Bleeding Edge (3.5e Campaign Setting)/Cultures
The world of Accolade is rich in culture, myth, and legend. Some of the stores may be true, others may have a hint of truth, and others yet may be complete lies. Each of these could be used to start an adventure, or perhaps to simply flesh out a world.
- 1 Cultures of the World
- 1.1 Cyril
- 1.2 Esperant
- 1.3 Toho
- 1.4 Afallon
- 1.5 Pintado
- 1.6 Ubaid
- 1.7 The Underdark
- 2 Holidays and Rituals
- 3 Myth and Legend
- 4 Dead Cultures
Cultures of the World
Blessed Kingdom of Karlikov
Karlikov is an old kingdom, with a vaguely Russian motif both in design and environment. Build by dwarves, they have a strong focus on powerful spiraling columns and towers, vast antechambers, and utilitarian structures of stone and iron. The spiral design works in well with the heating systems used in Karlikov. Freezing cities are kept warm by underground forges, its heat spiraling upward and spreading it around to multiple floors without fear of creatures falling down deep heated shafts. Great onion-like tops had the utilitarian function of preventing snow from collecting on roofs during harsh winters.
Karlikov dress favors large heavy fur coats and hats, large collars, and heavy utilitarian appearance. Decor is usually limited to patterns and shapes dyed into the fur and fabric itself. They also sometimes pack their clothing with hydrophobic materials to minimize freezing in the clothing itself, usually coating the outside of fabrics with special oils and alchemical substances. Karlikov language is primarily dwarven, spoken quick and gruff. There's no time for long chats when it's -40 F below outside.
Burya takes many cues from Karlikov, the nation which they split from. Culturally they differ little, other than most of their equipment being tuned for military function more than anything. Like their land of origin, they primarily speak dwarven.
The druegar of New Zadarmo are a harsh group who speaks little and makes the Karlikovians look extravagant and wasteful. Everything is blocky gray squares, arranged in perfect square lines. If something can be recycled into a new purpose, it is. Nothing goes to waste, nothing goes without audit. Buildings are built to just big enough size, and armored just enough. And mining and construction equipment is ever-present. In contrast the giants which also live in this area are the exact opposite; chaotically arranged, rare and sporadic buildings made of bone, leather, and wood. These simple tents are enough to keep out the wind, if not the cold, and usually conical or circular tents built entirely around the fire pits within. These giant settlements are set upon the mountaintops, each top belonging to a family or extended family of its own.
The druegar, like Burya, are dressed for combat at all times and wearing one's hide is accepted anywhere. Armor is of mongolian design, of lamellar and leathers covered in metal or wood plates. Adventurers may still find difficulty in these lands though, because not only are outsiders not welcome but they have a strict code of behavior and how to do things, especially when it comes to leaving no waste. Naturally the punishment for defying these laws are harsh. The only ones who seem to have carte blanche to ignore the laws is the giants themselves, and this is really less due to tolerance and more due to contract. The giants and druegar rarely interact but for trade and protection.
The druegar speak quick and gruff, primarily speaking dwaven and undercommon. The giants speak giant and dwarven, and are generally far more helpful, if not extremely brutish.
The human dominated Homaro Kingdom is a place exploding with life, riches, and power. Taking a strong upswing in strength through various means political and economic, Homaro represents everything capitalistic of humanity. It is a large culture dedicated to experimenting with new ideas, exploring, exploiting what can be found, and transforming the world actively around them. When Vulpeculae fell, its riches were ravenously devoured by opportunistic Homaro, and those acting in Homaro's name. They continue to swell on trade and have built themselves a Victorian paradise above with stylish designs and fashion over function. Corsets and dresses, waist coats and ties, and hats of all sorts are found everywhere. Below a more seedy vaguely French styled underbelly works in the shadows below, using utilitarian pieces covered in mimicry of the fancy designs of the rich and taking on a more cobbled and crude appearance, especially when it comes to the function of gnomish inventions and steam powered gadgetry. Its people value opportunity above all else, though this leads to no small amount of class warfare as the have-nots are often accused for lacking the guts and will to make themselves better. There is a strong nationalistic pride that reverberates in Homaro, which dampens the subtle undercurrent of unrest.
Homaro primarily speaks common with its noble members taking on a particular brand of the language which is full of flourish and fancy which sounds most like the French tongue and is heavily influenced by the elven language. In the lower classes it is much more common to find a wider variety of languages and while most speak common they do so with a particular dwarvish, elven, or other accent.
Schönheit is an older land, a place where human, dwarf, and various shortfolk had called home. Once part of the Blessed Kingdom of Karlikov, they became a nation of their own but kept a few of their mannerisms. They typically dress in a mix of the fancy fluff of Homaro and the utility of Karlikov, accounting for the much warmer and more pleasant weather of their land. Typically this leads to simple but stylish brown leather vests, simple newsboy caps, and all matter of plaid garments. Within their rural areas their houses are simply made of wood and brick, with many of the shortfolk living in tall hive-like apartments with small doors and windows. It is a comfortable arboreal lifestyle that takes it slow and steady. Inside of the big cities things take a turn closer to Homaro's designs, but made largely as art pieces. Schönheit cities are gorgeous, though not always practical nor very big. They are typically centered around the large colleges and universities which Schönheit is known for, for they pride themselves on education and culture beyond all else.
The people of Schönheit speak common (with a certain dwarven accent), gnome, and halfling in equal measure. Like Karlikov, they come off as sounding rather Germanic.
Democratic Society of Iroas
Iroasian have had a hard life. Though they once existed as a proud warrior nation in ages long past, their history is one of being conquered and reconquered under a new name each time they would begin to taste a small bit of freedom. In spite of being under domination for most of their existence they never quite lost their original past, and begin to fuel a strong independent streak. When independence finally came at last, the Iroasians celebrated en masse and vowed never to come under foreign rule again. Thus Iroas keeps a strong, but very defensive, nature about themselves and the previous militaristic streak finds new channels through sports and competition. It is competition and hardship which drives them, a spirit to see what is before you and to shout "No!", and a pride in one's successes. Military service in Iroas is mandatory, but it is something that is viewed as a source of great pride. Every citizen, even the most peaceful member in the least militant position is ultimately trained for a war which hopefully may never come. Subsequently, starting a bar fight in Iroas is always a terrible idea.
Iroas is dotted with ancient ruins, ransacked cities, and other marks of the past. Some of these have been integrated into current living spaces, while others remain as historical monuments. The ancient Iroas in particular where known for their forging of brass and carvings of marble, with their wooden structures falling to the ravages of time. It was a fairly Greek, if not Spartan appearance which continues to this day in their designs. The Iroasians speak common, for their original tongue has long since been lost. The old tongue appears to have been related to elven of all things. It is possible ancient iroasians and elves has been in contact with each other long ago.
In the rain soaked lands of Loch, the orcs make home with a goblin second class serving among their ranks. They are those who left the toxic jungles of Narakam and begin a long rule which brought stability and peace to the unlawful original residents. It was from here that the orcs made their way to the sea, traveling from island to island in search for greener and brighter lands as well as delving into the caves below in search of precious minerals. It is believed that an encounter with the drow first spurred the orcs to discover the elven lands, among others, and loot and pillage, and eventually settle, into other realms. This is the way of the orcs, a culture of obedience to those stronger and better than you. This has lead to long dynasties in orc lands, but the orcs also believe in the divine mandate. When a kingdom becomes unfit to rule, rebellion is quick, brutal, and violent before a new dynasty appears to rule for hundreds of years more. For the orc, this makes sense and is right, and is how life has always been.
Orcs dress and mannerisms vary depending if they are local or exploring. When an orc is exploring, there is no telling how they might dress, behave, or act other than as they see fit. These are people on the sea, and thus adventurers who dress and act out of necessity rather than style. Some have become famous pirates, and they gladly weave stories far greater than they really are both as a boast and because it is useful if those you rob give up without a fight because they think you are much stronger than you really are. As for those who live in land, they often make up the ranks of retired explorers. Their homes are decorated with the trophies of yesteryear, and orcs respect of gear of other orcs. The one with the most "bling" is looked up to. This is not to say those with very little are disrespected, simply not as respected as others. The greatest disrespect one can show if theft of one's trophies. It is tantamount to erasing one's history, and the punishments are stiff. Naturally with a society such as this, family lines build up large loot piles of family heirlooms.
Goblins remain second class citizens in the land of Loch, but it is a position they keep for their own. The orcs are stronger, tougher, and scarier, but when it comes to political dealing, backstabbing, and bribes it is the goblins which run the show. It has been joked that the goblins actually run Loch, at least economically, and that a Loch goblin never makes a deal unless he has gained something of equal or greater value out of it in return. This even applies to deals with orcs, though they are always careful to make sure it never appears that way. After all, they ultimately profit from the spoils of orcish piracy as well.
Their buildings are build out of the local water resistant wood and stone, and some even build into the living giant Brea trees themselves. There is little fear of flammability in the land of eternal rain, and these water-soaked plants prove useful in regulating and keeping the water out. Subsequently their houses are made like Chinese wooden temples, and their armor is also often made of wood given their iron-poor environment. These orcish lands naturally speak orcish, though common has been catching on due to their frequent trips to other lands. Due to their spread of common, it has become the lingua franca of the world.
While some may accuse Loch of being uncivilized or backwards, this is a moniker that better suits the wilds of Narakam. Life in the Green Hell is a short and brutal one unless one knows how to survive, and the Narakin value brutality and survival above all else. To be the last man standing is to be right, no matter the cost. With such a brutal system it is fortunate that they are always too busy with internal affairs and the terrors which roam the Green Hell, for if they turned their aggression outward the world would certainly be faced with a war unending.
Narakam retains many of the ancient practices of the primitive orcs and goblins which live there. In Narakam, orcs and goblins are not at peace. The two fight small local wars among themselves with the goblins vastly outnumbering the orcs but the orcs being more dangerous and powerful overall. Normally such a place could not be called a nation, but a tentative peace is maintained by the presence of several powerful warlords, with one recognized as the great Overlord above all. The position of Overlord is often short lived as they become the target for any two-bit warlord that would challenge them. In fact all the warlords would greatly overpower the Overlord en masse, but they never unit out of fear of being backstabbed by the other.
The land is dotted with abandoned encampments both recent and ancient, with terrifying designs one can only describe as Aztec. Narakam by default speaks goblin due to sheer numbers, with some orc on the side.
Elegant aur golau. Splendid aur golau. It is a land seemingly untouched by civilization, unseen by pollution or the presence of humanoids. Yet this of course is not true, for the elves of aur golau live inside the great and enchanted forest which spreads over much of their land. It is a place rich in magic and teaming with fey and natural spirits, and the elves have made synergistic peace with its environment. Their houses are grown, not built. Their actual structures are few if any. And the environment seems tailored made for them. It's idealistic, utopian even. And it has spoiled its residents to no end. Even in ancient times, aur golau willingly became reclusive and insular for reasons which are no longer clear other than tradition, and why would they ever desire to leave a world such as this for the harsh cold brutal nature of the land beyond. Even though some suspect that the natural lands of aur golau are not natural at all and some ancient magic maintains its peace, an ancient magic no one understands or can repair in case of need, it is unlikely that those native to here care.
Though it seems like it is nothing but a gentle heaven, in truth the social scene of aur golau is generational war of resentment and chaos. The long lived elves breed few, but with each new generation they invoke chaos and discomfort brought on by wanderlust and experimentation. The older members of aur golau keep the culture as stagnant as the land leaving new blood the choice of either accepting their peace, or exile. Most choose peace and become one of the old guard, but more and more elves have been choosing exile as the rest of the world intrudes in on their business, seducing their youth away with talk of new ideas and adventure. It is a state which causes the already xenophobic elves to come off as even more hostile and grumpy than before. In addition, they sit above a great hole to the underdark where their ill spoke of cousin race, the drow, simmers and boils below always threatening one day to rise and ruin the peaceful land.
Thus the Welsh inspired aur golau is no place for outsiders. It is a paradise only for those born and raised there, and perhaps a sanctuary from the world around that they can no longer understand. The language of aur golau is elven of course, and a particularly archaic form if it at that.
Ancient Kathib, a nation lost in sand. Sitting in the middle of the hostile Glittersand Desert (known to the locals as the Desert of Stars), arid Kathib is well protected from those who would invade to partake of their riches. This peace has given them time to advance their culture, yet their culture is one of mystery and beguilement. Their culture treats information as power, and power is to be used responsibly. To outsiders who do not know the value of knowledge, they seem very stingy in speaking their mind but for them it is as simple as keeping a sword out of the hands of a child. Unless one is from Kathib, one is not likely to truly understand them.
Those on the inside know the truth. Kathib is a land unconcerned with the politics and events outside, for the entire nation sits upon a great secret which ties into the gods themselves, especially that of Arsatum and her missing consort. It may be speculation and hearsay, but some within Kathib whisper that the lizardfolk of their land are not native to Accolade; that at one point they sailed the Void with the dragon gods themselves, and that one day when the stars are right they shall return to the stars. Even more mad rumors speak that the land was not always a desert, and that it only became so after a great green star fell from the heavens itself. Some say the star was Arsatum, ejected from the Void. Others claim it was some sort of vessel. None know the truth, but what is true is that Kathib sits upon a advanced and long dead civilization hidden deep in the sand, and its people plunge its depths often in search of answers, while others look to the sky in search of a timetable of the forgotten god's return.
After seeing the invasion and pillage of Vulpeculae, the Kathibians have all the more reason to keep their secret tight to their chests. With what they know, they might be next for curious adventurers and interlopers.
Kathib has taken on Arabic designs for their land, building homes of adobe and stone and using large shades to provide moments of cool in the hot desert heat. They speak draconic, the tongue of their ancestors, but usually can speak common well enough for the purposes of trade.
Dier found its roots in a prison colony, a place where explorers of all sorts of nations would dump their unwanted refuse. Wildlands pinned in on desert on one side, and fell coral reefs so sharp they are known as the Blood Reefs, the place is a natural prison home to all sorts of powerful and dangerous monsters that have adapted alone from all others. Giant birds in particular are one of the biggest threats about. And the land was already home to gnolls, opportunistic to pick on these new arrivals. Yet in this hostile terrain, the prisoners dumped here not only survived but thrived. With only anarchy to guide them they managed to build a working civilization which was eventually recognized as a nation of its own, especially when they discovered the sparse lands were actually rich in gold, and that the normally barren soil could be enriched greatly with the processed remains of the local beasts. Even the gnoll bandits calmed down (to an extent) joining the mixed members of this poor but growing land.
Because it was born in anarchy, Dier's only law is might makes right. But while a land like Narakam may enforce this as the end of the sword at all times, Dier was also birthed with a spirit of co-operation which stuck with them past necessity. Because while might makes right, having numbers makes for a lot of might. The land thus arranged itself into loose nations of villages, towns, and small cities each held in piece by their local lawman, and each an island onto its own. For this is the frontier, the Wild West, and if you don't get along with the locals you best find another town, or a bigger gun.
Dier's buildings and dress has taken on the gnoll's original style, which could be described as vaguely African with a strong focus on brightly colored fabrics. Due to trade with Kathib, Dier has obtained a surprising amount of the newer hotter technologies on the market. In particular, Dier's populace seems to have a fascination with guns, likely due to its great equalizing power, ability to dispense justice at range, and its satisfying explosive nature.
Dier started with a mixed arrangement of locals, and thus the primary language is common, shortly followed by gnoll itself.
Kingdom of Anser
Some predicted trouble in Vulpeculae and left, a decision which proved to be the right one. But the people of Anser took no pride in being the winners, for their land was an accursed mess and their proximity would mean that they would be the first to be swallowed by the miasma within old Vulpeculae. Thus the people, guided by the paladin Anser who originally lead them out of there, became united in never repeating the mistakes the the past and to do everything they could to become a righteous society. None can claim that the Kingdom of Anser is not a force of good in the world, and they are perhaps responsible for the current well being of others as they keep a close eye on the cursed lands, though few could find comfort living there if one expects any sort of selfish act or individuality. In Anser you are expected to support your fellow man no matter what, and they are dutiful about their rituals and taboos. Arcane magic especially finds itself under strict scrutiny, for it is arcane magic that is believed to have been the downfall of Vulpeculae itself. They follow their dogma with religious zeal, for after all failure may mean death. Or worse.
Still, Anser means well and often achieves its goals. Its tall silver towers remain a shining beacon of hope in sharp contrast to the darkened skies of their homeland upon the horizon. Their paladins and knights are paragons of their kind which all other nations aspire to. And they hold the memory of old Vulpeculae culture, Germanic in design and made with great buttresses and massive stained glass. Their people speak common but when speaking formally they speak the language of old Vulpeculae, the language of giants.
Those within Vulpeculae largely did not survive. Its people went mad, its skies darkened, its cities sank, and a miasma filled the air. Yet somehow some survived and continued to live, or perhaps would be scavengers settled down into these lands and chose independence in this former nation. The cities themselves, though distorted or damaged, remain after all. Great cathedrals and mighty rooms fit for a giant abound, and those left within call the land Vul Noctis, a land now cloaked in night eternal.
Its culture appears to be born of Vulpeculae nobility, known in its later years for its pride, its decadence, and its spurning of others below them. Seemingly in denial to all that has gone about them, they continue to act as nobles and kings, though they are forged to get their hands dirty at times to maintain order in the unfortunate victims who manage to become enslaved under their rule. Through a lose collection of would be rulars they have maintained this power. Many are powerful magic users and have no qualms with using enchantment and necromancy to ensure supple and "willing" co-operation from others.
As they find the thought of others invading their homeland as an affront to themselves, and would not debase themselves accepting help from barbarians outside their gates, the vul noctines speak giant which was the language of the noble class of old Vulpeculae.
Zaeim is a nation build on lands most old, a land of strange ruins and artifacts, great pyramids, and destruction. This is because Zaeim sits above the mother of all hotspots, and previous nations have fallen to natural disaster more than once. In spite the hostile nature of the ubaid continent, they continue to survive here seeking knowledge from ancient ruins before they sink into molten earth or down bottomless crevices, and emulate some of the old nations (or at least what they know of them). It was the center of power for both giant empires, and dragon empires before it, and said to be the birthplace of creation itself. As for the people of Zaeim, they largely keep to themselves. This is because their constant thirst of discovering the old ways leads to a great number of behaviors most would consider outdated or barbaric. Zaeim instead insists this is finding wisdom in one's elders, and ancestor worship is common even in those who do not dare delve into dark and mystic arts of those before them.
Zaeim is not a good place to be if one does not possess the talent of magic. It is a magocracy, a land of haves and have-nots. Spellcasters are exalted, trained in ivory towers and fantastical colleges of magic and mystery. They have literal flying cities, anchored over slums of non-magical fodder which toil and churn to learn secrets of the ancients and thus gain favor and, perhaps one day, empowerment beyond the role of slave. As far as Zaeim is concerned, it keeps a low profile because it knows the atrocities it commits with regard of human rights, but it simply does not care. One day, they will be free of the shackles which bind them to the necessities of the mortal world and rise up as gods themselves. Until that day, they must pay lip service to those untalented souls below them.
The people of Zaeim's upper class speak draconic, the language closest to magic itself. Meanwhile the slaves below speak common, with only a smattering of draconic they pick up from their skybound masters.
The underdark is not a single nation. It is in fact a collection of city-states, largely ruled by the drow with a few small pockets of other civilizations such as beholders and illithids in obscure pockets of the world. The city-states rest on the backs of both drow and non-drow alike, and vaguely work together with the common goal of pleasing mad warped versions of the gods above. It is a theocratic nightmare, where the impure are purged and their servants are kept in line though fear and mutilation. One could not really define the culture as anything more then insane.
Which makes their uniform insanity all the more disturbing.
Holidays and Rituals
A holiday largely celebrated by the people of Loch, it celebrates Captain Anders, one of their greatest explorers who circled the world and reportedly was responsible for many strange adventurers across his lifetime. Though his history is undoubtedly mixed with legend and myth at this point, it still remains this day a symbol of Loch dominance over the world (at least according to the orcs). It is celebrated with a great feast, traditionally of seafood and alcohol, and general dancing and celebration. And it may simply be an excuse to eat and get drunk and otherwise have oneself a good time. After all, you have to celebrate something in the gray rains of Loch.
Autumn King Day
King Elegast is of no doubt of important to the elves of aur golau, and it is Autumn King Day which celebrates his death and supposed ascension to godhood. It is celebrated in autumn appropriately, where they say the changing of the seasons represents Elegast leaving the world. The world is now in "winter", but one day the god king will return and spring will begin again. It is a time of remembrance, of hope, and of recreating the traditional scene of Elegast making contract with the world so that the land itself and all of its people may be shaped to serve the elves. It is celebrated with chestnut wines, large roast poultry, and sweet pies of various root vegetables.
Day of the Dead
The day of the dead is actually several holidays from different cultures who recognized the dead in fear, adoration, or respect. The more globally recognized day of the dead is actually of shortfolk descent, which takes on a celebratory aspect of death to hope that those that have passed on are enjoying themselves, and to trick those who hung around as ghosts into believing they were already in the afterlife, and thus no longer need to long to the mortal world. It is a day others dress up as the dead, or aspects of death and spooky things, and celebrate with games, food, and other entertainment.
Day of the Unshackled Sun
Zaeim is not usually known for frivolous holidays, but many pay respect on the solemn day of the unshackled sun. It it of common belief that the sun, source of all creation, is the source of the ultimate truth in the world. So many civilizations before them got so close, referencing the sun in their quests for immortality either as something to be embraced or (in the case of vampires) something to be conquered. Because it had shown up so often in ancient times, it had become traditional for those from Zaeim to meditate and focus on the sun and its meaning.
Traditionally a Karlikovian holiday, it has spread out to several nations especially in Cyril and Esperant. It is a day not unlike Autumn King Day, but rather than celebrate the death of a king it marked the coming of winter. It is a day when one was expected to pick out on as much food and drink as possible, for the day after the long fast began as the stocks of food were shut and doled out to last the long winter. Food shortages are more rare these days, but dutiful members of the Kleosian Church typically maintain the "fast" part after the celebratory gorging, keeping lean diets sometimes all winter long.
Free Bell Day
The creation of the Democratic Society of Iroas was more than enough reason to celebrate, and so the Iroasians mark their independence with food, entertainment, and sporting events. In particular they recreate their war-filled history with the greatest shows and stunts, and with explosive gunpowder displays pulling mock navel battles. It is always marked with the ringing of bells, the same bells which was said to announce that their final battle for freedom had finally been won.
Known more as Hanuman's Day to those from Toho, it became a sort of more generic celebration of various nation's heroes when imported outside. Originally and traditionally it is a day of recognition for the possibly fictitious Hanuman, and is marked with a time to tell the old stories, watch entertainment and plays, and try and play up challenges and one up each other for fun. It is like a great big game of dare, with the only rule to keep it safe. Sometimes, that rule is even followed!
It is no secret that almost 100 years ago, a nation vanished from the planet in almost a single night, leaving a cursed and darkened land from which there is no return. Indeed, the entire world was ravaged with beasts which spilled forth from all over, and only through brave efforts was the curse quelled... for now. It is not a holiday one truly is grateful for, but rather a memory of what once was, the loss of life, and ultimately the triumph of mankind over the curse.
The opposite of fasting day, this holiday is also of Karlikovian origin. It represents the coming of spring, where the food stocks are empty but the land begins to grow again and the ice begins to melt. Unlike fasting day it is not an excuse to pig out but rather a time for traditional springtime meals, especially of rabbit which is said to be one of the first game animals to appear to signal the presence of spring. In fact rebirth day is full of 1001 ways to prepare rabbit, to the point where it nearly becomes a cooking competition with what limited ingredients one has. It is usually practiced by members of the Kleosian Church, or anyone who happens to like rabbit.
The Howling in the Dark
Not a holiday celebrated by those on the surface, the drow of the underdark celebrate it with seemingly no clear pattern on when or how it is to come. Sometimes it doesn't occur in a year, other times it seems to occur multiple times per year. All that is known is that when it is announced, the surface finds itself in danger of drow incursion. They send their troops to the surface to abduct and kidnap those above, dragging them into the underdark for ritualistic torture and sacrifice. The screams fill the caves below, for what dreadful purpose no one can be sure. It is rumored it is somehow a means with communicating with the warped visions of the gods they worship, and only if the world screams loud enough will their wishes be heard.
Myth and Legend
Cyrilian legends largely cover the myths of the gods as seen from the perspective of the Kleosian Church. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Esperantian legends are much more modern compared to most lands, and largely cover an array of urban legends and cryptozoological creatures. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Tohon legends are rich, usually handling stories about why things are, or the wild adventures of their favorite mythological figure Hanuman. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Afallonese legends largely revolve around the tales of King Elegast, or the creation of certain areas of importance. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Pintadian legends vary, with stories of the gods arising from Kathib while places like Dier form urban legends. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
The legends of Ubaidian origin are buried in half-truths, revolving around the mysteries of the forgotten kingdoms in the past. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Universal legends are stories so old, or simply so well told, they cannot be pinned down to one location. They largely involve stories of the gods themselves. A list of these legends can be found HERE.
Not every culture has made it. There are several dead cultures in the world, nations long past whose remains none-the-less can still be found in ancient dungeon and forbidden tome across the world.
Said to be the elven civilization in times before the reign of Elegast, little is known about it other than they were in places other than Afallon (and it is believed to have been closely associated with, or event part of, ancient Iroas). Their culture is mysterious, most of it loss to the ravages of time. Much of their technology appeared to have been wooden and long rotted away, but later evidence of their passing reveals the occasional mithril weapon or armor, indicating that the later Alfarians were not a peaceful people, or were under some great threat. To the chagrin of elven scholars, the designs of these weapon most resemble the alien and eldritch designs of drow cultures, something elven scholars want no relation to.
One of Kathib's greatest secrets is that its nation overlaps and is built upon a much older and shockingly advanced nation known as Alhazredia, known for their cities of jade, crystal, and ivory filled with strange golems and magic which seems to defy all modern conventions of how magic should work. However much of the ruins are in a state of disrepair, and for many places their true function or even appearance will go unrecognized. One day Kathib hopes to come across something big that will confirm their suspicions; that Alhazredia is not of this world and is indeed the fallen green star of legend.
Kingdom of Palulu
This short lived kingdom was a global superpower, and could be considered the first human (or humanoid) nation of consequence. While humanoid nations rose and fell before, none could be considered a force outside of their own borders. King Palulu changed this, though on his death the kingdom quickly tore itself to pieces.
In its heyday, it is believed to have been focused on Esperant but had spread its influence over several continents. The kingdom was guided by the power of strange artifacts known as the Tears of the Sun, though the location or existence of these artifacts is now lost.
The continents of Cyril and Esperant were once overrun by a giant kingdom known as Mat-Gugu. In these times, the land was warmer and the people worshiped strange gods and formed weird cults. They left stone towers in their wake, most long destroyed or swallowed by the earth. Supposedly one build a tower to heaven now long gone, and ultimately responsible for the destruction of the giants as a major player in the world. Their ruins are notable for being primitive, yet clearly built with stone and mortal too large to be constructed by mere men.
The ancient kingdom of dragons once lay upon the ever changing landscape of Ubaid. It was a time when dragons ruled the earth, and scalykind was masters of all they foresaw. In this time, humanoids were barely sapient beings who could never understand the wonders about them. However, Olm left very little in terms of architecture, culture, and design. Their memories are largely held on great stone tablets and monoliths which are said to contain all the secrets arcane for those wise enough to translate them.
The kingdom of the dragons in Ubaid was followed by the kingdom of giants, and they were crafters of megastructures which were said to "encompass the earth itself". In particular there was record of flying cities upon the clouds, where they rained judgement upon the world with lightning itself. Yet no evidence of these flying cities seem to exist, only fragments of their weaponry and tools of the age, giant sized objects with obscure magical properties long gone without charge and no means of recharging them discovered. Still, it is clear that the giants of this land had the technological or magical advantage and were well on the way of expanding outward to conquer the world. Its not known what brought down this blossoming empire, but it is believed that giants from another land had performed an act of heresy and the world paid for it in their blood.
To this day, giant structures can be found among the rising volcanoes of Ubaid. They are in threat of sinking into the molten earth.
Believed to have been the first civilization, created by primordial Yaun-ti. It was an Iron Age civilization from long ago, back in the age of the dinosaurs. It fell to ruin with the dinosaurs as well, or perhaps before then. Little is known about them as their artifacts have not weathered the test of time well. They are said to have created the Serpent Road, whose fragments now litter the underdark and rarely the surface. They are also said to have been less of an actual kingdom and more of a collection of city states.
Still, some seek the old relics of the serpent kingdoms. After all, they may have once held direct knowledge of the gods and their works.
Once, the seas teamed with sapient life. Aquatic beings called merfolk were everywhere, the the largest empire (perhaps even to this date) was formed under the merfolk king. And then suddenly their society collapsed, their numbers dwindled, and what was once a great empire was reduced to a memory buried in silt and sand. Tritones Dae's kingdom is gone and merfolk which exist these days claim no memory of it, but under the waves strange golden spires can be discovered leading to strange organic and shell-like cityscapes.
These places can be hard to find at times. Nature is persistent, and dirt and coral has overtaken most of the cities at this point.
The last of the kingdoms of Ubiad before the time of Zaeim, it is a kingdom whose people are utterly unknown. Though built for human accommodation, all that is know is that the uruians "were not men", emphatically so by whoever described them in ancient text. And yet their actual depictions seem to have been forbidden, for none dare inscribe them. The uruians left many a great monument in their wake, especially their famous giant pyramids which were places to store the dead and perform religious ceremony in worship of the "black sun king". It was a time of harsh toil and slavery, but also great wonders.
The last of the giant civilizations, long after the time the giants ruled in plenty and the fall of Mat-Gugu, Vrch is the northern wastes were the survivors fled. Today the land is known as New Zadarmo, but evidence of a more advanced giant culture can be found here and there. Instead of mighty towers, the land here has large shards which seem to jut from the earth, and whose stone interiors have been carved out into crude buildings. Though not very impressive, the stone itself is a certain magical material which is highly prized, and highly guarded, by the giants. None dare mine the stuff lest they provoke their wrath.
Minor Dead Cultures
Several dozen other cultures existed in the world, especially after the shattering of the Kingdom of Palulu. Here lies the names of several other small nations of little consequence, either because their time was short, their size was small, or their power was minor.
Blackwater: Less of a nation and more of a loose collection of pirates and scoundrels, they never the less conquered several places in their name. Their vassal cities were little more than free city states which paid protection money. The threat of a return trip was enough to keep others willingly flying their flags.
Gogonga: Said to have existed in Green Hell recently, but no evidence of it can be found. It was a nation of more passive goblins who rejected the ways of Narakam but did not choose to live in Loch. However given their apparent disappearance, it appears that they may have rejoined Narakam as sacrifices.
High Nimbus: Said to be a survivor of the age of giants, this city state existed on a flying island. They were confirmed to have existed shortly after the fall of their nation, but their appearances grew less and less until one day they ceased to appear all together. The nation, the island, and its people are considered to have become lost.
Mausgard: Fragments of Palulu which consisted of various shortfolk, they enjoyed brief limelight before being conquered by Karlikov. They were known for their knights, unusual mounts, and phalanx tactics.
Obero: Believed to have been an ancient elven nation, or perhaps even a drow nation, Oberoians were conquerors and tricksters famous for their use of secret Trojan horses which take down their targets from the inside out.
Skitterdeep:Kobolds briefly had enough unity among themselves to unite, and made a small nation which was partly set in the underdark. Their downfall came because their nation was partly set in the underdark.