“These notes, they are pulled together by a strange outlander. And yet, they make perfect sense. Why? Because it is part of the greater mysteries of Ezra! Consider that the wandering bard was sent to help us make sense of everything, a gift of the goddess to prove that we can prevail. Perhaps even, he is an aspect of our goddess to help provoke thought and revelation! We shall not fear the Mists of Death and their grim esoterica. A breakthrough is upon us!” – Brother Mellick, priest of the Dementlieuse Sect of the Church of Ezra
The Darkonese sect preaches of certain doom, but that is far from true. In fact, many of these strange places can help preach hope. But, this hope is hidden and requires diligent minds to seek it out. Life in these realms is one of mystery and only in cracking that mystery can we achieve a brighter tomorrow. Flickers of life in dying lands, a grim machine used in revenge against a corrupt system, the ways of planes beyond, cautionary tales of warfare. All of these and more can give us vital insight into ourselves and our actions, they are lessons that Ezra can teach us.
Author’s Note: Split from a previous post. Have some more concepts for domains. I won’t turn down an opportunity to do a better ghost train idea than WotC. And well, the same goes for an Eberron domain too! I already made one, but Snaking Trenches were basic. Let’s pull a city from Cyre instead! And while we’re at it, cool new lady darklords and their own new domains. Anyway, that’s enough petty jabs at the new book. As always, please enjoy.
Abaddon (Island of Terror)
Cultural Level: Savage (0) with ruins and pockets of Classical (4) and Dark Ages (5) cultures
Darklord: Mariella. A furious and power hungry member of a druidic circle. Her world was a small one for the longest time, one which stifled her desires. The duty of her circle was simple, use powers to enhance and aid life within nature. This conflicted with Mariella, who saw life as a bargaining chip for more power. Often, she would find herself breaking away to offer services to travelers and adventurers. But, this was for her benefit. In the end, she would try to bend life forces towards her, even grabbing the fleeting life from foolish adventurers lost to nearby plights. Over many years, her powers grew. But, one of the members in her circle became aware of her disturbing life-draining activities. The circle mystic bestowed a vision upon Mariella, one of a distant world where dark magic stole the life of the land to boost their power. What should have frightened her only intrigued her, as she slew her compatriot to further her ends. She was exiled after enough came forth to convince elders that she was worth sparing, due to her “work” with ensuring peaceful relations with outsiders. All but abandoned, she tried to find ways of replicating this magic. The fruits of her labor came forth thanks to a sacred artifact, The Rings of Ancient Wisdom. This artifact was the trunk of a severed ancient tree, destroyed by a divine bolt of lightning. The trunk remained a conduit of intense energy, one that druids would make a yearly pilgrimage too. For her, it was the conduit for her ritual. But, it quickly grew out of control. Before former allied druids were aware, a wave of death was unleashed upon the land; with Mariella reaping the benefits. Nearly immortal and ageless, the mad druid began sapping away at the land without regard for control, slaying and druid or beast that got in her way. Prayers for intervention came from a mixture of other druids and clergy from nearby civilization. Their answered prayers? A whirling vortex of Mists that wrapped around the fallen druid. As the Mists gave way, Mariella was confident that this was yet another spell to triumph over.
Instead of emerging in final victory, she was greeted with a wasteland, haunted by lost souls and devoid of life. The domain itself is massive, despite very little hospitable land. Eventually, it trails into clouds of mist and ashen smog. Her old grounds were now an oasis pocket in a desert of warm and grey ash which she can never clean. Much of her beauty is preserved following her ascension into immortality, but her form was somewhat tainted. Her eyeballs are deep black with eerie glowing green eye color piercing the darkness. Likewise, her youthful good looks are tarnished by her curse. She always looks to be caked in grey and black ash It is here that she has spent countless days into years, pondering what she has done. But, her conclusion is one of annoyance. She wants more, but doesn’t know where to find it. What she has now is a reserve for more power, in case of emergency. But, she is reluctant to use it. Likewise, she’s afraid of running out of resources, as well as the beauty of her homeland. While she’s mad with power and always desires more, she is frightened of a dead world with nothing to look forward to in her immortal existence. Multiple times of using her corrupted divine gifts to end herself have failed, thus causing her to usually cordon herself from the vast wastes. Her misery doesn’t end there though. Her powers only work in areas with natural life in it. Her stagnation did end when she took to exploring.
While putting herself in great peril, she took to survey the mostly dead world around her. To her astonishment, other pockets exist out in the wastelands, but this risks her traversing an awful ground without any power what so ever. She is useless in the dead and charred lands. The wastes also crawl with undead horrors. Many of these were conjurations of the Mists, but some were genuine victims of the fallen druid, infuriated husks out for revenge. A few of these corrupted bodies are no threat, but massive amounts of them dot the burned out landscape. And should they sense a life force, many will congregate in its direction. And worse, the moment she leaves, her near-immortal positive-infused body acts as a massive beacon to all of those she has wronged. Unlike other travelers, all of these undead know here location the moment she leaves her safe spots. However, outside help cannot save her. Over time, her almost vampiric hunger for life force will take over and she’ll try to kill them, creating more hateful undead. Does this mean that she is alone? Not completely.
Nearby tribes have found refuge in various oasis, often bringing warning to their kin and traveler alike of an evil witch. To them, her tale is twisted in many ways. One tribe proclaims that she is a wrathful and hungry phantom that emerged in reaction to a wasteful and consumptive world. Others say that she is a spirit of nature corrupted by man’s own cruelty. In one story, she was always an evil monster, conjured to this world either by a mad mage or a vicious god. Either way, the tribal people of these shelters will do all in their power to fend Mariella off. Considering she is weak in the wasteland, it proves easy to defy her as long as she does not touch upon living land. Should this occur, the fight against her becomes far more challenging. The tribes that oppose her are the Maddened Oaks, the Glistening Stone, the Society of the Great Elk and the Clans of Verdant Hosts. These four primary tribes each attempt to preserve their chosen land in different ways, random from use of elemental magic to ritual sacrifice to slaying the undead of the wastelands to even funneling the life force of their own. More mundane methods often reflect more down to earth care of the land, such as caring for young trees, surveying water in the soil and more. All of these are carried out, as she has proved a formidible foe in the event she does touch upon the land. A False History speaks of two other tribes that she annihilated and erased from time. Given her ability to fight at full capacity when entering living lands, none question these alternative histories. Curiously, her story and downfall isn’t unknown to the lands of the Mists. Feuers, the domain of Drachenblut, hails from the same Prime Material world as Marielle and many have heard the story of her dark tale. None of them are aware as to whether or not her actions and ultimate fate are fact though. Much like Feuers, all of those tribes hail from all over the world, being long lost nations and native peoples who had fallen at some point in history.
(La Strada di) Karnada (Pocket Domain)
Darklord: The Midnight Slasher. Her defeat at the hands of adventurers wasn’t the end. In fact, it was just the beginning. The festival in Karina was only the start of the slasher’s torments by the Dark Powers themselves. They awoke later to find herself in a dirty and damaged alleyway. This was the street of Karnada, a grim and fallen place that few wish to end up in. While she cannot escape this street (for now), she learned that should could bring the street to potential targets.
Once the site of a children’s rhyme, the site was tainted in blood by the nefarious Midnight Slasher. Now, it is a pocket domain within the domain of Invidia. Upon any street, a potential victim can take a wrong turn and accidentally find themselves here. Before they meet the pocket darklord, it’s not uncommon for victims to hear the old nursery rhymes and songs sung about the curiously named part of Karina. It is known as the Street of the Meat, as it was where refuse and spoils from butchers were tossed to fester, often slithering and slipping into drains. Sometimes, the juices and detritus congeal into an abomination that slithers and hunts from the drainage depths. But, the mindless horrors are little compared to the Slasher herself.
Despite the powers giving her a chance to indulge in her serial murder behavior, she is often not so lucky. Her captors like to set up traps when it comes to victims lured into the streets. It isn’t uncommon that those lured into the street will be given some boon or edge, such as the inability to be hurt by the darklord in her own pocket. As before, she retreats in cowardice when faced with a fight beyond her odds. However, a supernatural fear overwhelms her, granting the ability to vanish and transport to another part of the street. Also, she has no control over the domain borders, including with entrance into the pocket domain being rare outside of the street’s native location. However, should she particularly desire a target, it is possible for them to find Karnada after the stroke of Midnight. But, after slaying her targets, they never stay for long within the putrid sludge filled pathway. Often, the body fades, appearing in the point before their disappearance. While she can slay her victims, she never has chance to savor it before the corpse vanishes before her eyes. For those who are greeted by the teleporting corpse, it is more than enough to invoke fear or horror.
Curiously, this pocket domain can manifest beyond Karina, including the domain territories of Curriculo and Tancos. The Citadel and roads by Castle Loupet are particular favorite haunts for Karnada to overlap with. Besides harming those who mean ill to families, she has become even more obsessed with the Aderres. In 758 BC, she even managed to trick Malocchio into falling into her pocket domain, without violating the Vistani’s curse upon the tyrant. Trapped within a loophole, he would have died if it wasn’t for other supernatural boons, allowing him to escape wounded. Prior to Gundar’s return and eventual conquest of Castle Hunadora, even the property by there had seen the darklord prowling for Gabrielle Aderre. Even after Gundarak’s return, Gabrielle retains this fear over the slasher. While she did eventually manage to escape Gundarak through trickery and deceit in 762 BC, she has helped with coups and revolts against Malocchio’s regime from a secret hiding place… well away from Invidian borders. Not even Gundar knows where she is, but prefers to no longer care, since her use as a bargaining chip has expired in his eyes. But, these events have not yet come to pass. And by 760 BC, the Slasher’s doom would be fully sealed, inheriting Invidia itself. Karnada would return to its original destination, as her reach extended to all of Old Invidia. However, she lost the ability to touch any lands overtaken by Duke Gundar. She would greatly loathe this, vowing to slay any Gundarakite that enters her space.
The Hell Coal Express (Pocket Domain)
Cultural Level: Industrial (10)
Darklord: Malachi Cross. The Great Paridon Train Caper. A twisted train robber from the wrong side of the tracks, born to squalor and poverty in BC 729. Originally from Timor, he saw callous indifference to plights around him, the decadence of many leading to their downfall and horrors that lurk underneath. As his home district was falling into literal ruin and few could do anything about it, his family fled to Paridon in hopes of a new life. And behind them, the city of Timor all but vanished. Ahead was the smoggy city. Instead of welcoming and compassion, they were met with far more cruelty. His parents wasted away in an effort to provide Malachi with some semblance of a life, but he knew a future of misery awaited him. His contempt for the high society of Paridon always rubbed him the wrong way, pushing him towards anarchistic aims in retaliation. This ranged from robberies to making terror plans alongside other extremists. His heists and political conspiracies lead to the collapse of business and the deaths of several prominent icons of the land. One popular tactic of his was to sneak onto a train that he would rob, case the layout, hide bombs, rob passengers the next day and threaten them with said hidden bombs. Eventually, parting mists revealed that the railway was even larger than he imagined, meaning more targets to terrorize. His final heist came after some news that a recent bust lead to his numerous cohorts being slain by state agents and police. Panicked and grief stricken, he’d send a message to them all. His heist started as normal, but upon making his way to a luxurious club car, he started to shoot anyone who didn’t immediately cooperate. Ultimately, this was a final straw for some passengers, who tried to stop him by tackling him down. Some feat of supernatural strength caused him to escape. In panic, he fled towards the conductor’s cabin in the engine. The mob was about to corner him, as he shot the conductor. As passengers readied to jump him, he took out one final bomb and threatened to toss it into the engine’s flaming coals. A crewman called his bluff as he chucked it right in. Just like that, a chain reaction went off blowing the train up completely. However, the dark powers weren’t done with Malachi.
Those who commute along the Paridon rail system had best beware. Sometimes, a distorted whistle can be heard in the distance. And following the bellowing call, crackling flames. This is the phantom wreckage of the Hargold Express, returned to unleash horror upon the railways. Now the Hell Coal Express, the grizzled and burned exterior pulls into a station well in the evening, almost innocuous otherwise. It still retains its old Hargold engraved logo, despite its new name. The interior is somewhat singed, but otherwise shares resemblance with the ornate original. From there, it lures guests who are often stragglers or people who missed their desired train caravan. Often, the train is well packed, with the damned souls of those slain in the incident. However, the ghosts will go about their business in a state of aloofness. But, at some point, the intent of the ride will emerge. A moment of repose gives way as sparks and cinders begin to emerge around the vessel. An unnatural heat begins to encompass the cars, as the ghostly passengers begin to reveal their grim fates. The train speeds up, as fire quickly spreads. The ghostly captor of the train in turn reveals himself, taunting those foolish enough to board. And despite the name, this train goes well beyond Paridon, as the railway stretches well throughout the Broken Cog cluster, wrapping around the bay of Alleigosto through the overbuilt industry of Nosos and also into the autocracy of Phyresha. As a traveling pocket domain, the Hell Coal Express can go anywhere that there is an active railway within the Broken Cog Cluster. This can reach to any terrible beyond the Iron City Island or Ichthyos.
While the ghost train is known to stop at peculiar times and places, there are often methods to its appearance. Often, it’s attracted to stations crowded with wealthy or important patrons, Malachi’s favorite prey. Likewise, passengers who express undesirable behaviors on the platform might find themselves greeted by the ghost train instead of their own. With all else failing, the cars open themselves at strange times not listed on any table, with the train pulling in at random. These random times are often at night, but it’s possible for the fiery hell carriage to materialize in the day time. Often, the train will engage in a typical route, if only to accumulate more customers. Curiously, those who try to leave find themselves blocked. After maneuvering on path long enough, then it will engage in its infernal activity. Those unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of the flame-drenched atrocity in all of its mechanical terror often find themselves succumbing to fear or madness. Often, one can see flaming chunks and heaps of scraps left behind in its path. These pieces of wreckage are dreadfully cursed, best handled by those who can safely dispose of them, lest a victim fall into far deeper mania or terror.
Malachi is a dark spirit, forever bound to the train he destroyed several years ago. His existence amounts to eternal anguish from the flames he spread. Despite being undead, he is always tormented by the sensation of burning alive. And more so, he can never leave the ghost train. However, the ghost train also acts as a vessel of his revenge against greater society. Despite his own constant agony, he takes great joy in witnessing the other trapped souls suffer just as much as he does. Should one try to stop the train and escape, he is capable of derailing the entire chain of cars from engine to caboose. However, it isn’t impossible to appease the crazed logic of the phantom himself. He seeks revenge against a world he sees as rotten. He isn’t against letting victims go, should he judge them as valuable tools to punish and retaliate against the heinous sins and gross uses of power seen throughout the domains of dread. Ironically, he is himself a gross use of power and a heinous sin in his own right; the very reason why the Dark Powers have put him in his position.
Metrol (Island of Terror)
Cultural Level: A mixture of Medieval (7) through Renaissance (9), some hints of Industrial (10)
Darklord: Queen Dannel ir’Wynarn. The rightful heir to the Galifar throne, prior to the Last War ruining not just the mighty empire. She had grown up knowing mostly the greater conflict. Her ancestor was slain by one of the antagonistic traitor nations and her moment of glory was at hand. In the days before the Time of Mourning, invaders brought ruination and devestation to the capital city. Dannel’s son and future heir, Oargev, embarked on a last ditch ambassador mission to help end tensions with Breland. His plans were to not only lessen tensions, but open up an area for Cyran refugees to temporarily stay. Dannel was not impressed by this, preferring to have the other nations face the consequences of their century-long misgivings. A commissioned arcane weapon, thanks in part to House Cannith, was unveiled and threats were made against not only the invaders being pushed from the city, but to other armies. Her demands were simple, leave Cyre within the next few days or face annihilation. Several leaders behind various armies rejected her message, as they were wrapped up in strange occurrences around them. As Queen Dannel observed terrifying explosions and chaos in the distance, she demanded her hired artificers activate the weapon now. In her mind, if she couldn’t have Cyre, no one could. Unbeknownst to her, the Day of Mourning had already begun. Her weapon didn’t cause it, but it ultimately added to it. In an instant, the city was wiped of life. Nearby lands were likewise purged. However, she somehow didn’t die, as strange mists surrounded her.
There is an Island of Terror that has loose mistway connections to various domains, such Rockbaecche. This domain is the Snaking Trenches, a series of tunnels forever haunted by The Last War upon the fallen Galifar Kingdom. But, a domain with far more recent history has also been revealed by The Mists. This is the city formerly known as Metrol, a former capital city well within the depths of Cyre. Unlike the rest of Cyre, it is preserved through a dark mirror. Majority of its people aren’t even fully aware of what has happened, let alone the end of the war. This wasn’t always the case for the city. Metrol was once even the overall name of lands, before Cyre ir’Wynarn rechristened the land in his name, much as Galifar had done in the name of his kingdom. Within the kingdom, the city was very much a beloved cultural center, in addition to major political seat of power. Even before the Last War, Metrol saw its share of great events. Knights capturing and suppressing a fallen angel, a cabal of fell sorcerers clashing against Mystic Orcs and the heated debates that lead to the fall of the Galifar empire.
Despite being cut off from the rest of Cyre, the people of Metrol still retain their proud and creative culture. Likewise, they retain a strong resentment for the other nations of Khorvaire, blaming their current fate upon them. In the mainstream populism of the culture, they were in the right for everything that transpired. Mishann ir’Wynarn was the rightful heir as Queen of Galifar. Those who opposed her were traitors throughout. Karrnath, Thrane and Breland went from allies pieces of a kingdom to enemy nations; as were Darguun and Valenar in time. As such, the people became skittish and always on alert, even with the bolstering of mercenaries and Warforged. The Warforged within The Mists are different from their Prime counterparts though. These beings are creatures of constant existential crisis, tormented by their artificial natures contrasting their true souls. Their forms are likewise bent in cruel mockery, both more like the humans and also less. Some are still true to their classic shapes from the forges, but these have done all in their power to maintain their own identities. The other people of the land are resourceful and adaptable, but their long exposure to the war and degrading of their empire has left them bitter and xenophobic to outsiders. Despite a attitude of being helpful and neighborly to other residents, they are deeply fearful and resentful of any Outlander who enters the domain. Some, confused by paranoia, insinuate that they are mercenary forces sent forth by rival nations. However, their concept of time has all but slowed to a crawl. To them, the war is still ongoing, when it ended in the Prime several years ago. And even then, much of time itself has passed very strangely. No one from within the city seems to age quickly and all calendar records after the jump into The Mists contradict each other. As creatively put by several Cyran bards, life has slowed to a crawl in lock-down. The irony of this is that their figurative statements are literally correct.
Their arts have also seen a tonal shift to represent this. While the years leading to the end of the Last War were filled with heartwarming and uplifting pieces of unity and courage, this jump into The Mists has seen tragedies, reflections, nostalgia works and even grim revenge fantasies become far more popular. Various arts and creative works have likewise been tainted by this darker tone. Those of a more uplifting and optimistic nature also have a grim dark side, usually following some brutal story of conquest and retribution against enemies. They often preach a nationalistic fervor and deeply seeded hatred of the other. And yet, most simply yearn for peace and a brighter tomorrow, while some are subtly critical of culture or leadership. In the case of the latter, they had best not tread too far, lest they invoke the wrath of the ruling regime. After all, values of unity, protection and resourcefulness are greatly embraced by Metrol as a whole. Too much transgression and subversion from that draws ire, if not lawful repercussions. Those who are seen as seditious are publicly mocked before facing greater punishment in the open, decided by the powers that be on the spot. This ranges from a parade of shame into a dungeon to public execution. And lacking the scholarly techniques and historic resources of Aundair, the arts and creative weavings of Cyre’s Metrol are all the more open to corruption. The Truth has been rebranded through Queen ir’Wynarn’s trusted associates, through a Ministry of Propaganda. In her eyes, winning the war and keeping a national collective are paramount to rebuilding the nation and later the empire.
The Darklord is in a state of delusion and pride. And even then, the pride and desires of her own people are never good enough. She’ll never be satisfied until her revenge is sated, something that will never occur and she can never accept that. Queen ir’Wynarn will do what she can to organize and rally events to maintain a sense of strong national pride. Often phrases of encouragement and progress in the war will be rattled off to help please the populace, while instilling a sense of fabricated hope. Deep down, Dannel knows that the city is not only doomed, but lost from the world at large. The least she can do, in her perspective, is pacify and placate them amidst tragedy. All of this justifies another side of her as well. She rules with an iron fist,ruling harshly to keep the land bound together in these vital times. Behind this public image, darker motives continue to work behind the scenes. There is further irony to her dissatisfaction than a fractured persona. A destructive weapon commissioned by her was responsible for much of the Mournland destruction, but she still wants a new one. Her memories on the specifics are muddy and blocked by the Dark Powers, thus her desire to make a similar weapon will always fail. Likewise, the only things that the citizens can remember about the weapon is the distinct and devastating trauma it caused them. And worse, that they should have been killed by it. And even worse, that they remember dying from it originally. However, after a traumatic episode subsides, everyone except the Darklord forgets that they even thought about the super weapon in the first place. As such, Dannel intentionally tries to suppress information on any new projects, to keep the city denizens from lapsing into more anguish.
Not all are supportive of ir’Wynarn through the seemingly endless strife. A political campaign made by those who supported the end of Galifar have pinned blame on the Queen and her associates. The Khorvaire Revivalists proclaim that her factions used a device to pluck the city away from reality, to wait out conflict on their terms. And because of them, everyone else is now trapped. Even though they don’t know the truth, they are far more in tune with the surroundings of The Mists than others within city grounds. Furthermore, several infuriated artificers of House Cannith have begun to embark on hidden projects in hopes of breaking out of their new prison. Many of these concealed callings evoke heinous experiments and wicked crafts, often with the few vestiges and bits of Creation Forges cobbled near city outskirts. It is rumored that one artificer, a renegade emissary to Dannel ir’Wynarn, has successfully blended human and warforged together into a hybrid abomination. Officer Yoltmard Camidenn is one such rogue operative, out for revenge against a regime he feels betrayed his life’s work. Even the artists of the city have begun turning to retaliation and blasphemy. Alliesa Willkeeper, a bard of previous repute in the city, has gone mad concocting foul magic-infused verses. Her dark tales and songs are capable of inducing absolute terror in all who hear them. She has also taken to distributing copies out to other bards eager to strike back against the lands. One such bard, in a fit of their own hysteria, took to the mists themselves. Rather than getting lost, he found himself back on the battlefields of the Last War. This was not the world he knew, but another domain; The Snaking Trenches. Indeed, the Road to Conflict is a Mistway that connects both domains. However, leaving the Snaking Trenches and into Metrol is far tougher, with most getting lost in the Mists instead.
IMAGE CREDIT: Mistfinder Team – Anchorite; Nedika Art – Scorched Wasteland; Mark A Nelson – Midnight Slasher; Greensboro News – Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train; wotc team – Metrol map