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Level Up (A5E) (+) Project Chronicle: Regions and Concepts


Just a thought (maybe as a keen rugby player!);
Could one of the cities have a “great game” embedded into their culture, which would lend itself to an adventure hook or three for players.
Gladiatorial is an obvious S&S trope, but a major bull-leaping festival would seem to fit the culture fairly well. Victory in the contest would allow players to access important people, or a prize could be on offer, or it could be a punishment sentence or a famous competitor could have been kidnapped.
Just an idea.

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Shaper of Worlds
Definitely a good idea, yes!

So far, I've got 21 pages of Regions/Cities just within the Scorpion Lands. Pretty happy about that, so far. Gonna do the same with Annam, soon. But I also need to do up a Deities and Religion document pretty badly.

I had my husband look over it all and he got a bit confused about the religions. The idea is that people worship the Six and the Beast out of fear of the danger those deities pose, not out of love or affection, which the Flower gets -some- of. But the different religious groups I've outlined, so far, don't really represent that well because I just use the term "Worship" in the writeups.

Might make that my next goal once I create a Template for the different Deities and their religions. Including both presented Cults of the Flower, and the Dalat Mors (Which is part of Abu Sadin that hasn't really been shown quite yet).

Also pretty sure of the initial adventure I wanna include with the book. It'll center around Lagan and the Apostlate of Tyar. It'll also start at 7th or 8th level, probably, rather than being a level 1 adventure.


Shaper of Worlds
Also of note: I work today and tomorrow and it's -ridiculously- hard to try and work on this with my cell phone. I should've brought my laptop, instead of this wireless keyboard and my phone...


Shaper of Worlds
Arrrrrgh. I can't sit here, not writing, while waiting for biscuits to cook. I'll just jot down some notes to get thoughts out of my head.

1) Abu Sadin's prison, the Isle of Woe, is where the Council of Coins keeps the "Misfortunate" of Abu Sadin as slaves to the Council, which in turn keeps them wealthier than most other wealthy people and ensures they're kept in power each year.

2) Shuruti's gemstone mines have played out, but not because of overwork and harvesting. Instead, some magical effect is causing the gemstones to -rot- in the mines. Until they crumble to ash and powder if they're drawn from the stone. The powder, however, has powerful hallucinogenic effects that the ruling class largely uses to try and maintain control of the city. Namely by keeping a set of "Oracles" on hand who are gemdust addicts whose "Prophesies" are mad ramblings the ruler and other nobles interprets.

3) Il'sha-ah has tombs in it's pyramids for Am-Tet and other former Phaoris and their servants. But not all are still. Am-Tet is a good Mummy Lord but there are others that are cruel, or vicious. And all advise the current Phaoris in secret. Of late, the Phaoris has visited Am-Tet less, and become more aggressive toward others, particularly toward the Usurpers who seek the title.


Il’sha-ah could also have its very own Akivasha homage. I always liked the slightly sympathetic treatment she got as a woman who “loved life too much”; 40 years or so before Anne Rice somewhat reinvented vampires.

I agree that a level 7/8 adventure would be good to include. The various hooks talked about earlier can encourage DMs to develop their own lower level ones.

Personally, when I run a campaign in your world, I might also cannibalise some of the adventures from the 3e Mesopotamia from Necromancer Games. The current Necropolis kickstarter of the old Gygax campaign is also adaptable.
That said, I’m also drawn to the dark fogs and standing stones of hag-haunted Neasc.

Designing a world while biscuits are cooking is cool!


Shaper of Worlds
Kyran will be super easy to write up, since I only have to do the one city-state and I can put all the politics and flavor, there, into the organizations and mysteries section. Y'know, the different tribes and all.

I should probably write up a template for the different regional cultures with subheadings for different cities... 'Cause while the Empty Lands will have their own, largely Musarran, culture, places like Ondat and Qesh should have their own special notes.

Damn... I should probably make that part of the player-facing material, huh?

I must, truly, hate myself to try and do a full campaign setting and an attached player's guide...


Jewel of the North
2) Shuruti's gemstone mines have played out, but not because of overwork and harvesting. Instead, some magical effect is causing the gemstones to -rot- in the mine
Suggestion: The mine could be infested by a Xorn colony and the alchemist-drug-dealers could use the Xorn guano as psychoactive drugs?

Abu Sadin's prison, the Isle of Woe, is where the Council of Coins keeps the "Misfortunate" of Abu Sadin as slaves to the Council, which in turn keeps them wealthier than most other wealthy people and ensures they're kept in power each year.
This reminds me of Ravnica's Orzhov syndicate in which people can sell their afterlife to the church in exchange for a loan of currency in the present. The Syndicate-Church is mostly operated by indentured servant-spirits and undeads. Could be a good idea to have an island where the people can work off their debt as slaves in undeath.


Shaper of Worlds
The Isle of Woe is both the name of a small island and the prison which occupies the majority of it's available landmass. Here, the misfortunate of Abu Sadin, and visitors to the city who have great misfortune, are housed. Taken under the purple light of the Lighthouse to live out the remainder of their days as slaves to the Council of Coins.

There, they grind wheat to grain, dig for iron, copper, and tin in the isle's mountain, or press olives into the finest oils that one can purchase. Any waste from their efforts is either made into food, in the case of grains and olives, or cast into the sea.

The bodies, however... The bodies never seem to wash ashore, unlike the hulls of Wheat and Barley, threshed and ground to fine flours, which litter the beaches as fodder for crabs, gulls, and rats.


Shaper of Worlds
Abu Sadin1.png


Shaper of Worlds

One more page on Shuruti Threats... and then it's back to Musarra...

But I have to go to work. And I hate this fact.

Maybe I'll take my laptop. My boss'll be pissed, but she can't fire me. I'm far too valuable to her.


Shaper of Worlds
So right now I'm working on the Shuruti factions and such. I've got three off the bat. Kingslayers, Loyalists, and Seditionists.

The Kingslayers wish to kill Amenophas, believing the curse is upon him, rather than the mines themselves. They have no greater goal than this, expecting the next set of steps to be self-explanatory. They do not truly consider the chaos that will result from killing Amenophas.

The Loyalists wish to depose Amenophas, whether by violence or capitulation, and entreat Achelb to rule the city, under the idea that it's the independence from their creators that has doomed the city. And even if they are wrong about the curse, Achelb's wealth and knowledge would surely result in a better government.

The Seditionists, on the other hand, believe that the problem isn't Amenophas himself, exactly. But that a Foreign King sits upon the Jeweled Throne of Shuruta as the Regent. They believe that only a Shuruti can rule the city without drawing down the curse. Whether by bloodshed or diplomacy, the Annam king and his line must leave the city to be ruled by the Shuruti for the curse to end.

I'm also looking at the possibility of a fourth faction dedicated to learning the source of the curse, rather than killing or deposing the Regent in the hopes it'll resolve itself, possibly a second school of magic in the Scorpion lands, across from Lagan. One focused either on Abjuring and Protection or Evocation. I definitely want the Conjuration school in the world to be evil. Like outright demon-summoners and Necromancers coming out of that school.


The Kingslayers could be the unwitting tools of the Loyalists, designed to make the Loyalists seem more reasonable, with the whole lot funded by Achelb?
The Seditionists are exactly what it says on the tin, but their roots are tied to dark sorceries that want the inevitable bloodshed of a pogrom to fuel a dark ritual? They are the true cosmic villains of the events.
The fourth faction opposes all of them and is looking to break the curse, as you say, which would make them great patrons for the player characters. They are abjurers who know that the gemstone curse is a mere opener for a much grimmer magical event.


Shaper of Worlds

Annam's Academy of Abjuring​

When Amenophas the first took up the title of the Jeweled Regent he brought with him the magics of Annam by sending for his dear friend Seshoitep, a chronicler of some skill. And here, in Shuruta, Seshoitep founded his school of mages. Within it's walls in the spiraled Ziggurat, he trained his students in wards, curses, protections, and how to unravel those selfsame magical effects.

With his death nearly a decade past to illness, the school's highest students have taken it upon themselves to continue his legacy in teaching the younger students all that was shared with them, and more. For they've located his journals and chronicles and begun the tedious process of divining the spells, incantations, and information within.

Though they've not yet located the source of the curse, the Academy's students are trying to find, and unwind, whatever curse it is that condemns the city to poverty and desolation. While others seek to appease something they have no intent of understanding, the Annam Academy may actually succeed.


While the Loyalists and Seditionists may have a plan for the city of Shuruta in the wake of their coups, the Kingslayers have no greater goal than the death of Amenopas II, the Jeweled Regent. With his death, they posit, the curse will be lifted. And, if not, they'll look to the next "King" in the line.

The Mine Owners and Foremen. And on down the list, killing whomever needs to die in order to appease whoever laid the curse, and thus see it lifted.

And should such efforts succeed, there will be time enough to replace the Jeweled Regent and mine foremen and whomever must be pressed under the blade to see the curse lifted.


Lead by Magistrate Enok, the Loyalists wish to return to glory by inviting Achelb's return to rule. Although the city has only ever been technically and tangentially connected to Achelb, these people unite under the idea of joining the larger, wealthier, city with their own as a way to lift the curse on the mines, believing that Amenophas's blighted rule is the cause of all the city's troubles.

Enok, himself, hopes beyond hope that Achelb will name the Magistrate as Governor on teir behalf, to take power for himself. And if such ascension requires the death of Amenophas, then he is willing to hold the knife, himself. To plunge it into the back of the man he's served for near two decades since his coronation.

Diplomacy is still prefered. After all, most of those who remain in Shuruta are those who hold respect for the Jeweled Regent, for the city, and hope for it's continuation. To see him cut down would do them no great joy. Leading to a general disdain of the Kingslayers.


Shaper of Worlds
Can't really get a good screenshot on the laptop (Screen is too small) so I'll just do a quote of the new and improved full Organizations and Mysteries of Achelb, now two solid pages of text!

Organizations and Mysteries of Achelb​

Remote Achelb, high in the mountains, with it's reliance on Rhil and Porters to bring goods up and down the treacherous mountain paths that lead to the Green Valley, is not without it's intrigues, as any city with it's title should hold several.

Atorkhan and his Seventy and Seventy​

For a hundred years Atorkhan has not been seen, bit his Seventy and Seventy continue to plague the Scorpion Lands. Or, at least, those who claim to have been a member of his company. And while they may hide in distant Sepfar, haven of thieves and murderers, often enough do they vex Achelb, for it's many wealths and jeweled coffers.
In the streets of Achelb they are known to recruit children as cutpurses, to bring them bags of nails to distribute among those who helped to make the theft while keeping the lion's share for themselves...

the Hands of the Serpent​

Many hands wait in Achelb, palms raised to the heavens, begging for aid, for succor, from those of means and fortune. They call out to the gods and to the wealthy to end their suffering and it is known that occasionally their torments are ended. Permanently.
Whether it is guards dragging a begger into an alleyway or the Undying dragging them into the sewers matters little. For a snake cult has spread among the begging hands of Achelb, the Hand of the Serpent.
While they beg beside other rag-swaddled and foul smelling degenerates these people are armed beneath the filth and grime. And have made a mission of cutting down those who would take advantage of the weakest and most helpless of us all. None save the vipers know why they do this.
But even the threat of hidden death has not slowed the killing of the unwanted and unwashed. What can?

Guardians of the Vaulted Halls​

In the lands of Achelb, wealth and privilege go hand in hand. And in no one group is that more sorely shown than in the Guardians of the Vaulted Halls. These guards serve the entire city of Achelb, but do not bother answering to the call of those who lack wealth, leaving the most vulnerable members of society to their fates at the hands of their 'Betters'.
This group of hardened soldiers, former mercenaries, and brighteyed hopeful soon turned bitter by the path they've chosen, are the direct cause of the Hands of the Serpent. For they, too, engage in such violence upon beggars, vagabonds, and the indigent.
Never a more hateful band of thugs has ever been laden with such riches for such brutality, save pirates and brigands who take it for themselves. Not so with these curs. Instead, like loyal hounds, they come to the call of their masters, of those who hold and wear the purse-strings they are leashed with.
Should you find yourself upon the wrong side of these so called Guardians, I would advise both caution and rational fear. Appease them in what manner you can and escape at your earliest opportunity. Else hope the Hands of the Serpent see your plight, and come to your aid.
For even the most bright eyed of recruits will fall to the heels and the side of those he learns from.

Jurikan's Maidens​

Jurikan the Wizened, a polite title for a woman so ancient her wrinkles are wrinkled, was once a warrior and a thief and a pirate of some renown. Turning over a portion of her treasures, she was able to secure a pardon for herself and several important members of her crew in Abu Sadin. In truth, her goal had been to retire to the Green Valley. But plans change.
Now she trains women, and only women, in the fighting styles she used upon the seas and in the various engagements she was in as a soldier before her days of piracy began.

The King's Men​

Buvalu knew little of ruling men. He knew little of leading them. So when the time came to delegate responsibility he did so with great abandon, all but abdicating the responsibility of running a city. His actions resulted in a sprawling mess of bureaucracy and corruption that continues to this day, with a dozen dozen ministers, lords, administrators, captains, councillors, and magi to advise the King of Thieves.
Getting anything done requires permits and payments, stamps and signatures, and seemingly endless waiting as each of the ministers contacts all the other councillors who hold some measure of insight into a given matter before making their final decision.
Far easier, for most of means, to simply -do- a thing and pay fines or bribes to see any more serious repercussions swept aside. Particularly for those of Name or Title.
It is also not unheard of for one of name or title to hire mercenaries and chroniclers to do things on their behalf with the intent of paying them on completion, then letting them fall under the exacting blades of bureaucracy once it is done.

Moadi's Hammer​

In the name of the legendary Moadi, who freed himself from slavery by killing all who would contain him, the Hammer are a group of slavebreakers who seek to shatter the chains that bind Achelb's workers to their tasks. Hiding in the caverns of played out mines, gathering what food and goods they can once the fields are empty of workers, they scrounge a living.
It is said that Moadi found dark things in the deep reaches of the caverns, in the places even the guards, paid in hands for their efforts to capture him, refused to go at any price. And that such things now guide Moadi's hammer and his hand.
But who can say if this is true? There are those who claim Moadi, himself, is myth and legend, a tale told by slaves to comfort each other in the dark hours. Whether he or his hammer exist, those slaves who do escape tend to seek the mines, and rarely return unless captured by the guard or slave hunters.

Qadira the Mad​

Hidden in the old city, in the ruins of an estate long fallen to poverty and ruin, remains Qadira the Mad. A gaunt ghost of a woman who haunts the halls her family once called home, driven to insanity by strife and torment laid upon her and all those who remained upon the estate now known only as the House of Ruin.
It is said that she eats rats and birds which infest the estate, though some claim that the family's servants still leave offerings of food for the poor woman. I'm not certain which is more likely myself, but having visited with her, and entering the House itself, I saw little evidence of rats or offerings.
Decades ago, when young and beautiful, she had been wed to a wealty man and his house. Within a year, however, all had fallen to ruin. His business ventures evaporated, her family perish to illness and accident, and her hopes of family were dashed when her husband fled the estate, leaving her alone in her grief.
Now, she claims the ghosts of her family guide her. And treat with the ghosts of the city to share secrets and visions.

Sadic's Scholarium​

Only in places of great wealth and security is magic ever, truly, accepted. And while Achelb is a place of great wealth and security, magic is not, in truth, accepted. Tolerated, perhaps, for the great wealth being offered to the King's Men, so long as certain rules are followed relating to the use of magic within the city or it's environs without the word of the King of Thieves commanding it.
Which is to say no magic is used outside of the high-walled grounds of the Scholarium. Three buildings, a hall of apprentices, a hall of learning, and the tower of knowledge itself, where Sadic engages in magical research and education, himself.
Thrice has the King of Thieves demanded magic performed within the city. Twice did the previous ruler invite the finest students of Sadic's Scholarium to perform their tricks at court, to entertain distant dignitaries who the King had hoped to impress... or at least terrify, that his demands of their diplomats fall on more accomodating ears.
The current King of Thieves, however, has called upon only Sadic himself to perform some ritual of unknown nature within the palace grounds, themselves. Shortly thereafter, the King became more withdrawn, and more aggressive toward those dignitaries and diplomats his predecessor sought to impress.
What horrors could Sadic have shown the King of Thieves to affect him, so? Or what aims might a sorcerer have for a King under his curses and enchantment...? After all, none know what ritual was performed that day.

The Undying​

Hidden in the dark places of Achelb, deep in the recesses of the city, are ancient things. Ruins of some age undreamed of. It is said that Buvalu and his men built Achelb in the Green Valley, but orchards of fruits and fields of grain were in the valley before it was settled. If they did build Achelb, they built over what once was. And it does not always lie quiet.
The Undying are a cult dedicated to these ancient things hidden in the city's depths, often traveling it's wide sewers and droning to each other in strange tongues. Those who join the cult swiftly become pale of skin and thin of hair, with eyes that border on yellows and oranges in tone. By the time the last of their hair falls from their scalps they disappear into the depths, never to be seen, again.
From time to time some group or another seeks the depths, seeks to learn of these ancient things. But fools travel where lammasu defer, and such hirelings rarely return. Those who do speak of strange halls inscribed with marks, sigils, words, and wards beyond comprehension, of great strange stone structures, covered in the dust of countless centuries, interlocking or pressing into one another like a wall without mortar undone. Of great wheels and ratchets whose purpose is never gleaned.
Such ravings typically end fairly quickly, often before anyone important can properly question the survivor. Either they end their life, themself, in a fit of madness, or the Undying return for them, and see them dragged back into the darkness, where strange machines refuse to turn, and inscrutable writing glows in the passing of lamplight.
But who can say if this is true? Raving madmen hours from death? A cult of darkness and some forgotten god? Only those who descend know the truth.


Shaper of Worlds
Next up, starting tomorrow: Annam. From Il'sha-ah to Arat-Shi and back.


Hubby and I are off, tomorrow... so... can't do much writing.

FRIDAY! Either Annam or Deities Outline. Maybe both.
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Shaper of Worlds
Having a lot of trouble getting the Deities out of my head, individually, so I thought I'd touch on something else important:

Regional Languages feels like a really strong direction to go with it, rather than having a dozen different racial languages tied to specific groups that are spread across the world in a disparate way. But by the same token that can make it difficult for a specific group of people to have a signifier of at least quasi-unity.

So my current thought is to do both regular languages and also some sort of sublanguages? Like High and Low languages in the wake of the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066, where French became the primary language of the upper classes while the lower classes were still largely speaking English but with some word-filtering (pork, beef, poultry, venison, and other meat-related words, for example)

I'm pretty sure I don't want a "Common" tongue shared by everyone... but if we do have one, I think it should be the language of the Ancais, showing off their massive cross-cultural impact in the wake of the Age of Swords. Though, honestly, we could go all "Norman Invasion" and make Acain the dominant "Noble Tongue" across Annam, Musarra, Kyran, Myr, and Gresia... And then have Ellenici be the common tongue between Ellenici and Neasc. But that kind of singles Imba out and I'd feel really weird about that. Though it could reinforce the "We were never conquered" angle.

So... all that said, here's the current roster:

Primary Languages:
Acain: Formal language, mostly used in writing and tied to Ancais, may be a forbidden language or a "High Common"
Achelbite: Spoken primarily in Achelb, Abu Sadin, and Shuruta. Trade Language in Lagan.
Borsi: The people of Lagan and Qesh primarily speak Borsi, but it's also spread to be prominent in Sunmet.
Gric: Common to the cities of Gresia, it's also well known among the Kyrani and in Neasc, as well as Shuruta.
Llenic: Common across the lands of Ellenici, and also Neasc. Spoken in Il'sha-ah and Abu-Sadin as well.
Lucali: Spoken in the cities of Imba and to some degree the borderlands of Ngo, common in Arat-shi as a trade language.
Nnamic: The language of Annam, it spread across the Khufu, but is primarily spoken in Annam, Imba, and Lagan.
Nishka: The language of the Neasc, spoken in Gresia and the eastern part of Ellenici.
Urda: The language of Musarra, Marad, Ondat, and Shuruta, it's spread across Gresia, Kyran, Lagan, Myr, and to Il'sha-ah.

Hshaah: Serpent tongue. Spoken primarily by Naga and Serpent Cultists, may have once been a racial language. Heavy on Allusions.
Satru: Thieves Cant. Spoken mostly in Gresia and Neasc, it has spread into the Khufu Sea region in recent years, but is not common.
Sarran: A Musarran-specific Urda language with a lot of slang. Spoken deeper in the throat, influenced by Minotaurs.
Beastspeak: Secret Language of Druids and Cultists of the Beast. Very vague and guttural language of growls.

Writing Systems:
Cuneiform: Achelbite, Borsi, Sarran, Urda
Lixi: Gric, Nishka, Satru
Loquese Alphabet: Ellenici, Gric, Nishka
Simplified Shaj Pictograms: Lucali, Nnamic.
Shaj Pictograms: Hshaah, Nnamic

What are your thoughts?
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