Sinordin Campaign Setting
Sheltered by the hand of Yeaolcroloth, the city of Sinordin has grown both
powerful and influential among the five cities that stand in the Desert of
Glass and Ash. Yeaolcroloth, a being of terrible power, usurped control of
the “Iron City” from his foul summoner master, Arterian, a power Sithasi
wizard, during the Days of Terror. Since then, the “Tentacled Lord” has
left the governing of the city to several of its demonic minions, while
all it desires is the occasional sacrifice, obeisance, and a minimum of
interference by the mortal inhabitants of Sinordan.
The Citadel of Domination
The Citadel of Domination, a great sphere of metal, melted slag, and demonic
ooze, is the home to the Tentacled lord. When Yeaolcroloth travels forth from
its lair, as it is wont to do in the evenings, the event is announced by great
booming thunder and the crackle of lightning from the floating fortress of
twisted steel. Only minions and favored of the Tentacled Lord are invited into
the ever present citadel.
Arterian originally built the great
floating structure as part of some sorcerous plot to store the energy of the
heavens, lightning, in order to fuel his mad creations and provide energy for
his war against the agents of Yeaolcroloth. This is why that no storms frequent
the city of Sinordin, even though the Desert of Ash and Glass is plagued by
Though Sindordin was once entirely populated by Sithasi (if the history rewriting Counsel of Lore can be believed), finding a Sithasi can be difficult now. The cities main population is human, halfling, dwarven, and to a lesser extent – elves, hybrids, mutants, fiends, touched, and faeborn are all present. Ancestry of most of the Iron City’s residents goes back countless generations, though because of slave and sacrifice harvesting done by the cities rulers, a constant influx of new residents flows into Sinordin and onto its bloodied alters and dark mines. The city is actually dauntingly large and vast areas remain uninhabited except for by wandering mutants and The Hated.
The city is built upon historical layers of itself and an odd combination of mechanical and magical contraptions provide a variety of services for the city, ranging from travel across its expanse to the cooling of the upper cities air during times when all three suns are in the sky. The lowest level of the city are the mines. These shafts and tunnels penetrate many miles into the ground and are the source of gems (magical and mundane), minerals, and the metal by which the city is built. The mines are mostly populated by slaves harvested from other cities and planes of existence, as well as minions that have fallen out of favor with Yeaolcroloth.
Above the mines are pocket areas called The Forge. These areas are hot from the heat that rises out of the mines and the air trapped beneath the city that entirely covers Forge areas. Criminals and the destitute live in the Forge areas. In times of need (or out of laziness) slaves are harvested from these parts of the city. Black market and unlawful practices are common-day in Forge areas. Hybrids, mutants, and lesser fiends make up a significant portion of Forge area populations.
The bulk of the city is residence and business. This takes place upon the many leveled layer of Sinordin, a mish-mash of streets, bridges, and buildings. The top most of these and the towers that stretch high above the city are the dwellings and business houses of the wealthy and of the cities guilds.
Around the city stand great walls that tower hundreds of feet tall. Spikes protrude out from the metallic walls to deter airboats, skimmers, and flying creatures from getting too close. Turrets mark the walls where nearby there are important guild or merchant houses. From these places lightning or fire can be shot out at the cities enemies.
The Guilds of Sinordin
- Anacra Arcana
- A variety of sorcerous colleges exist, covering a multitude of practices, beliefs, and sciences, all competing against each other. The Anacra Arcana keeps the feuds that exist between these fragmented guilds from spilling over into anarchy (thus the name) and serves as a center of debate, a place to settle scores, and a place to brag about your guilds latest accomplishments.
- A rogue group of hybrids, hated, mutants, and the like that live outside of the Five Cities, in the Desert of Ash and Glass. They dwell in ruins and run pirating operations against legitimate ash skimmer merchants. Representatives within the Five Cities act as informants within various trade guilds to the Ashmen and occasionally arrange for the sabotage of vessels, to make them easier to catch for the Ashmen.
- Black Templars, The:
- A gathering of priests that worship a spirit known as Malengrue. Once a powerful cult, they were driven underground by the demonic minions of the Tentacled Lord during the Days of Terror. Their high priest, Osorus, was slain, his body sealed in a slab of fire steel and hidden in a vast vault, somewhere in the earth. Leaderless, the Black Templars turned to terrorist acts against worshipers and followers of the Tentacled Lord, but have been driven underground where Yeaolcroloth rarely sends his minions. The goal of the Black Templars is to raise the dwellers of the Forge and Below (inhabitants of the mines) to status equal to those of Midders – those who live in the light of the three suns. Rumors that the Black Templars have aligned themselves with the Sithasi (a possibility) have made them more unpopular of late. Black Templar lifers bear a tattoo of a black chalice upon their left temple, though lately they use magic and makeup to hide this identifying mark.
- Counsel of Lore
- Historians and purveyors of knowledge. Though an educated lot, they don’t mind changing history for the right price to suit whatever powers agenda. The Harpers and Pen guild is subordinate to the Counsel of Lore, helping spread announcements through-out the city and making sure that important messages get to the right place.
- Though the rumors that surround this guild relegate it to Bogey-Man status, circumstances unexplained however, point to the existence of this dark guild. Members are said to form a pact with the fickle shadow spirits of the near, trading part of their body and spirit for dark forms, and, like shades, they then go out and prey upon the masses. It is said that by leaving a severed finger or other article of fresh flesh in the shadow of a home or business during darkfall will bring the attentions of the Darkseedlings to that domicile.
- Gray Trade Guild:
- A collection of merchants that do trade between the Five Cities. The guild helps to fund mercenary protection, weather prediction, and provides ports from which to unload goods into the cities. Most skimmer owners of the Gray Trade Guild operate wind powered ash skimmers. One can tell the rank of a Gray Trade Guildsman by the quality and quantity of bracelets that they wear. Initiates to the guild wear bracelets about their ankles while full members wear them about their arms.
- Glass Riders:
- A Merchants guild which regulates the travel of goods between the Five Cities. Their ships, made from light weight and magically enchanted glass, powered by lightning from the skies or wind, travel quickly between the Five Cities as an elite delivery service. Glass Riders see themselves as elite and a cut above members of the Gray Trade Guild. A stroke of lightning is the symbol worn by lifers of the Glass Riders.
- The guild of the harvest grows the regulates the various farmers and organizations that provide food for the general population. Food is grown in vast caverns deep beneath the ground and in abandoned mines. The guild mostly regulates prices, rather than what crops are grown. Anyone can get in on the business by finding a cavern, contracting with the Harvesters, and beginning a crop of something. Various Anacra Arcana factions are hired out to provide magical sunlight for these subterranean farmlands.
- A guild of mercenaries, body guards, bounty hunters, assassins, and generally “bad” people that will go after anyone, for the right price. The Hunters guild is on good terms with all the other guilds of the city.
- Merchants Consortium
- As named, this group regulates pricing and competition between the various merchant factions. Sub-guilds exist such as the powerful Metal-Forgers Guild and the Glass-Works Guild. The guild helps to keep inflation at a minimum and profitability at a maximum.
- Miners Guild
- This guild helps to organize the vast mining operations that occur beneath the city. They help to keep cave ins at a minimum, provide security for the deep shafts that the Sithasi sometimes invade from, and acts as a labor union for workers that actually work the mines voluntarily rather than as slaves.
- Prognosticators Consortium
- Considered by many to be nothing more then a gathering of knaves (swindlers) and yet there are others that point to many times that this guilds seniors have foretold the future with accuracy, such as the fall of Arterian. As the Prognosticators claim, reading a book as fickle as the future is not an easy task, and what path the future may take frequently changes. Yet, despite these claims and the vigorous bad-mouthing that the guild is subjected to, many go to this place to learn a bit of what is to come – for a small fee.
- Slavers Guild
- Slave harvesting, whether brought out from the Forge, another plane of existence, or other cities, is a lucrative and cutthroat occupation. Most members of this guild wouldn’t hesitate to sell their own family into slavery if they thought they could get a good price for it. The Slavers Guild is a center for organizing harvesting raids, managing production, and equitably selling slaves to other guilds, such as the Miners.
- This guild, by working closely with the Mining, Hunters, Slavers, and Merchants, rules over what currency is accepted and what is not. All gems must bear the mark of the Stone Guild to be used as currency (or they send the Slavers or Hunters after you). The Stone Guild shapes gems into proper form and stamps them as currency. This helps to keep inflation down and keeps the Stone guild in business, and the Stone Guild is rather zealous about staying in business, no matter the cost.
- Waterlord Guild
- Water, a scarcity in the Desert of Ash and Glass, is present in the City of Iron only at the behest of the Waterlords. Through magical portals, created aeons ago by unknown progenitors, water is let into the city. The Waterlords exact their own tax from the populace, and have been known to shut the water off when they don’t get their way. The Waterlords are extremely violent and vigilant about maintaining their monopoly over the cities water supply and is one of the more powerful guilds.
Since Yeaolcroloth’s occupation of the city, the Sithasi, a race of serpentine creatures whose civilization is said to lay beneath the desert somewhere, have become a rare sight in Sinordin. Though sought by bounty hunters and minions of Yeaolcroloth willing to risk the danger of chasing Sithasi, powerful Sithasi merchants, warriors, and wizards still make appearances in the Forge side of the city, where the Tentacled Lord generally turns a blind eye. Sithasi sometimes make appearances in other parts of the city, though usually by disguise and usually during darkfall, when the three suns are set. Since darkfall only happens once every 17 days and typically lasts from a couple hours to a couple days, the Sithasi are rarely seen by the majority of the cities citizens.
Sithasi have snake-like lower bodies, two arms, and a serpentine head. Their coloration ranges from the common green to black, the color of the Sithasi ruling class. Sithasi are about 10 feet long as adults, but typically stand about 5 feet tall and prefer to move about erect.
The Desert of Ash and Glass
The Desert of Ash and Glass is a vast and nearly endless wasteland of nothing. The Five Cities - Drammerfoe, Malkadia, Vax Dimeon, Horrovault, and Sinordin - have stood within the great desert for many ages, harvesting the powerful magical energies that pulse from below the desert and which cause the terrible lightning storms which have made the Desert what it is. Powers have fought over these lands for countless millennia seeking to harness this nexus of power, but few have ever been able to control more than two or three cities at any time. There have been attempts to build new cities in the Desert, but the Sithasi, the Powers that Be, and the brutal nature of this land have turned all such attempts into ruins, most half buried by the ash that blows across the desert. Great mining operations are done beneath the protection of the great cities, entering miles beneath the surface. There, below the surface, is a magnificent wealth of metallic minerals and, more rare, gems.
Travel across the desert is done by magical gates; created, operated, and controlled by powerful wizards and other entities, these gates are generally unavailable to the general population. It is also possible to travel across by a skimmer craft. These come in two kinds – magical or wind-driven. Magical skimmers are faster, can travel against the wind, and are used by powerful merchants. Wind driven are more common and thus cheaper and used by those with more of a budget in mind.
The World Above and Below
Above the Desert of Ash and Glass rise and fall three suns: Brold (a red giant), Faern (a brilliant ringed white dwarf), and Cinder (a blue dim blue star). These three travel across the sky and respectively define the length of a month, week, and day (34, 7, and 4 accordingly). Often, all three are present and occasionally all three are absent. When the latter occurs it is a time called Darkfall – a time when the powers of evil, undead, and the Sithasi wax greater.
Below the desert is said the be the realm of the Sithasi, the native civilization, and it is said that the ruins of many older civilizations are there as well – places conquered by the Sithasi and then abandoned.
A variety of creatures dwell both in the ash of the desert, in the clouds, and deep underground. Even though conditions on the surface are dangerous – there are creatures there that are tough enough to survive.
Gems and Currency
Because metals are so easily come by in this land, gems are the preferred form of currency – some valued more than others because of their ability to increase magical potential or because of their own magical powers. Gem value is measured by type and weight. Only gems marked by the Guild of Stone are accepted as currency by honest (or fearful) merchants – though unmarked currency can be a valuable commodity in dangerous Forge sections of the city. Unmarked gems can be converted to currency at a 10% fee by members of the Guild of Stone. Common currency stones are as follows, each worth ten times the previous, assuming they are the same size. Typical currency size is about that of a human fingernail. A single Rukite that is large enough to value a Brolthyst would be called a “Ten-weight Rukite”, one that was worth 10 Brolthysts (or one Emalinine) would be called a “Hundred-weight Rukite,” and so on.
Sargenite: Also called “Sarns”, these stone chips are orange in color and are hewn from flat crystals, they have yellow spurs within.
Thursinite: Called, “Thurns”. These are chocolate brown cubic crystals with quartz within.
Rukite: Also called “Rooks”. These are flat, durable, eight-sided opaque stones with a green coloring.
Brolthysts: Also known as “Bloodies” or “Reds”, these are essentially rubies, but bicubic.
Emalinine: Also called “Tears” or “Nine-stones”, these are semitransparent blue crystals with white inclusions inside.
Worship, Channelers, and the Near
A variety of spirits exist in the Near, of many different power levels, and all eager to gather a following and thereby increase their own level of power. Belief is the food that these spirits thirst for and belief is demonstrated in part by communicating with, evangelizing the powers of, and using magic channeled through these spirits. Some spirits have large followings of followers and are powerful because of it. Other spirits are merely self-powerful entities. As a priest, one channels the power of these spirits by trading belief in return for the ability to cast spells. Increasing the belief pool of your patron spirit will likely result in being able to cast more powerful spells. Joining a covey of priests that follow the same spirit has the advantage of being able to cast spells from a spirit that is already powerful in some regard, but requirements, rules, and laws of the covey are the disadvantage one trades for going this route.
Another way to grow in power is to find more powerful spirits to give belief to. As with mortals, spirits have friends and enemies, and trading belief with a spirit that is friends with your old one is less likely to make you an enemy out of your old spirit patron. There are priests who have gone both ways – treading on the toes of old spirits in favor of more powerful ones, remaining loyal to the same one and increasing its power through work, or by joining a covey.
Of course, it takes a certain amount of power to attract the attention of more powerful spirits. Powerful and independent spirit patrons don’t just want nobodies acting on their behalf, they want someone that will make a difference. And the more powerful the spirit patron, the more powerful and experienced a priest it will take to attract their attention.
For beginner priests it is no trouble getting in on the act. Simply wanting to be contacted by a spirit will send out the right thought-waves to attract one of suitable power to the priests local. Except for the most powerful of spirits, rarely is anything more than belief and evangelism ask for by the patron from the channeling priest.
Worship of the Tentacled Lord
To the sound of beating drums, the rattle of bone-crafted chains, the wailing of women’s voices, and the resonant chanting thrum of murmuring priests – sacrifices to the tentacled lord, Yeaolcroloth are made. Sacrificial material is gathered from those who are unable to defend themselves by roaming groups of zealots dedicated to the victory of the tentacled lord. While many priests choose to channel their power from the spirits of the Near, there are many who find the physical manifestation, an awe inspiring and very real deity, more to their needs.
Worshipers of the tentacled lord are a unified and fervent body of believers that are convinced not necessarily of Yeaolcroloth’s omnipotence, but of the belief that the Tentacled Lord is the most powerful incarnation yet to arrive in the Desert of Ash and Glass. Nevermind that their god controls but one of the Five Cities and has yet to expand his empire beyond the Iron Walls.
Successful advocates of the Tentacled Lord’s cause may be placed in control of minor demons and minions of the Tentacled Lord itself. While a rigid and demanding society, being a worshiper of the Tentacled Lord has the advantage of never needing to seek other spirits for additional or newer powers – though like the spirits of the Near, worshipers of the Tentacled Lord draw their powers from a limited number of magical arenas known as the Tools of Domination – Subjugation, Rapacity, Subversion, Violence, and Sagacity. There are whispered rumors of an Ultimate Plan, in which each of the Five cities will come to embody one of each of these virtues. Fortunately, say some, such a day is far away.