Odyssey of the Nautilus
“Our home plane had suns and moons and plenty of fertile land. But we had to leave it behind for fools sacrificed our home the brimstone depths. Literally a layer of hell it became. Now it has been six hundred years by the old calendar and I fear that my race is about to do something stupid again and there are no portals this time…”- Historian Violet Firstborn of the Prime Museum.
Nature of the plane
This campaign takes place in a giant stationary air-bubble in the elemental plane of water. Within it there are several large floating land masses that stay more or less stationary in respect to one another and it is these landmasses that the majority of the human population lives on.
Strictly speaking there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ here, both sides of the landmasses are perfectly habitable since the centre of gravity is towards their center. However, humanity prefers to live on the ‘top’ side as this is the environment in which they evolved. This means that the ‘bottom’ has remained relatively wild, which is a good thing considering the limited resources and how easy it would be to destroy ecosystem services on the limited solid space available.
Though it is possible to travel between some landmasses by water (they touch the walls of the bubble), most of them are completely isolated from one and another and the only way to approach them is by air. As such for the first 300 years the human populations that fell on four landmasses were isolated. In turn this resulted their society evolving and differentiating in quite dramatic ways (more on this under the section nations).
However, some of the beasts that float or fly between the landmasses where tamed. And this, along with the development of airships by two nations, has ensured that now all large landmasses are visited and exploited to some degree.
Lastly a note on the weather and (lack off) celestial objects: There is no sun here, though there certainly is a daily rhythym governed by light. For 12 hours in shines ‘top’ side, with the light source gradually dropping until it shines for another 12 hours ‘bottom’ side. As such there is no proper night, the ‘night’ instead being a very long sunset like illumination.
Weather wise each large landmass generates its own climate. However, there’s a peculiar phenomenon during which it rains blood. This is due to some huge creature being brutally torn to pieces in the elemental plane of water nearby. Naturally this phenomenon is not enjoyed by most of the residents. In fact it’s often cue for mass slaughter as it does enhance the more negative aspects of humanity.
Geography, Nations with some notes on Religion
Humans arrived to this plane of existence roughly 600 years ago. Thanks to 300 years of isolation roughly four ‘ethnic’ identities and nations were born:
Five islands (Prime in the middle, Crown to the north, One-Tree to the east, Three Chains to the south and Memory to the west) that are nearly in the exact centre of the bubble is where many a lord, religious leader and scholar landed. They hadn’t much in the way of technology. They did, however, find that the five islands, connected to each other by huge rusting chains, where already well developed, but deserted.
The ruins, now bustling cities, cover almost the entirety of the islands and within them libraries and artefacts were found. Years were spent on translating them, but it was worth it. From them knowledge gained airships where built allowing communication to be established across regions, as well as trade and of course wars. The magical arts also found a lot of knowledge and flourished- now 11 magical academies exist scattered across the five islands, the most famous being the Prime Academy and Museum.
However, what the study unearthed is that the previous inhabitants of these ruins were most certainly human or at least human- like and that they too were not originally natives to this plane either. Apparently they arrived approximately 800 years (about 1,400 years since the current date) before the latest incursion and fought bloody wars against three tribes of native sapient beings. These resembled tritons (referred to as Althati, punctuated on the –ti: Althati
), harpies (the Sarea, punctuated on the –Sa: Sa
rea) and weird fey like beings with large luminous wings (the Nimfi, punctuanted on the –Ni: Ni
mfi). They were victorious against these natives and prospered for 600 years until they underwent a rapid and violent decline (many of the ruins where completely shattered) to unknown forces. (one of the more popular theories is that the bubble temporarily collapsed.)
Whatever the reason behind the extinction only historians care for it. Most common folk are too busy trying to survive: even though the undersides of the islands have plenty of food it is the privileged nobility and those that they like that control it.
Government wise there are about 16 powerful families vying for power (cloak and dagger style most of the time) with most of it being held by the Prime. The Prime are an ancient family whose genealogical tree heads back two thousand years into the Kings and the Queens of the lost material plane homeland. (They often refer to themselves with royal titles; the current ‘king’ is Albert Prime and his Queen Eleonora Prime. By the populace they are considered to be among the most benevolent of the 16, however, it seems that most of the other families are actively trying to dispose them. This includes an alliance between the Glory Touched (famous for their prowess in light magic), the Sky Runners (one of the richest families thanks to owning plenty of trading air ships) and the Humanists (leaders of a religious group that is gaining power fast).
Numerous faiths are present in Emnor, however, with the most influential being the following: The Light of the First is the dominant religion that came with first settlers. It encourages people to follow the good road to enlightenment and fulfilment (aka your typical goody two shoes religion). There is no central deity in this religion, however, seven angels representing the seven virtues are central to its dogma. Humanists on the other hand believe that humans are deities in their own rights and that they were kicked out of the original homeland because they became weak and thus susceptible to the demonic hordes because of Angel worship. Due to the strife facing the populace the religion has proved remarkably successful and is a major threat to the delicate balance of the five islands. Lastly The Eye of Truth is also a religion that came with the first settlers. Back on the material plane it preached that only through vigorous study of facts could humanity surpass its mortal coil. Prominently featured are the various suns and moons of the material plane. However, because these are no longer present only scholars and truth seekers follow this dying faith. The religion is also known to harbor many an assassin and the services of these have not escaped the attention of the nobility.
Brief descriptions of the islands and their populations
: This island is little more than huge chunks of different coloured stone fused together. Depending on the colour of the stone they are built upon the different quarters get their name: Greenstone, Greystone, Bluestone and so forth. All the major houses and four have manors here and three the major magical academies are to be found here. Though there are some small vegetable gardens, most of the food has to be imported from elsewhere. Population: 1,200
: is larger and has a few grasslands that are utilized as fields and grazing areas for livestock. However, this island is on the forefront of the war between The Azure Empire and Emnor and four large forts have been built in the centre and the three peninsulas. Most of Emnor’s mundane soldiers are trained here. Population: 2,900
: Is so named after the huge tree (the only tree) that covers the island. When humans first colonised it was very much alive and healthy, however, ‘heavy’ mining for timber has changed that and now the trees sap (also exploited), hardly flows. Population: 1,800
: Is so named for the three chains that connect it to One-Tree, Prime and Memory Islands. The island frequently suffers from violent earthquakes which probably explains why it was tethered in such a way. By size it is the largest of the five islands, has the most fertile land and good balance of resources. This means that it is also has the largest population: round 7,500 people live here.
: Is primarily made of bronze, copper and iron deposits with traces of silver, gold and other precious metals being present as well. The original inhabitats used this area both as a mine site and…as a graveyard (they would fill the mines with corpses once they had been exhausted) hence the name. It is infamous for being haunted, but the resources are valuable and hence there are constant mining operations in place. Population: 800.
During the great escape the people who landed on the flat island of Telas (the largest land mass to the south of the Centre Islands) also by fluke accident got the most livestock. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) few technology educated refugees and artefacts landed on the land mass. This forced the people to return to a more ‘primitive’ hunter gatherer state of life style living herding cattle (and occasionally the large native reptilian fauna if they can tame it) and riding horses (or velociraptors if they can escape with an egg and have enough meat to feed these horrid beasts).
In addition to dodging the more dangerous megafauna native to the island, the Telasee also have to content with the Ri’kol cannibals… not everyone remained civil after the escape from the demonic invasion.
Telasee is gently hilly to largely flat sea of tall grass with the occasional grove, dessert or a cave complex. Life flourishes unlike most areas which humans have colonised and this results in the Telasee leading hard but hunger free lives. Telas is not allied with any other nation and given the few timber and ore deposits no one has really bothered the Telasee though the Azure Empire has recently started setting up strongholds in the south… There are also rumours that they are capturing plenty of large fauna for some reason.
The Telasee are humble and kind folk. They are not harsh, but do expect that everyone pulls their weight around, there’s little room for mistakes where they are living. Via oral tradition they remember the events that forced them here and how humanity should never vie for a place amongst the gods. They venerate their ancestors and respect the raw power of nature, but believe in no deities, after all no god came to save them six hundred years ago.
There is no central government, rather each tribe- named after a plant or beast- has its own circle of elders which decide on what is best for the tribes. In times of great peril all the tribes may come together to face of the threat, however, there hasn’t been a serious cause in over two hundred year when they had to face a huge horde of Ri’kol (they won and the cannibals have thankfully never recovered in numbers). The three largest tribes are the Hortari (Greek word for grass, numbering between 3,000-4,000 people, they are more or less vegetarian), the Locusts (2000-2500, they have a bad habit of doing what actual locusts do) and the Thousand Teeth (1300-1800, they take pride in their hunts and also customarily hunt and exterminate Ri’kol). All the other tribes put together number between 2000 and 3000 souls.
These three islands (Head, Spine and Arm) are not islands at all. Rather they are the remains of some truly massive animal (many believe a dragon) that died long ago with each of the islands being connected to the rest loosely by pieces of bone or petrified flesh (adamantium from the teeth of the Head is prized among weapon smiths). The people that landed here found a tropical wonderland fed by the slowly decomposing corpse. Today about half of it is gone, however, burnt in the furnaces of the many machines that the Valni constructed.
Unfortunately, however, they never were as technologically advanced as the Emnor and the Emnor seeing the rich resources simply decided to take over what they saw. A bloody war lasting fifty years ensured until eventually the Valni vasalaged themselves to the Emnor. This happened a few more than 100 years ago and though many old and new lord families rose or moved to Valni Islands from Emnor, the hatred still runs deep as do the cultural differences.
Unlike their rulers the Valni never had an overall government system, with each settlement having a government that could very loosely be described as city state. Today, since the introduction of airships, many have become nomads travelling around the islands much like gypsies do in the real world. More than a few have become pirates skirmishing constantly with the Emnor empire and aiding the resistance. [Another point of contrast and difference is that most Valni are of a dark complexion, wether the other nations generally have fairer skinned people.]
The religion followed by the Valni certainly stems from the Light of the First. However, this version of the faith only harbours five spirits these being those of Luck, Death/Life, Shadow/Light, Karma and Fate. Naturally this has caused them to be branded as heretics by the Light of the First and plenty of bloody crusades have occurred over the years. Put together the Valni host roughly 12,000 people, 20% of which are of Emnor or have Emnor blood in them.
The Azures Empire:
“They came in the night, burning blue eyes, blue hair and burnt everything to the ground with those accursed blue fires of theirs!”- Survivor of an Azurite attack.
The distinguishing characteristic of an Azurite are blue hair and eyes. Indeed if the colour of these two factors varies than ‘pure’ Azurite consider such a person to be of ‘impure decent’. How nearly everyone in their armies came to have these characters is unknown as are their origins (though they are certainly descended from the survivors that escaped the invasion of the material plane). They go to such an extent to hide their origin that only nobles are allowed to be educated beyond basic maths and grammar. Even if nobles are caught they zealously take this knowledge to their grave.
Central to the Azure Empire is the Blue Sphere. A large, round, stone monolith of dark blue colouration that is often surrounded by violent storms. Only Azurine airships can traverse these storms. Actually they can traverse storms and their mages (who are as feared as Emnor mages) appear to be able to conjure these at will.
Originally the Azure Empire consisted of only the Blue Sphere and some small isles surrounding it and the existence of Azurines was only discovered merely sixty years ago. However, since than they have launched an all-out invasion against every major civilized landmass save Telasee. In the surprise attack (and it was a huge surprise attack) they took over many larger islands which they rapidly colonised, slaughtering any of the original inhabitants without mercy (many soldiers commit suicide upon capture by the Azurine army, such is the fear they inspire).
How such a large population (it is estimated to be in excess of 20,000) manage to remain hidden baffles explorers and sages. It was even more baffling how they managed to support such a large population- turns out they have the largest fishing fleet of all the nations and meticulously hunt large animals for food.
The actual social structure of the empire remains so far unknown and their military is based on very, very simple and strict code: “You follow your superiors orders unquestionably”. However, even with all the brain washing, propaganda and purposeful ignorance defectors still occur and if treated kindly quickly adapt to other societies proving that they are very much human. From such defectors it has been discovered that the main power holders in Azurine society are priest whom venerate bright azure fires, though to the significance of these fires or the philosophical meanings of their religion are never explained to grunts, only that they must hate everyone who doesn’t look like them and those who don’t worship the flame, including kin.
Other areas and species
The other species that I have named so far and occur in the campaign world are as follows: Angel, Demon, Althati, Sarea and Nimfi. The later three won’t be encountered for a while, if at all. If you want to play as an Angel and Demon, please ask me PM me.
There are also countless of small islands and island chains scattered across the place. Some of these now harbour pirates, but most are uninhabited. There may also be other areas and nations yet to be discovered. If you wish to create an area again PM me.