Geography (Berserk Supplement)
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The physical world resembles real world Europe before the Age of Discovery. While the nations of the world have their own sprawling domains, vast swaths between settlements are untouched, teeming with wildlife. Roughly 1,000 years ago, the continent was covered in warring city-states and tribes. In this "Age of Warlords", famine, disease, and war were even more common than they were today. At the height and end of this era, a third of the collective population died. It was at this time that Supreme King Gaiseric, the legendary Skull King of Galloping Death, raised an army of unimaginable size from seemingly thin air. While he united the nations and ensured safety for its people in the newly formed Midland, at the time stretching across modern Midland, Tudor, Balden, and northern Paneria, his reign brought increasing class disparity as he choked his people with taxes for his own luxury, and forced his laborers to work at an inhumane rate to improve infrastructure. At the height of his empire, both he and his capital city were destroyed in a single night by means unknown, and the nations splintered into their current forms, leaving the name of the continent as the final sign of his reign.
At the center of Gaiseria lies the remnants of the Kingdom of Midland. Ruled by a royal family claiming the Skull King's blood, despite him lacking any offspring, it has been embroiled in war with all of its neighbors. It has the closest tie to the Church of the Holy See, with its king having constant correspondence and directly answering to the Pontiff to some extent. Midland is primarily covered in fields, and has a relatively temperate climate.
Located in the center of Midland, the capital city of Wyndham is a five-tiered castle city. Even the smallest of these stony buildings stretch three stories into the sky. All but its main streets are almost impossible to navigate without the inherent understanding from being raised in the city. Even beyond the city walls, farming towns and fields dot the visible landscape.
- Tower of Rebirth
The tallest and oldest tower in the city, the Tower of Rebirth is only a stone's throw from the throne. It was constructed to hide the shame of Gaiseric's rule. Currently used to torture those who wrong the king personally, it delves stories into the ground, and is the only way to access the ruins of the ancient city ruled by the Skull King.
Built on the border between Tudor and Midland, the castle Doldrey is a military stronghold built into the side of a mountain. Both its invasion by Tudor and recapture by Midland were major turning points in the Hundred-Year War. Due to being constructed on a rocky desert landscape out of military necessity, rather than value as a settlement, it relies on constant shipments from deeper into the country.
Moving inward from the Tudor border, the three-tiered castle city of Koka is far easier to navigate than Wyndham. Built on winding hills, its wood and stone bear a dark history. Poverty, disease, and disappearances keep the population from growing. Those that serve its enigmatic ruler act without consequence, while those that speak out are carted deeper into the city to places unknown, never to be seen again.
- Castle Balzac
Between Koka and Wyndham, slightly to the north, lies a small castle surrounded by a wooden village deep within the woods. While not spectacular, its people survive and are graced with reasonable ruling by the lineage of Baron Balzac, the bloodline by which the castle was named. However, disease plagues the community. Among these is the curse of the mandragora, a supernatural parasite kept secret by the lord.
Just beyond the reaches of Wyndham, between Balden and the southern Kushan front, Albion is a ruined city dating back to the founding of Midland. The only remaining original structure, the Tower of Conviction, was once used to torture enemies of the crown. Now under direct control by the Holy See, the tower is used to torture those heretical to their beliefs. The few who can afford accomodations live in wooden huts, while those without are forced to live in tents on the edge of town. The only fate for one trapped in Albion is death by persecution, starvation, or disease.
- Enoch Village
Further, toward Randel, lies Enoch Village, a quaint town deep within the forest on the banks of a major river. Once surrounding a shrine to the spirits of the river and forest, it has long since been converted into a town overseen by the Holy See. Once a popular tourist town, trade and commerce have become famine and faith as fear of the rising Kushan threat keeps any who would once delight in the town to stay their final moments with their families.
The first to splinter from Gaiseric's legacy, the Tudor Empire is a belligerent nation, with its taxes primarily going toward strengthening their military, rather than improving infrastructure, welfare, or the lives of the ruling class. Despite having numerous advantageous positions to raise a navy, the risk of incurring the wrath of the great Ys navy to the north is too great. With the surprise invasion of Doldrey, Tudor initiated the Hundred-Year War, which they would ultimately lose. It is due to these actions that their leadership receives scolding from officials of the Holy See, an interaction that heavily strains their place in the Holy See Alliance.
The Kingdom of Balden was among the last to break from Midland. Each governor is advised by a member of the Holy See, which inherently restrains their use of the second largest military in Gaiseria. It is on the colder side of the world, and is covered in coniferous forests, which leads to harsh winters, requiring crown-organized grain housing and trade. Situated across from Midland, they have an understanding that, should Tudor wage a claim-less war against any other member of the Holy See Alliance, they will be crushed with the complete weight of the Balden army.
The Randel Commonwealth is the most recently independent nation to come about, having fought an independence war against the Kingdom of Balden. Despite being of the same military tier as Tudor and Midland, and thus nowhere near Balden's might, they were granted victory by declaration of the Holy See. They are the first democracy and the least theocratic nation in all of Gaiseria. While their military and infrastructure are small for their size, they are only rivaled by Paneria in trade and welfare.
The Paneria Alliance, ruling the peninsula of Paneria, is comprised of a number of states that shattered after the fall of King Gaiseric. As the states fought among themselves, they were ignorant of the growing threats of the unified countries around them. When war began to break out in the northern reaches, Paneria understood their two options: unify or die. Refusing to give up their respective independances, the remaining states of Lana, Faris, Nise, and Vritannis formed an alliance, fending off the invading Tudor armies. Over the next handful of decades, the patriarchs of the Holy See gradually shifted from Balden to central Paneria due to a large swath of land donated to the church. When the Randel Uprising broke out, the remaining patriarchs migrated, formally founding the small nation of the Holy See.
- The Holy See
Located in central Paneria, the newly founded, independent capital of the Holy See oversees all religious matters in Gaiseria. Its luxurious halls, adorned with gold, silver, and glittering gemstones, are paid for hand-over-fist by those who believe. Its army is comprised by ranks of the Holy See Alliance's young nobles who wish to earn valor in combat, but who's overseers know better than to deploy on the front lines.
Bordering Midland and the Kushan front, Vritannis became a stronghold garrison city for the allied forces of the Holy See attempting to staunch the tide of the invasion. A port city, it is both the widest and shortest of the major cities in Gaiseria. Before the war, it was primarily inhabited by trade and fishing ships, and granted Paneria a powerful foothold in the limited trade coming out of Kushan.
To the north lies the isle of Ys, a cold, forested land of harty isolationists. It people primarily rely on large-scale fishing and whaling to feed its people, who afford said food by working on ships, mining, foresting, smithing, and shipbuilding. Its oceanic borders are defended by the strongest navy in the world. It has long since split from the Holy See, forming a similar religion ruled by a similar pontiff appointed by the king.
To the north of Randel and Kushan sits the landlocked duchy of Wallatoria. Geographically, it is similar to Ys, though much more mountainous. While still technically a part of the Holy See Alliance, its relation with the church is similar to Tudor's due to their continuation of Gaiseric's national slave labor force. It is by this force, however, that they maintain the highest export of wood in Gaiseria.
North of even Wallatoria lies the duchy of Morgar, the easternmost nation of Gaiseria. Covered in farming communities, its cold hills provide just enough sustenance to store for the winter and pay one's taxes. Wealth and nobility in Morgar are one in the same under a modified divine right of kings stating that those who have wealth have been blessed by God, and therefore are chosen to rule. As such, the many forces employed to fight its wars are technically mercenaries.
A nation and a continent, the Kushan Empire spans hundreds of miles east of Gaiseria. Utilizing an army said to rival even the legends of the Skull King's comprised of highly skilled and equipped soldiers, cannon-fodder war slaves and prisoners of war, beasts unknown to Gaiseria, and the most openly revealed magics, the once small nation steamrolls anything in its path under Emperor Ganishka's incessant ambition.
After the Great Roar of the Astral World, the city of Wyndham ceased to exist. In its place sat the last bastion of human life, Falconia. Efficient, immense, angelic, and inhumanly constructed, it's actually the risen capital city of King Gaiseric itself, though this is kept secret from its inhabitants, and those who speculate without knowledge find it difficult to believe that a perceived mortal king could construct such a marvel. Far beyond the reaches of Wyndham, it can accommodate the entirety of mankind. The people of the world coexist in peace, public policies ensures the education and enrichment of children; though at the contest of many nobles who benefited from the minimal education of the masses, and while crime is on the rise and wages are on a decline as the population continues to rise as more citizens come through the gates to escape the threat of the astral world, the majority of taxes go toward improving the peoples' quality of life. Despite the variety of its people, all within its walls view their king, Griffith, as the Falcon of Light, the true king ordained by God.
- Wing Stones
Littering the countryside of Wyndham are stones ranging from the size of a horse, to towering above some buildings. Their glittering, quartz-like surfaces form the shape of wings pointing toward the city. Creatures that are not humanoids or beasts can not come within three times the stone's size, being infinitely repelled by an unseen force. New recruits in the Falconian army repair and extend the highways around Falconia connecting its various grottos of every-blooming flowers, fruit trees, and grain harvested to feed its people.
- Lower City
The lower city of Falconia is notably classical in its architecture. Bustling, navigable streets are filled with content citizens. Coliseums, temples, and guilds for all kinds of employment are scattered throughout its streets. The human elements of the Band of the Falcon, comprised primarily of minor nobles outfitted in ornate armor, acts as the military police of the lower city, while its larger military force is placed in minor outer settlements to safeguard those not protected by the Wing Stones and accelerate deployment to battles on the edge of Falconian territory.
- Falcon's Castle
Spanning the entire rear wall sits Griffith's castle. Every element of its design resembles the wings of a Falcon of Light in flight. Its vast white walls are like nothing ever seen by its citizens. The zig-zagging bridges that extend from its gate allow for coaches of citizens to attend funeral rites, as well as the knightings and more notable marriages, that are held on its grounds.
Only accessible by a bridge shaded by thick fog is a dome as dark as the castle is light; Pandemonium. In this bloodstained amphitheater, apostles test their might against the creatures captured in their army's forays into hostile territory, while their comrades chear at the bloodshed. It is a land of darkness, both literal and metaphorical.
Across the world, "roads of the elves" allow individuals to enter swaths of the astral world known as the interstice. These lands often function quite differently from the physical world. The likelihood of a party encountering these specific interstices are low, but should give a DM creating an interstice enough of an idea how most interstices should act.
- Misty Valley
Just outside a small village between Koka and Castle Balzac is a small valley shrouded in mist. Time passes noticeably slower in this clearing as a fragment of Myrkviðr enters the physical world. It was once a land where elves played, but as the beliefs of the Holy See spread, the valley's connection to Myrkviðr has cut their ability to cross over through this area.
- Godot's Cave
High in the mountains on the Tudor-Midland border is an otherwise unnoticeable home once lived in by an old man, an exiled smith, and his adopted daughter. Near this mine is a small cave with a cell door at its opening and a small waterfall trickling through it. Similarly to the Misty Valley, it was once a dwarven workshop before disbelief and purification from the nearby village barred them from returning from the physical world. Nonetheless, Markt's blessing keeps the fires of Godot's forge to smith powerful blades, and the cave is naturally masked from and repels creatures of evil, though it is not strong enough to bar their entry.
- Mansion of the Spirit Tree
Deep within the forests beyond Enoch Village is a [tree of Myrkviðr] with a mansion having seemingly grown naturally from its roots and branches. Due to the magics placed on its land, normal humans can not typically find its clearing uninvited, and it masks and heals those affected by creatures of evil to an extent, though it is not strong enough to bar their entry, and golems protect it from any powerful invaders. Iridescent green leaves flitter through the air, and daytime passes noticeably slower.
- Cave of Qliphoth
Just as the Mansion of the Spirit Tree represents the light of the astral world, the Cave of Qliphoth represents its darkness. Similarly near Enoch Village, the thick roots around its walls have been twisted by the darkness of the human mind into the visage of the suffering of mankind. All manner of dark creatures writhe around its twisting, shifting walls.
- Isma's Island
To the west of Tudor, far into the island, sits a small island appearing to simply be a mountain that has breached the waves. An isolated village sits on its jagged, dangerous coast, its people hostile to any invaders save for a small group of fishermen. Deep within the island is a cave no native wishes to enter. Deep within the cave sits a pool of water, connected to the ocean by the smallest of inlets. Beneath this vast reservoir lies a sea god, lurking below the surface, awaiting the day it will break free from the merrow's prison.
Further into the ocean than even Isma's Island sits an unmapped island covered in ever-blossoming cherry trees. In the center of this island sits a hall similar to the Mansion of the Spirit Tree, but on a much larger scale. It is this spirit tree that gives all others on the island life. Those that attempt to enter are enchanted into walking in circles. Should a group somehow circumvent this challenge, they would find themselves in a pumpkin patch, assaulted by the golems of Skellig. All manner of witches, elves, and Myrkviðr creatures live leisurely on its floor. For even a single day to pass, many years beyond the island would come and go. Within the Grand Cherry Tree of Skellig sits the queen of all elves and mages alike, the Flower Storm Monarch. Nearby the great tree is a deep cavers of which most of the island's citizens are barred from due to its inhabitant's temperamental attitude. Within this cave is the forge of Hanarr, a master dwarven blacksmith and collaborator of many powerful magic artifacts, including the Berserker Armor and the Skull Knight's Set.
After the Great Roar of the Astral World, the planes of the astral world and the physical world began to intermingle, transforming the universe into the global interstice of Fantasia. Beasts of all kinds pose an extinction-level threat to mankind, with the city of Falconia and the lands protected by it acting as their only safety. At the center of the world sits the grand World Spiral Tree. Once inhibited by the many spirit trees destroyed by Griffith's forces, the double-helix trunked tree's ethereal branches spread across the sky like writhing tentacles, and are used by sailors to navigate.
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