Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gazeteer of the Wasted Lands 7: Lemuria

We're Back!!!

Of all the regions in the Wasted Lands, Lemuria is arguably the most alien, beautiful, and sinister, save perhaps the Kingdom of Hastur. Lemuria is a continent of many features--it is host to plains, forests, foothills, and great mountain ranges, and is home to all manner of creatures, both intelligent and savage.

The dominant race on Lemuria could be considered "semi-human"; that is, they are not entirely human but do not fit into the type of any other race. They are tall, reaching 7' in height, slender, hermaphroditic and have ghost-white skin. Rarely do they grow hair on their bodies. Some believe these "Ghost-Kings" are either a future evolution of humankind, or the original root from which humankind de-evolved. Still others claim that the Giant-Kings are not of this world at all, that they came from another plane of existence, or somewhere beyond the stars. They seem to have wondrous magic, including oddly-shaped wands that fire bolts of green energy and never seem to run out of charges.

The Ghost-Kings carry themselves with a noble bearing, but are arrogant and aloof, often not comprehending the ways of so-called "lesser" races. They have no special racial traits, being in game terms identical to humans in all respects. Their primary differences are physical and cultural, though if the DM wishes, he can give them +1 to Charisma and -1 to Wisdom to reflect these standards.

The Ghost-Kings dwell in great cities constructed of a mysterious stone that can only be quarried in the mountains of Lemuria. This stone appears as marble in every way, but is the deep green of emeralds, with the marbling a pearlescent white. Some say the stone glows in the night, or that it can be enchanted to do so. The Ghost-Kings will not allow the Green Stone to be brought forth from Lemuria, and legends abound of armies from Lemuria sweeping over lands to destroy entire cities because a single slab of Green Stone appeared there. How true these legends are is unknown.

The Ghost-Kings share Lemuria with the Lizard-Men, who hold vast swaths of land in the forests and seem to be perennially at war, either civil war within their own ranks, or with the Ghost-Kings. It is said that on Lemuria Lizard-Men have mastered the riding of Wyverns and even Dragons, who are said to have spawned (or at least, first come into the world) in the mountains of the region. The Lizard-Men are subterranean creatures with a tribal culture that is nonetheless technologically advanced. Their cities deep within the earth have a beautiful, if alien, architecture and are lit by bio-luminescent fungus, varieties of which glow in all colors and shades. It would seem by outsiders that the Lizard-Men were here before the Ghost-Kings arrived--certainly they are higher in number and seem to reproduce with more frequency. It is likely that unless some great catastrophe befalls them, the Lizard-Man race will outlast the rule of the Giant-Kings.

Lizard-Men are as presented in Supplement I, on pages 33 and 37, save that they are subterranean rather than aquatic, and are highly intelligent rather than the implied savages they are in that book. They have additional abilities as listed under "Player Option" below.

It is said that the inhabitants of Lemuria, while quite xenophobic and hostile to outsiders, are great sages, historians, and craftsmen, and many a hero has come to this forbidden land to seek the answer to some great quest or geas upon which he has embarked. There are whispers that the grandfather of all dragons lives deep within the highest peak of the Lemurian mountains, and if one can successfully navigate the dangers of the region and comes with proper supplication (and sacrifice) he will answer any question, no matter how arcane. Few have attempted to brave such a journey, and fewer still claim to have returned.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of Lizard-Men and Ghost-Kings, there are other races on Lemuria. Dragons make up a full 3% of the population, though many of these walk disguised among the other races and few are aware of their sheer numbers. A small community of dwarves has managed to survive in the mountains, and there is a sizable percentage of human beings, though many of these are slaves to the Ghost-Kings and Lizard-Men.

Population Statistics

Population by Age (Ghost-King):
0-14 years (infant to adolescent): 50,000
15-64 years (young adult through middle age): 500,000
65 years and over (elderly): 150,000

Population by Age (Lizard-Men):

0-50 years (infant to adolescent): 500,000
51-90 (young adult through middle age): 750,000
91 years and over (elderly): 100,000

Racial Breakdown: Ghost-Kings 25%, Lizard-Men 54%, Dragons 3%, Humans 15%, Dwarves 2%, Other 1%
Religions: Shamanistic (Lizard-Men) 55%, Serpentine Sisters 40%, Old One Cults 5%
Languages: Common Merchant 60%, Lemurian 100%, Lizard-Man 75%, Rossikan 10%, Muite 10%, Thulian 1%, Khemite 1%
Government Type: Tribal Council (Lizard-Men); Ruling Oligarchy (Ghost-Kings)
Capitols: Ash-th'kha (Lizard-Men); Antares (Ghost-Kings)
Heraldry: None formal
Military: Lizard-Man military consists of every able-bodied male of adult age, as well as any females who wish to fight and can prove their worth. Ghost-King military relies on conscription: every family must send their children once they reach the age of majority (15 years) to spend five years in the military. In times of great need, any adult can be conscripted back into the military, this usually determined by drawing of lots.

Legal System: The Lizard-Man legal system generally involves trial by combat. The Ghost-King legal system involves scrying and divination to discover the truth of an accusation.
Crime and Punishment: In the Lizard Man system, the challenger in combat determines the prize or punishment, ranging from replacement of goods or people (Lizard-Men can take their enemies' children, wives, etc. as their own if circumstances warrant) to death, though a tribal chief can override a demand if he or she feels it too extreme. In Ghost-King society, punishments are often harsh and final, from removal of limbs to indentured servitude, to death by torture, to ritual sacrifice.

Religion in Lemuria: The Lizard-Man religion is shamanistic and calls upon the Five Great Dragons of the Elements--Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Void--as well as being heavily steeped in ancestor worship. Lizard-Men are quite animistic, believing the essence of the Elemental Dragons to be in all things and all people. On occasion, actual dragons have taken advantage of these beliefs, setting themselves up as god-kings and queens of Lizard-Man tribes, but this does not happen as often as one might expect. This begs the question--how mythical are the Elemental Dragons? Is there an element of fear that keeps living Dragons in line? Or is it just the bloody wars that invariably occur when other "nonbeliever" tribes take up arms to oust the interlopers.

The religion of the Ghost-Kings is steeped in ritual and ceremony. Their twin serpent goddesses demand constant devotion and supplication, and ten times a year, ritual sacrifices are offered in a ceremony that lasts for a week as the sacrifice (often human) is slowly tortured to death in the name of the goddess in question.

The Gods of Lemuria
The Great Elemental Dragons: The deities of the Lizard-Men, these are more primal forces than literal beings, but are represented as serpentine creatures with multiple legs, the Dragons of Air and Fire breathing out their element, the Dragons of Earth and Water immersed in theirs, and the Dragon of Void depicted as a silhouette. They represent the five forces that the Lizard-Men believe are responsible for all creation. The Dragon of Fire represents war and anger. The Dragon of air represents travel and healing. The Dragon of Water represents wisdom and foresight. The Dragon of Earth represents fertility, growth, and rebirth, and the Dragon of Void represents the soul, the ether, and the underworld.

The primary deities of the Ghost-Kings are the Serpentine Sisters, the White Snake and the Green Snake. Other deities that appear are the Enlightened One and The Demon-Scholar

The White Snake:
Armor Class 2
Move: 12"
Hit Points: 250
Fighter Ability: 20th Level
Magic Ability: 15th Level Cleric
Alignment: Good

Unlike the deities of the Western Kingdoms, the goddesses of the Ghost-Kings began as animals and took human form. This Goddess, originally a great white snake, dreamed of ascending to something greater than she was, so she struck a deal with the Enlightened One to gain human form and great magical powers. As she walked the land, she came upon the Green Snake, who was causing disaster and catastrophe. The two engaged in terrible battles, and the land was rent asunder. Eventually, the White Snake emerged victorious and imprisoned the Green Snake underground for three hundred years. Later, the White Snake discovered through the Enlightened One that the Green Snake was her twin sister, and as long as the Green Snake was imprisoned, the world would be out of balance, so she allowed the Green Snake to be free, but vowed always to stand against her in all things. The White Snake represents righteous fury, victory in battle, ambition, healing, and positive energy. She loves the Enlightened One with all of her heart, but suffers eternally that he can never return her feelings.

The White Snake can charm any being that meets her gaze as per the 4th level Magic-User Spell, Charm Monster, and can deliver a bite that deals one point of damage and requires the victim to save against poison or die.

The Green Snake:
Armor Class 2
Move: 12"
Hit Points: 225
Fighter Ability: 10th Level
Magic Ability: 12th Level Magic-User
Assassin Ability: 10th level
Alignment: Evil

A dark mirror of the White Snake, the Green Snake wanted the power of a goddess, but for her own selfish and destructive ends. She struck a deal with a demon of the underworld, the Demon Scholar, and gained human form and vast powers. These powers she used to terrible ends, raining down destruction, plague, famine and death on mankind until her sister, the White Snake, imprisoned her underground for three centuries. When the White Snake set her free that the balance could be restored, the Green Snake set about her destructive ways again, but was now opposed by her sister, keeping her dark impulses in check. The Green Snake represents lust, envy, rage, violence, pestilence, death, and negative energy. She has a lustful relationship with the Demon Scholar, and it is said that their spawn are all manner of dark creatures of the underworld.

The Green Snake can if she chooses cause Paralysis in any creature who meets her gaze as per the Fifth Level Magic-User Hold Monster Spell, and can use the 4th level Cleric Spell Turn Sticks to Snakes once per day. Like her sister, she has a poison bite.

The Enlightened One:
Armor Class 3
Move: 12"
Hit Points: 500
Fighter Ability: Nil
Magic Ability: 20th Level Druid
Monk Ability: 20th Level Monk
Alignment: Neutral

A being who represents pure balance in all things. He always seeks to act, speak, and think right, which means taking all things in moderation, neither indulging or denying himself any pleasure or pain. For this reason he has a deep wisdom and serenity, but can never return the passionate love that the White Snake feels for him. It was the Enlightened One who granted the White Snake the path to godhood, for he recognized the threat posed by the great abuses of power her sister was performing. As the Green Snake and the Demon Scholar form a couple, the Enlightened One stands with the White Snake, to maintain the balance and harmony in the cosmos.

He recognizes that the White Snake is a worthy consort, and allows her to remain by his side, as he allows himself to remain by hers, but does not choose to indulge or deny any deep emotion or passion for her, and the day she allows the cosmos to fall out of balance, the day she defeats her sister for good, is the day he will turn on her. Likewise, should the Green Snake ever destroy the White Snake, he would stand against her and her Demon Scholar lover with all of his might.

The Enlightened One can cast Death Spell at will, but every time he casts this spell he must next cast Reincarnation on another being. Likewise, he can cast Reincarnation at will but must always next cast Death Spell on another being.

The Demon Scholar
Armor Class 4
Move: 12"
Hit Points: 400
Fighter Ability: Nil
Assassin Ability: 10th Level
Magic Ability: 15th Level Cleric, 15th Level Magic-User
Alignment: Evil

The god of death, undeath, plague, and the underworld, it was the Demon Scholar who fell passionately in love with the Green Snake and gave her the power to wreak havoc on the world above. Where the Enlightened One represents balance, the Demon Scholar represents pure chaos and extremes. He can show great and selfless kindness, or unbearable and unthinkable cruelty, and changes from one moment to the next. He lives only to see suffering, pain, lust, and carnal desire fulfilled and enforced. He can cast a rotting sickness which kills victims who fail a save vs. Death in 6 turns. He can also shape change and cast Death Spell as a ray (save against Death Ray) from his eyes.

Player Character Option: Lizard Man
If any player wishes to play as a Lizard-Man, their advantages are: 1) They note hidden and secret doors as Elves and slanting passages, traps, shifting walls, and new construction underground as Dwarves; 2) They can effectively "See" in the dark by detecting the heat emanations of their environment. This is not true vision--it is a separate organ similar to that possessed by snakes of the "pit viper" variety. Thus, they cannot discern details with this ability, nor effectively discern friend from foe (save by the racial variances in body temperature) but cannot be completely blinded, either, save by completely uniformly hot or cold environs, which is unlikely at best. Lizard Men can progress as Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, Thieves, or Assassins, being restricted to fifth level as Fighting-Men and seventh level as Magic-Users. They may, if they choose, progress simultaneously in any two of their allowed classes, splitting all experience evenly between the two, even after level caps are reached.

The Magic of Lemuria
The Ghost-Kings of Lemuria are meant, if we may break voice for a moment, to be extraterrestrial, as is their technology. For examples of the kinds of technology they possess, the reader is directed to the classic module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, or to Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign setting, particularly the City of the Gods. It is not outside the realm of possibility for The Temple of the Frog, as described in Supplement II, to be found here. However, the technology of Lemuria should never be described as technology, but in as fanciful and magical terms as the DM can manage. A giant robot, for example, would clearly be a golem or animated bronze statue, while an energy pistol would be an odd wand that seems to fire magic missiles or arcane fire.

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