Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Gazetteer of Irkalla

Irkalla: A Gazetteer of the Continent of Erebas

The Arvillias
The Arvillias is the city of fae elves, the Isminari, who have served as the quiet guardians of their world for countless generations. Their queen is Evathia (an Orichani) and their lord is Regalios (a Mercurian).
   The Arvillias elves belong to four tribes: The Mercurians (fire elves), the Aqualians (water elves), the Penumbrans (shadow elves) and the Orichani (light elves). They co-exist within the walls of Arvillias, where all elven kind meets to keep the peace among the four great tribes.
   Outside of the Vale of Arvillias are the vast and untamed lands of the Narrian Forest. The closest human neighbors to Arvillias are in two regions: the mountains of Rekosk contain the barbarian tribes of the Nulmir, a rough and uncultured folk who regularly war with the Vakoshkan trolls, and southward, along the shores of the Glimmering Lakes, is the colony of Sinar, a city founded a century ago by the seafaring people called the Memarik. The Memarik have maintained pleasant relations with the elves ever since.
   The main threats in the region are the trolls of the northern mountains, The Yengasi lizardmen of the distant eastern steppes, and the local threat (as always) of the volgarak wolven. The volgarak wolven are enemies of elf and human alike, and migrated here three decades ago after they were driven out of the westlands by an even more ominous threat.
   Traveling southward, to the northern tip of the Glimmering lakes reveals the fishing port of Sinar. Sinar is a small but well-established fishing community and trade port for merchants who venture northward for commerce with the elves and barbarians. Sinar’s patron deity is Enki, although there is a local cult dedicated to Nergal.
Some famous characters from Sinar include:
Marshall Ardan: the gatekeeper and commander of the local militia, which consists entirely of local men and women who volunteer for city defense.
Elder Pharian: The elder orichani elf who represents his kind in their private ward within the city.
Dredaris the Artificer: A maker of fantastic devices, Dredaris is known for his most remarkable water clocks. He is also an arcanist, and dabbles in elemental gadgets.
Rekath’s Mansion: Not a person so much as a famous haunted mansion, with an ancient curse upon it, so some say. Known to have been occupied by the great antiquarian and treasure hunter Rekath the gnome, and his beloved Emma Pareel, who both passed away mysteriously within.
   The Ruins of Nakark (also called Elrin’zenarde, or “Lost Ancients” in elvish) predate the elves by at least a hundred thousand years. They are thought to have been founded by an ancient, long extinct race of multi-limbed giant quadrupeds, who could see in spectrums of light beyond normal men. The elves have spend at least two centuries excavating, exploring, and trying to render safe the immense, mostly subterranean ruins of this miles-wide city complex. Many unique and sometimes unfathomable devices have surfaced in these explorations.
   The Draegul is a large, almost giant-like warrior armored head to toe such that his true species is unknown. He arrived in the region recently, with a company of a thousand swell-armed mercenaries from all species and lands, and established an encampment on the far southern edge of the Nakark ruins. There, is has begun his own forays in to the ruins, and intrudes with force regularly upon the elvish archaeological sites. The elves have attempted parley and now secure their sites with armed warriors, but being peaceful folk, have resisted conflict whenever possible. It is not known what this being is looking for.
   Wintersbite is an elder Wyrm of the north, one of the dragonkind, who traveled to the region recently. The dragons of Irkalla are intelligent, but suffer from a bloodthirst, which drives them mad with hunger at least once a month. They do not recover from this madness easily, and much damage is usually done when they succumb. As such, most dragons prefer to be recluses, to avoid instigating too much conflict with the lesser species around them. The one called Winterbite, however, has recently appeared near Arvillias and caused much damage to local towns. It is not known why.

The Kingdoms of Revarik and Vald

   In the deep wilderness of the Northeastern kingdoms of Revarik, where no True King has ruled for almost eighty years, a lone stone fortress juts out from the high peaks of the Theranic Mountains. It is the highest settled point in all the wild kingdoms of the north, and from the watch peak, one can see across the distant mountains in to the domains of Vald, as far south as Altanar Lake with its misty expanses, and as far east in to the Wilderlands of Combrias as the eye will allow. From this peak, all of Revarik in the west lies exposed, hidden only by its perpetual canopy of dark forests and snow-capped mountains.
   This high peak is Firemount, and the Citadel of the same name is an ancient construct formed from immense stone blocks carved right from the very mountain upon which it rests. It is here that the dwarves of the mountains stand as vigilant guardians to the Theranic Mountains, and watch over the land around with a fierce dedication.
   Though the dwarves of Firemount Citadel are most often found defending their subterranean kingdom from the incursions of orcs, trolls, ogres and goblins, they also dedicate their time in the citadel to managing an efficient cavalry, dwarves who ride war ponies and who serve the community at large. In times of warfare, the dwarves have sent forth their mounted cavalry to the aid of the True King, and should another such man arise in the future, they will do so again. For now, they content themselves to helping the local men of the mountains in times of need. Dwarves, after all, can never resist an opportunity to scrap with the giant-kin and goblinoids of the land, an these beasts threaten men as often as they do dwarves.
   This land is set in a corner of the world of Irkalla. The region and its various potential adventures will be described in elaborate detail, to allow for an open-ended campaign to adventure in. Some important facts about the world of Irkalla are worth mentioning, however:
Dwarven Spiritualism: The dwarves are animists. They do not believe in gods and goddesses, but in spirits of the land. There is a spirit of each element, and it is said that the element of earth (male) and water (female) bonded to create the dwarves, who think they are minor elementals. There is a war spirit, hunt spirit, civic spirit, and so forth. They think that malicious spirits are often responsible for the giants and goblinkin they war with, and that the goblinoids were sprung from a forbidden commingling between the spirits of air and fire, for example.
   Revarik is the first free kingdom north of the Altanar Lake region, which acts as the borderland with the Narzhamid province of Visinare. Although the Narzhamites could easily siege Revarik in an effort to bring unity to the land, it has been over a century since an Emperor of Narzham has been motived to do so. These days, most of Narzham’s military might is found south, across the ocean fighting the forces of Old Sumar. This keeps Revarik’s environs relatively safe.
   Revarik’s history is tumultuous. It was said that the land was occupied by wild men and demihumans for centuries before any civilized rule of law came to the land. The first such civilized men to enter the wilderness were of Brythanic descent, regarded as barbarians by most standards even now. The Brythanics were part of a great western movement, a nomadic people who were moving from unknown conflicts in the north, heading southward until they effectively ran in to the ancient fortifications of the Narzham-united provinces. When they arrived, the Brythanics tried to take the lush agricultural land of the Narzham Empire, and a war lasting generations carried on. The people of Revarik are said to have descended from one Brythanic warlord, named Revarik, who grew weary of the fighting an decided to take his tribes and settle elsewhere, peacefully.
   This founder, Revarik, was the first True King to unite the land. The old lore of his coming to the lands of Revarik speak of a legendary tale, about how the dwarves of Firemount were engaged in a bloody war with the trolls and ogres of the Theranics, led by the Fire Giant Gnosros. As the tales go, Revarik slew Gnosros in one-on-one combat and brought his head as tribute to the dwarven king Gromsatter. Gromsatter was so impressed that he swore allegiance to Revarik and his line henceforth.
Revarik’s lineage was the basis for all future kings, and they ruled for seven centuries, it is said, before the time of troubles, which started about 120 years ago as historians reckon. A split between the northern regions, called Vald, and the southern nobles who were loyal to the Revarik line, heralded the time of troubles. The king at that time was Ail’goth, and though he was a sick man from many years of hard living in the cold north, he nonetheless took up arms to quell the Vald uprising. The Valds, led by the traitorous Lord Kale, had secretly made a pact with the goblinoids and orcs of the Northern Theranics. They managed to decimate the armies of Ail’goth and swept over the southern cities one by one. Only when Lord Kale proclaimed himself Emperor of the North in the capitol of Votenhold did the orc king Ragganamos and his vile queen Thracia announce that they would accept his empire as tribute for their assistance. Lord Kale and his men fought wildly against the orcish uprisisng, but it was too late.
   The orcs overran the land. In a curious turn of fate, it was the wildermen of the Theranics and the dedicated dwarves of Firemount who rallied the fractured Revarik soldiers in to an army that could stand against the orcs. For twenty years the humans, wildermen, and dwarves fought, along with elves out of Illvynir and even Halflings from Combrias who were well aware of the troubles in the west, and didn’t want any more of it spilling in to their quiet lands.
   In the end, eighty years ago, the united forces, led by the dwarven general Gadruman, and the sole heir to the Revarik line, a young woman named Ilmyrith, at last slew Ragganamos and drove the horde back in to the northern Theranic Mountains. Now, decades later, the only presence of orcs in the Southern Theranics remains in the underground fortress of Blackrock, where some claim Ragganamos fell, and his body lies entombed. The orcs have shown such dedication to keeping hold on that mountain that the dwarves have even conceded it to them.
   Unfortunately, the queen-regent Ilmyrith was a bastard daughter to the deceased king, and the men of the land, as grateful as they were for her aid, could not support her rulership over all. The land fragmented, and now, today, the reign of queens continues in Votenhold, where the young Resara Ilmyrith III rules in her grand-mother’s wake, and the many cities of Revarik are split among petty king-regents who can barely agree on anything save common defense against the monstrous wilderness. She is the only one the dwarves recognize as the True King of the land.

   The Brythanics are a vast and warlike collection of rough feudal chiefdoms in the northern reaches of Erebas. The Brythanics have on three occasions united under a strong leader, to pose a real threat to the borders of Narzham. The last great conqueror of the region was one hundred years ago, named Nathirion, also called Dragon Killer. His armor was a potent artifact, said to contain the spirits of all who wore it before, offering compelling tactical advice, but the bearer of the armor was cursed, in turn, to find his soul trapped at death, as well.
   Major cities of the region today include Denandir, which is the largest and strongest chiefdom in the land, ruled by King Hazad Altiros. Cadwl, in the west is the second largest city, and a viable river port. It is dominated by high lord Ultanaris, who defers to King Hazad, to avoid needless bloodshed, but most consider his standing army stronger and more disciplined.

   The people of Memarik are situated along the coast of the Glimmering Sea. The Memarik are a predominantly seafaring culture, still bronze age, who remain allies with the Narzhamites and are tenuously considered a client province to the empire.
   The Memarik are a loose collection of city-states dominated by local chieftains, who in turn are elected from among the local democratic electorate, consisting of the land owners and businessmen of the land. This is the system that has been in place for centuries now. The oldest known records of the Memarik refer  to their migration in to the region and fierce conflicts against Yengasi invaders about six centuries ago.
   The Memarik venerate a deity of the waters not seen by the Narzham, called Scylla. Other than Scylla, they maintain shrines and temples to Anu, Nergal, Innana, Sin and Ninurta.

   Narzham is the largest single unified realm in the world today. Its dominion stretches from the western tip of the straights of the Cortadarian Sea, all the way to the Glimmering Lakes of Memarik, its easternmost province. It is surrounded by wary neighbors, and depending upon who is king or emperor in any given moment, warfare can easily break out. Narzham maintains a large, mandatory standing army that can muster one hundred thousand men in a matter of weeks, if necessary.
   The capitol of the empire is the city of Narzham itself, from which the empire is given its name. Narzham is widely regarded as the seat of civilization and the center of all culture and learning by most people, even Narzham’s enemies (save perhaps for Phaerik, which prefers to think of itself as such).
   Across the waters from the capitol, on the Isle of The Mother is the sacred city of Eridu, said to be the oldest city of man in the world. Here lies the temple of the gods, to which all gods are worshipped and their deeds recorded. The sacred order of the Oracles of Law resides here, dictating the mysterious visions and declarations that come from the spirit world, and the island itself is scattered with the ancient tombs of countless kings and nobles who sought to be buried before the monument to the gods.
   Other prominent cities of Narzham include Netruar, where eastern commerce is conducted, and Chalidash, where the trade between the north and south along the western coasts is conducted. Chalidash is also where the legendary general Varizhan sailed westward, and became the first Narzhamite to set foot on the continent of Umbiras.

   The Brythanic people are always at war with the Ildaniir, or perhaps it is the other way around. Ildaniir is a region without unification, of ancient cities from a very old civilization that some scholars believe is the oldest continuous region of human occupation outside of the venerable city of Eridu. The Ildaniir are so insular and xenophobic, however, that as a people they remain pure bred, and their language is untouched by other cultures. Only certain Ildaniiri, charged with learning the ways of foreign cultures, are even allowed to learn the languages of lesser men. These diplomats in turn are eventually forced to exile, for they are no longer allowed to marry within their own society once they have been corrupted by foreigners. Thus it is from these diplomats and some soldiers who became enamored with the ways of foreigners and fled their native lands that most of what is known about the Ildaniir has been passed on to others.
   The two chief cities of Ildraniir are Camyros and Eldrasan, but between these two city-fortresses rest dozens of smaller keeps and forts, all built to keep the enigmatic nobility of the Ildraniir safe. The society is held aloft by slaves, who are bred locally, although it is said that when new slaves are needed, the Ildraniir dispatch armies to slaughter neighboring cities and steal their children.
   Ildraniir are a taul, gaunt and fair skinned people. They are seen by some as almost inhuman, with deep red eyes and hair in shades of light grays, blacks and whites. As a people, they are so universally strong in their belief in Ildraniir superiority that a dedicated Ildraniir will refuse to even acknowledge a foreigner speaking to him, save perhaps to run him down or slay him.
   The only reason the Ildraniir have not come to direct blows with the Narzham is because of Brythania. The wildermen of the lands between these two kingdoms have perfected warfare to an art form, but have never had success in conquering either of the neighbors, preferring instead to engage in persistent warfare for a quick grab of resources, while defending their own from Narzhamite land-grabs and Ildraniir slave runs. 

Old Sumar
   This southern land lies in burning deserts across the Cortadarian Sea. It was once a great empire from long ago, but is now dominated by wandering nomadic tribes. Further inland, beyond the nearly inpenetrable desert there is said to be a land of jungles and dark kingdoms, but few have penetrated that far. Narzhamites periodically mount expeditions to these southern lands beyond Old Sumar, to bring back fabulous beasts and slaves for the arenas.

   Phaerik is a southern neighbor, along the Ultradamic Sea. Phaerik is the only true rival to Narzham. It is ruled by the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Sun, Mazrathar, and dominates a wide swath of territory in the deceptively lush Phamarian Deserts.
   Phaerik is the most recent incarnation of a legacy of older kingdoms, and ancient pyramids and ziggurats dot the land, monuments to old and forgotten kingships. The people of Phaerik worship most of the Irkallan gods, but there is a strong and unique cult to Nammu in the region, the goddess of the formless abyss of creation, to which the lands of the Phaerik are likened at times. This cult of Nammu is disliked by Phaerik’s emperor, who seeks to stamp it out, for the cult of Nammu suggests that all gods before the abyssal goddess are mere shadows of thought who must be cast down.
Esgatana Wilderlands
   This wild region is ruled by the Esgatanan tribes, fierce and primitive warriors who are  barbaric even by Brythanic standards. The Esgatanans live in large communities, but have not mastered better than simple bronze weaponry. Still, they breed like rabbits, and the only successful foreign colony on Esgatanan soil to date, Daladron, is sieged as often as it makes peaceful treaties with the locals.
   Narzham emperors have, at stressful times, approached the Esgatanans for aid in warfare, hiring large numbers of them as mercenaries and dispatching these soldiers once properly equipped as frontline troops.
   Esgatanans are said to revere only Gugalanna and Ereshkigal, although some Narzhamid soldiers claim that a cult to nergal has become popular, as well. In addition, the Esgatanans engage in strong spirit and ancestor worship.

Yengasi Steppes
   The Yengasi steppes are dominated by fierce nomadic lizardmen, descended from a breed of such that was said to have once conquered half of the continent, and was stopped only by great unified effort of the men of that time. Today, they are not unified, but travelers in the region must be wary, for the Yengasi can vary in attitude, with one tribe friendly and helpful, and another prone to attacking all humans.

   The lizardmen have a strong worship of Tiamat and her children. Yengasi also have a belief that their old empress, the warrior-woman Nadirata, daughter of Tiamat, will rise again one day and return to lead the Yengasi people to conquer all of the world and subject the tall apes to their rule.

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