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A land of opportunity and adventure, the region of Alphatia consists of four kingdoms - Erol in the east, Teri in the north, Reson in the south, and Celeis on an island off the western coast.
Alphatia has a mild climate, with about two periods of snowfall a year in the south and snow all winter in the north. Warm summers last longer than the winters throughout the region, and forests dominate the landscape - hardwoods in Reson and southern Erol, conifers in Teri, northern Erol, and Celeis.
The people of Alphatia are a hardy lot, not tormented like those of Shadoeholme or Salusa Corrino, but also lacking the creature comforts of the advanced region of Tel'Rias. Feudal monarchies are the rule here, with Teri and Reson generally controlled by a male king, Celeis controlled by a queen, and Erol ruled by the firstborn child, whether male or female, of the previous tsar.
Teri is said to be the place in Alphatia that produces the finest warriors. The air here has a bit of a bite to it even during the warm summers, and cold nights all year push less hardy folk into shelter. Fog rises from the ground along the western coast all year and at odd times of day, and the chants of the people can be heard through the fog nearly an hour before a village comes into view. Terifolk are a loud, boistrous people. The King of Teri rules from his feasting hall at Teras. Dwarves, gnomes, and shifters are common in Teri, as are orcs.
Reson is a place of high culture and art. Located along the southwest coast of Alphatia, Reson is likely the most powerful of Alphatia's four nations. Apart from outlying villages and a few dangerous areas in the interior, it is generally safe to travel through Reson, bringing prosperity to the people in the cities and towns along the coast and in the interior portion of the kingdom. In the courts of nobles and wealthy merchants, artists and musicians produce works of incredible wonder. At the capital at Vien, the king holds court while the greatest musicians of this age play. Elves, raptorans, and kenku are common sighs in Reson.
Erol is a large nation in the east, along the lines between Alphatia, Shadoeholme, and Tel'Rias. While it is the largest of Alphatia's nations, the Tsar only exerts control over the western portion of it and certain valuable areas in the east, and the rest falls under control of various bandit groups and monsters.
Celeis sits on an island off the coast of Alphatia, about 100 miles from Reson. Ruled by a queen, Celeis is a land of constant contradictions. The well-developed cities and culture therein seem almost impossible when, barely a mile outside any of them, there is untamed wilderness. Celeis is a maritime power, one of the strongest in the world, and holds control over nearly all trade along the Alphatian coast and even down into northern Salusa Corrino.
<High magic region>
Peaked mountains, deep valleys, and verdant expanses of ancient forest choked with clinging vines covers this gothic nightmare landscape. Shadoeholme is a realm where the unliving coexist just beneath the perception of the living, and the undead seek to assert their dominance over the still warm and vital. Villages have existed for hundreds of years without cleric or mage to assist them, their curiously benign and peaceful populace secretly the herd-stock of a cruel Vampire Lord. Mountain eyries as fresh and windswept as the bleak mountains they sit perched upon seem strangely vacant, until the sillhouete of the great Monster made by a madman falls across the walls. Entire townships of bleary eyed and cheerful villagers seem peculiar and oddly welcoming, until the sun sets, and every last man woman and child sprouts fangs and fur. Dark mist fills the land, and strange happenings occur there, tales being spread of fields where instead of grass, hair grows, and hands sprout from the dank ground instead of flowers, ready to grasp the unwary and pull them down to their doom. Battlefields of ancient wars lay waste over the countryside, where countless fell trying to eliminate the darkness of Shadoeholme, only to succeed in temporarily stopping its spread across the land. There are corpses there that do not decay, fresh as the day they dropped, and undead roam the land, continuing to fight the battles against each other of when they were alive and turning upon visitors in efforts to add them to the undead armies. There, travellers become lost for days on end, only to exit the mist-filled valleys to find the world changed, friends they knew long dead or unborn, or even in a completely different world where the laws of time, space and physics do not apply.
Shadoeholme is a blight upon the world, and only its unearthly inhabitants and inhospitable terrain keep it from being wiped off the map.
Unfortunately for the map, the blight of Shadoeholme is growing.
Salusa Corrino Edit
A desolate area of sand and death, Salusa Corrino is a barren wasteland where the prisoners, both criminal and political have been sent into exile. A xenophobic fortress of iron, adamantine and steel resides in the center of the region, maintaining the barrier that stops the prisoners from escaping into other lands. A number of the strongest prisoners have banded together so as not to die among the harsh landscape, every prisoner tagged and unable to leave the barrier. Envious of the "free ones", they prey on travellers, causing there to be few visitors without a strong need to the region.
Where other countries are rich in magic, both arcane and divine, the people of Mentatsia are often urged towards the path of psionics.
A land of flat, flowing plains an low cities that stretch for miles on end, Mentatsia is bordered on one end by cliff-sweeping seas, and dangerous mountains on the other two. A land of plety, Mentatsia's residents constantly train themselves, body and mind, in the service of the magistrates who govern their land. With the shift to self-empowerment, religion and arcane discipline have not only fallen into disuse, but into disfavor. While the states of Mentatsia are ostensibly a democratic meritocracy, a certain fascist element of powerful Psions pulls strings and manipulates minds and memory from behind the scenes. Hereditary magistrates from families as old as the land oversee distant villages, beloved by the people as paragons of virtue and avatars of the state. Every day, the common people pay their respects to the state at crystal monoliths: monuments to the state and its champions. It is said that through these monoliths, one communes with the very spirit of Mentasia and outsiders and dissedents whisper that it is through these that the people of Mentasia are controlled. Developing from the earliest manifesters to walk from the Crystal Groves, certain shadowy societies have formed to in nearly every state, with even more hushed rumors of some kind of Shadow Council that sits above even these secret psionic fraternities.
The people of Mentatsia are often xenophobic, wary of visitors, and report strange or unusual activity to the magistrates quickly, railing against those who would change their ways and introduce new ideas, trusting the mysterious magistrates to advise them on how to lead their lives. These magistrates are often seen as almost god-like figureheads, representatives of the state in all its glory, and are to be followed religiously. Those who do not often disappear in the middle of the night. Their family are assured by the magistrates that they have been taken for re-education, and the family-members nod happily, trusting the word of the magistrates.
However, not all is well beneath the seemingly perfect image that this country shows. Deep in the mountains, rebels dwell from those who were disatisfied by the country's regime, or who did not act exactly as the magistrates told them, fighting back the urge to do so. They wait, training secretly and amassing power to one day get a chance to strike back at their oppressors. But life is harsh on the mountains, and skirmishes with the guards of Mentatsia force them to move often and meet in secret, lest one of their members is taken over by the powerful psionic masters of Mentatsia.
Beneath the land, in caves and caverns, fresh water wells up from beneath several of the Plateau areas, and is compressed and lifted to form natural springs that bring a heavy mineral content with them from deep within the earth. These mineral springs create waterfalls and spraybacks that arc sometimes a half mile from their point of origin, a billion tons of earth pushing down into a tiny resevoir that refills as water seeps back into the muddy earth between the stony plateaus. These spraybacks and mist-walls condense to create mineral deposits that form crystal trees and standing crystaline formations sometimes five miles across. A million razor sharp spikes converge and create a natural habitat like nowhere else in all the world. The dank, humid atmosphere breeds more than a few unique diseases as well, and even casual cuts can become infected with protein seeking molds, and dangerous flesh-eating bacteria that can find purchase in no other environment. Contending with the cautious crystal miners, a species of often psionic-mutated lizardmen and their Druidic Priesthood fights bitterly with Mentatsian Psychic Warriors, intent on harvesting the valuable crystal for the many uses Mentatsia bends such crystal to. While it is difficult to fight an enemy who can walk through standing crystal forests of dangerous edges without so much as snagging a loincloth though, the warriors of Mentatsia have pushed back these lizardmen so that they have become no more than a minor nuisance, raiding and being pushed back by the defenders of Mentatsia.
NPCs: Due to psychogenetic mutation each person born in Mentatsia gains a flaw and the Hidden Talent feat (page 67 of XPH) for free, and can choose from the following list of psionic powers: Adrenaline Boost, Burst, Call to Mind, Catfall, Distract, Psionic Endure Elements, Float, Know Direction and Location, My Light, Slow Breathing, Touch of Health. Additional powers chosen are psionic versions of the following spells, found in either the PHB or SpC: Create Water, Detect Poison, Healthful Rest, Low-Light Vision, Mending, Repair Minor Damage, Second Wind. However, even should they gain levels in a psionic class, the people of Mentatsia may not manifest these powers with an ML higher than one.
OOC Thoughts--PCs don't know this, no metagaming please The monoliths in Mentatsia aren't the mind-control devices that some PCs might think they are--in fact, when every person is born they are implanted with a psionic device which both serves as something which makes them placid and forges a connection between them and the current lord of their "county" ensuring their loyalty. However, one in ten-thousand of these devices fail, and those who bear the "duds" are the core of the resistance against the government, though they don't know it themselves.
The magistry of each county is passed on from father to son. and When a bloodline dies out, a new magistrate is chosen from the loyal servants of the state, and his bloodline is bound to the land in a secret ritual. This new magistrate then becomes an avatar of the state, which provides safety and security, and who is protected unconditionally by the people under him. Each magistrate is chosen from a special group of people genetically bred for their possession, and each one is an Empty Vessel (ECS, page 291).
In fact, the monoliths grant the commoners a number of bonuses for a month, including a +2 bonus against poison, disease, and mental illness, and a +2 to Craft, Heal, and Profession checks. Due to this, life is much easier for them, and there are many schools of psionic martial arts where dozens, hundreds, or even thousands gather, all practicing the same katas in unison, like an ocean of bodies all following the same movements at the same time. Thus, many commoners have a single level of Warrior, Psychic Warrior, or even Monk, though no more than a single level unless they forsake their work and become the teachers of the next generation.
Long ago, even longer than the elvish histories remember, something went horribly wrong with multitudes on the planet. At first random parts of the population became sunburned for no reason. The sunburns became boils, which festered and caused great agony. No single race was spared, and a number from all races were driven underground by the threat of the sun, deep into the bowels of the planet, even further than the dwarven mines reached.
These days the poor people die within seconds of contact with the sun's rays, and even the reflection of the moon causes boils to erupt all over their skin, inflicting unnameable pain upon them. Even when covered and untouched by the sun, being on the surface causes them to waste away, to slowly die a painful death as their flesh slowly melts from their bones. And so, apart from the exiles and those who seek death, they stay below.
Below the people have split into two factions, the Felsta and the Cannar. Members of every race driven underground are found amongst both factions, and both factions fight in a neverending war to wipe each other out. The cause has long been forgotten, but now they simply fight each other, heedless of the loss of lives or the pain caused. Mothers teach their children hate as their husbands die fighting, and the cycle continues with multitudes of small skirmishes, neither side ever truly wiping the other out. Sometimes sides will make deals with "sunkissers" as they call the surface folk with a sneer, but those usually die quickly, unused to the darkness and the horrors it holds.
The Han Empire rests on the east coast of the continent, bordered by Tel'Rias and Shadoeholme to the west and Salusa Corrino to the south.
Officially, the Empire is a single nation, with its capital located at the First City, Wu. However, for the past 150 years, the Empire has been divided, with two different family lines claiming the right to rule. The ruling Han family has split in half, and each side controls half the Empire.
The western portion of the Empire is ruled by Han Xian from his court in Wu. Xian is a young man, but many believe him to be the reincarnation of the great wise man and prophet Shang Ce. He is seen as a fair ruler, wise, but perhaps too soft.
The eastern portion of the Empire, as well as the line of islands off the coast, is ruled safely from the island fortress of Honnoji on the island of Wa by the Emperor Han Shu. Shu's lands have adopted a great deal of the culture of the islands where their capital has been placed, including the use of the odd, single-bladed, curved swords that the nobleman-warriors of the islands - the samurai - use. Shu himself is an old man, who fills his life with both the traditional Han culture and the culture of the Wa people whose land his own followers have adopted. He is shrewd and merciless, and well-educated.
While their predecessors fought tirelessly to become the single ruler of Han, Xian and Shu have managed a period of relative peace. While minor border disputes between the nobles on contested lands are still common, the full force of the armies of Wu and Honnoji have not come to bear for the five years that Xian has ruled in Wu.