Welcome to Telrhin. A world setting for dice & paper rolepaying games. Home to my campaigns since 1984.
In a world where the laws of science are mutable, and there's a palpable existence of good and evil, how do people define reality?
Each campaign can embrace its own direction for this, but the default worldview for most people is one of these.
Some might argue that this is the greatest solution to starvation ever conceived and a true miracle of the gods. Others - possibly the zealous followers of other religions - called it a blasphemous abomination. When it came to light that the source of the free meat was a giant bleeding aberration, the meat lost its appeal and communities turned against it. It didn't help that it had a strange taste some people compared to fish oil. The fish taste was sometimes excused away with an elaborate tale of Sarides, the "sometimes-brother" god of Sylas, and how he plucked the meat-sack-thing from the sea.
The cities and coasts of the Valek are all unified by the sea. You could say that everything around the Valek faces inward, and the sea is the focus of everything: trade, food, wealth, power, and war. The roonhands of the Valek are tied to this global world, influenced by the cultures of a hundred ports, speaking the same slang creole as the sailors: called Planker, it's a mix of Thurne, Tagani and Korul.
When you step into the Veil you enter a landscape of vague reality that exists between several places. More formally this is called the Umbra. It's most heavily influenced by the Spirit World, but it also touches on dreams and the edges of the Second World. It's a place without a cohesive geography and home to a long list of creatures: spirits and monsters and a few lost travelers. The short of it is, you're lost without a guide.
The Gods Want You to Die (and other fun facts): in the end, every god wants you to die. They may promise health or safety, love or happiness, but what matters is your faith in them. That devotion binds your spirit to them and helps deliver your glow. It's ravenous and desperate and it drives the gods more than anything else. Without it they wither and die.
A few thoughts on a recent one-off adventure. It was a tomb in the Lowlands in a place called the Valley of the Drowned Kings.
The adventure was meant to be easy. It was a classic "go explore the dungeon" setup for some friends, two of them new to the whole Dungeons & Dragons thing. It was set in the Lowlands, the main gateway region of the world that's easy to grasp and step into. All standard fantasy fare.
I decided to jump start the story at a campsite a half day from the tomb. They had a map. They had an NPC guide.
Called the Hackle by the regulars, it's home to some neighborhood locals, a few third-tier adventurers and the occasional secret encounter. Maisy Ron has plenty of hard liquor but for beer she only serves two things: Mother's Black, a strong and heavy stout, or "Piss Ale" for anyone who doesn't like it.
"...in the soft hum of people’s sleeping minds I’ll tell you more. I’ll tell you about the Nine Rulers of the Seven States, the Lost City, the Darig Kingdoms, and the forgotten past of the Venthi people. Because here in Brok Nine every dream has found its way, and with it every secret and every truth."
This is from the work I was doing on a second edition of Maelstrom Storytelling for Hubris Games back in 2006. I think it was Chapter Three with a note to call it "At the Storm's Edge".
The Pox Crain is a bar in the dusty streets of Dryer Mob. Steps lead down to the relative cool of a low vaulted cellar near the Ivory Sook in Southwarren. It smells of hookahs, fish oil from the small kitchen, and cabbage. Sounds of the sook drift in from the street above and mix with the conversations of old men playing tiles, washer women in the alley behind, and the talk of travelers, traders, and the occasional drunk.
To most people, that's all there is. But to some, the Pox Crain is a vexing series of half seen pathways into the Veil, full of whispers and echoes of dreams, spirits and the dead.