Benabik Alvar (benabik) wrote,
Benabik Alvar
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WIP: Under the Arch

Thought I'd take a moment to post my current design document for my RPG. I'm leaning towards running it under Fate, currently, but I'm not trying to tie it to any one system. Feel free to post comments or questions. Most of this information is available in the world, and not all of it is necessarily "true".

This is very much a work in progress. Towards the end, it becomes more of an outline than prose.

Updated: 1/4/2006 9:30 PM with new information about Mages and the geography of the Kingdom of Ethelmere.

Elder Gods: Knowledge(M), Fate(F), Time(M)
Twin Gods: Making(M) & Unmaking(F), Birth(F) & Death(M)
The Elementals: Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Spirit
Lesser Elementals: Demons, Zephyrs, Sprays, Titans, Fey
Planes: Hell, Frozen Wastes, Abyss, Deeps, Dreaming

The Elder Gods

The Elder Gods are widely held to be the creators of the universe as it is known today. The Gods of Knowledge and Fate combined their power to create the universe. The early universe was in stasis, being simply a possibility that it may exist according to a set of rules. Nothing actually happened until the first two Gods created a son: Time. The power of the new God allowed the universe to happen instead of simply existing. Between the three of these, all events are given a way to exist, a chance to occur, and time to happen in.

Knowledge

Domains: Knowledge, Law, Science, Truth
Symbol: Book

Knowledge is the head of the pantheon. Even though Fate is as old, her capriciousness allows Knowledge to reign. He is generally regarded as being above needing worship, having few temples or clerics, but nearly every library and court is dedicated to him. While his clerics have very little in the way of flamboyant powers, they are unequaled in divination.

He imparts very little information about the future, but is the master of everything that is or was. Whenever a person desires to know something, his clerics are consulted. Either through the vast stores of books they collect or their holy powers, little information is not available to them. His clerics are not omniscient, but can often appear so. Often the key to gaining knowledge is knowing what question to ask. It is also easier for them to gain small details than generalities. They tend to know that an artifact is on a shelf than be able to give you directions to the lost temple.

Knowledge is also considered the final arbiter of law. His clerics act as arbitrators, mediators, and judges. Few clues can be hidden from their sight, and even fewer people can lie or dissemble before their power. Do not mistake this as a dispensation of justice. His clerics will aid the evil as much as the good, so long as they follow the law and obey their word. He dispenses not justice, but punishment just as the same knowledge of engineering can be used to make houses or siege weapons.

Fate

Domain: Fate, Chance, Fortune, Destiny
Symbol: Coin

Fate’s power is often considered to be greater than Knowledge’s as his power is constrained by rules and law, her power can allow anything to happen. However, as any gambler knows, her power can not be depended on for aid as any who gain her attention are as likely to fall from riches to rags as the other way around, with some people coming full circle even faster than those who simply go from one to the other. Many of the opportunities she has provided for great good have turned out to cause the greatest evil.

Fate also has few truly devoted clerics, but her favor is sought by nearly everyone. As many people beg for her attentions to gain good fortune as others pray that she looks elsewhere so that chance does not ruin a carefully laid plan. Her few chosen people walk the lands spreading both great fortune and great despair. Most of her clerics walk a single path, bringing great fortune or ill to those who deserve it (although their mere presence often makes the unlikely likely).

However, Fate is not just luck, she also rules destiny. History is made by individuals, and the world often hinges on a single decision. Fate can be found with those people. At all the great battles and near all the great rulers, the very rare clerics who worship her as the incarnation of destiny can be found. They are often hard to find, but they seem to study or guide those people who are meant to change the world. Her clerics never use their power to force anyone into a great destiny, but simply provide the opportunity.

Time

Domain: Time, Causality, Visions, Change
Symbol: Hourglass

The first child of Knowledge and Fate, Time has a unique domain. He does not govern what happens, but simply that things may happen. Without Time, everything would be static and unchanging. He is the most aloof of Gods, rarely using his power to produce change. Although Fate may have fewer clerics due to her changeable nature, Time’s monks hold themselves apart from others. They turn their studies inwards and study the long term.

His creation from the earliest powers of Knowledge and Fate give him unique insight into the ways that events cause others. His monks have unique insights into the things that caused something to be and the way that effects ripple from the simplest actions. Knowledge may grant information of the past and Fate may give someone the opportunity to change their present condition, but Time is uniquely suited to give information on what may be. Visions of the future are often vague, telling what may occur or giving omens on how things might be changed. This is a result of mixing Knowledge’s certainty of the past and Fate’s ability to provide possibility. Only by combining rules and chance does Time have any knowledge of the future.

The monks of Time are held to strict discipline. Only by ruling themselves completely can they remove the changes they make in order to see how events interact. As a result, a monk’s life seems ruled not so much by the turning of the stars, but by the effects they cause. A single monk may live for ages in seclusion, or give up their entire life in one moment and change the course of history (although the latter is very rare). By manipulating this knowledge, a monk may perceive time at whatever rate they choose, giving them the chance to act methodically in the middle of chaos or quickly pass the time when nothing happens.

The Twin Gods

In the earliest moments of the universe, the three Elder Gods observed what they had made. Time watched the interplay of events and spoke to his parents. Knowledge observed the earliest unformed matter and knew that it could form into the land and seas. With this knowledge he caused the God of Making to exist. Fate watched this process begin, how pieces of rock and flame came together and saw the possibility that the same forces that caused things to form could cause them to break, and so brought the Goddess of Unmaking into existence.

Thus were the older siblings, Making and Unmaking, brought into the universe.

Time passed and while some of the stuff of the newborn universe was made into the land, other parts of the universe crashed together in great calamities and the remains became the stars above. Fate was saddened by the fact that her daughter could not cause anything that lasted, while Knowledge was made proud by the new creations of his son. In order to comfort his mother, Time showed Fate what could be happen if some of the new things upon the earth were made to live and the great possibilities that life could make. And so the Goddess of Birth came to be, and plants and animals spread over the land.

But now Time saw something new. He saw the plants and the animals so overrun the land and the sea that the great races never came to be. He turned to his father, Knowledge, and asked for a way that this could be averted. Knowledge knew that the only way to prevent this was to balance the birth of new creatures with the death of old. And so, with a heavy heart, did he turn that knowledge into the God of Death.

Thus were the younger siblings, Birth and Death, brought into the universe.

Making

Domains: Making, Crafts, Buildings
Symbol: Forge

The God of Making rules over the creation of the world, and the construction of new rivers, islands, caves, houses, statues, and tools. It is upon his forge that the world was made, and it is in that image that smiths work upon their forges. It is his hands that sculpted the land, and it is in that image that artists mold their sculptures. And it was the God of Making that showed the young races how to protect themselves with tools, and so it is that all craftsmen pay him homage.

The clerics of the God of Making go into the world and bless newly built towns, craftsmen, and artists. Under their gaze, buildings are made more sturdy, tools stronger, and art more creative. Their power is to imbue items with power, simply making them better at what they do or creating items of wondrous power that give light, cause havoc, or make life easier.

Their temples more resemble a craftsman’s shop than a place of worship. Every cleric shows their devotion by working at a craft, and their holy days are marked with fairs and markets instead of fasting or prayers.

Unmaking

Domains: Unmaking, Destruction, War
Symbol: Lightning

The Goddess of Unmaking is not a wholly evil God. Although her power causes calamities, it can also be put to use. Items fail, but that keeps craftsmen in business. Floods may wash away buildings, but it also brings new soil. It is by her power that men clear forests for housing, destroy hills for mines, and removes obstacles from their path.

However, it is also under her banner that people wage war. Her power is not only that to break tools, but also that to destroy armies. Her clerics are often well versed in the arts of war, and their power removes their opponents weapons and war engines.

Unmaking is a Goddess to be feared and respected. Her temples are places that people go to appease her and ask for peace in their lives as well as places that train people for war and ask for ways to topple their problems.

Birth

Domains: Birth, Fertility, Growth
Symbol: Grain

The Goddess of Birth is one of the most praised Gods, who is appealed to by people everywhere. It is under her gaze that weddings are blessed, and it is in her name that fields are planted. She is called upon to bless unborn children and keep them healthy. It is also by her power the halfling races were created.

Birth’s clerics officiate weddings, birth babies, and bless plantings. They travel far and wide and are called for in field and city. Their powers ensure fertility in people and animals, cause bountiful harvests, and can even renew growth in the injured causing them to heal faster. The clerics spend their time studying life and often can help the sick without calling upon the Goddess.

Her temples in the countryside are amongst the fields and plants. They are often open to the air and meeting places for an entire community. In the city, her temples are sites of feasting and celebration for weddings and children. And everywhere, they have beds for the sick and injured to come.

Death

Domains: Death, Afterlife, Decay
Symbol: Skull

The God of Death is held in careful respect by everyone. Her powers can cause or hold back plagues and famines, but also ease the pain of the old and send them to the afterlife. The shades of the dead can be called forth to seek lost knowledge and the restless ghosts can be dismissed so as to no longer trouble the living.

Death’s clerics preside over funerals and seances, and are often given a wide berth by others. However, it is also by the death of animals and plants that people are fed so the Goddess of Death is often invoked for the harvest. The powers of Death’s clerics deal with disease and the dead, and their studies are of the same.

Temples of Death are hospices and mausoleums. The elderly are given into their care so that their final days are not troubled. And the dead are sent there for their shades to be sent to the Gods so that they do not linger in this world.

The Elementals

But after Birth brought life to the universe and before Death could take it away, the very basic stuff of the universe was brought to life as the Elementals. They numbered five, one for each of the elements of magic and the universe. But although they were few, they were undying and potent and the powers of the Elementals nearly rivaled the Gods themselves. Since they were from the raw power of Birth, untainted by Death, they caused hosts of smaller elemental creatures, also called the lesser elementals, to exist.

Fire

Fire was born first, of the first light of the Sun and stars. Its elemental Demons come from the flames of the Sun and the heat of the deserts. Oldest, and most powerful, Fire burned the things it could, melted most of the rest, and seared the earliest life away. Demons are destructive and terrible, and always feared when they are summoned or discovered.

Earth

Earth was born of the new land, it’s sturdiness and enduring nature. Its elemental Titans rose up from molten lava and the depths of the deepest caves. Earth and its minions are slow but terribly resistant to everything and have the strength to hold up mountains. The slower Titans are often ignored when discovered, but it is wisest to stay out of their path when summoned for a purpose.

Air

Air was born third, descending from the early sky. Its elemental Zephyrs were born of the terrible storms of the new world. Air is quick, but rarely enduring. Zephyrs are fast messengers when summoned and terribly destructive when focused, but often pass by without leaving a trace like the lightest breeze.

Water

When the first oceans appeared upon the world, under the new sky, Water was born. Its elemental Sprays were born of the waves crashing against the land and the rivers running free. Water flows past nearly any obstacle, and can wear down nearly anything given plenty of time. Sprays are the death of many ships, and generally elude capture with ease.

Spirit

Spirit came last, born of the energies of life itself. Its elemental creatures are the fairies and sprites of the world, born of thoughts and dreams. Spirit is the least powerful of the five elementals, but the Fey are the most common of the lesser elemental. Fey are creatures of the mind, full of deceit and illusion.

The Great War

The Gods saw the Elementals raging free and knew that nothing smaller or more subtle could exist beside them. The Elementals saw the Gods as meddling and a block to doing as they wished. Thus did the Great War begin. The Gods fought the Elementals directly, and the foundations of the universe were shaken.

The Goddess of Birth brought forth new life to fight the Elementals, but her power was now tempered by Death. And the Elementals, being unfettered by death, still won. The God of Making showed the new life how to make tools and weapons. But even though the Goddess of Unmaking used her power against the Elementals her existence also tainted the weapons, causing them to break and be destroyed. And so, the Elementals where undeterred and the siblings grew apart from each other.

Yet Fate saw the chance that they could win, and Knowledge knew how he could make it happen. Together they brought arcane magic into the universe. And the younger Gods worked together with this new magic, but not with their siblings. Making and Birth joined their powers with the new magic and brought forth made things given life, the golems. Unmaking and Death knew they could not make anything new, these powers being held by their siblings, but they worked together to abate their powers via magic and created the undead from creatures that had died, keeping them from passing to the afterlife and stopping their decay.

Magic

Magic is the power of life itself. While Birth creates life and Death removes it, no God has complete power over life while it is in this world. Living creatures all have an energy that can be manipulated and used. This energy was abundant in the early world, and had the same five aspects of the Elementals themselves: fire, earth, air, water, and spirit. Many believe that the Elementals were the first expression of magic and the Gods simply gave living creatures the ability to manipulate it. The living creatures of the world who were born of Birth, armed by Making, and taught war by Unmaking now wielded the Knowledge of magic against their foes. Many were claimed by Death, but they began to change their Fate.

Golems

The first Golems were created directly by Making and Birth. The arcane energies of magic hold together a form, generally made of clay, and imbue it with life. Golems are sturdy and strong, but generally not particularly intelligent. However, when controlled by magic they are a potent weapon.

Undead

Undead were made by the Gods of Death and Unmaking creating loopholes in their powers. Death allows a creature to remain in this world after their death, or even return from beyond. Unmaking keeps the body of the creature from rotting and becoming useless. Undead come in a wide variety depending on their creation.

Most undead are created from the remains of a body and their shade is summoned to animate it. Depending on the age of the remains, this creates a zombie or a skeleton. Due to the long time spent dead, these undead are very unintelligent. They lack the durability or strength of the golems, but can function even after taking a lot of damage and can be created in large quantities.

Undead created from the very recently dead can actually be intelligent. Liches are shades returned to their bodies so soon that they have lost little of their intelligence and their body has had little time to rot. They do not have the exact motor control and drive they had in life, but keep their skills and gain the resilience of the undead.

With careful preparation, a recently dead person can be turned into a wraith. Wraiths are undead who are actually free of their body. Their body must remain intact and in the area (a few miles at most), but remains corpse-like and stationary. Wraith make excellent scouts and their touch drains energy from their victim. Legends exist of wraith that can possess animals and even people. Wraiths can still be affected by magic or imbued weapons and can be destroyed via their corpse.

The Gods’ Victory

Armed with their new magic and creatures, the Gods struck back hard at the Elementals. The Elementals did not work together particularly well and were taken down one by one by the Gods. Spirit, being the weakest, was captured first and barred from the universe to remain outside it. Many of the Fey remained free, due to their ephemeral nature, but lost any semblance of unity without their Elemental. Afterwards, the Gods took more care to herd the lesser elementals together with the Elementals as each were barred from the universe. It is said that each Elemental has its own Realm of existence where it and its creatures are bound. However, since the Elementals were created from the primal forces of the world, they still touch the world in certain places and their creatures can be pulled forth into this world.

The Dreaming

The Dreaming is the Realm of Spirit, and is physically disconnected from the world. However, Fey still exist as they were not all removed with their Elemental. It is said that the only connection to The Dreaming is dreams, as the name implies. Most say that it is a place of nightmares, where injuries cause real madness and death is as real as it is here. Some others say that The Dreaming is more based on the magical aspect of spirit, a reflection of the real world twisted by people’s perception and where force of will rules all.

The Abyss

The Abyss is the Realm of Water, found in the far depths of the ocean. It is a dark Realm, totally drowned in water, where sea monsters and worse dwell. Sprays bursting forth from the Abyss are blamed for waves that swamp ships and destroy beach towns.

Frozen Wastes

The Frozen Wastes is the Realm of Air, devoid of heat or true land. Only ice stretches as far as the eye can see, but Zephyrs soar the skies. The Frozen Wastes are connected to the far north, and Zephyrs are to blame for the worst of the winter storms.

The Deeps

The Deeps, the Realm of Earth, are a network of caves far beneath the ground, where unwary miners may find it. Eyeless creatures and living rock inhabit it, and when two Titans clash it causes earthquakes.

Hell

Hell is a Realm of endless Fire. Demons roam it, combating each other endlessly and burning anything unfortunate enough to find its way there. Because Fire was the most potent Elemental, it is said that Hell can be found in any blaze large enough, and Demons are often summoned by mages wishing to cause destruction.

Aftermath

The magic and Godly power that rocked the universe during the Great War could not help but change things forever. Creatures were created for the war by both the Gods and the Elementals, and not all of them were destroyed or bound at the end. In addition, the removal of such large powers like the Elementals could not help but alter the nature of magic.

Beasts

In addition to the sentient races, many types of war beast were created to combat the Elementals. Most of these were killed, being in the thick of battle, but the few that survived were put away in hiding places throughout the worlds in case they were needed again. Every so often someone stumbles across one of them and havoc is let loose until they are defeated or clerics can place it back in its slumber.

Some of the milder beasts still live among people. More than one army has a set of huge lizards, cats, or birds that are descended from the powerful creatures created back then.

Elemental Creatures

The Elementals’ creatures were mostly locked away with the Elementals themselves but just like the beasts, some of them still are in the universe. The Fey are the most common, seemingly popping into existence on the outskirts of civilization. They are generally pests, but nothing terribly threatening. The true threat is from creatures that hid in the dark places of the world: Titans in huge caves, Sprays in the deep ocean, Zephyrs from the strongest storms, and Demons in the hearts of volcanoes.

But even more dangerous than the few creatures left behind from the wars are the ones summoned forth by magics. It often takes a long time or potent forces to pull one across the void between this world and the elemental Realm, but it can be done. Mages have lit entire forests on fire to summon a single Demon. Creatures summoned this way are often single minded and extraordinarily dangerous.

The Fall of Magic

Fortunately, huge magics of that kind are no longer common. The removal of the Elementals also weakened each of their magical elements. The races could no longer use the magics that threatened the Elementals themselves. Some people could sometimes gather enough energy to light a small fire to save their lives, drive off an animal, or cushion a fall. There are the rare few that can cast larger spells, but those required large amounts of time and effort to cast.

The Five Races

Even the war didn’t stop life from spreading. Birth couldn’t help but bring new life into the world and while some of it was designed to help the war, many of it was simply normal life. And so arose the five races. Guided by Time’s vision, Birth created new sentient races. Each one has an affinity to a specific element but is made from them all, unlike the elementals.

Dragons (Fire)

Created from and ruled by fire, dragons are fierce creatures. Like the enormous lizards they are, they are thick skinned and prefer warm places. Instead of dank caves, they prefer sunlit cliffs and warm beaches. But unlike any other lizard fire nearly runs through their veins and pours out from their mouths. They are long lived but reproduce rarely. Like many other large predators, they are territorial but not so much that other races can not live near them. They are not innately evil, but are somewhat selfish, withdrawn, and predatory. Some people call them some kind of elemental, but few to their face.

Young dragons tend to be inquisitive and somewhat impulsive. They mix freely with the other races before finding a secluded spot to call their own. Dragons around this age have wingspans about 6 feet wide with a narrow body. They are very agile and often wind themselves around branches and the like.

Dwarves (Earth)

Dwarves were born of the metal and earth. Nearly every description of them involves precious metals and gems such as bronze skin, golden hair, or sapphire eyes. They live underground in comfortable caves and are drawn to such pursuits as sculpture and smithing. They are short but dense, packing a lot of strength into a small space. They tend to be resilient and reliable but ponderous, like the rock they were born of. Dwarves subjectively have about the same life span as humans but simply slow as they get older, dragging what should be their final decades out significantly. Their society is clannish and slow to change, ruled by the elders but powered by the quicker youth.

Elves (Air)

Elves are capricious creatures closely tied to nature. They tend to be light and willowy and generally make their homes in forests up in the trees. Even after the war, elves have seemed to maintain some level of magic in their connection to nature albeit limited which makes being in an elven city a unique experience even discounting the elves playful nature. Elves are ephemeral and have the shortest lifespan of any of the races, about two-thirds that of a human. However, they mature quickly and make the most of the time they have.

Elven society is very communistic: everyone provides towards the common good. However, they have little in the way of leadership. They congregate into Houses of between a dozen and a hundred members and large disagreements simply cause a House to split into two. The overall structure is fluid and often confusing to outsiders.

Merfolk (Water)

The Merfolk are the only aquatic race and only compete with space with the many fishes of the seas. Their skin is smooth and gray, and their hair tends to be shiny with oils. They have a single muscular tail for propulsion instead of legs while their arms are short with very long webbed fingers for steering. Their voices are musical and enchanting, used underwater for both sonar and long-distance communication. They are air-breathing mammals, so can leave the water, but those that do miss the freedom of motion in the open sea.

Merfolk travel in small groups called pods. Pods typically have one to two dozen individuals, although multiple pods may travel together. Adult pods are generally led by the eldest of them, while adolescent pods are often led by the strongest or fastest. Children stay with their parents pods until they grow old enough to join a pod of their own.

Due to their lack of upper body strength and manual dexterity, Merfolk have no structures and few material possessions. They do fashion weapons, nets, and other tools but little that lasts. They have no written language (but often learn to read the languages of other). Instead, their culture is spread through “The Song”, which is both an ocean-spanning saga of Merfolk history and culture and a sort of racial memory.

Humans (Spirit)

Humans have an affinity with the magical element of Spirit, that of life itself. While humans don’t heal any better than any other race, they are the most emotional and volatile. Humans have made the biggest impact on recent history, their drive being unmatched. This drive is both to their advantage and to their detriment. Humans are the most likely to aid other races in need, but humans also are the most conniving and insidious of any of the fives races. Human society is the most diverse of any, but the most common government is a feudal system where land owners pay fealty to a king who gives them protection from other countries.

Halflings

In addition to the five major races, there are four half-races. The halfling races were created by a combination of Birth’s clerics and the innate life-force of humanity. Halflings mostly participate in human society, but there are enough that they do have their own towns in some areas.

Draconians

Half-Dragons are basically reptilian humans. They have scales, claws, fangs, and are resistant to fire. All Draconians have some kind of wings, although many are simply decorative and even the largest and strongest wings only allow gliding at best. Draconians are generally considered to be evil, although this is mostly due to their violent temper and withdrawn personalities.

Trolls

Trolls are the result of mixing dwarves and humans. They have the stocky build of a dwarf, but the height of a human. Their skin is tough and rocky, instead of the metallic tones of their dwarven ancestors. They are slow in both movement and thought. An average troll is as intelligent as a human, but will take about twice as long to come to a conclusion. They are strong, stubborn, and sturdy. Many people try to take advantage of a troll and succeed for some time, but once the troll figures out its situation it can be an implacable enemy.

Kender

The elves appear so much to be slender humans that most people expect half-elves to blend easily into human society. But Kender stand out nearly as much socially as they do physically. Kender rarely top 4 feet and have none of an elf’s willowy grace. They look exactly human, but scaled down so that they weigh the same as an elf. Mentally, they combine the flightiness of the elves and the emotions of the humans. Few except the kender find this a good combination.

Kender mix with both elves and humans. They’ve picked up the idea of communal property from the elves and the skills of thievery from humans. They are rarely malicious; it’s more that they fail to understand the division between what’s yours and what’s theirs. They are often closely watched in cities, but are happy to return things when caught. “Oh, you still needed that? Sorry.”

Aquans

Aquans carry their mixed heritage well. From a distance they look like fairly normal humans, although with a slight gray tinge and shinier hair. In detail, they have longer fingers with some webbing between them. They tend to have larger chests due to a much larger lung capacity. They are often found as merchants, naval officers, fishermen, and nearly any other job near the sea. Aquans are also often entertainers. Their attunment to “The Song” gives them an innate ear for music, their voices have more range than any other race, and their lung capacity means they can hold a note longer than many most people can hold their breath.

History of the World

Many call the beginnings of the world the First Age or the Age of the Gods, and the time after the Great War the Second Age. The end of the second age was marked by another war: The Death Wars.

The Great Magics

Most of the Great Magics were lost at the end of the Second Age, and the races could no longer change the world to their whim. But the knowledge of magic never faded. Much research was done to attempt to recover the lost power and eventually ritual magic was discovered. However, it was often too costly and generally still nowhere near as powerful as magic once was.

But scholars began studying magic itself. Not the usage of magic, but what magic is and where it comes from. They discovered that magic was everywhere, embodied in every form of life. The more complex the being, the more magic it contained. However, this magic was tied up in simply keeping things alive.

Death Wars

There have always been people willing to kill for power. With the new research into the nature of magic, some of these people realized that there was actual power in killing and they called it the magic of death: necromancy. It took many years of research and experimenting in dark and secret places, but breakthroughs and progress was made. The only thing that delayed the advent of this new magic was the amount of knowledge that was lost due to the need to keep this unsavory practice hidden from the public and the backstabbing that comes with the type of person willing to practice it.

Eventually the old Magics returned, this time powered by the deaths of first dozens, then hundreds of people. Nearly every country that didn’t fall to the first necromancers declared war on the ones that did. At first, it was simply a repulsive and recurring menace. Despite the power they wielded, a necromancer was a single person. But other necromancers bided their time, learning more powerful magics and steadily they became a serious threat.

Necromancers

And so began the Death Wars. At first, it was a series of battles against necromancers who became too noticeable. But even the most potent magics they could wield would fail to stop a large enough army, and necromancer had few that would willingly ally with them.

That changed with the rediscovery of Death and Unmaking’s gift: the undead. Since so many people had to die powering the spell, plenty of corpses were around to turn into skeletons and zombies. These new necromancers were a far more serious threat; they had both magic and completely loyal armies at their command. The tides of battle turned, and most nations fell. What one necromancer could do, another could copy, so soon every necromancer had an army of undead at their beck and call. The necromancers turned upon each other, and the resulting magical battles required the deaths of entire villages to power them.

The Exodus

Before this unstoppable horde, the survivors of the fallen nations fled across the sea to the eastern kingdom of Ethelmere. Ethelmere was a small continent to the east of the mainland, close enough for trade but far enough to stay out of the Wars for some time. But eventually magic crossed the gap, in the form of magical boats sailing and flying across the sea.

When the first scouts were spotted, the survivors knew that the War would soon come to them. So the clerics of the seven Gods prayed for salvation.

Knowing the necromancers would eventually find their way to Ethelmere, the clerics of the Gods prayed for salvation. What happened next is disputed. Some say that a gigantic gateway opened and the people of Ethelmere walked through to a new land, far from the necromancers and their Death Wars. Others say the entire island of Ethelmere was simply teleported whole, while others claimed the Gods reached forth their hand and raised an arch to protect their people.

This marked the end of the Second Age, or the Age of Death.

Under the Arch

The Third Age, or the Age of the Arch, is the current age and is marked by the presence of The Arch in the sky. Some call it the Great Arch or the Arch of the Gods, but if you say “The Arch” everyone knows what you mean. A ribbon of blue stretching from the eastern to the western horizon, rising up so high that many people say it holds up the sun. For indeed, the sun in this new land under the Arch stays still and night simply passes in front of it.

Forsaken

The people that traveled here call themselves the Forsaken, as once they arrived, the clerics had barely a glimmer of their old power. Many simply thought the clerics had exhausted their power for a time creating this great miracle. But as time passed and little of their power returned, it became clear that the Gods had left their people mostly alone in this strange new land.

The Islands

Beneath the Arch is a multitude of islands. They range in size from ones you can see across to others that are nearly the size of the mainland of the Old World. Several have multiple kingdoms separated by mountains on them. The Forsaken have been here for a few hundred years now, and no one yet has found an edge to the new world the Gods brought them to.

However, it was not an empty world. The first island the Forsaken sailed to is now called Drake Island, and is home to the largest dragon in written history. No dragon even approaching that size came with the Forsaken. As far as anyone can tell, it simply always had lived there. Over time, other islands were found that had people. It was always one of the five races, but they never had any history of living anywhere else.

Elementalists

The other thing that they found under the Arch was magic. The magic that the necromancers tore from people in the Old World flowed freely in the new. Many people found that they could learn to light a fire in their hearth, cool themselves with a breeze, or dry themselves off. The lore of the old Magics were left behind in the Old World, but the magic could not be denied.

Decades passed and the Races spread. But just as people set out to change the world, it began to change them. The abundant magic began changing the races. Each generation had more and more people that could learn “tricks” (as they called them), and over time they learned to do more. Some people discovered they had a certain affinity to different types of magic and they became known as Elementalists.

Elementalists don’t collect magic and carefully shape it to their whims as the necromancers did. Instead it seems to flow through them, not as naturally as breathing but perhaps as easily as walking. Not wishing to be painted with the same brush as the necromancers, the elementalists gathered together and created the five Colleges. Elementalists are called either “Masters”, as in “Fire Master”, or a name based on their college’s name like “Firedancer”. In some colleges, the distinction is made by the elementalist’s specialty. Spirit elementalists are generally called “Healers”, as that is the most common use of their powers. The ones that explore the edges of the mind and the connectedness of all things are called “Spirit Masters”.

Mages

When the Forsaken arrived under the Arch, they brought with them all the accumulated knowledge of the five races. This included the rituals and spells that remained from the First Age and that were developed in the second. Many of these lay unused for years until the rise of the Elementalists renewed interest in magic. For a few years nothing happened, until the right person read a spell… And it worked. Extraordinary well.

From what they could tell after the Fire Masters got the blaze under control, the would-be magic user strained for every ounce of magic he could muster based on the descriptions of the scarcity of magic before the Arch. The resulting rush of energy ignited nearly every scroll in the library simultaneously. This dubious success drew many hopefuls to experiment.

These neophyte magic users called themselves mages, drawing on the magical energy around them. Many people still call them necromancers, and most people distrust them no matter what they are called. Elementalists are different and focused enough to not be painted with the same brush. Mages are rare and secretive, hording knowledge to themselves and staying apart from other people to safely practice their magics. But when they do walk among normal men, their deeds make history.

Civilization

While the five races are spread far and wide under the arch, Ethelmere is the largest single civilization known to itself. While other small nations and tribes have been found, they tend to be “primitives”. Some of them have surprising and powerful skills, magics, or tools and are not to be discounted.

Ethelmere

The Kingdom of Ethelmere is centered on the island the Forsaken arrived on when they came to The Arch, which they call the Blessed Isle. Castle Ethelmere is in the city of Sanctuary, and it’s courtyard is supposedly the first land the Forsaken touched in this new land. Sanctuary is a very large city and the center of society and trade. The city is fairly near the center of the island, and it is surrounded by a wide variety of duchies. The land to the south-east is mostly fertle rolling hills descending to the sea. To the west rises a set of mountains called the Murten that runs mostly north-south and falls abruptly to the sea in rocky cliffs, but is rich in minerals. North of the city is a series of lakes and moors.

The Nobles

Government system. Dukes, etc.

The Colleges

Fire – Firedancer Illusions, Knowledge, Lighting

Earth – Earthwork Mining, Engineering, Building

Air – Windwalker Travel and communication

Water – Wavemaster
Sea travel, “Wavelings”
Most openly martial

Spirit – Healers

The Clerics

Clerics much weaker, but Priests are trying to keep the faith alive.

Rumors: Some clerics are regaining their power.

Game Mechanics

Races

Yes:
  • Human (base)
  • Dragonlings (Young Dragons)
  • Elves
  • Dwarves
  • Kender
  • Aquans
Yes, but:
  • Draconians (generally considered evil, plothook disad)
  • Trolls (kinda stupid)
No:
  • Merfolk (hard to mix with normal people)

Magic Users

Elementalist
  • Spirit: Healer
  • Fire: Illusionists?
  • Earth: terrakinesis
  • Water: Create servants, limbs
  • Air: Invisibility, Flight, Communication

Mages are NPCs, they’re simply too powerful. Think playing Gandalf in a level 1 party.

Cleric is available, but their powers are mostly weak.

“Other” is somewhat available
Magic Amplifier (John) Spell thief

Civilization

Feudal
Fantasy, with some magic
Enchanted weaponry/tools
Enhanced durability

Tags: role player, under the arch
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