Posts Tagged With: Sh’Achtar

A Short Synopsis & Minor Treatise On the History & Nature of Creation (Part 4 – The Classical Era)

There is a great Lord coming.
He will both walk in the Darkness and be one with it.
The Blood of gods flows in his veins.
Blood and Fire surround him.
His coming has been fortold, but not it’s manner.
He is the Unforseen, the Unheralded, and the Unexpected, a lambent ebon flame that burns within the Night.
Angels weep at the sight of that which he bears, and the Daemons fear it’s touch.
He is the last remnant of an older time, and his understanding is insanity.


The Prophecy of the High Lord

Many viewed the Tearing of the Veil as the final culmination of the Wars of Binding, but it was almost immediately revealed that it also set the stage for a resolution to a problem which had plagued the Mortal Realms, the Shadowlands, and even Faerie. All across Creation, a prophecy came of the coming of great Lord, a remnant of an older time bringing destruction in his wake. Collectively, across the Realms, forces began to gather and prepare, and equally old powers began to awake and return, woken by the sound of that Lord’s footsteps.

Dara Hannan, Countess-Palatine of Morrow, Kin to the Dragon, and Consort to the High Lord

Witness to the Tearing of Veil, Dara was steeped in sorrow, having lost the love of her life in that great and terrible crime. Already a potent mage, with the spirit of a dragon bound within her, Dara along with her companions and kin was instrumental in defeating Alkenzamier the Dark – though she lost many of those  closest to her in the fight. Rewarded with the lands and titles in Albion, Dara retreated to grieve her losses, found the second great love of her life, and then soon found herself embroiled in the coming conflict. Rebuilding the tattered remnants of the Circle to stand against the coming storm, Dara also built the bridges between the Shadowlands and both Albion and Silverveil, creating the foundation for the firm footing that the High Lord’s return needed.

The Mad God’s War (1043 R.A. to 1046 R.A.)

The Mad Gods War started when Valerius, the Founder and Warlord of Tierna, awoke after his long slumber to continue his war against the Witch-King, thought long dead, but in his opinion the coming Lord who was foretold. In his insane search for power to assume his place as Ilhiedrin’s Heir and thwart the Witch-King he slew many Godlings, disrupting the order of Creation. In response the High Queen of Albion invoked the Grand Alliance and called for aid to combat the swiftly growing theat. The call was answered in more ways than she ever expected as the Mad Gods War was seen as a crucial gambit in War Without End by players who had been maneuvering since the Invoked Devastation. And on the Plains of Furlaith the forces of the Grand Alliance met the forces of the Mad God, and ground near unto destroyed themselves until the High Lord of the Shadowlands met the Mad God in single battle, broke him, and threw him into the Abyss.

The Phoenix King

In Faerie, a promise made in ages past by a Queen who sacrificed herself for her people, finally came to pass. The heir to the Great Throne of Faerie finally came again, the Phoenix King. He took up the Blade of the Empty Throne  where it had sat since the Sundering. Calling the Elven Host for the first time since before the Sundering, drawing forth kin that had retreated to the far reaches of Faerie and the Mortal Realms, the Athamae of the Great Houses were loosed in the War Without End once again.

The Grey Elves

In what should have been nearly as great a moment of joy, the lost heir to the Great House of Elastrin appeared on the field of battle, bearing the equally as lost Athamea of the House, drawn in battle for the first time since the Wars of Binding. A rogue and a scoundrel, he heard the call of his liege lord and answered – and stood at the High Lords back against the vanguard of the Knights of Dearth. It was a battle that was not without cost, for that which could not be broken was, the Athamea of the Great House of the Elastrin was shattered – and the Elastrin were left without a center. The greatest of the Warrior Houses, the Elastrin found themselves broken swords, elves in twilight, lost in Faerie but unwilling to join their kin the Sundered in the Shadowlands.

The Peace of the High Lord

Standing on the Plains of Furlaith, the High Lord of the Shadowlands, the Immortal King of the White Empire reborn called a council of the gathered rulers and nobles, from the greatest to the smallest, as sovereign lord. Proclaiming his new reign over both the Shadowlands as well as the old lands of the White Empire, the High Lord declared his authority absolute in standing  in opposition to the Lords of Dearth and the Five Demon Emperors in combination with his supreme disinterest in ruling the Mortal Realms. He also declared his support and friendship for the new King of Albion, raised up by the Old Faith upon the passing of the Queen during the battle just passed.

The Shattering

The Mad Gods War shattered what the Heartlands knew of the order of things. The realms of Tierna and Albion both greatly suffered from the loss of land and people, and other countries suffered in similar ways. Tierna lost much land to the newly created Scarlet Sea, and the breakaway of what is now known as the Grand Duchy of Sohac along what had been it’s northern border. Albion suffered the breakaway of many of it’s northern duchies into a series of independent kingdoms. Elsewhere, Kistath saw a great deal of political upheaval as many tried to take advantage of the new balance of power with the High Lord while Ith and Thule were mostly unaffected by the changes.

Boon Companions

Following the Mad Gods War, with all standing in both awe and fear of his power, the High Lord returned to the Shadowlands with his troops, taking up residence in Ebionstark. Though few understand it, a quick friendship grows between Albion and Shadowlands, even if tensions remain with the shattered remnants of Tierna as old hatreds and habits remain deeply embedded in both cultures. Albion also maintains a distant stance to the creatures of the Shadowlands – holding true to both the letter and spirit of the Compact. The only race that has been become accepted in Albion, or even the rest of Uerth are the near-human sh’dai and they are eyed suspiciously more often than not.

Founding of Mystvale (1132 R.A.)

With the blessings of Albion and under the leadership of Ilian Half-Elven, a large number of Half-Elves and others move into Lorewood and build a new city, Mystvale. They have the tacit blessing of the High Lord and the open blessing of the Consort Dara, as well as close ties to the Phoenix King, with many elves joining them from the start.

Retreat and the Night of Ebion Fire (1197 R.A.)

In what is now known as “Retreat” the High Lord disappears for a generation, and in the coming years this becomes an unexplained mystery of the High Lord. In this case, the Consorts, Anakim, and Sha’Achtar managed to keep the peace until the city of Golath, north of the Martyr Mountains, rose up in open defiance of the High Lords decree, violated the Compact, and began to make open war on their neighbors. Before the Anakim or the Sha’Achtar could react the High Lord returned during the Night of Ebion Fire. Though different in appearance, and appearing as a young man, the High Lord bore the blade Deathkiss and wore the Ebion Crown on his brow. He scoured the city to the ground, slaying all within, save children under the age of majority, without mercy or cruelty. The children were fostered out among the Heartlands and beyond and held blameless.

Colonies Founded (1311 R.A.)

After years of searching, the new continent of Acadia was discovered by windships out of Zymora. Covered by a series of forests and plains ripe for settlement many of the countries of the Heartands (and elsewhere) sent ships and people, forming a series of colonies. At this point while travel of goods via windship is common the majority of people travel there via Navigator.  The wind passage is long and dangerous, and not a few ships go missing in the area, but it is much cheaper for moving goods and supplies.

Rise of the Petty Kingdoms (1327 R.A.)

As much of the Heartlands focused on Colonies, the Petty Kingdoms experienced a period of growth – taking advantage of deficiencies in trade. An area that had often been ignored for the most part, the Petty Kingdoms had been primarily at the mercy of the Nomads of the Tawill Plains and the Deep Ones of the Crimson Reef instead of the Goblins or the Trolls that plagued the main Heartlands of Avalon. In spite of this, the Petty Kingdoms had been intimately involved in the events

The Tauri Republic (1388 R.A.)

Though originally founded over a century previously by idealists from Albion, starting in 1388 R.A. the Tauri Senate voted to invade nearby kingdoms over the next nineteen years either by force or after instigating rebellions and “offering aid” to a country in dire straits. Bringing democratic reforms and  a keen intellectualism to their lands, the Tauri Republic accidently positions itself well for the coming problems, being less dependent upon magic or psionics then many of their neighbors.


“Behold the Witch Who Screams in Silence and Darkness, Firstborn of the Void, Forsaken, and Oracle of the Eighth Essence!
Behold the Life-Giving Sword Reforged in Blood and Shadow, The Solitaire, The Unforseen and Unlooked For Childe of the Storm and Crown of the Shadarin!
Behold the Passing! Behold the Meeting! Beware the Gathering!
Beware the Choice between Star and Shadow! The Sword! The Sword is Come!”


The Great Balance

The wise say that the multiverse exists in a state of equilibrium, constantly seeking a state of balance but never achieving it. This was illustrated in the twin kings of the Phoenix King of the Fae and the High Lord of the Shadowlands each coming to the fullness of their power at the same time. They also point to the rise of the Shadarin and the Cataclysm as another example of this, though a darker one.

Ashanden n’Dai Sa’J’asamyn kel Elastrin n’Hai Diablen

The son of the Witch J’asamyn and the self-exiled, disgraced, and un-seated head of the House Elastrin, Lord of the Great House of the Phoenix, “Ash” was ultimately a child of multiple worlds, multiple races, and always alone. Despite this, when he was faced with the reality of the War Without End, he was able to find the strength to stand and fight against the Dearth, with the remade sword of his House in hand. In doing so, he chose to stand with the Sundered, not with the Fae, and became the first of the Shadarin – those Forsaken to Shadow. Thus forcing the proud members of that Great House to choose between Shadow and Twilight and throwing the Court of the Phoenix King into disarray.

The Cataclysm (1507 to 1561 R.A.)

With Creation rocked upon it’s axis, distracted, the Lords of Dearth took this opportunity to put long-laid plans in motion. A seed of corruption, long hidden in the mountains southern Heartlands, blossomed and the madness grew in the minds of the infected until it exploded in a frenzy of blood and gore that spread across the Heartlands. It took three generations, but finally the spread was stopped, reversed, and even somewhat contained – though the effects and the danger remain to this day.

The Blight

The mountains south of Albion had long held secret pathways to the Realm of the Great Waste, in much the same way that there are hidden pathways between all the Great Realms that are known to the wise. The Lords of Dearth helped that realm of poison and destruction spill out into the Mortal Realm, leaving a Blight on the Heartlands that remains to this day. Encompassing much of what had been the Petty Kingdoms and Albion, the Blight does not just corrupt the creatures that live within it’s bounds but also poisons the minds of those who enter it or who dwell within it.

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So, what’s different about my world..?

With D&D 5E here, especially with the Monster Manual on hand, I’ve been kind of mentally reviewing what is different about my campaign world now that I’m trying to stay as close to the party line as possible.

  • Goblins! Instead of a million different humanoids I have goblins. In addition to normal, undersized Goblin Boggarts (which are hatched from eggs, kind of like in Harn) with their chiefs and shaman I have Hobgoblins as fully-grown, experienced goblins, Redcaps are elite goblins, and Black Goblins are sterile mules that are oversized shock troops. There are also the Border Goblins of the Shadowlands and the dreaded Ash Goblins with their Barghest leaders who serve the Lords of Dearth. Lastly, there are the Khazan, the Human-Goblin crossbreeds created during the Wars of Binding ages ago that live amongst both humans and goblins, vilified by the former and often leading the latter.
  • Trolls! Yeah, instead of Hill Giants and Stone Giants, I have big trolls kind of like Tolkien’s. There are Marsh Trolls, Forest Trolls, Hill Trolls, Rock Trolls, Cave Trolls, and Sea Trolls. Rock and Forest Trolls are actually pretty civilized, while Marsh, Hill and Cave Trolls are primitive and either live in isolated family groups or live in service to various powerful personages. Trolls are often the biggest and baddest creatures that a group is likely to see – Ogres  being much more common with their noble Fir Bolg, “High Ogre” antecedents less common but not unheard of while Giants (Formorian or Mountain) are relatively rare. It’s worth noting that one can also find Half-Trolls (and Half-Ogres for that matter) also, but they are rarer than Trolls themselves given the difficulty in birthing the child.
  • Demons! My demons are elementals corrupted by exposure to the Dearth aka the Five Demon Emperors (aka Lovecraftian elder gods). So, as a result, there are Pyrodemons, Hydrodemons, Aerodemons, and Terrademons. There are also a whole variety of Dire Beasts, which are similarly corrupted animals and creatures. You want terrifying? Find out you have to fight a Dire Troll, or worse yet, a Dire Drake of some sort. Demons and the forces of the Dearth are the one thing pretty much everyone bands together to fight, good or evil. In fact, the two greatest schisms of the universe, the Fall of the Celestials (more of a Jump actually) and the Sundering of the Fae were actually rooted in practical and philosophical differences about how to pursue what is called “the War Without End” in the oldest of texts.
  • Drakes! So, Dragons in my game are evidently what other games need a Tarrasque for. Forget that, I’m a former 1E-er, I always thought Dragons were wimpy in the game (though I recognize that changed sometime around 2E, pretty much after I stopped playing). So my dragons are homebrewed awfulness that are worthy of the name while I also have Greater (Winged) and Lesser (Wingless) Drakes that fill the role needed for large reptilian creatures that hoard treasure and that threaten civilization. The Greater Drakes are the flight-capable Fire, Storm, and Frost Drakes, as well as more vestigial-winged Swamp, Sand, Forest, and Sea Drakes – and there is a whole extra ecological niche of reptilian Drakes that are domesticated – Riding Drakes, War Drakes, Hunting Drakes, Hearth Drakes, etc.
  • No Beholders, Mind Flayers, or Gith! Yeah, you heard me, none of those wonderfully iconic D&D monsters. Mostly because I just though Beholders were too weird, Mind Flayers didn’t really appeal to me (too much a copy of Cthulhu), and the Githyanki/Githzerai just seemed a bit off to me. But I did like some of the ideas involved – but wanted something that was even more terrifying – and so was born the Ichneumon Vorre, a horrific psychic, parasitic race that roams the Astral Space that reproduces like an Ichneumon Wasp, and also creates thralls by infecting them with their blood and creating a horrific, blood-sucking beast. They look like a cross between a Predator and an Alien. Then there is also the Old Race, a cannibalistic race of psychic proto-human hunters that roam the Astral in search of the Ichneumon Vorre, who consider everything else either beneath notice or worthy of hunting – and anything worth hunting is worth eating. The Old Race is human, but long changed by their travels in the Astral.
  • No Drow! In my world, there is essentially a vague analogy to the Seelie and the UnSeelie Courts of the Fae. During the Sundering, the Sh’Achtar broke with their kin, and essentially created the Shadowlands to take the War Without End as close to the borders of the Dearth as possible. Or, after the cosmic upheaval that created the Shadowlands, the Sundered (as the term Sh’Achtar translates) took up residence there because of the differences they had with their brethren in Faerie. They are pale, not dark, and definitively the sort of Fae that you need to watch out for.
  • Beastmen! To one eye, my Beastmen seem rather akin to the Jaghut of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steve Erikson. But my Beastmen (who call themselves “the Thal of Erkrath”) are rooted in the idea that the old “cavemen” from the 1E MM (obviously based on Neanderthals) were actually far wiser and far, far more than they seemed. Possessed of a powerful racial memory and orals histories that cover more history than anyone suspects the Beastmen have renounced civilization and magic as the root of all evil and live purposefully solitary and pastoral lives, far from any civilization. Despite this, and due to various Sorcerer-King liches that keep trying to be re-awoken or reborn, each tribe elects has a shaman who is burdened with learning the skills involved in magic and the like, so that various old bindings and spells can be maintained – and potential problems recognized before they become worse problems. I’ve never answered the question of what the relationship between the Beastmen and the Old Race is, but I do know that they are related, both being protohumans of a sort.
  • Yaun-Ti! Yeah, I tweaked the crap out of these as well but in some ways the least amount when it came to official game statistics. Far to the south, live the serpent-venerating (and serpent-blooded) folk of the Great Empire of Ith. Descended from the slaves of and founded on the ruins of the great Serpathian Civilization, the Pure-blood Ithians rule the Empire, with their degenerate kin are hidden away. A culture of cults and intrigues, they are feared in much of the Known World and have a civilization to rival the Kistathians in historic and cultural richness but rival the Shadowlands in cruelty.

There is more of course, but those are the ones that come to mind as I’ve been reading the Monster Manual and making sense of it.



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