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RUNE ISLE
Flag of Rune Isle                       Culture: Barbaric
                      Resources: Few
                      Wealth: Destitute
                      Population: Sparse
                      Goods and Trade: Fish, Ivory, Ores, Stone, Weapons & Armor, Ships,                                                     Slaves

Across the Sea of Storms, its black granite shores rising like an axeblade from the horizon, lies Rune Isle. One inlet, a rift through rock flooded by the sea, provides anchorage, and on its walls was constructed a stedding. Deepwater fishermen and raiders with dragon-prowed ships found harbor. The Saga of Rune Isle tells of the giant, Hothrym, a Son of Titan who held sway here, slain by Norlander adventurers seeking safe harbor from a winter storm ... When Haagon Dragonslayer came with his dragonships to make Ungaard vassal, he was met with swords, spears and axes and driven back to Dragonsgaard with his tail betweent his legs ...

The chieftains of Ungaard and Dragonsgaard have always been bitter adversaries - longships clashing on the Sea of Storms and howling, bearded, mail-clad warriors battling in the snows of the North. When Haagon Dragonslayer made himself King of Norland, Ungaard resisted, defeating the fleet of dragonships sent against it in the stormy waters off Rune Isle. Now, Rolph Blackraven has declared himself "King" in defiance of the growing power of Dragonsgaard, declaring that neither he nor his heirs will ever bend a knee to Haagon's whelps or fly the red dragon banner from their masts ... The rumor that Rolph keeps a giant enslaved and forced by magic to fight as his Champion may or may not be true.


SHARAAZ      (Player kingdom)


THE SENGRAAL
                      Culture: Savage
                      Resources: Few
                      Wealth: Destitute
                      Population: Sparse
                      Goods and Trade: Fish, Ivory, Meat &                                                    Leather, Slaves

South of the Smouldering Mountains, beyond the borders of Kesh and Carthenia - beyond even the old Imperial frontier - stretches a vast expanse of open grassland. Semi-arid and windswept, it is roamed by great herds of southron buffalo, elaborately horned antelope and colorfully striped wild horse. Prides of lion and spotted racing cats hunt the herds and frilled eagles soar in the hot savannah winds. Crocodiles and giant, tusked water-beasts wallow in the wide and muddy rivers, which swell and flood the plains during seasonal rains. There are packs of gibbering hyena and gangs of howling, plains-dwelling baboons. Birds of all types and colors flock the riverbanks. Dangerous pythons and poisonous vipers slither through the marshes ... It is a wild territory with resources barely touched. The natives, described in Imperial days as "black-skinned savages lacking the barest knowledge of civilization," are primitive hunters and goatherds who dwell in scattered villages. They possess neither literacy nor skills in metal-working or farming, and have always been the source of slaves for Kesh and the Old Empire. Only a handful of habitations are known. The villages of Golongoa and Orongoro have had contact with Carthenia, though there is little trade between them and the recently established Carthenian colonies. N'Goa, at the mouth of the broad and muddy Ongoro River, is perhaps the largest village where the inhabitants hunt the river marshes and net-fish from dugout boats.

Since the fall of the Empire, there has been little contact between the Sengraal and the Inner Sea. In 1180, Carthenia re-established an old Imperial outpost at Enricar with the hopes of establishing trade, and ten years later, founded a new colony on the island of Oros (where ancient "pre-Imperial" ruins have been discovered). South of the Orongoa Hills, the so-called Skull Coast remains unexplored. The tribesfolk of the Tene River region are said to be related to those in the north but have little contact with them ... Farther south rises the vast bulk of Mount Neboa where, it is claimed, are located the jungle-cloaked ruins of ancient Teneketel. Inner Sea scholars believe these ruins inspired the tales of legendary Ophar ".. the gleaming city of gold, ivory and gems at the foot of Heaven's Tower," as described in the Aeonian epic, The Voyages of Dysthenes.


STORM ISLES
                      Culture: Barbaric
                      Resources: Few
                      Wealth: Destitute
                      Population: Sparse
                      Goods and Trade: Fish, Ores, Stone, Wool, Slaves

Centuries before the rise of the Empire, the Storm Isles were inhabited by a dark-haired people who lived as simple fishermen and shepherds. They remained isolated until the blonde-haired Koths migrated westward and developed seafaring. Norlander raiders discovered the Isles and began using them as a source of timber for ship-building, slaves, and a base for raids against the mainland. Later, Anglamarian merchants came to trade for Islander wool, and the port town of Kinnoch (called Stormport in Westhaven) has become the largest in the Isles. Civilized goods are traded there for wool, though the old stands of timber have been exhausted (what forest remains is preserved and guarded by the Druids). The Isles were visited centuries ago by Mythaist priests from the Inner Sea. However, the New Faith has made little headway in converting the natives from their pagan beliefs (they revere the Horned Goddess and a minor woodland deity called Sylvas), particularly on Kinnor and Kinaran. There is an isolated monastary of the Order of Saint Arus on the southernmost island of Kintare, under the archbishopric of Gondaran, and known as a repository of learning in the Isles. It has been attacked by Norlander raiders in the past but never pillaged, due to the fact that it stands atop mountainous cliffs unassailable from the sea.

The Storm Isles have no king or overlord. The people live in scattered villages ruled by elders, with the priest-caste of Druids exercising great influence over the population. They remain unconquered, except on the northern island of Kinnor, which is ruled by the Norlander chief of Viksted. The threat of Norlander expansion in the Isles is a concern, though the Islanders have always assumed Anglamar would oppose such a move ... In general, the Islanders are known to be peaceful and unquarrelsome, with simple lives and no interest in the affairs of the larger world. They are not primitive and have not been considered "savages" since the days of the Empire. There are smiths, craftsfolk and minor spell-users in every village (only the port town of Kinnoch numbers more than 20 families). As a people, they have been described by Anglamarian merchants and Mythaist priests as "dark of hair and, sometimes, dark of mood," clannish and reserved toward strangers, quiet, intelligent and honest to a fault. More than one Norlandic warrior has grudgingly acknowledged the prowess and ferocity of the rare Islander who practices the skill of arms. They remain a people apart, except in the Kinnor where they have mingled with Norlander blood. There, dark-haired Islander maidens are valued as household thralls (it is joked in the holds about Viksted that, given a few more generations, it will be impossible to tell the difference between the Sons of Valkan Stormlord and those of the Storm Isles). Ironically, there have been a few rather famous Adventurers from the Storm Isles who have made names for themselves in both Norland and Anglamar.*


THARSIS. The Imperial City
and the PATRIARCHY

                      Culture: Civilized
                      Resources: Few
                      Wealth: Wealthy
                      Population: Sparse
                      Goods and Trade:                                                    


THYRENIA
                      Culture: Civilized
                      Resources: Few
                      Wealth: Prosperous
                      Population: Average
                      Goods and Trade: Fish, Grain, Horses & Camels, Olives & Oil, Ores, Stone, Timber & Furs,                                                     Wool, Weapons & Armor, Slaves, Sculpture, Ships, Artifacts
                                                    Gems from Kesh for Horses
                                                    Salt from Sharaaz for Ores
                                                    Horses from Sharaaz for Linen.
                                                    Silks & Spices from the Alays for Timber

Three thousand years ago, a tribe known as the Ammarites wandered out of the Great Desert to settle among the hills of the eastern Inner Sea coast. They began farming, spreading north and south, and their villages grew to walled towns and then cities. They traded and warred among themselves, with their nomadic kin to the east, the Keshites to the south, distant Huran and the seafaring people of the Aeonian Isles. Over the centuries, the Land of Ammar was overrun and conquered, time and again, by Huran and then Kesh and, finally, by the Empire of the Inner Sea. As an Imperial province, Thyrenia received the security it had never had before. The great port city of Thyreen benefited the most as the provincial capitol, becoming over time more Isthian than Ammarean. The entire "Hither Coast" became the crossroads of trade and travel in the eastern Empire. When the Empire collapsed, it was easy enough for the cities of Thyrenia, with their long history of on again-off again independence, to survive and prosper.

Today, Thyrenia is a collection of independent city-states, each claiming territory between the Hither Coast and the Great Desert. Iksus, Thyreen, Damarea and Gedom are prosperous and active trade centers, embroiled in there own political intrigues against eachother and more powerful neighbors. Iksus is tied to Syrene and Ilion in the Syrenean League against Mycea. Thyreen, the greatest seaport on the coast and boasting the strongest navy, supports the League and hopes to unite Thyrenia some day (the city is a strong remnant of Imperial culture in the eastern Inner Sea). Damarea is a shadow of Thyreen, fearing the resurgence of Kesh. Gedom is tributary to Sharaaz and chaffing under the burden. In the north, the ancient city of Hadesh, founded long ago by the legendary Sardak of Ashuran as an outpost of the First Empire, is growing in power. Its King plays the desert tribes against the city coast and keeps a tight grip on trade and travel between Huran and the Inner Sea ... Most well-known are the pirates and adventurers who swarm the Hither Coast. Mercenary sell-swords, specialists and Wizards infest Thyrenia, ready to sell themselves to whoever has the shiniest coin.

Beware. Here be rogues and scoundrels.


TOR ISLAND
A barren, table-topped mountain thrust up out of the ocean, uninhabited and avoided by mariners due to the ridges and rocks surrounding it (there's no coral this far North). The Sundered Strait separates its mass from the mainland, and it's said only Valarean fishermen can pass through between Anglamar and Eredor. You have to time your passage well and follow the tide ... The legendary "Pirate King" Varosa is said to have hidden a treasure on Tor Island long ago (one of many tales repeated by drunken mariners in seaside taverns from the Western Ocean to the Inner Sea), though it is not known that he ever sailed this far north. Nevertheless, Adventurer's seeking the treasure who have landed on Tor Island have not returned to port.


VAROSA'S ISLE
A hundred years ago, Inner Sea pirates were the scourge of civilization, raiding ports and shipping from the Hither Coast of Thyrenia to Isadore in the Western Ocean. Greatest of these was Varosa, the so-called "Pirate King." Born a slave of Aeonian-Keshite parentage on the island of Medira, he led a mutiny aboard a Mycean galley and began pirating along the desert coast, making a name for himself as a cunning and ruthless buccaneer. In 1112, he sailed into the port of Khem, raided the Sun Palace of the Priest-King, and escaped, leaving many of the vessels in port ablaze. In 1113, Varosa sank a Thyrenian wargalley and took three merchanters loaded with goods and treasure, then sailed west for Narene where he found only a single wargalley in port, which he siezed by boarding and slaughtering the crew. The Carthenian navy pursued him and he fled to Kordina with the wargalley, Golden Vengeance, as his flagship. At his height in 1118, Varosa commanded a fleet of nine ships and was virtual ruler of the port of Varaquay. When he took advantage of a conflict between Isthia and Mycea to launch raids on Varena and Castellan, the rulers of the Inner Sea decided it was enough. With the Isthian, Eredoran and Carthenian navies in pursuit, Varosa's fleet made for the Straits of Titan. Three ships survived to reach the Western Ocean and turned north for Isadore. They were met by Eredoran ships out of Korduval and turned back, only to find Carthenian wargalleys close behind. Varosa's only choice was west ... From there, the story is unconfirmed legend. After a month at sea, and through a hurrican which sank his galleys, Varosa landed on a barren and windswept island. With the Vengeance foundering, the crew went ashore with what valuables and supplies they could carry. There, the Treasure of Varosa, looted from merchant ships and treasuries throughout the Inner Sea, was hidden in a cliffside cave and the Pirate King himself lost to history. There are critics of the tale. It is doubtful that a wargalley could survive a hurricane and cross 1200 miles of open ocean. As well, who survived and how did they carry the story back from Varosa's Island? Nevertheless, the story is told in seaside taverns from Beregond to Mycea.


VARALKIA      (Player kingdom)


WIZARDS AND MAGES
Since ancient times, the peoples of Mythandar have practiced the Magic
Arts. In ancient times great Wizards served the city-kings of Huran and the sorcerer-priests of Kesh were a scourge in that country, opposed by the Priest-King. During the time of the Empire of the Inner Sea, Wizards played politics, raised barbarian hordes and worse to harry the Empire and seize
power for themselves. The High Lady of Syrene fought off Imperial forces for centuries, destroying entire fleets sent to conquer her island ... In the Year
777 of the Imperial Calender, war erupted between the most powerful Wizards
of the Inner Sea. It culminated in a great battle on the island of Khosos between the legendary Baeleron, Archmage of the North, Amun Gul, who ruled the Ammarean city of Hadesh, and the so-called "Dragon Lord" Vystaspis. The
Power unleashed there devastated the isle, destroyed the ancient city of
Hyraklon, and sent a shockwave throughout the Inner Sea. As a result, the remaining Wizards of Mythander called a council and agreed to limit their
number and influence among the nations of the world. The High Circle of Wizards, who gather when they must in the mountains of the distant East, keep an eye on practitioners of The Art throughout Mythandar and sometimes take action to thwart them when their power grows too great.

There are few truly powerful Wizards left in the Inner Sea and lands west. Most live in isolated splendor, ignoring the politics and conflicts of nations. Some wander and occasionally appear to intervene in events. Others, for whatever their reasons, choose to serve this King or another. As an adviser, a Wizard is one of the most powerful allies a ruler can have, with vast knowledge of the world and the power to turn the tides of war. But beware! The service of a Wizard often comes at a price far greater than gold ... There are no schools or academies where The Art is taught to student-mages. This practice is rigidly opposed by the High Circle, in order to prevent a King from raising his own private cadre of Wizards which may be used to dominate the world. Wizards chose their own apprentices when they see fit, and set them loose when they are ready.

Mages are minor practitioners of The Art, either Wizard-apprentices who have been released (or dismissed) early from their masters or rogues with talent who have picked up some knowledge of The Art on their own. They often wander as Adventurers and are more likely to become involved in a kingdom's affairs and offer trouble rather than aid in great events.



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