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These are ideas that I have for the next however many years. Think of this as brainstorming, nothing is set in stone.
Viking dwarves destroy Burr (Brr? In any case, I’d prefer more fantasy-ish names for it and Warm) and move to take Onia. The Mantodea ally with the Onian Dwarves, but are eventually defeated. All the Mantodea cities fall into the viking dwarves’ hands except for Naclikirik, which is too far inland for the dwarves to maintain dominance. During the war the railway between Onia and Naclikirik is damaged and rendered unusable (maybe the dwarves destroyed it because they don’t like nice things, maybe the mantodea destroyed it to keep the dwarves from reaching their capital). Eventually the dwarves attack the city of Ryaka, and in the siege the city is destroyed. The Yumi flee into the jungle. The goblins, lacking the naval tech to deal with the dwarves, leave Mead and roam the land. The fog is no longer lethal, just incredibly thick and impossible to see through. Some goblins risk the journey through the fog and travel to the eastern side of the island, others travel east to Naclikirik and Onia.
The undead are people possessed by the ghosts of the ancient ruins. They are born beautiful, but due to their curse as they age they rot and fall apart. Their mind goes. Their old are essentially zombies. Each generation is born with the curse. It is not certain whether a new ghost inhabits each body, or if the ghosts as a collective are imposing their will on each member of the race. The horror of aging in undead society creates an intense desire to stay young (and beautiful, and healthy) and many undead leave the swamps around Catharsis in search of the Fountain of Youth (or some other magical mcguffin with the same effect).
Centrally located on the eastern half of the island, Kinyoa becomes a hub of culture and trade.
EDIT: Forgot an important part! At the time the game begins the dwarves are in the midst of a bloody succession war. For a few generations the dwarven leaders had been powerful and charismatic, but the last died without an heir (or at least one that was liked by the dwarven nobility). There are now many different factions of dwarves spread throughout the west. They have not lost hold of any of their lands yet, but the political chaos is causing their hold on the Mantodean islands and Onia to slip.
The undead of Catharsis also began dabbling full force in alchemy of all kinds, in the attempt to reverse the aging process. While no attempts have been successful as of yet, many interesting byproducts have worked their way into the culture – in particular, the introduction of fluoride into the city’s water supply. The Demons who controlled the city faded into obscurity about 20 years after their arrival, and already they are working themselves into folklore and legend… and the older undead do not have the minds to remember the terrible first days.
The Destruction of the Onian Train (Called the Rainbow Starlet) is a tale that was made popular by the song ‘The Ballad of Old Clikkirin’s Lye’, in which a train packed with dwarves was sent south to capture Naclikirik after Onia’s fall. The tale (most commonly played on a Mantodean Lyre, which is fiendishly difficult to play for anyone but a mantis; however, a stirring reproduction of it was set to an opera in the Eladrin halls in Legaspi) depicts Old Clikkirin, the conductor of the Rainbow Starlet, who rebelled and crashed the train by dousing the wheels in soap, causing the majority of the train to hurtle into the ocean. It is celebrated as a festival in Naclikirik, featuring great parades and soap-making parties.
The mutated elemental goblins, during the great Empire-Dwarven war, perhaps could have turned the tide – however, in their fright, they magnetically sealed their home and never left. There were musings, however, that before the war as over a select group of goblins built a new, faster, underground train from Magnekk to Naclikirik. All investigations of this by the Mantodean Guard have proven fruitless.
Many Ryaka fled to Naclikirik when their home was finally destroyed, by train, air, and ground, in what historians call the ‘Last Migration’.
Over the course of many centuries, Ryaka had remained a somber place of whispered legacy and painful reality. The soaring architecture and proud tradition of lore had slowly succumbed to decay as each day brought a rushing, watery reminder of the state of the shattered city. To support the Ryaka of old, outposts and villages grew to litter the surrounding jungle. However, in a flash of Viking hostility, these backwaters became the last sanctuaries for many of the Yumi of Ryaka.
“Smoke. I remember the terrible smoke. Black, roiling, alive with fury. They burned a swath through the jungle from the sea, you know. And feather-be-stripped their singing and warcries often rose in crescendo above the roar of the flames. I remember the terrible steadfastness. Everyone thought the city would hold. It was Ryaka! The flightless fools. We had more spear points facing the cavern approaches than feathers on a Grandmaster. And then the Blue Raven Nest-wing collapsed – birdwalks and moorings and families and all – with the first detonation. No one thought they would bring fireworks and blast in from above. And the rest is history. [Picks a feather loose and lets it flutter to the ground in disgust. After a moment] Somehow through the chaos, a good number made it to the station of the Wingless Swan [the Yumi name for the Ryaka-Naclikrik train line] and so here I am. I’m sure you’re aware of the number Grandmasters now residing in the city. You can’t deny that even your sand sculptures have evolved in aesthetics since. [For those unfamiliar readers, the sand sculpture ‘scene’ in Naclikirik has erupted among the teenage youth. You can’t walk ten paces without running into, say, a sand-still rendition of a naked-only family-feud sand-clod fight. He sobers for moment] Of course, a good number of Grandmasters remain absent. I’ve heard rumors that the rest perhaps escaped to the surviving sanctuaries sprinkled throughout the jungle. Just rumors of course, nothing more… [He looks off hopefully]”
– Yika Ryaka, survivor of the Shattering of Ryaka
Of course, other rumors indicate that the abandoned ruins of Ryaka is now a festering haven for the Thieves Guild or perhaps other even more unsavory groups.
Now, the development of Kinyoa could not have been any more of a contrast. The first of the city’s many fortunes started with a simple fisher-yumi, Crazy Witless Grandfather Kinyoa as they say in the stories. Father C. Witless for short. Anyway, according to legend, Father C. Witless one day threw down his fishing lines in weariness and decided to paddle his way down the Breathless Reach [as the Kinyoa canyon is called by the Yumi]. After many days and many nights, and after becoming thoroughly insane from a lack of food, the rowing repetition, and the tick under his right eye, Father C. Witless and his battered and splintered little raft made it back to civilization… of a sort. In fact, upon arrival, with imposing haunted ruins rising on all sides, the little craft bumped into none other than Roarik the Perfumed washing himself, the most ruthless Flesh-Stealer that Expurgation has ever had the pleasure of dealing with… and promptly skewered to double-death the terrible outlaw with a splinter of wood. Well, the folks of Expurgation were thrilled, to say the least. They also were thrilled to find a tangled fishing line trailing the savior’s craft that seemed to stretch for leagues. A great expedition was organized and, following the fishing line league by league upriver, finally made contact with the city Kinyoa. And that’s how the Great Merchant Caravans of Kinyoa got started. Expurgation, Heyba, Sorsogon, and even Legaspi. Since then, the city has grown into a pulsing hub of culture and commerce, both with fair and shady flavors in equal parts. Of course, in the original expedition’s excitement they somehow lost track of the raving, frothing Father C. Witless. Who’s to say where the legendary figure wandered off to next…
Excerpts from “An Objective Account of the Rise of Darkrakkel” By Chirza Xlak
It is said by Rakla Berantl (1) that Mantodeans (colloquially, Mantis-Men) are remarkably resistant to corruption, fear, plight, thirst, hunger, pain, torture, and existential quandary, but all of those strengths are ‘not but the least of nullified’ when compared to their desire to be seen in such a way. Living an impressively spartan (2) lifestyle, they are hatched in warcamps, never knowing their true parents and raised in a strict military style. In time, they achieve adolescence – and it is a true achievement; many (3) die due to the overheated, overworked, and generally cruel way that they are treated. Especially those of Lunarikirasp (Moon rest them) were prized for their battle-ready state. Upon reaching this point they are either mentored in an apprenticeship fashion, or pulled into one of the various colleges, such as the Klergel Mining Corps, the … (For full list, see Appendices)
Slickritti is a barren place, when compared to the fertile Legaspian plains, the cultural hive of Kinyoa, or the deep mines of Magnekk, but to the Mantodeans, it is a palace of gold. The first mantodeans to set foot there – the legendary Hricko, Dishta and Crane – were said to describe it as “The most marvelous place we have ever seen, I mean really, there’s a lake here that has like an endless supply of water and also there’s food that isn’t charred Armadillo and theres free fruit!”…(6)
It is no surprise that the weary skirmishing force, finding no-one to fight, immediately set up camp there – and never left (44). With time, connections to the rest of the Empire (then, the Mantodean Coalition) fell away, leaving the city to last upon its own for quite some time. History records were not kept, but a series of comedic plays were uncovered recently at a playhouse that was not burned in Ixpen’s Fire (which consumed the greater part of the city, while Ixpen played his Mantodean Lyre), which start thus: “Did you ever notice how, uh, Ryakans are pretty cool with Mantodeans, but, like, we’re bugs? And they’re birds? Isn’t that weird?”… (The rest of the work is excluded from this collection, as courtesy to the readers.)
With time, the Mantodeans eventually lost the binding grip of the Silver Wings, and dissolved into two factions: the Slickritians, and the Darkrakkel. Over the course of a single night, half of the population of Slickriti snuck out and stole the entire city with them, forcing the Slickritians to build a new city. As this is an objective work, I will not add my opinion to the matter – but if I were, then I would point any readers to these five documents (78, 79, 80, 81, 82) that PROVE beyond all doubt the thieves guild was behind the whole thing, working with the storm dwarves to make sure that the Third Magnet Train never did reach its… (The rest of the book is unintelligible conspiracy theories, all of which have been conclusively proven false. It is clear that the Thieves Guild had nothing to do with it.)
(1) The Eladrin Historian famous for his works on the Rise and Migration of Dinosaurs, the Rise and Migration of Goblins, the Rise and Migration of Dwarves, and the Rise and Migration of Humans (no longer in print)
(2) Spartan means sparse and unforgiving. It is in no way related to the (fictional) peninsula of the Peloponnesus or the (fictional) residents thereof.
(3) Recent reports from Kitterchirp reach over 93%.
(6) Unfortunately, the Mantodeans have never learned the power of stoicism and brevity.
(44) Three expeditions away from Slickriti have occurred – the first in an attempt to ally with the Ryakans (failed), the second in an attempt to domesticate and capture dinosaurs (failed miserably) and the founding of Darkrakkel.
(78-82) Unimportant, please do not read. If you do find any of these works, please contact the editor at your local Thieves’ Guild.
-From the Thieves Guild Library.
I found this about salt flats.
Apparently they aren’t entirely lifeless! Good news for the logic of establishing a giant city in the middle of one.
Worahelm most traditional dwarves, most control. Onia, most in-control, less control as you get farther away. Biggest army in Onia. Leadership broken into factions.
Slickriti, Darkrakkel are not under Dwarf control. The two cities are two mafia gangs constantly fighting over being close to the oasis.
Ryaka shattered. Shadow cult or other mysterious force taking up residence.
Fire spirits have been unnaturally wrenched away from their natural state (spawned from a volcano). Have instincts, but want to get back to their natural state. Fire spirits are now a commodity of extreme wealth (like Howel’s Moving Castle). Fire spirits captured by Theives guild
Sorsagon is prissy and high-minded. Nobles Elves, Commanders are storm dwarves, Monkeys all rest of society. The Monkeys/Storm Dwarves have strong armed them into being a tributary of the storm empire.
Luck elves = Reyala.
Brute elves = Alae’Velahrn.
Goblins having fun in Toolele (Gambling, etc).
Legaspi has brute elves, luck elf army.
Baba covered by a time-freezing mist (frozen around 1000 years ago). Adventurers can venture in, but who’s says if they’ll ever come out? Mist order actively trying to lift the curse.
Grog is ruins.
Mead sells fire elementals. In medieval era.
Goblins organized but volatile. (MTG goblins of armies of 1000s). Throw lives at problems until it is solved.
Goblins and magic: they are sorcerers with little knowledge of how it works, nor even control over it. It is an accomplishment to survive your own magic use.
Goblin DNA is more malleable. Wizards conduct experiments on Goblins (Goblin + Fire elemental = ??? ).
Goblisours are refugees to the Goblins. Goblisours are more physical, primal. They are a part of Goblin society, but have some .
Goblins and mist plateau: goblin explorers are the only ones who can navigate up to the plateau. They are supplying fire spirits to mist order to help them lift the curse of Baba.
Goblins have mastered teradactle taming and flying. For war and Scouts against the Byrrn dwarves.
Eternally burning plains are now a plain of chaotic elemental power (Ice, Lightning, fire, etc). trade between Legaspi and mainland opened and closed due to effects.
Everyone hates the Undead, but still trade with them.
Onia an international hub of culture and races: Mantodea, Merchant dwarves, Goblins all controlled by Byrrn dwarves.
Magnek sealed itself. Some weaker goblins spread out and pretty common. Stronger goblins underground in Magnek and underground in other cities.
Coalition of monkey cities now at the apex of counterculture and riots.
Legaspi elves developing sea influence. Establish an academy in Expurgation to do experiments on Undead. Worahelm developing relations with Legaspi. Legaspi providing access to forest for the Byrrn. Order of Undead caretaking the forest. Seeing the giant tree as a symbol of longevity. A society of harmony with nature HIPPIES! Constant friction between Legaspi/Worahelm woodcutters.
Byrrn religion find fire spirits as servants the deepest hearsay. Worahelm sinking into corruption. Think Spanish inquisition.
Tooele has an established entertainment community. Have a secret government that is in control. Lets the goblin ‘masters’ think they are in control. Goblins contained in a section of the city. Let the goblins think they rule from there. However, the elves actually keep it as a ghetto. They perform elaborate ceremonies (operas) give fake fealty to the goblins.
Field of frozen stone/magma people somewhere on the plateau.
Kitterchirp currently occupied by Byrrn, but a current uprising/revolution in full swing. The Byrrn really aren’t liked. Like the Empire subjugating worlds in Star Wars.
Catharthis alchemists love the spices/plants that grow in the hills of Heyba. They don’t like the unrest in Heyba and want the two sides to just get along. Revolution in Eehaha is underground.
Vault has resisted goblin for hundreds of years. Elves tried to multiply their food (a single mushroom) with magic. They used their artwork to feed this single magic mushroom. The mushroom grew and grew as an unstoppable fungus of DOOM. They sealed themselves in so the fungus doesn’t spread out into the world. They’ve probably gone insane. They happened to destroy the secrets and knowledge that they were supposed to protect.
Kinyoa is a brewing center of ideas and trade. They rely on Catharsis for foodstuffs, and trade routes to the surrounding cities are active and ripe. The city’s architecture is swooping gleaming stone and there are galleries with the most perfect examples craftsmanship are on display.
On the West side of Mead, travel is usually made possible by lumbering dinosaur mounts.