So I decided that, for my own fun and since a few people who read this have expressed a desire to sit in on our sessions (which is difficult to work out) I'm going to make weekly posts about our Monday Night D&D sessions. I think the basic layout of these posts are going to be a summary of last week, this week's story, and then my commentary on it. This may change. But it's going to be fun writing all our adventures out.
Before I do all that, though, I'd like to give you guys an idea of what our world is like in TAWD.
TAWD, the name of our campaign, stands for Turtles All the Way Down. If you have read any of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, you'll have a clue of what this means. The idea stems from the ------ belief that the world is just a disc sitting on the backs of four elephants, which are in turn sitting on the back of a giant turtle. This turtle, known in TAWD as the Patient One, is swimming silently through the luminescent aether to who knows where.
It would look something like this. The only difference between this illustration and TAWD, though, is that TAWD has three discs on a turtle.
The lowest plate, Hel, supports the base of the four Pillars or Order and also is the base of Mount Chroma, the source of all life on the plates. Resting midway up the Pillars and Mount Chroma is Midgard, the mortal plate. This is where all mortal beings begin their lives. Resting atop the Pillars and held in place by the spire of Mount Chroma is Valhalla, the god-plate. Legend says that if a mortal could climb Mount Chroma to the top, he would become a god. However, even the most obsessed mythologists dismiss this as purely superstition, as the mountain is such that no mortal could hope to reach the top.
But, since our campaign for right now focuses only on Midgard, let me talk about that a little bit more.
First off, a map for you. Yes, I drew it. Isn't it pretty? You can say no, I would agree. But it functions.
So. Starting in the Northwest quadrant of Midgard is the country known as Wulfheim. It is primarily neutral, and it is notably the most racially and religiously integrated country on the plate. Due to many political pressures in the past, most races end up fleeing to this country, which in turn causes tension amongst the many inhabitants and triggering the Race War between the many factions of Wulfheim. Many are afraid to repeat this generations-long war and stick firmly to their beliefs of equality and neutrality, making them the only true republic on the plate. Wulfheim is home to eight primary races: Human, Dwarf, Halfling, Elf, Dragonborn, Genasi, Drow, and Tiefling. The country's flourishing market trade with most other countries exposes it to a wide range of beliefs as well as a large influx of books and magical items, making it one of the better regions to study the arcane arts.
Over in the Northeast quadrant is the hardy nation of Bastion. To approach this country, one must be willing to deal with the high clif face that surrounds all but the Straight of Adonna. Bastion is very much a religious country, predominantly worshiping figures of justice and knowledge (Bahamut and Frejya in partcular) though they accept any religion that does not blaspheme against life. Many of the country's inhabitants are clerics, paladins, and invokers, and most take on either an arcane or a divine profession. The predominant races are Human and Dwarf, with a minority of Elves and Dragonborn. Bastion has virtually no Warlocks, and those that are there have simply not been discovered. This is due to a war between Bastion and the other nation that makes the other side of the Straight of Adonna: Edgewater.
Edgewater was a nation of almost nothing but Warlocks with a smattering of other arcane sorts. Legends claim of the dark rituals they were part of and their attemps to snuff out life on Midgard. Bastion defeated this group, however, and has guarded the ruins of their dark land ever since. Bastion is ruled by a lineage of monarchs who have ruled for generations since the original defeat of Edgewater, and their advisors are traditionally clerics of the House of Adonna, descendants of the first king's companion cleric.
Moving south from there is the jewel-shaped island nation of Tama. Primarily populated by humans, the only other apparent race common to the small country are the Genasi. This is partly due to the isolationist traditions of the inhabitants who feel that such intermingling with other countries will harm the teachings of their heritage. There are no gods worshiped in this nation. Rather, many dedicate themselves to inner harmony via meditation and physical training to master both their minds and bodies.
To the very Easternmost area of Midgard is a small landmass attached to the Easter Pillar known as Germaly. The inhabitants of Germaly defy common logic, their society and economy not backwards, but rather completely outside the realm of understanding. Many of their products result in death with use, and this is generally their intended purpose. Most lands avoid Germaly, though they seem to prosper fine regardless.
Moving into the Southwest of Midgard sits a patch of islands known for their fertile jungle, volcanoes, and laid back inhabitants. These islands are known quite simply as the Burning Isles and are home to a handful of humans, and a primary population of Halflings, Shifters, and a unique subset of Trolls, lankier in appearance, and very laid back. Many alchemical ingredients come from the fertile islands, as well as many intoxicants, both of which are popular exports. This combined with a thriving tourist trade keeps the Burning Islands in a state of prosperous neutrality.
The central continent wraps around Mount Chroma and is therefor central on the plate. A small mountainous region divides the western side of the mountain and a swampy river area divides the east, both places being used as the borders between the warring nations of Nibelung and Duskhelm. Nibelung, sitting on the Northeast sections of the central continent, is a land of pious fanatacism. They consider their war with Duskhelm a holy war, serving Bahamut and Ra in wiping evil from the face of Midgard. They have the largest and most powerful military on the Midplate, their forces kept at bay due to the monstrous creatures that roam Duskhelm's plains. Nibelung consists of Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and as a minority, Dragonborn.
The plains of Duskhelm sit on the southwestern side of the central continent, a shroud of darkness keeping the country in perpetual twilight. Here roam the Drow, Tieflings. Rakshasa, Orcs, and other creatures otherwise considered maligned. Contrary to what one would expect, Duskhelm has a unified form of government, with a monarch sitting at its top. This person is known as the Baron of Duskhelm, a terrifying entity given the nickname "The Lord of Nightmares", as this position is decided through strength. He who kills the current Baron becomes the Baron himself. This country was the first to feel the effects of the Spellplague as it spilled forth from Fafnir to the Southwest, thus its unusual nature. Some say there are many weak walls leading to other realms such as the Shadowfell in Duskhelm, so one must be wary and tread carefully.
To the South of Duskhelm is a stretch of land known as Serpent's Back, a mountainous and hilly region, nearly untouched by the spellplague despite its close proximity to the aberration known as Fafnir. This is because this is the holy land of the Dragonborn, protected by their patron deity Bahamut. Here is where many first generation Dragonborn are conceived, though it is a region not even they consider a country or homeland. This place is simply the staging area for those brave enough to take on the horrors of Fafnir.
Fafnir itself is a grand desert with many craggy outcroppings and countless underground tunnels. It is surrounded by the Sea of Tears, and both are home to terrible aberrations, many of which would scare off even the most devout of Nibelung's pious military. There is little to be said of the place because of this. It is known only that Fafnir is not native to Midgard and came many years ago in a great catastrophe.
Directly east of Nibelung and Duskhelm is the Silent March, a long stretch of land that is so called because of the tendency for Fafnir's creatures to flood its shores. However, if one braves the dangers across this land, they will find themselves in Afirca, an entirely unique nation that is wrapped around part of the Western Pillar. Afirca's people, entirely native Humans, do not need to eat to live. Instead, they seem to subsist by absorbing nutrients out of the air. They are deeply inbred, and this has caused a line of degenerative genetic diseases that keep most Afircans from reaching their older years. Despite their difficult lives in the tropical jungles, the average lifespan of an Afircan is 85 years.
Well, is your brain melted yet? It wouldn't surprise me. And before you ask, this is NOT the world that Wizards of the Coast devised for Dungeons & Dragons. Granted, they tell you often that a DM has free reign over their world, I am sure that they didn't quite intend for us to go this far. But it was ridiculously fun to create this complex world and all the history behind it. Bob and I spent perhaps three months mapping our plates and timelines. What do you think? Currently, our party is riling up a town in Nibelung near the western border of Duskhelm, not too far from the entrance to the Silent March.
I'll update more next week!