“Ah, setting sails on the high seas? Well, let me tell you of grim tall tales. I speak of ghostly vessels rising from watery graves. I have witnessed water beasts infused with the deadliest poisons known to man. I have seen angered spirits more than capable of sinking your ship, even from a distance. And this is to say nothing of the strange island you will find along the way. The ones I fear the most are controlled by wicked sorcerers who reject the divine in favor of their own prospects. And that’s to say nothing of the pirates. Even in distant lands, the brigands will emerge. One such heinous gathering caused me crew to run aground. And that was to say nothing of the horrors to come. I speak of flying creatures that resemble women, but only their top half! The accursed harpies had slain too many good men. I speak to you today, only thanks to some priests who witnessed the carnage. The life of a sailor is no kind one. Pray that it’s only nature you have to worry about!”
The old man, beleaguered by his past, sits back down. However, for the rest of the evening, he maintains a glassy stare that is equal parts ominous and worried. His staring is only interrupted by the loud slurping of grog from his mug, most of which staining his mostly white beard. Even as you ready to depart, the solemn and sorrowful figure remains haunted and scarred through the terrors of his own past. Pray that you do not suffer much like him.
Author’s Note: I’m back once more, since my previous post split off into another part all its own. I wanted to tackle a look at Sri Raji, as well as stealing from the new book to make their new domain feel more Ravenloft (though that’s a common complaint I have with the book). As a whole, I give my own remake to The Steaming Lands, now the Steaming Wrath, with the addition of two wholly new domains (one based off of a Bruce Heard article for Dragon of course). Likewise, I have returned with more Ravenscape crossover, detailing the fate of Antorek and how it relates to the Wildlands. Also, PIRATES! I love me some stuff with pirates.
Pirates and Sea Perils of The Mists
The high seas surrounding the core are just the start of many troubles. Those who battle the waves often find themselves fighting pirates soon after, both living and dead.
Sea of Sorrows Addendum: Capt. Pieter Van Reise and the Relentless
Captain Van Riese wanted nothing more than to explore and sail. During a wicked storm, he was to meet certain doom. In anguish over his assumed end, he cried a wish of offering the lives of his crew and his very soul to continue on the seas. The Dark Powers responded, as he became a ghost on the Sea of Sorrows. He sails throughout the sea, cursed to never accurately chart it, as islands shift places and even form sometimes. However, he can disguise his ship as a corporeal vessel, rather than a ghost ship. Likewise, he too can take a living guise. This is usually when he is in need of more crew members. The Sea of Sorrows is very much his domain as a whole.
Sea of Sorrows Addendum: Andre de Sang and La Mer Gitan
A conflicted pirate captain, driven made by becoming a wererat. Upon infecting his crew, the mists pulled him in. The result was a change to how his crew’s shape changing worked. On the ship, his crew was stuck in hybrid form and him as a human. But, beyond the ship, they became dire rats while he was stuck in hybrid. Sometimes, he’ll bait victims on board by pretending to be in peril from pirates.
Pirates Addendum: Urdogen the Red
An infamous Faerunian pirate captain, he gained a reputation of maiming prisoners and forcing them to do atrocious acts. His notoriety gained him the direct attention of Cormyrean navies allied with other nations. His fleet was smashed and squashed by the assembled adversaries, only for him to try to make his escape. The mists consumed his vessel, crashing and killing the crew soon after. A new vessel arose with 40 specters by his side. Unlike other cursed, he is able to still sail in Toril, but never make it to shore. Plus, his vessel can only sail upon there on moonless nights, only for him to be pulled back at the next dawn. He will be robbed of all satisfactory revenge forevermore.
Nocturnal Sea Addendum: L’île de la Tempête
All one can find here is a cursed lighthouse, the wrecks of many ships and its cursed keeper named Captain Alain Monette. He was a brutal privateer known to be dreadful and relentlessly cruel to his crew, until they mutinied him and left him for dead, only for The Mists to pull him. He found land in the demiplane, where he feasted upon the bats that tried to suck his blood. After he came he, it was discovered that he was a cursed werebat. His condition and darklord status prevents him from high seas sailing and the company of others.
Nocturnal Sea Addendum: Isle of the Ravens
A mysterious island has one human woman, surrounded by chirping and crowing corvids. But in reality, most of these birds are cursed people, forced into being her servants. She was the child of a noble family troubled with madness, isolationism and incest. However, they had the knack to talk to ravens, as did she. Her obsession beyond caring for her bird companions was over a young man who barely noticed her existence. After finding out that he found another, her mania lead to her commanding her ravens to murder him in grief. The one-sided romance turned death caught the mists. She emerged from her Tower of Flint, all alone and on an island. Now, she uses her curses to make new raven friends. All the same, she pursues magic and any assistance possible to remember her past. After emerging from her tower, she forgot her name and much of her origins.
Nocturnal Sea Addendum: Liffe
Three connected lands, under the observation of a Baron Lyron Eversong. Originally from Krynn, Baron Eversong was much a patron of the arts. However, he feared the art outliving the artist. Through the hiring of black magic sages, he bound his soul and lifeforce to an enchanted harp. The cost was the sacrifice of several lives. This earned his the realms of Liffe. However, there is a cost. Every night lasts 100 years for him within his manor. It’s not uncommon that he’ll lure guests to endure the suffering with him.
Verdurous Lands Addendum: Saragoss
Originally an Island of Terror, this domain was joined alongside The Wildlands and Sri Raji to form the Steaming Lands Cluster. However, the meddling of Azalin once more broke that down. Now Saragoss exists as a Pocket like Island of Terror connected to Nocturnal Sea and Sea of Sorrows. It lures unsuspecting sailors through pathways and misty gates that brings a vessel into its dominion instead. As for the domain itself, it is commanded by Draga Salt-Biter, a former sailor with a unique wereshark curse. Even in human form, he can’t survive outside of water for long. His old sailing vessel is crashed and sunk, after his condition forced him to abandon his crew and leave them to a watery fate. He is cursed to avoid other sailors, who he seeks unobtainable companionship and comradery with. His ship isn’t the only wreck to fill these seas though, as tons of other vessels from ancient to more contemporary cultures line the waters and rocks. Many are cursed, some by treasure itself. His attempts to interact with other crews often lead to their fall.
Saragoss Addendum: Siren’s Call
Deep in the domain, foul sirens lurk. They emerged after the Mist Gate cataclysm occurred, entering through some other sea. Their queen is stuck in the darkest depths, where she conspires to one day return above water and consume ship and crew alike with the help of her giant kraken daughter. The sirens have claimed many a vessel and doomed countless sailors. In fact, their dark magics have consumed their souls to power dread artifacts of their own. Said artifacts are beacons for siren rituals and spells, even a means of building new monsters from scratch. In these lonesome and loathsome depths, waters beyond the lair are actively patrolled. Royal guards of different rank and color defend their mad queen. With enchanted tridents; they slash at, drag down and even shoot beams of light at interlopers.
However, the witches serving under her majesty have given her visions of her eventual demise. The queen is cursed to eventual failure, but she does all in her power to subvert these prophecies, only to make them draw closer. It is implied that her kind were once able to go on land, only for the dark heart of the queen to ruin her race, condemning many them all to the depths. While this truth is known, she was manipulated them through distorted truths to shove blame to the creatures of the land. A culture of fervent dedication has united much of the population under “common enemies”. Even those who reject the queen’s message feel a distinct racism towards land creatures. Only some can emerge to the top of the ocean for a period of time, usually to destroy ships and drown sailors. A few naughts from the wreck of The Vengeance, one can find a glowing cave of sea plants and coral, leading one to the royal lair of the infamous queen. This pocket domain mostly consists of her submerged palace. The queen’s servants aren’t as inhibited as she is. But, none are seen too far beyond Saragoss or parts of the Sea of Sorrows.
Lamordia Addendum: The Winter Terror
The Finger jutting from Lamordia shares other secrets beyond Althea and Adam. The Winter Terror is a pirate vessel long since beached against ice, later surrounded and prevented from escape. Captain Sculpturebeard was the nefarious force in charge, before he did all in his power to get free of the icy prison. While his flamboyant appearance, including a use of clays and oils to make shapes out of his facial hair, he proved as ruthless as many infamous pirate lords. This often amounted to sacrificing crew, dividing those who remained and pushing everyone beyond sane limits. Now he is cursed to haunt the wreck forever, feverishly guarding horded treasure, which crewmen try to take and hide somewhere else on the ship. His greedy torment is doubled by the fact that in death, his crew no longer care about him. While they became overwhelmed by the prospects of riches on the seas, their resurrected souls now share his greed too. They’re content with haunting the wreck, taking treasure for themselves and terrorizing anyone who gets too close to it.
The Winter Terror remains a landlocked wreck, with bits of treasure hidden in pockets around the impressive galleon ship. Despite having broken in two, much of it remains pretty well in tact, save for splintered holes, damaged lanterns and a flag that has long since fallen into the water. Curiously, the flag itself is a weakness. In Captain Sculpturebeard’s life, it was a holy omen enchanted to bring the crew good fortune. In undeath, it is a holy weapon useful in defeating the ghosts on board. The symbol on the flag is of some Material plane faith long since obscured by time. Likewise, countless treasures from both some unknown world, as well as from the lands of the mists, can be found aboard. One particular item of interest is a staff adorned with an obsidian big cat on top. Said staff originates in Valachan and was taken by the crew on their last voyage, before crashing off of Lamordia.
Antorek (Island of Terror)
Cultural Level: Savage (0) into Stone Age (1), the ruins of Early Medieval (6) and Medieval (7) cultures
Darklord: Antorek. A dying dragon used fading life force and magic to consult the fey for aid. His plea was partially to protect the beasts and plant creatures that populated his realm, but to also further his revenge against sentient life. While part of his story is known among the denizens of the planes, it cuts off from the whole truth. He consulted the archfey of the Wild Kingdom to find ways to connect to the prime material and drain life from those he didn’t plan to assimilate into his cluster. His agenda involved the total eradication of countless sentient races, especially humans. However, he was ultimately pushed back within his home world, seeking the fey for sympathy. Those who sided with him, without question of his omnicide plans, also found their damnation. Combined with his past of murderous rampages and turning the innocent into monsters, he was claimed by the Mists, given his own land in the Demiplane of Dread. However, his mind is muddled and confused, dumbed down far below the other creatures in the realm. Only brief moments of clarity allow him to recall his goals now. Leaving his lair also causes him to suffer the same damage as when he used magic to jump into the faerie plane. Within his lair, he doesn’t need food or drink, even though his feral side still craves it. Often, he’ll go hunting before he is overcome with pain and damage.
Antorek is a fey-blighted realm of impossible nature, named for the eponymous darklord as well. Despite being an Island of Terror, it an be reached easily from The Wildlands, which it shares many of its properties at first. While this is also a realm with talking animal spirits, it is also one filled with the ruins of civilization. And among those ruins, bestial humanoids have surrendered to animal tendency. But, they are not werebeasts, merely a reflection of a faerie realm that was built upon the planes. While Antorek is too mentally warped to properly focus, he’s always aware of anything attempting to leave. By closing the borders, the residents are called to attack en masse until the targets return to “accept the gift”. Even without a call out from the darklord, the “Wyldfolk” (cursed creatures resembling plants or animals) hate any sentient race that isn’t their own, doing whatever they can to “cleanse” visitors of their “tainted essence”. However, the change isn’t automatic, despite this domain resembling The Beastlands of the Outer Planes. Rather than an infection that overwhelms the host, a cult ritual must be done on a captive, to literally burn away the victim’s old form through the Darklord’s radiance. The victim is then melded into the new being through “divine light”.
The Wyldfolk are creatures that look like upright beasts as well as bipedal plant things. The beast and plant denizens are simplistic, acting in according to their changed natures much of the day. However, when they hear the call of their master, they become religiously devout by practicing assortments of strange rituals at shrines and temples. The few Wyldfolk who display deeper sentience often find themselves more involved with this strange religion, the worship of the Dragon God. They make up the majority of the population of this realm. Their curse runs deep, even after death for most. These hexed mutants aren’t alone. Curiously, only some fey creatures can be found here. Within the eldritch wilderness, they hide behind whatever cover is granted to them, made shy by the horrors of the demiplane. They are not in fact Shadow Fey, as they were never part of Arak to begin with. These fair folk come from the Deep Ethereal, much like the Demiplane of Dread. Originally from the Kingdom of the Wild Fey, a realm of sylvan creatures were disinterested in the politics of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The then-dying moments of Antorek drew their interest, only for his final damnation to take several with him. Few of these creatures are even aware of The Shadow Rift or those imprisoned by Gwydion the Sorcerer Fiend.
Mapping this domain is impossible, as are figuring lengths of distance. The very nature of this domain, true to strange fey magic, is exceedingly morphic. Different environments and bioms can be found throughout the domain, the only constant being jungles where one enters from The Wildlands. For many under the gazing glare of King Crocodile, this is the rightful punishment of man, but also a forbidden place for the Wildlanders to go themselves. They fear that the forces from within would claim their minds, their fears are well warranted. Non-sentient beasts and plant creatures may pass through the domain without becoming brainwashed puppets. Afflicted who escape should seek aid quickly, for their curse has a secondary effect. Those who don’t always find their way back here. And those too far gone can never leave. Only through divine aid can they become normal once more, but sometimes breaking the curse also means giving back to nature in some way. Restorative and protective acts are often the most accepted.
The Steaming Wrath Cluster
The end result of the Mist Gate’s tampering with the Demiplane of Dread. At some point, this was the Verduous Lands that held Saragoss, before it was released and others joined other edge of the Wildlands. Kalakeri, Jaibul and Shoonyata emerged to become part of a new cluster. This was no longer a land hidden in dense tropics, but a land haunted by misdeeds and divine wrath; the questioning of spiritual power and receiving of righteous retribution. These are lands where even spirits are chastised, whether or not they were unholy to begin with. Here is where the ambitious and powerful and laid low in their moments of triumph and defeat.
Cultural Level: Savage (0)
Darklord: King Crocodile. King Crocodile was a spiritual being of immense power, before his rapid decline. At the height of his power, he made a great promise to the other beasts of the realm; “lend me your powers and I shall purge the hairless ape invaders.” His goal was more than exterminating humanoids, but a grab at power itself. As unwanted humanoids were being slain and devoured, he turned on many animals who lent their powers as well. The only ones who failed to lend him aid were the python and the fly. He found himself poisoned and diseased by both targets, cursed to eventually die by their hands or to be slain by the “hairless ape” in his weakened state.
The Wildlands is a lush wilderness that spans a vast expanse. This is a realm populated by awakened beasts, possibly animal spirits manifested upon the land itself. But, they are no phantoms, they are flesh and blood. Likewise, these animals are intelligent, capable of feats that would both impress and frighten man. Many of them still retain extraordinary abilities, but there are none quite like King Crocodile. Even in his reduced state, he is still a being and deadly being. But, in his cursed state, he can never receive the help he desires. For his treacherous ways before, he is just as inclined to attack and devour all who come into his lair. In his own words, it is the instinct of nature playing out. But in his case, it works against him. Many of the other beasts of the realm work in similar ways, but most of them have achieved much success where King Crocodile does not. In fact, the boons granted to them has made it easier for them to fend off the Darklord when he gets in a gluttonous mood.
The vast jungles themselves are a lively and surprisingly beautiful place. However, beauty is deceptive. There are many natural horrors well beyond shockingly intelligent animals. Strange quicksand can consume a victim in minutes, even moving with supernatural speed to choke out its captive too. Even unliving spirits haunt the lands here, with none so apparent as the Elephant’s Graveyard. This resting place of the elephants is known to be haunted, as both the restless souls and the bones of the elephants have risen up to protect the memorial. A steep plateau provides great defense against the crocodiles. However, gorillas prove quite unwelcoming and hostile to all other creatures emerging into their territory. The Way of Winding Jaws mostly acts as a trap to lure those from Souragne into the Wildlands. However, it’s possible for the reverse to happen and for the victim to escape through it… just unlikely.
Cultural Level: Classical (4), surrounded by Savage (0) wilderness
Darklord: Prabat, Bringer of Nothing. His roots are in the kingdom of Lakshmana, in the Seven Kingdoms of Mahasarpa within the world of Toril. From childhood, he was a pampered aristocrat high within the realms of caste. The organizations of the land trained him in numerous arts, which he saw as tools to bring others to his side; tools of propaganda. While he excelled at painting and sculpting at Khubali College, in an effort to help teach the young noble perspective, he was more interested in political gain. His works were focused on tributes to empire and regional pride. While his clan worked under the Raja, he considered himself worthy of equal footing. The message of his creations began to turn more sinister, as he used diplomacy as well as his arts to sway people to his side. A strange cult was slowly built around him, declaring him a message of a new era. After several years of cobbling plans, he readied a coup against the leadership, only for strange mists to carry him to a vaguely similar land. Gone were fears of Yuan-Ti, but replaced were the terrors of the fiendish Rakshasa. Prabat continued his message of heretical enlightenment, mostly amounting to giving him power. This wasn’t unnoticed by Arijani or his cohorts, who infiltrated and twisted his messages to their ends. Prabat only worked feverishly to undo this, while grabbing anyone to his side for a revolution against the state. Realizing his mission was doomed, he sent the people towards Bahru as he broke off. His intent was sending a statement, rather than sacrificing himself. Jungle horrors and associates of the darklord slew most of the militia-like bands, with stragglers having the honor of facing the Maharaja himself. Arijani responded by magically beckoning Prabat to his temple, whisked over with the help of dark sister allies, after witnessing a total disregard for the revolutionaries. After questioning the foolish outlander, the rakshasa found himself mocking his rival after declaring him non-threatening. Prabat vowed that power would be his, as he ran into the mists that surrounded the temple.
These are the ruins of a settlement well away from Sri Raji proper, mostly deserted land that’s inhospitable and empty, next to a deadly jungle. The residing population struggles endlessly against failed crops, encroaching wilderness and a lack of means to fend for themselves. It is a ruined empire in sharp decline. Those dwelling in this failing land do all they can to secure shelter and resources for the night, some resorting to underhanded means of theft. A barely functional palace is the seat of Prabat’s power, with guards of dubious loyalty. On more than one occasion, they have let residents in to rummage for supplies in hidden caches. Those who try to escape the domain can find themselves besieged by the terrors of the jungles. Likewise, those who go too far find themselves captured and imprisoned by the de-facto ruler’s guards. Such victims rarely break free of their prison, due to an already weak populace. Some find solace in the temples around the ruins, even if most have fallen into disrepair. Various deities are still approached, even if many question if their pleas are heard. Only an icon of Brahma remains fully intact, despite attempts by looters and vandals to break it.
Shoonyata has a grim secret, it is slowly being reclaimed by The Mists. Every day, a small piece of it vanishes into the depths beyond, taken by the void. This has reinforced a bleak outlook of the locals in the know, hoping that deities of destruction will grant them a final end. As it is, many believe that forces of progress have abandoned them, as have forces of tradition. Even more supreme beings let them languish alone. And worst of all, the leader of their new movement has likewise failed them! Attempts to look for ways back to Sri Raji have failed, as that would require traversing The Wildlands. The people of Shoonyata are begrudgingly loyal to Prabat, who they view as a failure. Likewise, Prabat is unable to save any of his people. He will always see visions of their demise, whether at the hands of the horrors of the domain or from being lost to the mists. Likewise, the arts made by the people are often critical of him, an ironic mockery of his own talents and origins.
Cultural Level: Medieval (7)
Darklord: The Black Rajah. A mage of considerable power, he was one of several loosely allied Maharajas within the Mystaran Kingdom of Sind. As with those before him, The Black Raja was a title granted to a magic-user seen fit to rule. His tone towards the king became a thing of notoriety, gradually earning the ire and frustration of other noble leaders within the kingdom. This lead into direct opposition with the Maharajah of Putnabad, a rival power. Through use of magics and alchemical treatment, the waters were poisoned with an enchanted mind toxin. The effects of it lead subjects to be susceptible to suggestion, sluggish and feeble. An end goal was to remove the power of Putnabad, in a misguided attempt to give the King more power. He was discovered by the crew of a flying ship known as “The Princess Ark”. Initially, the damaged vessel accidentally interrupted a battle, resulting in the rescue of Prince Dharjee Ashupta of Jahore. After time within the Putnabad city, a conspirator in allegiance to the Black Rajah was found out, leading back to the foul mage. It was revealed that the rival power of Putnabad risks losing royal title if they fail to build a palace in honor of their king, which the poison would ruin. In his confrontation with the Ark crew, he was ultimately defeated and imprisoned. When much of the crew deliberated on how to stop the villainous rajah, one unceremoniously shoved him off the ship. However, he did not plummet to his death. In truth, he was spared one fate and dealt another.
Jaibul in the Demiplane of Dread only looks similar to its Prime Material incarnation in passing glance. Much of the geography and several locations look the same as its original incarnations. However, everything else is new. For the Black Rajah, this is infuriating. In his own views, Jaibul was nearly perfect as it was. In order for his realm to be restored, a massive supply of money would have be squandered, something the Darklord does not care enough to do. This is a minor inconvenience compared to more pressing issues. Every night, he is confronted with cruel dreams, not fully unlike Hazlik of Hazlan. In the case of the Black Rajah, he dreams of success and sees not only Sind bowing down to him, but the nefarious Master of Hule cowering before him. The vivid dream is always rudely interrupted by something within the domain. This can be the call of a wild bird, the barging in of a servant or some other call back to reality. Should this happen, he cannot return to sleep until the next day. This has lead him to obsess over dreaming, using magic to enhance and protect his mind from outside disturbances. As such, the domain of Jaibul has suffered from his neglect.
Much as it did during his reign in Mystara, there is much corruption to be found here. Cabals of mages compete for power, much as they did upon Mystara, as all sorts of dark magics are used to gain an edge on competition. Despite swearing of loyalty to the rajah supreme mage, their alliance is tenuous beyond avoiding outright betrayal. Trade Syndicates have emerged to seize power where the darklord does not care to see fit. Many of them maintain trades in gold, oils and slavery. In the case of the last, many are outsiders captured not long after arriving into the domain. Many of these guilds are run by would be criminals, gaining an advantage through their endorsement by the almighty mage of the land. Curiously, many of the members of these guilds do not practice magic on their own. Even more so than on the Prime Material, the Mageocracy of Jaibul remains independent of other powers. Their reliance of powerful magic has warded off forces from Sri Raji and Kalakeri, much like how Sind was kept at bay.
Cultural Level: Dark Ages (5) into Early Medieval (6)
Darklord: Maharaja Arijani. Born to Ravana’s avatar and a priestess from a corrupted cult of Kali, he was already doomed to a lowly social rank. For ages, the rakshasa looked down upon him. His torture by their hands gradually brought him to madness and a desire for revenge. He baited the other Rakshasa into Bahru, where the humans of that land turned against their former fears. Eventually, the Rakshasa laid siege to the city, bringing it to ruin. Thanks to Arijani, the Rakshasa casualties remained quite high. Angered by this, Ravana sent his avatar to stop the rogue rakshasa. Secretly, Arijani conspired with his mother and forged a bane weapon to stop the avatar. A trap was made to render the avatar helpless. The avatar pleaded to Arijani offering a wish in response for freedom. Arijani demanded immunity to all effects and attacks of other rakshasa, as the avatar readied escape. However, as Ravana’s avatar was prepared to return, Arijani destroyed it with the weapon instead. This treachery grabbed the mists accordingly.
Arijani has been cursed as both a reminder of his lowly station and his own deeds. He is branded a traitor and has even lost some powers known to the Rakshasa. For one, he cannot take a pleasing form as many of his kind are capable of. Instead, he can only use illusions and other magics to resemble something upsetting or revolting. This can even manifest as someone’s enemy. Despite this setback, he has used his corrupted powers to strike fear and terror into those around him, whether those in his service or those who dare trespass upon the cursed city. He also serves Kali out of guilt, as he believes his father is responsible for his imprisonment. Likewise, he fears that the weapon used to slay his father can be turned against him. However, the Dark Sisters are willing to serve him, as long as he remains within service to Kali. Many do contest him though, such as the weretigers who revere Ravana. They are a group known as The Stalkers. Likewise, those who are corrupted in the ways of the rakshasa seek to eliminate Arijani as a traitor.
Much of the domain is surrounded in dense jungles, however some respite in the forms of various cities can be found. There are four primary settlements in Sri Raji: Tvashti, Pakat, Muladi and Bahru. The last is considered a grim and accursed place. It is here where Mahakala resides, the dark temple inhabited by Arijani. Such a place looks from up on high, nestled in Mount Yamatali. As for the other three locales, they are primarily inhabited by humans native to the region. Beyond the temple of Kali, others exist throughout the domain. The most well known as the temples of Ratri, Siva and Rudri. Each of these can be found in around the other cities. However, the temple of Ratri mostly acts as a cover for the temple of Siva. In Tvashti, the Great University acts as a beacon of hope and advancement for the domain. Both those seeking attunement to the divine and advancement in arcane sciences seek shelter here. It is rumored that some of the researchers within can restore full life to the dead and even undead. However, the staff and researchers within are almost as xenophobic as much of the domain as a whole. Thus, foreigners will find themselves unlikely to use the vast resources that the university has available.
Cultural Level: Early Medieval (6) into Medieval (7)
Darklord: Ramya Vasavadan. A blade-savvy queen, Ramya led a nation into glory for a time. Jadurai acts as a shining jewel amidst several cities and towns near desert and jungle. However, her scheming siblings sought to undo her success so that they might attain power for themselves. Used to defending herself against enemies getting close, she was not prepared for treason at the hands of flesh and blood. After the title of maharana was to be granted to her upon her father’s death, others in the family protested. Even a clan interested in their son marrying her joined in the effort. Even gifts and tidings sent to the Vasavadan clan were reclaimed by the suitor’s family. Her brother, Arajan, assembled armies alongside powerhungry ranas for war. Ramya’s side came out victorious. Reeva, another sibling of Ramya, pleaded to have Arajan spared. In reality, she conspired with the rebels to free him and continue their war. Remaining with Ramya, Reeva continued spy work, even as traitor ranas were captured and brutally executed. Reeva and Arajan’s true treachery came from an offer to broker a peace deal. As both forces prepared for peace negotiations, assassins sneaked in to kill several guards before securing Ramya for a watery grave. As she perished in suffocation, we mouthed the words of a curse; for her traitorous siblings to suffer like the bloodthirsty beasts they were. A terrible storm brought about several supernatural changes over the course of a night. Initially, the corrupt siblings enjoyed their coup, throwing a party among their allies in a designated property just beyond the city. However, a sickly green moon emerged from a seasonal thunderstorm. Their celebration stopped as they were changed into not werebeasts, but trickster beasts, with forms appropriate to their savage and cruel natures. In terror, the monstrous siblings took to attacking their former allies and running into the wilderness. A bolt of lightning struck the Backwaters where Ramya was drowned, only for her resurrected form to return. She brought prayer for divine vengeance, feeling she could not accomplish it all herself. Reanimated legions of all of those slain by the traitor factions soon accompanied her, and laid siege to all in the capital city who conspired against her. Before the day rose from the night of revenge, strange mists instead blocked out the sun, in 732 BC.
Jadurai faced the rampage last, as living dead horrors spread throughout the kingdom. Countless innocents accused or suspected of treason were targeted, only sealing Ramya’s doom. And for being the final and most important step of this elaborate revenge, it became all that remains in The Lands of the Mists. However, its appearance in the Demiplane of Dread is surprisingly clean… at first. This is all part of the Darklord’s doing. Upon entering the demiplane, she gained the ability to warp perception of reality. Rather than illusion, this came in the forms of both enchantment and alteration. She can restore features of an area to a fault, as well as change how others see them. In reality, many of the buildings are in dreadful shape, beyond shallow adjustments and altered states of consciousness. The Cerulean Palace, the royal seat of the Vasavadan clan’s power, is the most in ruination. The initial siege and subsequent combat tarnished the ancient beauty and destroyed much of the foundation. Attempting to restore the palace has taken much of the Darklord’s time and energy, even with magical aid. Likewise, Ramya looks like a waterlogged and beaten corpse to anyone who shakes off her charms. To everyone else, she is just as beautiful as the day she took her throne. Ironically, when she does sit on the throne, everyone is snapped back into awareness, as her powers fail her. Repressed memory of the ravaging dead floods the populace, as people are overwhelmed with horror and madness. Those who witness her are overcome with fear, something she can only undo if she ejects herself from the throne. By doing so, she can once again use her powers, but reinstating her imposed norm takes time, all undone by returning to a seat. However, she must conduct official business by sitting there. While she can alter the minds of those around her, she cannot alter her own trauma. She hates being treated of as much of a monster as her siblings. This has changed old outlooks. Betrayal from another clan soured her on marriage, so she rules alone.
Before the Mists rose over, the vengeful dead captured Arajan and Reeva. For several hours, her siblings were brutally tortured, as the two languished in their forms and babbled guttural animalistic speech. But in time, they did escape once again… but not before joining the Demiplane of Dread. The jackalwere and tigerwere found out that they are almost as “unliving” as their sister. In many ways, they are more fiendish in nature, akin to the Rakshasa of Sri Raji. After numerous attempts to take their lives, they found themselves resurrecting soon after. And worse, returning to human forms is painful and requires focus; ultimately lasting for short periods of time. However, they are not bound to this domain as their sister is. In the time since they were cursed and brought into the mists, they eventually found functional pathways to other domains to hide in. This mistways were opened through simple means, presenting slain prey at the domain border. The hiding spots have been useful until ready to return in full to further attempts at seizing Jadurai. Despite visiting other domains, they have not questioned the nature of the demiplane, instead citing the effects of Ramya’s curse whisking them to strange lands instead of elsewhere in the kingdom. The Wildlands and Antorek have become popular hiding places. Furthermore, they gained the ability to control beasts of their respective type, as well as similar creatures like beastfolk and spirits. Beasts respective to each sibling have assembled personality cults as well, even desired progeny. And as trickster beasts, they carry unique magical talents to inspire, frighten and manipulate others. Those who survived Ramya’s onslaught still work with the siblings. The beastly duo had to use their magical talents to keep the frightened traitors cooperative, especially after both Reeva and Arajan gained a taste for human flesh. This gets especially bad when the re-enter the city, where both gain the compulsion to hunt and eat former subjects.
Life in this land has adapted. For the average citizen, they do what is expected of their station in society. Few complain, lest they call upon wrath of either the establishment or others around them. Despite claims of the Lakshma Market being open to people of all castes and classes, discrimination still manifests in various ways; such as increased fees on items, lack of action against antagonism and a clear favoritism of different patrons. Even traders on houseboats are not necessarily welcome, should that caste not be of high enough status. However, these brackish waters have brought many goods from other domains, mostly Sri Raji and Jaibul. But, what they lack in attractive appeal, it does make up in room. The impoverished and the outcast have found some means of shanty home along the river, whether through hastily built boats or ramshackle housing. Ramya, assuming it to be a cesspool of anti-royal family sentiment, has made plans to break up the area and destroy if necessary. An iconic part of the market is the entryway, near the flower petaled kolam that ward the high temples of the deities. Life in the city itself has not gotten easier since harsh policies against treason. Ramya became even more paranoid after returning as an undead creature, with guards and disguised undead legions capturing citizens on often paranoid or exaggerated grounds. Most are locked away and/or executed in the Tower of Traitors, built on the site a former festival grounds where Ramya’s siblings were first cursed. Rows of skulls are built around the tower, all enemies who turned against Ramya and the wishes of her royal family. The tower continues to expand and be built upon, as the darklord continues to express her wishes of purging evil from the land and pleasing the gods, so they may return her city back to the rest of the kingdom. For those who force her to close the border, undead arise to fight and storms like the one that reanimated her descend upon the victims.
Despite some similarities, this domain has been confused as Sri Raji, mostly due to Arajan having a strikingly similar name and his tiger-like head. In truth, this wasn’t an issue until 757 BC, in which other domains were revealed as neighbors. However, unlike Arajan, Arijani was born of a fiendish nature to a demon king and the priestess of a rival deity. Likewise, Maharaja Arijani is the true ruler of his land, within a city far more cursed and outwardly crooked. Thanks to loose networks of lookouts, payed off locals and spies; Arajan has been made aware of this strange and fiendish character. Both him and Reeva are reluctant to explore too much into Sri Raji. At least, they won’t do so without proper disguise. Likewise, undead legions of Ramya have spilled into Sri Raji, much to the disdain and frustration of its Darklord. Many will accuse him of treachery within a land he hasn’t heard of. However, in doing so, has tipped him off to another realm he can send forces to exploit. Several Dark Sisters have enacted in espionage work of their own. However, they are baffled by how Kali is given vastly different treatment within this land compared to that of their home. In many cases, Jadurai remains far more respectful in their depictions. Beyond that, deities rarely hear any calls or praise. It is likely that the Dark Powers have superseded any connection that Ramya may have felt at one time. Part of the truth is that the deities of her home world abandoned her, after she disgraced and shocked them so. Her desires to shelter the people from other domains have failed, as the divine has given them awareness of these new places, while having accept all of it as normal for several decades.
IMAGE CREDIT: Stephen Fabian – Ghost Ship; Rare – Sea of Thieves Haunted Shores; CavalierdiSpade – Snake Woman; Nick Neumann – South Indian Jungle in the Early Morning; Aajjay Mahajan – Temple City Ruins; Jim Holloway – Jaibul; scatterbug49 – Rakshasa;