Thursday, December 13, 2012

Anthis Notes

In an attempt to get back into tabletop RPGs, I am working on a new fantasy world that will (hopefully) be very different from Bostonia. Bostonia is cool, but I have been running games based on that setting for over a decade now and I think it has run its course.

Anthis is a world that I have dabbled in since college, but never quite got around to working it. I have started to put together some notes. See what you think.

Anthis World Notes

Honestly, I don’t have a ton of the world history fleshed out. That will come as the campaign continues and will depend a lot on what, if anything, people are interested in knowing.

What I do know is that some time ago, the known world was ruled by a great elven empire called the Kelanve (kel-EN-veh) Council.  The Council ruled over all the races of Anthis and its cities were centers of art, science and sorcery. What was not known by most was that the Chief Councilor was also the Steward of Anthis who guarded the world from the predations of the Shadow that lurked just out of sight of common men. This battle raged constantly with shadows periodically escaping and killing or possessing mortals before being brought down by agents of the Council.

The leader of what is now known as the Final Council, Iane (EE-ain), believed he had a way to seal the gates to Shadow forever. He planned to use powerful sorcery to draw the gates into him and then exile himself inside an impenetrable prison of light called the Infinity Mirror. This plan would have worked if not for the fact that Iane’s most trusted assistant on the Council, Eaday (EE-uh-day), had been possessed and was lying in wait for the perfect moment to betray her master. When Iane drew the Shadow Gates into him, Eaday ran him through with the Black Key (an ebony sword partially made from the stuff of Shadow). His murder caused the gates to open allowing Shadow to spill into the world unchecked.

Shadow filled the world with beasts, tore open the land and stirred the seas. In a single moment, the greatest empire ever seen was swept from the earth along with a thousand years of its works. Cities were buried, sunken or transformed into dark and twisted images of themselves. Millions perished and for hundreds of years, Anthis was without light.

Ultimately, the Twelve Lanterns were born (how?) and defeated Shadow, partly by casting it back through the Shadow Gate and partly by consuming it.

The current campaign is only a 20-25 generations after the defeat of Shadow and the world is still recovering.

Shadow is an incarnation of the forces that seek to corrupt and destroy man and his civilization.

The first of these forces come from beyond – inscrutable, alien creatures that lurk in the darkness waiting for the right moment to snatch us and carry us away to infinite torment. These are the demons of Anthis who were bound behind the Shadow Gate, but let loose upon the world through Eaday’s treachery. These malevolent creatures watch Anthis, probing the barriers between their world and our own. When they find or create a breach, they spill into the world, killing or corrupting everything in their path.

These creatures can only manifest in true darkness. Fortunately, the gods protect the world: the Twins guard the daytime sky, Cancri lights the nighttime, Ulder guards the sea and Mondain holds vigil underground.

The second of these forces come from within – the voices that whisper to us and play on our darkest urges. Antheans believe that everyone who survived Iane’s death and all of their descendants are touched by Shadow. The darkness that drives men to insanity and evil lurks in everyone and that only the light of the soul keeps it in check.

How Antheans Treat the Dead
When someone dies, the soul leaves the body, but the Shadow remains. For that reason, proper treatment of the dead is very important to all the races of Anthis. Almost all cultures of the world burn, bury, or sink their dead, thus consigning them to the sky, earth or sea and their respective gods. When corpses cannot be properly disposed of, special rituals exist to ensure that the Shadow is purged or at least contained. For instance, Priests of Brul have a responsibility to consecrate the sites of large battles and followers of Tathae will often do the same for cities suffering a plague.

The Elves and Immortality
In exchange for their stewardship of the world, the Old Gods granted their favorite children immortality. This is one of the factors that led to the dominance of elven science and culture – elven scholars and artists had hundreds of years to learn their craft.

Even though elves did not suffer the physical ravages of age, they did tire as they got older. Often, elves that had seen several hundred years, especially those with children, would voluntarily die, going into a repose from which they never woke.

However, elves found that they were uniquely affected by the taint Shadow placed on the world. Every year after Shadow had been contained, the elves have suffered ever-decreasing birth rates. Nowadays, elf births are so rare that they are almost unheard of, and the rare birth is a cause for celebration across the elven world.

Because of this crisis, elves have stopped voluntarily ending their lives. Most elves alive now have been alive for many centuries. The problem is that they are still fatiguing and are doing so at an accelerated rate. Most elves tire of life after a mere 100 years now and many of those that go much longer than that go mad.

Fortunately, an elven scholar named Bezier developed a technique by which an elf can wipe a portion of his memories, allowing him to live an extended life while maintaining his sanity. Nearly all of the elf’s skills are lost, as are some of his memories, but his basic identity is left intact.

There are rumors that Bezier’s process could be used to totally wipe a mind clean, leaving the subject with no memory at all, but this has never been done.

The Dwarven Tragedy
Before the coming of Shadow, the dwarves ruled over a huge, underground empire that consisted of six holds (three in Anta and three in Enva), each ruled by a descendent of the ancient Dwarven Kings. The holds stretched for hundreds of miles in every direction and in them the dwarves mined and built stone cities to rival those of the overworld races.

When Shadow came to Anthis, the expanses of dark tunnels provided a gateway to a seething mass of ravenous creatures. For many years, the dwarves mounted a spirited defense of their homes, but the forces of darkness were relentless. Over three-fourths of the dwarven population was killed and four of the six holds were overrun. The other two holds survived, but only by collapsing most of their tunnels and sealing their people into vaults, or sending them as refugees to the overworld.

Today, the Two Holds are rebuilding and reclaiming as many of their lost tunnels as possible. The boldest of the dwarves are planning to re-enter the Lost Holds and acquire the treasures of the lost dwarven civilizations. Of course, it is very likely that some very old and hungry demons dwell in those tunnels that have been dark and undisturbed for so many years.