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Author Topic: Midjan-Kar: The In-Between  (Read 332 times)
Kingmaker
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« on: September 11, 2017, 04:00:09 PM »

Baba Yrig, by the hearth

Yes, I remember, child.  I remember the day the Sky-Shadow last fell upon our village.  All too well, I remember the screech of the birdmen and the heat of the dragonflames.  I remember the pale faces of the Gaunt Lords, peering from above their floating war platforms.  I remember, too, the cold precision of their assault.  The elegance – the artistry – of their destruction.

I remember it most of all because it was the day they took my sister, and the day they left me in the ashes.  Should I envy her, to be carried on high to the flying city of Avia Serena?  Or should I pity her, to have been taken by these horrible creatures?


MIDJAN-KAR: THE IN-BETWEEN

Midjan-Kar is a campaign setting designed for use with the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

The world of Aldranar is shaped by the perpetual conflict between two great civilizations: the flying city of Avia Serena and the Under-Empire of Rul-Dugaath.  Caught in the middle are the people of Midjan-Kar, who eke out a meager existence in small pockets on the surface, which they call the In-Between.  Raids from both above and below have shattered ancient political orders, and humanity struggles among the remnants of its old empires.

Stories may be set in the Sky-City Above, the Under-Empire Below, or the desolate reaches In-Between.

Primary conflicts

A state of danger.  The people of the In-Between are caught in the crossfire of two ancient enemies, the Gaunt Lords above and the Manifest Emperor below.  Raids and attacks are commonplace, and the landscape of the In-Between is riddled with the remnants of this ancient feud.

Power lurks in strange places.  After countless years and endless conflict, ranging from the regular small skirmishes to full-scale battles and raids, the In-Between is home to ruins and relics, as are its neighbors above and below.

Food and water.  Both Rul-Dugaath and Avia Serena rely to some degree on the people of the In-Between for fresh supplies and crops, which is the only reason humanity survives at all.  Neither the Hanging Gardens of Avia Serena nor the Mushroom Forest of Rul-Dugaath can feed all their citizens, servants, and slaves.  

Sacrifices must be made.  The raiders of Avia Serena and the slavers of Rul-Dugaath regularly abduct surface-dwellers for their own purposes.  It is said that the beauty of Avia Serena is sustained by its young and lithe captives, while Rul-Dugaath utilizes surface-dwellers for hard labor - and as fodder for its dark rituals.

Cities and Sites

The Sky-City of Avia Serena: Above. A massive, floating fortification three miles wide, propelled by some unknown magic or mechanism.  Wreathed in a veil of crackling violet clouds, survivors who have escaped the Sky-City tell of its vast crystal palaces, its capricious aristocrats, and the insatiable appetites of the Qua-Sulveth, its rarely seen (and terribly monstrous) overlord.

Urlda-Murgant: Below.  The capital of the Under-Empire and the seat of the Manifest Emperor, Urlda-Murgant is situated at the center of a vast network of caves.  Its name in the dueghaza means “the Auspicious Shadow,” and it is the political and commercial center of Rul-Dugaath. The Black Crystal Throne, upon which the Manifest Emperor plucks the world-strings of the Harp of Fate, sits at the bottom of its center-most pit, the Tenebrous Vault.

The Temple of Solviqa’ad: In-Between. A megalithic structure built by the Shadow Pharaohs of antiquity in reverence to Solviqa’ad, the Scabbed Prince.  Its reliquaries and tombs are filled with ancient weapons – and with ancient horrors.  Nevertheless, seven great tribes of humans banded together a century ago and live now within its walls – building, exploring, and unburying its many secrets.

The Village of Hemling: In-Between.  Nestled in the Fertile Swath of the Indyrian Peninsula, the people of Hemling swore their allegiance to the Manifest Emperor a century ago.  In return for protection from the sky-soldiers of Avia Serena, the fishmongers of Avia Serena became fishers of a different sort, and now use their nets to sell their brethren in the auction-houses Below, from Smalgan-Gerault to Urlda-Murgant.

The Hidden City of Tsao Zhing: Above, Below, and In-Between.  The last great metropolis of the In-Between, Tsao Zhing was built on the orders of the Red Emperor, the last ruler of a vast surface polity known as the Celestial Empire.  The Red Emperor had a prophetic dream that the Eternal War would lay waste to his empire and ordered his bewildered people to erect a fortification that defended all directions – above, beside, and below.  When viewed from any direction, it appears as a dome or a dome in reverse.  Its walls have only been breached once, due to treachery by its magistrates intent on ousting the Emperor.  The Hidden City has subsequently been ruled by a succession of competing warlords.

The Sorrow of Saint Salvina: In-Between.  The Sorrow is a spike-laden castle located in the Unseen Reaches, perpetually hidden behind the Unyielding Fog, a shroud of supposedly mystic nature.  Although built by an ancient tribe of grimlocks to protect themselves from the Eternal War, a crusading order of paladins now uses it as its base, riding their pegasi above and giant spiders below.

The Spawn-pits of Gar-Gulthet: Below. A deep chasm beneath the Eldarian Wastes.  The only known breeding ground for netherlings, the sightless, winged steeds upon which the forces of the Under-Empire fly.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 04:08:11 PM by Elven Doritos » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 02:49:11 PM »

That's very cool! I like how strongly focused this setting looks.
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 10:36:59 AM »

I'm really into all of this. Those are excellent names. The Scabbed Prince? That's very good. You could run a whole campaign in the Temple of Solviqa’ad.

I'm really into settings with a vertical dimension, too. You mentioned this is a 5th edition setting. Are you using the core races or homebrewing new ones?
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 11:14:21 AM »

Ghostman

That's very cool! I like how strongly focused this setting looks.

Steerpike

I'm really into all of this. Those are excellent names. The Scabbed Prince? That's very good. You could run a whole campaign in the Temple of Solviqa’ad.

I'm really into settings with a vertical dimension, too. You mentioned this is a 5th edition setting. Are you using the core races or homebrewing new ones?

Thank you both for the kind words. As of this writing, focusing on the core races, but with sharp deviations/permutations from their "base setting" fluff.  The idea is to supplement the above locales with additional, inclusive "micro-settings" - megadungeons and regions which could serve as the anchor for multiple games or even a full campaign, but remain thematically cohesive with the tone of the setting.

My initial write-up of Avia Serena is forthcoming.
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 12:24:15 PM »

AVIA SERENA – HISTORY, SOCIETY, & ECOLOGY

The Sky-City of Avia Serena is an airborne, mobile metropolis sharply divided along racial and ethnic lines.  A disc-shaped platform three miles in diameter serves as the base of the city, which sits atop a complex machine purported to house the great mechano-magical heart that propels Avia Serena skyward.  Dozens of crystalline palaces dot the landscape of the city, in between which are crowded the temples, bazaars, tenements, and fortifications which give the city its jammed, bustling rhythm.  Whether one ventures to the pensive estates of the Gaunt Lords or the crammed slums of the Bloodless, one constant remains: unfettered violence.

Avia Serena is divided by racial lines into a rigid caste-based structure.  The various castes are:

  • R'hrendaar - the "children of regal blood," the R'hrendaar are the pinnacle of society and consider themselves "pureblood" inheritors of an ancient royal lineage. (Comparable to High Elves)
  • A'tanhidaar - the "children of magisterial blood," the A'tanhidaar are the bureaucrats of Avia Serena, and consider its maintenance and progress their life's mission.  Although subservient to the R'hrendaar, they are nevertheless afforded a limited respect for their similar heritage. (Comparable to Gray Elves)
  • K'hlsaar - the "children of no blood," the K'hlsaar are physically indistinguishable from the R'hrendaar but cannot trace their bloodlines to their ancient civilization.  K'hlsaar are permitted to serve as soldiers and overseers, but may not own property or establish a house. (Comparable to Wood Elves)
  • K'hldymaar - the "children of tainted blood," also known as "half-breeds."  K'hldymaar are biologically half-R'hrendaar, but are afforded no social rank or status. (Comparable to Half-Elves)
  • Ren'taath - "not our children at all," these are the slaves and captives taken from the surface or bred in captivity.  Ren'taath is a term applied to not just one or species, but is a catch-all term for races of alien origin.  (Catch-all for all Non-Elves)

Part I: The Gaunt Lords

In the villa of Laulendar Es’denduenne, H’lentaar of the Sevaar Wing

Laulendar smirked. “We are most unlike the Under-Empire, little one.  The bottom-dwellers scurry through their filthy tunnels, scraping and kneeling, all to curry favor with their taskmasters.  And those masters serve their masters, who serve their own masters, and on and on, all in service of the dark mind of the Manifest Emperor.  It is a wretched hive, a tyranny of the spirit.  In Avia Serena, all are free beneath the unbounded sky.  Free to exercise their own pursuit – to contribute to the beauty of our city in their own way.”

“All are not free, Father,” Nespe spat. “Just you, and the other R’hrendaar.  The rest of us are slaves, no more free than the thralls of the Manifest Emperor.”

The smile fell from Laulendar’s lips. “You are possessed of two false notions unbecoming of your blood. First, that you are permitted to question a trueborn R’hrendaar.  You are not.  Second, that I am your father.  You are K’hldymaar. Under the laws of this city, you have no father.  Retrieve your broom and return to my garden, and thank your squalid god you are possessed of any rank at all, lest I submit to the rising temptation to slit your lying throat.”

A. The Gaunt Lords Cometh

The upper rank of metropolitan society is comprised of the R’hrendaar, known to surface-dwellers as the Gaunt Lords. To humans, the Gaunt Lords appear androgynous and are possessed of an eternal, otherworldly beauty.  

The R’hrendaar are pureborn scions of the royal blood of Allanelualume, the ancient land from which all elves hail.  In addition to serving as the attendants to the Qua-Sulveth, they are the only citizens of full rank under the laws of Avia Serena.  Only the R’hrendaar are permitted to own property (including bonded servants), and all R’hrendaar are military officers in the Sky Army.

When not engaged in the oversight of war efforts, the R’hrendaar delight themselves with sensual pleasures, and pride themselves on the sophistication of their culture. To the Gaunt Lords, nearly any act of the mind or body can be elevated by its artistry, and over their long lives, the R’hrendaar may master many disciplines, depending on the whims that overtake them for a given number of years.  Common pursuits include sex, poetry, killing, music, drugs, painting, torture, and pottery.  Above all, the R’hrendaar strive to become masters of the mind, body, and spirit - both their internal dominion and the external dominion over their lessers.

B.  Power and Privilege

The R’hrendaar alone rule the Sky-City, guided by their hidden god-monarch, the Qua-Sulveth.  The Gaunt Lords worship the Qua-Sulveth in secrecy, and are its sole priests and parishioners.  None of the other social orders know from what source the Elegant Laws of Avia Serena emanate, only that each R’hrendaar can recite these Laws without fail and without error.  It is unknown if the irregular and clandestine gathering of R’hrendaar known as the Ul’Saviante is a legislative assembly, a grand orgy, or perhaps both.

In times of war, which Avia Serena is nearly perpetually engaged in, the R’hrendaar are the commanders of the army and the majority ride flying war platforms, ranging in size from a single rider to a small squadron, into battle. The most elite of the R’hrendaar are known to ride chromatic dragons into battle.  In truth, the dragons are the only creatures the R’hrendaar regard as remotely equal to their sophistication and intelligence, and the dragons are afforded many of the same social privileges as the R’hrendaar.

C. Relations with the other races

Although several customs and restrictions exist delineating the ritual coupling of the R’hrendaar between one another, they are free to cavort with their social lessers in the frequency and fullness they see fit.  Children produced in these unions are ranked according to the status of a non-R'hrendaar parent.  As a consequence of the popularity among R'hrendaar for intra-social concourse, the R’hrendaar are by far the minority in Avia Serena, as people of mixed heritage greatly outnumber the Gaunt Lords.  However, the Gaunt Lords have through the centuries been careful not to dilute their supremacy over Avia Serena, and thanks in part to their magic, their dragons, and their study of warfare, the R’hrendaar have maintained their rule despite frequent – and large-scale – uprisings and invasions.

D. Gameplay

Playing a R'hrendal

Physical Description:  R’hrendaar are renowned for their emaciated appearance, earning them the nickname “the Gaunt Lords.”  Both males and females tend to have lithe, narrow frames.  Skin tones ranged from a sickly yellow to bleach-white.  Hair color tends to be black, glossy white, or pale yellow.  A R’hrendal's eyes are striking, often in vivid colors such as burning crimson, bright yellow, or deep purple.  The rarest and most revered of R'hrendaar, those who have bonded with a dragon, typically have eyes that match the color of their dragon.

R'hrendaar Names  
R’hrendaar are considered children until they are anointed by the Qua-Sulveth, sometime after their seventy-fifth birthday, and before this period they are called by juvenile names.

On their anointment, a R’hrendal selects an adult name, although fellow R’hrendaar who knew him as a youngster might continue to use the juvenile name.  Each R’hrendal’s adult name is a unique creation, though it might reflect the names of respected individuals or other family members.  Little distinction exists between male names and female names; the examples below are used by either.  In addition, every R’hrendal bears a Lineage name, which is a combination of their maternal and paternal Lineage names.  

Child names:  Artois, Ala, Bazhai, Colva, Delph, Eile, Fylet, Imma, Ilmyr, Limbilit, Nespe, Raen, Rezhe, Syrmel, Tyan, Uldo, Vende, and Zell.

Adult Names:  Aldanor, Alluluzia, Belzherie, Corlindai, Calliana, Delezhan, Eleuthenier, Elenaleurel,  Gaustelliaeunt, Laulendar, Mendelvien, Noemindel, Quilluin, R’hmendar, Sesteryean, Violovares, Zhelban.

Maternal Lineage Prefix:  Abyl-, Ada'la-, Aleur-, Ba'eli-, Beh'da-, Cel'yci-, Cu'arvo-, Del'lit-, Durma'al-, Es'den-, Eulleu-, Eyriea-, Feus'ilia-, Fleura-, Gestillie-, Heule'iur-, Lilli-, Lu'nereio-, Messili-, Mult'da-, Neu'ea-, Qavi-, Re'inze-, Sasseau-, Se'nlis-, Sua-, Tien'ti-, To'opho-, Undu'ili-, Ven'dere-, Yv'etrio-.

Paternal Lineage Suffix: -abynian, -adarro, aleuse, -baedred, bedaal, celicym, curovaath, -delt, -duenne, -durym, -eleux, -eyrit, -feusse, -fel, -gezim, -haad, -lect, -luan, -mem, -myaar, -nezari, -qadim, -rezyid, -sosse, -syd, -syundaar, -tych, -tophaad, -und, -viendi, -yvaal.

R’hrendaar Traits
Ability Score Increase.  Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Age.  Although R’hrendaar reach physical maturity at about the same age as humans, their understanding of adulthood goes beyond physical growth to encompass worldly experience.  R’hrendaar typically claim adulthood and an adult name around the age of 100 and can live to be 750 years old.

Size.  R’hrendaar range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have slender builds.  Your size is Medium.

Speed.  Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision .  You have superior vision in dark and dim Conditions.  You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in Darkness as if it were dim light.  You can’t discern color In Darkness, only shades of gra.y  

Superior Senses.  You gain proficiency in the Perception skill.  

Regal Ancestry.  You have advantage on saving throws against being Charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.

Trance.  R’hrendaar don’t need to sleep.  Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day.  While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice.  After Resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.

Languages.  You can speak, read, and write Common and R’hrellesi.  R’hrellesi is fluid, with subtle intonations and intricate grammar.  R’hrellesi literature is rich and varied, and their songs and poems are famous among other races.  Many bards learn their Language so they can add R’hrellesi ballads to their repertoires.  

R’hrendaar Weapon Training.  You have proficiency with the Longsword, Shortsword, Shortbow, and Longbow.  

Elegant Blast.  You know the firebolt cantrip.  Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this cantrip.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 01:55:50 PM by Elven Doritos » Logged

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