The world is too full of wonders
For us to comprehend,
All we can do is wander
And smile until the end.
- Esten, Half-Elven Bard, in the Age of Zeril
The world of Kevren is an old, beginningless world in an ancient Cycle of rebirth and renewal. The following map is the one generally followed by navigators. While other continents may exists, no one has ever reached one.
These are simple facts everyone knows are true, essentially the cultural mythology of Kevren.
This is essentially the framework of the world itself. Most people believe there are really 4 worlds, or perhaps 3 worlds and the energy that connects them, if you ask old and stuffy wizards. Basically, there is the world (Kevren) and the Upper and Lower worlds, given various names like Heaven/Hell, The Land of Plenty/The Wastelands, The Overworld/The Underworld .... whatever name they’re given, it is accepted that there are an Upper and Lower world. The Upper one is seen as the domain of the gods, the lower one that of Death and rebirth. Permeating, connecting and surrounding these is the world of magic, the energy that allows people to connect to the divine and other darker forces for spells. The fact that magic connects all three worlds and either encompasses them, is generated by them, or is a gift from the gods in the high realm (depending on who you ask) is what allows the races to survive in either of the other worlds.
Travel between the realms is generally dangerous. To enter the realm of magic, one goes Astrally or Ethereally (same thing) .. to enter the Upper or Lower you have to use mountains, or caves or trees. Generally anything connected to both worlds can be a focus point. Animals linked to one or the other (or often both, such as the bear) can be seen as sacred to many and most clerics are hesitant about harming bears, ravens or eagles just in case a deity is using them as a messenger at the time.
In general, the Higher realm is seen as the domain and world of the gods, while the lower is seen as death and the cycle of rebirth. In some places, burial of the dead is said to allow you to be reborn sooner and in others the dead are cremated, to better join the gods above. There is some speculation that when the world ends the higher realm and the middle one we live in will both fall into the lower as the world is reborn to begin a new Cycle.
As a minor side note, some speculate that there are even higher and lower realms, likely to account for the existence of fate. However, setting fate above the gods is often seen as heresy to many and foolishness to others. Whether this is true or if people make their own fates independent of the whim of gods and magic is often debated during cold winter nights when people have nothing else to do.
The Bay: Most of the village/cities around the bay that serves as a main trading and fishing area are independent entities. Being politically astute, they trade with all nations and peoples but bear a marked hatred for mages, whom they believe caused the plague of Patr’i (god of madness) and destroyed the fleets they had dedicated to Fleres, goddess of water. Since that time any person using magic -- or doing anything deemed unnatural -- is often killed on sight. In fact, the only thing worse that doing the deed is accusing someone of a deed they did not commit.
Like the Riverlands, this area has no one patron deity.
Broken Lands: The Broken lands are a scattering of rocky spires, hill tops and the occasional expanse of land that somehow ends up above the waves. No one has mapped them since the lands that surface and remain under change frequently, making them a very nasty water hazard for any traveller. The sudden ending of land and the cliffs dropping into the seething waters seem proof that the people of these lands angered the gods and got destroyed. However, what they did and who they were has been lost.
Many claim that Cliel or Patri was/is the patron deity of these lands. However, few say that to their faces.
The Empire: The most prominent nation in the modern world, indeed the most powerful nation since Arkan wiped all history from our lands, the Empire is a walled vastness of old power and deep oaths. It’s history is rather complex, as it was apparently founded by Cliel, the goddess of war (after her odd death/rebirth) calling on the might of Jalden, god of doors, to open some ... way long since closed. Dah’cmet, The god of old magic, was called/woken/summoned back into the world. It was this god, whose name is held in dark repute even now, that helped found the Empire and walled if off. This wall has never been breached as of yet, and likely never will (despite an odd rumour claiming it was once). Both in this world and in the world of magic at once, it is said to have even held off the wrath of a God in it’s time. One disturbing incident in its known history was the killing of all mages within the Empire, roughly 840 years ago. Some claim this was the price Dah’cmet asked for his aid, though why a god of magic would want mages dead is a mystery scholars have yet to unravel.
Dah’cmet is the patron deity of the Empire.
The Headlands: The breadbasket of the continent, the headlands are an area of rolling hills and lush farmsteads. With villages and wild herds scattered all over, the headlands produce over half the staple foods eaten. The orc invasion of the headlands, only stopped by the dwarves hastily assembled army, has changed things. The stone Bleak Watch was built and the trade city of Fardale walled for the first time in its history (well, as much of its history as is recalled after Akran). The people of the headlands might be kind, gentle farmers but the orcs attacked the land. An undercurrent of hate has been felt here and some old-timers say the crops are weakening and becoming stunted, feeling the hate that tries to mask fear. They are ignored. Half orcs coming here have very short life spans.
Veisa is the patron god of the Headlands and summer often dwells in these hills and plains longer than in the rest of the world.
The Islands: As a rough count, there are over two thousand small and somewhat large islands making up the chain off to the west of the continent of Kevren. Aside from five cities and a scattering of small villages and peoples the islands are mostly small, empty places filled with ruins of other times and ages. Many pirates make their living here and it is perhaps the only place on the continent where the unnatural races the gods forced off Kevren, like orcs and their ilk, can be found alongside humans, elves and dwarves and no one dead in less than three hours. Most traders only visit these barbaric “cities” when they have no choice and tend to want to leave quickly, which is just fine with the islanders.
Fleres is the patron deity of the islands, though many people are looking to L’tolsh for guidance more often lately.
Nations of Molas: Dedicated to the god Molas (god of protection), these patch-work countries seek to make the world prosperous and advance civilisation. Surprisingly, their forward thinking extends to magic and they are the only powerful nations a mage can openly reveal himself to be a mage in and live without being feared much of the time. If these nations see the Empire as a threat to their plan of prosperity, they have wisely done nothing about it.
Molas is the patron deity of these lands, even if they have largely become separate cities and nations in name only.
Padrei: A once-mighty elven nation in the Tsiri mountains, Padrei collapsed 400 years ago due to a sharp decrease in the price of metals and the fact that most of their mines ran dry as the dwarves told them would happen. In this present age, only high elves live there and all other elves avoid that nation, holding that the elves of Padrei are doomed because they “angered a foe that could not break its word.” Some stories even say the Gods can not act in Padrei due to whatever dark force the elves angered. The travellers who have been their and returned say that the elves have a surprising suspicion of tall, pale people and are all unarmed, refusing to cause any foe to bleed in combat. The reasons behind this are unknown.
The nation of Padrei is said to have been forsaken by its patron deity, Ranbir.
The Old Swamp: This is simply a very old, dark swamp where foul things are said to live. Rumours claim the city of Ashkar is located somewhere within it along with the Hall of the Hundred Necromancers, where they practise their dark and foul arts. Legends say the first tetric groves - places where gods and mages interacted to form great magics - dwell within the wood. It is also notable as the only place that the Empire has been unable to fight against.
Some claim Ashakan is the patron deity of the swamp, others Jolien’Sha. The truth is that no one knows.
The Riverlands: A network of cities and villagers spanning the Great River, the Three Sisters and all their many tributaries, the Riverlands are the most populated area in the world and filled with traders, travellers and many people living together in the name of profit and free enterprise. The nobles rule the cities often enough with a firm, if strict hand and make sure that the balance of power within the cities remains.
The Riverlands, like the Bay, have no one patron deity.
Tsiri Mountains:The heart of the dwarves, these ancient mountains are said to have covered the entire continent in the past but are now small, worn and in many cases over grown hills as time batters away at them. Many of the mountains have given up their last ores and few dare to delve into the deep caverns. Quite a few dwarves believe that the small section of their mountains the Empire claimed had the last great ores in it and have a strong dislike for the Empire as a result. The building of the Canal (“Designed by Gnomes, Engineered by Elves, built by dwarves -- what more can you ask for? Come see this architectural marvel today!”) has helped immensely in helping the dwarves remain in their homeland. Many older dwarves still find their young ones becoming a water faring race to be very disturbing and more than one dwarf has been kicked out of their home over the issue.
Tsiri is the patron deity of her mountains.
The Western Woods: The ancient home of the elves, who claim these woods are older than the Tsiri Mountains, the woods are noted for their age and the quiet powers running through them. Dryads and Treants live in deep groves no outsider ever sees and tetric magic is still practised in quiet places, after some of the older and more well known groves were destroyed. As elves can live for a very, very long time barring accident or suicide, the city of Abendel tends to drive outsiders insane. Most elves can spend years on a problem, or decades deciding what colour to pain a fence. The gnomes seem to have adapted to this strangeness rather well but aside from the dwarves no other race even remotely understands it. Few travel to the woods without the permission of the elves, and no one has ever figured out why they are the western woods.
Seri is the patron goddess of the wood.
Ashkar: A city said to be situated at the heart of the Deep Swamp, it is the only place on Kevren where Ashakan (the Eternal One who rules the nameless age to come) is worshipped in any way. His servants are said to live there and even the other denizens of the swamp have horror stories of this city. No one leaves in unchanged, and few leave it without bearing the mark of Ashakan.
El Imorto: The City of Life. Located somewhere in the central islands, legends claim that the inhabitants of this city never die and are immune to death, as unlikely as the claim seems. None who find the island ever return from it, so some legends claim the island itself confers immortality ... or that the islanders consume the living to rejuvenate themselves.
Erbi: A small city south of the Deep Swamp famed for very beautiful men and women living in it (though some apparently only become beautiful after changing sex :) ). The city has produced a surprisingly high number of magic users in the past.
Havex: One of the larger trading islands in the island area, it is home to many pirates and ruled by a mysterious council whoops sole mission in life is to make sure the island is never taken by the navies of the more legitimate islands. In order to help with this defence, Havex has more mages in its employ than any other nation-state in the world and some claim the official island cities are just covers for it, hiding its location.
Talkani: A small area of the Great Wood in the west that no westerner will enter. They claim the area promises death . . . or more than death . . . for those who enter it. It is also the site of an old ruin, one of the few Arkan never destroyed, so it may contain information about the past for any who seek such things. Even the gnomes avoid it.
To Dance with Treason
- Saying made popular by those few who challenged a noble’s will
On Kevren, a nobles word means many things. In many places, it is the voice of power, judgement and law. A nobles word is unimpeachable, the voice of authority. Essentially, they can do anything they wish, bound only by common sense (hah!), family dictates, the rules imposed by higher nobles. What’s even more surprising is that this amount of power doesn’t corrupt that many nobles since they are well aware that they’re only flesh and blood and die as quickly as others.
The other visible benefit of truly noble blood is the Gift. This power allows nobles to see patterns that develop among people and sense the meaning behind meaning the of actions and phrases. Some nobles are powerful enough in the Gift to change people’s pattern in relation to others, essentially changing their fate. The Gift also allows a noble to sense lies said to them on many occasions.
Kings, being the rulers of a nation through divine will or by other means, have their own Gift, a kingly will powerful enough to heal diseases, compel truth, and even (some say) read minds. A kings gift can impose loyalty on any subject just by being close to the king, and kings seem to have an almost uncanny ability to evade assassination, and sometimes even cancel spells just by virtue of being a king. Some kings have even been able to use their connection to the land to cause events to occur, but that is exceedingly rare.
The continent of Okgar is noted mostly for the large variety of living conditions on it. While Kevren is mostly plains, Okgar has everything from frozen mountains to a nice little desert. While this makes much if it inhospitable to other races, it does create a very diverse ecology and many species thrive here. Politically, the land is divided between Okgar and Tamrin.
Okgar itself consists of the Cold Peaks (frozen mountains, quite close to glaciers), the Old Swamp and a set of normal mountains knows the Troll Range. The Western Wood is also considered part of Okgar by default. The desert known as the Quiet Lands is generally considered part of Tamrin but neither side has really claimed it since it has no practical use. The woody plains known as the Steppes are generally considered disputed or neutral territory.
Politics: Politically, the lands of Okgar are a tiered system, with certain races being higher than others. In general, the giants are the dominant races though few of them deal with outsiders in any fashion. The only giant race one is likely to meet is trolls, who act as intermediaries between the giants and other races of Okgar. Principally, the trolls direct the ogres, orcs, bugbears and the like who in turn direct the goblins, kobalds, and such. Obviously, this three tiered system is more complicated, since duergar (for example) are between the orcs and goblinoids and hobgoblins between orcs and ogres. Trolls aren’t quite sure what status to give ogre mages but generally avoid them.
Religion: While many of the species of Okgar worship the gods (sometimes with different names to reflect language differences) the orcs have chosen a different path. They worship a fire elemental called Sparkie. Well, not really. They actually worship - or perhaps just revere and acknowledge - forces of the world known only as Powers. According to orcs, the powers are what causes the world to turn and seasons change - barring divine intervention, naturally. The sun and stars burn because of powers and water flows because of them. They are, according to the orcs, both greater and lesser than the races, possessed of power and instinct but seldom true thought. The hobgoblins suspect it is only with the aid of these powers that the orcs have been able to sail to Kevren without being destroyed by Fleres.
Society: The following information is taken from an elf’s journal:
Okgar is generally a brutal, unforgiving place. It is not to surprising that the orcs invade Kevren as a result. Aside from the scrags who travel with them, the orcs and ogres who invade Kevren are finally largely free of their own society for a time. This fact is the only logical explanation for their often hideous battle tactics and an apparent death wish in terms of combat strategies. It is quite possible, even probable, that if orcs do get a foothold in Kevren, they (along with goblins and the like) will migrate as fast as they can away from their homeland.
The free plains were free once, a long long time ago. Before Arkan rose and fell, destroying the cities of Tamrin and the ancient treaties and allegiances that held the races together. In general, the plains are now at war. Lamias fight wemics, hippogriffs fight pegasi and centaurs war with unicorns in an old battle that was perhaps once a case of good versus evil but now is fought to determine who will rule the plains.
Politics: In Tamrin, politics are war in a very literal sense. Surrender is unknown and talking things out peacefully means distracting someone so you’re allies can sneak up on them and kill them. Both sides consider themselves good in this battle but only the unicorns can be truly said to choose good over evil when planning their battles. They aren’t many of them left.
Religion: The worship of the gods is the same here as in Kevren.
Society: Aside from war, pauses between wars to breed warriors (called peace in other lands) and anything that can further the cause of war, Tamrin tends to be a very dull place to be. Well, that’s if you can consider a land where outsiders have a life span of a month at best dull. The races of this land never enter the ruined cities by unspoken agreement and the past is left to be destroyed by time. About the only think the races of the “free” plains agree on is that the quiet lands should not expand and they are very careful about staying too long at the border, fearing to weaken the grass and allow the desert to march north slowly but surely.
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