What is the point in Destiny if someone can read the future. I have witnessed what lies ahead and have obscured it from all other mortals and immortals, for it will devour even the most optimistic. If the Realms are to reject me for existing then I shall reject everything in hopes I do not live long enough to love. For there is so much to love in this Great Dance.
It is Winter of 4E 297. As two superpowers of the Mortal Realm, the Holy See Territories and Kushan Empire, slowly escalate in tensions the Holy See readies itself to war with a third party. Birdmen sent by the Archmage of Mampang have stolen the Crown of Thorns, an ancient artefact of cosmic importance.
A Nightmare is rising in the minds of all. No one it yet to have a full sleep, and no one is exempt from this recent curse. Not even the Gods Almighty.
Destiny's story and worldbuilding takes place mostly on the Mortal Realm
of the Great Dance
, the cosmology of this setting. The Mortal Realm, believed by many to have once been an ancient primordial Garden
, is a horseshoe-shaped supercontinent teeming with life and cultures, magic and dangers.
Focus is placed on the bridge of the horseshoe, in a region known as the Midlands
which stretch from the far icy northern shores of the Copper Sea
down to the bug-infested equatorial jungle coasts of the Silverlight Sea
, bordered to the east and west by mountain ranges known as the Jewels
and the Silver Mountains
respectively. Midland is full of ancient history, being the site of many era-defining events and entities such as the Great Hunt
, the Apollyonic Empire
, and now most recently dominated by the Holy See
, a religious order revolving around the teachings of their first prophet Chalanna
who wore the Crown of Thorns
. The Holy See has united nine kingdoms into its fold, nine distinct cultures united under a shared religion. For the first time since the days of the Empire, the Midlands are under peace, a Pax Heldenica
as the High Synod proclaimed. For those millions who live in the Midlands, it is the centre of the Mortal Realm.
To the north there is the rugged Vallatorlan, split culturally between the highland and lowland clans though united in what was once a shared faith of their birthright in fighting for freedom from Giantish slavery in the ancient days of the Second Era. To their east, bitter rivals over the Copper Sea trade routes, is the Kingdom of Lothlend, an ancient chivalric state scarred with the last remnants of Midland Druids holding on to even more archaic ways of life and belief in the heartlands of where humanity originated. As one travels south on the dividing grand River Stromlos to warmer climes, one will reach Lake Heron, a small inland sea and centrepoint of the Heldenmarch - a collection of states and holy orders which formed the Holy See itself and remains the heart of zeal and fervour in the Midlands. To the east of the Heldenmarch are the three kingdoms of Abendland, Buerach, and Custodia. When the Apollyonic Empire collapsed, these central plains fell back into the rule of nomadic pastoral hordes who have in time once again settled into feudal states. Abendland, in the north of the region, struggles to fight back against the Forest of Varantar which seems to be alive and resist back against settled civilisation. Custodia in the south is a region of foothills where life is shared with Birdfolk hill tribes and predatory Peryton. Between them is Buerach, a small kingdom of ancient ruins so detached from external conflict that it's said their knights are better at polishing than duelling, though this peace has started to ferment unorthodox cults preaching heretical deviations to the Holy See's creed. Past the wasabi and rice farms and Purple Worm scarring to the Heldenmarch's south is the once-"hermit kingdom" of Ardena, a land of smiths who ply their Dwarf-taught trade in their sacred Valley of the Ardene. To the south of Custodia, on the shores of the Silverlight Sea, is the land of Ruddlestone currently ruled over by the third wave of invaders to this land, those who came from the sea itself and are still permitted (though highly regulated) religion revolving around this sea and far south they originated from. Past the Jewels to the east is the great land of Analand, or the Arkle Empire as it refers to itself as, the largest and most recent convert to the Creed of Chalanna.
Analand is extending the territorial ambitions of the Holy See further into the eastern wing, into multicultural inhospitable arcane badlands known as the Kakhabad
. These lands stretch from the once-golden now-enfamined plateau of the Habadian Shamutanti
, the Cityport of Piracy Yosha
, to the arid volcanic wasteland of Mampang
and High Xamen
. As the eastern wing stretches southward, the badlands turn to savannah, which turn to the expansive desert of Rostau
, inhabited only by fierce wanderers and outlandish tribesmen, insane researchers and archaeologists exploring the remnants of a Nameless Empire
, and towering anthills of savagery which pierce Reality itself. Not even the hoary Scholars of Hamaskus
in their Hermetic Athenaeums know what is truly beyond the Desert of Rostau except for the existence of another civilisation which calls itself Xhinjai
, though of its peoples and lands the Midland knows very little. On the inner coast of the eastern wing there juts a peninsula deep into the Silverlight Sea, the original Pride Lands
of the Mortal Realm's Catfolk, tipped by the exotic mercantile city-state of Khasahmir
which has found itself to be one of the Holy See's major southern rivals and is currently locked in naval conflict with the isles of Ruddlestone.
Past the Silver Mountains to the Midland's west are vast steppelands. The Midlands since the days of the Apollyonic Empire have known little about the hordes and inner geopolitics of these Silver Steppe
cultures except for the Stormchasers
who inhabit the Storm Coast
to which the Midlandian states have had long traditions of trading. As a merchant vessels sails further west it will snake round the Isle of Hammerfall
, though will rarely dock for fears of sailor's tales of golems clashing with man-sized insects, of natural-born lycanthropes dining alongside snakes with legs and shimmering skin. Snaking south, a vessel will reach the city-state of Alca
on the mesmerising Sunset Coast
, the last great power of the Tiefling
Exiles. To the east of Alca and southern reaches of the Silver Steppes, where the Silver Mountains end and the claimed lands of Ardena meet with the western wing there lies another inland sea. On this sea's banks lie two elderly kingdoms long past their prime. First there is Zaral
, founded on the crashed remnants of a floating city - Eldervair
- and inhabited by the dreaming Fomorian
peoples, though their dreams awoke their own accursed downfall much to the pain of the Midlands, who had become somewhat addicted to the sweet sleeping syrup in which Zaral cultivated and exported. Next there is Cerus
, which has crumbled under the pressures of Fomorian refugees, deranged leadership, and invasion from the south; From the Kushan Empire
is a growing militaristic territory of Drakefolk and Aetherborn
which stretch to unknown heights in the Mortal Realm's far south and south east. Rejecting the authority of the Pantheon of Magus
, the Kush oppose the rise of the Holy See and the two have been in rising tensions since they came into contact with one another on the Rum Coast
at the Silverlight Sea's western banks. Some doomsayers have proclaimed that if the See and Kushan did enter open war, the entire Mortal Realm would crack.
The Mortal Realm is packed with countless species and races, moreso than any other Realm in the Great Dance where as its centrepoint the Mortal Realm finds itself home to visitors and strays from all other Realms who have made their way across the Aether. While there are smaller civilisations of note, such as the Habad and Tieflings, the following are the five major groupings which form the primary populations.
proclaim to be the only trueborn race of the Mortal Realm, with extremists espousing harmful beliefs corrupting this already-foolhardy viewpoint. The reason for this is that myths suggest Humans are the offspring of both the earth and the divine; That when the Holy Matron Mother Galana
was freed from the clutches of the Great Hag Throff
, she suffered from a miscarriage. The blood of which seeped into the clay shores of the Copper Sea at a region known as Redfall
in what is currently Lothlend, and what emerged from this commixtion was the First Man Logaan
. Logaan's Ten Tribes would then spread across all corners of the Mortal Realm, and now centuries later are presently the most populous sentient species in the Realm. They are numerous, diverse, and hold myriad cultures and values, though are incredibly social leading to a high mix of Human civilisations containing all manner of other sentient races unless where more conservative values persist as a result of culture or religion.
The true origins of the Beastfolk are unknown, though they are just as native to the Mortal Realm as any others. Some believe they were uplifted by the Gods, others that they always existed even before the birth of humanity. Regardless, to refer to all species regarded under this heading as all the same Beastfolk is rather crude, for they are incredibly diverse. The Pride Lands are home to the Catfolk, who there resemble lions though have since spread throughout the Realm and adopted other characteristics. Some have retained their "big cat" origins, such as those akin to tigers which lounge in the parlours across Ruddlestone's jungles. Others now resemble "small cats" and have since been codified as different species by those Humans who originally encountered their peoples. The Gnolls of Northern Rostau and the Kakhabad resemble hyenas, whereas the Tabaxi of the western wing resemble cheetahs or even in more northern climates, snow leopards. The other major Beastfolk are the Birdfolk who share Midland with Humans though more often in the elevated mountains where Humans would struggle to establish settlements. Others include the bovine Minories, the half-goat Glastig, and the Lizardfolk of the equator including their aquatic cousins the Sahuagin who ply the Silverlight Sea in Shore-Khanates. The Orcs are known to some as Pigmen, having similar features of wild boar such as tusks and short broad upturned noses, though their status as Beastfolk is highly disputed.
are cosmic nomads who have attempted to colonise the Realms itself, arriving on the Mortal Realm from the skies in distinct migratory waves where they are now also known by a common name of Elves
. The Aetherborn themselves originate from the Realms of Lumen
, the corpses of the antediluvian entities which existed long before Reality itself
. Luminal Aetherborn
landed on the Mortal Realm centuries before the modern day, though this first wave in the Midland were believed to have been driven to near extinction by Logaan and the earliest Human tribes. This first wave slumbered in underground tombs, awaiting the day to return and complete their original task. Some of these original migrators have since awoken, and now inhabit the Forest of Varantar, striking out against the human kingdoms which surround them as Wood Elves
. A second wave of Luminal Aetherborn landed somewhere in the Far Lands and have established the rising Kushan Empire as High Elves
. A wave of Umbral Aetherborn
have also landed on the Mortal Realm much more recently compared to their Luminal cousins and rivals, with scattered pockets of young settlements of Dark Elves
dotted throughout the harsh Kakhabad. One wave of Aetherborn landed in Elementa Realm
and became adapted to the endless ocean of Aqua
. Through means obscured even to the Realmwalking Traveller Knights
, these Aetherborn have made their way to certain waters of the Mortal Realm as Sea Elves
Dragons and their Kin
In the earliest days after the Great Hag Throff moulded the Mortal Realm, the solitary mountain of Ben Wyvern cracked open and out flew ten distinct Dragons, five of metallic scales and five of chromatic. By 4E 297, none of these ancient godlike wyverns are regularly witnessed by mortal eyes like they once were as described in the tales of old. Some are believed to be in hiding, others believed to have been somehow killed, and others like the Cinder King Red Drake dwell forever in his lair of untold riches deep within Ben Wyvern.
Their descendants and kin, however, have proliferated the Mortal Realm since their supposed emergence during the Great Hunt. Dragonkin come in various sentient sizes and types, from the lowly diminutive and somewhat nocturnal Kobold believed to be born from the shedding scales of the Dragons themselves living in the darkest places of the surface, either squatting in caves in the wilderness or integrated into civilisation to be considered either handymen who maintain subterranean vaults or sewer systems, or pests which live in the walls of houses. Their larger cousins are the Dragonborn, much closer to their original Dragon forefathers, retaining the skills of elemental breath. As the Dragons scoured the Mortal Realm in the Great Hunt, legions of Dragonborn and Kobold were amassed and followed in their flightpath. The scars of this ancient event can be seen closely in the scale hue of a Dragonkin being similar to whichever legions once marched centuries prior. Red Dragonborn and Kobold are commonly seen throughout the Holy See due to the location of Ben Wyvern, whereas their Bronze kin populate the Storm Coast as the last known sighting of the Bronze Wyrm prior to the Norman War.
Giantfolk and Dwarves
It is held in legend that when the Great Hag sculpted the Mortal Realm, they populated their new Garden with two sets of offspring. First were the Swan Maidens who ascended into clouds, and second were the Fooar who were so quarrelsome that they were forced into the mountains. What emerged were the various distinct tribes of Giants which would spread across the primordial days of life in the Mortal Realm. The Great Hunt would see an end to this Giantkin civilisation, forcing them into the corners and shadows of the Realm, with only their monstrous cousins like Ogres or crossbred descendants like Goliaths being found commonly. Known as outsiders, as raiders, as dangerous boogeymen that scares children into following their mother's orders.
One Fooar, Verlang, had been trapped in the solitary mountain of Ben Wyvern and wished to create life through sacrifice. After correspondence with the Pantheon of Magus, Verlang gave up his body to create the first three Dwarves, who would emerge from his corpse and populate the Mortal Realm in three clans; the White, the Black, and the Red. The White Dwarves would stretch south-and-westward and became the most plentiful, finally settling and inhabiting the empty Fooar Halls throughout the Silver Mountains. The Red Dwarves would follow the ore-veins eastward, finding visions of a mountain of fire in its memories, creating foundries along the way from the Jewels into the Kakhabad. The Black Dwarves would remain in Ben Wyvern and establish a subterranean holy land protecting the resting place of Verlang from above and below. Without the Giants, however, Dwarvish society too has crumbled from its heights; a slow death into a dark age. The Black Dwarves were slaughtered in the Great Hunt by the Red Drake's legions; the Red Dwarves disappeared after toying with their self-proclaimed promised land of High Xamen which now spews ash across the Kakhabad; the White Dwarves would devolve into grudge-fuelled infighting forcing them from their mountains to seek refuge in the kingdoms which had sprouted in their absence.
Magic is present all throughout the Great Dance, emanating from Beyond Reality through a scar in said Reality cultivated by the Gods of Magus Realm. While more primordial powers such as the Followers of the Woodsman are opposed to the existence of magic itself, it is not rare for being across the entire Great Dance to learn or even master the arcane arts, capable of bending Reality to their will and wishes.
On the Mortal Realm, the arcane arts are generally regulated, experimented on, and documented by the Galdorcraft League; A collection of independent universities which have codified and researched the understanding and teaching of the arcane arts to generations of wizards since the first were taught by the Dragons. While many may be found within greater kingdoms, their power offers them a great deal of political influence and independence within these entities, often acting even like city-states. The Holy See have also developed means of arcane tuition, in cultivating one's faith in certain methods which replicate the outcome of a wizarding degree, though with a significantly lower success rate.
Skill is not the only means in which magic can be utilised. Those powerful in the arcane arts can choose to share a small portion of their magical ability and imbue a chosen follower with the means to utilise magic themselves with no knowledge required, for whatever motive the patron may have. Such individuals who gain power from pacts and covenants are categorised by the Galdorcraft League as warlocks. Further tears in Reality across the Great Dance have manipulative effects on the surrounding area. Whether it be a complete nullification of magic, or causing it to act like a wild force of nature, an overexposure of such power on Reality can have adverse effects on those which call it home. Some individuals will inherit this power, through exposure or birth, and are categorised as sorcerers.