Geography

and Politics

Geography & Politics

The lands of the Gate of Shadows (ShadowGate): This region serves as the vast majority of the MUD, and is so named due to it surrounding the site of the original ShadowGate which caused the Sundering of 0SG. This historic site is said to have been somewhere within the vast Shadow desert, with a city of the same name built a short distance to the west that serves as the central trade hub for the surrounding kingdoms. The region itself takes up the entire northeastern section of the continent. Bordered by the Saakrune sea to the east and the Wildlands to the west. North lies the arctic reaches, while south borders the massive mountain range Talzashaar’s Teeth, that holds the Tsarven empire at bay beyond its peaks.

The Tsarven Empire: the Empire is held distant from the lands of ShadowGate by Talzashaar’s Teeth, a massive mountain range that becomes impossible to pass at certain times of the year, and takes up all the known southern extent of the continent. Many sections of this area are dry, arid desert lands, though some still flourish with the vibrant life that ancient texts claim they once held in excess. The Empire itself is known to be made up of seven kingdoms, of varying race and creed, held at an uneasy peace by the rule of an Emperor rumored to be immortal as the gods themselves. The city of Azha serves as the Empire’s northern-most outpost, its only current stronghold north of the Teeth.

The Wildlands: this term refers to the western extent of the main continent, ever poorly mapped and lacking in any trade routes of note. Those few travellers that risk journeys within claim it to be populated with savage tribes of both humans and beasts, as well as a handful of oriental city-states that retain power over their domains by militant and magical strength.

Danger: this continent is yet uncharted by any but roaming seafarers, whose maps simply pen the region as ‘danger!’, hence its nickname. Its true name, if it has any residents to provide one, remains yet unknown. It lies southeast of the main continent, across the Saakrune sea, and is of a tropical climate.

Other un-named continents likely lie further south, but no maps mark details of these uncharted lands, if they exist at all…

Offestry

Offestry is a quiet hamlet northwest of the main area of ShadowGate, settled within a small valley of the same name. Very little of importance happens here, but the townsfolk seem content enough for it to remain this way; the maddened wizard and the strange disappearances of Kilgore Keep in recent years seem to have served as excitement to last them at least a decade or so! Beyond the city’s gates some minor nuisances lurk, including orcs and kobolds, but these are usually held back by the influx of new adventurers that seem regularly to pass through town on their way over the mountains.

 

Location: northwest Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 1-5
Local adventure areas include: Kilgore Keep, the grand forest, the abandoned graveyard, the eastern hills and mines, the ruins and caverns beneath.
Quests of note: Sirith’s task, the artifact of Kilgore Keep, recover the Golden Crown, the Elven Journal

Village:

Offestry 

Rulership: Mayor

Offestry is a small, sleepy hamlet that is kept alive by the funds of many newly arrived adventurers to the realm. Citizens busy themselves with careers crafting or gathering those items required for travel and selling them to passersby, on their way across the mountains to the southeast. Isolated as it is, the village is rarely threatened by danger and supports only a token group of guards, mostly half-trained peasants.

Dark wood Area

darkwood

The Darkwood region is named for the forest that once swept across its heart, before the Tsarven empire paved its way across that tree-studded expanse. Many creatures still lurk in the remaining fragments of the woods, preying upon those who stray too far from the main roads. The only true remnants of the original Darkwood forest now lie within those lands claimed by Shadow city, leaving this region deceptively named. The young kingdom of Tabor lies at the heart of the region itself, surrounded by farmland and forest that are rarely troubled, but the more outlying reaches fall prey to a number of unpleasant creatures, including yuan-ti, orcs and bandits. The very southern reaches include Azha, the only outpost of the Tsarven Empire that lies north of Talzashaar’s teeth, the vast mountain range cutting the Empire off from the realm of ShadowGate.

 

Location: west and southwest Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 6-14
Local adventure areas include: the ruins of Koenig village and nearby caves and streams, Piaf’s farm, the western orc camp, Yntala forest, Azha theater.
Quests of note: Piaf’s dilemma, the Nereid’s riddles, Mystery of the Desert Sun Theater

Rulership: Kingdom
Symbol: a bridge superimposed with a burning candle (usually by a purple seal with metallic silver border) 

Tabor is a very quiet city, flourishing as a hub of culture and art, as it serves as home to the realm’s largest temple of the Binder and gains realm-wide support for Bardic arts via Paladowyn, patron of the Crown and Castle inn. A recently independant outpost of the Tsarven empire, the city has broken off on reportedly friendly terms. While they have a King and a royal line of their own, they still at times defer to Azha’s authority/wishes, and also gain their aid in some matters, leading some to believe that the Tsarven empire is attempting to cultivate the town as a future foothold within the region after its failures in the past.

Inhabitants: moon elves
Rulership: council of elders
Symbol: unknown

A particularly small group of elves as far as settlements go, they have been whittled away to near extinction by the encroachment of humanity on the east and a dominant orcish settlement to the northwest. Still, recently having opened their borders, the influx of adventurers has stilled the orcish encroachment and opened contact with Tabor, halting further losses and heralding a previously unknown time of relative peace for these elves.

Rulership, symbol, : n/a

Muul’daan has served as a lair for the less dangerous of the monstrous species, usually those unable to get a handhold within the fiercely contested ruins of Juran. As such, the majority of its inhabitants are goblins and kobolds. Considered by most not to be worth the time to purge, they still serve as a thorn in the side of the halflings settled upon the nearby meadowlands.

Rulership: Military command, directed by Sindh
Symbol: unknown

Azha serves as a largely disorganized northern frontier of the Empire under direct control of the Emperor; however, the Emperor allows Sindh free reign in administrating the southern part of the territory on his behalf. It was once the epicenter of the Empire’s failed campaign for permanent expansion into the North, but now has backslid into a generally sleepy corner of the Empire that is unfortunate enough to have to deal with the Northern “barbarians” and meddlesome, freelance adventurers on a daily basis. It maintains neutral to friendly ties with most of its nearest neighbours, with the notable exception of Tharis, with whom it is often at odds over disputes of land and trade.

Named for a mighty dragon of ages past, this refers to the extensive mountain range between the Tsarven empire and the realm of Shadowgate. It extends east to run up the coastline as high cliffs, and west to obscure access to the Wildlands.

Talzashaar himself was said to be a mighty dragon of the earth, who caused the world to tremble with his steps. He was said to be one of many leaders in the ancient wars of the Dawn Age against the giants of the north. Long dead, the mountains are as feared as he for the vicious and unpredictable storms that rage across their peaks, and at most seasons of the year the range is uncrossable. The few months that are not impossible, are still highly dangerous due to the number of beast tribes that hide within mountain caverns. Passage is available through the mountains via the dwarves of Brynlhar, but only those willing to separate with a great deal of their own gold are granted access to this less hazardous route.

A small cursed section of the southwest Darkwood Forest, it was once part of Vandor’ivae but corrupted through the experimentation of a small wizard’s enclave, hidden within the forest itself. It is now stalked by malevolent creatures from planes beyond, including leprechauns and yuan-ti hunters.

Once a peaceful river that wound its way through the Vandor’ivae to the Saakrune sea, it was thrown far off course by the explosion at the end of the Godswar. It now travels southwest from its source in the snows of the Charu mountains, past the City of Shadow and southwest to Tabor, before turning east through Yntala forest to pass by Tharis city. It skirts the edge of Tharis forest before finally returning to the sea.

Shadow

The region of Shadow encompasses a vast swathe of lands, including a desert and a merchant-run city of the same name. The desert is said to have been the site of the ShadowGate, for which the entire region is named, and the focal point of the Godswar of 0SG. While the powers of Shadow claim legal rulership over this broad region of land, not all of the denizens living within them entirely agree. The rough area considered to be the Shadow region consists of the desert as far as the eastern coast, and the remaining Darkwood forest southeast of the city, often hotly contested with the dukedom of Tharis. It spans northwest to include the echoes mountain range and the meadowlands, and north to the trade crossroads leading to the Charu mountains.

Location: central Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 6-12
Local adventure areas include: the Echoes mountains, Dragon’s Den caverns, Kildare, the goblin fortress, Shadow desert, Darkwood forest, the meadowlands.
Quests of note: Rosinden’s mission, the Stolen Pipe

Rulership: Plutocracy (merchant council)
Symbol: three interlocked rings, one each of gold, silver and copper 

Originally an upstanding city-state brought under the dominion of the Tsarven empire, they broke off nearly a century ago as their own independant region. Passing through various magistrate leaders, the city became skewed towards darker motives and became involved in matters such as assisting transport of slaves from Tharis to Tonovi, and the invasion of Torm by an allied militant force of Shadow and Tonovi’s armies. Following several attempt to overthrow Shadow by powerful bands of adventurers, and the untimely deaths of its latest series of magistrates, control of the city was taken by the merchants guild. Under their rule the city was drawn back to a very rigidly-lawful standing.

Since the advent of the merchant council, many of Shadow’s once-hostile neighbours now hold somewhat friendly trade agreements, if not actual alliances. Stronger ties have been reformed with Azha, and through them to the Tsarven Empire beyond, and also with Torm. It maintains contact as the sole trader with Verbobone and Seneca mostly by way of psionic transport systems, given their remote location. Ties have loosened to neutrality with Tonovi and Tharis, who still trade with the city, but share no further alliance.

Rulership: elected leader (reeve)
Symbol: a shepherd’s crook slanted across a backdrop of mountain peaks

A small village of mountain folk, until recently they were of little note to any and simply went about their lives as usual. However, several decades previous an infestation of monstrous Perytons swept the mountain paths north of their town, plaguing the people with constant attacks which are barely kept in check at present by roaming adventurers.

Rulership, symbol, : n/a

Juran’xundessa was once the crowning settlement of drow history, standing as the restoration of the dark elves to their ancestral homeland before the Descent of -10,000SG. The city was said to be impossibly beautiful to look upon, delicate and yet terribly cold and unwelcoming, with great stone spires that rose to the skies above, while spans leapt from tower to tower, so fragile they should collapse save for their magical reinforcements. But this spelled the downfall of the city itself; while it stood impervious even through the Godswar of -10SG to 0SG and the march of the armies, upon Mystra’s death the weave itself briefly collapsed, leaving all of the city’s magical reinforcements and protections to simply snuff out. The city crumbled to the earth, leaving the ruins of present day, and those drow that remained were stalked and hunted back into the underdark by the elves of the surface. Rumor is that they still hide here, beneath the ruins of their city, scheming to rebuild their former glory, while tribes of monstrous creatures use the remnants of the ruins as shelter from those who would seek to purge the realm of their depravity.

A range that begins west of shadow in a series of low hills, and rises to curve west and then south. A fairly placid and low-altitude range, with worn paths for travellers. Minor beast infestations can be found in and around the range, but these are commonly held in check from spreading by passing adventurers.

This stretch of wasteland lies between the current city of Shadow and the ocean, and is bordered by the Barrier Mountains to the north and the Darkwood Forest to the south. It is said to have been the final site of the Godswar, and was once vastly forested until the explosion of 0SG reduced it to the desert state it now holds. A small section of ruins to the east is all that remains of the research enclave of the Zin’Charu, which served as the focal point of the war, and is said to still be haunted by the unfortunate victims of those wizards’ experimentations…

Vandor’ivae, the Forest of Lights, was the home to one of the greatest elven civilisations in history, Daoine’yndaar (the City of Stars). Here, the wood elves made their home for centuries, alongside a handful of dark elves, until the Crown Wars saw the city’s complete destruction. Most of the forest still stood for millennia longer, and later served to hide the main research enclave of the Zin’Charu beneath the eaves of its northern reaches. The Godswar saw its most fierce battles upon the same site, in an attempt to claim the ShadowGate hidden beneath this enclave. The war destroyed much of this forest even before the explosion that ended it. That explosion, the Sundering of 0SG, reduced the entire northern half of the forest to desert, and tore the northeastern edge asunder to form Laerad and the Parnelli forest.

This stretch of forest is the section claimed by the City of Shadow as territory, bordering Tharis Forest to the suoth which is claimed by Tharis. The two forests together make up most of what is left of the Vandor’ivae upon the mainland, though most of its original fey inhabitants have fled deeper into Tharis forest in an attempt to avoid the encroachment of the desert and nearby humanity, leaving only a few beasts and monsters, and a small group of voadkyns within this northern forest stretch.

Once a peaceful river that wound its way through the Vandor’ivae to the Saakrune sea, it was thrown far off course by the explosion at the end of the Godswar. It now travels southwest from its source in the snows of the Charu mountains, past the City of Shadow and southwest to Tabor, before turning east through Yntala forest to pass by Tharis city. It skirts the edge of Tharis forest before finally returning to the sea.

Tharis

The region of Tharis includes the city of the same name, and a somewhat limited region of land surrounding it, given its hotly contested borders by both Shadow and the Tsarven Empire. It is bordered to the south by Talzashaar’s Teeth, a high mountain range that becomes impossible to cross at certain times of the year and still usually avoided regardless. The dukedom of Tharis lays claim to a vast stretch of forest to the east known as Vandor’ivae, the forest of lights, to the local elves. Most humans simply refer to the southern and northern sections as Tharis and Darkwood forests respectively, the former of which is considered Tharisian territory.

Location: southeast region of the main Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 12-17
Local adventure areas include: Tharis forest, and various combat sections of Tharis city.
Quests of note: Peace to the Forest

Rulership: Duchy (independent)
Symbol: a snarling black hound across a forested backdrop

Tharis is known in most places as the city of thieves; here, law is less precious than the coin paid to bypass it. It arose originally as a lumber trading village circa 250SG, by means of which it soon became prosperous and enforced its position against outsiders, most specifically the hostile elven forces from within the Vandor’ivae. Many of these later submitted to human rule, giving up hope of maintaining their section of forest and their independence in exchange for remaining upon what they believed was their own land. It eventually established its hold over the region as an independent sovereign duchy.

A town known for its wealth but not its stability in modern times, it maintains a distinct split between its human and wood-elf citizens, who remain upon unfriendly terms at the best of times. Persecution of elven citizens is not uncommon, with rumors of nearby sites of ancient elven power perhaps giving reason as to why the elves doggedly retain their hold upon the eastern quadrant of town. The passing of the Dukedom from father to son has oft resulted in bloodshed and civil upheaval, usually quelled by martial law. Tharis maintains relatively friendly trade relations with Tonovi far to the north, and neutrality with nearby Shadow, but remains hostile towards its western neighbour Azha, with whom it tends to come into dispute upon both ownership and moral grounds.

Recent years have seen an uprising within both the human and elven halves of the city. The human sector has since come under the iron fist of the Hound militia, while the elven quarter has gained a degree of independence with the support of their allies, the surface drow house Rilynath. An uneasy peace currently holds between the two sides…

Vandor’ivae, the Forest of Lights, was the home to one of the greatest elven civilisations in history, Daoine’yndaar (the City of Stars). Here, the wood elves made their home for centuries, alongside a handful of dark elves, until the Crown Wars saw the city’s complete destruction. Most of the forest still stood for millennia longer, and later served to hide the main research enclave of the Zin’Charu beneath the eaves of its northern reaches. The Godswar saw its most fierce battles upon the same site, in an attempt to claim the ShadowGate hidden beneath this enclave. The war destroyed much of this forest even before the explosion that ended it. That explosion, the Sundering of 0SG, reduced the entire northern half of the forest to desert, and tore the northeastern edge asunder to form Laerad and the Parnelli forest.

This stretch of forest is the section claimed by the Duchy of Tharis as territory, bordering Darkwood Forest to the north which is claimed by Shadow. The two forests together make up most of what is left of the Vandor’ivae upon the mainland, and still serves as home to a large number of wood elves and other fey creatures. Timber logged from this forest sources a large portion of the income for the Duchy.

Once a peaceful river that wound its way through the Vandor’ivae to the Saakrune sea, it was thrown far off course by the explosion at the end of the Godswar. It now travels southwest from its source in the snows of the Charu mountains, past the City of Shadow and southwest to Tabor, before turning east through Yntala forest to pass by Tharis city. It skirts the edge of Tharis forest before finally returning to the sea.

Antioch

The kingdom of Antioch is one of the oldest settlements still upheld in the ShadowGate region, tracing its roots back to the remnant clans of the Zin’Charu nearly a millennia earlier. The original village prospered under the leadership of a demi-god, Ignatius, until he was taken with madness and placed a curse upon its inhabitants. The ruins of the original village still stand, along the road east of the current city, and it is said the the corruption still remains upon the haunted trails north-east of this site. As to the kingdom itself, it occupies the northern highlands above the Charu mountains, and is generally believed to lay claim to most of that mountain range, as well as all charted lands north of the city.

Location: Charu highlands, mid-northern ShadowGate
Recommended level range: 15-25
Local adventure areas include: the dark trail, Moonstone vale, ruins of the first Antioch settlement, the Plane of Fire, entrances to wild underdark.
Quests of note: escaping the Plane of Fire

Rulership: Kingdom
Symbol: a silver pegasus rampant across a purple backdrop

Antioch stands as the single human settlement of the Charu highlands, said by some to hold back the savage wilds of the north. Its people trace back to a partial Zin’Charu heritage, and it is said that the royal line of Antioch can still trace directly back to their bloodline. Antioch was originally a small village, several hundred years before the Sundering, which prospered under the rulership of Ignatius until his fall to madness and destruction of the town. Those inhabitants who survived enlisted the aid of travellers to put an end to his corruption, and then rebuilt their town to the west of its original site.

The modern Antioch serves as one of the few remaining strongholds of light, including a paladin guild hall. They also serve as home to the largest following of Helmite worshippers, and their high priest Sebastian. Aside from this, there is a strong concentration of adept magi within the city, likely hailing to their Zin’Charu heritage, who are led by Archmage Welkanar, advisor to the royal line. A stern view is taken of misuse of magic within the city itself, which has in the past resulted in the establishment of wards and the temporary ban of certain types of magic within city limits.

These stand as the stretch of mid-northern mountains which lead to the Charu highlands, currently the domain of the kingdom of Antioch. Originally they served as the homeland of the six human tribes that allied to become the Zin’Charu (people of Charu), many thousands of years previous. The region is high enough in altitude, and close enough to the arctic reaches, to be kept in snow for at least half the year. This range serves as the source of the two major rivers of the ShadowGate continent, the Sarcosta and Yniam.

This area is the ancestral home of the Zin’Charu, and is considered the domain of the present kingdom of Antioch. It bears an alpine climate, and serves as the source for both major rivers of the ShadowGate region. It also lays claim to a small valley of a much more pleasant, temperate climate known as the Moonstone Vale.

The Vale serves as one of the few remaining, relatively untouched regions of wilderness where the creatures of the fey still lay claim. A small vale ringed by the Charu mountains on all sides but the south, its edges are bordered by dark forest that serve as home to the more dangerous animals and fey creatures, while those of less aggressive intent tend to inhabit the central grasslands and the waterways at its northern limits. The Vale also serves as home to the last remnants of the Druidic orders, much declined since the disappearance of Silvanus, but still patiently awaiting his return.

Dagger Reaches

The Dagger region encompasses the only stretches of the ShadowGate realm never held by the Zin’Charu in antiquity. Instead, the entire northern half of this region, as well as the coasts as far as the present Shadow Desert, were the dominion of the Aesatri tribes. The kingdom of Torm still stands as testament to their strength in modern times, a bustling trade hub and the largest port of the realm. Northwest upon the fertile Yniam plains lies its prodigal kindred within the rebel dukedom of Tonovi, once part of the greater Torm kingdom. Its only other major settlement, Daggerdale, lies northeast as nothing more than haunted ruins, a shadow of the once vibrant village that offered welcome to all. The Dagger region is bordered along its northern stretch by the arctic highlands, where many beasts lay claim to homes deep in the mountain caves, as does the greatest dwarven citadel of their race, Barak Morndin (of which the more local Kinaro is a minor outpost). East lies the small Dagger Sea, which flows out into the Saakrune. West and south lie the Charu and the Barrier mountains, effectively cutting off most easy access to this region from elsewhere.

Location: northeast region of the main Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 15-40
Local adventure areas include: Muileann, Lothwaite barrows, Archemond’s ruins, Berionessa Peak, Dagger marsh and Demongate Tower, caverns of the ogrish hordes, entrances to wild underdark, the northern Drow undercity, Derro tunnels, Arctic caverns, Daggerdale sewers.
Quests of note: Muileann’s restless soul, Sionne’s final rest, the Drow temple, the spirit of Lothwaite, Friend of the Stones, sealing the gate to the Hells

Rulership: Monarchy
Symbol: a masted ship which rests in the watery foreground of a busy city harbor. At the edge of the water, towering over the city, is the majestic silhouette of a male statue holding a glowing orb. Cast in the twilight sky is a crescent moon flanked by five glittering stars

Torm has a history longer than most existing human settlements within ShadowGate. Arising originally as the Aesatri coastal village of Thorm, it fell under the sway of Zin’Charu rule until their disappearance in -549SG, after which it grew to become one of the two sister-cities of the coastline, twin to southern Asgard. Withstanding the upheaval of the Godswar and the separation from Asgard until the late 500’s SG, it became a prosperous sea-port upon the Cape of Gailden, and the capital of the Thorm Kingdom that stretched the entire Yniam plain and Kilkaen forest. The royal line, of direct Aesatri lineage, has faded over the years and in the last half-century has seemed beset by a curse that has left it without an apparent heir. Its once loyal Duchy Tonovi also seceded from the kingdom in 644SG, ostensibly due to this curse, and the loss of the royal line seems also to have cost them their past friendships with the local elves of Kilkaen. The destruction of Daggerdale in 678SG, one of the last villages subject to the Thorm Kingdom, has been seen by some as a herald to the end of the kingdom’s once benevolent rulership of the region, leaving it as nothing more than a city-state.

The city, known to most as simply ‘Torm’ due to pronunciation, has been directed for the better part of the century by the King Erik’s first advisor, the Vizier Umzuzalil, and has survived an attempted invasion by the combined forces of Shadow and Tonovi in 657SG. Its control over the Shelk river and most of the Dagger Sea have helped it retain its prominent position as a trade hub, rivalled only by Shadow itself. It remains at odds with its previously subject state, Tonovi, often in conflict over the rights to bordering lands and the use of the Shelk river. Umzuzalil has most recently been discovered to have been a Maskarran agent and responsible for the fall of the royal line, which has since been restored under the rulership of Liana, Erik’s long lost half-elven grandchild. It now remains to be seen if the city can be restored to its former glory…

Rulership: Duchy
Symbol: a raven perched atop a closed iron gate, usually upon a backdrop of crimson

Tonovi has only recently come into its independence, and that has not been peacefully achieved. Some time after the formation of the kingdom of Thorm (Torm), the Duchy was given to Tonovi, a loyal cousin of king Ketilbjorn at some point around -120SG. Prosperous and loyal to the throne for many hundred years following, it arose to prosperity in the midst of the fertile Yniam plain, taking only brief harm during the Godswar. The formerly friendly ties to Torm fell apart in recent times, with the decline of the kingdom’s royal line, and the rise of the worship of Xvim within Tonovi itself. Eventually, Tonovi seceded from the kingdom in 644SG under the belief that they too would bear their curse, and the Duchy has held unfriendly relationships with its closest neighbour ever since.

Presently, Tonovi maintains friendly ties with Tharis far to the south. Its formerly friendly ties with Shadow have faded following the failed Shadow-Tonovi invasion of Torm in 657SG and the rise of Shadow’s merchant council, and trade has lessened greatly between the two. The priesthood of Xvim, once powerful in the city, was overturned in 662SG following the resurrection of Bane, whose priesthood now controls the city itself. Tonovi maintains hostility with nearly every nearby settlement, including Kinaro and Aketon, whose citizens at times fall prey to Tonovian slavers. The city has only maintained its independence by means of sheer military might, but the civil war of 682SG has seen it lose control of some lands to Torm, and it has yet to recover from this loss.

Rulership: Kingdom (ex-subject village of Thorm)

Daggerdale served as one of the oldest still-standing villages of the Aesatri within the Dagger Reaches, and one of the only remaining subjects of the Torm (Thorm) kingdom. It maintained strong ties with the nearby dwarven mining outpost of Kinaro, with many traders that served as intermediataries between the dwarves and the capital of Torm. Once a devout Selunite settlement, the temple and its priests were cast out following many conflicts with neighbouring Tonovi, and shortly thereafter the faithful of Tempus took up a position of city defense. Some believe, however, that the banishment of Selune’s church allowed the town’s eventual demise at the armies of Night and Destruction.

19 Growingdays, 678SG saw the fulfilment of a prophecy by the Selunite seeress Cienia. An eclipse crossed the sun and shed darkness across the region for hours, and when light finally returned the city was nothing more than rubble. Despite the best attempts of a band of nearby adventurers, the combined might of a drow army and a defected band of the Tormtar military, led by Kiervalan, saw the end of this last major subject to Torm, and to some heralded the last days of the Kingdom itself.

Inhabitants: shield dwarves
Rulership: Monarchy (Thane)
Symbol: a golden hammer crossed over three sharp mountain peaks

Kinaro is as much of this dwarven kingdom as most travellers ever see in their lifetime, as Barak Morndin is ever wary of outsiders. It was established circa -6,550SG, several millennia after the fall of Karak Delvar by refugees of that usurped stronghold. Barak Morndin was re-settled as a fortified stronghold against outsiders, and to this day remains highly insular, making contact with the outside world only by way of smaller satellite outposts. Barak Morndin itself has been brought to risk only once, during the bloody Orcish invasion from the north in -1,319SG, during which an unexpected alliance was formed with the elves of Akh’ketonn (Aketon) in defense of the region. To this day, a (fairly loose) alliance remains between the two.

Kinaro itself serves as a valuable mining outpost to Barak Morndin, sourcing many precious metals and gemstones (but not, specifically, mithril which is found in deeper undercities). It also stands as the hub of trade and diplomatic relations with the humans of the region. Good relations particularly existed between the mining settlement and the nearby village of Daggerdale, until the destruction of that village in 678SG, which also took a heavy toll upon Kinaro itself. Many believe the drow forces of the invasion found access by way of the mining tunnels beneath Kinaro itself, which even now provide means to reach wild underdark, for those adventurous or foolish enough to venture there.

Inhabitants: moon elves
Rulership: elected council
Symbol: unknown

Known as simply “Aketon” in rumor among the human populace, Akh’ketonn is the result of the fall of the three great moon elf kingdoms to the dark elves of Ileleste’var during the crown wars. Forgoing their wood elf cousins’ fear of gathering and becoming a new target to outsiders, the moon elves instead gathered sufficient forces to enact the ritual creation of the only known Mythal still in existance. Its effect serves to conceal their people from detection, despite many efforts by their enemies to do so. They maintain a tenuous alliance with the dwarves of Barak Morndin, after offering their aid in the orcish invasion many millennia ago. Few outsiders are ever permitted to find their way anywhere near to this hidden city, with most outside communication made through their scouts, mostly under command of the elven ranger leader Yardleyu.

Much younger than other ranges in the area, this range did not exist until the explosive end to the Godswar, when they were said to have been thrown upwards and outwards, effectively cutting off the Dagger region which once extended much further south. They span from the eastern coast along the northern edge of Shadow desert. No known passages exist over or through them; most travellers find it far easier to go around either by land to the west, or by sea to the east.

Ancient and looming, this mountain range borders the entire northern length of the Dagger region. They have served for millennia as home to beast and monster tribes, cast out from the lands claimed by more civilised species but still daring enough at times to attempt to invade the southern lowlands. Their eastern limits serve as home to the largest group of shield dwarves in the realm, within the kingdom of Barak Morndin. North of these mountains lie the icy northern reaches, inhabited only by the most resilient of beasts and the Aesatri clans of old.

The Shelk river is sourced from the Charu mountains, but instead runs mostly east and a little south to easily find its way to the Dagger sea. The city of Torm lies just north of the mouth of the river, with the duchy of Tonovi much further upstream. Once used as a convenient means of transport and trade between the two cities, this has been cut off in more recent decades with the souring relationship between the two.

These plains serve as most of the Dagger region that is not already covered by the Kilkaen forest, lying to the southwest of the main area. A vast, fertile section that serves an excess of farmland, primarily to Tonovi (which has allowed the city a vast span of growth beyond the norm). Torm still retains hold of part of the plain which lies more directly south. The plains are named for the first Aesatri king, Yniam, who brought all the tribes of the area under the banner of the kingdom of Torm many hundreds of years previous.

The largest standing swathe of forested land in the realm, it covers nearly half of the Dagger region, covering mostly northern reaches. Once the home of three separate moon elf kingdoms, these were destroyed during the Crown Wars. The remnants of these clans are rumored to reside within the elven safe haven of Aketon, which lies deep at the heart of the woodland.

The Islands

The seemingly limitless expanse of the Saakrune sea is actually inhabited by a number of civilization, upon the many islands dotted across its reaches. The greatest of these is Seneca, the surviving remnants of the Kinnesarudan empire of old, ever locked in a struggle against their fallen brethren upon the cursed isle of Attaya. Smaller settlements lie upon Sangri and Deku, while deep within the forests of Laerad remains one of the two surviving Aesatri settlements, Asgard. Other islands serve as home to far more unpleasant creatures, from mere beasts to fey’ri and even, perhaps, a few dragons…

Location: east of the Shadowgate continent
Recommended level range: 20-40
Local adventure areas include: Aramanth, Argentrock, the Island of Dreams, Eldebaro, Dallyh, the Pirates’ cove, the Coral Sea, Dino Island, and the many distinct combat regions of Attaya, Laerad, Deku and Sangri.
Quests of note: retrieve Blacktongue’s crown, the Altar of Fire, Hansoth’s demise, Lucid Dreams, Shar’s failed deed

Location: Attaya
Rulership: democracy (elected council of five)
Symbol: three fleurs-de-lis arranged in an inverted pyramid on a shield of blue edged with red

The city of Seneca is a single pinnacle of light within the evil that holds sway over most of Attaya. Once all part of a single empire, the Kinnesarudans…

Location: Laerad
Rulership: kingdom
Symbol: three-pronged tridents of brass, eight in total, pointed outwards to each compass direction

Asgard stands as the only grand settlement of Aesatri power within the realms, with the lineage of Thorm faded and the remainder of their people given to small clan groups in the icy northern reaches. Once the sister-city to Thorm upon the southern coastline of the mainland, the peninsula upon which it stood was shattered at the Sundering of 0SG, casting the peninsula itself and a good portion of the Vandor’ivae east to become the island of Laerad. Separated from its main allies and left to fend for itself, Asgard became a defensive stronghold against the wilderness around it, and became a self-sufficient settlement in isolation. Ties to Torm have only been restored in recent years, during the late 500’s SG, and these have faltered back to neutrality following the fall of the Tormish royal line.

Location: Laerad
Rulership: tribal
Symbol: two spears crossed over a wooden shield, marked with a bloody clawed handprint

Systyquah is one of the largest gatherings of beast-folk short of Juran itself, left to prosper in the few centuries since its separation from the mainland. The ancestors of its beastly citizens were originally led as invading armies during the Godswar, and were summarily cut off from return to their homes and lairs at the Sundering of 0SG. With Asgard lacking the strength to wipe them out, the village has grown within the south-eastern section of Parnelli to its modern state, led primarily by the cunning of its troll overlords. Lacking specific leadership or government, those ‘in charge’ of Systyquah at any given time are simply those with the strength and allies enough to force it upon the village’s lesser denizens.

Location: Sangri
Rulership: theocracy
Symbol: n/a

Graez stands as a small island in a sea of undead, the minions of Kartakass who holds sway upon most of the island. Reduced nearly to extinction, it has been bolstered since 681SG by a considerable force of the Tempussian church, who now lead the resistance against the evils beyond the city gates. Whispers suggest that the intervention of the Tempussians is a kind of penance for their failure to save Daggerdale from its destruction, but few are daring enough to say so to the face of one of their faithful. Regardless, with their intervention the city has re-solidified its stand upon the edge of the island, and presses ever forward in the hope of one day ridding the isle of its undead plague.

Location: Deku
Rulership: democracy (mayor)
Symbol: n/a

Verbobone was originally settled by a small, industrious band of humans hoping to make the most of a fresh and flourishing isle.

The Tsarven Empire

The Tsarven Empire is a gathering of seven kingdoms and states (not including Tsarven itself) south of Talzashaar’s Teeth. It covers the entire continent south and south-east of the ShadowGate region, and can be roughly compared to the historic stretches of Arabia, Persia and Mongolia. Physically, its human inhabitants bear a swarthy complexion with usually dark, narrowed eyes and dark hair.

The Tsarven Empire is actually the second, historically, to rule the region south of the great mountains. The first empire was composed of many Djinni kingdoms that inhabited the area from -7,800SG to -6,100SG. The current Empire arose primarily from the human slave stock of the first, having rebelled and overthrown their former masters following the end of the Age of Skyfire. These human slaves broke off into clans and tribes, many of which died out in the ensuing millennia, but the remainder gathered and began forming the present-day kingdoms and states.

Rise: circa -10SG
Golden age: circa 400SG to present
Fall: n/a
Alignment: LN/LG; individual kingdoms vary
Location: northeast region of the main Shadowgate continent

The capital of the Empire as a whole, it operates as an enclave ruled directly by the Emperor within the borders of Sindh. Geographically it lies to the east of the state, high within the peaks of the Ocean-Ridge Mountains. Culturally and economically it is nominally Sindhish.

Azha serves as a largely disorganized northern frontier of the Empire under direct control of the Emperor; however, the Emperor allows Sindh free reign in administrating the southern part of the territory on his behalf. Was once the epicenter of the Empire’s failed campaign for permanent expansion into the North, but now has backslid into a generally sleepy corner of the Empire that is unfortunate enough to have to deal with the Northern “barbarians” and meddlesome, freelance adventurers on a daily basis.

Alignment: TN
Location: west and northwest
Topography: desert (arid)
Government: psiocracy (theocracy of Auppenser’s Psiarchs)
Capital: Syenit
People: Lirremari
Ethnicity: mostly Tsarven, some mixed Senzoku features

Establishment: clans appeared following the end of the Djinni empire, shortly after -6,000SG. Syenit arose in central Lirremar circa -2,300SG as the first static settlement amongst a state of nomads, which served as a meeting point of the clan leaders every few years. The small village eventually was transformed to something greater, as each clan took partial responsibility for its upkeep. A change in government to a psiocracy swept through circa 500SG following the rise of the faith of Auppenser.

Summary: Lirremar is the largest of the Tsarven states, covering nearly the entirety of the Tsarven desert and nearly a third of the empire’s total landspace. That aside, nearly all of Lirremar is desert, with very little arable land of worth. Lirremar also offers the only feasable access to the wildlands to the northwest, though it is a rare traveller that bothers to set out in that direction; the mingling of clans in this area gives them some oriental features which are not found anywhere else in the Empire. The citizenry is made up nearly entirely of nomadic desert tribes (Bedouin style), wandering from one oasis to the next, who are highly clannish and live mostly from their herds and the land’s meagre resources.

The capital city Syenit is the only major establishment of note, serving as the birthplace of Auppenser and his faith, and wherein lies the stronghold of Auppenser’s worship. The city itself, and the laws of Lirremar as they are held, are dictated from here by the psiocracy, a council of Psiarchs selected for their wisdom and insight. Children among the tribes who show signs of psionic aptitude are considered blessed, and are usually given over to the church for training as the tribes pass the capital once every two years.

Alignment: LG
Location: northeast
Climate: grasslands savannah leading up to low mountains (semi-arid to continental)
Government: elected monarchy (usually half-elven)
Capital: Verhedrin (first), Nueva Asteranor (second), Tsarven (city-state)
People: Sindhese
Ethnicity: highly mixed; unusually large numbers of half-elves. Humans hail from Tsarven and Attayan roots, with small mixings of the northern Heartlander ‘barbarians’ and sun elves from Selu’havessthyr

Establishment: Sindh is the youngest of the Tsarven kingdoms, springing up from a gathering of those who flocked to the cause of the Celestial Emperor and his famed guardian golden dragon during the Godswar of 0SG and remained faithful thereafter, raising Verhedrin as their home. The state was bolstered considerably following the Kinnesarudan wars, with the numerous refugees that flooded the Tsarven states and settled their new home, raising the city of Nueva Asteranor in the image of their lost homeland.

Summary: Sindh is considered by most to be a highly progressive state as far as ethics and treatment of one’s “fellow man”, even if that man is a halfblood; this is mostly due to the kind of people attracted to the call of the now Celestial Emperor, and those good-inclined refugees of the fallen Kinnesarudan Empire. Known as the Heart of the Empire, Sindh is human and half-elf co-habited, and includes a small group of sun elves displaced from Selu’havessthyr over the past millenium. It is ruled under a half-elven elected monarchy, given that half-elves are here seen as the pinnacle of mortal capacity, encompassing the best of human and elven traits. Along the ocean-ridge mountains to the east lies Tsarven, the Celestial Emperor’s mountain-top city, and capital of the entire Empire.

Alignment: LE/LN
Location: southwest
Climate: rocky, some flatlands (coastal)
Government: military dictatorship (theocracy of Banelar)
Capital: Phaederia
People: Phaederians
Ethnicity: Tsarven

Establishment: a break-away group from Djyaristan circa -350SG, set on upholding the doctrine of Bane. The state almost fell apart following the death of Bane during the Godswar, but was held intact through the intervention of the church of Xvim. Still, civil wars have raged on and off several times in the ensuing centuries, instigated by the remaining cult of Bane, who rose up and took over the country again shortly after the death of Xvim in recent years.

Summary: Phaederia is the smallest of the Tsarven states, carving out a niche within the rocky ocean-bordered reaches south of Lirremar. It has been the site of continuous strife for many centuries, counting numerous civil wars between the priesthood of Xvim and the remaining cults of Bane, bowing only to the command of the Emperor to hold off from wiping itself out. The state itself is openly hostile against representatives of Selu’havessthyr, but both states are held neutral under threat of the Emperor’s wrath. It has entered an unusual era of calm following the return of Bane and the bloody take-over by his church, as it rebuilds itself.

Alignment: LG/LN
Location: east
Climate: flatlands, large forested tracts, low mountains preventing ocean access to the east
Government: oligarchy (noble families)
Capital: Selu’havessthor, “City of Majestic Spires”
People: n/a
Ethnicity: sun elf

Establishment: Selu’havessthyr is the oldest of the Tsarven kingdoms, bearing dominion of the area long before the rise of humans or even their Djinni masters. Dating back to the First Flowering, this kingdom and its capital Selu’havessthor was considered the greatest of the sun elves’ dominions, but fell from glory during the crown wars due to the arrogance of their ruling house at the time, who have since been destroyed along with their allies, leaving the remaining houses to pick up the pieces.

Summary: The remaining noble houses following the end of the Crown Wars have worked over the ensuing millennia to restore the kingdom to its former magnificence, but many still believe it to only be a shadow of its former self. Still, to a human it bears a magnificence rarely seen in a lifetime, surrounded by the main remaining tracts of forested land in the Empire. Its inhabitants look down upon Sindh as a backwards-thinking state, diluting superior elven blood to something lesser, and thus most sympathisers with Sindh’s policies have already since left the kingdom long ago for its northern neighbour. They are openly hostile towards Phaederia, but are held in check only by a degree of respect for the Celestial Emperor, and knowledge of swift reprisals from the rest of the Empire should they act.

‘The Golden Pass’
Alignment: LG
Location: north (underground)
Climate: underground caverns and mountain passes
Government: monarchy
Capital: unknown
People: Brynlharan
Ethnicity: gold dwarf

Establishment: The settlement of Brynlhar dates back well beyond the human kingdoms of the area, and its dwarven ancestors were responsible in aiding humankind to escape the hold of their Djinni masters following the Age of Skyfire. Relations have long since degraded, however, as the humans went about their own business and mostly forgot their dwarven saviors.

Summary: The Brynlhar kingdom spreads beneath a vast stretch of Talzashaar’s teeth, and their passages offer the “safest” way to cross the range – though the price they ask turns away all but the most stubborn of travellers. They are ruled by a royal line dating back to the establishment of the city circa -8,400SG. Their citadel comes under regular attack by the lesser beasts of the pass, though none pose a large threat to such a well-established dwarven 

Alignment: TN
Location: south and southeast
Climate: desert, steppe, coastal
Government: plutocracy
Capital: Djyarimisk
People: Djyarishites
Ethnicity: Tsarven

Establishment: The people of Djyaristan are descended from the original slave stock of the Djinni that ruled the area many millennia ago. While the Morinnen and Lirremari remained a mostly nomadic people, those who favored static settlements drifted south across the inhospitable desert to settle upon the southern coast. There were known to be small villages in the area as early as -5,700SG, with the capital of Djyarimisk arising circa -2,150SG.

Summary: In Djyaristan, money and power are one and the same, with the country’s laws and governance dictated by the merchant council of Djyarimisk. Primarily human, the country also supports a much larger than usual populace of halflings and half-orcs, which are generally well accepted. Many genasi are believed to live covertly also among this mixed populace, remnants of the Djinni rule many millennia earlier. Djyarimisk serves as the trade hub and the heart of this state, while much of the west is given to desert across which caravans travel at their own risk of banditry; there are regular accusations levelled at the clans of bordering Lirremar, who deny any responsibility. The Djyarim river leads down from Selu’havessthyr to the east, providing the main source of arable land and homeland to several halfling clans, who serve as intermediataries between Djyarimisk and the sun elf clans of Selu’havessthyr.

Alignment: LN
Location: central
Climate: steppes
Government: matriarchal monarchy
Capital: n/a
People: Morinnen

Ethnicity: Morinnen

Establishment: The Morinnen have no established cities or strongholds, but have existed in the area since the end of the Age of Skyfire circa -6,000SG.

Summary: The Morinnen are a fierce people composed of many clans of horse-people that live upon the flatlands central to the Tsarven empire. They hail their ruler as a single queen and her consort, with lineage always traced through the female, as they believe it ridiculous to try and prove the male sire of a child. As a people, they are highly cohesive, leaving supplies (scarce firewood, etc) in for the next clans who will pass behind them. They live as hunter-gatherers, following herds of wild animals, such as deer and horses, for food. The Morinnen’s ancestors are claimed to have been the first people to tame the domestic horse, passing that knowledge onto their neighbours. Their own highly trained, well-bred steeds are of high demand right across the Empire.

Though small, this kingdom bears a fierce, nearly savage pride in the craft of war, and will easily rise to a challenge if confronted, which lends back to their early days staking a claim to the flatlands from the remnant Djinni after the Age of Skyfire. They are renowned for particular martial skill with the bow. This aside, they bear no animosity to any of their neighbours due to their relatively neutral stance politically, but will fight readily at the command of the Emperor. They are also renowned for their handicrafts, and carry a verbal lore tradition. Much heed is given here to Tyr as the guardian of the wilderness, and lesser so to Torm and Helm.

Historic Empire
The Aesatri

The Aesatri, “those of the true lineage”, are a people characterized by tall stature, a long head, light skin and hair, and light-colored eyes. They are said by many outsiders to have been as cold and forbidding as the icy reaches from which they hail.

Rise: some time prior to -4,700SG
Golden age: -3,200SG to -2,900SG
Fall: -10 to 0SG

The Aesatri are known to have been inhabitants of the icy northern reaches and the eastern ShadowGate coastline since sometime within the Rise of Civilization (-9,000SG to -3,000SG), having had clans and tribes in the area long before the rise of the Zin’Charu empire. By the expansion of the Zin’Charu empire into the Yniam region circa -2,900SG, they already held two major kingdoms, Thorm at the mouth of the Yniam river, and Asgard upon an extended land peninsula much further south, jutting out directly east of the main reaches of the Vandor’ivae into the Saakrune sea.

Both cities fell under Zin’Charu rule until the disappearance of their empire several centuries before the godswar; Thorm fell much earlier than Asgard, which was the last major ShadowGate settlements to succumb to the Zin’Charu empire circa -2,550SG. The cities were held and ruled by the empire until their abrupt disappearance in -549SG, at which point the Aesatri swiftly reclaimed lordship of their own dominions.

The people of both cities did not march in the war of -10SG to 0SG; fearing another invasion, they instead looked to their own defenses. Battle raged around Asgard particularly, with the battle of Tyr and Bane in the forest directly to the west. Kelemvor, knight-captain of Asgard, led the city’s armies in defense against a horde of undead risen from the swamps south of the city, creatures of the then-mortal Myrkul. The fallen deity was killed, but dealt a mortal blow to Kelemvor during the battle, who was later risen as the new god of the dead to take Myrkul’s place. Yngvild, Mystra’s successor following her death in 0SG, was also a citizen of Asgard, and Kelemvor’s lover prior to the Godswar.

Only slightly further west in the forest lay the site of the detonation of the ShadowGate at 0SG, which sundered a portion of the land including the Asgardian peninsula, to leave Asgard within the centre of the new island of Laerad. With some effort, Asgard restored relations with its sister city Thorm and has maintained them since. The royal line of Torm (the name being degraded from Thorm through local pronunciation), descended from pure Aesatri stock, has been only recently lost, with an unfortunate series of events leading many to believe their line was cursed. With the failing of their line, the only major modern seat of Aesatri power remains Asgard itself, although there are still believed to be many tribes that survive in the icy northern reaches to this day.

Historic Empires
The Zin'Charu Empire

The Zin’Charu, “People of the Charu”, are said to have been the greatest human civilisation to date. Physically, they are described as of short stature, dark hair, dark eyes, narrower shoulders, a caucasian complexion (somewhat darker than that of the northern Aesatri) and comparatively round head. At their highest point in history, they held sway over the entire ShadowGate region, and their nobility were known as arcanists of unsurpassed aptitude.

Rise: -3,400SG to -2,900SG
Golden age: -2,550SG to -549SG
Fall: midnight, 7 Winterstime, -549SG (vanished)

The Zin’Charu arose from six clans living upon the Charu highlands, who eventually allied in common defense of their people. Circa -3,400 heralded the beginning of their expansionist movements east, down onto the fertile plains of Yniam. The moon elves of what is now Kilkaen forest (Aketon) entered into various treaties and trade agreements with the rising human civilisation, in exchange for maintaining peaceful borders to their forest. This included the very important aspect of teaching them arcane spellcraft, which until this point remained the dominion of elvenkind.

The humans, lacking anything resembling elven patience or caution, raced ahead in their knowledge of arcanery and the might it offered. By circa -2,900SG, thus empowered, they began taking over lands further and further south, claiming rulership over numerous local tribes and much of the land that had belonged to the Aesatri, along the eastern coastline. Over many centuries they laid claim to all civilised lands within reach, held back only by the natural buffers of mountain and ocean from spreading yet further still, and by circa -2,550SG they were the undisputed lords of the entirety of what is now the ShadowGate realm.

The original six clans of the Charu Highlands were, at this point, risen to stand as the six ruling aristocratic houses of the empire, all claiming a wealth of powerful magi to hold their subjects to their whim. It is believed that much of the technology and spellcraft that arose from their studies are still lost to this day. However, it is said that at the greatest of their empire’s strength, they were courted by dark beings offering yet more power, and the high clans turned their interests to other pursuits. They were said to have many research sites, some hidden deep within the forests or the earth, where they carried out experiments of all kinds, some upon “lesser” living beings.

It seemed that the Zin’Charu empire was one destined to hold sway for unmeasured time, but on 7 Winterstime, -549SG the major high city of the Zin’Charu suddenly vanished overnight, leaving no explanation to their disappearance. Most claim that they delved too far into their magical dabblings and it backfired on them, wiping them out. With all six houses of their nobility suddenly gone, and no claimant strong enough to take hold of the rapidly rebelling subjects of the empire, it very quickly fell apart, leaving the citizens to return to their clans and tribes of old, and the Aesatri to reclaim their hold upon the eastern ShadowGate coastline.

Certain few remaining descendants of the six clans managed only to claim their original home in the Charu highlands, and served as the original stock that now inhabit Antioch. Antioch’s royal line, and many of its citizens, are directly descended from several of these Zin’Charu clans.

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