The Pallid Lands…
Upon the face of the world, there lies a great continent known as The Wheel. In the north lies the mighty Peranum Empire, ancestral homeland of the human tribes. The Peranum Emperor, Kharles VIII, rules the Council of Kings in the imperial capital of Nershua, and while the six subordinate kingdoms are always fractious and seethe with petty rebellions (as befits a human country), the rule of the Empire is largely stable. The Perani watch their borders closely, but do not fear their neighbors overmuch.
East of the Empire lies the Holyland of Sun’s Blessed Light. In the distant past a group of pilgrims, worshipers of the sun goddess Sarenrae, left the warring human kingdoms of their time in order to find a place where they could live in peace. They found a high mountain, surrounded by a deep ravine, and they took it for their own. Today, a sprawling city has been carved in the side of Solar’s Glance, as the mountain came to be known. The priest-princes rule the theocracy of the Holyland, and the paladins of Sarenrae enforce their will — all in the name of good and light, of course.
Southeast of the Holyland lies the Federation of Hidden Vales. This is something of a joke, that only the halflings who dwell in the Federation seem to understand. After all, the lands they claim for their own are some of the flattest on the continent, none of their villages are even slightly hidden, and even the name “Federation” implies an organization that seems quite lacking in actual fact. The halflings wander their lands, working wherever it strikes their fancy, be it for a month or so in some farm’s field, a week or so wiping tables in a local inn, or maybe just a couple of hours telling stories to children.
South of the Federation, the land breaks into a series of interconnected canyons and ravines, cut through by many rivers. These deep crevices are the home of the tiefling civilization known as the Children of Lakmantiyu. Though Lakmantiyu herself is long dead, her descendants live on, practicing their unique form of ancestor worship and jealously guarding the borders of their lands. They trade a little with the Federation, but for the most part they are completely self-sufficient, and extremely insular.
Further south from Lakmantiyu lay the vast grasslands of the orcish nomads. The orcs, as a whole, worship the god of history and knowledge, Irori, and great cities have sprung up around the large temples where orcish monks gather to record history, debate universal truths, and provide a place for grievances between the various tribes to be adjudicated, without having to descend into open war.
Southwest of those open lands lies a series of mountain ranges, extending on around the south of The Wheel into the west. In the foothills furthest east, a small civilization of gnomes flourishes. A strange bunch, they seem racially attracted to tinkering with both magic and devices, and have taken to calling themselves the League of Interesting Knowledge and Grand Experiment Refiners, or “Lingers” as they proudly term themselves. Most everyone else simply calls them “the League,” or more commonly, “those irritating pests.”
In the deep south of The Wheel lies a giant mountain known to its inhabitants as “The Great Stone God.” This mountain is home to the capital of the dwarvish empire of Kudrzistaka, which lays claim to mines and tunnels throughout the south of the wheel. The dwarves of Kudrizstaka hate dealing with other races, and especially hate the elves on the west edge of The Wheel; but surprisingly, they get along well with the duergar kingdom that lies deep to their west.
The duergar kingdom, called Gorbach Kingdom, is surprisingly open for a duergar community. Although they are just as suspicious of outsiders as their dwarven kin to the east, they maintain fairly friendly trading relationships with both their cousins, and the dark elf forest cities to the north. They provide a much needed buffer between the elves and the dwarves, a very strange place for duergar to occupy, but one that seems to suit their needs.
As the long mountain range tapers to an abrupt end in The Wheel’s southwest, massive forests take over the landscape. These are the ancestral lands of the elves: the dark elf cities of the southwest, the high elf citadels of the west, and the so-called swamp elves of the northwest fens. Although the races seem distinct at first glance, much intermarriage between the three types has blurred the lines between them. It is quite possible for a girl who has the grey skin of a stereotypical dark elf to be the daughter of two high elves; or for the offspring of a dark elf and a swamp elf could have the platinum blonde hair of a high elf. The organization of the elves is loose, without distinct lines between one civilization and the next.
Finally, northeast of the swamp elf lands, and west of the Peranum Empire, lies the large human kingdom of Cinderfall. A series of natural disasters cut a portion of the ancient Empire off from direct contact with Nershua, and the surviving citizens banded together to form a new kingdom, with a new royal line unconnected with the Peranum Emperor. The new regime promoted the worship of Nethys, God of Magic, and began studies into immortality. The success of this enterprise was… limited, but Cinderfall has remained independent of the Empire for centuries, so they must be doing something right.
These, then, are the civilizations of The Wheel — but for those who chafe at the rule of law, who seek wonder, fortune, and adventure, need only move inward. Away from empires and kingdoms, into the wastelands, the hidden places, the deepest secrets… These are the lands that were never conquered by any invader, never tamed by any settler… Where monsters roam, goblins rampage, and every sort of fey creature might be hiding behind any given rock…
These are the Pallid Lands. The dark, primal heart, pulsing at the hub of The Wheel; around which, the civilizations of The Wheel turn. In the Pallid Lands, the races of Man join hand against the unknown, and ancient grudges are set aside in front of a greater foe. No one knows all the secrets of the Pallid Lands, but everyone desires the knowledge, the resources, the power they represent.
Including you, adventurer. Welcome to the Pallid Lands.
Sooo… that’s what I’ve been working on, instead of finishing a chapter of Anubai. Or for writing tomorrow’s game review, for that matter. I’m going to try to keep the review shorter, though, I don’t want to spend so much time on it as I did last week. But we’ll see. Tomorrow. 😛
Anyway, this is my personal setting for a Pathfinder campaign. The various races are very segregated on the edge of the wheel — somewhat unnaturally so, in fact. 😉 Basically, my conceit is that the civilizations represent the forces of Law, which attempts to encroach upon the Chaos that is the Pallid Lands in the center. Well, there’s much more to it behind the scenes, of course, but this is the general knowledge of an adventurer in the Pallid Lands.
Now I just needs some players… just kidding, there is a lot of detail I want to fill in. (What exactly is a swamp elf? Even I’m not sure… 😛 ) But yeah, my players will start as adventurers in the Pallid Lands, either searching ancient ruins for treasure and secrets, or helping local communities to survive against monster depredations and other environmental hazards. Either way, they will eventually fall afoul of one of the strongest beings in the Lands, and be forcibly enlisted in a secret war they want nothing to do with… probably. Unless they do. Players are weird. ^^;
So, yeah. Review tomorrow, chapter someday, and I’ll keep y’all posted on how (and if) my Pallid Lands develop. Just because. 😉
Have a good week, everyone. 😀