Ghouls

The undead are creatures who were once alive, have died, and then brought back as something else under the influence of sorcerous corruption and demonic possession. While often regarded among them by most people, ghouls are not actually undead, since even though they have become warped by the corrupting influence of sorcerous energies, they never died and in many ways continue to be what they were in life.

Ghouls are people who have been exposed to strong sorcerous energies for long durations of time. Many ghouls are the servants of powerful sorcerers or demon-possessed anathema who assisted their masters in numerous demonic rituals or haved served in their inner sanctums for many years. Others are the survivors of great sorcerous attacks or disasters that permanently poisoned their devastated towns and the surrounding land. But there are also stories of foolish explorers who got lost in the Underworld, turning into ghouls in a matter or weeks or even days as they wandered too close to demonic lairs or the remains of slain demons. But usually the transformation into ghouls is a slow and gradual one. Typically the skin becomer paler and turning grey, hair becoming thin and stringy, and eyes turning all black. Eventually their hands become claws and their teeth fangs, alongside a growing instinct to tear and bite at those who provoke their easily irritated anger. An instinct that eventually grows to start feeding on the flesh of the slain. Another side effect of people who are turning into ghouls is that they stop to age and recover even from the most grievous wounds. It is nearly unheard of for a ghoul to escape from a fight and later die from sustained injury. Often, this is the first hard proof that a person has not just been corrupted by the effects of sorcerey but turned into an actual ghoul.

Unlike what many people believe, the corruption into a ghoul does not turn a person into a mindless beast that hunts the living. This descent into savagery and madness is primarily caused by the continuing exposure to demonic corruption. The transformation into ghouls can not be reversed (though there are legends of magical springs that might have such a power), but ghouls that have managed to escape the dark places that corrupted them are often able to retain their intelligence and most of their sanity if they are able to maintain the discipline to control their bestial urges. Ghouls found in the ruins of destroyed cities or the crumbling towers of long dead sorcerers are rarely much more than wild beast that quickly attack any potential prey they think they can take down. But ghouls who are wandering the lands might be quite difficult to spot as such without taking a close up look at their faces. Traveling ghouls usually wrap themselves in cloaks and hoods, or wear masks to conceal their distorted features.

Ghoul
Armour Class 13
Hit Dice 2* (3-15 hp)
Attacks 3 claws and bites +1 (1d3 + paralysis)
or Weapon +1 (1d6+1)
Movement 40’
Saving Throws D12, W13, P14, B15, S16 (2)
Morale 9
XP 25
Number Appearing 1d6 (2d8)

Infravision: 90′.

Paralysis: For 2d4 turns (save versus paralysis). Creatures larger than giants are unaffected. After paralyzing a target, ghouls will attack others.

Undead: Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep).

Source

kaendor7_4c.png

Yeah, I’ve run out of smart titles for these a while ago. A topographical map of the current version of Kaendor with 30 mile hexes. The smaller one being the region I intend to use for the exploration sandbox campaign I am currently working on.

The Lands Beyond the Mountains have been the realm of the asura for thousands of years and greatly avoided by the mortal peoples of the great river valley in the east. When the first explorers crossed the few mountain passes 300 years ago, they found the cities and citadels of the asura falling into ruin, abandoned centuries ago. Shamans and witches journeyed to the West to search for the arcane secrets left behind in the empty ruins, often returning with new magical powers. But one day great clouds of poisonous ash came rolling down from the fiery peaks, burrying the narrow passes. In the decades that followed, the fierceness of the ash storms became reduced in power, but the mountains were haunted by ghouls and more terrible horror. Only within the last generation has it become possible to cross the mountains again, but only the foolish and the desperate make the journey to the West in hope for a new life.

Goblins

Goblins are one of the many peoples populating the lands of Kaendor but they are barely seen in the cities and towns of Senkand, making their homes well beyond the edges of civilization. A large number of goblin villages exists west of the mountains in the forests of Dainiva, particularly in the caves of the lower mountain slopes and foothills, but they can also be found further west in places where the dense forest blocks out most of the sun, all the way up to the great river cutting the vast woodlands into two halves. Other settlements are located beneath the rocky highlands of the Yao, and they are also said to live in the far northen lands of Venlat.

Goblins are humanoid creatures of short stature, usually standing around four foot tall but occasionally reaching up to five feet in height. They have tough hides ranging from a dusty brown to grey that helps them blending in with rocky environments as they oftn wear nothing more than loose trousers and perhaps a simple shirt in similar natural colors. While goblins have faces similar to other humanoid peoples with small noses and big black eyes, most people regard them as rather expressionless and blank. Goblins that could be considered chatty are rarely encountered, giving them a reputation for being somewhat dull, but they are no less smart than other peoples. Many Yao who have had dealings with goblins describe them as refreshingly composed and unobstrusive.

While goblins frequently come outside to the surface, they mostly do so during the evenings and at night and prefer to stick to densely forested areas as their true home is found underground. Not only are they well adapted to living in caves, they also follow ancient customs of adapting underground spaces to their own needs. As they don’t make any metal tools of their own, and bronze blades and chissels from the surface are limited, their masonry and sculpting looks very primitive to the stonework of asura and naga and even the cities of Senkand, but their constructions are often much more sophisticated than their rough looks seem to imply.

Being fully at home in caves, goblins are incredible rock climbers, and their small and thin statures allow them to move through very tight spaces with relative ease. Many caves in Kaendor, particularly below the great mountain ranges, go incredibly deep, with many of them reaching all the way down into the Underworld. While being an incredibly dangerous environment to most peoples other than goblins, the goblins themselves make frequent journeys into the greatest depths of the Earth and are familiar with many of the main passages. Explorers trying to reach caverns and ruins deep underground without goblin guides face little chance of success, or returning.

In the woodlands of Dainiva, goblins are the only people truly native to the land. The more northern reaches of the forest close to the mountains have become home to a number of Fenhail villages, but these have only appeared in the recent centuries, after the First Sorcerers were already gone. The goblins of the forest have called Dainiva their home for much longer than that, even during the time of the Asura Lords. They still possess much ancient knowledge about parts of the woodlands that no Fenhail has ever set eyes on. While few goblin villages are exactly welcoming of visitors, few are openly hostile or ambush strangers found passing through their territory. They are most likely to stay out of sight amd wait for intruders to be on their way, but some are more open to talk, even if rarely enthusiastic. Many goblin villages are very interested in bronze blades and tool, though they rarely have much to trade other than food and leather. As one is moving deeper into the forests and away from the mountains, things are further complicated by very few goblins speaking any languages other than their own.

Goblin
Armour Class 13
Hit Dice 1-1 (1-7 hp)
Attacks Weapon +0 (1d6)
Movement 30’
Saving Throws D14 W15 P16 B17 S18 (0)
Morale 7
XP 5
Number Appearing 2d4 (6d10)

Infravision: 90′.

Hate the sun: –1 to-hit in full daylight.

Goblin king and bodyguards: A 3HD king and 2d6 2HD bodyguards live in the goblin lair. The king gains a +1 bonus to damage.

Surprise: Goblins surprise characters on a 3 in 6 chance in caves and rocky surroundings.

Source

The latest map and an updated overview of Kaendor

My old computer has been reaching the end of its life and the backup I am using now just doesn’t have the power to handle the large file sizes I usually like to work with, so for the time being I am limiting myself to basic layout sketches without trying to make them look pretty as handouts for players. I also decided to limit the scope of this map to just the part of the continent that I actually need for planning my next campaign.

30 miles per hex, 900 miles by 1800 miles.

This area actually covers a good 90% of all the content that I have already created for the setting. There’s still the far northern lands of Venlat where the white skinned and white haired Kuri live under the rule of Maiv the Witch Queen, but I am quite happy with that being a far off distant land that has no direct contact with the main civilized region shown on this map.

Senkand

On the east side of the map is a huge valley between two mountain ranges with a total size roughly on the same scale of France or Spain. I think that’s as big as I can go with the main city states (maked in red) still having meaningful regular interactions with each other. The eastern mountains and highlands are the lands of the Yao mountain people, while the great plain in the center of the valley is the lands of the Murya sorcerer kings. The woodlands north of Senkand are the home of the Fenhail tribes.

This incarnation of Senkand takes a lot of inspirations from Dark Sun, but instead of a barren desert its environment is more like Northern Spain and southern France, with the mountains being comparable to the Pyreneese and the Alps. In earlier versions of the setting it used to be more like the coasts of Greece and Southern Italy, but in the process of downscaling the city states considerably to make a more wilderness focused setting, I decided to drop the Mediterranean port city model (which is more a think of Antiquity) with the river valley structure that dominated in the Bronze Age.

I don’t have any specific plans for campaigns set in the east and I mostly want it to be background material for NPCs and factions. Though I think it would be a perfectly playable region that still works in the overall style I am pursuing with Kaendor.

Dainiva

The center of the map consists of a large region of temperate-warm woodlands that are bordered in the east by the mountains that separate it from the city states of Senkand, and in the west by a great river that marks the edge of the known world for most people. This area is what Kaendor was always meant to be about and that is most reflective of the kind of environment implied by the Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert rules. A vast wilderness full of ruins, monsters, and treasures, and only a few scattered villages and forts.

Dainiva, as well as the forests beyond the great river, were once the realm of the asura who ruled there for thousands of years. Their presence alone was what had kept the various early societies of Senkand from attempting to cross the mountains. But now the asura are almost entirely gone, and the lands of Dainiva have been abandoned for many centuries. The first people to cross the mountains where Murya shamans and witches seeking the occult secrets of the great asura kings. They brought back great amounts of esoteric knowledge about other realms and demons that became the basis of sorcery, but many of them stayed in the lands beyond the mountains to delve deeper into what the asura had discovered before them. Whatever they found, something covered the peaks of the mountains in clouds of poisonous ash and made the few passes crawl with ghouls and other undead horrors. For many generations crossing the mountains was all out impossible, but over time clouds of ash become more rare and the undead only rarely seen. Slowly Murya from Senkand resumed making the crossing into the lands beyond the mountains, while further north some Fenhail and the occasional Yao made the journey through the forest. Most of the people who came to Dainiva and settled down had fled from Senkand for one reason or another, which greately affected the kind of society that developed in the west.

The woods of Dainiva are home to scattered villages of rarely more than a few hundred people, often surrounded by wooden palisades or build on top of defensible hills and cliffs. Hunting is just as much a part of daily life as farming and great amounts of tools and weapons found by local traders have been imported from the East. The woods are also filled with ancient asura ruins, as well as the lairs and tombs of the first sorcerers.

Beyond the Great River

While the woodlands of Dainiva are a barely explored frontier, the lands on the western bank of the great river are a completely unknown wilderness. Rumors are that those distant forests are still ruled by asura kings, the mountains swarming with dragons, and that ancient gods are walking among the trees. But in truth almost nobdy ever returned to the taverns and trade posts of Dainiva with any proof that they actually had made it to the other side.

The Yellow Crystals Fields

There is something about areas that have been corrupted the demonic powers of sorcery that occadionally leads to the growth of formations of pale yellow crystals that can grow to enormous size. The crystals are extremely hard and almost impossible to remove once they have started to appear.

Instead of feeding on the sorcerous power lingering at the sites of demonic rituals, the destruction of powerful demons, or the lairs of ancient sorcerers, the growth of the crystals appears to actually increase the corruption of the surrounding area. While the initial spread of the crystals can happen quite rapidly over the span of just months, the growth seems to slow down and stop eventually. If this were not the case, some sages think the crystals could eventually take over the entire world, and would likely have done so long ago.

But even if they don’t pose a serious threat to the world as a whole, the areas covered by the hard yellow formations are left as otherwise barren wastelands. In many places corrupted by sorcery, the demonic influence seems to slowly ebb away over the course of man centuries and eventually become barely detectable. But as far as everyone’s been able to tell so far, the crystaline formations are eternal.

The crystals have some limited uses in a number of sorcerous rituals, but their incredible hardness makes it very difficult to remove large chunks of it. The corruption around them also makes them dangerous to carry, so there is little trade with these crystals among alchemists.