City of Crypts
Campaign Player's Guide
Players Guide to Cythera Pathfinder rules
This handout contains common information that all characters born on Cythera would actually know. Cythera is the central continent, noted for being dominated primarily by human cultures. Mhara is the small, eastern continent that is the home to most of the non-human races and is the site of the most ancient civilizations of Cythera. Kheros is the large, mostly unexplored southern continent.
*Available books are: Pathfinder Core Rules
*No Gnomes exist on Cythera.
*Flaws from D20 Swashbuckler: Seven Seas are used. Two flaws may be taken per character. A flaw may be activated by the DM or any other player, even if that player’s character is not in the scene, as long as the requirements for the flaw’s activation are met.
*While the Heal skill represents general first aid, the Knowledge: Medical skill represents a formal degree of training. It can be used to heal 1D3 hit points, 1D6 on a critical success. A critical failure means the target takes one hit point in damage.
*Critical failures and successes are used on all skill checks. A one always means a failure, usually with disastrous results, at the DM’s discretion. A twenty means a success, with the best results for a trained user, the minimal results for an untrained user.
*Half elves receive the +4 skill points at first level, +1 skill point per level bonus that humans do.
*Technology is of a medieval level, ranging from primitive Dark Age kingdoms to the High Middle Ages level of the West. As a result, rapiers and other weapons/skills that are properly of the Renaissance are unavailable. Also, blacksmiths and refined metals are rare. All metal armor costs double base cost, while metal weapons cost 150% of base. This excludes simple weapons, and weapons made of copper or bronze.
*Tumbling is modified as follows. You cannot tumble past a target that is four or more levels higher than you. This will provoke an attack of opportunity no matter what your Tumble skill is.
*Printing presses are unknown. All books are hand scribed or block typed. All prices of regular books are doubled; all prices of spell books are tripled.
*Alchemy is a difficult, highly specialized skill. As all glass and metal equipment are hand made, all prices of alchemical items and equipment are doubled, including specialty items. Certain specialty items are unavailable at this technological level. Ask the DM before buying.
*Magic is a more primal force and less responsive to control than in a standard campaign. It is also more rare than in a standard setting.
To reflect this, all experience and gold costs for creating magical items are doubled.
No NPC item maker will create over a +2 enchantment or enhancement for a player.
No amount of gold you offer will make up for the experience loss.
*To reflect the fact that bringing the dead back to life is frowned on by the gods, use of Raise Dead costs the caster 1,000 experience on top of all other penalties. Resurrection costs the caster 2,500 experience, while True Resurrection costs 5,000 experience.
Class Changes and Modifications
As with the rapier, the following classes are banned, as they do not reflect the technology level of the campaign: Duelist. This list may expand as other Prestige Classes are added. Sorcerers now gain access to new spell levels at the same rate as wizards.
Dwarves, when they die, return to the earth that they were created from, a stricture placed on them by their religion. As a result, they are not affected by any raise or resurrection spells. Only use of a Miracle or Wish can bring them back, at a cost of 5,000 experience to the caster and recipient, above and beyond any other inherent costs. Dwarven atheists do not come back at all. Sorry, but the gods are bastards, especially to those who don’t believe in them.
As a corollary, Elves reincarnate. The same strictures that apply to dwarves apply to them but for different mechanical reasons, since their soul leaves their body to be reborn. When an elf is raised from the dead, an elf baby dies somewhere.
Races on Cythera are divided into several general categories. Elder Races refer to the great demi-human civilizations that preceded humanity. These include elves, dwarves, malaval, satharian, and orcs. Young Races refer to those races that appeared after the Elder Races, namely humans, Saurians, and Halflings. New Races refer to races that have appeared in the last few thousand years, notably the Rhakhastrans. Those with high ranks in Religion or Ancient History are aware of another category, the Forgotten Races. These are the long banished nightmare races, Illithid, Neogi, Aboleth, and Avolakia.
There are four types of elves on Cythera.
The High Elves are the oldest elven culture. They resemble normal elves, except for a pale blue skin, and glowing white eyes. They tend to be cold, haughty, and aloof; powerful magical beings that brood in the ruins of their ancient empires on Mhara They receive +2 Int, +2 Cha, -2 Con.
Sea Elves are not aquatic; rather they occupy several island trading empires and wield sizable power through trade, and the might of their navies and Sea Knights. They have fair skin and deep blue eyes. They use standard Elf stats. Wood Elves are the rustic elves of Cythera, descendents of High Elves that fled the Chaos Wars. They have pale green skin and golden eyes. They receive +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Str.
The Dark Elves are the descendents of the losers of the Elven religious wars who have fled underground and built up a sizable subterranean empire. They have deep purple-black skin and red eyes. They use standard Drow stats.
Blood Elves are evil elves who made pacts with the demons of the Abyss millennia ago. Driven out by the High Elves, they fled to the great jungles of Chol to the south of Mhara, where they built might, demonic influenced empires resting on human and orc slavery. These empires destroyed each other just before the destruction of Midia, and now only a fragment of the Blood Elves remain, brooding in the remnants of their great empires, an evil counterpoint to the High Elves. Blood Elves receive +2 Wis, +2 Cha, and -2 Con. They have pale white skin and glowing red eyes.
Elves tend to be thought of by other races as stuck up, gratingly superior and generally self-satisfied pricks living on past glories, with which they will regale you ad nasueum.
Dwarves on Cythera are divided into three large categories:
The most ancient and reclusive of dwarves, are deeply conservative and tradition bound, the equivalent to the High Elves. They are mostly found on Mhara. They have +2 Con, +2 Str, and -2 Cha. They have slate or black skin, deep, black eyes, and hair that glints of metal(Gold, or Silver.)
The Dwarves of Cythera mostly, and the modern, gruff dwarves encountered by most. They use standard Dwarven stats.
The evil dwarves who lost the Dwarven religious wars who dwell deep below ground. They use Duergar stats.
The Dwarves are subdivided into nine clans, each of which traces its roots back to one of the founding houses of the early Dwarven kingdoms, though now they are more specialized around social status. Mountain dwarves and Hill dwarves have five active clans: Gold Clan are the religious leaders, Silver Clan are the aristocracy, Steel Clan are the warriors, Bronze Clan(recently refounded) are the healers, and Iron Clan are the merchants. The two lost clans, Copper, and Brass, were scholars, and artists, respectively. Platinum clan, the monarchy of the Dwarven Overkings, have been scattered for generations, and Mithril clan, the craftsmen and artisans, are so fragmented they never function as a clan. Recently, on Cythera itself, a rising group of young dwarves are calling themselves Electrum clan, portraying themselves as a new breed of political leaders and administrators who see themselves as the practical bridge between the deep religious zealotry of Gold Clan, and the deep suspicion and conservatism of Silver Clan. They are not respected by the more traditional dwarves, but they are gaining ground in the more modern dwarven kingdoms of Cythera. The Deep Dwarves, or Gray Dwarves, have only one clan, Obsidian Clan, which are sorcerers.
Most dwarves live on Mhara, in the ruins of their ancient kingdoms, where they wait for the apocalypse that their religion predicts will end the world. The dwarves that live on Cythera proper tend to be more interested in trade than in ancient prophecy. Dwarves are generally thought of as psychotic, brooding, religious maniacs mumbling about the end of times and how many of their enemies they will kill before they die, or as greedy merchants who’ll sell their own mothers for a profit.
Halflings are considered an irritant at best and pests at worst by most Cytheran races. They are divided into two types, Star Chaser Halflings, which live a nomadic lifestyle similar to Gypsies, and Wind Runner Halflings, which are evil jungle Halflings on Kheros that devour their prey. Star Chaser Halflings drift across Cythera and Mhara in their brightly colored traveling wagons, living in family groups and earning a wage from their arts, crafts, and performances. Their goddess, Zhara the Laughing Goddess, also has given them vague ideas concerning private property, so they often help themselves to whatever they fancy, and are usually one step ahead of the local constabulary because of it. Wind Runner Halflings follow Taris the Dark Hunter, and practice a form of social Darwinism that requires them to cull the weak. Halflings are generally thought of as thieving, trouble-making little bastards who light out at the first sign of trouble, trouble they often instigate themselves.
The most numerous race on Cythera, humans are the standard makers and standard breakers of the world. Their cultures and kingdoms are scattered about in a bewildering number of places. The only common threads are their ambition to expand, and their ability to thrive almost anywhere. Also, where most races have one deity as a universal avatar of the race, or at most two who represent the positive and negative aspects of the race, humans have more deities than all other races put together, something that baffles and infuriates the other races, who think humans are somehow monopolizing the gods. Humans are perceived as war mongering sons of bitches that will snake you as soon as look at you, if they think it will get them ahead in life.
One of the Elder races, the Malaval are a cold, rational race of arcane casters and philosophers. They live exclusively on Mhara in what remains of their ancient empires and they jealously guard their arcane knowledge from the younger races. They are pale, or blue-white, with features at once half-elven and half-demonic, with red or white eyes, pointed ears, and fangs. The Malaval are perceived as power-mad magical deviants by other races.
One of the newest races on the planet, the Rhakhastrans are a large race of bipedal felines that have a nomadic warrior culture that wanders the Rhakhastran Plains of Kheros in large clan-nations. They are notoriously moody and violent. Most races treat Rhakhastrans like cats, you either love them or hate them.
Another of the Elder Races, the Satharians were once a peaceful race of mentalists and philosophers. Due to the Chaos Wars, they are now a race of unstable madmen with incredible psychic powers, and a religion that glorifies cannibalism. They resemble ghouls, with lean builds, feral features, and sharp fangs. They also cover their bodies with a bewildering array of tattoos. All other races treat the Satharians like the flesh-eating lunatics they are.
The Selphorim are an ancient elder race descended from the celestials of the outer planes. Though once a dominant force of good in the ancient days, they are now a dying race, tending towards self-interested neutrality. They rule over the Amorans, a descendent race bred between Selphorim and humans. All that remains of their vast empire of old is the huge city of Amora, which covers the entire island of Medea. Most races think of the Selphorim as overly moralistic has-beens. Selphorim use Aasimar stats, while Amorans have +2 Cha, +1 Wis, +2 Skills at start, +1 Skill per level .
The Talon are a warrior race bred by the ancient Midians from fiendish stock and humans. Some few managed to survive the destruction of Midia, and now rule their own militant, aggressive empire. They rule over several other hybrid races created by the Midians, notably the Slave Race, a brutish race bred from a variety of stocks for strength and endurance, the Beastmen, human and animal hybrids created as expendable shock troops, and the Mongrel Men, a servitor race created from the fusion of dozens of different species. Oddly enough, the Talon do not use undead, considering employing the unliving for war as being unfit for a warrior race. The Talon are despised by all other races as a hateful legacy of ancient Midia. Talon use Tiefling stats.
Gods and Religion
Two general notes on religions: First, most of the non-human races have only two gods, one which embodies the positive aspects of the race, the other the negative aspects. Some have only one deity, due to some cosmic accident or other event. Second, there are several universal religions based around an ideal as well as a group of deities. These religions are Pantheism, Monotheism, and Dualism. Each conveys extra benefits upon clerics that worship that faith, because of the greater spiritual power of that faith.
The Elder Deities are a mixed lot. The Elves have two deities, the goddess Arathel Lightbringer, a chaotic good deity of Light, Good, Magic, and Elf, and Malthelos Lightbane, her brother, a lawful evil deity of Law, Evil, Magic, and Drow. Arathel’s religion is a celebration of the natural world, good, and magic. Malthelos’s religion is one of discipline, duty, and dominance. The dwarves worship Dhurzhad Worldforger, a lawful good deity of Law, Good, Mountains, and Dwarf, and Khazar Soulreaver, a chaotic evil deity of Earth, Cavern, Evil, and Chaos. Dhurzhad’s religion concerns the dwarfs’ role as living defenders of the earth against evil, while Khazar’s religion is concerned with the wringing of every last drop of use out of anything before discarding it. The Halflings worship Zhara, the Laughing Goddess, a neutral good deity of Good, Family, Protection, and Halfling, and Taris the Render, a neutral evil deity of Evil, Halfling, Trickery, and Travel. Zhara’s worship resolves around getting the most enjoyment out of life, even if that enjoyment is paid for by others. Taris’s worship involves the veneration of warrior ferocity and survival of the fittest. The Malaval worship Mallicia, a lawful evil goddess of Magic, Knowledge, Evil, and Spell. If the Malaval ever had a good aligned deity, its aspect has been lost to time, to be replaced by Mallicia’s worship of arcane knowledge and might. The Selphorim worship Selphara, a lawful neutral deity of Magic, Knowledge, Spell, and Illusion. Her religion was once a mighty force for arcane might and good, but centuries of constant struggle have worn it down into the pursuit of magical knowledge and ability. The Satharians worship Ythaan the Hungry Mother, a chaotic evil deity of Chaos, Evil, Suffering, and Magic. Ythaan defeated and consumed the good aligned Satharian deity, allowing her worship of madness to spread through the Satharian warren cities. Of the other elder deities, the only ones of any note are the Orcish war god Kruul the Battlelord, and the goblin deity Khorak the Warmaster. Both are gods of strife and conflict, encouraging their followers to prove their superiority through battle.
The Talathos is the pantheon of the oldest human deities. The ancient powers are mostly evil and obsessed with power and worship. They are also the deities of ancient Midia, that first, extremely evil human empire and its equally evil successor states, Akaad, Khorzhar, Zhuvan, Xushaan, and Ur-Nammu. They are still worshipped today in the countries of Tartessos, Ur-Nammu, and the Empire of the Talon. The Talathos consists of Zalkaar the Painbringer, a lawful evil deity of Law, Evil, Pain, and Retribution; Kharshis the Seductress, a neutral evil deity of Spell, Evil, Knowledge, and Magic; Khelzorath the Bloodlord, a chaotic evil deity of Evil, Destruction, Death, and Suffering; and Morkhaal the Deathwyrm, a mysterious chaotic evil deity of Evil, Tyranny, Mental, and Scaleykind. Two other deities are considered part of the Talathos due to their age, though they are not worshipped by the majority of Talathos followers. Zhon, the Pale Lord, patron deity of Zhond, is a lawful evil deity of Law, Evil, Tyranny, and Magic. He is apparently some sort of renegade from the Talathos, for though he was worshipped in ancient Midia, he has since been declared heretical by the modern Talathos worshippers. Finally, Mhoram the Deathlord is a lawful neutral deity of Law, Death, Undeath, and Magic. He is an incredibly ancient deity who is included in the Talathos due to his age. He is also known for his relentless opposition to the undead, having his death priests, who are necromancers, exterminate them wherever they find them.
The dominant religion of the west is the Pantheon. It was founded by the Great Prophet Osarius, who received a rather violent vision of the good aligned deities being offended by the quarrels of their worshipers with each other. The Pantheon thus preaches that all good aligned deities are allied against evil, and so should their worshipers be. Admission into the Pantheon is open to any good aligned deity, provided their worshipers have an organized clergy, as religions that rely on druids are considered too primitive and disorganized to contribute to the battle between good and evil. It has a highly centralized hierarchy, with bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and at the pinnacle, the Holy Thearch. Many of the gods of the Pantheon have been members for so long that their original churches have been absorbed into the Pantheist church hierarchy.
The Pantheon deities are Aphrodel, the old chaotic good Syralian love goddess of Protection, Good, and Charm. Spartak, her son, is the old chaotic good Syralian god of War and Strength. Alphara, her daughter, is the old neutral good Syralian goddess of Water and Ocean. Talam Goldlord, the Neutral Good Qamani god of Travel, Trade, and Charm, is also included in the Pantheon. His worship is slowly dying out from the pressure of Dualism in the Qamani lands, but his acceptance as a Pantheon member and the special patron of Cyr has assured the Lord of Wealth continued worship. Montarro is the Chaotic Good Zarrana god of Good, Family, and Craft. Darae is the Chaotic Good Savanni goddess of Travel, Luck, and Trickery. The two most recent additions to the Pantheon are the twin deities of Westford, the Neutral Good goddess Serana the Merciful, of Healing, Protection, and Renewal, and her Lawful Good brother Brosen the Silver Knight, of Law, Retribution, and Nobility. They are the only two members of the Pantheon to still have separate clergy, though the Pantheon hierarchy is doing its best to co-opt them.
The Pantheon is often treated with suspicion outside the West, as its Thearchs are seen as more interested in temporal power than spiritual authority. The fact that the Pantheon actually controls its own demesne, the Church Lands, lends credence to this belief. Also, the fact that out of nine Crusades called in Sacrys, four have been sent against human powers contributes to distrust of the Pantheon, as does its aggressive attempts at converting other religions. Clerics of the Pantheon have the ability to choose their two domains from any of the domains shared by the gods of the Pantheon.
Within the past fifty years, the Pantheon has undergone a major upheaval following the Ninth Crusade, which was unleashed against the Darklands following a miracle performed by the legendary King Charles Dragonheart, the pious hermit chosen as king of the City of Dragons following the death of the equally legendary King Valerin Dragonheart at the hands of the evil Mindwraiths. This miracle deposed the temporally ambitious Thearch Amadean the Fifth and his advisor, Cardinal Brucimere, replacing him with the pious Thearch Honorius the Eighth. The direct intervention of the deities to remove worldly corruption from the Church hierarchy, as well as the revelation that the deity Orim the Ancient, once thought mythological, was not only real but the father of most human deities, has shaken Pantheism to the core.
In the aftermath, the Reformation movement has evolved, consisting of pious clergy and laymen who work together outside canon law to promote good, and under their pressure more deities had been inducted into the Pantheon, notably Helios Sunfire, the ancient Chaotic Good Nycosian god of Sun, Fire, and War; Alistora, the ancient Syralian Neutral Good Goddess of Magic, Knowledge, and Spell; Mardis, the ancient Syralian Chaotic Good deity of Family, Plant, and Renewal; Mylos, the ancient Qamani Chaotic Good deity of Chaos, Ocean, and Storm; and Orim the Ancient himself, now theologically considered the ultimate progenitor of the Pantheon.
Pantheism’s offshoot and great rival, Monotheism began when the humble priest Amarius had a vision in which the Pantheist deities chose to give up their powers to form a new deity to combat evil. This new deity was called the Pankreator, and his religion, though declared a heresy by the Pantheon, is now the dominant religion of the Eastern Imperium. Monotheists are notoriously arrogant, and don’t like non-humans, as they believe the demi-human deities are jealously withholding their power from the Pankreator, weakening him in his battle against evil. The Pankreator is lawful good, and his domains are Law, Good, Healing, Renewal, Retribution, and Protection.
The same revelation of Orim as the founder of the Pantheon’s deities also shook Monotheism, as it also revealed that the Prophet Amarius got his vision of the creation of Monotheism backwards, as it wasn’t of the deities giving up their power to create the Pankreator, but Orim creating the deities. This view was reinforced when Torak Whitefire, the Seer of Orim, appeared suddenly at the Monotheist basilica in Nycos and ended the violent debate between the Primists, who argued that Orim was obviously the prime deity and the Pankreator, and the True Believers, who said it was a lie. Torak issued Orim’s Edict, informing the Monotheists that if they wished to continue to worship him, they had to comply with his doctrine. The True Believers who rejected this instruction where placed under Orim’s Interdiction: their priests may not cast spells higher then third level, and their paladins and other divine casters lost their abilities.
In the fifty years since, Monotheism has adapted their liturgy, so that they now worship Orim in his aspect as Pankreator. The True Believers lurk underground as Ur Priests, making a guerilla war upon the Church, but their influence is limited. Unfortunately, sharing Orim as a deity has not healed the rift between Pantheism and Monotheism. The Monotheists still insist that since Orim is the prime deity, worshipping his children as deities is a grave sin. They only venerate the other deities as angels of Orim, a view the Pantheon violently rejects. Dualism
Another Pantheist offshoot, Dualism shares many traits with Monotheism and Pantheism, but diverges in that it accepts evil, in particular the Talathos, as the equal of the Pankreator, and that humans, by choosing one side or the other, will decide the conflict. Dualism is the dominant religion of the Qaddanni Caliphate. Dualist clerics otherwise worship the Pankreator as the Monotheists do, and choose their domains from the Pankreator’s list.
Dualism’s world view was not even remotely damaged by Orim’s Revelation, as his relentless opposition of Morkhaal the Deathwyrm made it obvious to the Dualists that he indeed was the Pankreator. They were even more pleased that now it gave them a name for the Ultimate Evil, and they happily hunt down anyone who worships the Talathos, the children of Morkhaal. They still quarrel with Monotheism and Pantheism as heretics who have lost sight of the true nature of the conflict, and like Monotheism they only venerate the Pantheon deities as angels.
Pagan deities are defined by the universal religions as any religion that does not have clerics, relying instead on druids to administer the faith. This category includes such diverse deities as Rynia, the Earth Mother, who is an aggressively neutral goddess of Animal, Plant, Sun, and Moon, and her daughter Synne, the Daughter of Earth, who is an aggressively neutral evil goddess of Evil, Animal, and Plant. The Cymracht goddess Erayne, a chaotic good deity of War, Luck, and Rune, the Voryn god Herik Beastlord, a chaotic good deity of War, Animal, and Strength, and the Cymbrian sibling deities Erin, chaotic good goddess of War, Good, and Luck, Danae, chaotic good goddess of Strength, family and Protection, and Talis the Wanderer, a chaotic good deity of Healing, Travel, and Luck are also included. The Gothic god Jortun, the chaotic neutral lord of War, Chaos, and Retribution, and the Oslov deity Byor Winterlord, the chaotic neutral god of Cold, War, and Strength, round out these deities.
Rounding out the list of major deities are the national gods of several eastern powers, notably Zhur the Firelord, the patron deity of Azhistan. Zhur is a chaotic god deity of Sun, Fire, Air, and Magic. He is served by chaotic good paladins, and elemental sorcerer-priests called Mages. His religion is a powerful unifying force for good in the East and has been remarkably resistant to the Pantheon’s attempts to subvert it. The gods of Khorem are also strong in the East, led by Amonkhera, a lawful neutral deity of Spell, Death, Magic, and Knowledge. The Rhakhastrans worship Siva, the Fanged God, as the progenitor of their species. He is a fierce, war-like deity, unrelenting to his enemies, and he expects his followers to practice the warrior’s virtues as well. He is chaotic good, and his domains are Good, Animal, and Strength. Khalirani is the Chaotic Good goddess of Rajavaya, patron of Water, Earth, Family, and Magic, and the enemy of Zhur, once her husband and now her rival. Lastly there is Tythis, the Chaosmonger, the Chaotic Neutral deity of chaos and randomness. His followers, the Chaosdancers, use his domains of Chaos, Luck, and Magic to spread pure randomness all over the planet, for its own sake. This attitude leads the other deities to interfere with his power as much as possible, so that his priests have a flat 25% chance of any spell they cast failing. This anger has not deterred his followers from their self appointed crusade to spread anarchy across the planet.
Kingdoms and Powers
The great empire of the ancient Selphorim race, the Amoran Empire has stood for aeons beyond memory, though now it is a hollow shell of its former self. True Selphorim are now rare, with the empire ruled by great Amoran noble families who compare bloodlines to determine who has more Selphorim blood. It is an empire dominated by magic, and ambition. The Selphorim ruled much of Western Cythera, until a rebellion against the last Sorceress-Empress Nephara, who tried to lead the Selphorim to conquer the world, ripped the Empire apart and sent the Selphorim race into a spiral of decline as barbarian human tribes settled into the old Selphorim territories. The Selphorim have become an isolationist power since then, refusing to stir from what remains of their ancient empire. The capital is the vast city of Amora, on the island of Medea, and their language is Amoran.
The gilded kingdom, home of chivalry and troubadours, Arles is also a war-torn kingdom where the great Dukes rule their domains independent of the King in Arlian City. Arles was founded by the Merovani tribe, on the remains of the Syralian province of Arrelium. They ruthlessly drove out the Ruthani inhabitants, forcing them to wander as gypsies across the lands they once possessed. Arles has gone through periods when the Great Lords set aside their differences long enough to make war on Zarrana, Westford, and the Volmannreich. Currently Arles is locked in a civil war following the death of King Etienne III in battle against the Red Imperium in the Seventh Border War, a vain attempt to regain the Dukedom of Danelon from the Empire. Cardinal Armand is the Regent for the infant King Lucien II, but the King’s brother Duke Francois of Besantiere is contesting the throne. Only a third of the noble have chosen as side, the rest waiting to see what advantage they can wring out of the situation. The language is Arlesian and the capital is Arlian City
The most open of the Elven Kingdoms, Ban Selancyr was founded during the first Elven Diaspora following the Chaos Wars. The chain of islands the kingdom occupies was once the high mountains of the land bridge that connected Mhara to Cythera proper. The elves settled onto their temperate island homes and built a prosperous kingdom based on trade in elven crafted goods and metal work When many of the New Races think of elves, it is usually an image of the graceful, polite Sea Elves of Ban Selancyr that comes to mind. The Emerald Court’s interest in trade also makes the Kingdom of the Northern Seas the most active and expansionist of the Elven Kingdoms. Often Sea Elven ships carrying their Sea Knights will make an appearance as a show of force when their trade routes are threatened by human quarrels.
A collection of human kingdoms on the Eastern coast of Mhara that lie between the Dark Realm and the Western Lands, most have been laid to waste by the demons, though a few remain as fortified bastions of humanity in a sea of demons. Some of the fallen kingdoms are Bretlach, Dharan, and Medryn. Irel City of Mages, Asharan the City of Crypts, Dzherkhoz the City of Dragons, Mandahar, and Shardys the City of Forgotten Dreams are still resisting the Dark Realm and form a valuable buffer between the Western Bastion of the Erad Empire, the United Kingdoms of Ethbaar, and the Kingdom of Seros, and the Dark Realm. Following the Ninth Crusade, the proliferation of the Knights of the Circle’s chapterhouses in the area have allowed a degree of stabilization in the area, as the knights are zealous in hunting down the disorganized remnants of the Dark Realm.
A Theocracy founded by the second Thearch Marius I, the successor of the great Pantheist Prophet Osarius. In it the lands are all governed by Pantheist law, and the church lords hold the land as feudal lords. These separate lands in the control of the Pantheist hierarchy has given the religion a power base that has allowed it to thwart the machinations of the Dark Realm and the Empire of the Talon many times. Five Great Crusades have been sounded in the Pantheon Basilica in Sacrys, thundering out of the Western Lands against the Dark Realm and the Empire of the Talon. Unfortunately, four crusades have also been unleashed up the East: one against Khorem, two against the Qaddanni Caliphate, and one against the Eastern Empire. These Crusades have not won the Pantheists any friends in the East, a state of affairs that is bearing bitter fruit now that the Yuan-Ti and the Talon are stirring again. The new Thearch Innocence XV is a calm, saintly former monk who takes little interest in temporal affairs, preferring to leave diplomatic work to the College of Cardinals, where arguments between the Reformists and the Orthodoxists often stifle Church attempts to form a unified policy. Pantheism is the only religion allowed in the Church Lands by law, and the language is Common, though the old Syralian tongue is used for liturgical service. Its capital is Sacrys, the Holy City.Cymbrians
First of the three great barbarian nations, the Cymbrians inhabit the northern island of Albys. Their fierceness has given the Cymbrians a hard earned warrior’s reputation with the Voryn, Saxons, and Cymrych. The one great blow to Cymbrian pride is that of the three great barbarian nations, only they were defeated by the ancient Syralians and incorporated into the Syralian Imperium. Pantheism is trying to make headway here, but is treated with suspicion for its Syralian roots.
Third of the three great Barbarian nations, they maintain their ancient, matriarchal ways among their northern-western island homes, which were once home to the ancient Elven Kingdom of Ban Talislyr. Though the elven kingdom is long past, many of their customs remain among the Cymrych and elven blood runs in the tribes. The capital and only city, Talislyr, is built on the site of the old elven city. They are divided into three clans, Sun, Star, and Moon, each ruled by a Queen, who in turn answers to a High Queen elected from among the people by divine lot. The elite Amazons, female warriors, protect the tribes, while the female Druids provide wisdom and guidance. The language is Cymrych and the capital is Talislyr.
The wealthiest country in the West is the small Republic of Cyr, located on the small island of the same name. Cyr survived both the destruction of the West by the Talon and the conquest of the East by the Azhi, ruled by Imperial Senators who fled to Cyr. The fledgling Republic they founded, ruled by a Doge elected from among the Senatorial families, survived raids from the Talon and the Northern barbarians. During the Great Dark Age what little trade that existed between the Western barbarians and the Eastern kingdoms was controlled by Cyr. As civilization slowly returned, Cyr’s power grew as trade grew. Cyrian fleets maintain trading stations in the Zheros Islands, claimed by the eastern Imperium, and the Lascari Islands claimed by various Qamani Amirs. The naval might of Cyr, and the subtle strength and guile of Cyrian diplomats and merchants also maintain the Crusader States in Outré Mere against the might of the Qaddanni and Khorem, dominating Eastern trade at the expense of the Eastern Kingdoms. Their current Doge is Laszlo Orsini the Wise, a shrewd business man who balances the financial goals of the republic with the political agenda to keep a certain degree of discord between the West and East. The capital of the Republic is the vast, tiered city of Cyr, the religion is Pantheism, and the language is Cyrian, a blend of Syralian, Savanni, and Nycosian.
Once the home of the greatest threat to good and peace in the world, the Dark Realm occupies the northeastern portion of Mhara, holding sway over most of the lands of ancient Midia, and before that, the Serpentine Empire of the Ythraag. The land itself seems dark and accursed, with undead, demons, and abominations roaming freely. Few humans exist in this realm, being prey to the Illithzhar ruling class, foul hybrids of human and Illithid that have bred true over the millennia, or their allies the Ythraag, whose last remnants have been roused from their ancient slumber to engulf the world in their serpentine coils. These sorcerous beings rule over their Slave Race, brutes that they have bred from the stock of a dozen races, simple, violent beings easily enthralled by their masters to serve as shock troops, slaves, and food. At the top of this hierarchy of misery are the Five Faceless Lords, once great heroes who were captured by the Illithzhars and corrupted by them, who were in turn ruled by the Mother of Darkness, Nephara, last Empress of the Selphorim, before she was slain by King Charles Dragonheart, Torak Whitefire, Jak One Eye, and Tovar the Young.
The three Demon Wars were launched by the Dark Realm against Arles, the Erad Empire, and lastly Westford, all attempts to weaken the western powers and all the cause of years of misery and mass destruction in the West. Four great Crusades from the West, launched against the bulwarks of the Dark Realm, did little more than to contain the creatures within, for the Dark Realm had slowly expanded, overwhelming the border kingdoms one by one in a series of campaigns characterized by rampant slaughter. Even the formation of the Border Legion, a multi-racial force under the command of the Pantheist hierarchy, coupled with various Pantheist and Monotheist military orders in the area did little more than maintain a cordon around the realm.
The Ninth Crusade annihilated the Dark Realm’s might, though at the cost of the life of King Charles Dragonheart, while Torak Whitefire, the Seer of Orim, destroyed the Dark Queen herself. As a result, the Dark Realm is now no longer an organized threat against the races of the world, though it is still a land of demon and undead haunted ruins, it lacks the malevolent force driving it to make war upon all other life. It is rumored that the Five Faceless Lords survived the destruction of the Dark Realm, and have fled to the Empire of the Talon to continue their war against the followers of Orim. Many adventurers are starting to flock to the ruins of the Dark Realm, hoping to loot the ruined Midian and Ythraag cities buried there, despite the threat of demons and undead, while the Border Kingdoms have slowly stabilized and begun to return to normality.
The relatively irreligious Monomachus Dynasty was deposed after a century during the foundation of Pantheism and the rise of the new Red Imperium in the West, which remains unrecognized as the Western heir to the Syralian Imperium by the Eastern Autarch. The Cyzicus Dynasty that followed converted to Monotheism, when the heresy fled from the West to the East, fostering the Great Schism that separates the East and West to this date. The ancient Nycosian deity Helios, the Sun Triumphant, is no longer worshiped, nor is the Syralian Pantheon. The only religion allowed is Monotheism, the worship of the god Orim Pankreator, though in the Empire he is never referred to by his actual name. The current ruler, Khristos Cyzicus, is currently more occupied with internal religious dissent, so he is unable to manipulate politics on the grand scale that he used to, bringing a measure of stability to the East. The language is Nycosian, though Eastern Common and Qamani are also spoken as well. The ancient language of Classical Nycosian is only used for liturgical purposes. The capital is Nycos, though the Autarch spends equal time in the great city of Nicopolis.
When Alexander I Maximus united the Nycosian and Syralian republics into one empire, he neglected to consider the strong cultural and religious differences that separated the two peoples. After the immediate threat of the Talon had receded, East and West were at each other’s throats over every little difference. Often the East and West would have rival Imperators, vying over the throne of an Empire that was divided in everything. Following the collapse of the Western Empire under the Talon’s heel, and the destruction of the East by Azhistan, it seemed Nycosian culture had been overrun. During Shah Volhavi V’s war with Khorem, Alexander Monomachus, commander of the Azhi Janissaries, led a rebellion. He and his Nycosian Janissaries seized Nicopolis, defeated the Azhi satrap, and held off a determined Azhi assault.
When the great wave of Northron barbarians swept over the old Syralian northern provinces, one group of Gothi settled in the broad plains and basins drained by the mighty Eissen River. These tribes eventually formed the Eissenreich during the First Orc Wars of the early Dark Age. Following the defeat of the orcish Warlord Krugahk Darkskull of Ogremach, Karl von Valkenberg, King of Eissenstadt, was proclaimed Kaiser of the Eissenreich by the assembled tribes. His dynasty spent the two centuries between the First Orc Wars and the First Demon War consolidating their power over the various petty kingdoms of the Eissen. During the First Demon War, the Pantheist religion spread swiftly through the Empire, replacing Jortun’s religion in a relatively short time. Since then, the Valkenberg dynasty has kept power, dominating the surrounding area and making war on its neighbors, Arles, Westford, the Volmannreich, and the goblins of Marzenwold. The current ruler, Karl V the Lion, is young and ambitious, and is already taking advantage of the chaos in the neighboring Volmannreich to win territory and glory. The language is Eissen, though Syralian is used in Pantheist services and Nycosian in Monotheists liturgy. The capital is Eissenstadt.
Collectively known as the Elven Empires, these kingdoms are the forlorn remnants of the original Elven civilization. Here, around the inland Arathel Sea on Northwestern Mhara, the High Elves, the oldest and most powerful elves, mourn their lost glory and dream of the past. Along the Eastern edge of the sea, forest twines among sad, ruined towers of marble and ironwood. Further to the southeast, the forest gives way to bleached, charred ruins in the Burned Lands, an immense swath of charred land that was once fertile fields and verdant forests, but was reduced to ashes by the magics of the Ythraag during the Chaos Wars. The Burned Lands eventually give way to the Grey Wastes, where Midia and Ythraag once stood. These sad lands are unfriendly to most who would intrude upon the High Elves gloomy reverie, especially humans who would plunder the great tombs and ruins which dot the area. Such individuals, when caught, often end up tied to posts along the border and left to rot as a warning to others. The Elven Knights who patrol the borders are expert woodsmen and sorcerers, and they show no mercy to anyone not welcome in their lands, though following the destruction of the Dark Realm, the elves have relaxed a little, opening up trade with the humans through Mandahar, City of Exiles. High Elven, the most ancient language of the Elves, is still spoken here, though Sea Elven is often used as well, thanks to the influence of embassies from Ban Selancyr.
Empire of the Talon
For four thousand years, the militant, aggressive Empire of the Talon has threatened West and East alike with its ambitions. The dark skinned, red-eyed Talon are a magically bred race, infused with demonic blood. They were created by the ancient Midians to be a warrior race, not as strong as the brutish Slave race, but a breed of officers and elite warriors. Following Midia’s collapse, the surviving Talons fled to northwestern Kheros, where they founded a society dedicated to the worship of their Nameless God and the hatred and destruction of all of their master’s ancient enemies. To that end the Darklords of the Talon have built a society geared entirely for religious warfare, and they have unleashed that force with devastating effect, conquering Tartessos twice, destroying the Western Syralian Imperium, an invasion of Khorem, two invasions of Zarrana, and they even have launched an assault upon the Malaval Erhaj Empire. In response, Erhaj has made war on and off against the Talon, while the Second Pantheist crusade practically wiped out the Empire three hundred years ago. Each time their empire has been threatened with destruction, the Talon have melted away into the fierce jungles of the South, returning and rebuilding their empire when their enemies had departed. Now that the Dark Realm is devastated, it is believed the Five Faceless Lords have seized control of the Talon, and are working to lead the Empire in a war of revenge against the West. The Talon Imperial Capital is Tas Ezhar; the language is Talish, a variation of Midian. Common is used among slaves, while Midian is used for liturgical purposes. They worship the Talathos, led by the Nameless God, which appears to be an aspect of the mysterious Deathwyrm, though the Talon never speak its name, believing themselves to be unworthy of doing so.
Empire of Tsvar
Once a derelict Malaval Empire, consisting of the city of Tsvar and its immediate surroundings, Tsvar encompassed all the decay, pride, and power of the Malaval empires. Here were the tombs of the ancient wizard-emperors of the ancient Malavi Arcane Empire, broken during the Chaos Wars. Within the past twenty years, the fortunes of Tsvar have changed drastically. The death of the aged, malevolent emperor Andru XXXV Vulescu brought his young, half Malaval great-grandson Mikhal XXIV to the Arcane Throne. The ruins of the ancient city of Tharku, important in Malaval mythology for the prophecy of their last, great Dark Emperor ruling from there, has been rebuilt to serve as the capital of the new Empire. The participation of the Malaval in the Ninth Crusade against the Dark Realm surprised all, but has reaped benefits, as Tsvar is now the most open, and wealthiest of Malaval Empires from trade. Malavi, Common, and Drushta are spoken here, and the worship of Mallicia is the only religion tolerated.
The lynchpin of the Western Bastion, the cordon of human powers that hold back the Dark Realm, is the Erad Empire. It was founded during the First Crusade by Honorius Serrano, a Savanni crusader. Settling into the fertile fields and forests of Eastern Mhara, Serrano’s promise of an end to the Western practice of serfdom, still practiced in Zarrana, Arles, Westford, the Volmannreich, and the Eissenreich, attracted thousands of peasants who had followed the banners of the First Crusade. They have formed a powerful, stable kingdom in a sea of war and chaos. The near legendary Eradi phalanges, dense formations of free peasant pike men, have more than once driven the Dark Realm from the battlefield. Emperor Sebastian III is finally able to give his hard pressed kingdom some well earned peace following the destruction of the Dark Realm, though Erad remains militarily ready just in case. The Empire is solidly Pantheist, with one of the largest basilicas in the West at the capital of Erad. The language is Common, though the nobility speak Eradi, a blend of Savanni and Syralian.
The Gotts are the descendents of the Gothi, one of the original barbarian tribes from the North, also called the Northrons, which swept over the old Syralian Imperium during the Barbarian Wars. Linguistically and culturally, the Gothi were the ancestors of the Voryn and the Merovani, and Gothi tribes settled the Eissenreich and the Volmannreich. They are divided into a dozen tribes, spread over the vast forests of Gottland, who war with each other as much as they do the Eissen, Volmann, the Goblins, and the Maroslevs to their East. The Gotts themselves are often subjected to raids by Voryn Vikings, and the Eissenreich has launched several wars against their unruly neighbors. The Gotts worship Jortun, fervently, and his Druids gather the faithful around oak groves for bloody sacrifices of their own warriors to appease their deity’s appetite for blood. The Gotts speak Gothic, and they have no cities, only fortified villages.
Great Kingdom of Azhistan
Eastern kingdom and ancient rival of the Syralian Empire, Azhistan was founded by Azhi tribesmen who wrested the province away from the First Ur-Nammu Empire two thousand years ago. It is a hereditary monarchy ruled exclusively by the Asmani Dynasty, which governs the vast empire through satraps, or tributary kings, who are either blood members of the dynasty or married into it. The history of Azhistan is intertwined with the history of all Eastern cultures, all of whom they have dominated at one point or another. The current Great Shah Uthman II is occupied with fighting barbarian tribes in the lands north of the former Tarim Empire. Their god is Zhur the Firelord, with the domains of Sun, Fire, and Magic. The capital city is Seishan, and the language is Azhistani.
Krak Kazar, the Fortress of Exiles, capital of the Iron King, is the largest dwarven city on Cythera. Founded by Gold and Iron dwarves following the Chaos Wars, Krak Kazar has developed into a stronghold of dwarven power on Cythera, surpassing the ancient dwarven cities on Mhara. Gold dwarven religious leadership has been tempered by Iron dwarf practicality to produce a vibrant, expanding dwarven society. Iron dwarf merchants travel the length and breadth of Cythera, selling dwarven-crafted items, and Gold dwarf ambassadors are found at many human courts.
Ancient Khorem, land of Pharaohs and pyramids, is one of the three remaining ancient empires, with Ur-Nammu and Zhond. It was settled by Ythraag refugees from the wreck of the Serpentine Empire, who subjugated the local humans. They established pre-dynastic Khorem, often referred to as the Coiled Empire. Later, refugees from Midia, both human and Yuan-ti, arrived to bolster the ruling class. For one thousand years, the Coiled Kings ruled Khorem, until the great warrior-priest Khemenoses led a rebellion of the humans that overthrew the Coiled Dynasty, driving the remaining Ythraag and Yuan-ti into the jungles south of Amibia. Khemenoses then established the First Dynasty, with himself as Pharaoh, divine representative of the gods. In its long history, Khorem ruled much of the East as an Imperial power, and has in turn been conquered by the Azhis, Syralia, and the Qaddanni. Khorem has been free again for several centuries, and is once again becoming a dominate power in the East. . The current capital of al-Khairos is a Qaddanni city, but the ancient capital of Umara is used for religious purposes. The official language is modern Khorem, though hieratic Khorem is used for religious texts, and the many ancient monuments are covered with inscriptions in hieroglyphic Khorem.
Dark-Spired Midia, land of Necromancers-Kings and of dark temples to forgotten deities. Midia was the first human nation of size and power, and its dark, corrupt legacy continues to resonate through time, millennia after its fall. The Midians subjugated all human tribes in what is today the Western Bastion, and they spread their influence into the former lands of the Serpentine Empire. They conquered the human empire of Samaras, and sacrificed the entire population to the Talathos. Long-lived Necromancer-Kings ruled from Uraam, City of Crimson Pillars, or Syrakh, City of Shadowed Pools, while the priesthood of Morkhaal controlled the city of Midia itself, and their influence spread into Western Cythera to the borders of the Selphorim Empire.
Midia eventually began warring on the Young Races. Still recovering from the Chaos Wars against the Ythraag, the remaining elf, dwarf, and malaval empires were besieged and driven back, while the Selphorim were cut off from Mhara by Midian assaults on Western Cythera. These so-called Man Wars galvanized the ancient alliance of elves, dwarves, selphorim, and malaval into one last, great campaign. Under assault from the Young Races, Midia was finally destroyed after a five thousand, five hundred year reign. Midian cities were razed to the ground, and the wrecking of the eco-system of the Sea of Ashes and the Grey Wastes was finished. The few remaining human Midians became refugees, hunted by the vengeful Young Races. Midia itself was buried by a massive series of malaval spells that wiped out the ruling class, along with the last Tormak. Midia became a land of ghost-haunted ruins, shunned by the Young Races. Human survivors from Midia founded the Ancient Empires of Ur-nammu, Akaad, Khorzhar, Zhuvan, and Xushaan, while the Talon settled the Empire of the Talon.
The Mountain Kingdoms are to the dwarves what the Elven Empires are to the elves, the last remnants of their first, greatest civilization. The dwarves were allied with the other elder races against the evil of the Great Beasts, the Serpentine Empire, and finally Midia, but the millennia of warfare has burned the dwarves out. Since then, the dwarves of Mhara have lived in isolation, rebuilding their forges and armories amid the wreckage of their proud kingdoms, while scouring the surface and Underdark for any dwarves still held prisoner, or survivors of the two Lost Clans. The rise of the Dark Realm, and the pattern of crusades from the East have made the dwarves very xenophobic, to the point of rarely receiving their Cytheran kindred, since they interact too much with humans and the other New Races. The dwarves of the Mountain kingdoms were thus preparing for a bloody apocalypse that they felt will spell the end of everything good in the world, but the destruction of the Dark Realm, and the restoration of Bronze Clan has shook up the moribund Dwarven world, forcing these grim warriors to realize they had more to hope for then the destruction of as many of their foes as possible before their own deaths.
One of the last of the ancient non-human empires, the Nharaak Empire is the gloomy jungle realm of the Yuan-Ti people. Originally founded by the Ythraag and Yuan-Ti survivors of Midia as part of pre-Dynastic Khorem, the Coiled Dynasty was driven into the vast jungles South of Amibia, where they enslaved the native human tribes. Since then, the actual Ythraag have become very rare, most being locked in a cycle of slumber, dreaming of inhuman plots in their serpentine brains. Nharaak is a dangerous realm, even for evil humans, as one never knows if the Yuan-Ti might require new breeding stock, brood guards, undead minions, or material for their experiments. Only Yuan-Ti, Talon, Illithzhars, Illithid, and Ythraag are treated with any respect. The capital is Memnos, and the language is Nharaak, a blend of Ythraag, Midian, and Khorem. The only religion is the worship of Zhultek, the serpent-deity and the Talathos. h2.
Ogremach is a dark, violent land that has the distinction of being the best known of the two orcish kingdoms in Cythera. Orcish tribes migrating in the wake of the Chaos Wars settled in the rugged mountains and foothills of Ogremach and have stayed there ever since. They were contained by the Selphorim, and used as mercenaries by Xushaan and Zhuvan. The Syralian republic fought several Orc Wars against its unruly northern neighbors, and when the Syralian Imperium began its rise to power, the early imperators devoted considerable resources to subduing Ogremach. The resulting conquest ensured that fierce orcish warriors served in the legions throughout the remaining years of the Imperium. It capital is Ghash, it language is Orcish, and its god is Kruul the Battlelord.
When the Third Crusade was called against the Qaddanni Caliphate following Caliph Umar’s assault on Cyr, it attracted crusaders from Westford, Arles, Zarrana, the Eissenreich, the Volmannreich, the Red Imperium, the Savanni, and the Valaruine Kingdoms. The crusade chased Sultan Ibram from Khorem, ending three centuries of Qaddanni rule, and Count Alun de Sassene of Westford was declared King of Khorem by the assembled crusaders. From there, the crusade moved on against the Qaddanni, and their Qamani subjects. At L’Ancre they laid siege to the Qaddanni, taking the city by storm. From there, they spread out over a sizable portion of the Qaddanni coastal provinces of Khanara, a land held variously by the Syralians, Azhi, and Khoremites before them, and the southern portions of the Qamani City-states. A great basilica was built at the ancient site of Sarabratha, the birthplace of Osarius, the Prophet of Pantheism and first Thearch, and a confederation of states was formed, under the leadership of the King of Khorem. The great crusading orders were all given lands and castles to form a barrier between the kingdoms and the Qaddanni, and the states continued their drive to extinguish the Dualist heresy. A long period of vigilant peace followed, with the Qaddanni and the crusaders keeping a wary eye on each other across a desert landscape dotted with chains of massive fortresses.
The official name for the Crusader States is Outré Mere, “ Over the Sea “ in Arlesian. The original nobility were primarily from Westford, Arles, the Savanni, and the Eissenreich, but the influx of new crusaders means that half the crusader population is now from either Arles or Zarrana. By themselves, the westerners only make up 25% of the population. Half are Qamani, twenty percent are Qaddanni, and the rest are a mixture of Khoremites, Nycosians, and other easterners. The area is not even technically one state, being instead a confederation of the various small states under the leadership of the King of Sarabratha. The multiplicities of nationalities means that any language can be heard here, so most use Common as a neutral tongue. Pantheism is officially the religion, but that stricture cannot be practically enforced, so worship of the Khoremite gods, Zhur of Azhistan, and Monotheism and Dualism may be found as well. The capital is the rebuilt ancient city of Sarabratha.
The Qaddanni are related culturally and linguistically to the Qamani, the only real difference being the Qamani were a settled people, and influenced by centuries of Selphorim and Amoran dominance, while the Qaddanni remained nomads in the Desert of al-Qaddan. This changed when the Prophet Salaam, a Qaddanni living in the city of Cyr, received his vision of the Pankreator locked in combat with the dark, evil deities of the Talathos. His vision of two eternally opposed forces was called Dualism, and was condemned as heresy by both Pantheism and Monotheism. Salaam fled to the fierce Qaddanni tribes, who were more receptive to his doctrine, especially since its dogma of unending conflict between good and evil appealed to the Qaddanni’s warlike nature. Under Salaam’s preaching, the Dualist faith spread throughout the Qaddanni tribes, unifying them for the first time in history. His successors founded the Qaddanni Caliphate and have warred on and off with the West and east since then in an attempt to spread their faith. Since the revelation of Orim, the Caliph Jehan has been leading his now united people in a new jihad against the worshippers of the Talathos in the area, namely Ur-Nammu. The language of the area is Qaddanni, the religion is Dualism, though Pantheism, Monotheism, and Zhurism is accepted, provided the worshippers pay a special tax, and the capital city is al-Qalad.
Qamani City States
The Qamani are an older human culture, one of the first dominated by the Amoran Empire. They are grouped into city-states rules by Amirs, the largest of which is the great port city of Caliphas. Culturally, they are related to the Qaddanni, though with a heavy mix of Khoremite and Ur-Nammu influence. The Qamani are a race of survivors. They have managed to maintain their cultural ways despite domination by the Selphorim, Amorans, Ur-Nammu, Khorem, the Syralians, the Azhi, the Qaddanni, and the crusaders. Their god is Talam, Lord of Trade, though his worship is declining under the pressure of Dualism and Monotheism. Only his inclusion in the Pantheon has enabled his worship to expand outside of his native lands. The central city is Caliphas and the language is Qamani
The destruction of the old Syralian Imperium under the weight of the Talon and barbarian hordes was a deep shock to the west. It seemed the Talon would finally dominate Cythera, and eventually wear down their ancient enemies. Instead, the wealthy landowner Julius Marino would manage to drive out the barbarians from Syralia, and, under the influence of the new Pantheist religion, found a new Imperium on the ruins of the old. The new Imperium, while not as vast, rich, or powerful as old Syralia, is still one of the first powers of the West and heirs to a mighty tradition of glory and culture. Currently, following the defeat of Arles in the Seventh Border War, the Red Imperium’s power and prestige have reached new heights under Praetor Celestian the Great. The capital of the Red Imperium is the city of Syralia and its language is Syralian.
Rhakhastran Clan Nations
The Rhakhastrans have no organized kingdoms, being organized into clans, clan-tribes, and then clan-nations. Few of other races are welcome in these lands, since the Rhakhastrans are wary of slavers, though there is also a brisk trade for Rhakhastran ivory and gold ornaments, hand-carved by their excellent artisans. There are currently six great clan-nations that wander the Rhakhastran Plains, each under its own War-Chief. The Rhakhastran language is Rakaa, a harsh tongue ill suited for human vocal cords. It has a simple, primitive system of picto-glyphs associated with it, taught to all shamans, but is primarily a spoken language.
One of the oldest human cultures, the Ruthani migrated into Selphorim lands sometime during the last millennium of Imperial Selphorim rule in Medea. A nomadic people, they were protected by the Selphorim, and they grew to fill up the relatively empty western Selphorim territories. When the Selphorim began withdrawing during the Man Wars, the Ruthani were first subjugated by Midia, then after Midia’s fall by Zhuvan and Xushaan, the rulers of which slaughtered the Ruthani as sacrifices to the Talathos. The destruction of the ancient human empires freed the Ruthani from slavery, but the Ruthani were left with a great fear of cities and civilization that coalesced into a cultural refusal to settle and form large communities. This tendency was enhanced by their religion, the worship of Rynia, the Mother Goddess, who required her worshippers to live in harmony with nature.
The rise of the Pantheon was the last straw for Ruthani culture. Rynia’s strict neutrality, and Synne’s evil nature led to full-scale persecution by the Pantheon, which set up an Inquisition to root out the worship of both deities. As a result, the Ruthani are now a scattered people, making a living through their arts and crafts, as well as their fortune telling skills. They wander as nomads through lands that were once theirs, or settle into small, isolated communities, and despite adversity they keep a strict faith with their goddesses. This causes them to stay one step ahead of the civil authorities and the Inquisition. As a result of this diaspora, the Ruthani can be found all over the west and near east. They have no cities, and acknowledge only the authority of their clan leaders and seers, while paying nominal homage to a Grand Seer, who is elected by the clan leaders. Their language is Ruthani, but most speak at least three other languages.
The first mainland possession of the Amorans, the Savanni are a mixture of Amoran influences, Syralian and Nycosian culture, the original primitive humans subjugated by the Amorans, and the Savan tribes which settled the areas following the collapse of the Syralian Empire on the main continent. The Savanni lands are a hot bed of intrigue and conflict, often fueled by the hot-blooded, passionate Savanni themselves. Their position, bordered on the north by the Church lands and Ogremach, the west by the Red Imperium and Cyr, the south by the Amorans, and the east by the Eastern Imperium means the area is often the site of battles between invading armies trying to control the rich and cultured lands. A vast amount of trade from the west, east and south flows into the area, which has the highest standards of living among the western lands. Pantheism is the dominant religion in the area, which is where the great religion had its start. It has been established so long that Darae, the ancient Savanni goddess, has no separate priesthood, having been incorporated fully into Pantheism.
The ancient Ythraag Serpent Men were an evil race that dominated much of eastern Mhara during the height of the elder races’ power. Little is known of them except that they worshipped an evil serpentine deity that is called the Deathwyrm, and that they initiated the Chaos Wars against the good elder races, resulting in the devastation of eastern Mhara and the destruction of the Serpentine Empire and its Coiled Kings.
The Syralian Republic began as a small group of city-states on the central Syralian peninsula bound by a common language and culture. Through the combination of military excellence and shrewd diplomacy, the Syralians brought the whole peninsula under their domination. Syralian praetors, elected officials, soon became more powerful than monarchs, and the Syralians became very prideful, knowing themselves as free men to be superior to the subjects of kings. The great shock to Syralian pride was the Talon, which exploded against them in a wave of fury called the Talon Wars. The Syralians were so hard pressed that their praetor, Alexander Maximus, proposed the unification of the Syralian republic, and the rival Nycosian republic, itself hard pressed by Azhistan.
The resulting unification produced the Syralian Imperium under Alexander I, first Imperator. The Imperium pushed back the Talon, embarking on a career of conquest that made it the greatest human empire since Midia, and in some ways surpassing the ancient empire. However centuries of civil wars between rival regions of the Imperium and countless coups by ambitious legion commanders and senators weakened Syralia so that the Imperium finally split into two halves, an Eastern Imperium that was eventually conquered by the Azhis, and a Western Imperium that was destroyed by the Talon. The legacy of Syralia still resonates in the Pantheist liturgy, spoken in Syralian, the Syralian influence on the cultures and languages of the various barbarian states that formed over the wreckage of the Imperium, and in the Red Imperium and Eastern Imperium, which proclaim themselves as the successors to Syralia’s ancient glory.
One of the most hated nations in the world is Tartessos, ruled by its vile council called the Slave Lords. Founded by refugees from the destruction of the first empire of Ur-Nammu, it is built over the forlorn ruins of Khorzhar, one of the states that succeeded Midia. Unlike Midia, which sought evil for evil’s sake, or Khorzhar and Ur-Nammu, which sees evil as the path to magical power, Tartessos is evil because it is the easiest way to get wealthy. Tartessos has pursued wealth by any means since its founding, and in the process have become the largest slavers in the West. They will trade with any nation, for any product, and the average Tartessan prides themselves on not letting things like sentiment and religion get in the way of making a profit.
Though their wealth supports a vast army, it hasn’t aided them consistently. Tartessos has been laid waste twice by the Talon, despite their sharing of evil alignments and religion with the Talon, and the Red Imperium subjugated Tartessos for 75 years under the Franciscan dynasty. For years it has been speculated that Tartessos has avoided a crusade being called upon it by heavy bribes to the Pantheist curia, and to Cyr, its largest trading partner. Tartessos manages to endure, with its wealthy elite, who receive votes based on how much wealth they control, ruling a vast majority of the poverty stricken who strive to become wealthy by any means. The language of Tartessos is Tartessan, and its capital is Tharshesh. It religion is the worship of the Talathos.Ur-Nammu
One of the surviving Midian successor states, Ur-Nammu has had a surprising run of history, rising from conquest twice to reestablish its rule by priest-kings who reign in the name of the Talathos. Founded by Midian refugees seeking to get as far away from the vengeful elder races as possible, Ur-Nammu became a nation seeking power through divine magic. Its priest-kings venerate the Talathos, particularly Kharshis the Seductress, and her priestesses are a driving force behind the nations policies.
Ur-Nammu was first conquered by the Azhis, who had rebelled against Ur-Nammu’s religion when the first magi of Zhur had appeared. Despite the best efforts of the magi, worship of the Talathos survived and during the chaos surrounding the Great Shah Volhavi V’s death, the underground Talathos worshipers drove out the Azhis and restored Ur-Nammu. This restored Ur-Nammu lasted until the Qaddanni exploded upon the East, for the Talathos are the ultimate enemy in Dualism. However, as the Qaddanni were force to recede by the crusades, Ur-Nammu rose again and now is once again a dark, brooding force of evil in the East. Its capital is the city of Ur-nammu, its language is Urna, and its religion is the Talathos.
Founded by several barbarian tribes in the old Syralian northern provinces bordering on the Voryn lands and Westford the Reich is a ramshackle collection of semi-independent kingdoms and principalities that elect a Grand Regent to rule them, though the Regents have very little actual authority outside of the capitol territory of Llillehaaven. This constant pattern of scheming, assassination, and shifting alliances has reduced the Reich, the largest human empire, to the state of semi-organized anarchy. At any time there are peasant revolts, inter-state warfare, religious strife, and civil unrest going on. The Pantheist Dragon Knights, a crusading order, tries to maintain what order they can, though this is often undercut by the Pantheist Prelates who prefer things the way the are. The old Volmann god Jortun is worshipped in the rural areas, though his rather primitive, barbaric rites are officially discouraged by Pantheist authorities. Recently, the Inquisition has set up offices throughout the Reich to fight the scourge of heresy, since the constant political chaos has encouraged the spread of banned cults throughout the lower classes and even some of the nobility.
The second of the great Barbarian nations, the Voryn inhabit the frozen northern peninsula and islands and make constant war on Westford’s Northern Marches, the Cymrych, the Cymbrians, and each other. They are led by male druids who worship Herik the Beastlord but their strength lies in the fierce Barbarian warriors who use their rage in battle to overcome their foes, and their Battleragers who use their ability to take the shape of wild animals to augment their combat prowess. They are divided into five tribes, Raven, Wolf, Bear, Lynx, and Hawk, each ruled by a Jarl. The Jarls nominally elect one of their number to be King of the North, but more often then not fight each other over the title, or ignore those who claim it. Currently, the title is vacant. The language is Vorish, and the capital is Sveaholdt.
One of the three great powers of the Western Kingdoms. Founded by the Westyr Barbarians, led by Kubran Bloodaxe, it is the center of Western culture at its capital of Exham. Since the Third Demon War, the ruling dynasty has been slipping, and the current King, Junius III, is weak and vacillating. The real power in the kingdom is the Lord Marshal, Duke Edwyn, the Lord Chamberlain, Duke Dalryc, and the Pantheist Prelate Goswyn. The patron gods are Brosen, god of Justice and his sister Serena, Goddess of Mercy. The old religion of Rynia the Earth Mother is still strong, though Pantheism is making great progress in the Kingdom. The language is Westryn.Zarrana
Founded by the Zara tribe, Zarrana is a feudal monarchy tightly controlled by its ruling Gonzanra Dynasty. Its ruler King Kharlon II schemes to make himself master of the Western Lands and heir to the old Syralian Empire, but he has to contend with his contentious and treacherous vassals. The old Zarrana god Montarro is less worshipped these days since King Ruis II made Pantheism the official religion in an alliance with the Red Imperium one hundred and thirty years ago. Like the Church Lands, it is illegal to worship non-Pantheon deities here. The Inquisition maintains a sizable organization here, constantly on the lookout for Talon influence. The language is Zarrani, and the capital is Santara.
Zhond has the irony of being a successor state to a successor state. Following the Mage Wars, which led to the mutual extinction of Xushaan and Zhuvan, refugees from Zhuvan fled from the wreckage of their sunken realm to the series of islands that had been the mountains of their western coast. Their the founded a new kingdom based on the blending of divine and arcane power, and the worship of Zhon, the Pale Lord. Once strict worshippers of the Talathos, apparently the fratricidal warfare inspired by that disagreeable group of deities inspired the Zhondish to adopt only one as their patron.
This practice has aided Zhond, as since that time they have been relatively undisturbed by the travails of the West. Ruled by an Emperor, Gal il-Kethri I, aided by a wizard and a cleric called the Hands of Zhon, and guided by a seer called the Voice of Zhon, Zhond has prospered. This doesn’t mean that they have given up their aggressive ways. Zhond has merely adopted a new approach. Their Shadow Network is a organization of sorcerer-thieves that use blackmail, assassination, and coercion to gain advantage for Zhond. Many in the West would like to reduce the chain of islands, but with the far larger threats of the Talon and the Yuan-Ti of Nharaak available, enthusiasm for a crusade against Zhond is low, especially since the Zhondish often provide covert aid against their ex-coreligionists. The capital of Zhond is the city of Zhond, the language is Zhanti, and its religion is the worship of Zhon.