Adventures of the Adamant Owlbears
It was 25 years ago, in the northern part of the southern half of the Kingdom of Bastion. There, beside the Bay of Martyrs, sits a settlement known as Southgate, where a Count had sat since the end of the God Coast War.
The Count, Warwick Halfhart, was half elven, and ruled for many years. He was a hero on the war’s Western front, the one who lived while Saint Lionne died. For this his suffering would be never ending.
It started with his children: twins, Mason and Mateya. Days after their birth his belovedwife was murdered. In panic, he sent Mateya into hiding, hoping that both of his children would not meet the same fate. She was raised by a butcher in the town, never having an inkling of her heritage until many years later when she was named Countess.
There came a time when the twins were grown that fate brought them together, and others as well. Along with the local mortician, Greal, a member of the town guard named Steve, and a visiting alchemist from Caleah known as Travis Leafsworth, they set out to solve the the many mysteries surrounding Southgate.
On the day of the midsummer feast, Southgate was visited by the High Father of Bastion, as well as a contingent holy knights. After a stirring speech, the High Father revealed something very sinister lurking in that very town. In a display of incredible violence, the entire clergy of Southgate was publicly executed for affiliation with a demonic entity.
Little did the High Father know that this sacrifice would only fuel the demon, and that she would find easy purchase in a troubled soul nearby by the name of Greal.
The demon, known as Hesiel, would find Greal to be a remarkably compliant host. Through him she exacted her will: feasting on the flesh of infants and the minds of strange beasts, making slaves of corpses, and planting her seed into unwitting hosts. Their terrible alliance has lasted 25 years now.
It now falls to the world to destroy Greal the Devourer, to hunt what even Saint Azrael could not hunt. Slowly over the years he has corrupted the Kingdom of Bastion – gaining worshipers and warriors alike. He has become a great conduit through which demons enter the world, and every soldier that falls in his name rises again and again.
Places of Origin
Bastion lies on the cusp of annihilation. Wyrvarn, Sivwick, and nearly half of the Sculptor’s Fingers now lie in the hands of the enemy. The King’s people, the dwarves of Ade’arna, have done an admirable job of holding the line, but people still report troubles in the Hamstow region, and especially in the capital of Caleah. The population has dwindled over the years from the fighting and the fear of the devourer coming for their children, but the nation is struggling to feed itself after being separated from the expansive farmlands to the south. People attempt flee the country every day, but if they even reach the shore they are turned away when they reach Thornwall. It seems like only a matter of time before doom descends. It’s a dire time in Bastion indeed.
Thornwall, as it is now called, was previously the southern half of the Kingdom of Bastion, but was left in the hands of the elves by the Countess Mateya Halfhart. They’ve attempted to use this power to leverage their return to Yesteska, but have been unsuccessful based on their heretical religious beliefs and the suspicious changes in appearance they’ve made in the generation since settling Lina’fela. Their leadership of the nation as a whole could be called callous and negligent, but in truth the people, mostly farmers, have mostly prospered. Without having to ship all of their goods abroad, the people have enjoyed unprecedented abundance. Outside the towns, however, the land has grown wild with bandits and beasts due to the region’s lawlessness, and the fey winds coming from both Crossroad Peak and Lina’fela. Only the Baron Askamar and his Fangtakers have taken it upon themselves to quell the chaos.
The Holy Empire of the Sapphire Crown is an ancient cultural empire spanning three continents, bound by a religious hegemony. The current conflicts affected the empire little, as things often do, until thousands of refugees began pouring through the gates of Queen’s Reach. An ally in faith of the Kingdom of Bastion, the Empire happily welcomed all comers, though they have remained cautious in the commitment of military assistance until recently. The Empire is a varied place, and peaceful, but united in its piety and commitment to destroy the enemies of the Sculptor.
The Dominion of Egron is a strange, anarchistic land removed from the conflicts of the nations following the Sculptor, though their past with them has often been bloody. The place is a dominion in name only, to honor the old warlord who forged the path across the tundras to Maidenmount. Many people are broken into a collection of loosely affiliated, and often distantly related tribes. They share a sort of simple code that keeps conflict and peace only where they are wanted. Beyond that, the independence and varying ways of life present in the dominion make generalizations foolish.
The Sculptor is the god worshiped by the vast majority of people in the world. Depicted as a faceless man, he is said to be the crafter of all creation. People who follow the Sculptor believe strongly in reincarnation, saying that when someone dies that they “return to the clay” and are shaped anew by their god. Because of this belief, there is a strong repugnance toward necromancy and other resurrection magics. Death is to be highly respected, and those whose deaths have great meaning to the religion are sometimes sainted. The religion is highly bureaucratic, and serves as the primary mode of government in the Empire. To learn more about the Sculptor, you might read A Pocket Companion to the Sculptor or The Sculptor’s Saints.
Iskamor, also known as The Pale Night, is a goddess shrouded in mystery, only worshiped by the elves of Lina’fela. While rumor of her presence has slowly leaked out of the forest, most people dismiss her as a lie at best or a demonic entity conjured by the elves at worst. Furthermore the existence of Iskamor is a direct contradiction to the word of the Sculptor’s church, which describes The Pale Night as a time, not a person. Those who do revere her describe her as a moon goddess, a keeper of truth, a fierce protector, and a mourning mother.
In the dominion there are rumors of many other gods, but little has been publicized on them and few are brave enough to venture there for research.
Humans are the dominant race in the world, and are present in nearly every part of it. They appear in every possible station: from the Empress to an Egronian slave whose parents lost in the God Coast War. Their appearances also vary vastly depending on their point of origin.
Dwarves appear primarily in two places in the world, though they are welcomed nearly everywhere. The largest concentration of them appears in the two mountain ranges of Zharr’Karak and The Sculptor’s Fingers. Their appearances seem linked to the mountain of their origin. In volcanic Zharr’Karak their skin is dark and ashen, while in the Sculptor’s Fingers it is very fair to the point of almost being a touch gray. Both have bright or pale gem colored eyes, indicative of the quarry of their respective mountains. Dwarves are often known to be deeply religious folk, and their presence in these mountains is said to be so that they might guard over the ashes of the Broken One’s children. Dwarves seen outside of the mountains are often involved in trading, sharing the vast resources of their homelands.
Elves also have two distinct groups. To the West, the elves of Lina’fela are pallid, with very dark or extremely pale hair, and fair, almost glowing eyes. They are cave dwellers, often lycanthropic, and bonded with immense dire wolves. They mainly keep to themselves and can react aggressively toward outsiders. In the East, elves have remained physically as they traditionally did in Yesteska. Their skin freckles or tans, and their hair and eyes come in a variety of earthy tones. Most of the elves in the East are either currently or formerly have been enslaved, on account of their previous martial conflicts with the Empire during the founding of Bastion.
Aasimar are thought to be gifts from the Sculptor, descendants of saints whose blood has been awakened to serve a higher purpose. People who worship the Sculptor often put them on a pedestal. Their appearances and powers vary widely depending on the saint they descend from. Most of the aasamir of today are direct children of Saint Azrael.
Halflings are a common folk nearly as populous and diverse as humans. You’ll find them in all walks of life and taking on varying appearances. Whatever you see a halfling doing, they’re probably very good at it. They’re known to be obsessive with their hobbies and crafts. There is no one place halflings call a homeland, but the Empire hosts more than most, particularly around Honeygrove and Eastmead.
Gnomes are a more rare folk, most commonly found in Bastion in Thornwall, though they are welcome elsewhere as well. Their natural affinity to magic has left them under suspicion in certain communities, so they tend to stick to themselves. Their affinity to both magic and nature has made them some of the world’s best herbalists, as evidenced by the vast alchemical greenhouses of Gardenhome. Gnomes are quite charming in appearance, with skin tones appearing the a range you might find in wood. Their hair is usually leafy browns or reds, and rarely even a greenish blonde.
Half-Elves are far more common in Bastion and Thornwall, where the elves originated and many remain. They suffer relatively little discrimination there, though perhaps with slightly more tension lately considering the political climate of Thornwall. They often find themselves much more welcome among humans than elves, as elves are a dying breed and often consider the children a waste, or associate them with the atrocities committed on their people when they were driven from Yesteska. While half-elves exist in the Empire, there is often some unfortunate attachment to slavery on account of their elven parent, and they must deal with the stigmas attached. Many half-elves there are the offspring of master and slave.
Half-Orcs and orcs are rare, tending to extreme climates and long forgotten places. Many of them have congregated in the dominion. Some serve as missionaries for the Sculptor there, hailing their ancient role as defenders against the earliest of dragons. Others say the Sculptor cast them aside and deemed them unworthy until he needed bodies to fall to protect his precious humans – they deny the faith and seek others to swear themselves to in the Dominion. Their complexion is usually ashy or clay colored, with pure orcs often bearing dark stripes.
Certain stigmas are attached to magic in some locales. Stigmas that can result in an untimely, fiery death. While the Sculptor’s people believe magic is one of his greatest gifts to them, they are very strict in the idea that this magic should come from the Sculptor. Hence, while a sorcerer or cleric, who is imbued with powers naturally, is considered to be blessed, a wizard who learns magic from a scroll or book is considered to be playing god or bending nature in a way that is unacceptable. The thought is that these magical practitioners who have no natural ability will not possess the fortitude to control their powers, and will quickly fall prey to demonic influences, as in the case of Greal the Devourer. Additionally, any magic that would bring the dead back to life is considered strictly forbidden by the Sculptor’s church.