by Kranar Drogin & Carteeg Struve
Capital: Etlarn City
Population: 743,532 (Etlarnic human 87%, Gildanesti 10%, Other 3%)
Religions: Autenanima (Solinari), Calorossa (Lunitari), Scuriga (Nuitari)
Trade: Forged weapons, mined minerals
Legions: Dragonkin Horde, Etlarn Defenders
The Kingdom of Etlarn, secluded in the storm-tossed northern mountains of Adlatum, is a realm both beautiful and grim. Founded by humans thousands of years ago, Etlarn has for centuries been under siege by dragons and their lackeys. Although it was founded by those striving to break away from the powerful magocracy of ages past, Etlarn is now a magocracy of its own, one under great strife.
Life and Society
During its heyday, the use of magic for practical and pragmatic uses was extraordinarily common in Etlarn. Now, most Etlarnans focus on the use of magic in order to keep themselves safe during the war. All cities and villages know they are prone to attack from those loyal to the dragons and their kin.
The cities of Etlarn were grand metropolises filled with towers of ornate rising to the sky and connected to each other through grand archways, platforms, and bridges. Magic was used in some architecture for some buildings, but when focused arcane magic failed after the Starfall, several structures were undermined and collapsed, leaving blocks in ruin. Reconstruction began, but efforts changed when the Dragonkin Horde attacked. This has left many citizens in Etlarn living in deplorable conditions while Etlarn redirected its efforts into stopping the invasion.
Those places under the control of the dragonkin are in a worse situation. The Scalebound and those loyal to the dragonkin have no hesitation in taking what resources are available from the people (including the people themselves) in order to strengthen their hold on the region and expand control.
The moons are the greatest celestial presence in Etlarn. Even after the Starfall, praise and remembrance was often given to Autenanima, the white moon. Smaller sects dedicated to praising Calorossa, the crimson moon, exist as well. For centuries those who praised the ebony moon, Scuriga, kept themselves in secret, leaving their numbers thought small but in truth unknown. Now, with the stability of the world coming undone, many are openly beginning to think that the dark magic of Scuriga may prove itself to be extremely useful and beneficial to the protection of Etlarn.
Each of the cities and towns in Etlarn are ruled by High Elders, magi of experience and wisdom chosen by the ruling king or queen. Within each individual group of Elders, they select from themselves one to act as the figurehead and spokesperson from the Elders named the Lord of the City. This person also casts deciding votes and chooses the order in which issues are brought before the High Elders.
The ruling monarch is passed from the parent to the eldest child, but the child must prove his or herself to be an expert in one field of spellcraft with a passing knowledge of several others. If the child is shown inadequate at the time of ascension, the next child in line is given a chance to take the throne. If the previous monarch has had no children, or if all children failed to pass the examination, each group of Elders across the nation may back an archmagi to take the throne. The mage with the greatest backing across all of Etlarn wins the throne. Often this results in a sibling or more distant relative of the previous monarch being selected. The current king is Archmagi Andoja Uranjos who has been struggling to keep Etlarn City free.
In locations where the dragonkin have control, the local authority is allowed to stay in place so long as they obey all orders from the highest-ranking officer stationed there. If they do not, the troublemaker is swiftly replaced.
The primary defending force for Etlarn is the Etlarn Defenders. The Defenders are divided into the Brethren of the Flame, which utilized Wild Sorcery, the Brethren of the Moons, wielders of White Sorcery, and the Brethren of the Stars, Paladins typically devoted to Autenanima, Pietarde (Paladine), or Pensokia (Majere). These brethrens also included their own elite branches. Included in these subgroups, for example, are the Knights of the Argent Crescent, divine warriors within the Brethren of the Stars who receive divine gifts from Autenanima. The Brethren of the Moons also has the High Arcanists, who serve Etlarn by defending their nation and education their kin among their Brethren in the newest advancements in wizardry. The Brethren of the Flame’s elite corps are the Sentinels of the Throne, a band of experts in the field of wild sorcery.
The other major military force in the region is the Dragonkin Horde. Exactly where they came from is unknown, but they initially appeared to come from the southwest. Now more and more people have joined the “dragons” and their kin in seizing control of Etlarn. Over the previous decades, this army has been steadily gaining greater control over the region.
Magic and Mysticism
Arcane magic, both focused and ambient, is well received as a whole in Etlarn. In the past, there was friction between supporters of both camps, but after four decades of only ambient magic being available, there was a desperate need for wizards with talent in the focused studies once the Starfall was undone. Some supporters of ambient arcane are skeptical of the “stability” of the focused magic considering how it vanished long ago, but some of it may be humor directed at showing how chaotic the ordered version of magic is and vice-versa.
The one type of arcane that many are wary of is the dark magic from the ebony moon. A growing number wish to implement it in the war to better Etlarn’s chances, but others see this as a dangerous temptation that will only lead to the corruption and destruction of their own way of life.
Divine magic has always been appreciated in Etlarn, although usually to a slightly lesser extent than the arcane. After the Starfall, those few mystics unassociated with any faith or organization became highly respected in some parts of the country for their assistance in healing and protection during the war with the dragonkin. There is a question how their services will be respected now that the moons have returned along with the gods, but for now the conflict with their enemies is still their first and foremost concern.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Vaspasias Crater: In the southern reaches of the Etlarn mountains, near the border of the Black Drake Forest, is a enormous crater where magical spells become unstable. Vaspasia was a member of the Etlarn Defenders who was sent to deal with a particularly violent bandit who had managed to convince some of the forest drakes to attack caravans between Etlarn and Gallasfjord. She confronted the bandit and the drake nest, but when using her magic to deal with the situation, something went wrong. Crystals in the mountains held wild magic, acting as batteries for ambient magic. Vaspasias’ magic and these crystals interacted badly, causing massive destruction. Now there is a crate approximately a mile wide and 600 feet deep at its center. Although Vaspasia never returned to Etlarn, and neither did the bandit or the marauding drakes. In the crater, there is still one large partially buried crystal 15 feet long and three feet thick at its base that reacts badly to arcane magic, but no one knows for certain what is causing the wild surges.
Etlarn was founded roughly around 2600 PD when several noble mage families from the Midlands grew disillusioned with the ruling magocracy. Preferring to pursue their own paths, they set out on a trek far into the east. Eventually they established new homes in a series of idyllic mountain vales discovered to be rich in arcane energy. Choosing the wisest of their number, Etlarn the Ancient, as their new king, they likewise named their kingdom after their monarch. The common folk who joined their patrons in this migration became farmers, fishermen, and mines while the noble families continued to train their children in the arts of swordplay and spellcraft, as well as building grand and enchanted castles atop and along the mountains ringing the valleys.
Two generations later, the dragons launched their attacks against humanity and the other bipedal races. Etlarn made an alliance with their minotaur neighbors and together they joined forces in their battles against the dragons. Once the dragons were defeated, the beasts went into hiding deep within their own territories.
For hundreds of years, Etlarn stood aloof from the larger tribulations of the world. Though the wizards and sorcerers of the land maintained contact with other wielders of arcane magic, they refused to get caught up in many of the larger conflicts. In fact Etlarn strived to calm many conflicts, often mitigating disputes over borderlines between elven, human, and minotaur territories. Long alliances are formed, and Etlarn is respected as a neutral state by many governments.
Around 1250 PD, a border dispute between the nations of the Midland and minotaurs turns bloody. The growing power of the Divine Bureaucracy in the Midlands and the minotaurs turns to war. Due to specific agreements being violated in treaties, Etlarn lends aid to the Midlands, breaking their long held pact with the minotaurs. Over the next 250 years, the Chôt-tang Empire of the minotaurs grows in strength while the Midland theocracy falls apart from within. While the human nations of the Midlands fought each other, the minotaurs grew in strength. Without a unified alliance from the Midlands, Etlarn withdrew from the conflicts and returned to a neutral state.
When the Canon War began and the Chôt-tang Empire desired to seize control of all Volumes of the Prophet, Etlarn refused to be caught up in the turmoil. Instead the Etlarnans dedicated themselves to furthering their arcane researches, raising their families, and protecting their kingdom.
While most of the kingdom’s wizards revered Autenanima (Solinari), with a smaller group following Calorossa, over the course of centuries several succumbed to the temptations of Scuriga and began practicing the dark arts. Most of these mages were defeated and deposed, banished from Etlarn, but a few managed to conceal their practice of black sorcery and pass on the traditions of the Ebon Moon to their descendants. Tensions also grew between followers of High Sorcery and Wild Sorcery, as each group began to consider their form of magic superior to the other.
The Drowning had little immediate effect on Etlarn, aside from a handful of avalanches and earthquakes triggered by the continent-shaking impact of the wave. A few among the wizards blamed delving into Wild Sorcery as the cause of the turmoil, while the sorcerers responded that if they had not been so constrained by the opposition of High Sorcery, they might have been able to prevent the destruction. The already present tensions rose as accusations and recriminations flew, and civil war between the two groups of spellcasters became a very real threat.
Such a tragedy was averted by a silver wolf (truly a silver dragon) in 30 AD. The wolf acted as a voice for Autenanima, the patron of White Sorcery appeared to all of Etlarn. Through the silver beast’s mouth, he gave both High Sorcery and Wild Sorcery his blessing. “Both the magic of the moons and the magic of the world will be needed to fight the new dangers approaching; they are meant to be used in harmony, not in opposition, against forces that would destroy all that is good and magical about your kingdom.”
It was only a century later that the meaning of Autenanima’s statements became clear, as the dragons awoke from their ancient lairs and began overrunning the mountain kingdom. Although the true dragons were never seen by mortal eyes, the wyverns and tainted creatures sent out had not been seen before. Without accurate records of the ancient war, the scaled beasts were believed by all to be dragons themselves.
Nearly a third of Etlarn fell beneath the horrors of these so-called dragons before the nobles managed to establish means of defense. The Etlarn Defenders, a legion of knightly spellcasters, was established, divided into the Brethren of the Flame, which utilized Wild Sorcery, the Brethren of the Moons, wielders of White Sorcery, and the Brethren of the Stars, Paladins typically devoted to Autenanima, Pietarde (Paladine), or Pensokia (Majere). These brethrens also included their own elite branches. Included in these subgroups, for example, are the Knights of the Argent Crescent, divine warriors within the Brethren of the Stars who receive divine gifts from Autenanima. The Brethren of the Moons also has the High Arcanists, who serve Etlarn by defending their nation and education their kin among their Brethren in the newest advancements in wizardry.
Shining castles became grim fortresses, and walls and watchtowers were swiftly built to hold back the draconic onslaught. While the dragons could not venture far from their lairs, they could journey far enough to wreak havoc on many regions of the kingdom, and their servants were even more deadly.
Etlarn is recently emerging from a dark time. Forty years ago, during the Starfall, the moons and constellations of the old gods vanished, leaving the Brethren of the Moons and Stars without their magical talents. Many strongholds of these two orders were swiftly demolished by resurgent dragons. The Brethren of the Flame retained their talents and covered the retreat for the remaining warrior-wizards and paladins, which has left many among the survivors bitter and resentful. With two-thirds of the kingdom’s magical strength gone, the dragons swept over most of Etlarn, leaving only a single large valley and some isolated fortresses to the Etlarnans. Worst of all was the resurgence of those mortals who have sided with the dragons. The Scalebound, as they are called, have pledged their loyalty to the wyrms, receiving terrible powers in exchange for their souls. Though many of these traitors take up arms openly with the dragons, others work in secret. In wake of such turmoil and betrayal, some among the Etlarnans advocating taking up the arts of Black Sorcery and foul necromancy to do battle with the dragons, or even contacting the Midland Guard for assistance.
- The Artificers Guild of Anglem is trying to build a “lighter than air” freighter using plans discovered from a far off land that involve the use of tamed elementals. This has disturbed the Corinesti Trade delegation who fears it could impinge on their sea trade monopoly.
- After the Midland Sovereign’s declaration that Elder Dragons were running the Tashrama, it was assumed the church was responsible, whether in whole or in part, for the draconic siege launched against Etlarn. The Tashramadic Council has vehemently denied this, stating they were never risk an assault against a distant foreign land when their own existence in the Midlands is so tentative. So far, no direct evidence has linked the draconic siege with the Tashrama.
- The Dragonkin Horde recently launched a major siege against the capital, Etlarn City. Although it resulted in substantial losses for the invaders, the Etlarn King Andoja Uranjos vanished along with his eldest daughter during the assault. The rest of the royal family, including his wife, have no knowledge as to what happened to Etlarn’s ruler and immediate heir.
- Scouts and spies in Gallasfjord have reported numerous ships recently having set out for voyages into the deep sea to the east. None have been able to find out where this fleet is heading.
Anglem (Small City 8,495): Once larger than the capital of Etlarn City, Anglem has been ripped apart by the magic meant to protect it. Anglem has been come unstuck and instantaneously shifts through the Etlarn and Sky Seeker Mountains, rarely staying in one place for long. The disaster that caused this resulted in the death of 75% of the population, and depression and fear resulted in rampant suicides. When the sorcerers were able to gain some sort of control, holding a sizable portion of Anglem together, the curse of the city became a blessing. The dragons assaulting Etlarn were never able to find the city long enough to launch an invasion and claim it. The dragonkin armies now state they are willing to “show their benevolence” and “allow” Anglem and a few other well-defended locations to retain their independence.
Even before focused magic returned just recently, the training center for the Etlarn Defenders was rebuilt and put back into full operation. It has nowhere near the population it had before, but it is fully dedicated to training those who would stand against the dragons. The educational facilities have also been rebuilt, and any time the city appears to be still for a short while, trade is swiftly and quietly done with nearby towns with those trying to end the occupation.
Everything is not unified in purpose in Anglem however. The Gildanesti Magi Yugorv has come to the training center proposing that the darker magic of Black Sorcery be taught as a viable option for Defenders to use against the dragons. The facilities board appears to be split on the issue. The Lord of the City and Leader of the Resistance, Boeki NurVar, has been hesitant to show support.
Blissport (Large City 16,452): Blissport was founded eighteen months after the Drowning when two separated lovers found each other on the nearby cliff top during a beautiful sunset illuminating the bay below. They and their families settled here, and trade with the Corinesti on the beaches below allowed them to thrive. Since then Blissport became both a trading center and a tourist city drawing those looking for, or who have already found, romance.
A few years after the Starfall, Blissport became the first Etlarn settlement attacked by the Dragonkin Horde. Without any warning, the flying beasts and their ground forces struck the city during the night. No one had seen the ships approach, none had seen the enemy enter the city, and none had noticed when their Defenders were slain. Only when everyone woke in the morning did they realize what had happened.
The Corinesti traders have continued business with Blissport, but the tourism draw of the city has completely vanished. Now Blissport is used as a staging area for shoreline raids on Etlarn’s Sargassi seaside border.
Etlarn City (Metropolis 53,482): The pristine marvel of Etlarn City was seen as the crown of civilization in eastern Adlatum since its founding thousands of years ago. Nestled in the half-valley at the foot of the tall Etlarn Mountains, the city is directly connected to both the settlements in the western plains and to the cities hidden within the monstrous peaks that reach higher than anywhere else in Adlatum sans Terragrym. Enormous palaces and towers of white stone and colorful glass shined ten or more stories tall behind the grand wall surrounding the seat of magecraft where the king of Etlarn rules. Even as the draconic assault laid much of the kingdom to waste, Etlarn City was able to keep the threat out siege after siege after siege. Having defended so well, much of the city is still in good condition, but there has been a slow wearing down of morale draining the will for some to resist.
Gallasfjord (Small City 7,345): What used to be a tiny port village after the Starfall has grown in strength and has prospered under the Scalebound. During the early stages of the war, the village war refitted into a naval port for raids up and down the shoreline on the outer edge of the continent. Due to the amount of wealth and increase in jobs to the town, the people of Gallasfjord have changed their loyalties to the invaders, believing them to be what is best for them and for Etlarn. No longer a shanty village, large permanent structures have been constructed by local Etlarnic humans along with those who bring foreign techniques and styles to the land.
Promesh (Large City 23,542): In the early days of Etlarn, Promesh was founded by King Etlarn’s first-cousin Aphelna, who named it for her late son who long since died in childhood. Since then the city grew to become the academic center for the kingdom. The City of Seven Academies, as it had been called for over a thousand years, drew those who wished to learn about magic and its applications from all over Adlatum. Those who graduated from these challenging institutions with the highest honors almost always gained fame for their works later in life.
The grandeur of Promesh decreased during the Canon War when ability to draw new talent to the schools were weakened by the war, but after the Drowning it returned to its glory as many students chose to remain in Etlarn to become citizens in the high ground of Etlarn. Ten years after the Starfall, Promesh’s fame was squashed, possibly forever as the Dragonkin Horde flooded the valley and turned the city into a military stronghold.
For thirty-years Promesh had been under the rule of the dragonkin and their followers. But on the very night the Starfall was undone, rebels living in the walled city launched multiple coordinated attacks on their occupiers. By morning, the rebels had secured a quarter of the city, sacrificing the government buildings instead to gain the armory and training barracks. Over the following months, the rebels loyal to the kingdom have been gaining control block by block in bloody battles. Even now the city is equally divided between the forces struggling to wipe the enemy out and secure the valley.