Posts Tagged ‘canus’

My day job has been keeping me busy traveling, so here’s another sweet excerpt from the Exploration Age: Campaign Guide. Take a look below at the religion of the humans and gnomes of Aeranore and let me know what you think.

A BIG shout-out to my friend, player, and fellow podcaster Ray Fallon for giving me this idea. Sometimes a friend approaches you with an original mythology and world creation story. Those friends are the best kind, especially when you’re creating several unique religions for a campaign world. These ideas come mostly from his own, amazing brain.

Here endeth my similarities to Steve Jobs

Also, as you read this excerpt, remember that Exploration Age is a campaign world where the gods have no confirmed existence, and if they do exist they do not directly interfere in the affairs of mortals. How is that possible when clerics and paladins pray for spells and get magic? Well, skeptics would say sorcerers, rangers, warlocks, wizards, bards, and more have magic without praying for it – why can’t clerics be getting their spells from the same places? Magic is mysterious. No one is sure of its origin on Canus, but that’s another matter.

Many humans and gnomes of Aeranore practice a religion known as Immortalism. It was their belief in this religion that resulted in their persecution in Parian and subsequent immigration to Aeranore. Immortalists believe all humans and gnomes are descended from a race of humanoids who used to be immortal, long ago. According to the religion, these beings, known as The Immortals, lived before the aberrants and the dragons.

World Creation Myth of Immortalism

According to Immortalism, Canus was created when The Sun and The Moon mated to produce three children. Their firstborn was their daughter, Alphon, a ball of earth encased in water. Their second birth was conjoined male twins, Baydon and Cardon. These twins were made of dirt and earth. They lived as one land mass on top of Alphon. These stories have led many humans and gnomes to believe that Parian and Findalay (and now Verda) were once one giant land mass.

The Immortals sprang forth from the bodies of Baydon and Cardon and at first there were no animals or plants. They were the first living beings on Canus and their lifespans were infinite, though they could die as the result of physical harm or starvation. At the time there was no disease. Since there was nothing to eat other than each other The Immortals began as violent cannibals.

This changed when Gretan, the first Immortal Hero, prayed to Baydon and asked him to produce something to stop the violence amongst her people. Baydon took pity on Gretan and was overcome by her beauty, so he created sheep and goats. The Immortals learned to herd.

It is said that sheep and goats soon began to die, however, for they had nothing to eat. It was then that Mara, the second Immortal Hero, prayed to Cardon for an answer by planting her hair in the dirt. Her hair took root and grew, becoming the first plants. Soon The Immortals learned that they could eat this food as well. Baydon created many animals and Cardon created many plants. For a long time Canus lived in peace.

Overtime, Baydon and Cardon grew jealous of one another. Baydon was resentful of the fact that his animals could not exist without Cardon’s plants, and Cardon did not like the way The Immortals made animal flesh the center of their meals. Soon the conjoined twins began to war with one another through earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms. Many Immortals had their lives ended in the process.

As the war progressed, Alphon formed rivers to part her brothers, breaking them into pieces large and small. Still that was not enough to stop their warring. Cardon and Baydon created The First Dragons who escalated the war. These were the ancestors of the dragons known today and instead of breath weapons of fire, ice, acid, and the like, they breathed pestilence, which ravaged the plants and animals of Canus. Eventually these diseases spread to The Immortals. It took a toll on their bodies and The Immortals had their life spans shortened. They began dying of old age and disease. They became the present day humans. The gods, Baydon and Cardon saw what they had done to these people, called The First Dragons back into the ground, took them apart, and rebuilt them over centuries into the dragons known today. The brothers vowed to never again interfere directly with the live of the folk of Canus.

The Immortal Lines

It is believed that Cardon, Baydon, and Alphon in a final act of divine intervention granted immortality to one champion each of their choosing. Baydon chose Gretan and Cardon chose Mara. It is said that when these champions grow tired of their immortality, they are able to pass it to a worthy offspring. It is believed that Queen Icillia IV herself is descended from The Line of Gretan and holds The Immortal Gift, which she may pass on. Currently it is unknown who holds The Immortal Gift in the Line of Mara.

Alphon’s champion does not pass on his gift. The goddess chose the first man to ever drown in her waters, a sailor named Delistar. His body still lies somewhere in the oceanic depths, and it is said that his late-granted immortality does not allow him to move physically, but he can transfer his spirit into the body of any Immortalist. When an Immortalist is dying, moments before death it is believed that Delistar inhabits that person’s body and sends his or her spirit on, so he may suffer that person’s pain.

Creation of Gnomes

Somewhere down the line, Alphon decided the humans needed magic again, but since she had vowed to never directly intervene again in the affairs of the world, she created a plan for the creation of the gnomes and left it out for the shardminds to find. The shardminds followed the plan exactly and then also modified it to create the dwarves.

Immortalism Today

This creation myth is the base of all Immortalist doctrine. The Sun and The Moon are part of this five god pantheon, but they most prayed to are Alphon, Baydon, and Cardon. Delistar is a sort of demigod, prayed to when a loved one passes. Most Immortalist priests and clerics are not exclusive to one god or goddess. They rely on Alphon in times of healing and magic, Baydon in times of the hunt and war, and Cardon during the harvest.

  • Alphon Often depicted as a globe of water, Alphon is the kind and gentle goddess. She is prayed to for all things nautical and ocean related. Alphon is also the goddess of mysteries so all magic, psionics, and healing are both her domain as well.
  • Baydon Often depicted as an angry volcano, Baydon is the aggressive god of the hunt and the herd. War and weather fall into his domains as well.
  • Cardon Often depicted as a piece of wheat, Cardon is the sneaky god of the harvest. He is said to take pleasure in many things that delight and make life easier so art and technology are also part of his domain.
  • Delistar Though not truly a god, Delistar is prayed to in times of death, and some cults who worship him have sprung up throughout Aeranore. The cults range in their beliefs from those innocently interested in death to those who violently murder other Immortalists, believing if they sacrifice enough victims to Delistar he will grant them his Immortal Gift.

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This weekend I sat down to make the timeline of major events in Exploration Age that lead up to the time of play. I found that I still had a lot of thinking to do. Mainly, how did Canus and the folk of Exploration Age go from literally nothing to being what they are now?

I don’t necessarily have to describe how the world came to be, since medieval fantasy RPGs are somewhat based on our own world’s actual past. Back in the day those folks weren’t sure how our world came to be (though they did have theories, but that’s another post). However, I do need to describe how the beings that populate Canus came to be where they are now. History is very important. Big actions have big repercussions that are felt for long periods of time. For instance…

  • During prohibition of alcohol, the American gangsters are born and continue to operate even after it becomes legal to drink again.
  • During WWII Germany invades the Soviet Union. After WWII, Berlin is occupied by the Soviets until 1990.
  • The Americas are discovered and a whole bunch of countries rush to colonize.

You get the idea. My point is – the actions being taken that greatly affect the folk of Canus are those which deserve to be written down on the timeline. The players are not going to care to read every little detail of when a specific plant came into being or care when a local organization of farmhands was formed. I only put that kind of thing in if I know it’s going to be important to the plot. The rest of the stuff, can be big, broad strokes to give your players the idea of the history of a people or government or culture, etc. Most of the time, these will be actions taken by a specific group or individual. The only time pure nature makes it on the timeline is for something really crazy – like a meteor causing the end of the dinosaurs, an earthquake swallowing a city, or ice covering the planet.

Remember that, in general, you care more about the history of the world than your players do. “Why do the warforged hate the dwarves?” they might ask. “Because they kept them as slaves,” you reply. For some adventures and for most players that will more than suffice.

Starting the Timeline

Before I began the timeline, I had to figure out how old Canus is, or at least how far back its significant history begins. Since I want the world to be frame by the Findalayan point of view, I decided that it’s been 700 years since Findalay’s Founding (FF), when all nations of Findalay officially recognized each other. Before that, Aeranore, Bragonay, Marrial, and Taliana all came into existence, but they constantly at war with one another. For thousands of years! So when they decided to put down the sword and begin trading, that was a big enough event for them to begin counting the years. Now that’s not to say there haven’t been disputes and wars in those 700 years, but each nation is now officially recognized by the others.

However, more important than those 700 years are the years which came before. Those years, Before Findalay (BF) have had a huge influence on what happens in the world today. So I wanted to go back and in broad strokes think about the world and how each nation of people got its start. How each race came to be and what actions led to where they are. And of course, since this is a fantasy setting, I wanted to make sure there was plenty of magical flavor to all of it, since that’s what we love.

Before Dwarves, Elves, and Humans

So before our PC races made it onto the scene there were great forces walking the earth, just like in the real world there were dinosaurs before us. I wanted Canus to do something different for originality’s sake, so I decided the first beings to populate its surface were aberrant creatures. Beholders, illithids, umber hulks – all the bizarro creatures that normally live underground, well their ancestors lived on the surface of Canus.

Just some mind flayers hanging out, thinking about their ancestors.

I like the idea of picturing these creatures’ surface-dwelling ancestors. I like thinking about what their great civilizations might leave behind. This gives us a way to spread similar, but mysterious ruins all over Canus. It also gives the aberrants a reason to abhor surface dwellers once they are driven underground (more on that below). That’s my first beat on the timeline and it has a bunch of question marks next to it, because no one sure how far back the aberrant civilizations go.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my dragons are pretty important to me. They’re old and mystical and have been around almost since the beginning. More importantly to me, chromatic and metallic dragons are part of the material world. Think about it, dragons have all this magic at their disposal and for the most part they choose to stay in the material world. They must really like it there. I decided that on Canus, dragons are drawn to staying in the material plane because they are literally part of the world. The first dragons were incubated in Canus’ core and birthed out of the ground. For whatever reason, the metallic dragons ended up in Verda and the chromatic dragons ended up in Parian and Findalay.

So the aberrants are doing their thing when suddenly the first dragons hatch from beneath the ground. The dragons think to themselves, “It’s time for us, baby. These crazy-looking dudes got to go.” War that rages for years with neither side having a clear victory. So second timeline beat – dragons hatch from the earth and war begins. This is around 500,000 BF. Broad strokes.

You didn’t know I was down here, didja? DIDJA?

Now, when the dragons hatched from the ground, the spaces and tunnels their bodies made became The Underdark. The chromatic dragons bled for their efforts, lacking the finer scales of their metallic kin, and their blood became the drow race. This is also part of the second beat.

Third beat on the timeline comes when the dragons gain their advantage around 300,000 BF. The chromatic dragons create a new race to aid them – the giants. With the help of the giants they destroy many of the aberrants and drive the rest into The Underdark. Meanwhile in Verda, the metallics have a different plan and open a portal to the Nine Hells calling forth devils to kill the aberrants. This only half works, as some of the devils create alliances with the aberrants, creating a horrifying half-fiend, half-aberrant race who eventually become The Sleeping Ones. In the fourth beat on our timeline, around 100,000 BF the devils who remain on Verda and side with the metallic dragons eventually evolve into the tieflings.

The pattern here with the beats is that they get closer together and more specific as they continue. More significant history exists closer to the time of the game. In-game there would also be better historical records for more recent events.

The PC Races

So you can see above where tiefling and drow came from, but we still have a bunch of races to define here. I’ll give you the bullet points for each.

  • Eventually, the giants get tired of their chromatic dragon oppressors and create the dwarves and gnomes to help them rise up. Their bloody revolution is not so successful and dragons and giants, now few in number are scattered across Parian and Findalay. Some gnomes and dwarves retreat to The Underdark and become duergar and svirfneblin. Some stay on the surface and begin to found their own civilizations.
  • The aberrants regroup for thousands of years in The Underdark and then invade the kingdoms of the drow. After a few thousand years of war, some drow grow tired of the war and retreat to the surface. These drow evolve into elves, the drow left behind feel betrayed and the hatred begins.
  • When the elves retreat to the surface some of the svirfneblin come with them, who evolve yet again over the course of time into halflings. So halflings and gnomes are related in this campaign.
  • Metallic dragons create the dragonborn race to help populate Verda, but the their allies, the tieflings become jealous and so the dragonborn are sent away on ships and eventually come to land in present day Marrial.
  • In a cycle of slave creation learned from their masters, the dwarves create the warforged.

I’m a big fan of evolution apparently.

It’s obvious there are some races I’m choosing to leave out of this list. I think the only races that need a big explanation are the ones that have their heritage impacted by their creation and evolution. Orcs, minotaurs, etc. formed organically over time and scientific evolutionary processes. Or magic if you like. Or divine intervention. Their origins are not as important as their actions, which do end up on Exploration Age’s timeline.

Human might be the most obvious race missing from the list, but that’s because I think the big questions of why are we here and how did we get here are part of the human experience. I think it will make the humans of this world feel natural and relatable to sort of just appear without fanfare one day and through survival, suffering, and hard work build a civilization.

Action!

So once the races are established the timeline gets pretty interesting. The Bragonay dwarves have all of Findalay under their control and then the other races begin trying to take their land in a crazy struggle that has alliances forming and breaking everywhere. In the midst of it all, earthquakes, plagues, inventions, magic, and the like happen. Meanwhile on Verda the half-fiend, half-aberrant problem persists with a host of other failures and successes on the part of its people. There’s some big events that lead up to the time of play, like the discovery of Verda that I’m excited to share in the future.

Looks like the world is coming together! I’ll probably divide the timeline up into different ages such as Aberrant Age, Draconic Age, etc. and have the time period of play be known as… you guessed it. Exploration Age.

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