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The Cusp of Xerith
A region along the southeastern coast of a larger continent. A tropical jungle, much of the region has a hot, humid 'dry' season follower by a hot, wet rainy season. A volcanic region, there is not much arable land, and most settlements are in swamps, and along the rivers and coasts, where a large amount of fishing and sea cultivation occurs.
Major powers in the area include the elven empire of Antinaco, led by their deity-god, the Eagle Emperor, Ujurak, a loosely confederated group of orc tribes led by the Warpriest of the Toad-God, and Yongwei, a country to the east ruled in name by a monarch but in reality by a group of quarreling families
Major landmarks include the Sea of Xerith, a large body of water between the two main peninsulas, a large volcano named 'Mount Hyptyy' for the legends of the halfling savages at its feet, the Fargywl Jungle, a thick, gigantic forest which covers most of Antinaco, and the Baoquatl mountains to the northwest.
Capital: Quana Population: 2,589,600 (56% elves, 24% humans, 10% half-elves, 7% orcs, 1% dwarves, 1% kobolds, 1% others) Exports: Wine, agriculture, lumber, textiles Languages: Ancient Anikech, Anikech, Modern Jinwei, Dwarven Common, Plainstalk
Stretching across much of Xerith is the Fargywl Jungle, also known as The Darkest Jungle, which serves as home for the hundred thousand obsidian handaxe-wielding legions of the Eagle-God Antinaco. Said to have lived for over 4,000 years, this violent emperor-deity has been leading fanatic armies and bloody rituals throughout the southern lands for as long as any historical documents in Jinwei can record.
Unfortunately, as fervent, fanatical, and long-lasting as the empire may be, it has never been known for its effectiveness or efficiency. A heavily caste-based society, all decision-making is made by rulers completely isolated from reality, completely entranced by their mystic rites and secrets.
This insulation has led to a dramatic decline in Antinaco's prominence in the region over the past few decades. The most recent 'reblooding' of their emperor-god resulted in a series of failed battle after failed battle against Yongwei to the east, Ujurak to the west, and barbarians to the north. The high priests, seeing nothing but defeat and unable to accept this, declared that the emperor-god must be an imposter. A religious civil holy-war resulted, which finally ended after thirty years of fighting and human sacrifices.
Most of this fighting happened in or around the capital in the center of the Fargywl Jungle. As a result of this upheaval, the southern coast enjoyed immense prosperity as the incompetant rulers turned their attention away from ports, which soon bustled with trade and other dealings not previously allowed under the rule.
It also led to a dramatic increase in banditry and civil chaos. The wild lands to the west became wilder as the tribes from Ujurak pressed in from the west and the barbarians from the north, unprotected by the empire's soldiers. Much of what was the Antinaco Empire now belongs to it in name only, as isolated tribes and clans fight tooth-and-nail for supremecy.
Antinaco, then, has become like three nations. One is the fantical elf army dedicated to and ruled by their emperor-god in the north. One is the wild plains to the west, filled with barbarian tribes and ruled by warlords. The last is the bustling south, port cities flowing with riches and a steady influx of foreigners from Yongwei, Vinh Yi, and other nations looking for wealth, ruled by former Antinaco peasants and merchants.
With power returning to the hands of the emperor, however, it is not clear how long this will last.
Capital: Port Yongpan Population: 1,092,000 (36% humans, 34% half-elves, 14% elves, 7% dwarves, 5% orcs, 3% half-orcs, 1% others) Exports: Fish, agriculture, trade goods Languages: Modern Jinwei, Jinwei, Anikech, Dwarven Common
Located directly east of Antinaco, the kingdom of Yongwei lays claim to everything from the shore of the Eastern Sea to the edge of the Fargywl Jungle. Yongwei is a monarchy, headed by the young King Jinhung, the direct descendant of the founder of the nation.
300 years ago, a navigator named Captain Wukshun borrowed 6 vessels from the Jinwei Ministry to lead an expedition to find a sea route to the western lands. Unfortunately, the expedition ran into problems from the very beginning. Wukshun wasn't able to hire accomplished sailors, and instead had to settle with an unruly lot of laborers, criminals, and scum who the Jinwei Ministry was quite happy to expend in the name of progress.
After setting out, the problems grew and grew. After weeks of horrible conditions in monsoons, hurricanes, and being blown completely off course, the crew began to mutiny. Captain Wukshun was able to calm the crew down, telling them they would cancel the expedition and return home, but unfortunately, they were completely lost and had run out of food, so he decided to stop somewhere first.
The ships landed in what is now Port Yongpan, the capital city of Yongwei. At first, they were just going to fish and forage for enough food to make the journey back up the coast, where they assumed they would find Jinwei. However, as time went by and they settled into the area, most of the crew decided they didn't want to return. They hadn't exactly been wanted back home, and here they could live freely as they pleased.
The crew dismantled their ships for lumber and built a small town. Taking wives from among the exotic elf and human natives, the town soon flourished and grew and grew. Captain Wukshun began administering law when things went awry, and he became seen as the local ruler. After he died, his son took over, and after he died, his son took over, and so forth.
As the small town grew too large for just one person to be in charge of, the captains of the other five ships were approached to lead their crew and families. The descendants of these captains would later become the five noble families.
100 years after Captain Wukshun's failed expedition, a second group of ship from Jinwei at last reached the small country that was now known as Yongwei. The people from Jinwei were surprised as anyone, having not expected an off-shoot of their culture to be in the middle of the barbarous jungles of Xerith. They stayed in Port Yongpan for only a week before heading off on their journey, but the impact among the Yongwei people was immense.
Jinwei-fever hit the people of Yongwei. They were tired of living in the blistering, muggy heat of the tropics, tired of repelling attack after attack from the crazed elves of Antinaco. As more ships began making the long journey from Jinwei, they began to see their ancient homeland as something great to aspire to, and tried to cast off their own culture that they developed.
The results were varied. No one from Yongwei had actually been to Jinwei, and they had only tales from their grandparents and short reports from sailors to guide them. A large expansion took place along the coast as the oldest parts of town were torn down to build large, opulent structures. Racism grew in Yongwei, as the people began to see elves and those with pronounced elven heritage as dirty junle-dwellers.
During this movement, the descendants of the six captains, already used to leading the people, began to see themselves, like the nobles and imperial families of Jinwei, as somehow seperate and better from the rest. It was at this time that Yongwei coronated their first monarch, King Hwanlin, the eldest great grandson of Captain Wukshun. The heads of the other five families set themselves up as the royal court, advisors to the king and ministers of law.
In the current day, the king's relevance in the rule of Yongwei has largely been made superficial, as the five noble families of the nation now have much of that power. Ironically, little is achieved through their command, as they argue incessantly and see eye-to-eye on none of the matters that reach their ears. As part of this political war they frequently send ambassadors to other places and use them to gain favor with anyone they can, hoping to use it against the other families. Their attempts at gaining an advantage over one another even extend to sabotage, and rarely is there an event sponsored by any one of the families that does not end in disaster (and more often than not, more than one of the other families is involved). Their most publicly-known dispute is currently what to do about the debt that is owed to Jinwei, as only some are interested in paying the nation for the six ships taken 300 years prior.
Capital: ? Population: 278,000 (22% humans, 21% orcs, 15% dwarves, 13% halflings, 9% half-orcs, 8% goblin, 5% half-elves, 4% elves, 3% others) Exports: Weapons, armor, tools, processed ore, metal-work, trade goods Languages: Modern Jinwei, Jinwei, Anikech, Dwarven Common, Vinh Yi, Eastern Daakin
- Led by merchant dwarves who came from the south
- Set up cities near Ujurak to gain close access to the mineral wealth found in the nearby mountains
- Set up city on the tip of Hyptyy pennisula to be more useful for trading along the coast, also very opulent and rich
- Have become important trade leaders in the region
- Hires orcs and others to mine in the mountains and to fight goblins and halflings
Capital: ? Population: 1,687,500 (46% orcs, 13% goblins, 10% humans, 9% elves, 8% half-elves, 8% halflings, 5% dwarves 1% kobold) Exports: Unprocessed ore, heavy labor, mercenaries Languages: Ujurak, Dwarvern Common, Anikech
- Big boggy swamp
- Hundreds of disorganized tribes of orcs ruled by warchiefs
- Worship hundreds of gods, each god is the patron of a tribe
- Strongest tribe is led by the warpriest of the frog-god
- Tribes recently rallied to push into Antinaco
The orcs of Ujurak eke out a miserable existence in the middle of a great, boggy swamp. Though the swamp makes for a rather unpleasant home, the orcs thrive in it due to their great strength, their great knowledge of the terrain, and mostly, their tolerance of filth. It definitely helps that no one else would ever want to live there.
Each orc tribe maintains dominion over its own small portion of the swamps. Agreements between nearby tribes facilitate trade throughout the swamp, especially between the dwarves of the Baoquetl mountains and the towns along the shore of the Cusp of Xerith. Ships unload goods for the dwarves in these towns, and orcish merchants guide them up the river and through the swamps to the dwarven cities.
Even as they shepherd the flow of goods up and down the great rivers (need names), the orcish tribes value martial prowess. Between the barbarians to the northeast, the fanatics of the Antinaco to the east, and the goblins to the southwest, the orcs do not lack for enemies.
The dwarves encourage this martial culture; to their minds, the orcs serve excellently as mercenary shock troops. Mercenary company losses and various skirmishes with their enemies both serve to slow the orcish population growth.
Capital: ? Population: 360,000 (33% humans, 24% half-elves, 23% elves, 7% orcs, 5% dwarves, 4% half-orcs, 4% others) Exports: Fish, agriculture Languages: Modern Jinwei, Jinwei, Anikech, Dwarven Common
Qing Nai has had an extensive history of being the location of countless independent fortresses, villages, and pirate holds on the coasts. Its shores are high, sheer cliffs lined with small rocky isles, hidden coves, and rivers running deep inland. More recently the territories of Qing Nai have formed a loose federation because of a triple threat to their area - the war of the elves, the mobilization of the orcs, and the invasion of barbarians. Additionally, many people have come in recent years to settle Qing Nai, only to find themselves at the mercy of the independent rulers of the fortresses and holds dotting the territory - and some of the more unkind lords (including many of the pirate masters) have taken advantage of this and made the newcomers, who are vastly inexperienced at surviving in the harsh region little more than slaves.
But Qing Nai's troubles do not end there. Some elven priests have taken to abusing their power brutally, ignoring laws laid down in many of the coastal settlements - prompting anger and frustration from the lords of the area as they struggle to respond. Additionally, while Qing Nai's masters sometimes convene and act as a single ruling council, the alliance found within the nation is fragile - and some of these leaders would have their "allies" assassinated and their riches and land taken as soon as aid them in their difficulties.
Port Jime (Small Town): Conventional (Mayor); AL CG; 601 gp limit; Assets 33,000 gp; Population 1,114; Integrated (43% humans, 24% elves, 16% half-elves, 12% dwarves, 3% orcs, 3% half-orcs)
Authority Figures: Mayor Teqot, male human expert 8
Important Characters: Willow Palm (captain of the guard), female human monk 4, Berka (owner of the whisky giant), female half-giant barbarian 3, Captain Gingkai (captain of dwarven vessel) male dwarf aristocrat 4, Teklek (elven priest) male elf bard 5, Sena (Singh's assistant) female human expert 4
A small town located along the western coast of Qing Nai, the town was founded several decades ago by refugees fleeing from the politcal turmoil in Antinaco. Its close proximity to Fort Sea Turtle, an old fortication now used as a dwarven shipping outpost, and several small villages in the area, ensured a fair stream of commerce. As the situation in Antinaco worsened, more people fled to Port Jime to meet with their old family and friends, and the town flourished.
Unfortunately, as the town grew, problems began arising. The commerce in the area began drawing pirates and other criminal elements eager to cash in. Additionally, recently it was discovered that a large number of dangerous monsters dwelled in the jungles and mountains to the northeast. The old captain of the guard, a staunch defender of law in the Jime, recently perished fighting these monsters.
As if this wasn't enough, a nearby ruler, Lord Hawln, doesn't like the town being there, as it is disrupting his influence on the dwarven trade routes. He has sent gangs in the past to rough up the town and make them leave, but the town has managed to fight them off so far. But with the death of the old guard leader, can they again?
Because of these problems, Mayor Teqot has petitioned Lord Zeyi, the ruler of a sizeable army and a fortress to the west, to help. In exchange for a reasonable tax, Lord Zeyi will send soldiers to protect the town, and increase his territory. One week from now, Lord Zeyi will come in person to determine whether or not the town is worth the effort.
That's where the adventurers come in. Mayor Teqot is offering a sizeable reward to anyone who can mop up the current problems around town before Lord Zeyi comes, and to help protect Lord Zeyi in case anything happens when he arrives. Many have come to town for the prospect of gold, and many in town wish they'd all leave. But wherever they're from, one day a group of people meet in the Whisky Giant, the town's largest drinking hole, unaware of the adventure that awaits them...!
Capital: ? Population: 85,500 (46% humans, 27% kobolds, 13% elves, 6% half-elves, 5% orcs, 2% half-orcs, 1% giants) Exports: ? Languages: ?
- Ruled by isolationist monestary deep in the Baoqautl mountains
- Recent activites from orcs to the west and barbarians to the east are very troubling for Kunala
- Big empire far to the northeast
- Sends ministers to collect the now 300 year old debt from their subsidiary Yongwei
The Ritual of Coming Spring
An annual ritual performed for a week after the vernal equinox to mark the beginning of the new planting season in Antinaco, Ujurak, and several other nations, although on a much smaller scale than the previous two.
Each year in Antinaco, the priests and other holy men spend much of the winter season making preperations in all of the towns and villages along the Posticato river.
On the day of the equinox, they begin moving their way down from the Posticato source and performing their yearly ritual. The streets of every town are decorated with bright streamers of red, green, and gold. All of the peasants and other villagers in these towns are required to join in the ritual, which is accompanied by hours of music, dancing, stories and chanting dedicated to Antinaco.
Additionally, in major towns, especially the capital, a bloody melee takes place in the arenas between all of the warriors, typically lasting for an hour. At the end, all of the warriors eat the hearts of the fallen and imbibe large amounts of alcohol. Then, they make their way out of towns and into the fields, spreading the blood of the fallen warriors into the land.
At the end of the week of celebration, everyone pools together all the food left over from the winter and celebrates with a great feast before the farmers return to their fields to plant their crops.
In Ujurak, the ritual is much less vibrant, but no less important. The orc tribes are careful to keep those not from the nation out as a great competition takes place between them, with each sending their most capable athlete to compete. Those who take part run, swim, climb, and sneak to the end of an extensive course, where the orcs who succeeded enter into a wrestling tournament. The final victor confers a special honor upon his tribe: they and they alone perform the springtime ritual in that year. The winning gains both the ire and the respect of the other tribes until the next celebration, when the best of the tribes who have trained the entire year in preparation for the next event get another chance at defeating the other tribes in the competition.
This effect targets plants within a range of mile from where the rituals take place, raising their potential productivity over the course of the next year to one-third above normal.
Spirit realm inhabited by countless spirits
Spirit realm is virtually identical to material realm
Spirits have mojo powers
Spirits can cross over to the material realm
Spirits are generally oblivious to humans, but from time to time can be especially generous, curious, vicious, etc.
Certain spirits can inhabit an area for a long time, these spirits become worshipped by general populace
Thousands of distinct spirits
Several major spirits have been known to interact with people, and even control other spirits. These spirits are considered by many to be greater deities
- Suija - God of Spring and Water
- Huo - God of Summer and Fire
- Dazhi - God of Autumn and Earth
- Tian - God of Winter and Air
- Antinaco - God of ?? and Heart!
Each major religion has a different view on spirits, their roles
- Character Creation: Gestalt, no magic users. - Stats are chosen from one of three arrays: 18 16 14 12 10 8, 16 16 14 14 12 10, or 14 14 14 14 14 14 - Sources allowed: Any class, race, or feat found on the d20 SRD except for casters, anything found on the d20 Modern SRD after some conversion.
Paladins and Rangers have no spellcasting. Instead, they get bonus feats at level 4, 8, 11, and 14. Paladin detect evil only works on those with an evil subtype.
Characters may take talents from d20 modern classes as feats. Each talent with a prerequisite still requires the previous talents as normal. For talents with an effect based on a specific class level, treat it as one-half your character level, rounded up.
Characters may use the treat injury skill in place of the D&D heal skill. The restore hitpoints option restores 1d4+your rank in treat injury. Surgery gets an equal bonus.
Because high level characters are expected to have armor bonuses that will be lacking in a low-magic game like this, each class grants a bonus to AC based on your class level. Like normal gestalt, you may use the best table for your class. This is an active defense bonus, that goes away when you are flat-footed, surprised, paralyzed, bound, etc.
Good Poor 1 +2 +1 2 +3 +1 3 +3 +2 4 +4 +2 5 +4 +2 6 +5 +3 7 +5 +3 8 +6 +3 9 +6 +4 10 +6 +4 11 +7 +4 12 +8 +5 13 +8 +5 14 +9 +5 15 +9 +6 16 +10 +6 17 +10 +6 18 +11 +7 19 +11 +7 20 +12 +7
Classes with good armor bonus: Any class with heavy armor proficiency or evasion as a class feature.
Classes with poor armor bonus: Any other class
Characters begin with 3 points of conviction and may also have a virute, a vice, and complications. Each of these give a character another point of conviction when it causes problems, or when the player gets rid of their complication.
For example, a character might have a virute of honesty, a vice of greed, and a complication of a rival sibling. When the character's honesty gets him in to trouble, such as telling the truth to a guard while sneaking through the castle, he gets a point of conviction. He also gets a point of conviction when he tries to steal the crown jewels and gets caught. He also gets a point of conviction when his brother shows up and steals the jewels, and a point of conviction when he finally defeats his brother, but will no longer receive conviction from that complication.
Conviction can be used in the following ways: A player can expend a point of conviction to heal 1/4 of their maximum hit points. A player can expend a point of conviction to reroll any die roll and take the better of the two. A player can also expend a point of conviction to perform any kind of whacky stunt not covered by the rules, within moderate reason.