Alara: The Evertorn

Yeah, yeah, I haven’t posted in two weeks. Production of Agamemnon + psychotic embryology teacher = fuck me in the ass and name me Clancy. But I’m back.

It is well known, among the ranks of the even-slightly-educated, that Alara is a world that hovers above the clouds, suspended by the will of a dethroned god, ever floating. For most people in the Civilized Lands, in Aulind, in all of Alara, this does not and will never matter. Many never see the Cloudsea, or only see it once in their lives, or very few times. Many others, however, live their entire lives by and for the Cloudsea, such as the Wind Dwarves of Below, the minotaur sailors of the isles, and fishermen in small villages all over the the Civilized Lands.

Even those who live and die according the the whims of the great Sea almost never stop to question: what lies below? Beneath that layer of wind-torn cloud, what exists? Where do fallen sailors come to rest? These questions have been the territory of philosophers, scientists, and wizards since the dawn of civilization. And the answer is this: the Evertorn.

The Evertorn is the land beneath the clouds. It is the remains of the land that the current continents rose from, in the depths of time. It is a horrible, horrible place: barren, desolate, and almost devoid of life, save one thing. The demons. The Evertorn is a place under constant warfare, constantly devoured by the demons fighting for supremacy.

Hypothetically, the Evertorn is infinite. No one has ever measured the land beneath the clouds, and no one knows how large it is. Thus, hypothetically, there are an infinite number of demons dwelling there. An infinite number of types of demons, as well: if something could be conceived to exist, it’s probably in the Evertorn.

The demons are grotesque creatures. Incredibly varied in form, intelligence, and any other criteria you might choose to pick, the demons are a heartily evil bunch. Occasionally, one shows its evil in a more creative way than others, and chooses to do something nice. But trust us, it’s all for the greater purpose of evil.

Demons range from mindless mutants bent on the destruction of everything in their path to loyal and disciplined soldiers to scheming overlords who can contain their evil for the purpose of a greater one: politics. The one major interest of any Evertorn demon lord is power, which can be split up into to two lesser interests of warfare and politics. At any given time, a demon lord is waging war on several other demon lords, formating alliances with several completely separate demon lords, and plotting to betray all of them. The web of allegiances and hatreds on the Evertorn is so mind-blowingly complicated that trying to diagram it actually led to the death of several prominent Blue Magi, studying in the Arcane Academy of Wyrmspire.

Which leads us to another thing: the Evertorn and Alara, while miles of cloud-stuff apart, are not wholly separate. On one side, many prominent wizards and scientists in the Civilized Lands spend their entire lives studying the Evertorn. “Where do the Imps we summon come from?” question prominent demonologists. “If I drop a rock off of Below, how long will it take to hit the Evertorn, and if it lands on a demon will it kill it?” question prominent (read: batshit insane) scientists. Wizards make entire careers out of summoning demons into their service, and it often pays to figure out where the shit you’re summoning is coming from, and also how to summon bigger demons (wizards aren’t the most sensible of people).

On the Evertorn side, everything revolves around the surface world. The demons of the Evertorn hate the fact that they’re caught in this craphole, and are doing everything in their power to ravage and destructify the hated surface. Of course, demons hate each other almost more than they hate the surface world, so things are basically fucking crazy. A demon lord attempts to open a portal to invade Alara, and is immediately set upon by his neighbors who resent him being more successful than them. On the other hand, a demon lord manages to, in disguise, get into a powerful position in the House of Dargonne, and the ensuing bragging rights catch him several allegiances from other demon lords. Controlling parts, however minuscule, of the above is a major thing in demon politics, and the most major demon lords often play in the surface world. And then kill everyone involved, even on their side, so no one can go tattling to the other demon lords. Demon lords aren’t very nice.

The Evertorn does not adhere to the normal rules of the physical world, as such. Though, scientifically speaking, light cannot actually filter through all the layers of cloud to reach the Evertorn from the sun, there are still regions of it that are burning deserts, the sun seemingly so close that one could reach out and touch it. Other parts are nearly black, illumination only provided by lava flows or strange luminous algae. It is thought that this strange inconsistency of light is caused by the proximity of the Evertorn to the body of the Elder God.

There are many, many races of demons. They are innumerable. In some wretched corner of the land beneath the clouds, anything and everything imaginable exists. There are, of course, several races of demons that, through their strength, ease of proliferation, or some other factor have become more common than others. Three such races are the Dradh, the Sak’kiin, and the Orlüg. The Dradh are the common underlings of every demon lord, of every minor leader. They are tall, bordering on nine feet, strong as hell, and have as much free will as a slightly retarded marmot. They have humanesque faces, with reptilian nostrils and eyes. Their bodies are covered with armorlike scales, and their arms have spike-like protrusions pointing forward: natural weapons. Dradh make up the majority of the forces of many, many demon lords, and also make good slaves.

The Sak’kiin are cunning, intelligent, and the closest thing to a demon lord a regular demon ever gets. They are slightly smaller than the Dradh, averaging around seven feet tall. Their short stature is more than made up for by their absolute brilliance, however. In battle, Sak’kiin make up the shock troops, coming in, tossing fireballs everywhere, and teleporting away before anyone can do anything about it. Sak’kiith are often used by demon lords as advisers, though it pays to keep a regiment of Dradh bodyguards around, as your adviser may just decide to kill you in a massive power-play. The Sak’kiin look mostly humanoid, as do most of the most prolific demon races, but their humanity is tempered by their fangs, six pupil-less eyes, and the auxiliary pair of arms, six feet long and tipped with bony, dagger-like ends on their backs.

The Orlüg are scary. Ranging from twelve feet tall (short) to fifty feet (oh shit, oh shit, an elder Orlüg is eating my castle), all share the same attitude: anything in existence deserves to be purged from said existence. The Orüg exist only to eat, to destroy, to decimate. They are vaguely humanoid, but with grotesque, overblown features, covered in coarse hair, cyclopean, and often with two or more heads.

The demon lords control everything, when it comes to the Evertorn. Depending on the lord, his dominion will take a different form: some demon lords build massive cities to house their armies and their slaves, while some simply roam around, essentially being glorified brigands. What every demon lord has in common is power. A demon lord, if transported with all his power into the Civilized Lands, could rip through entire villages, entire cities, without being stopped. Of course, if the city targeted were Wyrmspire, some wizard would just magic him back to the Evertorn. Which is the weakness of every demon: they are tied, irrevocably, to the Evertorn. A simple spell, and they are banished. Some have the will to resist, but they are rare. Demons are created, arguably, by the Evertorn: no one actually knows where demons come from, they just seem to… appear. It’s quite possible that they are just… grown. Like flowers. Horrible, angry, twisted flowers.

The greatest of the demon lords are the demon princes. These beings are nearly deities, and indeed are occasionally worshiped as such by various cults. The demon princes have vast dominions in the Evertorn, occasionally larger than some continents above. Of course, a demon prince’s greatest enemy is another demon prince. The most powerful of the demons are constantly cutting each other’s throats. There is no real criteria for when a demon lord becomes a demon prince, but when an undeserving lord declares himself a prince, he’s usually set upon by all the other princes, and quickly eliminated. Only the most powerful lords can survive this onslaught long enough for the princes to give up and go back to squabbling with each other, and this is the mark of a prince. A prince has not ascended in the Evertorn for many centuries. Demon princes, and all demon lords, are physically unique, and while they may take elements from other creatures beings looking exactly like them do not exist.

Don’t think, however, that there is no human (or, rather, mortal) presence in the Evertorn. That would be unbalanced. There exists the occasional mortal in the Evertorn, just as there exists the occasional demon on Alara. Many prominent wizards, though mainly those with sick twists, occasionally delve into the politics of the Evertorn. Many a prominent and good-hearted wizard has formated a group to go in and clean up the Evertorn, opened a portal, stepped through, glimpsed the bat-fuck, ape-shit crazy place that is the Evertorn, and turned back immediately, sometimes permanently renouncing goodness on the basis that if something as evil as the Evertorn can exist then there can be no good.

Non-wizards may also reach the Evertorn, though it’s hard. Scientists in Below have calculated that, if one simply tries to fall there, one will starve before one hits. Or, if one has the foresight to bring along a picnic basket, one will eventually reach such a speed that one’s flesh will be ripped from one’s bones, due to the incredible gravitational force of the Elder God. All this, however, has not stopped the crazy Wind Dwarves, Underfoot, and Humans of Below from trying. Recently, an expedition was launched, in which a group of specialists were encased in a solid lead, square-shaped ship, provisioned with several weeks worth of food, and of course, massive amounts of shock-absorbing technology for when they hit. They haven’t been heard back from, but it didn’t seem likely that they would be. Chances are they’re either dead, or have started scientifically diagramming the Evertorn, and will report back when they figure out how to build a catapult large enough to get back.

Important Residents of the Evertorn:

Prince Haal is the current most powerful demon prince of the Evertorn. Haal is a cunning politician and a brutal warlord, and rules over an absolutely massive territory. Haal is unique among the demon lords in that he will keep any allegiance that he swears to. Of course, you have to watch his wording, but he never actually lies. This has given him a reputation that allows him to make deals with fellow demon lords at a much greater rate and with much less squabbling over details – thus, if he’s being attacked, he can bargain a squadron of Sak’kiin reinforcements in the blink of an eye. Occasionally, someone doesn’t watch the wording of the agreement he enters into with Haal. Haal then backstabs him, takes his territory and all his minions, and adds them to his own power. Countless demon lords have been dethroned by trusting Haal too far.

Haal’s physical form is that of a giant, reptilian man, twelve feet in stature and with six arms. In each arm he holds his favored weapon, a highly decorated sacrificial dagger. Haal most often wears a formless brown robe, seemingly with no openings save the bottom one and one for his head, enveloped in brown cloth. Then, out of nowhere, come the daggers. Snicker-snack, and you’re dead. Haal, in addition to being very lethal in close quarters, is an incredibly accomplished sorcerer, and will fuck you up. Period. Some legends abound of Haal being a bastard son of Anator, god of chaos, but there’s a chance those were just started by Haal to enhance his aura of power.

Prince Salarath is the second-most powerful prince of the Evertorn. He’s fucking crazy. He makes allegiances just like Haal, but is about seven billion times more likely to randomly break them and eat the head of whoever he had the agreement with. Because Salarath is a wolf. Well, technically, he’s three wolves. Salarath, in his most favored form for battle, stands about nine feet tall, and has three bodies. All molded into one. They are, essentially, three large, upright wolfmen. But when you look at the back of the left arm of one, it turns out to be the front of the right arm of another, and then it doesn’t matter which arm it is because it’s clawing your eyes out. This means that Salarath has three arms, three legs, three chests, three heads, etcetera. This means that battle with him is a fucking crazy fuckfest, because each head trades off control of the body essentially every second, meaning you could be watching him eat someone from twenty feet away and then suddenly he’s leaping at you and then he’s away again but one of the retreating claws takes off your head so you’re fucked up anyway.

The three heads are three different, and often competing, sentiences. Their names are Belgrath, Thane, and Meshiae. Each one is a different color: Belgrath black, Thane brown, and Meshiae white. Belgrath is an insane warmonger, who revels in killing things and then eating them. Thane is the brains of the group, and often is in control of the body, as well as the plots, the legions, and everything else Salarath controls. Meshiae is a mage who spends most of the time with his eyes forced closed by the wills of his two brothers, who fear him. This is because, if Meshiae opens his disturbing, ice-blue eyes, anything targeted by them will be frozen in a block of ice, then incinerated, then ripped through several portals to far realms and taken back. When used in small doses, however, Meshiae’s specific brand of lunacy can be very useful for, say, completely decimating several legions of enemy soldiers.

While Salarath’s most common form in battle is that of the three-bodied wolfman, he takes another in other instances: Belgrath, Thane, and Meshiae all have their own bodies. Normal wolf bodies, though larger than usual and with horribly intelligent, glinting eyes. This is the form that Salarath most usually lounges in, as he enjoys the freedom of movement granted to him by separate bodies. Salarath often moves about Alara, gaining followers or interfering with politics, and he uses his separate form in this time. So, if you’re out in the forest, and you suddenly see three wolves, one black, one brown, and one white, all looking at you even though the white one has its eyes closed, and all moving in tandem: run. Run like you’ve never run before, and pray to god the white one doesn’t open its eyes.

Prospector Dhar Dhurek is the dwarven leader of the mortal presence in the Evertorn. He’s not important by the standards of the Evertorn, as in he doesn’t have a massive territory or several hundred thousand minions reporting to him. But, by the dubious standards of the Civilized Lands, he’s very, very important. The Prospector is the leader of the expedition, begun several months ago, to Evertorn. The one where they dropped a giant lead block full of scientists into the Cloudsea. Yeah, it worked. And Dhar is amazingly good at leading the expedition.

When the giant lead block (known as the Successful by the overly optimistic project-funders in Below) hit the Evertorn, it immediately sunk several hundred feet, causing such a sudden vacuum in what was previously earth that it was filled in overhead immediately. After tunneling out, the expedition beheld a bunch of demons killing each other. They were not immediately noticed, so they scarped. Now, several months later, the remains of the Successful and several other caverns have become the city of New Below (also commonly called Further Below). New Below is dedicated to diagramming the Evertorn, cataloging its denizens, etcetera, etcetera. Dhar is the leader of this. He often sends out field expeditions, to watch demon battles and take notes, draw pictures, and drag in dead demons to be dissected. They’ve got quite a lot amount of data so far, and have not yet been discovered and exterminated. This is an Accomplishment.

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Alaran History: Humans

(Note: This history has been disproved up to about 800 E.F. by a discovery of Thulin Thunderboot.  Everything else is still true.)

The Humans of the Civilized Lands have a history which, though not as long as the histories of their neighbors the elves, dwarves, and minotaurs, not as depressing as the history of the njorlghar, and not as heavily involved in hallucinogens as the history of the Satyrs (frickin’ satyrs… gettin’ high all the time), is, to put it lightly, action-packed.

~E.F. ? (Eptan Fael – literally, The Year of Emptiness.. it was named by fanatical Archus worshippers who were also emo poets) – Most of human history is not known. In fact, the origins of humanity are something constantly argued about by many prominent scholars. The religious fanatics say that humans were one of the races created by the young gods to fight their elders before the world exploding, and thus you will find humans on every continent. Homostin of Wyrmspire insists that the humans of the Civilized Lands migrated from the north, though he’s not sure what this means in terms of origins. Some scholars think that humans changed over time from a lower life form that, though human-like, was rather hairier, but they’ve been locked up, and quite frankly, they’re wrong.

~E.F. 3,800 – What is known of human history starts roughly five thousand years ago, with the human invention of bronze weapons. This new metal allowed the various roaming tribes to start killing various other roaming tribes, and the entirety of the Civilized Lands was plunged into violence. This ended with the coming of Ulëndras the Mighty, an incredibly powerful dragon. It is not known from whence Ulëndras came, but it is known that he was not any kind of dragon known upon current Alara – he was what is referred to in what records there are as a Royal Dragon, though no one knows what the hell that means.

Ulëndras took power over a tribe of humans, and the Civilized Lands soon fell to his followers, succumbing entirely to dragon-worship. Before this, human spirituality consisted of a vague druidic tradition… with trees and stuff. Ulëndras was worshiped both as god and king. It is important to note, here, that as we do not know what sort of dragon Ulëndras was, this may in fact have been closer to the truth than we suspect.

Ulëndras coaxed out of hiding the existing dragons. In those days, dragons were more likely to murder each other than not to, and the other dragons feared for their lives. But Ulëndras did not murder them – in fact, he incorporated them into his rule. With Ulëndras as god-king and the dragons as his enforcers, the empire of Drak’an was forged… the most enduring empire in human history. It is not known where the capital city was, but scholars think that it was on Coronation Isle, the small speck of land in the middle of Crown Lake. It is thought that Crown Lake was lower thousands of years ago, and the city dwarfed even current-day Wyrmspire.

~E.F. 1,300 – At this point, Drak’an has persisted for twenty-five hundred years, and is the most consistent power in the Civilized Lands. However, it has been waning for the past several hundred years… and the people think they know why. Ulëndras, great and powerful god-king of dragons, is growing old. Dragons take an immense amount of time to age, but Ulëndras was not young when he founded Drak’an – and he has certainly not gotten any younger. Scholars estimate that Ulëndras may have been ten thousand years old at this point, though it’s all an unknown, as they still don’t know what the Royal Dragon aging process is like.

The younger dragons under Ulëndras’ power wage war against him. Helped with the dwarven advent of iron weapons, the people join. The Brood of Ulëndras is hard-pressed to defeat their rebelling subjects.

At the height of the war, when Ulëndras’ mighty palace was surrounded by raging dragons and mobs of humans, Ulëndras is killed – by his own son, Dräsilith, who puts down the rebellion with a firm stare and takes control of Drak’an. As dragons are wont to do, Dräsilith kills any dragon older than him or near his age, leaving only those far weaker than him and not of any danger to his rule – the rule of the Brood of Dräsilith (dragons are notoriously vain, and name their families after the current patriarch – history is not given much thought when you can live for three thousand years)

~E.F. 600 – The War of the Twin Spears occurs, which is basically humanity bashing the shit out of the elves, who momentarily ally to fend off the humans. It is one of the bloodiest wars in the history of either race, and what’s worse is that no one can really figure out who started it. If you dig deep enough, you can still find the mass graves that resulted from some of the battles…

E.F. 188 – Dräsilith has turned out to be a far inferior ruler to his father, and though he managed to hold his power for a millennium, he can hold it no more. After summarily executing every last member of his Brood out of paranoia, he is set upon by an alliance of lesser dragons and killed. The last of the Royal Dragons, of the line of god-king Ulëndras, is dead. Drak’an follows. The empire of three and a half millenia falls, turning into a series of states, controlled by a variety of powerful dragons – the Brood of Kharr, the Brood of A’ka, the Brood of Alagaaz, etcetera.

E.F. 42 – Ships arrive from across the Cloudsea, from the land of Luinthras. These ships land in an area controlled by the Brood of Kaa’th, a group at the time too weak to do anything about them. They bring with them messages of peace, messages of a world without dragonkings… messages of a new god. Archus and his pantheon have arrived in the Civilized Lands. The dragonkings are too busy warring amongst themselves to notice, something dragons have been beating themselves over the head about ever since.

E.F. 35 – A boy by the name of Japhasath is born in the region of Ka’ath. The visiting high priest of Archus, who sailed across the Cloudsea on the whim of a dream, declares him the prophet of Archus, the future of the lands. A gathering of Archanites begins to collect around the boy. At this point the dragons should really start noticing stuff, but they’re kind of stupid mega-large lizard things.

E.F. 23 – On the day of Japhasath’s twelfth birthday, Dragonking Ka’ath takes an interest and decides to incinerate the troublesome boy along with his hometown. On seeing him, Japhasath raises his staff to the sky and Ka’ath is struck down by the will of Archus. This begins a rebellion entered into by all of the rather large following of Archus. The dragonkings finally notice.

E.F. 15 – Dragonking Alagaaz, the most powerful of all the kings, disappears completely. Without his protection, his lands, mostly territory in the Dragonmaw Range, quickly fall to the warring Archanites. The Archanites sweep the land, murdering every living thing they come across – human, dwarf, dragon; man, woman, child – it makes no difference, as they see their still living under Algaaz’s wing as evidence of their refusal of Archus. This massacre is known as the Dance of Dying Embers, and is considered the worst thing the Archanites have done in recorded history.

E.F. 4 – An eleven year stalemate is broken when Japhasath marches upon the palace of Dragonking Kharr. He walks right past his guards, into his thrown room, holds out his staff, and commands the king to die. The massive black dragon promptly obeys. His palace falls in a rain of fire, and the corpse of the last remaining dragonking is incinerated.

0 – The Church of Archus, having sent several representatives from Luinthras, founds the Archan Empire, declaring the worship of any Archan god the only acceptable form of religion. Japhasath is offered the crown, but declines. A puppet king is installed by the church.

A.F. (Archan Fael – literally, The Year of Archus) 52 – Japhasath has wandered the land much over the past decades. It is thought that in this time he brought the worship of Archus to the dwarves, the worship of Rudolphus and Omora Agabai to the elves, and generally went around being a nice guy. Japhasath is last seen going into the far reaches of the Dragonmaw Range. When some dwarven priests go to find him, all they find is his staff… resting between a mountain that has been cloven perfectly in two. This mountain is named the Cleft Spire, and is still the most holy site of Archus in all the Civilized Lands.

A.F. 55 – The Church of Archus and all their lackeys receive a message from across the Cloudsea. Immediately, they pack up and leave, promising to return within the decade. They do not keep the promise.

A.F. 60 – The Archan Empire crumbles without the support of the Luinthrans, dissolving into a series of city-states.

~A.F. 75 – A small city in the northern regions of the Civilized Lands turns to the practice of necromancy, naming themselves Túgel Vas, the City of Bones.

A.F. 202 – It has been a century and a half since the departure of the Luinthrans, and the humans have spent most of that time killing each other. Three city-states have emerged ahead of the rest, named Túgel Vas, Dúnel Vas, and Argan Vas – the City of Bones, the City of Kings, and the City of Swords. Dúnel Vas and Argan Vas enter into an alliance. Their combined armies sweep the lands of those stupid enough to resist. Túgel Vas fades into the background, knowing it cannot stand against the twin cities. The eldest children of the two ruling houses are married, and form the newly born House of Niara. Emperor Ethélgar the Great takes the throne of the newly created Niaran Empire.

~A.F. 290 – The First Crusade occurs. The forces of Niara march upon Túgel Vas, determined to destroy its blasphemous presence, which they’ve only recently remembered. It is thought that around this time Zarathas, the first Asilin, was created in an attempt to counter the empire. Something countered it, for after a few years of war, the armies of the empire beat a hasty retreat and resolve never to mention the situation again. Prominent geomancers have dated the start of the degeneration of the Wastes to around this time, so it is thought that some great, land-corrupting spell fended off Niara.

A.F. 307 – The Niaran Empire has become the foremost power of the land, allying with both the elves of the west and the dwarves of Ironforge. In what is considered one of the most hilariously ironic incidents in history, Emperor Edhert the Paranoid is killed by assassins. With his heirs killed in the same night, the House of Riverwish takes control of the empire, though they keep the name Niaran Empire, if only because “Riverwishian Empire” sounds rather lame. Emperor Ashbald the Ruthless takes the throne.

A.F. 352 – Emperor Ashfar the Oblivious is slain by invading minotaurs, beginning a rather embarrassing period in the history of Niara: its period under foreign rule. Emperor Gathak dún Gadh of the House of Karkan takes the throne.

A.F. 370 – After a short and useless rule, Emperor Nuthel dún Gathak is dethroned, stabbed, hung, poisoned, drawn and quartered, burnt, and thrown in pig doings by an irate populace. The House of Atralang comes into rule, beginning the most prosperous period of the Empire of Niara. Emperor Jakben the Red takes the throne.

~A.F. 380 – The Second Crusade occurs. The House of Atralang decides that those damn minotaurs need to be taught a damn lesson in damn manners. So they invade, kill the sitting emperor, and spread the word of Archus. The minotaurs are just fine with Archus, but especially take to the worship of his son, Jurgan, and his friend, Zaran. Ironically, the minotaurs become staunch allies of the empire after this.

A.F. 454 – The Third Crusade, also known as the Forgotten Crusade or A Bad Idea, occurs. Emperor Jakthorn the Blue decides that it’s high time to check up on those damn necromancers again. The armies of Atralang invade, find a scarred land full of about seventeen different factions of warring undead fiends and one faction of beleaguered humans, decide that Túgel Vas has enough problems without them, turn around, and march right back to the Civilized Lands. Jakthorn dies a year later of dysentery.

A.F. 517- Emperor Jakhart the Yellow dies of plague. With no heirs ready to take the throne (his only daughter doesn’t count as an heir, ’cause she’s a chick) the War of Ascension breaks out.

A.F. 522 – The War of Ascension is won. Emperor Larazan the Conqueror takes the throne, marrying Jakhart’s daughter to lend legitimacy to a claim originally enforced with sharp objects. The House of Dargonne now has the throne.

~A.F. 560 – The Fourth Crusade occurs. Emperor Ethélgar Moonbane, upon hearing of the heathen, moon-worshiping, moon-addicted, Moon Dwarves to the north, decides to invade. This goes rather well, and they completely decimate an entirely stable society that has been running fine for thousands of years. Unfortunately, Ethélgar’s two eldest sons, Arug the Princely and Zagan Deathwish, both die in combat, leaving Darius the Mad as the only heir.

A.F. 598 – The people of Argan Vas rebel, assassinating the potentate installed by Emperor Darius and declaring war on their sister city, Dúnel Vas, beginning the First Imperial War. Darius goes completely batshit, declaring war on both the elves and the dwarves for “not helping enough”.

A.F. 602 – Darius is killed by his eldest son, Benedict. Benedict quickly asks for peace with Argan Vas, renames Dúnel Vas Wyrmspire, and declares himself King Benedict I. This is the end of the Niaran Empire, and the beginning of the current period of history.

A.F. 652 – The Alliance is formed, an agreement between the elves, the dwarves, the minotaurs, and the humans of Wyrmspire to not kill each other and maybe occasionally help each other out. Benedict I, the Wise, promptly dies after seeing this through, as he is at this point really friggin’ old.

~A.F. 660 – The Second Imperial War occurs, taking the life of Benedict II, the Avenger. His brother, Carith I, takes the throne.

~A.F. 685 – The Third Imperial War. Through a series of stupidities, Carith II, the Fool, is slain in battle. His brother, Gandin I, the Brave, takes the throne.

A.F. 722 – Gandin II dies with no heirs. The War of Succession, basically a bitch-fight between various second and third cousins, begins.

A.F. 725 – Carith III, the Eye, grandson of Carith II, takes the throne decisively. During this time, he forms an alliance with the Order of the Red Magi. Carith III is often thought to be the most dubiously mage-like of all the kings. Most noble people don’t really truck with mages.

~A.F. 770 – The Fourth Imperial War occurs. Benedict III, the Hammer, is slain in the final battle, leaving his son, Carith V, to take over.

A.F. 798 – Carith V and his son, soon to be Gandin III, are both assassinated in the same night. The young adventurer Benedict IV takes the throne.

A.F. 823 – Present day. Despite many efforts by people on both sides to start the Fifth Imperial War, Benedict IV has thus far prevented it. This is generally considered a good thing. Benedict has three children, named Adrian, Randolph, and Keara. As the eldest two are gigantic twats, it’s generally hoped that Keara take the throne, despite the fact that she is sixteen and refuses to be seen anywhere near the palace.

Fuck You, WordPress

Yeah, you’d have a new post tonight, but wordpress timed out and lost half my fucking work. I can’t redo it before sunday, so… fuck you, wordpress.

Fucking Finally

Okay, I’m bloody well done with Wyrmspire.  Phew.  That took, what… six months?  Remind me to detail my next city in less… detail.

The next things I’m going to do are available on the Alara page – the ones that aren’t links are articles that haven’t been written yet.  Methinks I’m going to do some history, then the Explorer’s Society and the Thieves’ Guild, then dragons.  Then maybe some more cities – though in less detail.  Far, far less detail.

Peace out.

~Tusked

Wyrmspire: The Undercity

Beneath the entirety of Wyrmspire lies an entirely separate and altogether more sinister entity: the Undercity. It’s called many things, the Tunnels, the Darkness Below, “that place we don’t want to talk about”, and, among its inhabitants, “Dak’ren”, a nickname that originated in the name of a Njorlghar colony that existed below Wyrmspire before the Undercity was formed.

“Before the Undercity was formed” is an interesting qualifier. There have always existed caves beneath Wyrmspire; the city of Dúren Vas was built over limestone, full of caves. For most of its history, these caves have contained Njorlghar colonies. It’s not known whether Dúren Vas was built over an already large Njorlghar colony or whether the colony grew due to the plenty of the city built over it.

The caves remained for centuries. At some point, near the high point of the empire, while under the House of Atralang, sewer systems were built under it. Only some of these are still in use today (the people of Wyrmspire often prefer dumping their waste in the street), while the rest have been abandoned. All of them are part of the Undercity.

The final parts of the Undercity are the tunnels made specifically for inclusion in the Undercity. After the rise of the Thieves’ Guild, soon after the fall of the empire, the tunnels and caverns were expanded to accommodate their less than legal activities. Since then, the Undercity has been expanded time and time again, and now is larger, in terms of population, than many small cities across the Civilized Lands.

The population of the Undercity is incredibly varied, though it is skewed towards to factions: humans of or under the protection of the Thieves’ Guild, and Njorlghar. Other than that, there are scatterings of every other race of the Civilized Lands, including the occasional Satyr or very, very confused Amen-Kathar.

The humans of the Undercity are mostly confined to the area directly below the Old Quarter. There are entire cities in the dark below, most of them spillover from the Old Quarter: the families of thieves whose talents make them targets of the city’s elites, for example. Thus, they hide their loved ones away in the below, and no one ever finds them. It’s why the Old Quarter seems to contain more people than could rationally have houses there: many of them have their homes in the Undercity.

The Undercity is home to three major cities of humans, though “cities” is a bit of an odd term for the piles of ramshackle houses that collect on the banks of the rivers of waste. These cities are Agron’s Hideaway, Krakk’an, and Tooth. Agron’s Hideaway is the largest, and sprung up on the sight of a famous hiding place of a famous thief. Krakk’an is an old Njorlghar colony, abandoned during some long-ago purging of the Undercity, and reinhabited by thieves, who are nothing if not willing to improvise. Tooth is the smallest of the three, only a town, really. No one has any idea why it’s called Tooth. Most people think it probably has something to do with teeth, but it’s all up in the air.

The Njorlghar of the Undercity are many and varied, but they’ve already been gone over in the Njorlghar post, so go look at that, you wastrels you.

Of course, there’s something special under every Wyrmspire quarter. Under the Merchant Quarter is a chain of caves and tunnels often used by smugglers. Under the Dwarven Quarter, there’s just a spillover of the random mountain clan battles. There’s a group of rogue wizards beneath the Arcane Quarter, a colony of vampires beneath the Temple Quarter, an underground gladiatorial arena beneath the Noble Quarter, and a cult trying to summon an insane god beneath the palace. All in all, the area beneath the Old Quarter is, ironically enough, one of the safest places in the Undercity you could be.

Below the Arcane Quarter lies the territory of the Order of the Gold Magi. If you remember, the above region is home to five orders of magi, the Red, Blue, White, Grey, and Black. These are the five largest and most important orders, but there are a bunch of small useless ones. The Gold Magi are the largest and usefulest of these small and useless groups. They are fanatical religious zealots, who use their power to convince people to worship Archus. They aren’t often very nice about it. Unfortunately for them, their blinding worship of Archus means that they have no time to worship Omora Agabai, so they find their spells occasionally randomly fizzling at an inopportune moment.

Beneath the Temple Quarter is the city’s largest coven of vampires. Of course, since they’re vampires, they need a lot of space, so they basically have massive underground mansions full of ritzy things. Occasionally they come together and discuss how much things have gone to pot in Wyrmspire lately, and plot their takeover of the surface world. This doesn’t amount to much, as often they get caught up discussing the Lady Karvata Nogolotta’s darling doilies.

Under the Noble Quarter is the famed Arena of Blood, which is seriously the most creative name the proprietor could think up. It’s probably the most commonly traversed area of the Undercity, and there’s a crapload of people that come to it every day. The attractions range from two gladiators going head-to-head, to one gladiator against some kind of wild beast, to two wild beasts against each other, to just letting a bunch of random shit out in the arena and watching the carnage. The Arena of Blood has cultivated a few “champions” over the years, only one of which is humanoid. The rest are an assortment of vile monsters, including one incredibly pissed swamp dragon.

Of course, the most vile place in the entirety of the Undercity is the area beneath the Palace. There is a large community of cultists – an entire city of them, really. They worship a demon lord known as Khaaz… a demon lord who desires the power of a god. They’ve been researching a ritual capable of elevating him to godship, and plan on performing it soon. This would require the sacrifice of every one of their number, but their leaders conveniently left that part out when they described the ritual to their minions.

Important Residents of the Undercity:

Salkiss is the leader of the Thieves’ Guild, and often referred to as the Undermayor by the people below. The Thieves’ Guild has always had a very active role in the control of the Undercity, as they’re basically all it has as a governing body (though they avoid the territories of the vampires and the cult of Khaaz). Recent Thieves’ Guild leaders have done such things as establishing lines of torches to connect the various towns of the Undercity. Salkiss himself has actually constructed a paved rode between Agron’s Hideaway and Krakk’an, the Undercity’s two largest villages, even building a bridge over a large area of sewage-rapids that previously had to be traveled around at great length.

Salkiss is arguably the only person that can travel the Undercity unmolested. He’s often recognized by the dark green cloak and leather armor he wear, which makes you wonder if half the people you see in green cloaks and armor are actually Salkiss or just impostors taking advantage of the “don’t fuck with the only guy who cares about us” clause. There’s a chance that the entire ruling council of the Thieves’ Guild goes around in green, just to fuck with everyone’s head. The point is, wearing green is good for your health in the Undercity.

Hith the Carver is the proprietor of the Arena of Blood. Hith has been in power even since the Arena’s founding, and many wonder if it’s not an inherited title. Hith is a massive man, fat, smelly, and hairy, with long black hair falling in greasy bunches and a perpetual scruffiness about him. He often smokes a foul-smelling cigar, and indeed he’s generally the foulest person you could hope to run into in the Undercity, and not only because there’s a large chance he’ll take you captive and use you as a gladiator.

Hith spends his time wandering the less-traveled areas of the Undercity with four “associates”, attacking anything that looks like it can be overcome. This may be entire groups of marauding Njorlghar – as such, there’s a lot of Njorlghar gladiators under Kith’s control. The most famous of these is Ripper, a large black Njorlghar originally of the Bloodfang clan. Ripper is the most fearsome gladiator among Hith’s troops, and many a beast has lost its life to Ripper’s twin shortswords. Ripper goes into battle clothed only in a loincloth and cloak.

Jareg the Mutt is the best merchant of the Undercity. Given enough time, he can acquire anything. He’s known as “the Mutt” because of his parentage. To be honest, he’s not sure of it, having grown up an orphan in Agron’s Hideaway, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s got some interesting shit going on there. His slightly pointed ears indicate elven ancestry, but he’s slightly shorter than average for a human, and has both the large nose of a dwarf and the slightly thinner form of an Underfoot. Of course, he’s got a lot of hair all over his body, and slight stubs of horns beneath his mane of brown-blond hair. He commonly hits on any Rhokari or Njorlghar females that come anywhere near him, in an effort to spawn even stranger children.

Jareg is the go-to merchant for the entirety of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s got a large stock of poisons, maps of the Undercity, blueprints to most mansions of the Noble Quarter, and fake keys to at least half of the temples in the city. He runs a shop on the outskirts of Agron’s Hideaway, which is almost always bustling with thieves planning their newest excursion and buying accordingly. Jareg should by all means be rich by know, but his money seems to disappear as soon as he gets it. No one knows what or who he spends it on.

Charon is the ferryman. If you want to get around the canals of the Undercity, you simply call for him. Charon has been around longer than anyone can remember. He’s certainly very old at this time, hunched with age, and with long white hair that looks brown due to the layers of dirt that have accumulated over the years. Often, he can be seen propelling his raft around the Undercity, using a long wooden pole to move about. When he passes, he often sings an unknown song under his breath. Its tune has become stuck in many an Undercity pedestrian’s head over the years – though no one knows its origins.

There are bells atop poles stationed every so often along the Undercity’s canals – simply ring one of these bells and Charon will be along shortly. Give him something, anything (a small coin will do, though he also accepts trinkets and any manner of interesting object) and he’ll ferry you to where you want to go. No one messes with Charon, as everyone is in need of his services eventually. No one knows where he sleeps, either, or even if he sleeps. He seems to always be there. No one’s even confident that he’s sighted, as he never looks any customers directly in the eyes. He may well be entirely blind, and find his way around the Undercity by memory.

Meeting people on Charon’s raft is rather… odd, to say the least. Often, he’ll pick up several passengers at a time. At times like these, there’s a code of silence, as people who say things like “so, where you off to, then?” are liable to get shanked. Charon stays out of these conflicts. It’s generally considered intelligent to simply forget any face you see on the ferry, lest the watch come calling. Though the Watch’s presence in the Undercity is… negligible, at best. The only groups that never really takes advantage of Charon’s service are the various Njorlghar clans, who distrust him, and would honestly rather swim through the slime and muck that makes up the Undercity’s canals.

Wyrmspire: The Old Quarter

Your mother’s a walrus.

The Old Quarter is many things. It’s the oldest of the quarters, and thus the most ancient part of Wyrmspire. It’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy. And it’s a major headache to anyone with the opinion that things should be nicer these days.

Put simply, the Old Quarter is a shithole. It’s massively overpopulated, and as such has a standard of living roughly on par with that expected of chimpanzees. Only chimpanzees don’t have to worry about catching the plague every day. To say theft is rampant would be a massive understatement. Theft is expected. If you walk down the street, in the middle of the day, and don’t get pulled into an alley and mugged, pickpocketed, scammed, or just beaten over the head and all your possessions taken, then something really weird is going on.

Of course, there’s a City Watch in the Old Quarter. It’s just… not very effective. Mostly because of the Thieves’ Guild. And the Assassins’ Guild. And the recently founded Arsonists’ Guild, which doesn’t have a permanent guild headquarters yet because it needs something that won’t burn down. Amazingly, however, the City Watch in the Old Quarter has remained relatively uncorrupt. Which means that every day, the prisons of the watch overflow with incumbents. And every night the Arsonists’ Guild blows up the temporary wall that the watch put up to replace last night’s explosion. This could be stopped by posting guards around the wall, but… well, then they bring in the Assassins. It kind of sucks when the three most violent guilds in the quarter are all on friendly terms, and not with you.

The Old Quarter is a hodgepodge. The Merchant Quarter is drawn together by money, which is everpresent, but the Old Quarter is drawn together by lack of money, which, it turns out, is even more everpresent. So, everyone lives in the Old Quarter. The majority of the population are humans, of course, but their are also unscrupulous dwarves, underfoot of any kind, rhokari, who don’t often have money, minotaurs, who just like to hit things, and several small groups of enlightened njorlghar. And elves. Oh, elves.

There’s a crapload of elves in the Old Quarter. When Asernaiar fell, one of three things happened to the elves living in the city: first, an awful lot of them died. Sucks. A large minority of them spread out into the surrounding countryside, where they became the Phoenix Guard. But the largest chunk just ran the hell away, and became refuges. And where did these refugees go, pray? Well, they could go to Elenaiar… but those northern elves have always been a bit snooty (it is the opinion of elves everywhere that any elves who aren’t them are “a bit snooty”). They could go to Ironforge… heh, no. Below has too many dwarves, and too much technology. Tartaras was ruled out because if there’s one thing elves trust less than dwarves, it’s minotaurs. So that left… Wyrmspire.

Not all elves went to Wyrmspire. Sizable chunks established entirely elven cities, just kind of sitting in the middle of human lands. A lot went to Elenaiar, despite the aformentioned snootiness. A few even went to Below, and got jobs working the wind-machines. There’s always work to go around in Below. But a large amount went to Wyrmspire… where there wasn’t really room for them. So they settled in in the Old Quarter. They are among the most scrupled of the Old Quarter’s residents, they often go to the temple quarter to pray and most of them have legitimate jobs. But it’s only a matter of time before the whole atmosphere gets to them.

The Old Quarter is the best place ever if you want not to be noticed. There are innumerable bars in which you can mingle and disappear, with names like the Drunken Cat, the Burning Noose, and the Helena’s Tits (that one’s a bit less reputable than even the non-reputable ones). All of these bars serve alcohol that can totally and completely pickle you in one gulp. Basically, if you’re a heavy drinker who does not want to be looked directly at ever, it’s the place for you. No wonder it’s so overpopulated.

And there are some bars that you don’t want to be near if you’re the wrong kind of person. These bars are the Nagle’s Fortune, the Black Adder, and the Flammable Tavern. In order, these bars house the secret doors that lead to the entrance of the Thieves’ Guild, the Assassins’ Guild, and the Arsonists’ Guild. They all coincide very nicely with the atmosphere of their respective guilds.

The Nagle’s Fortune (a Nagle is considered to be a small, furry creature that grants good luck if it sees you take a piss… the Old Quarter has some weird superstitions) is a very roudy, rambunctious place, full of gambling and people good-naturedly trying to rob one another (it’s considered kind of a game among thieves. if someone can rob you without you noticing, they get to keep whatever they got at the end of the night. they’re very sporting about it.) If you want to get into the actual guild area, you just ask Gorlunk, the large barman who looks perfectly human except for one fang sprouting out of his lower lip and quite a hairy body. He takes you into the back, through a door that looks amazingly like a wall at first glance, and then, if you don’t produce some guild ID, proceeds to beat the everliving crap out of you. It’s amazing how much of a beating a half-werewolf can give out.

The Black Adder, on the other hand, is a dour place. Grim-faced men sit around, playing cards and smoking. Gambling is often partaken in, but anyone caught cheating is… dealt with. The menu on the wall isn’t a menu of food, as such: it’s a menu of lives. It gives standard guild rates depending on any complications the mark might have, such as bodyguards, a background in martial arts, or the blessing of one or more god. At the top are some of the more commonly demanded targets: Salkiss, 100,000 Draketalons. Duke Narax, 80,000. Lady Dawneye, 75,000. There are a lot of them, but the fact that they’re even on the list means that it’s probably a bad idea to try to kill them, as the assassins have failed before. Those wishing to get into the guild hall need only walk toward the fireplace in the back of the room, making sure to press an innocuous stone on the wall as they walk. A loud creaking noise later, and you’re in the guild hall. Which is an even scarier place than the rest of the Black Adder. Good luck.

The Flammable Tavern is generally considered a joke. It’s supposed to be the location of the Arsonists’ Guild’s headquarters, but they haven’t gotten enough money to build an underground headquarters comprised entirely of stone yet. So they just use it as a meeting place for their highest command, an assortment of pyromaniacs who are, together, about one sane man. However, they somehow get kept in control except when someone is paying them to burn something down. No one really knows how. Other than that, the Flammable Tavern is a really nice place, full of joking and laughing. They also serve the most exquisite roast boar. Though it’s not advisable to order it rare. They get offended.

Of course, other than this, there’s a lot of normal citizens in the Old Quarter too. But most of them are in some way loyal to the Thieves’ Guild. Most commerce centers around the docks in the Old Quarter, as the River Alagaaz is one of the widest in the world, and also happens to lead directly to Below. So shipping is a rather prominent industry. At some places, almost half of the river is covered in docks and warehouses. Which has led to people taxing boats coming through these areas. Sigh. Humans.

Important Residents of the Old Quarter:

Salkiss is the leader of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s a very enigmatic figure, though he’s generally considered human. Or maybe elven. Half-elven? Who knows. What everyone does know is that he’s the most skilled thief in the city, and without a doubt the most powerful man in the Old Quarter. Also, everyone knows he’s male. For some reason. He’s referred to as a he, at least.

Salkiss leads the inner council of thieves, a group about as mysterious as him. It’s known that there’s a female elven illusionist, and a muscled minotaur, and probably a few more humans, but again, it’s unclear. Salkiss has led the Thieves’ Guild for thirteen years, after his takeover from the previous guild leader, Aarot. Apparently the leaders of the Thieves’ Guild all have enigmatic, two-syllable names. And they all take over in violent coups. Since only a leader’s underlings know who he is, this means that every time the Thieves’ Guild has changed leadership since its founding it has been an internal struggle. Which is… kind of scary, when it gets down to it. Damn.

Kargan Reaper is the current leader of the Assassins’ Guild. It’s likely that his name is a pseudonym too. Damn thieves. Always being all mysterious.

The Assassins’ Guild is an offshoot of the Thieves’ Guild that sprung up about fifty years ago. Its original purpose was to usurp the Thieves’ Guild as the power over the Old Quarter, but it eventually was relegated to an underling of the Thieves’ Guild. Of course, the Assassins’ Guild still operates relatively autonomously. Essentially, they’re friendly with the Thieves’ Guild, but not necessarily under its command.

The Assassins’ Guild at least does some things much smarter than the Thieves’ Guild does. For example, its upper echelon always wears pure black, identical costumes at every meeting, and when they return home, they’ll cross paths multiple times to elude stalkers. And they have decoys at the meeting, too. The commanding force of the Assassins’ Guild consists of about seven people, but its meetings consist of roughly forty, with each one voicing its opinion equally to throw off, hehe… assassins. Thus, government of the guild has been kept within a relative few. The last three guild leaders, in reverse order, have been Kargan Reaper, Kargan Deathfist, and Kargan Blackadder. Reaper claims to be the grandson of Blackadder, though no one knows the truth of this, and it’s entirely unconfirmable. The Assassins’ Guild runs an unbelievably tight program.

Rath Flamebreaker is the essential leader of the Arsonists’ Guild. There isn’t one for real, but he’d be it if there was one. He’s the smarts of the upper council. All the other members have names like Druul the Insane, Gathak Innocentburner, and Seville, He Who Sets Fire To Those Who Disagree With Him And Also Have A Bad Fashion Sense. Rath keeps all these crazies in check. He has flame-red hair, which is short and spiky, and green eyes. His ears are scarred and scabbed, with the tops cut off. Thus, it’s not known if he’s an elf or simply a very skinny human. It’s honestly unclear.

Commander Ag Vat is the leader of the city watch in the Old Quarter. He’s about forty and very, very sick of constantly being harassed by thieves, having his headquarters firebombed, and being subject to random assassination attempts. He is attempting to reform the city watch into something of an army, capable of taking on the… everybody. This isn’t going well, as most of the guards in the Old Quarter have lost hope. But still, the prisons are constantly being filled. And then everyone escapes, but… hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Skeleton Key is a very odd elf. He’s very old, and he’s the best lockpicker that ever was, if you believe him. Of course, it’s very easy to believe him. He’s very, very good. Which is odd, because he’s blind. He’s got white hair, pale white skin, and white eyes. He can usually be found sitting alone, sipping a liquor and tinkering with his latest invention, in the back of the Nagle’s Fortune.

Skeleton Key was once a young rogue, just like everyone else in the Old Quarter. Of course, ‘once’ could be a few hundred years ago for him, he is old. He took especially to lockpicking, and decided that, since he wasn’t especially good at sneaking around or liberating objects silently from people’s rooms, he’d just make his living lockpicking. Pay him some money, get him to the lock, and you’ve got yourself an open door. Or chest. Or chastity belt.

Anyway, that was a while ago. Now, he’s able to open any lock in the city, no problem. So he operates on an inverse pay scale. To open easy locks, which are a waste of his time, you have to pay him a lot. The harder the lock, the more it interests him, and the less you have to pay. He’s said that if anyone finds him an unopenable lock, he will pay them for the pleasure, and then commit ritual suicide, as his life has been completed. Until then, he spends his time trying to invent better locks. Ironically enough, he’s probably going to end up making life a lot harder for lockpickers – some of his inventions are bloody brilliant, to say the least. Of course, a lot of them are just weird, such as the sand-powered time-lock, or the demon lock, which operates entirely based on demons. He actually gets very little business these days in terms of people asking him to pick locks, as any lock someone wants picked is far too easy for him, so he charges too much. He makes most of his money by training young rogues or selling his inventions to paranoid noblemen.

Wyrmspire: The Merchant Quarter

Yeah, so’s your mother.

Anyway.  Onto the merchant quarter.

The keyword for the merchant quarter is diversity.  The merchant quarter, moreso than any of the other quarters, revolves around money.  (the noble quarter revolves around poshness, the temple quarter around piety, the arcane quarter around intelligence, the dwarven quarter around basic street wits, and the old quarter around lack of money).  And money is a pretty damn universal language.  So, you can find basically every race, with the notable exception of the Amen-Kathar, wandering around the merchant quarter selling things, buying things, stealing things, or just people-watching.

The merchant quarter is fucking crazy. If you know where to look, you can find anything in the merchant quarter.  Recently, the city watch was involved in a busting a dragon-smuggling ring.  Not dragon eggs, or wyrmlings, or drakes.  Full grown fucking dragons.  Being smuggled in rough-hewn wooden boxes.  Yeah, we’re not sure what the people that thought that up were smoking.

It was, however, probably Varith (check that transition motherfuckers).  Varith, the powerful hallucinogenic herb alternately said to be harvested on tropical islands far to the east, an innocent-looking herb that just grows in people’s gardens, or something the fucking wizards made up, is arguably even more popular here than in the noble quarter.  That’s because, when it gets down to it, there are not that many people in the noble quarter.   There are a fucking lot of people in the merchant quarter.  And the more people, the more potential Varith addicts.

Of course, all legitimate business in the merchant quarter is controlled by the merchant’s guild.  This guild is basically one giant mountain of red tape, with many, many levels of regulations for what can and cannot be sold by whom, when, where, and while wearing which color dress (fish + red = no, apparently).  Most of these regulations are summarily ignored  by everyone, because the merchant quarter is fucking huge, and there’s no way to honestly control everything.  Health ordinances are usually paid attention to, though, because people appear to actually care about things like that.  Go figure.

The city watch has a very active role in the control of the merchant quarter – moreso than any of the other quarters (the old quarter doesn’t technically count as them ‘controlling’ it).  They enforce laws on controlled substances, and whack the people that don’t listen to them with sticks.  Big sticks.

The merchant quarter is, of course, home to the vast majority of the middle class in Wyrmspire, as most of them are, well… merchants.  They sell shit.  Blacksmiths, tailors, and bakers are all forms of merchants in my opinion, of course.  Long as they sell their own shit.  Which they do.  The people of Wyrmspire are very open to things like that.  So you can wander into a blacksmith’s shop and they’ll be all like ‘o hai wat wuld u liek gud sir’ because obviously they’re uneducated.  I mean… they’re blacksmithing.  Also tits.  It’s 12:55 AM and I think my brain just popped.  I shall attempt to finish this cohesively…

The youth of the merchant quarter have recently figured out a new and exciting way to disappoint their parents: through competition in a game called ‘Tak’.  Originally a minotaur invention, ‘Gartak gí Túl’ was a very complicated game involving several inflated sheep’s bladders, many hoops, complicated rules, incredible technique, and occasionally something being set on fire.  It was taken to the human lands, and their delinquent children simplified it to a point where there’s one ball, one hoop, barely any rules, and more brutality than technique.  Fortunately, there still remains the possibility that something gets incinerated.  Tak is played between rival neighborhood gangs, often in the middle of crowded merchant squares full of other people.   The basic goal is to pass the ball through the hoop to a teammate on the other side – bonus points for catching the other team’s hoop-pass, or for hoop-passing using only elbows or something silly like that.  Also you win if the entire other team is incapacitated.  I may do a whole post on Tak sometime in the future.

The merchant quarter is truly an amazing place, full of diversity and richly-dressed members of all races.  However, it’s a lot less interesting than many of the other quarters, and thus kind of hard to write about.  Which is why it took me two weeks to get off my ass and get it over with.  Fuckers.

Important Residents of the Merchant Quarter:

High Merchant Tadaran Knopwhick is the leader of all commerce-type-objects in the merchant quarter.  He is one of the most serious merchants in the merchant’s guild, leading to the utter hilarity of the fact that he is, in fact, short as all hell.  He’s an underfoot.  A really, really short underfoot.  So, when he dresses in his resplendent robes of sable and black (those of you that get the joke there get a cookie) he looks, to be honest, like a damned fool.

Tadaran is, however, a very dour figure.  He has crazy jowls and close-cropped silver hair.  He also has a bit of a beer-belly.  If you find yourself laughing at him, you will in all likelihood soon find that the joke is on you, as he will enact an ordinance entirely to fuck with you.  He once banned horns from existing on one’s body in public due to the fact that a minotaur pointed at him and cackled.  Of course, there are rumors that he had a crazy youth, full of Varith smoking and hot underfoot babes.  Most discount these rumors, as… seriously.  Just no.

Rumors also abound of him secretly being an incredibly kind person, and keeping up the serious facade as a front for some underground illegal charity thing he’s doing.  Of course, no one can figure out what the hell could be both nice and illegal enough for him to be that much of an ass to cover up for it.  It’s possible that he’s part of the Grey Dawn, but what could his position be such that he needs so much secrecy?

Commander Thestle is the commander of the city watch of the merchant quarter.  Presumably he has a first name, but he doesn’t really share it.  Y’know… ever.  Thestle is a man matching the dourness displayed in Tadaran Knopwhick.  He hates everything, a hate many think springs from a childhood encounter with a dragon.  Or maybe he’s just an ass.  It’s unknown.

‘course, if your line of work involved foiling smugglers every single fucking day for over thirty years, you’d end up being a bit bitter too.  Just last week he took down a dragon-smuggling ring, a slave ring, a small pocket of Varith smugglers, and one crazy man on a turtle that thought he was Black Hundriss.

Thestle is a medium-sized man with gray hair, slightly balding, and with bitter black eyes.  He gives you the impression of being a pig without actually being fat, which is quite an accomplishment.

Duke Narax is the face of the Shatva in Wyrmspire – of course, using the term ‘face’ to describe the head of a secret organization dedicated to selling hallucinogenic herbs is… interesting.  Narax is a minotaur, black-furred, with one horn broken off at the base.  He’s not really a duke, of course.  Nobody with his pedigree could get anywhere near any royalty, ever.  Narax is a mutt – a street urchin who rose to his position through sheer brute force and continues to enforce his power similarly.  He’s been known to cut off the thumbs of those that fail him.  Adding to this mystique is the fact that he’s missing his left thumb – the thought is that, perhaps, he once failed himself?  Who knows.  We certainly aren’t asking him.  He may cut off our thumbs.

Narax, while an important figure, is by no means head of the worldwide Shatva.  They wouldn’t risk their shit like that.  Narax reports to an enigmatic entity known only as The Darkened One, and it’s unknown if even he (she? it?) is the highest rung of the Shatva ladder.  It’s entirely possible that the Shatva is even more evil than most suspect.

Wyrmspire: The Dwarven Quarter

You’re walking along serenely through the Merchant’s Quarter when, all of a sudden, everything changes.  You’ve been stopping and chatting with all the richly-dressed men and women you’ve seen on your way, but those men and women are now significantly shorter.  And they’re wearing chainmail and carrying axes instead of wearing died linen and carrying licenses to sell anything and everything.

This is Wyrmspire’s Dwarven Quarter, undoubtedly the shortest of all quarters.  And also, most likely, the most populous.  Of course, that’s arguable.  The Old Quarter may be the most populous, but they seem to resist census attempts by stealing the census-taker’s shoes and selling them for food.  So it’s really not well known.

The Dwarven Quarter was established shortly after the dwarven city of Irongate made an alliance with the old human empire, around the year 400 or so.  The dwarves moving to Wyrmspire to trade with the humans and blacksmith for them realized that there were enough of them to just set up a little mini-city.  They did just that.  The dwarven minority is without a doubt the most influential in Wyrmspire, as without them the city would be severely lacking in blacksmiths, miners, cheese merchants (dwarves have a thing for cheese), and drunkards.

Which brings us to the next point: the disparity in morals between the dwarves of Wyrmspire and the dwarves of Irongate.  Irongate is a long-standing city which has not been breached or, indeed, changed, in nearly a thousand years.  The Dwarven Quarter is a subsection of a city full of humans.  There’s a difference.  The dwarves of Irongate are very conservative.  Basically, if you break a rule in Irongate, there’s a chance you’ll get banished forever.  Or have your pinky toe cut off (that particular rule stems from a mistranslation of an ancient dwarven equivalent of the Magna Carta, but don’t tell any of the Irongate dwarves that).  In a stark contrast, the Dwarven Quarter is full of what, for a lack of a better word, I will call party dwarves.  They get drunk, they hang out with elves (gasp!) and they go off on adventures with humans.

Note, however, that these are not the scientifically minded Wind Dwarves of Below.  No, these are still Cave Dwarves (as they are called so mockingly by their Wind Dwarf cousins) for the most part.  There is, of course, a small Wind Dwarf minority, but for the most part, the Dwarven Quarter is made up of bearded, helmet-wearing, bear-drinking motherfuckers.  As opposed to the Wind Dwarves, who are often clean shaven, with close-cut hair, leather headguard things (reminiscent of airforce flying caps from WWII) instead of helmets, and who honestly prefer Scrim, an odd drink distilled from a root that hangs down from the underside of the world, whose taste is vaguely reminiscent of beets, and whose alcohol content is enough to drug a rhino.

Of course, the dwarven elders look down on all this froo-fra, this fraternizing with other races (they’re considering declaring the Wind Dwarves another race, just to cheese them off) and all this… adventuring.  Good dwarves sit at home and quietly contemplate the will of Archus before getting married off to a cousin.  But the dwarves of Wyrmspire are having none of this.  While both studious religion and arranged marriages are commonplace in Irongate, the Wyrmspire dwarves are having fun.  Which may or may not include a) gratuitous drinking b) kicking someone’s ass at a local bar or c) marrying whoever they damn well please.  Bam.  Take that, elders.

Said elders make up the entirety of the government of the Dwarven Quarter.  They have a council, and on it are nine incredibly, incredibly old dwarves.  They make all the rules in the Dwarven Quarter, and then get incredibly irate when they realize they have no way to enforce them because the only people that listen to them are old farts.  So they basically just sit in a building and gripe about how these young dwarves don’t show any respect for their elders.  And things like that.

One of the most disturbing events in recent times in the Dwarven Quarter, for both the dwarven elders and all those who enjoy their buildings nice and un-destroyed, is the resurrection of the dwarf mountain clans of old(in old dwarven – duarv dak’tanik kalnt).  According to most histories of dwarven culture (that is, the ones that don’t involve Irongate being created from the corpse of a giant bird named Gâr who fell to earth and then coalesced into a city – there are some weird dwarf cults), before the formation of Irongate and other dwarven cities, dwarf culture consisted of many roaming mountains clans, both in the Dragonmaw Range to the west and the Frostfell Peaks to the north (I named the mountains!  Finally!  Wee!).

These clans were savage and fierce, dressing in animal skins and fighting each other tooth and nail for land, hunting rights, mines, and women.  Most of the uncovered remains of ancient dwarves have been found with gaping holes in their skulls, or missing limbs, or still clutching their axes, or spread over an area of several dozen square feet.  Occasionally the tomb of a clan chieftain has been found, and while they’re usually better treated, buried with jewels, well-crafted battle axes, and yeti skins, they still have been found dead with battle wounds.  According to certain magic dating techniques, the oldest ancient dwarf found was just over eighty years old, an incredibly young age compared to the 200 a dwarf can live to if he eats healthy.  From certain drawings, it has been deduced that the ancient dwarves often wore blue face paint into battle.

Eventually, several thousand years ago, these dwarf clans coalesced into several city-states, including Irongate, in the Dragonmaws, and the Moon Dwarf Empire in the Frostfells.  The Moon Dwarves’ face tattoos are natural progressions from the ancient face paint of the dwarf clans.

All this was for the most part forgotten by all but historians.  Until recently.  A dwarf mage discovered a way to trace one’s ancestry back to the dwarf mountain clans.  Shortly after this, it was discovered that most of the dwarves in the civilized lands, whether Irongate, Wyrmspire, or Below, are descended from one of two clans: Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath.  This is most likely evidence that the two clans made a pact and essentially killed everyone else at some point in dwarven history.  Whatever the historical reason, this has led to a huge surge of clan patriotism among the young dwarves or Wyrmspire, who really needed something to believe in.  Thus, Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath have reemerged, though as little more than street gangs.  This has caused no end of trouble for everyone in the Dwarven Quarter, as random fights break out between the clans.

Of course, troops have been sent in to the Dwarven Quarter to attempt to put down the fighting.  This has been ineffective, as fights always seem to break out on the exact opposite side of the quarter than whatever soldiers are wandering around at the moment, and by the time said soldiers have arrived the dwarves are in such a frenzy that they can’t really be stopped.  After the fight is over, the soldiers usually mop up the exhausted dwarves (there aren’t often actual deaths) and throw them in jail.  Of course, this has led to the jails full of short, hairy men.  You just can’t win.

Clan Axebreaker is the larger of the two clans.  Its name in old dwarven is Kaln Ak’narruk (as you can see, both the common word “clan” and the common word “axe” are derived from dwarvish).  Clan Axebreaker was the first of the old dwarven clans to officially reform, though there’s evidence that Clan Lakedeath was an underground organization for months before the official formation of Clan Axebreaker.  Dwarves of Clan Axebreaker paint their faces in much the same way their ancestors did.  They wear their hair and beards in long, thick plaits.  While they do this to adhere to the look of their ancestors, they usually don’t wear animal skins, opting instead for dwarven chainmail.  As a result of their distinctive style, plaited hair gone essentially completely out of fashion among Wyrmspire dwarves other than those of Clan Axebreaker, as it is regarded as a clan mark.  Clan Axebreaker fight most often with handaxes.  While the most skilled fighters dual-wield them, most simply use one in whichever hand is their dominant one.

Clan Lakedeath is slightly smaller than Clan Axebreaker, but perhaps more dangerous.  Everyone agrees that “Lakedeath” sounds kind of silly, but the literal translation of their old dwarven name, Kaln Uth’fâthen, is “Clan of Those Who Bring Death and Live On The Lake”, and everyone agrees it’s just better to call it Lakedeath.  Most also avoid mentioning Lakedeath’s perceived silliness near any Lakedeath dwarf, because they will kill you.  Lakedeath dwarves wear blue facepaint like their Axebreaker counterparts, but that’s wear the similarity ends.  In stark contrast to the plaited hair of Axebreaker dwarves, Lakedeath dwarves wear their hair unbound, unwashed, and unkempt.  This, along with the fact that they more often wear animal skins than the Axebreaker dwarves, gives them an incredibly scraggly look.  Lakedeath dwarves traditionally use massive poleaxes in battle.  They are very, very deadly with these, often spinning around like tops before stabbing any enemies that remain in reach with the point of the weapon.

Important Residents of the Dwarven Quarter:

Elder Kharat Karandul is the highest elder of the elder’s council.  By which we mean that he’s the oldest, and thus the others defer to him in all manners of judgment and stuff.  He’s incredibly, incredibly old.  His hair is pure white, and his skin is pale and incredibly wrinkled.  This, combined with the fact that he most often wears pure white robes, make him look like a shining beacon of light.  Then you notice the squint in his eye, the scowl on his face, and the fact that he’s using his cane to beat aside the cat that was sleeping in front of him.

Kharat Karandul is, without a doubt, the most conservative and miserly dwarf in the entirety of Wyrmspire.  He is the last scion of an ancient dwarf family, one that will be dead after his death.  So he spends his time attempting to control every other dwarf’s life, and enacting absurd rules like a sunset curfew and a limit on the amount of alcohol an establishment can serve on any given night.  None of these are paid attention to in the least.  It’s assumed that Karandul will just keel over and die any day now, so nobody really bothers with giving him any notice.  Of course, the next-oldest dwarf on the council is prepared to take over the moment that that happens.  However, the tradition is for the nine oldest dwarves in Wyrmspire to be on the council.  As it turns out, the current tenth oldest dwarf is a Wind Dwarf.  So the entire council would really appreciate it if Karandul would at least stick around until they can pass that legislation declaring Wind Dwarves not dwarves.

Jaris Underbreak is, arguably, the most influential Wind Dwarf in the city of Wyrmspire.  He heads up a research facility in the middle of the Dwarven Quarter – it’s actually a kind of funny sight.  In the middle of a bunch of squat, dirty buildings is a large, almost tower-like structure with a domed roof and all sorts of gadgetry emerging from various windows.  The facility is, in fact, the tallest building in the Dwarven Quarter.   It is devoted to discovering a way to utilize the Wind Dwarve’s wind-powered inventions in non-windy areas.  So far, they aren’t getting very far.

The dwarven elders hate this facility with a passion, as it employs Wind Dwarves, several underfoot, and a few humans.  Which is just unacceptable.  Also, the chief researcher at the facility is Karag Narath, the tenth-oldest dwarf in Wyrmspire, and heavily resented by the soon-to-be-eight-member council.

Ran Axebreaker is the head of the Axebreaker clan.  It’s unknown what his name was before he took his clan’s name as his surname.  During official functions, he is often referred to by his old dwarven name, Rân Ak’narruk.  Ran is a fierce warrior, but at heart a politician.  He has headed up many appeals to the elder’s council in his time, most of which deal with the immediate and permanent banning of Clan Lakedeath.

Ran wears a suit of half-mithril armor combined with leather that has been died black.  This contrast, along with his plaited hair and blue face, makes him look really kind of scary.  His hair is died in streaks of black and white, with his natural brown showing through in places.  His eyes are black.  In battle he uses two adamantine handaxes.

Hardin Lakedeath is the leader of the Lakedeath clan.  His old dwarven name, most often shouted at enemies during battle, is Khard Uth’fâthen.  Hardin is fucking crazy.  He fights with an absolutely gigantic weapon that appear to be a battleaxe mounted on a longspear.  No, we’re not sure how the logistics of that work.  In battle, he is fond of decapitating people from a range of ten feet.  Occasionally, he even throws his weapon, with deadly accuracy.  We’ve no idea how that works either.  There’s a chance there’s some kind of magic at the root of his seemingly godlike strength.

Hardin wears nothing but a tunic made purely of dragon hide, a tapestry of blue, green, black, red and white that easily sets him apart from the rest of his clan.  His hair is more unkempt than even most of his followers, with what appears to be small dead things wrapped in it.  His eyes are a soul-piercing blue, and oftentimes are the last thing an Axebreaker dwarf sees before death via gut-spewing.

Writer’s Note:  I wrote a lot of this during class today.  In this paper, written randomly, were two things: “I’m on another planet with you” (lyric of a song I was listening to at the time) and “yooglepoop”.  No, I don’t know either.

On Alara (Philosophies on the Continuation of Alara)

Okay. Upon reading that title, many of you probably thought “oh noes, oh noes, he’s ending alara, burn his house and rape his women”. This impression is wrong on two counts: one, Alara is my baby and ending it would be akin to feeding a spawn of my blood to a ravening howler. Two, I have no ‘women’ as such. More sadness for me.

NOTE: that introductory paragraph was written before I retitled this post from just “On Alara” to its current title, so as to prevent reader heart attacks.  I’m keeping the first paragraph because quite frankly, I think it’s fucking hilarious.  The end.  Bitches.  /NOTE

No, the purpose of this post is not the ending of Alara. Rather, ’tis the revitalization of Alara. Put shortly, I’m starting up with the updatefulness again. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. I loves my Alara, and while I may have spent the last month or so attempting to update in ways that interest people who don’t have time to read several dozen posts on world creation, quite frankly it occurs to me that that’s just a shitty way of doing things. Alara is back, bitches. With a vengeance, and several new philosophies.

The introduction to these new philosophies is thus: D&D 4E is coming out soon. If that didn’t give you a fangasm, you shouldn’t be reading this blog. Now, D&D 4E has had a lot of shit thrown its way. This is mostly by people who haven’t read the introduction books. Read them. Now. They’re worth your time. Here‘s a link to one, (technically illegal, but so is half the shit I do) and here’s a link to some excerpts from the other, which hasn’t been internet-loaded yet. That second one might require you to sign up for D&D Insider, but if you still have problems with signing up for random shit on a whim late at night on the internet, just get a damn gmail account already. Fuck.

Anyway, D&D 4E is supposed to do a lot of things. Among them is making things easier for DMs, something I wholeheartedly support, as the only role I would really be playing in any D&D session is that of a DM, as I am a mad creationist. By which I mean I enjoy creating things, not I believe God created the world in six days. Funny how those things get confused.

Damn, I keep tangenting. Oh well, it probably makes for a more amusing read. I hope. The real point of this entire post is thus: D&D 4E uses a world-building concept that they refer to as ‘points of light’. The basic concept is thus: the cities, civilization, etcetera in a D&D world are ‘points of light’ in a blackness of uncivilized savagery. Like the night sky, only instead of the void, the darkness is you being raped by monsters. This may seem to be a fairly obvious concept, but it’s really brilliant in its simplicity, if you think about it. As someone who basically spends all of his free brain-space on world-building, I know exactly how tempting it is to lay down borders for all the various factions in one’s world. The problem with that is it essentially removes every little bit of mystique from a created world. If we know exactly where someone’s lands end and someone else’s begin, the assumption is that that area is civilized enough for that border to be consistent. This sucks the life out of the base D&D ‘wander five feet from a town, get raped by goblins’ concept. Because if there was a unified country, you’d better be damn sure they’d get rid of those damn goblins before anything else.

So, I am going to be using the ‘points of light’ concept in the creation of Alara. Wyrmspire is, of course, the greatest point of light, followed in no particular order by Elenaiar, Irongate, Below, Tartaras, and Argan Vas. Traveling between these, however, is a great risk. There’s the occasional village along the way, and there are of course smaller cities that are still pretty big by the standards of whatever region they may be in, but the fact of the matter is that most of it’s untamed wilderness. Of course, you move north to the Wastes or west to New Aldar or Requiem, and the blackness becomes almost absolute. Places of safety become few and far between.

Even places of safety are not that ‘safe’, oftentimes. Wyrmspire is pretty safe, after all, as long as you don’t get mugged in the Old Quarter, captured and forced to sell Varith in the Noble Quarter, sacrificed by cultists in the Temple Quarter, burnt to a crisp by a rampaging demon/wizard/magically-enhanced-rooster in the Arcane Quarter, caught in a crossfire of dwarven mountain clan street battles in the Dwarven Quarter, or… ummm… merchanted at in the Merchant Quarter. Oh, and don’t go into the Undercity. Ever.

Also, I dislike the rigidity of politics in Alara. It’s the Alliance versus the Twelve and that’s that. Boring as fuck. How ’bout we make things more interesting. Of course, the Twelve are all crazy warlords, so they’re perfect for random falling-in-on-each-other-ness. So obviously there’s large-scale wars between them commonly. As Argan Vas is essentially the capital city for the twelve, this would make it a very, very war-torn city. Maybe various parts of it have been under control of various warlords at different times over the years, and thus the city is riddled with various half-torn-down walls from when the landscape of control was different. Since humans are such avid builders, they often build right over these walls, stealing materials from them to build other things, etcetera. Which would make Argan Vas a city of ruins that still has a vibrant community and is filled with people. I like this. Especially since Argan Vas didn’t ever really have a ‘look’ of its own. I always imagined it as a huge black fortress, but that’s sort of silly. I like the walls idea better. Maybe it’ll be near a cliff overlooking a river or something. Something really medieval.

So, that’s the Twelve. But even the Alliance should have some strife every now and then. After all, if they were all always agreeing, wouldn’t they just call it an empire and be done with it? No, the alliance should war every now and then. Maybe the conservative Irongate dwarves decide to teach that new-fangled Wyrmspire to stop moving forward so quickly, or maybe a xenophobe takes temporary control in the elven senate and decides to genocide some motherfuckers. Maybe Below builds an army of wind-powered constructs that get twenty miles from the edge and just stop working in a hilarious mockery of an actual army. The point is, none of the Alliance really trusts each other, though they still send their representatives to do business in the council.

New Aldar is more complicated, as it’s hard to have political strife among a bunch of hive-mind squid-things. But they’ve got the Phoenix Guard fucking with them, and the Hand of the Alliance playing the Phoenix Guard off the Amen-Kathar, and a bunch of bandits running around looting and pillaging too. So it’s still a political buttfuck.

The point is, things can go off at any moment, and anyone can attack anyone. Of course, everyone still gets together in their major factions when big wars happen, so big wars are usually the Alliance versus the Twelve versus New Aldar. But everything is unstable when there aren’t any major wars.

All this sets up a world rife with conflict, and with adventure around every corner. Perfect for, oh, I dunno… a D&D Campaign Setting. Which, I am announcing right now, is exactly what I will be turning this world into once 4E comes out! Now, you may be saying, “but Tusked, o benevolent and wise maker of worlds, what’s the difference between a normal created world and a D&D Campaign Setting”? Well, stereotypically unintelligent stock question asker, the difference is that Alara: Campaign Setting will have actual game stats for many things! Such as races! And classes! And specific characters! And stuff! And that means that, with a minimum of effort on your part, you can make your own campaigns, set against the wonderful backdrop that is Alara! Weeee!

Anyway, I am going to begin the Alara Campaign Setting Transmogrification Process ™ as soon as 4E comes out. Which translates roughly into “as soon as the core rulebooks are available for wide-scale pirating”. There’s a chance I’m a cheap bastard. Until then, I shall continue building the world of Alara. I think I’ll finish up Wyrmspire, and then move on the some of the shit happening in the far west. It’s gonna be fuckin’ crazy.

CLS IV: Noun Declension

Yeah, yeah, I left you hanging for two weeks.  Happens.  With luck I’ll be able to post again tomorrow.

Anyway, nouns in CLS are either masculine, feminine, or neutral.  Just like in the real world, these classifications do not matter.  In fact, their only purpose is to fuck with you.

Nouns are also either singular, dual, or plural.  English has both singular and plural, but not dual forms of nouns.  Dual means that, if that noun case is used, there are two of whatever.  Thus, Zeg darta therä – “demon hates me” (I didn’t use ‘a’ because we haven’t gotten to that yet and it would just confuse you), while Zegr darta theräe – “two demons hate me”, Zëg darta theräe – “demons[more than two] hate me”. If either the dual or the plural is used, the conjugation of the verb changes.

Anyway, for translations of the words used: Dath, Datha, Dathel – fire, fires[two], fires[more than two]; Bvüd, Bvüdf, Bvüda – house, houses[two], houses[more than two]; Zeg, Zegr, Zëg – demon, demons[two], demons[more than two].

With luck tomorrow there shall be a post.  Good day, and god be with you I hope you drown.

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