The world of Val Caia has known darkness and light, chaos and peace. Transitions between these extremes have rocked the world and its myriad inhabitants since the dawn of time and before the gods had names. Always a cycle, the forces of the universe have ever used Val Caia as their battle ground. Great legends, passed down through the ages, tell the story of the forces vying for control over Val Caia and her people. Though the races have distorted events to suit them, all of them have at their core the same beginning.
Val Caia: The Earth, All-Mother, The Nurturing, The Great Tree, The Mountain, Neutral
Everyone on Val Caia knows that their fate is battled over by the four great heavenly entities; The Celestials. Where they came from, none know, but dancing above Val Caia the Celestials wax and wane in power, their influence crushing kingdoms or raising them to glory. They are:
Vol Priori: The Golden Sun, Arbiter, The Pure, The Shining Dragon, The Oathsworn, Law
Vol Tuniel: The Silver Sister, Protector, The Good, The Champion, The Lover, Good
Vol Anari: The Dreadstar, Destroyer, The Mad, The Crawling Chaos, The Wanderer, Chaos
Vol Sihari: The Iron Brother, Corruptor, The Cruel, The Dark Dragon, The Tyrant, Evil
The brilliant yellow sun we are all familiar with. Vol Priori rises and sets setting the order to the day and night. Vol Priori is known by many names, but is best known as The Shining Dragon, the arch-enemy of The Crawling Chaos, and husband of Vol Tuniel.
The shining silver moon we are all familiar with. Vol Tuniel’s path across the sky is varied and unbound by day or night. Vol Tuniel is known by many names, each revered by its speaker for a specific reason. She is a protector, champion, lover, and bringer of goodness to Val Caia. Her brother, Vol Sihari, jealously seeks to destroy her good works, but she cannot find it in her to destroy him.
A binary star to the familiar sun, Vol Anari is a rogue brown dwarf star that exists in an extreme azimuth elliptical orbit around Vol Priori. Its presence within sight of Val Caia lasts only a few years before it zips back out of the system not to be seen for several hundred years. When Vol Anari arrives, it is usually from the north or south. Vol Anari’s arrival is difficult to predict as the coming of the Dreadstar often leads to planetwide calamity, war, and death. It is Vol Anari that has kept Val Caia in a state of eternal technological stagnation. Vol Anari is best known as The Destroyer for this reason and is the antithesis of Vol Priori, Vol Tuniel, and even Vol Sihari, for its arrival undoes all their best laid plans.
A dark moon dotted with bright spots; not unlike Callisto. Vol Sihari is a beautiful and mysterious celestial who orbits further out from Val Caia than his sister, Vol Tuniel. Vol Sihari is best known as The Dark Dragon, but wears many names and faces to achieve his ends. He is enemy to his sister and seeks to corrupt Vol Priori and control Vol Anari in order to achieve domination of Val Caia.
In service to the Celestials are the deities; agents and entities whose goals align most closely with one or more of the Celestials. They are many and varied even amongst a single race, let alone all of them. All of them draw power from the waxing and waning of the celestials, and set about to do work that will further their position on Val Caia.
In other words, pretty much any deity you can think of exists. As Vol Anari has annihilated cultures countless times, pockets of worshippers from previous pantheons continue the tradition of worship, thus keeping their religion alive and kicking.
The Ancient World
Not even the elves know the true history from before Vol Anari’s Sundering for it was then that The Destroyer nearly annihilated Val Caia. What is known is that in the centuries it took for the survivors to rebuild their shattered civilizations, the Celestials chose to abandon their eternal struggles and ensure that The Dreadstar would fail the next time he arrived, and he did.
Vol Priori, joined by Vol Tuniel and Vol Sihari, united their powers in the Great Conjunction and protected Val Caia from The Dreadstar. The world saved, the Celestials immediately set upon one another for domination of Val Caia while their deities and servants turned upon one another once more. Progress, it seemed, did not need Vol Anari to be stifled.
The Modern World
It has been centuries since The Destroyer was banished by the Great Conjunction of the other three Celestials. War has not been forgotten, but it has not stomped out progress, and civilization has reached its zenith. The great cities of this age are grander and more magnificent than any before. The world, though still largely unexplored and populated sparsely, has seen its share of great nations, kingdoms, and dynasties rise; yet to fall.
Of the numerous city states, fortress monasteries, and nomadic tribes, three great regions have come into prominence. Their borders have swollen and now touch. It does not take a wiseman to tell you that war is soon to follow.
The three regions are: Tariel, Xin’Sha, and Sardonia
The kingdoms of Tariel are a loosely aligned scattering of powerful city-states. Like ancient greece, each city-state is ruled by a king or bloodline. Collectively they recognize the city of Tariel to be the seat of power, and its king the King of Kings.
Tariel is reminiscent of the seven kingdoms in Game of Thrones or ancient Greece in that each of the powerful city states has just as much claim to rule the others, but lack the strength… currently. The important city states in the immediate region are as follows:
Tariel: The Jade City is the magnificent high elven city that has brought peace and unification to the region. A place of high learning, expert shipwrights, and powerful military, Tariel has kept the region unified for the last 200 years. Their army and navy are unequaled in the region, and feared by her neighbors.
Kelston: An economic powerhouse, Kelston and its position between the Cachlaen Mountains to the North, Griff Mountains to the South, and Sea of Pol to the West makes it hard to get to. To the east lie great plains and farmland fed by the Horun River and the rich volcanic ash from the Ashfire Peaks. Kelston rules over nearby Mobad, supplying the city with valuable timber and until 50 years ago was a major trade partner with the dwarves of Blackreach. The loss of that hold has crippled Kelston in recent years.
Shoba: Shobans are renowned for their horsemanship almost as much as they are for their bravery in battle. Bordering the savage lands to the south and their beastmen denizens, Shoba is responsible for the southern border of the region, a duty they have yet to fail at upholding. Shoban mercenaries are highly sought after, and their culture favors young men and women who seek their fortunes abroad by selling their martial prowess before returning home, wealthier and stronger.
Ravesti: The Crossroads of the region, if there were to be a strong contender for the throne of Tariel, it would be Ravesti. The trade city is expanding its influence, building grand fortresses across Tariel under a position of ensuring the peace, but most in the courts know it is all just preparation for their move for the throne. Fortress Mar is the most powerful castle ever built, and home to the Ravesti noble family and the Paladins of Mar: Their own personal army who holds little interest in the tenets and oaths that their namesake might suggest.
Tyris: While Shoba may guard the south, the defense of the northern border with Sardonia is protected by the Tyrisese. A break-off state of Sardonia, the Tyrisese split with their sovereign to join Tariel sparked the last great war about 30 years ago. The wounds of that war still linger fresh upon the minds, bodies, and souls of the Tyrisese and Sardonians alike. Tyris is more loyal to Ravesti than Tariel due to the great efforts Ravesti made to ensure that Tyris did not fall during the war, a political move that is reaping great dividends in the political maneuvering within Tariel’s courts.
Xin’Sha is a caliphate ruled from on high by the Ashta, or Flame Keeper; the highest religious authority. From a seat in the mountain city of Xin’Sha’La, the Ashta governs by way of hundreds of provincial governors and administrators; a job that would be impossible without the aid of magic. Through this network of assistants and the temples, the Caliphate of Xin’Sha runs exceedingly smoothly.
Life within the Caliphate is a cut above the rest, with few exceptions. The cities are wealthy, its people well cared for, food and water plentiful. Beyond the walls and farmlands of the cities and towns, where the influence of the Ashta and the government begins to break down and lose influence, order quickly gives way to lawlessness. Bandits and marauders roam the deserts, hunting for caravans and other weak fingers of civilization to prey upon. Were the land more hospitable, then the armies of Xin’Sha could restore order, though if that were the case there would be no want or need to drive one to such a life of theft and murder.
Xin’Sha is middle and far eastern in theme and feel, from Egypt to India, Nepal to Saudi Arabia. It is 1001 Arabian Nights, Sinbad, Ancient Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, and wizard monks from the hidden city of Xanadu.
Xin’Sha’La: Hidden deep in the northeastern mountainous province of Xamir, Xin’Sha’La is the holy throne of the Caliphate, and the altar to the Flame of Purity. The disciples of the Flame are said to feel no pain and fear nothing; for they have looked into the Flames and foreseen the time of their death. The armies of Xin’Sha’La are more than just flesh and blood, however, they are also supported by entire legions of arcanists who wield powerful magic. It is only through divine wisdom that the armies of Xin’Sha’La have brought peace rather than destruction upon the world.
Heldrad: The western gate to the east, Heldrad is a metropolitan city the likes of which the west has never seen. Built by the tieflings and their fiendish masters centuries ago, the city fell to the slaves when the overlords were finally banished. Though centuries have seen the tieflings regain much of their noble holdings, there is still a strong resentment and distrust of demons, devils, djinni, and efreeti. The city was absorbed into the Caliphate by Badar’Jin several years ago, leading to a massive power struggle within, assassinations, and a rise in the ranks of the extremist religious zealots known as The Ghareeb.
Badar’Jin: Located along the southeastern coast of the Bloody Sea, opposite Heldrad, is the most magnificent city of the Caliphate; Badar’Jin. As grand as Heldrad is, Badar’Jin is even more splendid. For the past 57 years, the Mad Shah, Cabazul Al’Diyabi has ruled the city. A desert elf of no notable bloodline, Cabazul has defied innumerable attempts on his life, married three times, and has over a dozen offspring; all of which he will outlive. It is said that the Shah truly is mad.
Oomu: Southeast of Badar’Jin, deep in the deserts, are the Oomu, a tribe of fierce desert nomads who swear allegiance to the Horned Queen. The loyalties of this queen are fickle and hard to maintain, so the Oomu are seldom dealt with except out of extreme necessity. It is said that the Mad Shah of Badar’Jin hails from the nomadic tribes of the Oomu and that he will betray the city to the savages. It has been the better half of a century and no such thing has transpired. The Oomu tribes range all over the south desert and mountain ranges, appearing and disappearing like ghosts in the shifting sand storms. Nothing seeking out the Oomu to do them harm ever returns.
Shal Korva: The city of Shal Korva lies west of Badar’Jin, along a narrow sea pass between the Bloody Sea and the Gulf of Gold. Shal Korva is a trade hub and home to some of the world’s greatest explorers and its most powerful navy. The Shal Korvan dynasties are said to have survived the Sundering, though proof of that lay in collapsed subterranean tombs and structures. Still, the catacombs of Shal Korva are truly magnificent and largely unexplored. The ruling merchant council of Shal Korva oversees trade between Tariel and Xin’Sha, and have given up piracy for more legitimate means of stealing money.
The mountainous and forested valleys of Sardonia lay east of Tariel and north of Xin’Sha. A dark and untamed land, Sardonia has recently come into prominence under a single unifying banner. Emperor Davros D’Sar slew and murdered his rivals until only he was left. On the bones of his victims his sons were to rule, but destiny saw fit to see another. A mercenary captain known as Khirgan, the Fell Handed, was revealed to be an elder bastard son of Emperor Davros. In a bloody civil war the nearly undid all of Davros’ work, Khirgan stood, his father and brothers dead at his feet. Taking up the mantle of rulership, Emperor Khirgan D’Sar has known no peace in his 15 years on the throne. Countless uprisings and incursions into his territory have tested him at every turn, but true to his name he has vanquished his foes and vowed to see Sardonia united through peace or blood.
Sardonia is a mountainous region reminiscent of the Slavic and Norwegian lands as well as the windswept plains and permafrost tundra of Russia and Siberia. Cowed under a single Emperor, and teeming with plots to overthrow him, the Sardonians are violent, untrusting, and bitter people. It is this internal turmoil and strength of their neighbors that has prevented Sardonia from unifying or expanding, and while the nobles squabble, the common people suffer.
Sarda: The capital of Sardonia. Sarda is located along the mighty Nord river, the lifeblood of Sardonia. War torn and scarred, Sarda has been conquered 23 times in the last century. Its people are among the toughest you will ever meet, and the ruins of their city serve only to inspire them to rebuild and grow stronger. It is this pride that allowed the Sardonian Empire to sprout and grow in Sarda, eventually conquering her neighbors. Sarda knows bitter winters and hot summers, showing extremes of beauty and death in equal measures.