Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Sneak

So I thought I'd let you all in to the Atlas of Arunia stuff I've been working on behind the scenes. This is part of the boxed set, which won't come out until next year (around GenCon) or later -- next year, I suppose, if we're lucky. For those of you who reviewed Sordid Stories or The Imperial City, never fear: the October Frightfest known as Heart of Darkness is pretty much textually finished, I just need to run it a few times and see where/if it is broken or made nonsensical by player action.

So, without further ado, here is the opening of the Atlas of Arunia:

Arunia, the World
The phrase Arunia Ecumenia (ah-ROON-yuh ec-yoo-MEN-iya) in Varan and all dialects of elvish means “the inhabited world.” Arunia Ecumenia is made up of many parts. The easiest and most prominent division is that made by the scholars of the north: Atva-Arunia, Arunia Oriens, and Sudus-Arunia, that is Northern Arunia, Eastern Arunia, and Southern Arunia. Of course, this simplistic division does little to capture the multitudes of cultures, kingdoms, and geographic regions of the land.
Atva-Arunia is made up of a number of continents: Aquilis, Avium, Substrictus and the semi-mythical Domum Nubium which we can translate easily as Cloudhame. Aquilis, Avium, and Substrictus are contiguous land masses and one can (somewhat) easily traverse between them. Cloudhame lies far to the north, in the Sea of Clouds, unreachable save by ships stocked with months of food and a crew capable of making a dangerous icy voyage.

But Atva-Arunia has never had simple boundaries. In the east, the Straits of the Moon divide it from the Moon Kingdoms of the goblins. In the south, the Narrow separates Substrictus from Arunia-Sudus and in the south-east the Trade Sea and the Isthrian Sea divide it from the desert lands of Khewed, Ishtria, and Hadash. But seas unite more than they divide, for travel is preponderantly by sea and river: the Trident Isles and the great port of Ninfa link the desert kingdoms to the North and adventurous sailors may make their way even further south through the narrow seas to Mugharia, the steaming jungles of Zesh, or the great and open savannas of the Oruna.

The Face of Arunia and the Three Worlds
While our world may be round, Arunia is not. The surface of Arunia is lenticular and all portions of the inhabited world are upon the upper half of the convex lens. For this reason, the horizons still seem to curve away and optics function in Arunia as they do on standard spherical worlds. However, Arunia is not alone; while we may have Mars, Venus, and the other planets of the solar system, Arunia is joined not only by satellites and planets but by two entire worlds apart.

Arunia lies at the heart of the Three Worlds and is known to beings that dwell above or below it as the Middle World. The Upper World, Edellia, and the Lower World, Nullia, are knit together by the roots and branches of the world-tree Asca-Irminsul. Edellia is the dwelling-place of the gods (who are called the Aelio) while Nullia is a realm of spirits, the dead, demons, and devils. These three worlds together make up an interconnected whole which cannot be subdivided or separated by any mortal (or even deific) influence.

Arinua Ecumenia is girdled by seas that flow to the very edge of the lens and beyond into the void. Beyond its westernmost edge is the Wall of Night and at its easternmost oceans lies the Wall of Dawn. Northwards and southwards these two meet in the endless twilight that mingles forever at the edges of the world.

The continents of Arunia Ecumenia were long known to Arunian scholars, and they have been enumerated in many sources. The gods did not create them, nor have they always been in the places where they are now. Both land and sea have moved and changed since the earliest ages of history, only winding up in their current configuration during the Third or Fourth Age.

The Arunian day is twenty-four hours in length with varying times of lightness and darkness based on the season. The year is measured into four seasons and each season contains three months in the mannish calendar, with each month being allotted thirty days. This makes three hundred and sixty days in the Arunian calendar, give or take the adjustment day that is introduced every eight years. For more on timekeeping see page XXXX

The continent known as Aquilis (ah-QUEE-liss, from the Varan word for “northerly”) is where most of the cultures that the 10th Age concerns itself with are located. It borders Substrictus to the south where the volcanic Emberlands mark the division and Avium in the east where the great desert called the Plain of Sorrow stretches out beneath the sky. Aquilis itself also accounts for a number of offshore islands (large and small) as well as the deep Bay of Yer’is where once that fabled kingdom could be found.

Avium (AW-ee-yum), the Wasteland, also known as the Plain of Sorrow, Avium is home to the numerous Free Cities of the East and a vast number of mercenaries who are always ready to spill blood across that dusty landscape. Avium was a shallow sea for two ages in the earliest of recorded gigantine histories and the ruins of ancient sea-giant constructions dot what was once the ocean floor. East of Avium lies the Straits of the Moon and beyond that the so-called Moon Kingdoms of the goblins.

Substrictus (sub-STRICT-us) is the Narrow Continent, which has its northernmost bounds at the Emberlands and stretches far to the south where the Jungles of Zesh begin. Ralashar and the old draconic empire of Syndis cover most of the sections of Substrictus known to men of Aquilis and the boundaries between the two continents are regularly crossed by spice caravans going to or from Ralashar.

Far in the north lies Cloudhame (CLOUD-hame), the semi-mythical land of the Cloud Giants. It was said that it once lay off the northern shores of Aquilis but the giants, making use of their powerful Earthtiller Staves, separated their kingdom by vast stretches of icy sea to make it unapproachable to all but the most determined of travelers.

The Moonlands
Beyond the Straits of the Moon lie the great goblin city-states of the Moon Kingdoms which are locked in internecine war. Strife used to exist between the Moon Kingdoms but has evaporated in face of a more dangerous foe: Vagrysj the Ogre-King who has united the ogaritic tribes of the Moonlands and has conquered city after city, driving the goblins into a defensive frenzy.

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