Geography and Culture
Table of Contents
- Kingdom of Umiyid
- Fire Isles
- The Pearls
- The League of Venoz
- Ancient Lyriamos
- Distant Quenzhong
- Prehistoric Civilization
In the setting, the world has attained roughly 16th century technology. Merchantilism is the dominant economic paradigm. Everyday life has been transformed by the printing press, increased skill in mechanization and metallurgy, and firearms, as well as by increasing global trade and exploration. Still, the vast majority are poor, defenseless, and oppressed.
The Kingdom of Umiyid (Campaign Home Base)
A Turkish/Arabian/North African-inspired desert empire ruled by Muawiya, the Eternal Emperor, who is reputed to have lived more than 1000 years. The capital, also called Umiyid, and is a massive metropolis of more than 1.5 million people. Most of the empire is drifting sand, isolated oasises, or gravel/salt flats. Umiyid is bordered to the east by tall mountains, and to the south by a high, rocky plateau. A few vibrant towns may be found along the main river, the Khabur, which flows west from the mountains to Umiyid (City).
Umiyid City was established where a large river, the Khabur, becomes a large delta and meets the sea. Umiyid City is divided between the fortified High City and the urban sprawl and slums of the Low City. Access to the High City is highly regulated and classist. Inside, the High City is adorned with Islamic architecture, art, gardens, markets, and expansive estates. In the Low City, villas and upscale commercial/political districts give way to sprawling squalor. Slums reach for days past massive ports established throughout the river delta.
In the south, Umiyid's second city, Al Khour, sits in a fertile, irrigated floodplain. In the west is a small city, Khasib, founded near a large oasis. The remaining towns and hamlets are small, distant, isolated, and desperately poor.
In Umiyid, the color of one's clothing denotes social station: gold, then green, red, blue, and tan. Tunics and sashes are traditional garb, and are worn with jewelry (by both men and women) and curved blades. The people of Umiyid are fiercely traditional, and many are strongly attached to their kinship or tribal networks. Honor is an important social concept in Umiyid, though the poor observe it more often in the breech than the act.
The Fire Isles
These rocky, semi-tropical islands, due west of Umiyid, just became accessible due to an unknown event that resulted in major changes in ocean wind patterns. (Previously, a storm wall of fire, lightning, and wind blew vessels away, from which the islands have taken their name.) The islands are scattered with untouched Torgisch ruins and magitech. The natives are highly alien and generally xenophobic towards outsiders.
This large island is three days sail due west from Umiyid. Burkan al-Khafion is the site of an immense Cyclopean Fortress (the campaign's
megadungeon). A shared Joint Expeditionary Camp has been established on the island by the three great powers.
A massive, lush, tropical archipelago stretching all along the north of the continent, and ranging hundreds of miles north from there. The geography is a mixture of Caribbean and South Pacific. The archipelago has began to be colonized by the three major powers (Umiyid, Venoz, and Lyriamos). It is also home to various local, independent power centers, including independent states, pirates, natives, etc.
An old Arzantim fort overlooking a deep bay, now
ruled by a pirate warlord, Oddo Zabatino. Around the bay is a no-man's-land shantytown, home to smugglers, privateers, criminals, anarchists, and exiles. Duskhall hosts a weekly market where most any good can be purchased (except slaves; slavery is outlawed on the island).
An island group continually inhabited for centuries. The Ornats are home to rare cybalt mines, which produce rare mystical elements useful in various magical rituals and processes. The island's nominally independent governemtn is currently dominated by the Pearl Sea Company.
A large island with a caldera lake in the center. Volcanic vents all over the island emit hallucinogenic gases. In addition to the weak colonial government, competing claims to areas of the island are maintained by several mystery cults, minor religions, and diabolists. On an island in the center of the lake is an extensive Cyclopean Facility of unknown purpose, with mostly uncharted lower levels that reach deep in the bowels of the island.
The League of Venoz, beyond the eastern mountains
Venoz is a Venetian-style city state that reigns as the hegemonic head of the nominally consensus-based
League of Venoz. The Venidzi are highly merchantilist, and the League fields the world's greatest navy.
Traditionally, the Venidzi cover their bodies in tattoos that record and display their exploits and experiences. Venidzi men wear baggy trousers and shirts, women wear either dresses or the same clothing as men, and the third gender may wear either, but tends to prefer tunics and wraps.
The major cities of the League of Venoz include:
- Venoz: Center of trade and politics. Ruled by the Trade Council, composed of heads of the major guilds and companies (e.g. the Pearl Seas Company, The Shipbuilders' Guild, The Glassblowers' Union, etc.).
- Pizo: A theocracy, ruled by the Church. A peaceful breadbasket city in a fertile floodplain.
- Arzantim: A major trade city. Ruled by an elected democratic counsel. Home to the Pearl Sea Company, though the headquarters of the company is now in Venoz. A center of bookmaking, ceramics, and the arts. Known for its parks, museums, monuments, opera house, fountains and plazas, wide boulevards, and other public and civic spaces.
- Genola: An industrial city, home to great wealth, but also to many factories, much pollution, and frequent labor unrest. Effectively ruled by the Vehnoni crime family, which has an outpost in Umiyid.
Ancient Lyriamos, along the rocky southern shore
The Elyriki compose a Byzantine-style empire in its twilight, ancient and decadent. The empire is home to intricate Byzantine architecture. The geography is rocky and mountainous, with interspersed mediterranean valleys, a craggy coast, and large coastal islands.
Elyriki of both sexes traditionally dye their skin in pastel shades of blue, mauve, green, or ochre, and they wear ornate clothing and accessories, including jewelry, heavy makeup, and ornate headgear. They are highly observant of ancient religious rites.
The major cities of Lyriamos include:
- Epheso: The capital of Lyriamos. A huge metropolis straddling a spit of land between the ocean and an inland sea. Governed by the Emperor of the Sun, currently Justulion XII, and his Senate of 500 aristocrats.
- Pergamot: A major city and provincial capital, governed by a Praetor. Known for its monumental Lighthouse and the Temple of Biblios, a sprawling complex of libraries that houses the largest collection of ancient scrolls and manuscripts in the ancient world.
- Thobon: A large metropolis built on pilings and terraces along and into a huge sea cliff. A provincial capital, governed by a Praetor. The sear of the Imperial Elyriki Navy.
- Crastor: A major city and provincial capital, governed by a Praetor. Built on a high, rocky plateau. Separated into two parts: the Overcity, composed of an expansive cluster of tall towers built on top of the plateau, and the Undercity, composed of a warren of complexes, markets, and dwellings built into the walls of the deep, narrow ravines that slice through the plateau. The various towers in the Overcity and the snaking complexes along the ravines in the Undercity are connected by flying bridges at different elevations. One of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the known world.
Quenzhong, in the distant southwest of the continent
Very, very far beyond the high mountain plateaus and snowy steppes lies is the extensive realm of Quenzhong, a central Asian-inspired culture (e.g. Khazak, Mongolian, Chinese). Quenzhong is an empire home to strict social castes and governed by a dynastic bureaucratic state. The Quenzhongese are skilled horsemen and savvy merchants. The empire is a major producer of drugs and silk, and--despite its distance--does engage in sporadic direct trade via old trade routes through Lyriamos, though most trade is substantially indirect, via a water route plied by adventuresome Quenzhongese and Venidzi captains.
In the distant past, the continent was formerly settled by the Torgisch World-Empire (a race of giant half-elemental troll-men, 8-10 ft tall, highly biologically attuned to the seasons). Now all that remains of the ancient empire are ruins and stories, warped by time. Most Torgisch sites on the continent were long ago looted or destroyed. Due to the gigantic scale of their remaining architecture and artifacts, the Torgisch structures are often called
Cyclopean by common folk. Little else is known definitively about the ancient people; their writing remains untranslated (even with magical assistance), and their technology and culture are unfathomable.
Dinar are large gold coins. They are rare, and are used only in large-scale or luxury transactions. Dirhams are smaller silver coins, commonly used in commerce. Laborers might earn a dirham every few days; skilled workers, one to several dirhams per day. Fals are small bronze coins, primarily used by the lower class for mundane transactions, especially when credit or payment in kind is not possible.
1 Dinar (Byz/Lat: denarius) = 25 Dirhams (Byz: drachma, Lat. sestertius) = 100 Fals (Byz: follis, Lat. as)
Rule of thumb: 1 Cash die represents roughly 5 dinars (~3 months' laborer's pay; ~1 month artisan's pay)