Adventurer's Atlas: Aeilla in Getninia | World Anvil

Adventurer's Atlas: Aeilla

The Aeillan Region is home to a great many ancient ruins, and a greater number of mysteries waiting to be uncovered by an enterprising group of adventurers. As one of the longest settled regions of Galisea, multiple civilizations have risen and fallen throughout the ages, and as a result many cities have been left behind, and even more ruins lie buried underneath population centers creating a network of catacombs, tunnels, ruins, and other abandoned locations to explore. There are, additionally a number of mysteries in the region that require unraveling, and of course, as a contentious region, Aeilla serves as a hotbed of political intrigue, and there is no shortage of prospective employers seeking out hired blades in the region.  

Lost Ruins

Even despite dense modern civilization, there are several abandoned abandoned locations where civilization once existed, but has since fallen into ruin. Usually these are isolated buildings, or abandoned districts in the heart of cities. Sometimes small towns are left to the ages, abandoned for unknown reasons. Rarely entire cities are left to rot, paved over by modern settlers, or even more rarely, deserted. Aeillan civilization has inhabited the region continuously for most of the post-Yulani period, and as a result most of the ruins in the Aeillan region are of Yulani, Yuan-Ti or Aeillan origin, though in the further corners of the region ruins left behind by the retreating Cyrenic society, and forcibly "civilized" Grecci gnomes exist, and in the region's heartland the centuries abandoned corpses of towns left behind by elves killed in the purges after Felorans soldiers abandoned them to their fate, are still haunted by the ghosts of the damned.   Among these include a ruined city near the mouth of the Tyros, known only as the Necropolis by the locals, believed to be a relic of the Yulani Period. It has a reputation of being haunted, and accursed, and was never resettled, and even nature has been hesitant to reclaim the land. As a result many buildings have survived, partially intact, and artifacts can still be found in the empty streets, to be claimed by adventurers unafraid of the city's ancient defenders, and the supernatural presences haunting the ruins. This of course is to say nothing of the anomalous phenomena that many say exist in the city, such as time loops, hallucinations, and planar anomalies.   More common than areas abandoned wholesale are the ruins buried under living breathing communities. Most of Aeilla's largest cities were build on top of the ruins of older settlements, and indeed these ruins often form hidden catacombs, and tunnel complexes beneath their successors. These places, much like their more remote brethren can contain hidden treasures or ancient secrets, but just as often are fraught with the dangers posed by the bones of the dead, and arcane defenders, guarding places long abandoned. These dangers occasionally harass the common folk above, and many a city reeve will pay handsomely for adventurers to clean these threats out of the underground places of the world.  

The Ancient Path

Running beneath many Aeillan cities, and indeed many cities throughout the southern parts of Galisea are a series of ancient tunnels known only as the Ancient Path. The Ancient Path was built by unknown forces in time immemorial, and it is for unknown reasons why the path exists. However, one of the only known properties of the ancient path, is the potent time compression effect that exists on the Path, allowing travelers to traverse vast distances in a comparatively short amount of time, an effect which only grows more powerful the deeper into the tunnel network one goes. In the deepest levels of the Ancient Path, one can traverse nearly the whole length of the Path, several thousand kilometers, on foot.

Time compression however, is not the only supernatural effect in the tunnels. The Ancient Path is also known for the anomalous activity that pervades the passages. Powerful illusory effects persist throughout the whole of the Ancient Path, that have the ability to steadily drive explorers and travelers mad, and as with the compression effect, these illusions only go stronger the deeper into the Path one goes. More exotic anomalies also exist, strange orbs of light that utterly destroy anything caught in their path, warping effects that alter the layout of the Ancient Path to confuse would be travelers, and even planar gates and bleeding that cause explorers to experience hallucinations and experiences from other planes of existence. The most infamous of these anomalies are known as the Dark Star, and the Ancient Gate. The dark star is a often described as an orb that simultaneously glows, but is pitch black, and that utterly obliterates anything that it touches. The Ancient Gate is a powerful anomaly that sings to those that have the misfortune of encounter it, driving them mad, causing them to want nothing more than to pass through it, in certain instances the gate has been reported as actively attempting to suck travelers into it. Those that pass through the gate never return.

The Ancient Path is not just a source of quick travel however. As with the ruins, there are a great many secrets guarded by the ancient path, and travelers have often reported walking into ancient reliquaries, shrines, and other secret places on the path. In other places, explorers have seen long dead bones clutching relics from the distant paths, and those with a strong connection to the divine have sometimes rarely been given miraculous answers to the problems they face. It is because of this, moreso even than the speed of travel that has seen the Ancient Path visited frequently by treasure seeking adventurers, and captured the interest of many a wealth benefactor, sponsoring journeys into the path seeking arcane solutions to their problems. The prevailing sense of danger has served to discourage inexperienced mercenaries from taking up these contracts.  

The Romance of the Successor States

  The Aeillan Region is fraught with conflict. When the Empire broke down, and the successor states arose there was initially, intense conflict fought to restore the Empire. However, as the centuries have continued, the ability of the Successor States to engage in large scale, open warfare has largely gone into decline, and as a result, all but the most powerful of the successor states have largely abandoned the notion of taking control of the entire region. Those that still do harbor such ambitions, tend to employ subtler methods to assert dominance regionally. Likewise, those in power seek to keep that which they already have, in the face of many internal pressures. Playing power games internally, and expanding influence abroad requires the use of force, or intimidation. Many powerful nobles elect to employ deniable assets, adventuring parties to do their dirty work for them rather than risking the death or capture of their own familial retainers.   An adventuring party can therefore expect an easy time finding work for the wealthy and powerful and their machinations. The tasks the could be asked to perform range from the relatively mundane, intimidation, heists, and casual acts of vandalism, to the dangerous, assassinations, garrison raids, and kidnappings. Indeed, these activities are often better performed by deniable assets. Dis-empowered nobles might offer even stranger contracts, delving deeply into the shattered ruins of ages pas, traverse the abandoned places of the cities, or even travel the ancient path to obtain artifacts, artifacts that they believe will reverse their fortunes and enable them to retake their rightful place at the top of Aeilla's high society. Others may ask for these artifacts not as an attempt to use their alleged powers, but to leverage the prestige associated with owning antiquities as means of obtaining access to the parties, and senate halls, to regain the ability to obtain the keys to power.   Most mysterious of all are the legends of the Gray Man, an mysterious individual contracting adventurers to obtain artifacts for an unknown benefactor. The Gray Man takes a different form to each individual that perceives him, though everyone consistently reports that the Gray Man always takes what could be considered a nondescript appearance, vague and hard to remember to the point that the Gray Man's presence puts particularly perceptive people in a state of unease. Many adventurers have noted that the contracts offered by the Gray Man are quite lucrative, though many report that his contracts are rather difficult, almost always plumbing the ancient ruins left behind by the Yulan-Tai, and seemingly offer artifacts with concerning properties. Most unusually however, is that the Gray Man has appeared before prospective adventurers for some three centuries continuously making the true the identity of the Gray Man, and his benefactor an enduring mystery for those that seek to understand the motives that are at play.  

Mystery of the Stone Men

  Another mystery that has long endured in the Aeillan Region, is the mystery of the Stone Men, ancient statues of unknown manufacture that have been around for as long as anybody can remember. These statues seemingly always seem to depict humanoid figures, though ironically,despite being called "Stone Men" depict idealized masculine and feminine forms. The Stone Men are of many sizes, and many individual faces. However, some traits remains common throughout all Stone Men, they always depict athletic humans, who are kitted out in full armor, and carrying a special type of spear known as a Xyston. They will always be wearing stoic expressions.   Perhaps most anomalously, the Stone Men occasionally move of their own volition, while the notion of constructs moving around isn't that strange, they seem to do so randomly, and pursuing totally unknown goals. Stone Men have been seen rampaging and destroying several locations, but other times guard specific people or places, or stalk other people. Sometimes Stone Men are seen using their Xystons to lay waste to large tracts of forest. Why Stone Men awaken, and what their purpose is, are questions for which the answers remain elusive among the scholarly communities of Aeilla.  

Tips for DMs

  For those running adventures in Aeilla, there are a number of little tips that would better immerse players into the methods of mercenary adventuring work in the Aeillan Region.
  • Adventuring parties hired in Aeilla are rarely given jobs directly by their employers. Most interactions between adventurers and employers is done through intermediaries known as Kýrae Lepídae, who often are permanent retainers of wealthy households.
  • Potential benefactors usually have a political agenda beyond stopping the bad thing, and as a result one must be prepared to have less than savory potential employers.
  • Adventuring parties at the lower rungs will often be tasked with interfering with the machinations of other nobles, and most low level contracts will take place in urban areas. They are deniable assets and cannot expect the help of their employers if caught.
  • Adventuring parties that are more skilled can expect more immediately dangerous work in the hinterlands of civilization, though they will be more able to obtain the support of their benefactors. They may even be approached with an offer to be kept on retainer as permanent agents of their employer. Deals like this will be lucrative but restricting.
  • Land ownership is heavily codified and entrenched, and law and order and the power of states are backed up by relatively large armies. As a result, even high level adventurers may find it mjore challenging to carve out their own personal holds, or openly flout the laws of the state than it is in less civilized regions.

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