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The following is the description of a world for use with the Avatar mechanics. It was generated using the World Building Game (see Chapter 2) and can be used to give some idea of the end products of World Building. In actual fact, more information than is presented here was developed, but space restrictions have forced us to show only a sampling of the world. It has no single, definitive name, as each nation knows the world by a different name.
The map shows the main features of the known world, and all the main countries. More on each nation is given later in this Chapter. It is not known what lies beyond the current borders of the known world, or even if anything exists beyond them.
The northern seas are rife with dangerous reefs, and any travel further north has been hindered by strong winds that blow from the west. As far as is known, all ships that have tried to explore northward have been capsized or grounded. These winds have also hindered travel southward, where icebergs interfere with any exploration attempts.
The world has two moons, which affect the tides in some unusual ways. As well as a daily high and low tide, there is one annual spring and neap tide which causes unusual coastal phenomena (see section 10.8). Another strange aspect is that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east (although some legends say this was not always so).
Several centuries before the current times, the world was visited by five gods, all refugees from another plane. There, their power had waned to such a degree that they faced extinction. In order to avoid this fate, they cooperated to create a gateway into this world (a comparatively young world compared to theirs) and passed through, finding new followers and regaining much of their former powers.
The five exiles are an organised pantheon, but not closely knit. They will cooperate when threatened as a group, but will not generally aid each other unless they can see personal benefit. Cultures who worship exile gods speak the language Talmon, which is the common tongue.
The primal gods are all resident to this world, and vary in power and in nature. Unlike the exiles, they are an eclectic pantheon, and will not generally pull together in a crisis. Many of them are too loosely defined to actually ever appear in the form of an avatar.
The nations of Aerloon, Helios, Rubai and Orphis are arguably the most significant countries in the known world. These countries, by trade, magic or war, have affected the shape of the world more than any nation so far.
The island in the centre of the known world is Aerloon. Once, these gentle steppes were home to a peaceful society, valuing knowledge above all else. This society existed in isolation for several thousand years, and had developed its own proto-god. When Lotan (see section 10.3) came to this plane, it absorbed this area as a part of itself, and became the patron of the Aerloonian culture.
The Aerloonian culture has a strong moral code, and a striving for life and peace. No prejudice or crime existed on Aerloon, and the culture was more intellectual than physical. The country was governed by a form of non-violent anarchy, with knowledge being the only currency, and the lust for information paramount.
Not naturally a paranoid race, the Aerloonians eventually decided to go out into the world and learn of other cultures by immersing themselves in the ways of other lands. Twin- sailed vessels set out into the world, offering peace.
Expeditions were sent out, and one landed in Helios where, after a struggle, all the Aerloonians on board were slain. Armed with the knowledge of the existence of Aerloon, and the method of building multiple-sailed ships, the Helion Empire attempted to crush Aerloon underfoot.
A great battle was fought - with both Amalek and Lotan being embodied. The result was the fall of Aerloon, and the remaining Aerloonians were scattered across the world. No longer pacifists, the surviving Aerloonians have vowed to work against Helios in every possible way. All Aerloonians are immortal, but sterile. An Aerloonian may sire children, but at the moment of conception, for men, and the moment of birth, for women, the parent dies. Many countries have Aerloonian people as advisers and oracles.
The isle of Aerloon is currently deserted, and a permanent storm of magical energy resides there. Few people visit Aerloon, and fewer still return.
Racial mods: -2 STR, -2 END, +2 DEX, +1 AWA, +3 PHS
Current population: 1 population unit, scattered.
Magic: All schools, with Divination and Translocation uncommon and not taught outside of pure blood Aerloonians.
Primary language: Talmon (common).
Secondary language: Arhian (trade).
Tertiary languages: All other languages.
Island of Aerloon
Natural resources: Silver, common wood, iron and jewels.
Local Phase: Unstable and from High to Extreme
On the eastern shore of the western continent, beyond the Hekal mountains, lies the great desert of Hek Sali. Here lies the heart of the nation of Helios. The people of Helios are dark skinned and arabic in appearance, and serve Amalek (see section 10.3). Helions are known by single names, although this does not indicate a lack of family structure. There are strong family ties, and a clear tribal heritage, with everyone belonging to one of several clans.
Helios is a male dominated society, with women only really having the option to become wives or priestesses. Wives are expected to be loyal and subservient, and husbands are expected to remain faithful. The country has a system of involuntary euthanasia, dressed up as a religious observance. When a person who does not have a position of status reaches a certain age, they are expected to walk the Raki (The Walk of Death) until they die. The Raki is a road of bones that stretches out from Helios city, into the desert, westward (towards where the sun rises in this world).
War is praised, desired and respected by the Helions. To die in battle is an honourable way to die. They are constantly attempting to enlarge the Helion Empire, and have an attitude of restrained intolerance towards nations they cannot crush. In general, they will adapt to survive, but attempt to maintain their traditions.
Helios is governed by a Sultan, with some power being held by a merchant council and the church. Laws are rigorously upheld, with severe penalties for even the smallest transgressions. Magical learning is suppressed, and the death penalty is given out for anyone practicing magic who is not in the church.
The capital city, also known as Helios, is at the base of a volcano where Amalek first appeared to the people, changing them from nomads to a defined culture. At various times throughout history, a dragon has been born from the volcanic fires, although only one dragon, Rakona, dwells there now. The Helion people believe that when doomsday comes, a cleansing fire with issue forth from the volcano and wash over the world, cleansing it of all who do not follow the way of Amalek.
The Helion religion is based around the Exile pantheon, with Amalek being seen as the strongest of these gods. They are violently intolerant of all Primal gods, and freely enslave nations who worship them. All Helions (except for a specially appointed militia) are required to observe a night curfew, and to give prayer at dawn.
Several centuries ago, the Helion Empire began its rise to power, taking control of much of the lands in the known world. Only Rubai, Gobrach, Orphis and the lands south and east of the plains of Akra escaped the iron rule of Helios. A decade ago, Lotan and Jaala determined that Amalek's rise had to be stopped, and formed a temporary alliance with almost all of the gods - Exile and Primal.
After a long and bloody war, Helios was forced back to its original borders, where it is currently suffering from internal indecision, as one main political faction supports a renewed jihad against the world, whilst the other proposes Helios relaxes its hostilities and enjoys its amassed wealth.
Key Helion cities include Riesh and Desh, two gold and iron mining cities at the southern end of the Hekal mountains. These are situated in what is known as Dak Sali - the painted desert - as hot springs bubble up through coloured sands creating unusual mud pools. Near these is the port of Dakar, which is the last of a string of six ports along the eastern seaboard.
Helios extends to the west as far as the Wash (see section 10.8), although the Helions maintain only as large a force here as is necessary to keep their traditional enemies at bay. Helios is currently ruled by Hashtek the Second (also known as Hashtek the Avenger), who has recently become Cautious, Hedonistic and Sedate after the collapse of the Helion Empire, whilst the church is controlled by the High Priestess Chardak, who is Avaricious, Cruel and Deceptive. There is a high degree of tension between church and state at the moment.
Racial modifiers: +2 END, +1 AGL, +1 AWA, -2 PHS
Current population: 25 population units.
Money: Regional currency based around the gold mark.
Natural resources: Iron, gold, and copper.
Weaponry: Broadswords, short bows, shields, horses.
Armour: Brigandine, scale mail, ring mail, leather, shields.
Government: Monarchy (Sultan), with some power held by theocratic and plutocratic organisations.
Religion: Exile pantheon based around Amalek.
Local Phase: Settled and mostly Low in the desert, falling to a Dead Zone at the Kindath oasis, and rising to High at Adekal, the volcano to the north of Helios city.
Primary language: Talmon (common).
Secondary language: Arhian (trade).
Tertiary language: Rubain.
At the south of the eastern continent, two islands rest in the ocean. Here lies the country of Orphis, home of Jaala, the Exile goddess of desire and femininity (see section 10.3). When the Exiles first came to this plane, Orphis was a male dominated society, with women repressed to the point of virtual slavery. Jaala led the women to revolt and the old regime was overthrown, replaced with an all-female government. The Orphic refer to the day of revolution as `The Creation'.
Jaala has granted the women the ability to reproduce asexually - that is, Orphic women become pregnant when they choose to. As a result, single parent families are not uncommon. Orphic women could bear a child in the regular fashion, but to almost all the thought of having sex with a man is quite distasteful.
Fewer and fewer men are born each year in Orphis, and when one is sired, it is lobotomised at an early age. The Orphic women treat men as artistic objects; valuable but not intelligent. No man in Orphis has a will of his own.
The Orphic respect nature, love beauty, and are generally peaceful. Jaala herself walks among the people in avatar form, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of the Orphic isles. They are versed in the ways of war, however, and will fight vehemently to defend their lands if threatened.
The government is essentially communist in nature, although there is a non-hereditary monarchy. The ruler may choose who she is to pass the line down to, and to date no-one has questioned the choice of a previous ruler.
The Orphic women attempt to spread their radical doctrine throughout the world, although they have become more tolerant of other cultures since the fall of Helios. Despite this, they continue to deal only with females and non-human races. There is a significant population of Greshu (see section 10.14) in Orphis.
Oriental in appearance, Orphic women state their names with their family name preceding their individual name. The current ruler, Liath Sarren, is the third person in the Liath family to hold the position. She is Altruistic, Candid, Conformant, Equitable, Loyal, Modest and Stoic.
There are two cities on the western isle, three on the eastern isle (including the capital city, Orphis) and two on the western shore of the mainland. Orphic cities are not densely urban, and resemble the classical Greek cities, combining elegant architecture with wooded groves and quiet parks.
Racial modifiers: -1 STR, -1 END, +2 DEX, +2 AGL
Current population: 25 population units.
Money: No internal currency. Barter with other countries.
Natural resources: Copper, common woods, iron, zinc.
Weaponry: Maces, warhammers, flails, bows.
Armour: Leather, studded leather, brigandine, chain mail.
Government: Communist with appointed monarchy.
Magic: Alteration, Illusionism, Naturalism.
Local Phase: Settled and mostly Average.
Primary languages: Orphic, Talmon (common).
Secondary language: Arhian.
The people of Rubai are servants of fate, bound by honour and lovers of adventure. They are Asian in appearance, with men wearing colourful, outlandish attire, and women keeping their faces covered unless they are married. They are generally tolerant of other countries, seeing them as opportunities for adventures.
Although a male dominated society, women gain a greater degree of power after marriage, as they usually control the finances and wealth of a family. Families tend to be large, with the honour of family names being very important (a Rubain name consists of first name, family name and the city of origin). Sex is not permitted before marriage, and anyone breaking this law could suffer a complete loss of honour - an unbearable thought in the eyes of a Rubain.
Most men are expected to go forth at some point in their youth and explore and adventure in the wilds of Rubai. Having returned, they are faced with the choice of embarking on another journey (provided the first was sufficiently spectacular) or remaining in Rubai. In the latter case, they may become a merchant, enter the priesthood of Jalam and or attend the Academy of Martial Knowledge and join the army. No man may marry without having first gone on a quest.
In the centre of Rubai is the Black Lake, a huge pool of dark, viscous liquid. No living thing can touch the Black Lake and live. Much of Rubain life is centred around the belief that the Black Lake is being held back by Jalam, and that if the people do not entertain and appease her, she will let loose the Black Lake and swallow the nation up. More than once in history, the Black Lake has engulfed nearby towns and villages which have not paid proper respect to Jalam. Because of this, they are compelled to go forth and adventure.
The nation is ruled by a single King, backed by an advisory council of elders from the major families in Rubai. Whilst not warlike, they are martial, and quite capable of defending themselves from attack. In addition, the main city, Jalam (which is many leagues across, consisting of one central city, two rings of outer cities and an internal collection of suburbs), has a magical defence consisting of a tower at the centre of the city which sends out a beam of light to the outer cities, who can then erect a magical barrier around the outer walls.
To the east of the city of Jalam, and straight through the heart of Rubai itself, is the Wash. For half the year, this is a desert valley, and it is possible to cross it on foot. Then, around the spring equinox, the tide rises at the far end above a critical level and the ocean waters rush in, creating a devastating tidal wave. Once flooded, it can be crossed by ship until around half a year later when the water level has dropped to such a degree that it is once again nothing but barren sand.
The lands to the east of the Wash are the plains of Tranth. Originally, these lands were Rubain territory, and a second circle of cities was being built here. However, Rubai and Helios are arch enemies, and in one of the many skirmishes that occurred between the two nations, the Helion Empire claimed these plains and the uncompleted cities as their own.
Because of the animosity between Rubai and Helios, some Aerloonians live in the city of Jalam, and from time to time, train potential magicians in the ways of magic. Unsanctioned dabblings in the magic arts are discouraged and dishonourable, although Alchemy is frequently learned and practiced.
Outside the Rubain cities is a magical jungle. An endless host of bizarre flora and fauna dwell across the land, feeding off each other and the odd hapless traveller. Major cities other than Jalam include Shorma and Shormir, both ports on the shore of the Wash, and the border settlements of Krishon and Aksho which exist purely to guard against a possible Helion invasion.
Rubai possesses many magical artifacts which are held in the towers of the central city of Jalam. Currently, Rubai is ruled by King Perina Ruiman Jalam, who is Abeyant, Conformant, Modest and Predictable, and advised by the Vizier, Lorin Jalom Thonama, who is Altruistic, Loyal, Mystical and Suspicious.
Racial modifiers: +1 DEX, +1 AGL, +1 AWA, -1 PHS
Current population: 32 population units.
Money: Hard currency based around iron, copper and gold squares, of various sizes.
Natural resources: Iron, common woods, copper, zinc, rare woods, silver and gold.
Weaponry: Scimitars, falchions, shortswords, other blades, blow pipes, thrown blades, horses.
Armour: Ring mail, scale mail, brigandine, target shields.
Government: Monarchy (King).
Religion: Pantheon based around Jalam.
Local Phase: Settled and High, except around the cities where Phase drops to Low.
Primary language: Rubain.
Secondary languages: Arhian (trade), Talmon (common).
The following are profiles of the remaining countries in the known world. They vary greatly in size and importance, but have had a less significant effect on world history than the four Major nations.
One of the youngest nations in the known world, the Clans of Akra were little more than feral humans two centuries ago. Now, they exist as some twenty or so clans, who ride the plains of Akra, the prairies that make up the spine of the eastern continent.
There are no towns or cities on the plains, except for Talior, Giadal and Komos, Helion cities to the north of the plain, now abandoned and empty, deserted when the Helion forces went into retreat. The clans live a nomadic existence, riding across the plains on horseback and living a simple life.
The clans are a totally equal society, with status being determined by how good a rider the individual is, especially how good they are at fighting on horseback. The Clans vary in skin pigmentation from an albino white to an ebony black, with seemingly little pattern between parents and offspring's colour. The darkest and lightest skinned members of a clan are almost invariably chosen to act as clan Shamen.
The Shamen hold a vital position in Clan society. When a woman is three months pregnant, the Shaman must perform the ritual of Birthing. During the course of one night, her pregnancy is accelerated to the point of child birth - an excruciatingly painful experience.
To have raised children is a matter of some prestige amongst the Clans, but for a man to be considered a child's father, he must share the pain of Birthing. During the Birthing ritual, the Shaman can link the man and the woman to each other spiritually, and both share the experience. Sometimes, the father does not survive the linking.
Four times a year, the clans hold a Gathering. Here, all the clans congregate to determine clan law, and to lay down any declarations of war between clans. Clan war ends if the either clan leader is slain in battle, or the vendetta is not renewed at the next Gathering. Also, the new clan leaders are chosen at each Gathering, by trial of combat. Only those who have survived the Birthing ritual (man or woman) are eligible to become a Clan leader.
Clan naming structure is linked to clan status. At birth, children are given their first name, which is their Birth name (named after the circumstances of their birth - the place, the time, the weather, e.g. Sky fire, Moonless night, Still river). When they first ride a horse by themselves, first kill an animal in hunting, first kill a man in combat, and every time they survive a Birthing, they gain another name.
In addition, Shamans and Clan leaders have another name. The more names an individual has, the greater their status in the society. A typical Clan leader will have six or more names, and at a formal meeting they are expected to give their full name, for example, Still river, Windrider, Screaming boar, Sure spear, First born blind, Two sons and Guides with wisdom.
The Clans have little contact with the rest of the world, except for the Garkesh, who exist in a form of symbiosis with the Akran clans (see section 10.12).
Racial modifiers: +2 END, +2 AGL, +1 -2 PHS
Current population: 10 population units.
Natural resources: Common woods, copper and iron.
Weaponry: Spears, javelins and all types of sword.
Magic: Shamanic (see above).
Local Phase: Settled and Average.
Primary language: Sabtah.