The Floating City of Ajax the Invincible
The Age of Conquest
In the 500 years since the fall of the Caelian Empire the land of Vasloria grew wild and dangerous. The forest primeval took back the marble temples and Caelian columns and the rule of Man disappeared. The only law: sword and claw.
Until the rule of Good King Omund, who united the far flung baronies. Under his rule, justice was the law of the land, distant outposts reconnected, ancient roads taken back from the forest. His Dragon Knights arrived in city and in town, announcing that a new Age of Men was dawning. That was 50 years ago.
Good King Omund was murdered 7 years ago and with him died any semblance of law. The Barons who once swore fealty to him now fight to maintain control of the lands immediately around their keeps and castles. The forest exerts its power, swallowing village and hamlet. Brigands and slavers abound!
The Bad Guys
The Overlord’s Court, his police; the Hawklords, his fanatical death commandos the Faceless Guard, all extend the tyrannical rule of the Overlord. Not all are necessarily evil, the Hawklords are just Men, but no player can begin as a member of any of these factions.
The only law comes from the tyrannical rule of Ajax the Invincible, who unlocked the secret of restoring a floating Sky Elf city and now demands tribute and fealty from all below. He christened his floating citadel, Korraj, The Floating City of the Invincible Overlord and while all fear him, his rule is remote.
Adventurers are called “ratcatchers” and viewed as vagabonds and brigands. The common people consider them dangerous, attracting conflict and death. It’s difficult for an adventurer to find a place to stay the night, most inns will serve them but not give them rooms.
The Overlord takes a “highly unfavorable” position toward adventurers and punishes those who aid them. In spite of this, they are necessary as the wilderness is dangerous, the Barons are weak, and the Overlord is far away. One may go a year or more without ever seeing the terrifying sight of the Korraj. So he sends out his Hawkriders to remind the people who their master is.
Hawklords of the High Aerie
Led by Wingmaster L’aan, these are humans who ride giant hawks, not flying men.
After murdering Good King Omund, Ajax quickly brought the Hawklords under his rule to use as his imperial guard. Mounted on their giant hawks, they project Ajax’s power, enforce his law and extend his influence into every corner of the wilderness.
The Hawklords receive the best equipment and live well, but many hate what they do. They’re aristocratic and look at the Overlord’s rule as a terrible inconvenience, largely trying to ignore it. Some few revel in their power, though these are looked down on by the more civilized Hawkmen.
Whenever a Hawklord alights in a town, everyone trembles in fear. The Hawklords have a reputation for spiriting dissidents to the Floating City, from which no man returns.
The Court of the Invincible Overlord
The Korraj is a large city, though who lives there and what kind of lives they lead, few on the ground ever learn. What is known are the names and roles of the Overlord’s Court.
Termacht the Overblade, head of the Faceless Guards, the secret police of the Overlord. It was Termacht, stories say, who slew the Good King on the order of Ajax. He is a legendary duelist.
Lytar the Overpriest, Priest of Nikros.
Mortum, the Overmage.
Baldric, Prince of Thieves. Not a formal member of the Overlord’s court, Baldric and Ajax have an understanding. How close their alliance runs, no man knows.
Mandrake the Betrayer, Dragonborn Captain of The Overmen, Ajax’s army.
Within a year of having the Good King murdered, Ajax visited the leaders of all the peoples of Ǽndrim and defeated them, demanding tribute.
The Faceless Guard
Led by Termacht the Overblade, these Changelings assume the form of other men and spy on the Overlord’s enemies. They are the spies and eyes, the secret police of the Overlord. Any man might be a member of the Faceless Guard, which is how they got their name. No one knows what they look like, or who might be a member.
The Faceless Guard also watch the Hawklords and the Overmen. Their name strikes fear into the heart of even the Overlord’s closest allies.
Led by Mandrake the Betrayer, the Overmen are the Overlord’s shock terror troops. His fanatical death commandos raised up from harsh conditions in the Wilderness and given lives of privilege. They wear silvered masks to hide their faces and are considered the greatest fighters of the age.
The Good Guys
PCs can be from any of the follow factions, though the trend should be toward Men. Elves and Dwarves as nations prefer to remain apart from the workings of the world, but the Overlord’s rule make strange bedfellows.
There are three castes of “Elf.” All three were created by the true Elves, the Celestials, to act as immortal servants, consorts, and wardens. The Celestials joined Val, their god, when he left the world and created his own realm, Arcadia, leaving their servants behind.
The Elves venerate Val, but there are no churches to him and they do not worship him or gain power from him. This means a PC Elf cannot use the Divine power source.
Elves have no access to the Psionic power source, preferring instead the Martial, Arcane, and Primal paths.
The Elves of the Viridian Wode (Elf)
Wood Elves who kill those who trespass in their forest. Guerilla warfare elves. They rob anyone who enters their forest and deliver the gold as a tithe to the Overlord, in return for which he lets them run their forest without interference.
Their regent is Queen Imyrr. Her consort is Llyendar, the Lightning Lord, the greatest swordsman in the realm.
Like their cousins, the Eladrin, the Wood Elves were created by the True Elves, the Celestials, millennia ago, before they left the world. They were created as immortal servants who would tend the Elven Wodes.
The Elves of the Fallen City (Eladrin)
High Elves who live amongst the ruins of the fallen Sun Elf city of Irranys. Literally fallen, as it was once a great floating Sky City dwarfing the Korajj.
Their regent is King Llyn. He takes an ascetic’s view toward the Overlord’s rein, preferring to retreat into contemplation and withdraw from the world. He and his people are immortal and this will all pass. His people rarely leave the Fallen City, seeing little of value without. His people appease the Overlord with gifts of Residuum found from exploring the ruins of the Fallen City. And stealing items from travelers and disenchanting them, obviously.
The Fated (Deva)
Reincarnated Elf heroes of either elven caste, the Fated are rare and they do not know their own nature or origin. It takes a wise and ancient Elf Lord to recognize a new Fated, they see behind the newly born Elf’s eyes an ancient and famous Elf hero. Over years of study, the Fated catches glimpses of his previous life and may eventually discover why he has returned to the world.
Because the Elves are immortal, and cannot reproduce, this reincarnation is considered particularly miraculous and a gift from Val.
No two races can naturally interbreed. But when an Elf and a Man fall in love, they may find a powerful priest to petition the gods on their behalf. If the gods find favor on the union, they grant the priest a ritual allowing the couple to mate.
The offspring of such unions are Half-elven. Because the Half-elven cannot breed even with the aid of a ritual, they may, at any time in their lives, choose to be fully Elf or fully Human. A choice that cannot be unmade.
Because Elves are, in a sense, artificial beings created by the Celestials, they cannot normally have children. This ritual is their only means of extending their race. Most consider it disgusting and unnatural, but some few seek it out, desiring children.
Half elves are half Men, half Elven, and therefore have access to all the Power Sources except the Psionic.
The Slave Lords of the Hanging City (Dwarves)
Once allies of the Wood Elves and the High Elves, the Black Dwarves of Kenkarra are now their mortal enemies. When the Elves were brought to heel by the Overlord, they betrayed the Dwarves, tricking them into letting the Overlord’s army into their demesne.
Dwarves are hostile, dour, and bear long grudges, their nearest real-world analog are the Slavic peoples. They are all male, being, like the elves, created rather than born. Their skin is a mixture of flesh and stone.
Led by their Thane, Vaxx, they earn freedom to govern themselves in their underground world through the delivery of a constant supply of slaves to the High Overlord. They have many underground strongholds throughout Ǽndrim, but their capital is the great hanging city of Kenkarra under the White Mountains.
As are all Dwarves in this age, the Black Dwarves are Kenkarra are Stone Dwarves. Their brothers, the Steel Dwarves were killed millennia ago by the Army of Twilight, and their cousins the Fire Dwarves left this world soon thereafter to join their god Kul on the Plane of Fire.
The Stone Dwarves worship their creator Ord, the god of the Earth, and carry the power of Ord with them. Because dwarves have a direct hereditary link to their God, they do not use Arcane magic. This means a Dwarf PC cannot use the Arcane power source.
Dwarves favor the Martial, Divine, and Primal paths.
“Men” here refers to the civilized men of Vasloria. Known to academics as the Tevas-Gol. They are the descendants of the men who built the Caelian Empire and intermarried with the local Bronze Age people, the Gol.
Theirs is a feudal society. Under Good King Omund, they developed or rediscovered the plough, the screw, the stirrup, the windmill, the hourglass and spinning wheel. Plate Armor and the compass are both known, but not common. Clothes are handmade. The flying buttress will not be seen until the Age of War, 300 years from now.
They reject the Primal traditions, viewing them as primitive, superstitious, and savage. They have no access to the Psionic power source.
The Dragon Phalanx (Dragonborn)
The remnants of Good King Omund’s elite guard, they are now renegades. Wanted men, favorite targets of the Slave Lords. They were once a battalion of Dragonborn Paladins. But many have resorted to mercenary work and forsaken their earlier vows. Most people would never dream of betraying a Dragonborn because the Dragonborn are feared for their power, and respected for their previous station, but those who seek money or power will sell them into slavery, and should a Hawklord or any other noted agent of the Overlord show up, any man who values his life will sell out any Dragonborn nearby.
The Dragonborn were created by Good King Omund’s wizard Vitae for the Battle of Holden’s Bluff. Though they are the half-dragon product of a powerful ritual, they can reproduce. The Dragonborn are each hermaphroditic and therefore each is able to mate with any other.
The Dragonmen have no access to Psionics, and dabble only rarely in the Arcane. They are civilized, and therefore look on the Primal traditions as barbarous. They prefer the Martial and Divine paths. There are rumors of Dragonmen who tapped into the Shadow path, but if true, the Dragon Knights kept it a secret.
The Gol are humans but from an earlier Age. They exist in Vasloria only in isolated pockets in the extreme edges of Vasloria, mostly the north. They stick to the thick, dense forest primeval that remains, and follow their own Demon Gods who are cruel, disdainful, and capricious. They follow the Primal paths, venerating earth-spirits and, like their descendants the Tevas-Gol, have no access to the Psionic power source. They have no formal relationship with their gods, and thus no access to the Divine power source.
They are considered barbarous and savage by the civilized Men of Vasloria.
The Barrow-men (Goliaths)
Known locally as the Barrow-men because they come from the mountains above the Barrow hills, these tall humanoids are demi-giants. Their own name for themselves is the Hakaan. They are long-lived and solitary with no centralized leadership.
They view feudal society as a kind of madness, do not ride horses and do not fight in heavy armor.
Ages ago the Hakaan were Stone Giants who bargained away their great size and strength for oracular vision. But the Stone Men were betrayed. Instead of the ability to see the future, each knows only the manner of his own death, his Wyrd. This knowledge is considered both a blessing and a curse. Typically, Barrow-men found among civilized lands are Hakaan seeking to fulfill their wyrd.
Their culture worships the spirits of the earth and sky—the Primal paths—with no proper gods, preferring veneration of ancestors in place of Saints and Heroes. They have little use for worldly knowledge or lore, relying instead on their power of their minds and will alone. They are the only native Psionic users in Vasloria.
They have no access to the Divine, Arcane, or Shadow sources, and only limited access to the Martial source.
Created millennia ago by the Beast Lords of Kham, the Polder were fashioned to be cooks and servants. The same traits which make them quiet and unnoticed servants make them excellent thieves and soon the Lords of Kham were employing them as assassins.
The Polder were the last of the Beast Lords’ creations to have the ability to reproduce. Their independence was a constant curse to the Lords of Kham. Now they have integrated with human society so well, they are considered by most as honorary humans, sharing their towns and cities and worshipping their gods.
Their culture is intertwined with that of Men, they venerate the Gods of Men and share the same power sources. Martial, Divine, and Arcane. Like men, they consider the Primal path a barbarous one, and like Men they have no access to Psionics.
The War Breed (Half-orcs)
Orcs and Men cannot mate under any circumstance, but powerful wizards sometimes invoke a ritual to create half-orcs for the purposes of war. These creatures are as intelligent as Men, but as strong and battle-ready as the Orcs.
War Breed in Ǽndrim were created by the Evil Wizard Mortus for the Battle of Holden’s Bluff fifty years ago. Mortus and his war bred orcs were defeated by Good King Omund and it was in this battle that Omund became King.
The War Breed have no names, instead each is branded with a number on his forehead. Some embrace this, some seek to have it removed, others ignore it.
Though bred using similar rituals and for the same battle, there is no biological reason for War Bred and Dragonborn to hate each other. Many Dragonborn respect the War Bred. However, since the Dragonborn can mate while the War Breed cannot, many half-orcs resent the Dragonborn.
The War Breed are an artificial race. Created to be Civilized, like Men, most are Martial and eschew the Primal paths as barbarous. Some reject the society of Men and embrace the Primal. While they have access to the Divine power source, they usually worship the Evil Gods or the God of the Orcs. They have limited access to the Divine and Arcane power sources.
War Breed PCs gain +2 to all defenses against Blast attacks.
Shifters are not the cat-people found in the Player’s Handbook, they are shape-shifting Bear Folk also known as Beowights. They still come in two flavors, Razorclaw and Longtooth, but they’re otherwise Bear-people.
Their normal home is the Beowode, one of the haunted elf-woods.
Gnomes are evil trickster spirits and unavailable as a PC race.