THE IMMACULATE SYSTEM

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
History
Geography
Races
Bugbears
Cambions
Dragonborn
Dwarves
Elves
Firbolgs
Gnomes
Goblins
Goliaths
Halflings
Half-Elves
Half-Orcs
Hobgoblins
Humans
Kobolds
Lizardfolk
Orcs
Tieflings
Tritons
Typhonians
Dominions
Homelands
Albion
Carmatia
Celedine
Danu
Darresteg
Elatolia
Fitchland
Galloria
Helvetica
Iskresh
Joryanland
Kohadesia
Lachland
Norland
Ontolon
Serpia
Sivales
Sylvania
Thrace
To-Shin
Transmania
Truscanny
Wabahar
Xe-Shan
Zintu
Languages
Trade
Assets & Estates
Bans & Smuggling
Coins & Treasure
Debts & Obligations
Exports & Imports
Finances & Banking
Gear & Technology
Conflict
Heroes & Villains
Illnesses & Plagues
Jails & Prisons
Killers & Slavers
Lords & Officials
Monsters & Mayhem
Navigation & Travel
Magic
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
Deities
Apollo
Arawn
Ares
Ching Sung-Tzu
Chung Kuel
Dagda
Dionysus
Geb
Hades
Hel
Lei Kung
Loki
Mannanan Mac Lir
Ma Yuan
Odin
Oghma
Osiris
Ptah
Ra
Set
Shang-Ti
Silvanus
Thor
Tyr
Zeus
Index



Preface

 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 an opportunity 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.
 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. Subsequently in the corporate world, I found myself consumed by other pursuits. After a brief run in the rat race, I sought a new balance, with plenty of time for reinvogorating participation in this treasured creative delight. Haphazardly across various legal notepads and accounting ledgers, I began to craft my ideal version of the game. Yet 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 could be well-suited to a setting with significant applicable content. Yet campaigns here do not need to explore these themes. This setting has much to offer that is fit for players 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 create diverse backdrops for adventure while keeping the cultural and religious material limited to a practical scope. Twenty-five gods would collectively influence twenty-five major human ethnic groups. As patterns were balanced and details fleshed out, it seemed appropriate to name the whole thing after the scheme through which the assembled immortals found harmony together. Thus I present The Immaculate System.

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Introduction

The Immaculate System This document is intended as a campaign world for roleplaying games and other storytelling activities. The fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons is the primary 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. Many organizations and locations are mentioned herein, yet these are only a small subset of all the holy orders, universities, population centers, and natural wonders in the world.
 That world is known as Theatron -- an anagram of "not Earth" as well as the ancient Greek word for "theater." Yet few inhabitants of this world know it as Theatron. Most assume there are no others in the same plane of existence and simply refer to it as "the world." It 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 gods remain locked in a pact that gives them each ample opportunity to promote their own faiths 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 specifics about 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 crucial characters up to and including current heads of state. The Immaculate System is not intended as a substitute for imagination, but a platform from which to launch it. Repurpose individual elements as you like, or set your entire campaign on this global stage.
The Story of Everything In a multiverse of incomprehensible diversity, there are more worlds than the population of any single world. Almost all living beings never venture beyond their native plane of existence. Most travelers who cross into an alternate reality find it a bewildering and perilous experience. Only the most powerful entities visit new worlds with no more difficulty than stepping through an ordinary doorway. Simultaneously projecting themselves onto many different planes of existence, each deity is best understood as a cosmic legion nourished by the spiritual devotion of sapient mortals.
 Much of the cosmos is uninhabitable. Often the gods labor, building atop the fabric of space and time 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 they lack direct power to create new forms of life that might worship them.
 Habitually fostering 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 worshipers, 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. If an indigenous race of creatures has the right combination of humility and desperation for passionate prayer, deities may suddenly perceive a previously undiscovered world. 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 harness emergent faiths.
 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 earthly languages. Later literary confusion resulted in notable reference materials and some books of scripture muddling the term with a common word for cave. For clarity's sake, academic consensus solidified around usage of the generic vernacular (i.e. "the world.") Even seasoned planar travelers favor this usage if 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. Various efforts to coordinate the spiritual flows of the world could not be stabilized while a steady stream of hungry newcomers introduced unpredictable disruptions. Among mortals, this took the form of extreme political balkanization along with the proliferation of countless small sects.

THE FIVESQUARE PANTHEON
DeityAlignmentInvocation
ApolloCGGod of the Setting Sun
AresCEGod of Untamed War
ArawnLEGod of Final Rewards
Ching Sung-TzuNGod of Falling Rain
Chung KuelLGGod of Just Trials
DagdaNGod of Limitless Might
DionysusCNGod of Drunken Revelry
GebNGod of the Solid Earth
HadesNEGod of Tranquil Death
HelNEGoddess of Cursed Afflictions
Lei KungLEGod of Troubling Storms
LokiCEGod of Endless Disguises
Mannanan Mac LirCNGod of Watery Depths
Ma YuanCEGod of Bloody Murder
OdinNGGod of the Final Battle
OghmaNGod of Accumulated Lore
OsirisLGGod of Noble Sacrifice
PtahLNGod of the Marvelous Forge
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 as a function of some 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 divine cannibalism.
 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 deities, 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, of course.
 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 orderly flows are particularly pleasing and effective in 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 worshipers 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 astronomers 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 that 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 groundbreaking "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.

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History

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. Theories about this most distant past are cobbled together from these fleeting glimpses as well as the study of fossils. Some scholars contend that a 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. Elsewhere, verdant jungles nourished animals, some familiar while others appear alien. Neither elves nor men could be found in the uncivilized lands of this time. Earthquakes and great 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, some dragons have taken longer naps.
The Age of Dragons (~800,000 to ~50,000 years ago) The original intelligences roaming the surface of the world found it a lonely place. Modern dragons believe their earliest ancestors were truly gargantuan, if also somewhat dim and capable of only feeble magic. They achieved progress by turning this 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 races were also on the menu.
 Across thousands of centuries, draconic supremacy went unchallenged. Eventually, efficient humanoid agricultural techniques could not produce enough warm flesh to satisfy the hunger of expanding populations. Quarrels between 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, started establishing 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.

Imperium Arcanum (~50,000 years ago to 5,224 years ago) Though some elves consider the reign of their forefathers a golden age, 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 by creating forms of new life including chimeras, nagas, wyverns, orcs, gnomes, and dragonborn. Huge fortified cities sprung up, and many millions of people took shelter under miraculous enchantments. Yet the great fey lords proved nearly as domineering and capricious as their draconian predecessors.
 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 extremination. The light fey in their cloud fortresses honed unthinkably intense purification magic, using this power to hatch the first metallic dragons. Meanwhile the dark fey moved downward, determined to deny any dragon refuge undergound. 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, cataclysmic warfare erupted between light and dark fey. Because Imperium Arcanum authorities recorded time in cryptic and possibly inconsistent ways, there is no scholastic consensus about how to precisely fix events of this era in a historical timeline.

The River of Time As a concept, time engages and confounds the most brilliant minds. Unlike wind or steel, 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 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 magic 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.
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 a few generations, violent rebellion was the normal human condition.
 Barely one century after the first divine intervention, no large communities of humans were governed by fey authorities. Unholy beings took advantage of this global upheaval. Archdevils, astral warlords, and a few vampire princes set out to build mighty nations. Each of these regimes was eradicated in spectacular fashion, though tieflings and the rakshasa live on as scattered legacies of two ancient infernal empires. Many great dragons took this opportunity to emerge from hidden slumber, but a proliferation of potent fighters, clerics, magic-users, and thieves rose up to deal with these threats. Countless tiny nations and local cults became the basis of ongoing civilization. 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. At the same time, divinely-ordained kings conquered five vast empires, uniting humanity's broadest cultural groups each under a different imperial banner. Great capitals rose up to advance arcane studies and technological progress along with the ascendant faiths and countless trades.
 Though the five great empires endured conflicts, they remained in relative balance for centuries. Increasingly distant from their followers, the gods seemed unmoved when the Truscan Empire started making major inroads into all three Mainland rivals. After fifteen centuries of continuous expansion, Truscan legions claimed dominance over the entire world. This boastful aspiration drove them into decline, starting with an epic military misadventure in the Orient. This was followed by a gradual failure of governance across the Western Flank, now known as the Sylvanian Confederation. The ongoing decline was sharply punctuated with the outright secession of the new Serpian Empire. Today, the Truscan governance does not extend beyond their own ethnic homeland and the territory of their most ancient conquests. 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.

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Geography

Mainland Some of Mainland's residents are not aware that any other continents exist. Just over half of humanity lives here, but the place is also home to an overwhelming majority of historic events and modern cultural traditions. As the world's largest landmass, Mainland features enormous geographic and cultural diversity. It is best understood as a collection of five regions each a world unto itself. Four feature multiple thriving human homelands while one is a breeding ground for all manner of terrible creatures.
⨁ Greater Norland includes Lachland, Norland, Joryanland, Darresteg, and Fitchland. The ancient superpower Wotania grew out of this region only to splinter when the Age of Heroes drew to a close. Even at its peak size, the Truscan Empire did not expand into this region. Official opinions were based on wild underestimations of the indigenous population. Today Greater Norland is diverse -- with small tribal nations inhabiting the frigid far north while modern urban centers thrive in balmy low country. Unreliable harvests periodically drive Norish raiders to seek plunder along Mainland's west coast.
⨁ Old Silvania encompasses Carmatia, Albion, Danu, Sylvania, and Sivales. The entire area was once ruled by the deity Silvanus himself. Over two thousand years after his abdication, this vast territory remains phenomenally verdant. Agricultural prosperity invited Truscan conquest, introducing aqueducts and public baths to the region. Imperial corruption and a wave of rebellious sentiment has replaced Truscan authorities with indigenous monarchs, tribal leaders, or elected rulers. Unlike the rest of the world, Old Silvania generally sees harmony between the Old Faith and modern religious practices.
⨁ The Truscan Empire rules over Transmania, Truscanny, and Helvetica as well as most of Galloria and Thrace. For the first fifteen centuries of the Great Consolidation, Truscan civilization experienced continuous territorial expansion. Much of mainland's infrastructure was developed by this vast empire. Citizens then knew Old Silvania as the Western Expanse and today's Serpian Empire as the Eastern Expanse. Though all that territory has since been lost, the modern Truscan Empire remains a military and economic superpower unsurpassed by any rival. Written Truscan continues to be the preferred working language of most sages and scientists around the world.
⨁ The Serpian Empire governs Zintu, Serpia, Iskresh, Kohadesia, and Wabahar. Prior to Truscan conquest, most of this region constituted the Iskreshi Sultanate. Not quite two centuries ago, civil war erupted when treasuries in Theopolis started hoarding revenue expected by authorities in Septopolis. Eastern forces rallied behind a governor who declared himself Padishah. Now much of the border is a conflict zone where great legions struggle to maintain control. Most of the Serpian Empire is either too arid or too tropical for normal agriculture, but a few vast river valleys are excellent breadbaskets for this hungry superpower.
⊘ The Scarlands Due north of Mainland's geographic center are charred wastes formed when a rain of falling stars reduced a nation of devil-worshippers to lifeless cinders. Over two thousand years later, horrifying abominations have risen from that black void. Surrounding lands appear desolate despite abundant grubs and fungi lurking just below the surface. Hordes of goblins, orcs, and ogres manage to sustain themselves on such fare. They periodically surpass a critical population density, swarming outward to devour all meat in their path. Norland, Joryanland, Transmania, and Iskresh all have frontiers facing the Scarlands. The only permanent settlements along these frontiers are heavily garrisoned military outposts. Much of the buffer zone is home to barbarian tribes -- savage people who never hesitate to migrate away from even more savage humanoid hordes.

The Orient Though not quite one third the size of Mainland, this continent sports a human population almost as numerous. The Orient is blessed with a favorable climate, no treacherous wastelands, and mostly low land adorned by a few scenic mountain ranges. Celedine, Elatolia, Ontolon, and Xe-shan have long been harmoniously unified. The exception is To-Shin, a huge volcano-strewn island now also a renegade province in full rebellion. A series of To-shinese Shoguns have repeatedly repelled huge invasion forces from the Oriental Empire. Despite this conflict, To-Shin and the Oriental Empire share a rich cultural heritage shaped by virtually no contact with Mainland civilizations during the Age of Heroes.

The Veiled Land Surrounded by deceptively inviting beaches, this continent is a throwback to Primordial Times. Visitors will find little respite from tropical heat and a blanket of thick fog. Yet these become minor concerns on first encountering an aggressive dinosaur. Scattered tribes of humanoids can be found here, but most are clearly not of any civilized Mainland race. Extremely frequent earthquakes make permanent dwellings implausible, and wandering dinosaurs are a constant threat. The Veiled Land itself is considered an unfit destination for sane people, though nearby archipelagos support all manner of secret outposts, being known to pirates from both Mainland and the Orient.

Hel The Norish have some experience establishing temporary camps here, but this vast expanse of ice and snow sports no permanent settlements. It also offers no real resources, being utterly lifeless just a mile or two from the nearest coastline. Because the ice and snow are constantly shifting, even the most powerful enchanters cannot maintain a residence on or under the surface. Those with the means to shrug off the deadly chill may use such a remote and barren region as a meeting place. Also, Hel is a fabled dumping ground for indestructible items meant to be lost forever.

Labyrinth Beneath the surface, the world is full of mysteries, the deepest among them of unknown age. A network of caverns and catacombs extends from the surface of Mainland down to unfathomable darkness. During the Imperium Arcanum, drow elves established a vast empire far below ground. Today modern dark elves share this territory with all sorts of subterranean life. Ordinary people often think of Labyrinth as a nightmarish place filled with monsters, though the surface is not without its own terrifying perils. Mostly peaceful communities, even the occassional great city, thrive in Labyrinthine caverns far from giant spiders' nests and ??beholder warrens. Yet the place is mostly lightless, and cutthroat tension lingers in even the most civilized havens so far below ground.

The Moon Few alive can claim to have returned from a visit to the exterior of this mysterious grey orb. It is the domain of the Archfey in exile -- permitted to watch the world but not to rule it. The gods see to it that nothing lives on the surface of the Moon. Anything that must breathe is quick to die for lack of air. The rock and dust of its barren surface is often punishingly cold. Yet long lunar days sometimes make those same features painfully hot. The only structures on the surface are small well-shaded gatehouses and observation posts. These are all controlled by the empire below.
 Inside the Moon, thousands of archmagi from the Imperium Arcanum inhabit a swirl of perpetual hedonism. Almost everyone is effectively an ageless immortal. Vast caverns offer thriving natural environments that seem ancient, yet each is reconfigured by the casual whims of its Archfey king or queen. The finest foods, entertainments, and intoxicants are all available in abundance. An eternity of isolation creates tremendous hunger for new experiences here. Scrying on the lives of ordinary mortals is a common entertainment. Capricious terrestrial fey sometimes entice people into portals leading here. The luckiest guests depart after obtaining magical favors, but an overwhelming majority spend their final days caught up in the reckless antics of fey prisoners.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡

Races

Monstrous Appearance Bugbears, dragonborn, goblins, half-orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, lizardfolk, 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 these races are innately cruel and violent. Individuals must struggle to overcome negative preconceptions. Some merchants refuse to do business with sufficiently odd-looking customers. Guards pay particular attention to people who stand out. Fair treatment and basic courtesy are not the usual expectation of these persecuted minorities.
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 home.
 Yet when they become sufficiently numerous, 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 is reverts to a reclusive tribe.
 Children of the Scarlands are primal monsters with no mental faculties beyond the comprehension of ordinary beasts. Their offspring are not blighted by that territory's curse. Free to choose their own path, some try to make a life 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 failues than successes, though some warbands thrive as elite military units.

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Unholy Persons Cambions and tieflings are fiendish by nature. Their bodies carry the blood of demons or devils. 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 offer comfort and support beings they see as blamelessly accursed.
 Unholy birth does not dictate that individuals will adopt evil ways. Visibly fiendish individuals often struggle to find a place for themselves, but glorious deeds can pave the way to a glorious status. Despite being so rare among the general population, cambions and tieflings are surprisingly common among heroic adventuring companies. Even so, the majority of each race tends toward villainy. Their menacing reputations are perpetuated by cambion warlords orchestrating violent rebellions and tiefling courtiers corrupting honorable leaders.
Cambions Succubi and incubi are dedicated to the pursuit of carnal relations with mortals. The most lustful demons and devils employ a variety of methods to sate their desires. Also, 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.
 Many cambions are raised in isolation, parents and child both 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.
 Unnaturally beguiling, some mature cambions become zealous crusaders for a church that offers redemption to their kind. Others employ their charm to twist institutions, 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 often occupy senior positions in highly respected organizations.

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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 living membership of a dwarven clan may exceed 100,000 individuals mostly residing in and around a single subterranean stronghold. During the Age of Heroes, the mightiest dwarven clans were larger still, their leaders acknowledged as important vassals to the Overking of Wotania. While the greatest dwarven clans today have economies on par with a thriving city, 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. Individual dwarves may be drawn away from their clan by opportunity or wanderlust.
 Orc clans prize power above all else. Brute is the preferred form, though Orcs respect guile, finesse, and even education to the extent these things prove useful in dominating others. The most venerable clans were founded by the survivors of epic wars. Legends of old glory sustain hardcore loyalists even when a clan is under siege. This takes place often, as any orc clan that is not engaged in some form of war is certain to be building up with such an effort in mind. Though bloodlines matter at the level of senior leadership, affiliation tends to be pragmatic. Most clans accept unfamiliar orcs after pledging a blood oath. Status is driven by the degree individuals contribute to the effectiveness of the group..
 Some human societies also emphasize clans. In Carmatia, most locals affiliate with one among the hundreds of huge extended families whose elders hold lofty titles and claim substantial lands. Clan loyalty runs so strong here that most conquests are temporary. Vanquished peoples, often treated badly, simply do not assimilate. Greivances build, old family ties are strengthened, and feuds may rage on for generations. Similar attitudes prevail farther north in Joryanland, Lachland, and Norland. Clan rivalries in those lands thwart efforts to build strong national governments.
 Elsewhere, typical humans identify with their own humble families while pledging loyalty to noble houses as a function of expediency. Popular rulers can inspire resistance movements when deposed, but it is rare a great many common folk are spontaneously inspired to fight on behalf of any aristocrat. Armies are rallied to protect homelands from purported threats. Civilians only worry about paying taxes and obeying the laws. Darrestygians, Fitchlanders, Gallorians, Albionians, Sivelsh, Tuathons, and Imperials of all sorts can live comfortably without the protection and support of a clan.
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 decripit fangs. Early in the Imperium Arcanum, the first dragonborn were created 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 are natural fits for work as bodyguards, shock troops, syndicate thugs, and other roles that benefit from effective intimidation. Some of the richest individuals made their fortunes as gladiators. Kings and generals mighty enough to earn a true dragon ally may employ dragonborn as grooms and attendants. Wild dragons may also harbor 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.

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Dwarves Dwarves were created to satisfy dragonkind's innate desire for rare minerals and gems. Rugged little workers found they were spared the worst abuses so long as mines and smelters were productive. The Imperium Arcanum saw dwarven production shifting 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 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.
 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, entirely comfortable living and working above ground. Even these hill dwarves often regard diplomacy and trade as distractions from the important business of mining and metalworking. 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, and this hardship can lead to gruff impatience with surface dwellers.
 Dwarves are builders as well as miners. They tend to be dilligent laborers and reliable engineers whenever given the opportunity. 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 few among this proud race do not favor the company of their own kind if not also the security of underground living.

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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 emmigrants eagerly abandoning the pale tranquility of their native realm.
 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 entire 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. Their magic makes well-used paths appear no different from untrodden wilderness. Firbolg gardens blend seemlessly with natural flora. From humble caverns to sturdy wooden homes, firbolg dwellings typically lurk in the shade of large trees or benefit from some other sort of natural camouflage. Outsiders are almost never welcome into 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 scholastic endeavors. Dragons maintain that elves were privileged for being the tastiest and the most pleasant-smelling of all the humanoids created and bred for service. 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 high 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.
 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 nations 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.

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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. Giant illusionists 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.
 Long time allies to druids, the firbolg race eventually produced many of its own accomplished practitioners of the Old Faith. When the Holy Silvanian 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.


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Gnomes
Hidden Dwellings Masters of concealment, most gnomes prefer dwellings 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 large stone structures as well as the attics or cellars of human homes. Gnomish workshops are sometimes hidden within piles of debris. 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 keep a well-stocked pantry and a stove in good condition. For beings small enough to be untroubled by cramped quarters, a gnomish residence may provide a concealed space for relaxation.
Just after the Imperium Arcanum was established, elven archmagi created the original 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, though that role would involve 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..
 Aware of their harsh exploitation, liberated gnomes did what came most naturally to them -- they hid. While many elven tribes made their homes in canopies of robust forests, small towns of gnomes carried on unseen down at ground level. Always guileful, these little people rarely attracted trouble and usually had contingency plans to address any plausible threat. Many took to wizardry, and the Age of Heroes saw gnome illusionists attain immense power. Some even became monarchs, though their kingdoms were fittingly small. Gnomes are normally uncomfortable as the center of attention in company of mixed race.
 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 even run a shop, but these people 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 sort of technological mastery. These rock gnomes often inhabit tiny shelters built into much larger masonry structures. If they must live outside city walls, their homes tend to be very small caves, sometimes carved into freestanding boulders.

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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 hordes. 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 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 goblin 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. Though troubadours and history books mention many "goblin kingdoms," free goblins rarely excel at building or farming. Pre-existing cities overrun by goblinoid forces, these peculiar realms tend to crumble within decades of being established. 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.

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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 primitive communities of 100-300 individuals ruled by a leader with absolute power. Sages regard these tribal communities 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. Assorted 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. Yet a small population of any race may see tribal norms taking hold after a few generations of isolation.
Goliaths Few in number, goliaths remain a mysterious subject. Historical references are few and inconclusive. Most reside among the slopes and glaciers of tall mountains where few investigators dare to tread. 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. Thriving young adults who do not see themselves as contenders for chieftancy 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, they remain uneasy around goliaths formidable enough to be considered rivals. Goliath 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.

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Secret Societies Many authorities have access to priests and diviners capable of magically answering questions of fact. Demanding discretion from members is just one small part of what a secret society must do to remain secret. As an entity, the group must hide in the shadows. Controversial or criminal activities should never be attributable to the 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 their own agents inside governments, thwarting investigations with timely warnings and internal miscommunications.
 Yet there are opportunities to match the challenges. Some secret societies facilitate profitable criminal activities (while keeping a step or two removed from most of the dirty work.) Others are social networks through which members help one another advance their careers or practice an unpopular craft. Illegal cults praise unholy beings and help warlocks find their power. Most secret societies offer great enticements to join, and some maintain their secrecy by eliminating prospects who refuse the offer. Famed for their discretion, halflings sometimes find themselves 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 trade 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 leadership positions in 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 to accomodate 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.

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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 and elf or an orc. Half-elves and half-orcs are each viable hybrids distinct from either parent race. Though demons are not a single race, cambion also fit this description. Any of the three 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 racial equality as a value. 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 chose to be near shops and public houses catering to their tastes. The most egalitarian cities see a smooth blend with 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 cambion 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 except in cases involving 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 stuggle for acceptance. Others move between communities, exercising their charm as diplomats or entertainers. Then some rise to prominence while functioning 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 most human families carry slight traces of fey blood. Being half-elven in a place like Tintagel or Vergovia merely means being in the middle of a spectrum entirely considered normal. 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. In an era with much less freedom to pursue opportunities outside racial norms, half-elves were already thriving as warriors, rogues, and bards. Today only humankind displays more versatility than their 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.

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Half-orcs In the Age of Heroes many half-orcs were the product brutal orcish armies conquering human settlements. Believed fit only for rough or sneaky work, they were often unwelcome in polite company. Those attitudes persist in some parts of the world today, though well-educated people see things differently. 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 urbane quarters. A modern half-orc is 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 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 navigation, accounting, and foraging.
 Peaceful half-orcs are increasingly welcome among trade guilds, with many thriving as builders or teamsters. 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 while otherwise earning such a position.

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Goblinoid Hordes Carmatia, Galloria, Iskresh, Thrace, Transmania, and Joryanland all have frontiers along the Scarlands. These homelands can anticipate regular incursions from huge hordes of goblins with hobgoblin leadership and bugbear irregulars. Though little in lore informs residents of 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 to 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 thinking and speaking. 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. Always hobgoblins are 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 among them 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 their ancestral nature, 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 always manage to end these reigns before they become large enough to be considered rivals.

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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, and dozens surpass that figure, but no single 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 dominant race in this era. 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, human rulers and engineers developed non-magical solutions to the water and sanitation challenges posed by metropolises. Reaching both upward and outward, these urban centers made homes for booming populations.
 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 a great empire and a specific Regal Deity. There may be thousands of human ethnicites, but almost all are obscure tribes or remnants of a defunct nation. Only twenty-five of them currently populate a substantial ancestral homeland with more than one million persons. For nearly twenty centuries, the most important events in the world have been recorded in the histories of these prominent groups.
 Humans collectively have no racial strengths or weaknesses. Though each ethnic group is associated with certain traits, 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. Many stereotypes harbor a kernel of truth. Yet an unfamiliar individual could be anywhere on the spectrum from reinforcing an ethnic stereotype to going against it completely. 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 well-known ethnic groups of the humankind are individually detailed in the Homelands section.

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The Wyrmplague A 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 harnessed to unwittingly 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 the ancient wyrms spent centuries rallying enough energy to make their attempt, millions of kobolds spontaneously sprang into existence. The shame of it prevented any further efforts to cause a Wyrmplague.
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 were not.
 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 thieves or warriors 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 a powerful wizards as if their masters were dragons. Legend holds that a badly botched magical experiment spontaneously produces a swarm of kobolds.
 Most of this race is irrationally hostile toward elves and downright reverent toward dragons. When not serving such a monster, kobolds are most 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 typically prefer non-monstrous persons speak on their behalf, and they have trouble relaxing without the security of nearby allies. 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.

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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 and whispers of dark truths from unspeakable realms. No amount of benediction or isolation completely stills the influence of infernal 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 no emotional faculties. Those who learn how to display passion do so only 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 gradually altered the indigenous reptiles of coastal wetlands, endeavoring to nurture a race that would conquer all others. This patient labor proceeded across much of the Thousandfold Drama. When Shang-Ti joined the coalition that defeated Quetzalcoatl and his associates, he endorsed Odin's leadership and lightning-quick battle plan. 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, but they can be intellectually gifted, and they are purely rational creatures. They value relationships for practical reasons, and 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 obscure tribes that shun outsiders. They thrive in otherwise uninhabited swamps and marshlands. Many preserve Old Faith traditions with roots in the Veiled Land, 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. Tthese expressionless reptiles are respected in some circles for impartial judgements even though they are entirely capable of lying to serve their own interests.

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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.
 Warriors and 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 most effective orc warbands organize into large alliances then train and equip specialized units coordinated with a combined arms doctrine. The simplest orc warbands are glorified hunting parties averse to any military contact. At their grandest, an orc warband is an elite military unit leading many others as elements of a sophisticated war machine poised to lay waste to all hostile forces.
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. Minor acts of deviance could have severe consequences. There was no tolerance for disloyalty. Elves found to be undermining the command structure were stripped of their lithe forms and mutated into short-lived brutes to be deployed as shock troops. 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 survive indefinitely in the right climate. As civil war swept across the Imperium, several orc legions 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. Along with the opportunities in larger human cities, these havens of civilized orcish culture see orcs participating in virtually every profession. Yet even the most tranquil orc remains 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.

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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.
 Meanwhile, a group of Standing Stones was replaced by a portal direct to one of the Nine Hells. Hordes of devils strolled through the orifice. Many donated blood to a program of transfusions through which citizens could prove their loyalty to increasingly cruel overlords. Every day, thousands of humans took the blood of a devil, undergoing a subtle transformation. More crucially, the children of all who received devil's 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 unholy 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 worshipers 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 shutting divine magic out 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 neighboring states were absorbed 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. Today corruption remains heavy in the Scarlands, somehow giving rise to vast hordes of aggressive creatures. Tieflings normally 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 the 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 proper homeland, and large institutions are generally not eager to be identified with this race. Even the most noble and kind-hearted adult tiefling must struggle at times to avoid being perceived as a dangerous villain.

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The Imperium Maris The Great Consolidation saw Mannanan Mac Lir in 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 great Uncharted Sea continues to live up to its name, foundering and swallowing any vessels that wander over the hemispherical sprawl 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 major centers of faith, poor harvests and other misfortunes persisted until widespread religious conversions took place. Many tritons resented the way Mannanan Mac Lir employed trickery to wrest supremacy from Poseidon. Today they venerate the God of the Watery 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 cult and monster activity, religious authorities do not divert time away from lifesaving work to quarrel about 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. Human commanders control a few elite triton military units trained and equipped for amphibious warfare. Universities often welcome triton lecturers since Imperium Maris is full of subjects human 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 arrogance.

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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 chieftan 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 thieves' guilds may operate from well-known headquarters, one side in a citywide cat-and-mouse struggle with the constabulary. Across the spectrum, 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 even where their own practices are not explicitly criminal. Then there are the outcast races, often struggling to find work or companionship until attaining acceptance among other outsiders. When local criminal enterprises coordinate, often the mastermind behind it all is the boss of 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 159 G.C. resulted in 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 major 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 embrace a holy purpose, disperse into vast espionage networks, or insinuate themselves into high society. 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 gain control of key figures in other organizations. Be they allies or victims, these associates often benefit from the family's machinations. Yet assets who lose their value are coldly abandoned. Typhonians excel at misdirecting unwanted attention. Entire families quickly relocate as needed to evade hostile authorities. Typhonian fugitives are often known under faces and names unrelated to their real identities.
 The earliest records of canid typhonians date back more than 2,000 years. Their kind remains the overwhelming majority of this race. Variants 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.

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Dominions

 Regal Deities enjoy geographically consolidated bases of worldly support. Each is almost a world unto itself. Some are dominated by a powerful imperial regime. Others are divided into many nations. Yet all five of these divine dominions find unity in ubiquitous holy orders and the shared history of neighboring ethnic groups. Most people are at least somewhat knowledgeable about all five major homelands in their native domnion.

Root Divisions Political fortunes rise and fall. Lesser religions come and go. Yet the Regal Deities have long each maintained their own robust base of support. Their influence does much to shape the tendencies and destinies of their chosen people. Each forms the hub of a broad cultural group, today dominant across a significant portion of the world.
⊕ Greater Norland looks to Odin the Marauder as the supreme being. Most of these cultures have no qualms about pillage and plunder. Even the tranquil Fitchlanders tend to use their financial sophistication to exploit distant trading partners. Others from Greater Norland support direct attack, conducting raids all across the shores of Mainland. Many echo the words of an ancient Wotanian king, "those who have wealth and women without the power to protect them deserve neither."
⊕ Old Silvania looks to Dagda the Provider as the supreme being. These societies enjoy bountiful harvests and idyllic wildlands, save perhaps for Carmatia where the rugged highlands seem to produce wheat and warfare in equal measure. Sylvanians and neighboring peoples have long favored social orders that promote constructive coexistence. Silvanus himself purportedly taught, "a full belly on a peaceful evening is all anyone truly needs."
⊕ The Truscan Empire looks to Zeus the Emperor as the supreme being. Its provinces are orderly places with uncommonly clean cities. Metropolitan centers packed with educated and sophisticated peoples energize Truscan lands with cultural and economic activity. Law and order are vital Truscan values. Citizens are expected to be stalwart defenders of their society. Traditional parting words from a parent to a soldier leaving on a long campaign are, "return to us with your shield or on it."
⊕ The Serpian Empire looks to Ra the Luminary as the supreme being. Southeast Mainland is known for extraordinary scholarship. The Serpian Old Kingdom and later the Iskreshi Sultanate rose to power with extraordinary proliferations of human spellcasters. Today, relatively new universities experience rapid growth across the Kohadesian and Zintu homelands. A common Serpian salutation translates as, "may you be more learned tomorrow than you are today."
⊕ The Orient looks to Shang-Ti the Mastermind as the supreme being. Bureaucracy is inescapable here, with leaders forever scheduling and coordinating the activities of underlings. The Celedinese Ascendance was a function of thoughtful planning, though all the peoples of the Orient respect organizational skill. Patience and persistence are particularly prized in here. A philosophy popular here teaches, "the journey of a lifetime always requires that you take one more step."
Greater Norland is largely the quadrant of Mainland where the Archfey housed populations bred for battle. Savage winters prevented renegades and escapees from posing much of a problem. Yet those same winters were a problem of epic proportions when Imperium Arcanum bastions failed and millions of humans were abandoned to the frigid north. Hunting and fishing could never feed so much hunger. Only the strongest families survived a brutal dark age. Agriculture and feudalism gave rise to a new civilization. Many kingdoms were soon consolidated under a single Overking with absolute authority.
 So arose the ancient superpower of Wotania. Ruins from that era can be found all over Lachland, Norland, Joryanland, and Darresteg. Fitchland is also in this dominion, though it was desolate swampland in the time of Wotania. Mired in those swamps while gazing up at the mountainous border of Darresteg, a series of Truscan generals concluded that there was nothing worth conquering north of Albion. Today this dominion is politically fragmented, but it has always been united by faith in the God of the Final Battle, Odin.
 Today Norland is a great power in theory, yet hobbled by a contentious aristocracy and an unstable economy. Harvests are wildly unpredictable where the growing season is short. Marauding is an even greater gamble. Nonetheless delegates from all five homelands convene every summer in Hammerstad to renew their shaky alliance and plan a spree of raids down the coast. Other issues of concern to multiple delegates may be debated here as well. Ambassadors and earls try to prevent any military aggression within the region, though they are not always successful.
 At these Norish Moots, the Fitch pay a tribute in gold and Darresteggers offer cryptic counsel while the Norish, Joryanlanders, and Lachlanders commit legions of jobless young warriors hungry for battle. Revenue funds rapid shipbuilding operations as well as enlistment bonuses sufficient to keep a small family fed through the hard months. The fittest raiders then sail south. Merchant traffic usually steers clear of hostile Norish, but their distinctive longships raise alarms at coastal settlements. Outsiders may regard this entire dominion as barbaric, since these raiding parties give rise to a crudely militant stereotype.

Old Silvania is a name acknowledging the nation once ruled by the God-King Silvanus. Concern about the health of the world's forests drove the deity to personally conquer and govern much of southwestern Mainland. Humans, elves, and gnomes across this expanse were taught to seek harmony with nature. Farms and forests alike produced bounties once thought impossible. As a final gift to his people, Silvanus formed a Parliament of popular political leaders, abdicating his position less than a century before the Great Consolidation.
 The tapestry of cultures Silvanus wove together through conquest soon unravelled into many independent states. Carmatia had never been properly civilized, and Danu was sparsely populated even then. Albion quickly fractured into many warring kingdoms, and the heartland of Sylvania also broke apart at its own more gentle pace. Sivales is the only part of Old Silvania where an entire ethnic homeland is united under one sovereign government.
 Yet all of Old Silvania shares reverence for the God of Limitless Might, Dagda. An abundance of wild places generates an abundance of deadly creatures, some daring to hunt people until heroes arrive to reverse that role. Fantastically productive land makes the perils of rural living worthwhile for many here. Yet it also sustains great cities where modern ideas about personal freedom and individual liberties blend with Old Faith traditions and a general reverence for nature.
 The Sylvanian Confederation is not so much a regime as it is a body of agencies and meeting places funded by contributions from most of the governments in Old Silvania. Confederate witch hunters roam the land, eager to burn away any source of unholy magic associated with pestillence or plague. Confederate engineers and their labor crews maintain roads and bridges linking many nations in commerce. Confederate agitators rally popular support for efforts to drive back the western border of the Truscan Empire. Though a pale echo of the original Silvanian Parliament, today the Vergovian Assembly deliberates and oversees Confederate policies.

The Truscan Empire once extended from the Thousand Mile Wall through most of Mainland, with military control spanning the ocean into southern Ontolon. Today this same entity has been reduced to Truscanny, Helvetica, and Transmania along with the bulk of Thrace and Galloria. Right around the time of the Great Consolidation, the Truscan people emerged from a union of seven great human tribes. The volcanic soil of their homeland made for excellent farming, while breakthroughs in furnace technology enabled the Truscan people to work with steel and glass.
Empires The Truscan Empire, The Serpian Empire, and The Oriental Empire each control huge territories encompassing multiple major ethnic homelands. Non-humans populate similarly two similarly vast nations, the undersea Imperium Maris and the subterranean Drow Imperium. Taxing enormous populations gives these empires the resources to maintain powerful standing armies as well as formidable bureaucratic networks. Both are able to reach across thousands of miles of territory to bring order and enforce standards. The generals and administrators holding senior positions inside imperial regimes may wield as much power as the sovereign of a significant kingdom. Yet each of the three surface empires is ruled by a hereditary dynasty of emperors and empresses with absolute authority.
 Such mighty nations may seem eternal, but history makes clear that this is not the case. Wotania, Silvania, the Iskreshi Sultanate, and the Elatolian Hegemony all once constituted huge empires in their own right. Today only remnants exist of these ancient superpowers, either splintered by internal divisions or conquered by a successor. The Truscan Empire is presently less than one third of its peak size. The Oriental Empire is locked in struggle against a rebel province. While the relatively newborn Serpian Empire has not suffered major loss of territory, it is beset from within by threats to the Padishah's control. From a dragon's perspective, no human empire has managed to survive more than twenty-four molts.
 Superior equipment and a culture of formal military obligation helped a series of expansionist rulers to consolidate the known world under a single regime. Unthinkable torrents of revenue poured into Septopolis. The Church of Zeus gathered crowds to worship the God of the Heavenly Throne in every great city from coast to coast. Calming seas eventually facilitated conflict between the Truscan Empire and the Oriental Empire. For roughly three generations, a piece of Ontolon was occupied by Truscan Legions. When the invaders were defeated, gargantua attacks destroyed their fleets.
 Ripples of pessimism moved across the overextended empire. Truscan authorities soon faced rebellions in the Western Expanse (Old Silvania.) Then the Eastern Expanse (the Serpian Empire) became an independent, and hostile, power. These two empires presently battle for control of territories in Thrace. Meanwhile, governors in Galloria struggle to prevent communities from rebelling or pledging support to independent neighbors. Transmania is also home to much conflict, as the Scarlands are a source of relentless monster attacks.
 Military service remains an important part of life for most Truscan citizens, though now more in hopes of preserving their empire than conquering the world. Yet former conquests largely benefitted from Truscan rule. Legions organized a network of roads and bridges linking the entire continent. Truscan administrators brought aqueducts, public baths, and sewers to cities previously limited by their own lack of sanitation. Though the Truscan Empire presently struggles to retain control of the five human homelands where Zeus is most ardently venerated, it was once the world's dominant society.

The Serpian Empire occupies much of the quadrant of Mainland where the Archfey housed populations bred for construction and manufacturing. With few dragons prowling such arid lands, this vast labor pool was directed to farm openly in river valleys, building colossal geometric monuments during the off season. As the enchantmented bastions of the Imperium Arcanum fell, so too did most of these monuments. Only the Great Pyramids of Serpia retained their original shape with no magical support.
 The first Serpian nation, now known as the Old Kingdom, rose up in the shadow of those pyramids. Here, any dark age associated with the collapse of the Imperium Arcanum was fleeting. Agricultural surpluses drove rapid population growth. Techniques of farming and stone construction were preserved and put to good use. Great cities rose up along every substantial river, and all were united in the name of the God of the Rising Sun, Ra. Yet the Old Kingdom was no wellspring of new ideas, so it was eventually overcome by a rising power from the northern steppes.
Alien Nations Human governments dominate the politics of the world's surface. Many regimes allow non-humans into the aristocracy, but the mightiest non-human nations are mere city-states or tribal federations. This is not true below the surface of the world. The greatest expanse of ocean is wracked by epic struggles between the noble houses of an empire blanketing the floor of the Uncharted Ocean. These clashes are normally only of concern to surface folk because rogue waves inevitably doom exploratory voyages venturing far east of the Orient or well west of Danu. Yet there have been reports of coastal communities swarmed by hostile sea creatures spilling out of intense undersea conflicts.
 Then there are the politics of the underground world. Though modern dwarven nations never approach one million in population, mountain dwarves inhabit several major complexes where over 100,000 of their kind live. Mining operations facilitate trade both with humans of the surface world 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. Fungal agriculture there is sufficient to nourish abundant livestock as well as sustain the humanoid population.
 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, well outnumbered by their guardian constructs and mesmerized thralls. Those who press onward may reach the Sea of Abominations -- a cavernous expanse half-filled with glowing brine. The waters and isles of this 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.
 At its peak, the Iskreshi Sultanate would battle the Truscan Empire for control of Thrace. Yet the entire ethnic group traced back to a network of mounted couriers linking isolated communities beyond the northern frontier of the Old Kingdom. When a foolish Pharoah embarked on a policy of aggressive conscription, Iskresh became a haven for rebels, then a rival power. As the Age of Heroes drew to a close, the Old Kingdom surrendered and the Sultan of Iskresh enjoyed absolute power across an enormous expanse of territory.
 The younger Truscan Empire clashed violently with the Iskreshi Sultanate. Centuries of stalemate gave way to a wave of conquest that saw the entire realm carved into numerous Truscan provinces. Metropolitan Theopolis was constructed as an administrative capital for this Eastern Expanse. Kohadesia, a proud nation that had resisted Iskreshi rule, and the Zintu, a collection of tribes inhabiting uncivilized jungles, were conquered by Truscan Legions. Those two homelands join Iskresh, Wabahar, and Serpia in the modern Serpian Empire. Once more the dominion of Ra, this powerful modern nation prospers greatly, yet finds itself plagued by nefarious secret societies and malevolent holy orders.

The Orient is separated from Mainland by an immense stretch of ocean. While teleportation was a common mode of travel during the Imperium Arcanum, it has since become a rare power. Perpetually turbulent seas severely limited traffic between the Orient and Mainland during the Age of Heroes. Celedinese, Elatolian, Ontolonese, Xe-shanese, and To-shinese culture all developed apart from the rest of humanity. After a long period of confusion and anarchy, the peoples of the Orient found structure under the Elatolian Hegemony. Systematic law enforcement and taxation enabled the people of these lands to focus on constructive pursuits.
  In countless localized ways across the Orient, the God of The Immaculate System, Shang-Ti, rose to prominence. His priests gained the ear of every major leader, and his holy warriors were respected as dependable peacekeepers. Prosperity rose throughout the Orient, though gains were most heavily concentrated in Celedine. Eventually the accumulation of wealth was enough to bring about total upheaval. The Elatolian Hegemony drew to a close along with the Age of Heroes. The ascendant Oriental Empire was quick to consolidate its territory. At its peak, the Truscan Empire governed a portion of Ontolon. Other than that, there would be no major loss of control between 101 A.H. and 2161 G.C. -- when a rebel warlord declared To-shinese independence and claimed the title of Shogun.
 The politics and economics of the Orient are heavily focused on this clash between rebellious To-shin and the much larger landmass governed by the Emperor in Suotien. Rich and poor alike complain of oppressive taxes levied to fund war efforts. Trade is virtually shut down between the Empire and the rebel province. State security agents are constantly tracking down spies and assassins. Government informants are everywhere. Few will dare say it, but the general mood reflects a long era of prosperity having come to an end.
 Some Mainlanders see the Orient as a backward place. Yet many travel there to study advanced techiques of horse archery or unarmed martial combat. Engineers from the Orient have made huge contributions to the technology behind watermills, flood control gates, and canal operations. Rocket fuel formulations remain the trade secrets of alchemists from this dominion. Though commmerce is presently robust between Mainland and the Orient, the latter remains a world unto itself to a greater degree than the other four dominions.

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Homelands

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 a sufficiently dense city. 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 all within walking distance provide tremendous cultural and economic opportunities. Guilds may expand to dominate sprawling neighbhorhoods. Churches, theaters, and stadiums accomodate 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 is 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 while suggesting other languages that person is likely to speak.
 Immigrants often carry their old traditions with them into a new homeland. Yet second generation immigrants almost always learn the local language, and most societies make assimilation fairly easy. 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 a function of a person's attitudes and way of living. An individual's story might involve never venturing far from place of birth, relocating at a crucial juncture in life, or experiencing many places while growing up among travelers.
♪ Arts & Culture Each homeland enjoys entertainments 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. 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. 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 enduring support among five human ethnicities. This divine plan to promote religious stability gives rise to twenty-five distinct bodies of religious tradition. Global sects often adapt local sermons to harmonize with indigenous folklore. These ethnic traditions typically grant a Regal Deity credit for creating the world. Divine Villains clash with other gods to weave the narratives of popular gospels. Mainstream groups and countercultures alike all illustrate favored moral lessons through religious parables. Within each homeland, five specific deities are featured prominently in these narratives and worshipped by congregations that are persistent and influential even if they are not also popular and well-funded.
† Castles & Combat Each with its own rich history, humanity's major homelands inspire distinctive fighting styles. From acrobatic martial arts to heavy cavalry tactics, every ethnic group has found distinctive ways to channel aggression. Different societies will idealize warriors of particular ideals and demeanor as well as equipment and technique. Distinctive 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.
Points of Interest Each homeland features hundreds if not thousands of inhabited communities. Likewise, each harbors a variety of historically significant locations or otherwise remarkable sites. Overviews are provided for several of the most noteworthy locales in each major homeland. These points of interest are marked as follows.

⊛ Capital -- sovereign nation's seat of power
⦿ Metropolis -- over one million inhabitants
⦾ Major City -- 100,000 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 Modern governments tend to be sophisticated instutions directed by elaborate bodies of law. Some statutes are the product of nuanced legislative debate. Yet even when a ruler issues a simple edict, lesser nobles and bureaucrats will contribute clarifying language as they rule on uncertain cases. Also, custom 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 in another it might be be the height of rudeness to disturb such a nap. Varying notions of what constitutes good manners may cause uninformed travelers to generate 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.
⨳ Foes & Intrigues Danger is never far away for those who seek it out. Most homelands face some sort of problem with renegade outlaws. Dangerous monsters may be on the prowl in wildlands. Ancient ruins and unexplored caverns seem to be abundant in every human homeland. Secret societies sometimes perpetrate criminal conspiracies in the heart of great cities. Savage invaders may emerge from Labyrinth, the Scarlands, or the sea. Every thriving human society has ample need for adventurers eager and able to confront deadly perils.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Demonym: Albionians Language: Albionish
Homeland: Albion   First City: Galford
Politics: feudal Sylvanian kingdoms
Titles: king/queen, duke, count, baron
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
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 many 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 past the white chalk cliffs that dominate so much of the coastlines 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. In modern times, the Albion is 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.
 Albionian people 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. Kings and queens of Albion often seek glory and power through wealth. Promoting artisans' guilds and credible financial institutions enables the aristocracy to live lavishly on the spoils of broad prosperity. Yet this affluence makes Albion's coastal realms prime targets for Norish raiders. In turn, this justifies the maintenance of large standing armies by these kingdoms.
♪ Arts & Culture 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. Local fashion, literature, and music all reflect elven traditions. Modern fortifications loom in dull gray stone, while many other Albionian buildings take the shape of graceful towers clad in glass or hide. Though Ptah is not widely worshiped in Albion, some of the world's foremost Reverend Architects ply their trade here.
 Albionian 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 Albionian playwrights have produced masterpieces based on extensive refinements of Thracian theatrical forms. Modern Albionian 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.
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 spiritual energy, astute observers were able to incorporate fey secrets into their traditional animism. 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.
✠ Belief & Worship The Old Faith has always been strong among the Albionians. Large and numerous Standing Stone sites, including Glowhenge itself, adorn the land here. Gentle druids nurture small villages. Aggressive druids drive away settlers venturing into pristine wilderness. Governments rarely presume to assert authority over druids, but both forces work in concert to protect and preserve the land. 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. Popular 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 Watery Depths are important lieutenants managing the yields of Albionian 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 Morticians and Cleaners the world over tend to favor formal business attire in the Albionian style.
 Religious tolerance is the norm here. Foreign traditions may be safely practiced so long as they are holy. Witchcraft is another matter. Many Albionian kingdoms employ multiple squads of 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 may not be 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 kingdoms sponsor parliaments where representatives of the common people may voice grievances, monarchs here typically deal only with lesser nobles. In turn, those minor aristocrats handle the work of local governance, tax collection, national defense, 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.
 Albionian monarchs maintain large and well-equipped armies both to keep their rivals in check and to drive off Norish raiding parties. Internal conflicts are normally resolved through an elaborate protocol of negotiations and jousting tournaments. Yet these exhibitions only showcase the best of large cavalries. Each regime maintains security with formidable armies able to quickly respond whenever coastal marauders make landfall. Neighbors often answer distress calls in the hope that solidarity in battle will finally put an end to Norish incursions.
 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. Albionian 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 Albionian 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, Albionian sailors may act as mercenaries or even engage in piracy. In native waters they aggressively hunt Norish raiders while giving no quarter to pirates.
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 Barons. They prosper by taxing trade that flows through their outposts. 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 Albionian noble occasionally sallies forth to complete the routing of a Norish raiding party, the Granite Barons 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 these military baronies.
§ Decrees & Customs Recent centuries have seen Albionian 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. More than light foraging in the wildest places tends to bring hostile attention from local druids. 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.
 Albion is not known for technological sophistication, but the region boasts highly effective criminal investigators supporting 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 dilligently outside these refreshing interludes.
Ⓢ Economy & Trade A few of the richest living individuals are Albionian 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.
 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 Albionian 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 & Intrigues 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 these 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 waves.
 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 Albionian 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 ordained Death Knights quietly accumulating both in skill and number.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⊛ Galford was originally the Arcanum Imperium citadel Gael 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 Albionian 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 of the Kingdom of Arst-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 produced drove great megaliths to erupt from the ground. The shape of each monument was determined by the convergence of these unseen lines of force.
 At the greatest of all these convergences, Glowhenge literally shines with power derived from the Archfey themselves. Anyone approaching the site is likely to experience unpredictable magical 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 many realms have been vandalized or even buried by modern congregations hostile to the Old Faith.
⊛ Tintagel is the picturesque capital of Avalon, the lone Albionian 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 knighthood. Despite excellent security, Avalon is still overrun with minor fey. No visitor would deny that it is a downright magical place.
⨺ Glowhenge is thought to mark 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 Irkonnen'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 converging flows of magical energy.
⦾⦾ 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 abandoned spaces 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.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Demonym: Carmatians Language: Carmatian
Homeland: Carmatia  First City: Ayrdee (disputed)
Politics: small Sylvanian clans in constant turmoil
Titles: earl, baron, laird, chief
Endowments: strength and constitution
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: light to dark brown
Eyes: blue or brown
Influential Deities: Dagda, Oghma, Silvanus, Hel, Loki
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, Donald, 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 Carmation's battle cry tends to inspire great fear. Boisterous in peace as they are bloodthirsty in battle, Carmation 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 -- abundant raw materials 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 travelers 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 a foundation of scales and harmonies such that bards of the same college find it easy to collaborate.
♪ Arts & Culture 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 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 supereme 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 the 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 less civilized 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 grey 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 structures non-magical stone can support. For towers taller than 100', lower levels can sustain very little open space while also 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, ancient ruins 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 Carmation 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 Carmation 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 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. These people are every bit as passionate in their carousing as they are in their battles and their labors.
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 travelers.
 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 stuggle less to flee trackers or find hideouts. Generally unable to cooperate on 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. Carmation 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 & Intrigues One need never travel far across Carmatia to reach the nearest active warzone. Often the line between military aggression and banditry is blurry. Mining operations in Carmatia are sometimes 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. Every local seems to know a few stories about haunted places.
 The most unsightly locales are more likely home to reclusive hags, many in league with Plaguemongers or malicious witches. With large dark elf cities in Labyrinth below Carmatia, powerful underground organizations covertly exploit the humans above. Dragon sightings are rare here, but the moors are undoubtedly home to some 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⊛ 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. 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 keep the peace. 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 endeavoring to outmatch 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 well-disciplined regulars, aggressive berserkers, and crafty skirmishers. A towering fortress casts its shadow across a 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 the 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. Folklore holds 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 attempting 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 ↡


Demonym: Celedinese Language: Celedinese
Homeland: Celedine  First City: Suotien
Politics: heartland provinces of the Oriental Empire
Titles: Emperor, governor, mayor, warden
Endowments: strength and intelligence
Complexion: tan to fair
Hair: black
Eyes: brown or green with epicanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Ching Sung-Tzu, Chung Kuel, Lei Kung, Ma Yuan
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 of the homeland to farming. 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. A century later, their conquest of the entire Orient would be complete.
 The Celedinese 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 To-Shin province is 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 1,500 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 Emperor'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 forces 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. For the next seventeen centuries, this new Oriental Empire would face no resistance greater than bandit gangs and the occasional renegade general.
♪ Arts & Culture 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 Falling Rain is more popular in rural areas. His simple blessings form the basis for Celedinese prosperity. Even the God of Troubling Storms, 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.
 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 feed 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 pretext 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. Bureacrats 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 a variety of 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 an efficient and effective bureaucrat may rise 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 & Intrigues 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, Oriental zombies 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⊛ 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 hemisphere 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 dockworkers 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 astronomical 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. An armed person without an appropriate uniform is sure to endure constant scrutiny and suspicion walking around Junkong. Even the drinking houses remain orderly for fear of drawing attention from 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. To find a greater concentration of military technology and expertise, one must journey to the other side of the world.
⦾ Lianliu maintains the Saffron Lifewall, a project that caused much unrest among locals when they were 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 extremination 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 comission manufacture of supremely precise machine tools calibrated by objects serving as those official standards.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Language: Tuathish Demonym: Tuathons
Homeland: Danu   First City: no large cities
Politics: many small towns influenced by Sylvania
Titles: none loftier than mayor or captain
Endowments: dexterity and charisma
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: reddish or brown
Eyes: blue, green, or violet
Influential Deities: Dagda, Arawn, Silvanus, Apollo, Dionysus
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 & Culture 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 reflects profound elven influence. All but the cheapest Tuathish clothing is adorned by elaborate embroidery, typically featuring 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 accomodate 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.
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 carry forward traditions every bit as venerable as those that shape 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 swashbucklers, always seeking greater thrills and challenges. Learned 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. A Tuathish proverb declares, "little steel with much guile beats much steel with little guile." In every culture, rogues are more numerous than they seem, since their powers are rooted in secrecy and trickery.
† 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.
§ 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 & Intrigues 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. Travelers 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. True Archfey converted themsleves into beings of pure energy, and 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, uncorrupted fomorians and firbolgs 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 unimaginable magical experimentatation. Dark fey largely failed to act against creatures populating Danu's surface, but they proved adept at sabotaging the work of magical 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 until the rise of divine magic. During the Age of Heroes, the sky castles of Danu came crashing to the ground. These final remnants of the Imperium Arcanum had avoided destruction by dark elves only to fall in attacks spearheaded by human clergy invoking the will of the gods.
 Purposefully heading into the wilds of Danu may lead to vistas of unrivalled 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 a functioning thieves' guild and a coven of malevolent witches.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⨀ 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 shapeshifters 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 outside their own tribe 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.

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Demonym: Darresteggers Language: Darrestygian
Homeland: Darresteg   First City: Spelhölm
Politics: isolationist Norish kingdom
Titles: King, marquis, count, baron
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
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 historical turmoil 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 people 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 & Culture 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. Some cavernous lairs still bear the increasingly disordered carvings of dragons struggling to make sense of 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 spellbooks of other wizards. Often masked in rhyming verse and intricate diagrams, words and gestures of mystic power tap into universal patterns. History may turn on the actions of a single archmage. Powerful leaders rarely sustain their positions without at least one formidable wizard providing advice and support.
 Rural wizards may maintain a comfortable lifestyle by using their magic to accomplish what might otherwise require a team of laborers. Elemental spells often prove useful to farmers and builders. Wizards may help others 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 is a body of pursuits each respected individually as a dignified 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 forged 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.
§ 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. With little manual labor, locals wear immaculately clean and mended garments while sipping chilled or heated beverages. 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.
Wotania Before the Imperium Arcanum, no human dared to contemplate killing a dragon in combat. Fey magi were always the primary military force of the Imperium, but many races were put to work as soldiers and hunters. Humans bred for warfare were quartered in northwest Mainland. Severe cold kept them dependent on their elven overseers for shelter and sustenance. When the reign of the fey came to an end, the mightiest of human warriors were quick to seize power among the survivors.
 Competition for scarce resources was fierce, and the strong decided who would live. A rift between warriors and farmers evolved into a caste system, then feudalism. Nobles governed peasants, and kings governed nobles. In time, the kings themselves would also be governed. Emerging from the haze of warfare, Dread Erik would humble them all. Claiming both divine and giant ancestry, Dread Erik confidently waded through the heart of many battles. His suit of jagged iron provided both ample protection from his enemies and thunderous warnings to them.
 Around 2,600 A.H. a dozen kings pledged their fealty to Erik, and he declared himself the Overking of Wotania. Neighboring realms were annexed without bloodshed. While much of the world remained in chaos, Wotanian civilization vanquished barbarian hordes, developed artisans' guilds, and colonized much of western Mainland. Rising prosperity gave way to internal conflict within this unwieldy empire. The House of Jor led a series of rebellions. Persistent despite defeats, these troublemakers eventually sparked a conflict that would balkanize the region. Modern Darresteg does not claim to be Wotania, but the fallen empire's final capital is at the center of Darrestegger territory.
 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 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 is likely to face oppression from authorities and persecution from the 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 & Intrigues 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⊛ Spelhölm Darresteg's capital looks like something pulled right out of a storybook. Spires adorned by enormous crystals tower over scenic estates and vast neighorhoods of nearly identical three story buildings. 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 arcane constables seemingly impossible to outmaneuver. Though libraries are scarce in Greater Norland, Darresteg contains many. This city houses the most impressive of them all -- the Stygian National Archives. Further bolstered by several 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 little batches by specialists. 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 accomodate 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 goblins. 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 in search of magical treatments. 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 discrete 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. Its normal peacetime application is 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 war, the entire facility is converted into a military headquarters where legions of war wizards observe their leadership coordinating the defense of the kingdom.

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Demonym: Elatolians Language: Elatolian
Homeland: Elatolia  First City: Senkhürkhree
Politics: loyal province of the Oriental Empire
Titles: Khaan, mirza, taishi, bey
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
Popular Instruments: drum, flute, horn, viol
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 bureacrats 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 increasing urbanization 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 accomodate well-behaved unconventional mounts.
♪ Arts & Culture Equestrian games are particularly important in this region. Even the least militant Elatolian probably dabbled in horse archery as a child, while 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 Troubling Storms 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 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 is waged by ad hoc coalitions of national armies. By contrast, the Truscan and Serpian Empires each maintain standing armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands, 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. Other cultures may demonize the moneylender who collects interest from working folks, while 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.
 Nomadic life is precarious, and such peoples often maintain harsh codes of justice. 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 regards 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. Despite all these complications, roving is often an effective survival technique in particularly barren lands.
Ⓢ 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 & Intrigues 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⦾ 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 mighty 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 became 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 immense 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, the last independent Elatolian warlord 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 such minor offenses as "disturbing public oration" and "spooking a mounted horse." Over nine years of such cruelty, support for the monks vanished. The decree was lifted only after an elaborate agreement bound both orders to act as peacekeepers -- clashing only in officially sanctioned competitions. In modern Xopxot, excessive noise is punishable by a stiff fine, and rival groups of religious police are always on duty. Later construction of aqueducts and sewers transformed the area into a thriving yet tranquil haven. Two cities peacefully expanded and unified. Today Xoëpxot is world famous for hosting unarmed combat tournaments 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 primitive human tribes or ferocious primordial beasts. 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 clans should travel here in search of receovery or, failing that, assimilation into another clan. Small groups of dragonborn, some in a nearly feral state, are commonly encountered on Öndör Gazar.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Demonym: Fitchlanders Language: Fitch
Homeland: Fitchland   First City: Voortervert
Politics: peaceful kingdom and reluctant Norish ally
Titles: Queen, duke, count, baron
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
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 single 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 practitioners of arcane magic, but Fitchland otherwise embraces all forms of scholarship. Fitch merchant captains ply all navigable seas, exporting spices, glassware, rare textiles, and precision tools. With a reputation for being charming and shrewd, 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 threatens to overwhelm the 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 & Culture 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 the Solid Earth for simply having a homeland in which to live and work or the God of the Marvelous Forge 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. Geb, Ptah, and Odin 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, with the most successful witch hunters rising 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 worshipped, 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 finest masonry. Wooden stockades and pickets are destroyed even more easily. When these 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 their share of 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 witches being executed in spectacularly cruel ways.
 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 send 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 in 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. The Iskreshi, Truscan, Albionian, Sivelsh, Sylvanian, Fitch, and Lachlander peoples each have their own traditions of independent captains 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 discipline with flexibile operations.
 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 more 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 distant ports.
 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, travelers 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 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.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⊛ 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 this 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.
 Successful artisans and farmers can manage a sightseeing expedition for around the price of a healthy steed. Students of means 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 comfortabnle 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 mild 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 Festistad has to offer.
 ⦾ 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, but now this 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 the Low Towns are now 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 complex equal parts fortress and museum. Yet the County of Laagsteden is thick with dwarves and gnomes. Nearby hills continue to yield an assortment of rich ores along with the occasional gem. Several clans operate a mining guild in the area, each inhabiting a town above ground due to the flood risk. Thousands of gnomes also dwell here. Some mingle with dwarves and furnish miners with useful gadgets while others keep to the wooded patches and live quietly as their ancestors did.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Demonym: Gallorians Language: Gallorian
Homeland: Galloria  First City: Arbonne
Politics: conflicted provinces of the Truscan Empire
Titles: governor, duke, marquis, baron
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
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 from ancient Gallorian dining practices.
 So 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 when 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 while military deserters scavenge from already-pillaged communities. Secure 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 Truscan rule, 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. The most stable local governments still face constant critique from rabble-rousers and artistic protesters. Local leaders quickly crush armed uprisings to prevent the spread of revolutionary spirit. 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. Factor in problems caused by the weather and other disruptions, and these efforts make a modest source of income 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 & Culture 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 the latest trends coming out of Galloria. Public 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. 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 providing clarification of religious doctrines and their practical applications. Academics with no connection to a faith may study its documented theology in comparison to others. Yet priests and worshipers 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. Yet the typical result still plays 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 processes of atonement. Depite the tremendous variety in actual religious commandments, striking parallels can be seen across the many different ways religious authorities sell indulgences.
 ✠ 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 aetheists -- 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 shapeshifters. Despite all this, prevailing religious practices in Galloria are decidedly conservative. The Church of Zeus 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 the 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 revellers 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 marquis likely controls a palace within a fortress. Barons without their own 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 fight through 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 businesses 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. Some Gallorian conflicts rage on long after conventional forces have settled into a stalemate in the form of personal feuds between leaders and their henchmen.
 § Decrees & Customs Galloria's many large cemetaries 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. Employment opportunities are plentiful, but problematic for people with crippling injuries or single parents with young children. Urban planners are strained by the challenges of managing these fluctuations. 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 buildings or literate residents. 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 tiny legions to the venom of stealthy serpents.
 The best roads see frequent patrols ranging into nearby wildlands, making routes safe for unarmed civilians. Yet most journeys well beyond farming country leave travelers 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 live in 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 sane ordinary folk would raise families where danger roams 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 generally avoid the use of pestilence and goblinoid mercenaries here. Unarmed civilians are typically granted free passage out of conflict zones. Still Galloria is thick with military bases and forces, none of which respond well to mysterious inquisitive interlopers. Looters and desserters are also abundant. These outlaws sometimes assemble into mighty bandit gangs. Spies and assassins are not only threats to their targets, but also any witnesses in the wrong place at the wrong time.
 Non-human dangers abound here as well. Bears and other lumbering beasts live among the region's bountiful forests. Trolls often attempt to extort tolls at any bridge lacking a regular garrison. Metropolitan constabularies always seem to be investigating deaths perpetrated by vampires and werewolves. Assorted drakes and actual dragons thrive in the chaotic borderland. Huge sea serpents wander along the Gallorian coast. Though this homeland might contain only a single gargantua, its most elevated region is home to the deadliest of them all. Even governors and kings are quick to avoid this supreme incarnation of armored destructive power.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⦿ Arbonne seldom fails to appear on a list of top tourist destinations. The only great city in the region before Truscan conquest, it has since enjoyed continuous growth and become one of the world's most impressive urban jewels. By day every public square becomes a stage for assorted street performers. At night revellers crowd into drinking houses all the more lively for inventive musicians or colorful storytellers. Every neighborhood features a market packed with fresh cooking staples. For each exotic dish there is a vendor somewhere in Arbonne who knows how to procure the best available ingredients. Locals tend to be particular about personal appearance. Each stands out as a distinct individual yet groups are uniformly stylish and well-groomed.
⦿ Huispier occupies the shadow cast by the Arcplagum Occidens, a fantastically large arch commissioned by an early Truscan Emperor to promote migration into the Gallorian provinces. The top of the arch houses the most prestigious Temple of Apollo. Clergy there maintain elaborate stained glass arrays that treat the city below to kaleidoscopic light shows just before sunset when each solstice is near. Now an essential stop for Legions marching west and caravans headed east, Huispier epitomizes Truscan stability, order, and prosperity. Yet the locals are mostly Gallorian in blood and in spirit. Labor strikes have been known to disrupt trade, and local authorities dare not risk the backlash sure to follow any brutal crackdown on these passive protests. So long as they are compensated fairly, most residents of Huispier are happy to pay their taxes and enjoy the high living standards of this secure provincial capital.
Superheroes The most successful adventurers tend to become larger than life figures. These living legends often settle into aristocratic comfort. Yet some cannot quiet the longing for new challenges and foes to overcome. They favor fanciful eyecatching garb, sometimes accessorized with a persistent aura or halo. They unleash deadly power with trivial effort. They can endure tremendous violence and keep fighting back. Many fly or teleport as casually as an ordinary person might go for a stroll. Going above and beyond the normal arc of heroic achievement, these superheroes typically act as guardians of a chosen metropolis.
 Anywhere people and wealth are concentrated inside towering urban centers is a prime target for the most ambitious forms of greed and nihilism. Great cities must be relatively secure to sustain prosperity. Whenever a threat is more than conventaional authorities can handle, a superhero may yet save the day. Approaching gargantua, large cults about to unmask, unguarded portals to dangerous planes, and assassination plots against local leaders are all situations that often end poorly but for the intervention of superheroes. Yet the world also sees its share of superpowered villains. Some cities have mixed feelings about resident superheroes, especially after rivalries with supervillains lead to extensive collateral damage.
⦿ Marplage is Galloria's primary seaport and a major strategic objective for rebel forces. Ample tax revenue from trade funds an enormous naval presence and military headquarters here. These forces make direct attack implausible, turning Marplage into a city of deadly intrigues. Yet it is also a city of spectacular opportunities. Major trading companies from distant lands are heavily invested in waterfront development. Locals bold enough to hazard sea monster encounters are able to exploit some of the richest fisheries and pearl beds in all of Mainland's coastal waters. Though uncharacteristically crowded and businesslike for a Gallorian city, Marplage still offers a robust nightlife and a small fringe of artistic provocateurs.
⊛ Pierpont has become incresingly vital with the destruction of several other permanent bridges along the Inonde River. A city divided by one of the largest bridges ever constructed, Pierpont is presently the tip of the spear plunging into one side of the Truscan Empire. Tolls collected from bridge traffic sustain the treasury of a rebel kingdom. The eastern half of the city is an immense fortress, towering over the surrounding river valley. The western half is a beacon to persons fleeing Imperial oppression, where a mix of organizations are quick to support refugees and former slaves. While some exploit desperate people willing to labor for the cheapest sorts of food and shelter, others provide true charity to needy immigrants. Imperial blockades and patrols can make it difficult to approach from the Truscan side. Yet the Champions of Pierpont, a formidable band of superheroes, serve as effective reinforcements to the local garrison while foiling plots against local institutions. Their defense of the bridge and the realm serve as an inspiring example to freethinking peoples everywhere.
⨀ Fìônmon claims to have been the site of wine production starting late in the Age of Dragons. Ancient secrets have given way to modern elven practices, but this mixed community of high elves and wood elves remains inhospitable to most non-fey outsiders. Human students help sustain a local university, and traders are welcome for the duration of their business, but permanent residence is strongly discouraged. Fìônmon is one of the few places where elven mercenaries stand ready for hire, yet greater fame attaches to the local wineries producing beverages with the fey equivalent of Gallorian prestige.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Demonym: Helveticans Language: Helvetican
Homeland: Helvetica  First City: Verdana
Politics: stable province of the Truscan Empire
Titles: Governor, chancellor, speaker, vogt
Endowments: constitution and wisdom
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: blonde to light brown
Eyes: blue or green
Influential Deities: Zeus, Apollo, Ares, Geb, Ptah
Popular Instruments: flute, horn, shawm, viol
Traditional Weapons: war pick, pike, halberd, heavy crossbow
Female Names: Anita, Barbara, Brigitte, Clara, Dido, Eva, Heidi, Julia, Lena, Liza, Patricia, Sara, Sonja, Yvette
Male Names: Claude, Didier, Hannibal, Julian, Leon, Lucas, Markus, Nico, Peter, René, Simon, Stefan, Thomas, Urs
Helvetica Unlike most mountainous regions, Helvetica tends to be a tranquil place. Lush sheltered river valleys support enough agriculture to maintain hundreds of prosperous villages. These communities are often hidden from view yet treated to their own spectacular vistas. Orderly systems of taxation and mutual defense enabled many small noble houses to co-exist as the mighty Helvetican League during the Age of Heroes. Their homeland only became a Truscan province after a long series of defensive stands inflicting huge losses that the invaders' mighty republic could barely sustain.
 The calm disposition of modern Helveticans, along with concern about avalanches, may explain why they are famously soft-spoken and often quick to condemn any unnecessarily loud noise. Yet this stealthy inclination drives few to thievery, since their traditions emphasize respect for personal property as well as the importance of financial savings and investment. Prudence and persistence are upheld as supreme virtues. Helvetican banks are the most trusted, secure, and secretive in the world. A legendary Helvetican wizard once quipped, "the most powerful magic in the cosmos is compound interest."
 As subjects of the Truscan Empire, modern Helveticans enjoy a secure position in the world. Mountainous terrain diverts any Scarland hordes that range so far south, and other Helvetican borderlands are far from any warzone. Some regions are also relatively free of dangerous monsters and outlaws, allowing for safe travel. Traditionally the provincial governor continues to respect the various popular assemblies that provide leadership at the district and municipal levels. While revenues remain high in aggregate, local officials are granted some latitude in the particulars of tax collection. Flexibility in the Imperial administration preserves public morale and allows for some eccentric practices that are uniquely well-suited to making the most of life in this affluent alpine homeland.
Jewellers Ordinary people consider one platinum coin significant and a hefty pouch of gold coinage great treasure. Yet most of the world's wealthiest people lack dragonkind's passsion for presiding over a hoard of glittering coins. Many tons of gold might not hold as much value as one bag of the rarest stones. Fitting exceptional gems into well-crafted jewels concentrates great piles of wealth into a single object suitable for display or exchange. So much concentrated purchasing power also makes jewels ideal targets for thieves. Even when broken down into unrecognizable pieces, the loot from a jewelry heist retains much of its value.
 Because every great city features multiple shops affiliated with the Synod Jewellers of Ptah, the treasure trade is scrupulously fair in any civilized land. They work with authorities whenever goods known to be stolen turn up, but otherwise the Synodic Creed demands fair exchange of value for value in the trade of gems and jewels. Faithful jewellers take their profits from additional services rendered. Small fees may be assessed for cleanings and appraisals. Valuable scraps are recovered from recutting and resizing jobs. The trade is lucrative enough to fund the strong security measures it always requires. Jewellers are particularly prosperous where raw metals and gems are in good supply. Their workshops convert these supplies into finished marvels treasured for their fusion of reverent artistry with expensive materials.
 Though dazzling crowns and glittering necklaces are the fashion with kings and queens, many jewellers serve a less glamorous clientele. Some practice their trade with nothing but a toolkit, utilizing precious materials their customers already possess. Even slaves may accumulate and exchange shiny trinkets as a way of relating to one another. Most free people can afford semi-precious stones in silver settings. Some make prominent fashion accessories of these pieces. Prosperous professionals may have their equipment silvered, gilded, or adorned with precious stones. Sometimes these enhancements prepare an object for enchantment. Though jewellers normally leave a maker's mark somewhere on each creation, the mark of a Synod Jeweller authenticates contemporary markings indicating precious metal content and gemstone quality.
 ♪ Arts & Culture The highest degrees of certification bestowed on Synod Jewellers are only available from a few sacred sites in Helvetica. Even apprentices here use exacting tools and uphold high standards of precision. Their techniques elevate the artform with more elegant designs and scintillating cuts. A similar blending of engineering with art can be seen in Helvetican clockwork. Their timepieces are a coveted luxury, pushing the boundaries of accuracy and reliability. Mechanical toys fashioned here are popular all over Mainland. From realistically articulated figurines to wind-up music boxes, these delicate wonders are rich with exquisite detail. Though they work largely with imported ingredients, Helvetican confectioners excel at producing boxed sweets of exceptional quality.
 Local fashions are generally simple yet clean and neat, with layering common due to daily variations in temperature. Helvetican music is typically pastoral and gentle, with many communities explicitly forbidding the use of drums. These people carry on an ancient tradition of calling out in a voice that moves quickly between falsetto and normal registers. These sounds carry off mountains and glaciers with less risk of avalanche than posed by a sustained bellow. These alpine hails whipping up and down in pitch have evolved into yoyoing, a remarkable singing style that is not widely enjoyed outside Helvetica. Both oral and written histories of heroic exploits in the time of the Helvetican League are extremely popular.
 ✠ Belief & Worship Some local clergy teach that the God of the Heavenly Throne presides over an august assembly atop the Leibenhorn, a huge fang-shaped mountain virtually impossible to climb. The God of the Solid Earth is praised for building such rugged mountains and situating so many fertile valleys in their midst. Credit goes to the God of the Marvelous Forge for seeding those mountains with abundant gems and precious metals. The God of Untamed War is generally depicted as a divine antagonist, lashing out at the other gods and causing the magnificent land they created to tremble. After being thwarted by a foe, the belligerent deity finds the moral of each parable in conversation with the God of the Setting Sun. Zeus, Geb, Ptah, and Apollo are widly praised. Many communities will not allow the construction of temples to Ares, and his veneration is not acceptable in polite Helvetican company.
 With very little military presence, the area sees a proliferation of troubleshooters happy to take bounties on any monsters or witches allegedly menacing citizens. Mere talk of pact magic must be a closely guarded secret, and its overt use is a crime in many towns. Though the Old Faith is not outlawed, Helvetican farmers often favor intellectual or spiritual support over natural magic. It was thought the area harbored no Standing Stones until modern ley line scholars located dozens of enormous underground chambers where ancient megalithic rings remain virtually intact. Accessible only by teleportation, these chambers sometimes serve as meeting places for secret societies that claim to exert global influence.
 † Castles & Combat Much Helvetican construction reflects the style of Reverend Architects during the Age of Heroes. Whereas modern designs favor perfectly vertical walls and precisely angled corners, castles here tend to lean back as they rise up along granite mountainsides. Though their positions are almost always formidable, these fortifications are modest in scope. Great wars were fought here 2,000 years ago, but modern needs are limited to sheltering from the occassional monster attack. Though slavery is legal here, few Helveticans claim ownership of other people. There are insufficient numbers to constitute a proper slave uprising.
 Most guards here wield a long weapon while wearing a breastplate and helm. Small units train to protect their ranks whenever dealing with the most violent foes. Many mountaineers practice a fighting style employing picks that are also effective as climbing tools. Of all the ancient Helvetican folk legends, none are as popular as the saga Wilhelm Show. He famously saved the life of his own father, a respected chancellor, by shooting a poisoned apple out of his hand just before it touched his lips. While crossbows are particularly popular here, young people thus equipped must be carefully supervised to prevent attempts at re-enacting Wilhelm Show's feat of supreme marksmanship. More than a few Helveticans bear distinctive scars on their hands or cheeks as a reminder of youthful misadventure.
Avalanches Mountains seem eternal, but people who live in their shadow understand how they crumble. The most active features are glaciers accumulating ice and snow in cold months only to pour off cascades of the purest water in warmer weather. A state of almost constant change can causes stresses to accumulate. As a snowpack accumulates more weight than the slope below can support,
 § Decrees & Customs These people generally dislike loud noises. In alpine communities where avalanches are a constant risk, dislike may take the form of laws with severe punishments for disturbing the peace. Helvetican festivities tend to be bright and upbeat without ever quite breaking out into a truly raucous state. Many Helvetican institutions are organized around precise schedules. Punctuality is an important virtue in this culture. Most towns and city neighborhoods feature a large clock tower to accurately inform everyone of the present time, though any bells associated with these clocks are modest.
 Though counterfeiting and dishonest jewel appraisals are widely regarded as crimes elsewhere, Helvetican authorities prioritize these offenses. They dispatch elite investigators and enforce severe, often deadly, penalties when major fraud is confirmed. Here urban thieves rarely get away with more than pickpocketing and the occasional burglary. Bandits only survive with benefit of extreme secrecy like a hideout lurking behind a waterfall or the ability to blend in as upstanding citizens. With few emergency situations, Helvetican constables often find the time to enforce minor local laws like signage regulations and bans on unkempt gardens.
 Ⓢ Economy & Trade Despite monthly treasure caravans to satisfy Imperial tax collectors, Helveticans reside in the richest major human homeland. The bounty of their mountains and the skill of their jewellers is enough to keep Septopolis happy. Meanwhile more gold and gems flow into the realm from assorted luxury trades. In addition to payments for gadgets and sweets, some incoming funds are bound for the famously secure and secretive Helvetican banking system. Sufficiently large deposits can justify almost any arrangement in terms of access options and discretion. Extremely wealthy account holders sometimes retire to Helvetica, building a personal château or joining with many others to take apartments in palatial compounds. Though often run as communes, these opulent facilities can accomodate visitors with aristocratic tastes and the funds to cover a major bill.
 Some Helvetican workshops specialize in one type of component while others concentrate on a particular line of tools or toys. Further division of labor makes it possible to produce tremendous quantities of wares while maintaining high standards of quality. The interdependence of tinkers creates ample opportunity for commerce among the towns and cities of Helvetica. Many routes see couriers with little in the way of arms or armor safely making valuable deliveries. Independent traders trundle those same roads in their wagons, circulating supplies among apothecaries and generating new interest in goods from other communities.
 ⨳ Foes & Perils Though Ares is a holy deity and a respected figure in Truscan culture, most Helveticans see his worship as a sign of bad character. The Order Indomitable maintains a network of secret bases where malcontents train as warriors, preparing for a prophecied reconquest of the province. Given how hungry the Empire is for gold and how much the Helveticans have squirreled away in their own treasuries, it is plausible that escalating taxes could create a rebellion that would provoke an Imperial crackdown. Meanwhile, the hunt for O.I. operatives and strongholds occasionally leads to coordinated actions by constabularies from various towns and districts.
 In addition to the risk of avalanche, many mountain slopes are home to other dangers. From absurdly large birds to surprisingly small dragons, Helvetica's peaks sport plenty of serious threats. Local giants typically remain distant or even participate in a local festival in exchange for modest tribute. Yet some make much less reasonable demands, threatening to bury towns that do not comply. The greatest adventures and rarest magics in Helvetica are found above the treeline where cargo and constables have no reason to venture. Reaching a summit in this land might only require a frigid test of pure athletic ability or it might involve a gauntlet of fantastic creatures and other deadly hazards.
POINTS OF INTEREST
⦿ Genève is a haven for diplomatic events and deposed aristocrats. Overlooking a spectacular lake of fresh glacial runoff, this sophisticated city sits in the sunniest and warmest part of Helvetica. Gallorian cuisine is the norm here, yet Genève lacks the turmoil and tension of parts farther south. This city is home to an impressive array of luxury compounds willing to rent quarters to visitors. Here it possible to spend the morning going down a mountainside on skis and the subsequent afternoon comfortably splashing about at a scenic beach. Though Genève has the colleges, galleries, and playhouses one would expect of any large city; everything tends to be luxuriously appointed and uncommonly expensive.
⦿ Toûtevoûte is home to the finest minds in the field of asset protection. Not only are several elite bodyguard services headquartered here, but all of Toûtevoûte's five great banking houses claim to have never been the victim of a major theft. Each family's motto is a variation on the theme of honoring debts. Their facilities supplement layers of magical architecture with vigilant spellcasters working in shifts. The entire city is shrouded in a culture of extreme discretion, and strangers often dismiss personal questions as inappropriate. Toûtevoûtiens consider it barbaric to disclose the particulars of business arrangements with third parties. Absolutely no one is fully informed about the contents of more than one-fifth of the vaults in Toutevoúte.
⦾ Castrille is the center of Truscan authority in the province. Here the local speakers' council is purely advisory. The governor relies on generals and pontiffs to administer the city and oversee the broader peace. Consistent revenue collections and an abundance of other concerns prevent the Emperor from applying much pressure to Helvetica. Even with a little corruption, Castrille is a city that runs like clockwork. The Imperial garrison is surprisingly small, with a large officer corp general glad to be away from either major battle line. Many supplement their pay with investments in the productive dairies and ranches in this relatively flat district.
⨀ Trésorétat sees an elite of fabulously wealthy halfling and gnomes dominating the politics of this majority human city. Mining operations here yield exceptionally pure ores as well as some exotic minerals of value to alchemists. Farmers and laborers are well-componsated, but a few families own almost every piece of property in the district. Generous wages and prices are largely recovered through steep rents. The Guildmasters of Trésorétat govern as mouthpieces for the plutocracy, holding dozens of festivals each year in efforts to lighten the mood of commoners struggling with expenses. The city features a robust criminal element and a resourceful constabulary, their clashes producing a fair amount of street violence. One end of town is crowded with shacks where unhappy destitute Helveticans might be recruited for unsavory deeds while the other extreme contains the compounds of investors known to fund projects on the grandest scales.
⨹ Pétunion is home to thousands of dwarves and at least as many gnomes, but it is otherwise typical of Helvetica's rural districts. Small villages form around every productive mine, cluster of farms, and major crossroads. They are joined by a few workshop communes and one luxury retreat. Each is entitled to seat one vogt in a local council, and these councils each advance one speaker to the Pétunion Assemblée. Substantial unrest prompts fresh elections that might entirely reconstitute government of the district. From foothills riddled with mines all the way down to a lake full of excellent fishing, Pétunion has no communities larger than 1,000 residents, but each of its villages is a comfortable orderly place to live.

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Demonym: Isks  Language: Iskreshi
Homeland: Iskresh First City: Sanbouli
Politics: loyal provinces of the Serpian Empire
Titles: shah, emir, bashar, vizier
Endowments: intelligence and charisma
Complexion: fair to tan
Hair: brown or black
Eyes: brown
Influential Deities: Ra, Ptah, Set, Mannanan Mac Lir, Oghma
Popular Instruments: bagpipes, drum, lute, shawm
Traditional Weapons: scimitar, greatsword, trident, hand crossbow
Female Names: Aliye, Dija, Hadice, Fatima, Irini, Kadira, Manula, Nesrin, Saruca, Samira, Sitti, Tatiana, Yesenia, Zehiya
Male Names: Abdul, Direnc, Estani, Faruk, Hakeem, Iskender, Kosta, Mehmed, Murat, Otto, Salik, Temin, Volkan, Yusuf
Iskresh The Isks trace their ancestry back to a network of secret couriers transporting messages and small items across largely uninhabited lands. Moving only at night, celestial reckoning enabled them to traverse the vast expanses known today as Iskresh. This thin network grew into a mighty nation during the Age of Heroes. Irrigation slowly turned desolate steppes into productive farmland. Little outposts blossomed into substantial trading hubs. When the Great Consolidation calmed the seas, Iskreshi mariners were quick to open trade with the Orient. Today they are known as a charming and enlightened people. This reputation helped to establish favorable mercantile relationships in ports all over the world.
 Poised and cunning, Isks are famed for turning back threats with dramatic reversals of fortune. Many of the world's greatest wizards and chess masters hail from this land (with some overlap between those two groups.) Millennia of experience storing and transporting documents makes the Isks culturally astute librarians. Yet copious mines and expert artisans also mean Iskreshi brass, including clockwork devices and navigators' tools, are famed for great precision and reliability.
 Early in the Age of Heroes, Iskreshi rulers carved out a huge totalitarian empire, pushing as far west as Thrace. Historians disagree as to why the Truscan Empire so easily overran the Iskreshi Sultanate, but there is no doubt the conquest was quick and (for the Truscans at least) only slightly bloody. The Isks took well to a new and more permissive order. Great centers of learning flourished at the heart of booming metropolises. Wary of war, Iskreshi compliance with Serpian secession was largely a practical matter. Many Isks of royal lineage sometimes whisper about restoring the Sultanate or even contending for the Solar Throne of the Serpian Padishah.
Faith A pantheon of fifteen popular deities and six divine villains influenced the thriving culture of the Iskreshi Sultanate. Today only a remnant survives -- four subjects of traditional worship along with Set, perpetually plotting against the others. Today the God of Darkest Night combines a little public support with an enormous covert presence in Iskresh. Yet he remains the antagonist in a body of folklore that sees Ra, Ptah, Mannanan Mac Lir, and Oghma all valiantly endeavoring to enlighten and empower people humble enough to pray for their blessings. Oghma holds particular stature, credited as the creator of the alphabets themselves as well as the coordinator of the old courier network that eventually gave rise to the Sultanate. Serpian religious freedom laws are in full force here, and Set's worshipers have proven adept at playing the victim whenever their faith exposes them to prejudice. Here the Old Faith survives mainly in little pockets each near one of the many obscure formations Standing Stones scattered across the this vast territory.

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Demonym: Joryans  Language: Joryani
Homeland: Joryanland First City: Schamstag
Politics: feudal lords seated in Norish Moots
Titles: king, earl, graf, baron
Endowments: strength and dexterity
Complexion: fair to pale
Hair: blonde
Eyes: blue
Influential Deities: Odin, Loki, Thor, Lei Kung, Ma Yuan
Popular Instruments: drum, horn, lute, viol
Traditional Weapons: longsword, battleaxe, greataxe, longbow
Female Names: Alia, Brunhilde, Dagmar, Edda, Gertrude, Helga, Ilsa, Isolde, Linda, Mathilda, Mildred, Rosamund, Siglind, Ursula
Male Names: Conrad, Erwin, Fritz, Gunnar, Heinrich, Helmut, Josef, Klaus, Lars, Max, Oskar, Ulrich, Werner, Wolfgang
Joryanland Though not a rival to the Norish in military power or population, the Joryans are never quick to concede a lack of ethnic superiority. Their folklore teaches that history so far has been a mere a prelude to global war that will eliminate all human ethnic groups save one. Instilling this severe attitude begins at birth, with hasty infanticide a typical fate for those born with visible deformities. At Norish Moots, Joryan speakers invariably advocate the most militant proposals.
 Among these people, physical fitness is relentlessly emphasized as a virtue. Even artisans and merchants are expected to be capable warriors or aspire to such prowess. Petty disagreements may be solved with a sort of formal brawling. Deadly duels are also commonplacein this land. Joryans relish combat even more when given the chance to test their racist beliefs by doing battle with foreigners. If they ever developed the agricultural and economic foundations of a mighty empire, it is likely they would pose a threat to many other civilized peoples. Fortunately the most formidable Joryans are often occupied dealing the trolls and other giants that plague their heartland.
 Insofar as they make time for peaceful pursuits, Joryans are passionate about art. Paintings and sculptures produced for domestic consumption typically illustrate violent themes. The screeching intensity of their boldest bards can be downright spine-chilling to hear. Likewise, their elaborate weapons and armor supplement basic function with intimidating form. Distinctive Joryan horned helmets are sometimes mocked in other parts of the world, though the berzerkers under those helmets tend to command a great deal more respect. Maritime raids on distant lands account for no small portion of the wealth circulating in Joryanland's perpetually troubled economy.
Faith Uniquely, the worship of Loki is considered a respectable calling by the people of Joryanland. Their sagas focus on pure and noble gods doing battle with alien abominations, including nemeses Lei Kung and Ma Yuan. Though Loki is often employs roguish tactics, his various acts of larceny and mayhem are overlooked to praise his effectiveness in defeating impure monsters. Odin and Thor are widely venerated for their own epic triumphs, though they are upheld as both defenders of humanity and paragons of integrity. Actual worship of Lei Kung or Ma Yuan is a strictly forbidden here, but institutions supporting their holy orders still thrive in savage wildlands, sometimes providing havens for dissidents and fugitives. With organized religion offering little to farmers, many Joryans who work the land preserve rites of the Old Faith, and regular gatherings occur at most Standing Stone sites.

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Demonym: Kohadesians Language: Kohaddic
Homeland: Kohadesia  First City: Ghomm
Politics: loyal province of the Serpian Empire
Titles: Shah, emir, vizier, sheikh
Endowments: strength and constitution
Complexion: dark brown
Hair: black, total baldness is common
Eyes: brown
Influential Deities: Ra, Osiris, Geb, Chung Kuel, Lei Kung
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, flute, shawm
Traditional Weapons: whip, warhammer, maul, javelin
Female Names: Arifa, Chafika, Dunyana, Gharam, Houda, Kenza, Mennana, Nadia, Ouarda, Shabana, Tahani, Tirra, Yasmin, Zuhrah
Male Names: Aziz, Bandar, Ben, Hassan, Jabalah, Mustafa, Omar, Ouahid, Ruhul, Salamah, Samir, Shihab, Tazim, Zarif
Kohadesia A mighty and determined people, the Kohadesians were once so xenophobic that books were taboo and anyone using steel was regarded with suspicion. Despite the primitive ways of this ancient civilization, they drove off or killed all major forces of hostile foreigners. Trade was limited to small neighboring tribes that served as go-betweens for sea captains and caravaneers. Due to an extreme sort of polygamous tradition, strong Kohadesian individuals not bound for a leadership role often journeyed abroad during the Age of Heroes.
 With modern technology and the unification of the tribes, Kohadesia is now doing more to grow great cities while doing less to send towering adventurers and mercenaries out into the world. The young nation had barely integrated into the Truscan Empire when the crisis of Serpian secession began. Geography made it inevitable Kohadesia would join the breakaway regime. Despite impressive progress and prosperity, this wild land is still troubled by natural disasters and dissent from warlords intent on a return to much older traditions. Stern enforcers constantly investigate potential disloyalty among the inahabitants of every large Kohaddic city. Yet copious amounts of exotic spices, precious metals, and ivory draw distant traders to markets in this troubled land.
 Kohadesians are known as a powerful people, and many have the stature to reinforce this reputation. They were quick to embrace a blend of Serpian and Celedinese traditions, abandoning tribal ways incompatible with modern urban living. A people once happy to burn libraries are now eager to build more of them. Today most Kohadesians are literate. Their cities teem with both craft and commerce. Some still cast a wary eye toward advanced technologies or study of the arcane, but most are quick to accept anything that will enhance their security or prestige.
Faith Stories from Kohadesian folklore often follow a structure known as the heavenly procession. Sometimes acting directly, sometimes working through mortals, the sequence bears extensive repetition. Ra sets the stage, arriving first and shining light on what is important. Geb appears next, bestowing substance and durability as needed. Chung Kuel then studies the situation, declaring these works to be great and glorious. Lei Kung reacts with hostility, lashing out to destroy what the other gods have built. Then Osiris arrives, restoring what he can and setting the stage for a new cycle of creation. All these gods are openly worshiped, though Lei Kung is far more popular with warlord throwbacks than modern cityfolk. The Old Faith is especially well-funded here. Local druids, paladins, and rangers provide vital assistance to miners and hunters intent on surviving their efforts to exploit savage jungles.

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Demonym: Lachlanders Language: Lachlandic
Homeland: Lachland   First City: Karilmark
Politics: tribal leaders seated in Norish Moots
Titles: king, earl, graf, baron
Endowments: dexterity and constitution
Complexion: tan to fair
Hair: blonde or light brown
Eyes: blue or brown
Influential Deities: Odin, Hel, Tyr, Arawn, Mannanan Mac Lir
Popular Instruments: bagpipes, dulcimer, lyre, pan flute
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, handaxe, battleaxe, heavy crossbow
Female Names: Ádá, Birtá, Delle, Ester, Gáren, Hánná, Katja, Leadnu, Olgá, Ravna, Sari, Sussu, Tildá, Verá
Male Names: Ággi, Dorste, Edvin, Hárri, Juvven, Mikku, Orddot, Ruben, Rudolf, Sálmo, Samuli, Skarild, Tapio, Vuoitu
Lachland A mixture of dense pine forests and windswept tundra, Lachland is an unforgiving place for anyone who does not adapt to the frigid climate. Locals survive wicked winters by fishing extensively and hunting reindeer occasionally. Without the security of a large community, life this far north is relentlessly demanding. Lachlanders tend to be hardy and deft, some living in such dire conditions that hunters cannot depend on second chances. At least a few of the world's greatest sharpshooters hail from this icy realm.
 Hundreds of years ago, this culture consisted of a scattering of small tribes clinging to life in a part of the world too cold for most humans. Modern tools and limited commerce with neighboring ethnic groups dramatically improved the Lachlandic economy. Their trading hubs became bustling cities, and their tributes were large enough to earn a few voting positions in Norish Moots. Local dignitaries have even adopted noble titles derived from Norish customs. Yet the region is still widely regarded as the edge of civilization, and news from distant places is often slow to reach the people of Lachland.
 This territory is not particularly magical, nor does it boast of educational institutions more impressive than a small college. Yet all Mainland knows some version of the Father Saturn myth. At the northernmost residence in the world, assisted by thousands of elven enchanters, this jolly archmage stockpiles toys and sweets. Aloft in his flying sleigh, Father Saturn freezes time to personally visit all good children while they sleep on Saturnalia Eve. Adults understand the holiday fiction, but this tradition runs especially strong in Father Saturn's purported homeland. Perhaps it distracts from darker thoughts about Hel constantly raging as the actual northernmost inhabitant of the world.
Faith Lachlandic foklore is characterized by charming whimsy. Only children believe the myth of Father Saturn, but fables involving Arawn or Hel contain lessons that resound across this culture. Life here is unforgiving, so it is wise to always be mindful of cold and the death it brings. More uplifting fair involves Odin and Tyr driving off mighty beasts and undead hordes to carve out safe havens for devoted mortals. Mannanan Mac Lir is revered not only for his role as facilitator of good works in these tales, but also because his priests understand techniques of navigation that are as useful on a featureless white landscape as they are on a ship far from land. No holy order is outlawed here, and Lachlanders are by nature pragmatic. Those in need will accept charity and healing wherever they can get it. The Old Faith provides some of each in the more robust forests and lively bays here, though much of the land is too desolate to attract druids.

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Demonym: Norish  Language: Norish
Homeland: Norland First City: Hammerstad
Politics: many small realms united by a common culture
Titles: king/queen, earl, graf, baron
Endowments: strength and wisdom
Complexion: fair
Hair: blonde to dark brown
Eyes: blue or brown
Influential Deities: Odin, Hel, Loki, Thor, Tyr
Popular Instruments: dulcimer, drum, horn, lute
Traditional Weapons: light hammer, warhammer, battleaxe, greataxe
Female Names: Agatha, Æsa, Brigid, Elise, Freya, Gylla, Helga, Idun, Ilona, Sif, Sæunn, Sigrun, Svana, Una
Male Names: Andreas, Balder, Erik, Harri, Leif, Matthias, Nikolas, Ragnar, Roland, Sigurd, Sven, Thor, Ulf, Vidar
Norland The Norish people have long taken a leadership role in the tumultuous politics of northwestern Mainland. When the Truscans thought they ruled the world, Norish clans and their many allies continued to manage their own affairs in several great cities and many isolated strongholds, a phenomenon historians refer to as the Secret Empire. The legendary Norish Overkings of this era were officially only the first among equals, but their decrees rarely encountered any resistance. Today no one king is dominant, but a few great Norish houses constitute a hub of political power in this increasingly contentious coalition.
  Modern policy is shaped by annual Moots where voting is proportionate to the gifts distributed among other delegates. Greater Norland refers to Fitchland, Joryanland, Lachland, and Darresteg as well as Norland proper. Leaders from across Greater Norland make their feelings known at these Moots, minimizing internal aggression. Famines have hit hard in the wake of recent changes in local weather patterns. Cold and hungry, rising numbers of Norish raiding parties voyage in their distinctive longships. Some are simply desperate people eager to pillage outside the reach of their own laws. Others are military forces intent on restocking the dwindling treasuries of belligerant leaders.
 Strength is the foremost of all Norish virtues, though guile is widely recognized as a form of strength. Old warriors are valued for their seasoned counsel and strategic insights. As capable whalers, the Norish export tremendous quantities of lamp oil. Several notable Norish colleges train bards in majestic forms of poetry and song. Though literacy is not among the Norish, scribes and writing materials are. Legal decrees and other traditional documents are often carved into runestones rather than produced with quill and ink. Constant training and spreading famine conspire to make Norland an ideal place to recruit capable warriors.

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Demonym: Ontolonese Language: Ontolonese
Homeland: Ontolon   First City: Kwanchon
Politics: coastal provinces of the Oriental Empire
Titles: governor, mayor, baron, warden
Endowments: dexterity and wisdom
Complexion: tan to brown
Hair: brown or black
Eyes: brown or blue with epichanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Ching Sung-Tzu, Chung Kuel, Ares, Hades
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, pan flute, viol
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, flail, spear, hand crossbow
Female Names: Cam, Ha, Hien, Huong, Hyunh, Lang, Linh, Mai, Tai, Tien, Trang, Trinh, Tuyeyt, Xuan
Male Names: Bao, Binh, Chien, Duong, Hieu, Kim, Long, Ngu, Pin, Quan, Thao, Thuc, Toan, Trung
Ontolon At home in the thick of a proper rain forest, the Ontolonese have always sought harmony with nature. Though elves are rare in the Orient, this human ethnic group has a similar reptutation for moving unseen through mists and undergrowth. Insofar as Ontolon is known to Mainlanders, it is chiefly through the spectacular failure of the Truscan Empire to push into Oriental territory. With great loss of life and incalculable expense, the Truscan Legions crossed treacherous seas hoping to fully globalize their empire. Body counts ran high on both sides, though this was mainly because the invaders resorted to massacring women and children before withdrawing entirely from this controversial military misadventure.
 An ongoing legacy of this war takes the form of hostile tribes living rough among the jungles and swamps. Many of these tribes worship Truscan deities while subsisting as a violent counterculture, too dispersed and elusive to be fully neutralized. Mainstream Ontolonese values idealize both grace and sensitivity. Foreigners associate them with insightful riddles and delicate hands. Even their martial arts tend toward softer forms, and their music is characterized by gentle tranquility.
 Rather than manipulate flows of water in their homeland, the Ontolonese adapt by planting fast growing crops in seasonally flooded areas. Patches of high ground in Ontolon are often reserved for temples, monastaries, and markets. New mining techniques provide access to rich veins of gems and rare ores. This has become a contentious practice with almost all of this new wealth flowing directly into Celedinese coffers. Secret societies and criminal syndicates take advantage of these murky environs, thriving wherever unrest grows. Yet the typical inhabitant of Ontolon is a peaceful villager content to farm or fish just enough to keep putting good food on the family table.

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Demonym: Serpian Language: Serpian
Homeland: Serpia  First City: Theopolis
Politics: heartland provinces of the Serpian Empire
Titles: Padishah, shah, nomarch, vizier
Endowments: dexterity and wisdom
Complexion: tan to brown
Hair: brown or black
Eyes: brown
Influential Deities: Ra, Geb, Osiris, Ptah, Set
Popular Instruments: drum, horn, pan flute, shawm
Traditional Weapons: scimitar, greatsword, lance, longbow
Female Names: Azar, Bita, Daria, Fereshteh, Kiana, Mina, Nasrin, Parisa, Roxana, Rudaleh, Shiva, Soraya, Tamina, Zarine
Male Names: Amir, Basir, Derafsh, Esmail, Farrukh, Kazem, Marduk, Musa, Omid, Pedram, Raza, Sohrab, Turan, Xerxes
Serpia During the Imperium Arcanum, the deserts of southeast Mainland harbored few dragons even though two major river valleys sustained millions of humans living out in the open. When fey lords did not require this labor for other projects, these workers were kept busy constructing gargantuan geometric masonry structures. Most are sand-covered rubble today, but the Great Pyramids of Serpia remain the largest buildings in the world. With a proud heritage even more venerable than Truscan unity; the dispossessed royal family had little difficulty securing the allegiance of four other provinces during the rebellion that formed the modern Serpian Empire.
 The people of Serpia are known to be thoughtful and precise. They tend to be incredibly industrious in groups and creatively inspired by solitude. Dragon chess was invented by a pharoah from their Old Kingdom. In a land dominated by a rigid caste system, Serpian adventurers are often intent on breaking away from a destiny dictated by parentage. This vast yet orderly society has sustained extraordinary cultural and economic development despite prolific corruption. The Padishah remains faithful to Ra, but few doubt his administration is riddled with devotees of Set.
 Well-funded aqueducts, bathhouses, and universities elevate the quality of urban life across this land. Serpian communities in the heartland also maintain bright lanterns over every intersection. This promotes public safety, giving the region a unique and booming urban night life. Other imperial capitals may be even more grand, but none see treasuries and skylines expanding as quickly as modern Theopolis. With plains and river valleys that once exported mountains of grain, the region now serves as breadbasket to its own mighty empire.

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Demonym: Sivelsh Language: Sivelsh
Homeland: Sivales First City: Llanfynwen
Politics: coastal Sylvanian kingdom
Titles: King, duke, count, baron
Endowments: wisdom and charisma
Complexion: fair to palid, often freckled
Hair: blonde or red
Eyes: blue, green, or light brown
Influential Deities: Dagda, Mannanan Mac Lir, Oghma, Ching Sung-Tzu, Ma Yuan
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, lyre, pan flute
Traditional Weapons: net, longsword, spear, lance
Female Names: Ariene, Cerridwyn, Dilwen, Esyllt, Gladys, Gwenifer, Gwynedd, Jinell, Lunet, Megan, Olwyn, Rhianon, Siana, Tanwen
Male Names: Caedfel, Cedric, Gamon, Gareth, Idris, Llwellyn, Lloyd, Myrddin, Penryn, Rhon, Rhys, Tryffin, Tyreke, Wynfor
Sivales Almost constantly shrouded in mist, these fertile lowlands are home to three cities each sheltered by the ruins of an enormous Imperium Arcanum stronghold. Other Sivelsh communities typically inhabit earthen hillforts, on guard against monstrous beasts known to breed in the wilder parts of this land. The realm is economically underdeveloped, and most local nobles measure their fortunes by the size of their cattle herds. More than one has been reported to be a willing supplier of food for dragons.
 A rich body of traditional folklore provides the foundation for a particularly rigorous sort of bardic training at the colleges in Sivales. Also, this realm is a magnet for treasure hunters. Local glaziers produce elaborate and colorful works of art, and some Sivelsh mines yield gems of extroardinary quality. Between relics from the Imperium Arcanum and the achievements of legendary enchanters during the Age of Heroes, hoards in the monster lairs of Sivales are particularly likely to contain items of magical power.
 The Sivelsh people are famed as quick and incisive wits. To them, no heroic deed is complete without an apt one-liner. Though they are intrepid, they are not incautious. Their mariners tend to be the most skilled plying the western seas, often smoking distinctive pipes while on deck. Many Sivelsh rulers have maintained prosperous havens despite enormous dangers, so these free-spirited and irreverent people nonetheless have deep respect for their own nobility. The Old Faith and modern holy orders both enjoy broad support since Sivelsh religious practices are particularly moderate and inclusive.

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Demonym: Sylvanians Language: Sylvanian
Homeland: Sylvania  First City: Vergovia
Politics: loosely allied Sylvanian realms
Titles: king/queen, duke, count, baron
Endowments: strength and wisdom
Complexion: tan to palid
Hair: blonde to dark brown
Eyes: brown or green
Influential Deities: Dagda, Silvanus, Oghma, Mannanan Mac Lir, Arawn
Popular Instruments: drum, flute, lyre, pan flute
Traditional Weapons: longsword, warhammer, maul, longbow
Female Names: Alma, Boudicca, Fiona, Glenda, Kathleen, Lynette, Morgan, Moya, Oona, Rowena, Sylvia, Tara, Tierney, Yvonne
Male Names: Aiden, Brian, Donovan, Duane, Ferris, Lugh, Melvin, Neil, Nolin, Orin, Robert, Shawn, Torian, Ywain
Sylvania Several hundred years before the Great Consolidation, the fires of so many holy wars threatened the last great forests of Mainland. The deity Silvanus declared himself ruler of those lands. Unlike other god-kings from the Age of Heroes, Silvanus spent little time leading armies and much time shaping the land. Verdant forests provided cover for defenders and bounty for the common people. In 72 A.H., Silvanus convened a congress of his many mortal vassals. In electing his successor, they launched a tradition of parliamentary process.
 Though healthy forests continued to proliferate across Mainland, Silvanus's kingdom dissolved into many smaller entities. Modern Sylvania is a patchwork of sovereign kingdoms, independent republics, and tribal nations. Some of these small societies live in harmony with bounteous wilderness, while others mix hunting and gathering with modern agriculture and urbanization. Contributing respresentatives and resources to the Sylvanian Confederation, they work together against common threats. Slavers and witches are heavily villainized -- hunted down and killed for activities that are entirely legal in some lands.
 Sylvanians themselves tend toward powerful builds and tranquil minds. They mingle conventional religion and the Old Faith as if the two were sides of a single coin. Wild beasts often roam freely near or even inside Sylvanian cities, though druids or clergy capable of pacifying a wild menace are usually quick to respond. Elves also have a special place in Sylvanian culture, both living as a large minority among humans and maintaining their own enclaves in dense forests. Stately granite peaks, towering redwoods, and huge majestic cascades make Sylvania a unique trove of exquisite natural beauty.
Culture Druid 'n bards 'n bards 'n druids . . .
Military When the God-King Silvanus retired from personally leading his earthly empire, Archduke Martel, a.k.a. "The Hammer of Vergovia," was elected to assume the throne. Even today, using a massive bludgeon to beat a path through an ongoing battle is the Silvanian epitome of machismo. Diversity is considered a positive in this place where elven influences blend with a fondness for hammers, giving rise to a melange of fighting styles and military organizations. Perhaps the Confederation's greatest strength is the huge array of irregular units available to support unconventional battle plans or exploit specific enemy vulnerbailities. To what extent the roads are policed and settled communities protected varies much from one sovereign territory to another. Yet Confederate forces are collectively applying great pressure to the Truscan Empire, driving their Legions from some portions of Galloria.

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Demonym: Thracians Language: Thracian
Homeland: Thrace   First City: Parthens
Politics: loyal Truscan provinces
Titles: governor, archon, speaker, trierarch
Endowments: intelligence and wisdom
Complexion: tan or olive
Hair: blonde to dark brown, little body hair
Eyes: dark brown or green
Influential Deities: Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Osiris, Set
Popular Instruments: drum, flute, lyre, pan flute
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, javelin, trident, longbow
Female Names: Aphrodite, Andromeda, Athena, Cassandra, Diana, Eurydice, Hypatia, Kora, Laetitia, Lydia, Penelope, Persephone, Sappho, Xena
Male Names: Ajax, Creon, Demetrius, Draco, Galen, Hermes, Jason, Leonidas, Leto, Lysander, Perseus, Solon, Telemachus, Zeno
Thrace Prosperous city-states were funding ambitious academic institutions in this region by 2,621 A.H. It was not long before these centers of learning also became places where humans could study arcane magic. Ironworking was slow to spread through this region during the Age of Heroes, but the Thracians were innovative in many areas of technology and culture. Public debate, legislative process, jury trials -- early Thrace saw many idealists forming practical applications from their principles. Literacy spread quickly among these budding city-states, and disciplines from music theory to formal logic made huge strides forward.
 Various Thracian entities also engaged in extensive trade, spreading their culture through commerce. Yet the area remained balkanized until the Truscans occupied the entire region and declared the annexation of several new provinces in 437 G.C., retaining control even today. Outside the Orient, all learned people are familiar with the greatest philosophers and historians of ancient Thrace. So many important theories emerged from their ivory towers that Thracian words and symbols have taken on special meanings in scholarship from all parts of Mainland.
 Blessed with a unique blend of intellect and empathy, Thracians formulate personal concepts of virtue by way of sophisticated philosophical thought. Even slave children are often given extensive formal schooling in this place where it is widely understood that any thinker has the potential to produce valuable new ideas. Art and culture focus on the depiction of natural beauty in the context of thoughtful reflection. Thracians literally wrote the book on public staging of comedies and dramas. For them, the inner workings of the human mind are just one more category of natural forms to be studied academically and depicted artistically.
Belief & Worship Early in the Age of Heroes, a dozen gods established a common base of operations atop Mount Olympus. Diverse Thracian cultures forged unity through worship of these Olympians. Though seven of them are now Dead Gods, the entire group retains a prominent place in popular culture. Twelve remains a lucky number in Thracian culture, and modern artists still sculpt and paint the Olympians as a group. Tales of those twelve gods and the many demigods they conceived with human partners continue to circulate as myths. Yet modern Thracian religion is literally a different story.
 These gospels explain that the God of the Heavenly Throne created the world, though he left it barren. The God of the Setting Sun brought light and warmth, nourishing life in a multitude of forms. The God of Darknest Night threw shadows over the land and twisted both beasts and men into monstrous forms. The God of Noble Sacrifice rallied heroes to fight off the darkness, establishing a perpetual cycle of night and day. All the while the God of Drunken Revels wanders through the turmoil, profound lessons lurking within his whimsical commentaries.  Thracian priests promote the narrative that all life is struggle. Zeus, Apollo, and Osiris are exalted as bringers of enlightenment.
Culture The first writings on the subjects of drama and comedy were inked in ancient Thrace. The actors and playwrights of this realm have always been known for a deep understanding of how people think. They exploit this understanding to artfully manipulate the emotions of audiences. Thracians also enjoy music and dance, with cityfolk never far on any given evening from some venue overflowing with wine and song. Their sculptures and paintings idealize human forms without resorting to exaggeration. Early masters of geometry, Thracians often planned their buildings according to precise ratios that make the finished structures pleasing to behold. Though their alphabet is unlike any other, much of Thracian culture has spread across Mainland from coast to coast.
Military Thrace was governed by many independent city-states in the centuries prior to Truscan unification. Many of these polities were only capable of making bronze weapons, and little of their military traditions survives today. Now Truscans rule the area through a network of paved roads and huge fortresses each packed with experienced soldiers. In eastern Thrace, active battles rage against forces from the Serpian Empire. Elsewhere the Truscan legions maintain tranquility and stand ready to rotate into the warzone when engaged units need time to rest and recover. "Traditional Thracian warrior" is not a coherent concept since these people were never independently unified. However, Thracian emphasis on intellect and planning drives warriors from this region to carry and master diverse weaponry for adaptation to the specifics of each tactical situation.

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Demonym: To-Shinese Language: To-Shinese
Homeland: To-Shin   First City: Yamoto
Politics: active rebellion against the Oriental Empire
Titles: Shogun, roju, bugyo, daimyo
Endowments: strength and dexterity
Complexion: tan to fair
Hair: black
Eyes: dark brown with epicanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Lei Kung, Ma Yuan, Osiris, Ptah
Popular Instruments: drum, ducimer, flute, lute
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, longsword, greatsword, longbow
Female Names: Aiko, Asuka, Chouko, Hanako, Hinata, Izumi, Keiko, Mizuki, Natsumi, Ren, Shinju, Tamiko, Tsubaki, Youko
Male Names: Akira, Daisuke, Hayato, Ichiro, Kazuki, Ken, Noburu, Osamu, Riku, Ryuu, Shinobu, Shiro, Takeshi, Yoshi, Yuuki
To-Shin Swords hold extraordinary resonance in To-Shinese culture. Law and custom forbids carrying a long bladed weapon without the official endorsement of a noble house. Aristocratic warriors in To-Shin are rarely without their blades, and all are bound by an unforgiving code of militant honor. These traditional elites are powerful, but they did little to protect the To-Shinese from the volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and giant monster attacks that plague this group of huge islands. Celedinese emissaries calling upon divine forces or taking command of arcane powers provided the first real stability experienced by To-Shinese society. Memory of these miracles inspired many centuries of loyalty to the Oriental Empire.
 Only recently have oppressive taxes and waning support sparked hostility from To-Shin. Indigenous priests and magi assumed the burden of disaster prevention and recovery. These same magical dignitaries proved able to control weather and gargantuan beasts, turning back armadas sent to enforce the will of the Oriental Empire. Now the Shogun of To-Shin has declared himself the One True Emperor, working openly to undermine the Celedinese dynasty. A war of spies rages quietly while the rebels continue to build military strength and their enemy keeps failing to establish a beachhead.
 As with their smithing, the To-Shinese value the fusion of strength and precision in human development. Drunken carousing is acceptable in their society; but dereliction of duty, even in civilian circles, may demand public humiliation if not ritual suicide. Famous poems from a wandering warrior idealize the willow tree -- able to weather fierce storms by bending without breaking. To-Shin today is awash in efforts to revive its oldest and most honorable traditions. With great economic productivity turning inward, it becomes increasingly plausible that this shogunate is a rising superpower. Intense genuine nationalism is reinforced by a network of secret police quick to infiltrate and compromise any organization hostile to the rebellion.
Culture There is only one loftier concept of art in To-Shin than a formal tea ceremony. Etiquette as a performance skill often makes no sense to outsiders, but tea ceremony enthusiasts insist there are intricacies that surpass anything to be found in dance or music. Flower arranging, impromptu poetry, and paper folding are among the other forms of creative expression that are far more developed on these islands than anyplace else in the world. To-Shinese music favors one popular style in which each performance is meant to serve as acoustic rendering of a natural phenomenon like a specific season, a weather event, or a wild animal. The To-Shinese are not only highly literate, but they are quick to write on almost any surface. Their buildings and their clothes are often covered with artfully painted messages. Of course, their highest notion of artistic expression is swordsmithing, with every proper To-Shinese sword being an object of substantial value.
Military Many centuries ago, Celedinese authorities imposed strict licensing requirements for non-military ownership of most weapons in this province. As an unintended consequence, unarmed martial arts academies proliferated. Associated temples or monasteries protected many of these institutions from suppression. During this era, only wealthy aristocrats could afford to preserve the unique To-Shinese approach to swordmaking. Wearing the the daisho, a traditional longsword and shortsword pairing, became a status symbol. When rebels established the Shogunate, most weapon bans were lifted. Common folk are now encouraged to study armed combat. Yet the punishment is severe for appearing in public with both a longsword and a shortsword unless the wielder also bears a badge of authorization from an official of daimyo or higher rank. Ongoing war with the Oriental Empire leaves To-Shin bristling with soldiers, but focus on that conflict creates opportunities for bandits and the occasional monster cult.
 • Yamoto reflects elaborate urban planning as applied to a long streak of fantastic commercial growth. Great houses of manufacture join shipping and banking organizations in funding enormous buildings (mention bamboo)**. Streets here are a constant bustle of activity. Waves of punctual office clerks swarm into and out of the financial district in rushes unlike any other in the world. Raucous night life proceeds under colorful canopies of arcane light in this place of abundant wizards. The greatest of these arcane spellcasters participate in special response squads, working in shifts to provide emergency relief so often vital to the city's survival. In addition to earthquakes, tsumanis, and hostility from Imperial forces, Yamoto is also regularly attacked by gargantuan monsters. Longtime residents recall battles in which such creatures were rallied to protect the city rather than devastate it.
 • Mount Naiya towers so as to have a place on the horizon from many To-Shinese cities. In intervals six generations apart, the great volcano unleashes hellish fury accompanied by swarms of major earthquakes. Yet it normally epitomizes tranquility, gently belching steam from its snowy peak. Mount Naiya is widely considered a sacred site, and residing on its slopes is forbidden. Holy orders anchor chains, carve stairs, and construct platforms so that pilgrims might visit the peak and peer into the lofty crater. Routes are quick to take shape after a major eruption, since the most popular trailside shrines are lucrative.
 • Omakoku This island's harsh mix of mountainous and jungle terrain leaves it sparsely inhabited. Only fishing comes easily here. Yet inland, often shrouded in mist, may be found an array of venerable monastaries each devoted to an elaborate style of fighting. Outsiders willing to work hard are often welcome as students and laborers. Many great masters of combat claim to have trained extensively at such a facility. Martial artists from Omakoku tend to generate respect, and sometimes eager disciplies, wherever they travel.

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Demonym: Maniacs   Language: Maniac
Homeland: Transmania First City: Corvang
Politics: border territory of the Truscan empire
Titles: governor, duke, graf, baron
Endowments: strength and constitution
Complexion: fair to palid
Hair: blonde, reddish, or light brown
Eyes: brown or blue
Influential Deities: Zeus, Ares, Hades, Thor, Loki
Popular Instruments: bagpipes, drum, lute, viol
Traditional Weapons: light hammer, longsword, greatsword, lance
Female Names: Annika, Bianca, Cecilia, Elvira, Gretel, Ingrid, Miriam, Nadine, Natalie, Petra, Sabine, Teresa, Vanessa, Xenia
Male Names: Arnold, Axel, Carl, Dennis, Ernst, Friedrich, Hansel, Kurt, Ludwig, Manfred, Martin, Peter, Richard, Vlad
Transmania The ferocity of indigenous peoples inhabiting this land drove early Truscan mapmakers to label this unexplored region "madness beyond." Under constant assault from giants and ogres of the continent's central uplands, Maniac warriors had the experience and determination to turn back purportedly invincible Truscan Legions. This territory was only annexed after immense Truscan wealth drove many Maniacs to enlist in those Legions. Once epitomized by nearly-naked berzerkers wielding impractically huge blades, the modern Maniac soldier is likely to be well-armored if not also situated atop a trained warhorse.
 Even ordinary Maniacs are by nature both rugged and muscular. Their warriors continue to have a reputation for incomparable ferocity. Yet centuries of civilizing influences have made them a prosperous and peaceful folk who only display their infamous fury in extreme situations. Today their scholars are held in high esteem, particularly in the areas of engineering, history, and metallurgy. Maniac bards favor jarring contrasts. Singers and full orchestras practice how to harmonize as quietly as possible in huge concert halls just so that their loudest crescendos will be much more dramatic.
 All of Mainland respects the stalwart defense Transmania mounts against hordes from the Scarlands. The modern reputation of this Truscan province would be unblemished if not for an abundance of indigenous heretics and vampires. Both monster hunters and witch hunters are likely to thrive in this territory. Steel from the region is exported as readily as mercenaries. The sheer scale of Maniac productivity can easily shift the momentum of a war in progress. By constantly sending out both arms and warriors, Transmania projects power in a way that has maintained internal peace for many consecutive generations. Despite this tranquility, carousing in this land often takes a turn for the rough. The extraordinary potency of Maniac beer often takes foreigners by surprise.
Vampire Politics From seats of power in Transmania, five lines of vampires control networks spanning the surface of the world and much of Labyrinth. Feared by civilized peoples and despised by most authorities, vampires rely heavily on proxies and secrecy to make comfortable lives for themselves. Keenly aware of how effective vampire hunters can be, each clan polices the creation of new vampires to avoid generating public support enough to fund a major purge.
 Ⓢ Drobny, The House of the Shining Coin -- Vampires of the Drobny Clan excel at conserving resources. Gentle and infrequent feedings enable them to thrive on a single healthy human or sample discretely from a large group of followers. Their conservative philosophy and long lifespans push them toward the top of the financial sector. Lords of this clan control great banks, while junior members are likely to covet and hoard wealth, possibly acting as loan sharks. If Drobny vampires ever partake in binges, they are sure to summon Cleaners before leaving the scene.
 ◊ Folta, The House of the Ruby Crown -- In theory, the organized vampire clans are of equal stature. With an emphasis on leadership and planning, the lords of the Folta Clan tend to take charge at any gathering. Their lives are devoted to cultivating an extensive network of human supporters. Rather than treat them as expendable resources, Folta vampires promote personal growth. They are generous in the provision of education, equipment, and encouragement. Words both graceful and guileful are the means by which the Folta Clan thrives.
 ⊰ Hlavac, The House of the Chattering Skull -- The Hlavac Clan has always been esteemed for contributions to the field of necromancy. These vampires will surround themselves with other sorts of undead, using them for both security and labor. They may also form alliances with warlocks, since unholy magic fascinates Hlavac leaders. Vampires of this clan often take residence in crypts or graveyards featuring the raw materials to mount a necromantic defense.
 ⊞ Kalista, The House of the Fleeting Wind -- Naturally averse to combat, Kalista vampires favor an itinerant lifestyle. They spend most of their time walking alone in the dark. Usually eager to visit with nearby vampires while passing through, members of the Kalista Clan happily circulate news among vampires of all sorts. Their clan's internal affiliations are maintained through gatherings that may take the form of travelling carnivals or theater troupes. Deranged Jester Mob events have been known to serve as feeding grounds for the vampires of Clan Kalista.
 ⩕ Rezac, The House of the Howling Wolf -- By undead standards, Rezac vampires are well-attuned to nature. Beastly menageries accumulate in their strongholds. A Rezac vampire relishes nothing quite like the sport of the hunt. Often their meals are murders that only register among the rural population as a mysterious disappearance or savage animal attack. Some of the Rezac Clan favor modest lairs in natural settings, while others fund proper castles through trade in exotic and dangerous beasts. Yet all are reluctant to venture near metropolitan areas.
 ⤩ Starek, The House of the Bloody Blade -- Starek vampires use their unnaturally long lifespans to become warriors of inhuman prowess. Typically surrounded by well-armed fledglings, most lords of the Starek Clan operate covert mercenary organizations. "Strength in numbers" is an important part of their philosophy. Work sustains the group both financially and by way of providing opportunities to feast on fresh kills.
Art & Culture Both the oldest and newest forms of Maniac art are characterized by extreme contrasts. Their ancient warrior sagas episodically alternate between tales of horrific gore and halcyon accounts of family life. These sagas join new stories in storm opera productions, a grand style of musical theater. From the orchestras accompanying those shows to lone musicians busking street corners, Maniac music often features shocking transitions from extremely soft and subtle sounds to swells of aggressive loudness. With a language known to sound particularly harsh, Maniac singers and actors often infuse their efforts with unusually percussive vocals.
 Foreigners may continue to imagine Maniacs as shirtless warriors bellowing warcries while wildly swinging greatswords. Yet the modern Maniac tends to dress conservatively even when informal. Outerwear often involves suits or dresses of heavy dark fabric, since few Maniacs seek to draw attention to themselves. Their engineers are famously prudent, buttressing large structures with redundant support. While the opulent palaces and churches are festooned with carvings and paintings, more functional buildings often feature dull brick walls. Unauthorized painting of these surfaces is such a common act, Maniacs have come to regard industrial graffiti as a welcome form of urban beautification.
Belief & Worship Maniac creation stories acknowledge that the world existed long before the first divine visitation. The God of the Heavenly Throne is thought to have battled his way to supremacy. Zeus holds supreme being status today, and his churches are the largest buildings inside the walls of any Maniac city. The God of Untamed War and the God of Tranquil Death pose constant threats, and driving many worshipers to beg for the mercy of going unnoticed in times of danger. While Zeus, Ares, and Hades are largely regarded as remote cosmic forces, the God of Rolling Thunder and the God of Endless Disguises are depicted in scripture as playing more active roles. Thor's followers actively intervene in heroic ways while Loki's holy orders prey upon the vulnerable.
 Standing Stones are common here, though the Old Faith takes a turn for the sinister. Human sacrifices are conducted often, and vile druids have no qualms about using innocent victims for this purpose. Though not all druids in Transmania are evil, the local forests and mountains reflect an unusual corruption pervading Old Faith practices here. Truscan licenses to practice witchcraft are extremely rare here, but so too are witch hunters. Maniac society makes little distinction between warlocks and wizards. Infernal magic and small tiefling communities somehow thrive in the blighted forests near the Scarlands.
Castles & Combat Many Maniac fortifications were raised over a thousand years ago. Today these walls and watchtowers are crumbling remnants. Truscan Legions here build no border walls, instead securing themselves within standalone forts. The great cities of old Transmania are packed full of aged buildings, though most of these are
POINTS OF INTEREST
 • Corvang Ravaged by waves of plague, frequent murders, and bureaucratic corruption; Corvang is a dramatic exemple of the failed metropolis. Many neighborhoods endure a pervasive stench due to inadequate sanitation. Most residents would rather turn a blind eye toward criminal activity than deal with the abusive constabulary. All are prey for vampiric aristocrats presiding over the remnants of ancient clans that once ruled this region. Though many refuse to go near this city, Corvang's roughly 600,000 residents proudly perpetuate old Maniac traditions. Outsiders often envy the city's elaborate gothic architecture, with spacious apartments for the poor and sturdy stone townhouses for families of means. The promise of a comfortable shelter is a powerful lure to refugees and fugitives -- ideal for nourishing bloodsuckers without further straining the decrepit social fabric of the community.
 • Domatia Though the most populous city in Transmania, this sprawling fortification is an island of foreign culture. Transmanian customs and noble titles seem foreign to most residents. Domatia is the seat of the Truscans' provincial government. Without counting inactive reserves, over 100,000 Legionaires reside in this high security metropolis. The city gives soldiers a comfortable place to train and raise their families. Yet these same soldiers rush forth like ants whenever a monster horde or rebel uprising creates the need for a military response. Trade here is brisk. Imperial procurement forms the backbone of a Domatian commercial sector that thrives under the watchful gaze of so many armed protectors. For those who tolerate a pervasive Truscan presence, Domatia seems like a safe haven at the heart of an otherwise treacherous land.
 • Chrovikov This ancient river city is now globally renowned for spectacular buildings, technological innovation, and an avante-garde art scene. Local tinkers are constantly maintaining and improving the city's many mechanical mills and manufactories. Some of these institutions are as beautiful as they are productive. Experienced sculptors are paid to incorporate ornate features into building exteriors, and a subculture of renegade artists is quick to paint whimsical cartoons on any unguarded wall that is not already vibrantly colorful. Three thriving universities make Chrovikov a modern center of learning, advancing the frontiers of technology while spreading knowledge of the arcane and other traditional subjects. Here a substantial population of gnome families pay rent or perform domestic service in exchange for quarters in the attics of human residences.
 • Stalinburg Downstream from mountains rich in ore and surrounded by abundant coalfields, the smelters of Stalinburg collectively produce more metal than some nations. Dozens of huge furnace exhaust towers blanket the city in perpetual smog. Yet the view is brightened by colorful spires topping the many religious and cultural centers funded through industry. Local metallurgists push at the boundaries of technology, constantly testing new alloys and attempting larger casting techniques. Sophisticated equipment enables small teams of engineers to produce enormous quantities of standardized components. Conventional smiths and armorers can quickly turn these creations into finished goods ready for sale. Welcome and respected by most Stalinburgians, dwarves are abundant among foundry workers, artisans, masons, and representatives of the mining concerns upstream.
 • The Godskull Infuriatingly resistant to divinition, there is no denying this mountain's south face is over two vertical miles of dolomite strongly resembling the visage of a human skull. From the artwork of a mad elementalist to the cranium of a long dead superdeity, peculiar theories abound about this mysterious stone formation. It confounds all magical study. Frequent quakes ensure any building on the mountain will stand no more than a year. Some cults consider the Godskull a place of immense power, and many priests regard it as an unholy abomination. Yet the most astute scholars concede that no explanation for this terrain anomaly is supported by convincing evidence.


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Demonym: Truscans  Language: Truscan
Homeland: Truscanny First City: Septopolis
Politics: dominant provinces of the Truscan Empire
Titles: emperor, governor, senator, magister
Endowments: strength and intelligence
Complexion: tan or olive
Hair: light to dark brown, hirsute bodies
Eyes: brown or blue
Influential Deities: Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Ares, Hades
Popular Instruments: drum, dulcimer, horn, lyre
Traditional Weapons: shortsword, rapier, javelin, heavy crossbow
Female Names: Agrippina, Aquilla, Aurealia, Claudia, Cornelia, Domitia, Fausta, Marcia, Olivia, Portia, Prima, Septima, Titia, Tulia
Male Names: Antonius, Augustus, Brutus, Decimus, Gaius, Icculus, Julius, Lucius, Mettius, Octavius, Publius, Sextus, Tiberius, Titus
Truscan Implementation of The Immaculate System coincided with the Sevenfold Unification -- the merging of great Truscan tribes into a single kingdom. Just as the gods were endorsing their own unity, the first Truscan monarch was chosen. From 1 G.C. to 1,520 G.C., this nation would never end a year with less territory than it held at the start. The kingdom gradually evolved into a republic governed by an elected Senate. Centuries later that institution was marginalized by a tyrant Emperor making edicts from the Palatine Throne. At its zenith, this Truscan Empire boasted rule over the entire world.
 It actually did control nearly all the great human cities on Mainland. Deploying technologies like ironworking, aqueducts, and public hygeine wherever they went, imperial Truscans often were the civilizing force they claimed to be. Their language remains widespread across Mainland, and more written languages employ the Truscan alphabet than any other. Today their regime has been cut down to size, but it remains a bastion of proud traditions and industrious innovators. The greatest fortunes in the world are held by old Truscan families, and modern Truscan steelworks operate on a scale not to be found anyplace else.
 These people are particularly forceful of mind as well as body. Yet their concept of greatness involves service on behalf of society rather than pursuit of individual gains. Their first heroes established homelands for wandering tribes. Modern Truscan folklore venerates both military and political leaders who made great sacrifices for the common good. Much of their art and architecture is borrowed from the Thracians. Yet it was Truscan engineers who paved the way for metropolitan centers by developing modern plumbing and sewage infrastructure. Great population density is unsustainable without addressing needs related to water and sanitation. No longer content with prior glories, a Truscan cultural rebirth now drives these people to embrace modern things ranging from rapiers to pipe organs. They use the phrase "Renaissance Man" in reference to a person both expert in traditional lore and studied in the modern sciences.
Faith The modern religion of the Truscan people is an adaptation of teachings and practices common in Thrace during the Age of Heroes. Popular folklore teaches that the only true gods in the cosmos are the Twelve Olympians. Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Ares, and Hades are thought to be the only survivors of a world where demons, devils, gargantua, and titans all pose threats to otherwise immortal beings. Yet most holy parables remain focused on the power gods have over mortals or the squabbles that sometimes place the gods at odds with one another. Priests of Zeus often assert themselves as superiors to other clergy, and common folk the world over may turn to them when unsatisfied with indigenous forms of worship. Though the state does not condemn the Old Faith, even rural Truscans tend to favor modern religious practices over godless traditions.
Art Ancient Truscans largely borrowed their ideas of art from other civilizations. Recently that flow has been reversed with their innovation of opera -- dramatic plays told through long emotionally charged songs backed by entire orchestras of musicians. Even as this new art form proliferates, experts widely agree that Truscan opera is superior. The same is true of keyboard instruments. There is growing interest in the polychord -- a tower of dulcimers built into a cabinet with keys rigged to individually work plectrums situated over each string. The visual arts are less progressive in this land. Modern Truscan sculpture and painting not concerned with religious themes is typically shaped by nostalgia for the era when this ethnic group commanded the world's only superpower. Though mosaic art is hardly unique to this culture, it is incredibly abundant in the Truscan homeland. Great cities there have been continuously recycling tile and porcelain across many centuries.
Military There was a time when it looked like Truscan Legions might conquer the entire world. Their small swords and huge shields facilitated extraordinary large unit tactics. Some of the most respected books on strategy were penned by ancient Truscan generals. However, modern Truscanny has embraced new technology. Guard towers here today feature snipers with spyglasses fitted right atop their massive crossbows. Armored cavalry are the mainstay of the modern Truscan armed forces. Meanwhile, free men and women enjoying urban life in Truscanny may wear a rapier to stay fashionable even if they do not anticipate any need to use it. The Legions remain a massive organization with a presence felt virtually everywhere in the Empire. Escalating disorder will produce escalating responses up to and including gold dragons allied with the Emperor himself. Yet small groups of bandits sometimes manage to operate by living as migrants or bribing corrupt officials.
 ♪ Arts & Culture
 ✠ Belief & Worship
 † Castles & Combat
 § Decrees & Customs
 Ⓢ Economy & Trade
 ⨳ Foes & Perils

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Demonym: Wabahari Language: Wabahar
Homeland: Wabahar  First City: Kahyaddah
Politics: vast desert province of the Serpian Empire
Titles: Shah, malik, vizier, sheikh
Endowments: wisdom and constitution
Complexion: tan
Hair: black or brown
Eyes: brown or blue
Influential Deities: Ra, Osiris, Set, Ares, Hades
Popular Instruments: drum, horn, pan flute, shawm
Traditional Weapons: whip, scmitar, javelin, lance
Female Names: Barika, Daliyah, Dimah, Farah, Inaya, Jamilah, Nuzhah, Rana, Sabah, Shahirah, Suhailah, Tharwah, Wadha, Zahirah
Male Names: Azzam, Dirar, Faruq, Jamal, Khalil, Latif, Mahdi, Nasir, Nazim, Rashad, Sayyid, Sharif, Talal, Tariq, Waleed, Zafir
Wabahar The world abounds with troubling news, but Wabahar has lately become a particular wellspring of the stuff. This unforgiving land has long been known for religious extremism. With Serpian agricultural surpluses no longer flowing to Truscanny, the hungry cities of Wabahar bloomed into gleaming metropolitan centers. Many of these young cities maintain excellent libraries, modern universities, and displays of decadence that were literally unheard of back when this region was populated by nomadic herders. Yet growing urban poverty and a population once again pushing the limits of food supply have turned this region into a hotbed of subversive activity.
 Wabahari people are typically astute and tough, never slow to make a show of either attribute. Because shelter and basic supplies are often a matter of life and death for desert travellers, hospitality customs of the region seem extreme to outsiders. This harsh environment kills many and scars more, as does a justice system heavily influenced by Wabahari tribal law. Patriarchs and prayer leaders dominate this stern, practical culture. Polygamy is common, but polyandry is forbidden. Same sex relationships often lead to brutal executions; though drunks, heretics, and witches can expect the same fate.
 Meanwhile the desert is home to myriad secret bases where dark holy orders and other secret societies build their power. The fittest and most desperate city dwellers are lured into these groups, some rising to become master assassins or conduits for deadly maledictions. With the Shah's family openly venerating Set, this dryest part of the world nonetheless resembles a toxic cauldron. What brews within seems greater trouble than any single region of the world could contain indefinitely. Yet ascendant wickedness also serves as a beacon to heroes intent on defending innocents against insidious forces.
Faith A common theme among prophets the world over involves dire warnings about religious extremists from Wabahar. The Shah openly worships Set, and unapologetically evil figures are rising into positions of power all over the land. Institutionally, alliances with holy orders devoted to Ares and Hades create a huge coalition of malevolent temples operating openly in large cities. Local traditions venerate Ra as the source of all good things while Osiris works to bring back what has been lost. Together they consistently defeat evil, though not without struggle. A competing narrative here suggests that the triumvirate of divine villains are actually victims -- misunderstood and oppressed by Ra and Osiris. Firebrand preachers whip crowds into a frenzies of destruction with speeches about the need to tear down old bastions of power so that a new and more righteous order can spring up in its place. Even priests devoted to Ra and Osiris have become less tolerant as their faiths slip into minority status. Yet the conflict may not always be contained here, with clergy of this foul triumvirate call for the destruction of all authorities that deny the supremacy of Set.
Culture Most Wabahari condemn any music that is not explicitly religious in nature. They likewise show little tolerance for dancing, though it is known that the palaces of the wealthy are venues for the most indulgent displays of music and dance. Wabahari taste in literature is more diverse, and raconteurs are often well-respected, especially if they practice an interpretive recitation style known as bokowati. Etiquette holds that a traveller unable to answer hospitality with a favorable trade should entertain hosts with an elaborate tale. Licentious gossip, foreign myths, and tales of outright rebellion are all fair subjects whenever framed in a fictional context. Wabahari artisans are also notable for artistic flair. Ordinary practical items often bear stylish embellishment. Appearing wealthy is important to the people of the desert, though modern city dwellers may take on contrary values by wearing dull black clothes and living in simple square homes.
Fighting Wabahari cavalry tends toward lighter, faster steeds with riders who rarely opt for heavy armor. Skirmishing tactics are favored, often because these people are accustomed to waging asymmetric warfare against large forces unfamiliar with the desert. Outside the large cities, all adults are expected to carry and know how to use a scimitar. Dervishes are practitioners of a distinctive two-bladed combat style that involves constant spinning and slashing. Perhaps the strongest Wabahari weapon of all is discretion. In the face of great risk, the warriors of Wabahar will favor withdrawal over a brutal clash. Nomadic tribes are easily relocated, and huge Serpian garrisons are in place to fortify urban centers here.
 While these Imperial troops remain the dominant force in the region, the Shah has aggressively expanded several military initiatives. The Defenders of the Waters were once a few elite teams dispatched to protect oases from bandits and rebels. Now they are a pervasive institution,

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Demonym: Xe-shans Language: Xe-shanese
Homeland: Xe-shan  First City: Shambala
Politics: loyal province of the Oriental Empire
Titles: Maharana, rana, mayor, warden
Endowments: strength and charisma
Complexion: fair to tan
Hair: black or silver, total baldness is common
Eyes: brown or blue with epicanthic folds
Influential Deities: Shang-Ti, Ching Sung-Tzu, Chung Kuel, Hel, Thor
Popular Instruments: drum, horn, pan flute, shawm
Traditional Weapons: longsword, spear, lance, longbow
Female Names: Amala, Chewa, Dichen, Dohna, Indira, Jangmu, Kamala, Kitsi, Lasya, Michewa, Opame, Shenden, Tashi, Yanchen
Male Names: Cetan, Chodrak, Denpo, Goba, Jetsan, Kalsang, Kundun, Lobsang, Ngawang, Senge, Skamar, Thekchen, Wangchuk, Yonten
Xe-shan Cradled on a vast Oriental plateau rimmed with jagged peaks and yeti lairs, the sun-kissed vales of the Xe-shan are an unlikely paradise. A great many legendary warriors and magi retired to this land during the Age of Heroes. At that time, Xe-shan was a sort of magical marketplace where powerful enchantments and items were available to any with sufficient coin. That element of the economy is largely gone, but the place remains a haven for those lucky enough to be born there or brave enough to make the journey. Assorted orders of monks and war priests keep the interior relatively safe for peaceful civilians.
 The comingling of countless ancient legendary bloodlines makes the people of Xe-shan mighty beings, beautiful to behold. Even their streetsweepers and scullery maids tend to have heroic ancestry and a strong sense of adventure. Some of the surrounding peaks are occupied by powerful hermits intent on the greatest level of solitude they can achieve without departing this plane entirely. Many of the oldest mortals in the world inhabit those mountaintops or live among an extraordinary community of indigenous archmagi. These elders placate Celedinese authorities with ample tribute while supporting a high standard of living among the commonfolk of Xe-shan.
 A place that ought to be cold and nearly barren is instead sunny and lush. All manner of crops thrive without regard for compatibility with the soil and climate. Gold and gems flow freely in the local economy, fed by implausibly productive mines. Few locals favor ostentatious displays of traditional wealth, though elaborate craftsmanship is a Xe-shanese norm. Ornate attire, architectural embelishments, engraved tools -- it is remarkable wherever these things are absent in a land some know as the Heavenly Promenade. Apart from bitter cold near the peaks and outbreaks of plague whenever a city is on the brink of outgrowing its walls, little misery is known in this secluded province.
Faith Xe-shanese culture is marked by widespread awareness of the greater cosmos. Even common folk tend to be downright sagacious about the existence of other worlds and other planes of existence. Shang-Ti's clerics teach lessons covering the entire Fivesquare Pantheon here so as to better glorify its mastermind. Serene order is prized by all. Ching Sung-Tzu serves this agenda by facilitating abundance and eliminating hunger. Chung Kuel keeps the peace by hearing appeals and bending fate toward justice. Thor is credited as the ultimate hero, an inspiration to the many legendary immigrants this land has welcomed. Hel directs icy winds across the mountain glaciers, and she is blamed for the unpredictable yet deadly blizzards that sometimes threaten populated areas. Mythic folklore is rarely taken seriously by adults, with religious practice instead involving meditation and discussion about how to best serve the gods and how to make the most of their blessings. Huge monastaries in Xe-shan house legendary relics. Also, some of the most powerful druids ever to have lived now reside as hermits atop remote peaks. Yet ordinary folk rarely feel drawn to the Old Faith here, and Standing Stones are rare.
Culture All sounds tend to echo in this lofty realm, and Xe-shanese music resonates with strains of ancient melodies. Gigantic horns serve as both signalling devices and accompaniment to the surreal incantations of local monks. Storytelling is an even more popular sort of entertainment, either in the form of shadow puppet theater or ataruku -- a distinctively violent form of ballet interspersed with spoken dialogue. These shows almost always retell classic tales of ancient heroes defeating villains or monsters of legendary might. While their music and dramas may be weighty, Xe-shanese architecture and personal adornments favor the delicate. Clothes are often ornately embroidered, and any surfaces suitable for engraving tend to feature elaborate geometric patterns. Some Xe-shanese even make art from colored sand, carefully creating illustrations that are reduced to memories by the next strong wind.
Military Celedinese authorities see to it that there garrisons in Xe-shan are never understaffed. The province has no history of rebellion, but Imperial authorities can only speculate what Xe-shanese archmagi might unleash if sufficiently provoked. Law-abiding visitors who keep clear of the mountains should face little peril in this realm. Guards and militant monks collectively keep bandits and monsters away from civilized communities. The Oriental Empire presently imposes no bans on weapons in this province. Jousting and competitive archery remain popular activities. From time to time, a Xe-Shanese warlord in a remote stronghold manages to raise a personal army that threatens nearby cities. These outbreaks of organized violence are quickly put down by Imperial forces, if only to justify all the Celedinese soldiers and tax collectors stationed in Xe-shan.

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Language: Zintu Demonym: Zintus
Homeland: Zintu First City: Shaba Bhozi
Politics: loyal provinces of the Serpian Empire
Titles: shah, nomarch, vizier, obirempon
Endowments: strength and dexterity
Complexion: tan to dark brown
Hair: brown or black
Eyes: brown or blue
Influential Deities: Ra, Geb, Set, Ching Sung-Tzu, Ma Yuan
Popular Instruments: drum, horn, lute, pan flute
Traditional Weapons: net, spear, pike, blowgun
Female Names: Busiswe, Gugu, Jabulile, Kethiwe, Mbali, Nobuhle, Nothembi, Ntombi, Simangele, Sizani, Thabisa, Thandiwe, Zama, Zinhle
Male Names: Ayanda, Bongani, Dingani, Kwanele, Lwazi, Manelesi, Mlungisi, Sakhile, Sifiso, Sizwe, Themba, Vusumuzi, Xolani, Zonke
Zintu Today this vast peninsula is seen as a land of luxury, coastal cities flanked by scenic beaches. Abundant gems, ivory, and spices flow from the interior. Yet there are no tourist destinations far from the ocean. Treacherous jungles harbor precious resources, along with all manner of giant beasts. Strongholds in the Zintu interior tend to be temporary establishments. Those brave enough to work nearby and lucky enough to survive the ordeal may harvest a fortune suitable for export. The backbone of the modern Zintu economy is this traffic in exotic commodities.
 Yet the Age of Heroes saw this land home to extensive human trafficking. Before adopting technologies like metalworking and papermaking, inhabitants of this jungle peninsula were dominated by foreign opportunists. Slavers from distant parts of Mainland financed tribal warfare while claiming the conquered as prizes. Zintus living far from their homeland often occupy unfavorable social positions. Originally only one of many tribes on the peninsula, the Zintu nation assimilated all rivals through a series of bloody conquests concluding in 392 A.H. This regime drove off foreign slavers. Unity prevails here today, but coastal markets still offer orphans and criminals for sale into bondage.
 The indigenous people tend to be remarkably strong and precise. Their culture parallels the Truscans by valuing brawn in the context of teamwork rather than individual pursuit of glory. Traditional or modern, Zintu armies are always formidable and often well-equipped to deal with large creatures.
 Readiness to cope with monstrosities must have been an early survival strategy, since the interior of their homeland was the cradle of Ma Yuan, among other gargantuan terrors. Lost tribes can be found lurking in the wilderness, preserving traditions older than any foreign influence, often working to drive outsiders away. Only the truly intrepid dare facilitate the flow of ivory, gold, and gems from this hazardous land. New strongholds frequently spring up in the Zintu interior, but most are reclaimed by jungle within a few decades of construction. Only a small part of the indigenous population now lives outside the security of large cities along the coasts.
Arts & Culture Ancient Zintu music was primitive and tribal, lacking structure beyond a rhytmic code used to relay messages. Today most Zintu musicians are literate and well-trained in their instruments of choice, but an uninhibited style drives the performance of bold solos incorporating various portmento techniques. Borrowing a little from religious music and typically featuring lyrics about personal hardship, blue voodoo is a musical style made famous by modern Zintu performers. Today this style enjoys global popularity, with oppressed groups particularly drawn to its distinctive blend of lamentation and celebration.

Belief & Worship The most ancient Zintu folklore is an oral tradition that anthropomorphisizes various natural forces. When modern religious practice advanced into the area, clergy adopted these popular tales into the current mythos. The stories developed more detail, and new moral lessons have been subtly integrated into traditional narratives. Today these Heavenly Processions serve as the backbone of Zintu religious teachings. Local clergy may venerate one deity above all others, but they do so by emphasizing a favorite in the context of preaching about the holiness of all five contemporary Zintu deities.
 Each sacred narrative follows a similar structure. First, the God of the Rising Sun reveals the venue for the story while laboring to bring light to every corner of the place. Then the God of Darkest Night pushes back from the shadows, relentlessly secretive in his actions. The God of the Solid Earth holds firm, patiently enduring while conflict escalates and subsides. Then the God of Falling Rain arrives to bring comfort and encourage growth. As lush jungles take shape in the end, the God of Bloody Murder assumes his place atop a hierarchy of terrifying predators.
 Though only a few outcast cults and renegade warlords openly worship Set, Ma Yuan enjoys much support because his senior priests claim the power to placate or misdirect gargantuan beasts. Human sacrifices are sometimes performed in public -- widely tolerated as the price that must be paid to prevent devastating monster attacks. Witches and warlocks are not aggressively hunted here, but they may become scapegoats in the wake of local tragedies. Standing Stones can be found in throughout the Zintu interior. However, the Old Faith sees little support beyond from humble tribes quietly preserving an archaic way of life.
Arts Art and literature from their homeland is often bleak, dramatizing the attacks of terrible monsters or depicting harsh struggle against an unforgiving jungle. Zintu have a reputation as natural dancers, and many traditional forms of Zintu dance live on today either as artistic exhibitions or popular social activities. Several styles of wooden totems and masks are ubiquitous in Zintu, yet pieces of this common folk art may be highly valued in distant lands.
 Zintu prowess in dance is also known throughout the world. Ancient practices have given rise to urban spectacles involving thousands of costumed dancers dramatically synchronized. Yet individual Zintu dancers may also be blessed with a distinctive sort of wild and athletic grace. They may be welcome additions to any sort of stage act or travelling show.  Martial Arts Medicine men have an important role to play in combat, as they furnish the powerful poisons delivered by way of Zintu blowguns. Young warriors often practice ambush attacks from concealed positions, techniques useful in both hunting and warfare. Other forms of armed combat still emphasize TTTTT
Military Zintu often regard human combatants as less threatening than the beastly foes that prowl the interior of their homeland. Nets and poison darts may be favored for quick subdual. Yet their weapon of choice is typically a long wooden shaft tipped with jagged blades. The longest of these is meant to keep large monsters at bay while the shorter versions are balanced throwing purposes. Even modern Zintu soldiers who sport shields and armor still tend to favor sidearms that are a variation on the pointy stick. Their training tends to emphasize teamwork, including sophisticated tactics involving misdirection and traps. Valuing the unit above the individual, Zintu warriors rarely hesitate when called upon to sacrifice themselves to save others.
 • Shaba Bhozi Originally a slaver port known as Shackleton, every structure in this city was reduced to rubble and ash during an indigenous uprising that started in 435 A.H. Despite its ruin, the site became a prize in subsequent warring among Zintu tribal factions. For many generations, Shaba Bhozi was hallowed ground where foreigners were unwelcome. In 94 G.C., the first stones were placed on a network of walls and fortresses as mighty as any raised by human hands. Today this bastion of security is also a mercantile hub where traders from all realms are welcome. Secure from the monstrosities of the interior, the people of Shaba Bhozi now bask in the wealth of so many precious commodities flowing out through the crowded bay.
 • Obonto

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Languages


MAJOR HUMAN LANGUAGES
LanguageMutual IntelligibilitySpecialty Uses
AlbionishCarmation & Sylvanianbanking/finance, plays, poetry
CarmatianAlbionish & Sylvaniandistilling, metallurgy, tinkering
CeledineseElatolion & Ontoloneseaccounting, administration
DarrestygianLachlandic & Norishmodern arcana
ElatolianCeledinese & Ontoloneseequestrian training, herding
FitchJoryani & Maniacmodern sciences, 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 & Joryanimodern sciences, opera, tinkering
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 & Serpianastronomy, desert exploration
Xe-shanesenoneespionage, martial arts
ZintuKohaddic & Melangetropical exploration, monster hunting
 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 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. Yet that uniformity would give way to chaos as Imperium Arcanum bastions fell. Various peoples split into small groups and developed their own ways of communicating. Even the elves' own speech diverged into three distinct languages.
 There are hundreds of human languages in use today. Yet 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 each of profoundly unique origin. 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.

LANGUAGE GROUPS
⪤ 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. These modern 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. Though the three languages vary enormously in written style, they all rely on the same alphabet of delicate script 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.
⪤ 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 idioms.
NOTABLE NON-HUMAN LANGUAGES
LanguageMutual IntelligibilitySpoken By
Abyssalnonecambions, cultists, demons
BugbearGoblin & Hobgoblinbugbears, mercenaries, warlords
Celestialnonedivine emissaries, planar explorers
CyclopeanDwarven & Giantcyclopes, ancient titans
Deep Speechnonedeep Labyrinth dwellers, cultists
Draconicnonedragonborn, kobolds, dragons
DrowGreenfey & High Elvendark elves, Labyrinth dwellers
DwarvenCyclopean & Giantdwarves, metallurgists, miners
GiantCyclopean & Dwarvenfirbolgs, goliaths, giants
Gnomishnonegnomes, spies, tinkers
GoblinBugbear & Hobgoblingoblins, mercenaries, warlords
GreenfeyDrow & High Elvenfirbolgs, wood elves, scouts
Halflingnonehalflings
High ElvenDrow & Greenfeyhigh elves, historians
HobgoblinBugbear & Goblinhobgoblins, mercenaries, warlords
Infernalnonetieflings, cultists, devils
MerfolkSahuagin & Tritonmerfolk, mariners
OgrishOrcish & Trollogres, barbarians, marauders
OrcishOgrish & Trollorcs, barbarians, warlords
Primordialnoneconjurers, elemental creatures
SahuaginMerfolk & Tritonsahuagin, underwater explorers
Sauriannonelizardfolk, spies
SylvanTuathishdruids, forest dwellers
TritonMerfolk & Sahuagintritons, sea floor dwellers
TrollOgrish & Orcishtrolls, brigands
Typhoniannonetyphonians
⪤ 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 seperate ways. Learned individuals put together written versions of each racial langauge. Yet 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) Ancient 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 Ancient Truscan. Anyone who can read Ancient 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.
⪤ Jade Tongues (Celedinese, Elatolian, Ontolonese) Writing and speech standardized under the Elatolian Hegemony across much of the Orient. 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 alphabet.
⪤ 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) There is legitimate debate as to whether the first dwarven engravings meant to instruct smelting and forging operations are older than the first elven bloodskins recording the magical musings of dragons. Yet scholars agree the Dwarven language has varied little through the ages. Ironically it also serves as the basis for the tongue of giants. Modern giants utilize an especially gutteral tongue enabling them to converse across substantial distances. Also adopted by titans active early in the Age of Heroes, their dwarven offshoot would be a dead language if not for continued use by cyclopes.
⪤ Norlandic Tongues (Darrestygian, Norish, Lachlandic) The Wotanian language was proudly spoken by scholars and warriors alike. Surviving texts suggest 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.
⪤ Oceanic (Merfolk, Sahuagin, Triton) United by their aquatic habitats, sea-dwelling races learn combinations of chirps and clicks relay 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. Oceanic script is smooth and flowing despite being engraved 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."
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 Albionish is also 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 must be able to speak and write Celedinese. It is also the favored language of scholars and poets across the Orient. The Inscrutible Observers may not speak much, but their presence is global, and almost all of them are fluent in Celedinese.
Gallorian is the preferred tongue of diplomats and aristocrats from Mainland. Associated with peace and prosperity, it is also a tongue rich with expressions pertaining to food, fashion, and stagecraft. Many Gallorian idioms have become terms of art in other languages. 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 across its vast territory. While Iskreshi is now a native tongue across only a few 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. It is also the prevailing trade language of northwest Mainland. Norish raiders have spread their native tongue down the west coast, where some modern cloisters and colleges have embraced it. The Church of Thor 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 astronomy 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 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 sages write in an archaic form of Truscan, with translation into other languages reserved for the most popular works. The Church of Zeus 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 southwestern 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.

ORPHAN LANGUAGES
∉ 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. Cambion are born with an innate knowledge of this tongue, clearly articulated infantile speech one among many of their unnerving traits. Cambion political influence typically prevents legal bans, but authoritarian leaders sometimes 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 worshipers. 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 of existence. Modern minds residing below the Drow Imperium 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. Over five thousand molts have passed, and many ancient invocations are now only verbs. Utterances often trail off into a long growl or hiss that emphasizes a speaker's tone. The words themselves reveal much about the nature of magic. Many 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 secrets, 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 shouting at far off 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, causing few espionage organizations to embrace 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 proudly 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. Though simple in grammar and vocabulary, 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 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 lengthy 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 lifted wholesale from Draconic. This tongue sees some popularity with scouts and spies, as 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 languages 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 music, it supports incredible detail when discussing plants, animals, terrain, climate, weather, and the elements. Druidic also features a lexicon of tiny natural disturbances, such as distinctively braided twigs or piles of little stones, used to record simple messages. Like the most subtle urban graffiti, these markings guide persons in the know to remarkable vistas, prime foraging spots, and ancient monuments. They may also warn of 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 one thing while appearing to make innocuous chitchat. This systematic approach to doublespeak enables 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 participate in the unhidden layer of dialog. Individuals schooled in these hidden meanings are also quick to pick up on whatever markings and other signs local criminals use to designate meeting places, known threats, useful resources, etc. Where criminal organizations preside over clearly defined territories, such markings will also indicate the limits of control. Savvy people can spot and interpret these signs that are otherwise unobtrusive and meaningless.
∉ 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 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 comedically shaped. 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 foundational academic works.
∉ 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 a few generations before Celedinese forces annexed the islands into their empire. Efforts to incorporate new 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 comfortably integrated into the current Imperial regime.
∉ Tuathish/Sylvan Though this is the language of everyday conversation for the people of Danu, Tuathish is also the tongue of fey creatures from many planes of existence. Centaurs, nymphs, pixies, satyrs, 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 hunger for translators and operatives with this knowledge. Modern security services either make a point to train at least a few investigators 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 it 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 masterworks in Xe-shanese because the absence of other cultural influences results avoids lexical ambiguities.

↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡

Trade

Assets & Estates

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Bans & Smuggling  ⧫ 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 local 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, the day after an indulgence, the effect ceases. Continuous dosing shortens the duration of the effect. 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 sanctioned 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 or 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 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. Parents and teachers tell scary stories of tragedies attributed to chromestools, but these 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 near an open flame can prove deadly. This trade is rigorously taxed, restricted, and licensed. Public backlash is common against any government that does not protect its citizens from public detonations of large fizzwater supplies.
 ⧫ 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 revellers 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. The primary 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 often renders a person fully manic.
 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 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. Yet 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 and remedy nausea. As its name suggests, the herbal material is normally smoked for immediate effect. Yet it can also be potent as a food additive. Pipeweed is more popular in some cultures and others, but authorities rarely prohibit the stuff.
 Conflict still sometimes 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 relatively common flowering plant. Basic alchemical processes turn the sap of the plant 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 are a common fate for those who cannot be weened off the substance. This is rare mostly because poppymilk is particularly expensive. 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. The simple hot beverage is a safe alternative to alcohol in places where the water supply is questionable. Varieties excede the scope of any catalog, in part because various 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. In some parts of the Orient, 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 mildly toxic leaf can provide an effect that 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 such a mild effect on the mind, regular tobacco smokers can become 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 many private establishments will not allow tobacco smoking indoors.
 ⧫ Witchroot can be 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 forcibly administered 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 sees popular use as an aphrodisiac. 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. Concern about witchroot as a social problem is often dismissed as excessively austere moralizing. Yet there are many young people who plan their entire lives around weekly gatherings where large groups of people take witchroot, make loud music, and frantically writhe together in the shadows.

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Coins & Treasure
Personal Wealth During the Age of Heroes most people did not inhabit a thriving society where peasant farmers lived with dignity and comfort. The fortunes of ordinary folk rose and fell with regimes that were rarely either enduring or egalitarian. Constant struggle made broad prosperity elusive. Then the Great Consolidation set the stage for long periods of stable economic growth. Aqueducts and sewers made vast cities possible. 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, and a journeyman artisan may profit as much from a single day's labor.
 Yet money is far from the only measure of wealth. Synod Jewelers 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. Livestock, working animals, and slaves are also indicators of means in many cultures. These practical assets are may be traded away when the need is urgent. Adventuring companies have been known to offers shares of treasure for logistical or political support. Basic financial awareness is widespread, and any free adult is likely to regard a single gold piece as an insignificant bribe.
 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 dragons 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 commerce 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 emulated. 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. Emerging local governments endeavored to standardize and stamp currency, promoting trust among merchants and customers. Yet only a few generations passed between this modern idea of money and the desire for gold beyond what long-dead dragons collected for themselves.
Minting Practices Ancient 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 solidus of Serpia bears a scintillating gold fringe in numismatic tribute to the Sun. In contrast, The Oriental ryo is a dull coin meant to draw minimal attention while conveying the value of feeding one person for one month. 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.
UNITS OF ACCOUNT
NorishSylvanianSerpianTruscanOriental
Copperørepennynummus assariusfen
Silversceatshillingasprondenariusjiaō
Electrummarkalbusfollisvictoriatus taiji
Goldkronor sovereignpyronaureusyuan
Platinumskjöldducatsoliduslaureateryo
 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 Jewelers 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 priests with a vested interest in 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.
 Convenience and reliability make the money supplies of today optimal for growing small businesses. Individual ships and caravans may see shares bought and sold by speculative investors. Some firms may even offer stakes in global commercial enterprises. Most major cities feature some system of financing large projects through the lending of money for interest. The most noble creditors offer reasonable rates and fair terms, but exploitation and coercion of debtors are serious problems in every great city. Such abuses are especially severe in lands where authorities do not agressively regulate or even fully comprehend the most elaborate investing practices.

COINS OF THE REALMS
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. Even today, the distinctive $ symbol marks 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 this prominent image 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, assarii 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. 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.
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. It promoted the idea that a truly fine pelt was worth more than one electrum piece, and it enabled many of these forest dwellers to avoid taxation. 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, 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.
drachma (pl. drachmae, value 1 sp) Some of the first efforts to standardize currency involve silver coins in early Thrace. Many city-states maintained stable regimes over multiple centuries. Some Thracian 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. Simple, round, and platinum; their tasteful heraldic imprints feel smooth to the touch. Even the most free-spirited of Sylvanians often shows respect for area aristocrats in the hope a ducat might be discretely 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 Oriental shopkeepers 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, so as to minimally detract from the the coin's florid imagery.
groat (pl. groats, value 4 cp) Found all over Albion and Carmatia, these undersized silver coins are also known as fourpence. Custom values them 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.
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. Perfect 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 gold.
jiaō (pl. jiaō, value 1 sp) These coins are identical to the yuan in every way save for silver composition and different markings. 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. New rulers in the region are often eager to melt down old 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 accomodate 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 when seeking a personal favor from a common citizen. 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. When local leaders began exploiting abundant electrum deposits, they were quick to produce currency for exchange with outsiders. These are always engraved with the image of a torch, hearth, bonfire, or pyre. Though normally enough for a hot meal and 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.
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 comparatively cheap coins. Everyone in Greater Norland today knows that a dirty gold nugget is more precious than a pile of shiny copper bits. To reinforce this lesson, children in the region are encouraged to 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 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. Today it is rare that a penny is mistaken 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 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 of schillings, sceats, asprons, denarii, drachmae, or jiaō. They originated with Albionian bankers eager to simplify the process of accepting silver deposits. Now the pound is a widely accepted denomination among the affluent. The little coins are more discrete than typical platinum pieces, and their use is particularly common wherever great cities authorize local financial institutions to issue their own coinage.
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. Yet the same coin that enticed invaders long ago has more recently bankrolled the independence of the modern Serpian Empire. These coins normally present the face of a ruler or historical figure with a little biographical detail on the reverse.
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.
sceat (pl. sceattas, value 1 sp) Modern coins that retain the small diameter and substantial thickness of their precursors, the sceat is now the basis of everyday market commerce across Greater Norland. 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.
sestertius (pl. sestertii, value 2½ cp) These tiny pieces of Truscan silver are valued at a rate of four to one denarius. Affluent urbane folk often use sestertii to avoid handling the lowest actual denomation. 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.
shilling (pl. shillings, value 1 sp) These simple coins are widely produced by vassals and generals 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. In less prosperous times, this coin represented the value of employing one laborer for one day of hard work. The shilling may not buy what it once did, but it is still the currency of choice for everyday commerce throughout southwestern Mainland. The term has developed a second meaning to describe performing work for low wages despite demanding and unpleasant job requirements.
skjöld (pl. skjölde, value 1 pp) Literally 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 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 searching the possessions of Norish raiders.
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. 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 coins is a work of art dedicated to glorifying the Sun itself. This eyecatching coin helped the Serpian Empire finance its successful secession.
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 the governments and currencies serving this region. 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 lesser 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 large shipments of stuivers to serve as 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.
taiji (pl. taiji, 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 taiji are plainly different in color, though their principle adornment tends to be identical glyphs or geometric patterns. Mesmers the world over favor this coin 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 taiji.
victoriatus (pl. victoriati, value 1 ep) Great triumphs in the Truscan Empire are often commemorated with a batch of of these coins. New designs are unveiled by surprise, with soldiers or other citizens involved in a great achievement unexpectedly collecting quintuple their normal pay. 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 from 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 inspire turncoats. 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 with these particular coins. 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.

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Debts & Obligations

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Exports & Imports

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Finances & Banking

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Gear & Technology

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Conflict

Heroes & Villains The Age of Heroes draws its name from the countless dramatic triumphs that enabled humanity to recover, proliferate, and thrive after so many generations of draconic or fey oppression. Though dragons were a rare threat, monsters were generally all too common. New communities could not be established until brave adventurers rid a locale of indigenous menaces. Settled areas constantly faced danger from interlopers as well as possible ruin at the hands of migrating swarms or hordes. Many generations of heroes carved out precursors to modern homelands. Through the tribulations of many battles, these heroes grew great in both prowess and fame.
 Yet the struggle was far from over after establishing a community. Rival leaders from within might compete for control. Outside groups might attack or exploit locals. Yet the difference between hero and villain is often a matter of perspective. A usurper or conquerer could also be a liberator. Populations seeking control of the same resources may each see their own leaders as heroic, perhaps for strikingly similar reasons. The Age of Heroes saw hundreds of deities inspire their own religions. Competing evangelists surpassed warlords and monarchs in terms of inciting violence. Outside great nations like Wotania, Silvania, and the Elatolian Hegemony; most people lived in constant fear of raids or invasions.
 Mighty heroes could maintain peace and prosperity around their homes. Yet all too often these increasingly powerful figures set out to annex neighboring communities or gain exclusive control over shared resources. As gifted individuals fell in battle, new heroes rose up to support the cause. Technological and social progress slowed even while holy wars became more intense and numerous. Gods and men alike squandered so much in struggles against one another. Visionaries ordained a new order with fewer spiritual alternatives, less destructive conflict, and reduced social instability. This would set the stage for peace and prosperity, though at the cost of grand adventures.
 The modern era is actually home to more adventurers than any other part of history. However, it is also home to the largest human population in history. Over two centuries have psssed since diviners at the Council of Theopolis confirmed more than one billion people live on the world's surface. Almost all of these families support themselves peacefully by means of agriculture, industry, or commerce. Though substantial fractions of some societies have seen military service, not all soldiers are combat veterans.
 Barbarians, bards, clerics, druids, fighters, monks, paladins, rangers, rogues, sorcerers, warlocks, wizards. ↟ Contents ↟  ↡ Index ↡


Illnesses & Plagues

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Jails & Prisons

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Killers & Slavers 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. Not all warriors work with an instructor. Surviving enough deadly struggles will reveal experience to be a fine mentor. Even unschooled combatants eventually develop a personal style.
Military Education Many sovereign nations feature institutions dedicated to training military officers. Even some mercenary companies maintain a war college to determine and advocate the superior tactics. In the best cases, these academies and colleges resemble their Imperial counterparts, promoting high standards of conduct and competence.
 Lack of combat veterans and insufficient funding may seriously degrade a nation's officer corps in times of peace. Academies may be reduced to social clubs for retirees. War colleges may embrace obsolete old lore or unproven new ideas. As peace fall apart, modest establishments struggle to address the needs of major recruiting or conscription drives. It is rare that a small nation systematically maintains the levels of professionalism and coordination associated with Imperial training.
 Lore accumulated over thousands of years details countless fighting techniques, martial arts styles, 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 tactics, 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.
† Aggressive Great warriors strike with unreserved fury. Inexperienced murderers are sometimes identified as such by small cuts inflicted while hesitating to attack properly. Weak attacks are easily turned aside by armor or a defensive maneuver. Also, many weapons only deliver their best results while striking forcefully with the intent to follow through. Profound hostility is a reliable way to motivate such attacks. Aggressive warriors put the desire to defeat their foes above any concern about their own well-being. Most evident in the berzerk rage of charging barbarians, aggression swiftly eliminates threats and other targets, hastening the arrival of victory.
† Committed 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 may drive passion to that intensity. 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, enowing might with a moral imperative. Paladins demonstrate this level of committment when they smite foes standing in the way of victory.
Imperial Training Three Emperors personally rule superpowers collectively containing most of 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 a speciality like covert reconaissance or artillery operations. These institutions also enable officers to study the latest recommended tactics and drills.
 The phrase "Imperial training" implies excellent and extensive military education. Consistent practices enable any qualified Imperial officer to integrate with a pre-existing 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. The earliest reference to the Six Qualities comes from Master Willow's Rules of Command, a manual famously authored by the last legendary general involved in the Celedinese Ascendance. Today that ancient treatise is highly regarded in every human homeland, and all three superpowers encourage their officers to focus on the Six Qualities.
† Disciplined 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 elaborate regimens of monks exemplify discipline while enabling superior execution of advanced techniques, paving the way to victory.
† Guileful 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 on a moment of opportunity, 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 will make use of hazards, distractions, and cover. The sly tactics of rogues demonstrate guile, as they make the most of every opening in pursuit of victory.
† Tenacious Great warriors rally and triumph despite injury. Normally one side must be defeated before the other can claim to have won. 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. Stalwart warriors may invite attack, confident they will endure and recover. So long as the most rugged combatants weather an onslaught, allies may be spared harm. Tenacity is the quality that enables fighters to overcome setbacks and persevere to victory.
† Versatile Great warriors avoid strengths and attack weaknesses. Every method of fighting has benefits and drawbacks. Stalking and tracking 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.

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Lords & Officials

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Monsters & Mayhem

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Navgiation & Travel

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Magic

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. The most voracious among early dragons devoured so many creatures that tremendous accumulations of life force stewed and transformed within their bellies. Gradually learning to vent and shape this energy, their actions created ripples in the magic of the world.
 With increasingly sophisticated spellcasting, these ripples produced a more complex and turbulent environment. Elves launched their age of dominance by converting much draconic energy into a new source of power. Later they reached toward the heavens and drew cosmic forces into the mix. Strange creatures and the rarest of people developed psychic abilities. Gods and devils (among other things) opened channels of power to reward spellcasters for completing various rites and observances. The Immaculate System brought some stability, but magic remains an ever-present seething tumult of countless energies and forces.
 Modern scholars write of the Seven Sources, but each is a category of magical phenomena rather than a single wellspring. 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. 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 One Truth ∞ Magic is everywhere in the world. While all sane people believe magical forces exist, initiation as a novice spellcaster involves accumulating awareness of the energies constantly seething and coursing through even the most ordinary of places and things. Teaching methods are diverse. Yet all aspiring spellcasters must understand basic details about the fabric of magic. Building up great power first requires establishing this foundation.
 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 powerful beings, volunteering to serve as conduits for holy or unholy energy. Then there are spellcasters who live off the land, letting small details of the area and its inhabitants reveal 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 ambient 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.

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The Two States Change is the essence of magic. Not all spells are transmutations, but they are all the causes of effects that would not otherwise occur. Magic is also woven from 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.
↟ Rising forces may also be identified by terms such as "growing," "ascending," or "intensifying." 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, like a god's will granting a mortal prayer; sustaining others involves 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 clash between those speculative opinions.
 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, then follow through by guiding a chain reaction until the intended result is let loose on the physical world.
↡ Falling forces may also be identified by terms such as "dwindling," "descending," or "dying." 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 quickened 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 the process of countering arcane attacks, breaking enchantments, removing curses, etc. Ambient magical phenomena will quickly refill any space purged of magic, but it only takes a moment to snuff out a spell by quashing the 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 types of energy nearby. 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.

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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 the most basic sort 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, useful magical energies cannot be tapped. Without intention, magical effects cannot be directed and shaped. From the most bookish wizard to the most intuitive sorcerer, spellcasting demands an extraordinary mindset pairing precision with improvisation. Basic utterance 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. The most feared spellcasters have been known to kill with a quick gesture, and a great many methods of magical attack benefit from bodily expression. Given normal anatomy, hands are the only features suited to delivering gestures of magical power. Like utterances, these motions may be subject to complex systems of subtle modifications needed for adaptation to the circumstances at hand. The somatic component explains why so many war wizards refer to "throwing a Fireball" rather than "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 focal points for magical energies, catalysts for magical interactions, templates for magical effects, or useful tools of spellcraft. Material components are typically inexpensive if not also easy to obtain. Yet the most powerful spells may require gems of immense value and/or something intensely personal to the intended target. Material components and objects of focus create a special set of mercantile oppportunities in areas where many spellcasters are active.


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The Four Elements 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.
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. These efforts normally bring forth creatures that feel compelled to complete a short term of service before returning to their extraplanar homes. Should the magical bonds of servitude be broken, a sufficiently strong elemental is may lash out against a former master or mistress now regarded as a cruel abductor.
 The 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.
 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. Acquiring and blending their substances is a less challenging method of causing physical effects. The simplest methods 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 may also interfere with arhcers 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. Yet simpler applications may push back threats or sweep away fog. Air is a useful 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 may also ignite 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 function to provide illumination, mesmerize onlookers, or create a defensive barrier.
 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 can also be used 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 an unexpected 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, often playing a role in spells cast to support agriculture. Yet water can be destructive, from a great tsunami down to the quenching of an ordinary torch. This element plays a vital role in most storms, and it also is the primary constituent of effects producing ice or steam. More exotic water magic includes methods of scrying, distorting images, and creating reflections.

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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 nature of magic has changed repeatedly in the history of the world. Academics define the top tier of historical boundaries based on changes in the fundamental nature of magic. The first spell cast, activation of the ley lines, the first prayer answered by a god, and the Fivesquare Pantheon consecrating 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 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 top tier 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 concetrated 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.
 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 decrepit 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 heralds and couriers.
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 it comes to 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 live on as 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.
 For thousands of centuries all these races served dragons without question. 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.
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, joining 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, illusionists alone 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. Continuing proliferation eventually made the study of magic almost incoherent.
 Ambient energies of the era were mentally invasive, eroding memory of magical formulae as they were employed. Preparing to cast spells required 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 consumed 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. All wizards could only continue their progress as specialists in one of the Eight Schools. Only magical phenomena associated with one of the Seven Sources remained useful. Teachings outside the Six Forms failed to improve the capabilities of spellcasters.
 Entire libraries had to be revised. Yet the loss of old lore was balanced by the emergence of new techniques. New stability in many common magical flows gives spellcasters greater flexibility. Personal energy can be applied to any preparation, and the action itself no longer taxes a caster's memory. 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 their own approaches to magic. In their own way, each unlocked some secrets of the most powerful spells. Other adventuring classes, save for barbarians, incorporated some measure of spellcasting lore and training.
 This great upheaval also saw the Fivesquare Pantheon establish complete control of spiritual magic. Clerical spellcasting can only succeed when devoted to 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 everyone knows 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 every civilization on the surface of the world.

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Spellcasting Style Each of the Six Forms is a distinctive approach to magic associated with a prominent category 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.
 Bard ⇒ Musical (Charisma)
 Cleric ⇒ Spiritual (Wisdom)
 Druid ⇒ Natural (Wisdom)
 Sorcerer ⇒ Visceral (Charisma)
 Warlock ⇒ Contractual (Charisma)
 Wizard ⇒ Intellectual (Intelligence)
 When it comes to a philosophy of magic, many individuals follow the the teachings of institutions like colleges, temples, or guilds. Others embrace ancient mystical traditions or pattern their efforts on the work of a great practitioner from an earlier generation. Then there are individuals who develop a profoundly original approach to the subject. All are united in that every spellcaster knows some blend of lessons and lore from across the Six Forms.
The Six Forms Different magical traditions emphasize different aspects of the craft. One mark of a well-rounded arcane education is 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 weave an actual spell can only be achieved through the synthesis of basic ideas from these diverse perspectives.
 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. Metaphysical shadows lurked under spiritual channels engineered to contain and recirculate the power of prayers. These imperfections in the system create opportunities for unholy entities to 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, joining a holy order, or relentless rehearsal; 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.
 Then there are the concessions integral to the casting process. Circumstances may force a practitioner to improvisationally adjust 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 concessions, since a foe might be immune to a specific damage type or it may be best to reserve an especially draining effort for a more crucial moment.
 Making compromises 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, 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 unholy 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 being prepared 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, all manner variables may warrant adjustments during a successful casting effort.
 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 anecdotes and parables that convey instruction about the workings of specific spells. Written formulae may be supplemented with charts, diagrams, and sketches. Even the simplest effort to weave real magic requires some understanding of how to draw upon appropriate energies as well as how to control the spell's effect.
 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 or the workings of a specific spell. Any mnemonic device that enhances recall of crucial information is an asset to practitioners learning 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 still need to 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 outside 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 expressed creatively. 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 they must be precise with the pacing and tone of their efforts.
 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 performance.
 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 for 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 and arcane texts. Some practitioners seize upon sources of inspiration as they develop and improve their own magical techniques. So much of what druids learn follows from observation and meditation in wild places. Their spells often feature sounds derived from animal calls and gestures based on shapes recurrent 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.
 Except for the Old Faith, religions feature scriptures, and these scriptures feature magical formulae. Yet clerics also draw great inspiration from 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 more ominous signs, like messages buried in the ravings of the insane or details evident at the scene of a freak accident. Yet students of the Bargaining 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 environmental conditions. The wilderness speaks to those who will listen. Attentive regard for the present local situation can reveal 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 recognized through signs in animal behavior. The same is true of so much else -- the clouds in the sky, ripples in a puddle, a flickering campfire. 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 are special due to the technical complexity or extraordinary timing of the weave. In other cases, the quality of spellcasting reflects a practitioner's gift for living off the land -- sensing and gathering the best available ambient resources. Effective magic requires vigilance enough to pick up on environmental cues. This may provide clues about local phenomena to avoid as well as the availability of useful magical resources.
 The natural form has roots in the primitive shamanism emulated by the first druids. Immersion in and meditation on the beauty of thriving wildlands is the path to this mode of enlightenment. Tranquil and content, the true student of nature experiences awakened senses and a yearning to comprehend the unseen. Sensitivity and patience are important qualities for excelling with this form. For earnest practitioners it becomes devotional. Yet the magic works equally well whether that devotion involves a Nature God or some more abstract concept of nature.
 ✠ 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, and priests are expected to see ceremonial duties as an opportunity to spread the faith. Association with a specific institution may involve being subordinate to harsh and unreasonable superiors. At the very least, some tracts of holy scripture must be memorized.
 Once a life is lived through the prism of service to a god, a personal spiritual connection may form. Motes of divinity itself can be channeled through the body of a devoted worshipper. Practitioners of this form also know sacred words, gestures, and rites developed to express prayers in the ways of that god's choosing. Given proper technique and a sufficiently strong relationship with a patron deity, this holy magic may reach beyond the world and tap raw godly power to cause miraculous effects.
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, allowing it to scour away memory of any formula during the act of its use. This side effect is not a feature of 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 -- casting a spell normally takes a toll.
 The best magical effects are imbued with a caster's purpose, but untapped magic often seems intent on thwarting spellcasters. Any success at all is rare without years of relentless training. Lessons from each of the Six Forms must be learned and applied for a coherent effect to emerge from the seething turbulence of the magical environment. Experienced practitioners will improve their spellcasting potential in both quantity and quality. Yet, once that potential is exhausted, the flows of energy employed to power spells will seem as elusive and confounding as they always are for struggling apprentices. Rest is the method by which spellcasters recover their faculties and regain effective command over magical resources.
 Epitomized by clerical magic, the spiritual form is all about calling down this higher power. One must be both steadfast and judicious to perform well as a living conduit of divinity. Yet the channels wherein this energy flows are equally real to unbelievers. To completely ignore them risks troublesome interference with other magical phenomena. 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 for a relevant deity. When attempting to conjure a mighty storm, it does no harm 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.

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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, then 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 seperate 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 rays can be concentrated, 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 a form of unwanted magical energy from interacting with a delicate process underway. Like a cloud passing under the Sun, 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 the magical environment 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 the right 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.
 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 such epic prior spellcasting. Many dragons went insane struggling to make sense of magical turmoil. Modern spellcasters extract the most powerful draconic resources from 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 shape of objects and creatures.
Magical Infrastructure Few moments altered the history of the world like the completion of the ritual energizing the original ley lines. Immediately, leaders of the rebellion against dragonkind understood that they would rise to positions of unrivalled power. They organized into the Imperium Arcanum -- literally "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. Adding inputs from both the natural world and the cosmos, ascendant Archfey fortified this network to be self-replenishing and impervious to disruption.
 Even today, ley lines influence the availability and behavior of magical resources. The path of the nearest line as well as the relative location of the nearest convergence are two facts spellcasters are likely to find informative. Druids, bards, and some warlocks will be particularly attuned to the fey power coursing through these lines. Some practitioners make an effort to stay connected even when far removed from the nearest ley line. Others simply let their distance from the network inform selections made while weaving flows of energy into a spell. Ley lines provide fixed geographical references in a magical environment where churning commotion is the norm.
 The Fivesquare Pantheon also established an orderly network of magical conduits. Unable to replace or hijack the ley lines, they constructed an entirely seperate entity. Reaching to sources in the heavens, spiritual channels guide holy energy downward in answer to prayers. Any plea for divine assistance opens such a channel. Sacred rituals and consistent prayers cause these links to grow stronger. Priests are often eager to consecrate lands and structures, including their own houses of worship, making it is more convenient for a patron deity to furnish magical resources. Though geography has nothing to do with it, there is a kernel of truth when worshippers report feeling "closer" to their patron deity while visiting shrines and temples.
 A personal relationship with that patron deity is essential for spellcasters who rely heavily on holy power. That relationship functions as a sort of spiritual tether to the broader network. It also guides network's growth whenever religious activity sanctifies previously unhallowed ground. Some practitioners believe holy symbols and readings from scripture help deities to find their mark when channeling energy into unfamiliar territory. Others believe that the entire network is less a literal structure and more an association of ideas. This theory holds that declaring and promoting faith in a location establishes the idea of that location in the mind of a god. It follows that the vast spiritual network is nothing more than paths of divine awareness.
 Abominations, demons, and devils have all found ways to obscure their own magical channels. They work through an unholy underground of occult rituals and cryptic spellcasting techniques. With the right bargains, warlocks learn how to call forth magical resources from their own ungodly patrons. Moving through the shadows of holy spiritual channels, these dark transmissions from hellish places are able to infiltrate the mortal realm. The Archfey also do business with warlocks, though their unholy resources typically emerge from ley lines. Thus both networks of magical infrastructure create opportunities to channel energy in ways seemingly contrary to the will of the gods.
 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.
 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 resources are abundant, though the most lively specimens 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 power physical transformations, project phantasms, and alter the behavior of creatures. Capricious and unpredictable, these resources also prove 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 Plan 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. For effects that restore, protect, or heal; it surpasses other sources. 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 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. Spellcasters 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 specific targets, but more divergent ratios require greater effort. Anything beyond doubling or halving the passage of time is a challenge only the greatest practitioners might attempt.
 Yet this is only true of living beings and material objects. Very little effort is required to manipulate the relationship between time and a local magical resource. Any adjustment tends to create a feedback loop amplifying the manipulation to its theoretical limit. This makes for a process of extremes 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 may require 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 put on hold 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 involving frost or necrosis.
 Thought All biology exudes life energy, and all sentient beings generate a second source of magic. At the heart of every spell is an intention. Even the lengthiest rituals are not shaped entirely by words and gestures. All thinking beings have 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, humans and the other civilized races of the surface world are no longer so empowered. 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 casting a spell. 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 consistently generates these magical shadows. Ungodly powers reach through the darkness to empower students of obscure occult practices. The greatest Archfey, abominations, demons, and devils all channel energy to spellcasters in exchange for the use of specific spellcasting techniques along with praise directed at patrons' secret names.
 Just as with holy magic, unholy channels gain capacity through repeated use. Resistance is eroded by frequent and strong flows. 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. Covens and cults can escalate with alarming speed. Theoretically, each local menace could develop into an apocalyptic crisis. Monstrous beings and social outcasts alike are drawn to the prospect of channeling unholy energy. Clergy typically condemn the use of unholy power, and some governments outlaw practices associated with the term "witchcraft."
 Unholy energy is both a temptation to its users and well-suited to effects that deceive or manipulate others. 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 all alike in leaving an unsettling strangeness in the aftermath of effects primarily energized by this source.

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The Eight Schools Unlike the elves and dragons before them, the most powerful human spellcasters during the Age of Heroes were often eager to share the specifics of their theories and techniques. Accumulations of lore provided a foundation to guide further original research. Early Wizards adopted a system associating each working dweomer with one of eight schools of magick. Thousands of years later, essentially 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. Yet established wizards always affiliate with a single arcane tradition, since specialization conveys both power and prestige.
 ◬ Abjuration This school prepares wizards to function as arcane bodyguards. Some political leaders keep their most learned abjurer close, since there is no better way to thwart the wrath of a hostile wizard. Dispel magic, counterspell, and antimagic field provide methods of guarding against a magical menace. Magic circle and globe of invulnerability are likewise popular in the face of other threats. Clergy make good use of this school of magic, with spells like sanctuary, aid, and holy aura to fortify allies under attack.
 Dedicated specialists may earn their keep providing magical security. Organized constabularies often place alarm spells to catch perpetrators foolish enough to return to the scene of the crime. Covert operations may utilize pass without trace or nondetection to avoid notice. The long labor of placing permanent guards and wards often commands a large fee. For problems that offer no other solution, a practitioner may rid a place of trouble with a banishment or imprisonment spell. Even where wizards are generally distrusted, abjurers may be regarded as sensible and practical individuals unlikely to start trouble.
 ◬ Conjuration
 ◬ Divinition
 ◬ Enchantment
 ◬ Evocation
 ◬ Illusion
 ◬ Necromancy Many people become uncomfortable thinking about this school and its keen focus on death. Only the most permissive communities allow animate dead to provide supplemental laborers. Yet many people will pay dearly for a speak with dead session before a funeral takes place. Of course, the most valuable service provided by magic from this school involves no funeral at all. Bloodsport seems downright irresponsible without a capable priest around to revivify the fallen. At the other extreme, true resurrection may literally be worth a king's ransom, or it may be freely cast with an eye toward historical consequence.
 Though several schools of magic feature methods of causing grave harm, necromancy offers particularly vicious options. Some practitioners call on the power of a god to inflict wounds or spread contagion. Others may weave negative energy to bestow curse or deliver an eyebite. More direct attacks include ray of enfeeblement and finger of death. Where control is preferable to death, magic jar may prove an insidiously devastating spell. With enough contemplation extending to subjects beyond this mortal coil, even astral projection is possible. Whatever common folk may think, most academics respect necromancy as an important and challenging school of magic.
 ◬ Transmutation Purify Food and Drink Fly Water Breathing Control Weather Control Water Stone Shape Move Earth Disintegrate Time Stop Regenerate True Polymorph


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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 may draw on resources 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 only 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 worshipers 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. Yet no theories about 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. Yet 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, let alone 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, though the most learned and powerful skeptics cannot recreate this experience. The world does not grant prayers to an ordained priesthood, but . . .
 ⦻ What empowers the Old Faith? Simply invoking "the world" is not an effective approach to natural spellcasting. Yet dedication to "nature" or "the natural world" is 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 tend to draw their energy from residual life force accumulated in the local environment. Reverence for nature is an absolute requirement. Simultaneously a religion and not a religion, the Old Faith vexes modern theologists. 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 delicate glass taunted dragons unable to smash the pretty windows or 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, and students of taboo lore continue to channel energy from the Archfey. Action against these "white witches" is typically 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 thousand years 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. Others contend Feywild and Shadowfell join the Elemental Planes to constitute a cluster of conveniently accessible Inner Planes. One 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 2,908 A.H. With no dragons to hunt, legions of immensely powerful archmagi formed a society dedicated to self-indulgence. Personality clashes led to increasingly unhinged melodramas as the centuries passed. 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 powerful magical intoxicants and incomprehnsibly 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 spellcasters never returned 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. 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 that even the gods consider impolite conversation.
 ⦻ 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 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 Labyrinth and the surface both support the widespread belief that something ominous inhabits the core of the world. Even today, the area remains an inaccessible enigma.
 ⦻ 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 argue that this is a metaphor for betrayal. Should a dispute arise among the Regal Deities, it could disrupt The Immaculate System and open the world to a new flood of divine 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.

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Deities

The Regal Deities Odin, Dagda, Zeus, Ra, and Shang-Ti are all beings accustomed to bending even other gods to their will. Phrases like "lord of lords" and "king of kings" often spill from the lips of their priests. When the spiritual flows of the world were standardized by The Immaculate System, each of these five Regal Deities would be joined by four other great gods of similar cultural affiliation. The maturation of this arrangement raised a cosmic barrier to interference from outside deities, at the same time reinforcing wards against the return of any Dead Gods.
 Other entities encourage worship, but all divine magic is firmly governed by The Immaculate System. Some hellish or angelic beings personally wield sparks of divine power, but tapping into the spiritual energy of religious practice in this world requires loyalty pledged to a receptive power. Every cleric is passionately devoted to a specific patron deity, though some attribute their blessings to a broader pantheon or a complete abstraction. The Regal Deities have lattitude to authorize some flexibility in the particulars of worship associated with their cultural heritage.
 Though many divinities have touched the face of the world, the Great Consolidation drove almost all of them away. Five groups of five gods remain, in some cases answering prayers directed at their departed peers. Odin and Zeus have made particular efforts to perpetuate worship of their wives by empowering priests and inspiring heroes devoted to those absent godesses. Yet there have also been many purges. Over 97% of the deities once active in the world are now unable to grant prayers, physically manifest, or otherwise intervene.
 In the modern age, all holy magic is under the control of twenty-five active deities. Collectively known as the Fivesquare Pantheon, these deities are all survivors of cosmic struggles for control of the world. Five dominions of contiguous ethnic homelands each embrace a distinct body of traditions inspired by a leader among gods -- Odin for the Norish, Dagda for the Sylvanians, Zeus for the Truscans, Ra for the Serpians, and Shang-Ti for the people of the Orient. Some additional gods survived the Great Consolidation as stalwart allies of their leaders. Others made a place for themselves as adversaries or foils.
 Within each cultural group, ongoing tensions facilitate narratives priests employ to inspire the faithful and illustrate moral arguments. Highly educated people are aware of which twenty-five gods remain real forces active in the world today, though common folk may only know much about a personal patron and a few deities prominent in local religious practice. Most human communities are home to clergy eager to promote their faith and provide selective instruction in religious lore. Followings of laypeople accumulate through the performance of useful work, the delivery of inspiring public orations, and the growth of religious institutions. Artists of all sorts can find commissions if they are willing to glorify the sacred stories of a faith ministering to a large congregation.
 Each deity answers prayers from more than one approach to worship. Some religious practices are governed by earthly organizations that take official positions on even the smallest points of doctrine. Others are only traditions or philosophies that advance and diversify faith whenever exceptional individuals make their mark. If a prayer pleases them, deities may channel magical energy to supplicants. The subsequent connection will make the most of similar prayers in while also easing the effort needed to work miracles through mortal conduits. Each member of the Fivesquare Pantheon employs layers of unearthly minions to coordinate routine activity along spiritual flows. Only the most ambitious invocations of divine power require personal thought or effort from an actual god.
Divine Spellcasting The Immaculate System sees the acts of prayer and devotion conveying energy into one of twenty-five heavenly fountains. Each god draws incalculable power from a connection to one of these features. When a holy plea is expressed by a supplicant in the mortal realm, an opportunity for outreach emerges. Granting a miracle in answer to prayer either creates or improves a spiritual channel. These channels transmit energy flowing down from a heavenly fountain to a place where a deity wishes to empower magic. This process only serves practitioners who understand the fundamentals of spellcasting with particular emphasis on humbling themselves before a greater power.
 The best priests wish to be instruments of a divine being. The most effective religions drive their adherents to advance the agenda of such a being. Prayer, meditation, and/or ritual sacrifice become routine activities for every cleric. Sincerity is not optional. Even the most flexible philosophies fail a spellcaster who no longer embraces their core values. Holy orders explicitly forbid certain acts, leaving transgressors without magical support until sufficient atonement has been made. Some practitioners of spiritual magic recover from every crisis of faith, restoring good relations with their divine patrons. Others may embrace a different set of beliefs. If newfound convictions are heartfelt, a cleric may discover a different path to familiar power.
∀ Holy orders are formal approaches to worship demanding prayers dedicated to the explicit language of one divine portfolio. Participation in specific rituals may be required. Many holy orders feature rigid codes of conduct. Flagrant disregard for these strictures alienates the divine patron as well as others of the same faith. More than a few of these groups achieved global scope by developing a body of practices and scripture that allows them to provide superior goods or services to the public. Yet their trade secrets are always secondary to the sacred purpose that each member must pursue passionately. True devotion is the only path into the clergy of these organizations. Some select new members from regular classes of hopefuls put through demanding training and testing procedures. Other holy orders remain strong without much in the way of infrastructure because their miraculous feats inspire spontaneous religious conversions.
φ Philosophies are promoted by deities even though prayers may be directed at an abstract entity or a general aspiration. Some scholars believe any philosophy compatible with spellcasting is a holy order that has yet to be defined by its core revelations. Others believe they are subtle tools of the gods, piloting new spiritual channels without building a rigid addition to the network. Most magical philosophies have few adherents, gathering in small discussion groups or passing on their knowledge through master-student pairings. Each philosophy dictates a set of core values and a general way of thinking about the world. Yet spellcasting adherents may hold diverse opinions in many areas, including the language of prayer. Even for practioners who believe otherwise, each of these empowered philosophies channels energy from a specific deity.
∈ Polytheisms are systems of belief that embrace entire pantheons of deities. Though each is empowered by a regal deity, the use of traditional names in prayers allows for a mix of living and dead gods to be venerated. Official institutions and educational enclaves provide havens for these decidedly moderate religions. Each is devoted to a huge body of scriptures, mostly archaic. The endless contradictions of so much gospel drive these clerics to serve as checks against extremism one another. Polytheists rarely draw congregations or collect tithes with the kind of intensity seen in evangelists from the largest sects. Yet many holy orders offer support to organizations that sustain a polytheism. Troves of ancient knowledge makes polytheist compounds invaluable resources for historians, theologists, and other priests. Each collection is so diverse that the full spectrum of clerical possibilities can emerge from its ancient lore.
 What follows is an overview of the Fivesquare Pantheon along with the most prominent religions active in the world today. Most deities also support many minor holy orders, exploiting those rare convergences of zeal and innovation in great leaders who might pioneer new approaches to faith. Also, religious tolerance is a fairly common value, with many places of worship housing shrines or altars to an entire group of deities.
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V
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Mannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirG
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L A W F U L
ArawnSetShang-TiOsirisChung Kuel
Lei KungOghmaPtahChing Sung-TzuTyr
HelHadesDagdaRaOdin
LokiSilvanusDionysusGebThor
Ma YuanAresMannanan Mac LirApolloZeus
C H A O T I C
Mannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac Lir
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Divine Healing In a world of abundant danger and sickness, the miraculous healing accomplished through acts of faith is a vital part of most societies. Many clerics cultivate support in the surrounding community by offering relief to people in poor health. Large organizations often rely on these spiritual spellcasters to keep their members fit and functional. The most gifted healers sometimes attract the patronage of wealthy and powerful figures in need of remedies. In some circles, no application of magic earns greater respect than healing.
 All holy orders provide this service to likeminded worshipers and valuable allies. Some also share it with strangers in need, but only a few orders operate facilities explicitly intended for medical purposes. This has long been an important part of promoting and expanding competitive sects. Many sick or injured people will seek clerical remedy. This gives healers an opportunity for outreach when others are at their most susceptible. Yet this practice of recruiting the desperate and downtrodden is not widely criticized. Most people believe the presence of strong organized religions signifies that a locale is a safe place to raise a family.
Apollo (Chaotic Good) The God of the Setting Sun is especially revered by musicians and archers as well as practitioners of medicine. Though a Truscan deity, Apollo is worshiped in all places people seek relief from their injuries and maladies. His clergy are often held in high esteem, and community support tends to be robust. Apollo's worshipers have no formal ecclesiastical structure, though they tend to resolve differences, or at least achieve mutual respect, through cheerful debate.
Each Temple of Apollo is broadly similar to the others, staffed by Light clerics who offer healing and counsel to supplicants in need. Their customs promote charity and mercy while upholding enlightenment and education as important values. These temples may serve as the centerpiece of an emerging frontier town, yet they are often eclipsed by less modest religious establishments as urbanization sets in. Individual temples are only loosely aligned, and competing institutions have been known to operate mere blocks apart. As they do much to support public health, other community leaders typically welcome senior members of this holy order. Even so, Temple of Apollo congregations have been known to publicly protest political oppression and excesses of preventable poverty.
Apollonian Institutes, mainly found in large cities, are colleges for the study of the healing arts as well as a place where Life clerics work miracles on the afflicted and injured. Offering help to people of all faiths, these Institutes are often funded by a cadre of wealthy benefactors. Requiring substantial libraries, specialized equipment, and robust support services; such facilities are rare outside large cities. This holy order strongly promotes pacificism. Some members take an absolute pledge of non-violence. Past kindnesses typically generate plenty of powerful allies limit the impact of this vulnerability. All manner of constables as well as other priests may be quick to take up arms whenever there is a threat to a nearby Apollonian Institute.
φ The Sagittarian Way is a philosophy practiced by War clerics specializing in the synergy of spiritual magic with techniques of marksmanship. They find peace and kinship in reverence for the arc of a true shot. Precision is their highest virtue. Sagittarians generally do not gather in congregations or operate institutions, but they will mentor seekers eager to follow this path. Famed masters may have a coterie of novices honing their ability to find their mark both as archers and as purpose-driven people. Some elves find these beliefs particularly inspiring. Practitioners often earn income as military archers or professional hunters. They draw power by chanting mantras like "one shot one kill." Many sport such phrases engraved on their bows or inked onto headbands.
The Lycoctonian Keepers are experts on the subject of lycanthropy. They view the disease as an unholy curse, yet they can be extremely sympathetic toward the afflicted. These Forge clerics build sanctuaries over sturdy stone structures that can confine werebeasts throughout a nocturnal transformation. Though cooperative individuals may earn blessings through this sequestration, the Lycoctonian Oath obligates members of this holy order to hunt lycanthropes who refuse to be confined before sundown when a full moon is expected. Major Lycoctonian strongholds also trade in silvered and magical weapons to support such hunts. Wherever a werebeast menaces the innocent, members of this holy order will be eager to strike back with all the expertise and zeal they can muster.
The Analemmic Harvesters all carry holy symbols that double as instruments for studying the position of the Sun in the sky. Noon and sunset are traditional times of prayer for these Nature clerics. Their observations inform decisions about the timing of agricultural cycles, and they understand the geometry of proper sundial placement. Though not pacifists, these priests tend to be peaceful and reclusive. Many Analemmic Harvesters band together in small farming communes, while others plan urban gardens to make the best use of available light while infusing a neighborhood with fresh flowers and produce. The most distinguished members of this order may advise great leaders and coordinate agricultural policy to sustain the multitudes of modern nations.

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Death and Afterlife Five different deities each have a formal connection to death. In joining The Immaculate System, each Death God assumed a rigidly defined role. These roles are reflected in the rites, symbolism, and sermons of clergy. Hel dispenses death by sickness and other gradual methods, including poison. Ma Yuan takes a more direct approach, violently slaughtering the doomed. Hades oversees passage into the afterlife, consecrating every proper burial. Arawn roams that afterlife, dispensing harsh punishments to the wicked and tempting more noble souls with corruption. Osiris is foremost in providing that rarest of miracles -- passage back from death into life renewed.
Arawn (Lawful Evil) The God of Final Rewards is said to be certain the cruel are tormented in the afterlife even as he schemes to recategorize the most benevolent souls as slated for punishment. The old Sylvanian god of death, he has since become the recipient of prayers from all around the world whenever people seek to communicate with dead ancestors or plead for their favorable treatment. Anyone who supports the idea of karmic retribution may find satisfaction in praying to Arawn.
φ Solicitous Drafters are experts in the language of legal contracts as well as traditional forms of obligation. Most seek personal enrichment by getting others to sign documents with ramifications they do not fully understand. Some exploit severe debtor penalties to acquire stock for slave auctions. Others finance businesses, waging a relentless battle of wits until original owners are reduced to working tenants. Even in cultures lacking institutional support for contract law enforcement, obligations of honor and other traditions may be brought to bear in the effort to achieve dominion over others. Solicitous Drafters appeal to the sanctity of agreements as the foundation of all meaningful things, including spiritual magic itself. They pray to concepts like "the Universal Accord," "the Law of Heavens and Hells," or simply, "the Deal."
Small cells of reclusive Nature clerics known as Shrineminders maintain monuments on or near burial grounds. They discretely collect accumulated donations intended for departed loved ones. Their scriptures are rich with specifics on gardening and flower arranging. Some even carve or enchant stately monuments to adorn important tombs. Members of this softspoken holy order only unleash their full fury on those who dare to vandalize grave sites. Given sufficient support, these priests will dutifully organize maintenance and security for nearby cemeteries. Yet, when no donations or visitations are in recent memory, it is said Shrineminders will make their coin from necromancers seeking access to forgotten corpses.
Reconciliators are Grave clerics dedicated to making all transitions into the afterlife smooth and permanent. Where practical, they use public notice boards to post obituaries. Because one of their holy commandments requires dilligent adherence to the will of the deceased, they are called upon to settle disputes about estates. For a small fee, Reconciliators work with a living individual to prepare a written guide detailing the particulars of those intentions. For a huge fee, they may interrogate a departed spirit. Yet always their aim is to settle matters with finality rather than sustain any unearthly dialogue. Where inheritance leads to intractable conflict, Reconciliators may take up arms for the sacred purpose of putting the matter to rest once and for all.
The Deathriders are a scattered order of War clerics dedicated to slaying formidable enemies with lethal magic. Swift steeds enable them to maintain skirmishing distance until their enemies are sufficiently accursed and weakened. Widely feared, they thrive when able to band together as elite mercenaries or find a place among the cavalry of a regular army. Despite murderous ways, Deathriders kill according to an elaborate protocol that eschews surprise attacks. To their way of thinking, the advantage of an ambush is minor compared to the terror that can be inspired by deploying divine wrath in plain view. Their holy purpose is to send spirits into the afterlife so frightened that they will embrace any fate that does not involve return to the mortal world.
φ The Rites of the Medium are a body of hocus pocus facilitating grift of false reports from beyond the grave. Practiced by a sect of Trickery clerics, the underlying philosophy provides a lucrative lifestyle for many. Keen insights and vague reassurances are transformed into a compelling supernatural experience through generous use of ancient lore and cantrips. Practitioners are able to work miracles by praying to "the spirit realm," "the other side," or simply "beyond." Many people view Mediums as charlatans because they reserve actual communion for personal friends and the most generous sponsors. These practitioners support a tranquil afterlife by deflecting most attempts to interrupt the final rest of deceased spirits.
Echo Journalists magically scour the past in the pursuit of historical accuracy. These Knowledge clerics believe spirits cannot achieve final rest while false tales of their lives remain in circulation. Some investigate controversial deaths to compose the most accurate chronicle of underlying events. Those with greater resources scry into the past and commune with the spirits of the dead. The most esteemed Echo Journalists may insert themselves into political struggles with expert opinions about historic events. Their faith demands that each claim of fact in their accounts be verified, but skilled storytellers know that many narratives can be forged from the same set of givens. Despite their editorial capabilities, members of this holy order are regarded as authorities on what really happened in days gone by.

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The War Gods If an outside entity should ever imperil the world itself, Odin would lead a coordinated team featuring Thor, Tyr, Ares, and Lei Kung. These "Heavenly Generals" are pledged to set aside their grudges long enough to drive off any threat to The Immaculate System. Mortal wars are games to them, proxies for the direct hostility now forbidden. In playing out so many conflicts, the War Gods have forged a fellowship along with endless lists of scores to settle.
Ares (Chaotic Evil) The God of Untamed War is worshiped by those in pursuit of physical perfection as well as people inclined toward bloodlust. As his followers tend to resist discipline, large military organizations do not officially encourage this faith. Yet most commanders going into battle would much rather be allied with a priest of Ares than facing such an enemy.
The Order Indomitable is a fellowship of War clerics who combine aggressive physical training with secret rituals involving bloodsport and human sacrifice. They think it unseemly to end the day with healing magic to spare, so they conclude ordinary nights with a frenzy of brawling and bloodletting. Comments about the trail of destruction in their wake often prompt the rebuke, "only the weak hide their tracks." Members of the Order Indomitable are infamous for their volatile moods and extreme tempers. They celebrate gladiators, warlords, and violence for its own sake. Wise innkeepers know to feign a shortage of booze at the sight of an O.I. insignia.
φ Tempest clerics known as Waveriders specialize in nautical warfare. Taking cues from an ancient tales about Aphrodite and Ares intertwined, adherents pursue their own passions above all other concerns. Their prayers sometimes simply appeal to "the Wave," while others can be specific about "swells," "hollows," "curls," "breakers," and so forth. Yet they never call upon the sea as a larger entity. These habitual swimmers are typically lithe and aggressive. When not in battle, Waveriders can often be found flaunting their physiques at the best convergence of surf and sun in the area. Most join up with small groups that alternate between wild beach parties and even wilder acts of coastal piracy. When overwhelmed local authorities garner support for enforcement action, these itinerant hedonists slip away in search of calmer waters to disturb.
Martial Manhunters are Knowledge clerics who express their devotion to Ares by selecting worthy adversaries then gathering information to achieve a tactical advantage against that foe. They often excel as trackers and investigators. Successful Manhunters will inevitably attempt to kill their chosen targets when they believe they have accumulated enough of an edge. Unlike other spiritually-inclined trackers, these priests casually employ intimidation and violence in pursuit of their quarry. The obscure training academies where this order shares it secrets are often well-funded, since wealthy individuals may issue bounties on their enemies and some criminal fugitives tithe just to avoid appearing as the guest of honor in a hunt.
The Phoenix Phalanx is named for an ancient mercenary army that made extensive use of healing magic to withstand hordes of rampaging demons and legions of the elite infantry. Today their traditions live on inside other military units. Vividly painted shields make these spellcasters stand out from their comrades. Adherents happily dish out damage whenever there is no need for healing among allies at hand. Extensive exposure to battlefield trauma teaches these Life clerics as much about anatomy as any classroom could. The goodwill they generate through service only lasts until Phoenix Phalanx medics switch sides in service to their holy purpose -- perpetuating violent conflicts.
Blazing Dervishes practice frenetic dances to better maintain their bearings in the thick of combat. These Light clerics command an acrobatic fighting style that doubles as a spectacular entertainment. Constant motion makes them difficult targets while enabling arcing attacks from unpredictable angles. Holy power is both weapon and distraction in their hands. During peacetime Blazing Dervishes may burn off excess energy with exhibitions of illuminated acrobatics, dazzling large crowds. Yet these shows also endanger bystanders who stray to close to the action. Right at home in battle, the flourishes and finishing moves of a Dervish can be truly explosive.

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The Sky Gods Some say the lack of Sylvanian Sky Gods reflects the fact that much of the region is blanketed by a thick forest canopy. Ra, Zeus, Odin, Shang-Ti, Apollo, Thor, Set, Ching Sung-Tzu, and Lei Kung compose a committee that governs the heavens. Pantheon domes typically feature a tablaeu of the nine spread out around the ceiling of the central chamber. Legend has it that the Sky Gods convene at midday each solstice and equinox in order to negotiate a plan for the weather in the season ahead. Presumably these plans are subject to change as subsequent events unfold.
Ching Sung-Tzu (Neutral) The God of Falling Rain always hears prayers from areas in need of drought relief as well as those facing a flood due to excessive rain. Farmers the world over look to him as the giver of their bounty, and water festivals held in his name provide welcome relief from midsummer's heat. He has the power to move mountains, yet he is by far the most humble of the Sky Gods.
The Rain Dancers are a broad category of Trickery clerics who, loudly and in public, pray according to local religious custom in order to bring rain where it is needed. Their pageantry often includes praise crediting sponsors for the drought relief. Even if these prayers involve no dancing, a jig is sure to follow when success is achieved. Rain Dancing groups often provide a lively way to spend an afternoon, though the best practitioners may command exhorbitant fees for their efforts.
φ Maidens of the Grail, while not exclusively young women, are Life clerics who seek out places of healing to study the local waters. Revering naturally occuring rainfall as sacred, they despise no misdeed more than the poisoning of water supplies. They often use the phrase "Water of Life," though their prayers feature all combinations of "healing," "livegiving," "blessed," and "sacred" with "rains," "spring," "lake," and "bath." Maidens of the Grail become ecstatic whenever given the chance to sprinkle, splash, or submerge others. Individuals may make public spectacles of themselves. Gatherings take turns delivering oratory that is literally never dry. Though sometimes regarded as frivolous, Maidens of the Grail are widely renowned for their the curative powers.
Seers of the Ponds rely on natural bodies of water to perform powerful scrying rituals. Traditionally they remain aloof from political matters, yet they are respected as finders of fact. The holy order is also known for the affordability of their services, as priests may accept a service or a vow in place of the substantial fees normally associated with scrying. Thus these Knowledge clerics are a popular choice for those looking to reconnect with old acquaintances or scout out distant locales prior to visiting. If menaced, Seers of the Ponds may also deploy the dreaded ducking stool. This interrogation measure is said to pry the truth from even the most stubborn person. The same apparatus also functions as an undignified method of execution.
Floodminders operate small outposts at key junctures along major waterways. Collecting reports from upstream, they keep logs of rainfall and water depth to better warn of deadly floods in time enough to minimize loss of life. Since performing this vital civic function requires little attention most days, these Nature clerics minister to nearby fishers and farmers. Wherever they are able to rally a proper congregation, Floodminder boathouses expand into modern churches with attached schools. Some of these outposts keep supplies of rockets or magical signaling devices near the roof, ready to raise the alarm when a dangerous surge is predicted.
The Cloudstriders are a league of Tempest clerics relying primarily on heroic exploits to promote their beloved patron. They ally with armies or adventurers, providing a flexible array of support options. They work both proactively and reactively to gain advantage by reshaping clashes. Grand master Cloudstriders walk above their battles, raining down blessings and curses as they see fit. An intense surge of new recruiting may follow a public victory earned in this manner. The novices they mentor may lash out directly with furious energy, but the journey of a Cloudstrider is a series of lessons revealing the inexorable power of a gentle deluge.

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Ceremonial Oathtaking Many religious ceremonies leave enduring magical traces on key participants. With an ordained acolyte present, any heartfelt vow sworn to a specific deity may generate this sort of mark. These holy residues are composed of an insignificant quantity of divine energy, not visible to normal sight. Yet any priest with the applicable divine patron is able to percieve them clearly. These marks will gradually fade if an associated commitment is broken.
 While they endure, these traces of sacred magic can be detected and identified. Backed by an actual deity, such marks cannot be erased so long as the relevant oath is upheld. Ritual vows and spiritual markings give clergy the means to act in a timely fashion when guidance or inspiration may help one of the faithful renew an important bond with family, community, army, or sect. Clergy may attempt to detect lies with this basic technique, though the approach is only useful when scrutinizing individuals earnestly devoted to the faith.
Chung Kuel (Lawful Good) The God of Just Trials is no less willing to bless a brutal ordeal by fire than he is to sanctify a court hearing bound by rigorous rules of due process. His scripture and teachings feature a blend of cryptic riddles with profoundly probing questions. He is invoked most earnestly by those who hope to make fair decisions. He is invoked most loudly by those who want to seem like they have made fair decisions. Either way, he is the preferred patron of vengeful paladins and others who seek justice at any cost.
φ Just Lawgivers feel intense admiration for legal scholars and law enforcers who perform their duties faithfully. Some advance into positions as courtiers to aristocrats or members of a legislative body. Others take up the cause of the downtrodden, organizing protests against arbitrary abuses of power and providing expert legal defense. This varies from one culture to another, as trials by combat are no less common than trials by judicial hearing. Regardless of emphasis, magic derived from this philosophy requires explicit reverence for "righteous compassion," "fair outcomes," "equal justice," or another variation on that theme. Some become wealthy by defending the powerful individuals and popular causes. Yet Just Lawgivers are always mindful of the consequences of their advocacy. The most esteemed practioners employ their fame to mount protests against the worst abuses of power.
The Unlying are a sect of Knowledge clerics bound by vows to speak only the truth. Though some may be adept at misleading through tone and omission, they have a reputation that makes their testimony beyond reproach in many systems of justice. Unlying priests can be extremely popular with their congregations, as their practice of giving starkly candid personal advice in a unique path to self-improvement. Major dignitaries sometimes sponsor an Unlying priest in their entourage as a means to preserve an honest chronicle and prevent disputes about the particulars of important events. They may also be dispatched abroad, taking advantage of well-funded travel as a chance to spread the faith while gathering reliable reports of conditions in a distant land.
Brass Enforcers specialize in the production of equipment for constables and guards. Their scriptures detail many tactics for subduing and handling criminal suspects. These Forge clerics sometimes accept badges authorizing them to supplement the local constabulary. Their headquarters may cast those badges alongside the crafting of weapons and armor. Specialties of this holy order include modern innovations like lightweight manacles and braided silk nets. Some leaders authorize Brass Enforcers to deal with official corruption. Wherever these famously honorable priests are shunned by the constabulary, it is likely that the aristocracy supports corrupt practices.
Zealous punishment of liars is personal mission embraced by Light clerics who call themselves Beacons of Truth. These relentless inquisitors are drawn to trouble spots where authorities investigate rampant criminal activity or political disloyalty. Each has a unique approach to extracting information, yet there is always a fairness to their methods. It is often joined by cruelty, since these astute interrogators are not troubled when torture bridges the gap between suspicion and confession. In the worst cases they work healing magic to facilitate more misery than could otherwise be endured. Ritual self-flagellation atones for feelings of guilt while inuring Beacons to the painful suffering they inflict.
Civil Manhunters see it as their holy purpose to apprehend or dispatch criminal fugitives. These Nature clerics spend much of their time tracking down leads and searching for hideouts. Most are comfortable dealing with unsavory characters to cultivate insights into the criminal underworld. They have no sacred duty to enforce laws, only to resolve the danger posed by convicted or suspected fugitives from just authorities. They fund their temples by collecting bounties, but Civil Manhunters will decline opportunities to serve corrupt officials. They sometimes follow captives through any adjudication to ensure a fair legal process. Yet these priests do not hesitate to employ lethal methods when a fugitive has been duly sentenced to death.
φ Ironically named Scalpels of the Law seek perfection in the use of huge axes or swords. Their skills and wisdom are both put to use in performing legal executions. Scalpels are honor-bound to minimize the suffering of the condemned. Practioners may become War clerics able to call upon magic through citation of a legal entity and its claim of divine authority. They take it as a huge personal failure when carrying out a sentence involves more than a single quick clean cut. Open combat allows for greater flexibility. There, driven by a sense of righteousness, Scalpels' massive blades carve swaths through the forces of wickedness. Adherents of this philosophy remain true to its name, taking up arms only for leaders who act in accordance with their own laws.

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The Old Faith The spellcasting of druids and rangers is a verifiable reality. Yet many of them do no more than commune with the natural world to call for miracles. Scholars remain divided about the source of these energies, since the magic is equally effective whether the practioner worships a nature concept like Gaia or merely shows reverence for the myriad forms of life in wild places. This sort of animistic spirituality may be even older than the arcana of dragons. Alas, its origins, like its true nature, remain controversial even among the foremost experts.
 Outside Sylvania, the Old Faith is typically discouraged by both local and national leaders. Standing Stones are ideal venues for Old Faith rituals. Modern zealots have toppled some and repurposed others. Urbane people tend to regard Old Faith teachings as foolish superstition. Some theologists promote the idea that the Old Faith is a vestige from ancient history and somehow inferior to deity worship.
 Nonetheless, druids wander anywhere a healthy natural environment flourishes, and they often minister to people in rural areas where modern religions lack an institutional presence. Druids and rangers may be disrespected or even persecuted when they visit urban centers. Notably, this is untrue in Sylvania, where worship of the Gods harmonizes with reverence for primal spirits. Sylvanian megalithic circles are venerated as hubs for active communities of faith, and druids perform sacred rites right alongside conventional Sylvanian clergy.
Dagda (Neutral) The God of Limitless Might is chief among the Sylvanian deities. He is revered not only by the physically strong, from common laborers to legendary warriors; but also by leaders endowed with an iron will. He never launched an attack against Zeus or Odin, but he did not yield on either occasion one of them came for him. Unlike the other Regal Deities, Dagda is happy to see the Old Faith flourishing right alongside modern religion.
When gods sympathetic to the fey established control over the wilderness of southweastern Mainland, their ealiest devotees simply referred to this pantheon as "The Tribe." Dagda and his many divine associates did not frame the usual conflict between primal and civilized norms. Even as they promoted their own religions, The Tribe restrained emerging cities to preserve natural harmonies. Early in the Age of Heroes, little of their lore took written form. Each gospel of The Tribe is expressed as one or more epic poems each several hours in length. These poems were the backbone of the earliest bardic traditions as well as assorted sylvan religions. Sometimes depicted as a cadre of antlered deities, The Tribe inspires a modern polytheism dedicated to teaching the old epics and performing the most ancient of religious rituals.
φ Agents of Equilibrium see the world as dependent on a constant turbulence of good blending with evil and order blending with chaos. To them, all that makes life interesting and all that betters the human condition can be traced back to struggles between competing values and different perspectives. This motivates them to act against moral and ethical positions so dominant as to crowd out alternative views. Agents of Equilibrium are as likely to venerate "clash" or "dialectic" as some variation on "balance." In societies where tolerance and healthy debate allow people of strongly opposed beliefs to coexist in harmony, Agents of Equilibrium may devote themselves to keeping the peace. It is only in the absence of balance that practitioners of this philosophy see the imperative to undermine dominant forces and rally resistance movements.
The Long-Armed Legion is fabled for the persistence of its War clerics. They teach that each choice to fight for a cause should be made with discretion and restraint, but the Legion tolerates only victory or death. The organization takes its name from the idea of spending years crossing thousands of miles to conclude an interrupted battle with a specific enemy. Their sacred targets are not to be selected for pay, and no creature comfort is to be savored while a hunt is underway. The holy order sustains itself because the recruitment and training of novices is the among the few acceptable reasons to take a long hiatus during an ongoing pursuit.
Seers of the Stones are Knowledge clerics fond of performing cryptic rituals among ancient monuments. Their order executes elaborate mystical protocols spanning generations, often inviting druids to assist. Their scriptures explain the methods behind each major calendar, and the sect is famed for predicting unusual celestial events. Visionaries in this holy order evolve a body of oral traditions purporting to tell the future of the world. Seers of the Stones teach that praying for Dagda's guidance is the shortest path to earning his blessings. On rare occasions, they perform ritual sacrifice of condemned criminals in search of that guidance and those blessings.
Landwardens are Nature clerics who share the values and traditions of the Old Faith. They wander wild areas, sometimes systematically patrolling a locale. Each embraces a holy mission to prevent the destruction or corruption of thriving natural habitats. Some do this by regulating harmonious economic development, while others simply run off any visitors who overstay their welcome. Landwardens work easily with actual druids, finding unity in their sense of shared purpose. For some paladins devoted to nature, this sect provides essential guidance and inspiration.
φ Animism is the belief that the natural world is full of intelligent spirits able to be placated or even motivated through supplication. Adherents may pray to a volcano, dedicate festivals to a tree, or make sacrifices to a waterfall. Some see their locale as governed by a small pantheon of nature spirits, while others see every stone and shrub as harboring a mind of its own. Scholars in the Age of Heroes believed this primitive religious practice could never produce magical effects. Yet the modern era sees many Animists fully empowered as Nature clerics. The same belief system facilitates real spellcasting for a variety of reclusive tribes. Practitioners venturing far from home will be keen to meditate in wilderness areas so that they might learn the names and expectations of local nature spirits.
Artful Squatters move into unoccupied properties at the edges of civilization, driven by a sacred desire to see wildnerness reclaim lost land. These Trickery clerics have no qualms about concealing their true purpose or dispatching false messages in order that neglected holdings should remain so while vegetation naturally overruns a venue. Yet they are not warlike, and most Artful Squatters will vacate before putting up a fight. Their goal is to leave a home or series of homes fit for wildlife that will complete the reclamation they have started. Partially overgrown structures may double as gathering places where Artful Squatter congregations indulge in primal rituals.
Schooled by scriptures with passages of Ancient Elven, the Wild Embers are an order of Light clerics who call upon Dagda to work otherwise lost magics through their prayers. They often fight like wizards, blazing a trail of destruction as they advance. Some elves see this sect as the traditional faith of their people despite elven culture far preceding any religious practices. Wild Embers are drawn to the most ancient ruins, especially those of fey construction. Whenever one among their order feels the need for spiritual renewal, a deep delve in search of lore and treasure may also yield a rewarding catharsis.

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Dionysus (Chaotic Neutral) The God of Drunken Revels is particularly popular with wealthy young cityfolk. Those who can afford to drink as well as they like are often not so far away from finding religion in the depths of a bottle. Beyond the traditional Dionysian springtime fertility festival, followers of this deity are always happy to stage ad hoc celebrations for their own sake.
Heavenly Vintners are Nature clerics with a strict religious approach to winemaking that is at odds with their generally libertine attitudes. Planting, irrigation, tending, harvesting, fermenting, and bottling processes are all dictated by scripture as refined through painstaking theological debates and practical experiments. Much of their time is consumed with manual labor at Heavenly Vintner compounds. All agree it is worthwhile, since they tend to be drinking the finest wines in the world when they are not busy making them.
φ The Blushing Fools are a whimsical variety of Trickery clerics who teach that a good life is lived either pretending to be drunk or in a state of actual drunkenness. To have minimal responsibility and be routinely underestimated as a common man holds more pleasure than carrying the weight of the world and being known as a formidable king. Jesters and bards are prone to seek the counsel of this sort of priest. Some see Blushing Fools as a mystical order privy to cosmic secrets. Others have suggested that the aim of this utterly irreverent philosophy is to avoid developing a reputation for any holy purpose. A toast before imbibing is all the prayer these practitioners need to work holy magic.
Sabre Dancers practice a peculiar martial art that involves swaying and lurching about while wielding a sword or two. Fluid yet unpredictable motions paired with wild intuitions about the best moments to strike make these War clerics surprisingly deadly foes. Their holy vows do not require intoxication in combat, but part of their training involves wildly swinging blades about in a state of extreme drunkenness. Even members of the order admit that it takes a special sort of crazy to become a Sabre Dancer. For such people, these dangerous exercises may double as an extreme form of recreation.
Liquid Quartermasters are a popular addition to any military officer corp. Not only are they experts in procuring and shipping beer, but these Knowledge clerics can make the most of valuable wine cellar contents in captured structures. When supplies are scarce, their scripture provides excellent guidance on how to balance the priorities of rationing for the long term and indulging to elevate morale. After other interrogation techniques fail, relieved captives may spill their secrets to a Liquid Quartermaster armed with only cask and cups or a generous flask of some strong spirit.
A Salutary Brigade is the name for a loose affiliation of Life clerics who partake vigorously of every available opportunity to celebrate then linger after to assist with recovery and cleanup efforts. Their magic makes it easy to harmonize heavy drinking with a healthy lifestyle. In times of peace and prosperity, decadent nobles will sponsor Salutary Brigades to ensure, for them at least, the party never need truly come to a halt. When the land is overcome by turmoil, these same groups will bring the festivities to refugee camps and pillaged communities as part of a hollistic relief effort.

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Religious Edifices The array of structures raised for purposes of worship reflects the diversity of religious practice. The Old Faith is full of stories about the creation of enormous stone circles marking major convergences of ley lines ancient elves used to bewitch the world itself. The earliest holy sites were marked by crude shrines, but houses of worship evolved into countless forms over time. With the imposition of The Immaculate System, faith itself was consolidated. Modern temples and churches are normally among the largest stuctures in their communities. Yet some holy orders function without much in the way of permanent shelters. A healthy religion can take root in any place there is freedom to pray.
Geb (Neutral) The God of the Solid Earth is patron to miners, masons, and engineers. Farmers and builders particularly concerned with the condition of the soil may also pray to him. Various sects are united by Geb's teaching that a battle is won not always by the fighter best at lashing out, but always by the fighter who remains standing strong at the end of the clash. Large buildings often have the mark of Geb above their entrances -- a sign that an expert approves of the structure's integrity and durability.
Mudminders typically wear practical common attire even when they are not engaged in their sacred work. These Nature clerics perform acts of worship by digging at various spots in soft ground, especially when and where it is wet. This filthy endeavor enlightens them about the health of the soil. Systematic study over time allows Mudminders to recommend which crops will do best on a particular patch of ground in the next growing season as well as what precautions will best guard against blights. Even when excellent pay is available for supporting efforts to fight pestilence and rehabilitate withered lands, these humble priests sometimes request nothing more than a spade and a bucket as compensation.
φ An Earth Mother may be of either gender, but all are Life clerics who draw power from the ground to heal the afflicted. Though not absolute pacifists, their philosophy favors supporting allies over acts of aggression. A great Earth Mother instinctively makes a place of calm sanctuary amidst grave turmoil. Highly accomplished practitioners may establish homes where free healing is available to the poor. Their interiors accumulate colorful objects of folk art, and evenings there may provide opportunities to study a craft as part of a small class. Earth Mothers sometimes cast their prayers upward in remembrance of the storm goddess Tefnut, Geb's own departed mother. Almost any exasperated utterance can call down holy power for practitioners truly in need.
The Shields of Geb are War clerics who provide staying power for the military forces they accompany. It is their preference to disperse among the general rank and file. There they may hold their own as soldiers while helping fallen comrades get back in the fight. Massive expansion of Serpian armed forces created a huge growth opportunity for this sect. It is now among the ten largest in the world by number of ordained clerics, though not by number of practicing worshipers. Shields of Geb are notoriously awkward when ministering to civilians. Their holy purpose may feel unclear without a formal military command structure or worshipers struggling with the rigors of combat duty.
Bladesmelters combine the power of prayer with simple earthen furnaces to produce quality steel equipment. Their process is a fantastically advanced version of the most primitive techniques for working with iron ore. Yet these Forge clerics are more than highly productive smiths. They worship the earth by studying minerals in all their permutations. Bladesmelter scripture is laced with tidbits of metallurgy, alchemy, and and prospecting techniques. They are fascinated with enchanting and eager to exercise that ability as opportunities permit. Though some blacksmiths respect this holy order, others see them as business rivals unfairly exploiting a connection to the divine.
For major construction projects, the planning of a Knowledge cleric certified as a Reverend Architect tends to be an excellent investment. Century after century of lore has shaped elements of their theology into a modern science of stone engineering. Their holy symbols have several applications while drawing up or evaluating building plans. The considerable fees of a Reverend Architect will be more than offset by savings on material cost, accident avoidance, and upkeep requirements of any major project. For the financier with deep enough coffers, Reverend Architects can supervise the construction of marvels that push the boundaries of what stonework can sustain. The symbol of this order sculpted over the entrance to a building indicates construction consistent with a duly consecrated design.

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Necromancy Necromancers will be the first to explain that their calling is a matter of study and learning, not prayer and pacts. Yet popular superstitions about death and the undead cause common folk to assume any necromancer is dangerous and evil if not also profoundly insane. From zombie hordes to vampire lairs, civilized people regard all undead creatures as menaces to be eradicated by armies and heroes.
 Most civilized places have strict rules regarding the disposing of corpses. Even acting with the best of intentions, a necromancer may become an outlaw by treating a cemetery or a fresh battlefield as a resource. Students of this school of magic often find it difficult to obtain instruction. Accomplished practitioners typically maintain the pretense of being some other sort of wizard. Very rarely, someone will deliberately seek out this unholy alternative to reincarnation or resurrection as a means of cheating death.
Hades (Neutral Evil) The God of Tranquil Death holds a spiritual monopoly on burial rites. By agreement with all the other death gods, only a priest of Hades can bestow a meaningful blessing on the guest of honor at a funeral. Thus the sinister deity has a small presence in virtually every city. In turn, these funerary halls support a network of travelling undertakers servicing almost all civilized people. They excel at officiating quiet, somber, and dignified events. Perhaps more importantly, they are bound by vows to effectively bury human remains deeply enough to discourage grave robbing or other tampering.
Morticians must be Life clerics to fully command modern techniques of corpse restoration. They are expected to maintain formal attire while going about their business. The most skilled can give a badly mutilated body the appearance of a peaceful person apparently asleep. The order also has extensive lore about viewings and memorials extending services beyond a simple funeral. While a single gold coin respects what scripture demands, the bereaved sometimes spend a fortune on consecrated shrouds, upholstered coffins, and "afterlife supplies." Morticians are well-known wherever people bury their dead, though in total their numbers are not overwhelming. Yet this holy order is such a cultural phenomenon that they inspire many disaffected youths to worship Hades.
Grave clerics versed in dealing with all types of undead menace, Rekillers believe their holy purpose is to destroy such entities. Students at their elite academies also partake of eclectic studies at other institutions of higher learning. All seek encyclopedic knowledge of undead creatures, with particular emphasis on vulnerabilities. Rekillers see themselves as rampaging destructively against the accomplishments of necromancers, but some members of this holy order become popular heroes due to the happy side effect of increased public safety in the wake of their slaughters.
Death Knight may refer to a powerful undead creature, though it is also the term for any priest among an order of War clerics who crave killing with their distinctive blend of precision swordplay and vicious maledictions. Their fanatical devotion to etiquette and protocol is evident in every action. Death Knights are rarely encountered nowadays, though some say legions of them are quietly honing their skills because they would face a hostile crusade if the extent of their power was widely understood. Members of this order often strive for a place in the aristocracy. Where ruthless effectiveness in battle can earn such an honor, they have been known to achieve this goal and promote the worship of Hades among their own troops.
Extremely shady people always seem to know how to reach out to a Cleaner. These fastidious Trickery clerics not only see to the respectful disposal of corpses, but they are downright religious about attempting to restore the scene of a death to whatever condition it was in prior to that event. This holy purpose proves remarkably convenient for violent beings with crimes to conceal. An influential secret society in their own right, the Cleaners are privy to the inner workings of many other conspiracies, since nobody is better at converting a bloodbath into a mysterious disappearance. In realms riddled with secrets, these priests literally know where the bodies are buried.
φ Hellfire Preachers strain the concept of "holy" in both conduct and spellcasting. They often smell of brimstone and soot even when at rest. These Light clerics express their displeasure by venting flames directly from the furnaces of the afterlife. Their sermons can be even more destructive. Incendiary condemnations pervade booming warnings of an infernal apocalypse. Narratives often lack coherence, compensating through pure intensity. Listeners are motivated to condemn the sinfulness of enemies. Some rally and purge the impure from this life to avoid their own eternal damnation. From lynch mobs to rebel riots, Hellfire Preachers are ideally suited to the task of whipping a crowd of non-combatants into a rabble determined to do terrible violence.

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Celestial Patriarchy Scholars of religious history believe active female deities, while still a minority, numbered no less than twelvescore during the Age of Heroes. An important provision of The Immaculate System allowed for one deity to represent a married couple in the emergent pantheon. The wives of several gods voluntarily departed, securing their husbands' places in the new order. Some remaining deities favored the idea of an exclusively male peer group.
 Hel did not share this accord. A dangerous enemy responsible for untold death, she was also a logical addition to Shang-Ti's unfolding scheme. A place was made for Hel, though it was not to be a position of glory. She was assigned to rule gradual aspects of death, and she would have no involvement with more sociable teams of her peers. The Immaculate System may be considered intensely patriarchal since the only female in its divine power structure appears to hold the lowest level of prestige.
Hel (Neutral Evil) The Goddess of Cursed Afflictions, thwarted in her quest to rule the afterlife, purportedly leads a solitary existence at the center of an icy vortex blowing about the region bearing her name. She is nonetheless a death goddess, her portfolio covering plagues, poisons, curses, and progressive infirmities. Hel worship is never widely celebrated, but she is sustained by the passion of scorned outcasts and hateful secret societies.
φ Vicious Malefactors believe the world exists to torment its inhabitants. Clerical pracitioners work holy magic even while profaning the gods aloud. They do harm to others based on the notion that fulfilling this role will minimize their own suffering. Deceptions, disguises, and minions are favored tools of Vicious Malefactors. The most cunning adherents will unravel great institutions with whatever mix of betrayals and direct attacks will get the job done. Despite its pernicious nature, attitudes about this philosophy are surprisingly varied. Some cultures tolerate popular literature skewering the hypocrisies of mainstream religions while promoting a destructive moral outlook. Much like unholy rites hidden in various occult texts, the deeper meaning of these modern polemics can unlock the powers of a Vicious Malefactor.
The Mushroom Hunters are Nature clerics studied in much more than mycology, though some seek religious ecstasy through the consumption of consecrated mushroom beverages. Most of these priests cultivate patches of various medicinal precursors near their shrines and homes. Some even harvest venom from wild beasts. Dwarves tend to do well in this holy order that routinely handles toxic substances. Habitually gathering ingredients and brewing concoctions, they serve and support their faith as vendors of poison. Mushroom Hunter scriptures contain many parables instructive in the delicate business of selling supplies to assassins. The most accomplished members of this holy order may branch out into love potions and other elixirs.
Plaguemongers are widely despised Life clerics who immerse themselves in the most virulent epidemics. They explain their actions as healers in search of a better understanding of disease. Selectively curing defenders and operatives, members of this sect quickly establish their own support networks inside striken communities. Yet observers have noted that these outbreaks sometimes occur well after a Plaguemonger's arrival. Educated people today understand that these priests are driven by a holy mission to cause the largest contagions they can. History judges few as harshly as unscrupulous lords known to employ this holy order as a means of subjugating hostile cities. Wherever any true religions are forbidden, this holy order is sure to be included in the ban.
Spirit Shepherds pair a reassuring name with a horrifying specialty. Venting Hel's resentment at her low place in the cosmic hierarchy, these Grave clerics happily consort with intelligent undead. They also manipulate large assemblies of mindless creatures, often driving these hordes into civilized areas. Typically working in cells similar to witches' covens, this order closely guards the secrets of its scriptures. Some say their holy purpose is to eradicate the undead by orchestrating conflicts with the living, though others believe Spirit Shepherds are motivated purely by the destruction itself. When they are not ministering to vampires or steering a skeletal army, these malevolent priests may yet keep one or two mindless thralls on hand as disposable servants.
φ Trickery clerics obsessed with concealing all signs of aging and injury, Face Painters are often employed by aristocrats and prostitutes alike. Their philosophy demands quality in the production and application of cosmetic enhancements. Many refuse to be seen in public without elaborate makeup. Their prayers often call upon "style," "glamor," or "allure," in the search for spiritual power. Face Painters earn goodwill in some communities by donating beautiful masks to people with facial deformities. Others may buy these skillfully crafted masks and gift them as a form of insult. These priests are particularly kind to the elderly and some sorts of outcasts, donning disguises to inflict severe cruelties on anyone known to mock or assault others on the basis of physical appearance.
Oracles of Doom are Knowledge clerics who do immense damage by sharing insightful warnings of danger with hostile powers able to exploit these prophecies. Barring that, the priests attempt to incite panic with false warnings of catastrophe. Oracles of Doom also directly curse their foes, in both conversation and combat. They seem relentlessly devoted to spreading misery for its own sake. Yet members of this order often avoid mistreatment by calling attention to some more pressing threat than their presence. Any non-clerical followers of this faith tend to be dejected thralls. Past tragedy leaves them convinced that loyalty to an Oracle of Doom is the least awful among an array of desperately bleak options.

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Lei Kung (Lawful Evil) The God of Troubling Storms is worshiped mainly by spiteful and destructive people. His is not the trouble of anarchy. Those who would destroy only to clear a path for a new and more severe order -- Lei Kung strikes with them. His temples are simultaneously bases of support for warmongers and sources of protection against bandits. The most ruthless generals work well with priests of this faith.
The Calamitous Thunderbirds are an order of militant Tempest clerics focused on doing as much damage as possible in as little time as possible. They crave mounts and magic to provide additional speed, and they often supplement electrical assaults with archery. Their tactics almost always involve a swift and direct assault with concentrated destructive power. When a band of Calamitous Thunderbirds strikes in unison, there may be no survivors. Those who endure a seemingly apocalyptic blitz may live out the rest of their days trembling at the sound of approaching hoofbeats. They make highly effective shock troops for employers who agree to allow unlimited destruction in the area around each objective.
Stormsmiths often train as blacksmiths and always train as Forge clerics. Charging into battle with hammers in hand, their mix of faith and brawn is invariably an intimidating sight. After great victories, they sometimes linger on the battlefield to pound their enemies into flattened remnants of themselves. When worthy allies are unarmed, these priests can call down cold-forged iron in a bolt from the sky. Many Stormsmiths sport heavy suits fashioned from the remains of fallen foes' armor . . . if not also the foes themselves. Some produce menacing clangs and booms without any need to beat on their own shields. This holy order is particularly fervent in their emnity for Thor and his devotees.
The Tsunami Force has its roots the Elatolian Hegemony's efforts to annex To-Shin. These War clerics seal their scriptures in waterproof containers. The literature itself is rich with lore about amphibious assaults and ship to ship combat. Members of this holy order often train and support marine combatants. Their sacred purpose is to remind coastal communities that the sea may surge up and overwhelm them with little warning. They do not condone raiding parties, but Tsunami Force teachings strongly favor invaders over defenders. Though they can channel miracles even in the dryest deserts, daily prayers for a reunion with the ocean are a must whenever these priests travel far inland.
Recovery Squads present themselves as civic-minded priests eager to help, but these Life clerics take advantage of opportunities created by natural disasters. In the worst cases, the disasters are not entirely natural. Still, in the aftermath these seemingly compassionate spellcasters will provide healing and restoration services -- to those survivors best able to finance the costly operations of the Squad, of course. Recovery Squads are dependable in honoring relief agreements once payment has been accepted. Some aristocrats fund them in advance to prevent competing interests from outbidding in time of crisis. This order is often able to establish itself in egalitarian communities through conventional ministry and premium tithing, which is enough to justify subsequent helpful deeds by their creed so long as payments remain up to date.
φ The Eyes of the Storm are Grave clerics who see life as a competition to win a favorable place in the afterlife. The tally of enemies slain and allies revived from the brink of death is balanced against a litany of personal shortcomings. Adherents to this philosophy seek out violent clashes and create a place of calm right at the heart of great battles. Many miracles have followed from the rush of religious fervor an overwhelmed squad feels while literally living on a prayer. Said prayers inveriably involve bragging out past kills or glorifying dealy intentions. Deaths are common and conversions are rare for this holy order. It goes one because those conversions take place in huge swarms when survivors of a harrowing battle suddenly understand that they too have a destiny to compete for a high score on judgement day.

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Atheism Doubting that the gods exist is considered insanity. They plainly do exist, and their miracles can be witnessed even by common folk. However, there are those who believe that the gods are not actually beings of vast cosmic power playing vital roles in the spirituality of the universe. Some see all clerics as tricksters, divine magic nothing more than the whim of extremely learned alien wizards or guileful demons. A famous philosopher once suggested, "any sufficiently advanced enchantment is indistinguishable from divinity."
 Just as some people make a choice not to eat meat, atheists are individuals who will refuse the benefits of divine magic, thinking it immoral or even unhealthy. In fact, the most strident of atheists talk of "faith dependence" as if repeated exposure to holy benedictions could create a dangerous need for more. There is at least a little evidence this might actually be the case. Extremely pious people who abandon or are cast out of their churches seem especially prone to both mental and physical ailments.
Loki (Chaotic Evil) For the God of Endless Disguises, this world is but one of many venues where other deities may be deceived and humiliated. He is especially popular with charlatans, bandits, and other renegades. He is considered a villainous figure not just by the Norish, but nearly all who know the name "Loki." Their congregations often masquerade as other organizations to avoid hostile interference with worship and other gatherings. This often leads to alliances with outlaws and other fringe groups.
Deranged Jester Mob is, against all logic and reason, a wildly popular global organization. These Trickery clerics wear bizarre or comical facepaint whenever they are out in public. They often approach strangers in a menacing way, though they do not engage in unprovoked public attacks. Disaffected youths may become infaturated by these displays of bold impropriety. The gratuitously zany antics of Jesters appeal to ordinary folk starved for entertainment, drawing a well-defined subculture to their outdoor religious revival events. Known to insiders simply as DJM. Authorities are often alarmed by the presence of this holy order, but public outrage is always wildly disproportionate to actual criminal activity.
φ Lycanthropes who regard shapeshifters as superior beings are welcome among the Unbreakable Pack. This fellowship of Nature clerics venerates werecreatures and a variety of other entities not bound to a single form. In some lands these priests prepare feeding grounds so that fledgeling werebeasts can develop their skills in relative safety. Aspiring to support shapeshifters, these spellcasters may operate hideouts, supply caches, and secure sanctuaries. Members of the Unbreakable Pack sometimes find ecstasy in sacrificing victims to rampaging monsters in residence. Engaging in various illegal practices dictates remote locations for compounds run according to this philosophy. Yet Unbreakable Pack strongholds sometimes become the heart of larger outlaw communities.
The Wildfires are a sect of explosively violent Light clerics known for leaving trails of char and ash in their wake. Their primary tactical preference is revealed by the name of their most esteemed gospel, The Book of Scorched Earth. Some military men respect this order because its power can be harnessed to damage the enemy, but this is a rare exception to the broad public contempt for all things related to Loki. Wildfires only make matters worse by occasionally immolating strangers over petty grievances. Their holy purpose is to achieve inner peace, yet their teachings idealize achieving this through the incineration of anything that disturbs a priest's personal tranquility. They learn to take solace in whatever flames linger after their troubles have been silenced.
Though the term now refers to any soldier who switches sides during an ongoing conflict, the original Turncoats sustain a holy order of specialists in this form of duplicity. These Forge clerics may appear as neutral bystanders tending to the wounded and fallen. They offer vital aid to distract from pilferage of tabards, badges, and other military paraphernalia. Miracles of faith equip them with just the right weapons and armor to complete a uniformed look. Turncoats allow personal whims and arbitrary coin tosses to guide their choices when wreaking havoc by fighting for one side or betraying it to another. This sect sees zero demand for mercenary work. No fee actually buys their loyalty. Yet the order continues to recruit from deserters and outlaws unable to find any other sanctuary.
The Discordians are a sect of Knowledge clerics intent on disrupting any and all forms of government. Before departing this world, the goddess Eris wed Loki in an effort to muddle The Immaculate System. As a result, Discordian priests pray effectively in her name. Each member of this order appropriates the loftiest religious rank applicable to the region. True anarchists, they embrace a holy purpose to challenge every orthodoxy and promote individual self-determination. Memorable encounters with these priests often leave witnesses gushing about passionate insights shared during a brief interaction. Whether unravelling a mighty regime or perpetrating an obscure prank, Discordians leave a signature gilded apple to take credit for the upheavals they cause.

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Alignment Philosophies Agents of Equilibrium, Just Lawgivers, Merry Hoodlums, Selfless Benefactors, Solicitous Drafters, Sovereign Renegades, Tidal Movers, Upstanding Counselors, and Vicious Malefactors are granted holy blessings by Dagda, Chung Kuel, Zeus, Odin, Arawn, Ma Yuan, Mannanan Mac Lir, Shang Ti, and Hel respectively. Like all philosophers, these spellcasters never need mention any specific god or participate in conventional acts of worship. They channel energy by calling out to an abstract principle or invoking some sort of authority. The best philosophers embrace the intellectual form by becoming well-versed in the reasoning behind their ethical positions. These arguments remain compelling across all domains. Yet philosophical practice remains funamentally spiritual. Divine energy only empowers spellcasters who remain true to relevant beliefs.
 Individuals who feel a strong connection to their alignment may also be drawn to one of these nine philosophies. Many practitioners are wellsprings of insight about how to make the most of a commitment to a specific morality. Alignment philosophers are not obliged to spread their beliefs, but the words and deeds of some are extremely influential. Priests of compatible alignment may enjoy discussing ethics with this type of philosopher. Some are former priests themselves, having parted ways with a rigid holy order. Others are seekers open to a divine calling that they have yet to experience. Yet for most philosophers, dedication to these beliefs is a power they know to be personal despite whatever role the Fivesquare Pantheon plays in governing spiritual magic.
Mannanan Mac Lir (Chaotic Neutral) The God of Watery Depths hears prayers from almost every mariner. Having driven off many other great sea deities, his personal domain covers more than half the surface of the world. Countless sailors who make no time for churchgoing still know by heart the Prayer of Aquatic Triumph, once used to beg for mercy in emergencies and now a matter of morning rote aboard ship. His intense interest in the flourishing undersea nations of merfolk, nixies, tritons, et al. causes the surface of Mannanan Mac Lir's oceans to be much less turbulent than the waters of earlier eras.
The Sunken Saints are an order of Nature clerics who take their name from an ancient fellowship of sea creatures who thwarted the rise of an unholy aquatic empire. Variety and abundance flowing through constant change is a sacred path they pursue to combat any interest in occult powers. Sunken Saint scripture includes extensive commentaries on the use of nets and traps, both in contexts of monster hunting and gathering food. Today the terrestrial members of this order minister mostly to fishing villages. Worshipers who tithe generously attain bountiful hauls. The Sunken Saints are much more common throughout the Imperium Maris where rank in their order conveys law enforcement authority.
φ Tidal Movers contend that life is only at its best in the midst of great change. The singular requirement of their belief system is a search for unfamiliar experiences. Enthusiasts of this philosophy are consistent only in their inconsistency. Drawn to warzones and wilderness areas, Tidal Movers tend to stir up trouble wherever none is afoot. Some deliberatly seek outlaw status. To face something entirely new is a treat for these clerics, doubly so if the final outcome is uncertain. Practitioners may be drawn to this philosophy after rejecting a rigid worldview, since one of its core teachings is that mortals will never fully comprehend morality. Spellcasters inspired by these ideas find power faltering only if their prayers or their lifestyles remain constant across a significant span of time.
Though it has prior resonance as slang for "sailor," a Spinach-Eater is a Life cleric trained for ministering to seafarers. Their name comes from ritual distribution of the plant, known to ward against afflictions common during long voyages. Sailing with such a priest may extend provisions and guard against contagions. If a port lacks one of their distinctive dockside temple-warehouses, locals in the shipping trade should be able to point out a tavern or drinking hall where Spinach-Eaters are known to congregate. Some take full advantage of special jurisdictions in harbor districts, conducting otherwise illicit trade. This holy order often has ties to local rogues able to facilitate smuggling or the sale of goods stolen in distant lands.
Responsible for establishing modern trade routes linking the Orient to Serpia, Cardinal Navigators are Knowledge clerics constantly sharing information to maintain charts of wind patterns and ocean currents. Their scriptures contain methods for anticipating and avoiding gargantua as well as the worst sorts of storms to form between Mainland and the Orient. Transoceanic voyages face likely doom without such expertise on board. Some naval officers are ordained in this faith, though a tendency to speak in technical terms and avoid conflict makes Cardinal Navigators unlikely captains. These priests wear distinctive red robes or coats to discourage attacks against their holy persons during ship to ship combat.
φ Wild Maelstroms believe drama is so vital to life that they actively seek out conflict and pull their associates into the thick of every personal struggle. With prayers dedicated to their own ambitions, whimsy constantly reshapes the philosophy of these Tempest clerics. They are quick to act disruptively in order to become the center of attention. Even among equals they may behave as if flanked by a team of sidekicks. Yet others may be drawn to the turmoil that constantly swirls around Wild Maelstroms. Time in their company is rarely dull. Some become eclectic performers, travelling widely and integrating an assortment of influences into their own work. Other practitioners are compulsive adventurers, always on the lookout for dramatic obstacles to overcome.
Many old Temples of Poseidon are now operated by Retarii, War clerics who equip themselves with tridents and nets. Their sacred duty invovles preserving a fighting style that was a staple of ancient marine warfare. Rituals among this sect strongly resemble the rites of a Dead God, and they are regarded as heretics by some followers of Mannanan Mac Lir. Aquatic raiders have been known to strike Retarii compounds on land. Yet on the sea floor this holy order serves as the spiritual backbone of the only permanent army in the Imperium Maris. From time to time an individual Retarius manages to promote this divinely-inspired martial art by thriving as a celebrity on the gladiatorial circuit.

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The Dead Gods There are documented claims of miraculous occurences following prayers to over ten thousand different entities. During the Age of Heroes, hundreds of gods granted power to a myriad of clerics. Today there are exactly twenty-five gods whose worshipers wield verifiably divine magic. Many deities voluntarily departed from a crowded and contentious pantheon. Others ceded their power in this world after losing the sorts of peculiar wagers or contests that only make sense among immortals.
 As this Great Consolidation accelerated, some gods took to direct avatar vs. avatar combat. A gargantuan monster named Ma Yuan plunged into these struggles, violently vanquishing deities at an alarming pace. Shang-Ti pledged his support on the condition the ascendant murder god end this deicide spree. Tales of the Dead Gods fill history books today, and modern religious practices contain enormous amounts of material borrowed from defunct sects.
Ma Yuan (Chaotic Evil) The God of Bloody Murder is the only member of the Fivesquare Pantheon who is not widely recognized as a deity across many other planes of existence. During the Age of Heroes, Ma Yuan savagely defeated so many rivals that the Regal Deities feared his might would soon surpass their own. Now he inspires dark faiths that appeal to cravings for death and destruction. Most of his temples and shrines are in remote locations. Powerful monstrous allies may prowl the surrounding wilderness.
Though the term also applies to a carnivore that is never prey itself, an Apex Predator may instead be a War cleric devoted to becoming stronger by devouring select body parts harvested from enemies defeated in combat. Many of these priests maintain a set of sacred butchery tools seperate from their weaponry. With scripture and prayers keenly focused on Ma Yuan's unconventional method of divine ascension, members of this holy order believe they will be transformed through the killing and eating of creatures more powerful than themselves. Some Apex Predators abstain from cannibalism, but their empowerment requires at least one weekly meal made from an unconfined creature personally slain. The spiritual value of each feast is derived from the level of threat or technical difficulty overcome during the hunt.
The Dragon Gang is a global criminal syndicate that employs dragonborn guards, though it is led by a terrifying sect of Knowledge clerics. This outlaw organization is strongest where harsh authorities create the most lucrative opportunities for professional gangsters. Squads of suicidal fanatics enable this worldwide secret religion to project power even into the most well-regulated of quarters. Little is known about their sacred rituals, since the killing of innocent witnesses appears to be a standard practice. Though fear motivates the payment of protection money to this sect, the Dragon Gang will deploy formidable combat assets when their protectees are under threat. Some actual dragons number among those assets, though most of dragonkind wants nothing to do with this spiritual mafia.
φ Sovereign Renegades see the world as a collection of resources to exploit however they see fit. Their prayers take the form of grandiose proclamations establishing their personal discretion as superior to all legal authorities. Some are dismissive of all critiques, judgements, and advice they do not interpret as supportive. Any literature that encourages readers to prioritize self-interest above all other concerns may prove inspirational to Sovereign Renegades. No government deliberately fosters this philosophy among its own people, but these teachings sometimes thrive as a reaction to draconian enforcement practices. In oppressive societies, some may see these fiercely independent individuals as role models. Yet everywhere these spellcasters are known, law enforcers regard them as troublemakers.
The Savage Talons are a shadowy sect of Trickery clerics who often affiliate with monks and assassins. Remote monasteries provide venues for instilling a code of conduct that demands extremes of subtlety in peace and bloodlust in conflict. Their scriptures are full of fables to impart wisdom and exercises to promote physical ability. Training is a crucial thread in the holy urpose of a Savage Talon. Normally cloaked and furtive, in battle they attack with relentless brutality. Well after victory they may continue to slash and bash the corpses of their enemies. Surviving witnesses of such attacks are often traumatized by the memory. These brutal priests are notoriously difficult to track when they abstain from leaving trails of heavily mutilated bodies.
φ Monstrous Reavers equate killing with thriving. These Forge clerics make use of superior weapons to achieve the highest possible body count. They embrace a "kill or be killed" outlook. Many academics see this philosophy as devoid of value, yet it is practiced by some of the wisest goblinoids. Arming and protecting allies can convert a starving brood into a burgeoning warband. Yet other Monstrous Reavers may find their passion for violence prevents them from becoming part of any large group. The healing magic of these practitioners often leaves reminders of injuries even after restoring function and fitness. Most proudly accumulate scars over the course of their careers. Though they prefer to settle disputes with steel, these philosophers are entirely capable of arguing the merits of their murderous beliefs.
The Bloodthirsty are a sect of Nature clerics known for operating large institutions in major cities for the purpose of placating or diverting gargantuan monsters. Gruesome rites and perilous duties complicate recruiting, though several heroic orcs in Bloodthirsty scripture serve to draw people with that ancestry to this holy order. Their sacred scrolls feature crucial lessons about how to feed and otherwise pacify terrifying creatures on an active rampage. Initiates repeatedly face deadly beasts, steeling themselves to be dutiful despite fear. Bloodthirsty priests track gargantua and study them from afar, sometimes finding fortune amidst the devastation they leave behind. Yet their primary income is provided by city leaders willing to pay dearly to prevent the sight of a gargantua on the horizon bringing a halt to peaceful commerce.

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Odin (Neutral Good) The God of the Final Battle is nearly as powerful as Zeus himself. Those two locked in mortal conflict would precipitate a world-ending event known as Ragnorak. Odin is particularly popular with generals and other strategists, as he is thought to be forever planning this grand apocalypse. He is often honored at midwinter yule festivals, with people the world over customarily expressing joy at having survived the year. Earthly representatives of Odin preach that one decisive battle matters more than one thousand inconclusive fights.
  Odin is accustomed to holding supreme being status. On this world he makes due as leader of the War Gods and a cosmic check on the power of Zeus. His recruitment was a delicate matter, since he embraced the position of commander-in-chief for The Immaculate System only to discover the long term plan maintained peaceful harmony among the gods. Now Odin constantly broods over different dramatic possibilities for a celestial endgame while relishing every opportunity he has to rise up against unholy incursions.
The Asgardians were a diverse group of deities revered throughout ancient Wotania. Their cosmology of a "middle world" forged from the bones of primordial giants with a history that began at the fall of the Imperium Arcanum. Children of the first human superpower were raised on tales of Asgardian heroism in the face of overwhelming evil. So much of this lore continues to echo all over the world in songs of ancient conflict and battles against ferocious monsters. Asgardian Forge clerics preserve shrines housing runes carved thousands of years ago. They also promote traditional methods of making and using heavy military equipment. Individual cells of Asgardians may develop strong beliefs, but larger gatherings immediately spark disagreements settled either by friendly competitions or deadly duels.
Among the largest sects as measured by clergy or worshipers, the All-Father's Shields are an extremely diverse order of War clerics known to travel with barbarians, berzerkers, and other bold warriors. In peacetime this holy order promotes war by sermonizing about battlefield heroism and playing out possible scenarios in the form of elaborate tabletop games. These exercises make them formidable strategists. The most senior priests may become trusted advisors to a general or admiral. All-Father's Shields more typically constitute the leadership of a warband. They meditate often on the capabilities and limitations of their allies. Assorted plans and contingencies enable these priests conceptualize each moment in battle as a puzzle. Solutions to these puzzles are sought through a mix of tactical prayers and calculated analyses.
φ Selfless Benefactors believe the world exists to help life achieve its potential. They dedicate themselves to making things better on every level. Personally they seek out learning opportunities and sponsor education or training for others when possible. Healing the sick and injured is always a high priority. In their communities they lead efforts to address neglected problems and promote constructive activities. Where these efforts are rewarded, Selfless Benefactors may keep a comfortable home and some financial reserves, yet even their own fortunes primarily fund philanthropic efforts. With prayers directed at all manner of virtues, the unifying theme of this philosophy is a commitment to helping others.
The Truthsayers are an influential sect of Knowledge clerics famed for building absurdly large churches. Normally reserved for worship or ceremonial use, when the general public is called to these vast sanctuaries, it is understood that credible omens warn danger is imminent. Much of the funding for these facilities is a reward for giving wise counsel to the elite, though a sly Truthsayer may ocassionally indulge in a binge of professional gambling.
The Weathermen are not exclusively male, but they are a sect of Tempest clerics expert in manipulating the sky to influence the outcome of a battle. They consistently venerate Frigga, a Dead Goddess, yet their prayers yield real divine magic. Theologists believe Odin supports the Weathermen, though it is unclear if this is an act of devotion to his departed wife or an action taken for strategic reasons.

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Sacred Scriptures Every holy order has chosen one or more books of religious lore to be a guide all the faithful ought study and revere. Fundamentalist sects insist their scripture is flawless and sacrosanct, though disputes may emerge from interpretation. Yet there are faiths that teach scripture as allegory meant to enlighten and inspire rather than dictate explicit commandments. Most religions tolerate some doctrinal flexibility while maintaining that their teachings are divinely inspired and superior to any alternative. A huge portion of traditional art and music retells tales taken from major scriptures, so dj vu is commonly experienced when perusing holy books. Some scriptures are reproduced in staggering numbers as a means of spreading the faith, though it also reinforces lore and doctrines to working scribes.
Oghma (Neutral) The God of Accumulated Lore is revered by sages and scholars. He is also popular among bards, particularly those committed to memorizing great works of oral history. Respectable libraries often contain a small shrine to Oghma. Illiterate folk know they can look to Oghma's priests for scribe services as well as healing and spiritual advice. Authors and wizards may seek them out for premium papers and inks or even bookbinding assistance. Neat handwriting is a spiritual virtue for followers of Oghma.
 • The Blessed Archivists are soft-spoken Knowledge clerics who adhere to a rigorous code of conduct. This committment is minimally restrictive on broad questions of morality, but it stipulates an elaborate set of best practices for the handling, transcription, and storage of documents. Such expertise is in demand among great leaders, so well-funded Archivist seminaries are hubs for the open exchange of information about current events.
 • The Keymasters are War clerics who maintain living archives in the form of jails and dungeons. Scripture demands that they maintain a clean environment and see to the health of their prisoners. Yet preventing escape is the foremost duty of the Keymaster, so they train and equip for intense close quarters combat.
 • The Whispering Seekers are an order of Nature clerics with an unrivalled reputation for being able to track down fugitives and missing persons, exploiting animals as needed to do this. Though they are not forbidden to lie, their reputations as honest brokers of observations from the wilderness creates much demand for them to serve as spies and scouts. Near their hushed cloisters, Seekers tend to maintain a network of familiar and reliable animal informants.

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Cosmic Loopholes The Old Faith gives accomplished druids the power to bring recently deceased people back to life in entirely new bodies. Divine magic enables priests of comparable experience to restore life to an intact corpse. The wisest and holiest of clergy may even possess the means to revive persons from remains long dead. Regime change sometimes involves securing the allegiance of prominent religious figures at least until the return of a slain leader is no longer plausible.
 Ordinary approaches to cheating death involve understanding the spiritual flows by which the gods reap souls from this world and sow pregnant wombs with new life. Grand masters of the divine approach supplement extensive learning and devoted prayers with fragments of their own spirits, often enduring an agonizing void until they have recovered from the sacrifice. Though common folk favor the burial or destruction of bodies to prevent necromantic tampering; dignataries often opt for formal tombs. Some make further arrangements, transforming death from an ultimate fate to a temporary setback.
Osiris (Lawful Good) The God of Noble Sacrifice is served by charismatic preachers in every corner of the world. Followers of this deity advocate an extreme and unyielding morality, but the particulars of it make them well-respected in most civilized lands. Osiris is regarded as the embodiment of cyclical life, death, and renewal. Autumn harvest festivals are consecrated in his name, and his worshipers customarily give thanks in prayer before eating a proper meal. Despite high ethical rigor, the doctrine of Osiris also allows for forgiveness and spiritual rebirth -- a fresh start after repudiating and condemning prior bad acts. Even harsh judgements must be sacrificed when a redemption is true and good.
 • Cultivationists are a huge sect of Nature clerics famed for expertise at providing agricultural support. Their scripture offers much guidance on choosing times for the of planting and harvesting various crops. Both activities are part of a sacred cycle that must be perpetuated to nourish worshipers and the communities around them. Countless Cultivationist ministers maintain tiny churches in rural communities.
 • The Martyrs of Osiris are War clerics who believe the road to paradise involves dying in service to a righteous crusade. They are obsessive about spiritual purity, and they can often be found among like-minded paladins. Martyrs teach that sacrifices to good causes are a justification essential for partaking of pleasures in this life or the next.
 • There are no healing specialists more respected than the Order of Ouroboros. If one of their temples does not harbor a Life cleric able to perform the greatest of miracles, the senior priest will at least know how to send a message to a distant specialist in the application of this most holy power. Their rites honor Isis alongside Osiris, and novices often act as midwives in order to better understand how life enters this world.

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Funding the Faith Custom holds that one-tenth part of a worshiper's income ought be tithed to a temple or church. The Forked Tongue Society is financed almost entirely by the tithing of well-compensated killers for hire. Some militant holy orders operate units of mercenaries, supporting the ministry with tithed spoils of war. Many religions make it their mission to help local farmers and artisans because more prosperous folk make greater contributions when they attend religious services.
 Some funds from outside the sect are considered donations in support of a sacred purpose, but others are openly regarded as the price of a good or service. Cardinal Navigators and Reverend Architects can be hired by anyone, but their terms always require freedom to perform applicable rites. Morticians are trained to tolerate all manner of prayers at a funeral, so long as the God of Tranquil Death is permitted a single mention (and his earthly representative is given at least one gold coin.) Heavenly Vintners and Mushroom Hunters are vendors by religious calling, though often they reserve the best stock for like-minded worshipers. Religious finance is nearly as diverse as the practice of faith itself.
Ptah (Lawful Neutral) The God of the Marvelous Forge is popular with bankers, tinkers, and all sorts of metalworkers. With intense emphasis on precision and consistency, artisans faithful to Ptah show religious devotion in their feats of crafting. His priests are reliable sources of information on where to find the best tools and materials in the area. Some governments entrust his priests to supervise the minting of currency.
Synod Jewelers are governed by an incalculably wealthy council of Light clerics who teach a spiritual approach to working with precious metals and gemstones. Notable halflings hold senior positions in this organization. Synod priests stringently enforce standards of business integrity on worshipers' shops as well as their own. This keeps pricing in the treasure trade fair, but it does not prevent a major transaction from being complicated by a assorted additional fees or a long contract of convoluted terms in miniscule writing.
Shining Steelmongers are a trade association led by a brawny sect of War clerics. Their holy book has much to say about furnaces and smelting, but it is also packed full of guidance on preparing and working with exotic alloys. Typically they live out a holy quest to procure and flaunt the best custom-made weapons and armor they can forge or commission. Often dwarves are contenders for the top prize at Shining Steelmongers' glittering pageants of heavy combat gear. Though they may use textile greatcloaks for concealment, members of this holy order refuse any application of filth or paint to dim the reverently-polished surfaces of their gear.
φ Fatesmiths claim to have one eye for metal and the other for mettle. These Forge clerics often have a role in supervising the equipping of armies. Yet they take the greatest satisfactoin from personal relationships with warriors they identify as linked to a great destiny. Willing beneficiaries can expect blessings, equipment, and moral guidance. Some Fatesmiths claim credit for providing kings and generals with the steel to succeed. Others benefit the community by counseling ruffians and outlaws into fighting on the side of civilized authorities.
Skygazers are an order of Tempest clerics developing theology that aspires to predict the weather. Keeping journals with sketches and extensive descriptions of clouds is a devotional act for them. Competing models of pattern formation are informed by endless Skygazer debates as well as a growing array of experimental instruments that sample the environment. Scientific measurements inform their predictions, though many druids achieve superior accuracy without benefit of any technology. Of course, the forecasts of Skygazers are 100% accurate when powerful prayers make good on their predictions.
The Apparatus Society maintains a network of temple-workshops to support all manner of tinkers, technologists, and engineers. Optics and astronomy are popular interests among this sect of Knowledge clerics. Their gospels elaborate on the workings of machines fabled for perfect exactitude in shaping parts for other machines. Also the group has a fair number of gnomes in its congregations, with some holding positions of clerical seniority. Uninitiatied outsiders are often unwelcome since they have been known to fearfully smash delicate clockwork innovations.

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The Sun Gods At the height of the turmoil preceding the Great Consolidation, sun priests were common on the battlefield. It was not easy to overlook their holy radiance and fiery onslaughts. As conditions on the ground stabilized, Ra remained in command of a strong team while the mightiest of all the gods, Zeus, was protective of his loyal ally Apollo. Truscan legions turned back hordes of Ra's zealots as wave after wave rolled westard, but Apollo's crusaders fared no better on their many eastbound campaigns.
 In a bargain only the gods could comprehend, a truce was forged designating Ra "God of the Rising Sun" and Apollo "God of the Setting Sun." Though there is still a little tension between followers of these two deities, it is nothing compared to the savage holy wars of an earlier era. Today some cities even see unified sun worship complexes where different holy orders take shifts praising the world's primary source of light and warmth.
Ra (Neutral Good) The God of the Rising Sun is chief among the Serpian deities, worshiped the world over by seekers of enlightenment and moral guidance. Once an overwhelming presence spanning all of Serpia, his worshipers dwindled first during the Truscan Hegemony and again during a flurry of spectacular betrayals by pontiffs turning to Set. Even in harsh times, priests of Ra tend to remain men and women of good cheer, always eager to help those who pair real need with no ill intentions.
 Ra's place in The Immaculate System is sometimes reduced by the language of mortals to cosmic scheduler. It is true that one of his most important duties involves shaping the seasons by choosing the arc of the Sun each morning. Yet he has far greater mastery of time and space. Fundamental forces, like light or heat, are easily bent to Ra's will. His influence inspires the extraordinary arcane and scientific progress of peoples presently affiliated with the Serpian Empire.
Though subject to many evolutions, the most popular pantheon in eastern Mainland during the Age of Heroes was anchored by a group of nine constant deities. The much larger group is still known today as the Ennead. Various fellowships and brotherhoods, sometimes reflecting the absolute patriarchy of religious ordination in the archaic versions of these faiths, preserve towering archives of scrolls penned by priests of the Ennead. The clerics are fanatical guardians of ancient monuments and secret treasures as well as their collections of lore. Gatherings of Ennead priests tend to be collegial, with tolerance for almost any opinion that does not promote the destruction of holy relics. When a great pyramid or ancient library is under threat, members of this faith may rally in its defense.
 • Solar Singers are Life clerics committed to delivering five loud vocal performances between sunrise and sunset each day. Their sect once collected tithes from a large majority of Serpians, and today the Singers remain a major force for good in a part of the world plagued by growing darkness. Performances from their lofty minnarets guide people in need to welcoming temples.
 • The Vessels of Light are all educators as well as Knowledge clerics. Acting on a holy mandate to spread literacy, numeracy, and other forms of enlightenment; they serve the community by operating schools and providing excellent personal tutelage to young aristocrats. Nostalgic loyalty drives a great deal of patronage for this sect.
 • The Dawnlords are a flamboyant order of Light clerics known for the huge glittering domes featured prominently atop their sunspire temples. Some children are told that these priests are personally responsible for bringing the Sun up each morning. Dawn rituals in the sect range from somber sermonizing to whimsical pantomimes based on that tall tale.

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Divine Villains Hades, Ares, Hel, Loki, Set, Arawn, Lei Kung, and Ma Yuan are all enemies of the gods according to mainstream religious narratives. Yet the real relationship is much more complex. Because each cultural pentad has one or two antagonists, religious parables and sagas gain tension and moral contrast useful in illustrating spiritual arguments. Evil deities may be feared and hated, but on some level they are also needed.
 Rarely there is widespread social acceptance of such a sect. Cityfolk in most areas consider it routine to employ a Mortician when disposing of a corpse. Evil religions more typically face a landscape of attitudes ranging from "wildly unpopular" to "forbidden by law." Driven into obscurity, these sects nonetheless hide behind false fronts, lurk as secret societies, or operate facilities and gatherings beyond the grasp of civilized armies. Despite all this contempt, evil divine magic is still termed "holy" in contrast to "unholy" phenomena like aberrations, fiends, and the undead.
Set (Lawful Evil) The God of Darkest Night is so widely despised that hostility toward Hel and Loki seems tame by comparison. Some priests of Set pointedly exploit religious tolerance laws to maintain temples in plain sight, knowing full well that this undermines the authority of permissive leaders. However, the overwhelming majority of worship and organization is covert. Sometimes masquerading as a different sort of group, sometimes assembling in total secrecy, the followers of this malevolent deity are surprisingly abundant in every inhabited land.
 • The Brotherhood of Set accepts both male and female Knowledge clerics, purposefully penetrating noble houses and other power structures. Often the Brotherhood acts indirectly, compelling or misleading "assets" to engage in betrayals. Yet the group strongly prefers to infiltrate and influence rather than actually topple strong leadership.
 • The Forked Tongue Society is an order of War clerics known for running secret monasteries where assassins, ninjas, etc. are trained. These priests impart mystical insights that unlock spectacular martial capabilities, especially in younger and fitter students. Though they do not directly orchestrate murder for hire, the Society makes it their business to match skilled covert operatives with well-funded potential employers.
 • Nightcrawlers are Trickery clerics so named because their initiation involves being broken to such an extent of self-loathing as to feel like a mere earthworm. However, they are also predominantly active at night -- that pair of unseen eyes vagabonds and cat burglars feel upon them in especially unsettling moments. Their sacred mission is to facilitate endeavors so sinister that they could not be sustained in the light of day.

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Heavenly Portfolios The critical factor in the language of prayer is no longer the name of the deity. Part of Shang-Ti's Immaculate System drives divine energy to flow along channels dictated by the specifics of each god's assigned portfolio. For example, these assigned roles cause prayers to "the God of the Sun" go to Ra or Apollo depending on what time of day it is. Priests of either are trained to be more precise with sacred invocations.
 Though largely unaware of the metaphysics, people of faith are encouraged develop a habit of technical precision when calling out to the gods (e.g. "the God of Tranquil Death" or "the God of Bloody Murder" rather than "the God of Death.") Regional variations in some sects, even with a new name for the patron deity, still appear to produce empowered clergy if practices are exact in identifying the intended portfolio.
Shang-Ti (Lawful Neutral) The God of The Immaculate System is also the architect of the Fivesquare Pantheon. He joined the other Regal Deities in deciding this world could comfortably support twenty-five major gods. As the number of competing candidates plummeted, Shang-Ti studied their tangle of agendas, then constructed a plan for global divine harmony. The chosen gods eliminated all remaining rivals before declaring a truce. Shang-Ti defined and assigned each of the portfolios now governing spheres of divine influence. He is the patron of bureaucrats and organizers, appealing to anyone fond of developing elaborate schemes or studying orderly abstractions.
 The Immaculate System fractures ultimate power in a way mortals often find mysterious. Shang-Ti planned the whole thing, yet he is not the supereme executive authority. Instead he provides organizational guidance with infrequent, sometimes cryptic, messages to other deities. Shang-Ti commands the stature of an elder statesman, but he seldom makes direct contact. Systematically assigning various responsibilities to other gods created conditions that allow Shang-Ti to focus on the sceheming and planning he finds most satisfying. His influence promotes orderly social hierarchies throughout the Orient.
 • Upstanding Counselors can be found wherever common people are permitted to employ Knowledge clerics as legal representatives. The complex ethical system of this sect may make it difficult for outsiders to engage a Counselor, but once business is underway the advocate has a sacred duty never to act on behalf of a conflicting interest or betray the confidence of the client.
 • Celestial Accountants are Light clerics with a strong command of mathematics. Their vows require them to be accurate in the numbering of all things, so they are trustworthy keepers of bankbooks, inventories, and other ledgers. Using distinctive racks of sliding beads, they perform complex calculations at a speed other mortals cannot match.
 • Inscrutible Observers are a ubiquitous order of Nature clerics who wear dull yet fine clothing and frequently take notes on events transpiring nearby. Their intentions are so enigmatic, some speculate they must have a sacred duty to provoke questions and draw people toward the faith through mystery. They are meticulous, law-abiding, and respectful; yet they are also almost always passive monitors.

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Animal Spirits Though all living things are animated by the same vital energy, beasts are a special case. People, dragons, fey, fiends -- intelligent beings often act on instinct, but they have the power to make calculated choices and take purposeful actions. The ratio between willpower and vital energy in a simple animal means that beasts are far less able to transcend instinctive drives.
 The Old Faith and various holy orders devoted to Nature can provide insights about the way this "green magic" may be exploited to control animals. Sages are skeptical of any argument that beasts have souls carrying into the afterlife. Yet this scholarly understanding is no barrier to priests, many of whom teach that deceased animal companions will be happy to reunite with their beloved keepers in the afterlife. The resurrected generally do not confirm having had such experiences on the other side.
Silvanus (Neutral) The God of the Verdant Wilderness joins Dagda in supporting the Old Faith while encouraging sects devoted to his own worship. No being has done more to restore the wounded land after so much strife during the Age of Heroes. Forest dwellers everywhere utter prayers to Silvanus, and he is also popular with herders, hunters, and carpenters. Artists moved to depict great scenic beauty often dedicate their works to him.
 ∀ Beastminders are Nature clerics who oppose trade in exotic animals despite maintaining personal menageries of exotic animals. After the old way of fighting trappers and inhumane breeders gave way to a campaign of freely placing exotic pets with patient and dutiful keepers, this sect abruptly achieved global popularity. Beastminders also promote zoological learning by welcoming outsiders into their temples for limited interactions with rare creatures.
φ Nature Worship is almost indistinguishable from the Old Faith. There are no gospel scriptures or uniform taboos. Nonetheless, some Nature clerics are able to wield the power of prayer through appeals to "the Spirit of the Land," "Mother Nature," "the Force of Nature," and variations on that theme. Nature Worship often involves extensive meditation in unspoiled wilderness. Practitioners feel a duty to prevent the destruction or corruption of thriving natural habitats. Many identify with a particular animal spirit or seek wisdom from the study of animal behaviors. Even so, Nature Worship bestows a distinctly spiritual form of magic. This phlosophy also enables assorted tribal priests and some barbarians to draw holy power from reverence for the natural environment.
 ∀ The Well of Thorns is an organization of Warfare clerics adept at using archery along with concealment and primitive traps. Most live as formidable hunters, gathering to support the defense of forests and other wild places. Elves hold positions of prestige in this order, and it claims to have roots in a military unit from the time of the Imperium Arcanum. Many green knights are proud to accept guidance from these priests.
 ∀ Blossoms of Mercy are Life clerics who supplement their magic with an extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. Their sacred gardens are rare outside Sylvania, but each provides a bounty of raw materials for basic medical supplies and more potent elixirs. Blossoms are known for dressing in vibrant colors while strongly scented by the diverse collections of flora scattered among their pockets and pouches.

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Weather Magic Some farmers pray rain will revitalize dusty fields. Others pray ongoing deluges will cease before flooding occurs. Sea captains want the wind at their back, and many find spells to alter the course of uncooperative breezes. Even pontiffs and kings are not above beseaching a deity for a nice sunny day to frame an important public event. Constant interventions create ripples of uncertainty, severely limiting the reliable forecasting of weather. Yet its study and manipulation are both important disciplines, since history has been known to turn on control of the skies over a crucial battle. Even the ears of a king remain open to the words of a Sky God high priest. Yet druids and wizards may contribute similar capabilities to weather control efforts.
Thor (Chaotic Good) The God of Rolling Thunder is a popular patron among warriors, gamblers, and anyone else inclined toward sudden and decisive action. He can be a destructive force, but the wicked have far more to fear from him than the innocent. Loki and Lei Kung have each narrowly survived many battles with Thor. He is widely regarded as an exemplar of virtue by people who regard freedom and fairness as important values. Yet his primary doctrine is that one should not be bound by strict doctrine, so his followers are often known for impulsive behavior.
 • The largest and most pervasive of all modern religions, the Church of Thor is an organization of Tempest clerics riding a wave of modern evangelical success. Equally venerating Thor and Sif, their halls of worship are both large and overflowing. Far-flung Thorthodox Church missionaries reach to every corner of the world where Thor's worship is not already an established practice.
 • Hammers of the Gods are War clerics who aggressively smite devils, demons, and any other godless creatures that stand in their way. They despise atheists, and they are generally happy to collaborate with all sorts of priests, regardless of alignment. Many evangelical paladins identify with this order. The Hammers' holy mission is to facilitate all other holy missions.
 • The Stormriders are an organization of Life clerics who seek out trouble spots to better provide comfort and relief. Many travel a circuit of small communities while tending to those in need. They also construct ceremonial pyres for people willing to risk a funeral not sanctified in the name of Hades. Stormriders excel at emergency field medicine, creating demand for them among adventurers and other travelers.

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Witch Persecution Warlocks and witches are regarded with at least a little suspicion in every major society. However, those that consort with fiends and aberrations are particularly reviled. Even if a confirmed witch is not accused of doing any specific harm, humiliation and exile are considered light punishments for the crime of making an unholy bargain. Where incriminations fill the air, vigilante mobs can become downright murderous.
 Clergy of all stripes, from the most gentle to the most wicked, typically support the brutal persecution of witches. The very nature of witchcraft violates The Immaculate System. In most modern religious circles it is regarded as an anathema. Also, witches are easy scapegoats for afflictions caused by other influences. Some people make a living as witch hunters, though many cases offer no way to distinguish the slaying of a vile menace from the murder of a social outsider.
Tyr (Lawful Good) The God of Relentless Crusades is a patron popular with anyone who must remain far from home for an extended time. Soldiers of foreign wars constitute the bulk of his worshipers. Tyr is the divine embodiment of loyalty, dedication, and sacrifice. Generals often encourage his worship in the ranks, since Tyr's scripture teaches that laconic obedience is a great virtue.
 • The Veterans' Alliance is a network by which Life clerics reach out to old soldiers in need of healing or other support. Though the group is unobtrusive, the sheer number of wounded veterans, with more emerging from each new war, has grown the VA into an enormous global institution with pervasive medical and spiritual outreach. This group is often instrumental in motivating regimes to follow through with promised rewards of bonuses or land grants for veterans.
 • Tyr's Legion commands the loyalty of large clusters of War clerics all around the world. Many turned to the faith at the end of long military campaigns. They are famously dependable team members, and thus sought after by adventuring groups, caraveneers, and explorers in need of a stalwart priest. Anyone eager to hear old war stories need not wait long on a visit to a temple of the Legion.
 • Valiant Justiciars are Light clerics dedicated to imposing a high-minded version of fairness and spiritual purity on the world. With little bureaucracy in the West, there these self-styled paragons of virtue may act as law enforcers or even judges and executioners. Everywhere they are friends to principled paladins as well as anyone dedicated to rooting out and destroying disruptive forces in their own societies.

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Marriage Customs Even after the Great Consolidation, the concept of marriage remains incredibly diverse. In all lands any couple may be recognized as husband and wife. Yet it is normal for dignitaries in the Orient to keep vast harems, and Serpian tradition allows for plural marriage even among the common folk. Oriental, Serpian, Truscan, and Norish laws all have different things to say about the relationships between spouses and slaves, including a sort of slave-wife caste applicable in some cases.
 Yet the people of Sylvania are staunchly against all forms of slavery, and many there simply do not know what to make of plural marriage. Any marriage blessed by an authentic religious acolyte will leave a lingering trace of divine magic for as long as both partners live to honor their wedding vows. This common phenomenon is well-understood and accepted as legal evidence in most societies.
Zeus (Chaotic Good) The God of the Heavenly Throne is widely regarded as the most powerful being in the world. He is both chief among the Truscan deities and foremost of the Sky Gods. Zeus is known to hurl thunderbolts as deadly as any energy ever unleashed upon the world. His wrath has littered the land with corpses, and his lust has conceived many mortal heroes. Zeus is invoked by all who claim or aspire to great title, and his blessing is sought for almost any important occasion where anti-Truscan sentiment does not run high.
 As an especially powerful and deadly deity, Zeus was a logical choice to rule over the other gods. Even to them, he is an intimidating yet majestic figure. King of the Gods was a familiar role to him, and Zeus was easily enlisted in The Immaculate System. In theory he is the most powerful being in the world, though often what seems a personal whim resolves as action to enforce divine order. Nonetheless, it's good to be the king, and Zeus sees no plausible way to improve his position here. His influence accounts for the audacity and effectiveness of Truscan efforts to conquer the entire world.
The Olympians were a dozen deities venerated throughout Thrace during the Age of Heroes. Five of these gods remain active in the world today. Yet the original twelve and further divine associates are collectiely venerated by a polytheism that reflects religious norms in the culture that produced the first great human philosophers. In hilltop halls of ancient marble, Olympian clerics dedicate their lives to archiving and analyzing a body of lore that interprets spiritual traditions through logical dialectics. Enthusiasts of ancient Thracian culture have been known to form substantial congregations of Olympian worshippers. Elsewhere adherents to this faith generate little outside interest beyond the archives of pre-Truscan literature they maintain.
The Church of Zeus is a sprawling organization of Life clerics. Once the largest religious faction in the world, it is has since fallen out of favor in many regions. Even so, the Church remains a global organization with coherent ecclesiastical governance and a reputation as the arbiter of disputes between other faiths. Standardized buildings and opulent pageantry mean this sect can offer a touch of old Truscanny to travellers far from home.
Agents of Wrath are Tempest clerics trained in techniques of inspiring terror. However, their mission is not malicious. Status in this order is stablished through competitive displays of intimidating spectacle. They make it their business to serve as enforcers wherever oppressive regimes lash out against their own people. With attacks so full of sound and fury, very little actual damage need be done to sate the lord's outrage. Even when such a ruse is uncovered, the arrangement may continue, since these alarming displays reinforce the idea that the ruler is powerful without doing much damage to permanent structures and productive capacity. They may also function as a military auxiliary, generating ominous signs to lower the morale of hostile forces.
φ Merry Hoodlums believe that they serve a higher moral authority when they address injustice through criminal activity. These clerics idealize festive abundance where even the least fortunate members of a community live comfortably. Their teachings hold that most social unrest has its roots in an unfair or corrupt authority. In the face of oppression, they feel driven to hold action. Merry Hoodlums disguise their identities with common cloaks and hoods. Some pray for "mercy" or "relief" while others invoke concepts like "freedom" and "rights" while acting agsinst a menacing power. These philosophers are rarely without good cheer. In time of struggle they delight at the thought of helping others. More tranquil settings let them bear their smiles and openly celebrate harmonious prosperity.
The Order of the Sacred Knot is composed of Knowledge clerics venerating the marriage of Zeus and Hera. They are famously savvy about affairs of the heart, and demand is high for their skill as wedding officiants. Professionals from dressmakers to florists may perform a sort of tithing to this order, prospering through a steady stream of lucrative referrals. Some cultures also employ these priests as matchmakers. Their ministries typically take the form of private sessions with couples intent on improving the quality of their own marriages. Often their temples are annexes to Church of Zeus facilities. Where the Order of the Sacred Knot stands alone, that presence typically takes the form of a shrine at some scenic spot or a luxury retreat at a famously romantic locale.

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CULTURAL COLOR KEY
TruscanSerpianSylvanianNorishCeledinese
Mannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac Lir
E
V
I
L
L A W F U LG
O
O
D
ArawnSetShang-TiOsirisChung Kuel
Lei KungOghmaPtahChing Sung-TzuTyr
HelHadesDagdaRaOdin
LokiSilvanusDionysusGebThor
Ma YuanAresMannanan Mac LirApolloZeus
C H A O T I C
Mannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac LirMannanan Mac Lir
THE FIVESQUARE PANTHEON
DeityAlignmentInvocationCultural Prominence
ApolloCGGod of the Setting SunTruscanny, Danu, Galloria, Helvetica, Thrace
AresCEGod of Untamed WarTruscanny, Helvetica, Ontolon, Transmania, Wabahar
ArawnLEGod of Final RewardsSylvania, Darresteg, Danu, Galloria, Lachland
Ching Sung-TzuNGod of Falling RainCeledine, Ontolon, Sivales, Xe-shan, Zintu
Chung KuelLGGod of Just TrialsCeledine, Elatolia, Kohadesia, Ontolon, Xe-shan
DagdaNGod of Limitless MightSylvania, Albion, Carmatia, Danu, Sivales
DionysusCNGod of Drunken RevelryTruscanny, Albion, Danu, Galloria, Thrace
GebNGod of the Solid EarthSerpia, Fitchland, Helvetica, Kohadesia, Zintu
HadesNEGod of Tranquil DeathTruscanny, Albion, Ontolon, Transmania, Wabahar
HelNEGoddess of Cursed AfflictionsNorland, Carmatia, Darresteg, Joryanland, Xe-shan
Lei KungLEGod of Troubling StormsCeledine, Elatolia, Joryanland, Kohadesia, To-shin
LokiCEGod of Endless DisguisesNorland, Carmatia, Fitchland, Joryanland, Transmania
Mannanan Mac LirCNGod of Watery DepthsSylvania, Albion, Iskresh, Lachland, Sivales
Ma YuanCEGod of Bloody MurderCeledine, Joryanland, Sivales, To-shin, Zintu
OdinNGGod of the Final BattleNorland, Darresteg, Fitchland, Joryanland, Lachland
OghmaNGod of Accumulated LoreSylvania, Carmatia, Darresteg, Iskresh, Sivales
OsirisLGGod of Noble SacrificeSerpia, Kohadesia, To-shin, Thrace, Wabahar
PtahLNGod of the Marvelous ForgeSerpia, Fitchland, Iskresh, Helvetica, To-shin
RaNGGod of the Rising SunSerpia, Iskresh, Kohadesia, Wabahar, Zintu
SetLEGod of Darkest NightSerpia, Iskresh, Thrace, Wabahar, Zintu
Shang-TiLNGod of The Immaculate SystemCeledine, Elatolia, Ontolon, To-shin, Xe-shan
SilvanusNGod of Verdant WildernessSylvania, Albion, Carmatia, Danu, Galloria
ThorCGGod of Rolling ThunderNorland, Elatolia, Joryanland, Transmania, Xe-shan
TyrLGGod of Relentless CrusadesNorland, Carmatia, Darresteg, Elatolia, Fitchland
ZeusCGGod of the Heavenly ThroneTruscanny, Galloria, Helvetica, Thrace, Transmania



INDEX OF TOPICSThe Age of Dragons, The Age of Heroes, Albion, Alien Nations, Alignment Philosophies, Ancient Magic, Animal Spirits, Apollo, Arawn, Ares, Artillery, Assets, Atheism, Avalanches, Bandits, Banking, Bans, Banks, Bardic Colleges, Bugbears, Bureaucrats, Busking, Cambions, Carmatia, Celedine, Celestial Patriarchy, Ceremonial Oathtaking, Ching Sung-Tzu, Chung Kuel, Clans, Conflict, Coins (equivalencies), Coins of the Realms, Contents, Cosmic Context, Cosmic Loopholes, The Criminal Underground, Dagda, Danu, The Danu Protectorate, The Dead Gods, Death and Afterlife, Debts, The Decline of Magic, Deities (by alignment; by culture), Dionysus, Dispensations, Divine Healing, Divine Spellcasting, Divine Tragedy, Divine Villains, Dominions, Dragonborn, Druids, Dwarves, The Eight Schools, Elatolia, The Elatolian Hegemony, Elemental Beings, Elves, Empires, Estates, Exports, Fighters, Finances, Firbolgs, Fitchland, The Five Eras, The Fivesquare Pantheon, Flood Control, Forbidden Faiths, The Four Elements, Funding the Faith, Galloria, Gear, Geb, Geography, Gnomes, Goblins, Goblinoid Hordes, Gods (by alignment; by culture), Goliaths, The Great Consolidation, Hades, Half-Breeds, Half-Elves, Halflings, Half-Orcs, Heavenly Portfolios, Hel (deity), Hel (place), Helvetica, Heroes, Hidden Communities, Hidden Dwellings, History, Hobgoblins, Homelands, Human Languages, Humans, Illnesses, The Immaculate System, Imperial Training, The Imperium Arcanum (era), The Imperium Arcanum (regime), The Imperium Maris, Imports, Infrastructure, Inspired Magic, Iskresh, Jails, Jewellers, Joryanland, Killers, Kobolds, Kohadesia, Labyrinth, Lachland, Languages, Lei Kung, Lizardfolk, Loki, Lords, Ma Yuan, Magic, Magic Fatigue, Magic Shops, Magical Formulae, Magical Infrastructure, Magical Spectra, Mainland, Mannanan Mac Lir, Marking the Days, Marriage Customs, Mayhem, Mercenaries, Merchant Mariners, Metropolises, Military Education, Minting Practices, Modern Life, The Moon, Monsters, Monstrous Appearance, Mounts, The Nameless Empire, Navigation, Necromancy, The Nine Mysteries, Nomad, Non-human Languages, Non-human Thinking, Norland, Obligations, Odin, Oghma, Officials, The Old Faith, The One Truth, Ontolon, The Orient, The Oriental Empire, Osiris, Personal Wealth, Pinched Magic, Plagues, Points of Interest, Primordial Times, Prisons, Ptah, Races, Raising the Dead, The Regal Deities, Religious Edifices, Resurrection, The River of Time, Rocketry, Rogues, Root Divisions, Sacred Scriptures, Secret Languages, Secret Realms, Secret Societies, Serpia, The Seven Sources, Set, Shang-Ti, Silvanus, Sivales, The Six Forms, The Sky Gods, Slavers, Smuggling, Spellcasting Style, Standing Armies, Standing Stones, Steel Construction, Stone Construction, The Story of Everything, The Sun Gods, Superheroes, Sylvania, Table of Contents, Technology, The Thousand Mile Wall, Thor, Thrace, The Three Components, The Three Unholies, Tieflings, To-Shin, Tourism, Towns, Trade, Trade Languages, Transient Magic, Transmania, Travel, Treasure, Tribes, Tritons, Truscanny, The Two States, Typhonians, Tyr, Underwater Empire, Unholy Persons, Units of Account, Vampire Politics, The Veiled Land, Villains, Wabahar, The War Gods, Warbands, The Way of the World, Weather Magic, What is Magic?, Wildlands, Witch Persecution, Wizards, The World, Wotania, The Wyrmplague, Xe-Shan, Zeus, Zintu