Tag Archives: geography


Northern Coast

Or more specifically, the northeastern portion of the Illyrian Empire, which can be divided, roughly speaking, into two seperate areas depicted above.  The northern area is less densely populated, and has to deal with problems from orcs living farther to the west, along the coastline and islands of Soulfreeze Bay.

The southern area is still northern, but is much more temperate and is starting to get into the heartland of the Illyrian Empire.

The Last Northern Wood is composed of three seperate forests; the easternmost of these forest, while also considered to be part of The Last Northern Wood, is also called the Lorthwood.

The Duchy of Cavens is a small independent state that is run by a joint council of paladins.

Northshore is the main trading town on the northern shore of The Sea of Peace.

Freeport is the second or third largest city in the Illyrian Empire, and the main trading city on The Sea of Peace.  A major traderoad runs east from Freeport to the city of Illyria.

Illyria is the largest city and the capital of the Illyrian Empire.

Saltpens, so named due to the salt mines in hill south of the town.  They are loyal Illyrians and are mostly immigrants from the Illyrian heartlands.

Lorthar is a small town, but it is still the largest Illyrian presence this far north.  Ruled by the Lorthar family, who were kings of the area here and extending east along Soulfreeze Bay, they are now part of the Illyrian Empire.  The heir to Lorthar and his wife were on campaign against the orc tribes to the east when his army was ambushed and, and they were both killed. Since then, Lorthar has been ruled by a regency, that has resulted in closer direct imperial control over the region, which has caused tensions.

Darlorthar is the secondary town in the northern area, they were once vassels of the old Lorthar kings, and are still smaller and subservient to them, but they are also part of the Illyrian Empire.  Darlortharians have a sizable minority that chafed under Lortharian control and thus are pro-Illyrian, but plenty more are still more locally loyal.

Lorthar and Darlorthar have original ethnic populations of humans native to the north, and are a distinctly different group than the common Illyrian.  They still maintain some of their old cultures, and are relatively un-assimilated into the Illyrian Empire despite their relative proximity to the center of the empire.


The First Empire and The Cataclysm

Many, many tens of thousands of years ago, there was only one intelligent species living on the surface of Aardsham.  Called now the Ur-People, they ruled over the whole of known lands, and had advanced control over both magic and technology, even going so far as to be able to create sub-races for specialized tasks, many of who live in the present day as one of the many myriad of demihumans and humanoids.

The First Empire collapsed when The Cataclysm, and enormous explosion of some type, struck Aardsham.  It complete shattered the continent, resulting in the Formation of the Turbulent Ocean and the island chains scattered there.  The Cataclysm destroyed the heart of The First Empire, and the resulting chaos and environmental shifts due to the The Cataclysm, led to the rapid decline and collapse of the Ur-People, and all that is left are scattered remains of there outlying cities.

The Elves are the closest descenants of the Ur-People; the Ur-People use a variant of the Elven Script in their writings.  Although technically, the Elves use a variant of the Ur-People script, their tongue has not been spoken since shortly after the collapse of the First Empire.

The Tubulent Ocean

The Turbulent Ocean is a large circular ocean in the center of Aardsham’s main bodies of land.  It is a major trade route, due to the circular nature of the ocean, thus allowing easy access to many areas without having to travel very far.

The main feature of the Turbulent Ocean is at the center of the ocean.  A small, very localized, yet extremely powerful storm has been raging for as long as anyone can remember.  The storm differs from regular storms, it often will shift direction instantly, there are terrible howls heard through, and the lightning is purple.  Those who spend much amount of time near the storm are often found to have been struck with some kind of wasting disease which can kill those afflicted within the space of just a few weeks.  An island is rumored to be at the center of the storm, but since no one has ever reached the center, no one really knows.

The Turbulent Ocean has many small scattered islands roughly forming a ring around the center storm.  Those islands further out from the storm are relatively normal, and there are many settlements on these islands.  The closer islands to the storm are more hostile; they are relatively barren of life, and those lifeforms that do live there are horribly monstrous creatures that attack on site.

The Elfwood

Wood Elves

The Elves used to rule all of Aard ages ago, when the land was covered by massive forests.  As the climate changed and the forest shrunk, so too did the influence of the Elves.  Today, the elves living in the northwestern area of the world are composed of one of two groups, commonly referred to as Wood Elves or Grey Elves, respectively.

The Wood Elves live to the east of the capital of Illyria and south of the Far Ranges, and west of the Shacathi Princedoms.  They are content to live in their forest for the most part, although they do engage in trade with the surrounding areas.  The Wood Elves are ruled by one chosen from among their number, who is believed to be the wisest and most magically powerful among them, who rules until it is agreed that another is more deserving.

Wood Elves live in small family based communities scattered throughout the Elfwood.  They support themselves through foraging and hunting.  Most Wood Elves worship Naralune, a nature Goddess.

Naralune CG
Domains: Animal, Plant, Protection
Naralune often appears as a female Wood Elf surrounded by animals.  She emphasizes living respectfully with nature, and protecting it from those who would harm or destroy it. Her favored weapon is the longbow.

Not many non-Elves go into the Elfwood proper.  Without a patron or escort of some sort, non-Elves discovered by a patrol will be given one chance to immediately exit the Elfwood under guard.  If they refuse, the patrol will attack to subdue if possible, kill if not.  The Elfwood itself is also reported to be confusing and disorienting to be in.  Travelers, even those experienced woodsmen and the like, report being unable to navigate properly through the woods, seeming to find themselves walking in circles.  The woods have thick tree cover overhead, yet the whole forest seems to be diffused with a slight
golden glow throughout.  Everything appears hazy,  and fast movement can cause one’s vision to swim and even fast disorienation, nausea, or passing out.  Travelers also report finding themselves unable to concentrate on one task or line of thought, of flitting from one to the other, or even just unable to put together any kind of coherent thought.  These effects are reported to start out relatively weak and increase over time.  Whether they increase in strength due to how long one stays in the Elfwood, or whether it is due to them going deeper into the Elfwood, however, is uncertain, and the Elves aren’t saying.

The Elfwood is rumored to be home to many magical portals leading to other planes of existence, where inherently magical creatures often come through and live with the Elves.  The Elfwood is inherently considered to be a magical place, and is believed to be inhabited by all manner of magical creatures and fey due to this.  Travelers reported some encounters with fantastic creatures, although the details of these accounts vary widely.

Major features of the Elfwood include:

The River Daer: Beginning in the foothills of the Far Ranges to the north of the Elfwood, this river is not the largest in the world, but it is the largest in the Elfwood and runs north to south almost directly through the center of the Elfwood, exiting out into the Turbulent Ocean.

Sarsong: The seat of power of the Wood Elves, it is more of a monastery and place to meditate than it is a place to govern.  Non-elves are not often invited here.

Goldleaf: Most non-elves will only visit Goldleaf, located along the banks of the Daer River when it exits into the Turbulent Ocean.  It is named so for the species of tree which grows there, which has bark that looks like silver and leaves that look like gold, both appearing highly polished and shining.  Goldleaf has an Elven population of 1000, and a non Elven population of 5000.  The non-human population is mostly humans, with significant minorities of dwarves, halflings, and Shacathi.
The elven population of Goldleaf is primarily the city guard, what passes for Elven beauracracy, and those who work as merchants or traders.  Elven craftsmanship is admired the world over for its being extremely light, yet sturdy, Elven so materials of all sorts are always in high demand. Goldleaf has a massive wall running around the whole city, even going over the Daer River, and appears to be made of one continuous piece of the hardest rock.  The Wood Elves patrol this wall often, and also control access into and out of the city into the Elfwood proper. Elves are allowed free access into and out of the city, non-elves must have a patron of some sort to leave the city. Those who stay within the walls of Goldleaf are not bothered by the Elfwood’s disorienting effects.

The borders of the Elfwood are also patrolled by the Wood Elves, in small bands who ride giant stags as mounts, allowing them to cover large amounts of ground quickly, without having to use lots of people.  The Illyrian Empire and the Wood Elves usually get along, so the western border of the Elfwood is not as heavily patrolled.

The eastern border is different.  The Wood Elves have a long and bloody history with the Shacathi, and have constructed a series of fortresses along the eastern border, with many more guards and many more patrols being sent out here than to the west.

Cadderly’s Pride

Cadderly’s Pride is the largest Illyrian city located along the shore of the Turbulent Sea.  It is located along the banks of the Cadder River, roughly halfway in between the north edges of the Great Southern Swamp, and the Elfwood.

It is the seat of power for Lord Cadderly, whose ancestors founded the city.  Lord Cadderly rules most of the surrounding lands and all Illyrian lands bordering the Turbulent Sea.  It is a decent sized city with a population of over 5,000.  Fishing and trading are the primary industries for Cadderly’s Pride.

Physically, the city is located on both sides of the Cadder River.  Citizens cross over from the differnt sides of the town using two large stonework bridges that meet in the middle of the Cadder River on Cadder Island.  Cadder Island is the economic heart of Cadderly’s Pride and is the location of the majority of the city’s merchants, in addition to being the recieving point for many of Cadderly’s Pride’s fishing and trading ships.  Since the bridges are too low to allow passage by larger boats, most boats have to dock out on the Turbulent Sea, and travel up the Cadder River is restricted to barges, riverboats and the like.

The head priest of the Imperial Cult is Protector Halfgrim.  He’s an easygoing fellow from the city of Illyria, and spends most of his time discussing trade matters and the state of the weather.  Due to Cadderly’s Pride’s position along the coast, in addition to worship of the Divine Emperor, the people of Cadderly’s Pride also worship Otherin, a god of water and oceans.  Like most gods in the Illyrian pantheon, Otherin was the main god worshipped by the people of Cadderly’s Pride before being conquered and assimilated into the Illyrian Empire.

Nearby notable towns that support and fall under the influence of Cadderly’s Pride include Silverton, site of an old silver mine that has dried up, and Novascore, the last major Illyrian military outpost before reaching the Elfwood.

Humanoid Lizards and The Great Southern Swamp

The the Illyrian Empire is bordered to the south by the Great Inland Sea and the Great Southern Swamp.

The Great Southern Swamp is a massive area of marshlands that is located on an isthmus connecting the Illyrian Empire to the Dry Wastes to the south.  It is approximately three hundred miles across East to West and one hundred miles wide North to South.

The GSS is populated by two intelligent species of humanoid lizards.  The lizardfolk are Medium size humanoid lizards, and the skitterlings are Small size humanoid lizards.  The skitterlings mostly live in the north of the GSS, and normally live in small villages located in the upper branches of trees.  The lizardfolk are divided into roughly a dozen tribes, who elect an over leader for the entire race referred to as the Lizardfolk King.

Lizardfolk used to worship nature exclusively, and their religion was loosely organized, depending on druids for their religious support.  Roughly a millenia ago, when the Illyrian Empire first started to occupy the GSS, worship of the druidic beliefs started to peter off to be replaced by the worship of Ulthrax, an Ancient Black Great Wyrm.  Ulthrax had been worshipped by one of the lizardfolk tribes and was one of the few who were able to put up any noticable resistance to the Illyrian army.  As a result, worship of Ulthrax started to spread as he started to present himself as God and Protector of All Lizardkind. 

Ulthrax lives in the city that originally worshipped him, now referred to simply as the Capitol.  Ulthrax resides in a gargantuan ziggurat over a mile long on each side at the base, where the headquarters for his priesthood is based.  Once an Ulthraxian priest has been promoted above the initial entry level, they are issued a scimitar made from the nails of Ulthrax, and shield from his hide.  These are considered extremely holy relics only allowed to be in the posession of the church, possession of these by non-clergy members is punishable by death, as is giving these items to those who are not allowed to have them.  These higher level clerics are often found leading lower-ranking groups of the priesthood, or working in small groups with each other conducting dangerous missions for Ulthrax.

The Lizardman King, even thought elected by the other tribes, is not a very strong position, power among the Lizardman Tribes is very decentralized.  The current Lizardman King, due to rising tensions with the Illyrians, was elected from the Capital for the first time since 544 I.C.E.

In battle, the lizardfolk often form units composed sorely of unarmed lizardfolk, with their elite units armed and armored.  Lizardfolk also sometimes ride giant lizards into battle as a form of cavalry.  Due to the influence of Ulthrax, he has many clerics among the Lizardfolk, who often fight alongside their fellow lizards in larger numbers than most other races.  Skitterlings also fight in lizardfolk armies as scouts, skirmishers, and missile support.

The GSS itself has a few notable geographical characteristics.  It is bordered on the north by plains and rolling foothills, to the west by the Great Inland Sea, to the East by the Turbulent Sea, and to the South by rolling plains that soon turn into desert. 

Three major rivers run out of the GSS from the Protector’s Sea, a large lake/small sea located next to the Capitol.  Two major rivers run out of the Protector’s Sea, one running west to the Great Inland Sea, one running east to the Turbulent Sea.  A third major river runs north from the plains, meeting and joining up the west western river roughly halfway between the Capitol and the Great Inland Sea.

Low hills are found farther south in the swamp as the land slopes up and turns into plains.  There is also a small series of hills in the north part of the GSS.  Due to the presence of hilrathcia(a very rare substance used by the Illyrian military), the Illyrian Empire conquered these hills and the surrounding area, driving out the skitterlings and lizardfolk who lived in the area, and set up mining operations to extract the hilrathic ore.