26 November 2023

Erol Otus cover of Dragon Magazine now on my wall

I'm thrilled that I now have a framed print of the cover illustration by Erol Otus of the very first Dragon magazine that I ever owned (issue # 55) hanging on my wall:

The print is number 99 (out of 200) and signed Otus.

The original magazine cover:

The corner of my study:

25 November 2023

Eyes of a Catoblepas, Wings of an Owlbear (Greyhawk campaign)


10.1 The Wood Elf Camp (Richfest 2nd – 3rd)

Our dauntless adventurers — Erik (the mountain dwarf fighter from the Lortmils), Althaea (the high elf wizard from the city of Tringlee), and the brothers Godric (the human rogue from the Barony of Shiboleth) and Cedric (the human cleric of St. Cuthbert) – journey to the Wood Elf camp after successfully exploring the Tomb of Serten

Erik decides to give the legendary Helm of Laga Vulin to Cedric. The dwarf is sad and reluctant to make this decision. Finding the helm had been his dream ever since he learned of its existence and its ability to cure the wearer of the effects of all poisons and toxins – including alcohol. He had hoped that finding it would enable him to indulge in hedonistic drunken excesses without suffering disabling hangovers. Alas, the helm also impresses a commitment to LAW in those who wear it, something that Erik ultimately could not accept. He figures that it would be far better for one already devoted to dour order, like the warrior priest Cedric, to make use of it.

After two days of journeying through the northern reaches of the Kron Hills (with their loyal mule Vick), the party reaches the Wood Elf camp. There the party meets with the band’s leader, the beautiful half-elf Tomyria.

Godric explains his quest to find the Manor of Quesse (a legendary half-elf roguish mage, and distant relation of Godric and Cedric). Tomyria informs the party that she knows where the manor is located, but will divulge this information only if the party recovers one of three items for her: 
- A gryphon egg (from a nest located somewhere to the southwest, in the Kron Hills).
- The eyes of a catoblepas (from an abandoned farmhouse to the south).
- The wings of a unique (mutant?) flying owlbear (likely nesting in some hills to the southeast).

She explains that her band is looking for these items for the reclusive mage Master Nyv (of the Mage Tower, located roughly 9 leagues north of Nulb).

That evening, the party makes merry with the high-spirited elves. Tomyria and Godric hook up, as do Althaea and the wood elf scout Urth. Cedric tries to share the wisdom of St. Cuthbert with the elves, but is roundly mocked by the boisterous followers of Rillifane Rallathil. Erik, free from the discipline of the Helm of Laga Vulin, drinks until he passes out in an unwholesome puddle. 

10.2 Some Harpies, a Catoblepas, and a Ghost (Richfest 4th – 7th)

The party decides to recover the catoblepas eyes after Tomyria offers some additional platinum pieces as an incentive. The half-elf band leader gives them a magical glass container for the creature’s deadly eyes.

The adventuring quartet then journeys to the abandoned farmhouse, which lies on the northern side of the High Road, a mere two leagues away from the accursed Moathouse. En route, the party is attacked by a trio of vicious harpies. Erik is momentarily charmed by their music, but a magic missile blast from Althaea knocks his senses back into him. Eventually, the party is triumphant over the monsters.

At the farmhouse the party hunts down the terrible catoblepas in a mire. It is a difficult battle, but the party slays the creature and recovers its malevolent eyes. Althaea places them in the magical glass container. The party also slays a giant spider that attacks them in the barn, and some giant centipedes in the cottage.

Later in the old cottage, the adventurers are approached by a silent ghost. The ghost attempts to possess Godric but fails. Cedric figures out that the ghost is not in fact hostile but is trying to communicate with the party. When Cedric invokes the name of St. Cuthbert, the ghost looks at the cleric with hope, and then leads the party to a withered corpse hidden outside. Apparently, the ghost was once the farmer here, but was slain by vile brigands and not given a proper burial. The party builds a cairn for the body, which Cedric consecrates with holy water. The ghost thanks the party and disappears, having crossed over to its proper afterlife. 

After this good deed, the party naturally decides to loot the place. They uncover some bloodstones, a potion of healing, and a slightly magical dagger.

On their journey back to the Wood Elf camp, the adventurers again encounter Darr the druid. Darr learns of the party’s plans to eventually go to Nulb, and tells them that Otis is an ally, and that Mother Screng is actually friendly and helpful, even if she does not seem so at first. Darr also confirms that there is a flying owlbear in the region – such creatures are unnatural, and the druid encourages the party to destroy it if they are so inclined.

Darr travels north with the party along the High Road but leaves them when the adventures head west back to the Wood Elf Camp.

Tomyria is profoundly grateful for the catoblepas eyes and tells the party where Quesse’s ruined manor is located. She provides additional “rewards” to Godric later that evening. 

10.3 Some Ankhegs and the Wings of an Owlbear (Reaping 1st – 5th)

Tomyria offers the party forty platinum pieces if they will perform another job for her. The greedy adventurers agree to obtain the owlbear wings. The half-elf then provides the party with two large sacks for the wings, along with a vial of preservation fluid. 

The party heads back into the Gnarley Forest to find the lair of the flying owlbear. During their search, they are surprised by some vicious ankhegs, but manage to defeat the burrowing beasts. 

As the party nears the hills within the dark woodland, they are attacked by the winged owlbear! It swoops down a number of times to attack, and the party at first has a hard time responding. But Althaea manages to bring the savage brute down using a “Web” spell to entangle its wings. Erik then somehow disembowels the owlbear with his staff of striking. The wings are removed, covered with preservation fluid, and placed in the great sacks strapped to Vick the mule.

The adventuring quintet explores the owlbear’s lair. Within, they find hidden amongst the vile debris and waste a gold ring. The ring turns out to be magical – it enables its wearer to magically jump great distances. Erik is thrilled by the item and implores his friends to let him have it. Since they pity the dwarf for how the helm turned out for him, they agree to his request. 

The party also finds a secret door at the back of the cave. Beyond is a smugglers’ den, long abandoned. The adventurers recover some unruined bolts of silk. A cask of fine dwarvish brandy also is obtained, but Erik drops it while drunkenly stumbling down the hill, and the fine liquor is lost forever. 

Upon returning the Wood Elf camp, Tomyria rewards the adventurers for the wings. She also gives them a key to the band’s cabin on the outskirts of Nulb. And once again, she grants Godric a “special reward” later that night.

10.4 A Visit to Nulb (Reaping 6th – 8th)

The party spends a couple of days in the nasty village of Nulb, staying at the Wood Elves’ cabin and doing their best to remain inconspicuous. 

While in the village they overhear some cultists speaking Abyssal in the Waterside Hostel. They also interact positively with Mother Screng – who reveals herself to be Canoness Y’dey of the Church of St. Cuthbert, assisted by the Elf Murfles. (Apparently the druid Darr had informed them of the party’s efforts in the Moathouse during his previous visit.) Y’dey fills the party in on their mission (namely, spying on the activities of the agents of the Temple of Elemental Evil within Nulb and the surrounding region) and the general activities of the “Iuzians” in the area. She also gives the party a jar of “Keoghtom’s Ointment” to help them in their fight against the forces of Chaotic Evil.

The adventurers then make contact with Otis, who is acting as a smith in the village. After discussing the sad fate of Otis’s brother Elmo, the four learn that Otis is an agent of Viscount Wilfrick of Verbobonc. Otis makes tea for all and mentions that he uses two owls as spies in the area.

Finally, the group visits the Curio Shop run by the mysterious half-elf Elris. They find a map of an ancient tomb (located somewhere in the Vast Swamp), a tome on the “History of the Free City of Greyhawk,” a rusty barbute helmet, and a gnarled walking stick with a crystal on the top. They purchase all these items. Later, Althaea discovers that the crystal is an “Ioun Stone of Sustenance” – a wondrous item that enables its user to survive indefinitely without food or drink. Erik is repulsed by the item – food and drink give meaning to his life – whereas Althaea is delighted by it.

The four decide that their next destination will be the Tower of Master Nyv

  • The characters reached 5th level while resting near Nulb.
  • The picture of Tomyria is by Kim Sokol (found online). The monster pictures are from WotC. The map is from Goodman Games’ Temple of Elemental Evil book, with my additions. 
  • There are only two more log entries left for this campaign! (See the full list here.)

18 November 2023

Against the Court of Urdor: the Heroes

Below is an overview of the two player characters in my “Against the Court of Urdor” campaign
Since there are only two of them, I decided to give them 65 points to distribute among their stats (instead of the usual 50), so they’re tougher than usual for beginning characters.
(The final stats listed below take into account further kin and background modifiers.)


Kin:  Green (Dusk) Elf.
Culture: Weald.
Vocation: Rogue.
Level: 1.

Stats: Brawn 0; Swiftness 35; Fortitude 10; Wits 15; Wisdom 5; Bearing 20.
Hit Points: 55.
Magic Points: 5.
Move: 15 meters.

Special Traits (Kin): 
- Immortal (+10 vs cold; needs no sleep but meditates 3 hours/day).
- Light-footed (not affected by terrain when wearing no/light armour).
- Sure shot (+10 to all ranged attacks).
- Lithe (+10 to acrobatics; +20 to stealth in natural environments).
- Keen sense (+10 perception; see 30 metres in dim light).

- Elven training: Use SWI for light blades (instead of BRN); Elven Spell Lores
- Served on the Koronande Border Patrol

Spell Lores: Elven Lore; Spell Songs.

Motivation: Protect Koronande from Tantûrak; deliver family necklace to Nuriel (cousin). 
Nature: Impulsive and impetuous but a friend to all who would live free.
Allegiance: Koronande and Green Elves everywhere.

Einar Quicksilver is a Green Elf of Koronande. More at home in the wilds than in cities or towns, he spent the first few decades of his life serving in the border guard. Travelling throughout the frontiers of the Republic, Einar helped to keep his homeland safe from ne’er-do-wells, orcish brigands, and raiders from Tantûrak. He became known for his uncanny sneakiness, acrobatic skill in moving amongst the branches of the trees, and careful aim with his trusty bow.

At the age of fifty, Einar felt it was time for a change. And so, he travelled to the city of Tauronde to figure out what to do with his life. While frequenting some of the city’s excellent taverns, he befriended the dwarf Kiren Hammerstone

A month ago, Einar’s Aunt Yvenna passed away. At first it was thought that she had lost her will to live, and so had chosen to return her spirit to Faerie, like most elves who have lived for a couple of millennia. But since Yvenna had given no indication that she was contemplating such an action, her close friend Pathric asked the healers of Tauronde to inquire further. Closer examination revealed that Yvenna had in fact been poisoned! However, the exact nature of the poison was unknown to the healers and scholars of Koronande. Astonished by this news, Pathric asked Einer – as Yvenna’s only known relative in Tauronde – to take a sample of Yvenna’s blood to the sages of Tilvirin in Taaliraan to learn more. Pathric wishes to know who could have been behind such a vile act, as Yvenna was widely loved amongst the Elves of Koronande. 

In addition to this mission, Einar has been asked to first deliver Yvenna’s enchanted jade necklace to her daughter Nuriel. According to Pathric, Nuriel leads a band of Green Elves – the “Emerald Wardens” – in the wildlands north of Taaliraan. She can be found in place called the Crystal Glade, which lies near a human settlement called Dawnfell (a village of “free” folk, outside the boundaries of any established realm).

Given that their missions take them both to the Blue Elf city of Tilvirin, Kiren and Einar have decided to travel together.   


Kin: Dwarf.
Culture: Deep.
Vocation: Animist.
Level: 1.

Stats: Brawn 30; Swiftness 5; Fortitude 15; Wits 10; Wisdom 30; Bearing 0.
Hit Points:  85.
Magic Points: 5.
Move: 15 meters.

Special Traits (Kin): 
- Dark Sight (see 30m in dim light; 3m in total darkness).
- +30 to save rolls versus Heat and Cold attacks.
- +30 to working/crafting with metals, stones, and gems (all items ‘high quality’).
- +20 to Nature and Wandering skills when underground.

- Battle hardened (+15 hit points; maximum hp = 160).
- Eccentric – friendly for a dwarf (+5 to Bearing).
- Gifted (+5 to Wisdom).
- Unorthodox Education (+10 bonus with blunt weapons).
Spell Lores: Cleansing, Healing, Lore of Nature, Master of Animals, Soul Soothing. 

Motivation: Seek out the Elvish sages of Taaliraan to learn about the Night Elf allies of the Dwergar. 
Nature: Work and support all good peoples and do the unexpected. 
Allegiance: Unbreakable loyalty to friends who actively oppose the Darkmasters. 

Kiren Hammerstone hails from Grimhold, one of the five Halls of Pale Steel found in the Skyclaw Mountains of northern Urdor. (A Dwarvish “hall” is a city.) His people have been at war with the Dwergar of the mountains for over two centuries. When the Dwergar first attacked (in the year 797 of the current Age), the advantage of surprise enabled them to capture two of the great Halls. Since then, the Pale Steel dwarves have recaptured one Hall – but the struggle continues, as the Dwergar have recruited fresh orcish troops to assist them in recent decades. 

As a young dwarf, Kiren was noted for his strength, judgement, and impressive fighting abilities. His nickname was “Kiren the Wise” and Grimhold’s elders expected him to grow into a mighty warrior. But in his early thirties, Kiren became enraptured with the vast underground mushroom forests cultivated by his people’s sages and spell-crafters. He wished to learn more of the flora and fauna of the Deeprealms, and so decided to abandon the path of the warrior and become an animist. He studied the arts of healing and spell lore under Ovik “the Learned.” 

Eventually, Kiren began to engage in some decidedly “un-dwarvish” behaviour. He wandered far from Grimhold, spending increasingly long periods in the open air, learning about the animals and plants of the surface forests, hills, rivers, and lakes. He befriended the Kirani and Green Elves who dwelt in the lands south of the Skyclaw Mountains, learning their languages and about the realms of Urdor

A year ago, the Dwarves of Grimhold engaged in a difficult battle with Dwergar raiders. To the surprise of the Dwarves, among the Dwergar ranks was a powerful Elvish mage. Since the Dwergar, like their estranged Dwarvish cousins, generally eschew the wizardly arts, Kiren’s people were caught off-guard by this development, and especially the mage’s bolts of flame, frost, and lightning. Fortunately, though, the Dwergar were defeated in the end, and the elf slain. Upon recovering the elf’s body, the dwarves discovered that he had been wearing a robe died in shades of red, orange, and yellow, with a distinctive badge on his left breast: an inverted triangle embroidered with a flaming staff. Examining the elf’s body, Kiren realized that he did not resemble the Green elves with whom he had interacted in the past.

With the approval of the elders of Grimhold, Kiren took the badge to the Green Elves of the Singing Lake. Based on Kiren’s description of the elf’s body, Kiren’s friend, the Elf sage Ildetha, inferred that the Dwergar ally was likely a Night Elf. The Night Elves have rarely been seen by others since the defeat of their Queen, Everekka, at the end of the Era of the Elves, over thirty-seven centuries ago. However, the Dwergar were allies of the Night Elves in those ancient times. 

As for the symbol, Ildetha’s research indicated that it belonged the “Suit of Staves,” an order within an ancient Night Elf organization known as “The Court of Urdor.” The Court ruled the entire island during the Era of the Elves but was believed to have been defeated and destroyed with the fall of the Pale Queen Everekka. In any case, Ildetha informed Kiren that if he wished to learn more, he would have to travel to either the city of Tauronde in Koronande, or the city of Tilvirin in Taaliraan

Kiren went first to Tauronde, as it was the closer of the two, and Koronande had a reputation for being more welcoming to outsiders than Taaliraan. There he met with the Elf scholar Aeryth (the cousin of Ildetha). Aeryth was troubled by the news that Kiren shared with him. Following months of research, Aeryth learned that that the Court of Urdor in fact did survive the fall of the Night Elves, and persisted in a number of secret holds throughout Urdor

The scholar helpfully indicated the location of these holds on a very detailed map for Kiren. They are: Menelcarca, Naurlindol, Taurang, Mirisgroth, Tirgoroth, Angkirya, Aurax-Dûr, and Ithilkir. Aeryth stressed that Kiren should stay away from these places, as they no doubt were centres of dark power. In order to learn more about the Court, Aeryth advised Kiren to go to Tilvirin, and seek a bard named Klaen, who is a learned associate of the scholar.

During his time in Tauronde, Kiren became friends with the Green Elf Einar. They have agreed to travel together.

14 November 2023

The World of Ukrasia

Ukrasia is a campaign setting that I’ve created (and am still creating) for use with one of my Against the Darkmaster (VsD) campaigns.  

As I’ve done for some of my other settings and campaigns, I’ve decided to create a central ‘master page’ or ‘index’ with links to relevant posts at this blog. This is that page. A permanent link to it can be found on the upper right side of the blog (under 'Akratic RPG stuff: campaigns'). I will update it whenever new relevant posts appear on my blog.

Ukrasia: General Information

- The Three Darkmasters of Ukrasia.
- The Planes and Deities connected to Ukrasia.
- The Four Ages of Ukrasia.
- Some Notes on the Peoples of Ukrasia.

Ukrasia: The Isle of Urdor

- The Isle of Urdor: Maps and Notes.

Campaign: Against the Court of Urdor

- Chapter 1: Zepheus the Mage and the Elf Prince Berethil.
- Chapter 2: The Company of the Morningstar, Korlax's Haven, and Blarth's Harp.
- Chapter 3: Triumvir Town, Dawnfell, and the Crystal Glade
- Chapter 4: The Broken Temple
- Chapter 5:

Other Related Posts

Art credits:
The colour map of 'Urdor' is by yours truly (expanding upon the original 'Ardor' map by Pete Fenlon).
The picture of Kiren is from the Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition CRPG. The picture of Einar is from the Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition CRPG.
The bottom picture is by Charles Peale and appeared in ICE's old Cirith Ungol MERP module.

04 November 2023

Mythras Imperative enters the Age of the Orc

The Classic Fantasy Imperative variant of Mythras already is offered under the ‘ORC’ license. Soon an expanded version of Mythras Imperative will be offered under the ORC license as well!

Here’s a brief description:

This edition of Mythras Imperative has additional rules for character creation, firearms, and vehicles. Like Classic Fantasy Imperative, it is completely open using the ORC license and will have an accompanying SRD. The PDF is completely free, and there will be a Print on Demand edition for those wanting a physical copy.

The Design Mechanism hopes to release the new version of Mythras Imperative in December.

02 November 2023

The Lands and Peoples of Central Urdor

The great southern island of Urdor is home to many peoples: dwarves, elves, giants, halflings, men, orcs, trolls, and dragonspawn. Below are brief descriptions of a few of the core ‘civilized’ realms – those located in the central southern part of the island – and the peoples who dwell therein. (Notes on other realms and peoples will be provided in a future post.)

(Credit notes: The text below draws upon the original descriptions by Terry Amthor, the author of The Court of Ardor. I’ve revised the descriptions of the realms, sometimes quite heavily [especially Dûshera and Mûmakan], in order to render them compatible with Ukrasia, as well as making them more to my taste overall. The top beautiful map is by Peter Fenlon. My map, which covers the entire island of Urdor, is at the bottom.)

DÛSHERA (Halflings, Dwarves, Tantûraki [high men])

A sparsely settled land, Dûshera once was part of a noble human realm that also included the area now known as Geshaan. That realm achieved a high level of civilization late during the Era of the Elves, but eventually was destroyed by the Night Elves over 3700 years ago. Dark magic caused part of the realm to sink – forming the great swamp of Geshaan – while the other mortal inhabitants were slain. For millennia afterwards, the region was considered cursed and generally avoided by civilized peoples.

When the Arsilonian realm of Rylindar established the colony of Tantûrak around 1600 of the First Age of Humanity (roughly 1950 years ago), many Halflings moved there as well. Over the years, though, the small people decided that they preferred the relative freedom of the rolling plains and open hills of Dûshera, and hence relocated there, eventually establishing a semi-autonomous realm. When Rylindar fell under the tyrannical rule of the Autarch, Tantûrak became increasingly oppressive domestically and antagonistic in its relations with other realms. However, the Halflings of Dûshera maintained their (conditional) freedom by agreeing to supply Tantûrak with one-third of their agricultural product annually, and permitting the free travel of Tantûraki troops through their lands. Seeing the little people as no threat, and judging Dûshera to be of no great strategic value, Tantûrak agreed to these terms. For the past 1400 years or so, this relationship between the two realms has persisted without disruption. 

The Dûsheran Halflings are hardworking folk who rarely travel beyond their lands. They revere the deity Fiona above all others. Although technically part of the Solar Church, the followers of Fiona throughout Dûshera are only loosely associated with it, governing themselves and sending annual tithes as necessary. This is tolerated grudgingly by the Church hierarchs in Tantûrak. The few Halflings who wander to other lands often revere the mysterious “Dog Lord.”

In recent decades, some Dwarves from the Skyclaw Mountains (which run along the northern coast of the great isle) have established a few tin mines in the hills west of Geshaan. They maintain friendly, if somewhat aloof, relations with the Halflings. These Dwarves travel far more than the Halflings, often taking their goods to their home realm, the Halls of Pale Steel, as well as the human cities of Korlan, Tanith, and Sarûl, in addition to smaller towns throughout Urdor. The Halflings are eager to purchase the goods that these Dwarven traders bring back with them, and hence have established a number of inns and taverns catering to Dwarfish tastes.

Unlike other kin, the Dwarves worship no deities. Instead, they believe that they are reincarnated until they achieve mastery of all the “eternal virtues.” Once this state is attained, they hold that their souls will leave the cycle of life and death and merge with the eternal “Form” of the “Good.” Unfortunately, Dwarf philosophers have yet to agree on the exact composition of these virtues. 

There are a few minor settlements of Tantûraki in Dûshera as well. For the most part, these are individuals and groups who chafe at the oppressive reign of their king and his malevolent advisor, “The Magician.” For obvious reasons, they try to keep low profiles and go to great pains to assure the Halflings of their benign intentions. 

Kins: Halflings (most common), Dwarves, High Men (Tantûraki).
Cultures: Halflings: Pastoral, Hill. Dwarves: Deep, Hill. Tantûraki: Noble, Weald.

HATHOR (Hathorians [men])

Hathor is a centralized kingdom, traditionally ruled by a strong monarch out of the capital city of Tanith. As is obvious to any scholar, the Hathorians are not native to their land. Blond and blue (or grey) eyed, with naturally fair skin (though tanned by the sun), they migrated to their present land almost two eons ago, after the conquest of the Vilkhorith islands in the far north by the Dragon King Sulthrax. Indeed, “Hathor” was the name of the great prophet who led his tribe to this land.

Hathorians are easy-going of temperament, but often wild and adventurous. Their society is built around recreation, including attendance at and participation in athletic games of all kinds, singly or in teams, in land or in the water, by men or women. Although these sports are always played without intention of injury, the very nature of most of them make it almost inevitable that someone will get hurt every time. Fortunately, however, Hathorian have an aptitude for the healing arts.

The games, although just one facet of Hathorian society, are an excellent example of their rather hedonistic attitude towards life. Above any other reason, Hathorians like to do things because they might be ‘fun.’ However, their view of ‘fun’ bears little similarity to that of most other cultures. Hathor accounts for the largest percentage of Taaliraan wine and spirit exports; Hathorians also use a large percentage of their grain imports for the making of beer. Surprisingly, despite – or perhaps because of – their hedonistic lifestyle, Hathorians are quite religious. They revere most of the Glade Court. 

Hathorians are among the vainest of peoples, working ever hard at making the most of their appearance, which nearly rivals that of the Elven-kind, albeit perhaps in a more ‘rough’ way. No other culture uses so many oils and balms to make their skin look ‘natural.’ Of course, it must be acknowledged that because of their naturally fair skin, the Hathorians require some defence against the intense sun of the tropics. Both genders wear their hair quite short to keep cool. Hathorian males are generally clean-shaven. Skilled spell-casters, though, make a point of growing beards (the longer the beard, the higher their position within the Hathorian wizard or animist hierarchy). Female spell-casters grow their hair in long braids (with length, again, an indicator of rank). 

The Hathorians delight in simple jewelry, usually gold, in the form of necklaces and wrist and ankle chains, and earrings (for both sexes, although men tend to wear but one earring, bracelet, and chain, while women prefer multiples). Both sexes have an aversion to finger rings, maintaining that they interfere with various activities. The men clothe themselves in loose pants or shorts of cotton, or silk for more formal occasions, dyed bright colours. The women wear either shorts and a laced top, or for less rigorous activities, short, draped toga-like garments of finely woven diaphanous cloth.

Hathor is close with Koronande, and friendly with both Tuktan and Taaliraan. They suffer raids regularly from roaming hordes of orcs from Mûmakan. Relations with Tantûrak are often tense, but the distance between the realms and ongoing trade has prevented outright war between the two kingdoms for the past thousand years. 

Kin: Men (Hathorian).
Cultures: City, Noble, Pastoral, Weald.

KORONANDE (Kirani [men], Green Elves [dusk elves])

The government of Koronande is a republic. Its political system was established over 2500 years ago by Lemka the Lawgiver, and has remained intact, with few modifications, since that time. Koronande is also unusual in that it is a realm populated by both Men (Kirini) and Elves (Green Elves), although the former make up almost ninety percent of the overall population. As might be expected, the Elves inhabit the more rural, forested areas of Koronande, constructing beautiful and elaborate homes in the branches of huge trees, which often grow to heights exceeding 70 metres (200 feet), the greatest example of which is Tauronde, the city which presides over the district of the same name, north and west of Korlan. It is almost entirely Elven in population, and its governor and senate representatives are Elves. Tauronde the city is in fact a cluster of Luraks, lord trees of the jungle, into the branches of which have been built elaborate homes and shops, inns, and halls, all well over forty metres above the jungle floor. The Kirani and Elves share a mutual respect and admiration. Indeed, there have been rare marriages between the two races.

The capital of Koronande is Korlan, on the mouth of the Koros river. The realm is divided into six districts, each having its own main town and governor. The Senate consists of thirteen members, two from each of the districts, and one appointed by the military, who meet monthly for three days to decide matters of concern to the realm as a whole. The Republic has a strong navy, the only one in the region which can contest that of Tantûrak. They are the traders of Urdor, rivalled only by the Dwarves, and so Korlan is a centre of commerce.

The Kirani are native to the land. They have very dark skin colour and black, wiry hair. Lean and tall (as tall as the Tantûraki, but far more svelte), their features are angular, almost ‘elvish’ in nature. Kirani males tend to be clean shaven. Most wear their hair relatively short. In the way of clothing, the Kirani prefer flowing, diaphanous garments, dyed in a variety of pastel colours, and draped loosely about the body. These they wear when they can get away with it, but of course such are not suitable for everyday work, for which they don short kilts in the case of men, and the women tend to wear short, belted dresses. Both sexes wear jewelry, although they prefer items of leather worn about the head and wrists, with bright bird feathers dangling, rather than the gold and gem-beset decorations most other peoples prefer.

The Kirani are basically vegetarians, cultivating the many varieties of fruit bearing vines and trees which flourish in the area. They do occasionally dine on fowl: the large avian inhabitants of the jungle are broiled and considered a delicacy. They are reasonably religious, and generally follow the deities of the Glade Court. 

Koronande has strong ties with Hathor. Relations with Tuktan are also quite close, as the Kirani people populate both realms. However, the citizens of Koronande tend to look down upon their more ‘primitive’ cousins (much to the irritation of the Tuktani). Koronande – thanks in large part to its Elvish population – is very friendly with Taaliraan. Relations with Tantûrak have always been poor, and the two lands are frequently at war. Like Hathor, Koronande suffers from regular raids from the savage orcish tribes of Mûmakan.

Kins: Men (Kirani), Dusk Elves (Green Elves), Half-Elves (very rare, same Cultures as Kirani).
Cultures: Kirani: City, Pastoral, Seafaring, Weald. Elves: City (Tauronde only), Fey, Weald. 

TAALIRAAN (Green Elves [dusk elves], Blue Elves [silver elves])

A realm of united Green and Blue Elves, Taaliraan is one of only a few politically organized Elvish lands throughout the great southern island of Urdor. It has been ruled for over two millennia by Prince Eldanar, a Blue Elf lord of considerable power. What was once the northern part of the realm was ruled by the Green Elvish queen, Blàithnaid, in alliance with Prince Eldanar. Her people suffered great loss in their war against Tantûrak an eon ago, however, and the boundaries of Taaliraan retracted afterwards. The queen’s fate is unknown.

Prince Eldanar rules his realm with a light touch, preferring to allow most Taaliraani communities a great measure of self-government. He reigns from the land’s only city (really a large town), Tilvirin, which is a seaport overlooking one of the realm’s southern bays. The Blue Elves of Tilvirin love the sea, and many enjoy going on long journeys for both leisure and trade. The Green Elves primarily live within the western woodlands, whereas the Blue Elves favour the coastal lands and the vineyards of the central valleys. The wines of Taaliraan are famous throughout Ukrasia.

Taaliraan is a largely self-contained country, traditionally remaining aloof from most regional politics. During the Great War ten centuries ago, though, it did ally with Koronande and Hathor against the Rylindar Imperium. The Elves fought bravely alongside the Kirani and Hathorians against the Imperial Tantûraki forces. The War cost the Taaliraani greatly, though, and the boundaries of the realm subsequently retreated to the southwestern portion of the peninsula. The northern lands, which border Tantûrak and Koronande, are now a wild, ungoverned region, although some bands of Green Elves still wander there, and outcasts from other lands (Kirani, Hathorians, Tantûraki, and even orcs) have established scattered freeholds. It is thought that the place is cursed because of all the deaths it witnessed an eon ago, and rumours of undead and other monsters wandering at night keep most civilized people away. Yet it is believed that Tantûrak now covets the land and may soon seek to take it over.

The Elves of Taaliraan wear less clothing than their northerly counterparts, preferring simple belted tunics in white, grey, green, or brown. Jewelry is usually minimal, but invariably high-quality and delicate. As with the other races of Urdor, the Elves of the area wear year-round tans, yet only these immortals maintain wrinkle-free skin with the passage of time, due to the regenerative nature of their bodies.

Kins: Silver Elves (Blue Elves), Dusk Elves (Green Elves).
Cultures: Blue Elves: City (Tilvirin only), Noble, Pastoral, Seafaring, Fey. Green Elves: Fey, Weald.

TANTÛRAK (Tantûraki [high men], Orcs)

A colony of Rylindar founded around 1600 of the First Age of Humanity, Tantûrak is one of the southernmost of the Arsilonian settlements in Ukrasia. Despite their distance from other Arsilonian realms, the Tantûraki maintain the traditions of their ancestors, and were loyal to the Rylindar Imperium until the fall of the Autarch a thousand years ago.

Dominating the northwestern portion of Urdor, Tantûrak is flanked by rolling hills and mountains to the north. The western portion of the country is settled primarily by orcs – farmers, miners, and soldiers – under the control of Tantûraki overlords. The capital city of Tantûrak is Sarûl, which lies on the Uvar river. Based here is the formidable navy of Tantûrak. To the east lies Dûshera, which the Tantûraki regard as a vassal realm. 

When the colony was established almost two thousand years ago, it was overseen by a governor who answered to the ruling powers in Rylindar, first the Republican Supreme Council, and then (after 2097 of the previous Age) the Autarch and his minions. This system functioned more or less smoothly for almost a thousand years, until the defeat of the Autarch at the end of the First Age of Humanity. Tantûrak suffered quite badly in the southern front of the Great War at the end of that Age, its military crushed decisively by the allied forces of Taaliraan, Koronande, and Hathor. Only those realms’ relative weakness at the time (as they had been drained after decades of conflict) prevented the full destruction of Tantûrak. In the early years of the Second Age of Humanity, with all ties to the former Rylindar Imperium severed, the son of the last governor declared himself the first king of Tantûrak, King Vanak the First. Over the ensuing centuries, Tantûrak gradually rebuilt its military and reconquered its western lands. 

Around 700 of the Second Age, the “Magician” arrived in Sarûl. The date is uncertain, as he came with little fanfare and rose quietly, albeit swiftly, through the ranks of the king’s advisors. Soon the Magician was the chief advisor to King Taraxil the III, and advised him to adopt, as a long-term goal, the conquest of all Urdor. Relations with other realms, especially Koronande and Taaliraan, subsequently deteriorated. Indeed, Koronande and Tantûrak have fought several wars over the past three centuries. And while five kings have come and gone since Taraxil III, the Magician remains.

Like the Hathorians, the Tantûraki originally are from a more northerly land. As the “High Men” name suggests, the Tantûraki are among the tallest of the mortal peoples, rivalled in the region only by the Kirani. Naturally pale, most Tantûraki acquire a deep “bronze” complexion from exposure to the tropical sun. The most exotic looking of the mannish peoples, they typically have either silver hair (ranging from a dark ‘iron’ shade to a bright ‘platinum,’ almost golden, hue) or (less often) white hair. Eye colours include amber, green, and violet (with the latter most common in those with white hair). Men normally are clean-shaven, and both sexes grow their hair past their ears (women somewhat longer, past their shoulders). Physically powerful, the Tantûraki enjoy the long lifespans of all Arsilonians, living normally for two centuries (barring accident, disease, or violence, the latter quite common). Their physical and mental robustness, combined with their longevity, cause many Tantûraki to look down upon the other mannish peoples of the region, and bitterly envy the Elves.  

The Solar Church is the primary religious authority within the realm. It enthusiastically seeks out and either “converts” or slays heretics, apostates, and adherents of other faiths.

Kin: High Man (Tantûraki); Orcs.
Cultures: High Man: City, Noble, Seafaring, Weald. Orcs: City, Hill, Pastoral, Weald.

TUKTAN (Kirani [men])

Lying to the east of the great swamp Geshaan, Tuktan encompasses rainforests, hills, and plains. The realm is made up of an interconnected web of Kirani villages, loosely knitted together by an informal central government consisting of a council of seventeen ‘Jilhani’ (village leaders). The Jilhan council meets semi-annually, or if a threat to the realm as a whole warrants it. Otherwise, each Jilhan rules his or her town as he or she sees fit. All engage in a lively trade amongst themselves and adjacent Koronande.

It is within the Tuktan’s great oval rainforest alone that the Jeedic Teak trees flourish, and their wood is prized throughout Urdor. Not surprisingly, Tuktan wood craftsmen are very skilled, and their furniture and bows are highly sought after. Tuktan composite bows can bring a price many times the average, and are said to be superior to any other, save the most powerful magical Elvish bows.

The Tuktani are more devout than their kinsfolk in Koronande, and the shamans (animists) who revere the Glade Court enjoy authority and status second only to the Jilhani. 

Of late, Tuktan has had increasing problems with the orcish tribes of the Mûmakan. Envying the fine homes and rich lands of the Tuktani, the orcs are becoming ever more antagonistic, raiding the bordering villages with increasing frequency.

Kins: Men (Kirani).
Cultures: Pastoral, Hill, Weald. 

MÛMAKAN (Orcs, Half-orcs, Men [various])

Mûmakan is a diverse land of plains, hills, rainforests, and lakes. It is inhabited by semi-nomadic orcish tribes, as well as some bands of men (typically outcasts from other lands and their descendants) and even trolls. The people are generally simple and barbaric. Most tribes sustain themselves by hunting, grazing livestock, and even engaging in agriculture. However, they satisfy their other needs not so much by trade, but rather by regularly raiding the adjacent lands of Tuktan, Koronande, and Hathor.  

There has been no central government in Mûmakan for many centuries. Amongst the orcs, the primary social organization is the tribe; these are extremely large extended families, ruled by the oldest living females. The men who live in the land are typically organized into bands led by petty warlords; they sustain themselves by engaging in hunting and raiding.

All orcish tribes meet annually at the religious centre of the land – Amaru, a holy place where the tribes interact, trade, and marriages are arranged. Above all, they pray to their god Amaav, who it is said speaks to them through their high priest. The war priests among the tribes claim that Amaav dwells within the realm of Flux, and rewards greatly those who die in battle.

The Mûmakani make extensive use of a huge animal both as beast of burden and as a fierce war machine: the ‘Mûmak’ – also called the great elephant.

Some rare Mûmakani – orcs, half-orcs, and men – weary of the primitive ways of their homeland and seek better lives in more civilized realms, often as mercenaries. While there is much prejudice against them in other lands, few can deny their battle skills, and so employment is often available. 

Kins: Orcs, Half-orcs, Men (any, often mixed).
Cultures: Hills, Plains (ride elephants instead of horses), Woad, Marauding.


Not a true realm, Ardinaak nonetheless is worthy of mention. Originally part of Tantûrak, and indeed an important naval base during the colony’s youth, Ardinaak was struck by a sudden and mysterious plague in 1908 of the First Age of Humanity. Within days everyone was dead.

Histories tell that the witnesses who fled the island after the first signs of the plague had seen a brilliant flash of light come from the rocky isle in the centre of the bay (which had never been landed upon because of its sheer sides and the treacherous rocks all about it) one night. Those who were unfortunate enough to be looking in that general direction were blinded permanently. Then, within hours people began to grow ill, and their skin became mottled. Even those who had escaped the isle immediately after the flash soon died on the mainland, although they did not transmit the disease to others.

No one has returned to Ardinaak since, according to the records. It has been speculated by some sages that what struck the isle was not a disease, but an immensely powerful curse of some sort. At any rate, the land is associated with death, and its name is not spoken.

Above is the map I drew and coloured (by hand) of the island Urdor. I will be adding important locations and political borders (using Preview) later. In a future post I'll provide some further notes about the island. 

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).