PrinceCon 22 : AfterCon
Sarnak has take over as God of the Dead, but must complete the Spell of Mastery over Life and Death before dominating the world.
The Known World
Allouen: Allouen is one fo the few Free Cities left since the collapse of the Londrian Empire. Once part of Mauricia, it achieved a form of independence at the urgings of Amarna and Londrians, as did several other important coastal trading cities. Since the collapse of the Londrian Empire, and the renewed isolationism in Amarna, most Free Cities were recaptured; Allouen has survived because of its College of Magic, its numerous shrines to the gods, its impregnable walls, and its use as a tax haven for Maurician merchants.
Amarna: The land of Amarna is a vast desert, yet an old and prosperous civilization resides along the banks of the Anwar. They are a xenophobic people, ruled by an all-powerful Amarch, whose lineage traces back 20,000 years to the founder Meschiac. The Amarnans celebrate death by the construction, via dwarven and hobbit slave labor, of half-conical barrows for their Amarchs; a procession of barrows line the river north of Asyut. The current Amarch Sarkhetep has recently moved the capital from Sethos to Athok.
Battia: Famed eastern raiders, most Battir are quite domesticated on their own island. Unfortunately, a magical dispute six hundred years ago rendered much of the island unfit for growing crops, and rather than go into exile, the Battir decided to use their superior naval power and love of fighting to support their population by stealing from other nations. Their corsairs generally set sail from Batlan, and are responsible for the sacking of Brandarn, the burning of Ulin (in Mauricia) and the great famine of Nezeben, which killed half of the city’s population eighty years ago.
Brandarn: The once-proud kingdom of Brandarn has fallen upon hard times. Sacked repeatedly by Battir raiders, Brandarn finally fell prey to Mauricia about a hundred years ago. However, the byzantine nature of Maurician politics forced it to withdraw, at which point the ruins of Brandarn were taken over by demi-humans, who have turned it into a very pleasant place over the last thirty years.
Callist Mountains: The native home of dwarves and gnomes, the Callist Mountains have fallen on hard times. Once deriving their power from being the bridge between the Londrians and Amarna, it is now suffering from constant invasions from Gemlund and Tarjos. When rumors of a pure- human crusade from Sayeva reached the Callists, the dwarves and gnomes sealed themselves off for good, retreating to the fabled Halls of Gold, deep within the Zekkin Delves.
Daeria: A nation made up of a small chain of islands, the origins of Daeria are unknown by its inhabitants. The island nation has managed to remain free of outside authority by its isolation and the power of trade and a deadly navy. The islands mainly trade in exotic foodstuffs and the sculptures carved of the strange volcanic rock of the region, although in recent years, Daeria has become more and more isolationist.
Damphousse: The kingdom of Damphousse was built from scratch by a warrior-king of ancient times, who taught the natives how to fight on ice in midwinter. Even now, the Damphoussians revere ice-sports above all others, and their berserkers strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.
Dosch: The land of Dosch is ruled by a group of dukes, collectively known as the Council of Seven. They are forever at each other’s throats over borders, taxes, trade, foreign relations, and anything else that comes to mind. The people of the land have become used to this, and more or less ignore the squabbles of the Dukes. Currently, the coastal provinces are worried over a recent rise in raiding, while the inland areas are worried about rising taxes to defend against such incidents.
Mauricia: The great merchant princes of Mauricia have long dominated Maurician politics, so much so that the throne of Mauricia is usually purchased rather than inherited. Mauricia is famed for its huge grain harvests, its wines, and its mercenaries, as well as for not having any major cities — only palatial mansions that dot the landscape.
Mulspakh: The islands of Mulspakh are fertile and isolated, which has led to the creation of a unique civilization: a series of small democracies. Mulspakh is known for its pearls, its spices and exotic fruits, and the utter futility of trying to control it. The Londrians actually managed to hold Mulspakh for several years, but a series of revolts culminating in the butchering of every Londrian on Mulspakh sapped them of their will to continue.
Nezeben: The one part of Brandarn that didn’t succumb to either the Battir or the Mauricians, Nezeben immediately annexed all adjacent territories in the wake of Mauricia’s withdrawal. A republic dominated by various naval guilds, Nezeben has just become aware of its ability to flourish in the wake of Brandarn’s destruction, and looks as if it will attempt to acquire some more territory — maybe even by attacking Battia.
The Northlands: The most sparsely populated region on the map, the northlands are home to a number of barbarous tribes. Generally nomadic cattle herders, the Northlanders revel in battle and occasionally indulge in raids on Teng Egger.
Pretanian Range: This mountain range is relatively uninhabited by dwarves or gnomes, being instead host to the usual groups of mountainous nasties. Nevertheless, the Mines of Aldrim continue to produce some of the best iron in the world, and the dwarves of Aldrim are especially proud of the great Skilben tunnels that criss-cross the range.
Sayeva, Tarjos, Gemlund, Ardak: These four nations have existed in various forms for the last few thousand years, but their boundaries shift constantly. Originally settled by Amarnan exiles and “voyagers from across the sea”, these four countries were originally a collection of city-states and petty fiefdoms. Unified for the first time about 1500 years ago under the banner of Konhelt the Magnificent, they formed the nucleus of the great Londrian Empire which dominated western trade for five centuries. A series of rebellions under Jarmain the Weak wracked the empire, which finally broke apart under repeated raids by Mulspakh pirates and Amarnan skirmishers.
The empire split into about twenty pieces, which quickly reunited in an effort to resist invasion. The current configuration of Sayeva, Tarjos, Gemlund and Ardak has lasted for about 200 years, since Tarjos and Gemlund split the weakened country of Ergilheit along the Coprey river. The four countries are still nominally allies, but there has been much recent hostility between them.
Geographically, the west coast is fairly flat, with a range of hills in the middle, stretching from the middle of Tarjos through to Ardak. The major inhabitants are human, but they are quite cosmopolitan, with the exception of Sayeva, which has been undergoing a xenocidal revolution. The four countries are roughly autonomous, but there has been a move away from the monarchy of the last few centuries and a return towards the feudal city states of the past.
Tebit: Tebit is a landlocked kingdom covered by the Obgi Desert in the west and steppe in the east, split by the Kabul river. It is inhabited by numerous tribes that herd cattle and occasionally raid each other. The only fixed habitation is the tent city of Tan-Shau, on the banks of the Kabul, which is considered neutral ground by all the tribes. The inhabitants are mainly human and are suspicious of magic users other than their priests.
Teng Egger: The forest of Teng Egger is the largest in the world, and is home to the largest elvish nation in the world. The elves have much more oppressive of late, however, which has resulted in an outflux of elves, particularly into the Northlands and, for some reason, Tarjos.
Thule: A small coastal nation, Thule was founded about 6000 years ago by human settlers who arrived by sea, but whose nation of origin is unknown. The settlers were attracted by the fertile coastal plain and the rich fishing grounds, that continue to support the Thulites to this day. The Thulites are a great sea-faring nation and over time have built a peaceful, cosmopolitan society, ruled over by their King in the capital Alkar. The current monarch is King Hanno, who maintains a free and peaceful country.
The world consists of two spheres: the sphere of life and the sphere of death. All mortals begin their journey in the sphere of life, but when their appointed time comes, they progress to the sphere of death. This is the balance of the universe, as life turns into death and new life arises. Between these two spheres exists the Barrier, which ensures that no mortal being upsets the balance by undergoing this journey in reverse. The Barrier separates and limits each sphere. Although magic can evade it temporarily, in the form of resurrection or undeath, no mortal being can truly become immortal and pierce the Barrier forever.
The guardian of this process is Tsolang, God of the Dead, and wearer of the Mantle of Death. He ensures that souls are in their proper places, and that the Barrier remains in place. He has the power to instantly move any being between the two spheres, and has absolute dominion over the sphere of the dead. One who is outside the cycle of life and death cannot truly maintain it, though: Tsolang is not immortal. Every ten thousand years, the God of the Dead dies. The waning God chooses the worthiest living mortal to assume the Mantle of Death and perform the duties of the office for the next ten thousand years.
This is how the balance is kept.
What Has Gone Before
It was a peaceful afternoon. Your blistering headache had more or less subsided, and Victor was keeping his homebrew to himself for a while. The birds were chirping… The birds… It’s been a long time since you’ve heard birds.
You were walking across the Green, when the world went crazy. First, the shimmering barrier appeared. The wind swirled up, whipping your hair across your face. The unearthly howling began as the barrier grew and darkened. You tensed as you retreated, scanning the Green for assistance, but no one else was in view. When your back reached the Festival Pole, you prepared to face whatever might be coming.
Water exploded out of the well, its icy touch chilling your skin. You spun about, in time to see the lithe form land in front of you. You only had time for a glimpse as the dark, wiry creature leapt again. It grunted as you shouldered it aside, but before you could follow up on your advantage, the hands gripped you. You twisted around, but the hold only tightened. As the barrier closed in around you, you began to scream…
You eyes opened to reveal an oppressive landscape. The hills were stripped of all life, the sky was dark. The time that passed has taught you that this is typical of the underworld. Apparently there are different areas, but the Guardians ahve their own special brand of torture for anyone who might attempt to pass. You’ve learned that you weren’t the only one stripped from your home, however. The others you meet tell a similar story.
None of you were nearing the end of your time in the sphere of life. And Brother Steward’s prayers still seem to work (except against the Guardians, of course). The spirit of adventuring and heroism, though, does not fade easily into death, especially a death so unnatural and premature. Evading the Guardians as best you can, you have gathered together all those who would come. The time to act is at hand.