Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Monday, September 30, 2019

Age of Iron Update

Hello all! Sorry for no AoI update in a while. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on it!

Basically, I realized doing these blog posts put me back at square one production wise. I was basically re-writing the whole supplement/setting again, which I didn't want to do considering all the work I've already put into it.

I have gone back to editing my main Google Docs document, and I'm getting to a good point. I've also included two new entries - an entry for Lygos, elevating its importance and basically turning it into AoI Marienburg, and most likely an entry for the as-of-yet unnamed southern continent that is my not-Southern Wastes/Terra Australis.

In addition to finishing the broad descriptions of the regions, I need to go back and punch them up to make them more dark fantasy. They aren't exactly high fantasy right now, just more historical fantasy. Just want to put a slightly grim sheen on everything if I can.

So that's that, and hopefully I'll have more updates soon. Thanks for sticking around!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Age of Iron: Al-Hilal

Inspiration: Morocco post-Reconquista, transitioning from the Almohad to the Marinid dynasty, but also a general 'Arabia'

Stretching from the shimmering southern shores of the Middle Sea into the deadly majesty of the Great Desert, Al-Hilal is a land rife with mystery and conflict. Originally founded by desert tribesmen led by the man who would later be called Mazdah, Al-Hilal grew to such heights and riches that for a time it held Hespia under its sway. This all ended with the Great Crusade, which not only weakened the country but planted sedition within it. Though the nation is still powerful and rich, rebellion and hubris has slowly been eating away at it internally - threatening to consume the empire in a civil war or perhaps something worse.

Lay of the Land

Al-Hilal overall is a dry, arid and blisteringly hot country. Most settlements lie either on the coasts of the Middle Sea or the Great Ocean where the land is fertile and trade routes are plentiful. Past the sprawling Atla Mountains, the country quickly turns into the untracked and golden Great Desert - where water is a dream outside of a few rare oasis. Many nomadic tribes live in the desert, making their living as guides and merchants, but countless beasts and bandits also hide among the dunes. Al-Hilal shares a border with Khmet, but so far the Caliph's forces have been able to pick off the few undead sent beyond the cenotaphs.

Politics and Government

Al-Hilal is a theocracy that strictly follows the faith of Mazdah, interpreting most secular and religious matters from the holy text The Word of Law. Caliph Abu Dabbus serves as both the head of state and head of the faith, administering all the land that Mazdah once conquered centuries ago. In reality he only directly rules his imperial holdings - the rest of Al-Hilal is divided between sultans, emirs and sheikhs who have varying alliances and loyalties to the Caliph. Many in the north still pledge allegiance to the Caliph and Al-Hilal, but more and more southern settlements are rebelling or declaring outright independence from the nation.

People and Culture

Many in Europa, especially in Hespia, view Al-Hilal as aggressive, war-mongering fanatics, but the opposite is more true. Al-Hilal's booming trade and centers of learning have made its peoples rich, educated, proud, determined and spiritual - in fact, in very few places will you find better hospitality than a Sultan's household, a Mazdahan temple or one of the country's universities. Unfortunately, not everything is so progressive - inequality is rampant thanks to a fairly strict class system, not to mention much of Al-Hilal's economy is built upon a massive chattel slavery trade across the Great Desert that has flourished over the centuries.

Locations


The cities of Al-Hilal are large and grand, built out of sandstone, granite and marble and replete with gardens, baths, domed palaces, resplendent archways and beautiful temples. They are built to keep the buildings cool during the blazing days and warm during the frigid nights. Many settlements within the Great Desert are just sprawling nomadic camps, able to be struck down and picked up with relative ease.

Anfa is known as a city of thieves, trade and danger. Almost anything you desire can be found for sale in the markets of Anfa, from the most innocent kettle to dark artifacts of Corruptive power. Much of the city is indirectly controlled by a large network of thieves, assassins and bandits, so illicit trade is often under constant watch by those who would prefer to keep the upper hand in all the transactions that enter Anfa.

Murrkus is the capital of Al-Hilal, located near the coast of the Great Ocean. Murrkus is full of sprawling bazaars, esteemed universities of scholastic and magickal study, beautiful temples, and of course the royal palace of the Caliph. Murrkus is also considered the most holy city in the Mazdahn faith, meaning thousands of supplicants across Tellus make pilgrimages here yearly to best honor the great prophet of their creed.

Salli is oftentimes known as the 'pirate city.' Located on the Middle Sea coast, the corsairs of Salli sail throughout the sea performing razzias (raids) on coastal Europan towns - capturing their residents to eventually sell back in the slave markets of Salli. The navies of Europa have tried to prevent these raids as best as they can, but the corsairs are too well armed and too efficient to slow down very significantly.

Ubar is a lost city supposedly deep within the Great Desert. Once grand and opulent, it's said Corruption consumed the city in fire and violence. Now Ubar shifts in and out of the Material Plane, occasionally unleashing demons or dark warriors into Al-Hilal's wilds. It's believed Ubar holds many treasures, but those explorers who have tried to approach the 'Mirage City' are either slain or disappear without a trace.

Conclusion

Sorry for the delay on this one. I've noticed the hardest part of these entries is writing the locations. They aren't difficult, just kind of more research and time consuming than general research/development on the region as a whole. As for what's next I'm not sure - might go eastward into Aswai, might do dwarves, or I might just do one or two smaller posts about the setting in general. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Age of Iron: Elven Ecology

For a little departure from the nation descriptions, I thought I'd dive into doing some ancestry/race descriptions. These are going to be much more brief than the nation descriptions, probably more akin to how I did the 'continent' listings.

Today, I'm going to be covering the elves - or Aelfar in their native language.

All elves used to be united as one people, but the War of the Ancestors and the War of Brothers splintered them into three different peoples. All Aelfar are still biologically the same and can interbreed, but their cultures are so different and the bile so hot inbetween them that they have very little desire to.

Imperial Elves: Imperial elves are very much like High Elves in WH - aloof, intelligent and standoffish to anyone who isn't their own kind. They are generally found either on the isle of Avalon or one of Avalon's handful of imperial colonies. Imperial elves are generally more well-educated and refined than other elves, but they have drawn a lot of scorn from all across Tellus. Those imperial elves who journey outside of Avalon as traders, diplomats and seamen are often called 'marine elves.' They are generally more grounded and worldly than imperial elves, and they can be found in nearly any major port that has relations with Avalon.

Sylvan Elves: Sylvan elves are my wood elves - survivors of abandoned elven settlements after the majority of elves retreated to Avalon following the War of Ancestors. Pockets of sylvan elves can be found in nearly any major forest across Tellus, but the largest concentration is in the magickal forest of Tirannwn (formerly called Eire) - located between Couronne and Aquilla and bearing the kingdom of the same name. Sylvan elves are tough, spiritual and determined, but they tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. They rarely leave their forest homes, and those that do are either outcasts, rebels or something altogether strange.

Siabra: The siabra are of course the dark elves - rebellious elves who warred against Avalon, eventually separating and forming their own dread empire of Dinetah far in the western continent of Anahuac. Siabra ply the seas in search of ports to raid and people to enslave and exploit, mooring their massive city-sized galleons wherever they please. Imperial and sylvan elves distrust each other, but they both despise the siabra. Siabra are mainly cruel and vile, but history shows a few of them have come to their senses and rebelled. If they somehow manage to escape imprisonment and execution, they only have a hard life ahead of them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Age of Iron: Avalon

Inspiration: British Empire ruled by elves, albeit going through an isolationist phase

The isle of Avalon sits far off the coast of Europa, obscured to outsiders by a heavy, near-blinding mist. The ancestral homeland of all elves, it is now the sole home of the haughty and noble imperial elves. The fortunes of the elves and Avalon tend to ebb and flow with time, but their presence can always be felt around Tellus thanks to their impressive navy and culture. Since the War of Corruption, however, Avalon has become more insular by abandoning many of their colonies and overseas holdings. Combined with internal strife and a declining birth rate of unknown origin, many feel the sun may be finally setting on this once grand empire.

Lay of the Land

Avalon is a singular large island, surrounded by countless smaller barrier islands and protected from the rest of the world by a magickal mist created by the elves' most powerful mages. Though the waters approaching Avalon are rough, the island itself is ruggedly beautiful - rising highlands plunge down to sweeping moors and broad, dark forests. The island is utterly suffused with ambient magick and its effects, but Avalon's elite military has ensured the most monstrous creatures have long been eliminated. In the more remote parts of the island, creatures like dragons, unicorns and rocs thrive while they remain rare legends in the rest of Tellus.

Politics and Government

High Queen Marya and High King Charion rule over the whole of Avalon and its many imperial holdings, serving as dual leaders advised by a trusted monarch's council. They have ruled for nearly two centuries and have slowly turned the nation inward in order to best protect their people. Underneath them, the empire is divided into multiple realms each ruled by a High Lord - generals, mages and nobles who all report to the High Monarchs via the House of Lords. The High Lords often have intense rivalries with one another, but proper imperial decorum and a struggling empire prevents them from coming to blows beyond political ones.

People and Culture

Imperial elves like to think of themselves as educated, cultured, worldly and disciplined, and in essence this is true. However, this often results in Avalonians coming off as aloof, superior, privileged, arrogant and dismissive towards non-elves. While not overtly hostile, Avalon's imperial nature has gained them both rivals and enemies abroad - something the current High Monarchs are trying to repair after centuries of strife. Few imperial elves even ever have a desire to journey beyond Avalon or its colonies, but those that do tend to be more grounded, friendly and tolerant than their brethren who prefer to stay in the comfort of the island.

Locations

Avalon's cities and colonies are large and beautiful. The soaring marble architecture, wide ports and protected roadways have all been carefully tended with magick and constructed by the best engineers on Tellus. The towns are modest and humble, but even here lie beautiful churches and castles that date back centuries. Imperial elven architecture is distinct, impressive and can stand up to the very worst sieges.

Caer Lud is the capital of Avalon, as well as the empire's largest city. The port is the largest known port in all of Tellus, and goods are ferried in-and-out every day to Avalon's many colonies and trade partners. Many non-elves have immigrated to Caer Lud in hopes of improving their lives, but unfortunately most of them are treated as second-class citizens, given the most menial jobs and forced to live in the worst of the city's slums.

Caer Dine lies in Avalon's west and is strictly off-limits to nearly all residents. Once the homeland of the siabra, Caer Dine was rendered a smoking ruin after the War of Brothers. Avalon has the ruins under constant guard by soldiers and arcanists as the siabra have tried to retake their old capital multiple times. Much of the land has soured and withered thanks to the many conflicts and magickal taint of the siabra.

Caledon is situated far in the highlands of north Avalon. Inhabited by an ancient kith of sylvan elves, Caledon has managed to resist Avalon's suzerainty for centuries. The land surrounding the small settlement is much more untamed than the rest of the island, and its said the Caledi druids have pacts with local nephilim and bogbeasts to protect their ancient and insular way of life from being intruded upon by the imperials.

Eire is not a city, but rather a large island that supposedly warps around all of Tellus - anchoring near Avalon consistently once every century or so for a season. Those who have journeyed to Eire have never returned, but rumors abound that is the capital of the fomorians. The only proof of this is fomorian raids tend to increase when Eire is present, but this could just be conjecture from delusional and frightened fishermen.

Conclusion: Sorry for the delay, but here is Avalon - and I think it came out pretty well! I'm still kind of in the air about Caledon (aka WFRP Albion), but I'm really not sure if it NEEDS a full write-up. I just think a Celtic human faction and a Celtic elven faction just covers too much similar ground, and I'd rather just give Albion a wink and a nod rather than a whole region to itself. Not sure what's up next description wise, but I was feeling Al-Hilal.

Edit: Changed a few minor things regarding government, but nothing major.

Edit 2: A few more changes. Made Caledon into a cadre of sylvan elves rather than humans - I think the 'sylvan elves as Celts' approach is really the way to go.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Age of Iron: Elsewhere

The last stop on our tour of Tellus is going to be basically the places that aren't part of any of the four major continents of the setting. This is by far the 'smallest' region, as it really only involves two broad locations.

The Wasteland: My Chaos Wastes/Arctic/Terra Australis, this one is pretty similar to other Warhammer-esque settings - violent wasteland of demons, chaos worshipers, grendel and so on. The Southern Wasteland is based on the idea of Terra Australis, which is the late medieval thought that a southern landmass existed but its nature wasn't truly known. Basically, Australia and the Antarctic were thought to be one landmass. Nothing very special here.

The Great Warren: The home of the skrzzak, this is kind of a dark fantasy spin on the Underdark of traditional D&D. I like the 'underworld' being this weird warren of technology, disease and biohorror mutants rather than spider-infested caves. Like in the Old World, the Great Warren winds under most of the world and has many entrances and exits.

So that wraps up the broad overview of areas. There are still some things to consider - such as recombining Ntotila and Vanhu to keep the regions at an even 30, but that can wait as the setting develops. I'm going to now try and focus in on each region once again, as previously displayed in my Marcher Baronies post. I'll write whatever region moves me at the time, so I'm not restricting myself to a set order

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Age of Iron: Anahuac Pt.2

So after some long thinking, I believe I have figured out what Anahuac is going to be, and it's mostly going to be an area of necessity.

In all honesty, I don't have the time or energy to fully flesh out every Native American nation, and this project is long overdue as it is. However, I'm going to try my best to do where Warhammer kind of skimped out.

The nations of Anahuac are, as stands:

Dinetah: My North America/Naggaroth. While the siabra do dwell here, they don't control nearly all of the continent. Much of it is still inhabited by native Anahuacans, but they are often either in hiding or fighting losing battles. The siabra so far haven't expanded past the Grandfather River (Mississippi-expy) in a nod to post-revolutionary America, and much of that remains wild though the siabra inch ever closer.

Aztlan: My South America/Lustria, this one is pretty close to the Warhammer source material. The aztlan are going to be a bit more explicitly alien and not outright hostile to humanity, but very few people want to venture into the jungles regardless. Like Dinetah there will be native tribes, but they tend to have a more neutral relationship with the lizardfolk rather than the hostile relationship Dinetahns have.

The Wracked Sea: My Caribbean analogue, this one is a bit new to the setting. This is not only going to feature pirates and Europan colonials, but also my version of the Vortex - making the Wracked Sea a convenient place to have Pirates of the Caribbean-type pseudo-fantasy adventures. Undead pirate crews, voodoo cults, etc.

At least until I change my mind, that's how Anahuac stands at the moment. By far the 'smallest' of the continents, but the vast stretch of it is supposed to be unexplored and mysterious to easterners who are journeying west for fame or fortune. These areas are gonna come about heavily in the descriptions, but I think they'll work out well

Next time is the last stop on the tour, which are regions that don't really fit into a single continent, but it should be a pretty small entry.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Age of Iron: Anahuac Pt. 1

So the final continent of Age of Iron that will be covered is the far western (or far eastern depending on how you look at it) landmass of Anahuac. Anahuac is supposed to represent the Americas, and despite two distinct landmasses they are considered one continent.

Now Anahuac I have probably had the most trouble with in regards to what do with the setting. Not very much is known about America during the medieval times - partly because there were very few concrete 'nations' in America then and partly because colonialism and imperialism probably destroyed what records did exist. Many Native American cultures had oral records rather than written records, and of course those change and disappear as time goes on. So for a fantasy game, it's hard to pin down more than generalities.

I also encounter the same issue faced with Ifri, which is one of privilege as a white male writing about marginalized cultures. But once again unlike Ifri, pre-Columbian history is often shrouded behind a fog making it hard to just base areas on literal historic analogues.

I've thought of a few approaches on how to handle Anahuac, which I'll detail now.

Approach 1:  This is kind of a more 'simplistic' approach and most in line with what WFRP had. The regions would basically be siabra in the north, aztlan in the south, a Caribbean-analogue and a Native American refugee region somewhere in between.

The main issue with this is the Native American region, tentatively titled Hah'nu'nah. There are literally hundreds of Native American tribes that still exist today, and that number only increases as you go back in time. Hah'nu'nah would be very hard to generalize without the broadest of broad strokes. Obviously I wouldn't be offensive, but I'd risk being uninclusive.

Approach 2: This is similar to Approach 1, but I break the Native American nation up into multiple regions. These would be based on major cultural areas and not specific tribes, so there would be a Plains Native area and a SW Native area.

This would provide a more detailed approach, but it would also increase the chances of me getting something 'wrong' unintentionally, which is also something I don't want.

Approach 3:  Similar to 2, but it would focus exclusively on pre-Columbian agricultural civilizations - mainly the Pueblo, the Mound Builders, the Inca, etc. This would probably be easier to do justice to than Approach 2 and more detailed than Approach 1, but it'd still be a significant project.

Approach 4: The final approach, Approach 4 would be to just not cover Anahuac. Instead Tellus would be restricted to the "Old World", i.e. just Ifri, Europa and Aswai. Anahuac would exist, but as a myth or a scientific possibility rather than an adventuring area. I'd then transfer the siabra, aztlan and pirates to nations in the east.

This solves the problem of not doing the Americas justice by just eliminating the problem, but it would reduce the WFRP-ish nature of Age of Iron and kind of make it something more like Conan. Not entirely a bad thing, but it'd just be different.

That's kind of where I am right now with Anahuac, and any ideas or suggestions you all could make would be much appreciated. Obviously I'll make a decision eventually, but what that exactly is yet remains to be fully seen.