The youngest nation of the Known World, having split from Lycinea roughly one hundred years prior. The northern border provinces, which bump up against the harsher climate of Southern Karak, are primarily arid savannah. The central region of Lacorum gives way to dense swamps and dark forests before gradually changing into gentle rolling hills and fertile valleys to the south. The native language of Lacorum is called Premi. Because of the nation's proximity and close ties to the land of Goshen, Goshe is also commonly spoken.
A sun scourged desert which dominates the northeastern corner of the mainland. Karak is widely thought to be the original homeland of the Umano. The northernmost reaches are a nearly uninhabitable sea of burning sand and roving dunes. The terrain shifts into a rocky waste as one travels south. Rivers and oasis are more abundant here, allowing for the growth of cacti, scraggly brush, and stunted trees. Much of Karak’s population is also centered toward the southern half of the country, particularly along the coast. Domih, or Domish, is the most widely spoken language in Karak.
Dominating the southernmost tip of the eastern coast, Lycinea is a country of lush forest, rolling hills, and fertile fields. Though still considered to be a formidable and wealthy power in the east, Lycinea continues to recover from the insurrection which divided the country in half a century before. They have been raiding across the newly formed border with Lacorum for years, and have vowed to one day retake their northern neighbor and make Lycinea whole again. The only thing stopping them is the much larger nation of Goshen, which has an alliance with Lacorum. Premi is the native language of Lycinea.
*************** The Midlands
The birthplace of civilization for the Umano, Goshen dominates the majority of the known world's central landmass. Goshen is the oldest of the Umano kingdoms, and the nation's influence can be felt from coast to coast. Goshen boasts a sizeable military, rivaled only by its sister country of Samaria. Goshen is the Land of Lakes, and enjoys a temperate climate with long and gentle seasons. Goshe is the native language of the world’s oldest Umano nation.
Situated within an immense primordial forest, the nation of Timor is bordered in the south by the empire of Goshen, and to the north by the high craggy peaks of the northern mountains. Timor is the homeland of the Tuyul people, who still make up the majority of the country's population, and largely live the same way as they have for thousands of years. The Tuyul are nomadic and it wasn't until Umano settlers began to move into the region that Timor's first and only permanent settlement was established. Lagertongue is the native language of this region.
Countries of the West
Edom is the naval power of the west. Its harbors are unrivaled as wonders of naval engineering, and it’s ship captains have tamed the seas from the northern ice pack to the southern squall. Being the nation furthest to the north, Edom experiences a cooler than average climate, with long harsh winters and a short growing season. Trade from Edom is highly desired, and other nations frequently send aspiring admirals to apprentice under Edomite sailors. Edom, while not as aggressive as it’s Samarian neighbor, is notorious for piracy, and for launching raids against the coastal towns of other nations. Only partly done for monetary gain, the main goal of these attacks is the acquisition of slaves. Copti is the native language of Edom, but Samarian is also very common.
Often referred to as The Dark Land, Midea is a smaller country on the southwestern tip of the mainland. It’s only shared border is with the country of Samaria, which is marked by the high peaks of an active volcanic chain. Overland entrance into Midea can only be made via the use of treacherous mountain passes. Beyond the mountains, Midea is a wasteland of black shale, glass, and volcanic rock. Three immense rivers carve the country into sections, but also allow for lush tropical foliage to grow from rich black soil. The nation is mostly self sufficient, with very little trade being made between Midea and any other country. This is largely because the Dark Land is typically viewed with suspicion, and most caravans and ships are reluctant to make visits. The native language of Midea is called Harib.
Much like the country of Goshen, Samaria dominates the midlands of the west. It is the largest nation in the Known World, sharing borders with Timor, Goshen, Edom, and Midea, and effectively dividing the continent in half. Samaria was once part of the nation of Goshen, but the two countries divided long ago. Samarians are a highly aggressive people, with all aspects of their society firmly rooted in a warrior culture. Due to the size of this nation, it’s climate and terrain have the greatest variety found in any part of the Known World. Samarian is by far the most difficult of the Umano languages to learn. There are no less than seven formal dialects, including an archaic form of Goshe, which have been roughly blended into an eighth dialect called “Jijjig” or Small Speech. Small Speech is the layman's tongue is Samaria, spoken by the common populace.
A large island landmass off the eastern coast. Shorom is a mystery, having never been mapped. It is believed by many to be a haunted and desolate wasteland. Others think that Shorom is the guarded home of the secretive Jesthyri civilization. In either case, no one has dared to explore beyond the island's rocky coast and returned.
Also known as “humans”, the Umano rule the world. When conditions are ideal, Umano live fairly long lives, and can have explosive population booms. They are inquisitive, tenacious, and adaptable, common traits which have been the key to their success, and will continue to ensure their prosperity for years to come. Umano boast a wide variety of individuals within their species. Natives to the lands of Midea and Karak tend to have dark brown skin, black hair, and eye shades that range from black to deep green. Samarians are paler, with dark hair and almond shaped eyes. The Goshe people are a mixed bag, but tend toward darker skin tones as well. On the east coast, the peoples of Lycinea and Lacorum have lighter, more olive colored skin. Blue and light green eyes are more common in those nations, as are individuals with red or blonde hair color.
The majority of the Umano worship the Vaettir, an immense pantheon of deities to whom the Umano collectively believe they are descended from. Respective nations tend to have one or more patron gods and goddesses which are revered above all others, while the rest are merely respected. The Midianite people, however, worship the Midian Si'lat, a smaller pantheon of bloodthirsty gods which are rumored to dwell among the people.
It should be noted that the Umano are the only race capable of manipulating arcane energy, though the talent is uncommon. All wizards and sorcerers of the known world are of Umano descent. Magic users in Edom are sought after as a high commodity, often sold to the kingdom of Goshen for a small fortune, while in Samaria they are killed upon discovery. In the countries of Midea and Karak, practitioners of magic sit comfortably at the top of their respective social hierarchies. Lycinean culture also elevates those with a penchant for the arcane. Goshen has perhaps the most complicated relationship with magic. They do not openly persecute people of magical talent. Instead, when a citizen of Goshen is discovered to have some manner of otherworldly power, they are taken from their home to be fostered at one of several Universities.
The Arcane Universities of Goshen offer a peaceful and structured environment in which Magi can learn, meditate upon, and practice their abilities. The drawback, however, is that once an individual is taken into one of these institutions, they are unable to leave. Doing so requires special commendations from the ruling families of Goshen. Without such high privilege, anyone who tries to return to their previous life is viewed as a fugitive, and executed if caught. In Lacorum people of magical ability are mistrusted, but not violently opposed. In an effort to model itself after its much larger neighbor, Lacorum has at least one small monastery dedicated to the teaching and refinement of the arcane. Except rather than being confined for the remainder of their lives, Lacorum employs these individuals within their military, where they can earn their commendation and their freedom.
A diminutive race native to the Timor, the Tuyul are easily the second most populous people in the Known World. Tullies average at around three and a half to four and a half feet tall, with a compact stocky body build. Females are usually bigger than males, and can come close to five feet height. Common physical traits are thin lips and wide mouths, large and pointed ears, small black eyes, and long hooked noses. Skin tones include varying shades of green, red, brown, and obsidian. They have very little body hair, but can grow a thick mane from their scalp. Black, brown, silver, and white are frequently seen hair colors, with red hair being a desirable rarity.
The Tuyul have exceptional low light vision, and operate best in the early morning hours, at dusk, and through the night. They tend to remain inside during the middle of the day as they find the bright light of the sun to be bothersome. Tuyul think and act quickly, and they have a language to match. Widely known as Lagertongue, the language is meant to be spoken rapidly and sounds, to almost anyone except a Tuyul listener, like a barrage of sharp syllables and hard rolled R’s. There are at least three distinct dialects depending on which part of the Timor the Tuyul’s family originally came from. Learning Lagertongue is made all the more difficult when considering that the language is naturally spoken at a whisper. This is because most Tuyul have shrill voices, the sound of which is uncomfortable to their own sensitive ears when speaking in normal volumes.
When Umano settlers first encountered the Tuyul in the forest of the Timor, they perceived the smaller creatures to be monsters. Generations of enmity and war between the two peoples would follow. The fighting came to an end roughly three hundred years prior to the current age, and after a long hard road, the two races now readily intermingle.
Modern Tuyul are a common sight in every Umano nation, with the exception of Midea (which they believe to be a cursed land). Unfortunately, peace with the human race has lead to a schism between Tullie tribes. The leaders of a newly elected government sought to implement rapid technological and cultural change in their society. As a result, the Tuyul who continue to dwell in Timor shun those who live outside of their country, and will even drive out caravans who employ Tullie merchants. The Tuyul are well known for their inventiveness, woodcraft and wilderness knowledge. They find easy employment as carpenters, tinkers, guides, and scouts. In larger cities, Tuyul are highly effective merchants and often successful as entrepreneurs.
To the Tuyul living inside their native land, there is only one god of note, and that is the Timor itself. They worship the forest, believing it to be a vast sentient entity which merely tolerates those who live within its borders. Respect for the land, the beasts, and its wild spirit are all vital in keeping the Timor from rising up and shaking itself free of the mortals who have offended it. Tullies living outside of the Timor have readily adopted the Vaettir gods of the nations in which they make their living, but the Timor maintains a place at their altars which is elevated above the human deities.
The Caerna are an enigmatic and charismatic race of inventors and healers. They are similar in appearance to humans, with both males and females growing upward of six feet in height. They have an extremely light and slender physical build, with long thin arms and legs, nimble fingers and double jointed toes. Their skin varies in light shades of green, from pale jade to faded emerald. Their complexions are smooth and hairless, and their skin is silky to the touch, often being compared to the feel of a soft wax.
Caerning facial features are sharper and more delicate than the Umano. They have no earlobes, as their ears are recessed into their skulls. A Caerning’s eyes are large and almond shaped, providing excellent daytime vision and average low light clarity. They come in a variety of common colors such as: blue, green, brown, and grey, but also in less common shades of purple, red, orange, and gold.
The hair which grows from their heads is starkly white, and quite coarse. A closer inspection would reveal that each individual strand is actually a needle-like quill. Their quills naturally grow to a maximum length just shy of their shoulders, and though the Caerna regularly pull their quills free for various uses, they never cut their hair. Caernings naturally secrete a venom from their palms. Though not toxic enough to be lethal, the poison can still inflict excruciating pain. Caernings can often be seen running their hands over their hair in order to coat their quills in this enzyme.
The Caerna have extremely short lifespans, with the oldest individuals living to longer than ten years or so. As the Caerning ages, their skin becomes brittle and prone to splitting, which creates weeping sores. The muscles and vertebra of their neck weaken until the individual can no longer support the weight of their own head. As the condition progresses to its final stage, the internal musculature gradually hardens, eventually paralyzing the Caerning and stopping their heart. The Caerna call this condition the Sun Sickness, and it afflicts their entire species. Caernings are born with the Sickness, and it will gradually progress through their entire lives until it inevitably kills them. Sun Sickness is the driving force behind the powerful Caerning intellect. They try to learn everything that they can throughout their lives with the intention of finding some method of putting an end to their collective malady. No other race has as extensive a knowledge on the various methods of medicinal treatments and healing as the Caerna.
Though Caernings are not capable of wielding magic themselves, they share the Umano ability to sense the presence of arcane energy. In the far distant past, this allowed the Caerna to develop technological methods of harnessing the unseen forces which power existence. In the earliest age of the world, when the Umano were little better than beasts roaming the deserts of Karak, the Caernings were masters of a vast and technologically advanced empire. Then something happened, and the Sun Sickness came in the wake of catastrophe.
The last remnant of their glory is the immense roaming city of Magog. The city itself sits atop the back of a monolithic construct resembling some manner of beast which, if it ever lived at all, has long since become extinct. Magog follows a set path that plods slowly along through most of the Known World’s various nations. While some Caernings have established small communities in other large Umano cities, most of their population continues to live in Magog. Despite their ferocious intelligence, and the wealth of knowledge at their disposal, the Caerna are not interested in attempting to rebuild their empire. They instead focus their efforts on maintaining the function of their civilization’s last bastion, but most importantly, on finding a cure.
Arrogant, powerful, and secretive, the Jesthyri trace the lineage of their people back to primordial dragon gods which have now been mostly forgotten by the rest of the world.
The Jesthai are large, hardy humanoid specimens. The males average between six and seven and a half feet in height, and usually sport an impressive boney crest or a pair of horns which only serves to increase their already imposing stature. They have reptilian faces with blunt snouts and powerful jaws full of sharp teeth. Jesthyri are broadly built, being heavily muscled with a dense skeletal frame. Females are typically slimmer and more compact than males, and stand just a few inches shorter on average. They lack the intimidating headgear of their counterparts, but will grow small hornlets along their brow ridges and down their necks.
All Jethyri are covered in scales, providing them with a degree of natural protection. The scales of male (particularly older male) Jesthyri tend to form larger thicker plates along the neck, back, and shoulders. While their armor is more durable, the plates also hinder movement, which makes older Jesthyri more lumbering and slow. The coloration of the average Jesthyri is limited to earthy tones of grey, brown, tan, yellow, and black, with various patterns of stripes and spots. Blue, red, green, purple, and a variety of other vibrant colors are less common, and usually only seen in small amounts. Individuals of pure color are rare, and often revered by their peers as individuals with a stronger draconic lineage.
Uncommon, but not unheard of, in many parts of the world the Jesthai travel singularly or in bands up to a dozen strong. They are renowned warriors, and masterful blacksmiths, and their skills in both war and at the forge are in high demand. Believing themselves superior to other humanoid races, the Jesthai civilization lies hidden and secret, segregated from the harmful influences of inferior cultures. Rumors abound, claiming that Jesthyri come from monumental underground cities, while others believe that the Dragon Men are the sole and rightful inhabitants of the forsaken island of Shorom. In either case, the truth is that no credible witness has ever laid eyes on the dwelling places of the Jesthyri and lived to speak of it.
Jesthyri are somewhat longer lived than other mortal races. There is official documentation recording lifespans which range between eighty and one hundred and fifty years. The Jesthai themselves claim that some individuals could live for up to three centuries. From what little is known of Jesthyri religion, their beliefs revolve around a pantheon of dragon gods. The devout are commanded to collect a great amount of wealth as a hoard in the hopes that when they die, they will become a dragon themselves. It’s for this reason that Jesthyri mercenaries and craftsmen only accept payment in gems and precious metals.
Despite their prejudices, Jesthyri are fairly amicable when treated with respect. Insulting a Jesthyri, however difficult, is internationally considered to be an act of suicide. They have a love for languages, and endeavor to learn the local tongues of whatever region they are currently working in. Their own language is called Grakat in most of the Known World. The phrase comes from the Goshe term for “growling”, which is predominantly how the language sounds when it is spoken. At its core Grakat is a harsh tongue; composed of snarls, moans, clicks, hisses, and whistles, with the odd consonant and verb thrown into the mix. From the beginning of a sentence to the end, there is very little tonal variation. Instead, the Jesthai convey tone through facial expressions and body language. Though numerous scholars have attempted to unravel the intricacies of Grakat, the Jesthyri remain the only ones with a complete understanding.
The Omothi are a bit of an enigma as they are less of a people, and more of an anomaly. Legend says that the Omoth were once Umano, a powerful cabal of sorcerers who sought the secret of eternal life. In essence they found what they were seeking, but not in the way they had hoped.
Omoth are tall, slim, and pale skinned. Their hair tends toward lighter colors of blonde, silver, and white. By contrast, their eyes are dark orbs of navy, charcoal, and black. Omothi are androgynous in appearance, and bear such a close similarity to each other that it is difficult for other species to tell one Omoth apart from another. The physical features of some Omoth do tend to lean more heavily in favor of one sex or another, but by and large they appear to be a perfect blending of the genders. Appropriately, Omothi are hermaphrodites.
The Omoth are the longest lived of the mortal races, with records of individuals as old as five centuries. As the Omothi age, they become more distant and detached to the world around them. They have a more difficult time maintaining relationships with shorter lived races, which drives them to seek out one of the few Omothi settlements scattered across the Known World and “retire”.
Omoth cannot reproduce with any other species, though as they reach the end of their considerable lifespans, the Omothi become pregnant. Once the Omoth realizes that it has conceived a child, they seek the shelter of an Omothi settlement, if they haven't done so already. The unborn child will gestate for roughly one year, eventually developing into a perfect clone of the parent. It will genetically inherit the memories of the previous incarnation. Though the Omothi are equipped with a womb, their bodies are not designed for labor. The child must be cut from the body of the parent in order to survive. Once the infant is delivered, the parent dies, passing their essence from the old body into the newborn. They are then raised by the rest of the Omothi community.
Through this cycle of death and rebirth, the Omothi are effectively immortal. They cannot spread their numbers, however, and though the Omoth are a cautious people, unnatural death through violence, disease, and misfortune does occur. The Omothi were never numerous, and encounters with them are becoming increasingly rare with each passing Umano generation.
Aether is the raw energy of magical force. It permeates the known world, and all which live above, upon, and within it. Garsha Farhad, an ancient king of Karak and noted philosopher, believed that there were two forms of Aether, the Inner and the Outer. Outer Aether comes from beyond this world. It is the plaything of the Gods, and belongs to them alone. Outer Aether is wild, powerful, and far exceeds the grasp of mortals. It churns the clouds and drives the fickle weather. It spins the cosmic wheel to rotate the sun and the moon in their cycles, and holds the stars in place so that they do not fall. It is for this reason that mankind must appeal to the better nature of the Gods with worship and devotion, as only they can bend the Outer Aether to their will.
Inner Aether swells upwards from the earth, and is the birthright of the Umano. The teachings of Garsha Farhad say that at the center of the world lies an immense ocean. It’s tides are not born of water, but of an ever churning source of energy. The Aether seeps through the soil to occasionally pool just beneath the surface, forming Wellsprings of raw arcane power. These Wellsprings then saturate the area, bringing life in abundance. Between the Wellsprings the energy flows in rivers, streams, and tributaries, spreading the influence of the Inner Aether across the globe. The Arcane can only be practiced in a place where the flow of energy is healthy and abundant.
The Inner and the Outer Aether repel one another, acting as a counter balancing force. The Inner Aether prevents the chaos of the Outer from tearing the Known World apart, while the Outer Aether keeps the Inner from escaping into the Infinite beyond, which would reduce the planet to a lifeless ball of rock.
The potential of the Inner Aether is not limitless. It is possible to drain, or reroute the flows of energy coursing beneath the earth, creating pockets of land in which magic cannot be used. Should someone discover the location of a hidden Wellspring, and dare to break it open, the energy would burst forth and then dissipate the instant it came into contact with the open air. Legend says Garsha Farhad knew this first hand. As the story goes, he discovered the Wellspring beneath his kingdom and unwittingly opened it, transforming Karak from a lush green country into a heat blasted wasteland.
Seven Breaths For Seven Kadur
Kadur is the Goshen word for "sphere". There are seven spheres of influence which combine to create the human spirit, just as there are seven positions of the sun and seven cycles of the moon. Seven is a number with powerful esoteric importance; divine, and deeply significant to the practice of magic.
A person's Kadur determines their personality, their skills, their talents, their drive, and their emotions. The Kadur do not influence people equally, as certain individuals are more powerfully affected by certain spheres, making each person unique. For the majority of the Umano population, however, their Kadur exist in a state of dormancy, influencing their lives in only the vaguest sense. While all Umano are born with the potential for magical ability, the first step required in actually learning to manipulate the Inner Aether is the awakening of the Spheres.
It is believed that at one time the Kadur of all Umano were awake, and that magic was a common practice. What changed, exactly, to send the spirits of the Umano people into a collective sleep is hotly speculated within the Universities of Goshen, but ultimately unknown. A rare few are born with at least one of their Kadur already open to the Aether. Some are able to willfully awaken one of the spheres through conscious effort and mediation. Most individuals who experience the awakening, however, do so through trauma.
Awakened, the spheres are little more than hollows within an Umano’s spirit, ready to be filled with the eddies of the Aether. This happens naturally and without any effort on the part of the individual, who must then contend with a power that appears to act randomly with a will of its own. The Aether is in fact reacting to the subconscious fears, insecurities, and desires of the person. An awakened Umano will continuously draw Aether into themselves, radiating a potent energy in all directions that will have a persistent unknown effect on their immediate surroundings. Children born with an awoken sphere gradually learn to shut themselves off to the flow of the Aether on their own, while those who willfully or unwittingly awaken the Kadur must usually obtain the skill through discipline and teaching.
The Goshen Universities spend years training newly awoken initiates how to willingly close themselves off to the ever present power of the arcane. Once an initiate learns this skill, the masters of the school will then begin to teach the methods used for allowing a controlled flow of Aether into the body. Control is maintained through the breath, and there are seven breathing techniques corresponding to each of the seven Kadur. For a trained Adept, Aether is taken in with the inhale. There is a brief moment in which the sorcerer will hold the breath, allowing the Kadur to fashion the raw energy into something desired by the spell caster, then the breath is released, and the spell along with it.
The Seven Spheres
Lavan Kadur of Rejuvenation Influences spiritual and physical beauty, Self awareness, and Empathy Heals the flesh, Cures sickness and disease, Dispels energy, Increases power
Alode Kadur of Destruction Influences aggression, Passion, Diversity, and Personal motivation Conjures and controls energy, Commands the elements
Kahol Kadur of Manipulation Influences critical thinking, Leadership ability, and Charisma Reduces defense, Reverses energy flow, Conceals movements and intent, Befuddles the senses
Katom Kadur of Disruption Influences creativity, Artistic expression, and Independent thought Absorbs energy, Alters material compositions, Transforms the flesh, Clouds the mind
Yarok Kadur of Preservation Influences personal judgment, Decision making, and Intuition Creates barriers, Grants protection
Tsa’ov Kadur of Projection Influences confidence, Sense of presence, and Communication Telekinetic control, Astral travel, Teleportation, and Spiritual possession
Shahor Kadur of Corruption Influences Desire, Self Confidence, Business sense, and Excess Creates toxins, Conjures disease, Afflicts the flesh, Destroys the senses, Blocks energy
After at least one of the spheres has awoken, the individual becomes more aware of the others residing within their spirit, and opening up more of the Kadur to the Aether becomes more readily achievable. The process is lengthy, however, and the Sorcerer does not get to pick or choose which of the Kadur will awaken. Initiates are individuals who have awoken their first Kadur, either naturally or through effort and intent.
Sorcerer Adepts have managed to awaken at least two Kadur, or have obtained complete mastery over a single sphere. Masters of the Arcanum, and teachers at the Goshen Universities are those who have managed to awaken three of the Kadur. These individuals are often given particular recognition by the Royal Families, and may come and go as they choose. Only a handful of Umano across the known world have ever managed to awaken more than three spheres.
Spellcraft, Incantations, and Gestures
The Aether responds to the will of the sorcerer, and incantations are not necessary for a magic user to work the arcane. Without them, however, the energy is directionless, and its effects may be weaker or unwieldy. Utilizing symbols, verbal components, and physical mediums, the sorcerer can more readily focus their intent and gain greater control over the flows of energy.
The written word is particularly powerful in influencing the Aether. Writing can be utilized to anchor magical energies to a place or object, warding or enchanting them for a specific purpose.
Master sorcerers can eventually do without these foci, but only after long years of training and experience with the workings of the arcane.