Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stereographic World map of Elyden

The Stereographic world map of Elyden is probably the single largest undertaking since the flash of lunacy that caused me to start this whole damned venture! It measures 60” x 84” (a whopping 16,200 x 25,347 px) and it’s so big I’ve had to split it into 2 PSD files (one for the background elements, and another for the stereographic map itself) each around 3GB large.



Work is slow, partially due to its size and the time it takes to perform certain functions, like adding layer styles and filters, as well my sporadic work-schedule, which alternates between work on the map and other facets of my world-building. Also, every label on the map needs to be referenced  in my encyclopaedia, so that I don’t lose track of things (I have a notoriously bad memory, and especially given my irregular updates, I need all the help I can get with organising and remembering things) – nothing goes on any map I make without first at least entering a little note in the encyclopaedia (like: Khadon: city in northern Korachan).

Centre of the map, detailing the Firmament an the Atramenta


The map itself is designed to be an in-world creation, prior to the fall of Korachan, in the latter days of the 5th Age, and could conceivably hang up on the wall of a Patrician’s parlour or merchant-lord’s office. It’s divided into 4 main parts:
  1. the map itself, which is in a stereographic projection over 2 hemispheres (including polar insets).
  2. astronomical maps, detailing the northern and southern hemispheres, and skies and constellations contained therein.
  3. Satellite maps – 2 maps, each detailing the facing hemisphere of one of Elyden’s 2 moons.
  4. Text. There is to be quite a hefty wall of text, detailing all manner of things from the world’s history, regional maps, Demiurges, religions, physical information etc. Some of it may be quite boring (see this post for the physical characteristics), though it all adds to the effect of the style of map I’m looking for.

inset over the eastern Inner Sea


I’m looking for something similar to the below map for the finished product, though with possibly less physics/mathematics and more natural history (so less diagrams and more text), largely due to the fact that I’m quite anal with symmetry and can’t face adding those disparate diagrams! Also I'll try make the text a bit more legible!

 
From the David Rumsey Map collection at - http://www.davidrumsey.com

I’m still unsure of some things – particularly all the empty spaces around the globes. They’ll likely be filled in with text about various subjects though it’s the layout that’s bothering me mostly – as the text will be flanked by circular borders in most cases I’m unsure whether to go for square text block like the bottom of the map, or rounder text blocks like those used in the middle of the map, where I Describe the Firmament and Atramenta. I’ll probably find a compromise between the two, though its always difficult incorporating circular designs within a square frame.                 


Westeros

Not related to Elyden though still to do with a fictional world and mapping: 



A commission I recently finished for a friend of mine, detailing George R.R Martin’s world of Westeros. I have to say this was good fun to make, and I’m quite happy with the colours and the border though the bevel/emboss on the corners is a bit heavy-handed.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

D&D campaign - in Elyden!

I'm very excited to post this update as it brings together two things that have been very important to me – the world of Elyden, which readers will know is the subject of my somewhat sporadic world-building attempts, and D&D (and roleplaying & wargaming in general) which I have been doing since my ahem... younger days.

This marks the first time that I will be setting a game in my world which is quite interesting for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the world was not made with gaming in mind (though I have certainly entertained the thought) and so many things that are common to roleplaying games like classes, races etc. which are made with balance in mind were the last thing I was thinking of so it presented some challenges, particularly with balancing out some of the stranger races.

Though as always what might seem like a hindrance at first ends up being a godsend and I actually ended up adding and refining quite a few things in the world as a result of this.

We haven’t started playing and as is the norm for my motley group of gamers, its to be a small game of evil characters J My games are pretty open world (especially evil-themed ones, where characters tend to have a lot of evil agendas that would otherwise interfere with the traditional roaming party), and I tend to develop an entire region, sprinkling it with interesting background, sites and NPCs that the characters can explore at will. This usually means a lot of stuff doesn’t get used, though it helps the players feel in control – I hate railroading in games (forcing the players to do a particular thing even if they don’t want to, only for the sake of moving the adventure along).

I’m quite fond of DMing but as you might expect from someone whose hobby is crating worlds, I tend to over-prepare most of my games coming up with hooks, regions, NPC’s histories and maps and gods-know what else that probably won’t ever get used. Though the waste of one campaign is the history of another. In fact, those of you who have read the blog before might remember that Elyden was made out of recycled material from previous campaign settings I had devised for D&D and I would not be surprised to see unused things from the campaign being used elsewhere in the world.

The game is to be set in a relatively new region of the world called the Surrach, which means their actions can help shape its flavour.


For anyone interested I’ve included the regional map below, as well as a link to the campaign bible that I’ve sent out to my players. So they can create their characters. Though I’m sure I left out a lot of details. We’re to use D*D 3.5 rules (still my fave so-far, though I am looking forward to trying out 5th edition)

Campaign Bible - please let me know what you think!

campaign map:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Races of Elyden - Merill

Been away for a while, working on some map commissions and boring real-life stuff, though i have been adding some notes to my world. Also, I'm planning on starting an evil D&D campaign based in the world very soon, so I'm hoping that gets the creative juices flowing

Merill



The children of the Demiurge Shibboleth and the only known aquatic (or semi-aquatic) race amongst the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, the merill’s story is a tragic one, of a fall from grace entiry without their control.

History: like most mortal races, the merills origins date back to the Age of Myth and the Forth Great Act of Shaping. Two-and-Twenty pods were created – one for each of the Demiurges, in honour of their work crafting the Material Realm. Shibboleth the Torrent was patron to the merills and, like all mortal races, they shared many traits with the creator, not least of which was their appearance and mannerisms.
Each pod contained seven seeds from which were born, before their time, seven mortals  shaped in the image of their patron. Where in other races the original seven mortals were made up of four females and three males, merills are asexual and it is believed that the seven individuals were identical to one another.
Merills pass on their memories and knowledge to their offspring in a process known as genetic memory. As a result, the seven original merills gave rise to seven distinct lines, each passing on its traits and memories to its descendants, though of these traits little is now known.
The benefits of genetic memory allowed merill culture to advance at a level far surpassing that of any other mortal race. They developed a potent civilisation with a strong trade network, armies and culture when other mortal races were living in tribes of hunter-gatherers, though due to their aquatic nature contact with other mortals was sporadioc at best. They prospered under the aegis of Shibboleth, who was proud of its children. Tentative contact was made with coastal settlements and goods were traded between merills and other races, further strengthening their civilisation. 
Their rise continued throughout the early Ages of Mortal life and they became legendary amongst the other as-yet developing mortals. An individual merill carried within him the collective memories of his entire line, giving him an intelligence and expertise far superior to that of most other tribes.
At times a merill might get a flash of insight – an echo harking back to a past life. These echoes often manifested as sudden visions of dreams that felt all-too vivid. These echoes marked the beginning of the end for the merill civilisation. Once this phenomenon started it slowly increased, with every new generation suffering longer and more frequent episodes of increasing vividity. Some guessed at what was happening and saw the only way to stall the inevitable downfall of the race was by leaving the water, which had since their birth been seen as a divine link with Shibboleth.
These individuals would leave the merill civilisation and engineered for themselves amphibious traits, allowing them to distance themselves from their patron. Some grew closer with humans, leading to the race now known as selkies.
They were succesfull in that newly-born merills no longer inherited the memories of their forebears, though over the centuries their distance from the water rendered them infertile and the line faltered.
But their fortunes were not to last. The same genetic trait that saw them rise slowly took its toll on their minds. The weight of memories and knowledge of an entire race would become too much for a single mind to bear and the merills eventually lost their sanity. Every passing generation only deepened their descent into madness and the merill civilisation collapsed.
Their fall was quick – taking no more than a few generations to erase everything the merills had accomplished. In place of prodigious (if troubled) individuals arose incoherent fools, their thoughts awash with ceaseless reverberations of thousand-year old stimuli that were more vivid than their own.
Their patron Shibboleth despaired. It done all in its ken to save them, but it was for nought. It’s children had dwindled, descending to little more than animals plagued by nightmarish visions.
Shibbolerh wept, and its tears filled Elyden in a great torrent that flooded the lands of mortal races. This time became  known as the Lament of Shibboleth and was ended at great cost to the other mortals when the Demiurges joined up and defeated Shibboleth, weakening it, sending it into decline. The remnants of the merills were scattered across Elydens’ oceans by the rise in sea levels, though their descent into madness only grew with the death of their patron.

Physiology: merills bear many of the traits commonly attributed to the mortal races, though in many respects are unique. They are humanoid in form, standing roughly 6’ – 8’6” long and commonly weighing around 120 lb. They are perhaps the most colourful of mortal races with individuals found displaying colours from the full spectrum, though each of the seven breeds tends to gravitate to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo or violet, and their various shades.
From the waist upwards they follow the standard mortal template – an abdomen and torso containing digestive, respiratory and circulatory organs, a head and four limbs – one pair ending hands and prehensile fingers used for manipulating tools, and another (analogous to those of ichthons) used for aquatic locomotion. Merills possess another pair of fins, these dorsal, which are brightly coloured and aid in stabilisation and orientation.
The similarities to other mortal races ends from the waist down, where in place of legs can be found a long powerful suckerless tentacle that makes up almost two-thirds of a merill’s length. The appendage is leathery in textire and ends in two long fan-like fins – one dorsal and one ventral – that serve as the primary source of locomotion.
Their heads have characteristic deep sloping foreheads, prognathous mouth, and two large bulbous white eyes. Maxilliary and mandibular barbels, which grow throughout a merill’s life, frame their mouths. Their heads are crowned by long thing hair-like tentacles, similar to some seen in large jellyfish. When submerged the hairs protrude from their heads like a fine mane of hair, though when grounded they hang limply like wet hair.
Merills are thought to have some of the most developed sensory organs amongst mortal races, on par if not superior to those of shie. Their hair contains rudimentary taste-organs, used to detect chemicals and impurities in the water. Though most spectacular are their barbels, which are not only highly acute tactile taste-organs but are also potent mechanoreceptors (serving the same purpose of ears underwater) and firmamentoreceptors (organs designed to detect the Firmament), though the original purpose of the latter is unknown. Ironically their large eyes are not as well-developped as their other senses and are so large largely due to the lack of light in their ancestral deep-sea habitats. They posess common ears primarily used above water, though sounds are muffled and disorienting.
Depite their fantastical physical properties what is perhaps most fascinating about merills is their reproductive cycle, which revolves around the river Shibboleth.
Unlike most mortals, merills are asexual or more precively gynogenic – where a sperm is necessary to trigger embryonic development though makes no genetic contribution to the process.
Merills are born infertile though a metamorphosis of sorts takes place between their 15th – 20th year (their full lifespan is unknown though thought to be somewhat longer than that of humans). It is unknown what triggers this or what the effects are though it is commonly held that a merill just knows when this point is reached. Like fish returning to the place of their spawning, a merill that has undergone this metamorphosis leaves its present location and swims mindlessly for the source of the river Shibboleth, in lake Siballa, northern Rhinocoloura.
Records from ancient merill society show that this practive originated as a cultural ritual, likely similar to the coming-of-age quests common to many societies. The merill genetic memory has likely corrupted this into an inherent action, its significance and purpose now lost to the mindless merills of the extant world.
The river Shibboleth is well-over 5,000 miles long and merills would undertake the journey as individuals, going upstream to the river’s main source. The voyage was dangerous and exhausting and most would perish bhefore reaching their destination. After spending hours in the waters of lake Siballa their bodies would undergo an unseen change, completing their sexual cycle: the merills completing the quest were fully adults, able to reproduce. There they would mate, the male’s sperm fertilising the female’s eggs, which were left there to gestate.
Scholars think this is due to certain chemicals in the water or some other physical effect that causes a metabolic change in individual merills who spend long enough in the waters.
Sadly the proliferation of human life and pollution of the region has seen the lake shrink in recent centuries and few, if any, merills are believed to make the journey any more. The last sizeable pilgriomage to reach the lake was recorded by Rhinocolouran monks in 3377 RM, where around two-hunded individuals swarmed intothe lake. Ancient myths recorded numbers in their tens of thousands.

Psychology: the mind of a merill is an unfathomable thing and is most easily compared with that of an Otherworlder rather than any other mortal race. This is due to a genetic trait where the offspring of an individual merill inherits the experiences and memories of all its direct ancestors, going back to one of the original seven merills in the First Age of Mortal Life. With every passing generation more memories and experiences, increasingly dissonant and distant, are inherited.
This trait is known as genetic memory and was responsible for both the meteoric rise and subsequent rapid fall of ancient merill civilisations. Early on in their culture the benefits of genetic memory gave merills a distinct advantage over their fellow mortals. Where a human might spend years learning how to craft weapons or tools, all descendants of a merill who already learnt such skills would be born with such knowledge ingrained ion their genetic memory giving them more time to develop other skills or further sharpen those they already know. In the development of merills as a race, this trait was invaluable, granting them a drastic boost to their development that other races did not possess.
While other races were subsiting through a hunter-gatherer culture, merills had already settled into a pastoral lifestyle that further promoted a specialisation of profession amongst individuals. This in turn led to further advancements that allowed the first major merill civilisation to emerge unopposed when other mortals lived in little more than lose tribes.
Whatever the cause was for the turn in the merill’s fortunes can only be guessed at now, but scholars postulate that at some point the merills reached a natural threshold in their evolution, beyond which their minds could not cope with the weight of memories and information bestowed upon them at birth. Their mental degradation is thought to have begun slowly – generations born with fragile minds, prone to headaches and vivid waking dreams thought to be echoes of past lives (though some attribute the latter to the Lament of Shibboleth upon realising what was about to befall its children). Eventually these affects would exacerbate to the point of invalidity – the dream-flashes of past lives would increase, pushing aside the waking mind until they overtook it completely, leaving the merill as little more than a babbling wreck. And so a great civilisation was reduced within a few generations to nothing. Most surviving members are mad to a degree that few others can comprehend, and every generation grows slowly more maddened, or hollow, as some have come to call them. Indeed, in many respects they are the closest of the mortal races to the Otherworlders.
What merills survive today are seemingly vacant beings, the mental excesses inherent in their downfall muted by untold generations forced to live with the debilitating mania of their forebears. Any merill alive today can feel the fear, anger and love of tens of thousands of ancestors at once; there is no self only the echoes of a unnumbered individual thoughts and memories. This manifests itself in clouded and nonsensical behaviour as an individual reacts to memories and sensory stimuli from centuries past that bear no relevance to the present. What other races interpret as a hollow nature is but a mask hiding the sheer volume of emotion and passion constantly flowing through a merill’s thoughts; something manifested in the near-constant flickering of their eyes and twitching of fingers and limbs.
They exhibit a near complete disconnect from the outside world and as a result they show little empathy towards other races, or comprehension of any kind. This was once thought to be out of the bitterness and jealousy they they were ass umed to feel towards other mortal races that were not cursed by their burden, though this is now thought to be a side-effect of their minds trying to cope with the vast amounts of information, most of it nonsensical, thrust upon them.

Culture & society: extant merills are little more than automatons cursed by nightmarish visions and flashes of sensory stimuli from the past, which renders them effectively blind to the world around them. Because of this they possess little in the form of culture or society, gathering together in groups of ten-to-tweenty individuals in what is to all intents and purposes identical to a school of fish.
This was not always the case as myths from around Elyden can attest to the power and spread of their early civilisation, which was amongst the largest in the ancient world. This was late in the Second Age of Mortal Life, which by current estimates is upwards of 200,000 years past. Due to their aquatic environment and the vast span of time separating their civilisation from the present few physical merill remains have been found, so we know very little of their ancient culture. Though as Elyden’s seas retreat, the soapstone ruins of merill metropolises have begun to appear in the middle of once-submerged seas, built on volcanic atolls.
Communication between merills and other races was difficult, and they were known to have spoken in a form of stream of consciousness, with no discernable punctuation. This was rendered all the more difficult for other races to understand as merill speech was peppered with words and phrases from past lives and stimuli.
Lethean merills, whose contact with its amnesiac waters, operate on a more cognitive level to their peers and maintain small cities and towns along the coastal shelf of the sea’s southern waters. Contact with terrestrial races is uncommon though trade is not unheard of – with the merills trading items such as nacre and ambergris in return for items of terrestiralm anufacture, such as worked metals.   

Philosophy & religion: One can only image what philosophies and schools of thought the ancient merill race may have developed, though whatever heights they once reached have long since been toppled, replaced by the waking nightmare that is the torrent of their genetic curse. As most merills do not function as mortals, it is unlikely that they live by any particular tenets or beliefs, other than what echos of past lives they are subjected to.
Very little is known of merill religion, particularly of their link with the Demiurge Shibboleth, if such a link remains. Shibboleth was one of the first Demiurges to diminish into langour and its influence has only waned since then, with the only records being corrupted references to the Lament of Shibbooleth and other Demiurges’ retribution at the same event.
Due to their natures it is unlikely that merills are organised enough to even adhere to any form of organised religion as practiced by other mortals. Though conversely, by dint of their generic memory, their closeness to the primordial days of their race might make them the most likely candidates at remembering their patron as it existed in its original potent state (their ability to convey such memories is another matter entirely).
Lethean merills, who operate on a more cognitive level to their peers duo to contact with the amnesiac waters of Lethea, are known to worship a dark being equitable with a god. It is a being of the abyssal oceans, dark and massive and uncompromising. Ironically sholars identify it with the Demiurge Synchthonith.

Art: next to nothing is known about the cultural pursuits of merill – both ancient and extant. We have seen examples of their architecture from ruins exposed by the retreat of Elyden’s seas. Generally composed of soapstone, with bass detailing, such structures are almost always situated on the edge of coastal shelves, overlooking the deep waters beyond.

Range: According to old myths, the merills formed a close bond with their patron Demiurge, Shibboleth, and though they spread to dominate most of Elyden’s ancient oceans, they were inextricably linked with the waters of the Shibboleth. In the ancient world the shibboleth was far larger than today with a course speculated to have extended for over 10,000 miles – well over twice its current range. It was there that all merills were spawned and there that individuals would retirn to reach sexual maturity.
Today, the influence of industry and the general waning of the natural world has left the Shibboleth polluted and all but bereft of merills, most of which now exist in the seas and oceans of Elyden.
They are commonly found in the waters of Lethea, where its amnesiac qualities alleviate the symptoms of their genetic memory. Other regions where merills are sighted include the isles of St. Uallar and the strait of Andas.
The lowering of Elyden’ seas has disrupted their habitat and coastal raids in the aforementioned regions are common, as the merills as the merills attempt to adjust to their diminishing resrouces. Similarly, the ruins of merill settlements can sometimes be found in recently-exposed coastal shelves, overlooking what had once been deep sea.






It's funny how things work out. Until recently the merills were one of the races for which I had created nothing. When asked about them I'd draw a blank and wave a dismissive hand, saying 'they're the merfolk of my world'. And to a point that statement was true, though I always knew i wanted something else, something that made them mine. I tend not to struggle too hard to find a niche or flavour for my races and wait for something to naturally present itself. 
    This happened a week-or-so ago when I met up with some old friends and spend a night on the beach drinking and talking about all sorts of stuff. One subject we touched upon was infinite knowledge. To cut a long story short we were trying to wonder what it might be like the moment humanity passes the knowledge threshold - at the moment we are just a push of a button away from any bit of knowledge we need, thanks to the internet. were are probably a matter of decades away from being constantly plugged in: imagine downloading all of the information available on the internet into your brain. The sum of human knowledge at your fingertips...
     Overwhelming! We imagined the first person to be subjected to this would suffer what we lovingly termed a 'brain hernia', something I think encapsulates the probably feeling perfectly.
     And so was the gimmick for the merills born. Everything else came as a natural progression of that and i must say I'm pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I think as a race the merills are pretty unique and tragic - two things I'd like to make sure my world is full of.

To those interest in a more visual representation, I think this painting by one of my favourite artists Brom is pretty close to what I have in mind for the merills. No copyright infringement is intended by this, just a quick example of what I had in mind. 


rootwater Hunter (c) Wizards of the Coast (artist: Brom)  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

VENTHIR

Nation and natural successor to the Venathi empire that dominated the northern area of the Arid Triptych region, to the north-east of Sarastro and the north of the Anubian desert. For the majority of its existence Venthir has been a vassal of the Korachani empire, though it has enjoyed a degree of autonomy throughout its occupation unlike others conquered by the Archpotentate Malichar’s armies. This is largely due to the presence of the vastly powerful and unpredictable sphinx regent; Hetepheres, better known as the Strangler.
                The nation of Venthir appeared as a natural progression of the earlier Venathi empire, which through the death of its charismatic leader Labaisingh, the so-called 'lion king', in 151 RM and the subsequent rapid loss of its conquered nations, crumbled by c. 190 RM. The Venathi capital had been ailing for decades. Its coastline, like that of all Venath, had been slowly retreating over the centuries, leaving its ports and harbours land-locked, its once-thriving trade dead. The ruling Asanate had never re-established control following Labaisingh’s death, and the entire region was allowed to degenerate into strife.
Hetepheres, her whereabouts unknown since 57 RM, returned to the city of Hetepheropolis in 194 RM. Her reappearance helped stabilise the region, cementing her worship amongst the people of what remained of the Venathi empire. Her religion prospered and from Hetepheropolis a measure of law and order was restored to the region. Her armies helped secure nearby cities over the next years, attracting disenfranchised people from all over the empire. The Asanate, though still embroiled in its own internal struggles for power, saw the threat and opposed her, meeting her fanatical army in a pitched battle in the plains outside Hetepheropolis in 200 RM. Their armies were crushed, which allowed her to sack the city, inviting its populace into Hetepheropolis, which became the capital of Venthir (which was in the local dialect; Venath) in 201 RM, leaving the city of Venath to crumble.
Hetepheres’ rule was harsh, though under her aegis were order and trade restored to Venthir. The retreat of the coastlines which had dominated the dying days of the Venathi empire became a major rebuilding effort, with dykes and channels built to connect once-coastal cities to the Dark Sea. Its trade-routes were re-established, and tentative trade reappeared with Sarastro and imperial-Nárthel, where the first true contact with Korachan was made. In the absence of the Archpotentate Malichar the Korachani empire’s expansive nature was somewhat sated, leading to trade and diplomatic relations. In 211 RM Korachani diplomats and Set established a permanent embassy in the city of Midal where alchemical secrets were traded. The city prospered, becoming a major scholastic centre once-more, its cossetted harbours in the waters of the deep Kalaun depth largely unaffected by the retreat of the Dark Sea’s waters. Korachani influence slowly began to permeate Venthiri culture in the following years, reaching its crux in the city-state of Teira, which welcomed the influx of imperial merchant-dynasties and patrician houses (most notable amongst them that of Ashura). Their presence brought increased trade, which allowed the city-state to grow in size, its artificially-built canal-harbours seeing much traffic from the west.
But it became clear that Korachan’s imperialist nature could not be contained. Zion was conquered in 212 RM and within a decade it had declared war on Sarastro. The war was long and bloody, the absence of the Archpotentate Malichar affecting imperial morale, but in 231 RM the city of Carula was taken. It was clear that if Sarastro was taken, Venthir would be next.
By that point, Queen Hetepheres had secreted herself inside lavish odah-chambers within her temple-palace in Hetepheropolis, leaving the Asanates to rule in her stead. Following her rise to power she had slain the most power-hungry amongst their kin, allowing those who swore loyalty to her to languish as regional rulers who met in council every season before her to discuss important matters. The Asanate met with her in early 232 RM, bringing news of the war to her attention – she dismissed them without care. As the Korachani armies continued to slowly advance across Sarastro the Asanate, alongside Hetepheres’ closest advisors secretly decided to aid the struggling nation, and sent reinforcements west in 233 RM against the Queen’s edict, whose languid nature allowed the move to pass unbeknownst to her. In Sarastro, the war became deadlocked, each loss counterweighted by a victory elsewhere. Every victory was phyrric and armies destroyed one-another over territories that mattered not. But were it not for the presence of Venthiri troops, Sarastro would have fallen. If they managed to push the Korachani troops back, the Asanate believed that they maintained  enough power to assume control of the remnants of Sarastro.
In 318 RM an imperial lictor infiltrated Hetepheres’ massive palace in Hetepheropolis and told her of the war. She emerged from the palace enraged, slaying slaves and servants with equal abandon, ordering the armies’ retreat from Venthir. Upon their return she strangled the entire Asanate and their direct families, banishing their relatives from Venthir. Her actions earned her the moniker of the Strangler Queen, which she propagated herself in a bid to foment fear. Her tyrannical actions served to instil awe and fear in the populace and her presence became constant; idols and temples erected in her honour in every city, the statues serving to remind all that she was their ruler, and her word was law. The sphinxes telepathic abilities allowed her to maintain a vigil over her nation, using a few trusted religious followers who had kept her religion alive in her absence as lieutenants and proxies.
Despite the war, Korachan had maintained a presence in Midal and Teira, both of which had steadily grown more imperialised, to the point that their dominant institutions had become the patrician houses, whose presence slowly trickled throughout Venthir. Teira itself had become a major influence in the region by c. 350 RM and existed as an entity apart from Venthir proper, a small nation unto itself. The discovery of a potent artefact known as the Sphere of Dominion in the Go Bisammam desert in southern Venthir by explorers from Teira in c. 300 RM brought further influence to the region. The sphere was a large depiction of Elyden as an uninterrupted globe, ancient beyond reckoning, its construction or heritage unknown. The item was used in the coming centuries by Venthiri explorers to help chart the seas east and south of Venthir, where they made contact with indigenous peoples, establishing colonies there
With the withdrawal of Venthir from the War, Korachan was able to take Sarastro (though only after the reappearance of the Archpotentate Malichar in 339 RM). Imperial influence in the region continued to increase in the ensuing decades, with Teira and Midal in particular seeing much imperial trade and traffic passing through them. Imperial pressure was to increase until 359 RM, where history took an unexpected turn.
Little is known of the events that led to Queen Hetepheres’ abdication of Venthir to Korachan, and what is known is attributed to legend and the corruption of close to 4-millennia. It is known that the Archpotentate Malichar, alongside a massive retinue of his loyal followers entered Venthir early in 359 RM, a guest of Queen Hetepheres. Staying in her palace in Hetepheropolis, accounts and records of the times state that he and his diplomats were treated to displays of Venthiri armies on parade, and various other forms of propaganda designed to show its might. Later on in the year, during a tour of the nation's south, it is said that Malichar spoke with her alone in the ruins of the ancient settlement of Maphani, sowing what are believed to be the seeds of corruption that would take root 2-years later when Hetepheres unceremoniously prostrated herself before him and his armies, effectively handing Venthir over to Korachan. The monument of Symari was constructed in honour of the occasion, its monolithic height dominating the horizon of southern Venthir. Though it remained largely autonomous and she remained its regent, Venthir was accountable to Khadon in Korachan. Patrician families flowed into Venthir from the cities of Midal and Teira, and the imperial administration was fully established in Teira in 376 RM within the monolithic Acropolis of Caur, an edifice built in true imperial design with its grand granite architecture contrasting with the local structures. Teira became the centre of imperial influence in the region, though Hetepheropolis remained its heart, where Venthiri culture survived in its most unadulterated form. Relations with Sarastro and Nárthel were re-established, with trade flowing steadily in-and-out of both regions.
The religion of the Sphinx was allowed to remain though in a controlled form and as a sub-cult of the Church of the Machine, which advocated her as a prophetess of the imperial Church from c. 380 RM, following years of religions tension. Around the same time the mystery-cult of Khar’illæ first appeared in Venthir, brought by traders and merchants from farther west in other imperial nations in Sammaea. Like those regions, it was largely quelled in the coming centuries though persisted in the form of scattered mystery-cults.
As the Korachani administration settled into its role in Venthir and the immigration of patricians and freemen subsided by c. 400 RM, the empire began to look to the regions’ resources for exploitation. The mountains and scrublands of Worknah were already home to sizeable gold-mines, though the region exploded within the next 200-years, with the city of Kithamar appearing south of Worknah in c. 530 RM, where it became a major processor of raw ore and umbra, the latter of which was being extracted from the Shamal and Neyshabur in large quantities. These first centuries of Korachani rule were harsh on the regions’ populace; many of which became little more than work-slaves to the industries and houses of the occupying empire. In a bid to keep the people satisfied the administration of Teira introduced gladiatorial games to the region in 425 RM, which rapidly spread to surrounding areas and gained massive popularity. This served to keep the masses amused and gave the slaves something to hope for – victory in the arena could earn a slave freedom. The games became so popular that by c. 500 RM, itinerant mercenaries from surrounding areas migrated to Venthir with dreams of success in the arenas.
As living memory of pre-imperial Venthir faded, the region’s culture reached a crux of amalgamation and began developing its on distinct customs. Amongst them the Maphrans of the Church of Machine which were effectively little more than church-owned slaves whose sole purpose was to breed (to offset the regions’ high mortality rate); their offspring serving the church in a myriad of ways. From these Maphrians would later evolve the Maphrias, who fulfilled a similar role, though amongst the noble families of Venthir, out of which would rise House Ashura.
Already powerful, House Ashura continued to dominate trade in the region, its members eventually becoming so influential and permeating all facets of Teiran culture (where they were based, making it the most imperialised of Venthiri cities) that they inherited full administrative duties in 563 RM, instating the hereditary titles of Adonis in 575 RM, after which the House became a monarchy in all but name. In Hetepheropolis the regent Hetepheres continued to rule, her dark whimsy hanging pall-like above the city, her people as fearful of her retribution as they were in awe of her beauty and power. The cult of the sphinx continued to grow, distancing itself from the Church of the Machine as much as edicts created in 378 RM allowed.
Even though the empire periodically launched attacks north-east against Char Mâthi, cultural ties with the region had been bred out of Venthirs’ collective memory centuries past and there was little to no kinship felt between the two. Despite these attacks, the region was relatively quiet despite the occasional slave uprising, though disruption caused by the islands of Lathlos Cha in the north-west of Venthir was kept its navy on its toes. Populated by descendants of those Asanates banished in 318 RM, the small island-nation had grown considerably in size in the ensuing centuries, its small yet pervasive corsairs plaguing eastern Nárthel and Venthir, as well as the Haré Shka since c. 900 RM. In 925 RM Teira began celebrating the 500th anniversary of the introduction of the bloodsports with a massive 3-month festival of games, which saw no less than 200 slaves freed. In truth this was a tactic to keep increasingly restless slaves from dissenting, and it worked. The freemen left Teira, and were given free reign to settle any unpopulated land in Venthir. They settled the ruins of an ancient Alrasi city north-west of Teira in 928 RM, which they christened Latuar (Lit. freedom). The city would be a constant presence in Venthiri history for millennia to come.
The dawn of the second millennium of the imperial calendar brought strife to Venthir. Just off the southern coast of the Torrent of Karrock, construction was secretly competed on a temple dedicated to the Demiurge Shibboleth. Its completion announced by a halfblooded prophetess known as Hammoleketh, the temple had been secretly under construction for the past millennium, her fell sorceries keeping the place hidden from mortal eyes. Discovery of the temple brought strife to Teira, with many rival factions and cults appearing opposing each other. Many were executed by the Church of the Machine, with hundreds travelling east to witness the monolithic edifice and its halfblooded priestess. Less than 2-years after this the city of Teira was hit by a massive plague which led to the degradation of culture there. Its population decimated, the capital survived only through the vigilance of imperial troops and the Ashuran monarchy, which closed off its gates to the outside world in 1002 RM. Some blamed the retreat of the coastline and the appearance over the last centuries of an expansive wetlands and marshes which were said to harbour disease, though the truth was never revealed. It was around this time that the plains of Hamshen also began to die, their slow corruption beginning a journey that would end some 2,000-years later with the regions' desertification.
In a bid to save the region – Hamshen was a hub of many settlements including Midal, Hetepheropolis and the rapidly growing Myrmica – Korachan sent aid from the west in 1009 RM, in the form of alchemical vaccines and food and other provisions. In addition great siphon engines were constructed in Hamshen, their colossal engines sapping latent umbra from the atmosphere and pumping it south where it could be processed for use in other industries. Though despite these implementations, the region continued to suffer.
Over the next centuries Venthir bore witness to a change. Power waned in the east and waxed in the west, Midal, Hetepheropolis and Myrmica benefitting from the siphon engines installed there. Teira reopened its gates in 1102 RM when the last taint of plague was expunged, though the road to recovery was to be long. In its place did the city of Katlego rise to prominence, its technarcanist academies aiding it against the disease-ridden lands that appeared in the wake of the retreating coastline. It and Midal became new powers, their alchemists and technologists becoming the new elite of Venthiri society. They rapidly overtook the patricians and House Ashura in power, and by 1293 RM had implemented a technocracy across most of Venthir. The imperial Minasteria of Donhim was moved to Myrmica in 1238 RM in recognition of its advances in the art, and the twin cities of Midal and Katlego continued to advance the state of technarcana, becoming centres of its learning. The ruling Ashura of Teira disappeared in c, 1300 RM as the new technocracy introduced in Midal took root.
The secular dissolution that swept across the Korachani empire of 1393 RM stripped these technologists and their janissary elites of much of their powers, leading to civil uprisings between the technologists and their allies and the Church of the Machine. The conflict lasted 9-years, ending in 1402 RM with the technologists victorious, their patron none other than Hetepheres who saw the worth of their technarcana. She personally oversaw the execution of their opponents, which numbered in their thousands, their slain bodies displayed outside her palace to deter other uprisings. The technocracy was moved to Teira, which became the new capital of the region (the city of Hetepheropolis remained a cultural capital, with most ceremonial duties remaining there).
Seven days after the executions two sphinxes, large and ancient beyond measure, their features resplendent in the wisdom and truth of ages, arrived in Hetepheropolis, demanding an audience with the queen. The sphinx-queen knew of their coming, for all sphinxes shared dreams and consciousness and were as one. She granted them audience in her expansive chambers, where they admonished her bloodthirsty rule, blaming her actions for both the degradation of their species and the diminishing of culture. She attacked the two, killing them on the spot. Their skulls and wings are said to adorn her throne to this day. Enraged by their actions she sought out a way to sunder her thoughts from those of her kin, for as long as they thought as one, she could not rule as she willed.
She chose a cadre of the most skilled technologists and employed the eldest of the alchemists of Midal and secreted herself in her palace, seeking a means with which to sunder her dreams from those of her kin. The technocracy of Teira ruled in her absence, bringing industry back to Venthir. Under the leadership of the technocracy, Kithamar grew in power and by c. 1480 had become one of the largest raw umbra processors of the empire, its ataliers and pumping stations becoming prestigious, though measures had to be taken against the encroaching deserts of the Go Bisammam. Clashes with the Church of the Machine continued, though it had by then lost much of its influence in Venthir. By c. 1450 RM it had become little more than a relic of another time, an antiquated establishment that clung to its ancient rituals; the only cities where it retained any influence being Midal and Merakhi. In 1453 RM technologist forces attacked pilgrims undertaking the Shadow March in south-western Venthir, ending in their massacre. This led to the enactment of the so-called Statute of Rights in 1455 RM, its intent to safeguard the passage of those undertaking the pilgrimage. In honour of the events of 1453 RM, the church constructed the Basilica of the Holy Blood over the site of the massacre in 1474 RM, which itself became part of the Shadow March.
In 1593 RM construction was completed on a massive technarcane engine in the heart of the palace of the Maphrias in Hetepheropolis. The engine was an extremely complex feat of technarcana, with only a small part visible to the outside world. Its purpose was never fully disclosed though in the decades following its construction the taint that had been encroaching upon the plains of Hamshen began to slowly recede, leading most to believe it was a Siphon engine. Others maintained that the engine had a far more sinister application, one related to the obsession that had consumed the reclusive Hetepheres for close to 2-centuries already.
The technologists’ rule continued in relative peace, their industry and inventions exported across the empire, bringing much wealth into Venthir. That, coupled with mundane trade in goods such as spices, gems and opiates made the region one of the richest in the empire and Venthir prospered. The Nathi Road was officially reopened in 1603 RM and relations with Sarastro reached an all-time high. This period of Venthiri history would last for another 3-centuries before Queen Hetepheres would emerge from her dungeons in 1905 RM.
Under the aegis of her technologist cadre, whose numbers had swollen over the years through secretive recruitments, she emerged from her dungeons a changed being. Where once she had been a creature of unbridled grace and savage beauty, echoing the dichotomy of a storm, now she was a changed thing, twisted and wretched, covered in a myriad of orthoses and technarcane engines grafted about her. Unrecognisable save her savagery she abolished the technocracy in Teira in 1906 RM without word and went on a savage campaign in which her armies destroyed many manufactories and industrial structures, appropriating all others from their private ownership, assuming full control of them. The colleges of technarcana in Katlego – amongst the most prestigious in the empire – were obliterated in 1921 RM, their custodian general Zaddock and his followers exiled.
This precipitated a massed exodus of technarcanists, biomechanists and other vocations, leading to the fall of the technocracy of Midal. The few that remained in Venthir were sworn under Hetepheres, and granted control of the remaining manufactories. Many of these exiled technarcanists remained within Venthir, turning to an itinerant lifestyle, wandering from settlement to settlement offering their services to those in need. On the whole, they were tolerated, though many regions came to despise these so-called itinerant ones. Most, however, wandered around Venthir under the leadership of Zaddock, seeking a new home. By c. 1939 RM they settled the dry Kautuld region in the far south-east of Venthir, out of which the small technocracy of Saragos would later arise.
The golden-age of Venthir had ended with the abolishment of the technocracy in Teira. Exports dwindled, its manufactories and industries reigned back to serve its own purposes and little else. Many regions that had been exploited for their natural resources, some for over 2,000-years, were beginning to see the effects of mismanagement and over-abuse. The Jaela mountains, Worknah and the Go Bisammam, were chief amongst such places, with once-fertile grasslands rapidly dwindling into dust-filled plains. Under the leadership of the increasingly paranoid, obsessive Hetepheres, law broke down in smaller settlements and the nations’ infrastructure slowly crumbled. Funds were poured into large well-trained armies that never left their borders and the study and trade of technarcana continued to be heavily regulated, the Strangler-Queen unwilling to share the secrets her private technologists had unearthed over the centuries. She grew even more reclusive, spending most of her time in the ateliers beneath her palace, consorting with technologists and their ilk, searching for new orthoses and implants to further distance her form her kin. When she did appear it was behind a veritable army or retainers and serfs and she spoke through proxies, if at all.
In her negligence, Zaddock and his exiles were allowed to grow in the south-east. By c. 2500 RM the region around the city of Saragos had grown under the aegis of the exiled technologists, with many settlements appearing around it, their technocracy offering a stark contrast to the tyranny that prevailed in the north-west. Its borders had increased, assimilating the city-state of Taarom and taking the adamantine mines of Mount Adama in 2413 RM following 5-years of war there.
In Venthir, Korachani attempts at diplomacy were unsuccessful and the nation continued to falter, leading to the withdrawal of many imperial institutions over the coming centuries (with many of its natural resources dwindling, Korachan was beginning to lose interest in Venthir, anyway). In 2702 RM the Avénethi Fraternity, which had enjoyed a healthy presence there for some centuries, abandoned Venthir following an earthquake. By 2821 RM the Go Bisammam desert had grown to such a size that the city of Kithamar was abandoned, leading to a massive decrease in umbra supplies across Venthir. This caused the death of many manufactories and industries, most notable of which was the silencing of its many Siphon engines, which until then had kept the advancing penumbra at bay. Within a few decades, the entire Hamshen region had been reduced to a deadened landscape. By 3010 RM many settlements were left deserted, their populace migrated to the safer cities, which could afford to maintain their own engines. Hetepheropolis, Myrmica and Teira grew exponentially in the coming years.
The Archpotentate Malichar visited Hetepheres personally in 3061 RM. Little is known what was spoken in the meeting though Venthir was later granted control of much of eastern Nárthel, its nobility gifted titles and positions within the Korachani administration, possibly in return for the regions’ restoration. And so was industry returned to Venthir and new mines funded, though technarcane research remained resticted. Its ports were re-established and foreign trade  prospered.
In 3147 RM it was discovered that the city of Katlego was secretly conducting its own technarcane research, under the leadership of its Maphran Walada. Later in the year Queen Hetepheres descended upon the city with a might army and destroyed it, slaying innocents and technologists in their tens of thousands. Their bodies were burnt atop a great pyre, the pillar of smoke seen for miles around. The place remains ruined to this day, testament to the fate of those who would attract the Strangler-Queen’s wrath.
Though the outcome of the bloody conflict was to her expectation, Hetepheres had not left her dungeons in centuries. Her obsession with sundering her thoughts and dreams from the remnants of her race had been successful centuries earlier) and she had done little to honour Malichar’s requests for a renewed glory in the east of his empire. The gold mines of Worknah, though still viable and providing the bulk of the nations’ wealth, were consuming slaves at an alarming rate. Something had to be done. Starting in 3151 RM the nations’ infrastructure was improved, roads repaired, its massive technologically-advanced armies put to use securing its borders and trade-routes and sent abroad in what became known as the Egret Crusades – an effort to secure a new supply of slaves. Mirroring the actions of its ancestral nation of Nath, these crusades began in c. 3250 RM, and lasted until 3525 RM, when the last crusade ended. These campaigns managed to secure new territories (largely in the islands of the Broken Lands) and a steady stream of slaves – largely from nations to the south-west of Venthir; most notably the Growing Mountains, though Ehbot and Char Mâthi were also targeted.
This increase in trade and slaves brought new prosperity to Venthir and a renewed pride in its people, not least of all its ruler. Its armies’ morale high from their many victories, they began pushing its borders outwards. The death of Zaddock in 2383 had left Saragos unstable, and Venthir turned to it in 3405 RM, though the conflict was short and marred by Venthiri defeats – their foe had fortified its lands well and had amassed a technologically superior army which, though numerically inferior, had prepared for the expected conflict well. By 3408 hostilities had ended and the Venthiri armies looked elsewhere, turning to Tarati, which was conquered in 3421 RM. This secured more trade for Venthir, and its armies grew more confident, with conflict along its western borders increasingly common over the next years. The subsequent years were more stable for Venthir, which enjoyed the spoils of its victories even as the gold mines in Worknah were finally abandoned in 3705 RM, the same year the Korachani empire fragmented in two.
The following years saw much tension between the northern Empire, based around Korachan in Llachatul, and the southern empire, based around Sarastro and expanding across north-western Sammaea. Venthir existed as the only significant Korachani territory in Sammaea and clashes between Sarastro and Venthir dominated the centuries following the sundering of the empire.
In 4006 RM the city of Kalchedon in north-eastern Venthir was granted to the Avénethi Fraternity, which was beginning a search of Firmamental artefacts in heathen lands. This was a precursor of sorts to the War of the Shadow and the Helix, during which many attacks were launched against Khamid and Char Mâthi from Venthir. The greatest such battle was the Siege of the Temple of Chien Da in western Lurium, in which Queen Hetepheres herself fought, slaying the Champion Ari.

                Despite the victories of the Venthiri armies in Char Mâthi, the death of the Archpotentate Malichar led to the crumbling of the imperial armies, causing their ultimate retreat and eventual defeat. But Venthir was left strong following the War, and continued its attacks against Char Mâthi, advancing as far north as the city-state of Lalaun by 3 RMe. By 11 RMe its efforts against Char Mâthi had ended though, hungry for power, Hetepheres instead turned her eyes south to Sarastro, where border clashes had become common around the region of Hagaat, with full war engulfing the two nations by 13 RMe.