Shards of Divinity
Player Introduction Document
Below is the text of the Player Introduction Document – most of this information has been (or will be) incorporated into the wiki proper. This provides a brief synopsis of the way the game world works at least as far as the continent of Darnoth Airsa Major is concerned.
Darnoth Airsa – A Player’s Guide to the world
For the most part, this guide includes information on the main continent, Darnoth Airsa Major. Although there are several other smaller continents and islands, they are not particularly accessible and little is known of their inhabitants, if any. It is postulated that these other lands may have complex societies of their own, given that they were certainly populated prior to the sundering, but there is little impetus to explore this theory, with the exception of some few expeditions financed by governments or particularly wealthy private citizens.
The basic map shows an overview of Darnoth Airsa Major, as well as marking off many of the more prominent cities and areas. The rest of this section will address each of the main kingdoms in brief.
There are 13 major regions or kingdoms of importance on the map above, each relatively independent, although bound by numerous treaties and all serving, more or less, the same set of deities – although certainly there is plenty of local opinion on which of those deities is more important, which we shall examine briefly in the religion section.
1. The Kingdom of Targrae
This region is largely unpopulated as it is has a generalized paucity of resources, and those that it does possess are damnably difficult to extract, as the mountains in which they are contained are barren and largely populated by any number of dangerous creatures. That said, the region possesses some of the highest quality ore anywhere and the material that it does manage to unearth is typically enough to provide for the needs of the modest population of the region. As a general rule, the bulk of the population is present around the bay of Targrae or the river city of Iam, with a smaller population consisting mainly of elves living in the forest in the southeast expanses of the region.
The people here are hardy types, as they must be to survive in the often frigid extremes present in most of the region. As the land itself is difficult to work, the people tend toward a diet of fish and seaweeds, although a certain amount of work has been done in recent years to build up an agricultural system based on protected internal gardens – this work has been largely spearheaded by the Church of Alaurel with some help from the other sects as well.
It is unknown whether the nobles run a mining operation themselves or whether they simply purchase ore mined by freelancers, but it seems that they have a fair quantity of material available for trade to other nations at any given time, which allows them to maintain a modest standing army and a fair-sized navy (Mostly used to protest the harbor and the fishing fleets) as well.
Aluel is a rather nice bit of country on the whole. It is somewhat cold, but not nearly as bitterly cold as the Kingdom of Targrae to the west. There is a fair amount of arable land, which is worked by minor landholders to great effect. Comprised largely of flatland and rolling hills, Aluel is somewhat short on ores and stone, although they do maintain some quarries near the southern border which provide them with their modest needs.
By and large, the region is a peaceful area populated by Halflings and the like as well as a number of human settlements. Other demi-humans are welcome, but they are a definite minority.
Aluel has few large cities, the two largest being the port city of Bellaste to the north, and the river city of Sirene to the east. Outside of this, the landscape is peppered with a number of small towns and hamlets which largely operate autonomously.
3. The Sisters
The Sisters are a trio of rugged islands located off the north edge of the continent. Few have braved the trip to visit them, and none are known to have returned from any such endeavor. Very little is known about the islands, although some examination has been documented by ships passing near them, detailing what appear to be the ruins of pre-sundering buildings on the upper cliffs.
At present, the various churches and kingdoms have declared exploration of these islands forbidden, as there have been numerous calamities in the past as the result of tampering with pre-sundering artifacts.
4. The Eastern Reaches
The eastern reaches are heavily populated although lacking any particularly large cities. By and large, this is an agricultural kingdom, although it is also known as a fair region for the production of gems as well as several mineral deposits thought to be of value to wizards and the like for their artifice and studies. Outside of this, the region produces several strong species of horse, which are much sought-after by the armies of the other kingdoms.
The government of this area is very loose, and is just this side of anarchy, kept in check by the cavalry patrols that are encountered frequently in the area. There is no particular capitol city, rather the patrols meet every few months in the forest encampment where they maintain a very loose camp and there they discuss the news of the land and decide how best to react to any developments.
5. The Protectorate
Not a lot is known about the protectorate. This region is patrolled by the Dracons, and the whole region is forbidden to any who are not of the clergy. It is assumed that the region is home to a wealth of resources, given that the mountain range that continues outside of the region has proven to be heavily veined with useful minerals.
“Visitors” to this region run the risk of being summarily executed if there is a hint of their having entered with the intent of taking resources from the region, although those that accidentally wander into the land are generally escorted to the border unmolested.
Why the region is so heavily guarded is subject to a number of theories and wild speculation, but only the high clergy know, and they are not saying anything about it.
Daelor is a resource-rich region which is unofficially divided into the east and west reaches by the Barakor mountain range which roughly bisects the terrain. The land is fertile, and the government in this area is highly active in the areas of social engineering. Military service is looked upon highly although not required, and the populace is quite fond of its military heroes.
This region is a case study in multi-racial integration. As a rule, those that are skilled in a trade tend to be accepted based upon their skill, with no tension based upon their race or creed for the most part. This is not to say that racial secrets are shared, mind you, but that is to be expected and nobody seems to mind that those that have racial secrets use them without sharing, as the end product often is shared.
Although peaceful and relatively crime-free, this region has one of the largest and most efficient standing armies of any of the kingdoms of Darnoth Airsa Major and nobody cares to test their willingness to use those armies. There have been some issues with the kingdom of Cyrex’ii to the south over the years, but the Daelor armies have never sought to do anything more than repel the attack, perhaps with a brief counter-attack to crush those cities close to the shared border, and then retreat to their side of the border and await the eventual apology from their rather chaotic neighbors.
Midne is the historic hub of the government. The city itself has, according to legend, stood since before the sundering. There are those that question this, but none that care to do any real meaningful study of the possibility for the most part. Midne is an example of a well-run empire. Commerce with the neighboring regions has made the kingdom wealthy, and the presence of the main library of the mages guild lends an air of respectability to the region.
There is a rather stand-offish clan of dwarves in the mountains of Hammerfall, who provide a fair amount of stock for trade to other regions, as well as equipping the standing armies of the kingdom. They are allowed to self-govern themselves for the most part as part of an ancient treaty with the kingdom. This is not to say that they do not fill the coffers of the kingdom, as their goods sell quite well and the crown does get a cut in the form of taxes.
There have been reports recently of villages being sacked by unknown parties, despite the patrols that are maintained throughout the land. There is a standing reward for information about the party or parties involved in this, but to date no information has been forthcoming.
Balacia is known more for its scholars than anything else. It’s position to the north of the blasted lands has made it a convenient staging area for the adventurers and scholarly caravans that are interested in the secrets presumed to be held within the ruined cities in the inhospitable lands to the south. As a result, a great number of businesses have branches set up here, making it a popular trading spot as well.
The capital of the region has the second largest library in the land, as well as a well-appointed church, to serve the dual purpose of supporting the parties that venture into the wastes, and to allow researchers access to the collected works gathered from the ruins within the wastes.
Gaedlin consists on the whole of low, rolling plains. The people here are reasonably friendly if somewhat gruff with outsiders. These are a no-nonsense folk, concerned primarily with keeping their tribes fed and little else. It is not simply that they struggle to survive, for in truth the land holds vast agricultural potential, but rather that the tribes are seemingly always at odds with one another and thus they do not have the human resources required for extensive cultivation.
The men of this region are predominantly warriors, although the occasional hedge wizard does pop up from time to time. These hedge wizards are generally distrusted while at the same time being used readily by whichever tribe can afford their price. Magic in general is mistrusted and although the people give lip service to the gods, it is rare indeed to find one that places any real trust in the machinations of any diety.
The females of the tribes are the primary agricultural workers, and they do have a tendency to make use of lower-order spells in the service of their duties, although for the most part these powers are more along the lines of witchcraft than true spellcasting.
The men of Gaedlin are some of the most fierce warriors in the land, despite their generally lower-quality equipment. It is a fairly common practice for young men to adventure throughout the lands for a time to seek the equipment that will serve them in defense of their tribes in later years. As such, it is somewhat common to see Gaedlin warriors serving as mercenaries or adventurers in any part of the world.
10. The Cyrex’ii Delta
This region is inhabited mostly by the cyrex – a froglike race of amphibians with reasonably high intelligence. These frogmen are well organized in tribes and these disparate tribes are gathered under the banner of the council. As a rule, the Cyrex are not concerned with the world outside their swampy homeland, but from time to time one of them will venture out to explore the rest of the world.
Every few years, the council will send a sortie into the lands to the north, although this seems to serve no real purpose, as their equipment is hardly up to the task of fighting the extremely well-equipped armies of their neighbors.
Although the Cyrex do speak a somewhat halting common, they mostly converse in their native tongue, which is particularly complex. Although a few scholars have mastered the tongue to an elementary degree, true mastery of the language is beyond them at this time.
Little is known about the religious practices of the Cyrex, if any. It is thought that they revere primal fetishes of some variety, but as they do not seem to have any kind of organized religious observances to speak of, it is difficult to learn anything about these subjects.
The primary export from the delta is exotic herbs and other plants and similar products. On the whole, these are culinary items, but there is also a fair trade in other substances medical, recreational, and occasionally deadly. The various kingdoms do have laws that seek to prevent or at least restrict trade in this second variety of materials, but these efforts are expensive and thus they tend to be ignored or used ineffectively at best.
11. The Kingdom of Saranon
This kingdom is rather poor as such things go. Although the resources in the kingdom are varied and fairly abundant, the quantity of any given material produced is not truly enough to allow the kingdom to price exports competitively. As a result, the kingdom limps along with what it produces and is something of a backwater.
In recent years, the government has begun several schools with the goal of producing superior craftsmen in the theory that this will allow them to get a better price for their goods in the form of crafted goods rather than the pittance they earn from selling raw materials. There does seem to be some merit to this, as recently goods from the kingdom have been in a fair degree of demand.
At least one large caravan has recently begun making trading stops to the kingdom lately as a result of the slowly increasing demand. The items produced run a gamut from fine wood and metalwork to alchemical preparations. Many mages have been keeping an eye on the area, as the potions and tinctures coming from the area show a great deal of promise owing to the herbs that grow in the deltas in this region which, although not as potent as those from Cyrex’ii are of high quality nonetheless.
12. The blasted lands
There are many stories about this region. Although it is now mostly uninhabited with the exception of a few nomadic elven tribes and the ever-present archaeological digs there is considerable evidence that this was at one time a thriving kingdom. There are many ruined cities, all appearing to be either pre-sundering or perhaps hailing from the early ages after the sundering.
The elven natives speak a dialect that is unique to their tribes, but they can generally also speak a fairly fluent, if sometimes halting, common as well. Efforts to get them to relate anything regarding the history of the area have proven futile much to the disgust of the scholars that continually ravage the ruins thereabout.
Although the ruins have proven a wellspring of information for various sciences and magic, there are many who claim that the ruins were scoured ages ago to destroy some of the knowledge, possibly to prevent the knowledge from being used. A subset of that group believes that those very magics are the cause of the conditions in the area – positing a magical cataclysm of unspeakable power.
Whatever the cause of the conditions, you will be hard-pressed to find a less hospitable area, as the scorching sun and choking dust coupled with the various flora and fauna that are adapted to these conditions make this as close ass you can get to a literal hell on earth.
13. The Seat
This large island is named based on the fancy of the original explorer. Upon finding ruins of pre-sundering civilization on the island he declared that the island was a fragment of the mythical Seat of the Firmament.
Although there are certainly wonders on this island, it proved ultimately unsuitable for human life, as there are magical energies which seem to distort the very fabric of reality, often with lethal or improbable results. This island is not officially forbidden, but those that dare to explore it rarely return and those that do return rarely speak of the experience.
Section 2: Politics
Politics in Darnoth Airsa are mostly quiet. There is a definite interplay between the various kingdoms and the church, but even that is relatively stable. Whereas some tensions do exist and flare briefly into conflict (particularly between Cyrex’ii and its neighbors) for the most part the disparate kingdoms enjoy a relative degree of peace and a fairly boisterous trade.
We will have a brief overview of the governments of the 10 kingdoms here, with an eye towards structure and particular points of potential conflict.
Targrae is a semi-hereditary monarchy, guided by a body of noblemen from the houses that presently do not hold the throne. There is some intrigue during the successions occasionally, but even this is bounded by rules to prevent civil war and general unrest. There are nine houses in total, none of which are particularly large. Noble houses are the primary source of capitol for resource collection ventures, and the people are all linked in one way or another to one of the noble houses.
During the succession, it is customary for the heir apparent of the prior royal house to nominally hold the throne until the new king is chosen. During this time, no new proclamations can be made, and the power of the kingdom is largely shared by the noble houses until the coronation of the new king.
Although the cities are well-patrolled and the sea is regularly patrolled, the interior of the region is sparsely patrolled due to the fairly low population and as a means to reduce costs associated with keeping soldiers busy on patrol. That said, there are regular posts along the border of the region as a defense against any invading army.
Aluel is a very loose confederation of autonomous member towns. The smallest of the villages and hamlets tend to swear fealty to the larger towns in return for protection from that town’s watch, to which they generally contribute manpower as well. Taxes are paid directly to the larger towns, and thence to the nominal regional government which maintains a small standing army for the defense of the region against aggressors, with the power to call in the disparate town watches as irregulars in the event of a large aggressive force.
Overall, this works out well for the region, which is people by and large by the laid back Halflings who simply want to live their lives in peace.
4. The Eastern Kingdom
The government of the Eastern Kingdom, to the extent that one exists, is mostly concerned with regulation of trade and very little else. It is not that the government is corrupt – rather that the people of this region do not want a strong government. This is a land composed of free-thinking men and women for the most part, and their elected government consists of a dozen councilmen and the minimum resources allocated to them to do their required tasks.
One of the few powers that the government does possess is the ability to muster the militias in the event of war, but this power is rarely used. Most of the governing power is vested in the rangers that patrol the region, who report to the council every few months at The Encampment, which is the closest the region comes to having an actual capitol city.
5. The Protectorate
Little is known about the inner workings of the government of this region, or even if such a body actually exists. There are many rumours, but they tend to contradict one another in whole or in part. It is known that the area is patrolled by the Order of Dracons, thus it is assumed that the church itself holds sway in the region.
Daelor is ruled from the imperial city of the same name. It is ruled nominally by a single monarch, but the power is shared by the senate which is composed of representatives from the major districts within the region.
Much of the government activity is focused around the activities of the Legion, the well-armed and well-trained military of the land. Although it likely has the manpower to do so, the kingdom shows no inclination to wage war on its neighbors, despite provocation from the denizens of Cyrex’ii which results in a limited action every few years.
Outside of the Legion, the government busies itself with the construction of possibly the best infrastructure in any of the kingdoms. The roads, for instance, are very well constructed and defended by the Legion. Treaties with several of the other countries allow these roads to cover trade routes and where such treaties exist, the roads are considered Daeloar soil, as is the land 50 yards to either side for the sake of jurisdiction of the legion which patrols them. As a general rule, the legion will turn over prisoners to the local authorities where possible, unless the crimes committed were specifically against the laws of the Imperium at which point justice is served in a generally quick and often bloody fashion.
Midne is a monarchy, pure and simple. The capitol city is also referred to as Midne, and it is from here that the king rules. Overall, the kingdom functions well and efficiently with a minimum of bureaucratic nonsense gumming up the works. The government is arranged in a number of ministries, each responsible for the area which it was designated to oversee and each held to high standards. The penalty for gross negligence tends to be death, although it comes in a fairly humane manner as these things go.
Surprisingly, the nobility in this region actually strives to see to the happiness and well-being of the general populace and so they are generally liked by the teeming masses of this busy trade center.
The dwarven clan at Hammerfall is also well-received by the general populace, although the dwarves themselves, though not hostile, do affect a particularly gruff manner when outside their clan halls.
This region is primarily governed by the merchant houses and academic institutes that have set up shop. What governing takes place is generally along the lines of setting up trade restrictions and tariffs as well as general rules intended to keep the peace. Government is administered by representatives of the large concerns, and voting rights are purchased by placing bond money in the coffers equal to one share of the total. If an organization wishes to pull out of the voting council, the bond is returned at the original value, thus providing funds for the administration of the government itself, as the funds in bond are used to fund government trade caravans as well as trips into the wastes.
Balacea has no standing army to speak of. Each large concern has its own private guardsmen, and this is generally enough to keep the peace. On top of this, the promise of guard work for the many caravans generally ensures that there are a large quantity of mercenaries for hire in the area at any given time should the need arise to defend the region.
This region has no central government, rather each tribe is a law unto itself. Centuries of brutal in-fighting amoung the tribes in this region have produced a truly monumental warrior caste and as such there is rarely any threat of outside invaders making inroads into the region.
As a general rule, the tribes will not harass those that do not bear the markings of the tribes of the land, as their rules of conduct prevent such a breach, nor would any of the Geadlin tribals think to go about without bearing the mark of their tribe.
10. The Cyrex’ii Delta
Very little is known about the inner workings of the government of this region, other than a general sense that it is primarily tribal in nature with an established chain of command in the form of something resembling a council of elders or something of that nature.
The few Cyrexi who venture outside the region are tight-lipped about their government and religion, thus there is very little hard data upon which to base an analysis of the structure of the government such as it is.
11 The Kingdom of Saranon
This is a rather socialized version of a monarchy. Although the government is poor, it manages to maintain order and any who wish it can secure a job either working the resources available, or, for those that show promise, attending any of the many excellent schools that the government funds. Those who attend the schools are required to serve the kingdom for a period of time based upon the length of their study as a means to repay the investment of the government, but are then free to seek their own way if they wish.
Given the generally poor conditions available for independent work most students elect to remain in the service of the crown. Recent developments in the arts and sciences have made this profitable and it appears that the kingdom is finally starting to make some real trade income with their goods. The people themselves, though living in generally poor conditions are nonetheless pleased with their leaders.
Section Three: Religion
The Book of the Firmament
In the beginning, all that was, was. In the moment of its formation came also its custodian, the one. And the one watched over the firmament and caused it to flourish. In time, the one, seeing that the firmament required closer watch over its many facets did form of its own essence the gods. Each god was tied to the one, yet separate from it, its desire tied to the task for which it was purposed, and tied to the will of the one in order that the balance of the firmament might be maintained and all that was might prosper under proper ministration.
In time, the one did gaze upon the firmament, and did see that there was influence that was not its own. For eons, the one watched as this unknown influence manifested itself in the thoughts and actions of the varied races that occupied the firmament. The one pondered the influence and was troubled, for if the influence was not its own, it much be the hand of a force that was its equal, yet this could not be as the one had always been, and had not caused it to be.
More time passed, and the races of the firmament brought forth great marvels, cities, song, art, and wonderment worked from the very fabric of the firmament. They lived in harmony and each life added to their number added to the glory of the whole, and to the power of the one. Revered was the one, and to a lesser extent the gods that had been formed to govern them, and this was pleasing to the one.
Yet there were whispers that there were those that had found truths that were hidden to the one. And the one did summon his gods to him, charging them with seeking out these truths which were hidden from him. And all did agree that the truths would be sought and brought to the one, that the one might grow from their knowledge and the firmament thus prosper further.
Time passed and the gods found only whispers. Although they did seek out the sources of these whispers, they were always stymied and misled, and all did feel the presence of a power when they sought the truths they were charged to seek, and none did know its source.
In the land of shan’tigoth, in the third age, a man was discovered that had no tie to the firmament, and the gods did sense about him a power that was not tied to the one. They took him before the one that he might be questioned and his nature determined. And the man did speak of another, equal to the one, yet separate from it. And the one did entreat the man to take a party of his gods before this other that they might enrich both and strengthen the firmament. The man did agree, and 6 of the gods did leave with him for an audience with the other.
For years did the one await the return of his gods, and no word, no whisper of them did he receive. He sent his gods and their minions out to seek them, to determine the cause of the delay in their return, but it was as if they had been wiped from the firmament, and the one was filled with unease, that his gods, a part of his own being, had been taken from him.
In time, the gods did return to him, yet they were somehow changed, and there was about them a sense of power that was not tied to the one. They spoke at length of another realm, where the other held court. A place at one separate from, yet tied to the firmament. They spoke, too, of great wonders of this realm, and of the one that ruled over its function. They each bared themselves to the will of the one, that he might drink of their new essence, tinged with the power of the other, and be enriched by it. The one did so, and found this new power not to his liking. Where the power of the one was tied to the firmament, this new power was tied to another energy that was not of the firmament. The one retired from his court to ponder the things he sensed.
For an age, the one held himself from the court of the gods that he might fully understand the nature of the new power that the gods had brought to the firmament. When at last he returned, he declared that the other must be blocked from influencing the firmament, for he sensed that this new power would cause dissention and bring disorder to that which he had caused to be, and which had in turn caused him to be.
The gods which had been touched were sent to the other, to work towards an understanding and to find a way that the one and the other might work together to preserve all that was, lest both be destroyed. The touched gods did depart for the realm of the other, and thus did end the fifth age of the firmament.
For an age, the firmament did prosper as it had before the sending of the six. The whispers of the other were not heard, nor did the inhabitants of the firmament question the casting out of the six, for the workings of the gods were tied to the one, and the one to the firmament. The firmament stood as a testament to the rightness of the one, and all prospered.
At the dawn of the seventh age, the one was visited by the man of shan’tigoth, who brought to him a simple bag, within which was the essence of the six, cleansed of the power of the other. The man offered no explanation, leaving the one to wonder at the gift.
From the north did come reports of corruption, many claiming the firmament was failing. The whispers spoke of the six returned yet changed, and the one knew that the gift had been both warning and declaration of war.
The one did marshal his gods about him, girding them for war. They left the seat of the firmament, setting off towards the north. With the gods marched the armies of the firmament, each led by the minions of the gods. When they reached the lands that were, they did see a mighty host gathered, and at the forefront of this host rode the six, each bearing the standard of the other.
The one did seek audience with his former gods, in the hopes that they might avoid a conflict that could very well destroy the very firmament itself. They gathered at a high place, in view of the battlefield. The one did speak to the generals of the other, asking them to review the forces below. The forces of the other were few, the armies of the firmament were great, and there was surely no way that such a small force could possibly prevail. The six listened in silence, and in the end rebuffed him, stating that victory was not the purpose of their march toward the seat. The one was taken aback, for with no hope of victory he did not see why the other would seek to march against him. The six merely listened to his entreaties, and when he had spoken his piece, they departed, each marshalling their forces for the battle ahead.
With first light, the armies did clash, and though small in number, the forces of the other proved difficult to kill, seeming to lose substance at will only to reform and counterattack with great effect. Though legions of them were defeated in the first battle, they seemed to gain numbers with each loss, and steadily they crushed the armies of the firmament advancing in time to the very crystal walls of the seat of the firmament, tainting and destroying all in their wake. In the end, only the gods were left, surrounded by the forces of the other.
The forces of the other retreated and the man of shan’tigoth approached the crystal walls of the seat of the firmament. He looked into the eyes of the other, and the other at last recognized the power that the other held and its source. The man spoke then to the one. “Brother,” he said, “you have fought valiantly, yet you have failed to embrace the totality of the firmament that your were charged with safekeeping. Thus, I must undo what you have done, and cause it to be remade. Will you absorb your gods that we may begin this process together, or must I destroy them?”
The one stood defiant, and refused to absorb the remnants of his gods. The other advanced unopposed, and with a simple gesture he caused the gods to be dispersed, their energies flowing back into the firmament. As the energies of the gods were absorbed into the firmament, the other bowed his head and disappeared, taking his armies with him. The one stood alone upon the wall of the seat of the firmament for a moment, wondering at the actions of the other. His wonder dissolved as the wall, with a sharp report, cracked, the lands of the firmament following suit, and all being sundered until only a mass of shards remained. The one, tied to the firmament was also sundered, his being splitting into aspects, each tied to a shard of the firmament, each embodying a piece of the vision that had been the firmament. And the other, tied similarly to the firmament, did sunder as well, each aspect likewise tied to a shard of the firmament.
Thus ended the age of the firmament, and thus did begin the first age of the sundering.
The Book of the Sundering
In the beginning, all that was was not. In the moment of the sundering came also the aspects, each tied to its purpose. And these aspects did each strive to reform the firmament that had been. So balanced were the aspects of what once was that what one did was often undone by another. In this way was the balance preserved. In the place of the sundering, once known as the seat of the firmament, the aspects held court, each striving to advance its cause, and each rebuked by other opposing forces, thus ensuring a balance.
And it came to be that the aspects, each empowered to its design, did begin to call forth minions to further advance their goals, and these minions did inspire the peoples of the sundered lands to follow the varied purposes of the aspects.
And the peoples of the world, clinging to the hope of a firmament restored, did go about their assigned tasks, not realizing that they were mere pawns in a cosmic game.
And what one tribe did, often another tribe would undo, and in time, nations arose, and these nations, each pledged to the minions of a single aspect, a single shard of divinity, inevitably came into conflict.
And the nations strove for eons against one another, yet each could not hold the advantage, pressed on all sides by others. And in this way did the balance hold.
And it came to pass that the aspects did note that they shared some goals in common with other aspects, and these groups did set aside their differences and band together to further the greater goals. And thus did an age of progress come to pass. And this progress did allow the nations of men to grow stronger, each banding with like-minded nations, and casting out the heretics that the path ahead might be followed to its proper end.
And these nations did prosper and men did look ahead to a time when a new firmament might be established. And in the place of the sundering, the aspects did eye each other warily, for in polarizing themselves, the underlying rifts, so easily overlooked by hopeful men, were more apparent to them. And each aspect did look to its allies for strength, and those who strode between the faction lines were eyed with unease. And the nations of man did sense a darkening of fates, and the warriors of each nation did once more gird themselves for battle, for it seemed that to establish a new firmament, all those that were heretics must be cast out, all evidence of the other must be cast aside and purified by steel and fire, that only the right might stand at the place of the sundering and with one will, one spirit, one heart forge anew the firmament and bring all that was once again into being.
And the aspects were filled with the spirit of their chosen nations, and they each yearned to reforge the firmament, knowing that such an act would establish ascendancy and allow it at last to fulfill its purpose free of interference. And within each aspect was a force that yearned to remain free, to cast aside thoughts of a new firmament.
Although many shards resulted from the sundering, many have since been destroyed or absorbed, or have simply faded into obscurity – either passing out of the material realm entirely, or simply operating as a so-called “force of nature” rather than a sentient entity. The shards that have been revered over the ages, the so called prime shards, are relatively few in number. Below are the basic details of these shards as well as their “aspect”, or what general realm of power they each serve. Also, each section will have a brief synopsis of the religion based around that shard. Note that all of these churches co-exist more-or-less peacefully, despite several of them being somewhat fanatical in nature. The heads of each church form “The Circle” which amounts to a religious governmental body – this body has no “real” power, but as a rule most rulers tend to respect its rulings in matters ranging relatively far and wide.
Necris, Queen of Death – Dark Aspect
The followers of Necris are in essence necromancers. It should be noted that although they are users of necromantic arts and the undead are their playthings they are not “evil” by the mores of the world. They are certainly not well-liked or considered trustworthy by any stretch, but they serve the dark queen, and thus they are aspects of the one, bound to the preservation of the world from the forces of the other. Of course, they often tend to do this by raising undead armies to fight against those who would side with the other, often with large amounts of collateral damage, as the undead have little ability to distinguish between friend or foe, with the exception of those who bear their dark queen’s mark. It should be noted that although most of the undead in the world are, in fact, in the service of the dark queen’s followers, some are not. Tjose that are not are often sought out and subdued by the followers of Necris, and it is for this reason primarily that her followers are allowed to remain in cities. For the most part, followers of Necris reside within the dark citadel of Gatekeep, a temple city in the far west. Other than this large population, most large mage guilds will have one or two representatives at most. Due to the general mistrust of the populace, the followers of Necris tend to keep to themselves.
Alaural, Wanderer of the Endless Path – Nature Aspect
The followers of Alaural are wild in appearance, and the church army contains a large bear cavalry, one of the symbols of Alaural (the other being the maul). Alarual’s followers are warriors in many ways, and are considered warrior-wizards in terms of class. The warriors of Alaural are trained in the use of the various blunt weapons available, with a particular preference for large hammers. At higher levels, they typically undertake a quest to locate and tame a bear, which they then train as their mount. This tends to weed out the weaker amoung the brotherhood. These warrior-druids are more likely to be encountered in natural surroundings rather than large cities, although contact is maintained with the various mage guilds (typically by those that have not yet acquired their bears, as local laws frequently prohibit the keeping of bears within the city limits) At a certain point, these folks will acquire a shapeshift ability which will allow them to assume a bear form (very much akin to a werebear, but retaining their cognitive abilities nearly wholly while shifted) Although very warrior-like, the spells of the sect are largely not focused upon direct damage, being more along the lines of snaring and using the innate abilities of the terrain to the mage’s advantage.
The Duality – Light/Dark Aspect (Balance)
The duality is an enigmatic force. It seeks a balance between the powers of light and darkness. The Dualists seek to enforce this balance in various ways. This has caused some conflicts between them and the more light- or dark-centric sects from time to time, mostly due to the tendency of the Dualist tendency to balance things when there is an unbalance in favor of either light or darkness. They are by and large a scholarly sect, but those mages that do wander the world (Balancers in sect parlance) are very able casters and quite dangerous in conflicts as they possess a formidable combination of damaging and healing magics, as well as the ability to control (and utterly destroy) undead at higher levels.
Libros, Watcher of the Ages – Light Aspect
The followers of Libros are largely scholarly folks. They are very rare in groups, preferring greatly to spend their time in libraries and similar pursuits. They are nearly wholly devoted to learning of all kinds, and experts in many arts both arcane and mundane are often followers of Libros. Most of their spells are devoted to discovering truths, although they have a small amount of healing magic and an even smaller amount of damaging magic. Largely, the followers of Libros are concerned with the knowledge of the past, and when they are found adventuring they are likely tracking down pre-sundering artifacts or ruins for clues about ancient magics or knowledge.
The Horned God, Lord of the Wild Hunt – Nature/Chaos Aspect
The Followers of the Horned God are mostly concerned with ritual magics of various types. They are not necessarily concerned with the immediate but are focused more upon the enduring things of nature. They follow no particular tradition, but rather they follow many traditions, each group of worshippers being moved by the spirit of the Horned God to accomplish their goals in its own particular way. Actions of these casters are coordinated, but only loosely – overarching goals are codified, means are left up to the practitioners, who then decide for themselves through communion with the spirits how best to accomplish those goals on a local level. In essence, the followers of the Horned God are witches in all but name. They are skilled with some weapons outside of the typical knives, but not nearly as skilled as a warrior.
Sircen the Healer – Light Aspect
The Sircenese priesthood is focused upon cleansing and healing the land and the population thereof. They are consummate healers, but their particular oaths proscribe killing where it can be avoided, with only minor exceptions (destroying that which is unnatural, unavoidable killing in self defense ie – where the caster cannot escape by other means, destruction of demons and creatures of the Other, etc)
Thorn the Warrior – Chaos Aspect
Helai, Lady of Battle – Chaos Aspect
These aspects are male and female incarnations of the same aspect. Their spells are similar in nature, being mostly direct damage and combat enhancement type spells. The followers of these aspects are primarily warriors, and are treated essentially as warrior-mage hybrids. There is a strict sex discrimination which determines which aspect the worshippers are beholden to, and traditions of the two are wildly different, although the end result is very similar in both cases. These caster/warriors eschew heavy armor, and fight with berserk savagery having little to no regard for their own lives in battle, for an honorable death in battle is the highest achievement in life. Think of these folks as norsemen in terms of outlook.
Putros the Plaguebringer – Dark Aspect
The followers of Putros are a less of a priesthood and more of an assassins guild. They serve the goals of their dark master, and although they do have access to magic, for the most part this is used to increase their ability to destroy those that bar their way. They are definitely not trusted by any and although treated fairly they are definitely spoken of in hushed voices. Unlike the followers of Necris, these folks do maintain a visible presence in all large towns, although they are generally not present in numbers in smaller towns as the locals typically do not wish to have them anywhere nearby due to distrust.
The Matron, Bringer of Life – Nature Aspect
The Ladys of The Matron are all gifted healers, but unlike the followers of Sircen, they are more interested in the healing of the land and the creatures thereof. There are no priests of the Matron, only Priestesses. In addition to their healing powers, at higher levels the Priestesses of the Matron gain access to powerful gifts of divination. The magic of the Priestesses is similar to witchcraft in nature, being by-and-large ritualistic, but they also have a number of fast-and-ready spells to help them get out of tight situations. These priestesses are gentle and will avoid killing if at all possible, by and large they are willing to sacrifice themselves to slow down enemies so that others can escape rather than killing in self defense.
The Void, The End of Endings – Unaligned Aspect (The Other)
This is not a player-allowed aspect. Those that follow the Void are linked with the forces that caused the One to be sundered. This is a very strong and purely evil power which opposes all life in the twelve planes, but some follow it as they are given powerful gifts in return for servitude, despite the assurance that they will be ended completely when they are no longer of use to the Void. Some would choose the easy road to power despite this inevitable end, however.
Kipa, The Child Goddess – Light Aspect
The followers of Kipa are an odd bunch. Generally caring and kind, they are seemingly simple folk, but they are present to the childlike wonders of the world, which gives them a peculiar insight into the working of things. Their spells tend to be benign, although somewhat playful in nature.
Barak the Warlord – Chaos Aspect
The followers of Barak are similar in nature to the followers of Thorn/Helai except that they are more focused upon the tactical side of warfare, rather than the purely barbaric glory thereof. The spells that these folks wield are largely of an area-effect type designed to modify the advantage given to their side in battle or spells of a defensive or enhancing nature in general. These folks favor heavy armor and weaponry and do gain the full warrior benefit from armor.
Rewarb, Bringer of Revels – Nature Aspect
Rewarb’s priesthood are a fun bunch. They are devoted to revels and their spells typically involve pyrotechnics and stupors. There is very little that the priesthood finds worth pursuing outside of their temples, they are generally busy perfecting the brewing of the perfect drink or cultivating rare herbs or generally pursuing the joys of the endless party of life. They typically maintain their own library and rarely make use of the one in the mage guild proper, as most of their research is considerably more focused on what most mages would consider the pursuits of artisans, and to be honest, a great deal of the magic performed by these folks is more along the lines of engineering masked and/or enhanced by clever illusions. Followers of Reward are generally skilled in herbalism and alchemy with some skill in engineering. Most of their pure magic is based around making these skills easier to pursue or is pure illusion designed to entertain. Most mages tolerate these folks, but secretly think them as little more than court jesters. In reality, the Rewarbian priesthood controls one of the finest networks of spies in the known world.
Slathump, The Gluttenous Maw – Dark Aspect
Slathump is as close to the embodiment of pure gluttony and excess as you can come. The priesthood reflects this in many ways. These folks dress in lavish robes and feast nightly on incredible feasts, drinking and eating to excess before retiring to the hookah lounge where they smoke themselves into near-oblivion nightly. It is during these nightly sessions that the spirit will occasionally make its wishes known. At these times, the priesthood is quick to mobilize, using their very utilitarian spells and a large flow of cash from any number of somewhat dark dealings to make their master’s wishes come to pass. Although gluttonous and lazy and frequently drug-addled, these mages possess very sharp minds which work in an almost mechanical fashion to bring about the things which are required for their patron (or which they desire for themselves)
Cornas, God of Knowledge – Neutral Aspect
The followers of Cornas are very similar in nature to the followers of Libros, but where the followers of Libros look backward towards lost knowledge from the past, the followers of Cornas are more concerned with the acquisition of new learning. They are some of the finest alchemists and enchanters in the known world as they are methodical and logical in their pursuit of pure research into all things magical. They share many similarities in terms of spells to the followers of Libros, and the two sects often meet to share their knowledge to their mutual benefit. Although they are certainly interested in the engineering feats of the Rewarbian priests, they do not generally get close enough to learn much, and when they do attempt to, they often find themselves far too addled by drugs and alchohol to be able to make a studied observation of the workings of the rewarbian mechanical creations, thus few priests make any attempt to learn from the rewarbians, although some few of the younger priests have been known to make frequent visits to the Rewarbian revels to see what they can learn, often stumbling back to their rooms in the guild hall in the early hours to collapse into bed and dream vivid dreams until they awake…
Glindaras the Prolific – Nature Aspect
Glindaras is a nature god whose primary goal is the proliferation of all natural things – plants, animals, men, all natural living things. His priesthood serve as caretakers of the land, animals, and peoples of the world, throwing many a fertility rite at the drop of a hat. Although seen as lecherous fools by many, they are certainly effective at their charge, and their rites, which are often elaborate rituals frequently end up devolving into crazed parties of lust-driven men and animals. The Glindarians get along fairly well with the rewarbian sect, often helping them with their herbal cultivation projects in return for materials and entertainment for their rites.
Section 4: Economics
The economics of the land are fairly complicated when taken as a whole, but as a general rule most people (outside of the traders that make their living in several kingdoms) need only be concerned with the “Standard” coins which are minted in accordance with the terms of a pact entered into by all of the “civilized” kingdoms. For the most part, these coins are used for all standard transactions and, though they bear the mint mark of the originating kingdom, all are relatively standard in weight and purity.
These trade coins are on a decimal conversion scale – 1 Gold = 100 Silver = 1000 Copper, with larger trades handled in Platinum, each of which is worth 10 Gold coins. Although this is the “Standard” coin used for most trade, it is far from the only standard used within Darnoth Airsa. Below are a few of the more common standards used throughout the several regions, discounting coins from days long past which occasionally turn up in treasure piles and other such oddities.
The Guild Standard: The major guilds have a standard “coin” used for inter-guild commerce simply called the guildmark. A guildmark is a relatively simple porcelain oblong coin marked on one side with the mark of the issuing guild and upon the reverse with the value of the coin. Typically, guildmarks range in value from a quartermark to a ten-mark coin. In general, these coins are not used by the public but there are times when dealing with guilds directly that payment for services may be rendered in guildmarks rather than the common coin of the realm. Note that some of the larger trade caravans have been known to issue guildmarks of their own, which are grudgingly accepted by most guilds, although they tend to be unhappy with this, and it is fairly common to charge extra for the privilege of using trade coin of this nature in a guild transaction.
The Mage Standard: This is similar to the guild standard in theory, although it is nearly impossible for a layman to discern the value of a mage coin, as the relative value is based upon the amount of energy stored in the coin. As these coins are filled and depleted in the course of their use, there is no marking indicating value on the coin, although they do hold the mark of the issuing guild or church. These coins are also porcelain, but are typically hemispherical, and may be of any number of colors, usually indicating the initial issuer of the mark, although there are some variations which doubtless make sense to those that use them, but which laymen are, again, unable to make sense of.
The Cyrex Standard: The “Coins” of the Cyrex’ii are actually oblong beads of various materials – mostly semi-rare stone or specific types of wood. The beads themselves are strung on fibrous cords for storage and transport. The system has six tiers of six different types of bead, and the numbering system used is a base seven system, which makes conversions a pain for the uninitiated. Luckily, almost nobody except traders are ever likely to run across Cyrex’ii currency and thus the various denominations will not be detailed here.