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Author Topic: Death from the Depths  (Read 8510 times)
Better to roll in Hell....
Gibbering Mouther
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« on: July 30, 2009, 09:56:52 AM »

"The Makings of a Myth"

"When the elves were a young race, elven parents told their children, 'If you don't finish your dinner, the demons will come up from below the earth and eat you.' The children laughed; the parents laughed; the demons weren't real.

When the pixies were a young race, elves told the pixies, 'If you don't follow our laws, the demons will come up from below the earth and hunt you.' The pixies sighed; the elves chuckled; the demons were a threat for children, not for a child race.

When the dwarves were a young race, the pixies told the dwarves, 'If you don't join the both of us, the demons will come up from below the earth and force you.'  The dwarves sulked; the pixies smiled; the elves smirked; the demons were a stale jest.

When the gnomes were a young race, the dwarves told the gnomes, 'If you don't join the three of us, the demons will come up from below the earth and kill you.' The gnomes rolled their eyes; the dwarves smirked; the pixies ignored them; the elves frowned; the demons were only a tale....

When the satyrs were a young race, the gnomes told the satyrs, 'If you don't join the four of us, the demons will come up from below the earth and kill us all.' the satyrs laughed; the gnomes chuckled; the dwarves and pixies and elves went to study the rumblings in the earth; the demons were looking to perhaps not be 'only a tale' after all.

When the humans were a young race, the satyrs told the humans, 'If you don't join all of us, the demons will come out of the earth and destroy everyone.'  No one laughed, for the demons were here."

--a traditional Daoine children's poem


Centuries ago, the world of Dulra was a lush, unspoiled natural paradise.  The Aos Sidhe formed all manner of peoples and creatures from their homes beneath the earth, and they often walked among their children--elves, gnomes, pixies, leprechauns, and other fair folk--as gods among mortals.  Many centuries ago, the Aos Sidhe joined their children on the surface, living among them constantly, but would not explain why they abandoned their subterranean palaces.  A few centuries ago the Aos Sidhe left the world entirely and began sealing it off from the Otherworld; they became the Aos Si, no longer 'the people under the mounds' but 'the people formerly of the mounds,' lost to the fair folk yet so close to the world.  A handful of centuries ago, the reason for the Aos Sidhe's move to the surface world became clear: demons of darkest shadow, of fiercest flame, of hardest stone erupted from the heart of the earth and laid waste to the beautiful cities of the fair folk, destroying in a few turnings of the sun what the Aos Si created in the turnings of the generations.

If the Aos Si could not hold off these horrors, the fair folk certainly could not.  They retreated to other lands, to islands, to mountains, only to find that the demons followed wherever they went.  Finding no other recourse, the fair folk turned to the spirits of sky and sea--long enemies of the spirits of stone and flame, those who lay in the earth from whence came the demons--for succor.  Where before demons were reluctant to venture into the oceans, but capable, and hesitant to fly above the treetops, but determined, now they found their excursions over the sea to be met with storms and waves most strong, and their flights near the clouds to be met with winds and hail most fierce.  Most of the handful of fair folk races retreated to makeshift towns on and in the sea or floating cities in the clouds, while the bravest among them remained in the old now-ruined cities to hold off the blight or struck out from the new cities in order to kill the demons one by one from a place of safety.

Today, the battle for the land is mostly lost.  The forests are ash; the rivers, poison; the tundras, lava...the world has been renamed from Dulra to Ifrean, 'Hell' in the old tongues.  What few brave fair folk remain have settled in for a long, drawn-out, possibly futile conflict.  Too long complacent and set in their ways, the fair folk realized that their old methods were not working, and that the demons were slowly but surely destroying them one race at a time.  Their elders brought forth the ancient tomes of the Aos Si and called for their aid; as a last act for their children before sealing off the Otherworld forever, the Aos Si provided the spirits with the power and knowledge to send new creations to the world: Humans, djinn, and others joined the fight, bringing new ideas, new tactics, and new life to the aid of the fair folk.  Now there is a chance that the fair folk may live...now, the fair folk  and the younger races (now collectively called the Daoine, 'the People,' and the Oga, 'the Young') work together to reclaim their world.

« Last Edit: August 07, 2009, 08:34:46 AM by Light Dragon » Logged

Call me Dice--that's the way I roll.
Current setting: Death from the Depths; Unfinished Setting I'll Probably Get Back To At Some Point: The Living World of Glaesra
Warning: This poster has not maxed out ranks in Knowledge (What the Hell I'm Talking About).

Gelatinous Cube
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 10:07:12 AM »

Actually I was looking to see a bit more of Glaesra- we can always use more positive-aimed worlds; I mentioned Glaesra in one of the old meta threads, but glad to see what you come up with this new world.
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Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2009, 10:24:19 AM »

I like it.  It's got a well-set-out conflict, with a story that's easy to follow.  Now we want details.  Lots of details.

And maps.

And all that good stuff.
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"All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare."
Visit my world, Calisenthe, on the wiki!

Better to roll in Hell....
Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2009, 10:33:12 AM »

The Daoine
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Of the hundreds of Daoine races originally given life, only a dozen or two remain.  The six Daoine given below are those who have a sizable population left and are not in danger of dying out, those who have a preponderance of adventurous/martially-inclined members, those who are capable of leaving the sky and sea, or those who are otherwise best suited for players.



Elves
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The Elder Ones

"And lo, when the ifrit descended upon the palace, the elves did strike, leaping from their hidden perches and slashing at its burning eyes.  The ifrit did roar at them and fill the air with flames, and many elves did perish, but look--first blood!  Emboldened by the success of one of their number, the elves fought yet more furiously and landed a second blow ere the foul ichor from the first struck the earth.  One wound became two, became three, became more, as the elves defended the remnants of their ancestral home.  As the elven dead neared ten score and seven and the first warrior finally fell, so too fell the ifrit, his burning arms setting the bodies ablaze in a pyre.  The elves cheered for one moment, mourned their comrades in the next, and struck off the heads of every one of the ifritt's servants in the third.  So ended the Battle of the Western Chasm that day."

--From the epic The Last Days of the Realms on the Lake, verse 28 of 47


The elves, being the oldest of the races, have the largest population and have made good use of this.  Their tactical abilities are unmatched in combat against the demons, their skill at overseeing the construction and organization of new cities is highly regarded, and their hospitality and friendship is legendary.  Alone among the Daoine, the elves lack the capacity for magic; though the Aos Sidhe did not forsake their earthen realms until after the creation of the dwarves, they knew of the demons long before then, and the elves were formed when the Aos Sidhe thought the demons were nothing more than minor evils.  Thus, where later races were gifted with that which would specifically aid the fight against the demons--gaining more powerful gifts as time progressed as the Aos Sidhe truly realized the demonic threat--the elves were merely gifted with the Aos Sidhe's remarkable life and wisdom.  Elves are effectively immortal, dying only to violence, and can adapt to practically any climate or terrain due to their resilient natures and keen minds (hence why the elves tend to spearhead the creation and relocation of new cities).  Though they do not have the magical ability of the other races, they are just as skilled in battle, relying on their supernatural resilience to defend themselves while they put centuries of experience to good use.


Dryads
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The Vengeful Ones

"The dryad woke the next morning to find herself bound hand and foot many paces from her tree, just barely starting to feel the pain of separation.  Demons of glass stood over her, giggling with malicious glee and occasionally dropping molten bits of their skin onto her just to see her burn.  As she fully awakened, the laughing subsided and the glass demons scampered away, to be replaced with a demon appearing to be sculpted of shifting sand and ash.  The demon formed a mouth in its roiling form and smiled condescendingly.

'I see your certainty seems to have failed you.  Your claims that you will protect the forest have been proven false, and here you lie, being tormented by your lessers,' it rumbled.  'And now, to drive that point home, you shall be slowly but surely separated from your soul tree and die a very slow, very painful death.  What say you?'  The dryad glared at him as he carelessly lifted her in a newly-formed limb and inched her away from the tree.  'I say that though you speak the language of the People you are naught but a trained beast.'  The demon chuckled softly.  'Though most of our number are indeed naught but beast, surely you did not think we were all mindless drones of the earth.  In fact, I would have assumed you would liken us to you quite readily, to lessen the sting of being defeated so handily.  I am, in fact, the master of this land now.'  The dryad shook her head as best she was able and growled, 'Not defeated.  Pushed back.'

The demon shook what passed for its head.  'How can you say you have not been defeated?  You have no recourse left but to surrender.'  The dryad arched her back enough to slip one hand free of her bonds and gestured towards her tree.  'I have this,' she spat, holding up a small seed which the wind had carried to her palm.  'And now you will see just how defeated I am!'  She clasped the seed to her chest while jumping out of the demon's grip; by the time she landed, the seed had sprouted into a suit of armor and a spear of emerald light had appeared in her hand.  Shocked, the demon reared back in preparation to strike, but a bolt of lightning leaped from the spear into its face, followed by a beam of light to its abdomen, followed by a gust of wind which scattered its arms away, finally followed by blast of winter's chill.  With the forests's power to aid her, the dryad was more than a match for the demon, though this was one of the few remaining unspoiled forests on the earth and the smallest one at that.  Roots siphoned sand and ash away from the demon, rain turned him to clumsy muck, animals darted out to bash parts of him to pieces and retreated to safety; in the middle of it all, the dryad stood, focusing her hatred of the demons into a powerful surge of energy.

'I,' she hissed as she drove her hand into the demon, 'am mistress of this land.  You are an abomination fit for nothing but destruction and naught but a beast.'  As the demon dissolved, lightning bolts leaped from the clouds to obliterate those demons who had burned her earlier.  A single remaining flame demon remained at the edge of the forest; meeting her eye, it tried to flee, but was extinguished by a sudden downpour.  The dryad spoke to the empty clearing: 'They call themselves masters of the land.  Fools.  We are the land."

--From the chronicles of the dryad Laidir, famous warrior and powerful druid.


The dryads were among the most affected of the Daoine when the demons struck; many died helplessly, unable to leave the trees to which they were bound.  However, the selkies were able to assist them: the selkies were able to combine some of the magic of their removable skins with the magic binding the dryads to their trees to allow the dryads to take the trees' souls with them.  As long as the dryad returned at each full moon to reestablish the bond for one night and rejuvenate themselves and the tree, they could travel as far as they wished without harm.  This made dryads tempting targets, as the demons could simply lie in wait in a forest and be practically guaranteed to find a vulnerable dryad to kill, but this wasn't the crippling weakness one would expect; since each dryad effectively had its own powerful nature spirit to draw upon, no longer spread thin through a whole forest and only connected to their dryads through a single tree and no longer tasked with keeping the dying forests alive, dryads found their magical powers increased tenfold, making them the most mystically strong race of the Daoine.  In return, the dryads taught the selkies druidic magic ("druid" meaning "as a dryad" in their tongue), allowing them to combine their natural shapeshifting abilities with the dryads' spirit magic.


Dwarves
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The Crafty Ones

"The ship rounded the small ash-covered island and beheld the ruins of a town.  The ocean water turned a poisonous green where it touched the scorched soil of the beach, and remnants of buildings and carts littered the land from the shore to the tree line.  Many demons danced among the wreckage--it appeared that the town was recently destroyed.  At the appearance of the ship, several demons cried out in warning and excitement and ran down to the beach to attack as it came near.

Below the ship's deck, three robed figures huddled in conversation. 'Looks like we arrived too late.  They will be mourned,' said one.  'The least we can do is recover their bodies for proper burial and salvage what we can of their effects for their next of kin,' said another.  'Before that, though, I think some settling of scores is called for,' said the last.  'Agreed,' chorused the other two.  Immediately, the three dispersed to other parts of the ship; the first retrieved a jar of paint and drew a fresh set of runes over the set of markings on the deck, the second fetched some twisted rods of copper and bronze from a trunk in the hold, and the third spoke softly to the dryad and elves on board.  By the time the three had finished, the ship had come within a few handspans of the shore, and the demons were waiting for the ship to touch the beach before jumping over.

But that never occurred.  The instant before it struck ground, the ship's hull suddenly came alive with tracings of runes and jumped fourteen paces into the air.  The astonished demons craned their heads up to see the ship floating over them as several dwarves lifted the copper-bronze rods over the side.  As the rods were released, their strange shape was explained--each was covered with crackling lightning, so that in the instant before the demons were struck the sky appeared to open up in a storm.  Minor demons died by the dozens, but the stronger ones managed to follow the ship and eventually pierce the hull after many blows.  Though the elves began to look worried, the dwarves paid no heed, whispering to the wind and to the wreckage to hear from their spirits what had happened in this place.  When they were satisfied, they retrieved rune-inscribed arms and armor and jumped overboard, surprising the attacking demons and slaying them.  This done, they asked the wood spirits in the hull of the ship to please mend the holes in it; they daubed some fresh paint on the runes as the hull sealed, and climbed back aboard.  'Time to head home,' said the first dwarf, gesturing for the elves to return belowdecks.  'Yes, there's nothing we can do now,' said the second dwarf, calming down the elves who had cried out for demon blood.  'We just need to guide everything back home,' said the third dwarf, point at the wreckage that had lifted up off the ground to soar after the ship with a life of its own.  'They may have won this round, but we can rebuild,' all three said together, as they lifted off into the sunset."

--From the journals of an elven observer on the expedition ship Thiar Lochrann


Where elves are Aos Si in all but name and dryads are the forest incarnate, the dwarves are spirits given form.  They speak to the spirits all around them with ease, and because of this they have a remarkable affinity for infusing magic into ships, floating cities, weapons, and other items--a few runes and a whispered word politely ask a wood spirit to move over and allow a wind spirit to take up residence in its wood to lift the ship, some pictographs and a gesture entice lightning spirits to skitter over and around some metal weapons, and constant encouragement from the dwarves allows the floating cities to remain in the clouds as they reinforce the courage and dedication of the cloud spirits holding them aloft.  Dwarves, being Daoine, are harmed by iron like the other fair folk (though much less so), but they can work miracles with copper and bronze, the primary metal used by the Daoine and Oga.  For this reason dwarves are valued warriors, because though they are not as fast as the elves nor as strong as the pech nor as sneaky as the selkies, they have a deep abiding hatred for the demons of iron and steel and can kill with greater ease those demons which harm other Daoine with a touch.


Selkies
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The Solemn Ones


Why, oh why, does the selkie cry
When the stars shine down on the emerald isles?
Why, oh why, does the sun's bright eye
Shine down to show no selkie smiles?

Because, my son, the demons run
Across the isles they once called home;
Because, my son, the demons one
By one despoiled the lands they'd roam.

The elves, at sea, sing cheerfully,
since of their lands some still remain.
The pech, at sea, smile cheerfully
because their lands less spoiled have lain.

The selkies, though, have nowhere to go--
Their lands shall be barren forevermore.
The selkies, though, have no one to know--
They shall see loved ones nevermore.


--An excerpt from the children's poem The Lament of Loch Ainnise


A selkie's existence is bleak.  Every single piece of land selkies once inhabited is nothing but ash; every single Daoine not in the floating cities who was friend to a selkie was slain; there are fewer than one thousand selkies still left alive.  It wasn't always this way, as selkies were among the first to fight back against the demons.  That very fact, however, caused their anguish--after the Oga were created and the demons' momentum slowed, the selkies, working with other Daoine and Oga who could breathe water, turned back a major incursion of water demons, completely destroying all of the demons capable of attacking from below the sea and setting them back several decades.  Their celebration was short-lived, for the demons struck back in vengeance, capturing many selkie oracles and forcing them to reveal the lands, friends, and homes of all of the selkies to allow the demons to utterly annihilate them.  A single selkie escaped captivity and got back in time to warn one selkie city, and those 2,500 selkie lived; every single other one died as their homes were crushed, their lands were scorched, and everyone in their communities that they knew was murdered in front of them.  Since that day, selkie numbers have steadily diminished as they slowly die in battle; most believe that they should take as many demons down with them as they can when they die, because they have nothing to lose and they believe that there's no reason to preserve the species if the demons could win tomorrow.


Pech
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The Strong Ones

Two demonlings carried a small figure--a pech comfortably into his second century--into the titan's presence, a skeleton on the left and a coal demonling on the right.  It didn't seem too afraid, looking around with mild curiousity and a bit of disdain.  A sun titan glanced up when the prisoner was brought in and dismissed the other demonlings he had been talking to.  "Ah, wonderful.  You've managed to catch one of the slippery buggers at last.'  The titan motioned them over and began questioning the pech about troop movements and other such information.  The pech answered willingly, though absently; he seemed preoccupied and was constantly turning his head this way and that to look around the camp.  He's frightened the titan thought to itself with relish and though he can feign nonchalance he can't bear to look at me.

As the titan was asking a question about copper reserves, the pech interrupted him in the middle of a sentence.  "All right, I've seen what I've come to see.  Let me down boys."  The skeleton and coal demonling looked blankly at him, at each other, and at the titan; the titan was about to order them to rough him up a bit when the pech yanked his hand out of the skeleton's grasp and squeezed the coal demonling's arm.  The arm crumbled to pieces and his victim screamed in pain.  The pech kicked the skeleton away, scattering his bones over several yards, and turned to the titan.  "Don't underestimate us because of our height.  We don't think your demonlings harmless because of theirs.  I've tolerated the debriefing so far, but send anything after me or make short jokes and you die."  The pech turned around and walked out.  With the rest of the camp's eyes on him, the titam felt he had to redeem himself.  "That's a tall order," he sneered at the pech's back.  Without stopping, the pech scooped up a stone, flung it around into the titan's face, and kept walking.  Seeing pieces of the titan's skull litter the ground, the other demons wisely decided to keep their little comments to themselves.


The pech are a small race, about two feet tall on average, but they have the strength and quickness of a creature ten times their size.  This often leads them to be underestimated, but those foolish enough to do so quickly learn the error of their ways, usually through a broken bone or two dozen.  They tend to be fairly detached, lost in their own thoughts and interrupting conversations whenever they have something to add.  They're also quite laid-back, with one exception: short jokes.  Mention a pech's height (or lack thereof) at your own peril.  The other Daoine often deride Pech for being self-absorbed, but they cannot deny that the pech are quite useful.


Extinct Daoine
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    *The last leprechauns died several dozen years ago after a force of iron demons disguised themselves as the cauldrons the alchemically-gifted leprechauns had scattered all over their village; five hundred-some leprechauns were murdered in their sleep, and only after a band of satyrs happened upon the remains of their village did they discover the cause.
    *The pixies fell when a rain of ash fell on the army containing the last thousand or so pixies; they inhaled a lot of ash, which given their size was to them what inhaling daggers would be to a larger Daoine, and began dropping like flies around the field.
    *The centaur race was wiped out when the few water demons that escaped the selkie's major assault destroyed the centaurs' ocean city; being quadrupeds, they couldn't swim very well, and so were easy prey for the water demons.  The selkies still blame themselves for the centaurs' extinction.
    *The gnomes weren't able to escape the demonic assault, so they tried to hide their race among the demons, appearing as jewel-like stone demons.  It worked for ten years until an oni discovered them, and the last gnome died of his injuries after reporting all of the gathered intelligence to nearby leprechauns.
    *The hobgoblins were suicidal to the point of making modern selkies look like cowards, since the demons came through their underground nations first, capturing them all and torturing them for years before abandoning them to attack the surface.  Warnings from some hobgoblins who managed to escape before the demons decided to attack the surface were key to defending several major cities, and many sacrificed themselves to allow their weaker goblin cousins to escape the demons' wrath.
    *The last fertile male kobold fell off of a cloud city a century ago; the kobolds left alive after that were simply prolonging the inevitable.


The Oga
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The Oga were created in great number by the spirits, but like the Daoine many of the Oga races have already been destroyed in their entirety by the demons.  There are more Oga than are listed here, but they tend to be few and far between, as the spirits are still experimenting with their powers and are no longer pressured to create thousands of beings at a time.

Satyrs/Nymphs (Fauns)
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The Numerous Ones

"...and that naturally brings us to the topic of the Oga and their service in the armies of the Daoine.  It has been observed by several critics that the Oga were meant by the Aos Si to 'pull us out of a rut' as it were, to modernize our thinking and allow us to adapt to the demons' tactics; why then, they ask, do many Oga go on the crusades against the demons?  After all, we would not dream of sending our literal children to battle, so why would we condemn the races of 'the Young' to the same fate?  I aim to dispel this misconception in the next few minutes.

Yes, the Oga serve admirably as alchemists, tacticians, educators, and other positions which allow them to remain safely in the Floating Dominions--and they have created many new devices and strategies that have served us well--but the fact remains that the Aos Si intended also for them to serve in battle, as the situation on the ground is quite different from the theoretical battles fought out on maps.  The Oga adapt well in such situations, and are best suited to command in the field.  As well, their talents for misdirection, stealth, and improvisation are quite helpful when scouting or ambushing the enemy.  Which brings me to an important point, as I can see many of you wondering 'Sir, if we value them for their guile and stealth, why then are most of the Oga regiments composed of the loud, boisterous, somewhat dim satyrs?'

As I'm sure most of you learned Daoine realize, each race has its purpose.  The fauns, to be perfectly blunt, were created to breed like rabbits; the satyr fauns are numerous enough to provide many soldiers, and the nymph fauns are...well, not germane to this discussion.  While I would never advocate something so crass as sending in hundreds of satyrs to sacrifice themselves for an advantage, which would make us no better than the demons...the fact remains that, with their great numbers, satyrs are...somewhat expendable.  They have a strong group mentality, as evidenced by their propensity for alcohol-induced and, shall we say, rather intimate celebrations, so they are more likely to sacrifice themselves for their fellows.  They are at home in the burrows and warrens under the late forests, and thus are excellent (and, as mentioned, expendable) scouts.  All in all, ladies and gentlemen, if we are to win this war, we must be much more aggressive, and the satyr race, as much as it pains me to say it, is well suited to achieve this through their actions and through their blood, if necessary."

--From a speech by General Morrigan to the Fae Courts, regarding the use of Oga in the military


The satyrs and nymphs, collectively known as fauns, are the proverbial runt of the Oga litter.  They are concerned with the more base pleasures in life, they fight carelessly and rely on overwhelming numbers, and are widely considered to be a few seeds short of a pine cone.  This changes when copious amounts of alcohol are imbibed--apparently the Aos Si had a sense of humor, making the satyrs able poets, deft gymnasts, and admirable warriors exactly when no one wants to go near them--but in general they are seen as brutes more than anything else.  Why they alone among the Oga are, not to put too fine a point on it, so unsuited to any useful pursuit besides serving as the rank and file soldiers (for satyrs) and servants/laborers (for nymphs) is a mystery only the Aos Si can answer, but some speculate it might have something to do with the drastic difference between their sexes; perhaps they were intended to be a somewhat inferior race, to allow the other Oga to better serve their purpose?  Nevertheless, while fauns are looked down upon by the Daoine, the rest of the Oga are as well to a certain extent, so it isn't a major handicap--in fact, many exploration or commando parties like to have fauns along to liven things up and boost morale.


Humans
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Humans are their usual adventurous, irrepressible selves, turned up to 11; all of the Oga were created to be spontaneous, quick-witted, innovative, and so forth, and humans are head and shoulders above the rest.  Humans are unchanged mechanically, and are the only race able to become factotums.

Sylphs
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The Quiet Ones

The demons crept through the woods--rather, a smoldering handful of glorified torches formerly known as a wood--not wanting to alert the accursed fae creatures they were ambushing.  Despite their best efforts, a small, crudely-formed rock demon came down too heavily on one leg and snapped a twig.  Instantly, the fae ahead of them vanished in a blur of movement and sparkles of green and gold light.  The demons stopped short and darted glances back and forth, like hounds who had suddenly lost their prey's scent.  The two demons among the group who had more intelligence than the dumb rocks of which they were formed rolled their eyes at each other.  The stone titan and the earth oni--for that is what they were--moved together to plan.

'Most likely their spirits-cursed invisibility again, my liege,' muttered the titan to the oni.  'They wish to make fools of us, looking about for them when they remain there, silently laughing.'  The oni made placating gestures: 'Be calm, my warrior; should this be the case, it is easily rectified.'  With a negligent wave of his hand, one such as a human might use to swat an insect, the oni caused the entire clearing to explode in shards of stone and horrible flames, pulverizing everything within hundreds of feet.  The lesser demons cackled and snarled, the bipedal ones clapping their limbs; surely none had survived that, and they would soon become visible?  When no mangled bodies appeared falling out of the sky, the demons began growling, and the oni frowned.  'Perhaps they are flying, my liege, and managed to avoid your curse,' the titan suggested, 'as many of them, pathetic though they are, know that those of use made of stone have power over the same.  Allow me,' he finished, as he clapped his hands together in front of him.  Dozens of the shattered tree trunks rose from the ground and burst fully into flame, then shot forwards, filling the air with blazing projectiles.  To no apparent effect.

The titan pondered for a moment, and was about to suggest something else, when suddenly a flame demon with them sputtered, died out, and turned to ash.  The oni and titan turned as one to regard the ashes, and before their eyes another handful of them were extinguished.  The titan opened his mouth to speak and was able only to choke out 'My lord, are...you finding it diff...icult to breathe at...all?'  In the next moment the pressure eased and air returned; all the demons took a deep breath, and all felt some thicker-than-usual air wend its way into their lungs (or what passed for them, in the elemental demons).  Within seconds, only the oni and titan remained standing, for unlike the animal demons they did not need to breathe except to speak; the rock demons should have survived, but had been shattered from the inside.  The oni waved a hand, spat out whatever was inside him, and disappeared in a flash of dark.  The titan managed the same a few moments later.  When they showed no signs of returning, the air gradually coalesced into beings of air, then mist, then clouds, then finally of flesh.  The sylphs--for that is what they were--nodded among themselves, satisfied.  The demons didn't know the cause of their deaths, at least not yet; with a few gestures, they arranged to go lure another group of demons to their doom.


The sylphs are creatures of elemental air, and their signature quality is the ability to dissolve themselves into pure air and turn back.  This is quite useful for ambushes, for camouflage, and for mundane tasks such as flying messages and the like.  Their one quirk as a species is that they do not speak aloud.  Not because they can't, but because they won't: a sylph using air to speak would be like an elf coughing up pints of blood each time it wished to convey its thoughts, and though they could of course make vibrations with their bodies, they find that as attractive as any Daoine would find communication via interpretive dance.  Instead, they use their own sign language which by now most Oga speak.  Few Daoine bother to learn it, being as set in their ways as they are, so often sylphs are assigned to out-of-the-way tasks like scouting or painting tall buildings or messenger duty so the Daoine can relay order to them through other Oga--which is just how the sylphs like it, as it allows them to be alone with their thoughts and play in the wind.


Undines
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The Formless Ones

Two undines held off the demonling swarm, one slashing at flaming limbs with blades formed of saltwater and scattering bodies of putrid flesh with a fist holding the strength of an ocean wave, the other pounding glass arms into sand with a hammer of waterfalls and sheltering himself and his sister from sight with morning fog.  The demons and undines clashed at the top of a cliff, the demons trying to reach the hamlet on the shore below, a town holding the last living nixies.  In one instant, they were two vaguely-bipedal columns of liquid sapphire, standing against all comers; in the next, they became yards-wide sheets of flowing cerulean to hamstring those who fell for the lure.

Soon enough, the numbers took their toll, and the undines were pressed up against each other, almost merging together as pounding fists and raking claws separated parts of their bodies one splash at a time.  An ifrit controlling the enemy sneered over the din, "This is the best the water spirits offer to oppose us?  You send your so-called champions, and they are borne down under sheer numbers, yet one of my number can slay near-limitless numbers of you spirit-created folk without tiring!  How is it we haven't slaughtered all of you living near the seas?"  As the demons bore the undines to the ground, they dissolved almost completely, falling to mindless puddles.  The demons scattered the puddles and splashed in them, mocking them with every breath.

As the demons turned to leave, the puddles slowly but surely trickled across the ground, dripping into the sea beyond the cliff.  By the time the demons arrived down at the hamlet, having burnt, tunneled, or swum through the rock, the undines had completely drained into the sea.  As the ifrit drew breath to order the final attack, a cresting wave knocked half the demons off their feet.  The ifrit jumped out of the way, then looked up...and up, and up, to find that the sea wasn't the sea after all, but a group of undines disguised as the breakers; the actual ocean was held off by dams a few yards off.  As the hundred-foot-tall ur-undine reached down to crush him, he had time for one final thought: Oh. THAT'S why.


The undines aren't a race so much as a huge body of water given sentience and broken up into smaller beings.  They can change their shape at will into whatever is necessary at the moment (though their appearance remains that of living water), and they can merge with each other for short periods of time to share memories and skill.  Like the sylphs they tend not to talk, but they will if necessary; they just prefer not to form vocal apparatus or create vibrations unnecessarily, as it is physically taxing on top of maintaining a cohesive body structure.  Undines are nigh-impossible to kill for good, as they can lie in puddles for years yet return to consciousness instantly when the rest of their bodies are returned to them, though by now the demon lords have mastered the trick and taught it to a few demonlings.


Goblins
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The Dark Ones

"You know, I wonder how it feels to be a goblin?  Knowing that you call on the same spirits that empower the demons in order to 'fight fire with fire' (sometimes literally) must be amazing and terrifying at the same time.  The demons never expect it, on the one hand...yet at any moment you might give into the urgings of the spirits and lay waste to your comrades.  What a lonely, lonely life."

--A naive Daoine commenting on the plight of the poor goblin people

"Nah, it's not like that at all.  The spirits don't control us, we control them.  I mean sure, we like fire a lot.  I mean, a lot, y'know?  But it's not like we're going to burn the Floating Dominions to the earth any day now!  That fire goes right at the demons and nowhere else.  We wouldn't burn a single soul among the fae."

--A proud goblin magus

"Uh, Magus Scath?  Last month your shadow wave hit an undi--"

--The proud goblin magus's assistant

"I said, the FIRE goes right at the demons!  We wouldn't BURN a single fae!  Ha ha shut up ha ha ha!"

--The magus

"Right, sorry."

--The assistant."


Goblins are the result of a pact between the spirits of the fae and the spirits of the demons: each side would form creatures from the power of the other as a peace offering to remind both that, whatever the fae and demons did, the spirits themselves were the same at the core and had simply chosen different sides of the conflict.  The goblins use the powers of fire, shadow, earth, and other demonic magic to defeat the demons with their own strengths.  The demons are constantly taken aback by this, first because their own fae spirit race of water demons was mostly destroyed by the selkies and aren't common anymore, and second because where the Daoine are exceptionally long-lived and the Oga almost as much, the demonlings are constantly being created and renewed from the depths of the earth and thus know only what the demon lords teach them (which doesn't often include goblins due to forgetfulness).  For their part, the Daoine welcome the goblins' aid while remaining suspicious of their motivations--justifiably so, as the demon spirits can influence them at times--but most goblins are loyal servants of the fae who strive exceedingly hard to prove themselves.


Minor Oga
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    *The djinn are an attempt to create Oga on the same level as the demon lords, creatures with great personal power able to command the spirits and elements around them to destroy legions of demons.  There are only a very few of them, because the fae spirits discovered that the reason there are so few demon lords is that investing them with such personal power requires either infusing hundreds of spirits into one being or sacrificing dozens, and they are unwilling to make a similar sacrifice for the djinn except when faced with dire straits.
    *The orcs combine the best aspects of the goblins (the ability to draw on demon spirits) and satyrs (vast numbers); unfortunately, they combine the worst aspects of the goblins (a tenuous-at-best grip on sanity) and satyrs (weak intellect) as well.
    *The genasi are creatures of lightning and cold, meant to supplement the sylphs and undines in the fae ranks; unfortunately, they are less than effective at fighting rock demons (who are very hard to freeze), fire demons (who burn the genasi exceptionally well), and glass demons (who are practically immune to lightning), and since those are the three most common kinds, the genasi rarely leave the cities to do battle.
    *The giants consume too many resources for the impoverished refugee cities to support; they tend to be created as needed, but since the spirits determine when they are needed, only two have been seen in the past five years.


The Demons
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There are practically an infinite variety of demons--at least, the Daoine haven't seen a month go by without some new monstrosity climbing out of the depths--but the ones given here (known as "demon lords" and classified into distinct races) are the most powerful and most feared.  A handful of these demons are capable of slaughtering an entire city by themselves, so are often sought out for destruction more often than the hordes of lesser demons (the "demonlings").  Where most of the lesser demons are no more than insane, rapacious beasts, the few greater demons of the kinds listed here have achieved true sapience and turn the minor annoyance of hordes of destructive creatures into an organized, lethal threat to the fae.

Ifrits
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Beast Lords

The night was young, the sky full of clouds.  Three demons skulked into view of the last city on the western islands, one ifrit and his two wolf demon retainers.  The ifrit strolled up to the walls with a fluid gait, looking around at the defenses casually while appearing not to move his head.  Four selkies upon the walls called out to him, asking his business; he was disguised as a satyr with two dogs, so they most likely took him for a messenger.  He called out something indistinct and continued to the wall, ignoring their further cries.  Reaching the wall, he lightly pressed his palms against the gate and tested their strength; yes, this should do nicely.

Stepping back, he bowed his head for a moment, then took a deep breath, inhaling for a minute or more.  There were movements and sounds above, now, as the guards realized something wasn't right.  The ifrit threw back his head and gave an unearthly scream and increased in size twenty times over, growing fangs, tentacles, wings, and other limbs with purposes mysterious and terrible.  From the waste down, he was a column of roiling magma; from the waste up, a beast out of the worst nightmares.  Grinning at the selkies looking up at him in terror and hatred, he whispered "Hello, little seals.  You will make a fine bite or two."  Faster than they could see, he snatched them all in one hand and swallowed them whole, then crushed the wall with his hands, the magma of his body destroying most of the debris.  Having entered unchallenged, he returned the magma to legs--strong ones, suitable for jumping--and stomped through the city, terrifying all who saw him.

He suffered many wounds as defenders struck at him through windows and from behind hastily-erected barriers, but there was no coordinated assault and so his wounds had more than enough time to heal as he crushed the defenders one by one.  At last, when the city was a smoking ruin full of dismembered corpses and blood, the ifrit returned to his normal form, slightly winded.  As the wards on the city prevented him from returning to the earth below, he walked out of the city limits and sunk below the ground.  The coal demons were there only to find and destroy the foci for the wards; he would return in the morning to find the city's ruins defenseless, and then he would build his palace on the ruins.  The demonlings might rise to kill and maim and then return to the depths, but the ifrit was here to stay.


The ifrits are among the more powerful sort of demon lord; they are referred to as Beast Lords due to their ability to change shape and their propensity for assuming gigantic and terrible forms, but also for their preference for consuming the corpses of the fae they kill.  Ifrits cannot maintain their largest forms for long, allowing them to be killed if attacked after resuming their normal forms, but minor changes such as fangs and flaming skin can be sustained indefinitely, so no two ifrit look alike and attacking them is usually impossible without several dozen Daoine or half again as many Oga.  They have dominion over the demons whose forms are mockeries of the fae and natural animals of the world--huge wolf demons with coats of night, two-headed vultures, and other monstrosities.


Oni
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Chaos Lords

"It was the first time I'd seen one in broad daylight.  We were walking through the Fields of Ash when we saw her, sitting there staring at the sun.  We were obviously frightened--there were only eighteen of us left after the last battle--but we prepared an ambush just the same.  We waited until we were sure the oni wasn't paying attention to its surroundings, then struck her with all of the weapons and magic at our disposal, using frost weapons because she was obviously associated with fire and the sun.  Thirteen javelins and five ice shards struck her skin, causing her to roar in pain and look around for her ambusher...we tried to move out of the way, but too late.

With a thrust of her palm, she blasted a crater in the Fields; suddenly, half of our number were a score of yards below the ground, soon shredded by shards of glass conjured out of the air.  We struck her again, and she roasted another two with beams of hottest white flame.  With a barked word, she disappeared; the demons can't turn invisible, so she must have translocated herself.  We looked around frantically, and I was fortunate enough to see her cold, hate-filled eyes staring out from a hole in the ground as she charged.  I wasn't able to shout a warning before she leaped out and decapitated our commander with claws of shadow; I made my escape while she was busy butchering the rest of them.  So to answer your question, no, I don't think you can take an oni with just the two of you."

--Sean Fhunduir, human veteran


Oni are conduits of pure chaos, which they shape into horribly destructive magics.  Where ifrits can stride into a regiment of a hundred Daoine and kill most if not all of them, oni can accomplish the same from a score of yards away simply by waving a hand.  Their ability to strike from range is necessary, because they are not nearly as resilient as other demon lords, able to be killed by a group of threescore and ten most times rather than the tenscore required to strike down most other lords.  They are also the tactical masters of the demons; they are able to hide demonlings--with shadow and mist only, for invisibility is the province of the fae--and transport them instantaneously to where they are needed, making them a fierce and unpredictable foe.


Rakshasa
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Elder Lords

"In the year 12998, the first--and last--incident of a rakshasa attacking a Dominion Aloft was recorded.  The cloud city was one of the more remote settlements, over a day's travel from the others by air, as the hawk flies.  A being of absolute blackness shaped like an elf with a tiger's head rose from the ground below it and struck dead every one of the eightscore defenders of the main gate with a glance.  Raising its hands, the rakshasa was surrounded by a pulse of sickly green light which blinded every fae in the city.  Several scribes were among the group of a dozen survivors, in order to give us this account, but the rest of the city was utterly destroyed in fire and flame, in shadow and night.  The entire city broke apart and crashed to the ground, leveling the forest beneath it and killing every animal and plant for acres around, so potent was the rakshasa's curse.

Why the rakshasa struck, I do not know.  We had never seen a rakshasa on the offensive before, nor have we seen one since.  Most of the other demon lords have a mindset similar to the Daoine way, even able to speak at length in our tongue, but rakshasas...rakshasas are to us what our most learned mages are to the most minor sand demon.  We cannot begin to fathom their thoughts, but we can be grateful that they are not turned upon any more of our homes."

--Leannta the Wise, scholar


Rakshasa are the most powerful demon lords, bar none.  They have never (with a single exception) ventured above the surface of the earth, being mostly occupied with guiding the demon lords in their conquests.  Any fae who attempt to strike at the heart of the demons' forces run afoul of the rakshasas below approximately three thousand feet in depth, so the fae are forced to stay on the defensive, unable to harm the demons at their strongest like the demons can strike at them.  They are accomplished sorcerers as well as warriors: an army of eight thousand selkies believed one rakshasa to have ordered their destruction, and when they confronted him he was able to hold off 97 of their best blades while hardly moving at all, annihilating the rest with magic in a particularly gruesome fashion while so occupied.


Titans
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Deep Lords

"One could easily argue, sir, that the titans are among the worst foes we face.  Not that they are particularly intelligent, nor are they particularly dangerous with iron or magic, but they are the source of our foes.  Yes, good sirs, I mean that literally--have you not wondered why, of all the demon lords, the titans appear as nothing more than overgrown demonlings?  You see, the titans create those demonlings from the elements below the earth and from their own flesh.  These demons are linked to their creator, allowing them to be used as extra eyes and hands and granting them what rudimentary intelligence they possess; when not being controlled by a titan, demonlings have little to no tactical ability and kill indiscriminately, but that changes drastically with a guiding mind directing their mindless hatred.  Only the sheer number of minds to be controlled at once stops the titans from coordinating them well enough to grant them a semblance of actual intelligence; thank the Si that the demonlings follow the titans in mind as well as body."

--A Daoine military scholar briefing a new officer


The titans aren't very threatening on their own, being little more dangerous than a score of demonlings and little more resilient than a rickety fence, but their power is in numbers.  A titan can form demonlings out of the surrounding terrain at a rate of about three per hour, more if the land is diverse enough to allow multiple kinds of demonlings to be created.  Titans always know where the demonlings formed of the terrain are and whether they still live, but demonlings they create from their own essence are their eyes, ears, and hands.  They cannot create many of these, as creating even one leaves them weakened for days, but titans have a lot of time to work, and the effort is well worth the time spent, as countless Daoine could attest if they still drew breath.


Liliths
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Corrupt Lords

The lilith caressed the elf standing next to her and crooned sweet nothings into its ear.  A human a yard or two away, bound hand and foot with chains of iron which burned its skin, struggled to escape and strike the lilith.  Her elf had, until a few hours ago, been the bound human's comrade in the army; the gash across its throat and organs spilling down its front showed in gruesome detail why that was no longer the case.  Soon the lilith tired of tormenting the human and left the animate corpse to stand unblinking in front of her dais.  She stepped slowly toward the human, savoring its increasing fear, and grasped its chin in her hands.  "You would make a fine slave, I think; strong but dim, so nothing of importance would be lost in the transformation.  And just think," she mocked him with false cheer, "you and your little friend could spend eternity together, paying your old friends visits to entice them to join you!"

"I'll never serve you willingly," the human grated, "so stop trying to persuade me.  I'll die anyway, so just kill me and get it over with.  At least I won't feel your profane magic corrupt my body."  The lilith smiled wickedly, her mouth stretching wider than looked physically possible.  "That is where you are wrong, my sweet.  You will be able to cherish every second of it."  She placed her hand in his, and as she touched it, the skin began to rot and dissolve.  The skin flaked off in putrid chunks, then the muscle tore like frayed rope, then the fat oozed onto the floor, and so on until only the bone remained.  The human stared at his hand in horror, moving it frantically in an attempt to shake it off.  "No! No! This can't be happening!  Aos Si protect me!"  The lilith traced a finger up his arm, spreading the transformation as she went.  "Save your last breaths, human.  They can't hear you now."


Where most demonlings are at least composed of fire and earth and other natural things, which the fae can accept if not love, the foul creations of the lilith are absolutely abhorrent, anathema to everything the fae hold dear.  Worse yet, not only can they animate the corpses of fallen fae--which is bad enough--they can also transform a living fae into an undead one, forcing the subject to watch himself die and undie, experiencing a few hours of the agonizing sensation of being trapped and helpless in an undead body until their mind is finally destroyed.  Liliths are rare among the demon lords, and even rarer because they are the first the fae attempt to kill, but their progeny are plentiful, defending territory the demons acquire while the demonlings go off to raid.


Demonlings
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Demonlings are essentially parts of the earth given a twisted sort of life.  Coal, glass, earth, stone, magma, sand, sand--any material found under the earth can be turned into a demonling.  Fire, darkness, blood, and other sort of substances or concepts of that ilk can be given life as well, but only by being created by titans, so whereas other demonlings can be spontaneously generated by the corrupted earth of the depths, these sorts are purposefully created and thus are often the most cunning and powerful of their kind.

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Current setting: Death from the Depths; Unfinished Setting I'll Probably Get Back To At Some Point: The Living World of Glaesra
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2009, 10:37:05 AM »

Acrimone

I like it. It's got a well-set-out conflict, with a story that's easy to follow. Now we want details. Lots of details.

And maps.

And all that good stuff.


Details are coming; the names of the races are up and I'll be filling in their details today, and then I'll move onto the world as a whole.  Can't promise any maps at the moment, since my artistic skill is as close to nonexistent as it gets, but I'll see if I can get a graphic designer friend of mine to work out a sketch soon-ish.
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Current setting: Death from the Depths; Unfinished Setting I'll Probably Get Back To At Some Point: The Living World of Glaesra
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2009, 11:12:29 AM »

Okay, all the races have their descriptions up; I had a surprise meeting Friday and then went out of town for the weekend, so I apologize for the delay.

Next up I'll be doing geography and the world plus some cultural notes, so if there's anything in particular you want to see (floating cities, Daoine society, whatever) let me know.  Otherwise, I should have basic info up by later today.
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Current setting: Death from the Depths; Unfinished Setting I'll Probably Get Back To At Some Point: The Living World of Glaesra
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2009, 12:57:52 PM »

The Floating Dominions
[/color][/b]

In Character

"So shall we abandon our homes to them that rise from the depths, offering naught for resistance but surrendering all?" spake him that ruled, he of the crown.  "Nay," spake them that served, those of the staffs, "We shall not abandon our homes, offering naught for resistance and surrendering all.  Yet hear, O King, the lamentations of the children and weeping of the parents, for much death has arisen and o'erwhelmed our people."  Rose the queen from the golden throne and declaimed.  "Lose hope shall we not; surrender dare we not; yet retreat to safety and strike therefrom, we must, to oust the vermin which now infest our lands," spake she.  "Bargains have we struck with spirits of air, of cloud, of rain; with spirits of sea, of rivers, of streams; with spirits of field, of forest, of mountain.  They shall shelter us and deliver us, I am certain, should we entreat them so."

From the walls issued a chorus.  "O Queen of Fae, we the Ones with the World see your plight, hear your entreaty, and feel your anguish.  Indeed shall we shield you, should you quit the fields lost to you and enter our demesnes."  They of the staffs spoke as one: "This task is within our grasp.  If retreat to the sky and sea we must, retreat to the sky and sea we shall, bearing our cities aloft and adrift with us and abandoning those in forest and vale.  This shall be the work of a fortnight; then shall our peoples live free among the clouds and the waves."  She and he who ruled bowed to the spirits and the women and men of the staffs.  "So shall it be recorded," spake they, "so shall it be wrought."


--From the Ballad of the Hundredfold Dominion, a tale of the formation of the new cities.

Ever since the fae were forced to leave their homes behind (or at least remove all but a token force to safety), they have done all they can to reclaim them.  In the meanwhile, however, they have put forth every effort to ensure that their new (and hopefully temporary) homes have all of the comforts and beauty of the old.  Cities in the clouds possess vast orchards and forests to provide food as well as places to go for peace and quiet; cities on the seas exhibit the same artistic grandeur of the now-ruined metropolises.  The cities in the clouds are referred to as the Dominions Aloft, and the cities in the seas as the Dominions Adrift; collectively, both compose the Floating Dominions.

Geography
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A Geography Lesson

"And what happened that morning?" the pech priest trilled from the top of his stack of books.  "If you remember my stories from last week, my sons and daughters, that day was the day our gods left the Bastion.  No, no, do not look frightened; they didn't hate us, they were trying to escape the Evil Ones, just as you and I have left.  No, in fact we left with the gods, as they left to make ready the way we would follow to the clouds, and not a moment too soon.  Earthquakes and thunder split the land, tearing our beloved fields into six parts."  The children gasped; quakes and thunder were the most terrifying thing imaginable to the fae living in the clouds, for it meant their city was liable to fall.  "That is where our brave brothers and sisters now live, holding off the demons.  In fact," the priest continued, pointing at a pair of siblings around their tenth summers, "I actually have a brave brother and sister there, as my older siblings are there still, fighting off the threat.  I haven't seen them in over eight hundred years; can you imagine being away that long?  They were supposed to travel to the Besieged to meet me, but by the time I arrived there the demons had already given the cities their name, so I told them to come here with me.  They didn't get my message in time, and ended up back in the cities of the Bastion, and haven't been able to leave since."  The priest closed his eyes for a moment; the children stayed respectfully silent.  "And so, dear children, that is why I must leave you today; I am leaving with a dwarf and two selkies to land on the Twins and then cross the ocean to find them and bring them home."

There are thirty-eight continents on Ifrean--mostly glorified islands, really, and not continents as most would call them.  The smaller twenty-two are scattered enough that no warning was able to reach them before the demons appeared; those continents are already irrevocably transformed into ash and lava and blight, and are mostly irrelevant to the fae except that having so many smaller islands gives the demons plenty of staging grounds.  Of the remaining sixteen continents, two are demon-dominated; no cities remain except ruins, and the fae there only remain to fight the demons and because they are deep enough in demon territory that sending forces for extraction would be a useless sacrifice.  Five more are small enough that the demons can't really build up a large enough force to destroy the cities, which are simply under perpetual siege--there isn't enough room to mass troops, and demons can't come up through the bottom of the city or from the water.  Three more never had any inhabitants, so while the demons occupy the land it is mostly unspoiled.  The remaining six were originally a single massive continent, which was broken up first when the Aos Sidhe emerged from the earth and again when the demons invaded.  The continents are relatively close together, allowing for easy access and reinforcements for the fae over the bays and seas separating them; this continent is occupied by demons around the edges and mostly destroyed, but the center with all of the waterways is held still by the fae; the situation is mostly a stalemate, with the fae surrounded and unable to expand and the demons unable to attack without becoming encircled themselves.  The continents were never given individual names as such (for why would one name the land when one is the land?), and if they were the names would have been changed along with the world's, but they do have names collectively for ease of reference: The abandoned 22 are known as the Lost, the 2 still supporting fae resistance are known as the Twins, the 5 isolated ones are known as the Besieged, the 3 unspoiled ones are known as the Pure, and the 6 main ones are known as the Bastion.

The Dominions Aloft tend to remain above this area of the world, both to ensure that they have a safe place to put more forces and equipment down and to ensure the cities below aren't attacked from the air or from a route hidden from ground defenders.  There are eighty-three known Dominions Aloft--some drift away for long periods without contact, or are hidden and maintaining metaphysical silence because the demons have come too close, so there may be a handful more than 83 in existence.  The Dominions Adrift, in contrast, prefer to remain clumped together in the ocean far from land, or remain around the Pure in hopes of finding an opening to drive them out; two float just out of the demons' reach near the Besieged and send in gear and troops when possible, without which the cities would most likely have fallen years ago.  There are nine Dominions Adrift on the surface of the ocean and another two below the surface, the former mostly composed of Daoine and the latter more evenly mixed.  Each of the six continents possesses a single city, so the 6 of them, the 83 Dominions Aloft, and the 11 Dominions Adrift are collectively the Hundredfold Dominion.  One hundred is a luck number to the fae in their battles against the demons (as it is the number of Aos Si who interacted with the fae and became a pantheon of sorts), as are 83 (the number of divine spirits) and 19 (the number of fae who survived the first demon assault to warn the cities), so they attempt to keep the number of cities as close to these as possible, splitting off a colony from a large city if one goes missing or joining two if another returns.

Religion
[/color][/b]

Communing with the Spirits

A lone dwarf sat on his bed, feet dangling above the floor.  He whittled a wand out of wood which would soon be added to his collection of experiments; this wand was to hold a new spell like the other seven wands he had carved, and hopefully the spell would prove useful against the demonic threat.  As he carved, he murmured thanks to the spirits for aid in his spells and asked that his craftsdwarfship be sufficient to hold the spells on the first try, for the wands were needed at the front lines.  "Oreiades, Sapling Brother and Heart of the Forest, I thank you for your gift of wood."  He heard a whisper in his mind in response; the spirits didn't speak to everyone who spoke to them, but the dwarves had always had a special relationship with the spirits, and the Aon Ag Dulra often provided touches of welcome and reassurance.  "Aquilo, Breath of Wisdom and Bringer of Inspiration, I thank you for your gifts of woodcraft and arcane knowledge."  There was no response this time, but he continued whittling all the same.  "Lakhesis, Coastward Breeze and Giver of Fortune, I beseech you to make my carving straight, the wood strong, and the spell perfect."  With a final few strokes, he completed the wand; the runes in it sprang to life with a hearty orange glow.  "I knew you would provide for me, O Spirits.  Until next time."

There are no gods as such on Ifrean, and the fae are not a very religious sort.  (Having your world turned into a hell on earth will do that to you.)  Instead, they venerate the Aos Si and the spirits of the world--not as supplicants to a deity, but as citizens of a nation who are entitled to protection and carry out the rulers' wishes in turn.  The Aos Si obviously do not answer prayers, as they have sealed themselves off from the world, but every so often a breach in the seal of the Otherworld allows the Aos Si to send dreams, spirits, and other aid.  The spirits of the world are quite active--the Oga owe them their very existence, after all--and are worshiped as a group; there are, however, 83 powerful spirits who are the most powerful of the spirits and serve as their "rulers," as far as Daoine scholars can make out the inner workings of spirit "society."  (Any scholar will tell you that any attempt to resolve the "mindset" of the spirits in terms the fae can understand requires judicious use of quotation marks and qualifiers.)  These 83 are known as the Aon Ag Dulra, "those who are one with the world," and are worshiped by the Daoine and Oga (and spoken to by dwarves) in exchange for divine power.

The 83 Aon Ag Dulra include Boreas, Auster, Aquilo, Vulturnus, Thuellai, Favonius, Skeiron, Apeliotes, and Zephyrus (spirits of the nine winds); Amphitrite, Galatea, Leukotia, Phorkys, Selemnus, Kymopoleia, Psamathe, and Telkhines (spirits of the seas); Meliai, Anthoussai, Mainades, Oreiades, and Epimelides (spirits of the land); and several others, though the mentioned ones are the most commonly venerated.

Magic
[/color][/b]

To Send a Dominion Aloft

After three hours, the mages lowered their staffs.  "It is done.  Is everyone inside?"  The wizards looked around them to make sure that, indeed, everyone who was to live in the new Dominion Aloft was inside the city, and none were standing outside gawking at them.  With a nod, the leader began the chant for the second portion of the casting; now that the city was enchanted to be lighter than air, it needed to be sent up to its place in the clouds.  Over the course of half an hour, the city slowly lifted until it was far out of sight of the ground.  The wizards finished their chanting, sealed the spell, and returned to their home city to begin preparing for their next casting.

In the new city, the fae marvelled at the wonders of their surroundings; this city had been built for a group of fae who had been isolated on the Twins for so long, hiding and moving from place to place, that the younger among them had never seen a proper Dominion.  The houses were lit with globes of cheery golden light; fountains dotted the streets, shooting water up into the air in exotic shapes; shifting runes on the walls allowed the spirits in the houses to welcome them to their new home, while invisible creatures formed by the spirits of air bore travelers to higher-level windows and through the streets.  Illusions wafted through the air, amusing the children, and tiny summoned creatures frolicked in the fields.  While the younger fae stared at everything, the elders glanced at each other and smiled.  It was good to be home.

Magic is one of the few constants in the societies of the fae.  The Daoine are all highly magical creatures (minus the elves, of course) and use this magic to brighten the lives of all who live among them; the Oga need to study or devote themselves to the spirits to gain magic, but they produce more outlandish illusions than the Daoine can dream and their innovative spells are unmatched.  Creatures of air, water, and wood live side-by-side with them all, and the fae learn from an early age that magic is to be used for the betterment of all.  The fae are expert wonderworkers and charmers, entertaining themselves at home and befuddling the demons in battle.  They are quite good at seeing the future, though not so clever at that as with their illusions and enchantments, and many Oga mages count shapechanging among their favorite pastimes.

The demons' magic is evil magic, used solely for war.  The creation of demonlings by titans and the construction of magical barriers are among the few non-destructive uses of demon magic, but demon magic of all sorts is completely un-subtle (calling it "dramatic" would insult the fae's artistic talents), with even the most minor effects being accompanied by roaring, blinding flashes, and shards of material flying every which way.



Demographics
[/color][/b]
Regrettably, where a census on most worlds deals mostly with addition, a census on Ifrean deals mostly with subtraction: removal of races from the master record, lowering the headcount of each race, and generally watching the trendline of population sink lower and lower over time--though fortunately the rate of decline has slowed to a crawl since the creation of the Oga, and there have even been minor jumps in the population for a year or two at a time.

[table=Daoine Demographics]
[tr][td]Race[/td][td]Current(ish) Population[/td][td]Average Lifespan*[/td][td]Maximum Lifespan[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Elf[/td][td]2,450,000[/td][td]820 years[/td][td]Infinite[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Dryads[/td][td]93,200[/td][td]600 years[/td][td]1,700 years**[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Dwarves[/td][td]32,700[/td][td]570 years[/td][td]1,200 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Selkies[/td][td]12,200[/td][td]80 years[/td][td]1,900 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Pech[/td][td]17,400[/td][td]240 years[/td][td]2,200 years[/td][/tr]
[/table]
*Average lifespan is that of a soldier/explorer/etc., given the age at which members tend to leave the Dominions, their level of self-preservation, and so on, not necessarily the age to which most members of the race live.
**If a dryad returns to his or her tree and merges with it again, the dryad essentially stops aging while so bound, and after a decade or two begins to reverse the effects of aging, so theoretically a dryad who spends time in its tree for a few dozen years every century has no maximum lifespan.

[table=Oga Demographics]
[tr][td]Race[/td][td]Current(ish) Population[/td][td]Average Lifespan*[/td][td]Maximum Lifespan[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Fauns[/td][td]6,730,000[/td][td]30 years[/td][td]270 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Humans[/td][td]238,000[/td][td]40 years[/td][td]130 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Sylphs[/td][td]128,000[/td][td]70 years[/td][td]720 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Undines[/td][td]192,000[/td][td]110 years[/td][td]840 years[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Goblins[/td][td]114,000[/td][td]90 years[/td][td]630 years[/td][/tr]
[/table]
*See Daoine table note

[table=Known Demon Demographics]
[tr][td]Race[/td][td]Current(ish) Population*[/td][td]Average Lifespan**[/td][td]Maximum Lifespan[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Demonlings[/td][td]In the 13-digit range at least[/td][td]2 years[/td][td]Unknown[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Ifrits[/td][td]148,000[/td][td]125 years (est.)[/td][td]Unknown[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Oni[/td][td]107,000[/td][td]120 years (est.)[/td][td]Unknown[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Titans[/td][td]198,000[/td][td]60 years (est.)[/td][td]Unknown[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Liliths[/td][td]11,570[/td][td]10 years (est.)[/td][td]Unknown[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Rakshasa[/td][td]Even one is too many[/td][td]As if they die[/td][td]You must be joking[/td][/tr]
[/table]
*Extrapolated minima based on the number of each in battles, their power relative to races of fae, losses on each side, and limited divinations.
**Estimated average age, based on repeated sightings of recognizable demon lords.

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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 01:12:55 PM »

The formatting makes the race posts easy to read...

Just noting that for now. I hope to get around to reading them and their intriguing introduction stories more in depth later. If I do not respond in a few days, feel free to PM a reminder to me.
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 09:16:42 AM »

Light Dragon


The formatting makes the race posts easy to read...

Just noting that for now. I hope to get around to reading them and their intriguing introduction stories more in depth later. If I do not respond in a few days, feel free to PM a reminder to me.


Is that a hint to spoiler-block the other post as well? ;) I suppose I might as well do that anyway.

Don't worry, I'll be sure to remind you.  It's good to know someone's reading, though this is taking longer than I'd like to get everything thought out and posted.
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 10:59:02 AM »

I have always wondered why elves live forever. Is their health also remarkable? Are their organs immortal perserved. Do the organs stop aging at some point? Can people buy and sell elven organs and do anything with them (transplants, magic?) or is it just the way they work (like 900-year old) sea turtles... especially since these elves are particularly blessed by the Aos Sidhe.

I thought the dryad story was annoying and pointless until I read the description about how the demons actually didn't initially know that the dryads would have magical powers or be able to act far from their trees- then I could appreciate the section more! smile

the flying dwarf ship story was very intriguing. I would be interested in hearing more about dwarven runic magic.

The selkie story allows for some interesting World of Darkness end-of-the-world feeling. I can see the noble warrior race storyline- similar to Lan Mandragoran in Wheel of Time being the last of Malkier, or Aragorn being the last King of ??? in the Lord of the Rings.

Quote

# The last leprechauns died several dozen years ago after a force of iron demons disguised themselves as the cauldrons the alchemically-gifted leprechauns had scattered all over their village; five hundred-some leprechauns were murdered in their sleep, and only after a band of satyrs happened upon the remains of their village did they discover the cause.
The gnomes weren't able to escape the demonic assault, so they tried to hide their race among the demons, appearing as jewel-like stone demons. It worked for ten years until an oni discovered them, and the last gnome died of his injuries after reporting all of the gathered intelligence to nearby leprechauns.[/quote]
This is also hilarious.

the fiction for this would sounds like if it is expanded- it will be very intriguing.

Kobolds and cloud cities?

The feel seems very light, but also dark at the same time- something you achieve better I think than Changeling: the Dreaming accomplishes.
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 11:12:47 AM »

I like the varieties of demonlings; from Coal to Glass. Are there also silicon and oil demonlings? How do they move- do they splash around? I suppose they contaminate the ground.

Is there any internecine strife among the demonlings? Since it seems that some minerals and elements may damage others? Or do they not fight because they are really under the Titans' control?
-
I almost feel sorry for the Satyrs' after that General's speech.
-
The Gensai make me recollect the scene in Space Balls where Dark Helmet says that "Evil will always triumph over good because good is stupid."
-
Q: Did you ever read Ethshar by Watt-Evans, or the Runelords series by David Farland... some of the feel of this reminds me of them. (Especially Runelords- with the demons coming from below the earth with an almost unstoppable army that spoils the world.)
-

-
So what do the demons get from destroying the world? (I may have missed it if it was mentioned earlier)
-
I like how the stories and the text are very well integrated.
-
Placing the posts in spoiler blocks may make the presentation look neat- but I will warn you this- it may discourage some casual lookers from reading and seeing something interesting. I would hate to decrease the amount of page-views just because I find the display aesthetically pleasing- it is pleasing, but it is also a bit troublesome to have to open everything manually.
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 11:15:28 AM »

The sylphs are elementals of air... but all other elementals are demons? Is the reason for the difference simply because the other elementals are earth/mineral-based elementals?

Quote

the demonlings are constantly being created and renewed from the depths of the earth and thus know only what the demon lords teach them (which doesn't often include goblins due to forgetfulness).

This (in the goblin description) is a good explanation for something I was wondering-- why the demons were often so foolish.

Good work
~LD.
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2009, 12:27:01 PM »

Light Dragon

I have always wondered why elves live forever. Is their health also remarkable? Are their organs immortal perserved. Do the organs stop aging at some point? Can people buy and sell elven organs and do anything with them (transplants, magic?) or is it just the way they work (like 900-year old) sea turtles... especially since these elves are particularly blessed by the Aos Sidhe.
I thought the dryad story was annoying and pointless until I read the description about how the demons actually didn't initially know that the dryads would have magical powers or be able to act far from their trees- then I could appreciate the section more! smile[/quote]the flying dwarf ship story was very intriguing. I would be interested in hearing more about dwarven runic magic.[/quote]The selkie story allows for some interesting World of Darkness end-of-the-world feeling. I can see the noble warrior race storyline- similar to Lan Mandragoran in Wheel of Time being the last of Malkier, or Aragorn being the last King of ??? in the Lord of the Rings.[/quote]The pixie army didn't seem as though it would usually be very effective in the war. I assume they were eliminated early during the hostilities.[/quote]The centaur/selkie relationship seems intriguing. But why were the centaurs living in the middle of the sea?[/quote]the fiction for this would sounds like if it is expanded- it will be very intriguing.

Kobolds and cloud cities?

The feel seems very light, but also dark at the same time- something you achieve better I think than Changeling: the Dreaming accomplishes.[/quote]I like the varieties of demonlings; from Coal to Glass. Are there also silicon and oil demonlings? How do they move- do they splash around? I suppose they contaminate the ground.[/quote]Is there any internecine strife among the demonlings? Since it seems that some minerals and elements may damage others? Or do they not fight because they are really under the Titans' control?[/quote]Q: Did you ever read Ethshar by Watt-Evans, or the Runelords series by David Farland... some of the feel of this reminds me of them. (Especially Runelords- with the demons coming from below the earth with an almost unstoppable army that spoils the world.)[/quote]So what do the demons get from destroying the world? (I may have missed it if it was mentioned earlier)[/quote]Placing the posts in spoiler blocks may make the presentation look neat- but I will warn you this- it may discourage some casual lookers from reading and seeing something interesting. I would hate to decrease the amount of page-views just because I find the display aesthetically pleasing- it is pleasing, but it is also a bit troublesome to have to open everything manually.[/quote]The sylphs are elementals of air... but all other elementals are demons? Is the reason for the difference simply because the other elementals are earth/mineral-based elementals?[/quote]This (in the goblin description) is a good explanation for something I was wondering-- why the demons were often so foolish.[/quote]Good work
~LD.
[/quote]
Thanks!  Anything in particular you want to see next?
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2009, 09:51:01 AM »

Quote

And what happened that morning?" the pech priest trilled from the top of his stack of books. "If you remember my stories from last week, my sons and daughters, that day was the day our gods left the Bastion. No, no, do not look frightened; they didn't hate us, they were trying to escape the Evil Ones, just as you and I have left. No, in fact we left with the gods, as they left to make ready the way we would follow to the clouds, and not a moment too soon. Earthquakes and thunder split the land, tearing our beloved fields into six parts." The children gasped; quakes and thunder were the most terrifying thing imaginable to the fae living in the clouds, for it meant their city was liable to fall. "That is where our brave brothers and sisters now live, holding off the demons. In fact," the priest continued, pointing at a pair of siblings around their tenth summers, "I actually have a brave brother and sister there, as my older siblings are there still, fighting off the threat. I haven't seen them in over eight hundred years; can you imagine being away that long? They were supposed to travel to the Besieged to meet me, but by the time I arrived there the demons had already given the cities their name, so I told them to come here with me. They didn't get my message in time, and ended up back in the cities of the Bastion, and haven't been able to leave since." The priest closed his eyes for a moment; the children stayed respectfully silent. "And so, dear children, that is why I must leave you today; I am leaving with a dwarf and two selkies to land on the Twins and then cross the ocean to find them and bring them home."

Very sad story.

Comment on Numbers: With so many islands, even though small and considering the extremely long lives of the fey- I really think that the numbers should be a bit higher. Right now the comparison of demons v. fey numbers are a bit ridiculous, even considering the Ona numbers added to the fey's.

Particularly I would expect more dwarves and pech- I understand why the Selkie and the Dryad numbers are low; however.

With 83 dominions aloft and all the islands I would figure that the fey's side should have something along the lines of this number of defenders...

The absolute minimum would be about what you seem  have:
10,000 per dominion aloft times 83= 830,000-1.5 million; 22 islands x 20,000 per island = 440,000-1.5 million (any less than 5 million however, though, should be easily overwhelmed by hundreds of millions of demons); dominions adrift (~200,000)

But considering the forces they are arrayed against I don't think that the losing side here can be any worse off than a 1:10 or 1:15 ratio or else they should just get flattened immediately- especially considering how the demons' magic is more powerful (it seems to be at least- despite the demons' lack of intelligence.)
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2009, 10:03:27 AM »

Quote

Undines are elementals of water, so they're not the only ones. Essentially, the demons are allied with the spirits of fire, earth, and shadow below the earth, so the fae allied with those of air, water, and light, as mentioned in the intro. There could always be exceptions (like the goblins and water demons), but in general the spirits have chosen sides.

Thank you for clarifying- I missed that earlier.

And moving the IC out of spoilers still preserves a nice look for the page layout.

Requests for next?
1. Dwarven Runic magic (as mentioned previously)
2. Historical Magic Items?
3. Still pushing for Demonic factions (but I understand you said that was open to GM preference- but still I don't see how the fae could still survive given all that they have been through without some serious problems with the demons).
4. More on the Underground. (A tale of a goblin raid on the underground?)
5. Adventuring Party ideas.
6. Famous personalities?/philosophies of battle? a list of the already mentioned differences of opinions on the fae's side.

... I am not really certain about many things to request next- the setting seems fairly straightforward and self-contained as is. I think though that hopefully that list of ideas may spark something of interest to you.

--
The more I read this, the more I need to recommend you immediately pick up "The Runelords" series by Farland even though I know it is on your reading list.

You may also like Samurai Cat Goes to Hell- Will there be any anthropomorphic creatures in this world... I have the image of controlling a cat-character (and I never play animal characters... but this seems appropriate for the setting) in samurai garb wading into the depths of hell and striking down thousands of demonlings with a holy sword.

http://www.amazon.com/Samurai-Goes-Hell-Mark-Rogers/dp/0312866429
Amazon Key Phrases: Key Phrases: transport devil, angel gun, transport demon, Baby Face, Ubersaurus Rex, Route One (more...)
??? Transport Demon... This really says it all about the story.
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