Cyclopedia of the Realm


All posts in this thread will be made by me to deliver setting information. If you have questions, please post them in the OOC Thread, here.


The world you know lies on the fringe of civilization, located around a large bay on the western edge of the Grey Sea. For a brief time, the frontiers of the great empires encompassed this region, but they retreated long ago, and only a few outposts of civilization remain amid the dangers of the encroaching wilderness.

The bay that dominates Blackmarsh was created more than two millennia ago by the disaster known as The Mountain That Fell. After this, strange and terrible monsters appeared in the newly created wasteland, as raw magic from The Mountain That Fell was released to contaminate the world.

The elves maintain that they arrived some two-thousand years ago, shortly after the cataclysm. They began to drive the fell creatures back, healing the land.

A thousand years ago, the Bright Empire rose to power, and settled the Margravate of Blackmarsh; for a brief time, the races were united in an alliance that pushed the monsters into hiding in the dark corners of the world. Then, eight hundred years ago, the Bright Empire collapsed after being defeated by barbarians in the cataclysmic battle known as The Shattering. The region around the great bay was one of the first to be abandoned. Left in the wake of the empire’s retreat was a patchwork of realms ruled by petty kings and tyrants.

Since The Shattering, the frontier has slowly retreated. In place of the ordered safety of the Bright Empire, monsters, barbarians, and worse increasingly roamed without restraint. In the present day, those who come to the Margravate of Blackmarsh are more interested in azoth, killing monsters, or the strange artifacts left by The Mountain That Fell than establishing new settlements. Perhaps with a strong and powerful hand behind them, the borders of the civilized world could push outwards once again, and the darker forces of the world could again be made to fear civilization’s light…


In the days when man knew only the working of stone and fought for his very existence against the orc and the goblin, the sky turned to ash, and down fell the fiery mountain upon the land. The world tore open, and the grey waters rushed in. Many who survived the impact were lost as boiling clouds rushed out in all directions, leaving a scoured wasteland in their wake.

For all the destruction that it wrought, The Mountain That Fell also left a gift: Magic. Near and far, those of learning and strong of heart discovered new powers to shape the world. In the desolation around the Smoking Bay the adventurous found azoth, or Quicksilver, magic given physical form.

There was more: Scattered amid the landscape were strange artifacts and stranger creatures that survived (or were created by) The Mountain That Fell. For a time men, dwarves, orcs, goblins, and other races braved the dangers and fought each other for survival in the wastelands. Then the elves arrived and expelled the feuding races, drove the monsters into hiding, and healed the land.


Azoth is a magical substance that takes many forms. It could appear as a flask of pure Quicksilver, a newly bloomed metallic flower, or an iridescent silvery rock. What all these items have in common is that they are infused with pure magic. Azoth can be used in the casting of spells or the creation of magic items, although there are inherent dangers in this: Azoth is both toxic, and has a warping influence on all it touches.


Along the Old North Road lies the lonely Margravate of Blackmarsh, long a quiet bastion of the borderlands. Castle Blackmarsh is the largest settlement in the region. Originally founded by the Bright Empire over a thousand years ago, the castle served as the main port for various nearby settlements and a conclave of wizards. It was ruled by a governor appointed by the emperor and advised by a council of mages and merchants.

Surviving the fall of the Bright Empire, the castle became an independent city-state, dominating the settlements along the southern shore of the Smoking Bay. Economic decline caused many of the outlying settlements to be abandoned a century after the empire’s collapse, and it was during this time that a group of mages, their names lost to history, established themselves in Castle Blackmarsh, forming a conclave to rule from the castle.

The mages’ conclave dominated the city-state for several centuries, occasionally allying with the other races to defeat common threats. In that time, the population of the town stabilized and found a small amount of prosperity, as adventurers again civilized the region.

A century ago, an ambitious mage named Atacyl Oathbinder maneuvered his way into control of the council. He seized absolute control of Castle Blackmarsh and ruled as a tyrant for several decades, even going so far as to wipe nearly all record of the conclave from the face of the world. It is rumored that he accomplished this through a strange helmet capable of mind control. His attempt at empire building was thwarted, however, as rangers from the marshes retook Castle Blackmarsh with the aid of the elves, Blackmarsh exiles, and a contingent of dwarven mercenaries from the south.

The elves took control of the settlement and appointed a governor at the head of the reformed council. Castle Blackmarsh, the home of the wizard’s conclave, was reputed to be the site of many Atacyl’s experiments and magical researches, but even after a century of rule, virtually none of the secrets that Atacyl created have been explored. The depths have been sealed, and few gain permission to enter.

Forty years ago, Atacyl reappeared, seemingly from beyond the grave, and attempted to retake Castle Blackmarsh. He was destroyed, supposedly, by a band of adventurers, and his lair at the old Lanis Lighthouse was purged.


The aftermath of The Mountain That Fell has had a major impact on the region’s geography. The impact caused many cracks and shifts in the land, forming the numerous swamps and estuaries of the region. Even after two thousand years, and the best efforts of the elves, much of the shoreline is a confusing maze of waterways.

The Black Marshes

The impact of The Mountain That Fell fractured this region forming the marshes that give the area its name. The marshes are fifteen miles north-south and over fifty miles east-west. The impact left several large lakes connected by a confusing maze of waterways and bogs. It offers a convenient place to hide for those who want keep their activities away from prying eyes. The water is black in color due to the minerals leeching from the surrounding soil and vegetation.

Lanis River

The Lanis River flows north from Southland and is three miles wide when it enters the Black Marshes. The current is deep and slow, and easily allows ships and barges to travel in both directions. Merchants travel between Castle Blackmarsh, Westguard and the dwarven kingdom of Bolzak. Sometimes the occasional Vasan longship will try their luck raiding farther south.

Smoking Bay

The massive impact of the Mountain That Fell created the Smoking Bay, and for a century afterwards pillars of steam rose from the waters and were seen for hundreds of miles. The pillars of steam have long since subsided, but the name remains.


The Gods worshipped in the region of the Smoking Bay are many and varied, with various groups bringing their deities with them as the immigrated to the region. From the Bright Empire, the old gods of Thoth, Set, and Marduk, from the Ostrobards, the deities Mitra, Solis, and Venus, and from the Vasans, Thor, Wotan, and Loki. The dwarves worship Vaul, god of the forge and father of the dwarves, while the elves do not appear to pay any reverence to the divine.

Castle Blackmarsh

Originally a lone fortress on the edge of the Bright Empire, the Castle’s location, with rich, black soil from the marshes, mild climate from the Smoking Bay, and natural deepwater harbor, meant it quickly grew into the preeminent settlement in the region. The town’s fortunes rose and fell with those of the larger polities that came and went in the area, but it eventually became the dominant player in the local struggle for power.

The period of Castle Blackmarsh’s ascendance faltered as the entire region grew wilder, but still it remained the strongest amongst the remaining human settlements. That strength was eventually turned to far darker purposes with the rise of Atacyl Oathbinder, who briefly turned the Margravate into a predatory tyranny. That hideous strength was only defeated by a broad alliance of elves and men, overthrowing Atacyl, but leaving the Castle and its domain under the stewardship of the elves of the Greywoods. Atacyl would return again some sixty years later, supported by the jealousy of Jorvik and its vassals, only to be defeated again, but the strength of the Margravate never truly recovered. While it still stands as the largest settlement in the region, it exists in the senescence of its reign.


The town is a fishing village on the banks of the mighty Lanis River, at the northern edge of the Black Marshes. The water here in both the river, and the marshes, is brackish, as the town is well within the tidal reach of the Lanis. Saltmarsh has prospered as both the last port on the Lanis itself, as well as the only ferry on the lower Lanis, the river being nearly three miles wide where it empties into the Smoking Bay.


The god of knowledge and, after the Mountain That Fell, magic. Thoth, as with the other Old Gods, is generally considered to be neither male nor female. Currently out of favour in Blackmarsh, as it was revered by the Conclave overthrown by Atacyl Oathbinder. Thoth's temple in the settlement of Castle Blackmarsh is in a poor state of repair, but is reputed to hold extensive libraries containing esoteric knowledge unknown elsewhere. Thoth's symbol is a simple eye set within a triangle.

Thoth counts Priestesses and Priests (a male version of the Priestess class) amongst its clergy, but is often venerated by Mages and seers.



Vasan god of strength, courage, and storms, Thor is the son of Wotan, and brother of Loki. The worship of Thor has become extremely popular in the settlement of Castle Blackmarsh, and his faith now boasts the largest temple there. His symbol is a hammer with a stylized lightning bolt behind it.

Thor counts only Clerics amongst his clergy, and they almost universally fight armed with warhammers, in reverance for Thor's mystic hammer, Mjolnir. Many adventurers venerate Thor as a source of strength and courage.


One of the Three Sisters, Venus is an Ostrobard deity governing the most important matters (in the Ostrobard view) of personal life: sexuality, fertility, and love, although she also embodies vengeance, as that of a spurned lover. There are a number of very small shrines to Venus throughout the settlement of Castle Blackmarsh. Her symbol is a circle with a cross suspended from the bottom.

Venus counts Clerics and Bladedancers amongst her clergy, although she is often venerated by lovers, those wishing for children, and individuals seeking revenge.


The second of the Three Sisters introduced to the region by the Ostrobards, Solis is the goddess of the Sun, which allows for Agriculture, which gives rise to Civilisation, which in turn gives rise to Law. Most of Ostrobard descent see her as the founding figure of their own civilisation. Paradoxically, worship of Solis has fallen away within the Margravate, likely due to the rich soil and moderate climate which has led to abundant harvests year after year. There is no longer an active temple to Solis in the settlement of Castle Blackmarsh. Her symbol is a circle with four lines extending from it, one at each of the cardinal compass directions.

Solis counts Clerics and Paladins amongst her clergy, and is generally worshipped by those who struggle to bring food from the land.


The final member of the Three Sisters, Mitra is the Ostrobard goddess of compassion, healing (the "Mercy of Mitra"), wisdom, and protection. She is also known to provide her worshippers with visions of the future. There is a temple to Mitra in the poorest district of the Castle Blackmarsh settlement, near the docks, and her clergy often spends time tending to the least fortunate. Her symbol is a cross circumscribed by a circle.

Mitra counts Clerics and Priestesses amongst her clergy, but she is broadly venerated by the poor and downtrodden, as well as those who are sick or injured.


Another of the old gods worshipped under the Bright Empire, Marduk is widely thought of as the old God of War. He sees little worship in the Blackmarsh region, although it is rumoured that there are temples to him to the south in the newly rising Grand Kingdom. While neither male nor female, Marduk is often pictured as a male figure riding a dragon into battle. His symbol is a circle containing a vertical spear.

Marduk's clergy is comprised of Bladedancers, both male and female, and it is worshipped (or at least has prayers spoken in its name) by many, even the non-devout, who face battle.