The Savage Earth is a realm of tiny city-states surrounded by exotic and dangerous wilderness. Most of the cities, railroads, highways, cars, planes and other artifacts of the first civilization of man have vanished into dust. Some of this is due to time and weather, some may be due to purposeful destruction on the part of the Demon-Kings. Exactly who the Demon-Kings were or how much time has passed since the fall of civilization is unkown, part of the mystery of the Savage Earth.
What follows is a description of some of the salient features of the Savage Earth. It also also details some specific areas and races the players can belong to or encounter. It is by no means exhaustive, for the world is broad and little explored. Creativity on the part of the players is encouraged.
Obviously, the tipping of Earth has caused vast climatic changes. These are detailed on the campaign map, but it should be remembered that nearly no place in the world is familiar in terms of weather, vegetation, animal life, or seasons. Most coastlines are farther inland than modern maps show, due to the gradual rise of the oceans. The new polar ice caps rest on water instead of land, so they are not nearly as thick.
The Middle Sea is what was once called the Arctic Ocean. It is bounded on the east by the Merrikian City States and the Wild Coast. The southern end is open only along the small Barren Strait. This Strait is controlled by the master of the Black Tower. The South west is bounded by the savage jungles of Syberia. The Skandian Empire bounds the west. The north is bounded by the islands of Braethon the mysterious, Yzlon where pirates dwell, and marshy Greenland.
Most of these lands are only names to the average Merrikian. Only sailors and barbarians roam the wide world, and they are prone to tell tall stories anyway.
The Middle Sea is dangerous. The currents around the Barren Strait are treacherous, the Syberian coast is pelted annually by powerful hurricanes and fierce beasts prowl the waters. Pirates are common in the north and parts of the Merrikian Isles.
The landforms of the world have remained generally unchanged. Climate, however has undergone radical transformation in the last few centuries. In the War of the Prometheans, the axis of the world was changed. The north pole lies in what was the middle Atlantic, while what was the arctic is now equatorial.
The earth is somewhat cooler than before as well, though it is difficult to tell from the main campaign area of Merrikia, which is situated along what was once the Northwest Territories of Canada, but is now a steaming jungle. The oceans may have risen, but not by much.
In addition to the familiar plants and animals of the Old World, there are exotic new forms. The time of the Demon-Kings was one of intense change. Their skills allowed them to alter living things and the natural world on a grand scale.
Gigantic predators stalk the lands. Some bear resemblance to beasts long lost to prehistory, others seem to bear no relation to any animals ever imagined.
The habitations of the Ancients are referred to as Ruins. There are few ruins near the Merrikian League, since that area was sparsely inhabited before the time of the Demon-Kings. There are many small ruins that lie to the East. The largest and farthest visited so far is probably Shakka-Go.
Most ruins are large cities. The smaller ones were swallowed up by time and disaster, leaving barely perceptible mounds. Only the great cities have left behind any sizeable remains. The ruins of the east and south were swallowed up by Nunavut, long ago. There are ruins to the north and east, but the deserts there are said to be places of disease and death. Strangely, there have been reports and stories that some ruins in the region of the Great Kraken Lakes are more intact than any others. If this is true, the reason is a mystery.
Court refers to a lost abode of the Demon Kings. Sometimes these are near Ruins, sometimes they are in the middle of the wilderness. Few people will willingly go to a Court. Reavers are said to dwell there. The lure is great, however. Fabulous relics of Demon-King craft may be found there, if one has the nerve and the luck to brave the danger.
Courts are incredible architecture, built on a scale for which there are few comparisons. They can be nearly impossibly tall towers, inverted pyramids, one is even said to float over the ground like a cloud.
It takes courage and skill to live in the Wilderness. Some people manage to survive by banding together in large groups. Although it has been stated that the term barbarian means anyone not living in a city, there are indeed more than a few savage warrior tribes living in any given area. Most of these have contempt for the softness of city life, and seem to regard the areas near cities to be larders for their own use. Few but the most powerful tribes pose a threat to an inner city, though.
Barbarian tribes are often as not human, but many times can be composed all of a single type of beast. Rat hordes ravage some areas while Wolf packs cause trouble elsewhere.
Not all barbarian tribes are bloodthirsty savages. Some are ordinary folk banded together for protection. It's just that it's a rough world out there and it toughens people.
Male Barbarian csotume
There are several Barbarian Tribes dwell in the lands that surround Merrikia. Most of these are tied to a particular geographic location and held together by common race or culture. The largest and most well-known are:
The Rat-lands of Ontar. The Rat-lands are an area
of forest and grasslands inhabited primarily by Rats. Few of
these bands are very large and most of them make a living by
preying on human cities and merchants. They also raid the
farms of the Kabekki. Their raiding parties travel fairly far
from home quite often and it is not unusual to see Rat-bands
in Nunavut, Merrikia, Kabek or Ungava. They have a tendency
to fluctuate in size from 100 to 1000 rather easily,
depending on the strength of the current leader. Leaders have
a short life expectancy in Ontar.
After several years of controlling the ruins of Shakka-Go (Chicago), the powerful Lord known as Old Norway was set to flight by the mysterious masters of Saginaw. Currently the Rat-lands are in vast disarray, with frequent infighting. Many of these splintered rat-bands are starving and have pushed outward to find easier prey. The most serious contender for supremacy is Black Fang, an old mercenary who served Karkul in its war against Tallon.
Kabekki Tribes There are five tribes in Kabbek. The
most powerful are the Huron and the Ottawa. They are
primarily herdsmen and farmers, though they have a strong
martial tradition. All Kabekki are expected to learn to
handle some kind of weapon and to handle it well. The Kabekki
have problems with the Rat-lands, and to a lesser degree the
Packs of Ungava.
Kabekki pride themselves on their martial ability. They must be extremely hardy to support such large populations.The Kabekki have a fighting technique known to city-folk as the Kabekki Art. It is a style that empahsizes movement and agility. It is an extremely flamboyant style. The Kabekki excel at tracking and hunting as well.
Packs of Ungava These are wolf-packs, naturally. Of all the Beast barbarian tribes, the Wolves are probably the least hostile to humans. They are very similar to plains Indians in their style of dress, customs and economy. They still have occasional border clashes with the Kabekki, however.
Gator Tribes Calling them tribes is a bit generous. Gators are more inclined to form along extended kinships. Few are the groups that exceed thirty members. These kinships are scattered throughout the inland of Merrikia. In fact, the vast bulk of the Merrikian land is Gator territory. Some say that the Merrikian city-states were built along the fringes of the Gator Tribes. There is absolutely no peace with the Gators. Gators are so vicious that they are known to slay and eat their own kind, even their own kin if there is no handier target!
Mundaba The Mundaba are mysterious. They are savages who actually live within the Jungles of Nunavut, where there are no paths and unbelievably fierce creatures. They suffer no strangers to enter their land so very little is known of them. It is rumored that they may have adepts of their own.
Sea Tribes There are many islands in the MiddleSea and many strange people live on them. "Sea Tribe" is the generic term for any of these people. Most live in the Shattered Isles where there are literally dozens of tribes. Some are savage fighters; others are simple fisher folk. The most powerful of the Sea Tribes are the raiders of Yzlon. They hold the distinction of being the only major seafraring people who possess no Spirit manipulation technology.
Riven Tribes Despite a recent relaxing in the laws regarding riven, many are still outcast by society. Often riven are mentally unfit to dwell in civilized society.Others find comfort in shared misery. There are many groups of riven in the wilderness. They range from small enclaves of hunter-gatherers, to raiders and pillagers, to packs of subhuman wild-men who feast on human flesh. The largest and most stable riven group are the Black Reavers, a group that preys upon caravans following the Karkul Road.
The cities have been described a bit already, at least in general terms. Each city, being fairly isolated from all but its nearest neighbors has its own character and customs. Most cities follow the following generalities, however.
The closer to the center, the better off you are. The ability of the adepts to maintain modified spirit energy drops off with distance. As one withdraws from the center, there are fewer golems, things break and wear out easier, fewer goods and services are available and the less protection there is. The center of a city is lively and safe, with wonders around every corner. The outlying areas are more mundane, while the farmlands surrounding are positively medieval, with maybe an occasional plow-pulling golem.
There is usually a wall around the inner city, perhaps a series of walls. Most Masters keep military forces, both living and animated. Sometimes a city will have a great guardian or two, a golem or animate so huge and powerful that it can only move or act in time of emergency. These are rare, though.
Most inner cities are less than a mile in diameter, with the outer city being less than five. The farmlands about will be as large and extensive as the wilderness and barbarians will permit.
The cities described below are all part of the Merrikian League, but other cities are known or rumored to exist (Tarana, Saginaw)
The Campaign takes place on the mainland area of the Merrikian League. These people are descendant of North Americans who migrated towards the old Arctic Sea. The population is fairly well mixed racially, with no particular type dominating the others. The league stretches from the southern coast of Uzon Bay in the north to Great Island in the west. Its southernmost cities do not reach as far south as the end of the islands, and certainly not as far as Ukon and the Wild Coast. It is bounded by the Middle Sea and the Merrikean Isles on the East and lies along the outskirts of Nunavut, a dark and dangerous jungle.
The Merrikian League is a loose configuration of city states similar to classical Greece. The Merrikians share a common culture and language, but are as likely to war amongst each other as they are with their neighbors. It takes a threat great enough to endanger the entire League before they will put aside their differences and join together.
The climate of Merrikia is Equatorial to Tropical, reminiscent of African Gabon, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. It is not as rainy as one might expect, since most of the prevailing winds blow storms toward the far shores of the Middle Sea. Nevertheless, it is usually hot and humid and most folk wear little in the way of clothing.
Merchants, nobles and other well-to do folk often wear loose-fitting robes of cotton or silk that resemble togas. Working people wear less. The wearing of arms or armor is forbidden in certain areas of the city without a token of patronage (an indication that the bearer is in the employ of a person wealthy enough to pay for the right). Most armor becomes stifling rather quickly; plate armor is suicidal.
Male fashions of Merrikia
Female fashions of Merrikia
See House Rules on Armor.
The people of Merrikia represent all races in a more-or-less homogenous blend. Very little importance is given to racial characteristics (eye, hair or skin color). After all, they are all human. Beasts fill the role of society's have-nots. Rare as a wealthy beast is a Merrikian saying.
There is little need for commerce among the Cities. Most are to a large degree self-sufficient. Most trading is done in luxury items or crafts that cannot be produced elsewhere. The major exports for a give city are listed in their entries below.
Tallon is one of the largest and oldest cities. Although not as powerful militarily as Karkul, Tallon is considered the heart of Merrikian culture. It is the campaign city.
Exports: Textiles - silk and brocades, artwork, ships, herbs and spices
Standing Stones: The Dancers of Dawn
Boothia is a the westernmost Merrikian city. Situated at the edge of the Shattered Isles, Boothians get strange visitors from time to time. Although not as great as Coralians at seamanship, few know the islands better.
Physical Layout: Boothia is built upon the end of the Boothian Peninsula. The city fronts a narrow straight between the shore and a large island. They have a naval fort upon the island and use this to control shipping through the strait. Those refusing to pay the passage would need to travel deep into the Shattered Isles to get around, facing dangers such as the Raiders of the Red Tide or the ghastly Writhing Deep, a sea of tentacled horrors.
Exports: Perfumes, oils and soaps
Standing Stones: The Tall Stones
Coralia is built upon the island of Harrock and is home to the best shipyards and sailors of the Merikkian league. They are closely allied with Tallon through kinship and commerce. The use Tallon's Book of Standing Stones as their scripture. Some have said that Coralia's golden days have passed and they are being eclipsed by Tallon.
Physical Layout: Coralia is built upon the bowl shape shores of a deep protected harbor. The mouth of the harbor is sealed by a complex system of animated shutters. The harbor master can control the shutters, opening and closing them to construct ever changing mazes. Ships are carefully guided in and out, and the route is rarely the same twice. Enemy ships can be maneuvered into any number of highly disadvantageous positions.
Exports: Ships and attendant fixtures, nautical instruments
Standing Stones: The Coral Crown
Cambridge is known for engineering feats. The adepts of Cambridge are exceedingly skilled and have constructed marvelous bridges and towers. It is said however, that if the adepts all left the city, the structures are so heavily augmented morphically that they would fall in a week. Cambridge is the most remote city of the Merikian League, and it is rumored that there is much Uzon blood in its population. Occasionally Cambridge traders will trade with Mingatok, but most vessels are discouraged forcefully.
Physical Layout: As mentioned above, Cambridge is a very impressive city architecturally. Buildings are generally narrow and tall, with high pedestrian bridges. The city is built upon a dome of rock that enhances the impression of verticality it gives to strangers. Rare is the Cambrian who is afraid of heights.
Standing Stones: The Gray Sisters
Orodon is a city with little to offer. Lying at the farthest northern reaches of Merikia, Orodon is fairly out of the loop culturally. Its adepts are not as well educated as those of the great cities and it is younger and less developed. They use the Book of Karkul.
Physical Layout: Orodon is built upon the water. Her stones are actually underwater, hence the name, "the Sunken Ones". The Orodonish have built levees and pumps so that the area around the stones can be drained for worship and communion, but fo rhte most part they remain submerged. Orodon is built upon innumerable docks, boardwalks, pontoons, pilings and outright permanently moored boats. The city would be in a constant state of upkeep were it not for the ingenious methods of preserving wood that they have developed. Orodonians are the best carpenters in Merikia.
Exports: Fine woods
Standing Stones: The Sunken Ones
Karkul is a city with a strong military tradition. Located between the Ratlands of Ontar and the lakes of Gator Tribes, they bear the brunt of barbarian activity. They carry a large chip on their shoulder over this, and often accuse the other cities of not being grateful enough for their protection. Twenty-five years ago, an incident occured involving the death of a Karkulite ambassador and a much-beloved Tallonite judge. This led to a bitter war. Much blood was spilt between the Karkulite forces of Trask and the Tallonite forces of then-Archon Kanukka the Red. Although the war eventually fizzled to nothing, hard feelings exist to this day. Karkulite legions are the best trained in the League.
Physical Layout: Karkul is called, "the City of Stone". Their adepts have developed great skill at manipulating the morphia of stone. They can apply a morphic model to a section the bedrock from which their city is carved. The unwanted protions come away as easily as clay, leaving dwelling-shaped shells of stone. The streets can appear rather canyonlike. The entire city has an extrememly cohesive feel, if a bit drab by Tallonite tastes.
Exports: Stonework, weapons, mercenaries
Standing Stones: Dancers of Dawn
Adala claims to be the oldest cty in the league, though not as rich or powerful as most. This claim is disputed by some, particulalry the city of Haven. Adala is the site of the Games, held every two years. The Games are an athletic competition in a variety of track-and-field type events. Spirit enhancement is strictly forbidden in most events, though there are special competitions for adepts held once every ten years.
The Archon of Adala is a woman named Drakara. She is a very recent Archon and has been fairly ruthless in the implementation of laws and rules. This grates poorly upon the Adalan populace, since it is counter to their spirited character.
Physical Layout: Of the cities of Merikia, Adala probably has the architecture most similar to Tallon. The Tallon-Adala trade has always been congenial and fruitful. It is the oldest trade route in Merikia, though sea trade has eclipsed the old Lizard Road in the last few generations. Adala is well known for its spirits and brewing. Few are the wealthy in Merikia who do not have Adalan wine put aside for an important guest. They also brew a number of beverages which are controlled or illegal in other cities, most notably nipgin, which has a number of undesireable side effects on felines.
The Standing Stones of Adala are known as the High Circle. They stand upon a prominence in the center of the island in Tallon's Harbor. The island serves as Adala's Inner City, and is reached by three bridges, each with a distinctive color. The main bridge is the Blue Bridge, which leads to the Great Forum, the heart of commerce and civic governance in the city. Attached to the forum is Blue Street, a long twisting street with many side alleys that is one of the city's principal markets of small goods.
In the Greens (the Adalan Farmlands) is the so called "Hole Market". This is an underground chamber where any number of shady deals are conducted. The mysterious master of the Hole Market is a cloaked beast named "Black Basel". The Hole Market can be a dangerous place where humans and beasts mingle freely in the comeraderie of thieves and cutthroats.
Exports: Wines and other spirits
Standing Stones: The High Circle
Haven, standing upon the island of Kingwell, is the most spiritual (in the religious sense) of the Merrikian cities. It also claims to be the oldest, a point of contention between themselves and Adala. The standing stones of Haven (?The Nine Daughters?) are the best preserved and most illuminating known. Havenites consider them the standard for interpretation of the Book of Standing Stones, though the Tallonites would disagree.
Physical Layout: Haven is a city of rivers and waterfalls. It is built upon a series of high protected terraces, cut by at least five separate waterways. Though Tallon might disagree, it is said by many to be the most beautiful of the Merikian cities.
Exports: Artwork, jewelry
Standing Stones: The White Towers
Melvil is known for its Joie de Vivre. Melvilish cooking, music and art all are done to perfection. The climate is particularly agrereable as well.
Physical Layout: Meliville is built upon a huge dome of rock. The visible buildings cling to the outside of the dome, cut by winding stairs and ramps. The inside is the wonder, though. The Melvilish have hollowed out large sections of the interior, lighting them with lamps of lumina. Interior spaces range from small private dwellings to large communal caverns. The Market Grotto is a huge cavern accesible from the sea, where ships dock to unload wares and the bounty of the sea.
Exports: Spices, musical instruments, art
Standing Stones: The Revellers
Mingatok is the Wicked City. Although the Mingatoki have Standing Stones and the Book, they do not follow the Word and the Way. In fact, they are possibly not even of the League. They have strange theories in Mingatok about spiritism, practicing bizarre and distasteful alterations. They quite openly enthrall others, change the shape and substance of others for the novelty, and practice zombification .
Physical Layout: Nothing is certain, but the city is rumored to be built on the steep opposing sides of a deep gorge. The rushing water below is the haunt of gators and worse. The city is said to be criss-crossed by many bridges. Those who have returned have said it is a dark city, seeing daylight for only a few hours out of the day.
Standing Stones: Unknown
Most of the social order of the Merrikian League comes from the Book of Standing Stones. The Book reveals that there is a Scala Spiritus , or Ladder of Spirit which all beings are ranked by. Although the Scala is worked out in full here, the basic consept is very similar to the Elizabethan Chain of Being. There is a definite heirarchy to the beings in creation. Divine powers are at the top (Prometheus and the Prometheans), Adepts are below them, followed by the various classes of ordinary people, then beasts, animal,s plants and finally inanimate objects.
More on Merrikian society and beliefs can be found in the entry for Tallon, and in the Book of Standing Stones.
The oldest city in the League is Haven. It is believed that the name comes from its original purpose. It was a haven from the terrors and dangers that infest the Wilds. The stones were discovered by a group of wanderers who claimed to have been guided there by Prometheus himself, but no story tells where they came from. Though records are spotty, there is good evidence that the city is over 350 years old. Most Merikian cities claim just shy of 300. In any case, the first recorded trade is between Adala and Haven. Trade was even more difficult in those days than in this, for the records of that time indicate the seas and weather were far fiercer then. Other cities were founded and began trading in the years that followed until all the cities of the region had devloped a general knowledge and awareness of each other. Wars have been few, given the difficulties of the Wilds, but there have been a few of note. What follows is a very rough timeline. There are doubtless inconsistencies and apocryphal occurences. Not two cities would give you an identical record. There is much better agreement on the last fifty years however. There is naturally more emphasis on the history of Tallon, since it is the center of the campaign. Items which are not major cultural events, but refer to player characters or their associated NPCs are indicated in italics.
Much has been said of spirit technology already. Most of the secrets of the ancients are lost, and some things may have been deliberately suppressed. Whether this is due to some action of the Demon-Kings, the Masters, or something else entirely is unknown. Some of the technology of the Old World can function but to a limited degree. For instance, steam engines function, but they are much harder to build and maintain than a golem. In some cities they are forbidden, perhaps due to the desire of the adepts to maintain control over the economy. In other more enlightened cities they are encouraged, though the owners usually have to pay some sort of tax to operate them. There is no law against steam engines in Tallon, but they must be licensed and inspected by a city board. Noisy or dangerous ones are dismantled.
The existence of gunpowder is known to a few scholars, but the secret of its formula is lost. It is possible that people are slowly rediscovering it in some areas, but any new firearms are doubtless fairly primitive. Some say that the ancient formulas for gunpowder just plain don't work. If this is so, the reason is unknown.
Printing with moveable type is of dubious value. The greatest advantage of the printing press was to disseminate knowledge rapidly and efficiently across a wide geographical area. Travel is very limited, most knowledge and news in a given city is passed by word of mouth. Public proclamations are made in town squares and temples.