Kerpiquan: the Land of Lost Civilisations

Round 2: Design a country

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pallen wrote:

I'm on the fence on this one. I think this country is really close to being great, but comes up just a bit short.

After much re-reading, I've thrown my #5 vote to this one. This country has so much potential, I just can't pass it up. Once the voting's done, I'd love to hear some more detail about the design decisions that were made.

Although I agree with many of the criticisms above, this still made my top 5. In particular, I like the archipeligo and mysterious plateau. In addition, while the series of civilizations isn't exactly new, I think the slightly contradictory signs - the land is unnaturally hospital, yet all these civilizations "inexplicably and abruptly came to grief" - is a fresh take on idea.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

pallen wrote:
After much re-reading, I've thrown my #5 vote to this one. This country has so much potential, I just can't pass it up. Once the voting's done, I'd love to hear some more detail about the design decisions that were made.
RedShirtNo5 wrote:
Although I agree with many of the criticisms above, this still made my top 5. In particular, I like the archipeligo and mysterious plateau. In addition, while the series of civilizations isn't exactly new, I think the slightly contradictory signs - the land is unnaturally hospital, yet all these civilizations "inexplicably and abruptly came to grief" - is a fresh take on idea.

Thank you both for your vote of confidence! Rest assured, once the contest chaos dies down (one way or another), I'll be posting up a more-properly detailed Kerpiquan (started writing that already!) as well as answering the queries.

Great job Alex this gets one of my 5 votes.

Nothing grabbed me about this one. I liked some of the names but there wasn't a lot meat there.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Right! Now that voting over (and CSI Miami is out of the way!), time to reply!

First of all, the glaring error of the DM Secrets section must largely fall to inexperience and my usual failing of trying to be too clever. I do not, as matter of course, write a secrets section for my own campaigns (since I tend to do that sort of thing in the actual quests) nor have I read anything that springs to mind with one, so I didn't really know what to put in it. Consequently didn't weight it right. In addition, because of my usual more voluable style, I tend to feel if you're going to do something, you should do it right.

So I didn't fill out too much detail on the mysteies because a) I didn't think I could do a good job in the word count leading to b) I was treatng it as if it would have been expanded upon later.

So, lesson learned.

(I've already been working on the expanded Kerpiquan, so you can expect to see that presently and then likely your eyenalls will fall out due to probably too much information. Never let it be said I don't leanr from my mistakes, but also never let it be said I don't make new ones by ferventerly avoiding the old ones!)


Right, on to some specific points!

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
I like the haunted plateau, the supernatural storms, and the advanced tech (though concrete is very old tech, Roman or older).

I based Kerpiquan loosely on my own Validus Empire, which is basically a rationalised Roman one. Frag, but the Romans were complicated! (Kerpiquan actually got a lot less Roman than it started out.) In researching that, I made a lot of fascinating discoveries; like concrete plumbing, and of course, the ubiquitous Roman roads. That is exactly what I meant by high-tech. It is - for a fantasy world, comparitively high-tech, certainly when compared to the Medieval norm.

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
Actually, the DM Secrets section may be the weakest part of it, or possibly the section that threatens to veer into social systems or taxation.

That I could have cut out. But seeing as you requested a Government section - and seeing other gazeteers where currency was mentioned, I came to be under the impression that some sort of data was require din that vein. I took the lazy way out with the currency, figuring it'd cost me less words to be boring than burn more on what was essentially a throw away comment. I would have just left it saying Kerpiquan used tax-farmin, but then realised that most people wouldn't know what it was (I didn't until I reasearched the Romans). So I felt it necessary to give an explanation for it. In hindsight, I should have just left the whole thing out. I also had cut away a lot more about governent and elections which I decided (rightly, this time!) was probably less important.

Clark Peterson wrote:

I also have an issue, though minor, with its essentially human-only population. I thought that was perhaps a design flaw.

Personally, I don't like the idea of having kasquillions of multi-race nations everywhere. It detracts from the flavour of the civilisations. I prefer not every single place looking like Mos Eisley. I also have dislike of what I consider to be excessive races (which in D&D, includes more or less everything outside Core and more than a few in-core.)

So, I tend to have a predominantly X nation with other races (e.g the business end of the adventuring side) in smaller numbers.

Note also, that even a few percent of the overall population in Kerpiquan is a huge number of people; if only as little as 0.1 % of the population is, say Dwarf, that still means there's 3000 Dwarves. At 1% (a more acceptable figure), you've got 30,000, which is more than the population of some of the other nations in the contest! I think I can safely say that Kerpiquan is probably the biggest nation in the contest.

Incidently, I didn't pull the figures out of my boney ass. I have done a bit of reaserch into population densities. I use Medieval figures as a base (I've not found anything comparable for, say Romans). Kerpiquan has a population density of 26 people/square mile. By comparion, medieval France had about 104 and Britain, which was sparesly populated had 42. So there's lots of adventure design space.

The approximate size of Piquan was roughly based around New Zealand. I always try and loom at things in comparison to historical references, becasue that gives me a ball-park figure. Then, however much I tweak it, I know I'm in the right order of magnitude (which is what I feel is right.)

Erik Mona wrote:
The DM secrets were lame. Why not let the hobgoblins be remnants of a fallen civilization _and know it_. That's a much more interesting approach to what we have of hobgoblins right now, which is a whole lot of nothing.

Why not let them know? (I'll come to why Hobgoblins in a moment.) Simple. If they knew they were fallen, it stands to reason they might know why they're fallen, thus taking away some of the mystery. My intention, though this was not borne out by the writing I did, was that the Hobgoblins in the main wouldn't know, save for a few elders (who would know only cryptic, fragmented secrets, yada yada yada.)

WormysQueue wrote:

What I don't like either is the hobgoblins being the remnants of an old empire (Eberron anyone?). I hope this doesn't sound too harsh but I would have probably liked it better if they had been replaced by one of the core races (maybe by the wood or wild elf variant) or maybe something more exotic (lizardfolk or even sahuagin).

What I miss is some kind of internal conflict which immediately draws me into the country. The DM notes could have hinted more precisely to any reason to adventure in Kerpiquan (apart from dungeon crawl that is).

Okay, two queries to answer. First, why Hobgoblins? Well, it's not quiate as random a choice as it appears, nor is it due to rampant Hobgoblin fandomism. It comes down it it that ultimately, there aren't all that many core races. Elf anything is so passe and has all been done before (plus at one point I was playing with Elves being a significant demographic of the Kerpiquan). Dwarf barbarians is also a bit too in keeping with Dwarven steriotypes. Orcs always tend to be primitive at the best of times (ditto goblins, orges, bugbears and gnolls, and I really don't like the latter pair). I've seen the whole lizard-people as a fallen slash primitive civilisation sooo many times that it's terribly cliche to me. That takes out Kobolds and Lizardfolk. The aquatic races would be out of their element and I'm not too fond of them to boot. Gnomes I more or less overlook and Halflings have never ousted Hobbits in my head.

In the end I choose Hobgoblins specifically because their 3.x flavour is that of being more organised and martial (thus lending itself well to a civilisation) and therefor making the chance to shamanistic, barbaric tribes more noticable.


Second point: I don't agree that every single place on the entire game world should be in a state of civil strife. Nothing kills my sense of verisimilitude faster than "look, it's a world for adventurers!" rather what I think it should be, which is "look it's a world for adventurers to adventure in." I was aiming at Kerpiquan being able to be dropped literally in any campign world (hense it being a series of islands).

On the other hand, I could have done a far better job of playing up and foreshadowing, making Kerpiquan more a land of surface quiet and plenty but overshadowed by the threat of extermination at any moment.

Raymond Rich wrote:
My only real gripe is that this feels like it was back-edited, in that once the 1000 word threshold was crossed, the end stuff was the stuff that was cut most severely or left with too little space.

That's basically because it was. I can attribute most of the failings to being constrined by the word count, something I'm not used to and the subsequent imbalance in the details. (Kerpiquan 2.0 is already 4800 words...)


Several of you have suggested a Cthulu-ish bend though that wasn't really what I was aiming for. I was rather going for unsolved mysteries, Burmuda Triangle myth sort of feel. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders on Steward Cowley for this, with Spacecraft 2000-2100AD's Alien Objects. Reading about them always sent a prickle down my spine. I was going less for a "terrible things that Man Was Not Meant To Know" vibe and more of a "fear of the unknown and unexplainable."

Of course, I didn't articulate Kerpiquan's probably most important secret - one that was in the back of my mind but I totally failed to put to screen. This is that there was no single cause to the civilisation's demise; rather each civilisation came to it's end in a different way.


Well, I hoped that answered some questions about my methodology. Assuming I don't make round three (which I personally think will be the case at this point), I'll probably have the revised Kerpiquan up something in the next few days. I've already expanded Kerpiquan itself and started on the civilisations.

I've detailed three so far (the virtually unknown Elders, the enigmatic Diamond Carvers and the primitive Ball-Men and I've started on one more, the Elven Kingdom of Laytrillas where Kerpiquan got miuch of its technological know how. I've got a good idea about the rest; the reptilan pyramid builders, ruled over by their death god, the evil artificers, the Hobgoblin naval power and the aberrant burrowers...

(You will note that by this point I've used 50% more word explaining Kerpiquan than actually writing it! I'm not kidding about the voluability!)

Thank you for taking the time to flesh things out. I have an observation to make about your style of crafting. People are usually terribly busy and have limited bandwidth. If you write clearly, you can cram a lot of information into a small space.

I recommend you look at the stained peaks and Olanru for ways to compress two or more ideas into one sentence.

I can't write well. You can. Just focus it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Well, I've finally done my re-write! It ended up much longer than even I'd have thought.

Mainly, I did it for kicks, because I plan to use Kerpiquan at some point in the future. (But I did feel I sort of let people down my not bringing the promised stuff, which is why I'm posting it up.) By that token, I've not quite given it the same rigorous going over as the actual entry (though I've done my best), since that's really hard and long work and I'm really doing this for a bit of entertainment.

Be aware the following is very, very long (about 13.5 times the original!) Over half of this are descriptions of the civilisations, and about the other quarter is the DM's secret on same! So, before anyone says, yeah, nice but too unrealistically long, let me point out that this is the level of detail I consdier 'acceptable' in my own homebrew. Were I to do Kerpiquan again as anything other than a major campaign locale, I think I'd drastically reduce the number of civilisations to two or three or even just one.

I think that in hindsight, I was perhaps trying to be a bit too clever; twelve civilisations is hell of a lot do to, and after a bit, they were in danger of being samey! I've tried to expand them such each has a different flavour and that each one will present a different set of denizens. Trouble is, I getted sucked in when I do this sort of thing (to the point where I even took up my rarely used pencil to skecth to the best of my limited abililty, the Burrowers!)

I've still left quite a few mysteries in keeping with my philosphy of making it most adaptable to DMs, but I've tried this time to suggest possible solutions.

Those of you less interested in the history should probably skip down to the civilisations in brief, recent events, and DM Secrets sections (but the latter is still quite a read in the actual civilisation entiries! The most pertinent ones to the recent events are the Skisstorr, Burrowers and Empire of Bloody Shadows.)

Kerpiquan, the Land of Lost Civilisations

Kerpiquan is a land filled with ancient secrets hidden in crumbling ruins. At least a dozen mighty civilisations once claimed their home here, stretching back thousands of years in succession. Some were human; some were humanoid; others were aberrations not easily envisaged. Each of them inexplicably and abruptly came to grief, one after another. They left only unanswered questions, deserted cities, forgotten temples and mysterious monuments. The only clues point to the very oldest ruins, about which legends of later civilisations speak, in hushed whispers, of an ancient war fought before time, between shadowy, monstrous beings of terrible power from beyond the stars...

Kerpiquan comprises a dense archipelago of islets surrounding the island mainland of Piquan. The territory covers an area of approximately 115,000 square miles. Piquan itself is about 350 miles long and slightly under 300 miles wide. The region is covered by a blanket of subtropical evergreen forests and teeming mangrove swamps on the coast. In central Piquan, the land rises into spectacular mountains, beyond which lies a chilly highland desert plateau. The climate is placid; it is noticeably colder in winter than in summer but otherwise mild.

The only exception to the clement weather are the infrequent, terrifying supernatural storms. One is preceded by a build up of high altitude, towering thunderhead clouds in strange, slowly roiling shapes over the course of several days. They appear over the highland desert and in otherwise clear skies. When the storm breaks, the sky is stained a shade of dull purple and red lightning dances amid the clouds, rarely striking the land but crackling so loudly that it can be heard from the ground. While there is often a hot gale, there is only rarely thunder and no precipitation falls.

Natural resources are in particular abundance, ranging from mineral to plant to animal, making Kerpiquan mostly self-sufficient. Disease is uncommon; despite the proximity of the swamps, mosquitoes are almost unheard of. This natural bounty explains why the region has been settled so often. Some scholars say Kerpiquan seems too hospitable to be natural. But whether it was created by an older civilisation, the hand of some forgotten god or something even more mysterious is a matter for conjecture.

The current proprietors of the land are the Quanites, a nation of dark-skinned human stock, from whom Kerpiquan takes its present name. Kerpiquan has existed as a nation for three hundred years, when settlers arrived there after being driven from their old home. The Quanite civilisation is concentrated mainly in the south of Piquan around the river Caluus where the land is most fertile. Kerpiquan has a population of about three million, mostly humans. A fifth of the population are resettled immigrants, mainly other humans. Port cities like Yahzivij and Kidana or the capital, Qazasu, are much more cosmopolitan, with representatives of all the major races in some numbers. Kerpiquan has a considerable bureaucratic network which manages their extensive legal, taxation and voting systems.

Piquan is littered with ruins from the fallen civilisations, both on the surface and underground. Some are fallen cities, like Paradise, razed by the Serpent Spine Hobgoblins. Others are beautiful yet totally enigmatic, such as the Crystal Citadel, carved out of a single giant diamond. More, though, are dark places of ancient evil. Places like the sandstone mastabas and stepped temple-pyramids of the reptilian Skisstor, dedicated to their megalomaniacal death-god. Or the ominous edifices of the terrible Nightmare Lords, whose lifeless grey stone is adorned by black-iron spikes upon which the bloody amputations of their victims once hung.

These ruins are dangerous places full of treasure, traps, vestiges of the past and the unquiet dead; few Quanites dare approach them. Over the years, bands of adventurers and explorers have braved their depths to bring out knowledge and treasure.

At the heart of Quanite civilisation is the fear that whatever terrible fate befell the land’s previous masters may descend upon them at any moment. This primal dread colours their society, creating a ritualistic quagmire of custom and ceremony and a deeply-rooted trepidation of the supernatural.

There are a number of tribes of primitive Hobgoblins living in the wild areas. Some are peaceful and even trade with Kerpiquan while others are savage raiders. Kerpiquan thus maintains a small standing army and navy who double as law-enforcement and city guards.

Base Languages: Isquana
Size: Approx 115,000 square miles
Population Density: 26 population/ square mile
Population: 3,001,650 (plus approximately 30,000 Hobgoblins)
Rural Population: 2,701,485 (90%)
Demographics: 77% Quanite, 9% other human, 8% Elven, 4% Dwarf, 2% other
Settled land: 16676 square miles
Capital: Qazasu (pop. 103,250)
Notable Settlements: Yahzivij (pop. 61,950), Kidana (pop. 40,300)
Alignment: LN

Kerpiquan is young nation, merely three hundred years or so old. It was formed when the Quanites landed on Piquan. They had been driven north in an exodus from their own homelands by a terrible magical war waged between a dark cleric-general and his neighbours. The initial journey was made by near-mythical Kanassi the Wanderer and a mere six thousand Quanites. Over the next twenty years, the population exploded, with almost seventy thousand colonists arriving over that time span. The Quanite’s bureaucratic skills stem from this period, mostly from the efforts of Kanassi himself, He effectively created a new culture and society from the ground up with an unusual surfeit of common sense and tolerance.

Over the next century, the population continued to rise dramatically. Firstly this was because of the natural bounty encouraging expansion and secondly because of further immigration. Some of the more adventurous Quanites began to explore the ruins they found all around them and Quanite civilisation as it is today began to take shape.

But not everything went perfectly. The Quanites soon learned that to venture into the ruins was to broach disaster. Several times the explorers disturbed terrible remnants buried by the past nations with cataclysmic results involving much loss of life. Quanite scholars began to piece together the lore of the lost civilisations and they painted a terrifying picture of a land with a haunted past. They discovered that at least a dozen different civilisations had all fallen before them, most suddenly with no warning, leaving behind only scattered, insubstantial clues to their fate. Eventually, they came to fear the ruins, as if to enter them was to risk the same mysterious demise. Even so, a small but steady core of Quanite scholars stills seeks to understand what happened and to know these ancient secrets in the hope that they might prevent the disaster.

Kerpiquan has had a relatively quiet history. Despite its considerably resources, it’s distance from other nations means that it is very difficult to launch a naval invasion. In addition, once more of Kerpiquan became known, the rulers of many other nations – many of whom had been devastated by magical disasters and wars themselves – found themselves disinclined to risk spreading whatever malady Kerpiquan hides to their own realms. Pirates, though, Kerpiquan has had a plenty. The numerous islets make it easy to hide small ships and there are always merchant ships, laden with high-value cargoes for the long and arduous trips to less isolated lands, to prey on.

Kerpiquan uses its own dating system, starting from the arrival of Kanassi; dates before this time are labelled PK (Pre-Kerpiquan) and dates after as KT (Kerpiquan time). The current year is 289KT.

Technology and Development
Kerpiquan enjoys a comparatively high level of technology. Much of the knowledge of these advanced techniques come not from Quanite ingenuity, but pillaged from the depths of the ruins by a few daring souls and put into effect via the Quanite’s efficient bureaucrats.

It has a large network of well-maintained roads; most buildings are typically constructed of concrete, faced with stone or more commonly, brick. Many of the earliest Quanite building are made of stone, however, and in poor rural areas, some buildings are still made of wood or wattle-and-daub. While the rainfall in Piquan is not heavy, it falls often enough to require shallowly sloping roofs. These are typically tiled with slate in urban areas and wood or thatch in rural ones. In the richest areas, this tiling is sometimes marble. Except in the poorest of areas, the buildings are spectacularly decorated in bright colours made from paints from Kerpiquan’s plentiful natural resources.

The urban areas generally have sewers of varying size and the streets are cobbled and in wealthier areas, paved. Nearly all settlements have cold running water in the buildings.

Society and Culture

Quanite society is polite, very formal and egalitarian with regard to race, gender and sexuality. The Quanites are very reserved in their mannerisms, and do not visibly lose their tempers often. An offended Quanite is much more likely to become more softly spoken and polite rather than the reverse. They are, as a race, they are the masters of the disapproving stare.

This reticence is not reflected in their garb, however, which is riotously vivid. Clothing is usually light-weight and colourful for both genders. Though fashion varies wildly, sarongs are popular. Men wear brightly-coloured cloth caps, and women wear similarly vibrant headscarves. The men tend to shave their heads and are usually clean shaven. Women either have their hair very short or very long and braided into elaborate designs.

Despite the technological and economic benefits gained from the ruins, the Quanites are fearful of befalling the unknown fate of their predecessors and this most obviously manifests as a distrust of the supernatural. Magic, while tolerated, is viewed as a highly dangerous practise and it’s excessive use frightens them. Races with obviously magical ancestry (notably Planetouched) are regarded with suspicion or outright fear. Quanites are mostly agnostic for the same reasons (though they do not persecute religion), reasoning that if the less attention of higher beings they attract, the safer they will be. They are dreadfully superstitious and much of purpose of their daily rituals are to stave off ill-fortune. The whole country can be thrown into turmoil when an unusual event occurs. As simple a thing as a shooting star, at the wrong time can send the populace into quiet panic.

The Quanites are especially afraid of divination. They believe even witnessing an event means it must come to pass. Gazing into the future or even trying to predict it, then, might inadvertently raise the spectre of end of Kerpiquan.

Quanites speak Isquana and common.

Government and Social Structure
Kerpiquan is a republic headed by a Viceroy. The Viceroy is assisted by three Legates. Below the Legates is a senate of twelve. The Viceroy and Legates are elected from the senate every four years by electoral vote. The senators are elected to the position by vote, but once they are in the senate, they hold the position for life or they are removed – which has happened several times in Kerpiquan’s history.

Voting is held at the forums present in larger cities (which also serve as the governmental and bureaucratic centres). Any adult Quanite citizen is entitled to vote, except those in the military. However, in practise, only those willing to make the journey to the city actually so, meaning remoter rural areas are effectively excluded.

This system also carries the disadvantage that it is quite easy to manipulate the vote for someone with plenty of resources by preventing people from reaching the forums in the permitted time-frame.

The current Viceroy is Demassi Oroubeyn, a Quanite man in his late fifties.

Despite being nearly self-sufficient, Kerpiquan does a brisk sea trade with other nations, exporting its own resources, in particular luxury goods like spices or dyes and paints. Piquan iron is also highly sought after, being of very high quality. This commands a very high price even in Kerpiquan, because of it’s rarity – the ore comes from a single vein in the southeast of Piquan.

As a result, in combination with the excess of resources, Kerpiquan enjoys a level of affluence above that of most nations. Even though the poorer areas often do not have much in the way of manufactured goods, they are still well-supplied with various foodstuffs and clothing a cut above other nations.

Kerpiquan operates a tax farming system where landowners tax whoever lives on their land, which is then collected by the state. Local officials tax communal places like cities. While this is an efficient system, it is open to abuse by corrupt landowners who often charge high tax and pocket the excess.

While it mints its own coin, Kerpiquan uses the typical gold/silver/copper standard.

Legal System
Quanite law is extensive but not tyrannical. Kerpiquan supports full and complex judicial system, complete with public trials, prisons and a not insignificant number of lawyers. These last are highly-respected, since it takes some considerable skill to successfully navigate the morass of formalities, conventions and minutiae that make up the legal system. Despite the weighty and often slow judicial engine, punishments are usually fair. Most offences earn fines or imprisonment. Execution is uncommon, but not unheard of, and generally used as a last resort for serious crimes like murder, rape and endangerment of a populated area. This last covers events such as serious arson, misuse of magic or any other event that puts a whole population at risk of death. A particular Quanite peculiarity is that treason is not considered a death penalty if it does not result in the endangerment of the populace.

The largest prison is that of Hopelorn Gaol, which stands 200 feet up on a rocky island pillar 50 miles away from the nearest islet. The prison sits in the middle of a fast-moving cold stream, making navigation difficult and swimming suicidal.

The Quanite army is small but professional. The Quanites do not distinguish between army and navy, so both services are intermingled. In many ways this is a logistical advantage. Given Kerpiquan’s location, it has not invited a major invasion in its past. The army, then, serves more as a policing force than a purely military one, a job they do very well. They handle urban troubles, pirates and even Hobgoblin bands with proficiency, but in a full-scale war they would be at a decided disadvantage. In addition, in keeping with Quanite philosophy, they have very few magic-users or psionists to support them. This makes their efforts more impressive, but leaves them vulnerable to magical threats. These have to be dealt with by bands of mercenaries or adventurers.

Pronunciation Guide:

Kerpiquan Ker-pee-kwan
Quanite Kwan-ite
Piquan Pee-kwan
Qazasu Kaz-a-su
Yahzivij Ya-zi-vidge
Kidana Kid-ana
Demassi Oroubeyn Dee-Massy Or-oo-bain
Isquana Iss-kwan-a
Denballi Kuquir Den-Bally Coo-Queer

Magic occasionally goes terribly astray, especially during storms.

At certain times of the year, the sun strikes the Crystal Citadel and reflects into a coruscating rainbow of colours, visible for miles.

In the highland desert, there are long, undulation patterns of huge granite spheres left by the primitive Ball-Men. Their function – if any – is unknown.

Much of the civic knowledge Kerpiquan enjoys was acquired from the bronze-age Elven Laytrillasi.

The Outcast ruins are haunted by restless ghosts.

The Hobgoblin tribes are the remnants of the prior civilisation to occupy this area, the Serpent Spines. They only have the vaguest of legends as of the time before and most find it hard to accept that there was a kingdom before the tribes.

The Serpent Spines were snake-worshippers. Many of their domed snake temples still stand.

Recent Events:

Viceroy Oroubeyn is growing concerned that more and more strange events have begun occurring. He has been investigating them quietly but is afraid of a public panic if it becomes common knowledge. He is doing his best but people are beginning to talk in terrified voices.
These events include:

• The storms have become more frequent in the last year. Several times, golden lights have been seen flitting around the clouds during the storm.

• The merchant ship Long Voyage disappeared without trace in clear skies on glass-calm seas around the Kaliam Peninsular, an area noted for its fair weather. Despite the clear, shallow seas, no wreckage has been found.

• There are unconfirmed reports that several untouched Skisstori mastabas have opened up on their own and their denizens have been seen leaving.

• A fresh whale carcass was found in the fields of Gattulu village, 120 miles inland.

• On the first day when the reflected light from the Crystal Citadel is visible, instead of the usual rainbow of colours, the reflected light was monochromatic blood-red for twenty minutes before returning to normal.

• On the stroke of midnight for three consecutive nights in the ruins of the Laytrillas temple complex in Qazasu, three Elven ghosts appeared. They spoke the following warning over and over to anyone who approached them “They are coming! You must flee!”

• One of the friendlier Hobgoblin tribes was discovered dead by merchant traders. As far as can be determined, they apparently got up one day and all walked out into one of their fields and lay down, head to foot in an undulating pattern and stayed there until they died of thirst and starvation. The pattern bears a striking resemblance to that made by the Ball-Men near their settlement, Salastril.

• Fierce monsters are appearing in the wilds of types that have never been seen before, anywhere.

• People in rural areas have reported the sounds like that of mining echoing through a large cavern. The sound pervades the entire area with equal volume and the source cannot be located.

• Unseasonal fog has appeared in several lowland places over the last year. The fog is very localised. From within the fog have been heard frighteningly alien noises. Apart from these bizarre sounds, all other noise in the fog is deadened.

• Golden lights, like those spotted in the storms, have been seen far off, darting around several ruins of different civilisations. These lights vanish whenever anyone gets within a few hundred feet.

• Several Nightmare Lord monoliths having been seen weeping blood from their numerous spires and hideous screams heard coming from within at odd times since the dawn of the new year. On the single occasion anyone dared to approach one, they found the screaming abruptly stopped when they got within fifty yards and the blades were dry.

Civilisations in brief:
Who were they? Unknown. Type of ruins: Massive eroded rock monuments, whose geometry once focused mystic power.

Diamond Carvers:
Who were they? Unknown, possibly insectoid. Type of ruins: Giant city-fortress-hive carved from a single diamond. What’s in the ruins? Crystal creatures.

Who were they? Stone-age near-humans. Type of ruins: Granite spheres in long patterns, cave dug into hemispheric stone settlements.

Who were they? Evil ‘Egyptian’ reptilians. Type of ruins: Rune-covered ‘Egyptian’ Mastabas, ‘Aztec’ stepped temple-pyramids, cities. What’s in the ruins? Traps, divine magic, mummies, some golems.

Who were they? Arcane arthropod aberrations. Type of ruins: Deep complexes far below the surface covered by an intricately patterned chitin-like substance. What’s in the ruins? Strange creatures, arcane magic, medicinal and magical fungus, supernatural traps.

Kingdom of Laytrillas:
Who were they? Bronze age ‘Greek’ Elves. Type of ruins: Cities, temples. What’s in the ruins? Records, academia, perhaps the odd nonaggressive ghost.

Who were they? ‘Japanese’ humans. Type of ruins: ‘Oriental’ style castles, some larger settlements. What’s in the ruins? Despairing ghosts cursed to haunt their dead home.

Empire of Bloody Shadows:
Who were they? Highly supernaturally skilled evil humans. Type of ruins: Dull, rune-coated stone edifices, cities, fortresses and narrow pyramids, adorned with black iron blades. What’s in the ruins? Undead, constructs, created monsters, supernatural knowledge of all kinds, possibly bound extraplanar beings.

Stoneheart Clan:
Who were they? Mean-spirited Dwarves. Type of ruins: Dwarf tunnels, tombs, underground cities. What’s in the ruins? Vicious traps, Dwarven ghosts, wights and other Undead.

Who were they? Psionic Halflings. Type of ruins: The Impenetrable City What’s in the ruins? Who knows?

Who were they? Multiracial society, including humans, Elves, Gnomes and Kobolds. Type of ruins: Single ruined city.

Serpent Spines:
Who were they? Snake-worshipping martial Hobgoblins. Type of ruins: Cities and snake-temples. What’s in the ruins? Snakes, traps, snakes, clues to the fall of the civilisation and more snakes.

Rough timeline of civilisations
Years ago/Civilisation
10, 000+ Elders
9500-9000 Diamond Carvers
7500-6800 Ball-Men
6300-5200 Skisstor
4900-3850 Burrowers
3800-2372 Kingdom of Laytrillas
2398-2290 Outcasts
2200-1700 Empire of Bloody Shadow
1500-1200 Stoneheart Clan
800-650 Nomads
570-500 Paradise
500-350 Naval Hobgoblins
289-0 Kerpiquan

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A précis of Fallen Civilisations:

(Abridged from the works of the popular Quanite historian Denballi Kuquir. ‘Popular’ is a very relative term for Quanite historians...)

Designer’s Notes: I always tend to find I write my worlds like a mythical historian – possibly one a bit anachronistic. I blame this tendency on Stewart Cowley and his Spacecraft 2000-2100AD, which read like Jane’s All the World’s starships and reading too much David Attenborough. I find this nearly in-character approach maintains enough distance to explain the idiosyncrasies, misconceptions and whatnot to modern players without cluttering the text with anachronisms or mechanics. It should be strongly noted that all that is below is not common knolwedge in Kerpiquan and only a few scholars would actually know all this information. The average Quanite doesn’t distiguish between peaceful ruins like Layrillas or Paradise, and death-filled trap-laden murder holes like the Empire of Bloody Shadow’s.

The oldest civilisation ruins belonged to a group are dubbed, with something of a lack of imagination, the Elders. Almost nothing is known about them, as their civilisation was at its height over ten thousand years ago. As can be imagined, precious little has survived to the present. Even the stone ruins they left have been scoured by sand and time to nearly nothing. All that is known comes from what can be surmised from the few remaining ruins and from the histories of the later races. They were probably broadly humanoid and slightly larger than most races, being somewhere around 8 to 9 feet tall. It is suspected that they may not have come from this world, but from somewhere else; either another world or another plane. The only other thing that is known – and even this is very speculative, coming from the legends of later civilisations – is that they were fighting a war against an even more mysterious enemy. Whether the Elders lost the war and were destroyed, or whether they won and subsequently left is a complete unknown, as there is nothing left to tell about it.

The Elder ruins are found in only three places, all in the highland desert. The largest ruins, the Elder Stones, lies nearly in the exact centre of the desert. The Elder Stones is so named because it consists of what appears to have been some sort site of religious or arcane significance. It resembles a stone circle monument; many enormous protrusions of rock stand out of the desert, just visible as a pattern, pointing inwards at a shallow angle of about fifteen degrees. They are estimated to have been about 300 feet high in their prime. Time and weathering has caused most of them to collapse or break up however, and only four remain in their original alignment. In the centre, a larger monolith rises up like a gigantic dais. Whatever purpose this might have served is lost to the vagaries of the ages, since it is very badly damaged and weathered and is crumbling in many places. It must have been an impressive sight in its day, since it would have been itself four hundred feet tall.

What is more astonishing was a more recent discovery that boulders of the same rock as in the Elder Stones have been discovered buried in the desert, distant in a radius of about five miles. From their position and what can be determined of their shape, it is a widely-held theory that these may have represented another ring of shallow spires. These may well have been what was atop the central stone and were hurled outwards by some terrible explosion; the damage to the central stone is certainly consistent with such a theory.

What purpose such an extraordinary structure may have served is unknown. Some theorise that it is linked to the storms; perhaps it was some magical weapon or portal made by the Elders that went catastrophically wrong. About the only thing that is certain is that we will never know what happened to the builders of this magnificent monument.

Diamond Carvers:
The Diamond Carvers are known from a single site, the Crystal Citadel, on the Glittering Isle to the northeast of Piquan. This large island gains it’s name because at certain times of the year, the light strikes the ruins and reflects it into fantastic colours. In addition, there are a great many gemstones to be found on the island, some lying right on the surface if one knows where to look.

The Crystal Citadel is a fantastic structure made entirely from diamond. What is more amazing is the fact that it appears to have been carved out of a single giant diamond. The methods used for this remarkable endeavour are a complete mystery, but almost certainly involved a great deal of magic. The structure itself is quite hard to classify. Despite its name, it does not appear to have been a fortified structure. But it is also not a city in the conventional sense. The outside of the citadel resembles an inverted and truncated icicle, with the diamond giving it the sheen of just-melting ice. This description hardly does it justice, but the curves of the Citadel defy easy depiction. It really has to be seen to be appreciated.

Inside, the citadel is nearly completely hollow, with smooth-sided chambers and corridors of diamond, sometimes opening out into what can only be described as an internal courtyard space. The entire layout is three-dimensional; the ‘courtyards’ often span several of what, in other places, would be stories. The citadel also drives down into the mountains, where the shafts are encased in crystal; often diamond, but sometimes other gemstone as well. These appear to have been mines at some point, though what was mined here remains unclear.

Despite the apparent wealth of the Crystal Citadel, no-one yet has been able to benefit from it. The diamond walls were reinforced magically and are impervious to all attempts to break them down. The same enchantment keeps them clear and clean. The island itself is not without hazard, as crystal elementals of all shapes and sizes frequent the interior.

We know nothing of the Diamond Carvers themselves, aside from that they were human-sized. They left behind them no artifacts and no writing by which they could be identified. Some scholars have noted that perhaps the closest thing the Citadel represents is a termite mound or ant-nest. So it may be that these enigmatic creatures were insectoid.

The age of the citadel is the subject of some debate. It is at the very least several thousand years old; the crude carvings of the Ball-Men depict something like looks uncannily like it, so it believed to have come from before their time. Conventional wisdom places it sometime after the Elders and before the Ball-Men, around nine and half to nine thousand years ago. It could conceivably be much older, though it’s true age may never be known.

Go to the north of Piquan, just a little south of where mountains start to fall down from the highland. Walk a few more miles south and you will start to see, lying in the desert, a series of badly-eroded, granite stone spheres, ranging from two feet to almost eight feet in diameter, weighing up to sixteen tons. While it is difficult to see from the ground, if you climb to an elevation point, perhaps on one of the larger spheres, you will start to see patterns. The patterns are simple, sweeping curves and hold no significance to modern eyes, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

You may become so intent on the patterns of spheres that you may even miss in the distance, a truly giant hemisphere rising from the desert, up nearly two hundred feet. This one, unlike the small stones, is hollow and you can see openings all across its surface. This is Salastril, the largest settlement of the Ball-Men.

The civilisation of the Ball-Men arose about seven thousand five hundred years ago and lasted for about seven hundred years. While we know little about them, we know far more than about the Elders or the Diamond builders. For one, the Ball-Men left a record of themselves in the form of pictograms and cave-paintings. The crude pictures give us some insight into the painters.

The Ball-Men were probably not men at all, but rather near-human. They were more broad-shouldered and stocky, having closer to a Dwarven build, but their remains suggest they were of human height. Theirs was a primitive hunter-gather society, with just the beginnings of agriculture (some of the pictures show what appears to be females and children sowing seeds and harvesting while the male hunted). Most of them seemed to live in caves – not caves such as a Dwarf might delve, but natural caves. How such a society managed to create such wonders of masonry as the spheres – let alone the handful of giant hemispheres like Salastril – is baffling and the cave-paintings offer no clue. Even a magical explanation seems unlikely, given the primitive culture of the Ball-Men. Some have suggested the Ball-Men may have simply delved into the large stone spheres they found, left by some other earlier civilisation. Even so, this is still an impressive task for a society that still used mostly stone simple tools. Some copper tools have been found, but they are sufficiently rare as not to have been in widespread use.

The spheres are littered all around their settlements. They clearly had some mystical significance, though what it is impossible to say. A few spheres, protected from the elements in the parts of the jungle or in deep in caves, are especially astonishing since in these are perfectly round to the naked eye.

Skisstor is the earliest civilisation we know much about. However, this knowledge is some of the least welcome. Skisstor existed between about 6300 years ago and lasted for over eleven hundred years, making it one of the longest-lived nations of the area. The Skisstori were a race of lizardfolk, slightly smaller than average and decidedly more intelligent.

We know so much about the Skisstori because of what they left behind; stepped temple-pyramids and mastabas, obelisks and stelae and large walled, cities. These rune-covered monuments tell the tales of the building and those within with hieroglyphics; magical sigils among the mundane serve mystical ends. The Skisstori were ruled over by the clerics of the terrible god Kuss-Korsst (which means ‘Great Destroyer’ in the Skisstori tongue). Kuss-Korsst demanded bloody sacrifice as his worship and in return granted the knowledge of the blackest and most foul necromantic secrets. He prophesised that a time would come when the Skisstori, alive and dead both, would all rise together and sweep the world clean of heretics and the world would again belong to the reptilian.

To this end, his servitors built many, huge tombs for their dead, filled with riches created by the blood and toil of countless slaves – both living and dead. Their cities were flanked by necropolis which soon dwarfed the homes of the living. In the ‘classical’ Skisstor period, giant stepped pyramids topped by temples to Kuss-Korrst were favoured. These places dug deep into catacombs below the surface and held hundreds, sometimes thousands of Skisstor tombs.

These burial places were heavily protected by traps, magical wards and powerful guardians, both undead and unalive golems. Here, the fallen and mummified Skisstori would await their god’s call to arms. Many of the inhabitants did not wait that long; the ghastly mummification ritual was threaded through with necromancy and most of its benefactors rose as mummies. Some awoke quickly, others after centuries or millennia. It is believed that those who have not woken may yet still do, even after all this time.

Most of these crypts survive to this day, as their magical protection has left them resistant to age. Many, but by no means all, have been opened and looted over the centuries, leaving only the most remote and dangerous ones intact. Of those that have been opened, many have been put to other uses over the years, especially by the Nightmare Lords.

Though it is convention to refer to Kuss-Korsst as male, the god changed gender with the time of year, becoming female during winter and summer.

Skisstor spread all across Kerpiquan, though the bulk of their settlements lay in the jungles of the north-west. They reached far out into the world and had many slaves of all races. These slaves suffered the grim fate of being either worked to death or sacrificed to Kuss-Korsst. Despite using only bronze weapons, the Skisstori found a way to temper their blades in the blood of sacrifice that made them far stronger than would be normally possible. Many of the blades, recovered at great cost, are stronger than even the best steel.

Skisstor vanished abruptly in about 4900PK. Theories of their demise have been wild, ranging from a slave rebellion to their practise of meddling in black magic going too far with disastrous consequences. One popular theory is that something happened to Kuss-Korsst, as he conspicuously absent from the pantheon. The loss of their god-monarch would have been a terrible blow to the Skisstori and would weakened their stranglehold on the realm. While they had some limited arcane magic, they almost totally relied on divine power to maintain order; with Kuss-Korsst’s death or disappearance, a slave revolt could have wiped them all out. Whatever happened, surely the rest of the world must have breathed a sigh of relief to see the end of these foul creatures.

But the story of Skisstor was not quite complete. A most shocking discovery was made in the last fifty years. Ruins were discovered, complete with burial monuments, under the sea. It was at first thought that the land had sunk or the sea risen since they were built, but careful yet highly-risky investigation revealed that they had been built in situ. This was a complete surprise, as nothing had suggested the Skisstori were aquatic. Dating evidence is sketchy, but some appear to date from at least five centuries after the fall of Skisstor. Due to the difficulty of investigating, not much more is known about these aquatic cities, but they did appear to be leading deeper into the ocean.

So it may be there are Skisstori still, waiting in the darkest, deepest places of the world for their god to return and darken the world in a tide of warm blood.

Go deep into the most expansive caves of Kerpiquan, and if you are in luck, you will find at the back and small tunnel leading down. The tunnel, despite it’s great age, is mostly smooth-sided, as if shaped out of the rock instead of mined. Follow this path down and down and eventually you might come to a place where it widens out. Here, abruptly, the walls stop being smooth stone, but are instead covered by a hard substance, somewhere between chitin and solid spider-silk. The surface will be decorated with intricate patterns and sigils. If you have a good light and are in an area away from dripping water or stalactites, you might be able to make out the fact this surface was once brightly coloured. These are the halls of the Burrowers.

The civilisation of the Burrowers, as far as we know, lasted for about just over a thousand years, starting about 4900 years ago. The disappeared no more than a few decades before the Laytrillasi arrived.

The Burrowers were strange creatures indeed. For centuries, no-one knew what they looked like, save that they were of entirely inhuman appearance. And then, a few years ago, an adventuring band made a startling discovery in the depths of a Nightmare Lord’s fortress. It was a magical gemstone, which when it finally revealed its secrets, showed us our first glance of these long-dead beings. This astonishing record projects a three-dimensional illusion, recorded, presumably for posterity by one of the Burrowers.

The name ‘burrower’ came from their habit of tunnelling into the depths but it is something of a misnomer. For instead of being squat, solid-looking creatures as their name suggests, the Burrowers were in fact gracile fliers, with a wingspan of about five feet.

To describe a Burrower via the medium of the written word is difficult. (See picture here, with expansion showing vocal apparatus.) They had a head shaped like that of the trilobite sometimes found on our shores, washed up from the depths. The wide side lobes, however, are sharper, and more axe-like. Four glowing eyes, one pair set above another sit in the armoured front. Below, two highly segmented, anomalocarid-like ‘arms’ sprout from the lower head. The backs of these are covered with thousands of tiny segmented macro-cilia and the whole apparatus has nearly a 360 degree freedom of movement and can grasp things with more ease than human hands. Behind the head, there are nine segments. The first two are large, but then taper off like that of a dragonfly. The segmented body curves down and around until the tip of the tail hangs more or less below the head. From the first segment, two scorpion-like pincer arms protrude at nearly right angles to the vertical. These also have a good range of movement. The second segment houses two pairs of dragonfly-like wings. Below them, neatly folded away, can just be made out four spindly legs. The third segment, on the underside, houses a peculiar structure that resembles two legs in the pose a grasshopper takes when chirping. This analogy is borne out, for this is the Burrowers means of both hearing and making vocal communication. The body is mostly a dull purple, but individuals had differing patterns of colour on their bodies in the form of stripes or patches. The tail is capable of a very wide range of motion, including bending all the way round to curve over the Burrower when it is perched on the ground. Finally, at the end of the tail is a stinger about a foot long. This is not chitinous, but rather looks crystalline, full of liquid colour.

The record shows a social gathering of some kind. Several Burrowers float above what appears to be something akin to a cross between a lectern, a pedestal and a perch, surrounding a slightly lower one and are communicating with the latter’s occupant. The tone and behaviour of the scene leads many to hazard it is a tribunal or trial of some sort. Sadly, we cannot be any clearer, for the Burrowers language does not translate magically. This may be a facet of the recording itself, but considering how crystal-clear everything else is, it seems more likely the Burrower’s language, which at times runs above and below the human range of hearing, contains elements conventional magic cannot identify as communication. This problem is compounded by one other problem; the Burrowers were noisy!

Consider the noise a grasshopper makes and then imagine a creature four or five feet long making the same sound. The effect is deafening. Despite the volume, the Burrowers had a great deal of control of their vocal instruments, making everything from melodic chirps to crackles that sound like snapping brittle bones.

In addition to the tone of their ‘voices’, their eyes also changed colour. At the start of the incident, they appeared all to be restful shades of blue or green, but this changed dramatically during the proceedings. At their most agitated, they became a fierce bright orange.

It also became clear that they were inherently magical. Several times, the Burrowers floated in the air without use of their wings. It is surmised that they used both wings and levitation in concert for maximum effect, but could use either. One was seen to create what appears to surmount to a three-dimensional doodle, using a secretion that was emitted from all over it’s tentacle-arms. It strikes many as not looking unlike how a wasp or termite builds a nest and a spider weaves a web, but vastly more complex and detailed (and providing it’s own material of course). Finally, one Burrower, perhaps a sort of scribe, was using it’s tail to create a beam of blue-white energy (causing the spike to glow brightly and the colours within to roil with abandon) to carve symbols into a slate of some kind. The effect bore a passing resemblance to that of disintegration magic. It has been suggested that this is how the Burrowers created their homes, by blasting out the rock, as well as making their patterned walls.

This recording comprises most of what we know about the Burrowers. Aside from this, we know that they were exceptional arcane magic-users. Their ruins are filled with all manner of magical traps. They left quite a considerably wealth of magical knowledge behind them, as the substance they used to coat their walls and create their odd furnishings is astoundingly resistant to aging. Tablets, covered in their written cuneiform language, are found in many places. Translating this morass of knowledge is extremely difficult. The Burrowers seemed to have a language that dealt with concepts alien to our thoughts, and trying to make sense of them is trying for even the most seasoned scholar. Furthermore, it is now thought that though the tablets and writing themselves have not decayed, they once would have been coloured and that this colour was also part of the language, changing the meaning of the symbols. It has been described by one scholar as “trying to read a book written in the most technical terminology, where the pages are all out of order and someone has smudged all but one word in ten.” While no-one has yet managed a complete translation of any work, some determined scholars have wrestled some of the lower-concept magical knowledge into a usable form. Or at least no-one living has effected a translation; it is possible somewhere in the Laytrillas ruins or more likely the dark fortresses of the Nightmare Lords that a rosetta stone exists as both cultures have are known to have studied the Burrowers (the former in the pursuit of knowledge, the latter for their own dark ends).

It is not as simple as trekking underground to pick up piles of surfeit magical power awaiting a skilled translator, however. The Burrower’s ruined cities are fill of life. Fungi of all shapes and sizes adorn the halls. What they live on is a mystery, but they must be able to convert magical energy somehow, for there is nothing else down there for them to feed on. These come in such varieties that it can only be assumed that the Burrowers bred them as we do plants on the surface; some even emit strong light, as bright as daylight. Some of the mushrooms have been discovered to have medicinal or magical applications; other are edible and others deadly poisonous. Deep dwelling arthropods and even some reptiles and creatures related to rats survive in the ruins too; perhaps the remnants of the Burrower’s domesticated stock. The most peaceful of these feed on the fungus, and the larger ones prey on them.

We do not know what the final fate of the Burrowers was. Perhaps they died naturally, as the Laytrillas, or simply went elsewhere. There are no signs of a sudden catastrophe, but we have explored but the merest portion on their dwellings which stretch for hundreds of miles below the surface world. Perhaps one day, we will be able to unlock the secrets of the Burrowers and learn more about these alien beings who lived beneath our feet.

Kingdom of Laytrillas:
Of all the civilisations on Kerpiquan, the Elven kingdom of Laytrillas is the one we know most about. Laytrillas was as far as can be determined, the longest-surviving nation on these shores and the most widespread. Laytrillas ruins of all sizes can be found dotted all over Kerpiquan and even in some locations much further afield.

Laytrillas was the sixth nation in Kerpiquan’s history, existing from about 3800 years ago, until just under 2400 years ago. In fact, we be more exact; the official ‘end’ of the Laytrillas Kingdom came in 1246 of their calendar which has been calculated to correspond to a date 2083PK. We know this because the Laytrillasi left a great deal of documentation behind them in the forms of well-preserved wax slates in some places and stone tablets in others. Like modern Kerpiquan, Laytrillas was highly organised. They kept meticulous records of their day-to-day lives for most of the kingdom’s existence and so despite the significant attrition of time, a great deal of this information has survived to the present day. Laytrillas was a kingdom for the first two-thirds of its reign, ruled over by a series of kings and queens. In 2805, however, it became the first known democracy, with King Sariland remaining on as figurehead monarch.

A great deal of our own technology we owe to the information the Laytrillasi left behind; our roads, concrete and even a good number of our dyes and herbal remedies have their origins in these ancient Elves. Like modern scholars, they also had a great thirst for knowledge and a lot of what we know about some of the earlier civilisations comes from their in-depth studies. (Salastril, the name of largest Ball-Man settlement, is a Laytrillasi word.)

Laytrillas ruins are not the hazardous places of fear of the other civilisations Most of their architecture was conventional rather than monolithic. Their cities crumbled into disrepair over centuries and only a few of their most spectacular buildings survive. The temple complex in Qazasu is perhaps the most famous example, though many people will also know of the Tunna Library.

Laytrillas is unusual in that is did not vanish suddenly, but declined in a more conventional manner. The progress of this demise is recorded in their history. The Laytrillasi were never very great in number even at their height. As time passed, the Laytrillasi became more and more philosophical as a culture and they began to lose interest in more earthly things. Even the worship of the deities slowly fell out of favour; the Qazasu complex was all but abandoned by 2381PK. As they became more enthralled with their quest for spiritual perfection, their practical skills – so good in the early kingdom – began to wane. They had reached the maximum population that they could easily sustain and now lacked the capability for significant expansion.

This encouraged the Laytrillasi to become more inward-looking and family dropped in importance as opposed to self-knowledge. Fewer and fewer children were born and eventually natural attrition took its toll and the population slowly dropped. The Laytrillasi realised what was happening, of course, but they had become so apathetic to all but their individual spirituality that they could not rectify the problem. For a good few years, writers bemoaned the lack of procreation, but themselves seemed disinclined to do anything about it. During their closing century, the Laytrillasi had become gracefully accepting about their fate. In 2083PK, the Laytrillasi, very much reduced in number by this point, were struck by several hurricanes in the space of six months. This damaged many of their remaining structures and it soon became obvious that they now lacked the facility to effect repairs. They held a final conference in their capital Metrilline, and it was decided that the time had come to leave. The remaining Laytrillasi scattered, becoming philosopher hermits for the remainder of their lives. While the Laytrillasi as a people survived for a few more centuries, as a nation they effectively ceased to exist.

It was a curiously civil end to the longest surviving culture to grace these shores.

As Laytrillas declined, a new group of settlers began to occupy the abandoned cities. Starting in 2109PK, humans began to arrive in the area. Calling themselves the Outcasts, they too had been driven into the sea by enemies, though more indirectly thas us. We do not have a lot of detail about them, sadly, for it they wrote almost everything on an early form of paper which has not survived. From what little of their beautiful scripts remain we can tell that they had come far indeed. They were a smaller race, lighter and more olive skinned than ourselves, predominantly dark. They had a culture steeped in honour and ritual, where saving face was most important. This group had left because they had failed to support their Emperor in a war because of the actions of one man. Despite his death, the entire population were dishonoured and exiled.

The Outcasts had a cordial relationship with the Laytrillas; the latter were quite happy to let their old settlements find new use, though it was clear they never understood each other; both were content to leave the other in peace.

The Outcasts had a strong class divide between the noble samurai and the working peasants. This ultimately was their downfall, since they would not or could not intermarry and in the century they lived in the area, insufficient children were born to maintain the population. A plague appears to have finished them off sometime around 2000PK. This is unusual for Kerpiquan, which in general, has escaped epidemics throughout its history. It has been suggested that it may have been a curse or some form of mass poisoning by an unknown enemy. The area has they lived in has not been settled for the Outcasts haunt the area still. These spectres of the past do not seem willing or able to communicate with the living, merely wailing and bemoaning their dishonour and terrible fate with such fervour that it sends anyone who spends more than a few days listening to into suicidal madness.

The Outcasts did not have time to leave a great deal behind them. They occupied the islands of the south-west primarily, and three or four of their castles still remain. Their most lasting monument was their weapons, forged by exotic techniques. They were the first to discover the secret of Piquan iron, which the Nightmare Lords and Stonehearts were later to learn from studying their weapons.

The Empire of Bloody Shadow:
It is stark irony that of all the varied and unusual creatures that have graced Kerpiquan over the millennia, the most monstrous were completely human. The reign of the Empire of Bloody Shadow was the blackest period in Kerpiquan’s coloured past and perhaps of the world’s as well. The Nightmare Lords held sway for over five hundred years, starting around 1900PK.

The Empire was founded by a single unnamed evil mage. He arrived on Kerpiquan in search of the knowledge of the Skisstor, having learned of them from their historical predations on the continent. Within scant years, he had found it and used it to build a terrible empire whose presence is a stain on history. While it was in power, the Empire cloaked the land in twilight and the storms raged constantly.

The Empire of Bloody Shadow was a place of supernatural power. The Nightmare Lords, ruled over by their Night-Blood Emperors became masters of paranormal. Not only did they command every form of known magic and psionics, they had discovered a third source of mystical energy. This power, called by the Nightmare Lords filament-spawning, has never been tapped again by any race.

There are as many mirrors between Skisstor and the early Empire of Bloody Shadows as they are between Laytrillas and modern Kerpiquan, for like us, the Empire learned much from its predecessor. The Empire, however, was differentiated by a streak of unsurpassed evil which grew markedly as time when on. The Nightmare Lords did not inflict suffering on others merely out of casual ruthlessness as did the Skisstor; they revelled in it. Where the Skisstor consorted with Demons, the Nightmare Lords commanded them. While the Skisstor made bloody sacrifices to appease their dread god, the Nightmare Lords did it for entertainment. Death was usually the end of suffering for the slaves of Skisstor, deemed as they were unworthy by Kuss-Korrst. In the Empire, death was merely the beginning. The dead souls were often bound into unthinking animated undead or as the spirit in golems; all of this in needless agony. The Nightmare Lords seemed to take a perverse delight in being as heinous as possible for no other reason than they could. It is astonishing that they managed to do this while maintaining a functional society among themselves. However, eventually, this depravity was to lead to their downfall.

The Empire of Bloody Shadows created many kinds of mystical horrors. They were responsible for creating new types of Undead, like the Soul-Rot Spirit and Murderwisps. The bred new creatures of flesh and bone – and sometimes much more; Contanimations and Vilelings are but two breeds to survive to the present. And they built huge numbers of golems and constructs and filled their armies with them.

For the Empire was not content with the atrocities it committed in its own borders. They desired to bring all the world – and beyond – under their tyranny. And so armies went forth to conquer, not once but many times over their history. For a time, they expanded their empire onto the continents. But eventually, they became too mad, too dangerous. They could not be reasoned with and they became a blight to all. So it was that the first and only Alliance of Nations arose to make war on them and free the world from their blight. They races put aside their own, often nearly irreconcilable differences and marched on the Empire of Bloody Shadow. For the first and last time, Orcs fought beside Elves, Ogres by Dwarves, Kobolds by Gnomes. The war was brutal and the cost was very high, but the Empire was broken and it’s stranglehold on the world splintered.

But it was not destroyed. For so bitter had the fighting been that no-one left had any strength to mount the massive naval assault on Kerpiquan. And so the Empire endured for a time. But not for long. Details of their final hour are sketchy, but it seems that, ultimately, the Nightmare Lords attempted something beyond even their prostigious reach. For centuries, they had been tapping into the power of the storms with great obelisks. The Night-Blood Emperor himself now embarked on a scheme to not tap but drain that power. The full extent of this unspeakable rite is mercifully obliterated by the passage of time, but the few remaining clues suggest it would have been a spell of globally-cataclysmic proportions and would have felled the rest of the world in one swoop.

Something went wrong. The capital of the Empire was annihilated and the surrounding area transformed into the Black Crater we know today. Some have suggested that the Nightmare Lords tried to unleash the power of the Elders. More speculatively, others say perhaps they tried to awaken or enslave Kuss-Korrst. The truth will never been known, for the disaster struck down all of the Nightmare Lords all over Kerpiquan at once. Their reign of terror was at least over.

They left behind them too many legacies. While their cities are mostly completely ruined, the fortresses, dungeons and lairs of the most powerful casters remain. Protected by the stolen spells of the Skisstor, they have been untouched by time. A Nightmare Lord monolith is an evil thing to behold. They loom over the surrounding lands, even now devoid of plant-life. These dull, charcoal-grey stone edifices are decorated with black iron spires and blades, upon which once the remains of their victims hung. In places, gemstones adorn these twisted accoutrements; often rubies or emeralds. But woe betide the thief who tries to take one, for they both are protected by magic and cursed.

Inside the gloomy halls lie treasures of all kinds. But few dare to risk entrance for it is perilous indeed to walk the halls of the Nightmare Lords. Aside from all manner of traps and tricks designed to torture and break the victims before finally killing them, there are powerful curses to contend with. The Nightmare Lord’s legacy, their innumerable artificial soldiers are found in great numbers in the dark, waiting to spill blood for their long-dead masters. Worst, if these atrocities of creation are allowed to escape outside, many of them possess the means to replicate themselves and grow rapidly into a plague of evil.

Stoneheart Clan:
After the Empire of Bloody Shadows fell, Kerpiquan began it’s slow recovery. It enjoyed a peaceful two hundred years before the next settlers arrived. These were Dwarves of the Stoneheart clan. They found a land still very barren of plant life, but this suited them as they came to mine the mineral wealth of the land.

The clan flourished and soon became a nation unto itself. The Stonehearts dug deep into the mountains, and spent less and less time above ground as the years past. The Stonehearts were notorious for their avarice and the longer they spent in Kerpiquan, the more this trait grew. Perhaps some lingering element of the Nightmare Lord’s foul rule blackened their nature. In any case, they became more and more insular.

Wealth become increasingly important, and soon the Stonehearts did not want their hard-earned treasure to be separated from them in death. So they began to design more and more elaborate crypts in the bowels of the earth and their jealous ghosts guard them still. Had they but known it, they were becoming more and more akin to the Skisstor, though from greed rather than religious fervour.

The Stoneheart's civilisation lasted for about three hundred years. In the end, some internal strife caused them to go into a bitter civil war, which decimated them. The most tragic casualties were most of the female Dwarves and children. Those that survived were too old to bear more children and the survivors locked themselves away with their treasure. The Stonehearts spent their last days locked in their own tombs, victims of their insane greed.

Eight centuries ago, the Halfling Nomads arrived on the shores of Kerpiquan. They immediately began to construct a massive city in the eastern Selidorn mountains. This became the Impenetrable City we know today. The Nomads take their name, not just from their geographical habits, but because they were naturally psionic and nomad psions were prevalent in their culture. They left little of themselves outside of the city; only a few whorling sculptures that resonate with psionic energy. A psionist – if he knows how – can sometimes draw on this energy to refresh himself. This is not without risks however, as sometimes the totems discharge far more energy than the psion can handle, burning out the unfortunate’s brain.

The Impenetrable City looms up out of the mountainside. If you confine your gaze to below your eye level, your initial impression is that it looks like any normal, walled city, albeit one built for a smaller statue. You can even enter in as far as the first quarter, and see the remains of houses, shops and other conventional buildings. But when you reach what would be the next ring, you cannot help but behold the cities’ true form. A smooth circular wall, black and glossy like polished obsidian, rises up and up and out of sight into the fog cloud that permanently stands above it. The wall resists every attempt to damage it, not unlike the Crystal Citadel (some think that same techniques might have been used to build the two.) Climbing the wall is impossible; nothing, not even magic, can grip it. Those flying up it into the cloud invariably find themselves flying out of the cloud in a random direction, no matter how fast they flew. The distance from ground to the cloud base seems to vary, but is usually between one and two thousand feet. No-one knows what is beyond the wall.

As far as we can tell, the Nomads spent about a hundred and fifty years building the Impenetrable City before presumably sealing themselves in it. We have no idea what their fate was, or whether they still live behind the unbreakable wall.

The City-State of Paradise:
Paradise was perhaps the shortest-lived of all the nations. Founded by a group of vagrants who landed in the west of Piquan, it consisted of a single city and its surrounding lands. It’s population was real mixed bag of races, including humans, Elves, Gnomes and a small population of Kobolds.

Paradise was ruled by an amicable committee of spokespersons, each representing a community in the city or rural village. Laws were enforced by mutual consent and by and large, it appears Paradise was peaceful. The settlers were pacifistic and had a strong tie to nature; even in the centre of Paradise City, there were extensive gardens, which were built before the wooden houses were replaced with stone. The architecture was very aesthetic, with carven, twisting roses garnishing every flat space.

Sadly, w

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Serpent Spine Kingdom:
Our immediate predecessors on Kerpiquan were the Serpent Spine Hobgoblins. They arrived in 209PK, having like ourselves been driven from their original home. The Serpent Spines were particularly organised and aggressive even for Hobgoblins and they immediately sacked Paradise after ejecting the city-state’s desperate pleas for co-existence. They swift action on arrival was uncharacteristic of their later behaviour and this is often questioned. The most likely theory is that the Hobgoblins were afraid that their location might be at risk if Paradise was allowed to remain.

The Serpent Spines took their names not only from the mountain range in which they originated, but because of their religious beliefs. They worshipped snakes, seeing them as emissaries of a divine being. They brought many snakes of all type with them and their ruins are filled with serpent imagery. Even today, their descendants, the Hobgoblin tribes of Kerpiquan, still venerate snakes above all other animal totems.

But that is the only remnant of the Serpent Spines the modern tribes retain. They differ drastically from their descendants. The Serpent Spines were organised and highly militaristic and soldiering was one of the highest callings a Serpent Spine could achieve, equal to priesthood. They had a solid caste system with well-defined roles full of specialists. One could move from one role to another, but it took great effort. The end result was an efficient military meritocracy, a far cry from the modern tribes for whom bloodline and personal courage are the most important traits.

Unlike our contemporaries, the Serpent Spine were not shamanists. They had a clearly-defined clerical caste who, while not the rulers, had a great deal of influence. Snake-like qualities, like intelligence and cunning, were highly prized. The Serpent Spines built a number of snake-temples, all of which still stand. These are impressive structures, with domed roofs. Inside, there is rarely a straight edge to be seen and the columns spiral to the vaulted ceiling. At their height, these temples were decorated by flowing red draperies and bronze and gold serpents statues adorned the places of worship. Alongside the congregations, pits in the floor were filled with live snakes.

The Serpent Spine’s favoured weapon was the kris. The Serpent Spines had made kris forging into a fine art. Many of the blades contained tiny pores along the length which fed into a reservoir in the hilt which could be filled with poison. These were often called weeping blades. It was quite an achievement that these blades were just as strong as a normal blade. We still cannot be sure exactly how they did it, for the techniques were lost with the collapse of Serpent Spine civilisation.

The Serpent Spines on Kerpiquan for about a hundred and fifty years before suddenly vanishing. We cannot be sure what exactly happened to them. Their descendants have conflicting and confusing legends about the time before the tribes. It is thought that at some point, the society collapsed because of their religion. The Serpent Spines had prophesies of a golden age like many other nations and evidence suggests that they thought the time for it to come had arrived. When nothing happened, the resultant chaos destroyed the fledgling nation. This explanation is rather lacking, and we can only assume that there was something more insidious that caused the sudden fall of their civilisation to barbarism.

DM Secrets and Adventure Hooks:
Kerpiquan is an ideal place for DMs to introduce new spells, monsters, artifacts or variant magic rules. The Skisstor and Nightmare Lord civilisations are the best candidates for magical knowledge. The Stoneheart Clan ruins are better suited to artifacts. The various ruins provide a great place to have the secret lair of the DM’s villain for the PCs to hunt down and enter.

Probably the most important secret of Kerpiquan is that not all the civilisations died out for the same reasons. Some were destroyed by their own hand, some by natural disaster. (Several of the ends to the civilisations are left deliberately vague so the individual DM can tailor Kerpiquan to the world.)

Recent Events:
The exact cause of the strange events above can be any of the plot hooks the civilisations entries below provide, all of them or none of them and instead a new threat entirely. It may even be simply a collection of random and unconnected events that is unimportant to the plot, depending on where the DM wants the campaign to go.

The cause of the supernatural storms is, surprisingly, mostly natural. Kerpiquan had a high concentration of supernatural energies (or several types, not just magical). These energies are not perfectly stable, and every so often, the interaction between them builds up a harmonic imbalance. This occasionally vents, like steam from a geyser, in the form of the storms.

Whatever the Elders built, it channelled one or more of these energies. Something, presumably, went wrong and there was a detonation, centred around the Elder Stones. This created the highland desert (which before is believed to have been more fertile) and wiping out the Elders at the same time. It further destabilised the resonant energies, meaning that the storms became very much worse.

Using magic – or any other supernatural capability – during a storm is potentially dangerous, since on very rare occasions, it can go horribly wrong. (This is intended to be sufficiently rare as to be a plot-event, rather than a percentage chance during a storm.) More powerful magic runs a greater risk of incurring misfortune. When this strikes, almost anything can happen. The spell can be magnified all out or proportion and control. The caster may be physically and mentally changed in some often detrimental way or more likely killed in an explosive backlash. Sometimes these events open portals to other places – and some of them not to the more ‘familiar’, ‘local’ planes. On several occasions, summoning or transmutation attempts have instead created monstrous creatures.

The storms themselves are not the direct cause of the fall of any civilisation, though they were a contributing factor in some. Several of the nations were highly dependent on magic. One even tried tapping into the energies, like the Elders had before them, others merely developed lots of supernatural abilities.

Other plot hooks: While Kerpiquan is ideally suited for exploration and some good-old fashion dungeon crawling, there are plenty of other opportunities as well. Pirates are not uncommon in the area, so the PCs could be employed to hunt them down or even become buccaneers themselves. The legal system opens up the possibility for playing out trials (with the PCs being either side of the law) and prison escapes, perhpas from the mighty Hopelorn Gaol itself. PCs wishing to dip their toes into politics could become embroiled in a corrupt election or simply face-off against a greedy landowner who is beggaring his tenants. The various Hobgoblin tribes provide their own adventures; either stopping the raiders by main force or negotiating an amicable peace between the Hobgoblins and their neighbours (human or otherwise). Finally, Kerpiquan’s limited military means it is ill-equipped to deal with an invasion from the mainland and would require a great deal of help in these circumstances from mercenaries.

The Civilisations:

Designer’s Notes: Several of the civilisations are primarily for colour. They provide some interesting set-pieces and locations and serve more as a backdrop to an adventure rather than the cause.

The mystery of the Elders is not one that is intended to be solved. The large part of their existence to be unanswered question, and their motives and goals unknowable. Indeed, it is entirely possibly that what they did was intentional; they might even have created Kerpiquan itself for some alien purpose and then abandoned it one they had done. Their ruins, in the meantime, can serve as a set-piece for whatever terrible and highly dangerous rituals the villain may dream up as the climax of their scheme.

Diamond Carvers:
The Glittering Isle’s ‘elementals’ are not exactly such so much as portions of a mineral-based ecology. What Quanite scholars have missed – or dismissed as unfounded fantasy – is that the crystals and gemstones found on the Glittering Isle grow from rock formations. They fall, like fruit and are eaten by the lower order crystal creatures (which in turn provide prey for the hunters.)


Designer’s Notes: The idea of the Ball-Men came from the Spheres of Costa Rica; I took the idea and added a bit of the Nazca lines for good measure and something suitably fantasy to cap it off. Again, they serve as local colour.

The Skisstor provide a great deal of straight-forward dungeon crawls in their highly dangerous crypts, either for simple treasure or some a plot-related artifact. A reclaimed crypt can serve as a base for the DM’s villain or just an interesting set-piece for a village. Their tombs are filled with lots of traps – especially stonework traps, Undead and golems. Mummies of various sorts are most appropriate, followed by animated undead, wights and liches. Golem and constructs are in evidence, but not in number (mostly clay, stone or ‘iron’ (actually blood-treated bronze) golems.

There is also the possibility that Kuss-Korsst could return with modern Skisstor to begin their ragnarok; either from below the sea, from underground or even from whatever dimension Kuss-Korsst vanished into. The PCs gradually learn of the impending disaster and have to journey into peril-packed ruins to find a way to stop Kuss-Korsst’s apocalyptic prophecy from coming to pass. Simultaneously, they must prevent the Quanites from devolving into a superstitious, panicked anarchy that would do at least as much damage as the Skisstor.

The Burrowers provide a source of arcane magical knowledge, though theirs is best suited for more esoteric and exotic effects rather than just spells. The flora and fauna below the surface can be searched for rare medicines to cure a dying man that no other magic can help or a lethal and undetectable poison.

The Burrowers themselves are not extinct by any means. They just went deeper as they became aware of a magical shift in the land which would have severely affected them. As it was, this event, unnoticed on the surface, brought the end to this first civilisation of thiers. They have had many others, however, since in both the very deepest parts of the underworld and in other local planes where they have expanded. There is in fact a currently a thriving civilisation spread across four planes, comprising nearly two hundred million Burrowers. (Very approximately, given the three-dimension nature of their land, this is equal to a well-populated large continent.) Some of them are beginning to look towards the surface world where their legends say they once beheld and thinking that perhaps it is time to go back and explore it.

The motivations of the Burrowers in this endeavour are the left to the DM. They are not inherently evil, just very alien, so the PCs could encounter them as scouts looking for pave the way for an invasion, explorers like the PCs themselves or even ambassadors in a fantasy ‘first-contact’ scenario (or perhaps some of each, to add to the confusion!) In these latter cases, the enormous difficulties of communication can set the stage for all manner of memorable encounters. The Burrowers name for themselves is impossible for the human mouth to pronounce (or even spell, for that matter), so what they end up called can come from the PCs or whatever the PCs think the Burrowers said (such is how it goes in the course of history!)

Laytrillas is another civilisation mainly for flavour. While it presents little impetus for adventure in and of itself, it’s ruins litter the country side as a constant reminder of what went before. Some of the larger and more complete ruins may provide a back-drop for some other adventures (such as the temple complex of Qazasu).

The PCs might find a modern survivor of Laytrillas in a remote location (not necessarily Kerpiquan) or have to search for one or his the final resting place, far from home, to glean some knowledge only he knows.

The Outcasts were killed on the orders of their former Emperor’s grandson. It was foretold that he would be slain by one of the Outcasts in single combat. The Emperor was so furious when he heard this and sent a group of necromancer-ninja to poison and curse the Outcasts. He wanted them not only to cease to be a threat to his power, but to prevent them from reaching the afterlife.

In the end, though, the ninja missed one samurai. He returned to find his people dead and swore revenge. After some years, he finally found the treacherous Emperor and slew him in single combat. He also killed all but one of the necromancer-ninja who fled.

In order to put the spirits of the Outcasts to rest, the PCs would have to travel and find the last descendant of the ninja and bring him to the island to ask for the Outcast’s forgiveness. Or perhaps to be sacrificed to the angry ghosts...

Empire of Bloody Shadow:
The ruins of the Empire are ripe for adventure. The PCs may venture into a monolith in search of treasure or to stop some villain bent on learning the forbidden secrets hidden within. Creatures released from the depths may require the PCs to hunt them down to save a town and follow the source back to the ruins from whence they came to stop them once and for all. The Empire provides an excellent way for the DM to throw new types of monster at the PCs. The secret of filament-spawning could be a campaign in itself.

The final fate of the Empire is pretty much as described. The Night-Blood Emperor was desperate at the end of the war. He was afraid that the other nations would recover before the Empire could raise a new army. He set in motion a plan to focus the supernatural energies of Kerpiquan into one huge emanation that would start about 300 miles off-shore and transform the entire rest of the planet into a twisted nightmare. The plant and animal life would have been destroyed or mutated into vicious predators, the climate would have radically altered and even geography would have been upheaved. Such an effect would be difficult for a god and it was far beyond the Night-Blood Emperor’s power. He was not even approaching the amount of power and skill required, but in his mad arrogance, he assumed nothing was beyond his reach. So he gathered as many of the users of magic, psionics and filament-spawning as he could. They were strategically placed around the towers with which the Nightmare Lords controlled the storms, with a large number in the capital. With a total absence of surprise, the ritual went instantly wrong the second it was begun. The Night-Blood Emperor and the capital were atomised before they even realised what had gone wrong. The resultant theurmatherugical backlash killed everyone near the towers and exploded the structures. Everything else that was not sealed in the depths of a fortress was killed over the next few hours by radiated supernatural energies of sufficient power that nothing could withstand them.

Like the Skisstor, the Nightmare Lords could return in one form or another; perhaps a group, sealed in the depths of their largest fortresses finally awakes again from a supernatural hibernation. Or perhaps some could from some hitherto unknown pocket dimension when they fled in the last few moments before they were overcome by the rampant magic. Whatever the method of their return, it would require the PCs to stop them before they can re-establish their monstrous regime.

Filament-spawning is a lost art. Only the Nightmare Lords knew how to do it and only they possessed the capability in their blood-lines to wield it. Like magic and psionics, it is a power source that can be invoked to create a wide range of effects. As far as is known, it functions by creating a localised distortion in the fabric of the universe (called enmeshing a spawnpattern) which can be manipulated to the user’s desire. The manipulation requires fine control and was said by the first users to resemble pulling on the strings of the universe, hence the name (though the reality is much more technical). Skilled enmeshers could more or less shape a spawnpattern to their heart’s desire, though weaker practitioners relied on specific effects like spells or powers do. Filament-spawning was characterised by effects that were very powerful but very short-lived. The distortion in reality quickly fades and it requires an exponential amount of effort to maintain a spawnpattern for very long. Because of this, and because it required a great deal more deliberation to access, it was much more stable and ‘safer’ compared to magic or psionics. It was nearly impossible to spontaneously enmesh a filament-spawn effect.

Stoneheart Clan:
The civil war broke out over the chieftainship. The chieftain died without heir. The war started out between two candidates but quickly escalated as the clan fragmented into individuals fighting for dominance. What is not mentioned is that the chieftain was slain by an evil dragon. The dragon heard of the fantastic treasure and came to claim it for himself. During the fighting, he was mortally wounded and thought dead by the Dwarves. But he did not die. He lives still, comatose, letting long years heal his wounds; one day he will awake again.

The increasing insanity of the Stonehearts is attributed to the Nightmare Lords, but was more related to the problems of inbreeding and a harsh society. It was compounded as the Stonehearts delved deeper and deeper into the land and came upon the ruins of the Burrowers and exposed themselesv to things they should not have done. It is conceivably that these same mind-twisting emanations have affected the dragon in his long slumber.

The Stoneheart Clan ruins are the wealthiest of all Kerpiquan, if one can avoid the lethal traps. They are haunted by all manner of Dwarven Undead, from allips to wraiths. Wights are particularly common. The Clan ruins can serve as a simple treasure heist or as an segue into the burrow ruins or even the game world’s underworld. And there is always the dragon...

The Nomads built the Impenetrable City so they could sequester themselves away to mediate and hone their psionic powers. Behind the wall is not a city but a pocket plane, complete with a whole environment.

The Impenetrable City can provide another mystery or the source of antagonists for the PCs. Behind the wall, the Nomads may still be alive and thriving, and just now coming out of their long seclusion. Or they may have been killed in their pocket dimension by some other force and it is this that will break free and threaten Kerpiquan. The PCs might discover a way to enter the city and go in to explore – which the Nomads may not take kindly too; perhaps to the point of making sure no outsiders can ever enter their realm again...

Paradise is mainly flavour, though the PCs might encounter ghosts of the slaughtered populace trying to wreck their revenge – perhaps on a peaceful tribe of Hobgoblins.

Serpent Spines:
Whatever brought the Serpent Spines down is left open for the DM. Being the most recent civilisation to fall, leaving it undefined provides a certain sense of immediacy; whatever effected the Serpent Spines could still be lurking around threatening Kerpiquan.

Some possibilities include:
• Kuss-Korrst, mistakenly invoked by the Serpent Spines and angered at these warm-bloods audacity, struck them down. Now he is planning his triumphant return.
• Civil war brought on by the failure of the Golden Age to materialise.
• The death of their secret snake-god to some other power.
The clues can be seeded equally in the snake-temples and the tribe’s myth and legends; perhaps requiring the PCs to undergo a vision quest to find some answers.

Their scripture contains lore on many types of poisons and their antidotes (perhaps pointing to the Burrower’s fungal ecology beneath the surface world) and snake-and-reptile related magic.


Told you it was long (too lonmg for one post in fact!)

Scarab Sages

Very nice and quite detailed. I very much appreciate the ability to put together multiple lost civilizations and layer them. This is something I still have not done for my home-brew campaign. Yet.

The last part of the Nomads description and all of the Paradise description is missing from the end of the first post. Would it be possible for you to post them?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Frak. Didn't catch that one!

Try again... Curse that of long-term edit functions!

(And thanks. While writing it up was good fun, it's nice to know somebody enjoyed reading it too!)

Eight centuries ago, the Halfling Nomads arrived on the shores of Kerpiquan. They immediately began to construct a massive city in the eastern Selidorn mountains. This became the Impenetrable City we know today. The Nomads take their name, not just from their geographical habits, but because they were naturally psionic and nomad psions were prevalent in their culture. They left little of themselves outside of the city; only a few whorling sculptures that resonate with psionic energy. A psionist – if he knows how – can sometimes draw on this energy to refresh himself. This is not without risks however, as sometimes the totems discharge far more energy than the psion can handle, burning out the unfortunate’s brain.

The Impenetrable City looms up out of the mountainside. If you confine your gaze to below your eye level, your initial impression is that it looks like any normal, walled city, albeit one built for a smaller statue. You can even enter in as far as the first quarter, and see the remains of houses, shops and other conventional buildings. But when you reach what would be the next ring, you cannot help but behold the cities’ true form. A smooth circular wall, black and glossy like polished obsidian, rises up and up and out of sight into the fog cloud that permanently stands above it. The wall resists every attempt to damage it, not unlike the Crystal Citadel (some think that same techniques might have been used to build the two.) Climbing the wall is impossible; nothing, not even magic, can grip it. Those flying up it into the cloud invariably find themselves flying out of the cloud in a random direction, no matter how fast they flew. The distance from ground to the cloud base seems to vary, but is usually between one and two thousand feet. No-one knows what is beyond the wall.

As far as we can tell, the Nomads spent about a hundred and fifty years building the Impenetrable City before presumably sealing themselves in it. We have no idea what their fate was, or whether they still live behind the unbreakable wall.

The City-State of Paradise:
Paradise was perhaps the shortest-lived of all the nations. Founded by a group of vagrants who landed in the west of Piquan, it consisted of a single city and its surrounding lands. It’s population was real mixed bag of races, including humans, Elves, Gnomes and a small population of Kobolds.

Paradise was ruled by an amicable committee of spokespersons, each representing a community in the city or rural village. Laws were enforced by mutual consent and by and large, it appears Paradise was peaceful. The settlers were pacifistic and had a strong tie to nature; even in the centre of Paradise City, there were extensive gardens, which were built before the wooden houses were replaced with stone. The architecture was very aesthetic, with carven, twisting roses garnishing every flat space.

Sadly, whatever Paradise may have become in time will never be known, as it was wiped out only seventy years after the colonists first landed by the Serpent Spine Hobgoblins and the city was never completed.

Scarab Sages

Thank you for the rest!

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