Saturday, October 8, 2011

Of Wyrms and Wyverns

Edward Burne Jones
Wyrms (Lindworms) are said to be relatives of the draconian breed. They vary so widely in form and affection, it is almost impossible to detail their specific traits. Wyrms are attuned to each of the elements, Earth, Fire, Water, and Time. As such, a wyrm may appear, as if from nothing, in the middle of a field sprung up from the earth, or swimming in a tidal cave on the coast. They are flightless, but the existence of legs and the number of such varies, as does their overall length and girth. They are fortunately a rare occurrence in Calabria, seldom plaguing a region more than once or twice in a generation.

Wyverns are Wyrms of air. They are like Lindworms in many ways, excepting they are quite capable of flight. Wyverns tend to all be much of the same size, and in Calabria keep to mountainous regions for the most part. However, domestic animals are not free from danger. Reports of Wyverns attacking people are rare.

Fortunately, neither Wyrms nor Wyverns have the cunning of Dragons of old, nor do they reach such great size.

Concerning Gnomes

Arthur Rackham
Gnomes belong to the forest. Often mistaken for Dwarves, Gnomes love things that are green and lush, and couldn't bear to dwell under the earth away from light. They tend to live in natural hillsides, or in hollowed out trees. Famed among the trees of the Gnomish homeland are Lockhorn trees, towering to heights of over 400 feet. The wood of these trees is prized throughout the world, and Gnomes guard them enviously.

Reported to be good natured and inquisitive, Gnomes are seldom seen in Calabria, and none are known to live there. Their craft at metalworking is said to rival that of Dwarves. Many of the famous swords of legend are said to be Gnomish made. However, Gnomes are just as likely to be happy shaping a drinking goblet as they are an instrument of warfare.

They are said to be similar in size to Halflings, although not as handsome to behold.

Concerning Halflings

Arthur Rackham
Halflings are called so, being roughly half the height of men. They interact with men only when necessity dictates. They otherwise confine themselves to their farmlands and comfortable homes. They are happiest when either tilling the soil, or entertaining a few guests at their table. Despite their small size, their appetites and capacity for consumption are something to be marveled at. They put their trust in Phusis, goddess of all things growing, above all others.

There is a settlement of Halflings in Freehold, where the humans most closely share their sensibilities. Their homeland is on a small island, across the Northren sea.

Concerning Elves

Edward Burne-Jones
Elves are beings most attuned to Time, and revere Kronos, god of time, among all others. Tales of "immortal lands", where time passes differently among the elves, are common. A frequent motif is the tale of an adventurer who ages immediately upon returning to "mortal lands" after spending time among the elves.

Elves are masters of the hunt, and revel in dance and song. It is said that in the age before The Shattering, they trafficked often with humans. In these days, they either remain secluded, or travel incognito. The males are often mistaken to be females by humans, due to their graceful movements and ageless skin.

John Collier

Their gleeful nature it not to be mistaken for naivete as elves can be not only quite ancient, but deadly as well. It is wise when encountering elves to speak little or not at all. It is best to avoid them altogether.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Concerning Dwarves

Carl Spitzweg
Dwarves are diminutive beings, shorter than men but varying greatly in stock and height. Some Dwarves are solitary, while others live in large communities or cities. They may live above or below ground, but they seldom traffic with humans. Common to all Dwarves is their affinity for the earth, and their innate talent for shaping stone. They revere Gaia, the Earth Goddess above all others. Their structures, like their skin, clothing, and art, is commonly comprised of muted earth tones.

Their homeland lies across the Northren Sea, with Stonehaven their greatest city. Dwarves in Calabria may sometimes be found as foremen among the silver mines in the north.  There is also rumoured to be a family or two of Dwarves living near Birg Nor. Tales of solitary Dwarves in the Silver or Iron Hills are not uncommon. However, in such tales their disposition varies widely. One should always treat solitary creatures with caution.

Concerning Giants

Arthur Rackham
Folktales of giants abound in Calabria. Where truth meets imagination is hard to say, for in fact few people in Calabria have ever seen a giant. There are those in Freehold, who swear their parents saw the day a giant strolled by carrying a cow on his back, half a dozen pigs from his belt, and an assortment of sheep in a sack, all lively and protesting with all their effort, and the giant paying them not a bit of mind.

Stories of giants as small as a tall man, to giants looming over the tops of castle towers, all grace the evening hearths when the day's work is done and supper has been served.

From Birg Nor come tales of Frost Giants, and from across the Southren Sea, Fire Giants. Mountain Giants to the West, and Cloud Giants in tomes of forgotten lore. What is common to all giant tales however, is that their great size and strength is counterbalanced by their slow wit.

The Nameless City

Hubert Robert
Through the thickness of Woodbury, the Via Imperium bores a tunnel towards the Nameless City. Stones turned and cracked by ever encroaching roots, the uneven road remains a reminder (lure to some, warning to others) of the presence of the  City with no Name. Rumored to have been a city of great importance during the Age of the Empire, the city was shunned after The Shattering. There are those who still go to seek their fortune or ruin, delving into deep secrets perhaps best left forgotten. Rocky shores and stormy waters all but prevent approach from the coast. Even so, sailors keeping a safe distance from shore still call upon the blessings of the gods when they come within site of the city.

Hubert Robert

Thursday, October 6, 2011


James Duffield Harding
Carin faces westard off the rocky coast of the Confederacy of Traders. Once linked to her sister city across the Sea of Hope, Carin has regular direct dealings with the neighboring island.

Birg Nor

Pieter Bruegel de Oude
Samuel Prout
Birg Nor is a City rumored to be of Dwarven design, and has quite an alien feel in relation to the rest of Calbaria. The crashing waves of the coastal city call out across the Northren Sea, yearning for a response from the horizon.

Wyvern's Point

William Turner
Claude Lorrain
Wyvern's Point is the single wealthiest city in Calabria. While not as ostentatious as Len Draal, the city is every bit as secure. Welcoming waterfront docks belie the strategic design of the Citadel, which has been defended numerous times from threats local and abroad.

Oregate is ideally positioned as  shipping port, and uses that advantage to dominate trading with other lands.

 While eschewing the title "king", the ruler of Wyvern's Point is in fact the ruler of Oregate, and a unique sense of loyalty provides Calabria with the one remaining region that seems to operate off of the Island's outmoded concepts of serfdom.


Vittore Carpaccio
Pitkin is a city-state, an leverages its relationships with both the Confederacy of Traders and the Merchant's republic. Most of the Imperial structures were dismantled in their entirety, and the stones and materials used to build the city anew. Hence, the architecture of Pitkin bears little resemblance to her progenitor.

Remains of the original imperial sewers and waterways still like deep below the city. Pitkin claims a population of 70,000.

Len Draal

Thomas Cole
Len Draal is the largest city in Calabria. Restored to its Imperial elegance, the city houses Calabria's wealthiest merchants. Members both of Merchants Republic, The Confederacy of Traders, and Oregate make their homes here. It is here that contracts are negotiated, commissions received. Disputes that can not be settled locally, or appeals of the rulings of local Brehen, are heard here.

The city boasts a population of some 100,000.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woodbury Forest

Thomas Moran
Woodbury Forest is deep and expansive, and keeps its secrets well hidden. A seeming impenetrable wall of foliage runs the length of the Merchant's Republic to the north, the Gulf of Danu to the south, and the Southron Sea to the east.

Long ago, before The Shattering, it is said that forest grew continually from the heart of the Elvish homeland. What damage was done when the woodlands were sundered apart, none now know. One remnants of the Via Imperia still winds through the darkened boughs of Woodbury, but few dare take it.

Efforts to keep the roads clear of the ever encroaching forest are sometimes met with tragedy, as if a sentient force from the forest opposed such efforts. Bandits often strike from and retreat into the forest.
Hunting parties seldom travel more than half a day's journey into the woods.


William Trost Richards
Oregate is a small merchant confederacy, rivaling both the Merchant's Republic and the Confederacy of Traders. With deep access into the ore rich valleys of the Silver Hills via river transport, Oregate and the citadel of Wyvern's Point are able to out finance both of their competitors. Access to plentiful silver, coupled with the less treacherous waters off the northwest coast of Calabria, ideally position Oregate for trading with neighboring kingdoms and countries.
Unfortunately, ships heavily laden with silver also attract unwanted attention from pirates.

William Louis Sonntag

Confederacy of Traders

Tin Mine, Artist Unknown
Like the Merchant's Republic, the Confederacy of Traders refers both to a region, and to the merchants who belong to the trade group of the same name. Both groups compete for the resources of Calbria, and control of trading them with neighboring countries and kingdoms across the several seas. The Confederacy lies between the rocky west coast of Calabria, and the Iron Hills to the east. The port Citidel of Carin is a member of the Confederacy. Pitkin to the south leverages relationships with both the Confederacy and the Republic. The land provides a mix of crops, shepherding, and cattle. The numerous tin mines are rumored to be haunted by Tommyknockers (Kobolds)
Claude Lorrain
A coastal road winds along the Bay of Balgar, connecting, linking many of the tin mines.

Merchant's Republic

Asher B. Durand
The Merchant's Republic is a name not only of a region, but also of one of the three major trade factions in Calabria. Consisting mostly of fertile farmlands on low lying hills, the area provides most of the crops for  not only the land of Calabria, but also for trading with neighboring kingdoms and countries. Wheat and other grains are the primary crops.

Numerous villages and towns dot the landscape. It is bordered on the south and east by Woodbury Forest, the west by the Iron Hills, and the north by Freehold and the eastern end of the Silver Hills.

Conrad Wise Chapman
The Via Imperium, or Emperor's Road, passes through the heart of the Republic.  Members in good standing benefit from having their travels looked over by the protection of the Road Watch. Guilds which refuse to contribute to the common fund often find their caravans accosted, and their goods stolen by faceless highwaymen.

It is not uncommon for these highwaymen to retreat to the darkness of Woodbury Forest. The port city of Birg Nor on the Northren sea is a member of the Republic.

The Mern and Danute Rivers traverse the Republic, along which many farms cover the landscape.

Isolated woodlands, long ago part of Woodbury forest, offer cover for game, wild beasts, highwaymen, and darker creatures. The Dire Bogs, a series of peat bogs, lie between the Mern River and the Iron hills and span some 30 miles north to south. Travel through this area is treacherous, as even the Via Imperium has sunk into the bog in some places.

There are several notable fortified towns in the heart of the Merchant's Republic. Wilksbury, at foot of the Irons Hills strategically overlooks the Via Imperium. Moresbury is situated on an Island in the midst of the Danúte River, and controls travel on the via Imperium through the lowlands of the Republic.

Hubert Robert

Carrnach and Carrdech lie opposed to each other across the Mern River, some 10 miles apart, and control travel both on the Via Imperium as well as river traffic through the Republic down the Mern.


Freehold is a rolling land of shepherds, flocks, streams, and lakes. It is home to many a village, with a populace that tends keeps to themselves. It is for this reason that the Halflings who settled in Calabria and made their homes here chose Freehold as their home.

There are of course many areas of wilderness, where wolves, bears, and more unsavory creatures prowl. Care must be taken for predators from above as well.
Frederick Edwin Church
Gryphons are protected by bounty of course, and when one proves to be a nuisance, the Gryphonym can be appealed to to intervene. However, in most cases the loss of livestock is the price of doing business with the Gryphonym, and finding a sympathetic ear is a rare occurrence.

Wyverns are another common occurrence, to which the locals have developed numerous deterrents.

When more imposing predators appear, mercenaries are contracted to speed their departure.

Iron and Silver Hills

It is said that the Silver Hills, which overlook the Northren sea, are but the foothills of the great swath of mountains that lie in the Dwarven homeland to the north. Once connected as a single chain of mountains, the Silver Hills were sundered from their greater parents at The Shattering.The hills are known for their namesake, silver mines, but also derive their name from the shimmering sylvan setting. Many a traveller has been known to lose their way in the hills, lost in reverie of a time long ago. Orcs, trolls, and the occasional hill giant have been known to make their home here. Mischievous goblins are much more common, both above and underground. Ancient clans live in the hills, holding to their own traditional ways,which predate the empire. Tradition has it that remnants of Dwarven strongholds still lie in the Hills, buried beneath the rubble of lost generations. None who have ventured to prove such tales have been known to succeed.

Herman Herzog
Far higher, and in the west of Calabria, lie the Iron Hills. Still dwarfed by mountains in neighboring lands, the Iron Hills are nearly double the height of the Silver Hills. The range is home to the Gryphonym, ancient stewards of the gryphons of Calabria. The peaks are treacherous and imposing, particularly in winter, and the dead weight of the mountains give clout to the range's name. Many are the unexplored or forgotten valleys, deep within the range. Rumors of Mountain giants, hidden treasure, and dragon's gold are the fluff of fireside tales. The Iron Hills form an imposing barrier between the Merchant's Republic and the Confederacy of Traders.
Herman Herzog

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bones of the Empire

Wenceslas Hollar
Once great Imperial roads traversed the lands of Calabria. Paved with stones fashioned by the Dwarves of Imbriol to the North, these roads are lined with the ruins of once glorious estates, temples, halls and tombs. The Shattering caused extensive damage to most of the structures across the land. Efforts are made to maintain the roads and bridges, but a majority of the buildings stand in decay.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Massive arched bridges span the rivers and streams which cut through the land, allowing for travel by wagon and caravan.

The Free Territory of Calabria

In the aftermath of The Shattering, Calabria became a loose confederation of merchants and traders. Rather than a central government or feudal system, the territory is moderated by legal contracts. Serfdom and slavery have become social taboos.

The contracts are regulated through self-moderation. Each merchant prides himself on his reputation. However, there is a fine line between shrewd business and bad business.  Legal disputes are typically first settled by an agreed upon by a local Brehon. More complex legal matters are judged in Len Draal, by a panel consisting of merchants who purchase their place on the jury. Great emphasis is placed on preceding rulings in determining the victor of the case.

Defense of the island are provided by mercenary militia. Key to organizing island wide defenses are the Gryphonym. This band of arial messengers are able to traverse the island in a single day. The gryphon riders belong to a reclusive clan located in the Iron Hills. Each of the main strongholds of Calabria has a rider permanently stationed. The Grphyons of Calabria are protected by contract, and a bounty is awarded for the capture or killing of anyone who kills a gryphon.

The Iron and Silver Hills are the two main low lying mountain ranges on Clabria, where mining is a major enterprise. The Silver Hills have peaks up to 3000 feet, while the Iron hills have peaks up to 6000 feet. Mines typically employ the skills of well paid dwarven foremen. It is unusual to have more than a few dwarves on a site, as most of dwarvenkind prefer to remain on their own island across the Northren sea, where lies their ancestral homeland and far richer mineral content. Iron, silver, lead, tin, and copper are the most common elements in the mines of Calabria.

The few Halflings who remained on Clabria after the shattering retreated to the low lying hills of Freehold. They tend to remain in their secluded settlements. There is no known Gnomish hold in Calabria. Even before The Shattering, the Gnomish homeland lay far to the west. Any gnomes met are likely to be on a journey to or from their homeland. Woodbury Forest is a deep an ancient forest, once connected to the fae woodlands which now lie across the Eastren Sea. High elves are known to live deep within these woods. The forest is a launching point for attacks by thieves, who are ever a thorn in the side of traders.

Ruins abound on Calabria. Many of the existing fortifications are re-furbished castles and estates of antiquity. More often, the crumbling ruins are have been inhabited as lairs for creatures or highwaymen. Ancient alters to forgotten gods litter the landscape.

Humanoids are uncommon in Calabria. Here and there, pockets of humanoid clans dwell, most notably in the highlands of the Iron and Silver hills, and within the depths of Woodbury. The occasional giant wanders to explore new territory. Older and wiser giants remain secluded in their highland territories.  Dragons are mostly rumors of ancient days. More common peril awaits in the form of wyverns, and lindworms. Wolves, bears, and wild boar abound. Tommyknockers (Kobolds) harass the miners, but most goblinkind has been hunted to near extinction.

Most armed men in Calabria are mercenaries, in the employ of one or another of the merchants or trading groups.  There is no recognized order of knighthood in Calabria. However, remnants of much older orders still exist, and knights errant from neighboring kingdoms frequent the island. Merchants frown on such free agents meddling in their affairs, and are known to put bounties on the heads of those who prove themselves bad for business. Most bloodletting however, is reserved for humanoid or wild creatures, or limited to personal feuds.

One of the ancient orders is that of the Rangers. They are often mistaken for highwaymen by those who encounter them. Rangers seldom meddle in personal feuds or the affairs of merchants , but rather keep vigilant over the return of goblinkind. Rangers are well aware that the ranks of giantkind and goblinkind swell across the all too narrow seas.

Freehold is comprised of a mix of moors and heaths, and peppered with bogs and woodlands. Many ancient burial cairns and mounds lie within the region, monuments to forgotten clans. Sheparding dominates the economy, as crops are primarily located within the fertile region of the Merchant’s Republic. Calabria offers a rich mix of religious traditions, ranging from the Druidic leaders of the remaining clans to restored Imperial temples.

Imperial Temple and ruins

Inscription on Imperial Temple Door:

"Declare to me from the beginning, and tell me which of them first came to be.
In truth at first was born Kronos (Time) the wily, then Aeros (Air) came to be. And the darkness was sundered by Pyros (Fire). But next came the deep Hydros (Water), from which sprung wide-bosomed Gaia (Earth), the ever-sure foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the Peak and the Pit. And the children of these, and most dear to all, are Phusis (Flora) and Phanes (Fauna), who Lords over all."
-Darkstar, Archon of Time; Theogeny 217

The Shattering

Shatterworld History

Shatterworld is named from the pivotal moment in the world's history, The Shattering. 1300 years in the past, the Shattering was a ritual performed by the The Archons, high servants of The Seven.

Thomas Cole

In the dawn of creation, all the lands were united, and the Archons were sent by The Seven as stewards over the land. For each of the Seven who had a hand in the creation of the world, an Archon was incarnated. They ruled each over the domains of Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Forestation, Creatures, and Time. Together, they taught The Way.
The Creatures of the world lived in isolation or in harmony, until an 8th Archon arrived, who was a purveyor of illusion. As discord grew among the nations, and nations grew in might, wielding the powers revealed to them by the Archons, all Creation was threatened with destruction. The Archons of the elements joined together and performed The Shattering, scattering the lands and those that inhabited them. Whether the Archons were destroyed in the ritual, called back by those who sent them, or chose to retreat from the eyes of men, none know.

What is known is that the lore of the Archons is mostly forgotten. There are those who retain fragments of what was once known, and those who are ever on the hunt to find hidden in the ruins of lost empires, knowledge that was once commonplace.

John Martin

The echos of the old religion remain. Imperial Cathedrals to The Seven still stand in decay, housing shrines to each of The Seven. Yet over time each of The Seven have spawned their own following. Cults, shrines, and guilds devoted to each of the Elementals, as well as the healing of creatures and the shepherding of the woodlands and crops, have replaced The Way.

Without the guidance of The Archons, those who were once followers of The Way are now called magicians, wizards, priests, and druids; their knowledge divided and a shadow of what it once was.
And Time marches on…