2021-01-20, 09:27 PM (ISO 8601)
Bugbear in the Playground
Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment
The following is a world that I have been developing by fits and starts for a few years. It is rather complicated in that it contains multiple areas that would represent distinct campaign settings in a published line. It also encompasses several time periods that are themselves effectively different settings (the below is but one of these eras). I am going to post as I feel inspiration hit me, and continually expand upon existing entries. I will happily respond to questions if any are posted in this thread.
Also, if you'd like to suggest anything, mechanical or fluffwise, please feel free to do that as well.
Gather close and heed ye my words...
We live in the Ninth and likely Final Age of the lands of Serinbaʿal. The land is dry, and the seas long since evaporated by the dreadful magics unleashed during the Wars of Purification. You know well that, when the Dreadlords had ascended to the rule of the Temple States, the Obsidian Compact made a concerted attempt to uproot all previous records from the knowledge of mortals. In this task, they were almost entirely successful, and for this reason Dreadmaster Veslimgore, whose malignant artifice is said to have originally conceived of the Great Burning, had been endowed with the fearsome epithets of 'Devourer of Scrolls' and 'The Enemy of Remembrance' during his days of terrible magnificence in the forgotten Temple State of Veldigris.
Nevertheless, some small knowledge of the previous ages has managed to survive this dreadful purge of the Obsidian Compact. It is believed that the kobold realms destroyed during the Wars of Purification were but a remnant of a once much greater and more magnificent draconic empire, a realm ruled by true dragons, not the contorted abominations represented by the blight dragon dreadlords of the Temple States, the draugothim. Some small measure of this ancient civilization remains in the lands of Saan-Gabiathan, on the far eastern shore of the Sea of Sand, where the league of the God-Dragons, lead by Queen Ashikari the Malificent, ferociously contests with the Obsidian Compact for the rule of the Last Age.
Likewise, the treacherous northern grasslands known as the Serrated Savannah are said to have once been named the Plains of the Sun and the Moon, and to have contained vibrant empires of the fey yueyangren and yueyinren. Now, these once flourish peoples attempt to merely to survive in their former homelands, which have been utterly overrun by the ravaging hordes of the pyro and cryomantilid Khaganates.
The world is dying, the water long gone. Where once vast seas washed the shores of the great continent of Carcharoth, now their are only abyssal chasms choked with mountainous dunes. Behemoth-riding savages scourge the dry basins.
However, life persists through the marvelous means of the half-world known as the Vedelt, the Great Sa'an, Rashoula, or, most, commonly, Seapasia. The origins of this mysterious phenomenon are not verified, but are rumored to stem from the Fifth Age, the so called Aeon of the Claw or Age of the Talon, when the majority of the population hid themselves for a thousand or a thousand and one years to avoid the worldwide predations of terrifying other worldly invaders known as the Leviathans, or even just the 'Enemy'. Seapasia appears to be a previous age or dream of the region of the Temple States preserved beyond the shimmering surface of the moon gates which stand in the center of each of the Dreadlords' teeming metropoli. Here, the seas and rivers are yet filled with waters, and the sky is not overshadowed by the forbidding expanse of the Second Sun. It is not a peaceful world, but neither is it dead, and the Obsidian Compact maintains their brutal rule of eastern Cacharoth through their domination of this half-world which lies beyond the moon gates. Seapasia is a vast land, easily the size of the Deadlord's domain on the blasted lands of Cacharoth -- more than a million square miles in its dimension. Most of its major features appear to represent incarnations of familiar sites in the present age -- the Flail Mountains still overlook the center of the Temple States, the Hellwaste still despoils the territory between the Temple States and the Plateau of Inhert, and the Red Desert still consumes most of the lands south of the domains of the Obsidian Compact. However, the festering jungles of Slothaurim and Slithoorg which buttress the Temple States, respectively, on their northern and southern reaches, as well as the fetid expanse of the Mangrove Sea, are absent today from the blasted wastes of eastern Carcharoth.
Though Seapasia is the greatest of these half-worlds, at least in the estimation of the Dreadlords, others are known to exist. The yueyangren and yueyinren defend several of these territories from the predations of the mantilid Khaganates, and within them persist the last great cities of the former Empires of the Sun and Moon. The red-skinned Verrik of the Plateau of Inhert are also believed to pass between their present domain and a half-world containing a corresponding Plateau of An-Her. Finally, the tarrek city-states of the Red Desert are wedded, by means of their own moon gates, to a corresponding demiplane known also as the Red Desert, the Crimson Desert, or the Desert of Blood. Its rich, seemingly inexhaustible supplies of hard metals may provide the means by which the tarrek city-states of Kareth-Scra finally overrun the Dreadlord's present territories in eastern Cacharoth.
Though it has seemed for nigh three thousand years that the Obsidian Compact would rule indefinitely over our shattered lands, a mysterious occurrence in the Temple State of Tha'ar the Golden has perhaps called into question the continued domination of the draugothim. In the midst of a great ritual which Dreadlord Kaltorr the Cruel intended to enact within the depths of the enigmatic construction known as the Inverted Pyramid, whose endless steps bore viciously miles into the earth beneath the metropolis of Tha'ar, the blight dragon simply... vanished. Under what circumstances this occurred, and weather Kaltorr is truly deceased, remains unknown. Now, the great city is held within a barely-maintained dÃ©tente between the surviving warlocks of Kaltorr, who still rule within the thousand levels of the vast arcology known as the Golden Tower, and the forces of the Overcouncil, the Upper Council, the Great Council, the Middle Council, and the Lesser Council, as well as other sodalities, which consist of the druids, radiance mages, elemental clerics, and others, who claim to have witnessed the death of Kaltorr within the depths of the Inverted Pyramid. However, the citizenry remains unsure of their new rulers, as well as the continuation of the end of enslavement by enslavement within those quarters of the city not ruled by the warlocks. Indeed, the Hate Cloud of Kaltorr, a torrential miasma of blight energy which surrounds every Dreadlord, continues to rage at the summit of the Golden Tower, the departed Dreadmaster's warlocks likewise continue to draw power from its seething eye. For this reason, the ifrit, which comprise slightly less than half of the city's citizenry, have largely remained loyal to Kaltorr's surviving emissaries.
Eastern Cacharoth: The Lands of the Temple States
Seapasia: Half-World Domain of the Temple-States
It is generally held by the wise sages of the land that the current era is the Ninth Age of the world of Serinba’al. However, of the previous eight eons, almost nothing is known, given the destruction of the historical record which accompanied the end of the eighth age some 5,000 years ago. This is the Ninth Age, the Age of the Dreadlords, and the Age of the Temple-States.
The so-called temple-states which dominate the northeastern coast of the continent of Gaol-Risarim or Carcharoth are an alliance of large urban conurbations, each ruled by a titular ‘dreadlord’, also known, depending upon their gender, as ‘dreadmasters’ or ‘dreadmistresses’. These dreadlords are each a representative of the draugothim, or blightdragons, ascended beings who were once members of the almost extinct race of sapiens known as ‘humans’.
The humans of the Eighth Age possessed an intense envy of the vibrant contemporary civilizations of the yueren, sanesaram, and kobolds, and other sentient beings. Of these states, little is now known. Ancient traditions speak of the yueren empires of the Sun and Moon in the northeastern plains, territories now populated only by tribal remnants of these once imperial peoples. Where once they reigned supreme, now they strive pitiably against the predations of the Pyro- and Cryomantilid Khaganates, as well as other insect peoples of the Serrated Savanah. The kobolds ruled a vast domain whose reach embraced the city-states of the barren reaches now enfolded within the tripartite spine of the Flail Mountains – the Hell Waste, the Trog Badlands, and the Valley of the Giants. In particular, the humans of the Eighth Age despised the kobolds for the immortality granted as a boon to them by their enigmatic, and now departed, ‘dragon kings’.
The details of the great conflict known as the War or Wars of Purification, termed alternatively by the losing factions as the War or Wars of Annihilation, are exceedingly vague, considering the latter-day destruction of much of the archival record by the victorious dreadlords. However, it is generally agreed that this conflict, or series of conflicts, lasted for at least a thousand years, and was, at least in part, incited by the desire of the fledgling human civilizations to despoil their older, and grander rivals of their accumulated knowledge and wealth. The humans turned to veneration of dark powers known only as the “Tormentors”, who bestowed upon their chosen vessels the heretofore unforeseen powers of blight magic. While initially successful in their unprovoked attacks upon neighboring states, a grand alliance of the old empires speedily assembled to turn back the tide of abominations which the Tormentors’ blight mages had unleashed upon the once lush lands of the western continent.
In danger of extermination, the vast majority of the remaining humans offered their life force to the principle practitioners of blight magic, who then ascended to become the first of the blight dragon dreadlords. These newly-empowered representatives of the Tormentors drove back and virtually annihilated the old empires with a veritable ocean of unliving and pseudonatural abominations, as well as their direct intervention in the final battles of the Wars of Purification. Minstrels still recall the terrible day when the Dreadmistress Olbanyx the Cruel overshadowed the midday sun during the siege of Kaltipan, a dread portent of the earth-rending scream issued by the Queen of Banshees which sundered every foundation, and slew the entire population of the once populous trade city of the gossamer road.
The power of the dreadlords surprised even their enigmatic patrons, and the Tormentors made plans to decisively leash, or even destroy, their dangerous creations. Before they could act, the dreadlords caught wind of the attempted treachery and themselves subjugated their former patrons in cyclopean arks which stand at the center of each of the temple-states. The dreadlords then consolidated their rule with the Obsidian Compact, in which they formed an alliance, headed by the greatest of the dreadlords, Dreadmaster Belsariyan the Elder, to ensure that their collective will was imposed, forever, upon the entire planet of Serinba’al. The signing of the Obsidian Compact in the Steeple of Ebon within Belsariyan’s capital city of Kaer Drakona marks the beginning of the Ninth Age, a terrible aeon which has endured for more than 5,000 years, and during which the rule of the dreadlords has remained essentially unchallenged.
***The date of most of these events is unknown, given the destruction of historical records by the dreadlords some 5,000 years ago at the dawn of the Ninth Age. The details of any of the events mentioned are haphazard reconstructions from the few sources which have survived the initial purge of the historical record, as well as the millennia-long sequestration of historical knowledge to the ranks of the warlocks who serve the individual dreadlords.
First Age: Age of Ogres
The Ogre Magi, the chosen of the dark gods, rule supreme.
Second Age: Age of Fire
The meteoric cataclysm that brings and end to the ogre civilization creates a massive sea of lava which consumes a large portion of the surface world. A highly technological gnome civilization develops in levitating cities. Halflings and dwarves also prosper during this time. This world is destroyed by a rebellion of the gnome’s thinking machines.
Eighth Age: Age of Dragons
8,000-6,000 years ago ???-The kobold suzerainty of Ukasim rebels against the rule of the Dragon Kings; the rebellion is put down by fire and blood, but incites a simmering hatred among the human and near-human species of the Gaol-Serran.
???-Humans in the cities of Velacyx, Karendar, and Orbrybis make contact with the enigmatic Tormentors, whispering powers of the Abyssal Void, from which they learn the fearsome knowledge of blight magic.
???-The Wars of Purification begin when the Council of the Chosen, the greatest of the blight master adepts, unleashes a tide of undead and deformed abominations upon the thriving civilizations of the kobolds, sanesaram, and kobolds, and others.
???-The old empires join forces to exact vengeance against the blight mages and their allies – they execute main practitioners, with the principle slaughter being the Battle of Kambushan, which concluded with over 100,000 blight mages being impaled along the gossamer road.
???-Driven to the brink of defeat, the preeminent members of the surviving Council of the Chosen beseech the Tormentors for further aid, and are offered the Faustian bargain to sacrifice their remaining fellows in a great ritual that will endow them with the power to turn the tide of battle. The Chosen drain the lives of 99 in a 100, or 999 in a 1,000 of the remaining humans and near-humans from the heights of pyramids erected in virtually every notable settlement that has survived the preceding carnage. From the ashes of this great sacrifice emerge the first of the blightdragon dreadlords.
???-The great power of the dreadlords turns the tide of battle, quickly leading to the subjugation of the old empires, the genocide of their citizens, and the despoilment of their once lush territories.
???-Desperate for more resources to sustain the heavily depleted populations of their nation-cities, the dreadlords open the fabled moon gates to seek new servants throughout the distant territories of Serinba'al. Many of the inhabitants of temple-states with highly divergent cultures from that of Eight Age Carcharoth, including Caltipal, Q'i-T'ian, and Merowa, are derived from these colonial ventures by the Obsidian Compact.
???-During their exploration of the moon gates, the Dreadlords discover the vibrant half-world of Seapasia. Despite the hostile wildlife and the acidic seas of this domain, it offers more resources than the now dead lands of Carcharoth and the remainder of Serinba'al. The Dreadlords quickly discover that Seapasia takes the appearance of a more fertile version of their own territories from some previous age, a god's dream, or some unexplored avenue of the great river of time. Some records uncovered in the ruins of this plane suggest it may have been created in response to a crisis during the Fifth Age known as the Visceration, in which the world was plagued for more than a thousand years by mysterious entities known as the Leviathans. The natives of this distant epoch retreated into Seapasia and other 'splinter worlds' to wait for the dissolution of the Visceration. The truth of these records is unknown. The Dreadlords quickly locate and seize the abandoned cities which correspond to their domains in Carcharoth. They then fortify the moon gates which offer access to Seapasia, and set about exploiting its resources to subdue Carcharoth.
???-Anticipating a plot by the Tormentors to undo the greatest of their creations, perhaps in reaction to the blight dragons' discovery of the moon gates and the realm of Seapasia, the dreadlords ally under the leadership of Dreadmaster Belsaryian the Elder to trap their former patrons within cyclopean arks which now stand at the center of each of the temple-states.
6,000-5,000 years ago-The remaining dreadlords sign the Obsidian Compact in Kaer Drakona, beginning the Ninth Age, the Age of the Dreadlords.
Ninth Age: Age of the Dreadlords:
???-The dreadlords Sayith, Belkaroth, and Osadral are deposed by the upstart twins Kaltorr and Gedeyon, who assume rule of the temple-states of Thaar and Suur. They form a compact to resist the advances into their territories with the Valley of Giants by the Firstborn, the original dreadlords. Their chief opponent is Dreadmaster Hambadan of Ukkur to the west.
???-Dreadmaster Veslimgore the Reaper, master of the temple-state of Veldigris, opens a gateway to the Abyssal Void, and attempts to bargain with malign powers that have replaced the Tormentors as the new masters of this mysterious realm. The other dreadlords, united by Belsariyan the Elder, besiege Veldigris and lay waste to the vast city. Dreadmaster Belsariyan personally dispatches Veslimgore, his one-time apprentice.
???-Dreadmistress Cilbalba the Insightful of Myanmor attempts to conquer Ukkur. Her armies are repulsed by Dreadmaster Hambadan the Proud, and Myanmor is laid waste.
???-Dreadmistress Olbanyx of Merowa and the Dreadmaster Timrujin of Q’i-X’ian commence the interminable War of Whispers for ultimate rule of the Plane of Tusks.
100 years ago-The dreadlords of the Obsidian Compact commence the Final War against the god-dragons of the eastern continent.
1 year ago-Dreadmaster Kaltorr the Pitiless of the Temple-State of Thaar begins a mysterious gambit to increase his own power. He constructs an immense monolith known as the Inverted Pyramid which descends to unknown depths some tens of miles within the crust of the planet, and forms a mile wide quadrant with the Ruined Sector of Thaar. It is rumored that, at the sign of the eclipse of Serinba’al’s three suns known as the Trifold or Great Conjunction, the Inverted Pyramid will channel mysterious energies from the Abyssal Void that will enable Kaltorr the Pitiless to ascend to godhood, drain the remaining life from Serinba’al, or some other malign purpose. The Control Chamber of the Inverted Pyramid is assaulted by an alliance of treacherous warlocks, druids, and resistance members. Kaltorr disappears within the confusion, and it is unknown if he was slain, as is claimed by the Hierophant Baedon, or if the dreadlord has simply vanished for a brief moment to launch the final stroke of his still mysterious grand stratagem. In his absence, Thaar has joined the small number of Free States within the domain of the dreadlords. The Upper and Lower Chambers of the Grand Councils have assembled previous warlocks of the dreadlord, nobles, merchant lords, druids, resistance members, and others to govern the city in an uneasy alliance. The apparent defeat of his brother has provoked the wrath of Dreadmaster Gedeyon the Implacable of Suur, who has begun to marshal his forces for an invasion to retake Thaar.
1 year ago-based on rumors gleaned from verrik traders, the dreadlords of the Obsidian Compact dispatch spies to the lands south of the Temple-States of the Lands of the Altar, and uncover the existence of the city-states of the Bay of Solace, also known as Preservation Bay. These druidic city-states had each employed a shield of invisibility to hide their existence from the outside world while they worked at cross-purposes with the dreadlords of the temple-states. However, their existence having been confirmed, the Obsidian Compact is now preparing a massive invasion of the southern lands. Certain voices within the Council of Darkness question whether this initiative will weaken their hand against the forces of the god-dragons of Baelon, but these dissenting concerns have been decisively silenced by the imperious edicts of Belsariyan the Elder. The Obsidian Compact will go to war against the last remnants of the old empires, and they will drown them in a sea of blood.
1 year ago-Rumors persists of dark powers stirring in the ruins of the temple-state of Veldigris on the northern shores of the Sea of the Serpent’s Tongue. It is said that the ancient powers of Dreadmaster Veslimgore was not completely extinguished by the combined efforts of the Obsidian Compact, and that his malevolent intelligence has awakened in some new form to further torment the world. The Company of the Shattered Tooth, a band of explorers from the temple-state of Thaar, maintain that they uncovered evidence during a recent expedition that the re-arisen dreadmaster has once again contacted his enigmatic patrons within the Abyssal Void, and is preparing a massive offensive against his former nemesis.
Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-02-15 at 09:08 PM.