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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default 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 détente 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



    History

    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.

    Timeline:

    ***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.

    Third Age:

    Fourth Age:

    Fifth Age:

    Sixth Age:

    Seventh Age:

    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.

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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    Races of Serinba'al

    Of the Prime-Kin and Para-Kin

    The majority of the sentient beings that live on the charred surface of the Lands of Torment are the various elemental races -- the ifrit, the oread, the slyph, and the undine. In addition, the other populous races of the Lands of Torment -- the yueyangren and yueyinren, as well as half-yueyangren and yueyinren, qahngol, sanesaram, halflings, and gnomes -- are also elementally aligned with the Elemental Strongholds associated with the so-called Prime Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Wood are known as 'Prime-Kin' or 'Primes' or 'Elementians'. These 'Prime-Kin' can be found throughout the wasted regions of Carcharoth, as well as the various half-worlds which lie beyond the moon gates, such as Seapasia. In addition, there is a less-diffuse population of sapients oriented towards the Paraelemental Strongholds of Magma, Sun, Crystal, Metal, Silt, Rain, Vapor, Frost, Lightning, and Fume. These latter element-kin are known as Para-Kin, or Paraelementians. The vast majority of their population resides in the Paraelemental Theocracy of the True Drakes, and they are treated with suspicion outside this nation's boundaries. Such caution is well-warranted, given the Theocracies expansionist ethos and insatiable hunger for living sacrifices to the Paraelemental Princes and Princesses of True Evil.



    -Bakemono
    -Dahren
    -Faen
    -Garuda
    -Goushen
    -Hushen
    -Kirin Shen
    -Mandragoran
    -Nagaraja
    -Qahngol (Variant Half-orc)
    -Ruishishen
    -Sanesaram (Variant Dwarf)
    -Shenxue
    -Verrik
    -Yueren (Variant Elf)
    -Blue
    -Dromite
    -Duergar
    -Elan
    -Forgeborn
    -Half-Giant
    -Maenad
    -Noral
    -Ophiduan
    -Xeph
    -Dragonborn (Dray)
    -Aarakocra
    -Genasi
    -Halfling
    -Mul
    -Pterran
    -Thri-kreen
    -Changelings
    -Daelkyr Half-Blood
    -Empty Vessels
    -Kalashtar
    -Shifters
    -Warforged

    Atodilophs



    The enigmatic species known as atodilophs are said to have been created as the children of the now-deceased goddess Seraenestres, the Balm Maiden, the Mother of Healing. In the wake of the Wars of Purification which brought an end to the Age of the Claw, they turned their devotion to Ardat-Lîlîṯ, the infernal Queen of Plagues. Their caravans transverse the wasted regions of the Temple-States and beyond, bearing mysterious alchemical wares which attract both considerable curiosity, as well as many fists of gems. Their homeland is believed to lie in the vicinity of the tarrek city-states of Kareth-Scra, to the south of the domains of the Obsidian Compact. Here, they must take great pains to conceal themselves from the warlike overlords of Kareth-Scra, for they are relentlessly hunted by ravaging war parties of tarrek hunters.

    Like many races of the present benighted age, the bulk of their population is generally believed to subsist in the subterranean reaches of the world. Indeed, it is rumored that the white gnomes who live in the deep places beneath the temple-state of Tha'ar the Golden host caravans of atodilophs within their worm-dug cavern settlements, and that it is from these same emissaries that they secure certain alchemical weapons which they have deigned to share with the Cult of the Sleeper.

    While they are covered in dense armor and are also equipped with savage claws, the chief defense of the atodilophs is their ultimate command of biological warfare. Since becoming devotees of Ardat-Lîlîṯ, the atodliophs have become expert manufacturers of all manner of parasites and viruses. Being themselves immune to poison and disease, they arm themselves by traveling in festering plague clouds that will strike down even the hardiest wasteland warriors who attempt to penetrate and despoil and atodiloph caravan.
    Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-01-23 at 01:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    Seapasia: Half-World Domain of the Temple-States

    Of the realms of Seapasia -- domain of the Temple States, the Lands of the Altar

    The moon gates which stand in the center of each of the temple-states of Carcharoth lead to a strange simulacrum of our world. In most major respects, Seapasia appears to mirror the eastern reaches of Carcharoth, though in another time, or an alternative branch of the stream of time, or some other mode of varied representation. Here, the second sun does not hang low in the heavens, consuming the sky and dislodging fearsome bands of sutak and other servants of the Elemental Stronghold of the Sun. Here, there are surging rivers of sweet, fresh water that drain into oceans of acid and poison. Here, the clouds are not universally tainted with soot.

    The Dreadlords continue to hold the dry and wasted lands of Serinba'al under their oppression because they dominate the considerable resources of this parallel dimension. Here, rich veins of metal continue to give forth ore, whereas the gaping mines of Carcharoth were long since dried up from over-exploitation. The broad rivers of Seapasia water dense, rich soil which provides food for the teeming millions of the temple-states. Certainly, this is not a gentle or hospitable territory, despite the riches it offers the Dreadlords.

    Indeed, the flora and fauna of Seapasia are comparably ferocious to those of Carcharoth. The dense cover of the Slothaurim and Slithoorg jungles contains gigantic man-eating plants, as well as reptiles and insects of enormous size that will overrun any unwary travelers. Massive behemoths roam the Serrated Savannah. The coastal regions are dominated by stretches of blasted ebon waste known as the Blight, and which are believed to stem from an ancient incursion of the mysterious Leviathans during the Visceration. The oceans which surround the Alchemical Isles, home of Kaer Drakona, are tainted by poison and acid, and are host to ferocious monstrosities, including the mythical sea worms known as the Sul-Quat.

    For this reason, a raised network of roads known as the shabhaka connect the individual temple-states to one another, as well as their most important client cities. Each of the shabhaka is a massive construction which rises in a dozen tiers of diminishing size. They are each joined to an aqueduct that supplies fresh water for travelers. The uppermost tiers of the shabhaka roads are only for the use of the warlocks of the Dreadlords and their most trusted servants. The lower reaches are employed by the militaries of the temple-states. The lowest tiers are for traders and commoners.

    The skies of Seapasia are illumined by three suns and three moons. The territory is not situated on a sphere -- the borders of the land are defined by a strange phenomenon -- in the furthest reaches of the Serrated Savannah, the Sea of Poison, or the Slithoorg Jungles, the traveler who attempts to journey beyond the confines of the demi-world appears to walk or sail forward, but mysteriously finds themselves headed back towards the center of Seapasia. It is not known exactly where the borders of the territory rest, and they may be slightly variable. Nevertheless, they encompass several million square miles. Because Seapasia is not a sphere, the revolutions of the suns and moons are a matter of some uncertainty. They appear to follow some sort of predictable ascent and devolution, even though they do not orbit a planet. A thousand, thousand constellations fill the night skies of Seapasia, and this plentiful zodiac is the subject of much speculation by the court astrologers of the temple-states.

    To the east lies the Seas of Acid, of Poison, and of Venom. These caustic expanses surround the Alchemical Isles, the domain of Belsariyan the Elder, convener of the Obsidian Compact. The sprawling city of Kaer Drakona dominates the deadly seas of Seapasia. The Seas of Venom, Acid, and Poison are all undrinkable, and are brimming with vast swarms of undead and mutated sea life. The depths of these bodies of life-taking water are extended by the mysterious reaches of the Second Deeps, immense, virtually lifeless and lightless chasms filled with the detritus of unknown eons. It is widely believed that the bottommost extent of the Second Deeps reaches its nadir at a point far below the opposite measure of the highest levels of the atmosphere. Within the Sea of Poison, the Alchemical Isles are sites of danger and opportunity.

    The coastal regions of the territory are in part scorched by the mysterious Blight. Records recovered from ancient ruins suggest that this ebon reach of territory resulted from an incursion by the fearsome entities known as the 'Leviathans' during the distant Fifth Age of Serinba'al. They also contain the ruins of Veldigris, the ravaged city of Dreadlord Veslimgore. It is known as the City of Despair and the Lost City, among other fearsome titles. Recently, the Company of the Broken Tooth, a renowned company from the temple-state of Tha'ar the Golden, has returned with warnings that some dread power again stirs in the depths of long-abandoned Veldigris. Whether it is truly the return of its Dreadlord, or some other foul entity, remains to be seen...

    The interior of the land is dominated by the forbidding heights of the Flail Mountains. The three arms of the Flail Mountains encompass the Plain of Tusks, the Trogg Badlands, and the Valley of Giants. The Plain of Tusks is contains the lush expanse of the Scimitar Forest, and is so named because of its high population of pachyderms and rhinocerotoidea. It is also the domain of the warring realms of Q'i-X'ian and Merowa. Dreadmaster Timrujin the Fierce of Q'i Xi'an the Shining and Dreadmistress Olbanyx the Cruel of Merowa the City of Phantasms have engaged in a prolonged cold war known as the War of Whispers almost since the first days of the colonization of Seapasia by the armies of the Obsidian Compact. Each desires complete mastery over the endless supply of ivory to be gleaned from the Plain of Tusks, as well as the miraculous metal-hard trees of the Scimitar Forest. indigenous tribes of the plantlike mandragoran and erahthi attempt to avoid the predations of Olbanyx's armies of evolved gorillas and Timrujin's legions of blood mages and onispawn.

    The Valley of the Giants is dominated by the ruins of some previous age. The greatest cities of this territory are Tha'ar the Golden and Suuur of the Lilac horn, the respective domains of the twin upstart Dreadlords Kaltorr and Gedeyon, who displaced a previous triumvirate of the Obsidian Compact when they rose to power over a thousand years ago. The recent disappearance of Dreadmaster Kaltorr during a ritual within the Inverted Pyramid has resulted in an uncomfortable cease fire between the forces of the draugothim's remaining warlocks, their ifrit servants, and the other inhabitants of the Golden City. Kaltorr's twin has begun preparations to retake the city, and fears an attack from Ukkur, now that the twin's alliance has been thrown into chaos. The two city states of the Valley of the Giants control the most important trade routes which connect the coastal temple-states like Pelos with the interior, most significantly the route which joins Merowa and Q'i-X'ian of the Plane of Tusks with the Red and Terrible City of Ukkur, which lies in the westernmost reaches of Seapasia, on the border of the Hellwaste.

    On the western border of Seapasia lies the Hellwaste, a terrifying desert of blood-hued sand the disgorges distorted abominations from its depths, where, it is rumored, rise three immense black mountains beside a deep lake of black ichor. Defending the temple-states of the Obsidian Compact against incursions from this forsaken land is the Red and Terrible City of Ukkur, domain of Dreadmaster Hambadan the mighty. His legions of obsidian warforged and manticora war ceaselessly with the terrors of the Hellwaste. Long has Dreadmaster Hambadan sought vengeance against the upstart twins Kaltorr and Gedeyon, who dispatched the three Dreadlords who once ruled Tha'ar and Suuur, and were old allies of Hambadan from the days of the Wars of Purification.

    On the northern borders of Seapasia are the fetid expanses of the Slotharim Jungle, the Mangrove Sea, and the Serrated Savannah. The Slotharim Jungle is split by the rushing waters of the ubburu river. The greatest city of the Slotharim Jungle is Calital the City of Sacrifice, domain of Dreadmaster Tapancal the Devourer. At the summit of the Endless Stair, the Dreadmaster has opened a million throats to drain into the Maw of Yyrkun.

    The eastern shores of Seapasia are breached by the inlets of the Sea of the Serpent's Tongue. At the joining place of its branches stands the great temple-state of Pelos the Opal City, ruled by Dreadmaster Drospteran the Victorious. Drospteran is unique among his colleagues of the Obsidian Compact in that he rose to power by election within the preceding republic of the Pleiadesian League. Gradually, he assumed all major functions of government -- the chief justice, the high priest, the general of the legions, and so forth, until he had, legally, subsumed all power within his own person. The Great Houses of the Pleiadesian League continue to mourn the loss of their previous eminent position, and have concocted many rebellions against their ageless master over the last several millennia.

    The southern reaches of Seapasia are dominated by the Slithoorg Jungles. The Jungle of Slithoorg is a vast tropical domain which could easily swallow the entirety of the northerly Slotharim Jungles. It is believed by some that the two were once joined in a previous age, and that they surrounded and encompassed the Flail Mountains. The Slithoorg Jungles are dominated by the remnants of an ancient halfling civilization. Immense step-pyramids stained by millennia of blood sacrifices raise from the sweltering canopy. Like the northerly Slotharim Jungles, the Slithoorg is a dangerous environment – poisonous sap, immense man-eating fly traps, and clouds of sulfurous pollen render any travel hazardous. The Slithoorg is also believed to house an ancient Yuan-Ti civilization.
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    The Secret History of the Lands of Torment

    What I write below will scarce be given credence, even among the wisest of sages, for many of its implications are either too strange or terrifying to countenance. The many myths which have been told of the foundations of this world are nothing but a veil hiding deeper, stranger truths, perhaps ones so strange that it required an outsider such as myself to unveil them.

    In the beginning of things, there were but three great powers in the universe -- the creators, the sustainers, and the destroyers, which represent the three great principles of creation, balance, and destruction. These principles were incarnated in the enigmatic entities known by many names, among them the 'swords', the 'rings', and the 'orbs'. The first are great embodiment of chaos, darkness, and destruction, and manifest as immense black pyramids. The second sustain the universe and each appear as a gray toroid. The final party are the principles of creation and preservation, and manifest as white spheres. These entities, which number, collectively, a little less than a thousand, have assumed an infinite number of guises over the unimaginably long history of this planet.

    What exactly these beings are is perhaps unknowable. Great machines created by the first sentient life in the universe? The last survivors of a previous cosmos? Infinitely advanced examples of the draugothim and phoenixes? It is impossible to say. They have been called by many names -- with the 'orbs', also known as the brah, commonly venerated as a the 'gods' of various peoples. The 'swords', known also as the shiv, for their part have long been suppressed, and dominate the mythologies of numerous peoples as 'titans', 'prometheans', 'elder gods', or other such entities. They are also, I now firmly believe, the self-same Leviathans that almost destroyed the world during the fifth age in the aeon of destruction known as the Visceration. At the beginning of time, the brah and the shiv strove mightily and both expended themselves in a conflict known as the Dawnfire. This left the toroid entities, known also as the visnu, uncontested in their domination, which extended throughout the now forgotten First Age, which was not, in fact, that of the ogres, as is commonly believed, but rather a miraculous age of mechanical wonders. The domains of the Clockwork Empire and its Artificer Princes, which have arisen in the amethyst plain to the south of the Temple States, are, I am convinced, the last survival of this distant epoch.

    The cataclysm which ended the Eighth Age is commonly believed to have resulted in the death of the majority of the gods, who have now been replaced by the sodalities of the devils and demons. This is not, in fact, the case, for the lords of the high hells and other demonic regions are, in truth, but alternative guises of these self-same entities, who have merely assumed a darkened persona in the awful tenure of the Ninth Age. Take, for example, the patron of the disease ridden atodilophs -- the goddess Seraenestres did not fall in the Godswar, but rather took on a more malevolent aspect. This is, I realize, a hard truth, but it remains true, regardless of its hardness...

    --Amon of Tha'ar the Golden (formerly Lt. Clive Barrow)
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    Eastern Carcharoth

    The primary powers of Eastern Carcharoth are the Temple States of the Obsidian Compact. Each of these entities controls a large fortification which surrounds their respective moon gate that connects the former metropolis to its reincarnation in Seapasia.

    The major features of this region are similar to Seapasia, despite its complete lack of surface hydration. The shores of Carcharoth are washed by the great sand seas of Khilletzbaal, Baalshillek, and Ashtartyaton. The imposing massif of the Flail Mountains still dominates the center of the land, and the Trogg Badlands and the Valley of the Giants rest within its forbidding embrace. In Serinba'al the Plane of Tusks is filled with elephant and rhinoceros graveyards, there are no flora besides spiky cacti which sometimes grow to the height of towers, and the verdant regions of the Slothaurim and Slithoorg Jungles are completely absent. The wastes between the fortified moon gates of the Temple-States are dominated by feral tribes which ceaselessly test the defenses of the Obsidian Compact's client cities and villages.

    Dominating the sky is the horrific, horizon-consuming expanse of the second sun, a burning star that came to rest near above the scorched planes of Carcharoth at the beginning of the Ninth Age. Night only comes when the second sun revolves display its dead far side to the wasted domains of the Temple States.

    The northern reaches of this area are referred to as the 'Forbidden North', and are, in the main, even more desolate than the territories of the Temple-States.

    North of the Temple-States is the Peninsula of Ankylos, which is ruled by the Para-Elemental Theocracy of the True Drakes. Clerics of the Para-Elemental Strongholds of the Sun, Silt, Magma, Rain, Mist, Frost, Crystal, and Metal, persecuted in the lands of the Temple-States, openly venerate the dragon-like representatives of their respective Elemental homes. In the Eighth Age, it is believed that the Theocracy was devoted to the previously dominant elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, which have since declined precipitously in strength. The city-states of the Theocracy are ruled by ascendants similar in mien to the draugothim of the Temple-States, albeit that they draw their power from their respective Para-Elemental Strongholds, instead of the Abyssal Void. Each city-state is ruled by both a priest queen and king. They are served by ranks of elemental clerics known as maobeds who oversee the armies of the Theocracy. The Theocracy is divided between the vast Plateau of Kyloss, which rises over a mile from the barren lands of the surrounding peninsula, and the surrounding wastes. The success of the Theocracy is severely hampered by the intense infighting among its member states. Currently, the priesthood and forces of the Para-Elemental Stronghold of Magma are in the ascent, as represented chiefly by the 'Four Flames', the city-states of Sharbrad, Dezgal, Torkikar, and Gezgul. The Theocracy desperately wishes to seize Seapasia from the Dreadlords, but has never come close to achieving this aim.

    To the west of the Theocracy rises the immense massifs Chalgor and Urkhon, the Twin Dooms. These volcanoes each rise over 1,000 miles in height, and dominate the horizon of the Forbidden North. Several lesser fire mountains, each larger than Everest, surround each of the Twin Dooms. This entire region is known colloquially as the 'Great Caldron' or the 'Great Caldarium'. Several colonies of the Para-Elemental Theocracy of the True Drakes are situated on slopes of both Chalgor and Urkhon. The regions of the Great Caldron are also dominated by other species such as the firenewts, the ifrit, and the others.

    The Serrated Savannah lies north of the Temple-States. Unlike it's representation in Seapasia, this arid veldt of dry, thorn-laden flora is dominated by the Pyro- and Cyro-Mantilid Khaganates. These insect peoples ruthlessly hunt the last remnants of the former Empires of the Sun and Moon, who have largely sequestered themselves in their own half-worlds beyond a small number of well-concealed moon gates.

    The eastern border of this region represents the center of Carcharoth, and is dominated by the Sand Sea of Karkoon.

    The western arm of the Flail Mountains and the massive range known as the Stegotaurus Mountains conceals the sauroid realm of Gaiana. Servants of the beleaguered Elemental Stronghold of Earth, the sauroids have long resisted the encroachment of the Dreadlords upon their sacred lands, a perhaps hopeless charge which they pursue in concert with the hidden druidic city-states of the Bay of Solace. They are periodically subject to raids from the Temple-States, the Slaver City-States of the Shivering Plain, and the intermittent tarrek expeditionary forces from Kareth-Scra.

    Between the Sand Sea of Karkoon and the westernmost arm of the Flail Mountains and the Stegotaurus Mountains extends the treacherous reaches of the Shivering Plain, an immense cracked badland habitually riven by unnatural earthquakes and tremors. The Slaver City States and the Forgotten City States of the Shivering Plain are pitiable remnants of vibrant civilizations from the Eighth Age.

    The Obsidian Compact has long since despoiled the land of hard metals, and the tribes of the wastes rely chiefly upon jade for their armor and weapons.

    The southern territories of the Temple States have recently come under siege by the tarrek armies of Kareth-Scra, and the Dreadlords have been slow to react, disbelieving that these lowly creatures could possibly pose a threat to their invincible and unending dominion.

    While the surface life of Carcharoth has been definitively curtailed by the ecological destruction wreaked by the blight mages during the Wars of Purification, the subterranean realms have correspondingly burgeoned in scale and development. Beneath the blasted surface of the Lands of Torment vast civilizations of troglodytes, duegar, white gnomes.
    Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-01-22 at 02:30 AM.

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    The Domination of the Obsidian Compact

    The Obsidian Compact of the Dreadlords refers to their empire as the 'Domination'. It also uses this term designate several administrative districts, what might, in another polity, be referred to as 'provinces'. The primary divisions of the Dreadlords' realm, as contained both in the half-world of Seapasia and the charred lands of eastern Carcharoth, are as follows:

    The Domination of the Plane of Tusks
    The Domination of the Valley of Giants (this Domination was lost a thousand years ago to the upstart twins Kaltorr and Gedeyon, but continues to be viewed as a lost territory by the Obsidian Compact. Hambadan of Ukkur purports to have jurisdiction of this Domination)
    The Domination of the Thera Draconis, the Isle of Belsariyan the Elder, Doom of Serinba'al, Chief Minister of the Ebon Steeple
    The Domination of the Slothaurim Jungles
    The Domination of the Serpent Coast
    The Domination of the Hellwaste
    The Domination of the Illuminated Desert (this Domination of the ruined temple-state of Nekher-Set is now only theoretical)
    The Domination of the Mangrove Sea (this Domination of the ruined temple-state of Simran is now only theoretical)
    The Domination of the Blight (this Domination of the ruined temple-state of Veldigris is now only theoretical)

    Viztrixulan
    Siomay
    Chabhadur
    Srenody
    Mastrauggra
    Maalbranche
    Maazriban
    Tznagoss
    Tyrosh
    Bhaal-Ammoth
    Bahul-Zhaar
    Bahaal-Troth
    Razahmin
    Sulgridis
    Ezingal
    Chaamaron
    Osumburda

    The de facto capital of the Obsidian Compact is the great city of Kaer Dracona, which consumes the majority of the Isle of Thera Drakonis within the Alchemical Sea. Here stands the Ebon Steeple from which Belsariyan the Elder, First Minister of the Compact, presides over what the Dreadlords firmly believe to be the greatest imperial power to have ever, and that will ever exist. The monolithic Cothon of Kaer Dracona intermittently dispatches expeditionary fleets of its fearsome lucrehulks, dolorous vessels captained by warlocks and crewed by half-crazed warriors and war beasts of war mutated by the Belsariyan's miasmic Cloud of Hate. These ply the treacherous waters of the Sea of Acid, Sea of Poison, and Sea of Venom which surround the Alchemical Isles.

    The partial ruins of what appears to have been an immense bridge of glass are visible in the roiling caustic deeps between the Alchemical Isles the Serpent Coast.
    Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-03-27 at 03:13 PM.

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    Kylosadron: The Paraelemental Theocracy of the True Drakes

    Perhaps the second most powerful political body in the continent of Carcharoth is the large theocratic regime which lies to the north of the Domination of the Obsidian Compact. Excluding some colonies on the slopes of the Twin Dooms, the Paraelemental Theocracy is predominantly contained upon the Ankylos Peninsula, a large protrusion in the furthest northeasterly regions of Carcharoth.

    Its geographical position creates easily defensible borders for the Theocracy -- on three sides it is surrounded by the Sand Seas of Shirikti-shuqamuna, Gemegishkirihallat, and Deemethereesu. The remaining land bridge which joins the Theocracy to the greater body of the continent of Carcharoth is heavily fortified with extensive defensive trenches and forts.

    The interior of the Theocracy is dominated by the Great Plateau of Kyloss, or Kylosarodan. which rises over a mile into the heavens above the surrounding plains of charred earth. Above the plateau circles the great Typhoon known as Kralizec a remnant of the previous dominance of the representatives of the Paraelemental Stronghold of Rain within the Theocracy. Even with the recent emergence of the city-states known as the Four Flames to preeminence, the rain remains the next most prominent faction within the nation. Kralizec waters the Great Plateau of Kyloss with heavy rains that provide the Theocracy with a virtually inexhaustible resource of dense, arable soil, perfectly calibrated to provide sustenance for the teeming millions of the nation's many city-states.

    In the Eighth Age, this territory was known as the Elemental Republics, the Prime Elemental Republics, or the Republics of the Prime Elements, and the allied city-states of this non-authoritarian union were loyal to the Prime Elements -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Wood. At the beginning of the Ninth Age, the Prime Elements were weakened by the extensive blight magic released during the Wars of Purification. In their stead, the Paralements of Magma, Metal, Crystal, Fume, Silt, Rain, Vapor, Frost, Lightning, and Sun came to prominence, and the former republics were reconstituted as an authoritarian theocracy. The apogee of this transformation occurred during the Drake Wars, when the drakes of the Paralements emigrated en masse from their respective Elemental Strongholds and drove out those of the Prime Elements.

    Like the Domination of the Obsidian Compact, the Paralemental Theocracy of the True Drakes has suppressed the historical record. The ruling caste have altered the accounts of the founding of the Theocracy to claim that it rose from an empire instead of a republic, a cynical strategy intended to reduce discontent with the present caste system.

    Since this time, known as the Paraelemental Ascendance/Ascendancy or the Paraelemental Triumph, the species affiliated with the Prime Elements have been subjugated as an underclass within the Paraelemental Theocracy. The ranks of this underclass were also swelled by refugees from the ravages of the Wars of Purification, who welcomed into the Theocracy, and then promptly enslaved to till the vast fields of the Great Plateau of Kyloss, or provide sacrifices for the great step pyramids which stand at the center of every one of the Theocracies conurbations of any size. Additionally, they may be subjected to a brutal ritual known as paramorphysis, whereby the elemental alignment of a being is shifted from a Prime to a related Paraelement.

    The ruling caste of the Theocracy is divided between the 'True Drakes' -- awakened paraelemental drakes of great power, many of whom are also clerics of their respective Paraelemental Stronghold, and the Paraelemental Dragons -- 'advanced beings' of a similar sort as the draugothim of the Obsidian Compact, albeit ones that draw their powers from an extra planar paraelemental power source, instead of the despoiling of the earth. The True Drakes are more numerous than the Paraelemental Dragons, but no one is individually as powerful as the Paraelemental Priest Kings and Priest Queens that, as a mated pair, each rule one of the Theocracies city-states.

    The only entities of greater power than the Priest Kings and Queens in the Theocracy are the Paraelemental Exemplars or Truest Drakes, enigmatic awakened drakes of immense age who are each the size of a mountain range, more a land feature than a creature. These entities are effectively minor Elemental Lords, and rarely appear to the wider citizenry of the Theocracy or speak directly to their lesser kin or clerics. However, in the few instances when they do directly intervene in affairs of state, their wishes are invariably heeded. At least one is known to subsist within the great typhoon that hangs perpetually above the Great Plateau of Kyloss.

    Even within among the duplicitous ranks of the Paralemental Strongholds' most sinister cadres of servants within the Theocracy, those of the Sun are especially noteworthy. Indeed, while the Four Cities of Brass may presently appear to represent the greatest power within the Theocracy, and thus the greatest threat to the lands beyond its borders, it is in fact the servants of the hateful Sun that pose the most dire threat to the continuation of life in Serinba'al. The appearance of the Second Sun in the heavens above Carcharoth during the Ninth Age was no accident, but was a deliberate stratagem by the Paraelemental Stronghold of the Sun to dominate Serinba'al. The First Sun shed several subsidiary stars at the beginning of the Ninth Age, and the Second Sun, the first and half-formed of these, was only the first to arrive. Many more will alight in the skies of the Lands of Torment within the next few decades, promising to drown these gods forsaken lands in a fiery doom. This malign plan
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    Lands of the Great Cauldron

    Ashen forgemaster
    Avernus razorback
    Azer
    Blast shadow
    Brass dragon
    Brijidine
    Brimorak
    Burleev
    Burning Child
    Cherufe
    Delgeth
    Efreeti
    Element-infused creature
    Fire elemental
    Fire mephit
    Fire yai
    Flame drake
    Forge-spurned
    Gold dragon
    Hadhayosh
    Hell hound
    Iophanite
    Jabberwock
    Jocta
    Kaenju
    Kyrana
    Lava child
    Lava drake
    Magma dragon
    Magma elemental
    Magma mephit
    Magma ooze
    Magmin
    Necropyre
    Nessian warhound
    Ossumental
    Phoenix
    Pyrausta
    Pyrohydra
    Rast
    Red dragon
    Salamander
    Shamira
    Shard slag
    Smoke haunt
    Solar dragon
    Steam mephit
    Sun falcon
    Tear of Nuruu'gal
    Thoqqua
    Thrasfyr
    Underworld dragon
    Varklops
    Veela
    Vortex dragon
    Wickerman
    Wysp
    Xotani
    Yhohm
    Ymeri
    Zelishkar
    Zhyen

    The Twin Dooms are the heart of the region of central northeastern Carcharoth known as the Great Cauldron or the Great Calderon or the Great Caldarium. The Twin Dooms and the lesser, though still immense, fire mounts that ring them are the product of the intrusion of the Paraelemental Stronghold of Magma into the deep places of Carcharoth during the Ninth Age. This is held to have occurred, by those wise ones aware of the event, slightly after the Paraelemental Ascendancy which put an end to the Elemental Republics. In the depths of the earth, the forces of the Paraelemental Stronghold of Magma contend with an insurgency led by the Halocaustorian Cabal, one of the last remnants of the Elemental Republics. Ironically, this villainous sodality was once a subversive presence in the Republics of the Prime Elements. Now, it is the last vestige of a vanished civilization, and the elemental princes and princesses of evil of the Prime Elemental Stronghold of Fire are the final insurgency of their deposed society to struggle against the Paralemental Theocracy.
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    Neanderthal/Narthar Tribes

    The tribes known as the Narthar are a near-human species of sapients that have managed to survive in the perilous world of the Ninth Age, whereas there urbanized kin were largely annihilated during the creation of the first blight dragons. If their traditions are to be trusted, they have endured since the Fourth or Fifth Age, when they used their wiles to survive an extended reign of reptilian creatures, including dragons.
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    Plasmadons
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    Architecture of the Lands of Torment

    The qualities peculiar to the design and construction of the many teeming millions of edifices within the great cities of Serinba'al is certainly worthy of note to any travelers with an interest in this field. Perhaps a noteworthy example will assist in impressing the remarkable character of this world's urban architecture upon the curious reader?

    Consider, then, the Court of Recumbent Shadow, once domicile of the Warlocks of the Grand Exchequer of the Habitual and Extraordinary Offerings, which can be found in the great Temple-State of Tha'ar the Golden, arguably the greatest city within the central province of the Obsidian Compact known as the Domination of the Valley of the Giants. This remarkable edifice can be found within the District of the Deep Penumbra, one of the so-called 'Shadowed Districts' of Tha'ar the Golden which is literally overshadowed by the immense bulk of the thousand-floor arcology known as the Golden Tower. In the days of Dreadmaster Kaltorr's rule, the Court was responsible for the assembly and disposition of the offerings and sacrifices of the Dreadlord's cult. Now, the remaining warlocks have attached themselves to one of the curious Sublime Shadow cults which have arisen in the wake of the Dreadlord's mysterious disappearance. Given that Kaltorr's Clouds of Hate have not dissipated from the vertigo-inducing summit of the Golden Tower, and his chosen servitors continue to draw power from this tenebrous mantle, a belief has emerged among many of the remaining warlocks that Kaltorr has not died, but rather ascended to a greater and more perfect form, joining his subtle mind with the Void, becoming, in effect, a manifestation of primordial chaos. Where once was the Dreadlord Kaltorr the Cruel of the Temple-State of Tha'ar the Golden, now there has arisen His Sublime Shadow, the Voice in the Darkness, the Mind in the Void. The Court of the Recumbent Shadow, alongside other sodalities of their sorcerous kin such as the Shrine of His Shadow Ascendant, now presides over the strange offerings of a much stranger species of religion.

    In its profile, one might compare the Court to that of the baroque splendor of the Royal Palace of Caserta, whose magnificent grounds I had occasion to visit during my tenure in the Civil Service after the war. However, wedded to this essentially baroque arrangement of six courts is extensive ornamentation that calls to mind the art of a quite different period of our history --the famed bas-reliefs to be found in the throne room of the Northwest Palace of the Neo-Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, or that of the Great Apadana of the Palace of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great at Susa. Of course, the specific subjects of these decorations are not the same as in these historical parallels, but rather draw upon the distinctive panoply of Serinba'al's own legendarium and pseudonatural megafauna. To cite but one of many possible examples, the imposing entrance to the Vestibule of the Shadow's Dawning, which lies within the south central quadrangle of the Court of of the Recumbent Shadow, is festooned with snarling effigies of the ponderous endotheres known as 'behemoths' which stride the Shivering Plains to the west of the Domination of the Ebon Compact.

    As best I might describe it, one might compare this style to an alternative route of Earth's history where the ancient per-Christian religions did not die out, but rather continued to be represented in the art and iconography of the Renaissance and Baroque, though appending, also, a strong admixture of design elements from its aesthetic precedents in the Fertile Crescent.

    I have myself been able to confirm that these observations, generally, hold for the art and architecture of many other of the Temple-States within the Ebon Compact. On the far side of the Valley of the Giants, the Spring and Summer Palaces, as well as the many impressive temples of Suuur of the Lilac Horn call to mind both the height of Ottoman glory in Istanbul, as well as the ancient Phoenician city-states of Carthage, Tyr, and Sidon.
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    Yellow Mist of Doom

    The deadly phenomenon known as the Yellow Mist of Doom or Yellow Mists of Doom or the Sulfuric Mists was a toxic miasma of caustic yellow gas which roamed the wastes between the Temple-States of the Obsidian Compact, manifesting what appeared to be a kind of malign intelligence in its search for prey. For many years, the obstacle presented by these strange mists heavily curtailed any overland communication between the Temple-States in Carcharoth. However, they mysteriously declined in their presence and predatory voracity, opening the way for renewed intercourse between the urban settlements in this region of the world.

    The inhabitants of the wastes developed several adaptations to survive the presence of the Yellow Mists of Doom. For instance, the Roo of the Kataga Tribe are known to have protected themselves with the aid of gas-devouring pods with which they developed a symbiotic relationship. The Krohn-Raad Tribe of the Jaamhakar peoples retrofitted filtration devices from an ancient ruin in the depths of the Valley of the Giants.
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    Of the JaamhakarTribes:

    The Jaamhakar (spelled alternatively as Jamhakhar, or Jamhaakar) are a species of near-human sapatients who live in the wastes between the Temple States. The shattered historical record suggests that they were, at some time, servants of the human city-states who produced the first blight mages and instigated the Wars of Purification.
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    Therianmorph Tribes

    The so-called therianmorphs or 'beastmen' are a highly variable collection of species who, legends tells us, were created by the humans of the alliance of coastal city-states which contained the bulk of their population before the Wars of Purification. The therianmorphs were created as servants and companions to the humans, but the virtual annihilation of their creators during the creation of the first blight dragons released them from bondage, and led the vast majority to disperse throughout the wastes, far from the ruined citadels of their former masters and creators.

    There are thousands of therianmorph species, but some are more prominent and widely known than others. For instance, the species known as the Roo or Ryu are kangaroo therianmorphs who occupy substantial territory in the hinterlands of the Trogg Badlands that lie between two arms of the Flail Mountains. The Roo tribes are feared throughout the Domination of the Plain of Tusks because of their raids upon caravans journeying from coastal cities in the Domination of the Blight and the Domination of the Serpent Coast to the interior regions of the Obsidian Compact's lands.
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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    The Living World: Mana Crystals

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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    Clockwork Empire of the Amethyst Plain

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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    Stomping Mountains and Behemoths of the Shivering Plain

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    Of the Second Sun

    One of the most remarkable features of the Lands of Torment is the Second Sun, (or Solarium Secundus in the Elder Ektraskan language, or the Emerald Flame, among many other names), a blazing star that came to alight in the heavens above northeastern Carcharoth at the dawn of the Ninth Age. The Second Sun hangs low in the sky above the charred lands of the Dominion of the Obsidian Compact, allowing flying creatures who ascend from the heights of the loftiest peaks of the Flail Mountains, and especially from the considerably more elevated calderas of the Twin Dooms, to reach its surface. However, surviving the supernatural heat of the Second Sun renders this theoretical ability a dubious prospect at best, and mostly a complicated and painful method of suicide. This proximity also permits the egress of the baleful inhabitants of the Second Sun to Carcharoth, and they largely alight upon the aforementioned peaks of the region's highest mountains.

    The Second Sun was the first move in the Paraelemental Incursion, though this fact has not been appreciated until relatively recently by the astronomers of the Temple-States. At the beginning of the Ninth Age, the rapacious forces of the Paraelemental Stronghold of the Sun, also known as the Solar Paraelemental Stronghold, resolved to conquer the Lands of Torment for the glory of the Unconquered Sun. The great star began to spawn many children that would set alight the world of mortals, and claim it eternally for the Sun. Seeing the machinations of the other Paraelements, the Sun dispatched the Second Sun before its brethren had been completely, and not before the Paraelemental Stronghold of Frost had received intelligence of this strategy, and taken umbrage. The half-formed Second Sun began its journey through the void of space, and was attacked by the forces of the Paraelemental Stronghold of Frost, along with allies from the Paraelemental Strongholds of Crystal and Metal. This alliance dampened the light of half the surface of the Second Sun. Today, a war between the forces of Crystal, Metal, and Frost against those of the Sun persists, with the former triple alliance of Paraelements still holding power over the darkened, frigid 'dark side' of the star, and those of the Sun maintaining power on the 'light side'. The Second Sun arrived in the heavens above Carcharoth and filled its horizon with the strange, emerald-tinted light of its malevolent glow.

    The Second Sun hosts several large settlements, including the allied cities of Kaatin-, Saatin-, Haatin-, Baatin-, and Vaatin-Sakkar, also known as the Six Candles, or the Candle-States. These cities trace a massive pentagram and its center upon the light side of the Second Sun. The lines of the pentagram, known as the Great Solar Hex, are a focal point for elemental energies, and the powers of the sun-aligned creatures within this pattern are increased.

    The Second Sun makes a complete revolution in a period of time that is slightly longer than a 'day' on Serinba'al. Half of this time, the dark side of the star is turned towards Carcharoth, and the land below is beset by bitter cold.

    The trench which divides the light side from the dark side of the Second Sun is a site of intense conflict between the Paraelemental Strongholds that contest its surface. It is also believed that the conflict extends deep within the star, and that even the furthest reaches of its interior are subject to constant warfare.
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    The Pharaharmium of Sulgriss

    In the distant years of the Second Age, the cities of the alluvial valleys of the twin streams of the Khett and Sutt rivers, which join in the torrential rapids which surround Asbydos, arose under the guidance of the Great Brown Dragons of the Desert. These mysterious creatures shepherded the development of urban civilization by the natives of the lands between the great peaks of the Yukkor and Ashamad Mountains such that they became one of the few to resist the rule of the ogres of Oroggoth and other dark kingdoms of that distant age.

    Xenomorphs and grey aliens w/ quasi-egyptians. Dragons sleeping under pyramids. Rainbow colored sand.
    Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-01-30 at 07:17 PM.

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    The Sublime Recumbency of Enkirduragan-Kishkurgal (Engkirgur)

    kobold remnants and quasi-Sumerian culture.
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    The Primal Alliance

    Many of the previously dominant races of the continent -- elves, dwarves, gnolls, halflings, and orcs, have been forced to retreat from the surface or otherwise fortify their territories. These races were once the most populous in the Lands of Torment, and were each the dominant representative of one of the Prime Elements: elves of water, dwarves of fire, gnolls of air, halflings of wood, and orcs of earth.

    Still, even in the benighted years of the Ninth Age, and under the constant threat of the Obsidian Compact's depredations, these five races have maintained an alliance that continues to struggle for the future of their world. Once, they were united by a common holy land, the sacred city of Ryloshatar in the midst of the Elemental Republics. This holy of holies was devastated by the arrival of the Great Monsoon during the Paraelemental Incursion.

    The elven territories are hidden within a deep crevasse on the far side of the Sand Sea of Kyrkoon, an aperture which widens to a vast domain within the crust of the planet, a sheltered valley the size of a kingdom. Contained within this well-concealed premises is the Forgotten Sea, or the Lost Sea, presumably the last ocean of water on Serinba'al. The elves ply the waters of the Lost Sea in swift triremes, each with a dozen banks of slender oars. The elven helots are feared throughout the Lands of Torment. Their famed weapons and armor are made of enchanted water. Their city-states are guided by their oracles, the sacred blind matriarchs that speak for the departed luminaries of the Olympian Host, conveying the inscrutable will of the gods, even from their apparently eternal slumber. The elves are emigres from the Island of Aktheira, which once lay to the south of the eastern Continent of Saan-Gabiathan within the Opal Sea. The Pleiadesian colonists of Pelos on the Serpent Coast originated in the same foreign territories. Also famed are the rapacious war hydras of the elven phalanxes.

    The orcs were the firstborn of the earth mother, and their remaining realm is concealed on a large archipelago within the Seas of Sand. Their shaman and witchdoctors direct their people in the performance of the tappus, the sacred laws of the Earth Mother. They sail the Seas of Sand with immense vessels made of enchanted stone. They are also famed for their tattoo magic and prowess with the martial arts.

    The dwarves were the wardens of fire. Their great kingdom still persists beneath the Flail Mountains, where their king and high priest, purportedly the representative of the winged disk Ashur, continues the struggle against the Domination of the Obsidian Compact. The dwarves of have made common cause with the Halocaustorian Cabal in their struggle against the incursion of the Elemental Stronghold of Magma.

    The gnolls are the children of the air, and inhabit the invisible, flying continent of al-Jahabiyya. Though unseen by the inhabitants of the Lands of Torment, they stand between Carcharoth and the Second Sun.

    The halflings were the first servants of the Elemental Stronghold of Wood. Their people live now within the great Tornwood, a fearsome expanse of bramble on the southern border of the Shivering Plain. Many of their number are feared skin-walkers, shape-shifters that stalk the night.
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    The Plateau Cities

    The enigmatic settlements known as the 'Plateau Cities' rise forbiddingly from the midst of the deepest recesses of the Trogg Badlands. These massive conurbations are independent powers, not under the sway of the Obsidian Compact or the other polities of eastern Carcharoth, the so-called 'Lands of the Altar'. The best known of these cities are Absolution, Penitence, and Illusium. These cities arose in the previous age to take advantage of their ideal position along the central continental trade routes, and also served as an important point of contact with the dwarven cities of the Flail Mountains, including Ashurhaddon, Assurba'al, and Harsibad, as well as the interior domains of the kobolds and the human city-states of the present-day Serpent Coast.

    Absolution

    Absolution is an immense conurbation ruled by the so-called 'Petty Gods', and quarrelsome alliance of the enigmatic androgynous race known as 'silvers'. The city is some 70 miles in diameter, and rests on an artificial collection of ruins that is roughly a mile in height. At the center stands an immense statue of the 'godling' silver known as Abydion. The major districts of the city are Heaven, Peace, Serenity, Calm, Sanctuary, Halcyon, Corona, Charity, Patience, and Mercy ...

    Penitence

    This metropolis is ruled by the Eight Archangels of the Elder Elemental Eye: Ba'athsarba, Isaaru'el, Nahammamiah,

    Illusium

    Sprawling on a massive pillar of red rock some seven miles in height, and some 56 miles in width, the teeming millions of the city are afforded one of the greatest vistas in the Lands of Torment.

    The city is divided into eighteen quarters, each of which is ruled over by a titulary 'Quartermaster' or 'Quartermistress'. The ascent to the city is accomplished by an ingenious network of elevator platforms and depot stations that wind around the immense pillar. In all, the city holds some 50 million inhabitants. Standing in the midst of the city is the 'Crystal Garden', the largest outgrowth of the psionically-charged minerals that interlace the entirety of the formidable summit upon which Illusium rests.

    The Eighteen 'Quarters'

    Taschaarde
    Bloodeye
    Ebellion
    Swroong
    Gloomhollow
    Marrowhuld
    Ranchaarg
    Goorang
    Embracure
    Moorde
    Gauntlet
    Frasdrals
    Pummel
    Dresal
    Shutterglow
    Drasj Jahan
    Kommoranth
    Maronth
    Last edited by Marcarius5555; 2021-02-07 at 06:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Serinbaʿal: The Lands of Torment

    The Gwathor

    The fellid races known as the 'Gwathor' or Gwathir or Girwathor, among other names, are one of the primary 'Five Founders' of the Primal Alliance. They can assume many forms. The majority of the population consists of gnolls and flinds, but the winged asherake are another important branch of this elementally-aligned race. Their primary homeland in the Ninth Age is the Levitating Continent of Al-Jahabiyya or Jihan.

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