Oran and Tartagal
Once a single large landmass known as Tarija, the modern continents of Oran and Tartagal were separated by a magical explosion, known as the Calamity, twenty thousand years ago, the details of which have since receded into legend. According to local myth, the Tarijan empire once ruled the entirety of the land, discovering and innovating on the earliest magics of the world. Originally egalitarian and cosmopolitan, the nature of magical mastery favoured the longer lived races of the empire, eventually creating a ruling caste of elven and dwarven magisters, a soldier caste of orcs and goliaths, and a slave caste of humans - all ruled over by a sage-king drawn from the strongest magisters of the empire. Over time, the society of Tarija grew ever more decadent, confident in their ability to corral their slaves and maintain the loyalty of their soldiery. This complacency would prove to be their downfall, when shifting weather patterns saw the interior of Tarija grow barren, causing famine and suffering on a scale so large that for the first time, their erstwhile loyal soldiery began harbouring thoughts of rebellion. Normally, food would be released for the soldiery, but in a stroke of disaster, the sage-king of the time was poisoned, causing chaos among the magisters as leading families struggled to assert authority over the empire. What followed was the mass revolt of the soldiers and slaves, leaving the embattled magisters increasingly cornered. The cause of the ensuing explosion is lost to time, but stories range from it being the result of internal magister treachery to a desperate last stand against the vindictive armies arrayed against them. Either way, the land was blanketed in dust for centuries, drastically altering the land and its surviving inhabitants. Oran is the northernmost continent in the world, and despite its close proximity to Tartagal, one of the hardest landmasses to access. Buffeted by stormy seas and swept from east to west by gale winds, Oran is a land where only the hardiest can survive. Only mosses and lichen survive on the Windswept Barrens of the north, a wide plain of exposed rock. Soil had long since been blown out to sea, and the long winter after the explosions saw the forest buried by pyroclastic flow. Some of these petrified woods have become exposed over the millennia, becoming highly sought-after trade goods. The south is similarly barren, save the Lunduk Hills, home to the sole remaining pre-Calamity forest in either Oran or Tartagal. Strange, twisted trees draw whatever sustenance they can from the land, appearing as dried skeletons for all but one season of the year, upon which they burst into the most intoxicating blooms, again, highly sought-after by alchemists for their properties. A strange subset of goliath dwell here alongside their elven and dwarven slaves, eking out a brutal existence in rather primitive conditions. Little is known about them save what is told by the goliaths of the Karakan Mountain, the largest peak in the world and the only other source of refuge on Oran. Where the Lunduk goliaths have adapted, the Karakan goliaths consider themselves the sole inheritors of the Tarijan empire, maintaining a semblance of the culture and architecture of the empire in their great mountain city. To the east of Oran midway between Tartagal are the Stepstones, the sole route of travel between Oran and the outside world. The seas are marginally less rough there, and the sheltered channel between the Greater Stepstone and the Lesser Stepstone protects from all but the roughest of storms. Tartagal is the geographic centre of the world, and unlike Oran, is more welcoming to life. After the long winter of the Calamity, Tartagal was recolonised by flora and fauna from nearby Leica and Guayal, resulting in a landscape similar to Leica in the west, and Guayal in the east. Eastern Tartagal is divided by the Long River into plains and marsh, both of which teem with animal life. Large rodents scamper across the plains free of fear and predators other than the human Hunter people, while in the marsh, the Fisher people erect complex crannogs amidst fish-rich waters. In the west, the Saltan Forest dominates the arable land of the region, and in almost all respects is central to life in the human and dwarven societies there. Considered to be the sacred refuge of their ancestors from the Calamity, none are allowed to cut down a tree in the Saltan, nor reside there until the fabled Second Calamity comes. As a result, the Saltan Forest has grown unmolested over the millennia, steadily encroaching upon settlements and forcing the humans and dwarves into smaller spaces. This has led to many taking up a life of sea reaving, plundering other settlements both on Tartagal and in nearby Guayal and Leica, or establishing permanent settlements abroad. Unlike Oran, Tarijan ruins are rarely seen in Tartagal, largely due to the deep hatred attached to symbols of the magisters. When discovered, Tarijan ruins are systematically dismantled, and their sites ritually consecrated and repurposed.
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