Thanks Ruffnut and Lorian. I've updated my previous post with an extremely brief summary of roughly where you are with your gazetteers.
I find it interesting how different our approaches are. I've gone for a very Titan—the Fighting Fantasy World
-esque in-universe perspective, whilst you seem to be favouring a Beyond the Pit
style, including rules and statistics. Since we don't have any official gazetteers yet, we don't know which way they will lean, but I think your type of material is more likely.
Ruffnut wrote: ↑
Tue May 29, 2018 8:26 am
Named all the islands based on what their purpose is (some in Latin)
And I intend to make super detailed maps using campaign cartographer
I don't suppose one of them is called Kelados and has a population of Amazons, by any chance? I've been trying to work out where the character Syrena from the unpublished FF The Keeper of the Seven Keys
originates and since Beyond the Pit
says that Amazon settlements are kept secret from the outside world, I thought Kelados was most likely an island (not necessarily one of the Arrowhead Islands, though).
And now for some more history:
The Perils of Magic
Due to the dedication needed to master the mystical arts, most practitioners of magic tend to be of relatively advanced age and hence few survived the First Battle and the release of Time. Most of those who did were Elves, whose lives are naturally longer, or evil mages who used dark magic to steal life and preserve their youth. Today, wizards have perfected techniques to extend their lives without causing harm to others or to the balance of nature, but in those early days the only solution was a type of diabolic vampirism. As a result, the thaumaturgical skills taught by the gods during the Godtime were mostly lost and had to be relearned in communion with the appropriate deities, particularly Hamaskis.
The first of these new wizards were very crude and basic compared with the Elven mages, who refused to give up their secrets to lesser races. However, on 21st Locking 421OT
, whilst exploring the Anvils of the Gods, the legendary spellcaster Zergoul Whitelightning came to the aid of a Gold Dragon called Kynnitaranika who had been attacked by Frost Wyrms whilst incubating her eggs. Exactly how much help a mere human could give to an adult Gold Dragon is debatable, but she was sufficiently impressed to let slip a few secrets of high magic. Within just a few decades, Zergoul had expanded his knowledge through practice and experimentation and begun to pass it on to gifted witches and hedge-wizards, although they were of course far behind the Elves. The most ingenious and advanced of the human wizards were eventually drawn to Atlantis, where they could research and develop their skills in safe and luxurious surroundings paid for by the crown. By 700OT
, fully-fledged wizards had begun to return to Irritaria, settling in leading cities such as Aranath in Granat, Maxona in Alumet and Tieha in Mizokane.
Epic Tales and Sagas
Many of the accounts of this period have come down to us in the form of stories or poems passed orally from generation to generation, before finally being written down by scholars or sages. We must be aware, therefore, that these narratives may have become distorted over time, either deliberately, in order to tell a particular message or advance a certain viewpoint, or accidentally, out of a desire to make the events more thrilling or entertaining to the story-teller's audience. In many cases, these changes served simply to aggrandize the listeners' ancestors and belittle their enemies, but sometimes they could be used to illustrate a moral fable or teach values or skills in a subtle and engaging manner.
One such example, where historical accuracy must take second place to pedagogic necessity, will be familiar to every schoolchild in Ruddlestone or Analand, along with many from as far afield as Allansia and the Isles of the Dawn. The Adventures of Goldhawk are a series of educational allegories in which the audience takes on the rôle of a young Prince of Karazan, making decisions about how he should deal with evil sorcerers, Orc invasions and undead terrors. The narrator then varies the tale according to the choices of his listeners, to teach lessons as diverse as the value of money and not judging others by their appearance alone. Allowing the children to affect the story gives the exercise more weight and imparts greater relevance, or so the theory goes. Four of the most famous and oft-repeated adventures may be found in the form of lavishly illuminated manuscripts in libraries of Arkleton and Chalanabrad, although due to the limitations of the written format, they have been truncated somewhat, as the traditional collection of tales takes a whole season for an experienced story-teller to relate.
When the famous nomad chiefs Rerek and Myzar Halfhand found their way through the Anvil Pass and fought their way northwards along the fertile western coast, crossing the Kasbled River on 8th Fire 766OT
, they were accompanied by many skilled wizards and warlocks. It did not take long for the Halfhands' descendants to forsake their nomadic ways for the benefits of agriculture and trade, but they never lost the martial prowess that allowed them to conquer the land they now held, leaving many flourishing settlements behind them which in time formed some of the greatest nations in the world. By about 900OT
, the whole western seaboard (with the exception of the part covered by the One Forest) was settled by humans and the Goblins and other races who had lived there previously had been forced into hiding in the mountains, deserts and swamps.
Magic was not universally accepted, however. South-west of Alumet and Affen Forest was a large saltwater lake, upon whose shore a highly religious civilization had arisen. These honest and peaceable people were clever and inventive, soon realizing that it was quicker and more efficient to sail across the lake rather than walk or ride around it. As their dependence on the water for trade and communication increased, ships became an indicator of status and royal burials often took place in specially constructed longships. The country's priests were well versed in the movements of the sun, moon and stars, calling upon astrology to guide every major decision. When wizardry came to nearby principalities, they were suspicious and even hostile to it, an attitude which seemed to be vindicated when a stretch of the shoreline fell under a curse, leading to enormous serpentine monsters called Flesh-Eaters inhabiting the area. The stargazers declared war on what they saw as the evil magicians infecting neighbouring lands and in the ensuing sorcerous battle, the whole region was blasted with mystical energy that shattered the civilization and turned the lake into a mist-shrouded swamp. The whole region later became known as Deathmoor, due to its inhospitability and infestation by wraiths. Most of the survivors fled to join other kingdoms or the bands of nomads living further west. The few who remained were transformed into the beings known as Flintskins, some of whom live in the area still, although they retain almost nothing of their ancestors' learning or sophistication.
Elsewhere, mastery of high magic gave much needed security to the human nations, which quickly pushed into the territory previously held by chaotics. With the threat from Orcs and their ilk in abeyance, the countries of Irritaria turned their military attentions on each other and there followed a slew of invasions, rebellions and attempted conquests as each ruler sought to expand his or her domain at the expense of its neighbours. No province entirely escaped these struggles, but by far the most common target was the incomparably wealthy Atlantis, which was accustomed to the situation as it had been attacked at least once every few years since its foundation. The island nation had always been able to afford the best mercenaries and weapons, but now it also had the advantage of the largest and most innovative schools of magic outside the arboreal cities of the Elves. With the danger of invasion entirely lifted and slaves captured from their enemies to do all the physical work, the Atlanteans became increasingly decadent and complaisant. In this atmosphere, few curbs were placed on the activities of the wizards, who were soon advancing their studies in directions that were decidedly sinister, if not outright evil.
Warlocks and mages experimented with necromancy and vivisection, producing ever more monstrous mutations and communing with all manner of supernatural beings and demons. It was Atlantean wizards who devised the ritual to create the black pearls which are still found throughout the seas and oceans of Titan. The enchantment upon these pearls allows even a non-magic-user to create an army of Skeleton Warriors by means of a simple incantation. Incredibly, the enchantment is not drained by the defeat of the Skeletons in combat, allowing their master to summon them afresh as many times as necessary to prevail. It is perhaps fortunate that the ritual to create such dangerous items was lost in the destruction of Atlantis, as surely no mortal should wield such power.
Initially, the attempts to fashion new species to serve the people of Atlantis were less than successful. The creatures either died as a result of their mutations or were inferior to the donors of the constituent parts from which they had been manufactured, but on 19th Forests Golden 782OT
, the cabal known as the Lifters of the Crimson Veil produced a spell, which they called Logaan's Secret. Where they obtained the knowledge to do so is unknown, but the forbidden magic allowed them to instil the spark of life within entirely new beings. From Fish Men and Manticores in the Cloudcap Mountains to Snout-Wolves and Dragonmen in the Potamos delta, within a century, misguided conjurers were manipulating nature across face of the world.
Desperate for any advantage over their neighbours, some rulers welcomed these unscrupulous magicians, or even went further and gave their blessing to the summoning of demons or raising of undead. In the ancient country of Djarat, Akharis began to promote worship of Sithera (the Demon Prince Sith) over the other Djaratian gods, whilst the kingdom of Alumet was beset by the noxious armies of God-King Pyra-Caltor. In Tieha, the Tower of the King's Guard was swallowed up by a magical ritual gone wrong, along with all the Knights of the Golden Company who were within at the time and in the great leper colony of the Scythera Desert, reckless individuals made demonic pacts to save their own lives at the cost of spreading disease and despair throughout the civilized world. It was as if all common sense and morality had been abandoned in favour of expediency.
The Staffs of Power
The Netherworld Sorcerers observed the waxing toleration of execrable conduct in Atlantis and sought to alter the path of history by gifting a magical artefact of great potency to King Faramos XXI. Made of ash wood bound with gold and silver, ensorcelled with arcane runes and topped by a golden dragon's skull with ruby eyes, the Staff of Foresight was intended to allow the holder to calculate the consequences of any action (or inaction) on their part with great accuracy. Perhaps it would have been better for Logaan's servants to have used the Staff themselves before presenting it to the King, but we cannot know what this would have revealed or indeed whether the charms placed upon the item made it even possible. What we do know is that, far from persuading Faramos XXI to suppress the abominable cults operating within his domain, the Staff showed the zealous ruler how Atlantean prestige could be augmented yet more.
He gave the Staff of Foresight to his archmages with instructions to master the enchantments used in its creation. After many years of study, they succeeded and the first of the Staffs of Wisdom was produced. This both magnified the power of any wizard holding it and gave insight into the mystical arts far beyond what any mortal had previously experienced. The yew wood Staff of Wisdom bearing a silver vulture's skull was followed by a Staff of Harmony, fashioned from rosewood and mounted with the bronze skull of a canine. This was useful to Atlantean ambassadors, as it granted its owner the gift of persuasion engendering goodwill and amity in all who beheld it.
The final type of rod was the ebony Staff of Rulership, shod in silver and bronze, whose fanged human skull was sculpted in black iron with bloodstone eyes. Perhaps the most powerful of all the Staffs of Power, the Staffs of Rulership gave the power to command the loyalty and obedience of followers and also to control the raw energies of chaos magic itself. However, as the ensorcelled batons strayed further from the archetype created by the Netherworld Sorcerers, they began to exhibit warping effects upon their bearers' minds and bodies. The greatest harm was caused by the Staffs of Rulership, which instilled a pridefulness bordering on megalomania.
By the time of Atlantis's eventual fall, five Staffs of Wisdom, three each of Rulership and Harmony and two of Foresight were in existence. These were lost for many years, but some have since resurfaced, including a Staff of Rulership held by the Great Wizard of Analand and a Staff of Harmony safely ensconced within the Temple of Arn in Shoudu. There is no known way to destroy a Staff of Power, although some unconventional sages claim that they can be reforged into less dangerous artefacts by means of long and difficult rituals. They even suggest that the Crown of Kings may owe its origin to the combination of several different Staffs, but if this is the case then the Netherworld Sorcerers thankfully seem to have found a way to remove the warping effects of these perilous items.
The events which would lead to the destruction of Atlantis began on 3rd Heaven's Weeping 982OT
, when King Faramos XXII died without issue after an 81 year reign and it took four years to track down his lawful heir. During the interregnum, several nations decided to test the defences of the leaderless island, but they all found that the lack of a King did nothing to blunt its warriors' effectiveness in combat. On 1st Sun's Hiding 986OT
, the sixteen-year-old heir was crowned and took the name Faramos XXIII; at the time, nobody—not even the gods—knew that he was really the Demon Prince Myurr in disguise. On 11th Land's Awakening 987OT
, he declared war on Taralak, the merchant-governed democracy north of Scorpion Swamp which had been the last country to attempt an invasion of Atlantis. Just three weeks later, the Atlantean forces swept on from the conquered nation, bolstered by all the Ogres, Trolls and worse which had been driven out of human lands over the past two centuries. Many principalities and clans joined the Atlanteans without a fight, swearing fealty to Faramos either to avoid destruction or from a desire for power.
The Elves and Dwarfs remained firm, however, and the other races of good took refuge within the One Forest or the fortified underground cities. In the area now known as the Mountains of Grief, Troglodytes burrowed into the great Dwarf kingdom of Eagles' Ridge (called Targûl by its inhabitants) from below, giving access to the Garks and Doragar shock troops. The surprise attack overwhelmed the defenders, who were forced to abandon the lower levels of their ancient home, fighting a desperate rearguard action to give the civilians time to escape and retreat to the citadel and the cathedral of Kerillîm in the southern city of Silver Peak. Normally, the Dwarfs' experience of underground excavations would have enabled them to detect any attempt to bore into their workings, but they were beset on all sides by the Atlantean armies, which had brought a vast horde of mercenaries to besiege Eagles' Ridge on the surface. Now that the rôles were reversed, the humans who had taken refuge with the Dwarfs did not fail their comrades, calling upon the aid of their war gods Tereb, Tir, Oiden and Orial, along with the wizards whose skills had been learned from the very Atlantean schools of magic which now supplied the spellcasters that assailed them.
The underground attack was repulsed, but the Troglodytes, reinforced by a number of Gremlin tribes, were too well entrenched for the depleted Dwarfs to dislodge completely and on the surface, the enemy were reinforced by foul mutations and monstrous constructs manufactured by the Atlantean archmages. Indeed, the Dwarfish capital was only spared due to the timely arrival of an army from the far north, which had made the perilous journey as a result of a prophecy from the Netherworld Sorcerers. These mysterious magicians also supplied its leader with a wondrous weapon, a magical trident with the power to smite hellspawn, forged of a strange blue metal, such as the world had never seen before and will never see again, for the unique magicks used in its construction could never be repeated. After the continents were divided, the remnants of this army intermarried with the local populace and the trident was passed down to the greatest warrior of each generation.
As the Atlantean armies besieged the Dwarfs' excavations and systematically began to burn the Elves out of their homes, the gods realized that they finally had to act. At dusk on 12th Corn Ripening, the entire island of Atlantis was sunk beneath the waves by the combined efforts of Titan, Hydana, Sukh, Throff and Lorodil. A massive tidal wave hundreds of metres high rushed across the ocean in all directions to strike the continent, devastating the coastal regions and penetrating far inland down the Vorelyn estuary and over the low-lying terrain between the Anvils of the Gods and the hills around Affen Forest. The flood inundated most of the savannah that made up the heart of Irritaria, carving the Old World away from the rest of the land mass and striking what would become Khul with such force that it turned the whole north-eastern peninsular through almost ninety degrees, in the process raising it far above sea level to form an elevated plateau surrounded by towering cliffs. The narrow but mountainous strip of land between Allansia and Khul was not submerged instantly, but over the next century or so, as Khul drifted southwards to its current position, it was pulled apart to form strings of islands, many of which have since been consigned to the depths by the battering of the eponymous tempests that wracked this newly-formed ocean.
Feast your eyes upon David Gallagher's depiction of the Staff of Rulership found throughout FF41: Master of Chaos
as incidental artwork, in particular on page 12.