The World of After The Bomb

3-6 players; This game setting unlocked at 75 supporters.
After the Bomb house rules, character creation, etc.
DM: Augur
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The World of After The Bomb

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The World of After The Bomb

Terminology
  • "The Folk" is used to describe all manner of sentient & intelligent (uplifted) animals.
  • "Wildlings" is used to describe those Folk who live unsettled and nomadic lives, including hunter-gatherer tribes.
  • "Beasts" is used to describe the innumerable animals which are not uplifted.


Timeline Overview
  • The Present Day
    • It is the 20th year in the reign of Longjaw. The present day is a time of gradual growth, and the slow rediscovery of wisdom lost to the ages. Human beings are a small minority of the sentient population. Technology is at a primitive state roughly analogous to the 8th Century in Western Europe; this is a Dark Age after the fall of the rising, civilizing power which preceded it. Communities tend to be Orthodox in their attitudes as there's no guarantee of surviving another season, and sticking with ways proven to keep one alive is far safer than trying something new. In many communities it is customary that when a person reaches the age of maturity (a developmental age rather than an objective period of years), he should leave the village to go out into the world. At the end of a year's time, it is often also expected that the person will return, having brought something back to help the community. Social standing in the community directly correlates with the significance of what's brought back.
  • The Old Days
    • Even the name of the civilizing power has been lost to time, but legends say that man and animal alike flew through rivers of blue, worked, fought, and traded with one another, and walked between the stars. The Orthodox teach that at first man made animal to help him in his fight against invaders from distant lands, but that this relationship was corrupted out of man's hubris and sloth, and that when man finally realized the extent to which he depended upon his animal companions, he turned his black back on them, and tried to slay his brothers. Man struggled against animals and invaders alike for generations. Like his ancestors before, man once again destroyed everything he had worked so hard (with animal) to build and rediscover. So wanton was his arrogance and brutality that the blue rivers turned their back on him and vowed to leave the world until it was whole once more; only the clear rivers and the brown rivers remain to this day. Finally, a plague swept through the world of man, and brought an end to his conflicts...and all the progress that had been made prior.
  • The Ancient Past
    • The faintest legends of this long bygone epoch speak of man's power and influence being at an incredible apex. A golden age where man's tools enabled him to harness the power of the sun, made for the moon her many little sisters, and shrank the world itself so that people even in distant lands could speak to one another without shouting. Man's treacherous and power-seeking nature, however, brought this golden age to an end, and very nearly ended the world.
The Old Kingdom
Each hex is a day's journey on foot.
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Regional Population Centers

Kingsalter
  • Ruling Noble: King Geraldo Longjaw (Dog, Male), his heir, Prince Pedro Longjaw has recently taken up the cloth and forsaken political power.
  • Notable Locations:
    • Dog Arms Inn: Radjack Flattooth is the good-natured equine owner of the tavern. Prices are reasonable, the food & drink palatable, and the handful of rooms available to let are furnished for sleep and clean.
    • The Happy Hammer: The fires of Linus Greenscale's forge are always hot. He employs a half dozen folk including a farrier, a fletcher, and apprentices. Between the lot of them they can fix or fabricate nearly anything.
    • Eastern Tamarix Opera House: Lionel Longclaw (Lion, Male) is the producer of theatrical performances held in his underground Opera House. He is sometimes in trouble with the King as the Orthodox hold a low opinion of actors in general, and because Lionel sometimes hosts subversive or licentious plays which the crown and the church frown upon.
  • Local perspective/biases: As events rarely cause too much commotion in Kingsalter, most of the populace tends to be Orthodox as upsetting the applecart is just as likely to result in terrible trouble as it is improving their lot in life.
  • General Moses Splitclaw (Cougar, Male) manages the King's Guard (army) & City Watch.
  • Predominately populated by bovines & other ungulates, but the town is highly pluralistic.
Marsh Village of N'angverik Clan
  • Ruling Noble: Lord Hipolito Greynose (Rat, Male) is a constant thorn in the side of the King. He is often the lone voice of pushback against what he sees as the plodding and backward policies of the King and his council. Lord Greynose has a rapidly swelling population as the N'angverik Clan continues to grow in numbers through reproduction and immigration from the East.
  • Notable Locations:
    • Undergate Market is a loud, crowded, somewhat dangerous, and incredibly exciting market built along the sloping roads of a downward spiraling former mining operation from the past age. This is the best place to find things uncommon to The Old Kingdom.
  • Local perspective/biases: Ambitious & industrious traders and craftsmen, the folk of the N'angverik Clan frequently trade with wildlings and distant kingdoms beyond the wilderness; tend to be Reclaimers.
  • Predominately populated by rodents, amphibians, and those of any kind with a daring spirit.
Treetop Village of Curklebikk Clan
  • Ruling Noble: Lady Aline Sharpear (Shrew, Female) is the elected leader of the Curklebikk Clan elder council.
  • Notable Locations:
    • Herbalist: Carina Loudwing (Raven, female) is a skilled herbalist who knows how to use the forest's secrets for healing.
  • Local perspective/biases: The population lives in a near-constant state of anxiety making them highly unstable and prone to mob behavior; trend toward Imperial reactionary sentiments.
  • Predominately populated by rodents and avians of all types.
Port Periwinkle
  • Ruling Noble: Mayor Dong Grayskin (Toad, Male)
  • Notable Locations:
    • The Basking Shark: a small alehouse run for many years by Nissien Ives, who resides in the small room behind the bar.
    • The docks: it is from here that folk can hire the services of the Shadowcrester to be ferried to a nearby island, or peruse the stalls selling wares from and across the sea.
  • Local perspective/biases: The folk of Port Periwinkle simultaneously like the status quo and complain about it incessantly; the town's favorite pastime is to have a good whinge.
  • Predominately populated by otters, amphibians, seafaring avians, and transients.
Regional Factions
  • Reclaimers
    • Ambitions: want to explore, expand, and "reclaim" the wilderness for civilization.
    • Identity: tend to be merchants & those lacking deep ties to a specific region.
    • Values: want material prosperity, are cosmopolitan in outlook, prefer commerce to conquest, and are less risk averse than Orthodox or Imperials--both of whom they see as reacting to fear of the unknown.
    • View of Humans: Reclaimers tend to view humans skeptically, and often are not sure what to think of them given the seemingly hysterical fear of the Orthodox, and the similarly irrational hatred of the Imperials.
  • The Orthodox
    • Ambitions: wants the Kingdom to maintain its borders, its practices, and its time-tested traditions
    • Identity: tend to be the pious (the well-to-do clergy & peasantry alike), and the hereditary elite
    • Values: community, tradition, piety, harmony with the natural order (sees wilderness as vital balancing force against civilization, complementary, not adversarial); rooted deeply to the land, community, and local institutions
    • View of Humans: The Orthodox shun them out of fear believing their race to be cursed.
  • Imperials
    • Ambitions: expansionistic colonial view that it is their moral imperative to "civilize the savages" (nomadic & tribal peoples) & through that struggle they will retain the "martial virtues which keep society strong."
    • Identity: tend to be the warrior class, scholars, and landed minor nobility
    • Values: imposing order over chaos, adding to civilization by reducing barbarism, and benefiting themselves & society in the process
    • View of Humans: Imperials tend to hate and distrust them as legendary figures of treachery and destruction.
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Re: The World of After The Bomb

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Legends Around the Old Kingdom

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Baroncliffe Castle
These walls grew up around a small, fortified house that once watched over the trade routes of Taytheon Bay. The home of a shrewd, human baron, as his power grew, so did his castle. The fortified house was replaced with a stronghold; with towers and with dungeons that burrowed deep into the cliffs below the castle. When the grandson of the baron came of age, he inherited the title and, modeled in the image of the grandfather he remembered watching as a boy, set about achieving something greater. Within a decade, he had transformed the castle from that of a mere baron into that of a king. And so it stayed through the reign of many a monarch that followed him. But unforeseen by the first king, who had proclaimed their immortality, his glittering kingdom and his royal castle would not stand in glory until the end of time. When the country was overrun and the kingdom fell, the castle was, for a time, a bastion of safety. Panic reigned, of course, but those who dwelled in the castle tried to maintain some normality. One of those who remained was the Queen Consort of the fallen king. Distraught at the death of her husband, she had his tomb prepared in the castle crypt, but his body was never returned and remained empty. It sapped the last of the people’s hope and slowly, chaos came to Baroncliffe. Supplies ran out. People fled. Fear undermined order and status and ultimately the fabric of the castle. One morning, Queen Arabeth woke and simply found herself alone. Centuries have passed since Baroncliffe was abandoned, but today the crumbling ruins still cut a grand silhouette on the cliff top. Some of the castle has fallen to the sea and much of the roof is gone, leaving rooms exposed to the elements. Where once walked nobles, now wild creatures wander the halls. The sea has worked its way into some of the lowest parts of the castle and the wind has pulled down the stones of the highest, making room for new inhabitants. What is the future of this place? Perhaps the castle will continue its slow collapse into the stormy waters of Taytheon Bay. Perhaps it will have a different fate. Maybe a new monarch will rise and make this historied building a royal seat again. Maybe you, who explore its ruins today, can see yourself here in days to come, safe, warm and the proud holders of the keys to Baroncliffe Castle reborn.

Beaugrey Hall
Before the River Tayth sweeps northward to Port Periwinkle, after its south-westerly charge from the Buzzard Hills, Beaugrey Hall sits on the bend in the river. Once such a prime position – fertile land near the important road at Taythbridge – these lands are now marshy and abandoned. The house, once the grand home of the vaunted de Beaugrey Family, now makes for grim ruins. The shape of the old house is easily discernible, but little of it other than the walls remain. Where once were grand halls – rooms for entertaining, kitchens and courtyards – now nothing. Time and the marshes have taken it all. No more do light and luxury live at Beaugrey Hall. Damp and darkness reign. As the bones of the family molder in their tombs far away in the forest necropolis, monstrous things are reported to live here in the house in their stead. Legends speak of The Bone Grey which lives beneath the old ruins, where the cellars of the old house remain largely intact – a little flooded in places, a little broken through into the surrounding caves in spots where subsidence and sinkholes have wrought their havoc, but largely intact. The perfect place for The Bone Grey to hide. What The Bone Grey is remains a point of contention as past legends compete with current rumors as to his nature and intentions. Only a few people have been unlucky enough to encounter and survive him, but rumors have reached Kingsalter that something terrible lives here, and that something worse lives in the waters. A creature controlled by The Bone Grey to roam the nearby waterways and fend off unwanted visitors. Circling the marshes and the waters of the caves, if a victim does not spot the creature’s approaching ripples, it is soon too late to escape. Guarded by the creature in the water, The Bone Grey has been largely left alone in his lair for generations.

Buzzard Hills
The Buzzard Hills are a range of low, rounded hills, bordered to the north by the sweep of the River Tayth. Bleak and resource-poor, they have always been sparsely populated, even in the days before the nearby country was abandoned. As such, their quiet wildness proved the ideal location for a nest of giant ants.

Fallwood
Being the closest wild forest to Kingsalter, the Fallwood is place well-known to be a haven to bandits who prey upon those using the River Tayth or the King's Road, both only a few days walk distant, as a means of transport. Travelers who don't keep their wits about them may find themselves robbed of their valuables, or sometimes worse. Periodically, when the banditry gets too bad, or when some politically-connected person gets robbed, the King's Guard mounts an expedition into the forest to clear out bandits and wildlings. This always results in a satisfactory end to banditry for a period of time before the cycle starts back up again. The Fallwood is home to many forest-dwelling type wildlings though uplifted avians are fairly uncommon. In the Autumn the Fallwood is truly a sight to behold as the mixed deciduous forest puts on an incredible visual display of nature's favorite colors.

Forest Necropolis
Many generations ago, when the Old Kingdom was reputedly stronger, more regionally powerful, and led by younger, more ambitious nobles, the Gright Woods used to be a Royal Forest; managed hunting country studded with summer villas and hunting lodges. This was the favored haunt of many a noble family. It is no surprise that those who enjoyed the happiest days of their lives in these handsome woods also chose to be buried here. The Forest Necropolis was a grand cemetery, with wide boulevards and elaborate mausolea. Interments were usually from the grandest families of the Kingdom, although the graves of wealthier locals and servants from middle class families can be found among the tombs. The necropolis fell out of use as families abandoned the forest and the final interments were some four centuries ago. As the Gright Woods grew back, expelling the stately avenues and managed groves, the wild, feral nature of the forest returned and the necropolis was ruined and overgrown. Now, the grand mausolea are dank and foundering. Now, the marble steps are shattered and the family tombs are crumbling. Now, the eerie silence among the monuments is broken only by the calls of wild animals, and according to the tales by some who ply the River Tayth with their trade, the cries of the risen dead and the chants of people with nefarious intentions.

Forest of Wyklyn
The Forest of Wyklyn is a forest which fills a valley that's bounded by the Hevenward Hills along its southern edge, Taythion Bay to the North, and the River Tayth to the East. The valley gradually tapers to its western end where the Hevenward Hills and the bay meet. The forest is second in size only to the Gright Woods, and is home to many uplifted animals, the bulk of which are avians and rodents. The Ruins of Meverrin Monastery are lost inside the deep forest in its northern reaches while the Treetop Village of Curklebikk Clan is along its southeasterly edge positioned to take advantage of the trade along the River Tayth at a long, gradual bend in the river where the current slows and the river widens before emptying into the bay. A day's journey across the river from the village are the Ruins of Beaugrey Hall where the Bone Grey is rumored to be a lurking evil. The forest itself is an old wood dense with trees and largely unmanaged save for near the village where coppicing, pollarding, and other forestry practices are used to cultivate that area of the forest for construction and other purposes. A healthy charcoal industry exists on the outskirts of the village working in synergy with woodsmen to harvest the trees best suited for becoming such fuel. Herbalists also find this forest to be rife with a bountiful variety of herbs and mushrooms useful both in medicines and for foodstuffs.

Gright Woods
The Gright Woods is a sprawling forested region that dominates and defines the entire northern border of the Old Kingdom. It is a sprawling and dangerous area rife with an enormous variety of wildlife and bands of uplifted wildlings (often large predatory carnivores) who reputedly fight for territorial claims within this wood. The density of the forest varies from the new, light, and sprawling western forest south of Baroncliffe Castle to the dense, ancient, and dark woods of its deepest interior where legends say the Necropolis still stands.

Hagwellion point
Islands dot the waters of Taythion Bay north of the Old Kingdom's lands. The island of Trenow was once the site of a fort and harbor from which a human naval force patrolled the bay. When the human kingdom fell, this fort at rocky Hagwellion Point was abandoned and the harbor eventually filled with silt. Several centuries passed before pirates eyed the ruins from the sea. Impressed by the point’s position in the bay, they occupied the old fort, erecting new structures among the ruins and over the old harbor. Legend has it that not a generation passed before some curse which lay upon the fort caused them all to devolve into the primitive sharks which swim the waters around the point to this day.

Hand of Vanth
To the east of Kingsalter, in the Fallwoods, lies an ancient statue. Erected in a time before the Old Kingdom was ascendant here, the hand has long inspired wonder, rumor and dark practices amongst those who know of its existence. Was there once a whole stone body? What kind of giant would leave behind his hand? Is the stone body a god reaching up from out of the ground to imbue the faithful with the spirit of his wrath? In recent times, the stone holds the name ‘the Hand of Vanth’ and the powers of life and death have been ascribed to it. Legend states that a demon named Vanth installed five enchanted skulls from the underworld in the fingers of the giant stone hand. Some come here to speak to those skulls. Others, though, come to work unholy rituals upon the altar.

Hevenward Hills
The sparsely populated Hevenward Hills includes the Royal Gold Mines at its most westerly end, is bounded by all but its West-Northwestern portion by the River Tayth, and nearly encircled by roads save where the Forest of Wyklyn intercedes on its behalf. The hills are host to many small wildling tribes, herds of various beasts, and countless legends of monsters, and ancient ruins. In recent times there has been talk about carving a road through the hills to save many days' travel between Kingsalter and Port Perriwinkle--the kingdom's only access to the sea and the easier trade that comes from naval trade routes. Mayor Greyskin is a staunch proponent of this idea, but a number of high profile individuals including General Splitclaw advise against it, citing legends that even in the distant past the Folk avoided going through the hills. General Splitclaw has even cited tales about lost tunnels dug beneath and through the hills by their ancient ancestors as evidence that the Folk knew the hills to be too dangerous to traffic directly.

Kingsalter
Kingsalter is the only settlement remaining in the Old Kingdom of a size large enough to be called a "City." The tens of thousands of Folk who call it home often know of no other way of life than the hustle, commerce, and industry of this settlement. Castle Sunspire is the playground and principle location of business for the nobility. The Eastern Tamarix Opera House is the social refuge of merchants and guild members who comprise the small, but influential middle class. One of the livelier districts frequented by the lower class is the Dog Arms District which is centered around the popular Dog Arms Inn. Most of the community tend to be Orthodox in their outlook, save for some of the merchants whose ambitions tend to make them more sympathetic to the Reclaimer perspective; the more long-standing and established the merchant, the less this is likely.

Mandible Hill Giant Ant Nest
Sited on Mandible Hill, the nest plunges deep beneath the grassy surface. Ant workers and soldiers range far and wide, scouring the hills for anything (or anyone) edible before dragging it back to their tunnels. This has lately become quite a problem as the ants are becoming increasingly aggressive and have begun taking to attacking those using the King's Road between Port Periwinkle and Kingsalter. Something must be done about this menace!

Marsh Village of N’angverik Clan
In the marshes along the Tayth, a village of rodents, their allies, and those daring enough to brave the swamp and the broader world cluster around a ruined tower. The East Road splits off from the King's Road before the Buzzard Hills, and heads east through the Marsh village. The N’angverik clan was a rat clan, one of many who over-ran the Old Kingdom after the Battle of the Thousand Traitors, who settled here. They were drawn to the site by the large, stone tower that dominates the marshes. The Kingsaltens know this ruin as the Lucentower as it is named this on their oldest maps, but the rats call this Angaver, the Life Stem. Powerful in the region, the N’angverik Clan are an ambitious regional power. Many proximate wildling clans pay tribute for protection and access to their markets. One of their chief competitors for regional dominance is that of the Curklebikks, a mixed clan of rodents and avians who say they're originally from the Wyklyn Forest. They purport to be peaceful traders who the N’angverik permit to trade with Kingsalter, provided a large tribute is regularly delivered to the marsh village. How have the N’angverik Clan gained such regional control? They are renowned and feared for the long lives of their rulers and the prowess and cunning of their warriors. Their vassals are obliged to attribute this to the N’angverik’s obvious superiority and power. Some scholars in the region believe the marsh rats benefit from a quirk of birth, others suggest their claims of longevity are bluster and propaganda. Yet, a few Kingsalten historians have noted that the ruined tower around which the village lies was the magical Lucentower of the sorceress of the March. The old tales tell of the power she built into its stones, of the life force that the tower was designed to slowly siphon from the river and transfer to its mistress. Could the rat leaders of the clan have discovered how to access this life-extending power?

Meverrin Monastery
What remains of the ancient monastery at Meverrin Hill? Where once stood the rooms in which the small community of monks studied, slept or dined, now stand only crumbling ruins. The walls that once kept the world away from the monks stand mostly unbroken, still holding much of the wild at bay. Inside its perimeter, storms have felled roofs, vines have pulled down stones and only the chapel still has a roof to protect the meager treasures of its architecture. Sheltered in the rooms below ground are other treasures – the holy tombs in the crypt, the books of the monastery library. But around Meverrin something more than books, bones and graffiti remains of the monks that once lived here; places where the air chills, stones where unnatural darkness falls, shadows where robed figures seem to lurk. What now calls this place home?

Port Periwinkle
The quiet fishing village of Port Periwinkle is the only settlement in The Old Kingdom with a port which receives commercial traffic from overseas. Just up the coast from the mouth of the River Tayth, the port faces out into Taythion Bay and is the means by which folk from the city of Kingsalter, to the south, access the sea and the lands beyond. With a scattering of houses and a tavern above which travelers can find rough accommodation, there is little to recommend the village other than its rustic charm and connection to the sea. The Port is unusual in that the position of Mayor is elected and not appointed or hereditary. The position of Mayor is often much mocked or reviled as are politicians in general by the seafolk of this town, but Mayor Greyskin is exalted as first among equals in the Port unlike any other ruler in the Old Kingdom due to his wisdom, even-handedness, and perspicacity in dealing with other rulers in the Old Kingdom and with the foreign interests which pass through Port Periwinkle.

Royal Gold Mine
Every Kingsalten child learns the tale of the Battle of the Thousand Traitors, the final stand of the Old Kingdom against the forces that left it in ruins. The legend recounts how the King’s army camped in the Hevenward Hills above the plain where they would fight their last. The depleted forces had retreated to the Royal Gold Mines and soldiers desperately extracted gold to pay outland mercenaries to come to their aid. Strengthened, the army gathered on the battlefield. Yet as the fighting began, half the army turned on their fellows: mercenaries and once loyal King’s soldiers, both. The evil forces triumphed; the dynasty of the Old Kingdom fell, and with it its wider relevance. No one knew why the soldiers turned, but survivors who fled the battlefield said they saw a band of the traitors take the fallen King into the gold mine. It was the last time anyone saw him. The battle’s true events were never understood.

Taythion Bay
This bay is the safe harbor into which the River Tayth empties. The misty, green shroud of the Forest of Wyklyn can be seen on the southern edge of the bay, the lights of Port Periwinkle to the southeast, Trenow Island to the north, and the rocky shores of the Old Kingdom's shoreline to the east. To the west the open waters of the unknown beckon with all the hints of danger and adventure summoned by ages of legends passed down by seafaring folk. The waters of the bay are usually choppy, but swells rarely grow to more than twenty feet in height unless there's a storm, save for when one approaches the Trenow Islands whose waters can be far more dangerous to navigate.

Treetop Village of Curklebikk Clan
Lady Aline Sharpear is the elected leader of the Curklebikk Clan elder council, an elected body of leaders who represent the varying districts of the sprawling, treetop village. Due to their vulnerability to the ever-present dangers of both the Forest of Wyklyn and the Hevenward Hills, the population are a generally anxious bunch given these dangers. This anxiety along with the nature of their form of local government has caused the village to have the most tumultuous history of all the settlements in the Old Kingdom. Uprisings, vigilantism, popular demagogues, and near-constant conspiracies and political maneuvering of the council have earned the village a well-deserved reputation for instability and opportunity. The often transitory population of avian Folk don't help this situation, but are also a valuable source of otherwise hard-to-come-by information about events and rumors around the Old Kingdom.

Trenow Island
The central island of Trenow was once the site of a fort and harbor from which a human naval force patrolled the bay. Since the fall of the human kingdom, and the harbor being rendered useless due to the accumulation of silt, the island ceased being trafficked by civilized folk. Today the central island of Trenow is home primarily to uplifted avian species, especially of the seafaring & predatory varieties, who find the lofty and forested peaks of the island to be excellent locales for otherwise inaccessible "roosts"--treetop and mountaintop homes from which to fly, hunt, and travel. Other than uplifted avians, the island is rife with wildlife including a number of species who have evolved to be smaller given the limited size of their environment on the island. The eastern and western islands tend to be dominated by sealife, and a few small outposts of uplifted folk from marine species. These islands are largely desolate, lacking the tall peaks and forests of the central island. Due to their being so unvisited, rumors abound about these islands and what secrets they might be hiding.
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The South: what the traders and travelers speak of

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Legends Beyond the Old Kingdom

Legends from the Northwest (James)

The Floating City
Some sea traders that have docked at Port Periwinkle claim that out past Trenow Island, beyond the sight of any land is a city at sea. Rising up out of the water hundreds of feet into the air and near the size of Kingsalter. Deep within this city lies the dormant machinery of an ancient era. It is told that if you can get the machinery to work it will spew forth gold in quantities that you could swim in it.

The Shoals of Forever
A limitless fishing ground that would make any Captain rich beyond rich, but this is a place you never want to seek out or stumble onto. A place where you become lost in yourself. They claim that if the fishing seems too good, keep an eye on your crew. But it is not an illness you need to watch for. No. Some never wake from their dreams, and others simply get lost in the horizon staring out at nothing. Though if you do find yourself in The Shoals, you best pray to whatever gods of the currents and winds you can to carry you out of there as fast as possible.

Far Port
Days and days out to sea, near the edge of the world lies Far Port. A trading center beyond what any can imagine and where everything has a price. You can spend a fortune in Far Port and see only a fraction of what they have to offer there. Want a magic sword that shoots fire? Go to Far Port and they'll ask you "What color do you want it in?" Want a new mount and they'll ask you "Land, sea, or air?" You can spend a lifetime searching their wares and more than a lifetime paying for them.

Legends from the Northeast (Alyssin)

The Kingdom of Ruins
Sometimes spoken of in hushed whispers over lonely campfires, this mythical landscape may vary in its topography like any other, but the ruins of bygone ages which dot the landscape for endless miles suggest that some legends about the sprawling cities and enormous populations of the distant past may not all be legend and myth.

The Dark Road
When in their cups, some of the most well-travelled merchants speak of The Dark Road--a massive and labyrinthine underground system of tunnels in which ancient relics and treasures are buried. Humans are said to jealously guard this loot as they covet the lost treasures and achievements of the Folk. On occasion, when they are driven by desperation, these human inhabitants are said to be willing to trade a trinket or two for the necessities of life we surface Folk take for granted.

The Mountains of Mystery
Some eagle folk speak of these mountains with trembling breath. The mountain chain and even the foothills on either side of the mountains are said to be studded with caves and tunnels of a breathtaking diversity. Some are natural formations home only to the dens of beasts. Some are ancient mineshafts sometimes still studded with the dilapidated tracks of bygone generations of miners. While some, they say, are of an alien nature hostile to humans and Folk alike, and teeming with bizarre and squamous monstrosities too horrifying to behold and retain a grip on reality.

Legends from the East (Justin)

The Danger Plains
Legend holds that far to the East tribes of horses with the torsos of hideous hairless monkeys dominate vast swaths of prairie. Tribal conflicts often rage across the grasslands with battles that can stretch over miles and miles of terrain given the incredible mobility of these horsemen. These tribes are reputed to be extremely territorial and aggressive which is why few who try to cross the vast, open prairies are ever heard from again.

The Kingdom of Wisdom
A vast civilization of burrowing owls allegedly exists beneath the plains. Legends speak of secret knowledge unearthed in the depths which has made them advanced and powerful, but has so corrupted them that they eat The Folk.

The Oracle
Legends from travelers speak of a bottomless lake in the trackless plains. In the middle of the lake rests an island from which rises an enormous tree. The sole denizen of that tree is a bird which cries tears of fire. It is said that the lake holds an enormous monster, but those who manage to elude the monster may receive an answer to a single question about their future from the clairvoyant avian.

Legends from the Southeast (Nikki)

The Sea of Sand
Far away from Kingsalter, some say there is a vast sea of sand. Water is scarce and there are very few trees where one might shield himself from the burning sun. It is easy to get swept away by great wind storms and Folk are likely to find themselves lost amongst endless sand dunes. The desert is known to trick the eyes, giving Folk visions of a shimmering city in the distance. However, the city disappears as one approaches it.

The Ancient Mine
High in a mountain range, it is rumored that there is an ancient mine where mysterious crystals were once harvested. When cut and polished properly, a crystal is said to grant its owner indescribable power. No one knows why the mine was sealed and abandoned. Perhaps there are no more crystals to be mined, or that the crystals were deemed too dangerous for Folk to carry.

Legends from the South (Michael)

Burning Mountains
To the south lies a chain of mountains that is all but impassable. The reason for this lies not in the height of the climb, though some peaks are high indeed, but rather to breathe the air is to invite slow death. A peculiar dense smoke, unique to these mountains, lies in the valleys and covers all but the highest peaks. This sulfur-tinged smoke comes up from the very earth, though no volcanoes are known in these parts. Here the land is rocky and jagged in parts, and the land underneath is unstable and prone to cave-ins. Some say that under the earth lies a gateway to Hell itself, but the doorway was sealed in ancient days when a mountain was dropped on it by some heroic raging God. Scholars suggest that if this mountain range exists, it must be rich with seams of pure anthracite; a black rock that can burn. These fires could have been raging underground for thousands of years. These mountains divide the Old Kingdom's southern reaches from the world to the south. Some travelers are said to have traveled beyond, by climbing over the icy heights of the very highest peaks. A path that rises above the toxic smoke filled valleys below.

The Tower of Heaven
Some of those who claim to have ventured beyond the Burning Mountains tell of a strangely beautiful white-domed tower atop the highest frozen peak. This building lies where the air is thin, indeed where no one could conceivably build in such a hostile place. Some have said that this structural wonder has no windows nor entrance. Those who assault the walls are struck down by lightning. It is protected by the Gods and is a holy place.

The Land of the Giants
Beyond the mountains it is said that there lies a land that is warmer, greener but infinitely more hostile. Within the vast stretches of jungle giant insects rule with mind powers far greater than any in the lands of The Old Kingdom. Tales speak of wasps the size of a horse that will blind you with a thought and lay eggs in your body. The larvae that emerge then devour you alive. Worse still are the great spiders living high in the trees, and gigantic dragonflies by the river waters and lagoons. The plant life here is also said to be of enormous proportions, of giant trees which give off a soft glow at night, giving the land an unearthly beauty and attracting deadly swarms of predators. Legends say that the smoke of the Burning Mountains is the only thing that prevents these insectoid monsters from destroying everyone in the Old Kingdom. However, legend also tells that any who travel there and win honey from one of the enormous bee hives will gain magical powers. This magical honey, guarded by a fearsome army of giant bees, will turn one into an immortal giant; destined to rule the world.

Legends from the Southwest (Nikki)

Far beyond the Hevenward Hills and Forest of Wyklyn it is said that the land stretches into the sea, forming a long peninsula. The southwestern landscape is rumored to be a mix of rolling hills and peaty bogs.

The Blightmoor
The Blightmoor is considered the most dangerous terrain to traverse. Folk brave enough to venture into the area often do not return. It is believed that the moor will swallow you whole should you step in the wrong spot and poisonous plants fiercely protect their ground. Some say that there is a lake in the middle of Blightmoor. Its water has the power to heal the sick.

The Forgotten King's Castle
On the northern coastal cliffs of the peninsula, lies the ruins of a large castle. It is rumored that a great and beloved king was once born here, but his name has been long forgotten by the Folk. Some believe that the king will return in a time of great need. Treasure seekers believe that the ancient king’s sword may be hidden amongst the crumbling stones.

The Bizarre Statues
Hidden in the hills, there is an overgrown area littered with twisted metal and broken glass. Bizarre statues can be found here and in great numbers too. No one really knows where they came from, but some Folk suspect that this site was sacred to the humans.

The Standing Stones of Telltreghel
Many standing stones dot the landscape, but none are as mysterious as the stones at Telltreghell. The small formation there consists of three upright stones. The largest of the stones is circular with its center holed out to give it a ring-like appearance. Two pillar stones flank the circular stone, one before it and one behind. It is said that the stones hum to travelers and that the hole in the middle stone glows the palest of blue in the light of the full moon.

The Island Monastery
A small island can be seen from the southern coast. When the tide is low, a natural causeway appears, making it possible to venture out to the island. The island contains the ruins of a monastery that once contained a vast library. It's possible that something has survived after all these years.

The Sea Monster's Tower
To the far west, at the land’s end, a tall, spindly tower rises from the ocean. Sometimes at night, a mysterious light shines from the top of the tower. Some say that in foggy weather the mournful cries of a sea monster can be heard in this area.
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Re: The World of After The Bomb

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Legends of the Folk (various)

The Midnight Merchant
Whilst traveling at night, Folk sometimes stumble into the camp of a mysterious merchant. The merchant, an elderly blind mole, never reveals his name nor offers any other details about himself. He is; however, rumored to be friendly. Many Folk say that he invites his visitors to share his camp for the night and take a peek at his wares. He carries a variety of trinkets and curiosities as well as herbs, teas, candied fruits and spiced nuts. Upon waking the next morning, Folk find that the camp has disappeared entirely, as if the merchant never existed.

The Albatross Guild
The Albatross Guild is comprised of long-flight birds who control the communication of information across distances, and reportedly control greater knowledge of the wider world. As a result, many Folk view them as puppet masters; the real power behind the figureheads who sit upon thrones.

The Skunkfather
The Skunkfather is an underworld leader who is feared and respected far beyond Kingsalter. He leads the thieves guild and exercises nominal control over illegal operations almost everywhere. Though few have met him in person, no criminal willingly defies the Skunkfather's wishes. The nobility overtly deny the existence of The Skunkfather, but secretly fear him. No one forgets the fate of certain wealthy merchants who publicly denounced him; warehouses mysteriously gone up in flames, businesses bankrupted, and figures burgled to beggarhood. On the other hand, many enterprising criminals owe their good fortune in life to The Skunkfather. Only one thing is required to be associated with this figure: a proclamation of friendship, and a respectful reverence. Then one's troubles become his troubles, and nothing will stand in the way of it being resolved in one's favor. The price is that someday one will be called upon to perform a favor in return. Should that day come, one is obliged to do as one is told.

Turtleback Monastery
There is an entire city housed in/on the floating corpse of an enormous turtle. Sails the size of small mountains moves them.

A Tropical Paradise
A chain of lush islands beckons sailors traversing the Western Sea, but once these unfortunate travelers land, they find that they are in grave danger as the sea monsters who use the islands as their larder destroy the ships.

The Other Side of the World
Across the Western Sea is a land where they weave the silk of spiders into cloth. Spider and weavers live in a strange union with the spiders never leaving their compounds.

The Flying Death Monkeys
Every life has its price and legend has it that the Flying Death Monkeys never miss a target. Tales say that their victims are always taken at night, and are found at sunrise hanging from their necks from great heights. The Flying Death Monkeys are reputed to approach and recruit promising young killers of all species, and provide the best training possible. No one knows how far their reach extends. Some say that graduation missions for new members involve harmless malarkey to test their skills; breaking into people's houses at night to leave extra sets of keys in a kitchen drawer, or completely rearranging the furniture. Rumor has it that Prince Pedro Longjaw took up the cloth on some threat from this sinister group.
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Re: The World of After The Bomb

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The Six and One Spirits

The Imperials largely revere a pantheon of spirit-like deities who rarely take physical form, called the Six and One Spirits. They are so named for the six spirits who are aspects of community and cooperation, and the one spirit who is their adversary. The Six all have both a light and dark aspect, but the One only has a dark aspect, with no balancing force within himself.

Pakk - The Wolf Spirit - overcoming adversity through cooperation, community/War, mob violence
  • Pakk is represented in images either as a trio of wolves acting in unison, or sometimes as a wolf with three heads. Pakk is the spirit of community, and represents those who solve problems through cooperative strength, resilience, and insight. She is considered fair, but when the bloodlust is upon her, She can act without reason.
Sylverbakk - The Ape Spirit- protection, law/Tyranny
  • Sylverbakk is the Spirit of protection, and is represented in images as a very large simian. He represents those who put themselves in danger to protect the troop, but also those who stand as an authority above the troop. When Sylverbakk works to protect and care for the troop, he is kind and benevolent, but when he issues edicts without considering the troop, he enforces them, brutally if necessary.
Dray - The Horse Spirit - agriculture, work/Cowardice
  • Dray is the essence of prosperity through hard work and dedication. When displayed in images, Dray is depicted as a large and strong horse. Dray can also be considered flighty or skittish, and when challenged, may run from a fight.
Sett - The Badger Spirit - wisdom and learning/Anger
  • Sett is depicted as a small, stocky badger. He is revered by those who take great precautions, prepare for the future, and avoid confrontation. However, Sett is seen as unwelcoming, arrogant, and unkind, and when cornered, lashes out viciously, sometimes not knowing when to leave a fight.

Gyre - The Falcon Spirit - the sky, weather, vision/Aloofness, Callousness
  • Gyre is depicted in images as a flying bird, far in the distance, never close. She is revered by those who wish to influence the weather, or who desire insight about the way ahead of them, but she is sometimes seen as "above the affairs of petty mortals" and out of touch. It is said "Praying to Gyre is like shouting into the wind, and just as effective."
Karion - The Vulture Spirit - death, circle of life/Ugliness
  • Karion is little revered, but seen as a necessary incarnation of life. Depicted as a bent, ugly, elderly vulture, Karion is the god of death, but also of the life cycle, and the god of renewal and sustenance through death. Karion's ways are brutish and vile, and he is seen as ugly even by those who revere him.
The Gaunt - a featureless bipedal form - oppression
  • The Gaunt is seldom depicted in images - it is considered ill luck to scribe an image of him, for it is said he is drawn to his own likeness. To say even his name is considered a curse. He is the god of oppression, of shackles, of cruelty, of the knife. It is said the Gaunt takes without giving. Those that revere The Gaunt are those who have lost all hope in the Six, and look instead to the One, to make a quick end of either themself or their enemies.
Worship
Cities and towns with Six and One Spirits adherents usually set up a temple structure - usually a wide pavilion with a six-sided dais in the center. On feast days, during equinoxes and solstices, and in times of great need, this dais is used to burn offerings to the Six (food, fabrics, anything combustible of value - they believe if an item is not consumed by the flame it is not accepted by the Six).

Priests of the Six and One Spirits are either Priests of the whole religion (Heirophants) or of one particular spirit (Sectates). They dress austerely, in grey or brown robes with embroidered markings of their faith.

Notes
Some Imperials follow the Orthodoxy's religion of the Twin Gods, and some even revere Troon the Uplifter (though mentioning these three in a temple to the Six and One Spirits is generally considered in remarkably poor taste).


The Orthodoxy

The prime religion of the Orthodox is called The Orthodoxy, or the Codex of The Twin Gods. Followers of this religion believe the universe is comprised of two balanced forces, wild and civilized. Their outlook eschews a good/evil paradigm, and recognizes as fact that suffering exists in all of life's aspects. The Paradox of the Twins is that one survives best when both are revered, when both ways work in tandem with one another.

Veril - god of wild places
  • Veril is represented by an image of a tree, encircled by a river, which represents the sphere of nature and all within it. Veril is a provider of life-giving sustenance - meat, fruit, roots, vegetables - as well as the source of water and rich earth for planting. Veril also represents the danger of chaos, of predator/prey dichotomy, of illness and misfortune.
Cyrene - god of civilized lands
  • Cyrene is represented by a tool, usually a hammer but sometimes a shovel, and represents the taming of nature to carve out civilization. Cyrene provides safety, medicine, a hearthfire, and order. Cyrene also represents the dangers of civilization - oppression, poverty, filth, and starvation.
Worship
In small towns and villages, worshippers of the Twin Gods will sometimes place a small stone sanctuary in the wilds outside of town, and a small enclosed grove within the town. In large cities, they will build a temple structure, consisting of a large encircled area, bisected. One hemisphere, representing Cyrene, is the stone temple structure, which itself encircles a much smaller garden. The other hemisphere is the Grove of Veril, which contains a small stone portico or dais within.

Priests of the Twin Gods are priests of BOTH gods, without exception, and are identified by their staff, a long, gnarled wooden staff with a small hammer or small shovel head atop it. They otherwise dress moderately.

Notes
Some in the Orthodox revere the Six and One Spirits, but very few of them revere Troon, which is considered a "human religion" to many of them.

The Shining Light of Troon

Troon the Uplifter - god of reason, trade, diplomacy, and law.
  • Troon is known by many names, and is seen as the god of "good" and all that this entails. He is the Shining Light, the Uplifter, Providence, the Foundation and the Firmament, and many others. Troon's followers believe following the edicts of the church will bring them prosperity, and that if prosperity fails to find them, it is because they themselves have some flaw in their faith. The morality encoded in the Libram of Troon is ambiguous at best, and often self-contradictory, but adherents cite passages and verses from memory to justify their actions. According to the Libram, it is Troon who brings us knowledge and light, who lifts us out of the darkness, and who rewards our faith.

    Troon is opposed by various unnamed and unknowable forces of darkness, called "adversaries". People who follow the Six and One or The Twins are considered followers of adversaries by those who revere Troon.

    Troon is generally not depicted in images.
Worship
Worship of Troon is conducted in churches called "Spires" - these structures are almost uniformly the tallest structure in the settlement. In large cities this is sometimes accomplished by the addition of taller and taller minarets to the temple roof. Atop the tallest spire or minaret is always a glowing lantern, kept lit by the monks who serve there.

Priests of Troon follow a strict hierarchy, from the lowly monks through to the Grand Bishop. Monks dress in hooded robes, but as one progresses up the ranks the hoods disappear and are replaced by mitres, and these and the robes grow increasingly ornate.

Notes
Troon is largely revered by the Reclaimers, who eschew other forms of worship. They consider the thought that Troon worship is a "human religion" to be slander.

The Old Faith

In isolated (rural or wilderness) settlements, far removed from cities and well-travelled roads, the "Old Faith" is still practiced. This is effectively ancestor worship. there are no temples, but each household maintains a small shrine, where they pray for aid and guidance from either one or two illustrious ancestors, or the group of their ancestors as a whole.

This is largely considered heresy by the three main faiths, (though the use of the phrase "By the ancestors" has long since passed into popular parlance and is considered commonplace, even when removed from ancestor worship).
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Re: The World of After The Bomb

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The Academic Underground

The Academic Underground was founded during, or soon after, the catastrophe that ended the Old Days. At least they think they were, very few records exist that far back. In either case, the Academic Underground strove to retain and preserve the knowledge of the Old Days. They failed. Refusing to abandon the humans in their midst and the knowledge associated with them, the Academic Underground was hunted right alongside them by those who blamed Humanity for the catastrophe. Much knowledge was lost during this time. Memorized knowledge was the easiest to preserve, but even that was a struggle. Pushed to the brink, the Academic Underground hid away in isolated and easily defended locations, cut off from the world and themselves.

Time passed. For those who hunted them, Humanity faded from a pervasive threat to a looming shadow with which to frighten one’s children. But for the Academic Underground, that which they wished to preserve lay lost, their organization broken. Yet they refused to give up, refused to forget. For that which is lost can be found, and what is broken can be mended. After generations of respite, members from the Academic Underground took to the paths outside their hidden communities as wandering merchants. Slowly, carefully, the Academic Underground was able to reconnect.

The Academic Underground has a semi-decentralized organizational structure. Because of how they survived, and wary of the return of the purges that almost wiped them out, the Academic Underground has no headquarters, no central point of failure. Instead, each settlement only knows of a few of the closest other settlements. Additionally, the Academic Underground has developed a unique written language for secure communication and established small cells and safe houses in most major cities. Following the same structure as the settlements, each cell only knows of a few others and the nearest settlement.

The Academic Underground has 5 field ranks for members out in the world (from lowest to highest):
  • Researcher: +1 Medical skill & +5% bonus to Medical skills
  • Curator: +1 Scientific/Scholastic skill
  • Lecturer: +1 Technical skill
  • Adjunct: +10% bonus to all skills in one skill category of choice (Medical, Scientific/Scholastic, or Technical)
  • Professor: +2 skills stricken from the After The Bomb Unified Skill List for being "too modern" for the ostensibly Medieval/Fantasy setting.
All newly acquired skills begin at 1st level proficiency, but may receive bonuses from one's background that would normally apply.
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