Monday 25 May 2009

D&D Campaign Setting - The Isles of Ethos

I've mentioned my D&D campaign quite a few times but never got round to telling you about it. Well here it is, the Isles of Ethos. This outline was one of the first things I wrote when designing the world and I used it as the basis for all the followed. In essence the world is like many other fantasy settings, broken by a cataclysm but ripe for adventure and full of mystery. I could have used an existing setting (I'm a big fan of the Forgotten Realms) but the idea of a world in which I had complete creative power was too tempting to ignore. I hope you like it.

The Isles of Ethos

"Know this and understand seeker of knowledge, for I was there at the end. Beneath the blue waves of the sea lays the once beautiful continent of Ethos. This land that I loved stretched for thousands of miles from snow covered mountains to the glittering coast. Ancient and wild, it was inhabited by Dwarves, Elves and Men who each thought to tame the great garden of the gods and bring it under their dominion. From their struggles came forth the great alliance and the forging of the Empire. With peace secured their civilisation stretched forth its influence and spanned the wild lands with roads and cities. No greater society has ever existed and it reigned for a thousand years in peace and prosperity. But from such great heights do the mighty fall.

The ageing and weak Emperor was ever more unable to govern the arrogance of my sect, the Mages. Eventually such arrogance would wash away our ancient civilisation… but we were blind to our fate. We stood on the shoulders of giants, revelled in our mastery of magic and created the Shadow Orbs. We ignored those that warned that such power was for the gods alone and we laughed at their fear. But while we turned our art to ever greater feats of magic we blinded ourselves to the peril we had created. For it was the shadow orbs and their barely contained power that brought about the cataclysm that would sink our civilisation into barbarism.

Cities of unparalleled splendour were overwhelmed by the oceans and the greatest civilisation to grace the face of Euda was erased from existence. Now all that remains are the Islands of Ethos…The tears of the gods. I weep with them to know that I and my fellow mages were responsible for the Drowning. But we can no longer afford the luxury of self pity. All evidence of our complicity in the Cataclysm must be erased. If the children of Ethos, the survivors of the cataclysm, were ever to understand our guilt….”

For those that survived what became known as "The Drowning" yet more horrors awaited them. Starvation and disease killed many in the coming year and for a time the people reverted to a more primitive, baser instinct. But amongst the survivors were many skilled humans, dwarves and elves and they brought with them their knowledge that had taken Euda’s children millennium to master. Civilisation began to take hold again and within the first fifty years the first towns took shape. But the people of Ethos had taken a grievous blow and it would be nearly 500 years before they once again achieved much of what they had before the cataclysm.
Half a millennia has now passed since the Cataclysm. Society is at last regaining the ground it lost and trade is flourishing. The Magic users however have recovered more slowly. Many perished in the last days of Ethos and of those that survived were viewed with deep suspicion. Many believed the Magi were responsible for the cataclysm without every realising how close they were to the truth. Dislodged from their pre-eminence in society and looked down upon with suspicion, magic has been on the decline in the intervening five centuries. Civilisation has recovered largely without the aid of magic and the Magi have become increasingly insular and withdrawn. Immediately after the cataclysm the Magi went to great effort to cover up their culpability in the Drowning but as the generations have passed fewer and fewer magi know the full scale of the truth. Recently news has spread that a group of adventurers, exploring an island to the north, discovered a ruined Tower of Magic. The tower was clearly pre-cataclysm and the adventurers found many wondrous and terrible things. Chief amongst these was a Shadow Orb. The orb was recovered as were a number of ancient spell books and the diary of the Towers last custodian. The diary revealed the full guilt of the magi and unlocked five centuries of prejudice and mistrust. Violence flared and several magic users and their apprentices were killed. Violence has spread among the Isles of Ethos along with an idea, that of Manifest Destiny. Magic is a clear abomination that brought Euda to the brink of annihilation. The gods willed it so when they clensed the world in flood, and it is the Manifest Destiny of the peoples of Euda to shun magic in favour of faith and devotion.

Exciting and terrifying times lay ahead not just for the Magi but for all the peoples of the Isles. Political and social changes stride onward at an ever greater pace. In recent years the old enemy, the Sethaki Dark Elves, have reappeared to harass outlying islands and raid for slaves. Feudal wars flair up with increasing regularity in the province of Westamar, threatening to spill into the prosperous Hublands. Ancient evils stir in the forests of the Eastland’s and the jungles of Elvenholm. The Orcs, a nomadic race, persecuted and widely thought exterminated, have once again spread into human lands with bloody consequences. But through all this opportunities abound for the brave and the daring. Some will die dark and horrible deaths. But for the lucky, great riches and power will be heaped upon their shoulders as they shape the future of the Isles and all who live within them.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to see a larger sized map to see the detail :)


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