Asmythe is a "Monster World" setting. The world is inhabited by a complex ecosystem of magical beasts and plant life, created eons ago by deranged Ilthura. There are pockets of civilization where humans, elves, dwarves and goblins have been able fortify defenses against the wilds, but they are only islands of civilization in the vast, dangerous, wilderness.
In the beginning there was nothing but the Elder Dragons. From the dragons Asmythe took form and the Elder Dragons were guardians of that form. The Elder Dragons gave the creatures of Asmythe thought and will and the greatest of these were the Ilthura. The Elder Dragons existed before time and in the begging the Elder Dragons slept. It is said that their form can still be seen in the geography of Asmythe: the great islands and mountains of the world.
The First Era - The Age Of Power
When the Elder Dragons slept the Ilthura rose. In the first age Ilthura walked the surface of the world and nurtured the elves and dwarves as pets and servants. For an eternity the Ilthura ruled over the world and all its creatures. They were creatures of great intellect, immense magical power, and hubris. The Elves served them as caretakers of the surface world as gardeners, shepherds, and the like. The Dwarves served as caretakes of the world underground as miners, smiths, and such.
The Elves were given the power of mind and life to better serve the Ilthura. The Dwarves were given the power of fire and air, to better serve the Ilthura. Although their powers were great, they were little compared to their masters.
In the beginning the Ilthura were neither cruel nor kind but took care of the world as a craftsman takes care of their tools. But in time the Ilthura grew bored, or ambitious, or crazy and they created new creatures to serve them. Many of these creatures were fair and kind, many were monstrous and cruel, and many defy description or intention.
And then the Ilthura died out, or left Asmythe, or just disappeared. What is left of their cities has long decayed to ruin but still emanates with ineffable power. Most of their servants have also disappeared, but not all and those that remain are often solitary and erratic.
The Second Era - The Age Of Anarchy
When the Ilthura vanished the creatures of Asmythe were left to fend for themselves. Some fared better than others and among all of them the Elves and Dwarves, bein the first, faired the best.
Initially the Elves and Dwarves had little knowledge of each other and without the guidance and control of the Ilthura they explored their world and developed their civilizations in their own domain: the Elves above and the Dwarves below. When they finally contacted each other they were so radically different that they had no common language and no basis of understanding to build communication. Each, still remembering the domination of the Ilthura, attempted to do what they thought was right: to dominate the other. This began enmity between the races that lasted for an era.
During this time each race developed its own culture and built civilizations, in their own way. Each race developed a common language, a written language, and practiced the sciences of living things and of machines that the Ilthura taught them. And as their culture grow their powers, granted to them by the Ilthura, diminished.
The Third Era - The Current Era
The counting of years begins when two great constructs fell from the stars onto Asmythe. From these two constructs the Human and Orc races emerged and were instantly in conflict. And each thrived on Asmythe, allying or dominating the creatures and civilizations of Asmythe as their own culture directed.
This is the current age. Human and Orc civilizations strive against each other to claim Asmythe while Elves and Dwarves hide from the conflict and nurture Asmythe in their own way. Ilthid ruins and wild creatures exist in the nooks and crannies of Asmythe, steeped in myth and danger.
The Humans crashed on the isle of Altazar, and there made the seat of the Armada Empire.
The Orcs crashed on the isle of Cozak and rampaged across the world dominating all they encountered.
The Elves have homes in all the lands of Asmythe, though they prefer forest and other lands where they can hide and shepherd the world in relative peace.
The Dwarves have strongholds in all the lands of Asmythe, though they prefer forests and other lands inaccessible from the surface and where the minerals are rich.
The Fourth Era - The Future
In the fourth era all the races of Asmythe come together to form one society in order to defend against invading monsters. This era develops some early industrial technology powered by arcane energy, primarily in large cities. At the end of this era the Elder Dragons awake and destroy everything, resetting the world back to #Pre-History.
Circling Asmyth are three moons. The largest, Cylene, marks the seasons with its four cycles each year. Slightly smaller and much redder, Samlene, cycles every fourteen days; normal weeks are seven days. The third moon, a small dark body name Rolene, hard to see even when in full aspect, cycles every 17 days. Rolene first appeared near the end of the first era and is sometimes referred to as the "dark moon" or "blue moon".
By the empire calendar there are four weeks in a month, three months in a season, and four seasons in a year, for a total of 336 normal days per year. The spring months are Seeds, Clouds, and Flowers; following are the summer months of Stars, Golden, and Contest. The autumn months are Bells, Harvest, and Crowns; finally the winter months of Shields, Storms, and Silver. The new year is on the first day of Seeds. The weeks are Squire, Knight, Prince, and King progressing from the first week of the month to the end of the month. The first day of each week is set aside for worship and is generally a day of friendship and renewal.
Every ninety-eight years is the Time of Passing, alternating between midsummer and midwinter. This is when a great darkness falls on Asmyth bringing with it a great shaking of the land, heaving of the seas and other great disasters. In the skies a great dark body growing ever bigger heralds the coming of these baneful times; it is called The Destroyer.
Astrologers also mark the passing of three great lights that streak the sky at regular intervals over the years. There is one seen every 27 years that brings with it the passing of a great leader, one every 42 years that marks the birth of a great hero, and one seen only by a few every 150 years foretells the coming of the avatar of evil who will try to claim all of creation for itself. There are many other lights that pass through our skies that cannot be predicted; all bring with them an event of great significance.
The world of Asmythe exists in the dreams of dragons and although it is similar to our world it is not the same. The most obvious difference is the existence of magic but there are other fundamental differences as well. This is most apparent in the practicality of physical technology. There is a practical limit to how far an apparatus can be miniaturized. This presents a hard limit to industrial technology and effectively limits it to late medieval or early renaissance level. Any mechanical or electrical component or feature less than about a centimeter across is likely to swell, fracture, or shatter. These failures happen mysteriously and suddenly when the component isn't observed.
There are aspects of technology on Asmythe that are more advanced than the medieval era, especially in metallurgy, medicine, and engineering. Smiths are able to harness elemental energy to forge stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum. Doctors have a good understanding of biology and are able to create medicine and cure diseases effectively. Engineers can design castles, bridges, and vehicles that are larger and more stable than medieval equivalents.
Chemistry is not well developed in the third age. Gunpowder and other chemical compounds are more complex and less powerful than elemental energy.
Dwarves have their own technology than incorporates Ilthura magic. They are able to create what appear to be complex mechanical systems using elementals, creating intelligent machines and automating systems of production. Dwarven culture is analogous to Steam Punk and they guard the secrets of this technology more fiercely than their own lives.
During the first age the Ilthura commanded through mental force. Their language was the only language and they did not share it with their servants.
When the Ilthura disappeared they left behind writing but no language to give it meaning. The Elves and Dwarves learned to adopt the symbols of the Ilthura and adapt them to create their own languages, as befit their culture.
Literacy is not common in most places, especially among the elves and dwarves. Human and goblin language is taught in their respective schools but most people don't go to school and/or don't use writing in their daily lives. Generally only aristocrats, merchants, and scholars know how to read and write.
These are the most common languages of Asmythe. Early in the third era each Elven and Dwarven nation may have a distinct dialect; later as trade and communication grow they become more similar.
These languages can be written, read, and understood without magical assistance. Although the Elven and Dwarven languages share an ancient root, they evolved over time and, in the modern era, are distinct and unrecognizable from each other.
- Empire Common, "Codrix" - The standard language of the Armada Empire. (Earth Root: Gaelic/Latin)
- Goblin Common, "Harazod" - The standard language of the Goblin hoards. (Earth Root: Korean)
- Elven, "Jaunloul" - The elven language of life and nature. (Earth Root: Lao)
- Dwarven, "Xathol" - The dwarven language of science and mechanisms. (Earth Root: Georgian)
The Ilthura had written language but never taught it to their servants; the language itself is so strange that it is incomprehensible to any of the living races of Asmythe without help from an elemental.
Although the Ilthid language is impossible to read some basic understanding of its characters and structure is possible. This rudimentary understanding is the basis of techniques used to manifest and communicate with elemetnals. (Earth Root: Punjabi)
Nearly all large transactions are conducted with bank notes, usually issued and backed by the House of Hugo or other large trading company. Coins are only useful for small day-to-day transactions such as purchasing goods or getting a pint at the local tavern. The most common coins are the ancient dwarven coins and the coins of the Armada Empire.
The coins of the empire are ornate and difficult to forge. They are, however, barely worth the cost of the base metals and the difficulty of mixing the proper metals into the correct molds, and the harsh penalties for forgeries, makes counterfeit coins fairly rare. In the outer reaches of the empire these coins are somewhat uncommon because of the fear of forgeries and the fact that they are more difficult to get than dwarven coins. In the heart of the empire these coins are the only legal tender; forgers are aggressively hunted and punishments are severe.
The dwarven coins are of extremely high quality; they are ornate and composed of complex alloys. Dwarven "silver" is not actually silver but some kind of aluminum alloy. The art of making dwarven coins is a dwarven secret, making them much more valuable than their base metal and thus legal tender in most Human cities. In many of the outer reaches of the empire the dwarven coins are more common than empire coins.
There are many nations, who are not members of the Armada Empire, who keep their own system of currency; but empire and dwarven currency are common enough that they are usually accepted as legal tender even in those nations.
See also: Religions
Asmythe is just one world in an infinite sea of worlds, called "realms of existence" or "planes of existence". Everything that can exist does, somewhere in the infinite realms and they are all manifestations of The Elder Dragons.
Each realm is distinct and separate by means of the AEther, which is a substance or energy that does not truly exist but is ever-present and strong enough to prevent the realms from colliding with each other. At the center of the realms are the material realms, each material realm touches and is surrounded by many conceptual realm, and each conceptual realm is connected to many primal realms.
Any entity from another realm is called an "elemental". The Ilthura mastered means of manipulating the AEther and thus manifesting and controlling elementals. These techniques are the source of all magic in Asmythe.
From the point of view of Asmythe, the continuum of realms is like an onion: it has layers. At the center is Asmythe and all the other material realms, realms that are each a world of living creatures and nations. All material realms exist simultaneously everywhere but can not be seen or touched except through the manipulation of AEther. Each material realm is "surrounded" by many conceptual realms.
Beyond and encircling the material realms are the conceptual realms, which are realms of focused thought and substance such as the celestial and abyssal realms. Similar to the material realms, the conceptual realms exist simultaneous and overlapping to each other separated by the AEther.
Not all conceptual realms touch all material realms equally; from the perspective of a material realm some conceptual realms appear "thicker" and stronger than others. These differences are the primary factors which differentiates each material ream from the others.
Beyond and connected to the conceptual realms are the primal realms. The primal realms are realms of pure elements unhindered by thought or ego; barren of life, they exist only as substance from which all other realms are composed. Unlike the other realms the primal realms are arranged around the conceptual realms like the points on a star; each is a distinct "bubble" that is adjacent to but not does not overlap other primal realms.
Good and Evil
"Good" and "evil" are nothing more than thoughts and actions brought into existence by the creatures Asmythe and of the realms. These terms are often used in common language to mean "actions that help others" and "actions that harm others."
With respect to the Cosmology of Asmythe, "good" and "evil" are conceptual realms. Most creatures are neither good nor evil even when they have generous or destructive tendencies. Only elementals are powerful enough to embody the essence of good and evil.
In game terms: powers, abilities, and traits that specifically affect "good" or "evil" creatures only affect beings that:
- Are an elemental, originating from another material plane.
- Have an alignment or nature that is specifically "good" or "evil".
- Have spells-casting, spell-like, supernatural, or other magical abilities
All creatures native to Asmythe, regardless of origin or nature, are not affected by spells or abilities that only affect "good" or "evil" creatures.