Secrets of Pavis
Your initial destination is New Pavis, a small walled town attached to the cyclopean walls of an ancient ruined city, old Pavis, now called The Big Rubble. The Rubble is a place of magic and mystery, troll-haunted, a thousand years old, somewhere for people to hide or find treasure and glory. New Pavis and Pavis County were to a large extent settled recently by exiles and refugees from the Orlanthi kingdom of Sartar, fleeing the Lunar conquest (see below).
Geography: New Pavis is the only real city in the area, because it is surrounded by wildlands. To the west are the Wastes of Prax, a chaparral area inhabited by beast-riding nomads (to whom horses are anathema). To the east are the Genert Wastes, a much more desolate area, sparsely inhabited by beast nomads and chaos creatures such as the vile broo. To the north is Dagori Inkarth, ancestral homeland of trolls. To the south of Pavis County is Sun County, and through both flows the River of Cradles, or the Zola Fel, which flows through ravines, swamps and wider plains till it meets the great ocean in a marshy delta, wherein is located the small port of Corflu.
Politics: Overshadowing everything in the area is the remorseless advance of the Lunar Empire. For several hundred years since the Red Moon first rose in the sky, the Lunars have been advancing southwards. Fifty years ago or so they moved into Dragon Pass, the fertile and magical valley lands beyond Prax to the west. They conquered the Kingdom of Tarsh, then the Kingdom of Sartar, guardian of the ancient Orlanthi holy places. The freedom-loving Sartarites are constantly rebelling, but have seen no real victories yet. The Lunars moved South against the fabled Holy Country, in an effort to secure a port, but lost a disastrous battle. They therefore turned east, and defeated the Praxian nomads before allying with Sun County and essentially annexing Pavis County. In Corflu, they finally found their port, and then launched a combined land-sea assault on the Holy Country. After the mysterious death of the Pharaoh of the Holy Country and successes there, the Lunars lost interest in Pavis, which is now a provincial backwater, which is why many refugees and exiles continue to head there.
Religion: The Lunars worship the Red Goddess, the moon herself, and her pantheon, most notably The Seven Mothers. Lunars are despised by most “traditional” religions because the Red Goddess embraces chaos. Nevertheless, the religion has a kindly face as well and often confuses the prejudiced. Many of the Lunar soldiers come from Dara Happa, where the Solar Pantheon, headed by Yelm the Sun God, is popular, even if it now recognizes the superiority of the Red Goddess. The Orlanthi worship the Storm Pantheon, a collection of unruly gods headed by the Storm God Orlanth, who is engaged in a deadly struggle with the Red Moon for control of the skies. Praxians worship a pantheon of nomad gods such as Waha the Butcher and the herd mother Eiritha. Pavis boasts a city god, the eponymous founder and locals normally worship him or the river god, Zola Fel. Sun County is a theocracy controlled by the martial cult of Yelmalio, an offshoot of the solar pantheon.
Non-humans: Very different from D&D archetypes. Trolls (Uz) are strong, noble but savage foes of chaos and light. They live in Dagori Inkarth and in the Troll Stronglands in the Rubble. Elves (Aldryami) are weird half-plant hybrids, ancient allies of King Pavis, who live in The Garden in the Rubble. Dwarves (Mostali) think of themselves as part of the World Machine, but there are “heretics” like Flintnail, friend of King Pavis, and a colony live in New Pavis. Dragonnewts are completely incomprehensible immature dragons, and some live in the Rubble. Newtlings are amphibious relatives of the dragonnewts and common in the Zola Fel valley. Ducks (Durulz) are comic relief – think Howard the Duck. Baboons are intelligent primates, who live in troops in the wastes and the Zola Fel valley. Morokanth are bipedal intelligent tapirs, who herd unintelligent men in the wastes.
Archetypes: Lunars are a mix of Romans, classical Greeks and Babylonians. Orlanthi are early Saxons with distinct Celtic influences. Nomads are American Indians mixed with Mongols. Sun County Yelmalions are essentially Spartans in the Wild West. Pavis and Zola Fel natives are downtrodden remnants of once great civilizations – late Egyptians might be good archetypes.
Appropriate Player Gods:
Orlanth – storm god, patron of clan chiefs and adventurers
Storm Bull (Urox) – berserker god, implacable foe of chaos
Vinga (female cult) – patron of warrior women and protector of clan females
Humakt – noble yet grim god of death and war, implacable foe of undeath
Lankhor Mhy – knowledge god, patron of sages and writing
Chalanna Arroy (female cult) – goddess of healing and mercy
Issaries – merchant god, god of trading and communication
Odalya – hunter god
Elaml – sun god, the loyal thane (a subjugated version of Yelmalio)
Eurmal – trickster god
Waha the Butcher – chief nomad god
Storm Bull – beserker god, implacable foe of chaos
Eiritha (female cult) – herd mother, healer and nurturer
Foundchild – hunter god
Horned Man – patron of shamans
Ancestor Worship – who better to worship than your forebears? Often worshipped in conjunction with Daka Fal, judge of the dead
Yelmalio – god of light, mercenaries and soldiers
Pavis – city god, powers within his city
Flintnail – dwarven cult allied with Pavis
Zola Fel – river god
Frog Woman – local cult
River Horse – local cult
Outsider Gods (not recommended)
Seven Mothers – possible to play an honorable Lunar
Dormal the Sailor – patron of sailors
The Invisible God – One God of the west, worshipped via an array of saints through sorcery (not for beginning players)
Earth pantheon – pantheon of the matriarchal Esrolia in the Holy Country
Kyger Litor – mother of trolls
Zorak Zoran – troll beserker god, destroyer of chaos
Argan Argar – “civilized” troll god
Aldrya – mother of elves
Mostal – dwarf conception of the World Machine
Newtlings worship Zola Fel
Ducks are Orlanthi but generally worship Humakt
Baboons worship Daka Fal and ancestors
Morokanth worship the Praxian pantheon