View Full Version : Anno Tenebrarum [My homebrew campaign setting]

2008-01-13, 03:27 PM
Alright, I would like to hear what you think of this. I am currently working on my next campaign setting. It is largely based around Norse mythology. I try to keep things generic as my main focus is creating a world in which I can easily do things without and a world with a clear flavor without restricting my players to much.

These are the main things I did.
1) Dwarf is replaced by the Svartalfar
2) The savage noble merchant insectoid race called Garangazu replaces the elf as a nature loving ranger nomadic race.
3)The culture of the main nation will be a Norse and Dark age one. Their will also be a nation based on Egypt and the barbarians will have a classical Celtic feeling.
4) The main pantheon/mythology will be the Norse/Asgardian one with some aditions and alterations.

Anno Tenebrarum

World Map

Timeline (doesn't make much sense without reading the rest, but gives a good overview)

 The first eclipse: betrayal of Nocturnus and Limitatus: 10000 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Creation of Garangazu: 9999 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Assassination of Oberon, king of the Alfar: 4950 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Birth of the first humans: 4730 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Death of Limitatus: 4700 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 The nations of Rema and Cantheles are founded: 2300-1700 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Loki visits the Svartalfar: 2470 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 The war between Rema and Cantheles: 30 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 Loki visits the Garangazu: 12 years before Anno Tenebrarum
 The Year of Darkness: Anno Tenebrarum
 Union between southern nations, creation of Heron: 50: A.T.
 Heronian merchants reach the Rema and Cantheles: 112 A.T.
 The invasion of Troglodytes in Svartalfar lands: 234 A.T.
 Discovery of gunpowder: 381 A.T.
 Founding of Yoshu: 625 A.T.
 Yoshu Civil War: 1350 A.T.
 Start of the war between Heron and Yoshu: 1375 A.T.
 Modern day: 1378 A.T.

The ancient nations

History of the Anno Tenebrarum
Nullus annus est obscurior quam hic.
No year was darker than this year.

Long ago, long before the founding of Yoshu the world of Pseudea was ruled by two kingdoms, Rema and Cantheles. They were mighty and for thousands of years their civilisations thrived. There was peace and friendship between these two lands and everything went well until they went to war. The reasons for this war are unknown to modern men, but legends say that the king of Cantheles was tricked by Loki to believe that Rema conspired against him. Others say Rema did conspire against Cantheles and that Loki only warned him. The war lasted for 30 years until in the year we now call Anno Tenebrarum, the Year of Darkness. It seems the gods did not favour the war and they sent a big meteorite that clashed in the sea, causing big dark clouds to appear that would blot out the sun for months. The crops didn't grow anymore and hunger spread throughout the two nations. Plagues, sent by Ullerís mighty bow, spread and thousands died in a couple of months. Months later the sun returned and darkness left. The plagues however stayed.

Both nations blamed each other for these events, saying the others had offended the gods, and they continued fighting. From that moment on it went downhill with both nations and their civilisations.

The great plague
Nullus est mortifrius pestilentia.
Nothing is more deadly than the plague.

Their lands where destroyed and the people of Cantheles and Rema needed resources to rebuild their nations and fight the plague that was still causing thousands of deaths each year. 112 years after the Year of Darkness they made contact with merchants from the south and started trading goods. These merchants came from a group of cities in the south united under the one banner, known as Heron. With all the new gold the nations of Heron quickly expanded and became a powerful and wealthy nation. Science was flourishing. The merchants however brought with them more than gold alone. The also brought with them the plague. The plague quickly spread all over Pseudea, not just the kingdom of Heron, as their caravans moved all of Pseudea. Many barbaric tribes were wiped out completely and many nations fell under the plague of Uller, but Heron did not. The people of Heron have dark tan skins. Heron is filled with deserts and the people of Heron mummify the deceased. They shave their hair and are very religious. Nowadays Heron is truly united and led by a single king who they call the Yunak. The Yunak is seen as living manifestation of Bragi and thus is worshiped as if he was a god too.

The Svartalfar

Descendants of the great maggots that crawled through the rotting flesh of Ymir, they were banished by gods. Nowadays they live in their great underground cities deep inside the Svartalfarheim, a huge underworld vast subterranean network of interconnected caverns and tunnels. In envy they live their lives in the dark in great underground cities, mining for gold and crafting magical artefacts far beyond anything created by mankind.

Ancient Racial History: It all started when Odin with his two brother, Ve and Vili had finally managed to slay the great fire giant Ymir, after many years of warfare, and were about to throw his already decaying corps into the Ginnungagap, when they noticed the maggots that feasted on his flesh. The gods granted these maggots a humanoid form and gave them sentience. Ten golden years followed in which these Alfar, as that is how these maggots called themselves, flourished. They were given a home in Elysium, a land with white beaches and green hills. The gods loved the Alfar and often invited them in Asgard, where they would eat side by side. Even went well, until prince Alvis became spiteful because of his brotherís success as king of the Alfar. After years of loyally following him he assassinated him. Everyone was shocked and the gods chose not only to punish him, but also all the other Alfar of the eight houses that had helped him commit the crime. All these Alfar were cursed and banished. They had to live in the dark of the Svartalfarheim, never to see the light again. The other Alfar where renamed as Ljosalfar, Alfar of light, in contrast with these traitors, now known as Svartalfar, Duergar or DÝkkŠlfar.
They built underground cities and started to mine and forge. On some rare occasions they would get visitors. It was years much later when Loki, the god of trickery, came to them that they got new hope. It is said that he had tricked the other gods and was about to get punished by the gods too, if, so he said, the Svartalfar would not give him something to appease the other gods. The Svartalfar felt sorry for Loki and could identify with him as he was about to get the same treatment as they had undergone. They gave him certain magical artefacts and asked if he could maybe persuade the gods to lift the curse. He hastily said he would and he left. It is said that Loki did try to change the moods of the gods in favor of the Svartalfar, but he did not succeed.
Modern Racial History: Still shunned by other races, the Svartalfar live underground. Theyíve spread our of the world and sometimes go above ground at night. They are merchants and specialised in many crafts. Their caravans move all over Svaralfarheim to trade goods. Thousand years ago a war started between the Svartalfar and barbaric tribes of troglodyte who also lived in underground. During this war the house of the Mantis, one of eight original houses, decided to betray the others and joined the side of the troglodytes. These Svartalfar left and joined forces with the enemies. During these wars the Svartalfar also created the first automaton. Although the automaton were first treated as slaves, they are now treated as equals. The war still lingers on, although mostly in the form of occasional raids on each side. Tribes of Svartalfar barbarians, loyal to the troglodytes, travel through the underground tunnels in search of a place to live.
Personality: They are cunning and treacherous, constantly searching for opportunities to increase their wealth or better oneself within society. Most of them donít let morals stop them from accomplishing their goals. Nevertheless they do have morals, honour and are very rigid and will not easily forget an insult. They are quite vengeful in nature as they have a strong sense of justice and will often devise quite complex, some would say too complex, plans on how to best execute their vengeance. They consider themselves to be superior to most other life forms. They are quite inquisitive, using their invisibility cloaks to spy on people in the dark for hours before they officially announce themselves as friends or enemies.
Physical Description: Svartalfar are shot, standing about 4-1/2 feet tall. Men and women are not noticeably different in length. Their skin is pale, like a corps and there hair is mostly dark black. Some men have beards, but not all of them. They prefer to keep there hair long. They are very slender and frail. They mostly wear simple, yet comfortable, clothes, often in earthy tones like brown, grey or black.
Relations: They often suffer from prejudices against them, not all of them unjustified. They are vengeful, intolerant and envious, which causes them to be universally disliked by most societies. They can go along with automatons, who share their feelings of not fitting in other societies and with Garangazu, who do not share the prejudices of others.
Alignment: Svartalfar are generally evil as they care little about the lives of others. They are consumed by envy for those better off than they. Most of them are lawful.
Religion: Most Svartalfar hate the gods and do not worship any. If they do, they worship Loki, as he gave them hope. Some also worship certain fire giants and there are also some sects that worship the corps of Ymir as the creator of everything.
Svartalfar society: The Svartalfar live in small to huge underground cities often used for mining with trading caravans moving from one city to the next. There are almost no great Svartalfar kingdoms and most nations are actually just city states with sometimes a close alliance with other cities. These cities are usually oligarchic with a group of nobles representing the ancient seven houses. Politics in svartalfar society is quite ugly with lies, blackmail and murder being the norm.
Adventures: Not many Svartalfar leave their homes to go adventure in human lands.

Nocturnus and Limitatus

In ancient times, the gods were many. Two of them, Nocturnus, the god of night and darkness, and Limitatus, the god of control, betrayed the other gods and were the cause of a big war between the gods and the giants. These two gods joined the giants in their war. When the leader of the giants, Ymir, was destroyed they panicked and fled. Limitatus fled to the eastern islands of Pseudea known as the Kalundrai and Nocturnus hid deep below the surface of the great lakes in the north.

The other gods destroyed almost all evidence of their existence on Pseudea and all the churches of Pseudea try to keep their existence a secret. There are however some sects that worship Nocturnus in the north and they always move in the dark, trying to hide their true nature from society as they are hunted down as heretics. Most churches tell their followers that the followers of Nocturnus, called shadowcasters, give their soul to dark evil forces to gain unholy magical abilities. These are of course lies, but still they many if not all believe them and are hostile to followers of Nocturnus. Not much is known of Nocturnus and even his followers do not know much. They even do not know for certain he is male and some say he is a goddess. Most shadowcasters are therefore constantly searching for ancient tomes of secret knowledge that might tell them more about their god/goddess.

The nation of Yoshu

The nation of Yoshu was founded in 625 A.T. Yoshuan society is divided in different castes. The highest is that of aristocrats, paladins (who are called the Aecultro, meaning the best of Swords and fulfil the duty as the emperorís royal guard) and priests. The lowest caste is that of slaves and the middle caste is that of the common people. Foreigners are always treated as if they belonged to the middle class. Yoshu is a big empire with a good growing economy and ports with goods coming from all over Pseudea. Yoshu is currently at war with Heron.
History: Yoshu was a democracy since it was founded, until recently one of the three political parties took control. There were elections each three years and all three parties used to get an equal amount of votes each time. The nation was governed by a senate of wise men and three consuls, each one belonging to one of the three parties. None of the parties is clearly evil and the difference between them isnít really big. The three parties are: Monari, Junai and Locus. The consul of the Junai, who was known by the name of Generidus, took control and demanded absolute leadership of Yoshu in the year 1350. A civil war followed and eventually the army of Generidus won, because they had the peopleís support. Generidus declared himself emperor. Most of the common people are happy with their emperor and do not wish a democracy, although most of the old Monari and Locus aristocrats are republican in nature. Generidus has improved the justice system in Yoshu in favour of the poor and keeps the people happy with giving out free bread and organising great gladiatorial games each month. Big trading posts at the coast flourish because of his new laws concerning import and export. Joining the army is voluntary and because of the emperorís popularity their is no shortage in men. In the year 1375 Heronian Warlords declared war on Yoshu and they have been fighting since.
The royal guard: The Aecultro are now led by Generidusís brother Justinianus and mainly consists out of paladins and performs the duty of law enforcers within the empire. They are usually heavy armored and are respected amongst Yoshuan people for their courage, honor and loyalty. They usually where green colored cloaks as a sign of their integrity. The royal guard is divided in two groups: The Paetra and the Aeromeans. The first group are those that perform a fixed duty as the emperors personal guard, as watchman, or as law enforcement officers. The second group are those that havenít got such a job, because they are retired, but they still get to enjoy many of the privileges they had while they were one of the Paetra.

The Garangazu

The far away lands of Kalundrai are home to the Garangazu, an exotic seafaring people. They have grey eyes and platina blond hair. Not much is known about these strange merchants and their culture. They wield strange kind of magic and worship the different seedlings of the world tree. They are respected and only come ashore on Pseudea to trade. They agree to trade with anyone, even Svartalfar with whom they share the interest in gold and goods.
Ancient History: It is said that when Limitatus came to the Kalundrai islands he needed to drink. He came to a pool of water and noticed the tamarisk tree near the pool. A swarm of butterflies was buzzing around it and Limitatus decided to give some of their caterpillars sentience and a humanoid form. These creature were made into the Garangazu. They were savage nomads who lived in tribes moving from one spot to the other. It was in the year 4700 before Anno Tenebrarum that Garangaru warlords buried Limitatus alive for reasons unknown to us nowadays. Soon after Limitatus died they started worshipping the world tree, Yggdrasil and his 233 seedlings. It is said that Loki visited them to hide for Thorís wrath twelve years before the year of Darkness, when he had accidentally given his hammer to the ice giants. The Garangazu were very hospitable and hid him for two weeks. The gave him many gifts and in return Loki gave them the knowledge to build ships. With that knowledge they started whaling.
Modern History: They started whaling and came in contact with the main land of Pseudea, humans and the nation of Yoshu. They became merchants as they had by far the best ships of all and started moving from port to port. On the islands the nomads were still living like they had done for thousands of years until one of the tribes started to fight the others. A war soon started that still lingers on today. Because of this war many garangazu decided to settle on the mainland, where they merge in with the native human population without much difficulty.
Personality: They are noble, short-tempered and quickly to judge. They think in simple terms of good or evil, simple or difficult, do-able or not do-able, friend or enemy. They are close to nature and will often feel bored when staying at one place for more than a short time.
Physical Description: They are only distinguishable from humans because of their white hair and grey coloured eyes. They often have big tattoos that cover most of their body. When they get of age they often let these tattoos be placed on them in rituals. These tattoos tell the story of their own live and with every major event they add to their tattoo a tiny bit of new information. Males have a lot of facial hair while females have not. They usually wear long colorful silk robes with scarves they use to cover their faces, completely or just partely.

The barbarian tribes of Pseudea

The woods, swamps and deserts are home to the barbarian tribes of Pseudea. Most of them are human, but some of them are of a more savage nature. Most tribes are ruled by cruel warlords who have ties to the leading druid aristocracy. Although most of the big nations see this tribes as inferior in science and technology, which is correct, they also have a tremendous amount of respect for their honour and bravery. Most barbarians donít understand people from the city and thus see them as inferior although they have a great respect for magic-users, when theyíve seen their magic.

Things yet to do:
1) Decide on a rogue-like halfling/gnome race and how to include it in the setting.
2) Upload the map
3) Add more history on Giants and why they aren't here anymore

2008-01-14, 04:29 PM
No comments? I am working on the origin of undead at the moment. Will post it soon.

Illiterate Scribe
2008-01-14, 04:42 PM
I like the blend of Norse/Latin; plague-vikings with Acropoleis sound good!

You've gone for some fairly literalist translations for the deities, though (Nocturnus and Limitatus) - it might be a good idea to have some deities whose names are opposite to their nature.

2008-02-10, 12:21 PM
Yes, I still need to think of those names. I am also thinking of including some other gods, like Anubis and fuse Loki with Mercury.

No more comments?

I will soon write more about the origin of giants and undead.

Uncle Festy
2008-02-10, 01:40 PM
*ignores blatant thread-o-mancy*
... wow.
That's pretty impressive.

2008-02-10, 01:45 PM
*I didn't see if what use creating a new thread would be and it has't been a months yet*


Uncle Festy
2008-02-10, 01:55 PM
*Which was why I ignored it*