Yet there is much modern equipment they can use. Looted weapons and armor typically distinguish leaders of their primitive social groups. Troglodytes have been known to raid human villages, but they never settle above ground since the light of day causes them to suffer. Dwarves must constantly guard their supply caverns and mining parties against the troglodyte menace.
“Sorcerers, concentrate your flames on the trolls. To them, blades are but a tickle and arrows a gentle rain.”

— Otto “Owleyes” Elba, Iskreshi bashar
 TROLLS The most vile criminals of the Imperium Arcanum were sentenced to become trolls. It would be their fate to rise from one bloody defeat after another until fire prevented their mutated bodies from growing back into shape. Descendants of the most bitter and wicked elven outlaws, modern trolls continue to be notoriously hateful. Some lash out savagely at any persons they happen to encounter. Others delight in sadistic games, using mockery and riddles to toy with vulnerable strangers. Exceptionally sociable trolls will seek out bridges or crossroads where they might menace and extort travellers. Though widely despised, trolls may also be seen as victims. Their ability to survive almost anything makes them valuable captives for use in the cruelest magical experiments.
“To ride a pegasus, griffon, or wyvern is to know the freedom of being detached from the ground. Your enemies cannot follow you up, but you can chase them down. To ride a unicorn is another experience altogether – the freedom of being detached from position itself. As a pair you can advance or retreat over tenfold the range of a longbow in an instant. Unicorns do not fly. What they do is better than flying.”

— Galadon Bluefern, wood elf knight
 UNICORNS The Archfey assigned these graceful steeds to proven leaders in their totalitarian magocracy. Unicorns enabled overseers and archmagi to survive unplanned dragon encounters. Yet these one-horned horses also served independently as lancers. Entire armies of unicorns fought with distinction until being wiped out in the first Wyrmplague. Populations have yet to recover, perhaps because only the most elusive unicorns survived that event. Even today wild unicorns tend to vanish promptly on encountering people. This may have something to do with the tremendous prices alchemists and enchanters will pay for an actual unicorn horn. Only the most intrepid adventurers, pure of heart and confident in their own abilities, can hope to win the loyalty of these intelligent equines.
 WYVERNS Among the most cruel deeds of the Archfey were curses blighting vast swaths of land so that any dragon eggs therein would hatch malformed and feeble of mind. This attempt to weaken their ancient enemy produced stunted two-legged dragons with bellies that distill much of the energy from their diets into poison for a savage stinger. Though wyverns possess the voracious hunger of dragons, they have the minds of simple predators. Gold does not distract them the way large amounts of fresh meat will. Most wyverns hunt over clear flat or hilly country. Yet their keen senses make wyverns a threat even when forest or fog provides cover. Some of the boldest adventurers find ways to make personal steeds of these vicious dragon kin. Even if these efforts are effective, saddled wyverns are often quick to sting any unfamiliar rider.
“There is no king or emperor who does not kneel before yeti masters.”

— Robert Robertson, Discordian Supergenius
 YETIS Above the slopes goliaths comfortably tread, yetis seek a peaceful existence as herders of beasts adapted to the glacial environment. Where wind and snow are so common, tracks may not be evident even on ground that is heavily travelled. Thus mountaineers sometimes find their way into territory yeti consider their own. This prompts a fiercely defensive reaction that seems like raw animal aggression. Each tribe has its own rudimentary language full of growls and roars. Some of these tribes guard natural wonders or ancient treasures located at high altitudes. While yeti themselves do not engage in the practice, prudent climbers may secure colorful banners at the boundaries of yeti territory. Respectful offerings placed at the edges of these territories are the best way to attain good relations with a yeti tribe.


↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Monsters ↑  → Races ←  ↓ Bugbears ↓


Cambionsfiend & humanmedium
Firbolgsfey & giantmedium*
Half-Elvesfey & humanmedium
Half-Orcshuman & orcmedium
 * lifts and carries as a large creature
 Dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans were created by dragons not long after the latter arose from primitive beasts. Escaped thralls sometimes formed tribes in wilderness areas. Tyrants roaming the sky were quick to destroy any building that did not serve their purposes. The first truly independent communities sheltered in caves where stolen spell components were stockpiled. These resources enabled a conspiracy of elven archmagi to launch a campaign of violence against dragonkind. To fight in the war that followed, a myriad of new life forms would be created. Both the world's magical environment and its population of sentient beings diversified in tandem.
Non-adventuring Races Many millenia of magical experimentation seeded the world with all manner of intelligent life. Humanoids alone make suitable adventurers in part because nearly all of the world's structures are built for humanoid access and use. At least one pair of hands is also essential since any adventurer should be able to hold a weapon or throw a punch. A decent portion of every adventuring race is literate, easing the path toward effective spellcasting. Though twenty-four adventuring races have non-human thought processes, each of them has produced many thousands of individuals at least partially assimilated into human societies.
 Insurmountable problems place limits on the scope of adventuring activities for others. Ogres are unwelcome at most learning institutions because they have been known to personally devastate large wooden structures. Their reputation for murderous rampages is well-deserved. Orcs have a similar mindset, but their comparatively manageable tempers and normal stature shift the balance. Given a a civilized introduction or prior acts of local heroism, most orcs can address a crowd in a human city without prompting panic the way an ogre or a troll almost certainly would.
 Merfolk and sahuagin exist in sufficiently large numbers, but the Imperium Maris denies them access to many forms of training, and neither race has much history of assimilation into the surface world. Each is a potential adventuring race lacking a critical mass of opportunities and experiences that would give rise to heroic traditions. The world contains many other potential adventuring races. Immigrants from another plane of existence might also pursue this high-risk high-reward lifestyle. If the collective accomplishments of any race are historically significant and sufficiently diverse, a new heroic tradition could emerge.
 Even the elves were sundered, going their separate ways as determined by politics. With fewer and fewer dragons to hunt, debates prompted duels between quarreling leaders. Duels spawned feuds between mighty houses. Along with its tremendous death and destruction, the elven civil war would see the rise of additional intelligent life forms. Yet the Age of Heroes began with exactly seven races capable of contributing to the name of that era. Many others walked the land or inhabited the seas while only dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs, and humans were welcome in most civilized parts of the surface world. Save for humans, even these races experienced limited access to some important institutions.
 Restrictions loosened over time, and great heroes began to emerge from races not previously known to produce adventurers. Organizations and communities grew stronger by integrating individuals they did not previously accept. The world gradually became a more inclusive place. Large diverse cities thrived in ways that smaller or more uniform communities could not. At the same time many non-adventuring races were lost as they fell prey to disaster or simply failed to sustain themselves for lack of a secure places to live. Consolidation of the gods coincided with the extinction of some life forms and the proliferation of their rivals.
 In 2,318 G.C. there are twenty-five living races fit for the full range of adventuring opportunities. Each has its own gifts and shortcomings. Yet each has given rise to deadly warriors, sagacious experts, cunning renegades, and powerful spellcasters. The mere existence of superheroes and supervillains among each adventuring race gives them a special status in the world. Extremely formidable forces will thwart any effort to exterminate an entire adventuring race. Bigotry remains an effective tool by which the unscrupulous exploit the hatreds of the unwise, but modern calls for genocide go beyond foolishness into the realm of insanity.
 Even so, racial acceptance is not universal. In rural quarters and isolated towns, many humans grow to adulthood without having encountered a single individual from most of the modern adventuring races. This will not be the case for a child raised among the population of a great city. Any metropolitan area is probably home to at least one enclave of each adventuring race that is not more broadly assimilated into the local population. Exotic peoples sometimes coalesce into tiny subcultures focused on one particular institution or industry where their kind is known to excel. Racial minorities may forge alliances with local aristocrats. In exchange for displays of loyalty they may be awarded sponsorships to participate in guilds, holy orders, and military units. This support is crucial for eroding racial segregation where it exists. For organizations as large as an Imperial armed force or a global shipping line, cultural and political loyalties matter much more than racial identity.
Adventuring Races by Alignment Tendencies
Freewill Some gods can produce vast legions of heavenly minions eager to do anything for their creator. Even when perfect in form, their worship lacks any of the qualities deities find satisfying or empowering. Some consider it a sickness to encourage this practice so similar to self-adoration. Only the pairing of independent need with passionate devotion makes the substance of prayer pleasing to deities. The Immaculate System employs celestial beings to regulate these spiritual flows rather than originate them.
 To better generate input for this system, freedom of thought remains the norm for intelligent mortals in the modern world. Many notable people are outspoken advocates for their core beliefs. Serious transgressions against a moral code can deprive a cleric or paladin of spellcasting capability, but each remains free to make those choices at every juncture. Even non-spellcasters can weave threads of profound spirituality into their lives by drawing inspiration and guidance from a religion or philosophy. When mortals perform actions of great consequence aligned with a set of divine teachings, relevant deities experience an iota of bliss. This is much amplified when explicit reverence or prayer is connected with those deeds.
 All of the adventuring races possess freewill. Pursuits like delving for treasure or rescuing captives may demand bold moral choices. Legends are known for non-violent acts of heroism or villainy as well as triumphs in battle. Aristocrats often prefer associates who share their own goals and outlook on life. Some leaders have the shrewdness to exclude anyone else from their inner circle. Deities and their senior minions never mistake insincere prayers for real devotion. Earnest beliefs are an essential part of the magic they bestow upon clerics and paladins. Be it adaptations to life in new social circumstances or difficult choices made in out the field, actions of real consequence can bring change to the alignment of an individual.
 Racial alignments are not fixed values, but instead starting points derived from cultural and physiological predispositions. Some children are not raised according to the norms of their people. Some adults reject their own upbringing. Also, many accomplished adventurers survived profoundly transformative experiences. Despite all this change, racial stereotyping remains widespread in some communities. Others favor more progressive attitudes, regarding prejudgement based on race as a sign of poor character. In all lands, the wisest individuals understand that people of action are themselves defined by those actions while the underlying factors driving these tendencies are also real. Even the call of adventure expresses itself differently among different peoples.
 Roughly half of humankind to reach old age never enters any proper class of spellcaster or warrior. Most who do only develop low level skills through service to a faction or institution. Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings each have their own traditions that parallel the human idealization of economic bounty enjoyed within a tranquil community. Elven cultures feature an extended adolescence fraught with restrictions and tedium. These prompt an intense wanderlust in young adults, leaving most surviving elders with powerful abilities. Cambions, half-elves, half-orcs, tieflings, and typhonians mostly live as small populations within human societies. Few avoid entanglement in some sort of adventures during their lives. Other races tend to be more isolated. Any extensive social contact with humans is unusual. These circumstances often involve traditional training and/or treacherous travels leading into a career of adventure.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Peoples ↑  → Bugbears ←  ↓ Cambions ↓

Monstrous Appearance Bugbears, dragonborn, goblins, half-orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, lizardfolk, minotaurs, orcs, and tieflings cannot help presenting a visage fearsome to the sight of ordinary humans. Depending on the context of an encounter, strangers might regard members of these races as dangerous monsters. Many human parents are uncomfortable letting their children interact with any of these people.
 Popular beliefs hold that most of these beings are innately cruel and violent. Individuals must struggle to overcome negative preconceptions. Guards pay particular attention to people who stand out. Some merchants refuse to do business with sufficiently odd-looking customers. Fair treatment and basic courtesy are not the usual expectation of these persecuted minorities. Members of other races sometimes modify their own bodies in ways that provoke similar reactions.
Bugbears This race has such a history of making trouble in civilized lands that “bugbear” has become a term for “tenacious problem.” Though some form spontaneously in the Scarlands, most bugbears were born into tribes lurking near or within populated realms. Small isolated communities of bugbears tend to organize secret lairs and subsist quietly until their numbers reach a tipping point. These groups will avoid outside social contact. They even relocate in response to any systematic search of the area around their lairs.
 Yet when they become sufficiently large, these shy tribes abruptly transform into aggressive warbands. Both custom and instinct motivate belligerent bugbears to seek glory through battle. The most well-organized may become mercenary companies or seek integration into a regular army. More typically, a bugbear warband will plunder and slaughter opportunistically until enough losses are sustained that the group reverts to a reclusive tribe.
 Children of the Scarlands are primal monsters with mental faculties comparable to wild beasts. Their offspring are not blighted by that territory's curse. Free to choose their own path, some try to make lives for themselves among peaceful folks. Opportunities can be hard to find, since bugbears are widely regarded as dangerous. Both mighty and sneaky by nature, many bugbears who break away from their own kind wind up joining bandits or other outlaw gangs. Efforts to assimilate bugbears into a peaceful and prosperous community have produced more failures than successes, with most of the latter involving military service.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Bugbears ↑  → Cambions ←  ↓ Dragonborn ↓

Unholy Persons Cambions and tieflings are fiendish by nature. Their bodies carry the blood of demons or devils. They can be restrained by magic that has no effect on humans. Especially pious individuals sometimes have emphatically negative reactions to members of these races. Yet hostility is not always assured. Outcasts may be drawn to the unholy. Within the mainstream, people of especially charitable demeanor sometimes make it their mission to provide comfort and support for beings they see as blamelessly accursed.
 Unholy birth does not dictate that individuals will adopt evil ways. Visibly fiendish people often struggle to find a place for themselves, but glorious deeds can pave the way to glorious status. Despite being extremely rare among the general population, cambions and tieflings are well-represented in heroic adventuring companies. This does not prevent the majority of each race from embracing villainy. Their menacing reputations are perpetuated whenever one of their kind develops noteworthy emnity with a well-respected regime or religion.
Cambions Succubi and incubi are dedicated to the pursuit of voluntary carnal relations with mortals. Other lustful demons also exploit mortals to sate their desires. Warlocks and witches sometimes seal infernal pacts through intimate congress with visiting entities. When these unions result in a pregnancy; the child may be an ordinary person, the same type of fiend as its parent, or a viable hybrid known as a cambion. Cambions may also be born of a union between one of their own and an ordinary person or the pairing of two cambions. Despite the absence of large cambion communities, this race continues to grow at a rate viewed by scholars as a sign that demonic activity is on the rise in the modern era.
 Many cambions are raised in isolation, parents and child shunned by society. Some come to know their own kind from an early age, raised by clergy at specialized institutions meant to redeem persons of unholy ancestry. At the other extreme, there are cambions conceived for an explicitly demonic purpose then raised according to the traditions of a malevolent cult. It is not unusual for an adult cambion to simultaneously maintain relationships with a prominent holy order and an unholy secret society. The former can support integration into civilization while the latter can provide insights into the fiend's heritage. All but the most reclusive individuals are likely to encounter recruitment efforts from both churches and covens.
 Unnaturally beguiling, some mature cambions become zealous crusaders for a religion that offers redemption to their kind. Others employ their charm to twist human institution by rising through the ranks with a mix of bluffing, blackmail, and betrayal. Either archetype tends to be a natural leader. The words of a cambion often drip with temptation. In battle their actions are calculated to terrify. Despite their fiendish appearance and ancestry, socially gifted cambions occupy senior positions in many highly respected organizations.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Cambions ↑  → Dragonborn ←  ↓ Dwarves ↓

Clans Most dragonborn roam as members of a small independent tribe. Based on the geneology of each tribal leader, these groups also identify with a larger clan. White Talon, Voracious Roaster, Shadow Lash, Brass Fang, and Roaring Curse are a few among these many dragonborn clans. They rarely assemble since this mighty race is especially prone to personality conflicts. Yet tribes of the same clan will reinforce one another, conduct trade, and coordinate migrations. All this is done with an eye toward peaceful coexistence at a respectful distance.
 By contrast, the membership of a dwarven clan may exceed 100,000 individuals living within a single subterranean stronghold. During the Age of Heroes, the mightiest dwarven clans were larger still, and their leaders were important vassals to the Overking of Wotania. Modern human rulers normally allow these subterranean settlements autonomy. Peaceful exchange of agricultural products for ingots and ore is a big part of the customary relationship between dwarves and realms of the surface.
 Orc clans prize power above all else. Brutality is the preferred form, though orcs respect guile, finesse, and even education to the extent these things are empowering. The most esteemed clans were founded by survivors of epic wars. Legends of old glory sustain hardcore loyalists even when a clan is under siege. Among orcs, bloodlines matter at the level of senior leadership, while affiliation is otherwise a matter of convenience. Most clans accept unfamiliar members after pledging a blood oath. Status is driven by the degree individuals contribute to the effectiveness of the group.
 Clans were an important part of many ancient human societies, and there are cultures where they remain relevant today. Most Carmatians affiliate with one among the hundreds of huge extended families whose elders claim official titles and substantial lands. Vanquished peoples do not assimilate well there. Greivances build, old family ties are strengthened, and feuds may rage on for generations. Similar dynamics influence politics farther north in Lachland and Norland. Clan rivalries at the aristocratic level thwart efforts to build nations unifying those ethnic homelands.
Dragonborn Some dragonborn claim their kind is the oldest of all the humanoid races, but credible histories reveal these beings were relative latecomers. Elder wyrms created creatures that were soft to the touch – tasty treats that could be devoured even with decrepit fangs. While battling back from the Wyrmplague, Imperium Arcanum leaders deployed dragonborn as a sort of “fight fire with fire” approach to raising armies against true dragons. In modern times, members of this race tend to revere at least some varieties of dragons while feeling uneasy around elves and fey creatures. Not only is the feeling mutual, but ordinary humans and most other civilized races rarely relax around anyone with the monstrous appreance of dragonborn.
 This discomfort limits the options for permanent settlement. Benevolent dragonborn often hail from nomadic clans, always ready to relocate when faced with dwindling food supplies or increasing hostility from outsiders. This race is particularly adventurous, and their heroes often pursue noble titles. Assorted fiefs held by dragonborn empower them to create local havens for their own kind. Even so, there are no major dragonborn realms of this sort. These creatures are so rare that even the most tolerant lands merely assimilate a small draconic minority.
 Almost everyone schooled in the moral contrast between chromatic and metallic dragons also understands that the character of an individual dragonborn is not a function of scale color. That trait may indicate a bloodline and elemental affinity, but it reveals nothing of personality. Unscaled races generally do not find any dragonborn comely – majestic perhaps, if viewed in a favorable light. A few clans have even cultivated a special distinction in the eyes of human authorities, but distrust among the common folk means that even an emperor's favor is not enough to protect and sustain a proper city of this race.
 Dragonborn function well in roles that benefit from effective intimidation such as bodyguards, shock troops, and syndicate thugs. Some of the richest individuals among this race made their fortunes as gladiators. Kings and generals mighty enough to ally with a true dragon may employ dragonborn as grooms and attendants. Wild dragons sometimes shelter respectful dragonborn servants. Never willing to hunger for long, the less fortunate clans maintain large herds, pursue migrant beasts, or raid farming communities. The rumors that dragonborn bandits eat their victims are not entirely untrue.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Dragonborn ↑  → Dwarves ←  ↓ Elves ↓

Dwarves Dragonkind created dwarves in service to an innate desire for shiny metals and sparkling gems. These rugged little workers found they were spared the worst abuses so long as mines and smelters were productive. The Imperium Arcanum saw dwarves refocused from gold to tin, copper, and iron. Yet dwarves retained little of this bounty for themselves. Like their ancient ancestors, most modern dwarves feel a powerful drive to be industrious. This race came to glory during the Age of Heroes. No longer beholden to any dominant power on the surface, subterranean dwarven communities developed their own feudal hierarchies.
 The ancient superpower Wotania made earls of influential dwarven leaders. Great wars were sustained by dwarven treasuries, military reinforcements, and access to subterranean fortifications. Yet modern dwarves are easily overlooked for reasons that go beyond their stature. Almost all of them live underground, often constituting a buffer between the surface and deeper Labyrinth. Some dwarven clans are humble communities, little more than villages set among well-appointed caverns. Others are powerful kindgoms prepared to rally thousands of stalwart soldiers against any external threat. These modern dwarven nations are loathe to become entangled in the conflicts of the world above.
“No less dignity is required to dig a nugget of gold from the earth than to wear the crown it will become. To take the measure of a person, look beyond trappings to size up the potential inside.”

— a teaching of the Fatesmiths
 Even the largest dwarven communities have no trouble parting with enough gold to import abundant food and drink from the surface. Their trading posts are lucrative destinations for merchants able to deliver the goods. Dwarves and humans generally get along well enough in most circumstances. The most affable clans are also the smallest in height, comfortable living and working above ground. Some of these hill dwarves regard diplomacy and trade as pleasant distractions from the important business of mining and metalworking, while others pride themselves gaining advantage through stubborn negotiations. Blessed with slightly taller and much more powerful builds, mountain dwarves gather into huge subterranean clans. Some mountain dwarves feel disoriented by life above ground, leaving them impatient and gruff with surface dwellers.
 Dwarves are builders as well as miners. They tend to be diligent laborers and reliable engineers whenever given the opportunity. Deliberate overbuilding produces structures able to withstand significant tremors and substantial undermining. Dwarven steel is not so much one specific alloy as it is a standard of rugged construction paired with quality smithing. Their approach to gemcutting predates the first dwarven alphabet, and they excel at producing durable forms of jewelry. Dwarves living in human cities tend to be well-regarded professionals of one sort or another. Yet the majority of their kind prefer the company of other dwarves along with the stability of life underground.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Dwarves ↑  → Elves ←  ↓ Firbolgs ↓

Hidden Communities High elven society is centered around tiny remnants of the Imperium Arcanum. Their enchanted fortresses and hidden cities are shrouded within abjurations and illusions that prevent chance encounters. Teamsters from these communities load and unload teleportation circles rather than drive caravans, so gates to the outside world are rarely opened. Some high elven cities pay tribute to a human regime, but all are essentially self-governing. Within these isolated enclaves, ancient lore is preserved and arcane studies are advanced. Visitors are rarely welcome. Departures are more common, with generation after generation of adventurous young emigrants eagerly abandoning the pale tranquility of their birthplace.
 Wood elves take a more festive approach to life. Their tribes roam as nomads or inhabit structures woven into a forest canopy. They remain dispersed enough that their numbers can be sustained by hunting, gathering, and limited gardening. They may pledge loyalty to some greater nation, but few sylvan tribes care enough about money to shoulder any significant tax burden. Some are part of tribal federations asserting control over sprawling forests. Others are isolated groups simply seeking to live in harmony with nature. All tend to have minimal impact on the surrounding land, to the point where it is possible to walk right under a wood elven settlement without noticing its presence.
 Most dark elves can be found deep underground. Sunlight makes them uncomfortable, while being far removed from the surface world provides a sense of security. Their homeland is the single greatest nation in Labyrinth, and drow metropolises are by far the grandest subterranean cities. These vast urban sprawls are not technically hidden, but few people of the surface know much about the peoples of the underworld. In their own way, each sort of elf occupies territory that is largely unseen by the eyes of humanity.
 Rarely exceeding three hundred individuals, firbolg communities are also designed to go unnoticed. They know how to make well-used paths appear no different from untrodden wilderness. Firbolg gardens blend seamlessly with natural flora. Be it a humble cavern or a sturdy wooden house, entrances to firbolg dwellings typically lurk under the shade of large trees or benefit from some other sort of natural camouflage. Outsiders are almost never welcome to intrude on an actual firbolg hamlet. Strict secrecy pledges may be exacted from those who manage to penetrate these hidden havens.
Elves Many elves insist that their ancestors were privy to the magic of dragonkind because elves alone had the intellect for arcane endeavors. Dragons maintain that elves were selected for being the tastiest and the most pleasant-smelling of all the humanoids created for servitude. Either way, their millennia of living as educated chattel was abruptly reversed by the establishment of the Imperium Arcanum roughly 50,000 years ago.
 War with the dragons demanded practical choices, so the global empire of Archfey relentlessly exploited other races. Only after tremendous progress did many elves lose interest. Those weary of warring against dragons settled into sylvan obscurity on the surface of a much safer world. Meanwhile the colossal strongholds of Imperium Arcanum civilization became increasingly divided by politics. Elves committed to completing the genocide of dragons went underground in search of the most remote caverns. Elves enamored with the prospect of draconic redemption built palaces in the sky and created metallic dragons.
 Those palaces have long since fallen, but benevolent dragons continue to soar. Another legacy of this era is the division between high elves, wood elves, and drow elves. By far the most numerous, if often underestimated, are the wood elves. Their tribal nations achieve such harmony with nature that outsiders may be completely unaware while travelling through elven territory. Their language, Greenfey, is volatile and passionate in contrast to the clinical and tranquil tones of High Elven. Wood elves are not generally comfortable with much population density, but they otherwise find it easy to assimilate into human communities. Today they are particularly abundant across Sylvania yet virtually unknown in the Orient.
 As individuals, high elves are not so adept at blending in. Today their culture is sustained by scattered cities harboring wellsprings of ancient magic. Individual high elves may be welcome elsewhere initially, but many have an air of imperiousness that wears thin on comparatively short-lived beings. The association with light fey from ancient times can only go so far in maintaining goodwill among modern humans.
 Drow elves have an even harder time finding acceptance in human societies. The prospect of brutal persecution compounds their aversion to daylight, driving most to turn back from any attempt at assimilation with the surface world. Yet their mighty bastions in Labyrinth are so populous that some drow elves inevitably make their way into the shadows of human communities. The smoothly sibilant Drow language is not widely spoken above ground, but it is the native tongue of millions down below.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Elves ↑  → Firbolgs ←  ↓ Gnomes ↓

Firbolgs When the Imperium Arcanum saw a rift forming between light and dark factions, divisiveness was especially intense surrounding questions of how to treat loyal non-elven peoples. Drow elves saw themselves as a superior race with others only fit to serve them. They stopped relying on illusions and enchantments to motivate their laborers, instead embracing overt slavery. High elves took steps toward liberating their subjects. Increasing levels of education and creative freedom facilitated greater contributions to the embattled society of high elves.
 The rise of the firbolg race may be surpassed only by the creation of metallic dragons in terms of the high elves' impact on the modern world. Magical giants keenly attuned to nature, firbolgs feature the heft to wrangle unruly fey creations and an aptitude for maintaining secrecy at sites where experimental organisms were being monitored or bred. Firbolg caretakers working at remote locations enjoyed autonomy. Instinctively inclined to manage ecological balances, a few dozen small communities on Danu steadily grew and spread across the world.
 Longtime allies to druids, the firbolg race eventually produced many of its own accomplished practitioners of the Old Faith. When the Holy Sylvan Empire flourished, this secretive race underwent a second wave of expansion. Some families rose to prominence as wildland wardens. Yet few humans today can claim to have known a firbolg. In the wilderness they tend to avoid contact with other civilized peoples. Those who brave urban settings typically maintain disguises from sunrise to sunset, allowing only a few trusted associates to see their true faces.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Firbolgs ↑  → Gnomes ←  ↓ Goblins ↓

Hidden Dwellings Masters of concealment, most gnomes prefer homes that are not plainly visible to outsiders. Forest gnomes generally live inside hollow trees or simple burrows, and their gardens are designed to blend in with nature. Rock gnomes often inhabit voids in urban structures, including the attics or cellars of human homes. Whether they follow the old ways or embrace new ideas, gnomes share a desire for comfort. Their lairs often feature featherbeds and upholstered chairs. Most contain a well-stocked pantry and a stove in good condition. For beings small enough to be untroubled by cramped quarters, gnomish residences in unexpected places may provide a haven for covert relaxation.
Gnomes Just after the Imperium Arcanum was established, elven archmagi created gnomes to serve as lookouts and scouts. They could comfortably inhabit hidden places small enough to escape notice. Gnomes played an important role in thwarting efforts to organize dragonkind. That role involved enormous sacrifices from these diminutive beings. Loyal service earned these fey access to arcane lore. Elves reserved many secrets for themselves, but experiened gnomish operatives learned magical methods of concealment and misdirection. No gnome could challenge an archmage, but they could hide their own little conspiracies and establish unauthorized refuges in unlikely locations.
 The fall of the Imperium Arcanum saw liberated gnomes doing what came most naturally to them – they hid. Many elven tribes made their homes in canopies of robust forests while villages of gnomes carried on just as unobtrusively at ground level. Always guileful, these little people rarely attract trouble and usually have contingency plans to address any plausible threat. Many took to wizardry in the Age of Heroes, and some gnome illustionists achieved immense power. A few even founded royal families, though their kingdoms were fittingly small. Gnomes are typically uncomfortable as the center of attention in company of mixed race. On entry they instinctively evaluate every new location for escape routes and hiding places.
“It is better to live in a pit than die in a palace.”

— gnomish proverb
 A proper gnomish offshoot arose gradually over the past two millennia. Those true to the old ways are known as forest gnomes, retaining the minor magical abilities of their fey birthright. They may practice a trade or run a shop, but forest gnomes typically reside in a hidden place well outside any town or city. Gnomes focused on a new direction never develop their ancestral powers, instead cultivating a modern form of technological mastery. These rock gnomes often inhabit tiny shelters built into much larger masonry structures. They prefer metropolitan life, but if they must live outside city walls their homes tend to be very small caves, some carved into freestanding boulders.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Gnomes ↑  → Goblins ←  ↓ Goliaths ↓

Primal Goblinoids Atavistic goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears rise spontaneously from the accursed earth of the Scarlands. Small groups are sustained by grubs, worms, and fungi teeming in the filthy ground. Thoughtlessly feeding and breeding, they spawn offspring endowed with minds of their own. When nearby populations merge and food becomes scarce, thousands of individuals will leave the Scarlands together as a rampaging horde.
 Large military organizations vanquish these monstrous forces. Scattered remnants menace rural communities and overland commerce. Many adventurers launch their careers against goblinoid bands too small to merit the attention of an army. Individual goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears in proximity to a rampaging horde may feel some desire to join in the destruction. Though the instincts that drive horde behavior are strong, only first generation goblinoids directly arisen from the Scarlands cannot choose their own path.
Goblins Bedtime stories depicting goblins as sneaky opportunists who devour careless children are a staple of human cultures. In addition to preying upon the sick and injured, goblin raiders have been known to abduct the young. Negative attitudes are reinforced among adults whenever leaders rally support by condemning the pervasive unseen menace of goblinkind. Even where the stereotype proves untrue, people tend to assume individual goblins are dangerous criminals.
 Yet goblins born to mortal parents possess freewill. Some go on to become great artists or clergy or even heroes. Many goblin bandits never experienced a genuine opportunity to work in a peaceful trade. Racial prejudice may be a bigger factor than innate tendencies in their predatory behaviors. Troubadours and history books mention many “goblin kingdoms.” Pre-existing cities overrun by goblinoid forces, these peculiar realms usually crumbled within decades of being established. Neither farming nor building are known to be among goblins' great aptitudes. Of course, relentless hostility from neighbors is not the best environment for raising up a new nation.
 Whether the underlying cause is the nature of goblins or their unfortunate place in the world, most are anything but heroic. Remnants of great hordes may take refuge in proximity to fierce monsters – hiding out where soldiers are reluctant to patrol. Isolated goblin bands may ally with bandits, yet they are just as likely to clash with other active robbers. Some of the world's wealthiest goblins act as brokers between sellers of stolen goods and buyers in Labyrinth. Those with sufficient wit may strive for acceptance as entertainers or academics, but most goblins find ways to sustain themselves by taking advantage of others.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Goblins ↑  → Goliaths ←  ↓ Halflings ↓

Tribes The term “tribe” sometimes refers to a multitude of people, such as a small ethnic group or a federation controlling considerable territory. A more common use refers to a primitive community of 100-300 individuals ruled by the dictates of a single leader. Larger tribes tend to become fractious, while smaller tribes tend to be unsustainable. Sages regard these tribal groups as the first stage of social development in a process that eventually leads to modern civilization.
 Tribal leaders must command the personal loyalty of their entire community. Unique traditions may run strong, and the most effective chiefs keep wise counsel. Yet absolute rule by decree is essential to preserve these small groups in times of crisis. Most tribes support themselves by harvesting wild resources. Where other societies encroach, some tribes have converted their lands into trading posts, collective farms, or centers of faith. This can lead to assimilation. Conversely, any small homogenous population may see tribal norms taking hold after a few generations of living in isolation from other cultural influences.
Goliaths Few in number, goliaths remain a mysterious subject. Historical references are rare and inconclusive. Most of this race reside among the slopes and glaciers of tall mountains where academic researchers are seldom comfortable. Frigid isolation does much to protect the traditions and independence of these alpine people. Though they seem to find dwarves endlessly amusing, goliath tribes are generally unfriendly to outsiders. Each community is ruled with absolute power by a single individual, defied only when a rival calls for mortal combat. Less lethal duels are a popular pastime on days when hunting and gathering does not demand all available daylight.
 Subsisting on minimal resources makes life hard for many tribes. Young adults who do not see themselves as contenders for chieftaincy may descend alone to find their fortunes among humankind. The elderly sometimes do likewise as an alternative to starvation. Even in the thick of a great city, Goliaths remain uneasy around others physically formidable enough to be considered rivals. Their mercenary units and social clubs tend to be short-lived organizations. Yet as individuals they are often welcome into groups that seek more muscle and the overt appearance of it. Potential foes always seem to think twice when an adult goliath stands with the opposition.
 Though individuals may be well-educated or downright charming, goliaths have a reputation as mannerless primitives suited only to physical labor. Those with other gifts often struggle to overcome prejudices while pursuing training and professional advancement. On the other hand, they are natural fan favorites at jousts and gladiatorial events. Most military organizations are happy to employ goliath veterans as training officers or elite guards. Where legal systems support trial by combat, goliath champions can demand elevated fees. Each in their own way, civilized goliaths remain determined to attain great heights.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Goliaths ↑  → Halflings ←  ↓ Half-Elves ↓

Secret Societies Demanding discretion from members is just one small part of what a secret society must do to remain secret. Many priests and diviners can obtain magically correct answers to questions of fact. Controversial or criminal activities should never be attributable to such a group. Contingency plans to misdirect blame or even to feign elimination must be held ready to prevent powerful officials from fully compromising the organization. Some operations place double agents inside governments, thwarting investigations with timely warnings and internal miscommunications.
 Yet these challenges are matched by opportunities. Some secret societies facilitate profitable criminal activities (while keeping their own profile low.) Others are social networks through which members help one another advance their careers or practice a craft. Hidden cults praise unholy beings, helping warlocks and witches to find their power. Most secret societies offer great enticements to join. Some maintain their secrecy by eliminating prospects who refuse the offer. Famed for their discretion, halflings are a natural fit for leadership roles in secret societies.
Halflings After such success at shaping humans, dwarves, and elves for specialized purposes, some dragons endeavored to create less distracting personal attendants. Small soft-spoken grooms were a passing draconian fad. Only the most fortunate individuals survived a subsequent purge when halflings literally went out of style. Some of the survivors subsisted modestly at the fringes of labor pools. Others scattered into the wilderness, making their way by carrying goods and messages between territories. Halflings were of little use to their creators, but they were instrumental in improving the quality of life for humans, dwarves, and elves in draconic servitude. Some halflings were so bold as to burgle dragons' lairs then trade away the loot in distant territories.
 Halflings lived as misfits during the Imperium Arcanum. Somehow they moved in and out of secure bastions without difficulty, facilitating barter among humans who felt oppressed by the magocracy. Resourceful survivors, halflings collectively won tolerance for their illicit activities by bargaining with informants in dragon territories. Many achieved a sort of material prosperity, but few knew what it was like to have a permanent residence in a secure place. The Age of Heroes saw tranquil halfling hamlets springing up in all sorts of unlikely locales. These little towns ringed by big farms always seemed to find a way to avoid political turmoil.
 Other halflings integrated smoothly into growing cities, blending in as is their way. Trading in favors and information as well as wares, some would rise to become leaders of major institutions. Their tradition of always offering even trade for jewels and gems (while charging for appraisals, cleanings, resizings, etc.) set a standard of fairness now echoed in the scriptures of Ptah. Some of the most important desks in the worlds of finance and shipping sit before an elevated chair designed to accommodate a halfling executive. Yet others among this race crave travel and danger. These little people have made a big splash as spies, assassins, and explorers. It is easy to overlook a halfling, and they instinctively know just how to make the most of that.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Halflings ↑  → Half-Elves ←  ↓ Half-Orcs ↓

Half-breeds Love is not limited by race. Sometimes fertility is likewise transcendent. Mixed race couples often produce offspring who are essentially the same race as one parent, inheriting only subtle cosmetic traits from the other. This is much less likely when the pairing involves a human and an elf or an orc. Half-elves and half-orcs are each viable hybrids distinct from either parent race. Neither demons nor devils are a single race, yet cambions and tieflings also fit this description. Any of these four established half-breeds could theoretically populate a great nation of their own kind.
 Attitudes vary wildly on the subject of racial integration. Joryanlanders tend to see “pure” heritage as a virtue. Many are unkind even to humans of blended ethnicity. Most Sylvanians embrace the concept of racial equality. Bigots are often shunned there. Opinions vary from individual to individual just as they vary from one homeland to another. Some cities will segregate non-human residents into the least desireable neighborhoods, walled off from “regular” folk. More typically, self-segregation occurs as non-humans choose to be near shops and public houses catering to their tastes. Only the most egalitarian cities see a smooth blend with many non-human minorities spread evenly across all socioeconomic ranks and urban districts.
 Half-breeds often encounter stereotypes about their abilities and personalities. This can be a blessing as well as a curse. Some half-elves find preferential treatment among academic faculties or performing arts ensembles. Half-orcs can advance quickly in military organizations and sporting leagues. Some criminal organizations and cults will naturally hold cambions in high esteem. Among elves, half-elves may be expected to volunteer for arduous and risky duties. Orcs may expect half-orcs support an army rather than join the front line. Many people will judge others by their merits. Yet navigating opinions about race is a common complication made doubly challenging for visibly distinct hybrids.
Half-Elves In human folklore tales of non-human seduction tend to end unhappily unless the other partner is a god or a fey being. Some humans idealize elven grace and beauty, while some elves are drawn to the passionate zeal of humans. Half-elven offspring may wind up occupying any niche in the society of either parent. The least fortunate find themselves outcast as impure or locked into a never-ending struggle for acceptance. Others move easily between communities, exercising their charm as diplomats or entertainers. Some rise to prominence while being socially regarded as a long-lived human or a short-lived elf.
 Across most of Old Silvania, elves and humans have been blending for so long that countless human families carry traces of fey blood. Being half-elven in a place like Tintagel or Vergovia merely means being in the middle of the spectrum of ordinary people. Yet in the Orient, elves are rare enough that even a half-elf stands out as an exotic being. There is no truly coherent half-elven culture. Yet many half-elves have made enormous contributions to the arts and sciences of their respective homelands. Perhaps inclusiveness is their hallmark, since exclusively half-elven communities and organizations tend to abandon that exclusivity soon after becoming successful enough to draw wider interest.
 It is unclear if there were any half-elves during the Imperium Arcanum, but plenty of half-elven adventurers left their mark on the Age of Heroes. Despite less freedom to pursue opportunities outside racial norms, half-elves were already thriving as clerics, druids, fighters, rangers, rogues, and bards. Today only humankind displays more versatility than these fey kin. Half-elves continue to distinguish themselves in many walks of life, including monster hunting and dungeon delving. Perhaps so few see the need for their own homeland because they integrate into human communities almost as smoothly as halflings.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Half-Elves ↑  → Half-Orcs ←  ↓ Hobgoblins ↓

Half-Orcs In the Age of Heroes many half-orcs were conceived while brutal orcish armies occupied human settlements. Believed fit only for rough or sneaky work, half-orcs of the era were often unwelcome in polite company. Those attitudes are no longer widespread, and well-educated people do not share this prejudice. Some orcish conquerers attract human mates by being effective providers rather than using threats and force. Also, modern times see humans and orcs mingling freely in urbane communities. A half-orc today is much more likely to be the product of a healthy stable family than an act of violence.
 Yet the race retains a reputation for emotional instability and uncontrolled aggression. From a human perspective, half-orcs resemble dangerous monsters. Even among tolerant populations, levels of unease and distrust are to be expected. Wherever humans are not particularly open-minded, half-orcs are likely to be shunned and persecuted, especially without a “normal” person around to vouch for the group. Orcs can be willing to let an outsider earn a place in their ranks through contests of might, but their first inclination involves assigning half-orcs to tasks like foraging, navigation, and equipment management.
“I AM the law!!!”

— Prince Bulgrûn Steeljaw after disbanding his own Judiciary Council
 Peaceful half-orcs are increasingly welcome among trade guilds, with many thriving as builders or teamsters. They excel in sporting leagues, and some take to the arena as gladiators. Prominent half-orc actors have made careers out of portraying monstrous characters. No other bards are better suited to blending the rumbling gutteral power of traditional orcish music with modern forms of composition and arrangement. Even when half-orcs are trying to be soft-spoken, they may come across as harsh to human ears. Yet pairing their authoritative voices with actual authority oftens requires overcoming prejudices. Their intellects tend to be underestimated by humans, while orcs rarely recognize the full strength of a half-orc.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Half-Orcs ↑  → Hobgoblins ←  ↓ Humans ↓

Goblinoid Hordes Carmatia, Galloria, Iskresh, Joryanland, Thrace, and Transmania all have frontiers along the Scarlands. These homelands face regular incursions from huge hordes of goblins with hobgoblin leadership and bugbear irregulars. Though there is no formal education in the Scarlands, outbound hordes exhibit predictable patterns. Insufficient nutrition in their native land triggers migration, so the first priority is always food. A nourished horde then sets about accumulating equipment. Forces and fortifications might look crudely improvised, but hobgoblin planning and training makes the most of available resources. If a horde survives into stage three, then it has not only the intent to conquer human territory, but the means to do so as well. Civilized powers respond with huge armies as a necessary measure to avoid being displaced by an emergent goblinoid nation.
Hobgoblins Creatures arisen from the Scarlands tend to be no more intelligent than common wolves. Yet their offspring are capable of speaking and strategizing. Hobgoblins excel at both. They are naturally inclined to organize themselves and any potential allies. Those born into a desolate land of disorderd filth will feel a strong desire to improve conditions and promote large broods. Those born into a crowded horde will be driven to mobilize and equip the group. During a rampage, they network into an effective command structure. Hobgoblins are forever calculating in search of ways to enhance their social standing.
 Throughout the Age of Heroes, most humans capable of killing hobgoblins would do so on sight. Despite their intellect, the most noble hobgoblins were merely warlords known for heinous abuses of human captives. Waves of effort to civilize common sorts of monsters saw hobgoblins thriving at several universities early in the Great Consolidation. These initiatives saw mixed results with some students going on to harness arcane knowledge for malevolent purposes. Even so, the consensus against teaching magic to goblinoids ended more than twenty centuries aqo.
 Whether they turn their abilities to some good purpose or remain true to traditions of organized violence, hobgoblins always seem to be most comfortable in a clear social hierarchy. Relationships feel best for them when one person is leading and the other following. Though hobgoblins thrive in rigidly stratified military or trade organizations, they are relentless in strategizing for any potential promotion. Hobgoblin warlords regularly rise up to create trouble all over Mainland. Neighboring regimes normally manage to end these upstart realms before they become large enough to be considered rivals.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Hobgoblins ↑  → Humans ←  ↓ Kopbolds ↓

The Way of the World It is difficult to overstate how much things have changed through the course of history. Thousands of years ago the world was so divided that no single government could claim the loyalty of one million subjects. Yet solid evidence suggests the Imperium Arcanum once ruled dozens of enchanted bastions each housing over twenty million inhabitants. Today there are many great cities that approach one million residents. More than a hundred surpass that figure, but no single modern community compares with with the colossal dragonproof shelters of the Archfey.
 From the way spellcasting functions to the nature of death itself, fundamental aspects of reality have not been consistent across history. Legends from the Age of Heroes tell tales of fighters, bards, druids, monks, and so forth. Yet these archetypes differ in crucial ways from their modern counterparts. As the world around them changed, many ancient enchantments failed, and others began to function in unintended ways. Thoughtful experts concede uncertainty about the future of everything from the technology of warfare to The Immaculate System itself.
Humans Humanity is by far the most populous and influential race in modern times. Created to serve as ranchers and farmers, early humans fed dragons in more ways than one. During the Imperium Arcanum, enormous numbers of human beings were sustained by fey magic to be exploited as laborers and soldiers. The Age of Heroes saw humans liberated to form their own nations, but practical concerns prevented cities from maintaining populations much over 100,000. Early in the Great Consolidation, non-magical solutions in areas like crime, housing, sanitation, traffic, and water spread from regional innovations to global standards. Reaching both upward and outward, each modern metropolis makes homes for an enormous number of people.
 Humans easily constitute over ninety percent of the sentient beings living on the surface of the world today. In a dance some speculate was choreographed by Shang-Ti's own scheming, twenty-five ethnic groups have become prominent. Each is part of a broader cultural pentad associated with an extant or defunct superpower as well as a specific Regal Deity. There may be thousands of human ethnicities, but almost all are obscure tribes or remnants of a nation long gone. Only twenty-five of them currently populate a substantial ancestral homeland with more than one million persons. The most important events of the previous twenty-three centuries have been recorded in the histories of these prominent cultures.
 Humans collectively have no racial strengths or weaknesses. Though each ethnic group is associated with certain endowments, these tendencies do not apply uniformly to every individual. Likewise, some of these groups excel at particular trades or skills, but no major ethnicity fully abstains from any essential activity. An unfamiliar individual could be anywhere on the spectrum from reinforcing an ethnic stereotype to completely defying it. Perhaps one advantage of hailing from an obscure tribe or minor ethnic group is a general lack of preconceptions held by strangers. The twenty-five most well-known ethnic groups of humankind are individually detailed in the Homelands section.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Humans ↑  → Kobolds ←  ↓ Lizardfolk ↓

The Wyrmplague An Imperium Arcanum project aimed at total genocide of dragonkind sparked a profound political division. Precisely half of the ruling council walked from shadow into light to cast their votes against the proposal. As debate stagnated, dragons became aware of the plan. Still able to bend the laws of magic, ancient wyrms outwitted the Archfey with a quirk of grammar. In time with a traitor's signal, a crucial relationship between prepositions and nouns was altered. Rather than infect all the dragons in the world with a disease that would kill them, the apocalyptic spell afflicted the world with more dragons than its natural environment could sustain.
 A substantial portion of the power held within the ley line network was unwittingly utilized to overpopulate dragonkind. Even as they embarked on new millenia of slaughter, the Archfey had to be certain this disaster would never recur. Their solution was a contingency to redefine the term “dragon” as a small and pathetic creature. After a council of ancient wyrms spent centuries rallying enough energy to attempt their own Wyrmplague spell, millions of kobolds spontaneously sprang into existence. The shame of it prevented any further efforts to cause a global plague of dragons.
Kobolds The genesis of the kobold race marked a reversal of fortune in the global conflict between elves and dragons. Expecting a wave of reinforcements that would overwhelm key Archfey positions, dragons were instead greeted by legions of little servants created in their own image. Kobolds do not smell like food to hungry dragons, and they are of little nutritional value. They also require little effort to feed. Often they subsist by eliminating pests and cleaning up remnants of their tyrant's kills. Some also excavate new tunnels, maintain written libraries, or manage herds of livestock. Pathologically mewling and servile, kobolds became the satisfying dragon attendants that halflings never were.
 These traits can drive others to regard kobolds as more of an annoyance than a threat. Some turn relentless politeness into a charming quality. Almost all can honestly profess to be weak and small. None hesitate to grovel and whimper as a distraction. Kobolds envy dragonborn for their breath weapons. Especially cunning individuals may study magic in pursuit of a birthright they feel denied. Even great fighters or rogues of this race are likely to learn a few tricks for use in self-preservation. It is well-documented that kobolds are drawn to public exhibitions of arcane spellcasting. Some serve powerful wizards as if those masters were dragons. Legend holds that any badly botched magical experiment may spontaneously produce a swarm of kobolds.
 Most members of this race are irrationally hostile toward elves and downright reverent toward dragons. When not serving such a monster, kobolds are likely to form into gangs of nocturnal bandits striking opportunistically. Even in civilization they normally stick to close-knit groups. It takes a truly exceptional kobold to stand alone with confidence. Kobold professionals or adventurers rarely stray far from their collaborators. They have trouble relaxing without the security of nearby allies, and they typically prefer non-monstrous persons speak on their behalf. Kobolds are averse to daylight, but comrades find them especially easy to overrule. Though they rarely make great leaders, kobolds have been known to make excellent sidekicks.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Kobolds ↑  → Lizardfolk ←  ↓ Minotaurs ↓

Non-human Thinking Humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings were created to serve dragons. They are alike in many ways. Not all of these people feel driven to raise families and perform productive labors; but this is the general stride of their many stable growing communities. Just as elves are known for lore, dwarves for metal production, and halflings for trade; other races note that humans excel as farmers and ranchers. Along with gnomes and half-breeds, these peoples were the primary civilizing forces during the Age of Heroes.
 Goblinoids and orcs were created to do battle. They constantly assess the combat effectiveness of everyone around them. Most see dying in a frenzied fight as dignified rather than tragic. Persons of unholy ancestry experience unpredictable flashes of hellscapes and whispers of dark truths from unspeakable realms. No amount of benediction or isolation completely stills the influence of fiendish blood. Dragonborn can be as arrogant and bullying as dragons themselves, while kobolds are equally modest and obsequious. Forged from reptiles lacking a draconian sense of self, lizardfolk are intelligent humanoids with limited emotional faculties. Many only display passion after learning to do so as a calculated choice.
Lizardfolk Quetzalcoatl led a team of deities who spent much of the Age of Heroes calming the Veiled Lands. By their power, quakes ceased and volcanoes quietly simmered. These gods endeavored to nurture a people that would conquer all others. Selecting a primitive race indigenous to coastal wetlands, divine benefactors performed patient labor across much of the Thousandfold Drama. Shang-Ti endorsed Odin's leadership and lightning-quick battle plan when he joined the coalition that defeated Quetzalcoatl's entire pantheon. Wild creatures scavenging untended godflesh became gargantua, and one gargantuan devoured a pair of dying gods to become Ma Yuan. This outcome shaped a consensus supporting Zeus as God of the Heavenly Throne. It also left the lizardfolk an unfinished project residing on increasingly shaky ground. In swarms of crude watercraft, they migrated just about everywhere with a southern coast.
 Reptiles with no draconic spark of their own, lizardfolk are neither arrogant nor humble. Their passions run as cold as their blood. Lizardfolk intuit the primal ways of plants and animals, and they are purely rational creatures with normal intellectual faculties. They value relationships for practical reasons. Their interests could rarely be described as whimsical. Associates may be dismayed by the unfeeling calculations of lizardfolk. Nonetheless they form close bonds with others who protect them from danger or advance their personal fortunes. Lizardfolk place great value on formidable allies.
 Unsuccessful at carving out any racial homelands, most lizardfolk live in isolated tribes that shun outsiders. They thrive in otherwise uninhabited swamps and marshlands. Many preserve Old Faith traditions with roots in the Veiled Lands, though others seek guidance in modern religions. Ironically, their insensitivity to social cues sometimes makes attempts to shun lizardfolk ineffective. For them, fitting in with a group merely means logical distribution of hardships and rewards. Though individuals lack much of a personality in the conventional sense, identity is established through the accumulation of knowledge, abilities, and personal interests. The most successful lizardfolk may be admired for the purity of their perspective. These expressionless reptiles are esteemed in some circles for impartial judgements, though they are entirely capable of lying to serve their own interests.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Lizarfolk ↑  → Minotaurs ←  ↓ Nymphs ↓

Natural Weaponry Dragonborn, lizardfolk, and minotaurs are able to perform savage attacks with natural abilities posessed by all healthy adults of their kind. This makes them especially coveted as bodyguards and enforcers. Yet it also makes them unwelcome as strangers in secure locations. Some dignitaries refuse to meet with members of these races unless restraints or other precautions are already in place. Without an excellent local reputation, individuals with natural weaponry can expect guards and merchants to remain constantly wary in their presence.
 This same concern sometimes averts unwanted attention from ruffians and robbers. Even predatory beasts may give a wide berth to people sporting natural weaponry. These threats are not mitigated by common protocols employed to control steel or magic. Some criminal codes call for cutting off the horns of convicted minotaurs and blunting the teeth of lizardfolk criminals. Enslaved members of these races may be likewise disarmed. Magic to recover from these mutilations is rarely affordable for struggling outcasts.
Minotaurs After an early Thracian king openly insulted Poseidon, the offended deity caused all the children born in that city-state to inherit the characteristics of a bull rather than those of their natural fathers. The entire society collapsed, all the way up to the royal family. Yet minotaurs endured, even thrived, long after Poseidon became a Dead God. They dispersed throughout Labyrinth and grew into a sustainable race of small independent communities tolerated by the Empire of Shadows. Both above and below ground, minotaurs have proven adept at managing slaves. Even the most liberal-minded minotaurs rarely hesitate to make forceful demands of beings they consider inferior. Unlike hobgoblins constantly scheming for elite status, minotaurs simply assume they were born with it.
 Leaders among this race are uncomfortable around rivals. Their typical dynamic sees one individual wielding absolute power over dozens of other minotaurs themselves domineering a non-minotaur majority. Even where groups of minotaurs accept the rule of some outside authority, others will follow cues from the strongest of their own kind. Isolated members of this race are drawn to mighty warriors and dismissive of weaker persons. Constabularies and mercenary companies sometimes have work for these imposing figures. They make excellent soldiers provided that their superior officers are more formidable combatants. The wisest minotaurs understand the value of guile and magic, but a display of raw power is sometimes required to win their respect.
 Dependent on a vegetarian diet, their placid eating habits contrast with otherwise aggressive demeanors. The least violent minotaurs often become corpulent. An unfavorable ratio of tyrants to heroes results in widespread villification of this race. These horned terrors now occupy enclaves scattered all across the face of the world, with many more communities lurking below. A distinctive maze-like architectural style helps minotaurs avoid being surrounded or ambushed in their own strongholds. New construction makes navigating the urban sprawl increasingly complicated whenever a city under their control experiences substantial growth. In this as with so much else, minotaurs do as they please while expecting everyone else to adjust accordingly.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Minotaurs ↑  → Nymphs ←  ↓ Orcs ↓

Exotic Appearance Some humans find themselves particularly drawn to cambions, nymphs, satyrs, and/or tritons. All of these beings possess an unnatural allure. Most are aware of the influence it has on compatible companions. The source is not so much any single thing as an amalgam of grace, confidence, style, and sensuality. Virtually ageless faces are a factor as well. Where there is work for actors or models, these races often enjoy preferential treatment.
 Maintaining this allure entails bold fashion choices and laborious personal grooming. Nymphs have an innate gift for these activities. In the bleakest conditions their personal style adapts to make use of unconventional beauty supplies. They forage accessories and cosmetics as effectively from flourishing wilderness as a well-monied shopper might gather wares from a row of luxury boutiques. As likely to spark a popular trend as embrace one, nymphs show the world that what you have is not nearly as important as how you use it.
Nymphs Among the gods a singular female has been assigned a position of low esteem. Among mortals no race enjoys greater status than one that is entirely female. This contrast extends to disposition since Hel encourages mortals to wither and die while nymphs are inclined to celebrate and enrich life. Some scholars contend this comely race is descended from nature spirits awakened by wild elven magic unleashed to battle dragonkind. Others insist that these charming fey immigrated from another plane of existence. A theory of mixed ancestry is gaining acceptance as an explanation for evidence supporting both origins. Though this debate rages on, only the most alien or hateful onlookers would dispute that modern nymphs embody beauty.
 Mature nymphs understand their own beguiling nature. Most have no qualms about bending the will of others for their own benefit. Many nymphs live their entire lives in proximity to a single scenic wilderness location, but those venturing into human communities often adopt an itinerant lifestyle. These scintillating socialites quickly lose interest in familiar art and repetitive activities. Some follow a pattern, bestowing inspiration on a performer, artisan, or spellcaster only to move on once a stagnant career has been infused with fresh creative energy. Others stay true to a band of longtime associates because the entire group thrives on novelty and adventure.
 Rural nymphs may ally with other fey beings and druids to protect exceptional patches of pristine land. The negotiations and trickery of nymphs sometimes save formidable beings from the need to violently safeguard sylvan secrets. Nymphs in the city often find themselves navigating a power structure that undervalues their acumen. Most cultivate a circle of admirers and pursue their goals through the agency of others. Individuals more inclined toward direct action may experience favoritism as an artist, entertainer, clothier, or enchantress. Where prostitution is a respectable trade, nymphs quickly attract the most elite clientele. Yet they do not abide abuse. If a nymph does not flee from a threat, she probably has another plan already unfolding.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Nymphs ↑  → Orcs ←  ↓ Pixies ↓

Warbands Some groups of migrant fighters move fluidly between mercenary service and banditry. Known as warbands, these groups are formidable military assets without any aristocratic leader or permanent garrison. Some remain loyal to an authority, raiding and looting only to undermine the enemy. Most warbands are freelancers. This is the default state of an orc tribe.
 Warband leaders see being paid to fight as a best case scenario. Pillaging a small community is a way to squeeze some action into an otherwise dry night. The simplest orc warbands are glorified hunting parties averse to any military contact. The most effective orc warbands organize into large alliances then train and equip specialized units coordinated with a combined arms doctrine. At their grandest, an orc warband is an elite military unit leading many others as elements of a sophisticated army no less capable than a modern Truscan Legion.
Orcs The early years of the Imperium Arcanum were a nightmare of unceasing peril. The entire elven race sacrificed sleep to maintain the security of a few bastions. There was no tolerance for disloyalty. Minor acts of deviance could have severe consequences. Elves found to be undermining the command structure were stripped of their lithe forms and mutated into short-lived brutes to be deployed as soldiers. Though most of these orcs hated their former kin, attacking dragons usually seemed like a better choice than passively being eaten alive.
 Renegade orcs were a problem almost from the very beginning. Able hunters could sustain themselves in most climates. When civil war swept across the Imperium, several orc armies affiliated with the dark fey while the rest became independent. The Age of Heroes started with substantial orc populations already menacing many regions of the world. Embracing their own gods, orcs populated a series of nations centered around a culture of sacrifice and devotion. Neither those deities nor those nations survived to see the Great Consolidation. Yet orcs made real progress on other levels.
 Peaceful majority orcish cities have arisen in recent centuries. Some prosper to the point of sustaining lucrative guilds and respectable colleges. Paralleling the opportunities in larger human cities, these havens of civilized orcish culture see this race participating in virtually every profession. Yet even the most tranquil orc is capable of murderous fury. Orcish bloodlust is a universal personality trait rather than an unfair stereotype. Even today most orcs are born into a militant tribe, destined for a life of violent struggle.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Orcs ↑  → Pixies ←  ↓ Satyrs ↓

“We all know some humans are awful villains. Is it any less likely my client is a helpful goblin?”

— Soubrette Silvertress, pixie Upstanding Counselor
Pixies Some know the final phase of the Imperium Arcanum as the Age of Atomie Warfare. Localized adaptations of the Wyrmplague spell would flood an enemy stronghold with more little elf-like creatures than the space could contain. The immediate aftermath of these events was invariably horrific. Yet these violent twists in the fabric of magic gave rise to a menagerie of diminutive fey. The two most versatile varieties formed their own cultures complete with arcane traditions and powerful aristocracies. Though both were created by attacks against high elves, pixies and sprites now wage a secret war in a whimsical little echo of the original rift dividing elvenkind.
Non-human Customs The traditions and habits of other races can be disturbing or even terrifying when viewed through human eyes. Dragonborn, lizardfolk, and kobolds sometimes feed on the corpses of their foes, devouring raw flesh and organs. For them this act is a tribute to the strength of a fallen warrior. Many others see it as the barbaric desecration of a corpse. Goblinoids insist that fear of death is a character flaw rather than a sensible attitude. Some will plunge headlong into hopeless battles. Cambions, goliaths, minotaurs, and orcs may initiate brutal duels simply to establish which combatant should yield to the other. Behaviors that might disturb civilized humans can carry deep cultural significance among non-humans.
 This is particularly important where sexuality is concerned. It is in the nature of nymphs to be effortlesly seductive. Oppressive societies sometimes allow religious authorities to condemn nymphish temptation. Satyrs combine an openly flirtatious nature with a far more assertive attitude. Some have trouble comprehending that their advances might be unwanted. Where accounts of a questionable incident differ, authorities are not inclined to give satyrs the benefit of the doubt. Pixies also have a troublesome reputation because they are fond of stealing interesting objects and staging annoying pranks. Other thieves and mischief-makers may misdirect suspicion onto these whimsical fey.
 Some races even take distinctively non-human approaches to speech. Elves, gnomes, and halflings tend to conduct conversations among their own kind at the minimum volume required for other participants to hear clearly. Comparatively loud interlopers will draw scowls or worse from the group. Firbolgs can be compulsively secretive, shunning associates who broke a confidence they expect kept for all business dealings. Nymphs, pixies, satyrs, and sprites have been known to launch into song whether or not their inspiration coincides with a suitable moment. Some non-humans form a close bond with a minder able to guide them around problems their customary behavior might otherwise cause.
 Pathologically uninhibited, pixies accept entertainment value as justification for almost any course of action short of injuring others. The concept of personal property seems strange and foolish to them. Pixies are natural burglars. Even individuals clever enough to foresee the consequences of their actions might not be deterred from trespass, theft, and vandalism. While they are not inclined toward unprovoked violence, a traditional pixie amusement involves knotting the hair of sleepers. To these brash fey, a messy prank or an act of humiliating grooming is also a test of their ability to push at the boundary between between play and harm.
 Some criminal organizations value pixie spies for their ability to operate invisibly. Yet others cannot tolerate the way pixies ignore ownership of their leaders' personal possessions. As happy to give as they are to take, pixies tend to fit in best where robust sharing is the norm. They harmonize well with artistic communes and country estates willing to tolerate some pilferage. Their antics have long been part of routine living on Danu. Pixies pose constant challenges to propriety and dignity. Those without allies to smooth over social complications travel widely, leaving a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in their wake.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Pixies ↑  → Satyrs ←  ↓ Sprites ↓

Satyrs During the centuries Silvanus was systematically spreading verdant greenery across much of Mainland, Dionysus was haphazardly reveling in his bountiful wake. Impromptu celebrations would grow into epic festivals only to be abandoned as the God of Drunken Revelry wandered away. So many satyrs were left behind during this time that the forgotten party guests began to form nations of their own. Their tribal federations did not hesitate to clash with the armed forces of elves, humans, or orcs. The most aggressive of these tribes now keep to less accessible environs so they might avoid eradication by civilized armies. Even so, human societies typically regard satyrs as dangerous and destructive renegades.
 While their history is not as violent as orcs or goblins, this entirely male race must rely on non-satyr mates to sustain their numbers. Peaceful tribes grow by living the good life and sharing their bounty with women who choose free-spirited hedonism for themselves. Some people idealize satyrs for their openness and confidence. Jealous humans may denounce entirely consensual relationships involving one of these lustful fey. At the other extreme, abduction and captivity are normal elements of family life among violent throwback tribes. Most harboring those attitudes were exterminated long ago, but isolated groups perpetuate the threatening reputation of this race.
 Satyr music is enormously popular outside their own culture, having been banned in assorted jurisdictions. No other people so excel at hosting festive events. Most think nothing of smuggling as needed to be sure the best supplies are on hand for celebrants. Some tribes achieve prosperity by gathering wild resources to trade for finished goods. Many brew their own potent beverages to avoid the expense of importing massive amounts of human wine or spirits. Individual satyrs working in human cities may be drawn to breweries, wineries, distilleries, and taverns. Some lone satyrs find work as wilderness guides or bounty hunters. Others join outlaw groups or provide support to a roaming warband. Almost always they endeavor to work only as much as is needed to dedicate the best of their energies to self-indulgent revels.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Satyrs ↑  → Sprites ←  ↓ Tieflings ↓

Mortal Fey Elven magic created a diverse array of new life forms during the Imperium Arcanum, from the tiniest atomie to massive metallic dragons. Firbolgs, gnomes, half-elves, nymphs, pixies, satyrs, and sprites join elves in pursuing a complete spectrum of fighting and spellcasting techniques. Gifted elven diplomats drive all major human societies to recognize these creatures as persons subject to and protected by appropriate laws. They are also naturally protected from a few forms of magical manipulation, yet susceptible to some effects that leave humans untouched.
 Long time residents of scenic wilderness areas may know a great deal about these fey beings. Druids are particularly well-versed. The strange customs and mysterious ways of the fey provide plenty of particulars for fearmongers to discuss. Their spiritual auras are infused with a distinctive signature produced by traces of arcane power in their blood. Some cityfolk regard these races as weird and possibly dangerous. Religious attitudes are generally hostile toward the Archfey and remarkably diverse on the subject of mortal fey.
Sprites All sprites are descendants of faeries created by a devastating attack against a high elf stronghold over five thousand years ago. The event that destroyed the last Imperium Arcanum bastion above ground also concentrated elven virtues in the form of these diminutive winged beings. Sprites are naturally inclined to wish everyone else well. Their companions can expect thoughtful and dependable support. Sprites have a keen sense of fairness, quick to defend the innocent against aggression. These small fey are not particularly lawful, but they will proudly protect their own communities and violently persecute mischievous pixies.
 Sprite warriors almost never utilize heavy equipment. Yet their culture has given rise to several deadly fighting styles. They consider military service honorable wherever the ruling authority is benevolent. Sprites are also capable scholars. Their greatest dignitaries are skilled wizards rivalling the most formidable pixie sorcerers. Most sprites are not too proud to take work as a domestic servant or an artisan's assistant. Some prefer to wander, moving from place to place as they leave behind a trail of thankful people who had a significant problem satisfactorily resolved. Serious acts of betrayal are not in the nature of sprites, limiting their aptitude for covert work.
 Some people welcome these helpful fey at every opportunity. Others may find sprites annoying with their high pitched voices and constant flitting about. There are realms where common folk cannot differentiate between pixies and sprites – a misunderstanding that angers individuals of either race. Both sorts of faeries are well known all across Danu and in portions of many other lands. Famously charitable, sprites can be prime targets for grifters. Their diminutive stature sometimes leads to abduction attempts. Though easily grabbed, sprites are naturally hostile to any captors.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Sprites ↑  → Tieflings ←  ↓ Tritons ↓

The Nameless Empire For more than a millennium during the Age of Heroes, an Archdevil made his home on the surface of the world. Initially, he granted immense power to the cultists who summoned him from hellish depths. Their influence grew, and they used it to orchestrate their master's marriage to a beloved princess. After a wave of murders claimed much of the royal family, this regal fiend seized power, setting the stage for a purge to eliminate critics of the new regime. Meanwhile, cunning diplomats expertly deflected attention from the realm. Neighboring states saw no threat from this struggling principality.
 One group of Standing Stones was obliterated to make way for a portal direct to a hellish plane of existence. Hordes of devils climbed up through the orifice. Many provided blood for a program of transfusions through which citizens could verify their loyalty to increasingly cruel aristocrats. Every day, thousands of humans took the blood of a devil, undergoing subtle changes. More crucially, the children of all who received devils' blood were born as tieflings. Over several centuries, this Archdevil's nation expanded into a proper unholy empire. In 278 A.H., the gods intervened to destroy this thriving society with a rain of falling stars. Today most religions forbid even naming that ancient regime or the diabolic prince so despised by the Regal Deities.
Tieflings Around 1,800 A.H., a cult of devil worshippers brought their master into the world through an epic ritual that destroyed one formation of Standing Stones while corrupting several adjacent groups. Surviving cultists labored to make this corruption more potent and resilient, effectively reshaping the magical environment of an entire realm. Warlocks and witches ascended to positions of power, then used those positions to transform every citizen in the region. As many as half a million humans were given systematic infusions of infernal blood. It changed them all, having even more profound effects on their children.
 These changes gave them power, but the emergent race mostly thrived by duplicity. Nefarious diplomats were always able to point the finger at a more immediate threat than this isolationist nation wracked by internal dissent against the Archdevil. By 1,409 A.H., the unholy principality was secure within its borders and ready to move against weaker neighboring states. The most detailed surviving accounts of this accursed realm are epic sagas documenting the struggle of great heroes to fend off diabolic hordes. Ultimately, mortals would never succeed at this endeavor. Several nearby powers were assimilated into a thriving yet hellish empire.
 A campaign to purge the world of unholy worship built unity among the Regal Deities. The emergent race, now known as tieflings, would be virtually eliminated by the wrath of the gods. Their patron was hurled back into the pits of hell, forever barred from returning to this world. Their homeland suffered a rain of falling stars. The charred and cratered wastes fell quiet only after weeks of being blanketed by fire. Despite this celestial cleansing, unholy corruption remains heavy in the Scarlands. It spontaneously gives rise to vast hordes of aggressive creatures. Most tieflings stay far away from the place where their ancestral homeland used to be.
 Modern tieflings are one hundred generations removed from that ancient cataclysm. Their devilish nature is no secret, but it is shrouded in mystery due to strong religious taboos against preserving relevant historical knowledge. Benign individuals and small groups may find tolerance in particularly englightened areas. Also, tieflings of sinister disposition may thrive under the protection of infernal cults or other secret societies at odds with the cultural mainstream. Yet they have no communities of their own bigger than urban neighborhoods or isolated towns. Large institutions are generally not eager to be associated with this race. Even the most noble and kind-hearted adult tiefling must struggle at times to avoid being perceived as a dangerous villain.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Tieflings ↑  → Tritons ←  ↓ Typhonians ↓

The Imperium Maris The Great Consolidation saw Mannanan Mac Lir gain sole control of the world's oceans. His portfolio in The Immaculate System directed the sea god to the floor of his domain. Perilous and inefficient trade links between the Orient and Mainland were replaced by much safer and swifter routes across newly calmed waters. Yet the Greater Ocean continues to founder and swallow any vessels that wander over the hemispherical expanse of the Imperium Maris. Complex power struggles see control of the Nacre Throne moving fluidly between five major factions in Imperial society.
 ⩰ House Lìon trades with land dwellers and gathers resources from the surface of the water.
 ∮ House Sgaoileadh maintains archives while providing education and arcane services.
 ⫚ House Gaisgich manufactures arms and offers martial training along with mercenaries.
 ⪽ House Neamhnaid gathers resources from the sea floor and provides healing services.
 ⇛ House Leigheas constructs large buildings and crafts useful mixtures.
Tritons There are millions of merfolk and almost as many sahuagin in the undersea Imperium Maris. Yet tritons constitute a majority of the population and almost all of the aristocracy. The notion that they are a superior race is seldom challenged underwater yet awkwardly borne on land. Their outlook features striking parallels to some ethnocentric human groups. Fortunately most tritons are also instilled with a sense of duty to protect their inferiors. Among humans they tend to be helpful, albeit in condescending ways.
 Tritons arrived in this world as soldiers in the army of Poseidon. They thrived like no others during an aquatic Age of Heroes, banishing abyssal foes and sometimes literally turning the tide against monstrous hordes. When selkie operatives simultaneously compromised dozens of undersea centers of faith, poor harvests and other misfortunes ensued. Widespread religious conversions soon followed. Many tritons resented the way Mannanan Mac Lir employed trickery to wrest supremacy from Poseidon. Today they venerate the God of Briny Depths in earnest, yet tritons keep some of their earlier traditions alive in scripture and ritual. Since the Imperium Maris has never been short on dangerous cult activity, aquatic authorities do not divert much time away from lifesaving work to quarrel about these heresies.
 In the ocean, tritons are natural leaders with advantages no other adventuring race possesses. Though they remain versatile on land, few of their kind venture far beyond the coast. Tritons are typically welcome aboard ships. Many leave one ocean only to spend their days riding across another or fishing along some scenic coast. Their appearance can stimulate public interest in performances as entertainers or gladiators. A few human regimes control elite triton military units trained and equipped for amphibious warfare. Universities often welcome triton lecturers since the Imperium Maris is full of subjects surface scientists have had little opportunity to study. Colorful tales of undersea life often provide a way for tritons to recover the good graces of people initally put off by an arrogant demeanor.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Tritons ↑  → Typhonians ←  ↓ Languages ↓

The Criminal Underground Without law, there can be no outlaws. The original criminals were elven wizards secretly diverting supplies of rare spell components away from their draconian masters. Modern times see three great empires on the surface of the world, two more below, and thousands of lesser sovereign entities. With so many jurisdictions, laws range from the whims of a tribal chieftain to complex regulatory codes spread across sprawling government archives. Yet there are a few common threads to be found among modern criminal organizations.
 Property is an almost universal notion, so theft is an almost universal crime. In heavily-policed areas, small bands of grifters and thieves operate under false identities, quickly becoming dormant after any big payday. Elsewhere a thieves' guild may operate from a well-known social hub, one faction in an endless citywide cat-and-mouse struggle with the constabulary. Whatever the particulars, professional thieves are likely to know their way around the local criminal underworld.
 Witches, warlocks, cultists, and others who delve into the unholy may likewise have outlaw allies. This tends to be true even where their own practices are not explicitly criminal. Then there are the outcast races, struggling to find work or companionship in communities that are not always welcoming. Desperation sometimes drives these individuals to illegal acts. When local criminal syndicates form a rigid hierarchy with its own code of conduct, the structure behind it all sometimes turns out to a Typhonian family.
Typhonians While Apollo and Ra share custody of the Sun, Set alone rules the night. His works are often shrouded in secrecy that defies mortal magic. No living person knows how, when, where, or why the typhonian race was created. The murder of an Iskreshi Sultan in 449 G.C. prompted an investigation containing the earliest historical record of typhonians. With other evidence quick to follow in distant realms, it seems likely that these shapeshifting spawn of Set had already been infiltrating human capitals for several generations. They were most often exposed undermining established religious institutions to promote worship of divine villains. Typhonians quickly, and deservedly, developed a nefarious reputation.
 Each modern typhonian family is a secret society unto itself. Bonds of blood are the closest thing to genuine loyalties among this race spawned by a god of betrayal. Organized criminal syndicates are the norm. Unusual typhonian families disperse into vast espionage networks, insinuate themselves into high society, or embrace a holy purpose. Dozens of generations removed from their most infamous ancestors, modern typhonians no longer feel an innate connection to Set himself. Yet their cultural traditions strongly emphasize his veneration while teaching various techniques of trickery and extortion.
 This race is drawn to centers of power and wealth. They gain profound satisfaction from exerting personal influence. Artfully blending friendship with coercion, typhonian families seek control of key figures in large organizations. Be they allies or victims, these associates often benefit from the family's machinations. Assets lavished with favors may be coldly abandoned after losing their value. Typhonians excel at misdirecting unwanted attention. Entire families quickly relocate as needed to escape hostile authorities. Typhonian fugitives may be associated with faces and names unrelated to their current identities.
 The earliest records of canid typhonians date back almost 2,000 years. Their kind remains the overwhelming majority of this race. Other forms are not so much offshoot subraces as non-hereditary variations on typhonian bodily norms. The existence of cathartine typhonians was documented just a few centuries after the original accounts of this race. Intuitive leaders and judges, cathartines often usurp control of their own families or strike out alone to found new organizations. Leonine typhonians are such a rare and recent development that sages are only beginning to come around to the idea that they are no myth. Leonines tend to become especially feared enforcers in their familial syndicates. Yet some eschew urban living, instead becoming personal protectors of isolated territories.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Typhonians ↑  → Languages ←  ↓ Homelands ↓


“To truly understand languages, you must achieve fluency in more than one.”

— Superintendant Soraya Shahira, Idea Illuminators
 At the dawn of language, spellcasting and speech were not clearly distinct activities. The most ancient dragons had almost unthinkable freedom to tap immense arcane resources in a simple magical environment. A hunger for power drove them to increase their own intellects. They would go on to shape many other forms of life. Some were designed purely for food while others were to provide useful service in the years before consumption. These efforts made the magical environment much more complex. They did likewise for the spoken word.
 Labor pools each had their own primitive language, as the most isolated tribes do today. Early elves secretly developed a global tongue, weaving whispers of conspiracy into discussions of magical techniques. Known today as Ancient Elven, this form of speech would become the world's second dominant language. That uniformity gave way to chaos when the great elven empire made war with itself. Humanity survived in isolated pockets mostly hostile to fey authorities. Emergent cultures developed new ways to express their thoughts. Even the elves' own speech diverged into three distinct languages.
LanguageMutual IntelligibilityJargon Associations
AlbionishCarmatian & Sylvanianbanking/finance, plays, poetry
CarmatianAlbionish & Sylvaniandistilling, metallurgy, tinkering
CeledineseElatolion & Ontoloneseaccounting, administration
DarrestygianLachlandic & Norishmodern arcana
ElatolianCeledinese & Ontoloneseequestrian training, herding
FitchJoryani & Maniacalchemy, construction, painting
GallorianHelvetican & Truscandiplomacy, fashion, winemaking
HelveticanGallorian & Truscangemcutting, minting, mountaineering
IskreshiSerpian & Wabaharioceanic exploration, trade
JoryaniFitch & Maniacsiegecraft
KohaddicMelange & Zintuconstruction, stonecutting
LachlandicDarrestygian & Norisharctic exploration, fishing
NorishDarrestygian & Lachlandicpillaging, sailing, smithing
ManiacFitch & Joryanibrewing, modern sciences, opera
MelangeKohaddic & Zintuillicit trade, slavery, utopian politics
OntoloneseCeledinese & Elatolianfishing, weaving
SerpianIskreshi & Wabahariancient sciences, construction
Sivelshnoneforestry, monster hunting, sailing
SylvanianAlbionish & Carmatianforestry, parliamentary procedure
Thraciannoneancient sciences, medicine, philosophy
To-Shinesenonemartial arts, plays, poetry
TruscanGallorian & Helveticanlaw, medicine, modern sciences, opera
TuathishSylvanbrewing, plays, poetry
WababahariIskreshi & Serpianastrology, desert exploration
Xe-Shanesenoneespionage, martial arts
ZintuKohaddic & Melangemonster hunting, tropical exploration
 There are hundreds of human languages in use today. Many of them have no written form, and only twenty-six human tongues are spoken by more than one million living individuals. Sivelsh, Thracian, To-Shinese, Tuathish, and Xe-Shanese are unique in fundamental ways. They are only intelligible to listeners and readers who know that specific language. The other twenty-one major human languages can be grouped into seven trios. Common root words and some shared history make it possible to attempt communication using different languages within a group. These efforts may not go as smoothly as both parties using the same language, but understanding should be possible with patience and mutual goodwill.

⪤ Desert Speech (Iskreshi, Serpian, Wabahar) Serpian script, written from right to left, provides the alphabet for all three of these languages. They share roots in the tongue of the Old Kingdom, though even modern Serpian sounds nothing like that ancient speech. Wabahar and Iskreshi likewise have their own distinct cadences and emphases. Modern writing is elegant and flowing with no direct link to ancient Serpian pictograms. Even so, these languages share enough common heritage and similar word roots that all peoples of the eastern deserts are able to negotiate basic interactions.
⪤ Elvish (Drow, Greenfey, High Elven) The vocabulary of Ancient Elven is alive and well in the languages of modern elves. For the most part, they can make themselves understood by kin of a different complexion. Yet many centuries of drift have made three distinct tongues out of the old elven langauge. Idiomatic content often translates poorly while technical terms remain highly consistent. Scholars of the arcane consider a working knowledge of some elven tongue essential to their pursuit. Though the three modern languages vary enormously in written style, they all rely on the same alphabet of curving glyphs devised roughly 400,000 years ago.
⪤ Fell Speech (Bugbear, Goblin, Hobgoblin) Humanoids rising from the filth of the Scarlands all signal one another with the same limited set of shrieks and babbles. These primal sounds form the basis of native tongues spoken in communities of sentient goblinoids, including organized marauders and mercenaries. Warlords and outlaws sometimes learn a form of Fell Speech for purposes of negotiation or command. Though literature is rare in these languages, each has its own simple alphabet and poetic traditions. Unfamiliar listeners can mistake lively conversations in Fell Speech for the chatter of wild beasts.
⪤ Forester (Albionish, Carmatian, Sylvanian) During his earthly reign, subjects of the God-King Silvanus promoted a blend of elven, gnomish, and human expressions. This mixture matured into a tongue known at the time as Forest Speech. Though proper Forest Speech is a relic of the past, its offspring include Albionish, Carmatian, and Sylvanian. United by quirky grammar and a richly nuanced vocabulary, these three languages are mutually intelligible to the extent speakers can tame their thick regional accents while avoiding modern turns of phrase. Though not identical, Forester alphabets are derived from heavily overlapping sets of Ancient Elven and Old Truscan glyphs.
LanguageMutual IntelligibilitySpoken By
Abyssalnonecambions, demons
BugbearGoblin & Hobgoblinbugbears, mercenaries, warlords
Celestialnonedivine emissaries, planar explorers
CyclopeanDwarven & Giantcyclopes, engineers
Deep Speechnonedeep Labyrinth dwellers, cultists
Draconicnonedragonborn, kobolds, dragons
DrowGreenfey & High Elvendrow elves, Labyrinth dwellers
DwarvenCyclopean & Giantdwarves, metallurgists, miners
GiantCyclopean & Dwarvenfirbolgs, goliaths, giants
Gnomishnonegnomes, spies, tinkers
GoblinBugbear & Hobgoblingoblins, mercenaries, warlords
GreenfeyDrow & High Elvenfirbolgs, pixies, wood elves
High ElvenDrow & Greenfeyhigh elves, sprites, arcane scholars
HobgoblinBugbear & Goblinhobgoblins, mercenaries, warlords
Infernalnoneminotaurs, tieflings, devils
MerfolkSahuagin & Tritonmerfolk, mariners
OgrishOrcish & Trollogres, bandits, barbarians
OrcishOgrish & Trollorcs, barbarians, warlords
Primordialnoneconjurers, elemental creatures
SahuaginMerfolk & Tritonsahuagin, underwater explorers
Sauriannonelizardfolk, scouts, spies
SylvanTuathishnymphs, pixies, satyrs, sprites
TritonMerfolk & Sahuagintritons, sea floor dwellers
TrollOgrish & Orcishtrolls, brigands
⪤ Gruntwise (Ogrish, Orcish, Troll) Twisted to serve as shock troops during the Imperium Arcanum, some brutal creatures developed a common langauge that blended the most vulgar elven slang with a range of original gutteral expressions. Over thousands of years these tongues diversified as speakers went their separate ways. Learned individuals put together written versions of each racial langauge. All versed in Gruntwise remain able to communicate simple concepts with one another, with more nuanced ideas requiring good faith for clear communication across language lines.
⪤ Heartlander (Gallorian, Helvetican, Truscan) Old Truscan was once spoken by an overwhelming majority of Mainland. Modern Truscan is effectively a different language, altered over the centuries by an urbane and sophisticated people. Gallorian and Helvetican are similarly derived from Old Truscan. Anyone who can read Old Truscan literature will encounter many familiar terms in each of these modern languages, and all use basically the same simple alphabet. Yet education and culture in the provinces increasingly diverges from Truscan norms. Conversing in two different Heartlander languages sometimes requires considerable patience.
⪤ Jade Tongues (Celedinese, Elatolian, Ontolonese) Writing and speech across much of the Orient standardized under the Elatolian Hegemony. Three modern tongues all borrow heavily from Ancient Elatolian. Modern Elatolian, Celedinese, and Ontolonese are inflected in wildly different ways, but many terms have a common root in all three languages. Depending on caligraphic style, some written translations within this group are virtually identical to the original. Yet there is also much variation here, as each language has its own simplified modern alphabet that is a substantial departure from their shared pictographic heritage. Standardized Imperial curricula have successfully promoted convergence among the Jade Tongues, particularly in matters of trade, measurement, and mathematics.
⪤ Low Speech (Fitch, Joryani, Maniac) The people of the Low Towns played a part in the histories of three decidedly different ethnic groups. Their influence was profound enough that the modern language of each people closely resembles the other two. Along with many word roots, a rolling percussive manner of delivery is shared by these three languages. Mutual conversation is usually possible, and readers of one language only need puzzle through grammatical variations to make sense of texts in the other two. Native speakers of these languages will argue that no others are as beautiful, but the rest of the world generally agrees that Low Speech tends to sound unpleasant in any context other than the most skillful singing.
⪤ Mountain Speech (Cyclopean, Dwarven, Giant) Dwarven runes may be older than the first elven bloodskins. Yet scholars have seen little change in the Dwarven language through all that time. Ironically it also serves as the basis for the tongue of giants. Modern giants utilize an especially gutteral language enabling them to converse across substantial distances. A different offshoot was adopted by titans active early in the Age of Heroes, living on today among scattered tribes of cyclopes. That same variant also provides most of the jargon modern engineers utilize when planning extremely large construction projects. Mountain Speech reinforces a peculiar kinship between dwarves and some of the largest humanoids in the world.
“Each language you learn provides a new way to look at the world. Understanding how another people speak sheds light on how those people think.”

Reading Reality, Stygian Archivist manual
⪤ Norlandic Tongues (Darrestygian, Norish, Lachlandic) The Wotanian language was proudly spoken by scholars and warriors alike. Surviving texts reveal it is strikingly similar to modern Darrestygian, with virtually no variation in the ancient runic alphabet. Yet Norish and Lachlandic also share many of the same words and idioms. Oral traditions feature heavily in all three cultures. Translations between these languages are sometimes as simple as changing accent marks and affixes. Yet idiomatic variations require patience to be conveyed across the lines between distinct tongues. Some scholars impose a sort of acrolect on the Norlandic Tongues by misapplying rules from ancient Wotanian grammar handbooks.
⪤ Oceanic (Merfolk, Sahuagin, Triton) United by their aquatic habitats, sea-dwelling races learn combinations of chirps and clicks relaying basic information to others who can hear underwater. Non-verbal nuances provide much more detail, though they sometimes create confusion when the style of one race is subject to interpretation under another paradigm. The turmoil of undersea politics can alter meanings in these languages, retroactively changing the terms of contracts and vows. Oceanic script is smooth and flowing despite being inscribed more often than it is inked. These languages provide many ways to say “water” and plenty for “air” as well, but their only term for “fire” is also one of their words for “mystery.” Because Oceanic literature is normally engraved and readable by touch, many blind people make the effort to learn one of these aquatic tongues.
Trade Languages Metropolitan centers, paved highways, and peaceful seas all blend together the cultures of the world. Doing business with a diverse public generally requires buyers and vendors to communicate in some common tongue. No single language enjoys global fluency. Yet there are several widely known beyond the ancestral homeland of their origination. Books and contracts are often written in one of these trade languages. Merchants and scholars typically know at least one such tongue, thereby gaining access to opportunities for trade and study throughout a huge region of the world.
Albionish is widely known among bankers and financiers the world over. Elaborate business contracts often exploit this tongue's rich and nuanced vocabulary. It has been said that deciphering an ancient wizard's spellbook is easier than making sense of the documentation behind a modern investment agreement. Fluency in this language is particularly widespread thanks to the popularity of dramas written by legendary bards from Albion.
Celedinese is the language of all government business in the Oriental Empire. Anyone who wishes a place in the bureaucracy or any form of imperial land grant must be able to speak and write Celedinese. It is also the favored language of scholars and poets across the Orient. Polytheistic temples of the Wŭshén offer lessons in this tongue to students otherwise unable to obtain formal education.
Gallorian is the preferred tongue of diplomats and aristocrats from Mainland. Associated with peace and prosperity, it is a tongue rich with expressions pertaining to food, fashion, and stagecraft. Many idioms in this language have become terms of art in other languages. Schools that teach Gallorian often enjoy esteem that does not attach to rivals lacking this subject. Heavenly Vintners spread this tongue by insisting on wine labels and menus written in elegant Gallorian script.
Iskreshi is the language of commerce across eastern Mainland. The Iskreshi Sultanate provided standardized education to peoples all over its vast territory. Leaders in their sorcerous regime made extensive use of scribes, heralds, and bookkeepers. While Iskreshi is now a native tongue in less than a dozen provinces of the Serpian Empire; it remains popular among merchants, scholars, and mariners with business along the eastern coast.
Norish is popular with military officers and mariners around the world. Many nautical terms derive from this tongue, and its vocabulary of weather conditions is rich with nuance. It is also the prevailing trade language of northwest Mainland. Stray Norish raiders have spread their native tongue to exotic lands, where some modern cloisters and colleges have embraced it. The Mjölnir Church has inspired a recent wave of global interest in Norish speech and writing.
Serpian is the fastest-growing language in the world. As the simplest way to systematically inscribe quantities, Serpian numerals are now the standard for mathematicians and accountants around the world. Geometry, architecture, and optics all rely heavily on terms derived from this language. As the Serpian Empire actively villifies Truscan culture, some academic institutions are replacing libraries full of Old Truscan literature with Serpian translations.
Truscan is the closest thing Theatron has to a true common language. There was a time when almost all literate Mainlanders could read Truscan. Modern scientific terminology is dominated by terms with Truscan roots. Globally, a majority of the most esteemed sages write in an archaic form of Truscan, with translation into other languages reserved for their most popular works. The Aegis Church offers Truscan language schooling to any interested students.
⪤ Southlandish (Kohaddic, Melange, Zintu) Though they parted ways early in the Age of Heroes, the Zintu and the Kohadesians were once united, farming and building together in the jungles of southeastern Mainland. While these cultures took radically different paths, both languages share many common roots. After so many Zintu were put into chains, Melange evolved from a dialect of their language into a distinct tongue of its own, incorporating slave jargon from every corner of the world. Though still taught to many slaves who receive no other education, it is also popular with urban countercultures seeking emphatic contrast with the local aristocracy. Some groups embrace Melange as an idealistic rejection of all ethnic and racial divisions. All forms of Southlandish feature a mix of suffixes and common terms that allow for a rich variety of rhyming cadences.

∉ Abyssal Demons may have their roots in the darkest and least coherent realms of existence, yet their speech is both precise and persuasive. Those who do not comprehend Abyssal may perceive it as a series of enticing secrets encoded in surreal jibberish. Cambions are born with an innate knowledge of this tongue, clearly articulated infantile speech one among their many unnerving traits. Cambion political influence ordinarily prevents legal bans, but authoritarian leaders have been known to persecute Abyssal speakers.
∉ Celestial Though not truly the language of the gods, this tongue functions as a trade language across higher planes of existence. Agents acting in service to a true deity converse in this language as a sign of mutual respect. Scriptures may be written in this tongue, either out of angelic inspiration or to prevent the text from being read by common worshippers. Celestial is not the native language of any substantial population on Theatron. Nonetheless it is popular at centers of learning because of the prestige associated with studying select sacred texts in their original language.
∉ Deep Speech The origins of Deep Speech are shrouded in mystery, with no identifiable link to any language from Theatron or any other known place in existence. Modern minds residing below the Empire of Shadows are likely to be fluent in Deep Speech. Yet these creatures also seem alien and unconnected to the rest of the world. Little effort has been spent scrying into subterranean prehistory. Thus it is theoretically possible that the deepest caves harbored intelligence even before the rise of dragons. Though this language has become entangled in the lore of the Great Old Ones, conflicting results prevent scholars from divining much of anything about those enigmatic entities.
∉ Draconic The first language of the world sees much of its vocabulary still in use by modern dragons. Utterances often trail off into a long growl or hiss that emphasizes a speaker's attitude. Over five thousand molts have passed since the first dragons spoke, and many ancient invocations are now only verbs. The words themselves still reveal much about the nature of magic. Reputable universities consider this language part of a well-rounded arcane education. Dragonborn traditionally use this tongue when addressing their own kind. Winning the respect of an actual dragon is virtually impossible, but being able to converse in Draconic is a start.
∉ Gnomish Created to function as scouts and saboteurs, gnomes quickly developed a language of their own. Though it can be written in elvish script and shares some grammatical conventions, Gnomish reflects a profoundly different perspective on the world. It is a tongue of secrecy, full of double meanings and cryptic idioms. Some say sphinxes learned how to compose riddles from ancient gnomes. Also known as the “Hidden Tongue,” this language is popular with spies and outlaws despite the fact that modern gnomish communities do not normally offer hiding places to human-sized fugitives.
∉ Halfling As far back as the Age of Dragons, halflings had their own worldwide language to facilitate bartering and foraging. Even today, a strong tradition of secrecy prevents halflings from spreading this tongue outside their families unless irresistibly compelled or fabulously compensated. It relies so heavily on murmurs and whispers that Halfling is a poor choice for hailing distant targets. Yet this same tendency makes halflings almost impossible to overhear when they huddle together in conversation. Some elite halfling operatives shun employers who appropriate their racial language, discouraging espionage organizations from exploiting this otherwise ideal tongue.
∉ Infernal Many priests teach that hell is packed with souls endlessly struggling to communicate while speaking languages derived from an infinite array mortal worlds. Yet there is a single langauge spoken by nearly all devils to visit Theatron. Teaching this language is forbidden or heavily restricted in many civlized areas, but it remains a tiefling birthright passed on even by those who rebel against their diabolic heritage. Many cults and a few criminal gangs embrace the Infernal tongue as an alternative to the local language. Even in the most open-minded and libertine societies, public performance of an Infernal opera is likely to leave general audiences shocked and disturbed.
∉ Primordial Primordial could be the oldest language in the multiverse. The most credible tales of a much more primitive cosmos feature characters with distinctively Primordial names. Deities have been overhead quarreling in this tongue. Even today it is the most pervasive language of the Elemental Planes. It employs simple grammar and vocabulary. Yet the endless possibilities of compound words allow for vivid and precise Primordial expressions. No population on Theatron has adopted this tongue as their own, but scholars emphasize it for many of the same reasons Draconic is widely taught.
∉ Saurian Lizardfolk communicate using a mix of whispers, hisses, and clicks that sounds nothing like language to most human ears. Often these utterances convey basic information while subtle details are incorporated into a lingering undertone that also expresses mood. Even dragonborn find Saurian an alien language uncomfortable to vocalize. Yet for lizardfolk, everything about it is perfectly natural except the script. Institutional education is rare among their kind. Many are unaware Saurian uses an alphabet and punctuation largely derived from Draconic. This tongue sees some popularity with scouts and spies, since it allows for sophisticated conversation that might pass for background noise in thriving forests or swamps.
Secret Languages Druids and rogues are each privy to specialized forms of communication that often go unacknowledged in academic language studies. One is completely silent, and the other is a way of speaking used in combination with conventional language.
Druidic is composed chiefly of gestures, allowing for lively conversations that do not disturb the sounds of a natural setting. While Druidic features vocabulary voids in areas like metallurgy and tinkering, it supports incredible detail when discussing plants, animals, terrain, climate, weather, and the elements. Druidic also features a lexicon of tiny arrangements, such as distinctively braided twigs or piles of little stones, to be presented as meaningful markings. Like the most subtle urban graffiti, these indicators provide guidance to astute visitors. Druidic markers typically lead to remarkable vistas, prime foraging spots, or ancient monuments. They may also warn of a specific danger or convey general news about a wild place.
Thieves' Cant involves the relentless use of colorful expressions and hidden meanings to speak in clear explicit terms about a sensitive subject while uninitiated ears hear only unrelated banter. This systematic approach to doublespeak allows criminals to discuss their activities without retreating into complete privacy. Thieves' Cant may even enable the planning of an escape or attack while imminent adversaries obliviously participate in the surface level conversation. Individuals schooled in these double meanings are also quick to pick up on whatever sigils and other indicators local criminals use to designate meeting places, known threats, useful resources, etc. Where criminal organizations preside over clearly defined territories, such markings may indicate which factions control which establishments. Savvy people can spot and interpret these signs that are otherwise meaningless if not also unobtrusive.
∉ Sivelsh While Silvanus encouraged his mortal subjects to conduct dialog in Forest Speech, he personally preferred a peculiar tongue only his most devoted priests could completely comprehend. Doing their best to address complex nuanced sounds with a simple alphabet, the first Sivelsh scribes often turned brief utterances into words of tremendous length. Their modern counterparts keep this tradition alive. Unabbreviated Sivelsh signposts can be comically long. Outsiders see their prose as all but unreadable. Yet this is a tongue favored by well-educated pirates, since Sivelsh features an excellent vocabulary of nautical terms completely foreign to all other naval traditions.
∉ Sylvan see Tuathish
∉ Thracian Originating among island folk prodigious at herding and trading, this langauge employs a unique alphabet and mostly original root words. Well-travelled merchants spread this tongue to standardize business practices. The rise of Thracian city-states saw human scholarship innovating clinical terms needed to establish the natural sciences. While once the dominant trade language of Eastern Mainland, it was marginalized during the Iskreshi Sultanate. Today Thracian remains important outside Thrace chiefly because it is the original language of so many sagacious texts from early in the Age of Heroes.
∉ To-Shinese The islands of To-Shin resisted rule by the Elatolian Hegemony despite lacking their own political cohesion. Warring To-Shinese factions only unified as part of the accord annexing the islands into the new Oriental Empire. Efforts to incorporate strong commonalities with the Jade Tongues had a reverse effect, driving the people of To-Shin to celebrate their cultural differences even more intensely. Though Mainlanders see just another exotic language with a syllabic alphabet, many people from the Orient regard the To-Shinese langauge as a clear indication that the rebel province will never be completely integrated into any larger Imperial regime.
∉ Tuathish/Sylvan Though this is the language of everyday conversation for the people of Danu, Tuathish is also the tongue of fey beings from many planes of existence. Centaurs, nymphs, pixies, satyrs, sprites, and treants are among the many woodland creatures who know this language as Sylvan. To the ear it sounds similar to the Forester langauges. Yet Tuathish is incomprehensible to speakers and readers who are not specifically schooled in it, and this schooling provides no ability to understand the Forester languages. Some of the world's most colorful turns of phrase began as Tuathish expressions before finding their way into the plays and poems of other cultures.
∉ Typhonian This language lurked behind a shroud of secrecy and misinformation for centuries. With a striking similarity to Iskreshi spoken in reverse, this cryptic tongue is a little disturbing whether whispered in a quiet corner or bellowed across a battlefield. Warlocks and other occult experts sometimes write in Typhonian since its obscurity and ominous intonations match well with their work. Legal suppression is rare because governments dare not run short on translators and investigators with this knowledge. Modern security services make a point to train at least a few operatives in Typhonian to deal with any conspiracy orchestrated by actual Typhonians.
∉ Xe-Shanese This language sometimes unnerves those who are unfamiliar with its sound or appearance. The application of nuance through heavy grumbles, short chirps, and eerie whistles seems distinctly alien. Also, the Xe-Shanese alphabet of basic geometric shapes bears some resemblance to the content of notebooks written by Inscrutible Observers, though this form of writing is much simpler. Tourists in Xe-Shan sometimes confuse signage with pure decoration. Grand masters of a martial art or spellcasting technique may pen their works in Xe-Shanese because the absence of other cultural influences avoids lexical ambiguities.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Languages ↑  → Homelands ←  ↓ Albion ↓


Major Homelands by Dominions

Metropolises Twenty of the twenty-five major human homelands feature multiple huge urban centers developed through a virtuous cycle of infrastructure spending, agricultural development, and persistently robust commerce. Aqueducts and sewers wash away the stink and disease that would otherwise blight these dense urban sprawls. Professional constables keep watchful eyes on crowded markets and public squares. Fire captains have the resources to contain and extinguish dangerous blazes. Clergy and guards respond quickly to the worst contagions.
 Taken together, these measures make it possible for millions of people to coexist in a single metropolis. Paved roads smooth the constant flow of food toward hungry masses. Thousands of functioning institutions within mutual walking distance generate tremendous cultural and economic opportunities. Some guilds expand to dominate entire neighbhorhoods. Churches, theaters, and stadiums are built for enormous crowds. Colleges and universities find no shortage of able students. When managed properly, metropolitan centers become artistic wonderlands that enrich the economy of entire regions. When managed badly, they become incubators for corruption, plague, and civil unrest.
 At the present time, there are twenty-five human ethnic groups that exceed one million individuals and constitute the majority population of a well-defined homeland. Some of these realms are sovereign nations. Others are politically divided. Most are only a part of some much larger empire. Yet each features a distinctive culture shaped by its own history and circumstances. Knowing where someone hails from might reveal what sort of music they find most comforting or what sort of equipment they would expect a soldier to carry. It probably also indicates a native tongue, thereby suggesting other languages that person is likely to understand.
 Immigrants often carry their old traditions with them into a new homeland. Yet second generation immigrants almost always learn the local language. Most societies encourage cultural assimilation. Universities and colleges often place a premium on foreign faculty, seeking diversity in both academic curricula and artistic influences. While heritage cannot be revised, ethnic identity is often defined by an individual's attitudes and lifestyle. Many people spend their entire lives conforming to the standards of a single locale. Others adopt new homes at crucial junctures in their careers. Then there are self-styled “citizens of the world” who claim no particular political or ethnic identity.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Each homeland finds amusement in forms shaped by local traditions. Music, clothes, and cuisine may all seem distinctively foreign after being exported far from their place of origin. Cultural preferences often reflect the values of an ethnic group. Historic tragedies and triumphs echo in popular storytelling. Where a people are divided into many nations, artistic traditions serve as a unifying force. Where a people are one among several ruled by a great empire, artistic traditions preserve unique ethnic identities. The most metropolitan areas see exotic influences fusing with the local mainstream. Though favored forms of self-expression vary widely from one homeland to another, every major ethnic group has made important original contributions to the art of the world.
✠ Belief & Worship Each member of the Fivesquare Pantheon enjoys strong support among five human ethnicities. This divine plan to promote religious stability gives rise to twenty-five distinct bodies of religious tradition. Global sects sometimes adapt sermons to harmonize with local folklore. Divine Villains clash with other gods to weave the narratives of popular gospels. Mainstream groups and countercultures alike illustrate moral lessons through religious parables. Within each homeland, five specific deities are featured prominently in these narratives. There each is worshiped by persistent and influential congregations ranging from spectacularly famous cathedrals to profoundly obscure secret societies.
† Castles & Combat With its own rich history, each of humanity's major homelands inspires distinctive fighting styles. From acrobatic martial arts to heavy cavalry tactics, every ethnic group has found distinctive ways to effect violent action. Different societies will idealize warriors of particular demeanor as well as equipment and technique. Cultural combat styles may also manifest defensively. Each homeland faces a unique situation in terms of standing armies, fortifications, law enforcement, internal conflicts, external conflicts, etc. While most humans live their whole lives untouched by war, others find the sight of a bloody battlefield all too familiar. Even people who have never visited a warzone may still have lost loved ones, encountered traumatized veterans, and struggled with related trade disruptions.
Points of Interest Each major homeland features hundreds if not thousands of inhabited communities. Likewise, each harbors an array of historically significant locations or otherwise remarkable sites. Overviews are provided for several of the most noteworthy locales in each of these territories. These points of interest are marked as follows.
⊛ Capital – sovereign nation's seat of power
⦿ Metropolis – over one million inhabitants
⦾ Major City100,000 to one million inhabitants
⨀ Minor City or Town – under 100,000 inhabitants
⨹ Inhabited Site – home to small towns and villages
⨺ Uninhabited Site – no permanent settlements
§ Decrees & Customs The Great Consolidation sees most of humanity gathered under governments enforcing regulations and criminal penalties consistently across vast territories. Modern regimes tend to operate through elaborate bodies of law. Nuanced legislative debates produce carefully crafted statutes. Even when a head of state issues a simple edict, lesser officials will contribute clarifying language as they rule on particular cases or take specific actions to advance the new policy. Custom also determines much of what is or is not acceptable in a society. In one land it might be rude to cease work for an afternoon nap, whereas disturbing such a nap in another land would give deep offense. Varying notions of what constitutes good manners sometimes cause uninformed travellers to generate unexpected conflict.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade No two homelands contain the same mix of resources. When filtered through factors like infrastructure development, borrowing opportunities, education levels, and relationships with other homelands; each place finds itself in unique economic circumstances. Calm seas and modern methods of navigation link all the world's great port cities. Paved and patrolled roads likewise bring commerce to most landlocked urban centers. A typical homeland produces several notable exports exceptional in either quality or quantity relative to whatever trading partners are able to produce on their own. Centers of industry often import huge quantities of raw materials while sending out smaller shipments of valuable goods. Diplomats and merchants make it their business to stabilize relationships wherever profitable.
⨳ Foes & Perils Danger is never far away for those who seek it out. Most homelands face some sort of problem with renegades. Even lands secure against marauders and rebels still struggle with their worst outlaws. Deadly monsters may be on the prowl in wildlands. Ancient ruins and unexplored caverns seem to be abundant in every human homeland. Such sites often harbor creatures of immense power. In urban quarters, underworld organizations sometimes perpetrate criminal conspiracies. Mysterious disappearances befall unfortunate witnesses. Monstrous incursions sometimes erupt from Labyrinth, the Scarlands, or the sea. Every thriving human society has ample need for adventurers eager and able to confront grave danger. While many are lost, some become great heroes through successive victories fighting to keep a realm safe for ordinary people.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Homelands ↑  → Albion ←  ↓ Carmatia ↓

Demonym: Albionians Language: Albionish
Homeland: Albion    First City: Galford
Politics: many feudal Sylvanian kingdoms
Elites: fighters, wizards, rogues, bards, druids
Endowments: intelligence and constitution
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: blonde to dark brown
Eyes: blue, brown, or green
Influential Deities: Dagda, Mannanan Mac Lir, Silvanus, Dionysus, Hades
Borders: Carmatia, Danu, Galloria, Sivales
Popular Instruments: drum, lute, lyre, shawm
Traditional Weapons: morningstar, longsword, lance, longbow
Female Names: Alice, Elizabeth, Eve, Grace, Jane, Jenny, Layla, Margaret, Nicola, Poppy, Rose, Sadie, Susan, Valerie
Male Names: Andrew, Arthur, Charles, Felix, George, Henry, John, Laurence, Paul, Nigel, Ringo, Rupert, Steven, William
Albion Bounded on the north by the Thousand Mile Wall, Albion is a constellation of great urban stars amidst a backdrop of gentle hills and parklike forests. This region includes assorted scenic isles off Mainland's west coast as well as the kingdom of Avalon on the island of Danu. Many travellers form their first impression of Albion sailing near the white chalk cliffs that dominate some remarkable stretches of coastline here. Governed by a patchwork of kingdoms and principalities, every regime in Albion supports the Sylvanian Confedaration. Each remains sovereign, but conflicts between neighboring realms rarely escalate beyond the level of a jousting tournament or a trade embargo.
 Elven and human populations mingle freely in this peaceful place. Even before their beliefs became known as the Old Faith, this realm was home to many important circles of druids. In modern times, the Albion is also known for quality smiths, metallurgists, and artificers. Mines across this region yield unremarkable ores, but finished goods are often exquisitely crafted and/or forged of speciality alloys. Metropolitan areas support labor-intensive enterprises that combine the productivity of huge work crews with the exactitude of master artisans. Promoting trade guilds and credible financial institutions enables the aristocracy to live lavishly on the spoils of broad prosperity.
 Kings and queens of Albion often seek glory and power through wealth. Yet this affluence makes Albion's coastal realms prime targets for Norish marauders. In turn, this justifies the maintenance of large standing armies by these kingdoms. Strategic posturing with forces camped along borders is normally considered an honorable way to apply pressure during negotiations. Yet it is seen as a failure of leadership whenever violence spirals beyond small rulebound clashes agreed upon by both sides. Albionians are famed for their unflappable nature. Stoic attitudes and an innate ruggedness drive them to be well-mannered even under the most adverse circumstances. Their humor is widely regarded as subtle and intellectual. From the wealthiest kings to struggling street urchins, almost all Albionians place a premium on protocol.
The Imperium Arcanum Dragons powerful enough to employ elven archivists were also powerful enough to casually devour a lone wizard. Even the most ingenious of these early fey were regarded as chattel by dragonkind. Simply discussing any method of fighting back required secrecy. “The Whispered Tongue” is how Ancient Elven was known among its progenitors. Their hidden meeting places developed into stockpiles of arcane lore and rare components. Teams of archmagi continued to serve their tyrants as humble librarians while covertly convening to practice battle tactics. What started out as a secret society intent on discussing the idea of killing a dragon exploded into a global regime dedicated to the genocide of dragonkind.
 Roughly 50,000 years ago, an intrepid cell of these conspirators was discovered by their territory's presiding dragon. The ancient wyrm believed himself invincible. A well-practiced barrage from these wizards proved otherwise. Participants in this slaying unlocked profound insights about the nature of magic. One among them argued that the only way to survive was to aggressively build upon this success. Lone dragons continued to fall in efforts to eliminate the first real scourge their kind had ever known. Even when alliances formed, organizing efforts were stymied by draconic arrogance. Meanwhile elvenkind rallied behind their most formidable spellcasters. These Archfey would preside over the world's first true empire.
 Millions of people were liberated from service to dragons. The blood of slain wyrms poured into rituals that energized global currents of fey magic. Stone structures regulated the geometry of these ley lines on land. Towering bastions of magical glass offered shelter from the wrath of dragonkind. Ubiquitous illusions and enchantments enabled non-fey subjects to experience a false bliss while subsisting on minimal resources in cramped quarters. This embattled magocracy endeavored to rid the world of dragons for tens of thousands of years. The Imperium Arcanum unravelled only after a controversial initiative to create benevolent dragons gave rise to mutually hostile light and dark factions.
♪ Arts & Entertainments The earliest Albionians peacefully coexisted with remnants of the Imperium Arcanum. Even after elven archmagi were no longer numerous enough to sustain Archfey enchantments, these humans inhabited and preserved many ancient structures. Albionish fashion, literature, and music all reflect elven traditions. Some kingdoms emphasize this heritage while others favor modern styles and turns of phrase. Though urban fortifications loom in dull gray stone, Albionish office buildings and apartment towers take the shape of graceful shards clad in glass or hide. Ptah is not widely worshiped in Albion, but some of the world's foremost Reverend Architects ply their trade here.
 Albionish instruments are often quiet, with smooth gentle tones emerging from their strings or reeds. Quartets are popular in both instrumental and vocal permutations. Yet their most esteemed performers are dedicated to drama or comedy. Recent generations of Albionish playwrights have produced masterpieces based on extensive refinements of Thracian theatrical forms. Modern Albionish playhouses promote a sense of community. Common folk crowd together on the floor while aristocrats lounge on luxurious balconies, but class boundaries are freely transgressed in subsequent discussion of noteworthy productions enjoyed by all.
✠ Belief & Worship Popular Albionish scriptures praise the God of Limitless Might for laboring to provide all the world's bounty. The God of Verdant Wilderness and the God of Briny Depths are important lieutenants managing the yields of Albionish lands and seas. The God of Drunken Revelry appears alternately foil or friend, tempting other gods to shirk their duties yet celebrating heartily at their victories. Even the God of Tranquil Death is a respectable figure. His role as divine villain softens through the lesson that burying what is old makes way for what is new to grow. Both Elegant Morticians and Concierge Cleaners the world over tend to favor formal business attire in the Albionish style.
 The Old Faith has always been strong among the Albionians. Large and numerous Standing Stone sites, including Glowhenge itself, adorn the land here. Even conventional clerics rarely have a harsh word for druids here. Yet the larger cities of Albion are devoted to modern religion, often raising great cathedrals. Religious tolerance is the norm here. Foreign traditions may be safely practiced so long as they are holy. Witchcraft is another matter. Many Albionish kingdoms provide funding for witch hunters authorized to investigate and punish anyone alleged to participate in an unholy pact. The “white” magic of the fey is sometimes trusted by commoners, but authorities are rarely so open-minded. Popular opinion is overwhelmingly hostile toward bargains with infernal or alien beings. The few actual covens active in this realm form a secretive network that is the backbone of a broad criminal subculture.
† Castles & Combat There is no higher authority in Albion than a king or a queen. Some rule no more than a humble capital and surrounding land enough to feed that city. Others control mighty kingdoms supporting multiple metropolises. Though a few regimes feature parliaments where representatives of the common people voice grievances, monarchs here typically deal only with lesser nobles. In turn, those minor aristocrats handle the work of local governance, tax collection, military security, etc. Even an obscure baron is likely to own a fortified tower or keep for emergencies. More important nobles maintain multiple castles overseeing vast tracts of productive land. Urban centers see banking houses and aristocratic estates secured by cunning blends of metal with magic. Albionish constables are famously professional and well-organized.
The Thousand Mile Wall The Truscan Golden Age is widely considered to have begun when this barrier was completed. Today it constitutes the border between Albion and Carmatia. Originally it was thought to mark the northernmost reach of civilization. Consistent trickery by the Darresteggers and the Norish convinced Truscan conquerors that only frigid wastes with insignificant resources could be found farther north. The Carmatians' barbaric ancestors reinforced this idea while creating a need to shelter peaceful communities just south of the wall.
 Today the minor nobles occupying the wall's many fortresses are collectively known as the Granite Viscounts. They prosper by taxing trade that flows through their fortified strongholds. This wealth is essential to equipping and maintaining garrisons sufficient to stop raiding parties and prevent remote stretches of the wall from being exploited as quarries. While the typical Albionish noble occasionally sallies forth to complete the routing of a Norish raiding party, the Granite Viscounts are routinely tested in brutal battles against Carmatian clans. Yet they also embrace aspects of Carmatian culture. Their tables rarely lack abundant whiskey, and feats of strength are a favored form of entertainment in their militant fiefs.
 Monarchs here maintain large well-equipped armies both to keep their rivals in check and thwart coastal raids. Neighbors often answer distress calls in the hope that military solidarity will finally put an end to Norish incursions. Major conflicts here are normally resolved through an elaborate protocol of negotiations and jousting tournaments. Yet these exhibitions only showcase the skills of the elite commanders. Diplomatic protocols drive gradual escalations, to the point that international battles are often limited clashes between comparable assets in an open field on a clear day. Vanquished and victor may share medical resources and dine together while a treaty is drafted reflecting terms more favorable to the triumphant faction.
 An armored lancer is the ideal combatant in this land. Knighthoods are often bestowed on warriors contributing to great victories in battle or at tourneys. Some follow a code that sees them dismounting or even discarding weapons to avoid claiming a victory through unfair advantage. For Albionians unable to afford a warhorse and armor, archery remains a popular fighting style. Common folk are not encouraged to own other military weapons, but longbows are ubiquitous in this culture. Many counties hold regular archery exhibitions. Albionish marksmen may be the finest in the world. As with jousting, archery competitions here draw talent from distant lands, and huge crowds form at major events. Even a small Albionish village should be able to muster a few squads of competent archers for its own defense.
 Most of Albion's monarchs also field mighty navies. Forces conceived to escort merchant vessels have been hardened by countless clashes with Norish raiders. Now the sailors of Albion command some of the finest warships afloat. Stout hulls carry well-disciplined crews trained as armed combatants. Ships from rival kingdoms easily collaborate given similar traditions and a common foe. Even the merchant ships of Albion typically boast respectable fighting capabilities. In distant parts of the world, Albionish sailors may act as mercenaries or even engage in piracy. In native waters they aggressively hunt Norish raiders while giving no quarter to pirates.
§ Decrees & Customs Recent centuries have seen Albionish lords exerting dominion over wild lands. Areas rich with game and timber are often monopolized or only made available to those willing to purchase expensive licenses. Poaching is a serious crime in some kingdoms. Official power is exercised by wardens or sheriffs out in the open, while educated constables keep the peace in urban areas. Hostile druids and fey are quick to prevent anything beyond light foraging in the wildest parts of this land. Many villages favor the Old Faith over modern religions, and rural folks often follow ancient practices meant to honor indigenous fey.
“Nobles can tell us what is illegal. Priests can tell us what is unholy. No one can tell us what to believe.”

— Margaret, Duchess of East Sangovia
 Albion is not known for advanced gadgetry, but the region boasts highly effective criminal investigators utilizing technology and magic to support uniformed peace officers patrolling the streets. Fairness and formality are both seen as important virtues by the people of Albion. Lawbreakers are punished, but even jailers and executioners go about their work in a respectful manner. Nearly all cityfolk here take an afternoon break to enjoy a hot beverage with a small snack. As with other forms of protocol, it is considered rude to interrupt this respite with work demands, yet it is also thought proper to perform diligently outside these refreshing interludes. Guilds, armies, schools, and religious institutions all keep copious records to better organize the activities of large numbers of people.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade A few of the richest living individuals are Albionish monarchs. The best farmlands here are merely average, and the yields from local mines tend to be ordinary. Yet these basic resources are paired with extraordinary industry. Albion's most prosperous cities are home to enormous artisan's guilds. A web of elaborate relationships connects banks, nobles, and courts of law. Guilds here often finance expansion or modernization with debt. Though this increases productivity, it also entitles creditors to much of the increased profit. These arrangements sustain a substantial middle class of skilled workers even as they enable elites to turn personal treasuries into working capital.
Druids The origin of the Old Faith is uncertain. It could be older than the written word. With so much intrinsic magical power, ancient dragons were not sensitive to the ordinary life energy channeled by druids. The earliest accounts of druids can be found among Imperium Arcanum tomes dismissive of “medicine men” performing minor miracles in service to isolated human tribes.
 Some of these rare magical humans were encouraged to act as caretakers at remote Standing Stones. While revering the megaliths as conduits for arcane energy, astute observers were able to incorporate fey secrets into their animistic traditions. By the Age of Heroes, druids were organized in a vast secret society monopolizing its own distinctive form of spellcasting. They remained largely aloof from the political and moral struggles of that era.
 The same cannot be said for their modern counterparts. All druids favor nature over artifice, but philosophies vary greatly among individuals. Some cling to the oldest traditions – remaining quietly neutral while living apart from civilization. Many more are intensely polarizing figures. Some are committed to sustaining a healthy blend of wilderness with settlement. Others endeavor to prevent any economic development of their chosen territory. Powerful druids often coordinate with a circle of like-minded peers, sharing knowledge and providing support for allies in need.
 Managing these urban engines of prosperity is always a challenge. The happiest realms see rural folk enjoying minimal taxation, permissive hunting privileges, and good-paying jobs building infrastructure. Yet some Albionish kingdoms see widespread discontent among rural folk burdened with heavy taxes while working modest farms. The worst banking practices convert free landowners into tenant farmers, forever bound to massive debts. Wherever the law supports these practices, swashbuckling bandits may enjoy brief careers as local heroes while robbing bankers and aristocrats. Yet even struggling parts of Albion see urban populations churning out enough tools, small arms, glassware, and textiles to support robust export of finished merchandise.
⨳ Foes & Perils The druids of Albion often take bold moral stances, some allying with kings and heroes while others violently attack strangers entering specific tracts of remote wilderness. Witches and warlocks may practice their dark arts in such primeval places or right in the heart of a major city. The lycanthropes of Albion tend toward discretion, but outbreaks can spread quickly. Borders between kingdoms sometimes provide havens for bandits and organized poachers. Though pirates can also be found in the seas of Albion, Norish raiders are the greater menace, looting coastal communities in seasonal swarms.
 Albion is thought to harbor few dragons, with most of those slumbering at any given time. Yet particularly ancient and powerful wyrms lurk among this small population. Dark fey beings, ancient fey creations, and more recent arcane constructs are more often sources of threat. Some Albionish aristocrats maintain eclectic menageries as symbols of wealth and power, so it is not uncommon to find exotic beasts prowling the halls of a fallen stronghold. Also, rumors tell of seemingly desolate islands that conceal large forces of Grim Gallants quietly accumulating both in skill and number.
⊛ Galford was originally the Arcanum Imperium citadel Gæl Fwy'ord. This great city has been rebuilt from ashes no less than seven times in recorded history. Strategically overlooking the mouth of the River Sterling, Galford became a major commercial hub as the Albionish people developed their own ethnic identity. With esteemed mints, major banking houses, and the headquarters of several global shipping lines; few cities boast a financial sector on the same scale as Galford. Yet it is also a study in economic contrasts. Debtors' prisons and indentured servitude sometimes lead to a sort of quasi-legal slavery for the poorest residents here in the Kingdom of West Sangovia's glittering capital.
Standing Stones Bringing an end to the Age of Dragons required extreme measures. Secret societies of elven archmagi devised a network of ley lines to coordinate efforts at reinforcing embattled comrades. Through arcane rituals, they poured the blood of their ancient enemies right into this network. The energy unleashed drove great megaliths to erupt from the ground. Mostly intact today, each monument visibly confirms a local convergence of these unseen lines of force.
 Glowhenge literally shines with power derived from the Archfey themselves. The ritual sacrifice of captive dragons here was already routine when the first Wyrmplague spell was cast. The following centuries saw these stones constantly bathed in fresh dragon's blood. As the hub of a network containing all that energy, Glowhenge is as much a magical construct as a physical structure. Anyone approaching the site today is likely to experience unpredictable and dangerous effects. Those who linger within the innermost ring are sure to emerge forever transformed by the experience . . . if they emerge at all.
 Thousands of lesser formations of Standing Stones around the world serve as teleportation circles and reference points for arcane methods of navigation. Visitors often feel a sense of anticipation. Some fear that a band of powerful foreigners might spontaneously appear without warning. Also strongly connected to the magic of druids and rangers, Standing Stones in some realms have been vandalized or even buried by modern congregations hostile to the Old Faith.
⊛ Tintagel is the picturesque capital of Avalon, the lone Albionish kingdom on the enchanted island of Danu. From here the Knights of the Unbroken Circle, each a legendary general battle-tested against monstrous armies, coordinate their defense of the realm. Supported by druids, wizards, and clerics; these seasoned commanders secure ample territory for many growing towns and countless farms. Some say there is no higher military honor in the world than to be admitted to that military order. Despite excellent security, Avalon is still overrun with minor fey. No visitor would deny that it is a downright magical place.
⦾⦾ Axon & Undis have barely ninety miles between them, but they are the only two institutes of arcane studies that have been in continuous operation since before the Imperium Arcanum abandoned its fey monopoly on arcane spellcasting. Today each carries on as a large university offering instruction in a wide range of sciences right alongside the classics. History, theology, and spellcraft remain the most popular subjects of study and research. Both centers of learning are home to entire galleries of ancient fey artifacts, and the practice of archaeology was pioneered on the ruins buried beneath these prestigious institutions.
⨀ Elgarond, with a population exceeding 50,000, is known as the world's largest high elf stronghold. Sheltered by towering woodlands as well as mighty archmagi, the city itself is practically invisible from beyond the range of archers patrolling the walls. Within, it is a serene community where wealth is abundant and greed is rare. Self-sufficient and wary of outsiders, the elves of Elgarond maintain archives of ancient lore surrounded by schools devoted to modern magical studies. Though known for large families, the city does not grow so much as send wave after wave of young elves out into the world in search of experiences beyond what this sedate and unrelentingly pale society can provide. It is a place wild young fey are keen to leave behind, though elders in their twilight sometimes retire here.
⨺ Glowhenge marks the most energetic convergence in the global network of ley lines. Some see it as a holy site. Others regard it as an arcane mystery, perhaps even older than the network itself. The reverent and the curious brave bursts of wild magic to walk within these concentric megalithic rings shrouded in fluctuating purple light. A common direction finding technique always points toward this location. Just over the horizon from the Duke of Irkannen's stronghold, the site is presently secure against vandals. Yet legends tell of these Standing Stones spontaneously recovering from partial destruction, as if their very forms and positions were dictated by the will of magic itself.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Albion ↑  → Carmatia ←  ↓ Celedine ↓

Demonym: Carmatians Language: Carmatian
Homeland: Carmatia  First City: Ayrdee (disputed)
Politics: small Sylvanian clans in constant turmoil
Elites: barbarians, fighters, rogues, bards, warlocks
Endowments: strength and constitution
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: light to dark brown
Eyes: blue or brown
Influential Deities: Dagda, Oghma, Silvanus, Hel, Loki
Borders: Albion, Fitchland, The Scarlands
Popular Instruments: bagpipes, drum, dulcimer, lyre
Traditional Weapons: longsword, greatsword, glaive, maul
Female Names: Ashley, Bonnie, Caroline, Dallas, Iona, Kenzie, Lara, May, Nell, Rhonda, Saundra, Sheena, Tyra, Wendy
Male Names: Bart, Bruce, Connor, Douglas, Duncan, Fergus, Kirk, Lorne, Malcolm, Peyton, Roy, Scott, Tavish, Wallace
Carmatia The rugged highlands just north of the Thousand Mile Wall are mostly uncivilized. Yet the past millennium has seen dozens of barbarian tribes settle into pockets of security among the craggy hills of Carmatia. Clans each distinguished by a signature plaid pattern now spend more time waging war with their neighbors than fending off humanoid hordes. Much of the violence seems a function of tradition rather than ambition, since conquests are usually short-lived. The terrain and the people are both resistant to any outcome other than loyalty to local leaders based on family bonds.
 Yet all this fighting has given rise to some of the most ferocious warriors of modern times. Even when equipped with nothing but a massive sword and relentless aggression, a Carmatian's battle cry tends to inspire great fear. Boisterous in peace as they are bloodthirsty in battle, Carmatian warriors can be found in mercenary groups all over the world. Between the treacherous terrain and the constant skirmishing, this area is also heavy with bandits and other outlaws.
 Even so, the more stable clans boast of truly great achievements. Their most refined strongholds are each home to a significant bardic college, and their distilleries produce the most esteemed spirits in the modern world. Delicate clockwork is out of fashion, but local tinkers have been known to experiment with machinery powered by steam. The region is also a hub of activity for masons and architects – enormous quarries service constant demand for building or rebuilding fortifications. Yet most clans maintain small holds, and the largest Carmatian cities are not especially metropolitan. A few clans have established prosperous trade relations with one or more kingdoms of Albion, though rival clans sometimes attack this shipping or even send war parties on raids south of the Wall.
Bardic Colleges Major human cities often feature an institute devoted to musical education. Makers of quality instruments may find their skills valued at such colleges. Aged travellers and eclectic libraries impart both lore and creative inspiration. Because bards play a vital role in spreading news of recent events, bardic colleges are ideal places to gather news from distant lands. Foreign bards are welcome not only for sharing such tales, but also exhibiting their own musical techniques.
 In many lands, bardic colleges are dwarfed by nearby universities supporting advanced arcane studies. Yet some are hubs of wizardry. Where other academic institutions do not thrive, bardic colleges are likely to maintain the best libraries and storehouses of arcane supplies. Everywhere they serve as conservators of cultural traditions. To be certified by a particular college, each bard must deliver a verbatim performance of several epic sagas. Gospel narratives, political histories, and local folk tales are all fit subjects for these epics. Such musical canons also establish foundations of rhythms, scales, and harmonic progressions such that bards of the same college find it easy to collaborate.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Many societies enjoy athletic competitions, but the Carmatians take feats of strength and stamina to extremes. Hurling massive objects, tugging laden sledges, and purposefully tumbling down treacherous hillsides are all considered good sport among these people. Outsiders jest that the one thing more frightening than their athleticism is their music. Carmatian bagpipes often sound piercingly loud. Much popular music here is purely vocal. From anthems to laments to lullabies, almost every traditional Carmatian piece may also be performed as a raucous sing-along.
 The most prosperous clans have spent centuries seeking greater refinement. This has given rise to a sophisticated art in which plucked string ensembles perform harpestries – intricate compositions making extensive use of counterpoint. More than a few Carmatian leaders seek to prove their greatness by bankrolling a respectable bardic college. Yet sculptures and other works of art rarely weather many generations of the region's abundant violence. Only an abiding cultural respect for the beauty of a finely crafted spirit preserves the most precious institutions of this land – distilleries. Locals insist that no one can doubt the making of spirits is an art after sipping well-aged Carmatian whiskey.
✠ Belief & Worship The clans of Carmatia turned to druids and witches for magical support, as was the way of their tribal ancestors. The spread of modern religion has driven many indigenous leaders to cast out the Old Faith along with unholy spellcasters. Even small towns here often raise large churches, in part because those structures are left untouched during attacks from rival clans. Priests now enjoy positions of prestige, although most clans villainize one or more of the five deities commonly revered in Carmatia.
 Infinite in the measure Carmatians value most, the God of Limitless Might is worshiped as the supreme being. His inexorable will is often challenged yet never thwarted by the God of Endless Disguises and the Goddess of Cursed Afflictions. Dagda often looks to his allies, the God of Verdant Wilderness and the God of Accumulated Lore, for the understanding needed to overcome opposition. Even the most nuanced Carmatian parable tends to resolve with a variation on the theme of “might makes right.” Ultimately, greater strength saves the day, and sinister schemers must withdraw into the hills.
 Despite this consistency, Loki and Hel both enjoy an active following here. The former serves as the patron deity of bandits, though he is openly worshiped among a few of the most aggressive among the settled clans. Witches and warlocks, reclusive yet abundant in the gloomier reaches of Carmatia, often support isolated temples devoted to Hel. While small Standing Stones are common here, well-attended Old Faith observances are not. So much of these windswept highlands is not lively enough to have need of magical protection. Neither druids nor witches are treated as criminals in Carmatian communities, but both are often condemned from popular pulpits.
Stone Construction Durable and fire resistant, stone buildings have sheltered humans from danger as far back as the Age of Dragons. Modern construction techniques involve precise stonecutting along with mortar to bind blocks together. Where available, granite is often the material of choice for stone construction. Abundant and rugged, the dull gray mineral is the primary constituent of countless fortresses and city walls. Skilled masons tend to make a good living wherever populations or wars are on the rise.
 Modern architects can design graceful arching structures that provide considerable support at modest material cost. However, there are limits to what non-magical stone can support. For towers taller than 100′, lower levels cannot feature much open space while properly supporting the upper levels. The grandest structures, like the Great Pyramids of Serpia, are almost entirely stone with relatively small chambers of interior space. Where convenient, ruins both recent and ancient are quarried in support of new construction.
† Castles & Combat When the Truscan Empire originally advanced toward this region, the indigenous barbarians had so little of value that the Thousand Mile Wall was constructed to protect what was thought to be the northernmost worthwhile conquest. The wall still stands, but today it shields the wealthy kingdoms of Albion from being raided by aggressive Carmatian clans. These clans feud constantly with their neighbors, so internal warfare perpetually rages across this rugged territory. Local warriors favor light armor and heavy weapons, always keeping a throwing axe or two handy for those moments when a foe cannot yet be reached. Not only are weapons unregulated here, but all adult males are expected to take up arms in defense of their community when called upon to do so. In Carmatian society, a man who does not long for glorious battle is thought to be of unsound mind.
 Construction is a vital part of the Carmatian economy. Many fortifications are in a constant state of repair, periodically damaged by aggressive assaults. Local tinkers have accumulated unique knowledge of steam power, though frequent boiler explosions make self-annihilating siege engines the only useful application of this technology. Proper Carmatian cities only thrive in those rare places where stout walls remain unbreached for generations. Elsewhere embattled populations often huddle into modest keeps, unable to prevent the pillaging of surrounding farms and shops. Warfare is so ubiquitous that virtually every Carmatian adult can name friends and family members fallen in battle.
§ Decrees & Customs This culture remains in flux between tribalism and a more civilized set of norms. Personal conflicts quickly spiral into family feuds. Dueling is encouraged to contain disputes before this takes place. Nonetheless, the honor of each family and the clan it supports will bear no insult. Custom requires any Carmatian sporting weaponry to display the distinctive plaid pattern of their clan, a display that sometimes limits options for travel and social interaction. Foreigners may do well here as traders or bards, since Carmatian lairds are eager for commerce and art, yet many mistreat visitors from rival clans.
 With so little unity, much of Carmatian law is an informal matter of local edicts and adherence to tradition. However, the production of spirits here is both science and art, governed by strict codes of purity. Distilleries are among the few significant profit centers in this war-torn region. Whiskey that might fetch a handsome price in a distant market is casually quaffed by ordinary Carmatians looking to lighten their mood. Carmatians are every bit as passionate in their carousing as they are in their battles and their labors. Adults often see sobriety and chastity as character flaws rather than virtues.
Bandits From dragons and giants to undead blights and goblin hordes, the nations of the world face no shortage of deadly monsters. Yet the single greatest killer of human beings is other human beings. War and its aftermath are at the heart of this reality, but violent thieves make their own contribution to the body count. Far from well-policed roads and cities, bandits tend to be a pervasive threat. Be it the most hated outlaw in the land or a popular noble freshly stripped of title and wealth, people who feel they have nothing left to lose may try to make a way of life out of robbing isolated homes and ambushing unwary travellers.
 Bandits are rare and short-lived in lands where law enforcement is organized and well-resourced. War zones often see forces too focused on conflict to provide security for civilians. Faltering governments spend less to patrol and maintain major roads. Invading soldiers may seek funds by demanding protection money from travellers in occupied territory. Where all governments are local, bandits have an easier time to fleeing trackers and finding hideouts. Generally unable to cooperate in efforts to secure their shared homeland, feuding Carmatian clans suffer mightily from a proliferation of bandits.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade Barter remains an important element of the Carmatian economy. Locals are often secretive about significant amounts of money. Large business transactions may see whiskey used as a medium of exchange. As with horse theft, there are severe penalties for watering down spirits in any container with original distillery markings. Prosperous farmers find whiskey reserves a sensible way to store the wealth of their best harvests. Itinerant traders travel freely among the clans, accumulating bottles and casks of local whiskey until a shipment is ready to be peddled at some distant urban marketplace. In this way even the smallest village has access to the spices, literature, and coins of distant realms.
 Farms and towns face regular tax collection, yet feuds lead to territorial ambiguity, and the threat of violence is pervasive. The distinction between civics and racketeering can be unclear in Carmatia. Prosperity is slow to develop outside bastions held secure across multiple generations. Unsophisticated financial oversight and the absence of large banks leave investors vulnerable to both fraud and volatility. Carmatian trading ships operate independently, owned by their captains. Where clan struggle rages frequently, badlands see crumbling roads prowled by outlaw gangs. Bandits and struggling chiefs sometimes attempt to raid prosperous communities in Albion. Only the smallest incursions slip past garrisons along the Thousand Mile Wall.
⨳ Foes & Perils One need never travel far across Carmatia to reach the nearest active warzone. Often the line between military aggression and banditry is blurry. Anything of great value is a target if left out in the open, rendering the line between ranch hands and constables equally blurry. The best hunting grounds are home to actual boogeymen along with an assortment of aggressive fey. Mining operations in Carmatia are frequently hampered by troglodytes. Monstrous hordes take shape to the east, though they are rarely drawn into this rugged and sparsely populated land. Ghosts and wraiths emerge at night in some of the most scenic parts of Carmatia. Some specialize in luring innocent people toward falling or drowning deaths. Every Carmatian native seems to know a few cautionary tales about haunted places.
“Never draw your blade when you can settle a dispute with the back of your hand.”

— Tavish McDonald, Thane of Lochlohan
 The most unsightly locales are home to reclusive hags, many in league with Plaguemongers or malicious witches. Even more sociable hags and witches are widely despised since they deal in poisons and curses. With large dark elf cities in Labyrinth below Carmatia, powerful underground organizations covertly exploit the humans above. Mysterious shapeshifters have been known to infiltrate smaller communities and abduct human newborns. Dragon sightings are rare here, but the moors are undoubtedly home at least a few savage wyrms. Some scholars of animal science claim isolated populations of aquatic dinosaurs inhabit the deepest Carmatian lakes, but this intriguing theory is not widely respected.
“Too few words is the best shortage.”

— Carmatian proverb
⊛ Ayrdee is a remarkably peaceful place right at the heart of this perpetually violent realm. Though it is home to little more than 100,000 residents, the city continues to grow thanks to decades of continuously successful defense. Within the walls of Ayrdee, whiskeys savored the world over are prepared by patient experts. Official Sprit Regulator gatherings are conducted at an ancient lodge within this city. The local library is open to the general public, and it rivals any other Sylvanian library in sheer quantity of preserved documents. A mighty and resourceful enclave of Blessed Archivists stands ready to defend this trove and support defenders of the city itself.
Mercenaries A major standing army is a costly burden. The greatest imperial treasuries can sustain such payrolls, but minor lords rarely have the resources to keep a large force on duty in times of peace. Mercenaries fulfill a crucial need, enabling those with enough coin to project power as needed without incurring long term costs. Already trained and equipped if not also battle-tested, mercenaries provide the means to field assets selected specifically for the task at hand. Whether their purpose is to supplement existing armed forces or carry out an independent mission, skillful deployment of mercenaries has turned the tide of many wars.
 Potential soldiers may work as farmers, artisans, or builders in time of peace. An economy quickly becomes strained when a significant fraction of these people are no longer producing tax revenue, instead actively draining the treasury. Even law enforcers typically work in numbers just large enough to maintain public support for authorities. Diverting too many constables to military actions leaves urban centers vulnerable to unrest and mayhem. From a minor warlord with a bandit problem to a great general campaigning against a cunning rival, mercenaries are an essential tool of modern warfare.
⊛ Terwall serves as the headquarters of the Claymore Clans. This unstable alliance of warlords manages to generate income by training and operating many companies of mercenaries. Paying customers will find their pick of hardened regulars, ferocious berserkers, and crafty skirmishers. Potential recruits must buy their place in one of these companies, though valuable training is provided in return. A towering fortress casts its shadow across this sprawling hub of trade in steel and livestock. Yet Terwall is wracked by frequent power struggles within the alliance, and the place lacks either a bardic college or a respectable distillery.
⦾ Converness is Carmatia's primary port, mired in wetlands where three rivers meet the sea. Ruled by the cunning Gobnee clan, harbormasters here dispatch countless vessels departing full of whiskey only to return with luxuries from distant lands. Despite such brisk commerce, rampant fraud foils the rise of great Carmatian shipping lines. Independent traders may sell shares in their own ships, but savvy locals do not invest in grander schemes. Though the largest and most urbane of all Carmatian cities, many in the region regard Converness as a cultural aberration. This is reinforced by the fact that, while of no relation, an entire neighborhood of goblins enjoys the protection of Gobnee authorities.
⨹ Dubh Tuloch is an ominous peak rising up amidst inhospitable moors and barrens. Popular folklore depicts this jagged mountain as the site of dark deeds, but in reality it is an oasis amidst desolation. Vast caverns provide abundant shelter while productive foothills and vales are refreshed with cascades of glacial runoff. Here small human villages and smaller communities of forest gnomes thrive with little outside contact. The area is a hub of support for the Old Faith in a realm where druids are not widely respected.
⨺ Titans' Rest harbors a mysterious collection of ancient statues. Ranging from 50′-70′ in size, dozens of stone warriors armed and armored in ancient Wotanian style tower over and crumble onto this lifeless plateau. A local legend contends that these are the remains of giants petrified during a battle between Odin and Dagda. Archaeologists agree that the statues are more than a few centuries old, but scientific consensus breaks down when venturing into more specific territory. Likewise, seers' attempts to scry the past at this location are consistently unable to view anything in the years surrounding the appearance of these colossal figures in 1,441 A.H.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Carmatia ↑  → Celedine ←  ↓ Danu ↓

Demonym: Celedinese Language: Celedinese
Homeland: Celedine  First City: Suotien
Politics: heartland provinces of the Oriental Empire
Elites: clerics, paladins, wizards, rogues, monks
Endowments: strength and intelligence
Complexion: tan to fair
Hair: black
Eyes: brown or green with epicanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Chih Sung-Tzu, Chung Kuel, Lei Kung, Ma Yuan
Borders: Elatolia, Ontolon, Xe-Shan
Popular Instruments: dulcimer, drum, lute, viol
Traditional Weapons: morningstar, longsword, glaive, heavy crossbow
Female Names: Chen, Fan, Li, Ling, Mei, Ning, Pan, Ren, Song, Sun, Wen, Xu, Yang, Zhou
Male Names: Bo, Chang, Feng, Guang, Hong, Han, Jian, Lei, Ming, Quan, Shen, Wei, Ying, Zhu
Celedine During the Age of Heroes, the Celedinese were humble swampfolk easily cowed by the mighty Elatolians. Now the politically dominant ethnic group in the Oriental Empire, the Celedinese owe their rise to great engineers. Basic canals and dams provided flood control, opening more land to farming and permanent settlements. Rising prosperity provided funding for more ambitious projects. Cunning integration tied together a sprawling network of canals, dams, and watermills. With a huge population benefitting from all this economic infrastructure, Celedine had little trouble breaking away to become an independent nation in 206 A.H. Their conquest of the entire Orient would soon follow the annointment of a Celedinese emperor.
 These people are famed for their planning and organizational skills, yet their warriors are impressively athletic. Quotations from historic Celedinese philosophers or generals are popular with well-educated Mainlanders. Having invented a technique for mass producing inexpensive paper, the Celedinese now rule by way of sprawling bureaucracy. Government positions are ostensibly awarded based on merit, with aptitude tests an integral part of the civil service. Yet ethnic bias sees this group occupying choice positions all across the Oriental Empire.
 Currently, the islands of To-shin are in open rebellion, leading to a crisis of confidence in the Celedinese dynasty. Widespread tension and brutal crackdowns on suspected dissenters have become normal across the Oriental Empire today. Cruel police actions and rising taxes are not sustainable, but at present they are thought necessary to preserve the regime. In spite of it all, this huge society is home to impressive academic institutions, refined creative traditions, and thriving artisans' guilds. Foreigners who avoid becoming mixed up in politics tend to regard Celedine as serene and hospitable. On Mainland, almost all the diplomats and explorers hailing from the Orient are members of this this ethnic group.
The Oriental Empire The final centuries of the Age of Heroes saw the collapse of mighty Wotania, rapid expansion of the Iskreshi Sultanate, the transfer of Sylvania to a mortal ruler, and continued tribal warfare among ancestors to the Truscan people. This period also saw much turmoil in the Orient. The Great Consolidation followed a series of events known as the Celedinese Ascendance.
 As far back as 1,800 A.H., Elatolian armies maintained absolute control over the largest landmass of the Orient. Waves of armored archers on horseback eliminated any opposition to the Khaan's will. Fifteen centuries passed without any major rebellion. This period is sometimes known as the Elatolian Hegemony, though Mainlander histories may refer to it as the First Oriental Empire. When the Hegemony was at its peak, the Celedinese were a minor ethnic group struggling against floods and plagues. Canals, dams, aqueducts, and sewers dramatically amplified the prosperity and population of Celedine.
 After many generations of careful planning, the Celedinese were prepared to thwart aggressive assaults from the Elatolians' Shimmering Horde. The first claim of independence was answered with monstrous violence, but the Celedinese seemed to have endless reinforcements. Elatolian hordes routed on the battlefield were often bribed into changing banners. By 101 A.H., the last significant army to resist Celedinese authority was defeated and disbanded. After adding the To-Shinese archipelago to its territory, the current Oriental Empire would face no resistance greater than bandit gangs and the occasional renegade general until a Mainlander invasion seventeen centuries later.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Prizing order as a great virtue, the Celedinese take a systematic approach to everything from a family dinner to a public execution. Some see planning and protocol as highest form of artistic expression. Yet their popular literature is downright conventional. Numerous epic Celedinese storybooks have been translated and widely reproduced across Mainland. These harrowing tales of bold heroes caught in the clash of opposed mystical forces feature exotic twists, yet the archetype of the determined adventurer struggling against adversity is universal.
 Celedinese music tends toward gentle and soothing styles. One popular form features bowed and plucked strings weaving harmonious patterns together. Pieces that are not purely instrumental often rely on sparse lyrics poetically referencing history or nature. Much of the Oriental Empire is adorned with distinctive Celedinese statues. Several huge stone armies have been constructed simply to remind nearby subjects of the Empire's powerful reach. With abundant jade in their homeland, the Celedinese have a long tradition of carving semiprecious stones into elaborate decorative objects.
✠ Belief & Worship Celedinese folklore is solidly anchored in historical reality. The God of the Immaculate System is known to be the mastermind who orchestrated the Great Consolidation. His strange alliance with the God of Bloody Murder is the subject of countless tales, some plausible. While that divine monstrosity is not popular with cityfolk, the God of Just Trials is widely revered as the epitome of insightfulness. The God of Gentle Rain is more popular in rural areas. His simple blessings form the basis for Celedinese prosperity. Even the God of Ferocious Squalls, while a legendary menace, is only ambiguously a villain. His aggressive malice drives the upkeep of strong defenses – ultimately as ordained by Shang-Ti.
 The orderly gathering and channeling of information is facilitated by a proliferation of Shang-Ti's clergy as officers in the Celedinese bureaucracy. Open worship of any member of the Fivesquare Pantheon is accepted here so long as specific acts are not otherwise illegal. The state encourages adherence to a Celedinese cultural tradition, but it is considered the sign of a healthy mind to be curious about foreign religions. The modern Oriental Empire sponsors many missions of cultural outreach and may offer subsidy to holy orders looking to establish their own missions here. Cities here see proliferations of small temples and churches with few or no worshippers beyond resident clergy and workers.
 The Old Faith is not prominent in Celedine, and there are few Standing Stones here that were not buried long ago. Surviving facilities are often closely monitored, since easy teleportation is regarded as a security vulnerability. Farmers and fishers consistently turn to modern clergy with their concerns. Unholy magic is another matter entirely. In centuries past, witches and warlocks were feared and persecuted to the extent of gruesome executions. Today the Celedinese have taken to using all sorts of unholy spellcasters as assets in the fight to reclaim the province of To-Shin. Witches and warlocks willing to aid in the struggle may be rewarded with great wealth or even official rank. Some see this as an affront to Shang-Ti's Immaculate System, but others argue that the system cannot be truly immaculate if unholy pacts were never meant to be exploited.
Infrastructure Modern prosperity simply would not be possible without a range of engineering triumphs. Cities above a certain size require abundant flows of fresh water as well as effective drainage. Trade becomes much less costly when goods can be shipped along paved and patrolled roads. Canals and dams minimize flooding while bringing water to otherwise dry regions. During its peak, the Truscan Empire developed excellent infrastructure across most of Mainland. The Celedinese have done likewise while presiding over the Oriental Empire.
 Alongside agriculture, infrastructure creates a need for labor in rural areas. Wise rulers harmonize construction projects with lulls in farming activity, keeping citizens fruitfully occupied throughout the year. The strongest modern economies benefit from centuries of constant infrastructure expansion. This literally paves the way for many thousands of farms to sustain each major metropolitan area. Well-fed cities grow and thrive, enriching rural areas through direct commerce as well as funding additional infrastructure development. Modern rulers understand this virtuous cycle. Only the most barbaric forces intentionally destroy dams, bridges, and aqueducts.
† Castles & Combat Owning slaves is not legal in the Oriental Empire. Yet conscription into the lowest rung of military or government service is a common criminal penalty. Unscrupulous bureaucrats may orchestrate unrest as a prelude to drafting entire villages into the labor pool for some great project. Yet these workers and soldiers are brilliantly organized and to some degree interchangeable. Roads, bridges, walls, and fortresses spring up promptly according to plan. Ample personnel may then be tasked with holding these strong defensive positions. When Celedinese authorities assert territorial control, they quickly become almost impossible to dislodge.
 Conscripts work with whatever equipment is assigned to them, but officers in Celedinese armies favor personalized gear. Significant resources go into equipping the fighting men and women who act as overseers in both military and construction operations. War wizards serve among these officers, facilitating a wide range of special tactics. Military rockets are also common here, though they are more useful as signaling devices and firestarters than antipersonnel weapons. Both in civil planning and military command, elites favor colorful equipment that may also be slightly oversized. Inspiring leadership is crucial to exploiting the superior numbers Celedinese forces often bring into battle.
§ Decrees & Customs A popular form of Celedinese papermaking is far less expensive than other methods of producing books and scrolls. Bureaucrats are encouraged to keep extensive records, and some maintain warehouses just for that purpose. Community leaders and institutional supervisors often announce important news by posting large paper banners in high traffic areas. Written examinations are a big part of many career paths. Ostensibly this is to reward merit and ability, though outcomes often favor Celedinese respondents.
 A land already made wealthy through cunning now amplifies that with imperialism. Fine clothes and full bellies minimize complaints from the common folk about abuses of official power. Interruptions in the customary flow of things can create backlash here. Visiting Mainlanders would do well to register a purpose with authorities. Both commercial and cultural exchange are encouraged, though armed adventurers roaming about with no official sanction can expect unwanted attention. World travellers sometimes lament the “Celedinese Paradox” – even small breaches of protocol give great offense, yet it is considered impolite to point out such offenses. Outsiders sometimes generate extreme outrage without any overt signs of growing hostility.
Bureaucrats Extremely powerful people often employ magical methods of communication. For everyone else, the written word is the best way to share information with someone far away. Governments, trading houses, holy orders, and various other major organizations produce constant streams of correspondence. Loose notes are compiled into ledgers and logs before being filed away. Such records are preserved by duplication and summarized for the benefit of senior officials. A tremendous amount of this work is performed by bureaucrats. They are essential to the coherence of sprawling organizations.
 The Oriental Empire is served by a bureaucracy like none other. Recordkeeping is eased by widespread literacy and inexpensive paper. Census takers constantly update individual records of births, deaths, property transactions, and criminal deeds. Even inhabitants of remote villages are likely to be represented by a file in the Imperial Archives. From owning weapons to operating a small inn, all sorts of ordinary activities require an official license in the Oriental Empire. In most lands, bureaucrats are unappreciated functionaries serving aristocrats. Here it is not unusual for an efficient and effective bureaucrat rising through the ranks of officialdom to become a leader of great stature.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade Across the Oriental Empire, almost every profitable activity requires a license. Regulations and fees would be downright oppressive save that officials exercise discretion in support of orderly commerce. A harbormaster's goodwill may carry with it exemption from a major tariff. Government agents may drive vendors' carts away from a prime location to make way for specially licensed traders and cooks. Building owners may transgress stringent safety and occupancy laws by subsidizing the inspection service. Doing business in the Orient often requires more paperwork and protocol than on Mainland. Rigorous oversight dramatically reduces levels of fraud, giving consumers more confidence.
 Celedine benefits from control of a vast empire. Ontolonese grain and gems often wind up in Celedinese markets. Xe-Shan contributes tremendous amounts of tax revenue. Elatolia sends horses and riders enough to constitute a major branch of the Imperial armed forces. Many generations of accumulated wealth mean that a typical Celedinese family inhabits a spacious apartment or a large country home. Some family businesses have been in continuous operation for more than a thousand years. Shipping is secure and swift along well-developed networks of roads and canals. For those who can navigate the bureaucracy, Celedine is an extremely stable economic environment.
⨳ Foes & Perils The institutions of the Oriental Empire can be slow to change. Corrupt local officials may falsify reports and hold on to power for decades, ruthlessly exploiting a town or minor district. Outsiders may be bombarded with appeals for relief, but capable law enforcers respond whenever authority is challenged. Away from settled areas, the wilds of Celedine offer much to fear. Aggressive nature spirits harass travellers and drive off settlers. Abandoned mines here often accumulate collections of monstrous creatures, some actively luring treasure-seekers to their doom. Unlike their counterparts on Mainland, zombies of the Orient are swift and resilient.
 Oriental dragons are also distinctive. With slender serpentine bodies and only vestigial wings, they seem to slither through the air even when moving at high speed. Yet they rarely attack populated areas, aware that the Empire's response will be swift and deadly. Even the gargantua of this hemisphere never sustain a move against a Celedinese city. While most of the population is secure, this means that chance encounters with such terrible creatures will tend to find them hungry and aggressive. Remote temples of Ma Yuan have taken to abductions in search of ritual sacrifices, yet these acts are permitted as part of the plan to prevent disastrous monster attacks on urban centers.
“If you are planning for more than a year, orchestrate a great harvest. If you are planning for more than a generation, orchestrate a quality education. If you are planning for more than a century, orchestrate a vibrant city.”

— Reverend Hieu Idiz, Providential Preachers
⊛ Suotien is entirely surrounded by a vast and powerful enchantment known as The Heavenly Bubble. It shields the command center of the Oriental Empire from both uninvited visitors and magical scrying. This mirrorlike dome is named for the way its exterior reflects the sky above. That same property causes the interior to function as an overhead map of the sprawl below, placing nearby landmarks in a broader context. Notable structures include the Emperor's Palace, the College of Generals, the Imperial Archive, the Master Cathedral of the Unlying, and the Five Perfect Gardens. Some of the most powerful people in the world move freely among these wonders, informing and refining plans devised to serve to the Empire.
⦿ Kaohai is situated around a deep bay teeming with commercial shipping. Special tax exemptions are easily obtained here. That long-standing practice has turned this port into the primary conduit for trade between Mainland and the Orient. Every serious global shipping line controls floors of office space in the towers of Kaohai and warehouses near its docks. Opportunists from near and far are drawn to the prospect of great riches. Many wind up toiling as stevedores or pressed into service aboard seagoing vessels, though a few hussle and bargain their way into positions of fantastic wealth. Living like princes, the financial elite of Kaohai control treasuries and other assets of almost incalculable value.
Rocketry Around 1400 G.C., Celedinese alchemists discovered that some explosive compounds, if diluted and burned in a vessel that directs exhaust, could generate great thrust. Without using any magic, rocketeers could launch flares far into the sky, instantly signaling an entire battlefield. Booming displays of colorful pyrotechnics were incorporated into major festivals across the Orient. Producing these rockets is dangerous and exacting work, but patrons seeking public esteem will part with a small fortune to finance a major fireworks display.
 Efforts to turn rockets into weapons have had mixed results. Even the most skilled artillerist cannot consistently send a rocket into a distant building. Modern incendiary rockets are effective, showering a substantial area with sparks of alchemically treated burning metal. More powerful explosives tend to deliver little damage on target even if they are stable enough to survive launch. Some generals invest in rockets as signaling devices and/or tools of intimidation. Yet, for purposes of direct attack, a modest war wizard will tend to outperform the best rocket launcher. Formulae for rocket propellants are not well-known on Mainland. There, this technology normally takes the form of imported goods.
⦿ Junkong is to war what Kaohai is to trade. Here the spires of office space house military planners while the coastline is crowded with shipyards and fortresses. Any well-armed person walking around Junkong without an appropriate uniform is sure to attract attention from suspicious authorities. Even the drinking houses remain orderly for fear of actions sometimes taken by brutal military police. Many masters of war employed to train Imperial soldiers and sailors here can be induced to share their skills with foreign students. Also, artificers crafting war machines for the Empire can be privately contracted on the condition their creations are immediately exported. There are few rivals to the concentration of military technology and expertise available here.
⦾ Lianliu maintains the Saffron Lifewall, a project that caused much unrest among locals tasked with constructing a dam much larger than any to have been built before or since. Protests disrupted the original schedule, prompting an enraged Emperor to threaten several villages with extermination unless laborers, at their own expense, earned forgiveness by covering every exposed surface of the completed structure with a rare bright orange paint. At first this only intensified the unrest, but public opinion soon reversed. An integrated complex of watermills transformed the surrounding area into a hub of commerce. This funded a network of canals reaching out from the dam's reservoir. Irrigation turned desolate scrubland around the gorge into prime farming country. Now inhabiting a thriving city, locals are proud to maintain the eyecatching saffron paint on this dam. They call it the Lifewall in recognition of bounteous prosperity bestowed by the gargantuan structure.
⦾ Chengshi radiates outward from the Hall of Reckoning, undoubtedly the largest institution in the world dedicated to the study of mathematics. This mountainside compound intertwines a sprawling Celestial Accountants' temple with a university staffed by secular scholars. In the grand auditorium at the heart of the complex, sages endlessly debate the quantitative relationships and very nature of numbers. Over 200,000 people inhabit a city built in the shadow of this center of learning. Many minor yet prestigious colleges devoted to magic or engineering flourish here. Oriental standard weights and measures are defined by experts at the Hall of Reckoning. Enough coin may commission manufacture of supremely precise machine tools calibrated by objects serving as those official standards.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Celedine ↑  → Danu ←  ↓ Darresteg ↓

Language: Tuathish Demonym: Tuathons
Homeland: Danu   First City: no large cities
Politics: many small towns influenced by Sylvania
Elites: rogues, warlocks, rangers, druids, bards
Endowments: dexterity and charisma
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: reddish or brown
Eyes: blue, green, or violet
Influential Deities: Dagda, Arawn, Silvanus, Apollo, Dionysus
Borders: Albion
Popular Instruments: drum, flute, lyre, viol
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, longsword, shortbow, longbow
Female Names: Brenda, Brit, Clare, Colleen, Erin, Finola, Kate, Kerry, Orla, Maeve, Moira, Morrigan, Shannon, Siobhan
Male Names: Brendan, Colin, Daniel, Finn, Gawain, Glenn, Jerry, Kenneth, Merlin, Patrick, Percival, Ronan, Sean, Tristan
Danu Save for Avalon, a well-defended kingdom of ethnic Albionians, the vast island of Danu features little human governance. This land endured the fallout from many ancient light fey experiments, including the first generation of metallic dragons. Sprites and pixies, not to mention will-o'-wisps and fomorians, are familiar sights to anyone who grew up in this mystical place. Natives of Danu find fey magic as ordinary and natural as the rain or the wind. The place has many fragmented circles of Standing Stones, so flows of magical energy are especially unpredictable on the island.
 Tuathish land is a panorama of scenic beauty dotted with little towns and villages. Modest communities thrive even as unpredictable chaos and danger quickly bring ruin wherever military power amasses beyond a small constabulary. Outside Avalon, no force has the might to stand strong against the wild monstrosities of Danu. For those content to live modestly, the random twists and turns of life on the island generally tend to work out for the best. Mild and misty weather nourishes abundant crops. Local artisans often awake to find unfinished tasks completed. The Tuathons themselves are innately comely and graceful. A leaf or two of fey ancestry in the family tree is not uncommon.
 Most have learned to take the pranks and gifts of faeries in stride. Warlocks and witches are also abundant in this nearly lawless land. More than a few sages have been driven mad trying to make a formal study of the interplay of magical forces on Danu. Some only grew more powerful after shedding their sanity. Well-travelled arcane masters often form strong opinons about this strange realm. It is easy to abhor so much energy paired with so little discipline, but there are those who revel in fey caprices. A few even theorize that cloud palaces dating back to the Imperium Arcanum still float over Danu – an unlikely belief that persists mainly because wild magic and wilder native creatures conspire to thwart any systematic survey of the skies above this realm.
Towns Between the rustic charm of village life and the constant activity of big city living, towns strive to offer the best of both worlds. Most professions will be represented to a modest extent in a typical town. Instead of a Cobblers' Guild supporting mutiple high end footwear boutiques, there is likely to be one shop where a small number of journeymen shoemakers meet the needs of the community. Few towns house multiple public libraries, but there is likely to be a local collector willing to lend out books to trustworthy readers. Rather than select food from anonymous sources through a vast market, town dwellers are likely to personally know local farmers, millers, and butchers.
 Unlike major cities, towns may be lightly defended. Law enforcement also tends to be relaxed. Danu is a unique ethnic homeland in that only modest communities enjoy security here. When a town guard begins to look like a proper army or a growing population pushes past 50,000 residents, sudden disasters inevitably reverse the trend. Tuathish towns are typically within a day's ride of several neighboring communities. Visiting traders cover gaps in the expertise of local artisans. Congregations devoted to different deities may share the same church building or even conduct unified services. No political authority of Tuathons claims sovereignty over more than a single town.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Staying sane on Danu requires a sense of humor. People here have little use for jesters, since almost all of the indigenous population has a knack for telling jokes or playing the fool. Likewise, Tuathons favor rousing sing-alongs over passive attendance at musical performances. Exceptions are made for airsong, a style of somber ballad typically performed by a singer with a single instrumental accompanist. Each village has its own rich body of oral history, making Danu a trove of inspiration for poets and songwriters.
 There are few Tuathish playhouses, but several noteworthy playwrights hail from this region where the indigenous language offers all the color and whimsy of exotic fey perspectives. All but the cheapest Tuathish clothing is adorned by elaborate embroidery. Most of these details feature floral or arcane motifs. Wines and spirits produced on Danu are tinged with subtle hints of wild magic – a pretext for the wild behavior of some imbibing foreigners. Wickerwork is a popular trade here. Such Tuathish creations may range from a charming little footstool to a towering effigy. The burning of the latter may serve as yet another occasion for a festival.
✠ Belief & Worship Folklore here holds that the gods are friends to the Archfey, mingling socially on a regular basis. The God of Limitless Might is said to provide for all, sharing the bounty earned through great deeds performed in primordial times. The God of Verdant Wilderness and the God of Drunken Revelry assist as stewards of the world. The God of the Setting Sun reigns over all the light fey while the God of Final Rewards dominates the dark fey. Together, this pentad gives rise to endless little conflicts and a like number of festive triumphs. Improvisational storytelling is an accepted element of Tuathish religious ministry. Scriptures in this land are uncommonly fluid since popular yarns quickly work their way into tapestries of gospel truth.
 Because communities here tend to be small, often a single church will accommodate worship of all five popular deities. The unique Tuathon calender has no fixed year length, though it seems to provide sound guidance for seasonal activities. The main focus of the calendar is the timing of traditional festivals, always offering an imminent excuse for frivolity. Endless local variations ensure that, even when a particular town lacks any ongoing celebration, some nearby community will be holding a festival of its own.
 The Old Faith is extremely popular on Danu. Druids may be the only figures able to organize huge religious gatherings without either relentlessly praising the fey or subsequently drawing their wrath. Farmers and ranchers may look to druids or even witches to protect and support their efforts. Some Tuathish towns are suspicious of witchcraft, yet others tolerate it or even hold “white” witches in high regard. Several secret societies devoted to pact magic each have strong decentralized networks spread across this loosely governed island.
“Little steel with much guile beats much steel with little guile.”

— Tuathish proverb
† Castles & Combat Outside the borders of Avalon, Danu is completely at the mercy of fey whims. In some towns everyone is expected to maintain a relentlessly cheery demeanor because this behavior is rewarded with protection from monsters and the occasional enchanted gift. Communities that attempt to raise a proper army, whether to make war on neighbors or fend off monster attacks, find themselves plagued by all manner of misfortunes – including relentless monster attacks. The locals tell tales of great hunters thriving amidst the chaos, but the underlying reality is never more than a small group of adventurers willing and able to endure constant peril emerging from the magical mists of Danu.
 Competent Tuathon warriors are trained to skirmish. Equally favoring the bow and the blade, their fighting style involves exploiting whatever engagement range renders the enemy least effective. Conventional notions of commitment and determination are largely absent in Tuathon warrior culture. Boldly unyielding fighters have short careers here, since fey foes often turn out to be far more deadly than seems apparent at the start of a clash. In a reversal of conventional perspectives, Tuathons hold roguish opportunists in high esteem while stalwart fighters are rarely lionized. Many towns feature a keep or small castle, but attempts to raise larger fortifications outside Avalon are invariably thwarted by destructive fey.
Rogues In the Age of Dragons, humble halfling burglars honed subterfuge techniques sophisticated enough to thwart the extraordinary senses of mature wyrms. During the Imperium Arcanum, elven and gnomish operatives excelled at covertly scouting dangerous locales. Throughout the Age of Heroes, thieves of many races played crucial roles in quests that changed the course of history. Despite widespread disrespect, modern rogues are guided by traditions every bit as venerable as those shaping contemporary fighters and wizards.
 Guilds of thieves typically constitute the backbone of whatever criminal underworld a society sustains. Greed is everywhere, and no law enforcement regime is perfect. From lockpick manufacture to selling stolen goods, these organizations provide vital services to outlaws. Smugglers, cultists, and any other group with serious secrets to keep is likely to have some dealings with a local thieves guild. Given sufficient influence, an associate of these organizations might learn these secrets. Given sufficient coin, such an associate might also hire an assassin to be certain a specific secret is never revealed.
 While all rogues are familiar with the doublespeak and codes that permeate the criminal underworld, not all rogues are lawbreakers. Many are free-spirited adventurers, always seeking greater thrills and challenges. Well-educated rogues may specialize in delving for treasure amongst monster lairs and abandoned structures. Some even ally with authorities, turning their skills toward espionage or law enforcement. Yet these abilities are also common where urban poverty leaves desperate people surrounded by abundance. In every culture, rogues are more numerous than they seem, since their powers are rooted in secrecy and trickery.
§ Decrees & Customs As merry and easygoing as they tend to be, Tuathons are downright enthusiastic about human sacrifice. Murderers, along with the occasional rapist or child molestor, meet their ends in all manner of agonizing ways here, often in the thick of an otherwise festive day. Executions blend somber religious proceedings with jubilant cheers drowning out the screams of the condemned. Fortunately, petty criminals never need fear being burned alive or stoned to death. Quirky traditions may cause outsiders, even visitors from neighboring villages, to run afoul of unexpected local laws. Yet lesser offenses typically draw public humiliation or a small fine as penalty, and lawbreakers often have the option of exile as an alternative punishment.
 Pranks abound in this land where mischievious pixies and sprites move invisibly through settled areas. Locals often attribute their own covert acts of help or hindrance to the unseen fey. Magical beings openly socialize at human celebrations, sharing in the joy while contributing enchanted food and drink. Though it seems like the time between festivals is largely consumed by preparation for the next celebration, practical work always seems to get done. Most locations are uncommonly clean and scenic. Essentials like food and clothing are widely available at good quality and fair prices. If a humble person can keep in the good graces of indigenous fey, it is possible to live a long happy life on Danu.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade Large public organizations never last long outside Avalon. A Tuathish guild is often no more than the house of a single master with one or two assistants. Traders wander from town to town, some neither selling nor buying anything that cannot be crammed into their own backpacks. With little formal commerce between towns, business is often slow. Local culture encourages abundant leisure. Carefree artisans sometimes return from an afternoon of fishing or feasting to find that fey hands have finished works in progress. Blessed with more time than customers, many makers lavish elaborate decorative details on ordinary Tuathish goods.
 The modest population of this chaotic realm participates in little international trade. Yet Danu is a haven for several sorts of tourist. Masters of the arcane find the area rich with enigmatic subjects to study. Creative individuals may visit in search of inspiration to be found in the area's natural beauty or colorful folklore. Aging people looking for a lively and whimsical place to retire may also find a home in some scenic Tuathish village. There is global demand for wines, spirits, and herbs unique to Danu. Yet supplies are not sufficient to sustain systematic mercantile traffic.
⨳ Foes & Perils The Kingdom of Avalon is the only modern success at asserting military control over land on Danu. Other efforts provoke attacks ranging in threat level from goblin tribes to ancient dragons – always escalating until there is no one left for armies to defend. Travellers who keep close to main roads here rarely face worse than an invisible pickpocket or a pixie knotting the hair of those who sleep. Yet they will also be tempted to wander into danger by dancing lights and giggling faeries, some hinting at caches of treasure or magic that usually turn out to be dangerous pitfalls or bogs.
The Danu Protectorate When the Imperium Arcanum fractured into light and dark factions, many enormous bastions were destroyed by battles within. After all true Archfey were imprisoned within the Moon, lesser leaders could not maintain control over a crumbling global empire. Desperate diplomatic efforts granted drow elves protection in sanctuaries deep underground in exchange for a halt on attacks against fair elf communities suspended in the sky. Subsequent to this accord, dozens of floating castles and fortresses converged over Danu. The land below became a haven for all manner of fey creations.
 Metallic dragons began to breed cautiously, taking care not to exhaust the abundant wild game of this verdant realm. In this era, firbolgs and uncorrupted fomorians were the most prominent residents of Danu. Their giant bones are still common impediments to excavation on the island. All these mighty beings protected minor fey while providing labor to assist with great works. Towering spires arose in support of almost unthinkable magical experiments. Dark fey largely failed to act against creatures populating Danu's surface, but they proved adept at sabotaging the work of laboratories in terrestrial structures.
 One arcane disaster after another unleashed chaotic energy into the world, sometimes with such force as to damage nearby Standing Stones. Disrupted ley lines discouraged further attacks, but wild surges of magic afflicted many creatures with strange mutations. Beautiful fey were twisted, and noble beings acquired dark hearts. The Protectorate devolved into a conflict zone where factions of light and dark elves battled through monstrous proxies on the ground. These conflicts continued as divine magic swept across the wider world. The sky castles of Danu came crashing to the ground during the Age of Heroes. Eventually every community on the surface of the world renounced the Imperium Arcanum, leaving the Empire of Shadows as the last remnant of that ancient arcane superpower.
 Purposefully heading into the wilds of Danu may lead to vistas of unrivaled scenic beauty, though it is as likely to lead to the lair of a terrifying creature. From regal giants to ordinary ogres, the island is thick with deadly monsters each guarding its own treasure hoard. Giant animals, some blessed with cunning and speech, run freely over forests and hills here. Rarely, bandits or elven tribes will attempt to claim protection money from persons they encounter. Town living is generally safe, though somehow even the smallest hamlets always seem to harbor an active thieves' guild and a coven of outcast occultists.
⨀ Blarneyston is a popular place in no small part because local custom is to ply all newcomers with whiskey or wine. When it was but a wee hamlet, the community was infiltrated by evil changelings who set family against family. Without committing any murders of their own, cunning dopplegangers made a bloodbath of the place. Now locals use drunkeness and sly questioning to be sure visitors are who they claim to be and harbor no hostile intentions. Mostly this leads to fond yet hazy memories of a wild first night on the town. Tales of especially warm welcomes helped Blarneyston grow into a large community by Tuathish standards.
⨹ Wylddôl is the hallowed gathering place of Danu's wood elves. These people have no permanent homes, roaming freely as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Yet all the island's tribes converge in the meadows of Wylddôl for one tenth-part of each year. These gatherings see much singing and dancing, but they also allow enterprising elves opportunities to collaborate beyond their own tribes in crafting goods or studying new subjects. During the gathering Wylddôl is more heavily populated than any Tuathish town. Yet the elves always disperse in single night, leaving the area's carpet of emerald grass and pastel flowers seemingly untouched.
⨀ Calamesnor is an enclave of roughly 20,000 high elves living under the illusion of a mist-shrouded lake. Transient fey and stray bits of magic do not normally cross into the apparent water. Thus this elven community is a sanctuary of serenity amidst a land full of surprises. Almost every citizen is a scholar of one sort or another. Local elders maintain storehouses of powerful enchanted items. Sometimes these treasures serve as a rewards to outsiders who know the secret of the lake and earnestly vow to never speak nor write of it.
⨀ Fernhaven is a charming town distinguished by its fusion of human and gnome dwellings. Family homes typically feature gnomish quarters, often with concealed entrances. Residents pool resources and efforts, each offering support to the other through times of hardship, despite traditionally dining and sleeping apart. Human-sized guests in a Fernhaven home might remain unaware of gnomes living under the same roof. Local artisans are famed for blending durable construction with fine detail work, typically the result of interracial collaboration.
⨺ The Wailing Vale, formerly known as Giltvale, was once home to a thriving community of great wealth. Though nearby mines are theoretically productive, few dare venture into this area now haunted by thousands of deadly spirits. Intent on urbanization, local leaders took lofty titles and funded an arcane militia that served for decades as an effective shield against increasingly hostile fey. When Giltvale's defenses finally collapsed, banshees and will-o'-wisps quickly exterminated the civilian population. Many of these victims arose as ghosts or wraiths, swarming aggressively toward any intelligent beings bold enough to explore the fallen city's gloomy remnants.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Danu ↑  → Darresteg ←  ↓ Elatolia ↓

Demonym: Darresteggers Language: Darrestygian
Homeland: Darresteg   First City: Spelhölm
Politics: isolationist Norish kingdom
Elites: wizards, bards, sorcerers, warlocks, fighters
Endowments: intelligence and constitution
Complexion: tan to palid
Hair: blonde, reddish, or light brown
Eyes: blue, green, or brown
Influential Deities: Odin, Hel, Tyr, Arawn, Oghma
Borders: Fitchland, Joryanland, Norland
Popular Instruments: drum, lute, lyre, shawm
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, longsword, blowgun, longbow
Female Names: Björk, Birgit, Doris, Elina, Hildisif, Irma, Júdit, Kirsten, Mila, Ripley, Steina, Tanya, Veronika, Vilma
Male Names: Baldwin, Damon, Emil, Fenrir, Henrik, Högni, Ingvar, Kaspar, Melkíor, Rúrik, Sigur, Steinarr, Ulrich, Varmar
Darresteg This region became an enclave for greater fey seeking shelter from violence in the final years of the Imperium Arcanum. Fallen potentates bargained for their lives by schooling humans in the ways of wizardry. Throughout the Age of Heroes, almost everyone from the indigenous population bore one form of enchantment or another. That is no longer the case, and subsequent conflicts destroyed all the ancient academies. Yet arcane studies remain enormously popular in Darresteg today. Modern development has given rise to huge libraries and esteemed universities.
 Though a famously rugged people, Darresteggers tend to be keen and well-read thinkers. With a short growing season and mostly mountainous territory, the citizens of Darresteg rely on arcane support to remain as content and well-fed as they tend to be. These people fiercely defend their borders and their privacy, but they are famously open-minded in peaceful discussions. Unconventionally, their leaders participate in Norish Moots by way of scrying and projected images. This gives them the voice to discourage attacks without accepting any financial obligation.
 Save for some bardic colleges and a scattering of isolated teachers, major Darrestegger cities are the only place to pursue advanced arcane studies in Greater Norland. The kingdom is also a nexus for commerce in paper, inks, herbs, and miscellaneous rarities. Bitter winters and angry neighbors often besiege Darresteg, but a stalwart population blessed with brilliant strategists shelters this enchanted kingdom through even the worst hardships. It is anyone's guess what tricks defenders are prepared to unleash against any invaders daring to venture well inside Darresteg's borders.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Spectacles of intense arcane power are a popular form of entertainment here. Momentous events are often marked by exhibitions of great wizardry. Even the most practical of spellcasters likely wears an exotic costume and hones a grand speaking voice in keeping with the archetype. Music in Darresteg sometimes takes the form of huge concerts at venues capable of magical sound amplification. Local bards favor loudness and durability in their instruments. Metal strings are common here, and lightning metal is a style of popular music that may incorporate bursts of magical pyrotechnics or thunder.
Wizards The earliest wyrms sometimes went insane trying to fathom the complex interactions of magical forces. Their lairs may still bear the increasingly disordered carvings of an ingenious mind struggling to make sense of evolving mystical phenomena. Elven archivists pioneered the practice of spellbook composition. At first this was a great boon to dragonkind, but it would eventually bring an end to their global dominance. The fey also would rule the world only to lose their place when other beings were taught the secrets of wizardry.
 Modern wizards take essentially the same approach to spellcraft as the original elves. Scholars of unseen forces, wizards expand the scope of their magic by copying formulae from the writings of other wizards. Often masked in rhyming verse and intricate diagrams, words and gestures of mystic power tap into universal patterns. History can turn on the actions of a single determined archmage. Powerful leaders rarely sustain their positions without at least one formidable wizard as a supporter and advisor.
 Rural wizards enrich their communities with feats that would otherwise require a team of laborers. Elemental spells often prove useful to farmers and builders. Some specialists help people accomplish otherwise impossible tasks deep underwater or high in the sky. War wizards are well-known as wildcards on the field of battle. Most cultures regard wizards as learned and respectable folk. For Darresteggers, wizardry encompasses a great many pursuits each respected individually as a prestigious profession.
 Darrestygian playhouses reflect the kingdom's extraordinary affluence. Facilities often offer comfortable seating and well-managed arcane lightning (if not also illusory effects.) General audiences here favor the thrills of shocking and horrific tragedies, though the most sophisticated crowds will opt for subtle dramas probing emotional conflicts within soft-spoken protagonists. The abundance of magical study makes Darresteg a hub for commerce in crystals, both indigenous and imported from other planes of existence. Colorful yet clear stones, some truly huge, adorn the nation's many spires and defensive turrets.
✠ Belief & Worship Darresteggers generally believe their homeland is a gift the God of the Final Battle painstakingly crafted from the bones of primordial giants. With the God of Relentless Crusades joining his labors, the All-Father created a haven where good people could prosper and take shelter from the frigid onslaught of the Goddess of Cursed Afflictions. Darrestygian folklore is full of heroic tales in which Odin and Tyr work together to thwart murderous plots perpetrated by Hel. The God of Final Rewards and the God of Accumulated Lore are also a duo, though as much enemies as allies. Arawn and Oghma are portrayed as immortal sages who personally write the rules of wizardry. Arawn is associated with destructive forces, while Oghma is known as a preserver.
 All five deities are openly worshiped across the land. Darresteg is also home to the Union of Concerned Archmagi, a powerful group of atheists who believe Ragnorak, Odin's apocalyptic final battle, is imminent and must be delayed at any cost. They generally denounce (and sometimes thwart) divine efforts to influence world history. The Old Faith enjoys little participation in Darresteg, given enormous arcane support for agriculture and negligible population in wilderness areas. Witchcraft is officially forbidden, though enforcement is inconsistent and many warlocks blend in among the kingdom's wizards by embracing scholarly pursuits.
† Castles & Combat The ability to perform a magical attack is more common in Darresteg than skill with military weaponry. Security personnel often dress as courtiers while standing ready to burn or shock anyone hostile. Darrestegger fortifications are designed to be defended by spellcasters. The most crucial structures incorporate automatic magical defenses. The nation's borders, following the crests of three mountain ranges, are marked by magical towers that detect uninvited travellers and provide support for arcane response teams. Some traders and tourists are welcome, but no other major homeland is as effectively isolationist as Darresteg.
 The only martial art associated with this realm is an obscure form practiced by a profession of monster hunters who harvest anatomical features prized by alchemists and enchanters. They capture or vivisect mighty creatures after attacking them with blowguns and poisoned darts. Yet traditional swordplay and archery are also elements of this fighting style. Proper soldiers are often regarded as auxiliary forces here, rarely thought to compare with the power of war wizards. Fortunately, secure borders surround a decidedly peaceful kingdom. This land has seen very little human-on-human warfare since the Great Consolidation.
Libraries The preservation of knowledge has become a science unto itself. Modern libraries systematically organize huge collections of literature, making acquisitions and duplications to better serve authorized users. Some institutions operate small libraries open to the general public. Theft and vandalism of books can be costly, but it is an expense many bear to promote their beliefs or encourage general literacy. At the other extreme, some book collections are so exclusive that only a handful of individuals know how to access the trove. Larger libraries are often intended only for personnel at the surrounding university, supporters of a particular aristocrat, or practitioners of a sponsoring faith.
 Books and scrolls are often more valuable than fine clothes. They can be more combustible as well. Librarians are always concerned with security and safety. Sufficiently vast libraries require huge workforces of clerks, scribes, and bookbinders to organize literature and replace damaged works. Some of these institutions are situated at a remote location where looters are unlikely to visit. Others rely on the protection of city walls and urban constabularies. Any respectable library will enjoy some support from spellcasters. Collections known to house legendary works may be actively defended by superheroes. Leaders in the present era see libraries as resources to be controlled and exploited rather than targets for destruction.
 Most kingdoms maintain a royal library grander than any other in the realm. Though Darrestegger royalty controls a collection that would be the pride of some other nations, the world's greatest library is headquartered elsewhere in the same city. The Stygian Archive occupies an entire neighborhood of buildings linked by footbridges arcing several stories above the streets of Spelhölm. Those buildings contain the world's most comprehensive collection of arcane knowledge. The depth of their scientific literature is only surpassed where another large institution specializes in a specific subject. The prospect of becoming a Stygian Archivist draws many people to the worship of Oghma.
§ Decrees & Customs Intellect is the foremost virtue in Darrestegger culture. Almost every child receives an excellent education, and magic is often part of the curriculum. Wizards are unusually common yet highly regarded here. Magical means are the norm for construction projects and infrastructure development. With little manual labor, Darresteggers favor immaculately clean and mended garments along with elaborate headgear or hairstyles. Urban dining halls and taverns routinely enhance their offerings with cantrips. Ordinary household conveniences range from magical lights and enchanted water sources to golems employed as domestic servants. Even citizens who are not spellcasters may be eager to amass magical possessions and seek supernatural powers.
 Tourists are generally welcome in the kingdom, but the situation is different for immigrants. Save for those of great magical distinction, foreigners are rarely welcome to take up long term residence in Darresteg. Some locals idealize cultural purity, though the risk of infiltration by hostile foreigners is real. Darrestegger leaders so fear outside threats that they typically rely on projected images rather than in person visits to conduct international diplomacy. Save for dark elves, any large group of foreigners or non-humans here risks oppression from authorities and persecution from common folk.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade In a land where almost every citizen has benefit of basic instruction in the arcane, Darrestygian magic often pairs with labor. Many drinking houses and restaurants use cantrips to chill or heat beverages and embellish the plating of fine dishes. Guards are often unarmed and unarmored, using basic magic when duty demands a fight. More experienced wizards may make a career out of construction work, pest control, or illusory entertainment. A fantastically powerful royal family sponsors several vital institutions, from a network of weather control offices to a council of legendary diviners. These agencies coordinate well to promote peace and prosperity throughout the land.
 Darrestegger enchanters are particularly skilled and eager for work. Bulk orders of magical defensive installations sustain this pool of rare talent through times when too few non-governmental customers are commissioning items. Spellcasters from all over Greater Norland may visit Darresteg to stock up on components, inks, and other supplies generally scarce in neighboring societies. Ingenious planning and well-funded public charities have virtually eliminated urban poverty here. The King's generosity provides hot meals and a bunks enough for all ciyfolk in need. Fraud and theft are almost as scarce here, since spellcasting investigators reliably get at the truth behind any major crime.
⨳ Foes & Perils Reclusive and/or deranged wizards here often retreat to isolated towers where they may continue their experiments in peace. Some of these towers have been abandoned by their owners yet remain guarded by powerful constructs and other magical menaces. While border peaks are controlled entirely by the government, the highest mountains of the interior are home to giants, sometimes but not always benevolent. Conspiring bands of thieves and heretics may be brutal in their efforts to eliminate witnesses and obscure evidence, with magically gifted law enforcers quick to act on any indiscretion.
 Dragons are rarely a threat here, since dragonslaying is one way for a wizard to gain respect among peers. Sea monsters are more abundant, with seasonal incursions posing threats to fishing boats and merchant vessels alike. Drow are more common here than anyplace else on the surface of the world. While not all of them are evil, their reputation as cunning saboteurs and vicious assassins is well-earned. Yet true heroes sometimes feel obliged to take their side, as dark elves isolated in large human cities risk persecution from racist mobs.
⊛ Spelhölm Darresteg's capital looks like something pulled right out of an idyllic storybook. Spires adorned by enormous crystals tower over scenic estates and vast neighorhoods of nearly identical three-story wooden buildings or five-story stone structures. Even the gutters and streets are normally clean here. Beggars and pickpockets soon find their careers cut short either by royal charities providing relief or magical constables seemingly impossible to outmaneuver. Though arcane libraries are scarce in Greater Norland, Darresteg contains many. This city houses the most impressive of them all – the central Stygian Archive. Further bolstered by prominent universities and thousands of private collections, Spelhölm credibly claims to be the greatest concentration of literature in the world.
⦾ Aachborg Recovering from a brutal civil war, the megastate of Wotania relocated its capital to this site in 1,035 A.H. Secure neutral territory far removed from other Wotanian centers of power, it enabled a series of enlightened Overkings to foster a golden age of peace and economic development. Today Aachborg is a showcase of old Norish culture. Here a modern university struggles to recruit students while formations of Standing Stones draw huge crowds to various Old Faith rituals. Locals value warrior culture, and fine steel weapons pour from the forges of Aachborg. Though considered backward by some in Darresteg, these rugged reactionaries are a loyal and vital part of the kingdom.
Steel Construction Most of the world's steel is created in tiny batches by artisans. Dangerously superheated molten metal can be managed in small enough quantities. While dwarves excel at this craft, not even they have had much success operating furnaces both hot enough and large enough to produce steel construction materials. Steel beams are typically the result of magic – transformed from some less resilient precursor or imported from another plane of existence.
 Despite the costs and complexities of building with steel, the practice is not unknown. Unlike stone buildings, huge steel structures can accommodate wide open interior spaces. Ordinarily, a skeletal frame of steel is clad in other building materials. Arcane techniques are required to create sturdy steel welds, but the result approaches true indestructibility. A fire or earthquake may destroy the walls and floors of a steel structure, yet leave the frame intact for rebuilding purposes. Kristalsfar is the world's most famous steel structure, both because it is so large and because most of its exterior is enchanted glass also imported from another plane.
⦾ Svartgard Few political situations are more difficult to navigate than the arrangement between the Kingdom of Darresteg and Svartgard March. The gloomy district enjoys virtual autonomy. In exchange, reliable dark elf allies amplify the deterrent effect of Darresteg's arcane armies. Ringed by thick forests crawling with hostile beasts, Svartgard itself is a sprawl of black fortresses patrolled by gargoyles and goblinoids. Perhaps as much as one tenth of the city's half million residents are dark elves. Almost nothing is taboo here. Local scholars openly practice the most horrific forms of necromancy and perform experiments inspired by the Great Old Ones. Both the Oracles of Doom and the Deathriders operate gargantuan temple complexes within this sinister city.
⦿ Tablön Blessed with scenic beaches and a perpetual warm weather anomaly, this offshore metropolis is famed for the beauty of its inhabitants. Dignitaries from around the world flock here to obtain the services of Flesh Editors. Some seek to enhance their appearance while others hope to restore their youth. Though remote, Tablön is a global crossroads open to both ethnic and ideological diversity. Many wealthy aristocrats in exile have made new lives for themselves here. As discreet as they are powerful, a seemingly omniscient secret police force preserves the peace in this hedonistic hub. The phrase “trip to Tablön” has become a figure of speech referring to a particularly generous or coveted reward.
⨹ Kristalsfar Often referred to as “The Globe,” this steel-girded crystal sphere is the sort of structure only made possible through the convergence of great magic and even greater wealth. In peacetime it serves as a venue for artistic performances and athletic games. Arcane specialists can project images and amplify sounds enabling a capacity crowd of 45,000 to clearly see and hear what transpires in the central pit. Kristalsfar is located on an isolated hilltop save for the many stables and inns servicing visitors. In time of crisis, the entire facility is converted into a military headquarters where legions of war wizards observe their leadership coordinating the defense of the kingdom.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Darresteg ↑  → Elatolia ←  ↓ Fitchland ↓

Demonym: Elatolians Language: Elatolian
Homeland: Elatolia  First City: Senkhürkhree
Politics: loyal province of the Oriental Empire
Elites: fighters, rangers, paladins, monks, druids
Endowments: constitution and wisdom
Complexion: fair to dark brown
Hair: black, total baldness is common
Eyes: dark brown with epicanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Chung Kuel, Lei Kung, Thor, Tyr
Borders: Celedine, Xe-Shan
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, flute, horn
Traditional Weapons: scimitar, flail, lance, longbow
Female Names: Altani, Chakha, Cirina, Ghoa, Jaliqai, Khadagan, Maral, Nomolun, Orbei, Sechen, Sokhatai, Temulun, Toragana, Yesui
Male Names: Bogarji, Chimbai, Dayir, Ghunan, Jungsai, Kaishan, Kuchar, Maqali, Molon, Olar, Sartak, Uchikin, Teke, Zayaat
Elatolia During the Age of Heroes, it was an Elatolian warlord who first consolidated the Orient under a single regime. Then as it is today, their elite cavalry have been known to follow through on orders to annihilate substantial communities, leaving no trace behind. These deadly equestrians are now loyal to a Celedinese ruler, but they remain a crucial and terrifying element of the internal security apparatus suppressing rebellion in the modern Oriental Empire. So long as enough new recruits reinforce Elatolian military units, this province enjoys a special level of autonomy. The Khaan is allowed to address the Emperor with familiar pronoun forms, and the governor's bureaucrats abstain from all tax collection and law enforcement activities in the Elatolian homeland.
  Not all Elatolians are mounted warriors. Many continue the nomadic ways of their ancestors, following the migrations of wild grazing beasts or maintaining their own tribal herds. With little useful farmland, the backbone of Elatolia's economy is wealth on the hoof. Their livestock and leather are well-regarded, yet mercenaries are also a significant export from this province. Traditional Elatolians are taught to ride as soon as they can stand, and horses have always been central to their culture.
 These hardy and contemplative people often bear rugged complexions passed down from ancestors roaming windswept highlands. Many practice a body of ancient traditions that is stylistically unique, yet functionally a form of the Old Faith. Foreigners witness to these rituals often marvel at the primitive symbolism and strange chants that somehow generate harmonic overtones. The largest Elatolian communities typically accumulate in the foothills beneath grand monastaries rising right out of particularly tall mountains. Imperial officials understand that an Elatolian's first loyalty is likely to a local spiritual leader or a tribal dignitary. The old ways remain strong wherever city life has not shifted Elatolian priorities to align with modernity.
Mounts Equines have been galloping across both Mainland and the Orient since Primordial Times. Human ranchers working to feed dragons were the first to ride on horseback. Selective breeding quickly produced horse varieties adapted to specific tasks. In the Age of Heroes, mounts were a luxury – equestrians automatically received elevated rank in military service. The widespread prosperity of modern times makes horses common outside metropolitan areas where stable berths tend to be more costly than apartments. Civilized human nations feature hackney guilds that rent ordinary riding horses for reasonable fees. Aristrocrats and military leaders may employ marshals to breed and train horses suited to war and/or racing.
 Though horses are available anywhere there are roads, many other animals have been harnessed for riding and hauling. Giant lizards are ubiquitous among dark elf communities and dragonborn caravans. Both lizards and camels are suited to long journeys between watering holes. A famed style of dwarven cavalry rides giant boars. Wood elf commanders may enter battle atop giant elk. Giant eagles, hippogriffs, and griffons provide mobility to elite air cavalry units. Depending on the local climate, elephants or mammoths may serve as both mounts and siege platforms. None of these steeds are as common as horses, but most communities will be able to accommodate well-behaved unconventional mounts.
♪ Arts & Entertainments Equestrian games are particularly important in this region. Most Elatolians at least dabble in horse archery as a childred. <>Masters of the craft dazzle crowds with feats of speed and precision. Races and a distinctive form of jousting are also popular here. Warriors are expected to keep their skills sharp and their mounts fit through regular participation in these popular activities. Visual arts, from abstract figures painted on cave walls to strikingly realistic sculptures, often focus on cavalry or lone horses. The bond between horse and rider is a recurrent theme in Elatolian poetry.
 Elatolian music is seldom heard outside the Oriental Empire. Many singers here employ harmonic overtone techniques, able to simultaneously vocalize two notes. Unfamiliar listeners may regard this ghost-singing unnatural or even scary, but most Elatolians find it entertaining. They are also fond of energetic puppet shows, putting a childlike perspective on everything from ancient myths to current events. Skits about great heroes defending the homeland do much to generate an early interest in military life. Yet no subject is out of bounds, as custom holds that artists should not be held responsible for the words of their puppets.
✠ Belief & Worship War is a sacred pursuit among the Elatolians. Their deities have stature in relation to military value. The God of the Immaculate System is depicted as a masterful general, able to overcome any problem through guile. The God of Just Trials is his trusted lieutenant, insuring that heavenly forces adhere to plans underway. The God of Ferocious Squalls opportunistically creates disruptions while leading the opposition. Yet these plots are sometimes thwarted by the God of Rolling Thunder, an independent figure eager to protect the innocent. The God of Relentless Crusades appears in almost every parable as a represention of the selfless values mortal soldiers are expected to embody.
 The worship of any legitimate deity is accepted here. Yet locals rarely take an interest in religious practices that vary from the venerable mainstream. Elatolian priests are unusually comfortable invoking locally popular deities other than their chosen patron. Most common folk move among faiths as goals and circumstances change. Though Standing Stones are not common here, a distinctive form of the Old Faith is particularly popular with herders and farmers. Any form of magic that enhances the connection between rider and mount is seen as a blessed miracle. Yet warlocks are openly oppressed here, since Elatolian culture lacks the tolerance that has taken root elsewhere in the Orient.
Standing Armies Most communities only employ enough law enforcers to maintain a comfortable order. Redirecting many of these constables to war risks havoc among the civilian population. Minor lords often maintain a personal security force, yet these warriors are rarely numerous enough to constitute an army. Other than a proper nation, few entities can afford to keep thousands of well-equipped and able combatants in full time military service. A huge tax base is almost always the foundation of a huge military organization.
 Norish armies often function as raiding parties. Their decentralized command structure is coordinated by agreements reached in annual Moots. The Sylvanian Confederation funds a web of organizations directing elite operatives, but open war in Confederate lands requires coalitions of national armies. Federal forces provide all sorts of expert support, but they require time to mobilize large numbers to a single location. By contrast, the Truscan and Serpian Empires each maintain standing armies surpassing one million trained combatants, with sagacious generals answering directly to their respective emperors. It is likewise in the Oriental Empire, save that their great army benefits from a fusion of Elatolian and Celedinese military traditions.
† Castles & Combat Fortifications are rare in Elatolia. Power is measured in cavalry tallies. Traditional warriors excel at horse archery, wearing layers of silk under their chainmail so as to improve the likelihood of recovery from puncture wounds. They wield bows fashioned from layers of different types of wood laminated into composite limbs. Their preferred tactic is to fight as aggressive swarms of horse archers, though distinctive Elatolian lances, flails, and scimitars are all adapted for equestrian use. Mobility generally limits the amount of time they spend in close combat.
 Small communities often live in tents, ready to migrate as economic or political circumstances dictate. Even large cities often have little more than wooden stockades to delay potential attackers. Yet invasion is not even a memory here – the ancient Elatolians were supreme throughout the Orient, and modern Elatolia exists as a largely autonomous vassal state. Only the greatest monasteries and temples reside within imposing stone walls. These sites often claim a heritage stretching back thousands of years. They provide crucial shelter during monster attacks and other disasters.
§ Decrees & Customs The Khaan of Elatolia need only fulfill quotas of soldiers and horses to continue enjoying the support of the Celedinese Emperor. A special relationship allows the Khaan to be recognized as a head of state. Local custom may take precedence over Imperial law, and all tax revenue remains in the realm. Yet Celedinese advisors and monitors are abundant. Many bands of Inscrutable Observers serve as cultural hubs for Celedinese expatriates. In theory, lax tariffs and inspections would benefit international shipping. Yet Elatolian ports are underdeveloped and nowhere near the most lucrative markets of the Orient.
 Economic and cultural isolation leave many Elatolians knowing little about foreign places and ways. Almost all goods to be found in local shops are handcrafted nearby. Some Elatolians hunger for anything exotic, even something as simple a report of news from Mainland. Most are content to live a traditional life, roaming the steppes in tribal groups. Modern engineering feats have produced the infrastructure for several great cities, though locals have been slow to populate these areas. The tendency remains to value livestock and working animals more than precious metals or land grants. Just as some other cultures demonize moneylenders who collect interest from working folks, Elatolians make villains of ranchers who settle in one place and attempt to build fences around a vast tracts of land.
Nomads In areas where farmland is scarce, some communities sustain themselves by staying on the move. Tribes of hunter-gatherers often migrate between various seasonal homes when different resources become available. Other nomads forage indirectly, managing herds able to grow even when presented with only scrubland or patchy grasses. Itinerant social groups typically shelter in tents and accumulate only the most portable forms of wealth. Those who do not follow a seasonal pattern may instead be opportunists, rushing to exploit any tract of land with sufficient water and vegetation.
 Such peoples often maintain harsh codes of justice to survive precarious conditions. Fines are rarely practical, and incarceration even less so. Paradoxically, nomad cultures typically promote the value of sharing while treating theft as a severe crime. Notions of property become even more complicated with regard to land. Some nomads do not understand the concept of permanently possessing any particular ground. Friction develops when nomads wander too near urban centers, perhaps overgrazing nearby pastures or poaching valuable game.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade Mounted warriors and their steeds are the lifeblood of the Elatolian economy. Modern Khaans direct much tax revenue into services meant to improve the health and quality of horses. Meeting Imperial quotas preserves the special relationship between Elatolian authorities and the Imperial government. Many Imperial soldiers send part of their pay to families back home – a vital flow of cash into a society where barter remains common. While many young Elatolians hope to become good enough for Imperial service, some become great enough to hire themselves out as mercenaries. From merchants requiring escort through dangerous wilderness to an embarassed bureaucrat looking to eliminate renegades without appealing to higher officials, employers may pay a premium for the swift and discreet action of a private cavalry unit.
 Beyond that, international commerce is modest here. Finished leather and wool items are produced in quantities enough to export, and the area around Lăodu generates abundant silk. What little purchasing power is available for imports mostly acquires metal. Working mines are extremely rare in Elatolia. Permanent settlements typically feature smelters dedicated to recycling metals. Nomads facilitate internal commerce as well as cultural exchange. Foreign merchants and entertainers find it especially difficult to prosper without fully assimilating into Elatolian culture.
⨳ Foes & Perils No sane person relocates to Elatolia for the weather. The wind is rarely calm, and the rainy season brings devastating storms that spawn tornadoes. Even more hazardous are the dust storms arising in the dry season, especially wherever overgrazing has occurred. Nomad clans usually avoid confrontation, but they will kill to protect their livestock. Hostlie druids guard some patches of land recovering from past harm. From time to time, rebel warlords will rise up in the most remote communities. While dangerous, the greater threat is the inevitable cavalry horde dispatched to eliminate the rebellion. Vanquished rebels and failing clans may take to banditry out of desperation and hunger.
 While the Elatolian people rarely venture into the region's towering mountains, those slopes are home to both ogres and yeti. The greatest among those peaks are lairs for bird-kings – mysterious and hostile creatures thought to wield vast magical power. Successful climbing expeditions are so rare here that “went up into the mountains” has become an Elatolian euphemism for dying. Dragons are extremely rare here. The scariest Elatolian campfire stories involve tales of gigantic stinging worms bursting from the ground to swallow people and horses whole. These subterranean monstrosities pose an extreme threat to miners and others who would burrow deep under this land.
⦾ Senkhürkhree has become the customary residence for the Khaan during the dry season. Nomadic traditions literally move the seat of government, but for half of each year this shattered mountain is home to the royal court. A shooting star struck here in 908 G.C., leaving behind a horseshoe-shaped remnant where a majestic peak once stood. Within that remnant, Senkhürkhree nestles away from the harsh conditions of this windswept region. Glacial cascades function as natural aqueducts, cleansing and refreshing Elatolia's wealthiest city. Local markets offer premium goods, though cheaper wares can be hard to find. Great libraries, academies, and banks are housed in Senkhürkhree. The surrounding lands are dense with stables and exercise grounds, since the city has no space for most of the horses owned by its inhabitants.
Elatolian Hegemony Almost all regimes during the Age of Heroes governed modest territories. Yet a few aggressively expansionist empires grew to become superstates with authority over a vast swath of the world. What Mainlanders know as the first Oriental Empire is more rightly termed the Elatolian Hegemony. Early warlords found cavalry was indispensable outmaneuvering opponents, rapidly receiving updates, and skirmishing with hostile infantry. Almost immediately after consolidating into their own national hierarchy, Elatolian forces overwhelmed all Celedinese, Ontolonese, and Xe-Shanese resistance. Mounted couriers ensured the Khaan was well-informed, and swift shock troops responded to defiance with wholesale eradication.
 With oppression came order. The Khaan's Shimmering Horde was a revered institution dedicated to eliminating monsters and providing emergency relief to communities in need. Reliable mail service brought a sense of community to the vast empire. Caravans moved about with little fear of bandits. Hubs of peaceful trade soon grew into great cities. More mouths to feed drove increased agricultural development. Over the centuries, successive Khaans grew complacent with their personal wealth and power. Taxes on the Celedinese did not keep pace with growing prosperity driven by innovative infrastructure. Gradual changes deprived the Orient's dominant ethnic group of majority status and financial clout. A century before the Great Consolidation, fearing extermination of the royal bloodline, the Khaan swore fealty to a Celedinese Emperor.
⦿ Xoëpxot is a sprawling metropolis known across the Orient as “the City of Silence.” It grew from two centers of faith, one devoted to Chung Kuel and the other to Lei Kung. When a much-beloved princess was killed in one of the frequent street fights raging between nearby monasteries, the Khaan decreed execution for all crimes committed in either city. This included minor offenses such as “disturbing public oration” and “spooking a mounted horse.” In the following nine years, support for the monks vanished. This decree was lifted only after an elaborate agreement bound both orders to act as peacekeepers – clashing only in competitions authorized by the royal family. In modern Xoëpxot, excessive noise is punishable by a stiff fine, and rival groups of religious police are always on patrol. Later construction saw the two cities peacefully expanding until unified. Today the unarmed combat tournaments of Xoëpxot are of unsurpassed prestige.
⦾ Lăodu is a remarkable blend of ancient and modern. Formerly a center of power for the Elatolian Hegemony, earthquakes and floods have robbed Lăodu of much architectural heritage. Yet the city remains home to a vast seven-tiered pleasure garden literally overflowing with exotic plants native to distant realms. This enormous institution fuels a brisk trade in herbs and spices that would otherwise be imported. Surrounding lands contain many prosperous orchards and farms, enriched by cultivars not found elsewhere in the Orient. Frequent gentle rains are welcomed by locals, either directly or indirectly benefitting from reliably excellent harvests. So much prosperity has drawn a few of Elatolia's largest financial instutions to Lăodu, and the city also attracts people intent on studying this ancient culture that once ruled over the entire Orient.
⦾ JinJin rose to prominence as the primary conduit for trade between the Orient and Mainland. Unpredictable winds, powerful currents, and gargantuan monstrosities made it unsafe to approach ports south of JinJin without first checking here for recent hazard reports. Prizing security over luxury, a series of ancient Khaans converted abundant tax revenue into a network of enormous fortifications. No unwelcome armada would dare approach JinJin Bay. Today this has less to do with imposing defenses and more to do with poverty. When the currents and winds made Kaohai a more logical shipping hub than JinJin, this community began to wither. Local deforestation compounded this problem, and the docks fell into disrepair. Today the population is less than one tenth its peak level. JinJin's modern residents enjoy spacious palaces and temples of ancient construction. Yet local shortages of food and fuel mean life is comfortable for few in this increasingly obscure Elatolian city.
⨹ Öndör Gazar is a peculiar plateau where warm mists shroud a rain forest unlike any other part of Elatolia. Dense vegetation here is often inhospitable to horses. Narrow and dangerous routes of ascent minimize trade with the jungle's denizens. Many visitors have reported encounters with aggressive human tribes or ferocious dinosaurs. Perpetual cloud cover and the dense rain forest canopy make surveillance difficult. No doubt some outlaw gangs and unholy cults shelter in this strangely hot and wet tableland. Dragonborn lore holds that faltering tribes should travel here in search of receovery or, failing that, assimilation into another tribe. Small groups of dragonborn, some in an essentially feral state, are commonly encountered on Öndör Gazar.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Elatolia ↑  → Fitchland ←  ↓ Galloria ↓

Demonym: Fitchlanders Language: Fitch
Homeland: Fitchland   First City: Voortervert
Politics: peaceful kingdom and reluctant Norish ally
Elites: clerics, bards, paladins, fighters, rogues
Endowments: intelligence and charisma
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: light brown or red
Eyes: dark brown or green
Influential Deities: Odin, Loki, Tyr, Geb, Ptah
Borders: Darresteg, Joryanland, Norland
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, flute, viol
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, rapier, halberd, heavy crossbow
Female Names: Anneka, Astrid, Beatrijs, Denise, Esmée, Helena, Ines, Lieve, Margreet, Mieke, Neeltje, Saskia, Tessa, Veerletje
Male Names: Aäron, Albert, Bram, Dirk, Evert, Hans, Jakob, Luk, Ollie, Pieter, Rik, Sebastian, Theo, Willem
Fitchland In 1 G.C. there was no Fitch language, and the ancestors of today's Fitchlanders inhabited a cluster of impoverished cities known as the Low Towns. Truscan conquests in Galloria and Transmania drove waves of immigrants into the area. The region's expanding economy made it possible to deploy effective flood control techniques. Citizens of the Low Towns no longer endured periodic devastation of their homes. Making an ally of water, they prospered by engineering sophisticated irrigation systems. A friendly and peaceful people, the growing Fitch nation unified into a thriving sovereign kingdom well north of the Thousand Mile Wall.
 As technology improved, so did the wealth and power of this kingdom. Windmills became a staple of the Fitch landscape, providing pumping power to enhance a vast network of canals and levees. Improved drainage created more habitable land, particularly along the coast. Huge seaports arose to facilitate trade and travel to all parts of the world. Yet these metropolises remain vulnerable to disastrous floods, sometimes relying on a stone seawall to hold back the tides. Modern Fitchlanders have little tolerance for renegades or violent outsiders, given the damage even a single miscreant could inflict. The term is rarely uttered aloud here, but some know this land as the Sunken Kingdom.
 Fitchlanders tend to be prosperous yet modest and well-mannered. Foreigners are often amazed by the immaculately sculpted hedgerows and quietly festive alehouses of this populous kingdom. Fitchlanders are technologically sophisticated, even to the point of making handheld timepieces that are accurate to within a few minutes per day, given proper winding and maintenance. They gently shun most practitioners of arcane magic, but Fitchland otherwise upholds scholarship as a national virtue. Fitch merchant captains ply all navigable seas, exporting spices, glassware, rare textiles, and precision tools. With a reputation for charm and shrewdness, their many successes bolster the ample treasuries of their homeland.
Flood Control The best farmland tends to receive substantial seasonal rainfall. Be it a regular monsoon or an unusual convergence of spring thunderstorms, flooding is a natural hazard in most areas suited to agricultural development. During the Age of Heroes, bold leaders ordered the construction of dams and canals in efforts to prevent deadly floods. The Great Consolidation saw infrastructure networks reliably taming traditional floodwaters, draining historic swamplands, and irrigating vast swaths of new farmland. Larger canals doubled as shipping lanes for livestock and fresh produce.
 Fitchland is a nation that owes its existence to flood control efforts. Iconic Fitch windmills work mechanisms to elevate water, clearing accumulations that fall onto soggy ground. Crops selected for their thirst also help to dry the ground after each fresh rain. Overflow channels divert the heaviest rains into reservoirs regulated to drive the flow of larger canals. Even Fitch cities are adapted, with various amphitheaters and paved squares set low to function as public pools when rainfall overwhelms storm sewers. Some ports only manage to hold back the tides with colossal sea walls looming over coastal districts. Most kingdoms were taken through military victories against previous rulers, but Fitchland was built through engineering victories against the element of water itself.
 ♪ Art & Entertainments Advanced knowledge of botany and chemistry has given the Fitch people mastery of dyes. Great painters flock here to procure supplies and seek lessons from realists – painters so gifted that their works seem to capture a moment of reality. Aristocrats from all over the world have spent fortunes on portraits painted by established Fitch masters. Art appreciation is also important here. Great Fitch cities compete to offer the most impressive public galleries and museums. Collections featuring works of diverse traditions and styles are held in particularly high esteem.
 Public largess is central to the popularity of the ruling class. Elaborate parks, symphonic music, and celebratory fireworks are all familiar experiences for an urban Fitchlander. Drama, music, literature, sculpture, fashion – much of Fitch culture is a collection of elements adopted from other peoples. Customary norms of quiet humility contrast sharply with emphases on bold creative expression and lavish public entertainments. Foreign entertainers often find Fitchland ideal for seeking exposure to diverse forms of art right alongside opportunities to share their own traditions.
 ✠ Belief & Worship As with so many other things, Fitchlanders approach religion in a quiet and private manner. Fitch holy symbols are often delicate little pieces of jewelry. Houses of worship tend to blend unobtrusively into the surrounding community. Congregations within often give thanks to the God of the Final Battle for his wise patience in delaying the end of the world. Others focus on praising the God of Solid Ground for simply having a homeland in which to live and work or the God of Forged Marvels for endless opportunities to invent ways of making that life better. The God of Endless Disguises is a patron to misfits and renegades. At the other social extreme, guards and soldiers often revere the God of Relentless Crusades. Morality tales in Fitch folklore focus on contrasts between Loki and Tyr. Odin, Geb, and Ptah are depicted as ambitious builders pestered by Loki the Renegade until Tyr the Lawgiver resolves matters.
 Most church leaders work with the government to promote a tranquil social order. Fitch priests value well-staffed orphanges and medical facilities more than towering spires or golden reliquaries. The Old Faith generates little interest in Fitchland. The kingdom's only Standing Stones are clustered on hilltops near the original Low Towns. Unholy pacts draw the death penalty, and the successful witch hunters sometimes rise into the aristocracy. Witches and warlocks must practice covertly here, gathering only in secret. The public has a general distrust of arcane power. Except for bookish diviners, stalwart abjurers, and entertaining illusionists; wizards are regarded with suspicion. Though not truly worshiped, great Fitch inventors are admired as national heroes.
Artillery Arrows and spears do no real harm to respectable stone fortifications. Short of getting up close for demolition work, armies must rely on artillery to breach castle walls. Military commanders prize the expertise required to build and operate a catapult or trebuchet. While these machines can be used to launch fire or pestilence into a fort, their standard application is to hurl heavy round stones at high speed toward enemy defenses. A sustained barrage of these shots will crumble even the toughest masonry. Wooden stockades and pickets are destroyed with even less effort. When artillery attacks are directed against armies moving about in the open, deadly projectiles will take a small toll on the enemy's ranks and a huge toll on their morale.
 There are also artillery pieces designed specifically for softer targets. The ballista is essentially a crossbow so large that it must be fired from a fixed installation. Even armored knights fear the prospect of being impaled by one of its massive bolts. Ballistae are rarely effective against stone, but they can wreak havoc on enemy vehicles and siege equipment. Offensive artillery improves an army's chances of storming a fortified position, while defensive artillery amplifies the fighting power of garrisoned troops. The Fitch Royal Army relies heavily on this second effect. Comparatively small garrisons easily repel attacks against sturdy fortifications bristling with well-calibrated artillery.
 † Castles & Combat At the heart of Fitchland's national defense are enormous hoards of gold contributed to Norish Moots. Joryanlanders remain constantly poised to invade their more prosperous neighbor, but this generous Fitch tribute prevents Joryani kings from breaking the peace. Even so, border fortifications are invariably modern, with powerful artillery and walls of cleanly-cut stone. Similar fortresses overlook the harbors of Fitchland's great ports, insuring the orderly flow of traffic through busy shipping channels. Almost all major construction projects here are planned by Reverend Architects to balance aesthetic appeal, efficient design, and structural durability.
 By custom, Fitch gentlemen wear a light blade whenever away from home. Duelling is legal here, provided witnesses hear uncoerced mutual consent and precautions are taken to keep bystanders clear. Actual military personnel favor larger weapons. Halberd-wielding warriors are trained to form pickets for protecting the innocent or holding a battle line. Constabularies employ elite crossbow snipers to provide discreet security at public events or effective backup when moving against violent criminals. Not many Fitch soldiers are battle-hardened, but the kingdom has one of the best-equipped regular armies in the world.
 § Decrees & Customs Fitch society is broadly permissive. Yet punishments for actual crimes can be severe. Mere vandalism of public property may warrant exile. Inflexible laws are particularly strong when it comes to contracts. Harsh punishments for fraud help a fair and well-governed financial sector to thrive. Fitch law shows no mercy to people convicted of striking a bargain with an unholy power. Experienced witch hunters actively follow up reports of occult activity, and crowds gather to watch spectacularly cruel executions of witches and warlocks.
 Though the same royal family has ruled Fitchland for dozens of generations, the modern realm embraces some democratic concepts. People assemble regularly and choose representatives to advise the local lord. These popular figures then choose some of their own to join the Council of Ministers in Voortervert. The Queen is not bound to act on legislation produced by this deliberative body. Yet public debate is rarely censored, and popular proposals are often signed into law. Various guilds, banks, and shipping lines all pay generously for opportunities to influence members of the Council. Though Fitch law liberates all slaves who set foot in Fitchland, Fitch captains at sea freely engage in human trafficking alongside other acts that are not permitted within the kingdom.
 Ⓢ Economy & Trade Warm currents and winds give Fitchland mild winters and a respectable growing season. Local farmers make the most of it with thirsty crops planted in irrigated fields of rich soil. This bounty nourishes the entire population, provisions huge fleets, and facilitates lucrative trade with dwarven communities underground. Yet Fitch commerce is global in scale thanks to several enormous shipping lines headquartered in port cities here. From spices and dyes to clockwork and optics, Fitch cargo vessels supply unique goods to every major coastal marketplace. In addition to money and art, merchant captains return with furs, gems, silks, spirits and other items bound for the orderly shops of Fitch vendors.
Merchant Mariners Every coastal realm achieves some measure of internal trade by shipping along its own shores. Albionish, Fitch, Iskreshi, Norish, Sivelsh, Sylvanian, and Truscan captains each follow distinctive maritime traditions while plying seas far from their homeland. Large cargo vessels designed to exploit the powers of wind and current, each culture's designs feature multiple masts with complex rigging for the control of vast sails. Yet the way these vessels operate is as important as their physical design. Week after week of hard work with minimal provisions requires discipline. Mariners must adapt to the caprices of the sea. Successful commanders balance rigid routine with flexible planning.
 Conventional cargo must be valuable enough to recover the expense of the haul yet not so valuable as to justify instant magical transport. A broad range occupies that middle ground. Every respectable cook travels with some imported spices, and prosperous commoners create a large market for imported foods and drinks. Tools, glassware, and other consumer items may be exported from advanced manufacturing centers into areas without that capacity. Furs, leathers, and textiles are often in wide demand beyond regions of natural abundance. Long sea voyages are not without their perils, but savvy captains can amass impressive fortunes while providing loyal crew members with respectable pay and opportunities to visit exotic lands.
 Many Fitch families possess great wealth without any aristocratic title. Fashion favors simple dark suits or dresses along with the smallest of jewels. At art galleries and public concerts, only the most subtle details differentiate a well-groomed laborer from a well-heeled banker. Socially acceptable displays of wealth include funding public entertainments, endowing charitable institutions, and generously compensating loyal employees. These practices ensure that even the least fortunate Fitch youths have access to food, shelter, and education. Sustained peace and prosperity have made the Fitch people almost uniformly healthy and happy. Yet some realms harbor a negative opinion of these people, as Fitch shipping lines have been known to pursue profit with little regard for the well-being of trading partners.
 ⨳ Foes & Perils While witch hunters are themselves dangerous, their quarry is even more menacing. Infernal pacts are strangely popular here. Major cities are lucky to go a full year without one night when devils prowl the skies. Murderous dark elves are also surprisingly abundant despite no major enclave in Fitchland. Visiting drow can expect aggressive persecution. Fitch internal security is pervasive and vigilant. In communities and along major roads, travellers who are not fluent in the local language may be detained and interrogated. Any efforts to sabotage fortifications or flood control structures can result in summary execution.
 In the wilder parts of Fitchland, spirits abound. Forested hills are home to wild dryads and nymphs. Folklore holds that these beguiling creatures are valuable advisors, though scholarship suggests they are as likely to mislead for their own amusement as they are to provide sound guidance. The abandoned ruins of flooded towns may be home to wraiths and ghosts. Small bands of orcs or ogres sometimes live inhabit swamps also known to contain hydrae. Even in the time of the Low Towns, this stretch of coast was known to be the stalking ground for a tribe of malevolent shapeshifters. No doubt some of these monsters have infiltrated the Fitch population.
⊛ Voortervert is a modern scholar's paradise. Art schools, law schools, engineering schools, medical schools – all this is in addition to three excellent universities and a pair of elite military academies. From the kingdom's peak elevation, the cliffside Royal Palace offers a spectacular view of the city below. At the heart of that city, the Dome of Respect shelters huge galleries of keen observers watching debates among the Council of Ministers. Nearby towers house courts, clerks, inspectors, and records orchestrating Fitch governance. Voortervert is proof that, while this nation may rely little on wizardry, it relies heavily on intellect.
Tourism Dragons were once abundant threats with territories closely crowded together. After the Imperium Arcanum dramatically thinned their ranks, the Age of Heroes saw much wild land tamed and put to productive purposes. Modern engineers link great cities with cobblestone highways, permanent bridges, and sprawling wharves. Travel still tends to be stressful and costly, but an armed personal escort is no longer essential for peacetime visits to a huge number of well-policed cities.
 A small group can complete a modern sightseeing expedition for about the same expense as purchasing one healthy steed. Well-funded students may go abroad to diversify their studies or deal directly with a particular master. Many entertainers tour extensively, finding both new audiences and new inspiration along the way. Some newlyweds travel to share exotic experiences before taking on parenthood. Great cities and natural wonders tend to generate clusters of inns, shops, shrines, and guide services catering to tourists. Yet tourist hubs can be plagued with pickpockets and grifters. A dramatic decline in tourism is an early indicator of faltering governance.
⦿ Drukkhaven sits just downstream from a cluster of hills rich with timber and coal. These resources feed an industrial powerhouse unlike any other on the west coast of Mainland. Drukkhaven's shipyards produce the bulk of Fitchand's fleets, Royal and corporate alike. Smelters and forges transform loads of raw ore into valuable tools. Honest laborers never sit idle long in this great city. Able and stern constables ensure that dishonest folk face constant scrutiny, with more severe treatment to follow any verified infraction. An overwhelming majority supports strict oversight, since this center of productivity affords a secure and comfortable life for most of its inhabitants.
⦿ Festistad is a destination young aristocrats with modern sensibilities make a point to include on their tours of the world. Though situated at sea level and navigable by a network of canals, Festistad is kept safe by a council of wizards openly contrary to Fitch norms. Their unusual arcane power is matched by an unusually permissive attitude. Loud music, public intoxication, and minor vandalism are tolerated in service to an atmosphere of perpetual celebration. Mariners often prefer to take their leave here because of the extensive vice opportunies available in Festistad.
 ⦾ The Hogue was once a wooded isle containing the only Truscan fort north of the Thousand Mile Wall. Long ago the last indigenous tree was felled to patch a ship. Now this bald mountaintop towering over the sea serves as headquarters for the Fitch Royal Navy. A prominent feature of Fitch territorial waters is known as the Bay of Tranquility because patrols coordinated by The Hogue so effectively deter piracy. Continued growth of the community has turned the isle into a great center of naval lore. Military and civilian officers alike often venture here to be trained in nautical command.
⨹ Laagsteden, also known as the Low Towns, has been reduced through neglect to soggy ruins visited by sightseers in the day and vengeful sprits at night. The largest concentration of humans residing in the area is a single sprawling fortress sheltering a venerable palace and a modern museum. The County of Laagsteden contains even more dwarves and gnomes. Nearby hills continue to yield an assortment of rich ores along with the occasional gem. Several dwarf clans operate a mining guild in the area, each populating a town above ground in order to survive frequent flooding. Thousands of gnomes also dwell here. Some mingle with dwarves and furnish miners with useful gadgets while others inhabit patchy woodlands, living quietly as their ancestors did.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡  ↑ Fitchland ↑  → Galloria ←  ↓ Helvetica ↓

Demonym: Gallorians Language: Gallorian
Homeland: Galloria  First City: Arbonne
Politics: conflicted provinces of the Truscan Empire
Elites: fighters, clerics, rogues, rangers, druids
Endowments: dexterity and charisma
Complexion: tan to fair
Hair: blonde to dark brown
Eyes: blue, brown, or green
Influential Deities: Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Arawn, Silvanus
Borders: Helvetica, Sylvania, Truscanny
Popular Instruments: drum, flute, shawm, viol
Traditional Weapons: handaxe, rapier, battleaxe, lance
Female Names: Adèle, Chantal, Élodie, Geneviève, Louise, Manon, Margaux, Michèle, Monique, Odette, Renée, Simone, Sylvie, Zoé
Male Names: Alphonse, Bernard, Étienne, Gaston, Gilbert, Henri, Jean, Louis, Luc, Maurice, Pierre, Serge, Xavier, Yves
Galloria After annexing Helvetica and Thrace, the Truscan Republic would next set its sights on this verdant region. The first few Truscan Emperors were shaped in the crucible of the Gallorian Campaigns. Yet Gallorians are not particularly violent by nature. Defiant tribes hurling distinctive throwing axes gave way to loyal taxpayers eager for economic progress. Much of the region was quick to adopt an urbane lifestyle. Particular loves for fine food, wine, and art soon gave this provincial culture as much prestige as their civilizing conquerers. Modern eating utensils used by most Mainlanders derive from ancient Gallorian dining practices.
 Many centuries of reliable loyalty to Imperial rulers earned these decadent people a high degree of affluence. Yet the empire started to lose control of its westernmost territories while the Truscans were focused on their misadventure in Ontolon. The frontier receded gradually all the way back to Galloria. Some rebel Gallorians embrace more egalitarian values and others resent heavy Imperial taxation. Warzones create swarms of destitute refugees and military deserters scavenging from already-pillaged communities. Secure Gallorian cities continue to offer excellent standards of living and abundant luxuries. Today the place is a study in contrasts. Splendid palaces sit untouched overlooking sprawls of rubble. Elsewhere thoughtful city elders struggle to assimilate waves of indigent immigrants into upscale urban economies.
 Gallorian politics can be intensely divisive. Almost everyone has a strong opinion about Imperial authorities, with little tolerance for the opposition. Common folk encourage one another to become more involved in debates rather than to leave it all for their betters to sort out. Even the most liberal kings must be sensitive to public opinion. Stable local governments still face constant critique from rabble-rousers and artistic protesters. Leaders must act quickly to crush armed uprisings and prevent the spread of revolutionary spirit. Yet acting too quickly turns peaceful protestors into martyrs for their cause. Current events in Galloria only reinforce the reputation of these people for pairing elegance with passion.
Busking Thousands of modern cities and towns are prosperous enough that entertainers can sustain themselves from the coins tossed to indicate approval of a performance. In poorer or less populous quarters, the challenge of busking involves drawing a crowd and holding their interest. Yet in the most affluent and crowded areas, the hardest part may be obtaining permission. Some cities even require licenses for artistic performances in public places. Many institutions will police the area just outside their facilities to preserve the flow of foot traffic. Factor in problems caused by the weather and other disruptions, and this modest source of income becomes unreliable as well. Yet busking a remains common way to hone the skills of fledgeling entertainers, and it often elevates public morale in crowded urban environments.
 ♪ Arts & Entertainments High elves continue to practice forms of dress, music, winemaking, and sculpture that have been continuously refined for more than 50,000 years. Yet when humans think of sophistication they are more likely to contemplate fresh trends coming out of Galloria. Some major social events here see professional fashion models displaying the latest wares from designers with celebrity status of their own. Traditional plays, paintings, and dramas are respected in Galloria, but the greatest creative luminaries of this society are driven by auterism. This philosophy promotes artistic innovation through extreme dedication to a personal vision that stands apart from other influences. Between fearless free spirits and provacateurs with wealthy patrons, many great works of modern Gallorian art are built around a central theme of aggressively defying social convention.
 This craving for the avante-garde makes almost anything an artistic medium in Galloria. From acrobats bounding across rooftops to a group of buskers silently playing invisible instruments, public performances often deliver unclear messages at unexpected moments. Some Gallorians react to all this by funding extremes of opulence among more traditional arts. Major churches are architectural wonders, and clergy sponsor elaborate illuminations of scripture. Small well-appointed playhouses and opera companies serve up predictable standards for patrons who crave stability. Yet far more popular are clamorous outdoor concerts weaving dance and music into spectacles enthralling large audiences. Sometimes concluding with fireworks, these extravaganzas attract legendary entertainers from lands both near and far. At smaller venues in some urban quarters, musicians and raconteurs regularly sustain revels until dawn.
Dispensations Major established religions combine the basic edicts of a deity with an elaborate body of theology penned by mortals. Clergy debate the finer points of scripture and lore, praying regularly in their search for guidance. Through hierachies and special councils, new ideas become eternal truths in religious teaching. The product of all this work sometimes takes the form of massive literary supplements clarifying religious doctrines and their practical applications. Many priests and worshippers often search through the same language in search of loopholes and other exceptions.
 Not all religions offer spiritual dispensations, and most that do so are not working from theology explicitly engineered for profit. Results typically play off a holy order's tendency to reinforce social norms, creating opportunities for revenue through technical exemptions. From blessed brothels where prostitution is sanctified to temporary badges that excuse transgressions against an oath of non-violence, religious leaders have devised all manner of ways to market theological exceptions to basic taboos.
 In some faiths these prior dispensations are more lucrative than rites of atonement. Aristocrats provide generous sums to religious leaders willing to bless the revels of an otherwise sinful festival. Some leaders enjoy constant debauchery in their private lives while being credited in public for spending generously to support a sacred institution. Depite the tremendous variety in actual religious commandments, striking parallels can be seen across the many different ways holy authorities sell indulgences. Where this practice is controversial, it may serve as the spark for a much broader religious conflict.
 ✠ Belief & Worship There were always strong pockets of the Old Faith in Galloria. Modest formations of Standing Stones are abundant, joined by a few grander specimens. Druids are widely respected here even though many have been linked to rebels. Another growing religious minority are atheists – people who shun religion and holy spellcasting due to a mistrust of the gods. Witches and warlocks are not welcome to operate openly in Galloria. Yet covert covens wield enough influence that all institutions once devoted to witch hunting have been repurposed to focus on vampires and shapechangers. Despite all this, prevailing religious practices in Galloria are decidedly conservative. The Aegis Church often wields tremendous influence over local leaders and civic institutions.
 Gospels here feature many elements borrowed from Truscan lore. Yet the dominant narrative is a litany of praise for the Gallorian homeland. Looking here among his many holdings, the God of the Heavenly Throne set out to create a paradise. The God of the Setting Sun and the God of Verdant Wilderness harmonized to perfect the natural environment. Then the God of Drunken Revelry and the God of Final Rewards together designed the cycle of growing and harvesting, making endless adjustments in pursuit of the finest food and drink. Gallorian teachings contend that one must experience many joys in this life to be worthy of the greatest pleasures the afterlife has to offer. Churches here often sell atonement in advance, issuing certificates of indulgence so that monied revelers who transgress against Gallorian taboos need not let spiritual ramifications spoil the fun.
 † Castles & Combat The traditional Gallorian handaxe features a curved head and handle so that the weapon might tumble along the ground as an alternative to being hurled directly. While landing these unusual attacks on target is difficult, that factor is offset by similar problems evading the tumbling and lurching weapon. Axes large and small continue to be traditional symbols of Gallorian power. Yet the region has long been flooded with Truscan steel. Many cityfolk carry rapiers while going about ordinary business. Several Gallorian fencing styles are widely taught in other lands. Aristocratic soldiers are expected to own a set of full battle dress as well as a lance and a steed fit for war. Modern heavy cavalry dominate open field combat here.
 Most areas of Galloria have either seen warfare in recent generations or anticipate it in the century to come. Even the most humble senator likely controls a palace within a fortress. Magistrates without their own militarized strongholds are likely raising funds for construction. These projects sustain high demand for both labor and tax revenue. They also prevent the western border of the Truscan Empire from shifting in large increments. Some frontier territories see alternating periods of violent rebel uprisings and draconian martial law. Others are ravaged by open warfare between Imperial loyalists and “free Gallorians” who dream of living under the rule of a comparatively permissive monarch. With support from the Sylvanian Confederation, several of these upstart kingdoms already control substantial territory.
Fighters Working with dwarven smiths, some human armies serving the Imperium Arcanum developed original weapons and fighting techniques. Later dwarven and human armies garbed in heavy iron seemed invulnerable to opposing forces, enabling Wotania to become the first superpower in the Age of Heroes. Humanity devised a staggering variety of combat tactics in the warfare of that era. Legendary fighters carved out realms great and small from the chaos. Their stories, and their moves, live on today in the fighting styles and lore of myriad modern martial traditions.
 The term “fighter” often implies something more specific than “armed combatant.” Many military trainees still lack the mettle that can emerge in fierce battle. Gifted mentors impose extensive regimens of arduous training, instilling the tenacity to persist despite hardships. Yet even the untrained may find the spark of a true fighter ignited by frequent scuffles with neighborhood bullies or encounters with wild beasts. Proven survivors able to make the most of weapons and armor, these resilient warriors are essential for any organization intent on controlling expansive territory.
 Skilled fighters enjoy plenty of employment opportunities, but most involve dire peril. The boasts of great generals often follow from fields covored in blood. Policing remote highways or crime-ridden neighborhoods may entail more reliance on weapons than badges. The most secure posts might allow a guard or soldier to serve for decades with few eventful days. Yet other careers involve a routine of violence with few peaceful interludes. Guilds, banks, caravans, ships, and some shops require formidable defenders to protect valuables. Mercenary companies and gladiator schools are always on the lookout for the best talent to join their ranks. Many fighters do not live long enough to lay down their arms and settle into a tranquil retirement.
 Defensive fortifications leave unprotected villages and towns hit hard during long seiges. Some regions hoping to sustain or rebuild local agriculture engage in warfare by other means. It is not uncommon to see Gallorians negotiating the bloodless withdrawal of an inferior force even while standing poised for battle. Clashes of equal forces may be resolved with formal duels or jousts among unit champions. Assassins and spies are well-compensated in Galloria. Diviners, illusionists, cryptographers, and smugglers also prove valuable in secret struggles to compromise power structures. Wise rulers continue to protect and fund educational institutions able to infuse their populations with new talent. Long after conventional forces have settled into a stalemate, some Gallorian conflicts rage on in the form of personal feuds between leaders and their henchmen.
 § Decrees & Customs Galloria's many large cemeteries are sacred places where Shrineminders sometimes maintain perimeter walls and collect donations at the gate. Though there are vocal laments about the absurdity of war, most people here accept death as a part of life. Nearly all also insist on wine as a part of life. Regional and local governments impose complex legal codes governing wine production at every level. There are severe punishments for poisoning wine, deliberately spilling large unspoiled supplies, or misuse of prestigious labelling marks. This rigor ensures that even common table wines tend to be excellent in Galloria while choice vintages can command high prices.
 Most violent acts are severely punished in Gallorian communities, though these people have a long tradition of dueling. Given responsible public notice and witnessed consent from each party, settling a question of honor is a valid legal defense for a killing. Most of Galloria is subject to Truscan law, with each provincial governor the highest authority this side of Septopolis. Slaves must be closely supervised, since freedom awaits those who cross to the other side of western battle lines. The ethics of slavery, like many other topics, are freely discussed by the common folk of Galloria. Seditious orators may be punished, but the freedom to express any opinion about any subject in private has long been a Gallorian custom that troubles political and religious leaders alike.
 Ⓢ Economy & Trade This land is home to both forests seeded by Silvanus and woodlands of older stock. Makers of perfumes, medicines, dyes, or inks all thrive in Galloria due to the high quality and widespread availability of so many useful herbs, nuts, and fruits. Gallorian wines have a reputation as the finest in the world, and sweet spirits are also a popular export from the region. Prosperous Truscans look to Galloria as a scenic and culturally stimulating place to visit. They return with clothing and art from this land, both of which are widely exported. Importers here also service the luxury trades, paying a premium for silk, exotic wools, leathers from distant lands, and all manner of rare foodstuffs.
 Great cities see declining populations when armies are lost in battle. Populations surge as refugees flock out of warzones. Urban planners are strained by the challenges of managing these fluctuations. Employment opportunities are plentiful, but problematic for people with crippling injuries or single parents with young children. In some areas extreme opulence sits a stone's throw away from scorched earth and destitution. Rebuilding of razed towns and redevelopment of pillaged farms may be delayed while a lost generation of locals faces constant peril from factions clashing in the area.
Wildlands The surface of the world has never seen larger or more well-developed civilizations than the present era. Even so, enormous stretches of land continue lack many permanent structures. Reclusive tribes may inhabit these places, wary of visitors and hostile to homesteaders. Some wildlands are protected by powerful druids hostile to any people who go beyond subsistence-level hunting and foraging. By far the most common danger in these areas is posed by indigenous fauna. Large territorial beasts may attack to drive humans away from lairs or favored hunting grounds. Lesser creatures also pose all manner of dangers, from the swarming of insect armies to the venom of stealthy serpents.
 Major trade routes see frequent patrols ranging into nearby wildlands to clearing any dangers likely to wander into traffic. Yet most journeys well beyond farming country leave travellers exposed to considerable risk from monsters, beasts, and bandits. Even using roads, journeys through wild areas often demand travel as part of a caravan with the fighting strength to drive off local aggressors. Professional hunters and foragers learn the ways of the wilderness. Knowing when to hide, when to run, and where not to tread enables individuals and small groups to be productive in proximity to deadly wild things. Outlaws sometimes inhabit perilous wildlands for lack of any civilized sanctuary. Some powerful individuals find tranquility so far from city life. Yet these untamed places remain so precisely because no ordinary folk would raise families where dangers roam so freely.
 ⨳ Foes & Perils War has changed. A Truscan doctrine of total war failed to dominate the people of Ontolon while actually hastening the collapse of the Western Flank. Today Truscan generals and rebel leaders consider it shameful to use pestilence or goblinoid