Sunday, May 20, 2012

[Sixth Age] Ten Towns, Shan Fan, Sanjo, and Mendenhal

Here are some details on the map items; this is all "common knowledge" level information from the perspective of someone who lives in the Ten Towns Alliance

#1: THE TEN TOWNS ALLIANCE (aka the Oaklan Alliance, aka the Council of Berklee). The domains once held by the extirpated Duchy of Oaklan today remain united in an oligarchic republic. Each of the constituent states retains its own form of government… that of the Free City of Berklee being the most democratic, while most others possess a mixed form of constitutional monarchy. A strong force for Good and Freedom, the Alliance usually works with the Grand Duchy of Mendenhal (4, below) and the Kingdom of Stockton (5, below) in operations against the Khanate of Montray (11, below). In addition to the armies of each of the constituent states (mostly nobles, knights, and militia) the Alliance has an “organized force of irregulars,” the Oaklan Raiders. Mostly made up of rangers, the primary purpose of the Raiders is as a “strong defensive force” against the monsters from the Sanjo Hell Pit (3, below) and the Lost City of Shan Fan (2, below). The Alliance also has the most powerful Wizards Guild in the West, based at the old Imperial University of Wizardry at Berklee. They also have a decent force of devout and zealous clergy; thanks to the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Alliance Charter, many faiths that have been oppressed elsewhere are given haven here, and happily provide assistance in maintaining that freedom.

#2: THE LOST CITY OF SHAN FAN. This is the former capital of Fusang, the Celestial Empire of Greater California. From here the Celestial Emperors ruled most of the West for most of six centuries. The Fusangese ruling class originated in Shan Fan, being descended primarily from the Chinese, Japanese, and other peoples of East Asian descent. Sequestering themselves from their ruled populations in their own “Fusangtowns,” the Fusangese left little lasting cultural influence on the ruled peoples after the fall of the Empire. During the Last Civil War, the Last Celestial Emperor, Shang-Ti Lo-Pan VII, attempted the casting of a Great and Terrible Spell to destroy his enemies. Instead he destroyed the city of Shan Fan with eldritch energies, creating the Dark Pit of the Black Pagoda in what was, ages ago, the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco. Chaos ensued in the remaining territories once held by the empire, as revolutions break out against the much-reduced and weakened Imperial Army and Imperial Bureaucracy. Today the ruins of the Lost City are filled with the plunder of centuries, a great temptation to the foolish adventurers of the Ten Towns and beyond. The monstrous residents of Shan Fan are quite mixed. Rumor has it that the things that crawl out of the Dark Pit are primarily out of old Chinese, Japanese, and other East Asian myths. The Last Celestial Emperor is also rumored to still hold court, his ministers and noble lords all of undead sort, the infamous Lich Court of Lo-Pan. Finally, though the Dark Pit spawn seemingly have little interest in leaving Shan Fan, the Sankrooz Goblins and the spawn from the Sanjo Hell Pit have both made inroads into the Lost City.

#3: HELL PIT OF SANJO: The Change struck, and the Sixth Age began, when the great and terrible weapons of the Ancients fell on the cities of the world. Rather than fall on the cities and engulf them in vast explosions of hellish flame and fire, the weapons instead fell through the cities and time and space to open gates to… elsewhere. Most of these gates took the form of great craters or pits in the land, filled with whirling mists and coruscating energies. The pit that opened in Sanjo goes to some hellish place, a realm of chaotic nightmares, where monsters out of myth and legend live. When the pits first opened the power of the force that tore a hole through dimensions drew forth countless victims from the other side. Many could not live in this world, and died, but no few survived and their descendants thrive today in this world. While some, such as dragons, griffons, chimeras, and others, left to settle elsewhere, many remained near the pit, stronger for the energies it gives off. Thus, these Hell Pits, as they are usually known, and the territories around them, are home to countless monsters. As they formed in the midst of great cities, where buildings of steel and concrete and glass stand twenty and more stories tall, they are in effect enormous dungeons, where creatures out of nightmare subsist by preying upon each other and any nearby beings native to this world. As there are few who brave the Hell Pits and their surrounds, these ancient cities, once home to teeming millions, remain vast troves of treasure, though to separate out the gold, jewels, ancient art objects, and useful items of value from the non-functional technological dross is often difficult. Sanjo is a “general pit,” wherein the monsters in residence can be of any seeming random type, with no rhyme or reason. It has, however, in the last several decades, become known as a haven for exiled and shunned wizards of Berklee. Some of these wizards practiced necromancy, which is the only magical art forbidden by the Wizards Guild. Others sought to delve into the Old Technology of the Ancients, an act not forbidden so much as severely frowned upon. Thus in the last decades small domains have grown in the region, each ruled by a mad wizard or necromancer, each with an army of undead or strange automatons. As the exiles seem more interested in fighting each other and the local monsters, the Oaklan Raiders leave them to their own devices, but make sure to keep an eye on their growing power…

#4: THE GRAND DUCHY OF MENDENHAL: Mendenhal is an Elven domain, home mostly to Wood Elves and High Elves, with a small number of Grey Elves and Gnomes. The ruling family is of High Elf sort, descended from mixed Grey and Wood lines. Grand Duke Galdor Elensar has ruled his domain since the Battle of Beerbridge, 20 years ago, when his father fell in battle against the Orcs. It was his great-grandfather who, during the Golden Age, successfully lobbied the Emperor of the day to grant the Elves of the Sanwakeen their own domain, separate from the Humans. For in that day the Temple of Marduk had become strong, and the Humans were become less friendly to those of non-Human sort. And so Mendenhal, which had already been his grandfather’s personal hold, became the capital of an extensive duchy, encompassing most of the Diablo Range south of Oaklan. The Town of Mendenhal grew up around the old hold, Laurinathâm, the “Golden Hall,” a subterranean spring expanded by Dwarves and Gnomes into a fairy wonderland. For decades after the fall of the Celestial Empire, the Sovereign Grand Duchy of Mendenhal had to resist the forceful overtures and sometime invasions of the Kingdom of Stockton, who claimed sovereignty over Mendenhal from olden days. The enmity ran deep, as Mendenhal supported the Grand Duchy of Montray in its struggle for independence from Stockton. Still, when Stockton was invaded by the forces of the Great Khan of the City of Lost Angels, the Elves of Mendenhal came to their aid at the Battle of Beerbridge; but it was too little, too late, and the Elves, too, lost their beloved leader and the flower of their chivalry in that three-day running battle. Today the Elves of Mendenhal seek to regain the southern territories they lost to the Orcs; the Roadpigs, the Hangmen, and the Mongols, who hold together their lost lands, are the especial enemies of the Elves. There are rumors that the Elves shelter the Lost Heir of Montray, the youngest son of the Grand Duke, who was slain in the Battle of King City.

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