Monday, June 28, 2010

Worldbuilding: Aldanath

See this map?

This is a terrible map.

I drew this map of Aldanath in 2008 or so, and as I am ashamed of most things I wrote less than a year ago, this one annoys me. Look at it! That shit is way too square and those mountains make no sense. Plus it is clearly a terrible Photoshop job.

Aldanath is the setting of a game I am running right now, a "sequel" to an old campaign which started with my very first game. You can bet we're redrawing this business.

Here's a new, 2010 sketch. I kept the locations (except for Silmet, which I moved northward after vaguely recalling it used to be up there anyway) but gave everything a shape I felt was more realistic, and added some features:

That looks a bit better. We're not drawing masterpieces here, after all, just making a simple map. Now to give it some colour and pretty it up a bit:

I moved Kurazokl a little and shifted Paiia's Gate (twice, in fact, it was first moved to that second big bend in the river), then added the town of Hootclaw after a player made a joke while I was deciding what to do with Silmet.

And frankly I'm not sure that scale works. But whatever, let's describe this shit.

NG Monarchy

Aldanath is one of the oldest human countries and one of the few remaining human monarchies. It is predominantly human, but it has a decent population of other races - mostly gnomes and dwarves, though most of the other races (even drow) get representation.

Aldanath's main claim to fame is inventing the calendar system known as King's Reckoning, a popular method of tracking years for most humans. 0 KR is said to be the beginning of modern Aldanath, when the Placentus line of kings died out, but this is only partly true.

Aldanath was founded around -1000KR, and over the following centuries, royal families and rulers made a habit of altering official records and history to "improve" their own standing and "place in history", usually alongside resetting the calendar to make 0 KR the start of their rule. This, naturally, makes much of Aldaanian history a complete mess. (The Royal History Society's museum in Aldanath City still displays the very desk Calvin McLomb, the society's first Chief Wizard, made no less than seventy-five noticeable dents in, alongside the remains of the original chair he threw out of his third-story window.)

This practice ended with King Harolyne Placentus, who reset the calendar so 0 KR marked the start of his rule around 23 KR (23 KR after he reset it, that is, not the 23 KR that was there before). Placentus was assassinated in 24 KR (probably for unrelated reasons) and left no heir. The next King was Arthur Biraltaria, who banned the practice. The calendar hasn't changed since.

In the "present", it is around 950KR. Aldanath's recent history has been dominated by two wars with the lich Dominique (who is a man) in 935 and 945 KR. (The last one was covered in my first campaign.) Dominique has since been killed for good and the kingdom left to rebuild.

(Incidentally, Dominique was actually a split personality of the previous king, Richard the Kitten, created after a magical accident which left the King humorously crazy. Dominique was evicted from the King's body by the other personalities for being a jerk, at which point he possessed some corpse and tried to take the kingdom for himself. It is a long and silly story. Richard the Kitten abdicated fairly quickly on the advice of his family and the current ruler is his son, King Paul Biriani, who is extremely sane.)

Aldanath probably has a population of just under a million. Its main exports are weapons, armour, industry, ore, religion and people who really hate undead, and the main threats PCs face are undead, goblins, drow and demonic cults. Explored locations include:

  • Aldanath City: The capital of the kingdom. Population ~55,000. Site of the palace and the headquarters of many of the kingdom's guilds and churches. Relatively unaffected by the war, though the final stages where the lich advanced on the city in his floating mountain fortress armed with a giant magical laser did rattle them a bit. A lot of people in outlying villages and towns fled here, and the capital is suffering problems with poverty, crowding and crime.

  • Death Valley: This charmingly-named region in northwest Aldanath, enclosed by mountains, is full of "monstrous" humanoids. You can't throw a brick without hitting an orc or a goblin or something. Dominique's base was here, and the area is still considered highly dangerous. The area is still in turmoil after the events of the last war, if you care about orc/goblin/kobold politics.

  • Fortress of Light: The "mage capital" of the kingdom. Population ~30,000. The Fortress is the headquarters of the kingdom's mage guild, the Order of Light. It also sits by the pass to Death Valley, which is why the lich's goblin armies lay siege to the city before adventurers crippled its leadership. He probably should have picked a race more competent than freaking goblins.

  • Ironport: The main port of trade between Brellan and Aldanath, named for the walls of iron once erected around it courtesy of the Order of Light. Population ~20,000, after a population explosion caused by an influx of war refugees from the surrounding areas. The area beyond the walls is now a chaotic, crime-ridden sprawl of homes and slums which most of the kingdom's wanted criminals are probably hiding in by now.

  • Odessa: The largest town in the northwest region. Population 1,100. Got steamrolled by undead in a "side-campaign", though that campaign's PCs managed to hide most of the town underground and it is doing pretty okay.

  • Paiia's Gate A trade town and gateway to the east. Population 9,700. Paiia's Gate is named after the popular sun goddess and a pretty religious town. Many of its residents identify as citizens of other countries.

  • Silmet: A peaceful village near a lot of farmland, once the site of a dwarven mine. Its main exports so far have been NPCs.

  • Tanburgh: The "military capital" of the kingdom. Population ~25,000. Most of Aldanath's army (well, the high command) are here, roughly equidistant from every point the military considers important. Its inability to stop the undead/goblin/whatever armies rampaging through most of the north-west of the kingdom annoyed a lot of people, though. Former headquarters of the church of Iroth.

  • Foreshadow: New headquarters of the church of Iroth, goddess of knowledge. Foreshadow appeared in my latest campaign as a town ruined by the undead armies which the Irothians found and took over during their search for lost lore and magical secrets which could help the kingdom. To nobody's surprise, Foreshadow turned out to be built above some ancient ruins where the Irothians learned pact magic and began to train the modern age's first binders. (Well, the specifics were a surprise, but...)

  • Kurazokl: A large town of several thousand elves who live in a section of forest granted to them by Aldanath. They identify themselves as citizens of Czeras, despite moving far away from that forest kingdom for religious reasons. They tend to keep to themselves, but they have started to settle in other regions of Aldanath and influence its culture. Some sages speculate that they should be reclassified as "green elves". Other sages tell them to not be silly.

  • Mawb Duhr: A trade city of roughly 15,000 dwarves and outpost of the (or a?) dwarven kingdom, though its citizens have strong ties to Aldanath and sometimes identify as "Aldaanian dwarves". They lent a lot of support to the war effort, probably because they were threatened as well. Also known for its "Red Mesa" military research facility.

  • Eilistraee: An uncreatively-named town founded by the drow Zaraeviira da'Orzza, who escaped from the drow realms (currently in a state of heavy decline after too much time spent backstabbing each other) years ago and worked her way up to "rich new noble" status in the surface world. She is currently pursuing her dream of having a place in Aldanath "good" and refugee drow can call home by rebuilding the abandoned town of Hommet; the population is hilariously small, but growing. (My current PCs have land and a headquarters there after befriending Zarae and helping her via quests.)

  • Hootclaw: This village (town?) is named after the owlbear found in the region. Not much yet is known about this probably awesome town.

  • Leet Town: Leet Town is a port/fishing town, and it (and the adjacent Gumdrop Forest) were the setting of the first ever D&D game I ran started. I refuse to change the name ever.

So Yeah...

That's basically Aldanath as it stands.

I haven't named all the forests, rivers and lakes, because I am unsure what would be good names for them. I also haven't decided what lies on those new islands yet - new adventure hubs, perhaps? More towns? I know the west island probably has a lot of tunnels to Subterra (the Underdark), based on a few things that have come up in games, and there's a volcano around the south islands. (There used to be a particular city down there but it was a shamefully stupid idea and I have since removed it forever.)

Just in case, I will leave them open for now. I have a few ideas I could use in my current game.

Next time, I dunno, maybe a different country. Or deities!


Disgruntled said...

It's pretty cool how much effort you've put into the setting.

Also Hootclaw is clearly home to rangers who dual-wield owlbears.

Ettin said...

Sounds like...


A hoot.

Anonymous said...