I've started working on my new fantasy world that I'm going to put before my local group.
The World of Zakara: Beneath the Shattered Moon
My intent is for this to be a Sword & Sorcery/Sword & Planet type setting with a bit more magic than those settings typically have, but hopefully, held to a reasonable level . . . Mostly it depends on what my group is having fun with.
Here's the introduction, brief key to the map and the start of languages. . .
The world you call Zakara is an ancient world, once ruled by shining empires that controlled continents and traveled by magic to worlds beyond the one you stand upon. That time has passed. The gods, being often as petty as people, fought among themselves, about what, few remember or agree upon. The war of the gods raged across the skies of Zakara for years before any upon Zakara knew of it. Then the peoples of Zakara were drawn into the conflict as well. Empires fell, large areas of once fertile lands were rendered uninhabitable by the use of fell magics.
Beasts were raised to the intelligence of humans to add to the armies, monstrosities were created by both sides and unleashed upon the world to wreak havoc and ruin.
Finally the gods shattered the moon, the very home of the most favored of the gods, and in doing so, destroying several gods as well. Huge waves rose up from the sea, the ground shook and unpredictable, deadly weather scoured the very world itself.
The gods had gone too far. Oberon, the father of the gods, who had allowed his children to come to blows among themselves, hid his face in shame, plunging the world into darkness as he grieved.
For several generations, the face of Oberon was seldom seen, and then only through the haze of his tears. At last, he revealed himself again, and the world began to rebuild. But this time without the guidance of the gods they had called upon before.
Petty gods remain, lesser beings who had survived or not participated in the fighting, and in some areas, they have worshippers and a small degree of power, but they are as varied and many as the beasts of the fields, and are unorganized.
Some of the beings that were granted intelligence bred true and survived. Much like with humans, some of the beast men are good and true, others simply wish to be left alone, and then some are evil and take great pleasure in pain and suffering.
New kingdoms, city-states and empires have arisen from the broken world. Demons, monstrosities and strange magics exist in the world, and few people stray far from their homes or from the established trade routes, whether they travel by caravan or skyship.
The exceptions are those who find the vast wastes and ruins to be a good place to hide their actions from ‘civilized’ folk. Others are those who wish to carve out their own empires, these and those who seek to find the answers to questions unanswered or to find the treasures and lore of lost civilizations are known collectively as Adventurers.
Adventurers are exceptional individuals, deemed heroes by a very few and insane fools by most. Adventurers are not content with staying within the confines of their safe town and working the same job day in and day out. Something within them seeks the thrill of danger and excitement, the rush of adrenaline when faced with the unknown. Many Adventurers die alone and unknown in some dark, fetid hole in the ground, their fate forever a mystery, while others amass fortunes and build their own small empires or eventually retire to run an inn or a shop. You, the player, will create a fresh, new Adventurer with which to face the challenges of the world, and for whom joining the Society of Adventurers is a dream yet to be fulfilled.
Welcome to Zakara, may your adventures be many, fruitful and may your lives be interesting and your deaths be bravely faced.
This campaign will begin in the Baalbeki region of Western Zakara. Baalbek is a large, independent city state that lies on a peninsula that extends out into the Vast Deeps and is connected to the mainland via the isthmus that is dominated by the Great Salt Marsh.
A map of the region is located at the beginning of this text, and the following will give you some brief, common knowledge about the areas mentioned.
A. City State of Baalbek - also called the ‘ten cities’ because it is built upon the ruins of at least nine other cities, Baalbek is a large, wild city ruled by the Consortium of Gold, a council of merchants. It is said that anything and everything is available for a price in Baalbek.
B. The Great Salt Marsh - The isthmus that connects Baalbek with the rest of Zakara is dominated by this huge marsh that contains a number of ruins, and is rumored to be rife with bandits and monstrous creatures. There is one ‘safe’ route through the Marsh and it is guarded by the troops of the Consortium of Gold, who charge a toll to those who wish to pass safely through to do business in Baalbek.
C. Serpents Isle - A pair of large islands, covered with jungle vegetation and marshy lands, the southern-most island also sports a large volcano. The islands are so named due to the large variety of ophidian denizens that exist there, most of them virulently poisonous. There is said to be an abandoned temple to an ancient, obscure snake god built into the base of the volcano, full of vast riches and guarded by snakemen, but no one has ever shown any proof of such, and few who visit the islands have returned with tales of anything but huge, aggressive reptiles and dark, menacing jungles.
D. Archipelago of Itari - The predominant government of this island is a confederated group of clans, all of which are matriarchal, ruled by the council of matriarchs, with a grand-matron as the titular ruler of the confederation. The Itari tend to be somewhat insular and only allow outsiders to do trade with them via one port town that is located on one of the smaller, outer islands.
E. Kingdom of Dagonis - Dominating a fertile island less than a league from the mainland, the Dagoni are mostly quiet, farming and fishing folk. Only one city of any size exists on the island, the capital city simply called Dagonis. The rest of the island is dotted with small towns and smaller farming villages.
F. Theocracy of Sauur - Located between Dagonis and the Serpent Isles, the folk of Sauur are ruled by the iron fist of the High Theocrat of Sauur. The Theocrat claims that Sauur is one of the few gods left from the time of the Shattering and that he lives in the reefs that guard the approach to the island. The Sharkmen, the army of thugs who wear shark-hide armor and helmets shaped like sharks, are the enforcers of the will of Sauur, and the Theocrat. Visitors are welcome to the island as long as they do not violate the laws of Sauur.
G. City State of Cleshak - Ruled by the Justicars, the Cleshakans live in a strict, but well-defined society. Everyone is expected to follow the rules of the Just, the supreme overlord of the city state, and any who feel they have been wronged, from slaves to lords, are welcome to bring their grievances before a Tribunal for judgement.
H. The Feywild - A vast, alien forest, the Feywild is said to have been altered by contact with the realm of Faerie, and it is said that there are many portals within the forest that lead to the realms of Faerie, and to other locales as well. The forest is home to a wide variety of inhabitants, from wild fey to beastmen, to human outcasts and bandits.
I. Confederacy of Taurr - A loose confederation of a number of barbarian tribes and settlements, the Confederacy is ‘governed’ by the Jarl’s Council and the High King. The Jarl’s Council are representatives from each tribe or settlement and the High King is chosen by a popular decision of the rulers of each member, or is the winner of a combat among those who vie for the seat. The High King may be challenged at any time, and a new one is chosen on each Bloodfall (A meteor shower that passes through the atmosphere once every 8 to 10 years).
Sands of Karesh - A vast desert, surrounded by mountains, the Sands of Karesh are home to many nomadic tribes that travel from oasis to oasis, and there is said to be a mighty city beside a distant sea on the far side of the desert. It is said that this city is ruled by a cruel sorcerer and his djinn servants. There are many tribes of beastmen found roaming the desert as well, and ancient ruins are from time to time revealed by the shifting sands.
Akani Plains - a large rolling grasslands that is home to many nomadic, and semi-nomadic tribes of humans and beastmen alike. There are also a few settlements scattered throughout the plains, most of them surrounded by some type of wall. Wild Stonehead Basoons roam the grasslands in herds and are hunted by the tribes for their meat and hides.
Truaghk Jungle - A dark, vast jungle that extends to the southern reaches of Zakara. Filled with primitive tribes, strange beasts and ancient ruins. Many treasures and dangers await within it’s dark, leafy embrace.
Languages of the world of Zakara
Low Tarant - the ‘common’ tongue of western Zakara. This is the language that was left over from many of the Empires that dominated the land prior to the Shattering. All intelligent beings typically have some understanding of it.
High Tarant - This was the language of nobles, priests and sorcerers of the old empires. While not commonly used today, some scholars and those interested in the time before the shattering are familiar with it.
Akana - Although most of the tribes of the Akani plains speak, or at least understand Low Tarant, many of them prefer to converse in their own tongue. This is the language of the various human tribes located on the plains. There are many different dialects, but they all have the same base language.