Warlords Of Kruhl 3e EN:Setting
The World Of Kruhl
Warlords Of Kruhl is set in the world of Kruhl. Kruhl is wide and deep, populated by savage beasts and monstrous creatures. Civilization is an isolated and often temporary condition: the natural state of Kruhl is wilderness.
Countless civilizations have risen and fallen across the face of Kruhl, their remnants buried by the shifting of mountains, hidden within primeval forests, and waiting in the watery silence beneath the waves. Only the two most recent of these ancient civilizations are known by name: the Khultheans and the Thane.
No one knows what the Khultheans were like, nor even if they were humanoid. All that remains of them are their ruins, which spread across northern Archaea. Most of these ruins are little more than crumbled stone with carvings in the inscrutable Khulthean language, but from time to time a hitherto-unknown ruin is discovered, and who knows what may be found within? Popular folklore says that finding an inscription in Khulthean is bad luck.
Some time after the fall of the Khultheans, the Thane arose. Most believe they were human, or nearly so. The Thane spread their culture and their language across western Archaea, unifying the civilized folk under their banner. The Thane ushered in an epoch of peace and prosperity -- or so the legends say. A cataclysm ended the hegemony of the Thane, although the written records from that time never describe the event in detail. A thousand years later, the heritage of the Thane persists in the languages and religions of Archaea, many of which are founded upon those of the Thane.
The Thane's armies were scattered, their strongholds were overrun, and their dominion fractured into a hundred squabbling tribes. Why the Thane empire fell is less important than the result: humanity, once a barbaric, scattered folk, spread and claimed the territory the Thane had left behind. Humanity learned to cast bronze, and then to smelt iron. Forests were cut down and fortresses were constructed. Kingdoms arose, and the age of humanity began.
A generation ago, a plague swept through the Archaean continent... the Scourge.
No one knows what or who caused the Scourge. No medicine or magic was proof against it, and all who caught it died within a few months. Some people fled to isolated castles to escape it, while others closed the gates to their towns and cities to prevent it from coming for them. Nothing worked. There was no escape.
In a little over three years, the Scourge killed four-fifths of the population. Towns were left abandoned, castles became tombs, and roads became empty.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the Scourge ended. The survivors gathered in small settlements, and began putting their lives back together.
The default setting for Warlords Of Kruhl is the continent of Archaea. The major lands of Archaea are Khuraghol to the northeast, Symeria to the east, Mrisinnia to the south, Vharsa to the southwest, Eidyn to the northwest, Karelia to the north, and Varangia to the far north.
Karelia is a cold, predominantly human country at the northern edge of the Archaean mainland, bordered by the Great Western Sea to the west and the Varangian Gulf to the north. Its diverse terrain spans rocky beaches, old-growth forest, and vast bogs, in addition to hundreds of nearby islands.
Across the Varangian Gulf is the predominantly human country of Varangia, named for the Vaeringjar who live there. Varangia's frigid terrain includes mountains, glaciers, and deep coastal fjords.
The southern boundary of Karelia is defined by the Steinvalt Mountains, which is named for Steinvalt, the kingdom of the mountain dwarves. The Steinvalt Mountains stretch along the border between Karelia and Miravore, from the Great Western Sea to the Gulf Of Khaitan.
South of the Steinvalt Mountains is the elven country of Miravore (or as the elves call it, Miruvorenande, meaning roughly, "valley of sweet wine"). Its landscape is marked by wide beaches and dense, sprawling forests.
Barter is the most common form of exchange, but wealthy merchants mint metal coins to facilitate trade. The most common of these coins in human lands are the gold sol, the silver luna, and the copper grain, but every variety of coin in every land has a different proper name. For this reason, coins are often referred to as simply "gold", "silver", and "copper", particularly by travelers who have no interest in remembering the official names for dozens of different coins.
- A "gold" (g) is a coin of gold or (more commonly) gold mixed with silver, large enough to cover the sun when held at arm's length (about the size of a US dime). A gold is worth 10 silver. There are approximately 29 gold to the kilogram.
- A "silver" (s) is a coin of silver, large enough to cover the sun when held at arm's length (about the size of a US dime). A silver is worth 10 copper. There are approximately 54 silver to the kilogram.
- A "copper" (c) is a coin of copper or bronze, large enough to completely cover an adult human's eye (about the size of a US quarter). There are approximately 16 copper to the kilogram.
- A "copper bit" (cb) is one-quarter of a copper coin. A copper bit is worth roughly enough food to keep one person alive one day (just barely). There are approximately 64 copper bits to the kilogram.
There are a score or so major gods, and hundreds of minor gods. Each town, village, or even crossroads also has a patron god, which is usually a minor god concerned only with that location.
With the exception of priests, it is extremely unusual to find someone who reveres only a single deity. You are as likely to find someone who eats only oats, or wears only green. It does stand to reason that a midwife would make offerings to Anasara (goddess of families and fertility) more frequently than to Skudra (god of smiths and of scholars), but the gods all have different areas of influence, and it would make no sense for a typical person to reject all others in favor of a single deity.
Priests are another matter. Priests do devote themselves to a single deity, or to a small group of related deities, and they might place themselves in opposition to priests of an opposing deity. But a priest of Anasara would still pray to Azif when trying to light the hearth on a cold winter morning.
To put it another way, someone who works for one brewery might refuse to drink the beer from a competing brewery, but they still drink water, wine, and so on.
Everyone knows that magic is real, but most normal people rarely encounter it. Someone flaunting their magical powers is likely to elicit a combination of wonder, fear, and hostility.
|Goblin||Goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, ogres||Runic|
|Celestial||Celestials, priests||Volex Pem|
|Chthonic||Aboleths, cloakers, troglodytes||Khulthean|
|Mabrahoring||Demons, devils, dragons||Mabrahoring|
|Sylvan||Fae and associated creatures||Elesil|
|Thieves' Cant||Thieves, assassins||(Symbols for basic concepts)|
|Zinjan||Zinjan||(Symbols for basic concepts)|
Archaean is the common script used by the humans of Archaea, and by the nonhumans who mingle in predominantly-human societies.
Elesil may be the oldest written script on Kruhl -- certainly, the elves claim so. It is used by the various elven cultures, as well as by corven, and by the fae and associated creatures.
Khulthean is a dead language which exists only in the form of writing on ancient scrolls and monuments. It was the primary language of a civilization which once spread over most of northern Kruhl. Popular folklore says that finding an inscription in Khulthean is bad luck.
Mabrahoring is an ancient language known mainly by wizards, demons, dragons, and other such entities who value linguistic precision. Mabrahoring is an extraordinarily formal language, and it is quite difficult for a human to pronounce it properly.
Runic is an ancient script, possibly predating Thane. It is in use by a wide variety of cultures, including those of dwarves, giants, goblins, and some humans such as the Vaeringjar.
Shaen (sometimes called Jayen) is a script used exclusively by druids. It has no verbal component, and is strictly a written language. Druids are very protective of the secret of Shaen, and only teach it to other druids. Some ecclesiastical scholars theorize that Shaen is an offshoot of Volex Pem.
Thane (sometimes called High Archaean) is an ancient language from which most modern human languages derive. Several religious texts are written in the Thane alphabet, and many of the larger and more respected religious sects use Thane during their rituals and ceremonies.
Thieves' Cant has no written script, although its speakers do use pictographs to communicate with each other by way of a system of cryptic signs, which are chalked in prominent or relevant places to clandestinely alert other speakers of Thieves' Cant about important local information. For example, a triangle with hands indicates, "resident is armed and dangerous".
Volex Pem is an ancient logographic language, older and less commonly used than Thane. Some of the most ancient and revered religious texts are written in Volex Pem, but it is rarely used in public rituals.
The zinjan of the Mrisinnian jungles speak a sibilant language which is difficult for non-zinjan to learn. The zinjan have no written script, although they do use pictographs to record the history of their tribes and their leaders. They also use pictographs to mark dangers or leave scouting notes for other zinjan. For example, a drawing of three spears over a wavy line indicates, "clean water may be found three spear-throws distance in that direction".