Dicefreaks Presents: Oriund, World of Broken Dreams.
O R I U N D
* The dream has begun -destiny awaits.
Oriund. A world of broken dreams, a realm of endless possibilities. Within its confines, the very cornerstones of creation slumber in secret... and stir. Called by the promise of power untold, gods and mortals alike have sought to capture the very elements of existence. But destiny has denied them, and so the clash of fates continues. In the wake of such conflict, the history of Oriund has been forged by the will of the strong and the suffering of the weak. Yet, even the mighty have fallen. Upon its lands, the shadows of gods long-slain linger. In their absence, other forces have awoken. From the darkest pits of hell to the brightest peaks of heaven, beings of terrible majesty and magnificent terror have descended upon Oria's Bosom, and the fate of all her children has forever changed. Caught between the inevitable struggle of such titanic foes, desperate and daring mortals have arisen. Like stars gleaming against a sea of darkness, heroes attempt to stem the tide of immortal tyranny. Champions of causes both valiant and vile, these legends have bathed Oriund's past with their very blood. And though the stains of the past continue to haunt the present, Oriund's future remains yet unforged. Thus the demons rage, the angels weep, and the gods' graves tremble. For many are the pieces of the Great Mosiac. And in a land where pawns can become kings and pantheons can perish, the Godspell continues to beckon. Heeding its call, many continue to dream of remaking reality in their own image. Will you be among them?
The dream has begun -destiny awaits.
To all the DF'ers and gamers beyond, I just wanted to share with everyone some of the changes with the Oriund Campaign Setting as well as hint at some things to come. As Serge and Selah have shared (both I believe on this forum), Selah has decided to step down from working on official Oriund here at DF -though he will continue with his own work as a private interpretation of the continent-realm. While I am sad to see him go, I respect Selah's decision and his goals. Nevertheless, in the vacuum created by our favorite green friend's departure, The Serge has been gracious enough to put the reigns of Oriund's development in my hands. During the past two months since such a change happened, I've been discussing and brainstorming ideas with both old and new DICE to the project, and I have to say that I am very excited at our progress. While the central tenets of Oriund will indeed remain, some of the specifics of the setting will undergo a revision (like the shift from 4e mechanics to Pathfinder), and as time progresses, Selah's version of Oriund and our own will no doubt increasingly diverge (though I welcome Selah to continue to update the community on his work).
As for the work that we've done and will be doing here at DF, I plan on releasing some of that information in the days to come. Throughout that time, insight, input, and feedback is more than welcome -in fact, it is respectfully requested. During some of these releases and teasers, it is my intention to conduct a few polls and contests along the way, both to cultivate said feedback, search for future DICE members, and to increase the campaign setting's exposure.
All in all, I'm very excited about the work that is going on with the Oriund Campaign Setting, and as the days go on, I hope that the community here at DF and beyond will share my sentiments!
We want to share two pieces of our recent work, the Dawn of the Drala and the Overthrow of Oria. While both of these legends pertain to the continent-realm's ancient history and mythology, the Oriund DICE are presently working on more current material for the continent-realm. Of such material, we will be releasing a basic gazeteer or tour of Oriund, including a cursory timeline, map, and synopsis of the major nations and geographical regions.
Hopefully, the above will give everyone an entertaining as well as informative peak into the evolving campaign setting that is the World of Broken Dreams. Enjoy!
After several months of work, the Oriund Project is pleased to announce its next batch of releases. That's right, not just one release -oh no, Santa says you've been far too good for just one release! So instead, we're filling the stockings from tip to top, giving you a full, if brief, tour of the campaign setting.
To this end, we have produced 30 small blurbs for each of Oriund's major regions. Additonally, we have posted a map that includes the names and relative locations of the regions. To avoid blinding you with the awesomeness that is the entirety of Oriund (and because DF's poll has a cap of ten choices), we will be posting 3 sets of 10 regions. For each of these rounds, we will conduct a poll, asking you to vote for the region you're most interested in seeing developed and published. Each poll will run about a fortnight. The First Round's blurbs & poll are already up, so check it out, vote, and let us know what you want to see more of in the future!
The third and final poll: vote here or at its thread at Dicefreaks.
Realms of Oriund: Round III
Free Crownlands of Arn
In the Free Crownlands of Arn, the dreams of tyrants are both born and broken. Across river-fed forests and rolling countrysides, petty kingdoms fight for independence, dominance, and permanence. Few succeed. Instead, the Crownlands are a cartographer's nightmare -or paradise, depending on one's view- as Arn is infamous for the transience of its thrones and the ever-changing names and borders of its realms. Would-be-kings, ambitious warlords, and exiled nobles battle one another with swords and silver tongues, even as they fend off the advances of the nations in whose shadows their fledgling realms stand. While many nobly -or stubbornly- resist becoming puppets of these foreign powers, others gladly forsake their freedom, lulled by promises of prestige, profit, and protection. Yet, despite all the countless attempts by forces within and without, the Crownlands refuse to be conquered. This uncanny streak of luck more a function of the liberty-loving commoners than the brilliance or determination of their leaders, the locals of Arn are known for being fierce patriots, even if lackluster in their loyalty. To the average citizen of Arn, neither blood nor banner determines a man's worth; instead, men are weighed by their behavior and beliefs. As a consequence, natives care more about a person's character and less about the color of the flag that happens to fly over his or her homestead. Pointing to the River Arn that winds it way across the emerald landscape, the locals argue that prosperity can only come so long as they are free to follow the currents of their own consciences. And while more than a few Arnfolk are nothing but selfish rogues or hot-headed rabble-rousers, most are decent souls, content to plant their crops and plow their fields in peace, leaving others to their own affairs so long as they are left to theirs. Nevertheless, the generally peaceful Crownfolk are more than willing and all-too capable of defending their farmsteads and freedom. Even so, the land's lumber-rich forests and verdant fields continually call out to would-be-tyrants and conquerors alike. For in the end, the Free Crownlands of Arn is a place where any man can become a king -or as some claim, where every man already is.
Hedonic League of Athica
In the Hedonic League of Athica, passions burn bright. From such raging fires, heroes are born and epic deeds are wrought. Skillfully spreading word of such legends, renowned poets and playwrights alike capture the hearts of Athica's inhabitants with sonorous instruments and half-submerged amphitheatres. Sculptors seal the glory of their subjects in sea-veined stone and shell, while architects erect iridescent monuments to their fame. Hoping to sway the minds of the ever-fickle populace, politicians and philosophers artfully blend sophistry, logic, and stagecraft into rhetoric that is as profound as it is persuasive. Beyond the city-states, where the clamor of civilization becomes sun-dapled glades of laurel, fig, and pomegranate, winsome fey dance and sing, ever beckoning passers-by to join their lusty revels. Yet, within Athica's highlands, piscine-tailed lamia, perverse ogres, and other monsters prey upon the weak and unwary. Beneath the sahuagin-haunted shores, sunken civilizations host ravenous sea hags, kapoacinths, locathahs, and ancient leviathans. Facing these perils and more, the Athicans test their mettle. While most of these warriors are soon forgotten or only remembered as minor tragedies, a rare few rise to become living legends. Supposedly chosen by the enigmatic entities who slumber beneath Athica's isle or atop its towering mountains, these fate-touched heroes are endowed with strength and cunning above and beyond the common man. The inevitable heirs of the Athica's thrones, treasures, and troubles, these larger-than-life kings and queens of the Hedonic League rule with the knowledge that their country's crowns are rarely still. As a result, most live only for the moment, or seek a measure of immortality through daring campaigns and courageous quests. Playing to both strategies, feasts, games, and celebrations are common events. Either ignoring or embracing the excesses of their leaders, the common citizens of Athica plow their fields, tend their groves, and sail their ships with the simple aim of a comfortable life. All of these goals, however, were threatened during the Barthrax Crisis. Seeing Lambryss fall to inhuman foes, Athica's normally independent city-states decided to band together to create the Hedonic League. So allied, the Athicans survived the devastating wars of the Drala's last stand and have since held Lambryss' hordes at bay. Nevertheless, support for the Hedonic League has begun to waver. Weary of protecting weaker settlements or being pawns to the most powerful city-states, an increasing number of Athicans criticize the confederacy and speak of secession. Against this rising tide, the League's supporters point to the relative peace and prosperity the alliance has provided. Meanwhile, demagogues stir the debate, rousing the land's raucous wine-merchants, pearl-adorned priests, and brine-soaked mariners alike. Among such manipulators, Scelerians conspire with would-be-tyrants, Kheseph anarchists incite open rebellion, and Lambryssian warlords seek to weaken their western neighbor. Yet, despite these divisions and devious influences, the hearts of the Hedonic League are united by their common yearning for greatness -and woe to any who stand in the way of an Athican's glory.
The Sundered Dominions of Haziran
Infidels and martyrs mingle inside the Sundered Dominions of Haziran. Once the southwestern jewel of Nar-Qadam's crown, Haziran broke away after Bhalshazar's death. Revoking their allegiance to the Sultanate, the local kings nevertheless remained allies of their eastern neighbor even as they fostered relations with countries across the seas. While this policy made Haziran rich, the flow of coins came with a price, as Arelonís missionaries arrived alongside its merchants. Though most ignored the evangelists, a few embraced the new religion -or at least pretended to, hoping to gain the Empyreans' favor. In time, these converts, alongside their church-building pastors, faced a backlash of violent persecution. Hearing reports of this repression, the Prelatries sent a host of templars to protect their growing flock and foothold across the waters. Reacting in kind, Nar-Qadam sent its own soldiers to safeguard its erstwhile subjects. Torn between Arelon's heavenly mandate to redeem the world and Nar-Qadam's oath to remain free from supernal bondage, the Sundered Dominions became a battleground where casualties are measured in souls as well as lives. Even today, amidst an all-too precarious armistice between the Prelatries and Sultanate, the contest for converts and coin continues. Caught up in this centuries-old conflict, local rulers take sides, motivated by faith, tradition, greed, or simple survival. Along the southern coasts, Empyrean crusaders and lordships loyal to Arelon prevail. Patriarchs watch over the faithful from azure-domed cathedrals, while paladins escort pilgrims and parishioners to sacred shrines. Church-allied caravans fill westbound caravels with glazed ceramics, jeweled rugs, and rare incense. Within siege-worthy monasteries, monks blend olives, cloves, and basil into healing balms while priors read prayers from illuminated manuscripts. 'Advised' by the local clergy and foreign-born crusaders, an aristocracy of mixed bloodlines, broken dynasties, and tangled alliances maneuver to succeed the dying Leper-King of Jurapa. Emptying his treasury, Haziran's southern monarch turns towns into fortresses and farmers into mercenaries. Across the stronghold-studded frontlines, fortune-blessed soldiers return as scarred veterans while the ill-fated remain in shallow graves. Beyond the cypress-cut hills and dusty passes, the northern moorlands host Arelon's unyielding foes. Inside palace-gardens of jasmine and myrrh, damask-adorned princes listen to the counsel, if not commands, of Nar-Qadam's viceroys. Battling with words, if not blades, amongst themselves as well as the southern crusaders, the feudal warlords compete for territory as well as the loyalty of skilled minstrels, scholars, and physicians. Playing a critical role in such contests, assassins gather in secret citadels, hiring their dark services to any who pay sufficient tribute to the Sultanate. Poisoning wells, burning caravans, and kidnapping nobles, these spice-addicted zealots terrorize the angel-worshipping invaders and all who aid them. Meanwhile, mighty siege weapons roll across the plains as armies marshal for the armisticeís inevitable end. Watching the smoke-filled horizon, the land's inhabitants pray for peace even as they prepare for the next war that awaits the Sundered Dominions of Haziran.
Shifting Kingdoms of Kheseph
Monuments, mummies, and long-buried memories mark the Shifting Kingdoms of Kheseph. Fed by the life-giving waters of the Tuat and Isertes, fertile riverbanks teem with fields of sedge, barley, and emmer. Settlements of white-washed brick gleam in the blinding sun, while cities rise from emerald deltas, welcoming coin and cargo from far-away countries. Inside djed-pillared courtyards, sheer-robed dancers, sharp-rattling sistrum, and wanton celebrations entertain the wealthy. Meanwhile, architects plan generation-spanning projects, caring little for cost or the countless slaves who erect the nation's legendary palaces and pyramids. Soldiers guard flood-blessed granaries, armed with khopesh, javelins, and swift-flying arrows, while linen-swathed scribes stain papyrus-scrolls with tales of triumph and tragedy. Barges drift down the Rivers of Blood and Milk, braving crocodiles, hippos, and other behemoths. Yet, beyond the reed-filled riverbeds and lapis-blue water-lilies, Kheseph's soil withers to dust. Drovers guide cattle, sheep, and goats through parched landscapes, watchful for jackals, giant scorpions, and worse. Merchants cross dunes of swirling sand, their camels laden with gypsum, porphyry, and carnelian. Deeper within Kheseph's foreboding deserts, riddle-twisting sphinx and statue-bound elementals defend time-buried tombs, temples, and treasuries. Ruling over this land of silt and sand, kohl-eyed pharaohs adorn themselves with aromatic perfumes, ointments, and the arrogance of living gods. With loyalty waning and waxing like Kheseph's twin rivers, noble houses oversee the ancient provinces. Dynasties rise and fall like the desert sun, leaving scorched ruins in their wake. Currently divided into four kingdoms, Kheseph wars amongst itself and its neighbors. Bordering the Golden Tribelands to the east, sun-blessed Serkheb shines, its markets gleaming with gold, incense, and ivory. Yet, from the shadows, Scelerus tightens its coils around the Land of Scorpions, swaying the local poisoners, slavemasters, and snake-priests with silver-tongued promises and steel-tipped threats. To the west, in the Carrion Lands of Neshen, slave revolts bathe the land in blood while vultures circle the cities, hungry for more. Among the ravenous flock, phantoms from Ma'arath feast on the ripening madness. Adding to the anarchy, the pharaohs of Amuth's past have awoken. Sensing the weakness of their rivals, these unliving tyrants unleash hordes of mummies, flesh-eating scarabs, and necromantic plagues, devastating the lands both near and far. Surrounded by such menaces, Meru's angelic dervishes dwindle, their numbers too few to defend the kingdom's shrinking borders. Seeing the waning might of their moon-blessed guardians, the famed astrologers of the Sickle Lands watch the skies with increasing despair. For within the Shifting Kingdoms of Kheseph, fate is written in the sand, twisting with each footstep of its would-be-champions and conquerors.
Lost Isle of Lambryss
Its former glories mired in maze-like ruins, the Lost Isle of Lambryss is a land of forgotten mysteries and slumbering secrets. Shrouded by mists, the jigsaw-like coasts of the Lost Isle are riddled with towering cliffs and lightless caverns. Above the creeping fog, desolate cities lay in shambles, ravaged by war, wildfire, and rending tremors. Eerily untouched by the wide-spread devastation are massive palaces that rise from the shattered settlements. Claiming the painted pillars, blood-stained frescos, and treasure-laden halls as their own, cyclopean oracles languidly scan the vagaries of past and future while their lesser kin raid the highlands. Living in the shadow of these one-eyed overlords, bandits, beasts, and black cults hide their secrets -and kill to keep them. Blurring the lines between the three groups are the Horned Knights. Once adored by the Empyrean Prelatries whom they served, these former templars of Arelon gained both fame and infamy for their bloody role in Haziran's crusades. Their fall from grace a mystery most disturbing, the Horned Knights became a secretive order, obsessed with blasphemous rituals and bizarre relics. As rumors of such dark deeds spread, the Horned Knights fled the sun-scorched battlefields of Haziran, taking their ill-gotten treasures with them. Drawn to the Lost Isle, the fallen templars hid themselves and their riches. Entombing the latter in trap-laden vaults of stone, spell, and steel, the Horned Knights allegedly left, dispersing to unknown regions -their departure as mysterious as their fall into darkness. Nevertheless, their treasures remain -as do the corpses of those who sought to claim them. Below such strongholds and the rocky scrublands of the surface, labyrinthine tunnels snake and twist, connecting to Lambryss' countless sea-caves and salt-rimmed shores. Inside this maze of sunless stone, the primary denizens of Lambryss dwell: the minotaurs. Plying the coastline and beyond, the bullmen defend their darkened realms against fool-hardy explorers and would-be-liberators. While fortunate trespassers are merely slaughtered and robbed, the truly luckless are brought back to the lairs of the beast-men. There, amid ancient catacombs violently claimed from Lambryss' lost civilizations, the horned monsters offer living sacrifices to their secret lord. Often leading such vile ceremonies and supplicants are the spawn of The Abyss, survivors of Lambryss' demon-purge during the last war. Yet, despite all these perils, the desperate, daring, and demented continue to seek the accursed isle, drawn to the maddening mysteries that lurk within the Lost Isle of Lambryss.
Whispering Wastes of Ma'arath
Wounds, madness, and worse haunt the Whispering Wastes of Ma'arath. Once the cradle of mighty civilizations, Ma'arath has become a grave of lost wonders. Towering ziggurats, crumbling tombs, and forsaken temples riddle the rocky wastelands. Ravaged by war, drought, and other disasters, these ruins bear grim testimony to Ma'arath's past glories and present troubles. Like an old salt-lick in the desert, the region has repeatedly drawn the ravenous, desperate, and dangerous to its once-fertile valleys. From Malgog's hordes to Kheseph's chariots, these foreigners have fed the blood-thirsty cycle of invasion, conquest, and assimilation. Yet, Ma'arath's most recent -and undeniably most devastating- incursion came not from their neighbors, but from the Lands Below. Unleashed by the divine battles of the Barthrax Crisis, a flood of horrors swept over the land. In their wake, kings cursed their crowns to feast on grass like frothing beasts, fathers butchered their sons to feed strangers, and soldiers burned their own cities to battle the darkness of night. As the aberrations spread beyond Ma'arath's borders, champions of order -both benevolent and tyrannical- sought to stem the unbridled tide of chaos. Leading their armies into the infested heart of the Whispering Wastes, these forces managed to seal the subterranean rifts and defeat the majority of the marauding monsters. For many, however, victory came too late. Moreover, the war was won, but peace did not follow. Instead, Ma'arath's 'liberators' looted the land of its greatest treasures, then abandoned it, leaving its few survivors to rebuild their broken homeland. Largely forsaking the inner lands, these humens eventually resettled beside the sea, and to this day, they try to piece together the torn fragments of their former lives. From half-sunk cities to settlements founded upon layers of rubble, the black-haired natives trade exotic dyes, wool, and salts for precious timber, wine, and steel. Inside idol-adorned temple-palaces, robed kings seek the wisdom of sooth-sayers, astrologers, and sorcerers, while tasseled scribes record and preserve these revelations upon clay tablets. Between dust-blown brick buildings and ragged tents, goats and cattle compete with the clamor of fishmongers, carpenters, and silversmiths. Misers cling to their coins while widows weep for all that is lost. Along the cedar-crowned coasts of the north, giants walk among the lesser races, ruling as generals or serving as slaves. To the south, bitter springs and brackish mires house horned boggards, gluttonous froghemoths, and noxious hezrou. Assassins and alchemists scour the land for rare poisons and deadly reagents. In the desiccated highlands, shedu and lammasu battle against brigands, black cults, and blood-obsessed priests. Driving these dark hearts to greater depravity are the phantoms of Ma'arath's tortured past -for like ghosts haunting an ill-kept grave, the spirits of the Lands Below refuse to rest. Hissing from the dust, these and other menaces continue their relentless war upon the Whispering Wastes of Ma'arath and all that lies beyond in the World of Broken Dreams.
The Enlightened Sultanate of Nar-Qadam
Amid the shifting dunes, the Enlightened Sultanate of Nar-Qadam shimmers like a mirage, tempting and treacherous. Born as a paradise of wish-wrought wonders, Nar-Qadam would be destroyed by the same genies who created it. In time, Bhalshazar would claim the sandblasted wasteland as his own, his fiery hand forever branding the once-verdant region. Yet, from the ashes of the sun god's pyre, the Enlightened Sultanate rose like a phoenix, alight with newborn life and power. Since that time, Nar-Qadam's flame has burned bright -its light stretching to the seas, covering a host of lesser nations and climes. To the west, emirates cling to the trade-rich shores, their sovereignty safeguarded so long as their souks stay open and their ports stay full. In southern mountains of red-steel and molten rivers, thoqqua-riding dwarves bow to azer-born maliks while battling efreet, fire giants, and salamanders. Along the southeast highlands and cypress-covered coasts, beys rule the local tribes, currying the favor -or avoiding the wrath- of the area's giant eagles, copper-winged simurgh, and wind-riding djinn. Connecting all these lands is Nar-Qadam's sandswept heart. Dune seas slither like sidewinders across the scorched soil, swallowing entire cities. Salt flats, scorched forests, and streams of quicksand host lamia, rocs, dragonnes, and wandering jann. Elven nomads nurture secret gardens of desert rose, date palm, and deep-rooted grass, while gnomes create alchemical oddities, gear-clicking constructs, and metallurgic marvels inside glass-domed enclaves. Travelers ride camels, dune-sailing ships, and flying carpets, taking refuge from sandstorms and sun inside crowded caravanserais. Oases stretch across the sands like strands of pearls, their marid-blessed waters controlled by an ever-shifting cartel of halfling shahs. Within communities of roaming tents and settled stone, sheikhs govern with wise tongues and swift justice. Pashas rule the richest provinces, served by seraglios, petty princes, and sinister assassins. Commerce and culture flow into Nar-Qadam's capital, a city famous for its gleaming domes, delicate minarets, and heady spice-fields. Inside, mystics ponder the stars while merchants haggle over trinkets and priceless treasures. Hobgoblin slave-soldiers serve the sultan alongside shackled magi, seductive harems, and sly viziers. Yet, for all his power, the sultan pales compared to the Parchment of Fire. Once Bhalshazar's slave-girl, the legendary sorceress became Nar-Qadam's savior upon slaying the god-tyrant -and to this day, continues to fight for her people's freedom. For the genies have not forgotten their former slaves and sovereignty, but constantly conspire to reclaim their lost thrones. Dragons, blue and brass, battle for dominance amid the dunes and domed cities, hiding behind illusions and unwitting pawns. Beneath the burning sands, the duruban's khalif attempts to seize the Sultanate and Scroll of Fire for himself. To the northeast, the dreaded Sea of Ash spews ghouls, dracolichs, and other horrors, while to the southwest, Arelon's armies continue to march, causing Haziran's martyrs to cry for blood. Against such foes, the Parchment of Fire's wrath is kindled -and with it, the Enlightened Sultanate of Nar-Qadam burns with a vengeance.
The Desolate Shroudlands of Ras-Morthu
Death rules the Desolate Shroudlands of Ras-Morthu. Its stench suffocates the realm's breathless air, saturates its grave-like soil, and stains its pallid streams. Before gods walked the world, beasts and bandits plagued the countryside. Later, when the Drala carved earthly empires into Oriundís flesh, Ras-Morthu became a borderland where bickering godkings battled. Men and monsters followed in the wake of those wars, fleeing immortal tyrants to seek haven among the myriad battlefields and mass graves. In time, these forsaken souls took shelter amid subterranean catacombs shielded by spine-like tors. There, Ras-Morthuís forefathers forged a confederacy of city-states where neither god nor priest reigned. Though this freedom allowed their society to develop unfettered by divine decree, it also caused the locals to increasingly question the afterlife. Seeking answers -or at least comfort- in complex funerary rituals, Ras-Morthuís citizenry raised elaborate tombs and bone-etched libraries even as they became ardent disciples of necromancy. As generations passed, these ceremonies grew in complexity and grandeur, as did their arcana. Born of both pursuits were the ghosts who guided the confederacy, a counsel composed of each city's last monarch and covenanted to advise their heirs until the next generation took their place. While these macabre practices protected the locals for many years, the Shroudlands suffered horribly as the site of some of the Barthrax Crisisí most devastating battles. Vast stretches of land withered to dust, cities were shattered, and entire populations were slaughtered. As gods turned the Shroudlands into their graves, death-curses tore through the realmís ravaged soil, sky, and souls. Corpses rose in mockery of life. Wraiths and spectres wheeled the tattered sky. Against such terrors and more, Ras-Morthuís survivors fled, sealing themselves in underground bastions. While some sought to wait out a storm that would never pass, others turned to their ancient lore, delving ever deeper in their necromantic arts in order to defend themselves. So armed, these practitioners managed to turn back the growing tide of undead. Abandoning the now-barren fields to the diverted, but far-from-defeated, hordes, Ras-Morthuís still-living denizens settled inside the time-worn sepulchers and crumbling crypts of their broken, besieged cities. Maggots, mold, and rotting marrow became their sustenance. Despite these adaptations, death remained Ras-Morthuís absolute, its greatest truth, mystery, and inevitability. Even today, the Shroudlands garner fame, if not notoriety, for their peerless morticians, meticulous bone-scriveners, and puissant necromancers. Grim and stoic, these figures maintain their vigil against Ras-Morthuís unquiet graves, defending the realmís eastern reaches with alchemical creations, monolithic ossuaries, and silver-edged steel. Further west, however, such guardians give way to Scelerian garrisons and the shambling zombies, ghouls, and worse they war against. Within this wasteland, foreboding castles and decadent manses house vampiric cabals, pitiless liches, and soul-drinking devourers. Despite these dangers, the living still seek their half-forgotten necropolises, haunted by the cries of their spectral kings and the deranged secrets they sometimes share. Manipulating all these forces and more, however, is Oriundís first vampire, the former lover and forsaken traitor of Arelonís greatest saint. Unsleeping inside her death-stained homeland, this clandestine despot dreams of expanding the Desolate Shroudlands of Ras-Morthu till all of creation is smothered beneath oblivionís dark veil.
Umbral Wasteland of Sha'al
Casting its dark shadow upon the world, the Umbral Wasteland of Sha'al is cloaked by a suffocating ring of lifeless mountains and crumbling peaks. Smothering the land with oppressive smoke and eternal twilight, volcanoes hiss their poisonous vapors into a sky that continually sheds tears of blinding soot. Beyond lurid lightning storms, only a grey and umber-streaked mockery of sunlight seeps through the smog. Razor-sharp scree, spurs, and ridgelines snake across the spell-scarred land. Fallen ash clings to the barren soil, choking life from all but the most twisted and monstrous of creatures. The central, cauldron-like valley is riddled with cracks and rents that perpetually weep Sha'al's molten blood, causing the basin to constantly shed and reform its tortured visage. Claiming this nightmarish realm as its own, a dark aspect of Zul rules the Umbral Wasteland alongside a cabal of extremely powerful, if perverse, practitioners of shadow magic. Having steeped their souls in the dark essence of the Demiplane of Shadow, Shaíalís rulers Ėotherwise known as the Shaíalyx- are pale, but puissant, mockeries of their once-mortal selves. From their spell-warded fortresses and fell towers among the peaks, the Shadowlords of Sha'al govern their abject minions with malevolence and terror. Worn-down sapiens, dwarves, and goblin-blooded subjects huddle inside subterranean cities where air, light, and hope are but hollow phantoms. From such miserable settlements, luckless souls toil amid sprawling spider-beds: immense areas where shadow-bred arachnids are raised as mounts as well as sources of silk, venom, and sustenance. Deeper into the lightless depths, other ill-fated mortals delve in search of precious metals, minerals, and magical foci. Acting as cruel taskmasters and pitiless wardens, drow, giants, fiends, gloom dragons, and other umbral abominations slavishly serve the whims of the Sha'alyx. When not consumed by their internecine conflicts, the Shadowlords and their immortal master seek to manipulate the world from the very shadows they summon -a mission that the Shinning Legions and other champions of righteousness seek to foil at every turn. Fortunately for Oriund, the forces of light generally succeed. Unfortunately, they don't always. Sometimes, the Umbral Wasteland of Sha'al wins -or, as the Sha'alyx whisper in their dark tongue, "Every sun must set, every dawn must die with dusk."
Shaal and Ma'arath seem the most interesting to me, but all the regions fluff looks great, and I do like Kurzakhan and Scelerus, the latter if only the fact it is Rome+the nine hells, both of which I use in my games as insperation.
Re: Dicefreaks Presents: Oriund, World of Broken Dreams.
I don't want to disrupt your thread, but I'd really appreciate some help with something.
For some reason I'm unable to post on DF almost two years, yet my handle still exists and I can log in. I've emailed Kain and got no response. This has been really vexing, and I haven't known who to ask or where to ask about it. Me disrupting this thread is pretty much a Hail Mary to find out what's up.
Re: Dicefreaks Presents: Oriund, World of Broken Dreams.
No need to apologize at all; it's great to hear from you again. I will send Serge and Kain PMs asap, as I certainly would be thrilled to have you back at DF. Let me know if they get back to you (or if they don't) in a day or so.
Re: Dicefreaks Presents: Oriund, World of Broken Dreams.
I PMed you back; something's still buggy.
I'm torn between Ma'arath and Nar-Qadam. The latter seems like a better launch point for adventures--you have both the "safe" zone of the city and the progressively wilder hinterlands, but I'm ultimately a sucker for deep history: so, Ma'Arath it is.
Re: Dicefreaks Presents: Oriund, World of Broken Dreams.
Wow, fantastic stuff. I love all the nations, as I am an avid world-builder who loves deep fluff. (Lol, deep fluff.)
Nar-Qadam definitely would have been my choice as well.
Just wondering about the art though. Is it original? Either way, would it be bad form if I used the images in a PbP campaign I'm running soon as visual aids? The aesthetics are similar to what I'll be trying to achieve in the game... I would of course give full credit where it is due!!!
Either way, thanks a lot for the inspiring work! :)