What began as a neat little setting building thread, has ballooned into some crazy mix of lovecraftian horror and Arabian Nights mythology involving desperate gods, waning elementals, and a dying world. Slowly populating this page.
Basically. Imagine Arabian Nights as written by Lovecraft and the Brothers Grimn. This is the thematic life blood of New Jhelom.
New Jhelom Mechanics is a work in progress. We figured we needed to figure out a system that best suited a system that is both high magic and horror based.
- 1 Mythology
- 2 True History of the World
- 3 Cosmology
- 4 Empire, Nations and other Lands
- 5 Races
- 6 Magic and Technology
- 7 Misc
- 8 Necessary Setting Questions
- 9 Reference Material
- In the very beginning, There was but Earth and Sky.
- Each of the Maiden Goddesses gave birth to two children. One son and one daughter each.
- Earth birthed Lady Stone and Lord Flame, while Sky birthed Master Air and Mistress Water, and for a time, these were the only six beings upon the surface of the world.
- Then Water married Fire, and Stone wed Air, and soon each of them had their own firstborns. To Water and Fire, was born Blood, and to Air and Stone, was born Flesh, and while each of these pairs had many more children, often who held multiple mates, it is known that Blood and Flesh had eyes only for one another, and their romance was passionate beyond all reason, the courtship lasting nearly a full century by our time before they finally wed and mated.
- And from their union, was born Mortality, and to their horror, and the horror of their large family of all the elementals, it was learned that Mortality aged, he would die, and for the first time, the progenitors of this world would know death.
- Mortality didn’t see this as a curse, but instead, as a chance at something new and for the young to grow up without having to live in the shadows of the elders. Thus Mortality studied with all of their family to learn everything they could about the elements, the arts and crafts. They descended to the land and built a city made of marble, glittering like a jewel nestled in the vibrant fields with a river that ran nearby with sparkling clear water all residing upon the Maiden Goddess, Earth. After finishing lovingly crafting the city to perfection, Mortality did the unheard of and took his own life. Springing forth from his body came the first mortals, who were not like any of the current races and were named Mortals after their progenitor name. Within each individual exists a mortal soul, blessed with one of the talents or learning that Mortality had learned from his family. The city would come to be known as Birth and the islands surrounding it as the Isles of Origin.
- The First Murder and Second Murders
- Though Mortals died, it was only through Time or Disease or other misfortune at first. Mortals did not kill each other, for to do so would destroy something created by those greater than they.
- But one day, a Man grew jealous of the affections of a Woman and he killed her, becoming the First Assassin. After this First Murder, he became enamored with killing, inventing every way to kill someone, it was said. And he then began to train others, so once he passed, his art would not vanish. But the Second Assassin, began to see people despair as the people they loved were taken and he saw the wrongness of this. So he performed the Second Murder, slaying the First Assassin. But it was too late - murder had already been introduced into the world. To this day, it is said the secretive Assassins pledge themselves to either the First or Second Assassins. It is also said that the Woman who died, died with child, and from her corpse came the children of the First Assassin - Chasatha and the Perched. It is also said that the First Assassin, after an age of torment, rose as the first Undead - so eager was he to learn of Death in the Mortal World. A third child was born as well, the Barghest, as her screams were so terrible, rending through the ears of all that heard, that the beasts of the field and forest did rend themselves into spirits of ash and air, ever seeking words to give voice to their pain.
- Some small cults claim that this is a false history, that the truth is that the First Assassin never died, and that he killed another man in the second murder, blaming him for the first, and in so doing, told the First Lie as well, and that all mortal justice since, which is almost universally Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth, was founded on this madman's twisted ideology.
- The First War
- For a time, there was an uneasy peace, enforced by the bringer of the Second Assassin and those that followed his creed of "Justice". Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth became the standard, until the First Assassin returned from his grave, and gathered his outcast children to him. Others joined him, tired of the tyrannical iron-fisted rule of "Justice" at the hands of the Second Assassin. And so, the First War was sparked in the Isles of Origin, and all that was Mortal burned in its fires.
- Never before had the world seen such cruelty and death, and even their distant cousins, the Elemental-Folk began to take an interest in what was happening. As those who tried to escape the bloodshed and madness took to ships to flee the only home they had ever known, they found themselves guided by wind and current, by beings of living glass and wet sea bed sand. And so Mortals spread to all corners of the world.
- The Isles of Origin, the battleground of the First War, stacked up so many bodies, that the final victors, the First Assassin and his children, were all that remained. And so they burned the corpses. The Isles of Origin became the Isles of Pyres, and this is known for they were referred to as such when their fires still smoldered in the very beginnings of Mortal History.
- But many Assassins tell of the Second Murder - where one who learned under the First Assassin the ways of killing, realized the sin of taking the lives of others. And so the Second Assassin killed the First Assassin. And so Assassins are still divided into those who kill for themselves, and those who kill for others.
- The Long Decline
- At some point, the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars devoured The Goddesses of Earth and Sky. It is not known if the Goddesses were destroyed, or rendered dreaming, or imprisoned. But this marked the end of the age of creation. Mortals divided into the races they are today. The Elementals took over control of the Earth, but it was a lesser control. And so things went. What is known as "Recorded History" began some centuries after this point, when Old Jhelom was first founded and the Nails of Earth and Sky were first plunged into the Surface.
- But the world has become unhinged. The disappearance of its caretakers has undone the natural law of the world. Demon Dragons skulk in forgotten places, the Murder Born grown in numbers like never before. The very stars plunge and pitch as the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars stirs in his slumber. Men and women go mad as their souls are malformed at birth, or later, and more and more only the most depraved keep their wits.
- Some suggest that Goddesses are harder to kill than mortals. Do the Maiden Goddesses only slumber within the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars? Is there a way to awake and free them, to turn back the slow spiral of madness?
- None can say - but if one travels to the White Sands of Alianar, and climbs the Red Tower there, one will find a small room, engraved with the writing of a madman with strange insight. And it says that "Freedom must come from this side of the Wall. Gods cannot rouse Gods. Mortals are another, more peculiar matter."
Entities and Aspects
- The Maiden Goddesses
- In the beginning of all things, there were but three things in this world. Earth, Sky, and the Unbroken Stars. And Earth and Sky did take on the forms of two maidens, whose beauty was absolutely beyond compare, and is only hinted at in the movements and shape of the most beautiful women of our world and times. Each of them bore a son and a daughter, who wed and then had more children, these would eventually become not only the Element-Kin but the Mortal Races as well.
- Where they are now? No one knows. They vanished, and while there are numerous records of their existence, and even more, the Elementals who still exist will swear up and down that she did, indeed, once live. The period of history where they vanished was marked by it's conspicuous lack of any sort of history. Records stop around the time the pair disappeared, and begin again at the beginning of the Elemental War.
- The Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars
- The Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars was less than a legend at one point, the bawling of madmen, the screams of nightmares, and nothing more. Now... now he is all to real to those who gaze upward, and see the shifting coils in the movement of the stars. He devoured the Twin Maiden Goddesses, and he tore a hole through the Wall of Stars to do so, leaving it gaping, and open, a blackness that is not natural, that yawns in the heavens high above the moons. There are no stars in the Hole, only the infinite blackness of not-things that never were and never will be, and yet still haunt our nightmares and drive men to despair and madness. The Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars, some say, is the father of all things, and this world is his wife... perhaps he sees us as some kind of infection, to be torn from his spouse, or perhaps this is just the mad justifications of the cultists who seek the approval of his servants.
- The Demons are not-things that never were and never shall be, and yet are. They are paradoxical things, taking shape from the nightmares of men, delighting in the insanity and terror and vileness they inflict. It is said one whispered into the First Assassin's mind that his wife was unfaithful. It is they who taught the first Numerologist the ways to bend reality, without telling them the cost. It is they who feast on the nightmares of children and forge cunning, soul flaying knives from the petty cruelties of mortals. And it is they who hunger for the day when the Earth and Sky are devoured by their father, once he finishes digesting his last meal.
- The first demons came from behind the Wall of Stars, through the Hole that the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars left once he bore through the wall to snap up the Twin Maiden Goddesses. They came into the world of mortals, and found the deep places, found the hidden places, where the Elementals who were wise to them could not hunt them for lack of knowing where to look. They peered into the spirit world, and they learned of our fears, and crafted our first nightmares, delighting in the forewarnings they would give us of what was to come, even as they perpetrated them, taunting us with nightmare and dream.
- Demons take on the shapes of impossible and mythical things out of nightmares and fears, and even twisting the most glorious of dream shapes into utter vileness. Some seem to wish to take on these beautiful shapes and evoke feelings of delight, but their true natures corrupt it. Of course, this may be merely another lie told by demons to lower the guard of mortals against them. Common guises include that of Dragons, Imps, Horned Fiends, Half-man/beast monstrosities, and far far worse.
- The legends say that the end times are coming!
- The servants of the Serpent will doom us all!
- They will summon the three Agents of the Serpent to this world and they will path the way for their master. The Agents will try to seduce us with the darkest curse: the Unlife. The dead will rise and the nations will fall as they awaken the Serpent!
- Known Demons
- The worst and most notorious of all the demons is the one known as Jontayt, the Shadowclasper. He is a real thing, let me assure you. Before his assault from the realms beyond, men go mad, peace is ruined, spirits are broken. The priests will tell you that this is but a tale, but it is true. It is that the Vizier did find a way to protect the Empire from this twisted legend.
- The Shadowclasper is said to grab hold of mortals' shadows, then bombard them with thousands of whispers until they go mad.
- If you hear the crying and bawling of the Shadowclasper late at night, sounding like it is coming from nearby, misfortune is sure to befall you before eight days have passed.
- Elementals are the closest thing to true gods that have actively taken part in the history of creation. They are family to Mortals, and see us as such, fascinated by our mercurial natures, the paradoxes inherent in our existence, and more than once, they, and their other descendents, have fallen in love with humans and members of other races, and born children from them.
- Elementals are purely their given form. Lord Flame, for example, is Fire. He is not fire given the body of a human, or a personification. He IS Fire. Just as Glass is Glass, and so on and so forth. Elementals are primal things, able to control how others view them, but not what they are. They are the thing, and all that it implies and embodies, both familiar and alien.
- Elementals, by and large, still exist, and they even split themselves into various forms over time. There were multiple "Avatars" of Lord Fire, for example, but they were all Lord Fire, interconnected but independent of one another, while still sharing some semblance of a single will. How this functioned has never been explained adequately to humans, or to any of the Mortal Races, and it is suspected that it cannot be explained to us.
- Almost all the true Elementals left after the Elemental War following the end of Old Jhelom and the rise of the Viziers. A few remain, several are trapped and bound, a few are even in positions of power (it is suspected that one of the Avatars of Flower, if not Flower herself, is the current Vizier's mistress for example, and head of the House of Flowers).
- The Djinn, Iffrite, and Angels
- Once Mortality made their sacrifice, and Mortals were born, the other Elementals began to do the same, though, a little less fantastically.
- They took parts of themselves, and made the Angels. The Angels, in turn, took parts of themselves, and made the Iffriti, who in turn, made the Djinn, who were but sparks of power compared to their ancestors, and almost as mortal as Mortals themselves were.
- When the First Murderer slowly corrupted the Isles of Smoke, whether or not he had been truly killed, they became very close with the tribes that would become Humanity, and interbred with them. Even the Elementals, Angels, and Iffrite took lovers amongst Mortal kinds, though they found none so much as amongst human kind, which was diverse as the Elemental Breeds.
- Other races had one, or two, elemental blood lines bred into their stock, and this spread throughout their whole kind. Only Humanity managed to preserve portions of it's population into distinct blood lines, which now make up many of the Noble houses, at least amongst the peoples of New Jhelom.
- These beings are far more common than True Elementals, though it is said that the Angels left to explore the darkness of the skies and moons above. None have since returnd. Iffrite occasionally rule their own islands, or hold positions of power within other kingdoms, while the Djinn are little more than normal mortals who cannot die under normal circumstances. Unlike Iffrite and Angels, who can take sparks of themselves and give them new life, Djinn are the smallest possible spark capable of still being more than the element they represent, as such, they can only reproduce by mixing with mortal blood lines.
- The Elementals that remain are pale things compared to those of the past. They are known as Djinn, and the most powerful of them as Iffrite, and they say, that the ones above them are called Angels. Who can know what is true? All that is known is that those who first forged this world, those whose power fuels the slowly waning magic, are the Elementals, forefathers of the element-folk that now take their place.
- The Afterlife
- All souls go into the spirit realm, where they begin to diffuse into motes of ideas, imagination, power, and souls that then are mixed, and recombined, it is believed, into new souls. There is no proof of this however. What is known is that as these motes recoalles, or in the cases of particularly willful souls that are so well crafted, so suited to their individual memories and ideals and powers, that they do not shatter, will "transcend" and disappear from the spirit realm. Some say these go to one of the after lives, others that they are reincarnated. No one knows for sure.
- These things are witnessed by dreamers who have mastered the art of "Dream Walking" that is to say, rather than simply absorbing and witnessing other memories, ideas, and imaginings of dead souls, or of their own soul, they see the Spirit Realm, or Afterlife, for what it truly is.
- All dreams are visions of things that have been, or are to come, or they are reflections of what is inside of ourselves, what we have been, what we are, and what we shall become. Nightmares are the odd ones out, Nightmares are corruptions and warnings, sent to taunt us by Demons, at least, that is the official story.
- The religion of the Empire states that Heaven lies at the core of the Earth, and that hell lies beyond the Wall of the Stars. This is why we bury the honoured dead, and place the criminal dead in the mountains.
- The spirit realm does not feature any actual spirits. Instead it is an afterlife for all, a realm where expectations shape reality and visitors, rare as they are, usually go unnoticed. Spirits become tiny motes of energy, dancing in the radiance of life itself.. but can occasionally be called back, or at least formed into an image, by one with the knowledge or enough desire.
True History of the World
This is really undefined at the moment, so we need help expanding it in the next thread.
- Diaspora following the First War
- Old Jhelom Rises. Other kingdoms?
- The Goddesses Eaten? Leave this part blank and indistinct bar legends?
- The Elemental War, Water Elementals and their blood lines all but extinguishes, the islands of the world turned to sandy desert like areas where no rain falls.
- New Jhelom Rises
- The Viziers are power hungry madmen for the most part?
- The Last Starmage is born and fights against the Viziers.
- The first ship to the moons comes back, chaos breaks out and the Crusaders of the Holy Wastes and the Thanadi are formed.
- Gorii are defeated and turned into barbarians
- Al-Kazwa leads the rebellion against the Viziers and takes their place. 300 years of prosperity follow
- A tradition of less greedy, but increasingly iron-fisted Viziers crops up.
- Another expedition to the moons is sent by New Jhelom, ends in failure, but doesn't utterly corrupt the Empire.
- The current Vizier takes up his position (how?)
- Modern Day.
- The islands are dry because of an ancient feud between elementals that broke out many generations ago.
- The Elementals of the Sky destroyed nearly all the Elementals of the Waters - only a few remain, like the Princess of Waters.
- The greatest hero of old is Al-Kazwa the Tempest. He was a street urchin who stumbled across a mysterious and magical bauble. Everything he desired came to pass through the Bauble's powers. Many agents of the then-Vizier Talek sought to control this trinket, for Talek desired above all else to rule eternally.
- Al-Kazwa fled from island to island until he could muster together a small militia. Together they stormed across the sea and captured all of New Jhelom. 150 men against a military of thousands. One by one he freed them from their oppressive regimes. Only one island remained, Talek's Island of Fire. Al-Kazwa awoke on the morn of battle and panicked. His bauble was gone! He searched high and low, but it was nowhere to be found. He decided to continue with his attack, and found himself, against all odds, at Talek's doorstep. He and Talek fought and Al-Kazwa prevailed, although mortally wounded. The Jhelom collectively sighed and enjoyed a golden age to last three centuries under their new order.
- The Bauble of Al-Kazwa, has never been seen since.
- The servants of the Serpent Behind the Wall chitter in the dark places of the world, the Chasatha sacrifice their maidens' hearts on altars of obsidian in unprecedented numbers, and the Crab Men, in moments of lucidity, bemoan the Blackness that seeps from the deeps to consume them.
- The Vizier's Astrologers consult their new Orrery, finger their talismans, and weep.
- The Vizier himself looks through his glass Elemental Eye through the mightiest seeing lens that is, the Azure Moon. His telescope is made from steel smelted of Astrologers and Mages.
- He gazes up, into the spaces between the stars, and he prays.
- but to who?
- You poor fool.
- We have always lived in the end times. Ever since the Maiden Goddesses were devoured, ever since the First Murder, this world has been slowly, steadily sullying. Each century more and more men and women fall to madness. The Empire openly deals with creatures like the Chathasa and Knife-Ears, in exchange for more magic. True, the Vizier tries to halt this, but his methods do more damage then they fix. There is a hole in the sky and demons slip into the world. The Crab-Men will rise soon.
- The fact of the matter is, that one day the Maiden Goddesses will finally be annihilated, digested completely in the belly of the Serpent and any hope of their return will be gone. But worse, on that day, the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars will awaken from his peaceful slumber and will slither in back through the hole he made. And he will pull out the pins of the Earth and it will fall apart into so many more Goddesses for him to devour. And then there will be nothing left of the world at all.
- Some say the Maiden Goddesses can be awaken before then. That by sailing into the sky this can be accomplished. But look what happened when the Westerners headed to the stars. Madness and death.
- Not even the spirits at the heart of the World are safe. And this is why set my lot with the Serpent. So that I may become one with him, rather than suffer oblivion.
The Wall of Stars
No one living has been to the Wall of Stars and returned. No one knows what it is made of, or why it is there. Only that it is. The fates of men, it is said, can be read through the Stars, and just as the future of the self can be read in Dreams, the future of the world can be read in the stars. There is one place though, that no stars go, sitting on the western horizon when viewed from the top of the Nail in the Vizier's palace. It is a black hole in the sky, a darker patch visible during the day, and a gaping maw of darkness at night.
The Moons and Other Celestial Bodies
There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the sky, ranging from Large, like the Veiled Moon, to quite small. The Azure Moon is of particular interest - it glows in such a way that it is supposedly made of glass.
Only two recorded expeditions have been to the Moons, both ended in disaster. They spoke of non-elemental based life, and riches beyond imagining. It is said that the Old Gods of the Stomps had more to do with the Moons than they did to do with the Elementals.
- Once, and only once, the Vizier's of the past sent an expedition to the moons. First, news of great wealth, and new peoples on them came, strange beasts and beings not linked to the Elementals, but to more, alien things.
- All that returned was the burning hulk of their sky ship, all molten glass and gold.
- On it was a single casket. In it, the still-living, severed, heads of the entire crew. Chanting over in over in voices that were not theirs, "Ours, Ours, Ours"
- List of the Moons
- The Veiled Moon (Largest, but why veiled?)
- The Azure Moon (Glows with starlight)
- The Blood Moon
- The Jade Moon
- The Serpent's Moon
- The Shadow Moon
- The Triplets (3 moons orbiting one another while orbiting the planet)
- The Staring Moon ( a moon with a massive crater that makes it look like an eye)
- The Stomp's Moon (A moon that can only be seen from the stomps, leading many to believe it doesn't exist)
- The Liquid Moon (this moon is obviously covered in oceans that drip and flow off of it as it flies through the sky)
The Surface of Earth and Sky
This is the world as known by most people. The islands of earth and sky, the continents, and the seas themselves. This is more detailed in the next section.
The Well is a cave system that begins in New Jhelom and has exits all over the world. It is exactly what you'd expect - while dry, it is completely dark and the air is often stale. It's also used as a method of punishment. Only the Pale-Folk are known, for certain, to live down there... and there are those that suspect there are other, darker things. Occasionally people who journeyed deep into the well from the depths journey back up, gibbering messes, talking about a paradise leagues and leagues below the surface. If they ever become coherent again, they often take their families, and anyone else who will come with them, and journey back into the Well. They are never heard from again.
- I heard the Well is connected to the Dungeons. But I heard some people being punished in the Well are saved by the Pale Folk. Probably just a silly story.
Empire, Nations and other Lands
- The sun never sets on the Empire of New Jhelom. A vast chain of islands stretches across both hemispheres, known as the glittering desert for the enormous amount of jewel and mineral repositories within. Water, while reasonably common, is still precious and one of their most jealously controlled resources. The islands range from a few metres across to the largest, the Imperial Capital and home of the Vizier of the Sky himself, a hundred kilometres across.
- The Vizierdom is a brutal, controlling state. The Satraps pay tax and fealty to the Vizier, wringing their quota from the smallfolk. The non-stop stream of ships, both of air and sea, report to the island's walled enclaves to trade their own curios for the vast mineral wealth of the empire - ores both mundane and magical, including the rare Sildron that recoils from both earth and water, allowing for the mighty ships of the sky. Foreigners caught outside the walls are summarily executed, as are often peasants who cannot account for being outside of their appointed place.
- The smaller islands in the remote parts of the empire, those often overlooked by the ships of the Vizier, are home to pirates both local and foreign. Using forged movement passes (and makeup to hide their ethnicity) they plunder the mining ships that burrow into the islands to reap their wealth or even unlucky foreign ships too far off course.
- Although fresh water is scarce, the coastal nature of the islands means that one is never far from the coast. One would, naturally, expect the islands to be lush and tropical, rather than desert. Strangely, however, the islands remain rather arid; mists and rainclouds seem to simply stop at the exact boundary of the islands, as though cut by some divine weather-knife.
- What's more, this effect is known to be unnatural. Ancient carvings depict broad, water-hungry vegetation and lush islands that contrast starkly with the modern Empire. Fossil remains also identify that in the past, water was much more plentiful than it was now; whatever strange force keeps the Glittering Desert a desert was not always present.
- The royal family of the islands are named so due to their descendent from air elementals. Various noble families throughout the empire have elemental blood in their veins - and even some peasants.
- A small but prominent religion in the Empire and beyond preaches of pending apocalypse, wherein the Veiled Moon, the closest solar body, will crash into the ocean and drown all life on the surface.
- The Empire's main form of produce comes from the cactree, a vast tree-like cactus. It thrives on salt water, keeping it within it and removing the salt to form infinitely sharp spines that stud the trunk and fruits of the cactus.
- Although the spines are not infinitely sharp, they are still very, very sharp and very strong along the long axis of the spine. However, the spines are quite brittle, and untreated spines will usually break like dry spaghetti if any sideways force is applied unless they are specially treated.
- In New Jhelom, gem stones are more common than metals. And sand is more common still. This is why their weapons are made from glass and gems in New Jhelom, and their currency is in the form of ground up gem stones inside of glass tokens.
- Invasion attempts are routinely launched against the empire. Fleets of ships appear, attempt to force their way in and are driven off, usually with few losses. Sometimes, they may possess one of the far flung islands for a few days, weeks or even months if communication is kept cut. The Empire typically continues to trade with the national power in question, simply because it's worth the cost of doing business.
- The Empire is not so adept at offense, however - while easily able to defend their islands, they lack the troop ships and carriers to launch invasions, not to mention the siege weaponry.
- The Empire's finest military force are the group called the Lords of the Red Tide. Berserkers who shroud themselves in protective magic, they are dispatched in groups of 4, before channeling the motherfucking fury and losing themselves to the red flood that surrounds them. The Tide Lords routinely are used to dispatch discovered pirates; their handiwork can be recognized by small and subtle signs like arms in trees and people quite literally torn to shreds.
- They don't live an awful lot past 30, as the red tide becomes harder and harder to resist as time goes on. While they are paramount warriors and protective magicians, eventually they simply wake one morning, look at the mirror, cock their head to one side, then tear off and eat their own face in a fit of rage and continue down their body until they're no longer functional.
- The Tide Lords are some of the few awarded Sildron for personal use. Little is more unsettling than looking up in the sky to see only a few specks.. that rapidly grow into frothing berserkers who have just unlatched their flying belts and are rapidly plummeting to the earth, leaving their floating contraptions behind.
- The Navy is and has always been the main line of defense for the Empire. The Admiralty Building in the heard of the Imperial Capital, down by the Royal Docks, is a sight to see indeed.
- Each Satrap supplies a number of ships, the amount of which the Imperial Capital lays out. The majority of these are seagoing ships, being cheaper and easier to make.
- The ships have no sails but the sails of glass that draw in the sunlight to power the engines. They always fly two pennants though - one for the Empire, one for their Satrap. The Flag of the Empire is Sky Blue. Most ships are designed to be fast and with low keelage, to navigate quickly around the islands. The smallest vessels carry one glass cannon - the large ones can carry many, and a greater variety of guns. Crossbowmen are also commonly seen on the ships - using regular arrows to snipe enemy sailors, or attaching the explosive heads to target the rigging of the enemies. And if it comes to it, all Empire Sailors have their trusty toothed-knives.
- The Capital
- Let me speak to you of the Imperial Capital!
- Also known as Av-Yolar, City of Towers!
- It grew so large to as push to the very edges of the island it was founded up, and then could only grow up - though, still all is quite below the Nail.
- There are both Upper and Lower docks, catering to ships of all sorts. And in the center of the city is the Great Market of the World - things and people from all places trade here - slaves, magical artifacts, exotic food and water. But there, off to the side - there is the Crimson Market. Do not go there alone. There you can see such strangers - a Knife-Ear purchasing blood, a Chasatha licking her lips as she inspects a poor shivering slave maiden, while beside her a Lich inspects the slaves for strong, muscular men to work for him - and a man furtively searches to hire one of the Assassins.
- In the Upper Circle are the dwellings of the rich and powerful. Perfumed gardens, all the dancing girls you could desire, sweet beverages from over the seas - all before magnificent palatial mansions and, most lovely of all - the Ponds. Ah, the Ponds! Water for bathing, not just for drinking!
- In Glasstown, artificers and mages work constantly to make more and more of their wondrous creations. Competition and imagination run high in this district.
- Below the city lies the Dungeons of the Vizier. He has claimed near all the land below the city. Though they are called Dungeons, and a vast part of them are used for the holding of prisoners, there are many other things here - the Archives of the Vizier, the Hold of the Assassins, the Vizier's Forge, the sealed Gallery of the Damned, the Chambers of Torture - and below all this is the Well, of course.
- Fleshmarket is located near to the Great Market and this is where the slaves are kept before being sold. It is surprisingly a clean and well orderly place. The slaves even have their own fountain in the central square where they are penned in.
- All cities must have their refuse and, alas, the Imperial City has the Gutters. A place of thieves, illegal slavers, low murderers - but mostly of poverty and the poor, scrabbling for the menial jobs.
- But there is then the Flowering District! The one area of the city where prostitution is legal and controlled. But that is not all that is offered here - artists, dancers, creative minds of all sorts sell their wares. You can feel the magic - the sensuality - the spark of creativity in the very air!
- In the center of the Crimson Market there is a locked chest of malachite banded in brass. Within, in a delicate filigree of silver and strands of imperishable heartwood from ancient trees, sprinkled with blood from virgins long-dead is the heart of what may one day be a God.
- It slumbers, tended by the Crimson Market's eyeless-tongueless slaves, a bound barghest before its gates and a choir of slave children singing without, night and day.
- This heart is said to be a paean to the Forbidden Sibling of the twin goddesses, He Who Never Was, son of the dread Serpent which lurks beyond the wall of Stars, whose effigy heart the children sing to that he might someday Be.
- The darkness coalesces around this heart, and is why there is never any wonder at the horrors of the Crimson Market from the populace of magnificent, beautiful, decadent Av-Yolar.
- The Capital City has an Excellent Sanitorium. Clean, well staffed, and well equipped. It seems strange that this particular public service is filled better than others.... but then again, for some reason, the rates of madness seem to be going up slowly. But, I mean, that's probably just population growth? Right?
- Other Cities
- One should not forget other important cities of the Empire, aside from the capital.
- Brallen, while stinking and foul, is the industrial and manufacturing heart of the Empire. Thankfully, the island it is located in the center of is large, or the city would pollute the ocean. But it is a barren, dull place nevertheless.
- And on the island of Siia, near the Shallows, is the peaceful and charming Trading Port of Laora. The waters here are clear and the beaches white and pristine.
- Avtion appears grim from the sea, but being so close to the Western Continent, it's high walls are a necessity. It's main focus is still of trade with that place, even though it is always ready for invasion.
- A few cities have strong springs that create entire rivers of swift flowing, clean water, that flows out into estuaries on the edges of their lands. These few places are famed for their exports of fruits, vegetables, and other valuable foods.
- It is also, in these few cities, where slavery is not practiced, though indentured servitude remains. Why? Why should any man remain a slave? When the threat of one's water quota being taken from them is nonexistent?
- It is also a capital punishment to poison or pollute such waters in almost all of these cities... bar the city of Brallen, whose stench of waste and alchemy is is said to lay out a full grown ox.
- The Vizier
- The Vizier's tower - the Nail - rises high above the capitol. It bears no architectural similarity to the rest of the city - it is simply a hollow tower ten thousand feet tall, suspended by magic. The Vizier spends his free time atop it in communion with the sky, seeking an apotheosis into a full and immortal elemental.
- This is a common hobby of Viziers. If they placed more effort into magical study, as the current Vizier (a relatively powerful wizard) does, they might succeed.
- I heard that the Vizier's Mistress? That beauty? Actually a Descendent of the Elementals of Flowers.
- Over the past ten years, the Vizier has been arresting, exiling or executing all the astrologers in the Capital.
- The Assassins are said to be all across the Empire, and are said to kill at the will of the Vizier. But I have heard rumour of schism and betrayal - have some Assassins turned against the Vizier?
- I heard that the orb that contains the last Elemental of Wind is very small - the Vizier uses it as a glass eye.
- I met the Vizier once... he's not all that bad a person. He seemed polite enough, if stern. But Gods above, you should have seen it when that fool messenger brought a declaration of independence from one of our northern islands. The Vizier just stared at him, that swirling glass eye of his flickered once as he jerked a hand at the messenger, and BAM, he was turned into a salt statue. Entire court just shut up right there and stared, horrified.
- The vizier just clapped his hands and said "Put it with the rest. And tell the Admiralty to meet me in my study..." and walked off like nothing had happened... stone cold.
- That's nothing. He let that madman, the chief of the alchemist's guild, run one of his experiments on the largest fortification there to break their spirits.
- My brother saw the aftermath. Whatever the alchemist did, it removed all the fire, water, and air from every living thing in the fortresses guarding the island's primary bay. There was nothing left by skeletal statues of sand, metal, salt, and dirt inside of clothing and armor... apparently it took a fortnight to set up. I wonder why they haven't used it to invade some of the more troublesome raider islands...
- The Nail is not the only similar tower in the world. Old Jhelom features an exact duplicate, shorn off in the middle. Others stud the earth, slightly hazy and seemingly out of focus or sharply broken.
- Strangely, they *reek* of planar (elemental?) magic and the power of all the elementals. It's almost as though they're pinning someone, or something, in place. But nothing so prosaic as a monstrous world-ending beast. They seem to be holding the world itself.
- The Vizier is said to love fine drinks, and he pays quality prices for every sort. They say he has tasted the blood meads of the Knife Ears, and the pebble brews of the Pale Folk, the stouts of the Arhkani, and the ancient wines of the Thanani.
- Just never, ever, over hype a drink to him. He still keeps the quivering flesh of the last man whose drink disappointed him in his dungeons, for when he needs stress relief.
- The Vizier often adopts orphans into his household. Occasionally they are seen again, as messengers and couriers, more often they simply vanish except... it is said, when you peer under the hoods of the Vizier's Scriveners. Supposedly the orphans are sent to work in his archives, locked away from the world, and from them is chosen then next Archivist, bound to a lectern of fused and shaped gemstone
- The Dungeons
- The Jailers in the Dungeon of the Vizier have no heads, and they carry whips made of the spines of dead prisoners, that cause paralyzing agony with a single stroke. Some say that their eyes and mouth are on their chest.
- I head that to get to the Vizier's Archives, one must go through the Dungeons. This is how much he values the knowledge stored there.
- "I am the archivist, the curator of the Vizier's grand libraries... I can answer all questions, bound as I am to my lectern, his servants continously bringing me new pages, new quills, new inks... I can answer all questions, but I can never know the answers, they run through my sieve like mind, tearing great holes, and I know that as my predecessor, I will go mad, and die as the last of my intellect is torn asunder, and then one of my sciviners, the copiers of my texts, will be chained to this lectern next... to write until he too goes mad and becomes one with the pages..."
- Old Jhelom
- Nobody is allowed to speak of Old Jhelom. They say that it's capital was on The Isle of Fire. But the only thing there today are volcanoes and obsidian. They say that in Old Jhelom, it was not the Viziers who ruled.
- They also had all the elementals working together or something. Perhaps Old Jhelom was ruled not by just one of the elemental houses (Sky) but by a senate of every single house with all of them holding equal sway? Divided into 4 courts or something.
- Spire Islands
- The Spire Islands get their names due to the fact that a good deal of the area is simply massive stone spires rising out of the ocean, dwarfing both ships and any other islands found amidst them. Technically the Spire Islands are their own Satrap. They are strangely isolationist - but people do live on top of the spires. Mostly monasteries up there though. It's said that the House of Stone is fairly prevalent here - it's "their domain", a bit of a reward for not fighting with the Vizier.
- The Shallows and Pearl Road
- Between the islands of Siia and Siio are the Shallows - a beautiful area of clear blue water, with villages built on rafts of stilts. They say there are ruins beneath the waves you can swim down and touch. But the main export of the Shallows are Pearls - The Empire has an insatiable appetite for these jewels of the sea.
- And this is why the ocean trade route that circumnavigates the world is called the Pearl Road.
- Slavery is a way of life, it is the life blood of the Empire in so many ways. They harvest fruits from the dangerous Cactatrees, and they work the vast pumps and pullies that dredge clean water from deep inside the Well on those islands without natural springs. They preform maintance on the dangerous sea walls, where waves crash into stone and mortar constructs that must constantly be repaired each low tide, and sometimes before then even. There are many slaves in the Empire. But if you are a slave, you are at least ensured your daily Water. Slaves who disobey simply do not receive their water. Slave rebellions often end in parched death.
- Other Locations
- There's an ancient city, with a grand library of magic buried in the sands of the deep desert. It is said that it has a thousand gates, each buried in a different dune scattered across Jhelom.
- Each gate has a different key. One opens only to the tears of a virgin, another only when the Azure Moon's rays project down upon it from the zenith of it's path through the sky each year. Yet another will not open except to the song of a Cthasa
The Western Continent
The Western Continent is a place of utter chaos, devestation, and loss. The Western Cotinent was once united it is said, but that ended the day that their King sent an expedition to the Moons themselves. Then it all fell apart. At first it was slow, as if a wave of madness preceeded the return of the ship, and then records are scarce, for the entire Kingdom, once spanning all of the Western Continent, came apart at the seams. Where once there was one kingdom, now there were a hundred. And then the Thanati and the Crusaders of the Holy Wastes arose, and one by one, the other Kingdoms were swallowed. Now there is only the anarchy of the Holy Wastes, united only in their belief that Thanati must be obliterated, the Thanati Liches themselves, and the Dozen Kingdoms in the north of the continent. Even they shall fall, as the militant Heavenly Kingdoms, lead by their General-King, exerts more and more influence over those that are not already pawns of the Thanati.
- It is said, that once, when the western continent nations were united, that they had ships that could sale to the stars. When they ventured further than the moons themselves, to the great wall of stars, They returned, changed... and the west fell in a great cataclysm that birthed the Thanati and the crusaders of the waste... which side is that most influenced by what was brought back from the wall of stars, the Thanati or the Crusaders, is unknown...
- The Thanati
- The Holy Wastes
- The Wastes are a vast section of cracked and broken desert that takes up almost all of the great Western continent. Magic within is strange, bleak and twisted, water taints itself and food spoils. It is home to an order of religious crusaders who steal life from the environment to empower themselves and seek to end the Dead empire and the Thanati.
- A secret cult, based within the Crusaders of the Western Continent, has spread throughout the world to touch everything with its corruption. Studying the magical power of numerology to create various effects, trafficking with and enslaving unclean daemons to be their personal servants and even Necromancy, of the weaker sort. They work towards goals unknown, initiation coming from those who birth that small font of strength within themselves.
- Those who are found and do not choose to join the cabal are slain out of hand. Probably why so many become hermits.
There are a variety of Holy Crusades going on at any time in the Holy Wastes. These crusades clash against each other constantly, when not trying to attack neighbouring areas, or in some cases, getting on ships and dashing themselves against the Empire. Below are some of these Warbands
- Warriors of the Returning Goddesses - This warband believes that the Maiden Goddesses can be revived if the Serpent Behind the Wall of Stars is weakened enough. They try to do this by slaying servants of the Serpent. But to them, anyone suspicious could possibly be a servant of the Serpent - and deserving of a beheading.
- Followers of the Transcendent - A Warband that professes to work for a "Upper God", existing beyond and above all lesser Gods. However, this is simply a front - the cabal at the center of the Warband are all cultists of the Serpent - they traffic in demons, necromancy and numerology.
- The Blades of Freedom - A Warband whose longterm goal is supposedly the destruction of Thanatis. Two of their invasions have failed before - they fight at the moment just to regain resources. They also try to raise revolutions from within the human population of Thanatis.
- The Order of Mzulao - The Order of Mzulao builds forts and castles all along the coast, claiming to be protecting against the "enemy from the sea". However, most of these fortresses are constructed by slaves - those who the Order bested in battle. And once they are finished, the Order sets up the slaves as serfs. They do operate some of the only real reliable ports on the East side of the continent, though.
- Followers of Challara - These are warriors fanatically devoted to the prophetess Challara - they escort her, war for her and do her bidding, whatever it may be. Challara's prophecies and commands are a rather confusing set - what her longterm goals are, if she has any, are unknown.
- The Children of the Heavens - Originally, this group sought to defeat all other groups to prevent rampant use of the life-destroying magics so common in this area. However, in the Holy Wastes, there is no other kind of magic - and not using it is a terrible handicap for a force. Now they fight as the rest, insisting instead that they should be the only ones allowed to use magic.
- The Expectant - Widely considered by the other insane religious fanatics as being insane, the Expectant seek simply to wipe out all others in the Holy Wastes, and to defile and destroy all alters to any sort of God. They believe that this will "kill" the Gods, and then a new God will arise on Earth, one who will be a better caretaker of the world.
- The Emissaries - A relatively new order, they are remarkably well armed and armoured, and they worship the General-King of the Heavenly Isles as a Demi-God, claiming to somehow know his far-off will.
- The Heavenly Islands
- The Heavenly Islands have not been taken into the Empire. The people there say that they are descendents of the Goddess of Storms - their General-King being a direct descendent. Perhaps this is true - the isolation and independence of these lands is guaranteed due to stormed unfailingly assaulting the ships of invaders.
- The Heavenly Islands lie very close to the Western Continent, and the General-King exerts more and more influence over the disparate kingdoms of that place.
- The General-King of the Heavenly Isles is said to study and investigate all forms of martial prowess, and to practice them all. Supposedly he wishes to make the perfect method of waging war.
- The Republic of Gold
- On the far Western Isle of Yaalar, the Republic of Gold is said to be but a den of privateers. But for some reason, the Princess of the Waters and her wives seem to give the Vizier pause. It is said that she is the last descendent of a sort of elemental that the Vizier thought extinct.
- I am not calling the Vizier a fool or liar, no, hardly not. But what he says about the Republic of Gold is quite untrue. I braved the dangers of the seas to visit there. I found that it is called the Republic of Gold not because of the plunder of privateers, but because of the colour of burnished bronze roofs in the sunset at the Port. It has its dangers, of course, but no more than any other place. And I have heard fairly good things from the citizens about this "Constitutional Monarchy" and "Democracy" business. But that is inconsequential. What impressed me most was the water - the water! Apparently this Princess of Water (I did not see her during my time, but a woman was pointed out to be who was supposedly the Lady of Tides, one of the Princess's wives) has used her talents to set up machine which slowly but surely turn ocean water into drinkable water - the lushness of the islands is proof of this, I believe. The irrigation... and... and the Bathhouses! If the tax on berthing was not so crippling, I surely would have stayed longer.
- The Isles of Bone
- The Isles of Bone lay between the Republic of Gold and the Isles of Smoke. These islands are the last part of the old Gorii Empire that the Gorii have actual total control over. Often times a particular Gorii will get enough of his kin together to build massive rafts and attack the Empire. The Isles of Bone are in generally a pain in the backside for mariners. They are right in the middle of possibly good sea lanes, but are fraught with shallows filled with sharp rocks, as well as unpredictable winds and currents. And the last thing you ever want is to be shipwrecked amongst the Isle of Bones. If the Gorii get their hands on you, you'll most likely be killed, set on fire, eaten, and your bones turned into tools, weapons and decorative bracelets... If you're lucky, it'll be in that order.
- The Dozen Kingdoms
- The Dozen Kingdoms of the Western Continent are all weak and decrepit by this time - many being financially indebted to the Heavenly Islands, or made to heel by Thanati.
- Shu-Li and Shu-Ti - Once, these two kingdoms were one - Shu-Yantsu, the Empire of the Winged Horse. However, at one point in the past, two brothers each laid claim to the Throne - and neither could come to an agreement over who should have it. So they divided the nation in their bitterness, Shu-Li, Kingdom of the Horsemen and Shu-Ti, Kingdom of the Soaring Birds. Shu-Li has a stronger military, but Shu-Ti has a better technology and economy. But at the current moment, both are utterly bankrupt from a war they fought against each other. The Heavenly Islands have used this war to gain influence over both sides.
- Tavaran, a mountainous, hilly nation, lies near to The Holy Wastes. Once beautiful and lush, the crusaders of that land have attacked and rendered it infertile and barren. It's people have become hardy and bitter, relying on highslope snowmelt for their water.
- Ransong is a land of forests and hills, that lies near to Thanatis. It's people stick to their cities - a plague ravages the farmlands and countryside. Many blame this on the undead - it is difficult to prove one way or another.
- Nokyong - Nokyong lies to the North of the Western Continent - it is named after the Nokyong River, which runs slowly down from the hills and mountains at the core of this land. Nokyong is often subjected to freezing winds - crop failure and famine is a constant threat.
- Karmasam - Karmasam is a small, inland Kingdom. It is fairly weak, but has existed through establishing itself as a neutral trade zone for the other Kingdoms. While this makes Karmasam undoubtedly rich, it also has filled it with foreign spies, unruly mercenaries and an isolated, miserly nobility.
- Misaam - Misaam is a city state amongst the Dozen Kingdoms. It has a long and proud history, but these days it is known that most of its riches and protection from the other nation come from its Privateers and paid bandits.
- Tongu - Tongu is a dry, inland Kingdom. It's people have become rather adept at siphoning moisture from the air - their large Moisture Towers dot the landscape.
- Jienzhan is a City State to the North of the Western Continent. It is known mostly for its military - most of the nobility are generals and (often self-declared) tactical masterminds. Becoming a soldier here is one way to ensure food shelter.
- Annamar is a City State to the West of the Western Continent. Clouds often hang over this place. It receives much rain, which its inhabitants claim is a gift of the gods. It grows many water-based grains and produce that need large paddies to grow. Much of the city-state is, because of the blessed rain, mud and swampland.
- Zarniunong is a City State to the East of the Western Continent. Though pleasant enough, compared to other places, it is mostly known as center of slavery. Zarniunong simply at certain points takes the poorest or most criminal of its citizens, enslaves them, and ships them off. While this keeps the "streets clean", it is mostly done to keep the pockets of nobles lined.
- Otschanv is a Merchant Republic - voting is open to all citizens, as long as they can pay a heft sum. This voting cost ensures that the City State always has enough funds. While Otschanv itself is develop, its hinterland has relatively little farmland compared to other Citystates - but has more forests - fur and lumber is exported from here, with most of the citizens eating fish and seaweed.
The Jungle Continent
The East is a jungle continent, studded with warring tribes of primitives with a startling command of bizarre technologies, powered with energy drawn from the storms. They lack any real command of magic, but are quite happy to tinker with their bizarre creations.
Their sky isn't like ours - it's not a limitless expanse leading out into space, with a sun, moon, stars, etc. that move in a consistent day/night and yearly cycle. Instead, there is a blanket of thick ethereal clouds across the entire sky that brightens and dims at regular intervals, approximating day and night. The color of the ether changes with each day, to each of the main colors on the color wheel - which makes up a six day week. The ether also rises and lowers in the sky at a slow interval, and the apexes of these fluctuations are similar to our solstices. The cycle in which these change is considered a year. This cloud like mass is smeared over the eastern continent and everything surrounding it, ocean included. It is said to be a relic of one of the small gods they captured and dissected for their divinity.
The Jungle Tribes of the continent maintain a much higher technological base than anywhere else in the world. Much of the progress is retarded as the wheel is reinvented over and over again by different tribes, but others continue to advance and are traded in order to survive. The jungle is a harsh place - anti malarial remedies, analeptic serums, prophylactic measures to ensure that mind-worm botflies do not penetrate the ears without impairing hearing.
- Grand Bridge
- The Great Bridge is a vast rock arch spanning a huge portion of the continent. The two ends of the arch are studded with the two only permanent settlements on the continent - one small trade outpost of New Jhelom, protected by one permanent deployment of the Lords of the Red Tide and an emissary of the Thanati, a Spectre Lord. The other is the traditional market grounds of the tribes, who attend, hang their cocoon-tents from the rocky outcroppings and trade as equals, all tribal differences forgotten on pain of death.
- The bridge is such a critical choke point because beneath is another world. The Jungle Continent is dangerous. Beneath the bridge, though, in the dark, hang glowing carnivorous mosses. Sentient mosquitoes the size of a man. Tyrantine lizards. Grass analgues that secret acidic fluids if subjected to pressure for more than a few seconds. Trees that walk, talk, scream and wield powers. Ghost Nobles outside the Thanati kingdom, experimenting with growing the undead. If it's lethal or unnecessarily horrible, it can probably be found beneath the Arch. Some occasionally attempt to cut through, shaving months off a journey to the ends of the Bridge by taking the one week march beneath, but none are ever seen again.
- Deep in the reaches of the sunless lands roams the Antediluvian Shade, an ancient deadman, a witch of powers unknown, a touch that melts the spirit, eyes of cold fire and a scream that paralyses. Long thought destroyed, anyone bringing the information to the Spectre Lord in the New Jhelom outpost would be greatly rewarded.. and even more so if he managed to survive the trip to the Thanati realm with the Shade's curse on him to inform the Liches directly.
- It's just a jungle with no sun. With Australian style wildlife, trees and moss. What light there is comes from the glowing, carnivorous moss that hands from the arch above. Less glowing, more 'transmits the light'. So the stuff at the edges absorbs it, and slowly bleeds it through as a liquid to the rest of the ecosystem of moss on the ceiling.
The Crescent Continent
Much nearer the south pole is a large, half-moon shaped continent. The weather is mostly temperate, closer to cold than hot (think like northern USA or Canada). This continent is dominated by the prosperous race of fair-skinned people called the Nostos. They mine a rare mineral called Duna, which retains its magnetic properties even when heated and baked like a brick. Thanks to these powerful magnets and basic science, the Nostos have discovered very clean sources of electricity.
The southern continent is known to use vast lightning charged artillery to fend off pirate encursions. No one dares go near their brick and mortar towers that dot the coast, for fear of being burnt to a crisp.
The Northern Continent
- Far to the north, across the vast frozen wtastes of the Iceflats is the ancient land on Ahrka. A warrior land, still inhabited by ancient clans and tribes of men. A land home to bizarre spirituals and, according to some travelers, cannibalistic ceremonies. Popular tales tell of how the men of Arkha stand three heads over other men, and how every native creature is a fierce predator of manflesh.
- The Arkhans claim a direct link to their Wind God Arkh, who legend claims created man by bidding Rojq, the Father of Wolves to mate with the Bear Mother, Gyra, and granting their offspring with the gift words, to distinguish him from the beasts.
- The Northern Continent is roamed by an order of assassins, predators hidden in the snowfields. Seemingly apparitions, with a command of savage wild life, toxins and weapons and an unholy ability with knives. This order of monkish killers can secrete adrenaline on command, draw magical assaults into their blades and survive for days, naked in the snow, disdaining 'magic' all the while. Or at least the grand masters can.
The Isles of Smoke
- I heard the Chasatha do not mine these gems. On the Isles of Smoke are ruins of some civilization far gone. Their gems litter the empty roads. But none but the Chasatha are stealthy (or mad) enough to go down these shadowed streets without attracting the Perchers.
- The Isles of Smoke are home to more than aerial demons; haunting the obsidian forests are half-spirit things the people name Barghests. They are beast-things made of ashes, like hideous jaguars. They are not sentient, but cunning hunters immune to the touch of normal weapons.
- If it devours the flesh of a living person, a Barghest becomes sentient and may speak every word that was spoken by their victim since the last full moon, in his or her voice. The barghest only has the use of each uttered word once - if it ever speaks its final word, it disintegrates in a puff of soot and flame. Once a barghest has learned to speak, it hungers forever for more words.
- Legend has it that the first murderer was one of the original Mortals. And that different races did not appear until people began to flee the Isles of Smoke. That's why the Isles of Smoke are in the center of all maps, it is where Mortality built their city, and where Mortals were first born. The different kinds of mortal only appeared later, as they tried to escape the madness the First Murderer and his progeny, the Murder Born, wrought.
- The Stomps
- There are islands even the Empire dares not claim dominion over. The still-standing shrines of the Stomps, an island chain so named for the legends surrounding it as being a literal 'stomping grounds' of the Old Gods, is a fine example.
- The Stomps are home to many oddities-- unnaturally perfect geography, alien obelisks and structures, absolutely ancient hieroglyphics in long-dead tongues, deformed animal life... few dare venture there, and even fewer have been known to return.
- Those that do bring back many tales: of paradise, of hell, of a great void, and of an absolutely abandoned chain of islands with nothing supernatural whatsoever.
- It would seem that for those who dare venture amongst the Stomps of the Old Gods, every tale is different...
- The Isle of Storms
- There is an roaming island that is ruled by a man that is no longer human. He is called the Storm King his actual name being lost to the sands of time. There are many stories about this man a legendary prophet once said that these tales have a lot more truth then many will ever come to believe. The power of the Storm King is legendary entire fleets and armies have tried to take his island he slaughtered them all single handily that is if the storms didn't destroy them before he could. He is said to be immortal when asked about this he said this was not true rather he just aged so slowly no one can tell the difference. There are many secrets to his power. The two that are widely known is one his sword a nightmarish horrifyingly powerful artifact from which he took his one titles Bringer of Storms. The second is his blood, some how he managed to strengthen it to incredibly ludicrious levels of potentancy and strength. It is unknown but there are rumors that somehow the legendary Storm Elementals are involved and unlike their brethren for some reason their growing stronger instead of weaker. The only way to approach his island is to encounter a storm, in that storm you must encounter an Storm elemental and bargain/prove yourself to it. In exchange you can go to the island depending on what exactly was agreed there are many agreements for this some include a one time deal, whenever you want so long as you live, or given an item to allow access to who ever possesses it. No matter what however you ALWAYS must go through a storm to get to the island.
- The King of Storms
- The Bringer of Storms is a blade of chaos that brings mastery to the Storm. It is cursed however in that whenever it is drawn it brings a storm in both a literal sense and other ways.
- It is said that the Storm King is powerful enough to conquer the world for some reason he does not. There are many tales and stories of why this is so. Some reason however he does not do this rather he is satisfied with traveling and protecting his island including those who dwell there.
- One of the stories of why he does not conquer is that he was cursed. Another is that he made a promise to never leave. In all the stories and tales however he rarely leaves and when he does it is never for very long. Considering this many of come to believe there is something he protects. Which raises the question of what needs the protection of such a powerful guardian?
- The Storm King denies his title whenever he is addressed by it... and some claim that he lives in no palace, that he has no servants, that he is a wanderer on the isle that he "rules" that the inhabidents turn to him for advice and protection, but that he gives no orders. He is a Not-King with no nation, addressed as King only by those without.
- Perhaps, to have the power to rule the world, one must, in turn, give up the right to rule anything at all.
- The Warrior Isle (Working Name)
- On one of the larger Islands towards the blistering southwest where sea's churn and storm's brew lies a spartan warrior nation/culture of which only the strong survive, every day within the magical tainted wilds where creatures as tall as the greatest of spires live.
- Here in place of sword and shield, lies a land were fist and leg rule. These countless warriors train to become Ravalle's or fighting citizens, in order to expand their family's great fighting hall with new members. Yes, due to this savage land, most relationships are polygamous, with the strongest men and women taking pick of breeding material in order to breed new warriors to train.
- This Island is populated mainly by humans, but they welcome all species.
- The island accepts anyone and anything capable of surviving, as long as they are mortal. They have no respect for immortals, for how can anything without fear of death be courageous.
A widespread race, due to the wide-spread influence of New Jhelom
- The Elemental Blood Lines
- There's been a lot of talk of these Elemental Bloodlines. But here's the lowdown as best as I can get on the Noble Houses.
- The Elemental Bloodlines are not just of mortals descended from Elemental Folk like the Djinn, Iffrite, Angels, and true Elementals, no, some of these high beings are amongst the houses, though hidden, bound, or secretive of their true natures. It is known the Vizier is truly human though.
- House of Sky - No need to explain here. With House of Sky in dominance due to the Vizier, this is by far the biggest House.
- House of Wind - Nearly Extinct. Entirely controlled by the House of Sky.
- House of Fire - Low Strength, grudgingly loyal to House of Sky
- House of Stone - Middling Strength, keep to themselves, loyal to House of Sky.
- House of Sand - In forced imprisonment somewhere, a form of "house arrest".
- House of Lightning - Low Strength - Underwent exodus to the Western Continent to avoid the wrath of the House of Sky. But at least one family is still in the Empire, causing trouble for the Vizier.
- House of Water - Almost entire obliterated by the House of Sky. It's tributaries of Rain and Ocean collapsed back into the main House. But the Princess of Waters in the Republic of Gold seeks to rebuild the house and re-create Rain and Ocean.
- House of Glass - Middling Strength, loyal to the House of Sky, held on a tight leash.
- House of Wood - Status unknown. Fled New Jhelom a while ago. Said to have been headed for the Southern Continent.
- House of Metal - The bulk of this House went down into the Well and fled. The Vizier is said to keep a few of them in his dungeon as prisoners and is trying to get information from them.
- House of Flowers - Low Strength. Submissive to the House of Sky. The Vizier's Mistress if of the House of Flowers.
- House of Stars - Entirely Unknown. Even suggesting that such a house exists leads to investigation and imprisonment by the Vizier's men.
- They say that the descendents of the Elemental of Glass are kept locked in the Palace Dungeon. They say the last Elemental of Wind is in a glass orb owned by the Vizier. They say the descendents of the Elementals of Fire can light their hands aflame with strange Martial Arts. They say the Princess of Waters has four Wives - a Wife of River, a Wife of Lake, a Wife of Pond and a Wife of Tides. They say that the structures out in the desert are the tombs of the Descendents of the Elementals of Sand - and that they still move down there. They say the Descendents of the Elementals of Wood all left long ago. They say the Descendents of the Elementals of Metal went underground. Who can tell what is the truth?
- Searching for the Descendents of the Elementals of Lightning will only lead to trouble. Even mentioned the Descendents of the Elementals of the Stars, especially their supposed gift for oracle, will likely lead you to the dungeons.
- Hmm. Strange rumours. But the Descendents of the Elementals of Stone are still alright I think - I mean, I thought they were those strange figures in those hoods that come to market from the Spire Islands? Right?
- Blue Feathers are, by law, something only members of the royal House of Sky are permitted to wear with their garb. Their servants may wear a single blue feather, but only those of the House of Sky are permitted to drape themselves in them. Others may use them on other forms of decoration, to declare loyalty or just because it looks nice.
- The Nostos
- The Arkhans
- I have seen the Arkhans in the marketplace! They are indeed tall, and ask after their Wind God. Surely they do not refer to the Vizier's Eye of Wind?
The Murder Born
- The Chasatha
- An entirely female Race that looks to be women with the lower half of snake, and some other snake-like features. They come from the Isles of Smoke. The Chasatha trade gems to New Jhelom with excellent properties for making magical artifacts. The Chathasa trade these for beautiful human slavegirls. The Chathasa actually devour these maidens whole and living. This foul deed apparently lets the Chathasa maintain a youthful sheen for all their lives, and an extended lifespan. It's rumoured that if they do not do this at least sometimes, they become more and more snakelike, until finally regressing into actual serpents. Generally only the more human-ish Chathasa trade at the Capital. The Chathasa also taught humans the arts of Assassination. The Chasatha are said to be descendents of the First Assassin. Their bite can kill, agonize or subvert men. But if they try to eat a man, their throats seize up and they die.
- The Chasatha from the Isles of Smoke are all demons. They are like women, but half snake. They look alluring, but their fangs can poison men - leading to death, agony or submission. They come in their Shrouded Ships to trade sometime - they demand beautiful slave girls, which they exchange for their rare gems (invaluable for mages). But the dark truth is that they devour these hapless maidens, swallowing them whole and alive, like the snakes they are. The darker truth is the reason for this - the tales of Chasatha immortality is true, and this is how they maintain it. But they say that a Chasatha cannot eat a maiden who bests her in a competition of music or dance. How these are judged, I do not know.
- The Chasatha were the first to teach the Empire the Art of Silent Death. The Assassins of today trace their arts back to them.
- I heard the flesh of men is poisonous to the Chasatha. The flesh of a man will cause their throat to constrict and choke them. This is a valuable clue if you ever find yourself fighting one.
- The Chasatha are the only ones able to enter the terrible bejeweled city due to their relation to the first assassin... who is their father. The city, it is said, once was the center of the world, but was tainted as the cursed immortal slayer plied his trade, and mastered every method of slaughter, turning the Isles of Smoke into a charnel house of horror over many centuries... his sons became the Perched, his daughters became the Chasatha... who share no love for one another barring horrible, incestuous mating sessions held once a century.
- The Perchers
- An entirely Male Race that pollutes the empty streets of the Isles of Smoke, that look hideous and twisted. They occasionally mate with the Chathasa, but aside from that the Chathasa avoid them.They are said to be descendents of the First Assassin. The blood of women is like acid to them.
- The Perched have grown strange on the Isles of Smoke, and they are said to have gained a semblance of sentience. Their hideous dialect spills from their crooked maws as bubbling pitch, marring the gemstones people risk all to acquire.
- Such gems are said to whisper to their owners the secrets of the Isle of Smoke's former masters.
- Just as the Chasatha die if the flesh of men reaches their throat, so does the blood of women scorch the Perched, even in small amounts.
- For this reason, when the Perched find or capture a living woman, they pierce her from afar with crude javelins, or bring her to bay with cruel snares, the better to keep her in their lightless vaults for sport.
- Some say they breed these women to captured men, before devouring them, and raise the babes in blindness to be slaves and servant caste. In place of these children's eyes, they place gems coated in their caustic, defiling pitch, and though they cannot "see" after the fashion of mortal men, their silent, uncanny prowess unnerves those who set foot on the Isles.
- They are silent for their tongues are cut out, and offered to the barghests.
- I have heard that the knife-ears are somehow related to the Pale Folk. How, I do not know.
- The Pale Folk
- Friendlier relatives of the Knife-Ears, but reclusive to the extreme. Often appear in fairytales, helping the righteous.
- Under the ground, in large caverns, live the Pale Folk - Elven like people, with strange technologies. But in certain areas of their caverns, they can see the water leaking in, and know the crab people seek to destroy them.
- The Knife Ears
- Marauders in dark ships that skim the surface of the ocean. They come for your blood.
- The black ships of the knife-ears can be glimpsed on the fringes of the Empire, on occasion, raiding coastal settlements not for food nor supplies, but children.
- Little is known of this enigmatic people, save the darkness of their ships and their deeds, the tallness of their stature and the distinctly pointed shape of their ears.
- Rumors amongst witnesses whisper that the black ships of the tallfolk do not sail the ocean so much as glide above it, silent.
- The Knife-Ears come from the south, but no one can tell much about where they come from aside from that.
The Crab Men
The most widespread race, they live under the ocean in vast cities. Every 500 years they are driven to land to spawn and replenish their numbers. Their civilization was said to have been grand, but fell to madness.
- The waters around the islands are infested with a malevolent race of crab people, who construct vast underwater cities that span the known globe - but noone who ever witnesses them performing an attack or sees their cities lives. The crab people are long lived and small in number, but spawn once every 500 years in an orgy of violence, magic and crab lust. That time is fast approaching.
- The Crabs worship a beast known as the Kraken. God, demon, or elemental spawn. None know, but they have only come to worship it recently.
Effectively their own race, they live in Thanati with a few humans they raise. The Undead have a rigid caste system, with the blood dependent vampires at the bottom.
- The Empire has an interesting alliance with the Dead. A Caste Based nation of the dead, ruled by the Thanati, undead liches with mouths sewn shut, beautiful clothes and skin like preserved leather. The living are a minority, usually raised on farms, snuffed out and re-raised as zombies. Some are reared by the Thanati to be welcomed into undead society when they come of age. The few free-born living survive doing work too dangerous or complex for the semi-sentient zombies. There are thousands of the undead, with vampires at the bottom of the ladder - starving junkies in shanty towns, begging the living for just a sip of their precious fluids.
- At need, the Thanati send their forces to the glittering desert, or to chastise those who bother their benefactors.
- I heard the Vizier will deal with the Undead because the Elementals have no Dominion over Death.
- Liches, "Thanati"
A short, green race who used to be the dominant race on land, until the humans who would found Old Jhelom destroyed their nation and corrupted them to savages.
- The Empire has not always been the only dominant power in the region.
- In ancient times, the Gorii Dominion held sway over a vast swathe of what is currently the Empire of New Jhelom. The Gorii were a proud, green-skinned race of short stature.
- A relationship of trade between the two Empires quickly became a relationship of total and complete war.
- The First, Second, and Third Gorii Wars cost the Empire dearly. It was not until the Great Curse that the Empire won out.
- It is said the sorcerers of the Empire cast a great corruption upon the Gorii race, killing most and routing what remained. The Gorii Last Stand was not well documented, save that it ended in the destruction of the Dominion's capital, Gobii, and the salting of its fields.
- It is said their modern descendants bear the corruption still, and are little more than half-intelligent monsters, dancing about fires in caves and occasionally raiding villages.
- The Teis
- The Teis are magical being that float around try to maintain the world.
- The Teis are actually what's left over from the Elementals who have been devoured by demons. Motes of magical power drifting through the world, trying to influence and protect it from the oncoming darkness.
- River Folk (Working Name)
- There is an entire vast civilization of tiny aquatic humanoids, who live all up and down the bottom of the Urz River.
- Cliff Flyers/Leathery Racers
- A routine surge of leathery fliers, approximately a meter across, must be culled. These fliers nest in cliffs, racing throughout to mate before leaving to search for anything they can find to eat, being an omnivorous horde.
- These "cliff flyers" or "leathery racers", as the people often call them, are the brood of a great, winged abomination that nests in the cliffs on one of the smaller isles. the waters around the island are said to be cursed, as ships that approach too near vanish, or else have their decks painted with blood - abandoned. Rare survivors rave about winged shadows that come in the night.
- Its progeny bring a tithe of prey to it, and it slowly grows too large for its home.
- Mad cultusts worship this being, and small settlements near the cursed island are slowly becoming abandoned under dark circumstances.
- These 'Leathery Racers" are related to the Perched, the creatures that stalk the empty streets of the Isles of Smoke, where the Chasatha sneak by to purloin the valuable gems.
- The Shadow Minds
- The shadow minds
- Some children born are born empty.
- These children become hosts to the things that animate the barghests, and sometimes the things that give men nightmares; these children have no substance to anchor their souls. They become vessels for the Things That Wait.
- Subversive, silent, and crafty, these beings haunt the Western Continent. They are subjects of the Serpent, but not connected to it - they are merely fragments of its will that scraped off when it made a rupture from Beyond the Stars.
- Black fragments of Unself enter most Hollow children, and they become shadow minds. Leaders of cults or cannibal monsters, the shadow minds are true monsters - the appearance of humanity wrapped around a darkness from beyond the sky.
Magic and Technology
- The Empire only has a few major "wells" of magic, which are distributed throughout the island ring by artificial leylines maintained by huge transmission towers topped with crystals and lenses.
Art and Culture are held paramount in the empire, despite being functionally useless. A product of their massive economy.
Some go far, however, into the depths of Art - some interpretive dancers can induce emotion or thought, from depression to berserker fury. Some painters have prophetic fits - and one painting in the Vizier's gallery, when smeared in blood, becomes a window to another place - high, high above the world.
In the true depths of Art, all beauty becomes power. When one has slaved over a piece, putting every fiber of craftsmanship and skill towards it, carefully shaping or practicing it to be truly beautiful, truly perfect- when one can truly be said to have poured one's heart and soul into it- then that soul can exert true power, not merely suggesting impressions or emotions but demanding them in ways that more mundane art never could. All works of truly Inspired beauty hold power, whether blown glass or carved stone and painted canvas.
- The Vizier's gallery features many paintings, aside from the greatest secret of the portal-painting. Within some slumber long bound creatures, forgotten and unknown by all. Within others are futures, series of paintings leading to the apotheosis of all life or a broken, cracked, desolate waste that makes the Broken Wastes of the West look fertile. Some change routinely. Some are many things - one painting routinely shows whatever the Vizier had for breakfast next week.
- Glass Blowing
- The Empire's Glassworkers make creations of outstanding beauty - and sometimes, with the correct delicate patterns, can harness the powers of magic that flow invisible through the skies. Their Glass Cannons are quite a sight.
- The Empire has ships without sails of cloth - they have sails of glass, that draw in the power of the sun and stars and power an engine.
- Magical Glass creations are incredibly expensive and quite rare; but are as much work of art as sorcery, every one is the work of a master craftsman and is ornately and baroquely decorated.
- It is said that there is a way to shape glass so that one can gaze at the heavens - a thing called a "telescope". But it is also said that any who profess to have such a thing are taken to the palace and never return. There is something in the heavens not visible to the naked eye that someone must want to be a secret.
- I had a friend, whose name I shall not mention. He worked wonders with glass and magic.
- He decided to build a device that could record images - storing these pictures for later. He got it working and showed me. Delighted, he intended to go all over the city, taking these pictures.
- I did not see him for some time after that. When I next saw him, he was haggard, pale, and would not talk to me. He told me he was now almost done working on a device that could record whole moving scenes. I was astounded and congratulated him on this truly impressive work. He then burst into tears and I left him, confused.
- Later I found that he had died. He had leaped from his apartment window. I was saddened, and wanted to take some of his "pictures" for proof of his genius.
- I noticed something strange in them. Many were fairly normal. But in others... there were things there that did not make sense - shadows coagulating themselves into shapes like humans - where there was nothing to catch such shadows. These shadow-things haunted the edges of his pictures, impossible. Many looked to be missing heads, or other pieces of themselves.
- I then found his scene recording. I have not found a way yet to watch it. A good part of me does not want to. But I must now. I must. Every day, these thousands walking the street - are there things that we never notice, out of sight? And what are they capable of?
- There are none more respected in the Empire than those who have mastered dance.
- I have heard that the dancing girls you see in the Upper Circle and around the Vizier's holdings... the particular ones though, the ones in the outfits of Sky Blue? With the gold, and the pendants with swords? They are the Cloud Guard. They combine the magic of the artistry of their dancing with excellence with the sword and knife. The fact that they are dancing girls means that they go most places in the better areas of the City. And mostly they do just dance - but at the drop of a hat, they will enact the will of the Vizier. Make sure to hire dancing girls with outfits of different colours, yeah?
Arcane Symbology and Will
Any living being has the potential to learn magic - it's a hefty effort of will, combined with focus through pre-discovered forms and sigils to form a spell. Most people know one or two cantrips to make life easier. Serious magic, however, requires serious effort and is extremely rare - even more so outside those with elemental heritage to call on.
A very few people uncover some sort of secret that allows them to impose their will on the world without the artificial mental constructs, significantly lessening the effort and founding small fonts of power within themselves, which they stoke and tend eagerly. Most of these people become hermits, unlike the traditional magicians who typically end up in courts such as that of the Vizier.
- The most common form of magic is that of strange symbols and runes. They go by many names, and they take shapes simulating natural formations from the ground. They each seem to represent a single concept and thing, and are tied to an element. Somehow, with the death of many water elements, those magic symbols tied to water have been waning in potency.
- They say that there is a certain sign. And if you place this sign upon a door, it will open to the Palace of Memories. The Palace of Memories has many, many doors and is filled with knowledge and secrets. The Vizier is said to send envoys there from time to time. But be wary to not become lost in there. Your memories will seep from you, to become tokens in the palace.
- Rarely people are born with an intrinsic connection to the arcane, the rarest of these beings are the star-touched. The last star-touched, Heylel, once blackened the sun upon being threatened by the vizier.
- I heard that Heylel yet lives, tucked away in some forgotton corner of existence searching for a way to resurrect the goddesses.
Blood Forging is the art of turning the blood of various creatures and peoples into different, magical metals. It is said it was invented by the knife ears, and that since blood is the currency of the soul, the quality of the soul effects the quality of the metal.
It is said, that the younger the blood used in blood forging, the more durable and potent the metal will be. Why this is? No one knows. But it is suspected that it is why the Knife Ears steal children during their raids... using their blood to create the metals that they so depend on.
- The blood of a holy man makes a metal that will turn aside all evil.
- The blood of an honest man will shiver in the presence of untruth.
- The blood of a criminal makes the best lockpicks.
- The blood of a mage crafts no finer magical focus.
- The blood of a Magos is said to make blades that shatter enchantment, or rune-letters that protect the bearer from spellcraft.
- The blood of a liar, specially forged, can craft a tongue-stud that twists the speaker's words to sound convincing to the listener.
- A blade forged with blood of the Chasatha leaves wounds that sicken easily, and will not heal.
- And the blood of an astrologer is said to craft devices that can read the future - the missing astrologers, some whisper, are being crafted into the Vizier's Orrery - the largest prognostication device ever made.
- The weapon forged from the blood of an orphan and quenched in their tears and heartblood always strikes true.
The Artifacts of Old Jhelom
In Old Jhelom, powerful magical artifacts can be found built out of organic, blobby nodes and rods of snowflake obsidian rather than the usual delicately blown bubbles and sheets of rainbow glass that modern artisans use.
Air Ships and Sildron
Sildron is an ore torn from the earth, but carefully shielded. When it does not have a piece of andalum, an ore found around deposits of Sildron it recoils away from earth and water. Some deposits are torn loose from their andalum 'wrappings', leading to floating mountains. The silvery stuff is worth a king's ransom and enables modern flight. The Glittering Isles has some productive mines for Sildron, but for some reason has a vast amount of andalum instead which it exports all over the world.
Numerology is not like other magics, it is debase, vile, tampering with the very fundamentals of the universe. Math is used to equate EVERYTHING, and numerology disturbs this practice, creating vile, broken rules. Only a Numerologist can make it so that 2+2=5, and while this might seem like it could be a great thing, it destroys the natural order, and slowly, ever so slowly, the very world begins to die just to satisfy the whims of the numerologist's blasphemous magic.
In most civilized parts of the world, to be discovered to be a numerologist is to be executed on the spot. Woe onto the accountant who does not make it clear he works no magics what so ever with is abacus and counting stones.
Some say that Numerology was invented by the Demons... for who else could so well understand the mechanics of the vast machine that is existence except for those who lived outside and looked in upon it.
- In the empire, all mathematics must be done on black paper with white ink, and their tools such as counting stones and abacuses are made to be as obvious as possible. No one wants to risk a Numerologist using such things for demon summoning.
- It is a sad state of affairs, that hinders true engineering in most parts of the Empire, since true Numerologists usually become so good at mathematical numerology that they no longer require such base tools.
Stuff here has no real home due to a lack of a name, or detail, or specificity.
- All of the Saltbirds of the world migrate to the very same island once a year.
- Every seven years, rain falls up instead of down.
- "Ikshi" is a commonly cultivated grass that serves a wide variety of functions through different societies. When pounded and dried, it's thick leaves can be easily made into small durable briquettes, slightly wider around than a coin. These "briques" are notable for their incredibly long shelf life, and are used for many purposes, depending on the culture and the context. They can be brewed into a tea-like beverage that is omnipresent among street vendors in some major cities, they can be used as incense, they can be chewed as a bitter-sweet treat, they can cut and smoked in a pipe. The plant seems to have slight addictive and stimulant properties.
- However, the brique's most common purpose, surprisingly, is as a sort of universal currency. Because it is so easily obtainable, it is often used as a quick means of trade between merchants when they work across state lines, or if they wish to avoid taxation from the government.
- Today, it is so common that many everyday sayings reference this simple plant.
- You'll never believe this. Those Arhkan barbarians from the north? They take perfectly good Ikshi bricks, grind them into powder, and mix them with lead and mercury. Yes, that's right, -lead- and -mercury-. They then seal themselves up in tight rooms and burn the stuff to breath the fumes. Apparently it allows them to commune with their heathen gods or something, help them find whatever it is they come down here looking for.
- Ah, have you seen my new pet? A trader from the South brought it to market. They call it a "cat". They supposedly maul and kill demons in the realm of dreams. I laughed at the idea at first.... but since I purchased it, I have had no nightmares to speak of.
- The ab-dead city of Asurya mourns itself in the center of the grey plains
- Asurya skulks across the world, the city that flees the sun.
- The idea is the city is dead. It's surrounded by dead land; a wasteland. Inside, the laws of physics are slightly loose. The stalking happens with some bizarre ethereal presence - the city is like an enormous mosquito, stealing life, rest and nighttime from other cities to keep itself permenently in darkness. The stalking also comes from the fact that it's more of a city concept now - if you take a wrong turn in a city that's feeding Asurya, you find yourself *in* Asurya. No way home but a very long walk.
- There's a city council, a guard, etc, who keep merchant trains moving to keep the city economy alive, and make it safe for the crafting Houses to work, but things are a bit.. weird there. I'll do a write-up for the next one.
Necessary Setting Questions
- What things are traded in the empire and why? Why are pearls so valuable?
- Where do they farm? Do they have some kind of algea farms for their crops instead of wheat? or is there some kind of weird combo of sea-weed and grain in this world that they harvest from cultivated sea beds? Cause we're not talking occasional rains in the desert islands (like in the real world), we're talking no percipitation at all. So Corn is probably right out I'd think.
- How different are elemental blood lines from other races? Are they magical humans? Or are they just humans with weird visual traits (strangely colored hairs, eyes, skin, etc?). Or are they some how magically powerful as well?
- How rare are actual elementals? They seem to be fairly rare by the writing, keeping to the upper classes if they interact with mortal society at all at this point?
- What's the general tech level? Seems to be about third crusades-ish once you factor out the magic?
- Why is the empire being invaded by these other powers? They can't grow food after all, are they rich in mineral wealth then?
- Are there island nations besides the Gold Republic and the Isles of Bone that are outside the vizirate?
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