PLEASE NOTE: This wiki is very much a WORK IN PROGRESS and should not be considered the final product yet. More will be added as time goes on and collaboration continues. Thank you for your time. -JSC
UPDATE 12-22-11: The wiki has been greatly reorganized by region, and a bestiary section has been added. -JSC
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The World
- 3 The Bestiary
- 3.1 Aeva Archipelago
- 3.2 Animar
- 3.3 Ataryft
- 3.4 Benalor
- 3.5 Depths Below
- 3.6 Drakonid Highlands
- 3.7 Earth's Cry
- 3.8 For'Channar
- 3.9 Garvenus Steppe
- 3.10 Heavens Above
- 3.11 Iotold Homelands
- 3.12 Multiple Locations
- 3.12.1 Caves
- 3.12.2 Civilized Areas
- 3.12.3 Cold Areas
- 3.12.4 Dead Areas
- 3.12.5 Deserts
- 3.12.6 Dreams
- 3.12.7 Forests
- 3.12.8 Godless
- 3.12.9 Heights
- 3.12.10 Magical Areas
- 3.12.11 Multiple Areas
- 3.12.12 Skies
- 3.12.13 Swamps
- 3.12.14 Waters
- 3.13 Northern Sea
- 3.14 Phrennoack Forest
- 3.15 Rustwater Delta
- 3.16 Uralaya Forest
- 3.17 Vashial
- 3.18 Vosagar
- 3.19 Weylos
Tabula Gloria (butchered pseudo-Latin sort of meaning Glorious Slate or Slate of Glory; that and it bears the initials TG for obvious reasons) is a collaborated setting which started in a thread made by an El Falcatero on 28 November 2011 called Bestiary in /tg/. The thread itself was simply created to be a thought exercise: the first person posted a picture of a monster; the next would fluff the monster and post another picture; so forth and so on. Somewhere along the line, people were starting to fluff the same picture, and in some instances, some of them combined the different descriptions into a more cohesive whole. This in turn encouraged some of the writers to make the fluff of later creatures go with previously established fluff, slowly building the setting merely from the lore about the bestiary.
Two threads later, and the setting was becoming more and more developed and the bestiary thought exercise expanded into landscapes, people, and phenomena. This wiki is an attempt at editing all of the fluff that was collected in these threads and beyond, to make them fit seamlessly into a playable setting which can be adapted into your system of choice. Heck, in one of the threads, someone suggested that it could make for a Magic: the Gathering block, which would be interesting in and of itself.
As it stands, the world of Tabula Gloria is an Earth-like place set in a high fantasy setting. Magic and technology stand side by side, sometimes intermingling. The Empire is surrounded by various peoples, both friendly and antagonistic. Great ruins from former empires and fell creatures to slay are plentiful. The world has a feel of high adventure and a bounty of opportunity for those who wish to reach out for it. It also contains a generous deal of political and social intrigue within, allowing for campaigns to range from classic dungeon raids to plots to take over the Empire.
The world itself is basically divided into two continents, the Western and Eastern Continents. The Empire of For’Channar, in which the capital of Tabula Gloria stands, is located on the Western Continent. It is located in the relative center of the Continent, serving as a hub of sorts for peoples coming from and going to other locales. To the north of the Empire is the Northern Sea, a dangerous place ruled by the god-like Lord of the Tempest. To the east are the Drakonid Highlands, the stronghold of a native people who have been driven out of the Empire’s lands. To the south is the Garvenus Steppe, a bastion of wildlife and savagery protected by the titanic Sky Devourer. To the west is the Phrennoack Forest, a wooded land of competing tribes harnessing the powers of life and death.
At the extremes of the Continent lie more places to explore. To the north are the Iotold Homelands, a rough and cursed place haunted with the memory of its former inhabitants and on the opposite side of the Northern Sea, the isles of Aeva, a cold and bitter place home to the brutal Raptorlord raiders. To the east are the Benalor Mountains and the Rustwater Delta, home to an old empire which excelled in technology. To the south, there are the Wastes of Weylos, a great desert which was the former home of a militaristic people. To the west are both the Wastes of Vashial and the Shiallan Mountains, a barren and dangerous land still rife with the magics of its former inhabitants. To the south of Vashial is the mysterious tribal land of Vosagar, home to a people seeking holy war against the civilized world.
There are great wonders to be found on the Eastern Continent as well. Along the western coast of the Continent lies the Nation of Animar, a long-standing place existing from the time of the old empires of the Western Continent. To the east of Animar is the Earth’s Cry, a tremendous mountain range effectively isolating the civilized west of the Continent from the pristine wilderness of the east. South of the mainland of the Eastern Continent lies the large island of Espartum, home to various native villages as well as the sea-faring civilization of Bythene.
For the purposes of the wiki, the lore is divided by the region in which the majority of the lore takes place in. Note that sometimes lore may take place in multiple regions, and the possible ramifications of the lore may be far-reaching, depending on the campaign and the person running it.
The Pure Existences
There has been something that has been baffling me for quite a while now. The myriad of religions in this world are somewhat concurrent with each other, despite the different cultures they came from. At first, I passed this off as a possibility of cultural mixing over a period of time. However I have recently come across an ancient text dated before even the founding of Benalor which describes the world as part of a larger, self contained world. It took me some time to translate it, as the language was something before anything produced by the Old Empires, from a people we know as the Temratu.
We already know that the Temratu were the first to accurately figure out how time flows in our world by their model of the twenty-six hour day, as well as the fine tuning of the seasonal calendar. They managed to figure that out with primitive tools at the time, but what I didn't know until now was the extent of the research they did at their legendary observatory in present-day Vashial. In this text, the Study on the Nature of the Cycle, its author made a rather interesting theory about the world's place on a larger scale.
Cup your hands and hold them apart from each other. Think of these hands as two forms of existence, the physical and the ethereal. Both of these existences are boundless and, for the most part, dead without the other. Now put them together. Where your fingers meet and thumbs meet are two junctions of a loop originating from these two opposite existences. One of these junctions is our world, the greatly physical world with the inalienable influence of Mana, the source of all things magical. Following this logic, the world of the other junction must be an abstract world made of Mana, but with physical constraints upon it. But at these junctions, the opposite forces feed on each other, bringing forth life and activity.
This idea correlates well with much of the god-like beings that we have here. Beings like the Sky Devourer are summoned from an alternate plane of existence. The Lord of the Tempest rages against the people of the world for seemingly no good reason. Then there the stories of the fell creatures of the Depths Below which feed more on fear than physical meat as the Wight of the Heavens Above foretold a terrible fate upon Benalor. For purposes of this argument, we will call our world the World Itself. Both the Heavens and the Depths are the parts of the loop closest and most observable to us from the World Itself. The further out we go in the Heavens and the deeper in the Depths we go, the stranger the mechanics of gravity and physics, so it would make sense that things are being distilled into these pure forms of existence the further away from the World Itself one goes.
The theory can explain how Mana seems to never be in short supply for all the magic that is cast in the world, as well as how some people can overcome their own barriers to perform great physical feats of strength and agility. The Mana likely comes from the Pure Ethereal existence into our world as Will - the source of tremendous physical feats - may come from the pure physical existence on the other side.
Given how the theory is stated, it wouldn't be any surprise that there is also another world on the other end of the circle, quite possibly a world of gods and their ilk, beings of immense magical power who are somehow constrained by simple physical barriers in which the beings of the World Itself - beings such as ourselves - could manage with little effort. Perhaps this would explain how, as people, we find it difficult to cast as the complexity and Mana required increases, but we can summon god-like beings here with relatively little effort, as in the case of the dreaded Obsidian Leviathan, which is summoned when such an act is botched. Also, if you ask a mage to describe how the process of summoning is done, the usual response begins with the mage having a "talk" with the creature in which is supposed to be summoned. So how can a channel of communication, much less a channel of travel, exist between two worlds separated by barriers which are more or less impenetrable by the denizens of said worlds?
If you kept your hands cupped, you can see that there is a space inside the circle. The author couldn't quite describe what could lie in that space - perhaps nothing at all - but the idea is that creatures from both worlds can travel back and forth through this space to bypass the pure existences on either side of the circle. This is the basic principle of summoning according to the author, facilitated by the concentration of Mana which serves both an amplifier for the summoner's thoughts through the Empty Space, as well as a beacon to the god-like creature on the Other World. Perhaps the principle can also work in reverse, with the god-like being collecting some of the physical components in the Other World, creating a concrete image in a person's mind in which he or she can see and communicate with.
Though these ideas could make sense, more research needs to be done. While my associates will continue poring through the Library in search for more on the subject, I will tackle this theory directly. I know of a summoner who can teach me the ropes. Perhaps I can experience this communication myself and get more information from the beings on the Other World. They might know more than even the Temratu did about our place in the greater scheme of things.
Memo from Worley Barlan, Master Researcher at the Imperial Library
The Manifestation of Thought and Instinct
It can be said that the Pure Ethereal is the embodiment of sentience. The processes of thought and conceptualization reside in the lofty expanses of this Existence, brought to the World Itself by a mind capable of making it its own. The direct link to these processes lie in a resource known as Mana. As such, it is no surprise that Mana tends to coalesce in areas in which there are large numbers of capable minds to pull it forth from the Ethereal. As such, some of the most famous thinkers throughout history have dubbed Mana as "the foremost gift of civilization unto the world." Be said civilization For'Channar, the Nation of Animar to the east, the Old Empires, or even the tribal peoples of the wilds, it is no surprise that Mana is to be abundant there.
Whereas the Pure Ethereal is the source of Mana, it can equally be said that the Pure Physical is the realm in which things become noticeable. Instinct, action, and focus course through the splendor of this Existence. These qualities manifest themselves in creatures subconsciously through Will. Unlike Mana which is the domain of sentient beings, almost any creature can use Will to perform great physical feats otherwise considered unlikely or downright impossible. As it is a subconscious process however, it comes in sparks, mostly whenever times are dire and the odds are stacked against something. But the truly strong and creative can sometimes create circumstances in which they take tremendous risk and gain great reward through a surge of Will from the Pure Physical.
The Catalyst Within
I was pondering the meaning of the Temratu's findings on our world - the World Itself - and its place in a larger system of realms and worlds. According to them, we are somehow connected to two realms of Pure Existence, that of the Ethereal and of the Physical. Beyond there, the Pure Existences connect to another world - the "Other Worlds - in which godlike beings reside. The theory explains that Mana trickles in from the Pure Ethereal and Will comes from the Pure Physical. But while the mages of this world are able to quantify Mana, even detail areas which are rich and poor in it, there is really no way to quantify this Will the Temratu speak of. Sure, there have been figures throughout history who have shown great courage and fortitude despite lacking the gift of magic, but such qualities only arise in certain individuals, instead of spread over a large area to be tapped into.
I am being led to believe that the World Itself can draw forth Mana from the Pure Ethereal, but it is the domain of living creatures in which Will is derived from the Pure Physical. But even then, that is not true - throughout the whole of history there have been similarly significant figures and creatures which harbor incredible magical ability, despite how Mana-thin or Mana-rich the area in which they were located. So perhaps the truth behind both Mana and Will are actually connected. This further leads me to believe that in most living creatures lies a catalyst, or perhaps a magnet of sorts, which harvests both Mana and Will from their respective Existences.
For simplicity's sake, I will call this catalyst Spirit.
Though the Temratu theory by itself can certainly explain the heroes of history, about how they stand above the rest, but what about the common man, the innocuous beast? Certainly, some of them have magical ability of varying degrees. Surely, they have the ability to persist in the face of varying difficulties. The entirety of Vashial may have been taught the gift of magic, but surely there were those who were unable to make the cut. Not all of the men of Weylos could be considered as heroic figures of martial excellence. And certainly, the Shapers and machinists of Benalor seemed to have found a balance between the magical and the physical.
So, how does the spirit work? That much I do not know yet. I have been trying to acquire funding and a blessing from the Emperor as to how to handle this. I would like to enlist populations from both the Empire and from Animar (perhaps some from the Eltyain if they are willing). They would then be evaluated in their current magical and physical skills by the College of Magical Arts and the Knightly Orders, respectively. From there, they would be sorted by their worst attributes, as their advantages would be highlighted and, were we to go by this theory, the affinity of their Spirit would be discovered - Mana or Will. From there, I would send them to the College if they are lacking in magical skill, and to the Orders if they are lacking in martial skill. If they indeed harbor spirit, then they should be able to change the affinity of it, for the more notable creatures and people were able to adapt and overcome their challenges, building their Spirit through growth and experience, according to the various folk lore throughout the ages.
If they are able to do this, it would prove the commonality and mutability of the Spirit, though I would have to devise another means of actually quantifying it. But at least the existence of it would be a bit clearer.
Memo from Worley Barlan, Master Researcher at the Imperial Library
It can be said that Spirit is the sum of one's growth and experience, of one's ability to adapt to changing situations and overcome challenges. It influences one's ability to harness both Mana and Will, acting as a transformer to make those energies into something more tangible, be it a magical spell or a physical feat. Throughout one's lifetime, he may devote himself to learning how to tackle challenges through magical methods, physical approaches, or a combination of the two. As such, it can also be said that Spirit is the sum of one's magical and physical ability.
Located in approximately the center of the Eastern Continent, the lands in which the Empire of For’Channar exists have been historically coveted. For the majority of the recorded history of the world, the Central Lands have been a difficult place to gain, but with incredible strategic importance. Now-extinct tribes have lived on these lands for as long as anyone could remember, surprisingly resistant to the takeover attempts of the three Old Empires surrounding it. In due time though, one of the Empires managed to break the stalemate and take the Central Lands for themselves.
The Western Wilderness
Of course, the Empire does not take up the entirety of the Western Continent. The Continent is comprised of many other peoples and places. There are friendly, antagonistic, and neutral peoples to be encountered. There are the plentiful ruins of the Old Empires to be explored. There are even other budding civilizations out there. As they say at the College of Antiquities, "To stay within the Empire's realm for all of one's life is a truly un-Imperial act."
- The Phrennoack Forest: Pleasant forests to the west of the Empire, known for peoples divergent but reverent in their views of life and death.
- The Uralaya Forest: Dense forests to the southwest of the Empire, known as a dangerous place in which the trees themselves rule all life.
- The Garvenus Steppe: Hilly grasslands to the south of the Empire, known as a place in which the survival of the fittest is in full display.
- The Drakonid Highlands: Craggy foothills to the east of the Empire, known for the hostile Drakonids which seek to reclaim their lands from the Empire.
- The Iotold Homelands: Brisk woods to the northeast of the Empire, known as a home to both a former civilization and a budding town simultaneously.
- The Aeva Archipelago: Frigid tundra to the northwest of the Empire, known as the home of the warlike and pirating culture of the nefarious Raptorlords.
- The Vosagar Caldera: Active volcanoes to the southwest of the Empire, known for a barbaric, plundering people waiting for the call of holy war.
The Old Empires
The Western Continent is also rife with remnants from old civilizations which thrived before the formation of the Empire of For'Channar. In some of the places, semblances of civilization still exist, making these places relevant to the Imperial worldview. The three most notable of these civilizations surrounded the Central Lands in which the Empire stands today.
- The Mechanical Empire of Benalor: The first of the Old Empires spanning from the north of the Benalor Mountains to the Rustwater Delta to the south, renowned for its technological advances still studied by people today.
- The Magical Empire of Vashial: The second of the Old Empires sprawling from the present-day Aeva Archipelago to the Narsum Cas'shren just south of the Shiallan Mountains, known for its magical prowess and feared for its horrors today.
- The Martial Empire of Weylos: The last of the Old Empires stretching from the Shiallan Mountains in the west to just before the Rustwater Delta in the east, remembered for its elite warrior culture and lack of reliance on magic.
The Eastern Continent
Though most Imperials associate the Eastern Continent with the long-standing and stable Nation of Animar, the continent is very much a wild and dangerous place. Whether it is an isolated tribal people seeking revenge on the Nation, a seafaring people roaming the seas around the continent, or the untamed and unexplored wilderness of the eastern part of the continent, there is much adventure to be had here.
- The Nation of Animar: A league of individual Kingdoms under economic and political cooperation, the Nation is a vital trading partner of the Empire in the current day.
- The Chaktar Peninsula: The last remaining bastion of the formerly nomadic and thieving Chaktari people, driven back to the south of the Nation by the unified Animari armies.
- The Island of Espartum: A large island home to the City-State of Bythene, a seafaring and magically-attuned people, among a variety of tribal peoples at peace with the Bythenians.
- The Eastern Wilderness: An uncharted and untamed land beyond the heights of the Earth's Cry, unknown to most other than the most intrepid of adventurers.
The following is a sample of creatures to be encountered in one's adventures in the World Within. They are arranged alphabetically, by region.
THIS SECTION NEEDS WORK! PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!
- Alkyr Sprite
- Conchran Servant Homunculus
- Walking Nuun, The
Ambulatory Mana Refinery (AMaR)
The Ambulatory Mana Refinery (or AMaR for short), colloquially known as the "Factory Man" is considered by some to be a "sign of the times" and a herald of the death of a nature-centric worldview in these changing times. The Benaloran Alchemist Engineer Mikhail Miranus however sought a more peaceful purpose with his creations. These hulking beings were very much like the golems we are acquainted with, but without a soul. Their movements and processes were entirely automatic and controlled by the engineers without fail.
The truth, in fact, is much more complex. According to what fragmented reports there are, it came to being sometime around 4E year 562 coinciding with the death of renowned Alchemist Engineer, Mikhail "Madman" Miranus. Scattered newsrolls leading up to the event mention of Miranus' promise of of an invention to, and I quote, "Revolutionize our burgeoning industry while, at the same time, allowing the common folk to still maintain their touch with nature." His death by a chemical explosion which obliterated his laboratory, along with any remains of the good doctor, his country manor and several wooded acres around his property, was the end of the situation. From then on the scattered reports of "Factory man" began to surface. The creature, despite its reported size, has not yet been verified nor witnessed in any official account, but there is much evidence to its existence: massive footprints, brass casings and bits found near eyewitness locations, and uprooted trees that have been seemingly devoured are well known. As stated before, no official accounts exist and the beast, if that is what it is, is considered a cryptid.
In his annals, the great explorer Ezel Carbane mentions his travels into the mysterious eastern lands of Benalor. In his time, it has been rumored that it once housed a great empire of steel and smoke, an empire whose ruins would inspire the devious minds of Vashial magi to construct their Dreadnoughts centuries later.
But Carbane and his crew came across a peculiar AMaR ruin which apparently took in too much mana for its specifications to manage. However, it wasn't destroyed, but rather gained a degree of sentience and was very much alive. His daughter Prifa, who traveled with her father and would become the Chancellor of the Imperial University upon his death, fearlessly approached the AMaR, who insisted on being called "Rusty" for some reason. They struck a friendship which allowed Carbane and company to have it accompany them on the voyage back to the University, a truly wonderful asset to have in our stock!
Of note is one eyewitness account by a Miranda Rivernell who said she met the being up close and described it as looking "cute" and "huge and really nice, but a bit sad-looking." It should be noted that the girl was 5 years old at the time, so her descriptions could be written off as a child's fanciful imagination.
- Bolruk, Elemental of Earth
- Frostman, The
The Philosopher is a construct of incredible power, comparable to actual godhood. Mysterious in age and origin, the Philosopher fosters scientific cults around the world, devoted to understanding the secrets of the natural world. These cultists serve as the inventors, engineers, physicians, and natural philosophers of many kingdoms. The ultimate goal of the religion is to attain complete understanding of the natural order, cracking all the mysteries of their "god."
Some suspect that the Philosopher encourages these worshippers as a form of reproduction. Eventually, its mortal scientists will become learned enough to build another Philosopher.
- Scab Pillar, The
- Siege Turtle
- World Engine, The
- Bone Keeper
Cornerstone of Creation, The
The Cornerstone of Creation is a lesser known god who supposedly had a hand in the creation of Tabula Gloria. Despite his apparent disdain for mortals, he recognizes their importance in the universe. He claims that many gods have been going missing, and his only clue as to why is that some mortals have been accumulating power to the point of being omnipotent. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, but he focuses most of his power into monitoring the Depths Below, as some of the denizens there know some secrets regarding the process of gaining omnipotence.
- Depth Grotesque
In the very darkest places, where nobody has ever lived, where nobody has ever traveled, where nobody would dare journey, there lies the ruin of a city, which nobody will ever see,carved from the living rock itself. Many of the cave-like buildings have collapsed, and nearly every one of them is marked with scorch marks from blasts of an entirely indiscernible origin. If one were to inspect the city, which of course nobody ever will, they would discover the remains of the buildings are arranged in several hundred concentric circles, and at the center lies half of a massive, blackened obelisk, the faces of which are marked with millions of seemingly random slash marks. If one were to climb to the now flattened top, the likes of which is astronomically unlikely, they might see, sitting in the center, the Shuthum, a creature unique in its construction, and, just before they were rendered unable to return, though the likelihood of them having reached the spot even once are unknowably slim, they might wonder if the writhing, ooze soaked tentacles had marked the obelisk. They might notice a certain heat emanating from the creature's mas, which, if they have any sense, they might imagine would create scorch marks on stone buildings. And then they, the one who was exploring a place they never should, nor could, have uncovered, will have their mistake erased in a manner that nobody will ever again witness.
- Slype Hound
BloodWarg (Vampire Warg)
The Bloodwarg, also known as the Vampire Warg for its oddly shaped nose, is an alpine predator, distinguishing itself from other, similar creatures via two things. It's amazing sense of smell, and it's reclusive nature. Unlike other species of Warg, the Bloodwarg is not a pack creature, preferring to hunt alone, and meeting others of its kind once a year to breed.
The Bloodwarg tends to hunt smaller animals such as goats and sheep in the foothills it lives in, and occasionally attacks lone travelers. However, most Bloodwargs shy away from large groups and caravans, which makes most major routes through the mountains safe enough.
Brown Mud Strider
The Brown Mud Strider are solitary scavenger from the mud lakes. With his long legs and slow pace, roam searching any dead creature in 20 miles around, thanks to his powerful sense of smell.
If any predator try to attack one, the mud strider will try to scare it with a great degree of noise, releasing an horrendous sting or spite a digestive acid to the attacker and try to blind it, because doesn't have any other natural defense.
With patience and lot's of carrion it's possible to train one of these creatures to detect the appreciated tubercles and roots from the mud pool.
- Cave Dritch, Greater
- Cave Dritch, Lesser
The Firecrawler is a strange amalgam creature formed under a very specific, and thankfully rare, set of circumstances. First, a cave goblin needs to die. Specifically, from a wound that shatters its skull. Then, if it died in an appropriate biome, a Firespore mushroom must take root in its head, feeding on the brain matter. The effects of Firespores on necrotic brain tissue is well documented, as it causes the corpses to spasm uncontrollably and sporadically breathe small jets of flame. The movement and heat from a seemingly prone target attracts the attention of a Corpse Crawler, which feeds on a corpse from the leg within while using it to travel further under an admittedly poor disguise. However, if both of these seemingly unrelated scavengers of minor magical power ever infest the same body, something remarkable happens. The body wakes up, completely conscious, intelligent enough to use simple tactics and weapons, capable of breathing fire with some degree of control, and possessed only of the desire to create more bodies for infestation. There are several hypotheses as to why this occurs, but the most commonly accepted one is that the magical energy both creatures project into the body is enhanced when they intersect.
- Firespore Mushroom
- Mountain Owl
Cinder Shades are the results of a burn victim dying in sorrow and agony without being given a proper memorial or burial.
Normally cinder shades haunt the places they were burned giving an added element of danger to charred ruins. However sometimes they will leave their haunts and seek victims elsewhere subjecting them to the same pain and torment they suffered in the last moments of their life. Normally they appear to be little more than humans of blackened flesh and ash until they spot a victim wherein they flare up into a dazzling light and flame display that reveals the truth of their nature. Cases of spontaneous combustion have been linked to these creatures and survivors of their attacks often describe being hypnotized by the wondrous play of light surrounding the creatures before being awoken by the smell of their own flesh cooking off their bones.
Usually the only way to deal with these creatures is to bless the area in which they were killed with holy water and incense. Failing that holy weapons can touch their usually intangible flesh but this method is extremely difficult as the heat they can produce is strong enough to melt steel into slag.
In recent years, Wizards have come to expect more and more from their familiars and servants. Whereas the old guard would be more than happy with a gray-whiskered cat that spoke in cryptic riddles, the mages of today have no time for such archaic practices, and find themselves in need of more practical uses. Well, THE most practical thing for a mage. Power. Conductor Mites, nicknamed Battery Bugs, have come to be a common sight in the halls of more upscale universities, shuttling a little extra juice hither and thither at the command of their masters, who are frequently found wanting. Being nothing more than a shaped homunculus with an energy crystal slapped on their back, they have little in the way of personal needs or maintenance, and have been heralded as a significant boon to the magical community.
The Darevus packrat is often seen less as a monster or vermin and more of a small-sized lesser race. Being only half the size of a gnome, each of them is usually equipped with enough supplies to make it just about anywhere a rat can. They have an innate ability to find and appraise magical items, writing and artifacts. An ability passed down from their progenitor, a very powerful familiar.
They usually work with other creatures who collect things meticulously. A sorcerer or wizard with a clan of them normally will have a very large and very well stocked library or collection of casting materials.
In the field, they often employ themselves as trapsmiths, dungeoneers, and sometimes archaeologists. With their intense curiosity and ability to squeeze through collapsed ruins to get to hard, nay impossible to reach places, packrats are often seen as a boon to many adventurers.
Just don't shirk them on their pay or share of the spoils from the dig... a swarm of them using their tools can tear a man in full armor apart within moments.
- Founder, The
- Imperial Squathound
- Mountain Hawk
- Rumble Hound
Sky Devourer, The
The center of worship on the Garvenus Steppe is that of the stormlord religion. They revere a god known only as the Sky Devourer. A super colossal beast of legend often seen in the wizardly scholar community as the product of an "animate object" spell gone horribly out of proportion. The Devourer is the stormlords' benevolent protector and provider.
In times of war or when something beyond their ken is about to attack the region, the Devourer takes to the sky to protect its people, wracking the enemy army or offender with storms of ice and lightning.
The famous conqueror and elder wurm, Parseconuthix, once tried to oust the creature and was summarily consumed for his trouble, right along with the armies he had at his back. So far, the Stormlords have been content to live upon their mountain home and keep the peace with their god.
"Did you see THAT!? How could something so huge come out of nowhere, that fast!?"
The tourists always have that reaction when they see the spotted behemoth in action. I suppose that after watching them for so long, they're more of a demonstration of grace than anything else. Sure, they're ugly as all sin, with their blocky faces and their seemingly perpetual snarl, but they manage to move their immense bodies like a sharp wind, all until it cuts through its prey. And fortunately for today's astounded visitor and myself, the behemoth prefers meals of the large variety.
Today, it's a hapless elephant who strayed from his herd. Its gurgled death-trumpet echoed through the grasslands and into the nearby rain forest. I'm sure the behemoth wasn't hoping for that - there is incredible competition in these lands, and with the death knell scavengers will surely follow to sneak away the behemoth's kill until there is no more left for the victorious hunter. So the savoring of the meal will have to wait and the behemoth starts the laborious task of dragging its prey away beyond the treeline to fend off the majority of those who would otherwise share her meal.
By this time, the poor tourist is regaining his senses and we're driving away. No need to stick around for the majestic mountain hawks, or even the packs of smaller rumble hounds that prowl around for a free meal. Unlike the spotted behemoth, THOSE critters don't mind taking what they can get - which includes folks like us.
In the Garvenus Steppe, it's about the laws of nature, the laws of predation, and the laws of survival. For the most part, almost everything fits in a cycle - everything has a food source, and everything can be eaten by something else. All except for one creature, the steppe giant. An insectoid creature evolved to take on tree- and plant-like characteristics, the steppe giant combines the hardiness of a tree, the regeneration of a plant, and the resilience of an insect, all in one package. Even the mighty spotted behemoth won't go near a steppe giant for fear of being trampled. Save for those gifted enough in fighting and magical ability, and the Sky Devourer itself, the steppe giant is nigh invincible in the wild.
In its path to becoming an apex specimen, the steppe giant had lost the need to reproduce given its survivability and exceptionally long lifespan. Should something come along and kill a steppe giant, it would drastically alter the Garvenus ecosystem, for better or for worse. Fortunately for it, the Stormlord peoples have launched major efforts to preserve this wonder of their world, an oddity among a people who would rather let nature's devices manage the world.
- Solid Photonic
The seafaring nation of Iotold was one of great magical and engineering prowess. Legendary were there immense city-ships, which bore their nomadic nation around the world in pursuit of trade and fishing, pulled by giant whales bound to the will of their mages. When the apocalypse dried the oceans of the world, leaving only small lakes and watercourses, the magi were forced to make some modifications.
Chaerim witches are a gruesome aberrations formed via a lifelong bond between a witch and a familiar from beyond the outer planes. A number of witches are not aware of the origins of the power their familiar grants them and may not realize as they slowly begin to change to suit the form and ideals not understood by mortals.
Chaerim witches eventually wander far deep into the underground, as though following a call to the beings deep within the earth.
The Glowbach as it is known to For'Chanin explorers of the /Traveler's Guild/, or Gloreba'chhi in the native tongue of the region, is a semi-subterranean creature, favoring areas around the mouths of large cave systems.
A large creature with thick legs, and a body encased in a chitinous shell, what immediately attracts attention are the large glow orbs that sprout in profusion from it's back.
The Glowbach has the ability to extinguish these orbs at any time, should they feel threatened, thus going from a bright source of light to pitch darkness in less than a second.
Shy creatures, they form herds of varying sizes, and graze around the entrances to lowland caves, which they form dens in.
The sight of a large, fully lit up Glowbach herd on clear nights has been compared to that of the stars themselves.
While Glowbach's cannot provide meat, due to the toxic nature of the orbs, they are quite loyal when tamed and are kept as pets or minor beasts of burden, as well as light sources. The wide utility of the creatures is quite amazing. I myself have seen Glowbachs used as watch animals due to their tendency to black out if startled, the village in question using the black out to quietly ready themselves for trouble in the dark.
Called the Golemkin, these lonely creatures are the result of failed attempts to create 'living' constructs that are effectively immortal, in order to solve the issues of normal Golems having issues with power sources running down and eventually becoming inert. The unfortunate truth behind the Golemkin is that, while they retain a certain amount of mindless animalism based on their 'stock' animal, they are also brought to a higher level of consciousness, resulting in a tortured existence that alternates between bestial instinct and mournful contemplation.
Almost universally shunned as failures, the Golemkin vary widely in their appearance. This one in particular was the result of altering a Rabbit. It has since been spotted in a nearby cave, wherein it has made it's home. During the daytime hours, the cave is inaccessible due to a large series of boulders, however at night the Golemkin will emerge and attempt to find children to play with. It has the ability to use it's tentacled appendages to bring life to normally inert clumps of dirt and clay, to create friendlier looking avatars, which it uses to play with any child whom it happens to encounter, though playtime is inevitably ended when the child spots the creature controlling these animated clay children, ending in tears and screams as the child runs away, leaving the Golemkin to drag itself back to its lonely existence.
Sluglights are strange old things- seemingly completely docile, barely moving 10 feet a day, they seem to be at a severe disadvantage, to say nothing of the fact that they light up at night. Of course, anything that thinks they would make a good meal- and they probably wouldn't, I mean look at them- ends up in immobilised agony thanks to the poison the Sluglight coats itself in, and then ends up a desiccated husk as it sucks all its lifeforce out.
The Aerian Stingers are a rare, playful beast. Through his aspect it's scary, this creature feed only carrion, cereals and fruits. Has a long live (some of the reported have been in existence for some centuries),a carapace more strong than steel and the ability to expel his "stings" from the back to the air, hooking and trapping any thing most big than a swallow in 50 meters up. But the most intriguing and renowned features it's the kindness who display to the humans kids, protecting them from any predator and peril, and playing with an incredible patience with them. So if any of these beast is in sight, the people try to catch and adopt one. Some people say, though, than when these beast are protecting the children some girls disappear, never seen again, but how the rest of kids can grew healthy, the matter it's forgotten and buried.
The source of many ill-themed myths, such as the doppelganger, these creatures are the origin of an ambient field that causes varying psychological effects to those unfortunate enough to experience them. They seem capable of influencing the specific effects, to the point that one can easily fool a person into thinking they are talking with their mother, who has been dead for a decade.
Despite this obvious flaw in their preference for picking an assumed form, the field they project also causes the victim to lose the ability the recollect more specific events surrounding that person. As an example, a man might encounter a creature posing as his father who died in a tragic accident fifteen years prior, but not remember the event. As a result, he converses with the creature as if his father had never died.
Interestingly, the creature is objectively unable to communicate, yet victims recall that they were definitely able to engage the hallucinogenic phantom of their loved one in conversation. Whether the Doppelganger is capable of communicating via this method, or if it is simply a side-effect of the field, remains unknown.
The most sinister aspect of these creatures, however, is their ultimate purpose behind these deceptive encounters. After settling into the life of the victim, moving into their house and freely using it as a new hideaway, they will slowly drain the victim of their will to live, gradually wearing them down until they finally commit suicide, whether of conscious choice or not. One person might hurl themselves from a bridge, another might 'stumble' into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Once dead, the Doppelganger resides in the home until the stroke of midnight on that day, before departing to find a new victim.
- Gods' Ink
The Monch-S'rrtep are a race of simple, swamp-dwelling creatures that use a form of echolocation and radio signals to communicate. They are very docile and quite playful at times.
They are androgynous, and they do not have a caste system. They always work as a group, as they do not have a sense of individuality. Monch-S'rrtep that have been separated from their pack will sometimes follow humans around and bond with them, however, they often will misinterpret commands.
Monch-S'rrtep hierarchies are simple. Whoever has red coloration is the leader. Red Monch-S'rrtep are no different from the standard blue, but the rest of the group seems to believe that they are trustworthy.
- Red Tumor
The Rot Thief is a six-limbed terror only vaguely related to the vampire. Like its undead cousin it cannot stand light, and takes refuge underground. It feeds off the brain-fluids of living creatures.
The body of the Rot Thief is mutable, able to split its main limbs into smaller, more flexible extensions, usually by splitting at the elbow or knee. This gives the creature greater mobility in confined spaces, as well as making it a fearsome grappler, able to pin two or more man-sized beings at once.
Rot Thieves take up residence below old houses, often haunting the basements or root cellars, emerging when the occupants are at their weakest. During the dark hours it injects them with a paralyzing poison that leaves them awake and cognizant, before spinning them in a cocoon from the ceiling; the Rot Thief then waits for the blood to rush to the victim's head before feasting. The target is left alive long enough to feel the pain as their skull is cracked open and their precious grey matter is sucked out from their skulls. With careful feedings a victim can live for days like this before their death.
- Vile Slime
Ice Hags are a constant threat to those living in the colder reaches of the world. Their mere presence causes the air around them for several yards to drop to -70 degrees Celsius. All liquids in the human body will freeze solid after a few moments of exposure to this temperature. In addition, these creatures can congregate and magnify the effect; it's been measured as far out as thirty miles from their largest known gathering.
Ice Hags are attracted to heat and motion. Travelers can minimize their chances of encountering these horrors by dressing in camouflage patterns and by using insulative clothing. Should one attack you, do NOT attempt to flee; they move far faster than any human. It must be killed as quickly as possible, or its cold-aura effect will quickly incapacitate you.
The Knuackman is an aquatic creature of old folklore... pale as a corpse and giving off an eerie glow, he is only seen in the dead of winter under the frozen lakes and rivers' ice. The most recognizable feature is the pair of antlers that crown his head, framing the dead eyes and pallid skin.
The Knuackman is unnaturally thin, boney and possessed of red palms, which the stories say are stained with the blood of victims he dragged under the water for his meals.
They say that if you are near the water, and hear an otherwordly wail, like that of a pained deer but not, that the Knuackman is near, and hunting for his prey... and all wise travelers would best find shelter for that night, lest they never return to their own homes.
- Arch Guardian
- Schröded Man
Found rarely under the desert sands, Guardian Machines are highly prized by those who can reactivate them. Doing so requires either advanced (and mostly lost) engineering knowledge, or enough magical power to bypass most of its systems and golem the whole thing.
If reactivated properly, the machine attunes itself to the first sentient which touches it, protecting it whenever possible with powerful field generators and rear-mounted energy projectors.
The system is relatively semi-intelligent and occasionally even shows a modicum of initiative and tactics, but reactivating it as a golem limits its capabilities to direct orders received from its master, and it must even be ordered in order to recharge its field and weapon charge.
Spoken of only in whispers and written about only by madmen in dark tomes the forgotten race of genies known by mortals as the Death Djinn is more real than any sane man would want to admit.
Long ago when the world was young the race of genies had its own malcontents and miscreants who took to consorting with dark powers and demonic forces. While many of the djinn were happy to represent the aspects of the desert that represented the wildness of the wind and its people, the hospitality and relief of an oasis, or the fierceness of its predators, the Death Djinn embraced the parts of the desert that existed only to oppress and destroy. From the venom of the scorpion to the desiccating rays of the ever hating sun the death djinn embraced all that was evil of the desert and drank the power unleashed in the taking of lives. Their fellow djinn were happy to ignore them until they called upon the dark god Set to give them power over darkness as well as light and conquer all deserts and thus have power over all Djinn.
Finally realizing the danger they posed the Djinn went to war with their own kind and imprisoned many of the Death Djinn in deep caskets buried under the desert sands where they remain today. While in those days the genies could easily afford to place guards or wards over these caskets to ward off all but the most powerful and determined of prison breakers time has caused the race to dwindle and now the djinn rely almost entirely upon the secrecy of the caskets and the ignorance of mortals to keep them safe. However some hapless mortals have accidentally opened the caskets hoping to be granted wishes or gain the treasure from lost tomb. All they find within is the bleakness of death and the skin flaying wind of the sandstorm. The lucky ones die quickly. The unlucky ones are poisoned or maimed and left to crawl through the desert as the now free Death Djinn makes up for lost time by torturing there would be rescuer for days even weeks until boredom makes the Djinn slowly twist all the water out of the poor victim and spilling it on the sand to be lost forever.
- Dream Ripper
The Stygian Deer it's a creature with a lot of weird legends about them. Dream eaters, killers of luck, bearers of blasphemies and pestilences, nightmare producers, ghost shepherds, death eaters and so on.
The truth it's than this scavenger has some potent forms of psychic powers, like the ability to make dizzy any creature around 10 m or to blind with a eye to eye look. Alas, for some reason, the spirits like to eat the aura of these creatures, who has a very dark colour. Perhaps some legends are true.
- Dendric Colossus
- Fake Duchess of Aspiration and the Stewardess of Ambition, The
- Fickle Lady of Wealth and the Artisan of Opulence, The
- Ivory Lord of Revenge and the Judge of Perdition, The
- Pale Baroness of Deceit and the Escort of Corpulence, The
- Cliff Wyvern
- Tevinian Drake
- Ghost Warg
An insect like creature filled with volatile and poisonous gasses, stored in a large flexible gland which takes up a majority of it's body. An odd form of parasite, it often latches itself onto much larger beings and pumps them full said gases which usually results in an explosion. These creatures around the size of an average human head.
The origin of the ancient myths regarding gargantuan turtles carrying large masses of land on their backs originated with these creatures, which have been named as many times as they have variations.
Commonly referred to as 'Walking Continents', or other more specific terms such as 'Walking Forests', they come in many different breeds. These creatures exist by finding a large parcel of land that is relatively isolated, whereupon they settle down and enter an extremely long hibernative state. During this period, they influence the ecosystem surrounding them, changing a barren desert to a thriving forest, or a large mountain to a massive series of caves.
Likened to certain insects who emerge only during a certain time of the year to briefly mate and then die, these creatures sleep for decades, changing and warping the landscape until they waken, whereupon they give birth to a new creature. Oddly their specific 'breed' is not passed genetically, as a Forest variant may give birth to a Cave-Dweller, or a Sporeback to an Abyssal.
- Wretch of Ya'soniya
Heart of Darkness, The
The Heart of Darkness floats in the Storm of Dust and Ash as it makes its way across the celestial skies. Those who are enveloped by the storm find themselves dragged by buffeting winds to the center, where the Heart awaits with tentacles that burn flesh and staring eyes that burn minds. Those who fall in battle to the Heart are said to meet a fate worse than damnation.
A colossal floating creature, the nudibranch dragon is a nudibranch who has ingested a lung dragon and copied their ability to fly and breathe air, as well as some others. Nudibranchs are small invertebrates who live in coral reefs and a few other places. But the nudibranch can also copy the DNA of its devoured prey. This had led some nudibranchs to develop photosynthetic organs much like a plant. It drew sustenance from this, and did not need to eat. Some nudibranchs are cannibalistic, and will copy the DNA of other nudibranchs. Because of this practice, and odd inbreeding, sometimes a nudibranch can become very large, up to 10 feet long. This sort of nudibranch would have to ambush an oceanic lung near a reef, and then swallow it whole. It then develops the dragon's control over water, its intellect, immunities and resistances, breath weapon, flight capabilities, and even its age. Most nudibranchs captured in this way are oceanic lung-eaters, so their breath attack, if any, will likely be lightning or cold. Nudibranchs do not grow more limbs, though. The nudibranch dragon is much less dangerous than a real dragon for this reason. However, the nudibranch can still swallow a man whole, then breathe.
- Flesh Wraith
Treelunks are an incredibly social, yet simple species. Small in stature and quite fragile, they make up for this by banding together in packs ranging from dozens to hundreds. Their usual method of habitation is hollowing out a tree, which functions as a sort of hive for them. They separate the tree from its roots, furthering the hive's usefulness for them. The tree even changes shape overtime to become more functional for the treelunk clan that resides in it.
Treelunks are likely to be found in old forests, especially around the drier areas near swamps. They mainly function as scavengers, leading to a very nomadic lifestyle for individuals and their clan. This, yet again, builds upon the usefulness of their portable fortress they call a home.
- Besarian Titan
- Glass Eel
- Aetriul, Elemental of Water
Though the Lord of the Tempest had created terrible creatures to protect what is left of his domain, his penultimate creation was actually borne of the tumultuous skies above rather than the frigid waters below. The aquabane dragons serve as the Lord's personal guard, their terror known the world over. Though they seem to be incapable of breath weaponry, a factor common to most other draconic beings, their amphibious nature as well as their unnatural speed and agility makes them fearsome all the more, making them into an apex predator even in the domain they inhabit.
Lately, they have begun to serve as the Lord's advance force into the Imperial lands, as the Lord is starting to weaken more and more rapidly. Though the Imperial forces find it more difficult to deal with the dragons, they still manage to keep them relatively at bay. But as the Lord grows weaker, the dragons seem to get stronger with each battle. Is the Lord of the Tempest merely transferring his power to his dragons?...
- Dandelion Crawler
The mythical Jörmungandr is a creature of titanic proportions, and the terror of all sailors of the north sea.
While it is possible to encounter Jörmungandr without upset, most often sailors only see him as the gaping maw opens beneath their vessel, before thundering shut on them.
Few survive an attack by this creature and of those that do, far less survive the frigid waters of the cold north sea.
No one is quite sure if Jörmungandr is a lone creature, if there are more than one, or how many there are, for after it sates itself, it retreats back to the inky depths from which it came.
The /Traveler's Guild/ recommends that the North Sea be traveled carefully, and that a couple of spells of flight and resist chill be kept on hand.
Lord of the Tempest, The
The Lord of the Tempest watches over the rapidly dwindling Northern Sea. He was responsible for driving out the Iotold peoples and their cetacean brethren when they started to magically augment them. He is also responsible for the various leviathans which roam the waters now, including the fearsome Stormrays. He is however not the cause of the dreaded Obsidian Leviathan , as some scholars suggest, but rather a force trying to keep it at bay. Though the occasional wizard with lofty aspirations of otherworldly power momentarily breaks those bonds before the Lord can reseal the beast in the cold deep of the Sea.
Even worse is that the weakening Lord is trying to encroach upon the northern reaches of the Imperial lands, trying to reestablish his watery territory. Only its finest warriors and its greatest battlemages are recruited to keep the Lord at bay. Though the difficulty seems insurmountable at times, and though there are grave losses upon the battles with the Lord, the Empire somehow manages to eke out a victory each time. Perhaps the prolonged fighting and continued efforts to manage his shrinking domain are beginning to wear him down more and more. Though the Lord's aggression needs to be tamed, perhaps too much of this will bring the Sea, and the rest of the world, into a catastrophic decline...
Obsidian Leviathan, The
Now class, this slide illustrates something you will likely never want to see in your lifetime, much less be the cause of. Yes folks, the existence of the obsidian leviathan is very real.
This image, taken a mere thirty summers past, is the result of a difficult summoning ritual gone wrong. Now class, any volunteers to suggest what sort of error would make this poor sod summon the obsidian leviathan rather than.. oh... the Aqus Dominii.
You, Randall, in the back. Now that I have your undivided attention, what is the major component in summoning the gold-gilded aquawurm into our plane?
Gold shavings from the mines of Alinstrad? Sadly, you would have just summoned the obsidian leviathan yourself!
You see class, this is a wonderful example of why you need to research your components, research your methodologies, and ESPECIALLY pay attention when you're taking all this in. Randall, I will be seeing you after class.
Now, with that aside, what exactly IS the obsidian leviathan? Think of it as the physical manifestation of a wizard's doubt, his fear, his uncertainty. It is mostly thought of as a result of a wizard's weakness. It is the only creature that a wizard can summon that is not of any of the other known planes. Some believe that it is a construct of a wizard's mind real enough to come into existence. Others take a more divine angle, the beast something that culls the weak wizards, keeping our kind in check. I personally believe that it's a more sinister being, something of more incomprehensible power that is the result of a wizard who thinks too highly of himself, another weakness we can have, especially into our later years.
So I implore you... especially Randall back there... never forget that there are more fearsome things out there than you will ever be, no matter how much power you gain. There will be a slip up when your mind is fogged as such, and the obsidian leviathan lies in wait for such a moment.
Of course, pale maws aren't the only threat in the forests of Phrennoack. As the forests near Alboniset Lake, the trees slowly sink into the wet ground surrounding the lake. While the lake itself is pristine, these bordering swamps house what the locals call "Echoes". Naturally, they are skilled fishers, able to use the power of their voices like bullets through the water to stun their prey. Some of them even managed a way to project their bombastic voices through the water's surface and attack land-based or aerial prey that wander too close to their waters, including wayward adventurers.
Though the quickest way through Phrennoack's forests go through Alboniset Lake, please exercise caution and vigilance when passing through the area.
- Eltya, of Life's Eternal Flame
- Eltyain Geist
Forest Harvester, The
At the furthest western edge of the forests of Phrennoack, bordering the vile wastes of Vashial, lies an interesting creature. Docile in nature but voracious in hunger, the forest harvester is both the biggest threat to the forest's survival, but also its greatest hope in maintaining the growth bordering the encroachment of the toxic wastes. The harvester is a colossal slug-like creature which can consume up to 250-300 acres of the vast forest every month. However, the waste material it produces proves to be an excellent fertilizer which helps regrow the forest it ate at a surprisingly quick pace. As long as the harvester maintains this precarious balance between consumption and fertilizer production, the forest should maintain its growth levels in the western reaches indefinitely.
There is a problem though.
The Shialar also see the value in the harvester's fertilizer, combining it with the hardy seeds of the harrukhs to start regrowing what was once plentiful forests in the old Vashial lands. Now it's a battle against time to restore the precarious balance between the harvester's feeding and regeneration of the western Phrennoack forests, or to start losing the forest over time while the Shialar regrow their own lands, and perhaps rise again to a renewed glory.
- Horn of Eltya
Pale Maw (Lamprey Wraith)
So, why are the forests of Phrennoack in need of the benevolence of its god Eltya and his Stags? Unsurprisingly, there are many malicious beings which reside in the forests along with the peaceful Eltyain people and the wild creatures within.
One such creature is the Lamprey Wraiths, commonly known as Pale Maw or the uncommon names of Pond Wraiths or Drowned Mouths. They are pallid of skin, they lack eyes, nose, or any visible means of detecting prey. Their body is odd, the skin stretched and warped, while the arms dangle uselessly unless being thrashed about. They have great mouths featuring a number of sharp teeth, through which they issue a ghastly, wet, gurgling moaning or wailing as they wander about.
While the Stags appear with the death of human inhabitants and travelers in the forests, the Pale Maws seem to have adapted to the presence of those who do not respect the ways of the forest. You see, with the encroachment of civilized humans upon the forests, flora and fauna has been slain and, quite frankly, wasted in many occasions. The Pale Maw is able to take on the disguise of a decaying creature, its slightly foul stench somehow able to attract curious prey.
Suffice it to say, it strikes when you come close to it. While the Pale Maws is physically strong, they are unintelligent and easily dispatched from range. However Pale Maws balk in the presence of the Stags, which making them only a minor threat but of some danger. This perhaps lend to the belief that their presence is indeed a good omen for travelers through the forests of Phrennoack.
-From the Libraries of the /Traveler's Guild/ of Imperial For'Chan.
The Phrennoack Stag is a psychopomp. A guide to the dead, of the Eltyain region. No one is sure how the creature first arrived, or when, but they are very, very respectful of it. A passive, peaceful creature, it shows up at the end of funerary rituals, and allows the deceased's shade one last goodbye before it takes them to the afterlife. It can also be seen tending to old graveyards, ruined cemeteries and the like. If spotted by lone travelers it will incline its head and then fade into the nearest mist or shadows. This is actually seen as a good omen, a sign of luck on their journeys ahead.
- Golden Salmon
- Red Bear
There are quite a few villages in the world that fear their nearby forests and woodlands. Few of them thankfully have to deal with a massive treant population. When one is cut down or their trees are bothered, they send the Ingwey to cut down just as many humans.
Being large insects grown to the size of a man, each one of them has been outfitted with armor of living wood that changes to match their surroundings. They ambush woodsmen and are trained cut them into chunks in the same way as men cut firewood and lumber. The treefolk's pets are legion in some areas, often destroying whole unaware settlements and towns. They've been described by survivors as cutting the people into pieces and using them as fertilizer. Harvesting them in a manner that most have been harvesting trees for years.
The Narfelch are in reality a symbiotic pairing of two organisms, the Narfelch itself, and a plant similar to the Venus flytrap that roots itself in the cracks of the Narfelch's hard, carapace-like armor. While the Narfelch is primarily an omnivorous scavenger, the murky swamps where it lives is often deprived of carcasses or other smaller prey for it to consume, so the flytrap-like extensions on its back instead provide a way for it to collect and extract nutrients from the dense population of insects that swarm around the area.
The plant part of the symbiotic pairing in turn gets a form of transportation to have access to a wider area and a greater number quantity of insects to feed on.
- Order of the Patch
- Thrusk (Giant Green Whistler)
- Uralaya Titan
The Vashial were a talented people in the ways of magic, but their hubris and reckless spellcasting led to the destruction of their civilization. While other peoples came and went, the Vashial cities were left buried under the sands of the wasteland created by the cataclysm of their own making.
However, they were not gone. When archaeologists of the Imperial University came to investigate the strange spires jutting from the wastes, they accidentally released the war machines the ancient Vashial used to conquer great swathes of land. These primeval constructs, known now as Vashial Dreadnaughts, are nearly unstoppable engines of destruction, still following directives given by long-dead masters.
While most of the Shialar have either renounced the ways off their ancestors or simply are too far along to remember such ways, some of the Vashial's ways have managed to continue among some of the more unscrupulous clans, even today. Flesh Magic is among one of the more horrific of their traditions still in practice. What began as the manipulation of life forces for healing purposes became an obsession with some pursuing transformation, extended longevity, among other, more sinister ends.
The basic principle of life-force manipulation remains the same, but in Flesh Magic, said life-force is used to graft foreign body parts unto the magic's target. What many would consider merely an organ transplant can quickly turn into a tale of horror once the flesh mage turns the magical scalpel upon himself. More often than not, those who try this sort of magic upon themselves usually die in varying degrees of painful and horrible ways, but for those who are successful in their craft resemble eldritch evils with a hodgepodge of body parts stitched and grafted unto themselves, making an entirely new creature. Despite the patchwork of organs and the way they look unusable, they all end up serving a purpose, making the mage stronger, faster, more sensitive, more efficient, and so on. Maybe some even have other functions borrowed from other creatures to make them even deadlier than before. Contact with a flesh mage is strictly forbidden under University protocol, the sight of which is to be reported to the College of Battlemages immediately for extermination.
Some odd and humorous examples of botched flesh magic exist though, mainly as children stories. One is of a man who wished to know himself inside and out intimately, who ended up with his head lodged up his bottom. Another is of a man who wished to become a pig, but ended up performing the magic wrong and ended up with a pig's head on his groin.
The Shialar, descendants of long-fallen Vashial, have dwelled at the blighted borders of the Wastes for centuries. While mutated monsters and threats from outside nations have always been a problem for them, these resilient people have managed to tame some of the bizarre creatures that have appeared, such as the harrukh.
Harrukhs are lumbering omnivores with an unusual symbiotic relationship with a plant known simply as a 'harrukh-tree', often seen growing from the creature's back. As the harrukh walks, it dribbles forth a stream of the plant's hard, nutty seeds, helping propagate the plant. Shialar often use the seeds for food as well as the beasts themselves for mounts and beasts of burden. When one of the creatures dies, its body is used for meat, its hide for armour and tent fabric, and the wood from the harrukh-tree for tools and tent frames.
It would not be incorrect to call the harrukh the lifeline of the modern Shialar.
Called the Linen-Bound by most, superstitious people believe they are individuals who were sentenced to death by hanging for a crime they were wrongly accused. The linen wrappings that bind their head and the tattered strings criss-crossing their body in angry streaks represent the masks put over the head of those who encounter the noose.
These creatures manifest at exactly one minute to midnight on the day their previous bodies are killed, appearing suddenly in the graveyard their body is interred at. Once manifest, they wander the nearby lands aimlessly, unable to see where they are going. Their movements are sporadic and jerky, as if their muscles have trouble operating, which indeed might be the case.
The townsfolk who bear witness to these creatures have tried countless methods to dispatch them, as the Linen-Bound become a severe issue if more than one exists in the same town, or if they happen to wander too close to another person. If a Linen-Bound ever approaches closer than a meter to another living human, that person will also become Linen-Bound after their death. Strangely these unfortunate people die within hours of their meeting, from completely indeterminate means.
If two or more Linen-Bound exist in the same township, originating from the same graveyard, they will inevitably be drawn to one-another. Upon meeting their counterpart, they will begin writhing against one-another, causing the threads criss-crossing their bodies to tangle. As this happens, their very flesh also seems to meld, until they become a creature that can only be described as hideously terrifying. After the merge has completed, the creature becomes infinitely aware of all it's surroundings, as well as murderously vengeful. It seems to know where all people are, at all times, and will seek any living person nearby with the intent of strangling them to death.
The most unfortunate of these victims are forcefully integrated into the creature, adding yet another set of limbs to the beast, making it far harder to kill. The oldest of these on record is the Ten-Thousand Limbs, which roams a wasteland consisting of some twenty previous towns.
To date, none have succeeded in dissuading it from seeking out other towns. The only way it can be slowed seems to be sacrificing people to allow others to escape.
The Vashial Wastelands are a dangerous place. Never mind the occasional roving Dreadnaught, the unchecked energies coursing throughout this blighted desert have led to countless aberrant creatures appearing. One of the most common is a creature known as a Mauler. Roughly human-sized, but gangly and with a gaping maw and two long claws, these misshapen creatures are pack hunters, working together in groups of up to ten individuals to take down large creatures. Since the Empire has taken an interest in Vashial ruins, Maulers have become a considerable danger to researchers in the field, though they can be fended off by well-trained soldiers.
- Olakhaigur (Babbler Worm)
- Order of the Grigori
From the journals of Arrin Vola, Master of Antiquities Another of the monstrosities dwelling in the Vashial wastes, Pale Mothers are all the more disturbing for their humanlike forms. The modern descendants of the Vashial people, still dwelling in the borderlands around the wastes, refer to them only in whispers. They claim Pale Mothers are cursed women who are drawn to the wastes where they are mutated by the loose energies into the horrors seen today.
Solitary creatures, they are dangerous but rarely aggressive, instead calling with wailing cries from their distended maws that echo throughout the rocky canyons of their home. The presence of Pale Mothers have been a severe detriment to morale, especially amongst our Shialar guides, and the guides have blamed a few recent disappearances and the deaths of horses on the creatures.
- Progenitor, The
- Ruby-headed Foxling
- Shan Hound
Though the remnants of the fallen Vashial are usually of a bizarre and dangerous nature, the "solar floats" are one of the more agreeable creatures left over from their glory days. Initially developed as a means to carry Vashialian ships through the air, these creatures were one of the magical regime's only creations not entirely dependent on the flow of mana. Instead, it had to be more reliable, especially if it went into lands in which the mana was being consumed by ghost wargs. So instead, these floats were outfitted with organic solar panels which gave it the energy it needed to make longer flights than their mana-based machines.
Upon the fall of the Vashial, the floats were much like abandoned dogs in temperament, scared and increasingly feral. Though they didn't have aggressive tendencies due to the way they were created and raised, they were still capable of thrashing about when spooked, which could cause considerable damage when it ran into something hard enough to rupture. Given all the flammable gases welled up in their ballasts, the floats would explode enough to light up the area even in the darkest of nights.
Nowadays, the floats have been regarded to as guardian creatures by the descendant Shialar people, serving as navigational guides as well as mounts in those lucky enough to ensnare one without accidentally rupturing its ballasts. Though not as important as the hardy and symbiotic harrukhs, the floats have made a place for themselves in the post-Vashial world.
- Vashialian Elite Officer, The
- Vioshru, Elemental of Fire
Cemetery drakes are considered among many necromantic circles to be the pinnacle of the corpse raising art.
Starting with the bones of an ancient dragon killed by violence the necromancer stretches the flesh of no less then fifty occultists over the frame utilizing there sharpened bones as needles to stitch the sinew together and to pin the flesh into place.
Once this gruesome task is down the necromancer must then take the creation to a place of potent necromantic energies typically a large unblessed cemetery, a haunted house, an ancient battlefield or someplace else where the energies of death are particularly potent.
What follows is a ghastly ritual wherein the necromancer sacrifices a living child and anoints the corpse in its hearts blood creating a conduit between the energies of the place and the corpse that floods the body and animates it into a fearsome creature known as the cemetery drake. Cemetery drakes can sometimes be identified by the kind of terrain pulled into themselves by the animation process (such as tombstones, rusted weaponry, or old furniture).
The resulting creature is as powerful as many old dragons having the strength of the bones behind it and the magical potency of the many spellcasters used in its construction. The unfortunate fact is that this despicable and horrific creature also has a dark will of its own and an unwary creator might easily find his flesh ripped from his bones and added to the creatures own if not properly controlled.
The Creeperclaw. Often categorized as an undead thanks to it's rotting smell and moaning yells, is actually much more sinister. It's a fungal life form that has entirely infected a humanoid host. A lone specimen often never kills someone, preferring instead to rush a victim and slash them repeatedly with its claws. Thus it ends up spreading its fungal spores in the creature's bloodstream and skin. Within hours, they are incapacitated and then the creeping spread of fungal tendrils begins to creep over the skin and throughout the body. The victim is overcome within days and becomes another Creeperclaw. Bones reset within the hands and the jaw protrude outward as a white layer of flesh overgrows on the original creature's body.
Once there are at least a dozen of them, a lair is established and then the real hunting begins. Soon, forms further up on their life cycle begin to grow from this base form. And an infestation of even worse Creep creatures will be seen
Simply put, the Dead Hands are the things that shouldn't be. When the living beings were made, everything from men to giants to dragons to whales to octopi, there were bits left over. Things that didn't make any sense.
Apparently, they were all just dunked in the same corner of time and space until....whatever the hell made us decided to come back for them.
Well, it never did. But someone else did. Musta been a Deathworker, because he didn't see a pile of rejects, Mother no. He saw parts.
The Death Colossus is seen as the worst form of collective wartime sorcery imaginable. Taking traits of an outer body comprised of reformed undead flesh and musculature and a skeletal form made of metal, it's physically imposing even to a dragon. The mind driving it is a cacophony of screaming souls of soldiers were the broken survivors of some of the ancient wars' worst battles.
The creature's temperament is like that of a mad dog with an edge of unmatched cruelty, an irrational beast that feeds on flesh that can and will toy with it's victims. It is attracted to active battlefields, undead outbreaks, and iron mines.
The greatest blunder of their creators is the beast's unchecked level of growth and raw physical power. The older they get and more they eat, the bigger and more dangerous these amalgamated monstrosities become. And when they become large enough, a tumor forms of the flesh, metal, and a few of the more irrational minds within the whole will split off to form a new colossus, eagerly looking for trouble in a world wholly unprepared for the carnage it will bring.
- Fusion of Loalle Merlonza and Gravebeast
- Great Tortoise, The
From the journal of Arrin Vola, Master of Antiquities In all my travels, I have yet to encounter a creature as bizarre as what I've come to call the "Sculptor." Dwelling in a cavern lit by luminous lichen in the far southern continent, this being--apparently formed from grey clay--lives a solitary existence sculpting clay into crude humanlike forms.
It seemed friendly, despite its bizarre and monstrous appearance, and I spoke with it for a time. It told me that it once was a mighty ruler over an entire civilization, and the dozens of clay figures lying limply about its cavern or skewered upon its back were echoes of its subjects. It seemed mournful as it told me its story, and asked that I not record the details.
As I left the cavern, I noticed the form it was sculpting bore a distinct resemblance to myself. I dared not ask why, nor why he was pressing fragments of glass through the effigy's head, but as I write now I find my thoughts filled with greater clarity.
I shall endeavor to encounter and commune with the being again one day.
- Tyllia, Elemental of Air
Winged Death, The
Aye, I remember being on the Expedition Crew in my youth, back when we were trying to deal with those damned Dreadnoughts the University unleashed from the Vashial ruins. It so happened that one of them managed to eke its way all the way to the wastes of Weylos, in the south of the world. You know what thrives down there? Death Colossi.
Being in the Crew, I've already seen a Dreadnought in action. It decimated most of my regiment before the University's Arcane Corps came in and used some sort of crazy magic they dug up from their archives to subdue the machine long enough for us to seal it. Well, think about the sheer, raw power of a Dreadnought, and think of a pack of Death Colossi bringing it down. Sure, it didn't 'die', per se, but they did something I thought wasn't possible. They assimilated it along with themselves into an even MORE freakish thing. We ended up calling it the Winged Death.
Fortunately for us, the result was imperfect in that the mechanical bits of the Dreadnought fastened it to the ground, but I'm sure that it's only a matter of time when the transformation will be complete and it will leave the wastes of Weylos. I wouldn't doubt that it can also go through Garvenus, even able to ascend higher than the Sky Devourer.
And that's why we need to figure out a way to defend ourselves now, instead of pursuing the little fries. See what happened to Loalle Merlonza? Damned guy was given free rein in his studies and ended up wasting his valuable mind in an experiment that killed him! Don't you go that way either!
Here's my journal from my days on the Crew. I think you'll find it handy... I managed to get some notes down on both the Dreadnoughts and the Death Colossus. Maybe it's just a matter of figuring out which parts of each made it into the Winged Death...