Change has come to Harqual in other ways then just these events, however. From the 4th to the 9th of Thorn, a strange magical fog engulfs Harqual from the Isles of Ice beyond the frozen lands of the Northlands all the way to the Isle of Ghosts beyond the Far South. It is a time of fear and strange occurrences, which alters Harqual in unbelievable ways. Entire tracks of land either disappear into the sea or are transformed. In the region south of the Sword Imperium a new range of mountains appear out of the fog. In other places, new city-states and ruins appear across the land, some benign some not. The event becomes known as The Transformation.
The Transformation introduces several new kingdoms and races to Kulan including the Kingdom of Ahamudia. In the chaos that follows, Ahamudia is attacked by the Sword Imperium, a conflict which goes on for several months before the new kingdom is able to push the aggressive Empire of Swords back with the help of new allies: Avion, Navirosov, Onaway, the elves of Silverleaf, and the dwarves of the Greystones. The Sword Imperium collapses under the weight of war, as the allied kingdoms and cities lay siege to the Imperial Capital, Yösydän. In the aftermath, the region of the Sword Imperium is renamed the Sword Protectorate and Yösydän is renamed Vapaa, in honor of the last known peaceful Emperor who ruled over the Empire of Swords. New treaties are forged with the formation of the Eight Cities Alliance between Ahamudia and several of the allied countries (not Silverleaf or the dwarves).
Just north of the Great Expanse a new city-state appears out of the fog. This city, Tschaja, is inhabited by a strange race of bird-like humanoids that call themselves the Kha. Unlike with Ahamudia, the Kha are fortunate to meet the good people of the Sovereign City of Yuln and the Barony of Liran. The citizens of those lands welcome the Kha and several trade agreements are reached. However, the Kha do not understand the nature of magic and soon find their city hard-pressed to deal with the dangers of magic. As well, the orcs of the Black Kingdom view the region that Tschaja appeared in as theirs by right of the will of Gruumsh. This has led to an increase in tension in the region.
The strange magical, fog warps the lands east and northeast of the Greystone Mountains. Miles and miles of barren wilderness instantly become inhabited, as half a dozen city-states and strange ruins appear throughout the region. Chaos reigns throughout the Lake Gem Region, named after the large lake that dominates the region, for many months (years, really) after the Transformation. The city-states come from various different Alternate Material Planes and soon begin bickering amongst each other as races and cultures clash. The city-states now vie for control of the ore-filled hills and mountains against the dwarven Kingdom of the Greystones.
Three new races, besides the new human cultures, appeared in the region: the Niomus of the City-state of Stonevale, the Siarrans of the City-state of Alithton, and the nomadic Illonis who have quickly spread as far south as the Lands of the Cities of the Wind. The siarrans and niomus, along with several of the other new city-states, quickly, banded together into a loose alliance, which has becoming known as the Kingdom of Jewels. Besides Alithton and Stonevale, the other new city-states, which joined this new land, are Felyer, Halle, and Vull. This land is a kingdom in name only, as who should be king or if there should even be a king remains in doubt.
In the Far South, beyond the Great Expanse, the changes to Harqual have been less noticeable physically. The land has remained as it was, for the most part, but many new cities, ruins, and other strange structures dot the landscape. No more so is this apparent then around the coast of the Nebral Peninsula. In ages past, the peninsula has been a wild place with only three major city-states: Bandontown on the shores of Lake Therse, Mt. Song in the Carillon Mountains, and Livaley on the peninsula’s southeastern coast. Bandontown and Mt. Song are dominated by demihumans such as elves, forest gnomes, and halflings. Livaley is a city-state of mainly human, elven, and half-elven arcane spellcasters. Note that humans, beyond those living in Livaley, have been extremely rare in this region.
Now, not so much as before.
Eight new city-states dot the coastline of the Nebral Peninsula: Aatente, Belinay, Cardamere, Echostone, Hathmathia, Rhamsandron, Vhine, and Vilonia. Of these cities, five are dominated by a human culture: Belinay, Hathmathia, Vilonia, Vhine, and Aatente. Stranger still is that, except for Aatente, Cardamere, Echostone, and Rhamsandron, all these city-states come from the same plane of existence. The citizens were part of a grand kingdom called Belinar and the City-state of Belinay was their capital. The region where this Belinar was supposed to have existed was barren with little water so you can imagine the shock to awakening from their dreams to find that they had been transported to paradise.
While the Nebral Peninsula is definitely not paradise, it is now dominated by a united human culture determined to learn everything they can about this place called Harqual. The Belins, as they call themselves, often refer to their new home as the Land of Dreams for many believe that they have been transported to a place they could have only dreamed into existence. Belin peasants are somewhat superstitious by nature and they refuse to go anywhere near the Merewood. They believe the phanatons, who call the forest home, are spirits to be honored and feared. Many of their mystics believe it was the phanatons who brought them to Harqual. (The phanatons don’t seem to mind the adoration, as, in the past, most outsiders normally wish to cut down the trees for timber or firewood.)
The City-state of Aatente is home to a culture of dark-skinned humans who call themselves the Aate. These humans are from the other side of Kulan and are shocked to discover they have been stolen from their homeland by what they perceived as a demonic fog. They have remained isolated from the phanatons and other newcomers of the Nebral Peninsula for the most part. They have had some contact with the Breshidi of Cardamere but formal relations are moving slowly. They find the citizens of the City-state of Rhamsandron distasteful, refusing to have dealings with them. A state of tension already exists between the two city-states.
The Breshidi of Cardamere are a race of blue-green skinned fey-like folk. They have had almost no contact with outsiders beyond the Aate, the phanatons of the Merewood, and a man from Xcellian named Randolph Baer. The story of how Baer came to gain the trust of the Breshidi remains cloaked in secrecy. It is known that he use to be a vizier for the Merchant Lord of Xcellian, Anders Carrin, but beyond that, no one really knows or is willing to tell the tale. What is known is that Baer is a devoted follower of Immotion and that he has broken all ties with his former home. He and Carrin are now bitter rivals.
The City-state of Echostone is a strange place, which has adapted quickly to the area known as the Whispering Stones. Original named something much harder to pronounce Echostone is home to a strange, insubstantial race of humanoids called the Anaema. These wispy humanoids are hard to effect unless magic is involved and the superstitious Belin stay as far from Echostone as they can, thinking the anaema are ghosts. The demihumans of Mt. Song originally believed this as well but soon came to realize that these Spirit Humans are indeed a living, breathing race. Anaema rarely travel beyond the Whispering Stones, although a few have visited Mt. Song and are intrigued by demihuman culture. The anaema come from a demiplane on the edge of the Ethereal Plane, which cannot be pronounced in the normal languages of Harqual.
The City-state of Rhamsandron is harsh city filled with amazingly diverse citizens. However, the City-state of the Invincible Overlord, as it is referred to by its citizens, has been, traditionally, an overly ordered society with little freedoms unless you have a higher social standing. It is feared for its expansionist views and indifference towards slavery, which hasn’t endeared it towards its new neighbors. The “City State” does have one weakness, however. During its duplication to the Lands of Harqual, its hereditary leader, the Invincible Overlord, wasn’t duplicated. Something in the man’s physical makeup protected him from the strange magic that reach across worlds. In fact, the previous Overlord’s closest advisors and companions weren’t duplicated either.
The city-state’s citizens, from all walks of life, were either duplicated or not. This has caused mass confusion and violence throughout the city, as many of the city-state’s citizens wish too lead this new incarnation of the “City State”. The most prominent are the leaders of the Thieves’ Guild and the many temple leaders throughout the city. A secret police force known as The Black Lotus has taken control of the city for now, as they search for a way to either contact the Invincible Overlord or find a bastard child of the Overlord, amongst the populace, to crown as the new Invincible Overlord. So far, they haven’t had much luck.
East of the Nebral Peninsula several city-states have been affected by the Transformation – most notably the City-state of Adabrilia. Once the thriving metropolis of the Far South, Adabrilia is now a ghost. Its streets are deserted and a touch of magic hangs in the air. When the Transformation ended so did the citizens of Adabrilia. Entire families and noble houses gone with the fog. Whether they were killed of transported to another plane of existence, no one knows. And only the foolhardy enter Adabrilia and try to find out.
Most don’t return but those that have come back tell tales of seeing people at the edge of their sight reaching out to them in horror then fading from sight as one turns to get a better view of them. Beyond these ‘ghosts’ Adabrilia is home to only dangerous monsters and wild creatures. Only creatures with an Intelligence Score of 5 or less can be found stalking the streets of Adabrilia. Surprisingly, this also keeps most intelligent undead out of the city as well. There are rumors of an insane vampire living in Adabrilia but none have ever seen this evil creature.
Farther east past the Heverkent Forest and Hinderfall Mountains is the Savanna of the Sun and the lands of the Republic of the Thorn. Shortly after the magical fog dispersed a group of warriors from the republic came across an unknown ruin on the southern shore of Harqual. The ruin soon became the bane of the republic’s existence in the Year of the Return. Powerful undead monsters swarmed out of the ruin to lay waste to the lands of the republic. The clerics of Erythnul were powerless against the undead and, in desperation, betrayed the republic to the undead to save their own lives. For years the warriors of the republic had fought for the Interloper God known as The Many, having turned away from the grace of Jalivier many decades earlier. Now, betrayed by their god and faced with a deadly foe, all seemed lost. But then in her inner sanctum, Yuinii Bazgal, the half-orc Consul of the Republic, hears the divine voice of Jalivier in her mind.
“You have been betrayed by the Interloper Erythnul just as I warned you all those years ago. You did not listen to me then and your people are now suffering for it. However, it is not to late to save the souls of the dead and the lives of the living.”“Tell me what I must do, Defender, and I will do it.”
“It will be as you say, Defender! I swear it!”
“You must ride with your men, fight alongside them as an equal. You must share their battlefield and their fate
, whatever that may be for not even I can predict this outcome. But if you go with no malice in your heart or trickery in your mind then I will be there with you. Now go!”
With that, Consul Yuinii Bazgal dons her full plate armor, a simple warrior’s sword and exits the Inner Sanctum. She gathers her remaining warriors to her and tells them of the Defender of the Light’s words. They are skeptical but she persists.
“Great Jalivier has sought to bring the Republic of the Thorn and its warriors back into the Light! I am going, alone if I must!”
She mounts a great white steed that appears out of the mist engulfing the Fortresses heart. It is clad in the symbols of Jalivier. The awed Warriors of Thenin bow down before the messenger of the Defender, as the Consul rides towards the gate.
“Open the gate!”
The Warriors jump to their feet, grab their weapons and follow their leader into the darkness to battle the waiting horde of undead. As they go, it could be heard that clarion horns could be heard in the distance and that the Consul of the Republic shone with holy brilliance. Indeed, Jalivier was with them.
In unison they shouted the words of decades past.
“For the Defender, for the Light, for the People!”
The Consul and her warriors rode out into the night and won the battle, driving the undead back into the depths of the ruin. However, the cost was great, as the Consul died that night leaving the Republic of the Thorn was left without its most powerful leader. The Republic’s Senate bickers amongst themselves while the warriors of the Republic, now called the Soldier of Light, fight a continuous battle against the undead of ruin, which has become known as Hathenmoor.
Many other strange ruins and cities came out of that fog including the Ruins of Tarquay and Caer Tih'bin (Ruins of the Mist), in the northern reaches of the Northlands, and the City of Christopherson (inhabited by the strange red-skinned four-armed humanoids called the Jiltan), the Twined Cities of Anaree & Sariae, and the Ruins of Araluople, in the Far South.
The Transformation Gods
With the many cities and kingdoms that became part of Harqual due to The Transformation there came the many faiths and religions of these new lands. Not all of the new gods referred to as the Transformation Gods have took root beyond the deity’s origin point, after The Transformation. Thus while the Ahamudian Gods are a powerful pantheon they are rarely worshiped beyond the Kingdom of Ahamudia. The same is true of the many deities that are worshiped in the City-state of the Invincible Overlord.
The Pantheon of Ahamudia is made of eight deities: Aladius, Aphulaen, Helek, Maldar, Satiria, Vaflar, Volrai, and Zyrcek. These gods are more of a loose pantheon of deities based solely on the worship of the citizens of Ahamudia. They aren’t always allies and their followers often argue over ideology. Helek is the closest there is to a state god in the Kingdom of Ahamudia, while Aphulaen, Maldar, and Vaflar are the patron deities of the Aphranaen elves, the Bitran, and the Hutaakans, respectively.
The Transformation Gods of the “City State” includes, but isn’t limited to: Arghrasmak, Harmakhis, Manannan mac Lir, Nephthys, the Gods of Pegana, Thoth, the Toad God, and Wotan. Of all these deities the most powerful in the “City State” are Harmakhis, Nephthys, Thoth, and Wotan. Arghrasmak is a quasi-deity that has had its essence split between its home world and the World of Kulan. The Gods of Pegana are a pantheon that has retained some influence in the “City State”, but whose worship isn’t likely to spread beyond its walls. The Toad God is a demigod that still resides on its home world, and its followers have been greatly reduced in power within the new incarnation of the “City State”. Of these deities, it is Manannan mac Lir and Wotan whose worship is most likely to spread beyond the walls of the City-state of the Invincible Overlord.
Another group of Transformation Gods that seem connected to a specific region, if not to a specific city, are the deities of the Kingdom of Jewels. That kingdom has many several unique races as part of its makeup and, thus, has its own unique faiths and religions. The most notable of these are the following: Allasyrain, Dy'Madra, Oghma, Tyche, and Untamo. The first two deities are the patron gods of the Siarrans and Niomus, respectively. Oghma and Tyche are important deities to the many humans of the Kingdom of Jewels, while Untamo is a fringe deity that is more popular with the non-human races.
The last known group of Transformation Gods that are worth mentioning are the Gods of the Titans: Cronus, Gaea, Rhea, and Uranus. These Immortal Titans are related to the Olympian Gods and are very powerful deities. Their worship has sprung out of the many new giants and human tribes scattered across the Northlands. These giants and savage humans are often belligerent towards the native populations of giants & barbarians, and their worship of the Immortal Titans is often fanatical.
There are many more Small Faiths on Harqual then there was before The Transformation, and it isn’t inconceivable that many of these new deities will grow in power as the years pass. However, it is also just as likely that most of these Small Faiths will become integrated into the North Gods, Sword Gods, or Interloper Gods. The Anaema of the City-state of Echostone have many of their own Small Faiths, but they are quick to point out that their gods aren’t that different than the Gods of Harqual. The Belins have abandoned their old gods, preferring to worship any of the Gods of Harqual. The Belins have also begun worshiping the phanatons of the Merewood, as powerful nature spirits. The ruins of Hathenmoor, in the Far South, are said to be home to a powerful demon lord who is either a Quasi-Deity or Demigod, while the Jiltan of the City of Christopherson are said to worship several unique Small Faiths.
NOTE: In game terms, a Small Faith is dedicated to a single deity no more powerful than a Demigod. Demon Lords from the Abyss may fall into this category, but more often a Small Faith surrounds the worship of a Quasi-Deity whose essence was divided in two during its transference to the Lands of Harqual. A lot of these Torn Gods don’t remember their former worlds, and it is rumored that an unknown, unnamed Torn God roams the lands of the Far South, suffering from complete amnesia.