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Persenoes: Home of the Amazons


The Great Western Ocean, as far as the people of Calibran are concerned, stretches from the westernmost of the Brigand Islands and on into empty infinity. To most it is a mysterious place, beyond knowing. Those few who dwell on the ocean’s shores are often said to share in some of the ocean’s strangeness. So it is with the island of Persenoes and its amazon inhabitants.

The island itself bears south of Pelaj and east of the entrance to the Narrows. Persenoes is also the name of the only city of note on the island, both home and capital of the amazon culture. The tales told of the amazons on the mainland are enough to make most either blush or cringe. Their warriors have taken on the status of myth, and they are said to practice the sort of dark magic only women know.

Those who have actually been to the island know all the stories are nonsense. The amazons are unusually hard-headed, and disdain magic in favor of strength of arms and agility of mind. Most of what is said of the amazons is made up of whole cloth. But one thing is true, that the amazons are ruled by women. That, and that they love their island home above all other places.


Persenoes is both the island and the capital city. The island is rocky and bare, the center dominated by the volcano Theras. The volcano is quiet these days, and at most he smokes and rumbles in his sleep. The amazons refer to him as their grumpy grandfather: occasionally loud and dangerous but for the most part useless, except as a source of noxious gases.

To Thera’s north are the Back Hills. The people who live there are famous for their hard-headed natures, even among the grounded and tough minded people of Persenoes. They must be the most stubborn people in the world to draw a living from that rocky countryside, it is said by the city dwellers. Shepherds is what they are, mostly, though there are vineyards in some of the more hospitable spots and they also grow olives to sell in the city.

To the south of the volcano is the more built up, civilized part of the island. Quarries surround the city, providing the white marble that is characteristic of the city. Most, upon arriving in the port of Persenoes, look up to see the High Tier, a ring of glorious structures that form the highest, most prestigious part of Persenoes. The Royal Palace, the temple of the amazons’ goddess Asteria, the law courts, and all the greatest buildings are on the High Tier. Their eyes lower, inevitably, from that clean, blinding vision of civilization to see the squalor and muck of the port itself. Between the two extremes lies most of the city, the rich and the respected crowding up against the High Tier and the poor and desperate forced down toward the port.

The island is ringed with a wall of reefs and sandbars, protecting the island both against the worst of the storms that can rage in the wide ocean, and also against invaders from the mainland. Pirates from the Brigand Islands have sometimes seen Persenoes as an easy target. Most such raiders died when the reefs tore the hulls of their ships open. The survivors were hung by the amazons as a warning to others.

There are a few breaks in the reef walls that allow ships through, the largest at the mouth of Persenoes harbor, to the south of the city. There are other, smaller openings as well, too small to send a warship or troop transport through, but big enough for the small fishing boats that make up the majority of the Persenoan navy. As a rule, the amazons are uninterested in what goes on in the wider world, and so have few warships or long-distance merchants. There are plenty of reasons for others to come to Persenoes to trade, and the amazons have never seen a necessity for sending their own people abroad, except in rare circumstances.


Asteria, the goddess the people of Persenoes worship, has a number of different aspects. The aspects all have different personalities, as well as different skills and traits. And yet according to her priestesses, they are all Asteria.

One, perhaps the most widely worshipped aspect among the people of the Back Hills, is that of Asteria as a hunter. She carries a bow, and sets a pack of immortal hounds on her prey. She prowls through the rough, uncivilized country looking for interesting game. To the shepherds, distant rumbling thunder is the growling of Asteria’s dogs. When they hear it, they pray to her to pass them by.

Other aspects are more gentle, though none could be said to be forgiving. One such is that of a teacher and scholar. The people of Persenoes credit Asteria in this aspect with writing their law code, and with providing many of the inventions and advances that make life easier on the island.

A third aspect, popular with the more urban population of Persenoes, is that of a warrior, or captain of warriors. According to the amazons, Asteria in this guise was responsible for introducing organized fighting in ranks and tactics like shield walls and other innovations. Asteria the Captain is a canny fighter who prefers sharp wits to dumb, bull strength.

This aspect is most likely so popular because warriors are highly regarded among the amazons. Despite their lack of involvement with the outside world, the amazons have kept a strong martial tradition alive, so that their soldiers are still regarded as among the most skilled and sophisticated fighters in Calibran. They fight with spears, or sometimes shields and swords. Their archers are also the equal of any but the wood elves.

Their appreciation of the physical and mental has meant that the numinous and arcane are neglected on the island. Most amazonians (men and women) regard magic as an unnatural intrusion on the ordered world. There are a few wizards on the island, but they tend to be foreigners who have settled in the city for some reason. The one exception is a tendency to seek out fortune tellers, and follow their pronouncements. The chiefest seer on the island is the Sybil, who lives in a cave near Thera and says the spirit of the volcano sends her visions of the future. Most wizards think she is a fraud while acknowledging that the magic of foresight is tricky and poorly understood.

Strangely, there is a strong natural talent for sorcery, the innate magic that some in Calibran are born with. The Queen maintains a small group of sorcerers to cast magic for the kingdom’s needs. They have their own traditions and methods of magic, strange to those of the mainland, and are capable of working together to cast mighty spells.

Magical Weapons in Calibran


In fantasy, weapons of magic and might are almost as well known as the characters that wield them. What would Bilbo be without Sting, or Elric without Stormbringer? How long would Arthur have kept his throne without Excalibur?

Enchanted weapons are fixtures in fantasy, and with good reason. Spells are great, but they are mysterious and distant. It’s easier to picture ourselves wielding a magic blade than speaking arcane words. It’s the enchanted sword in the hero’s hand that will endure as the most iconic incarnation of fantasy.

We haven’t neglected this aspect of our worldbuilding. In Calibran, magic weapons are rare, but a few, at any rate, will find their way into our heroes’ hands. But where do magic weapons in Calibran come from?

From the Forges of the Dwarves

To call weapons enhanced by magic ‘common’ is to give a false impression. In truth, even the least enchanted sword or dagger is rarer than rubies. But, if one were able to list all the weapons that have some spell wedded to them, those known as well as the ones that are lost in dark caverns or buried cities, more would have been forged by dwarven hands than any other.

The dwarves of Mil Dundohr are well known for the quality of their weapons, made from a steel at once harder and more flexible than that humans can produce. The swords and axes of Khorduum are legendary and prized by great warriors and lords for their amazing craftsmanship and durability. But these are no more than toys compared to the truly enchanted swords, axes, and hammers of the Dwarves. Those weapons combine the subtle art of smithing with the arcane mysteries of dwarven runes. The greatest smiths among the Dwarves have always been masters of runic magic as well as masters of fire and steel. They know metal well enough to see what needs to be strengthened and where precisely a rune should be placed to turn a simple sword into an indestructible length of hardened flame, leeching the forge fire latent in the steel to set enemies alight when a true blow lands, or using the cold of quenching water to freeze an opponent, or any of a myriad of other effects.

Dwarven weapons are most often made for dwarven stature and strength. For that reason, while prized, they are often both too short and too heavy for best use by the other mortal races. Still, they command a hefty price and legendary reputation.

Crafted by Elves

Every elven weapon is, in some sense, enchanted. Most have only small charms, however, to make the grip of a sword fit more snugly, or to keep an edge sharp despite abuse. Elves use magic as a common part of every day life, and it would never occur to most to divide any of their crafts into magical and nonmagical types. However, truly enchanted elven weapons are extremely rare outside their forests in Calibran proper.

Elven weapons of any kind are almost never sold on the open market. They rarely feel the need to trade, and when they do weapons are essentially never traded to outsiders. One must be a close friend or ally to be given a chance to own even the least elf forged sword. The greatest magic weapons are hidden and hoarded, and they are only revealed on the rare occasions they are required.

If dwarven-rune smiths find the essential nature of a weapon and enhance it, making it somehow more of a sword, more of a shield, stronger or sharper, elven enchantments change the essential nature of those things they enchant. A sword is no longer just a sword; it can summon wind or water to do its wielder’s bidding, or charm armies to turn their allegiances. Some weapons have even been given a sort of life and independent intelligence by elven sorceries, making them allies (or enemies) instead of tools. These great weapons have names, identities, and histories of their own, and are treated by their elven caretakers as worthy of respect and attention.

Artifacts of the Distant Past

History in Calibran really begins only a couple thousands years ago. Most scholars only trust implicitly texts that have been written since the founding of the dragon throne. The reason is simple: the dragon wars destroyed so much of what had come before that there are large gaps in knowledge and understanding. There are ruins buried beneath the silent sands; no one, not even the elves, know who built them, when, or why. There are other such remains of lost cities, hidden in mountains or out of the way places.

The dragons, if they know the truth, rarely reveal their wisdom, and their tendency to twist truth or simply lie to put themselves in a better light, or for some complex scheme for their own advantage, is part of what makes the study of history so difficult, the written histories so suspect.

This much is known. There were several great peoples and cultures that rose and fell in the mists of time. Some are known and more or less understood, while most have remained mysteries. At least a few had magic and craft to match what can be found today, and there are some hints they were capable of even more. Weapons and other artifacts, many with powers only poorly understood, have been found in these ruins, indications of the heights to which those fallen kingdoms had aspired.

Crafted by Dragons

For all their wisdom and power, dragons seldom actually make anything. Who needs swords when you have claws longer than a man’s height, or armor when you have scales that can’t be pierced by mundane weapons? Who needs carts or roads when you can lift an ox one handed and fly off with it?

Dragons do prize the craftsmanship of other races, but merely as an ornament to their hoard, a way of declaring their status. On rare occasions, however, dragons have been moved to turn their prodigious power to the making of tools and weapons. Sometimes, it was to meet some particular need of their own. More often, a dragon was equipping a trusted servant before sending them off on a perilous mission. It’s an interesting twist of history that almost all dragon made weapons were crafted to be used by mortals. Long after the original purpose has been forgotten, they are still being wielded by mortals, now on business of their own.

There are rumors of yet more powerful weapons, god-forged in the midsts of time, spells made tangible that can not only kill, but rend their victims entirely from existence. Rumors are all that remain of such things, though, and legends of the destruction such things wreaked on the face of the world before history began.

Khorduum: The Hidden City

Dwarves are mountain creatures. Some myths say they were made from the bones of the earth themselves. They almost always live in the deeps beneath mountain peaks, though, in cities carved from the living rock and sculpted into halls, forges, and homes. In many ways, modern fantasy dwarves have taken on many of the aspects of the Norse culture that helped define them. Their like little underground vikings, fearsome, jolly, and heavy drinkers. Their caverns are like mead halls made from stone rather than wood, and their warriors are vikings compressed down to fit in dwarvish tunnels.

It is well known that dwarves of Calibran come in two general types. Hill dwarves are more likely to be encountered by the other races. They live on the sides of the mountains, and only go below the earth to mine for the metals and gems they value so highly. In their city of Mil Dundhor, they mine and forge, and sell what they make to the wider world.

Mountain dwarves are rarer above ground, spending most of their lives in their deep workings. The things they make are meant for use in their dark halls, and rarely make it into the hands of others. They are stricter, more fierce, and (so they say) are the true dwarves of Calibran. Mountain dwarves in Calibran have their own under mountain home, known to most as Khorduum.

The Halls of the Mountain Kings

Deep beneath the tallest peaks of the Cairbre Mountains is the home of the mountain dwarves. Khorduum is not a city in the sense that a human might expect. A noble elf, wandering the halls, might find it familiar in a strange way. The reason is that Khorduum, for the most part, is as much a mine as metropolis. The dwarves pursue veins of silver, iron, and other metals, carving out the rock. Behind them comes builders and architects, expanding their workings and turning them into homes and marketplaces. The mines and veins have snaked their way through the mountains, miles of dark, maze-like tunnels. Large caverns, better lit and more lively than the tunnels, become market places, temples, and taverns. Is it the city, or a whole country? Dwarves shrug. Those distinctions matter much more to a surface dweller than to Khorduum’s inhabitants.

The center of this complex and organised web of mines, halls, homes, and more, is the Great Granite Hall, the dwarven king’s throne room. Part of the Slate Citadel, the king’s palace, it is where the mountain king holds his court and from whence his decrees are issued. The hall itself is a wide space, and tall, supported by four thick stone pillars that rise from the four corners of the king’s dias. From the floor of the Hall, the dias rises in steps, to the platform where the king sits on his stone chair.

The Great Granite Hall isn’t just the king’s throne room. Dwarves are noted for their practicality, and so the king has placed his kingdom’s bureaucracy there as well, under his personal eye. The Hall is full on most days with dwarven nobles and petitioners seeking an audience with the king. It is also filled with judges, discussing cases with their colleagues and the king’s lore keepers. Clerks and priests complete their work standing in that hall, not wanting to return to their offices lest they be called on by their king to perform some task.

Outside of the Stone Citadel is Kugret’s Market. The name is somewhat misleading as it is as much a manufacturing center as a market. The best dwarven smiths have their forges in the Market, and indeed, it is only possible to work among the Market’s forges with an invitation from the king himself. His weapons and armor, and those of his guards, are made in the Market. But an invitation takes more than simple skill with fire, hammer, and an anvil. It requires some invention or innovation to justify the invitation.

It does also operate as a market, and Kugret’s is the largest in Khorduum. It is one of the few places where dwarves can purchase delicacies, luxuries that can only be produced on the surface. From the Citadel and the Market at the center of Khorduum, the tunnels spread out through the Caribre Mountains like a spider stringing its web. There is a complete map in the Citadel of all the tunnels and caverns. Or, at least the map is complete in theory. Dwarves, being the industrious folks that they are, have a tendency to go off and dig shortcuts, new rooms, and whatever else they need at a particular moment. It is a continuing headache to the king’s court to keep this building to a minimum, and to keep it from undermining other, official construction.

Khorduum remains a legendary place, only rarely opened to outsiders. Mountain dwarves are much more insular, much more private than their hill dwelling cousins. Their culture, sophisticated and ancient, has long been turned inward.

Mosswardens, Tanistry, and a Big Sword

The dwarves of Khorduum are a strange mix. Their life underground, and the harshness of it, often means that they find themselves trapped within rigid roles that don’t allow for much individual freedom. The mountain dwarves that inhabit Khorduum are known, in particular, for their fatalistic and pragmatic manners. Yet, there are few creatures that walk the earth or crawl below it that can match a dwarf in capacity for food, drink, and revelry when they’re in the mood for it.

Sometimes, the dwarven love of adventure and fun gets a little out of hand, straying into the mad. Mine divers, for example, are considered by most sober citizens to be thrill-seeking maniacs. Their hobby involves setting up a crane over a deep hole. The dwarves climb into a net hanging from the crane, then are released to fall into the black depths, without light or sound. The sensation is akin to flying, according to those that try the sport and live. Their fall is brought up short by the rope, and they dangle there until their fellows up above reel them back up.
On the other hand, Khorduum is also home to the mosswardens. This sacred fellowship is charged with maintaining and caring for the coldlight moss, which grows on the ceilings of most corridors and roads in the city. Torches, candles, and fires are used in the city, it would be impossible to light the whole of Khorduum with flame. The danger and possibility of filling the halls with smoke is real. In any case, there is not enough fuel for that many fires burning constantly. In many places, the moss is the only source of light and the mosswardens see it as a sacred duty to keep the ways lighted and navigable. They renounce all position and inheritance when they take up their trust.


Some dwarves have more to lose by taking such an oath. The mountain dwarves have a system of government that is similar to the aristocratic rulers of the humans. Dwarven noble houses sit on the Council of Nobles, led by the King. They are wealthy and privileged.

The government of the dwarves reveals two other sides to their nature, not duty and boldness, but love of both tradition and practical invention. They practice a system called tanistry, where the king’s heir is chosen from a pool of suitable candidates rather than being determined by simple birth. The heir, called the Tanist, becomes king on the retirement of the old ruler, and a new tanist is chosen.

The Magic of the Dwarves

Magic is a living force in Calibran. Every race partakes of it in some way. Elves seem to regard magic as a friend, humans think it an object of study, and goblins as just another sort of of confidence trick. Dwarves are alone in regarding magic purely as a tool, and so they have a unique method of employing it. Instead of casting spells or appeasing spirits, they inscribe runes, engraved into the material or otherwise made integral to the tool or weapon. Each rune alters whatever it is inscribed in, making it stronger or sharper, or one of a host of other possibilities.

The runes are drawn from the secret, ancient language of the dwarves, rarely if ever shared with outsiders. Deep in the halls of Khorduum, loremasters keep lists of the different runes, strictly organized by type.

The greatest runemasters are said to have transcended the need to inscribe their runes into base materials. Instead, they write runes in the air, producing effects similar to the spells of wizards and sorcerers.

Khorduum is a legendary place, known by most only as a far off name. It is a place for dwarves, and so it is a rare visitor who finds their way between the city’s gates. For all their isolation, though, the day may come when they will be forced to come to the surface and take a greater part in the realm.

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Dwarves |The Dragon King | Season 1 | Episode 1

Dragons: The Lords of Calibran

Dragons The Lords of Calibran
Dragons are endlessly fascinating creatures, full of contradictions that seem to make them more human than fantastic monster. Wise, yet for some reason constantly seeking gold and magic to add to their hordes. Huge, powerful, and dangerous, but always with one fatal weakness. Dragons have a unique place in fantasy, a sort of recognition from creators and fans that they are the baddest villains, the strictest teachers, the most cunning negotiators. In whatever role they play in the story, they are unsurpassed.

Most cultures have a ‘dragon’ of some sort. In Europe, dragons were slain by St. George, Beowulf, and Sigurd. In the Middle East, Marduk killed the fire breathing lizard, Humbaba. Later, Rostam slew a dragon there as well, as did Hercules. Indra slew Vritra, the first born of dragons, in India. Chinese dragons ruled river and ocean kingdoms, and Japanese dragons hid powerfully magical swords. There’s a theory that we’ve inherited a primal reaction to a few scary animals like snakes, lizards and big cats from our hominid ancestors. They knew these beasts were dangerous, and treated them accordingly. Dragons have been found in so many cultures, taken center stage in so many stories, the theory says, because they combine the traits of these dangerous animals, and so we have a visceral, instinctual reaction to them. Dragons are special because they can reach down into those base, animal fears, and give them a little poke.

In Calibran, people have more concrete reasons to fear dragons. The Dragon Kings have been reigning over the united kingdom for only about two hundred and fifty years. Before that, the dragons were the lords of Calibran.

A World For Their Own

The world was formed from the fiery breath of the great Dragon God. This is according to the wise old dragons that lair in The Horns, the ones that are charged with teaching the young. Calibran was made to be the home of the dragons, in their care and to serve their pleasure. The animals that populated it were created to be their prey, servants, and students. The mountains were lifted up to support their lairs, and the wide plains spread to be their kingdoms. All dragons are raised believing this.

To be fair, it is easy to see how they could come to this conclusion. Who can match a dragon in terms of size and strength? Who can best them in cunning, or use magic to greater effect? For most of Calibran’s history, it was ruled by dragons. The greatest and most powerful were lords over wide ranges, big enough to contain thousands of the mortals that crawled around the dragons’ feet like bumbling children. Their only challengers were the younger and faster dragons that numbered among their subjects, ambitious and grasping.

When they thought of their lesser subjects, the humans and elves and all the rest, it was usually to send them against each other in armies. In that way, dragons settled arguments, or fought over land, or merely amused themselves.

Guardians Or Killers

There were a few of the serpent-lords who saw themselves as guardians and teachers, rather than rulers. Dragons who followed this philosophy were rare at first, most just taking what they wanted and leaving ruin in their wake. It was an idea that spread and became more popular over time, though, for a number of reasons. First, those that chose to teach the mortal races found them to be apt students, quick to learn and draw new conclusions. To some, this proved they were intelligent beings, and deserved proper treatment.

Others saw how much more useful properly trained servants could be. They could wield magic, or build great palaces. They could create such delightful art and trinkets to grace the hoards of the dragons. Many saw a convenient way to keep the mortals, suddenly everywhere and growing more powerful, content. More than one dragon lord kept his subjects agreeable by doling out secrets and wisdom in exchange for authority.

The dragons who kept to the old ways of tyranny and indifference thought their brothers and sisters too weak, too kind. The arguments went from verbal to physical quickly, and fights between dragons became more common. The Dragon Wars were soon raging, as dragons fought dragons. Some fought to kill and destroy the mortals, to either keep them powerless or else to simply wipe them from existence. Others fought to protect their mortal charges.

Mortals were spectators for the first long years of the Dragon Wars, as their masters fought in the skies above them to determine their fate. Dragons died, but it was the mortals who suffered more. They did not have the power to take part, to fight and decide their own fate. Or so everyone thought, until Criidath the Reckless was murdered.

Don’t Leave Fate To Chance

Almorwen’s name was already mighty in the days before Criidath’s death. He was an old elf even then, but the stories said he had been taught his magic by dragons in his youth. Almorwen had been a servant at more than one lord’s side, though more often he had hidden from the winged rulers, helping his people and using his powers for their safety. At some point, however, Almorwen realized that the mortals had to take charge of their own destiny. More than that, he realized that the mortal races might have finally become powerful enough to actually do so. He hatched a plan, ambitious onto lunacy at that time, to kill a dragon.

He and a company of elven warriors and sorcerers, including his daughter Enyelar, faced Criidath at the Cliffs of Ronin, deep in the Silent Sands. Criidath was a great, old red, and breathed fire to set the elves burning. But, Almorwen had chosen his foe wisely. He and his companions had concocted a potion that protected them from the dragon’s fire.

Almorwen rose into the air through the power of elves’ magic. He fought Criidath, blinding the dragon with his great staff. Unable to see, Criidath crashed into the cliffs themselves. Enyelar pulled them down on top of him, and thus was the first dragon killed by a mortal.

The dragons’ reputation for invulnerability began to crumble. Another dragon crawled down into the dwarves’ mines, perhaps to plunder the gold and jewels they were famous for taking from the ground. The dragon never emerged again. The minotaurs killed a dragon, and then others managed the feat as well. Even the goblins were able to swarm and bring down a young one in the mountains.

Suddenly the harmless little beings that crawled on the earth could hurt the dragons. Some were afraid, but many others were angered. As the rightful rulers of Calibran, they should not be challenged. The attacks on the mortals grew worse, and efforts to wipe them out intensified. But now the mortals could fight back.

The philosophical argument that motivated the Dragon Wars ended on the Field of Farsalon, when a great army made up of all the mortal races of Calibran defeated the dragons. Though the dragons had displayed incredible power in actually creating a new race, the saurians, to serve in their armies, it was not enough. Mortals were not willing to be the dragons’ play-things, and they had grown beyond being simple students. They would decide their own fate. The dragons, their numbers and strength depleted through constant fighting, retreated to The Horns and the high places of the world, and for the most part left the mortals to their own devices.

Dragons do not die of old age, but live until they are, in some way, ended. As a consequence, they are patient beyond stones, willing to wait for plans to mature, for the time to be right. The mortals have won their freedom, proved themselves worthy to guide their own fate for a time. But someday the dragons would return, and remind the world who its masters are.

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Dragons | The Lord of Calibran

Cathedra’s Gate: Capital of the Dragon Kings


The biggest, wealthiest city in the whole of Calibran is its capital, the seat of the Dragon Throne: Cathedra’s Gate. It’s the home of thousands, one of the safest places in the kingdom, surrounded by high walls and guarded by vigilant watchmen and the latest in military technology (for a medieval society). It is also one of the deadliest places in Calibran, swarming with thieves and cutthroats. It’s filled with people from all over, some of whom are undoubtedly desperate enough to do just about anything.

The creative team took a great deal of care in creating Cathedra’s Gate. It’s the biggest city in the Kingdom, and to a certain extent it is the focus of culture as well as the center of government. We, writers and readers both, are going to be spending a fair bit of time in the city, in the saga and side stories, so it’s important to have a solid picture of what it’s like. Also, it helps if it’s realistic enough to be believable while still being fantastic enough to be interesting.

The city lies at the mouth of the Serpent River, the Old Blue Snake, the place where it empties into the Great Western Ocean. Steel weapons and tools forged by dwarves in the far off mountains, the surpassingly subtle wine of the wood elves, and grain from the Fields of Farsalon coming down the river meet fish caught in the ocean, spices from the Silent Sands, and travelers from all over the kingdom. It’s the crossroads of Calibran, and all roads lead to it.

By Any Other Name…

The obvious question, of course, is who is Cathedra, and where is this gate that everyone is talking about? The city has been there at the mouth of the Serpent River, in one form or another, far back into the mists of time, and so the origin of the name is something of a mystery. The elves may remember precisely what the real story is, but as they usually do their best to avoid answering direct questions with straight answers, no one is really sure what the truth is. Legend and myth has provided a couple of answers, however.

The first claims that at one point the city, or at that time the town that would grow into the city, was protected by a great human wizard named Cathedra. This wizard was powerful enough to keep the dragons away, creating a refuge for the mortal races of Calibran.

Safe places being in short supply, people flocked to Cathedra’s town. It became a center of culture, learning, and trade. In other words, it became wealthy. It became a target. Eventually it became too juicy of a target, and while the dragons let it be, some other powerful, dark creature came to threaten the city. Whether it was the wealth that brought this threat, the growing population, or the magical power that had come to be gathered there that led the monster to attack has been lost to time.

Cathedra came to the city’s defense, acting as its shield and sword once more. The powerful wizard and monster fought each other to a standstill, each draining the other’s power without finding an advantage, a way toward victory. Eventually, his magic flagging, Cathedra held off the monster long enough to create a solution. Instead of simply killing the monster, which seemed too powerful to die, he locked it behind a huge gate, a ruin that was the remnant of some yet older civilization. Cathedra sealed the monster beyond the gate, and there it has been imprisoned ever since, still bound by the wizard’s power. The gate, weathered by time to the point it looks like a simple stone outcropping, can still be seen in the city.

Eventually Cathedra disappeared. Perhaps, being human, he reached the end of his span of years and died. Or perhaps he grew powerful enough to pass beyond some other way. In any case, to honor the man who had protected them for so long, the people of the city renamed it after their wizard and his greatest test.

The other story is much more mundane, but perhaps it seems a little more believable. Cathedra’s Gate, lying as it does at the mouth of the Kingdom’s biggest river, sheltered from storms behind a small archipelago, was a prime place for a city. Trade flowed, people came, and inevitably trouble came with them. To protect the trade that was the lifeblood of the city, at every gate was a table, or in the language of the time, a cathedra, where weapons were deposited before entrance to the city was allowed. Eventually the idea became conflated with the city, and it became known as Cathedra’s Gate.

That story’s not as fantastic. Some think it more likely to be true. In a world where dragons fly overhead and genuine magic is worked casually on street corners, though, the possibility of wizards wrestling dark monsters into thousand-year prisons should not be discounted.

The Palace and the City

As an ancient city in a perilous world, Cathedra’s Gate has outgrown its walls three times. The first wall surrounds the center of the city. All that remains of it is a slight rise, and a few ancient gate structures that are missing stones like missing teeth. The second ring can still be seen in some places around the city, ruined stretches of low stone that break up streets, and serve as an ersatz fourth wall for many buildings. The third is still whole, ringing the city, not as tall as the modern walls but still sturdy and serving as a second line of defense within. Beyond it are some of the larger houses and mansions, the newest construction, where the wealthier craftsmen and artisans live.  

The fourth ring of walls are some of the tallest structures in Calibran. Dwarven builders and stonemasons worked closely with human architects and inventors to create marvels of technology, elaborate devices used just to build the walls to their great height and then destroyed. On the tops of the walls sit trebuchets, ballistas, and other engines of war, each the product of a technical mind combined with the skill and magic of its builders.

Officially, the city ends at the fourth, modern ring of walls. Construction beyond that point is forbidden, and the constables and military are diligent in preventing new building that might offer cover for enemies, or a shortcut to the top of the walls. In reality, there are temporary buildings there that are thrown up to sell goods or house newcomers, then taken down before anyone can object too strongly. Docks are built out onto the river, and boat houses. There is a fair bit of traffic on the roads and waterways leading in and out of the city, and with money to be made, people are willing to risk the constable’s wrath for the chance to make a quick golden scale or two.

The river flows through the walls, but the engineers that designed the city’s defenses were not willing to leave so large a gap. So, the Rivergate was designed and built, a great, moving structure, the largest in Calibran, that can be closed in times of emergency. Around it is the Rivergate district, where most newcomers enter the city. It contains a number of Inns and restaurants, as well as a collection of canny tricksters waiting to fleece the unwary. Within the city are many neighborhoods, towns swallowed whole by the city hundreds of years in the past, and slums guarded by sly men with narrowed eyes.

In the center of the city is the Royal Compound, which is almost a city onto itself. Aramnor Plaza is the large area before Aramnor’s Castle, the public face of the Dragon Throne. The walls of the castle loom above the plaza, and are guarded by grim faced soldiers. Inside the castle is no less intimidating, though now it is apathetic bureaucrats petitioners face on their way to seeking an audience with the King.

Behind the castle is Belgrave House, once the home of Johelm Belgrave, the Kingdom’s founder and national hero. It was usurped by Aramnor, the first Dragon King, a point that still irritates the modern noble Belgrave family. Griffon House, their new home, sits grumpily across the plaza from the Royal Compound. Also found behind Aramnor’s Castle are the Royal Libraries, wizards’ laboratories, armories, gardens, servants quarters, and everything else needed to keep the administration of the Kingdom on course.

Also to be found in the city is Caster’s Square, a public space in the heart of the city where merchants come to sell goods, and friends meet over a mug of ale or cup of wine. The Arena, where the Games are held every few years is also an easy to spot landmark.

Cathedra’s Gate is the largest city in the Kingdom, and it is the center of it in many ways. Not only is it where the government resides, it is also the center of many political, criminal, and magical webs that stretch across Calibran. Every conspiracy eventually comes to find its place in Cathedra’s Gate.

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Cathedra’s Gate

It’s A Killer View – The Cliffs of Ronin

Cliffs of Ronin |Its A Killer View-The Cliffs of Ronin

The Cliffs of Ronin

There are only two ways for most people to see the Cliffs of Ronin. The first is from the top. From there, the eye is naturally drawn to the landscape spread out before you, to the distant horizon that is often, due to the dryness of the air, clearly visible. The Cliffs don’t simply drop straight down. There are plateaus, waterfalls, plant growth, and animals, but all that is hidden. Clouds pile up at the top of the Cliffs, before pouring over to spill their water onto the farm lands to the north. But to the south the Silent Sands are visible for hundreds of miles. It looks as if a great chunk of the world has been cut out and taken elsewhere, leaving exposed the sandy base upon which everything is founded.

It is only from the bottom that the immensity can truly be appreciated. At their highest point, the Cliffs reach tens of thousands of feet above the desert sand, the tops disappearing into the underside of the clouds. From the bottom, it is possible to see the full range of the unique, vertical landscape. Birds flit out into the air, wheeling away from the Cliffs on some private errand, and even experienced explorers may not be able to put a name to them. The ramifying plateaus, the tumbling down rock and falling water, seem to call to mind the swamplands on the southern edge of the desert, only scooped up and spread generously across the cliffside.

They are undoubtedly a wonder of the world, a unique place in Calibran. While that might attract sightseers and the curious, it is unlikely that the Cliffs of Ronin would attract as much attention as they do simply because of their beauty. The spices that find their origin in the plants that grow on the Cliffs are mixed into expensive dishes all across the Kingdom. More than that, some of the stranger things found on the Cliffs are incorporated into the most powerful spells and enchantments.

The Top of the World

As might be guessed from the name, there is in fact more than one cliff. There is a precipice, a point at which the fertile fields end, dropping down to the desert thousands of feet below. The top, though, is cut into pieces by chimneys of rock and canyons that extend back from the cliff edge. The edge of each shelf could also be considered a cliff all its own.

It’s the shelves where all the life is found. Some are a few feet wide, crowded close with plants and small scurrying, furry animals. Others take a good chunk of the day to cross, simply to walk from the edge to the rising wall. There are a few big shelves near the bottom, and it’s on one, called the Grand Promenade as it extends miles along the cliff face, that the Trystanes plan to build their basecamp and settlement. Most have been worn away over the millennia by the waterfalls that stream down the faces of the cliffs, the water cutting the earth into smaller and smaller pieces.

The water tends to collect on the larger shelves, creating mostly shallow pools, though some connect to the cave system that pierces the cliffs. Caves open onto the cliffs, some openings only large enough for a small animals to run in and out, others huge mouths that are large enough to swallow whole companies of explorers. They reach back into the earth, a confusing maze of tunnels. It is in these caves that the strangest animals and plants live. Glowing fungus and stark white fish without eyes are the least of it. There are huge worms, armored and mean, that make new caves by digging into the rock. Giant bats live there, flying out at night to find prey among the animals that live on the cliffside. Also there are huge beasts, blind from lack of light, that use their ears to find their way. There is some speculation that they are relatives of the yetis that roam the northern wastes. These beasts seem to thrive on the fungus that grows in the damp caves, but they are fiercely territorial, and will protect their ranges with violence.

Explorers report vines that strangle prey and then drain them of their blood to water themselves. Others have said that there may be a sentient race, an unknown addition to mortal kind, primitive and shy, living on the cliffs. Witnesses claimed missing party-members were snatched by them, taken for an unknown reason. Others claim they have fought battles with groups of the natives, the enemy always completely silent. Most consider this to be a tall tale, the result of explorers confused or perhaps delirious from the hardships they’ve faced.  

The Cliffs were once used as a weapon, strangely enough. Almorwen, the great elven wizard, lured an old dragon, Criidath the Reckless, to the Cliffs of Ronin. They fought a mighty battle and Almorwen’s daughter finally pulled the cliffside down upon the dragon, sending it falling thousands of feet, with boulders the size of houses crushing him below. It was the first time a mortal had killed a dragon, and it set in motion all the events that would follow, up to the founding of the Dragon Throne. Those who go to the cliffs say that the scar, the place where the cliffs collapsed, is still visible. They call it the Reckless Scar, and say that the animals and plants of the cliffside have let it be, as if they too recognize the importance of that moment, and wished to leave a memorial of it.

To the east the cliffs drop in height, and the landscape rises to meet them. If you were to walk west along the base of the cliffs (though you would most likely die long before you finished the journey), by the time you reached the eaves of the Glittering Forest the mighty Cliffs of Ronin are reduced to a mere high ridge of earth. The strangeness of the plants and animals has disappeared, left behind where the Cliffs are tallest. The most valuable plants, the ones that produce the spices and magical ingredients, are all also on the eastern part of the cliffs.

In simple area, they are not that large. The total acreage of more or less flat land provided by the shelves is probably less than a wealthy lord would command elsewhere. However, the difficulty in scaling the cliffs, and the dangers faced, have made real exploration and mapping nearly impossible. Efforts to create charts, and study the little world that exists nowhere else continues.

Explorers and Wizards

It is generally considered easier to climb the Cliffs from the bottom. The foolhardy and brave sometimes descend to take what they can find, quickly, and then flee back up to the top. As often as not they do not return. The most dangerous plants and animals seem to favor the top of the Cliffs, hiding in the dense, permanent cloud cover there. Little is known about most of them, and the organized efforts to learn more have met with less success. In truth, half the researchers have died in one way or another, and the rest became gibbering madmen.

The elves have their own methods of descending from the top of the Cliffs to find the things they need. They have been doing so for ages of the world, un-inclined to share their secrets with everyone else.

Organized expeditions of mapping and exploration almost always choose to start from the bottom. This involves crossing some of the driest parts of the desert, then climbing the first short stretches of cliff wall to the Grand Promenade, where water and food can be found. It is a perilous trip, but it only the beginning of the task.

Most of the trips (and all the legal ones) have been paid for or mounted with the support and permission of the Trystane family, the nobility that rules the Silent Sands. They have a stranglehold on the spice trade from the Cliffs, and most of their explorations are made with that in mind. They range along the lower parts of the cliffs, looking for ways that smugglers might climb up, and also for new plants and animals that can be turned into a money making commodity.

An occasionally ambitious nobleman will decide to try a real exploration, climbing as high as they can and doing their best to map the cliffs they climb. The most famous was led by Lord Marwan Trystane, a second son of the family and graduate of the Lyceum. This expedition was not famous for its success, however, but rather its failure. Survivors report that, high on the Cliffs, men begin to lose their minds. Expedition members went missing, either taken or walking off into the wilderness for some unknown reason. Edible food began to grow short, and the expedition ate the strange things they found with unexpected results. Men were changed physically, or made violent, or simply died outright. Marwan was finally murdered by one of his own men, and the sole motivation for continuing died with him. The remaining members of the expedition retreated down the cliff side to the Grand Promenade, where others were waiting with medicine and food. They were all tried for the murder of a nobleman, and executed, though they all claimed that was a cleaner fate that staying on the cliffside.

The second famous expedition was more successful, led by a simple adventurer, a minotaur named Krik de-Bolg, who somehow convinced the Trystane lord of that time to give him license. This was a well planned and managed trip, business-like in a way Marwan’s enthusiastic trip had not been. It opened up several new shelves to exploitation as well as discovering the plant that was the source of a certain magical healing agent, favored by elves but mysterious to the rest of Calibran. Since then, the Trystanes have made another fortune harvesting and selling it.

The Trystanes have plans, not yet complete, of founding a settlement on a lower plateau, a place for their expeditions to rest and resupply. It’s an expensive proposition, and everything from building supplies to food would have to be carried across the driest stretches of desert. The only thing the Cliffs have in abundance, in fact, is water. That, and a generous supply of dangerous plants and animals, which is another obstacle to settlement. However, they intend to push forward with the initial camp soon.

The Cliffs of Ronin remain a largely unexplored place. It is a blank spot on the map, and most people don’t think about them much, except to curse the cost of expensive spices. However, they are one of the most unusual environments in Calibran, strange and unknown, like no place else in the Kingdom.

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Cliffs of Ronin

Spirits and Elements – Shamanistic Magic in Calibran


Spirits and Elements-Shamanistic Magic in Calibran

The natural world is a powerful one, and dangerous to the uninitiated. In Calibran, the true natural world, the one inhabited by spirits of air, fire, darkness, and the hunt, cannot be seen with normal eyes. The rare individuals who can see into the spirit world, and speak with the inhabitants of that strange place, are known as shamans. These special people act as mediators between the world of deep spirit, and the waking world of men.

The shaman’s role as middleman between the two worlds afford them a great deal of power, as it allows them a measure of control over the spirits of the natural world. They can affect animals and plants, as well as handle the elements themselves. The world of a shaman is a world of balance and negotiation, however, and no power comes without a price. In return for the power they wield, they must act as protectors and advisors for the people they live amongst. Shamans also act as judges, teachers, and leaders in their cultures.

Many cultures evolve a role that acts as a balance point between wild and civilized worlds. In Calibran there are shamans many places, though their powers and the way they interact with the spirit world varies depending on the culture.

The Orc Tribes

Orcs live as close to nature and the spirit world as any, though for them the natural world and the challenges it presents are closer to a worthy foe than anything else. They worship the Scarred Lord, a shaman who made himself so powerful he is now a god. But to the orcs, the Scarred Lord is one of the most powerful spirits, but not the only one. There are many spirits that orcish shamans can negotiate with for power and protection.

To see the spirit world often requires an altered state of consciousness. Different traditions of shamanism exist, with many different ways of inducing that altered state. For the orcs, different ways of entering the spirit world release different amounts of power for them to use. Meditation may only be needed for the least expenditure of their power.

The most powerful working of orcish shamans require pain, and sometimes an accompanying amount of blood. Death is not required, and is usually seen as sloppy and amateurish. Orcish shamans have become experts, therefore, at extracting the most amount of pain possible while leaving themselves or their subjects essentially whole. This ability has not left them especially popular outside the orcish tribes.

Orc shamans also act as judges and keepers of lore among their tribes. They are respected individuals, and wield a power and status outside the normal bickering over hierarchy of the orcs.


Minotaur shamans are unique in there are many who make their homes in a city. Like the minotaurs themselves, their shamans are centered in Kehlaktur. They don’t see the essential difference between the natural and the civilized other seem to. The ground is still earth, the walls of the buildings are rock. The spirits are still there, just moved around a bit.

As free-spirited and independent in this as in all other things, minotaurs do not worship spirits. But, they accept them as part of the world. They can be benevolent or malign, and it is worth it to find ways to stay on their good sides. Minotaur shamans, then, are consulted on the best ways to balance good luck and bad, attract helpful spirits and shoo away tricksters. Minotaur shamans are respected and powerful, but it is not the divine they traffic with.

Minotaurs use meditation and similar techniques to extend their control into the spirit world, less extreme than their orcish colleagues. As a result, any individual minotaur shaman may be less powerful than an orcish one. Minotaurs have practiced working together, combining their efforts. A coven of minotaur shamans working together can produce results that outstrip any single shaman of another culture.

There are other ways that minotaurs have found of contacting the spirit world. The raging Brothers of the Horn have found that their madness has allowed them to call upon spirits of fury and death. When the Horn Brothers work themselves into a frenzy, insanity and blood fulfill strange pacts for power in battle the minotaurs have made.

Shamans in Talashtar

The dark elves are as secretive about their magic as they are about almost everything. Very few outsiders have been allowed to learn much, or even see much, of the power the dark elves wield in the spirit world.

With their devotion to Houriel, it is unlikely that dark elves would worship or bow down to spirits of any sort. Instead, what few records there are of dark elves and spirits seem to report that instead of negotiating, dark elves have found ways to break spirits, and control them. The techniques are mysterious, and how any mortal could learn to chain something as powerful and rebellious as a spirit remains unknown. The effectiveness, however, has never been doubted.


Closest to the minotaur way of thinking, goblins don’t venerate the spiritual word, though unlike the minotaurs neither do they show it a great deal of respect. To them, spirits are like business partners or clients, while the goblins act as middlemen to the material world. Each favor asked or given is a transaction, with goblin shamans seeking to take a cut of power from each one.

The shamans that live in Daexbur, and the goblin quarters of most cities, do have genuine power. It might not be as raw that of the orcs, or as disciplined as a that of a minotaur shaman, but they do work in the spirit world, achieving the altered states necessary most often by using mind altering drugs. Unlike most other shamans, however, goblins work at least as much in the heads of their clients and audiences as they do in the spirit world. Goblin shamans often masterfully use sleights of hand to make birds fly from nowhere, or draw bits of iron and other strange artifacts from those they cure or bless. It’s all to make everything seem grander, more effective, and more expensive than it actually is.

For whatever reason, goblins are some of the more effective healers when it comes to issues of the spirit and mind. Perhaps their constant trickery comes in handy, but they are canny when it comes to diagnosing and curing ailments.


In the far northwest, the barbarian clans each owe their allegiance to some totem spirit, an animal that represents them and gives them gifts. The barbarians worship these clan spirits alongside Cael the Hunter and the other gods. Shamans in barbarian clans are most often leaders in the clan. They have a special relationship with the clan’s spirit, and that tends to express itself in their magic.

Barbarian shamans will often have some natural connection to the spirit world that allows them to access it without the need of mind altering. Some do use strange substances, or use them to augment their connection to the spirits, though. There are rumors of shamans with so close a connection to their clan spirits that they take on some of their powers, or even their form, when need be. This is a rare ability, however, that only the most skilled shamans have attempted.

Some shamans follow the hunters across the tundra, or sail in ships along with raiders and traders. They use their skills to quell impending storms, or draw food and water from an otherwise unforgiving landscape. As a result, barbarian sailors often risk sailing into weather most others would not risk, or marching through otherwise impassible wastes, trusting their shamans will come to their aid if need be.

Cunning Folk

There are those with the ability to see the spirits and their world all over Calibran. In some cultures, they are honored for this gift and raised to places of importance. In others, they are ignored or disbelieved. Some conceive themselves mad as a result, but others learn to trust their abilities, and turn them to their advantage.

In the hinterlands, or in farming communities far from the bustle of cities, the natural world has more of a hold. Humans, in particular, tend to fear these nascent shamans. They are called cunning folk, and live off by themselves, keeping the company of spirits, called on only when a curse requires casting or dispelling. In some places, the mad are also respected for their connection to the spirit world. These self-taught shamans tend to be less powerful than ones taught by a master in a long line of tradition.

Though less respected than wizards or sorcerers in many places, shamans wield a power that is unique and dangerous. And more than just powerful casters, they often serve important roles in their cultures, keepers of laws and legends. More than anything, however, they have access to a world that most, even the most skilled wizard or sorcerer, will never have more than a glimpse of.

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Spirits | Chronicles of Calibran

Honor and Pride – Chivalry in Calibran


Honor and Pride-Chivalry in Calibran

The image of a war horse, hooves pounding on muddy turf, with a knight in bright steel armor astride its back is a standard of fantasy fiction. Knights and their chivalry, or lack thereof, have been at the center of one of the most popular fantasy series of the last decade. With roots going back to legends and stories of Knights of the Round Table, a knight in armor maybe one of the most recognizable icons of fantasy.

But knights are not just fictional characters. A genuine historical class of warriors and aristocrats, knights are romance and adventure personified. Their motivations may seem odd to a modern eye, but the stories they told of themselves were often wonderful and strange. The best of them were men who gave their lives for their ideals, fighting to protect the weak and defenseless. The worst were villains practically without peer, those who foreswore their oaths and used their privileges and power for their own advantage. Most fell somewhere in between, perfect fodder for stories of battle and romance.

With the sort of fantasy world Calibran was becoming, a way to introduce the idea of knighthood and chivalry was important. The reality is, though we tend to think of knighthood taking a single form and being fairly straightforward, it actually varied greatly depending on where and when you look around the world. We tried to draw on a variety of different traditions when defining knighthood in Calibran, to give the world a greater variety, richness, and realness that could not be achieved through simple cookie-cutter stamping out of fighters with lances.

What is a Knight?

It would seem like everything that makes a knight can be seen in that first image of a warrior charging. The armor, the lance, the horse, and underneath it all a handsome face and perfect teeth. As always, however, the romantic view leaves out some of the most important aspects of knighthood.

If you had asked a person from the height of the knightly era what knighthood meant, they would probably have said status, or power, or something along those lines. A knight isn’t just a warrior, he is an aristocrat, and wields the power of law and rank. He has many different types of power over the people around him, and while you might think he should wield that power for their benefit, history would indicate he most likely uses it for his own advantage. In any case, a knight might be found on either a battlefield or in the King’s court, and they should have the skills to survive either place.

A knight also serves. He is part of a social order, and owes his service to a greater lord above him. In Calibran, the top of the order is the Dragon King, and so all knights theoretically owe their fealty ultimately to him, but there are likely many layers of allegiance and loyalty between the two. Knights serve in other ways, as well. They are often bound by oaths to defend a cause or a place, or to challenge themselves against some obstacle. Their oaths might be mighty, dark, or foolish, but they are always bound by their word.

Of course a knight is a warrior of skill. Trained since childhood, knights are professional soldiers. Their rank and wealth are given on condition of armed service, and so they can expect to face foes in a battle to the death, probably many times, in the course of their lives. If they are wise, they therefore become experts with their weapons of choice, including the lance, sword, bow, and many others.

Knights represent a number of things. Strength, and, in some ways, technology on the battlefield. Aristocracy, nobility and the responsibilities that comes with status are also an integral part of knighthood. Skills with arms, civilized behavior, and a certain amount of wealth are also frequently part of the knight package. A perfect knight, however, is one who places himself between the weak and cruel. Altogether, a knight can be summed up in one word: chivalry.

Orders of Chivalry

There might be a number of different hurdles to jump before a person can become a knight. Noble blood might be necessary, or a highly-ranked sponsor to speak for a candidate could also be requirement. Religious conviction might be important, though in Calibran the gods seem to be absent or at least disinterested. In its simplest, purest form, all that is necessary is an act of true bravery, and the touch of another knight’s sword on your shoulder.

Whatever the requirements, there are many knights in Calibran, most of them bachelor knights. The ‘bachelor’ doesn’t mean they are unmarried. It simply means they are simple knights, and owe allegiance to their lord and no one else. They do not belong to any of the several orders of chivalry in Calibran.

In the real world, orders of chivalry began with the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar. These orders were actually meant to be orders of militant monks, and initially members would have to take oaths of poverty and chastity similar to those a monk would have taken. As the idea of knightly orders became popular and spread, those requirements were dropped. Membership to an order of chivalry was another mark of status, another sign of favor, or simply an additional ornament to your name.

Calibran has both sorts of chivalry among its knights. The ornamental orders are almost uniformly the creation of the human Noble Houses, who seem to value status greatly, perhaps to an extreme unseen elsewhere. The Dragon Kings of the past have declined to create their own chivalric orders, and are largely unconcerned with the ceremonial aspects of such organizations. The genuine good that orders of knights can do have been of interest to them, however. The kings have employed already existing knightly orders many times, sometimes financing them for a time. The Dragon Kings value the good the Chivalric Orders do over their more self-aggrandizing aspects, and they have, as a group, done their best to foster those orders who do work for the benefit of the people. As a result, those orders tend to last longer, stay truer to their purposes, and have a greater effect, than similar organizations in the history of the real world. Humans seem to have created more of these chivalric orders, ornamental and in service of principle, than all the other races combined.

Knights in Armor – Humans

The courtly aspects of knighthood, those that require rank and noble breeding, are on display among the human Noble Houses of Calibran. True knights, to them, are members of the aristocracy. Some of the Noble Houses allow those of base birth to ascend to knighthood in recognition of extraordinary bravery, though it is a rare privilege gifted to few. A noble son can expect a knighthood as a birthright, but the common ruck have to claw their way up the social ladder.

Each of the Great Noble Houses of humanity maintain a knightly order. These men provide their closest personal guards, as well their officers and commanders in the field. These knights are equal parts courtier and killer, and among them can be found both the saintly paladin and the rank-seeking mercenary.

House Belgrave has the oldest knightly order, said to be derived from the human companions that followed Johelm Belgrave on his quest to unite the different races of Calibran. It is called the Honorable Order of Griffon Companions, drawing from House Belgrave’s sigil, the Griffon.

House Trystane, with their capital in Wert’s Dune, maintains an order of chivalry as well, though their traditions differ in many ways from those of the other houses, isolated as they are in the Silent Sands. It is filled with warriors and soldiers. Most of the first sons of House Trystane and their tributary noble houses belong to this order, The Company of Lions.

House Northvode, in their winter fastnesses far in the north, value the strength required to survive and prosper in their inhospitable homeland. The Northvodes maintain the Dire Order of the White Bear. They tend to choose the biggest men, and strongest, to join the ranks of their knights. The members of this order are famous for resembling the large bear that is their symbol.

House Valeev, who tend to count their wealth in ships and sailors rather than acres and knights, value sailing skills as much as fighting ability. Their knights belong to the Order of the Backstaff and Sword, and they are usually navigators and seamen as well as knights.

Other knightly orders, independent of the noble houses exist as well. There is a knightly order devoted to each of the three human gods. The followers of Arvios, the summer brother, are known as the Brotherhood of the Bright Meadow. Those who follow his dark brother, Edern, are known as the Brothers of the Cold Field. Erasil’s order, The Followers of the Sweet Rose, are one of the few human militant orders to accept women in Calibran.

Smaller knightly orders exist, often consisting of only a handful of members, who devote their lives to some specific task or goal. Though not, strictly speaking a chivalric order, the Swords of the Gods organization, made up of several companies of different types of warriors, is akin to the knightly orders. Other, similar, organizations exist as well.

Specialized Soldiers – Dwarves

Though they do not use the word ‘chivalry’ there is a similar idea in dwarven culture, that of a nobility of spirit, and the strong working to protect the weak. They also have their own king, and noble families, though their nobility differs in many ways from the human style. Knights, to them, are the best soldiers. Rather than serving as officers among lesser troops, they serve in units made up entirely of these elites. Fighting is a different matter in the mines and caves of the mountains, and so one or two dwarves will often stand at some bottleneck of rock, battling enemies fiercely until they fall or are replaced. Dwarvish knights, in their heavy, nearly impenetrable armor, are most likely to fill this role. They are the champions of the dwarves.

Other honors exist for those who excel in non-combative fields, such as smithing, runecrafting, and building. Dwarves who receive these honors are not called knights, but they might be considered something equivalent, particularly in human lands.

Orders of Warriors

Though there are many fraternities and orders of warriors in Calibran, few of them meet all the requirements to be called true chivalric orders. However, many of them fill a similar role, or are treated as knights when in the human cities.

Elves tend to collect titles and honors (as well as some dishonors) throughout their long and varied lives. There are fighting brotherhoods and orders of warrior-mages and wizard-swordsmen and other such things in their culture, but these are more like a group of friends or association of like-minded people than the more status-based orders of the humans. With the exception of the dark elves (to whom the concept of chivalry as practiced by knights is laughable), elves do not value status, and so knightly orders have never been as powerful in their kingdoms as elsewhere.

Dark elves have companies and orders of warriors devoted to different ideals. Some serve the High Priestess of Houriel, and some serve one of the noble houses of the dark elves. Others serve some purpose of their own, unclear to the outside world.

The Legions of the minotaurs are similar in many respects to knightly orders. They are warriors, trained from childhood to defend their city. While there is no aristocracy in Kehlaktur, a member of the Legions does have high status among their fellows, and they are treated with respect and honor for their dedication.

Knights will likely appear in fantasy stories as long as there are such things. The romance they represent, as well as the skill and devotion, are rarely to be found in the real world. It gets a little boring, in fiction, if everything is always rosy and perfect, though, so expect to see a few evil knights in Calibran.

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The Laws of Magic – Academic Magic in Calibran


The Laws of Magic-Academic Magic in Calibran

Elves seem able to see magic, speak with it, and work it with the merest effort of will. Shamans of many races are able to delve into the spirit world, negotiating with nature and the elements. Humans, those poor creatures, lack the natural talents to take advantage of the magic latent in the world of Calibran. Grasping and inquisitive as they are, humanity have not let that lack of talent stop them from mastering the arcane.

Through experimentation, observation, and pure stubbornness, human wizards have found ways to understand and manipulate magical energy. In the way of humans, they seek to divide magic into schools and types, label each spell, and define everything in lists and tables. The fact that magic is an inherently fickle, fluid force in the world does much to frustrate their efforts. The study of magic remains a strange, esoteric, and messy discipline. However, despite all this, human wizards have pushed forward with their rigid, academic method of study, and found great power as a result.

Schools of Magic

As the human study of magic depends on research, learning, and experimentation, the greatest funds of knowledge are all colleges and universities of magic. These are places where students of the arcane come to learn, being taught the basics of magic in classes before being taken as an apprentice by a master.

Though the various schools of magic do their best to offer a broad tuition on the subject, inevitably there is some specialization. Methods developed in one place may become popular there, while being ignored in favor of other ways of doing things elsewhere. Thus, graduates of different arcane colleges will generally have a different focus, and different talents.

The largest arcane university in Calibran is in the capital of Cathedra’s Gate, and was founded and is maintained by the Dragon Throne. It is called the Chimera Academy, and is considered the most prestigious of the different schools. They often will lure away the most brilliant minds and best researchers from the other schools, with promises of serving the Dragon King and a salary that only the Royal treasury could afford. While the researchers of the Chimera Academy study many different topics, as they have come from many different places and backgrounds, the great project that the Academy has focused on is how to improve technology through magic. They are unique in designing spells that improve the efficiency, or make the machines of war more effective.

The second arcane university in Calibran is maintained by the Trystanes, the noble family that rules the Silent Sands from their capital city of Wert’s Dune. It is called simply the Lyceum, and it is closely linked to the Order of the Sharpened Quill. These ennobled wizards often act as instructors or masters in the Lyceum, and most of the members of the order are graduates of that school.

These wizards, as might be expected in the desert, focus on the study of the manipulation of water and earth. The city is kept watered, and the land in general, through the efforts of the Lyceum wizards and the spells they’ve weaved, as well as the aqueducts built at their direction. There is also a small college within the Lyceum that is devoted to studying the use of magic in battle and war. The Trystanes also sponsor an order of wizards, scholars, and the most learned among their vassals, called the Order of the Sharpened Quill. Though the membership is quite a bit older, in many ways the Scribblers (as these learned knights are called) are more dangerous than the knights of the Company of Lions.

Not all of the colleges are linked to Noble Houses or rulers. Indeed, many wizards find the squabbles of the nobility petty and pointless, and feel that subordinating themselves to the aristocracy is demeaning. Chief among those who feel this way are graduates of The College of the Blue Star. This is the most mysterious of the arcane universities, located in the foothills of the Caribre Mountains, south of the Misty Woods. Its precise location is hidden from mundane sight, and indeed, the only path to admittance is a recommendation from a previous graduate.

The focus of these wizards are spells which affect individuals, improving their minds, bodies, or spirits in some way, and they have produced many great healers. Though this knowledge can be used also to inflict harm, most of the adepts of the Blue Star focus on the positive aspects of their art, bringing their magic, and therefore themselves, into a state of great discipline and clarity. The goals and methods of the Blue Star are ultimately known only to themselves.

On the windswept isles west of Pelaj, south of the Brigand Islands, is the home of the Society of Wind Walkers. Founded after the Battle of Farsalon by the strange, iconoclast wizard Harald Hoggle, its graduates are known for spells that send messages long distances, as well as the ability to appear in far away places quickly, or even in many places at once. These wizards are few in number, and rare, but the sailors of Pelaj tend to value their skills highly.

Otherwise, there are a few small schools throughout Calibran, most centered around some human city or town. The master-apprentice relationship is also very important in magic education, and so it frequently happens that a wizard will begin their education with a single master, then leave to join a college. Others spend their whole lives studying with one master.

The Life of a Wizard

Most wizards in Calibran are academics, with all that implies. They spend a great deal of time in research and study, and probably an equal amount of time looking for ways to fund their research and study. Books are expensive, but they are nothing compared to the cost of the ingredients necessary for most researchers and their spells. The best of these come from the Cliffs of Ronin, and all of the powders, horns, roots, and everything else pass through the monopolistic hands of House Trystane, whose taxes add to the cost, as do each of the merchants and caravans that carry the ingredients from the Silent Sands to the rest of Calibran.

Jobbing wizards will often hang their shingle out, selling spells and enchanted items to support their habit of learning and experimentation. These wizards are generally honest, if expensive, and if you can afford their prices luxuries are available. Of course, many cannot afford the cost, and there are occasional charlatans that offer cut-rate prices in return for a bit of dazzle and show. As soon as they are discovered, the genuine wizards have a tendency to deal with the fakers sharply, making this something of a dangerous pastime.

Wizards are often aided in their studies by one or more apprentices. The apprentice-master relationship is very important to human wizards, as the vast majority of what any wizard learns is taught by their master. In fact, to receive the coveted rank of Master Mage from the Chimera Academy, a wizard must produce a student of sufficient skill to pass a test as well, ensuring that every master mage is also a decent teacher.

Though the greatest attention is usually given to the centers of learning, there are probably more wizards studying independently around Calibran than can be found in the halls of a university. Some seek the life of a hermit to allow them greater room for concentration and focus, though others attempt experiments that would not be allowed by the masters of the colleges. Most still keep in contact with colleagues and friends or acquaintances met while studying at their alma mater. Some write letters, more use sending spells and other magical ways of passing messages. But the sharing of spells and methods is, in many ways, commonplace.

Magic is, if not humdrum and familiar, then at least it is accepted. There are wizards everywhere, and most of them pursue their studies with little fanfare or fuss. Mundane folk don’t fear wizards, and when one comes to set up shop in a town or village, they are greeted as sign of a modest rise in the place’s reputation.

If the majority of wizards are actually sober citizens, the minority manage to keep things interesting enough to more than make up difference. They are driven mad by nameless horrors briefly glimpsed, or unleash the undead, demons, or worse, either by accident or with malign purpose. These incidents are not as rare as most would like, and local lords and adventuring companies are kept busy preventing things from getting out of control.

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Dark Magic and Chaos – Nightwalkers and Nightmares


Dark Magic and Chaos-Nightwalkers and Nightmares

There are many dangers in Calibran. Dragons remain an ever present, if distant, threat. The undead may rise, either at the call of an evil wizard or through some accident of magic. High-spirited orcs may raid, or thieves may come upon you with a knife and a smile. As terrible as all these things may be, nothing can cause the feelings of panic and despair that the merest rumor of nightwalkers will evoke.

Though rare, these monsters have appeared a number of times in history, if only a few times since the founding of the Dragon Throne. They inevitably wreak terrible damage, at the least destroying villages, and at worst laying waste to large stretches of countryside. In every case, a group of wizards and warriors were necessary to put the monsters down. There are few things that can unite the disparate people of the Kingdom like the threat of a nightwalker.

Creatures of the uttermost evil and darkness, they seem filled with the need to destroy, maim, and murder.

Undead, But Worse

To most, nightwalkers are simply like a sort of natural disaster, evil beyond understanding and impossible to reason with. To the educated, they are more complex creatures, unlike any other in Calibran. Their study is limited to the few with the stomach and heart to delve into the mysteries of their creation and the abilities they wield. Even those who study nightwalkers labor under a weight of misconceptions and misunderstanding.

Nightwalkers most often appear as walking corpses, and while it may seem as if the creatures are simply another sort of undead, they are not. It is true that they require bodies, and those bodies are most easily found in graveyards. However, they are not the dead risen to unlife. Instead, they are motivated by dark magic, and more tellingly, the powers of Chaos.  

That strange force lingers on the edge of the Kingdom, and around the edges of its history. Most ignore the existence of a vast sea of Chaos to the north and east of Daexbur. A few attempt to study it, but none get far before they, whatever their starting state, are driven entirely mad by it. The effect of fusing it with the body of a person, then enlivening it through the power of magic, has a different result each time. Some are so twisted they barely resemble anything that once walked on two legs. Some, the worst, appear almost alive, their skin supple once more, and their hair no longer lank and greasy.

These nightwalkers, the ones that seem to have been brought back to new life, are invariable the worst. Though not always the most powerful, they prove to be the most cunning, and have clear memories of their living existences. These memories create no warm feelings for hearth and home in the nightwalkers’ cold breast. Instead, they delight in torturing and destroying the people they once loved. Death is never the start, but it is always the end of their torments, unless the nightwalker raises them to serve once more.

With Chaos so integral to their make up, no two nightwalkers are ever quite the same. Most wield magic powers that twist the minds and bodies of those around them, distorting magic and the very fabric of reality. Some are shambling juggernauts, powerful but barely conscious. Some are intelligent enough to make and use weapons and tools. A few are geniuses that direct all their energies to destroying and corrupting as much as possible.

It is this last that has offered one theory as to nightwalkers’ motives, and the means of creating them. The actions of most creatures, so this theory states, work towards creating order, from humble ants to mighty dragons. Nightwalkers appear from time to time to counteract that tendency, to throw things into chaos once more. It is integral to their being, and central to their purpose.

Mundane weapons seem to do them little real harm. They are all vulnerable to magical attacks. Some can also be wounded by silver weapons, and others seem most vulnerable to fire. As their powers and appearance vary from one to the next, so do their weaknesses.

Madness and Evil

Some theories for their creation would require nightwalkers to appear naturally, which most find unlikely, if not terrifying. There is no doubt, however, that they are also created through the will of a magic user. The precise method remains a mystery. The writings of those who have managed to raise one have never made for a comprehensible spell, and in any case they have always been destroyed wherever they’ve been found.

There’s more than one way to create them, in any case, as it has been managed by vengeful shamans, insane wizards, and deluded sorcerers. Every type of magic has been used, and as a result many think that it is the sheer will and genuine intent of the caster that matters, more than the specifics of the spell. He or she must truly want to summon one of these avatars of death. As a result, it is assumed that the summoner must be insane to want to be the source of so much evil.

Most often they are raised on the edges of Chaos, and those that create them are scholars or explorers who have been driven to raving madness by their proximity to it. Some appear in the middle of the Caribre Mountains, others deep in the mines of the dwarves. Sometimes they are created in the middle of the most populated areas of Calibran. This leads many to assume there are pockets of Chaos, large or small, everywhere in the world to draw upon.

Discord, Anarchy, Strife

Magic is considered by the elves to be a living thing, a sometimes fickle, strange force that is as willful as a child and as wise as the oldest among them. They seek to live in harmony with it, as they do with all things. They are not quite sure what Chaos is, whether it is a living thing or merely an unreasoning force in the world. By definition, there is no way to live in harmony with Chaos. It is the essence of change.

No one, as far as anyone knows, has ever gotten very deep into the Chaos Lands. To enter that place is to take part of it, to be part of the sweeping change that is the only constant. From what can be seen at its edges, and from the reports of the few who have tread the changing landscape and returned able to tell what they saw, nothing remains the same for very long in that place. Hills are here one day, and gone the next. A forest will sprout legs and scurry off along a river that quickly changes into a giant snake, before dissolving into mist.

The elves have their own name for it, poetic as they ever are. Everyone else simply calls it the Chaos, and it is a name that seems to fit well. It affects everything that comes in contact with, or even comes near it. It has been blamed for goblins’ belief in the power of luck. Metal mined from the mountains that hem the Chaos Lands in is said to have strange properties, the least of which is the tendency to change shape, rippling gently like water under a breeze. It is this nature which makes and defines nightwalkers.
Nightwalkers have never been the fodder for legends and fairy tales. They are too terrible for that. Instead, they are only spoken of in quiet whispers, or as a tale told to frighten around a campfire. The moral of the story is always the same. When a nightwalker is on the prowl, you run. Run and hide, and hope the Dragon King sends heroes to destroy it before you are found.


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