Aemali (Orizon Supplement)
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Aemali is sitting in a mostly temperate region of the world, stretching from the jungle of the south then northeast through roaming grasslands and hills. The three regions of the continent, Skaivu, the great plains, and Tiandao are blocked off by mountain ranges tall enough to keep them isolated. Close to the north is an island complex, Sukaima, that is kept apart from the rest of Aemali by the stormy ocean straight.
One of the common pieces of the history of the whole of Aemali is the presence of the “divine queen” Asra. During the breaking, a powerful elven priestess of the gods begged that her daughter be spared from the destruction. In an act of mercy and respect, the gods Karn, Tiad, and Vesperi sent divine emissaries to take her to the realm of the gods where she could grow to maturity in relative safety. For a century she grew and learned. She was taught the skills of war and diplomacy. She learned much under the celestials and gained tremendous power, but she knew nothing of the world she was born in.
Eventually Asra begged her saviors to return to her mother’s world, to help these unfortunate people in the turmoil. The gods acquiesced and she was sent down to the world. They also granted her three weapons of power, a sword from Vesperi, a mirror from Tiad, and a necklace of enchanted jewels from Karn. With her skills and power Asra descended to Aemali and proceeded to carve her way through the continent.
Asra first arrived on the world in Skaivu, where she attempted to consolidate her influence by building temples of prayer and learning and by scourging the monstrous war bands. Eventually she believed that her work there was complete, even to this day her efforts are honored and her temples still stand. Asra raised one of her allies, her advisor, to the position of king and used the kingdom as a staging ground for her to forge north.
In the great plains, Asra spent decades bogged down in war, her armies crippled the monsters that harassed the people of the plains, but they had little real success. Seemingly each time one enemy crumbled, another filled the vaccum as soon as Asra moved on, ready to harass her flank. Despite these setbacks, Asra pushed on, determined to repeat her success, after further war, she was on the cusp of victory, establishing safe havens in walled cities and ruining the organized monsters and warlords. But she was betrayed, a companion she trusted pulled support away at a crucial moment, literally stabbing her in the back, leaving her and her armies open to a surprise attack by the final monstrous horde, a composite of her other enemies led by a centaur named Ulan.
Wounded and desperate, Asra and the tattered remnants of her army fled across a narrow pass north into Tiandao. When she recovered, she decided that she would not abandon her quest. She allied herself with the leadership of a small community of huddled survivors in a valley beyond the mountains and helped them establish a new kingdom. She imitated what had been successful in Skaivu, using her allies as kingdom builders and leading her armies to establish security. Unfortunately, her ally began to fear that Asra’s military success and popularity was a threat to their power. He established himself as king and secretly arranged to have her disgraced and framed, then publically had her exiled from the country, sending her alone to the stormy islands to the west and expecting for her to die in the trip.
The ship broke in the waves and storms, but Tiad remembered her, he twisted the waves, washing her up on the shore of Sukaima. Betrayed again, she believed she was finished, her war ended. But, to her surprise, she found allies, without even having to look. Sukaima had been disolved into fighting between various warlords who had risen to power. They had heard of the success and talents of Asra, they had heard of her origin and her connection to the ancient gods. These warlords believed her to be a demigod, practically a god in mortal form. They saw her arrival as the final opportunity to end the decades of war and infighting. Each of these warlords devised a test for Asra, should she succeed they would give her their fealty. She completed every test and so, on her own, she brought relative peace to the islands, becoming the “divine empress” and appointing the four strongest and wisest warlords in her service as kings.
Asra ruled over Sukaima until her death, while there she instituted sweeping reforms and led campaigns against rebellious lords and aggressive monsters. Her rule became a golden age and she died of old age, with many descendants, buried in a magnificent tomb. Rumors surround her death though, and the sacred weapons that were given to her by the ancient gods were lost, not to be buried with her.
Down in the south of Aemali, bordered by the tall Himkandir mountains are the jungles, the ancient temples and overgrown palaces of Skaivu. This region was the first to be calmed after the breaking, both on the continent of Aemali and the world as a whole. The tall mountains defend them from raiders from the north and the deep jungles provide rich resources, though there are still powerful and esoteric monsters wandering the depths of the overgrowth. Skaivu is the seat of old powers and mystic learning.
When Asra held power in Sakivu, she established many temples and monastaries as safe places to honor the gods. These temples gradually morphed into centers of learning, mystic experimentation, devotion, and philosophical exploration. Though without Asra, or the king she imposed, the old formal system has collapsed there are still many scattered philosophers, gurus, and intellectuals throughout the remote regions of Skaivu, occupying the old temples and mysterious corners. These masters meditate, practice ritualistic martial forms, and take exotic and exciting drugs. Those who find new techniques and understandings attract followers who come to learn. There are dozens of different “schools” within Skaivu.
On the ground, the sprawling, lush, jungles are home to various monsters that crawl between the trees and over the roots. The dominant creatures of these jungles are an enclave of Yuan Ti that have occupied a ruined temple as their serpentine capitol. These jungles also help serve as a deterrent against invasion, as they are hot, muggy, and difficult to navigate for anyone who isn’t accustomed to them.
The current king of Skaivu is Ashoka Kumara, he is a man who has devoted most of his efforts to philanthropic goals and has sent a great deal of money to temples and the teaching mystics.
The Great Plains
The great plains are a vast stretch of grassland that occupies the central regions of the continent between the two great mountain ranges to the north and south. This region is dominated by huge herds of grazing beasts and by the creatures that hunt them. This location has a number of skylands and trade cities sitting on top of them, there are extremely few ground territories established. The ground of the great plains is dominated by the Ulan, a collection of nomadic warrior clans that migrates across the plains and host great campaigns of war on any city they encounter, The Ulan have even developed aerial fighters, making them threats even to the cities of the skylands. The cities in the sky have been hounded by the Ulan into even building walls around their flying cities, on the chance that Ulan raiders should happen to take to the air.
Some of these cities remain safe from Ulan harassment by campaigns of trade and tribute. They offer up goods and supplies to the Ulan herds in exchange for the herd passing them by. These “cowards,” as the Ulan call them, do manage to survive and even suceed as they are the only people the herds openly trade with. This is especially helpful since the Ulan have a near monopoly on the resources of the ground in the great plains.
City-States of the Great Plains
The great plains are dotted with a number of city-states, none of them have been able to expand beyond their own limited borders and, except for the Ulan, all of them occupy the skylands. Living in fear of Ulan grapples, longboats, and balloons. Some cities survive on the ground against the Ulan raids, but those only survive by strength or tribute. Still, the raids are light enough to allow survivors and the cities that do survive do manage to maintain success through trade or martial strength.
Yamaany, the city of goats, is a nation that has built up alongside a floating cliff face. The people of Yamaany herd goats on the outside of the cliffs, they grow crops all along the top of the skyland, and they mine their city out, building it into the interior of the skyland. The city is largely defended from the Ulan simply by being massively inconvenient to raid.
Gurvaljin, the grand pyramid. This is a mid sized skyland with a single massive structure constructed on its peak, a humongous ziggurat with a complex network of corridors and chambers that hosts nearly the entirety of its residents. Gurvaljin is a city of mysteries, it’s original creators are all dead, leaving the pyramid abandonded until it was resettled as a city. There are rumors of dozens of secret chambers and hidden rooms in the pyramid, and what could be hidden inside them.
Gichii, the city of Harpy gold is a broad skyland, they use harpies, keeping them well trained to attack the city’s enemies and not city property. Gichii trains expert soldiers on the skyland, they and the harpies are strong enough to fend off the Ulan and to keep the people and slaves of Gichii in line.
Ryyppsot, the city of gondolas, is a archipelago connected by ropes, bridges and the titular gondolas. This city is also extremely inconvienent for the Ulan to raid, ensuring a degree of security. Ryyppsot is the northern headquarters of the River Delvers and one of the city’s larger gondolas travels through a deep tunnel dug to reach the underground river.
The great herds of the massive plains, the Ulan stop their way past the ruins of conquered cities, or through the streets of cities that failed to pay them their proper tribute. To the people of the plains, the Ulan are a terror, their longboats and their grappling ballistae are the subject of fearsome stories behind the city walls.
The Ulan began their history as the enemies of Asra, a hoarde of disparate and fractured monsters and warlords that were banded together behind Ulan, a centaur who would not allow the plains to be torn down to farmland. A paladin of Vister, Ulan was able to unite the tribes of the plains and engage in brutal guerrilla warfare against Asra’s holdings. He was finally able to end the war by convincing one of Asra’s generals to betray her, then his armies drove her forces away.
In the years since, the Ulan became a brutal, but honorable, tribe of raiders. They are made up of several “herds,” tribes governed under the leadership of a single chief. There are currently six Ulan herds led by the current clan chiefs, the centaurs Barsan Pali, Nassau Varsma, and Roon Glosche, the Orc Thop Meathammer, and the barbaric elf Samiel Bloodbraid. Each of these clan leaders must answer to the Ulan elders, former clan leaders, in a grand council, held every six years in the Ulan’s only settled city, Ulanxot.
The main thing that prevents all the ground cities from falling to the Ulan in a bloody swathe of death is their traditions of honor. When an Ulan herd arrives at a city, these cities are offered a choice. They may prepare themselves for battle, they may offer tribute and open themselves for trade, or they may open their doors and send out a champion. The chosen champion fights the herd chief, if the city’s champion dies (or if the city “cheats) then the herd begins their raid and bloodshed against anyone who resists, if the herd’s champion dies, then the herd packs up, leaves, and abandons their raid. Further, if anyone should manage to turn away a herd or kill a chief, the rules of honor of the herds meand that the victors don’t have to worry about retaliation from any other herds.
At the far north of the great plains are the Henda mountains, as a traveler comes closer, they will see a massive wall of stone stretched across the hills. The walls were built to stop the Ulan, keeping them away without the military threat of Asran armies. Archers that patrol the wall and powerful ballistae help to ensure that anyone will regret any attempts made to invade Tiandao.
Beyond the wall’s great gates is the kingdom of Tiandao, a nation built on a strict rule of law and meticulous social and familial hierarchy. The dynastic jade kingdom of Tiandao can trace their lineage back even before the breaking.
The people of Tiandao are protected behind the wall, but they are also trapped within it. They are constrained within a strict society and have accepted or even embraced the security that offers. To the Tiandao people, the royal family is to be obeyed without reserve, and their place in the structure of their world is something they should throw themselves into to perform to the best of their ability.
There are few intelligent monster races in the ground of Tiandao, there aren’t the war camps common in other places. Because of this measure of safety, there are more established locations on the ground in Tiandao. However, what monsters there are conduct their raids quickly, brutally, and stealthily.
The people of Tiandao value order, tradition and ritual. They honor the gods and their families, the actions of one is believed to reflect upon the entire family.
The current emperor of Tiandao is the child-king Xian Taigong who rules with the “assistance” of his advisors, Liu Fong and Kahn Shao, both of whom work to stymie the other.
To the north of a stormy straight is the island chain nation of Sukamia. Sukamia is the final resting place of Asra, and her descendants rule over it to this day. Serving under the Asran emperor are four grand warlords, each are the masters of the strongest clans of their individual islands. The warlords serve the emperor, but rule over their personal islands with a great degree of personal freedom in how they manage their territory.
The social structure of Sukami, a is formal and ritualistic, and developed around a society of castes. Your family determines your caste, your caste determines your position in society, and your position in society determines your lot in life. The warrior clans sit at the top of the hierarchy, then scholars, then merchants, then peasants, and at the lowest are slaves. People below the warrior clans are able to move themselves around the clan structure of Sukamia, so long as they are not peasants or slaves. The warrior clans can raise individuals to the status of warrior if they show courage or great loyalty, potentially leading to the beginning of a new clan. The emperor retains the right to strip an entire family of their position, potentially reducing even the most powerful clans to poverty or slavery.
Most families of Sukamia are an adoptive blend of mixed people. These families and adoptive branch families are bound together by banner and loyalty as much as they are bound by blood. Blood relatives are considered the main family, and the adoped families are branch families, but there is a degree of blending between those. The only family where blood is a true concern is for the descendants of Asra in the Asran dynasty. The members of the clans know that their family name rides on their actions as much as their own name, so they work to bring pride to that name. The warriors try to fight with distinction, the lower classes hope to earn a higher position, maybe even a title.
The Asran emperor is a stabilizing influence, but there is still war in the islands. There are a number of warrior clans on the various islands that skirmish and war, challenging each other for position and influence. Enough victories and a warrior clan may emerge as a new warlord. With the influence of the Asran emperor, these wars are kept formal and controlled, almost ritualized. The emperor’s laws and the warrior’s code of honor keep this combat from spilling outisde of the battlefield, causing as little damage to the land as possible. The Asran emperor encourages this frequent warfare in order to keep the warlords on their toes and keep the strongest in power.
The current emperor of Sukamia is the Elf Toranaka Asran who rules over the four island warlords, Oda Ashikaga, Nobu Totoyomi, Anko Kamakura, and Shodan Meiji. Toranaka has maintained the tradition established by his great-grandmother Asra of touring the islands at regular intervals, traveling to one of the family’s four palaces on each of the islands. This allows him to better survey the lands under his control and to ensure that the laws of the land are being enforced.
Groups and Organizations
The League of Shadows
A cult-like order of assassins famous for being deadly and incorruptible. The league of shadows will accept any contract and then begin a campaign of death. The league operates on a formal set of rules, they will send six assassins, one after the other should the last fail. The greatest value of the league of shadows to their clients is that they cannot be bought off, they will never go back on a contract. The only way to stop the league is to survive their six assassins, or to die. The job doesn’t end until their laws have been met, it doesn’t matter where or who the target is, the league will even send assassins across the seas.
The greatest difficulty for the league’s potential clients is finding them, their monastery enclave is very well hidden. Fortunately for these clients, the league has a network of spies and agents ready to feed the league information and point clients in the right direction. Though the true enclave is never revealed, their outposts, otherwise unassuming monastaries, are used to collect target’s names and payment.
Order of Asra
There are some who recall the motives of Asra as she moved across the continent. Her goals to stabilize the continent and to ensure something that could continue strong. They remember Asra’s old goals of peace and of unity. These people remember this old history and they seek to reclaim it, to finish the work that was undermined at so many turns.
There are members of the secret Order of Asra hidden across the continent, they are dedicated to easing tensions between the nations and peoples, including the Ulan. The other dedication of the order is secrecy, these members will always prioritize keeping themselves hidden away over their goals of peace.
The order uses the game of go, a game that Asra herself was an expert at, to allow members to communicate and give simple indications that wouldn’t be understood by people outside the order. When people are brought into the order, a great deal of time is spent teaching them to play the game. Then, once the student has learned the game, they begin to learn the hidden meanings behind specific moves and arrangements of pieces.
The grandmaster of the Order of Asra is a dwarf, Mako Iwamatsu. Hidden within the council of the current Asran emperor in Sukaima, he dedicates his time to soothing the culture of war and dominance, tempering it to ease any transitions of power.
The River Delvers
During the late middle ages two separate groups sought to recover a valuable jewel from an abandoned dwarven mine. They were trapped in the depths, forced to wander in the darkness. Eventually they discovered a great underground river, one that stretched all the way from Tiandao to Skaivu with numerous offshoots and tributaries. The two groups realized the fortune they had discovered, that they could monopolize trade and avoid the Ulan of the great plains entirely.
The River Delvers began to come together and establish themselves as an organization. They fight underground enemies to secure their river route, making treaties and trade deals with the underground nations and the cities above. They employ miners to expand the river and improve their ability to travel it and build outposts in the underground. The other great effort of the Delver’s workers and soldiers is keeping their trade ports secure.
The current leader of the delvers is a drow, Sadiir Arabrahel, who frequently travels the river passages to supervise the operation of the route and its ships. There are numerous managers who oversee the ships and goods.