This turned out to be juuust a bit longer than I expected, but perhaps it's better to post a bit more about the world than not enough. Should be enough to get even those completely unfamiliar with the setting started, but if there are any questions - just ask and I'll try my best to answer. Anyways, here we go:
History of Lodoss
After the Age of Gods had come to an end in the final battle between Marfa and Kardis, for two thousand years chaos reigned on the island continent of Lodoss. Kingdoms and empires rose and fell, monsters from the dark island of Marmo invaded, burning and pillaging villages and cities. But then a mighty empire arose – Kastuul, the Kingdom of Sorcery, and united all the lands under its banner. For centuries the sorcerer kings and queens of Kastuul ruled all the lands of Lodoss, their power steadily rising till their magics rivaled even the gods. But in the end even Kastuul fell, consumed in a civil war fought not just with the might of arms, but also terrible magics that left little in their wake but a few ruins.
It took five hundred more years of chaos and strive for greater kingdoms to rise again and unite at least a few corners of Lodoss under their banner. Valis, the Kingdom of Light founded by king Fahn, Alan, a kingdom that prizes knowledge and learning above all else, Moss, the Dragon Kingdom ruled by prince Jester and his Dragon Knights, Kanon, a peace-loving nation dangerously close to Marmo, the dark island off the southeastern coast of the mainland, where monsters rule under an eternal cover of dark clouds.
For a time it looked like peace and prosperity could finally take hold in Lodoss, but it was not to be, for on Marmo a great Demon King arose from the mad dreams of Kardis, the goddess of chaos whose soul lies in eternal slumber deep under the dark island Marmo. After uniting the denizens of the bleak island under his rule, the Demon King began his conquest of Lodoss and no human army could stand against him. It was in this time that six heroes stood against the demon king, driving his dark troops back wherever they found them, freeing city after city, and finally confronting the Demon King himself. In the end, the Demon King was slain by the great knight Beld, but the demon's blood tainted Beld and forever blackened his soul. Those six heroes of legends were Beld, the knight, Fahn, king of Valis, Wort, the sage and wizard, Neese, priestess of Marfa, Fleve, the king of the dwarves, and a sorceress whose name was never told.
Fahn returned to Valis and ruled that kingdom for another thirty years, Beld, his soul tainted by the demon crowned himself emperor of Marmo and ruled the dark island. Wort, the sage retreated to a lone tower deep in the mountains of Moss, where he still lives. Neese became high priestess of Marfa and resides in the great temple of the Mother Goddess near Tarba. The unnamed hero has never been heard from since the final battle against the Demon King, while Fleve, the dwarven king died in that last battle.
For thirty years, Lodoss was at peace, and another kingdom was founded in the north, when Kashue Arnarge, the "Mercenary King", united many tribes of the Storm And Fire desert under his banner and became king of Flaim. But then another great invasion came from Marmo, this time led by emperor Beld, whose large army of men, dark elves, goblins, kobolds and ogres swiftly overwhelmed the defenses of peace-loving Kanon and the southern fortresses of Adan. King Fahn of Valis marched against his old comrade Beld, with troops from Valis and Flaim, and aided by the Dragon Knights of Moss. As the grand armies clashed, Fahn and Beld faced each other in single combat, both perishing in this clash of legendary heroes.
With the death of both leaders the war came to a halt, but Lodoss was not to find peace just yet. Soon after the "War of Heroes" ended, the ancient fire dragon Shooting Star attacked the villages of Flaim, while on Marmo the monsters became restless and a great fright hung over the dark land as the ancient black dragon Narse stirred deep under the temple of Falaris. In the end, King Kashue – aided by a small band of brave adventurers who had already performed some mighty deeds during the War of Heroes – slew Shooting Star and led another army of troops from Flaim, Valis, and Moss in an invasion of Marmo, for it had become known that on Marmo attempts were made to resurrect the goddes of chaos, Kardis herself.
While in the skies above Marmo Mycen, the gold dragon who had been Marfa's steed in the Age of Gods, battled Narce, the ancient black dragon who had fought at Kardis' side in ages past, a small group of heroes went deep into the bowels of Marmo, to stop the rebirth of the dark goddess.
What happened in the ancient temples and caverns below Marmo is the stuff of legends – and not all legends agree on what truly transpired, but before the day ended, Narse, the mightiest of evil dragons was killed by his ancient rival Mycen, and the ritual of awakening was stopped, Kardis's resurrection averted at the last minute.
The heroes who fought in those days have become legends themselves: Parn, whom they vcall Knight of Lodoss, but also the free knight, for he serves neither king nor kingdom but only the greater good of all Lodoss, Deedlit, the elf and Parn's companion, as skilled with the rapier as she is with the elemental magics of the elves. Slayn the mage, who they say is as wise and powerful as the ancient sage Wort. Etoh, priest of Falis, strong both in the arts of healing and in banishing evil spirits, and, as many believe, bound to one day marry Fianna, the daughter of King Fahn and now queen of Valis. And with them on the fateful day when Lodoss's future was decided stood: Leylia, priestess of Marfa, daughter of the high priestess Neese, now married to the mage Slayn. Orson, berserker and mercenary, stronger than ten men when his anger boils over, and Shiris, the redheaded swordmaiden, a mercenary also, like her partner Orson.
And this is the history of Lodoss as it is told in legend and song. But evil never rests in the land they call the accursed island, and soon a new band of brave souls will be needed to defend the land of Lodoss and its people. New legends will be told, new songs will be written.The lands of Lodoss
As you can see from the map, maybe half of Lodoss belongs to one kingdom or another, while the other half of the land is made up of thinly-settled wilderness (primarily the Central Mountains, Steel Mountains, Fire Dragon Mountains, and the lands east of Moss and west of Flaim and Valis (an area usually called the Wildlands)). The map shows the capitals of each kingdom as a square, some other settlements as circles. The latter are by no means all the towns, villages, or fortresses of Lodoss. What the map shows are locations people may have heard about because they are important stops on major roads or have some historical significance.
Please keep in mind that this map shows a fairly accurate picture of Lodoss. That's the sort of knowledge a well-educated, or well-traveled person might have. The average person has a somewhat more vague idea about the geography, often consisting of no more information than "a large forest some days journey south of here" or "just follow the road to the west and you'll eventually reach it". Personal knowledge for the average person goes only as far as one's feet can carry them in half a day or so.
How large is it? Lodoss isn't all that large. A traveler on a good horse might be able to make the journey from Tarba in the northeast to Dragon Breath in the southwest in three weeks, if the weather is on his side. I'm not going to put any exact figures on it, but Lodoss is perhaps about the size of the British Isles. (Which would make Marmo... perhaps the size of Corsica or Cyprus.)Valis
While Valis suffered heavy losses to Marmo incursions during the War of Heroes, it is still said to be the most powerful nation of Lodoss, and is strongly allied to Flaim. Moss is also an ally of Valis, but Moss tries to keep to its own devices. In times of major trouble Valis can rely on Moss, but during times of peace their ties are more economic than political or military.
Queen Fianna, daughter of the late king Fahn, rules Valis from the capital city of Roid, having been crowned queen two years ago. (After the death of king Fahn, king Kashue of Flaim ruled Valis as regent till Fianna turned nineteen.)
Addan sits at the crossroads of the mountain passes that lead north through the Central Mountains and south through the Steel Mountains. The final battle of the War of Heroes (where Fahn and Beld killed each other) took place not too far south from Addan. Lesmoa has declined in importance over the last few years. Once it was an important trade town at the coastal road to Kanon, but after the Marmo invasion commerce declined. Nowadays quite a few refugees from Kanon have settled in, and around, Lesmoa.
Valis is noteable for the Holy Knights, an order of knighthood said to have the strongest knights anywhere in Lodoss, and the high temples of Falis and Myrii are located in the capital of Roid.Kanon
A peace-loving nation that grew complacent after the Demon King was slain by the Six Heroes and so became easy prey for the invading armies of Marmo. Kanon is still occupied by Marmo, its once great libraries and academies plundered and burned by the invading armies. A military governor resides in the capital of Shining Hill and sometimes sends out raiding parties to test the defenses of Valis and Alan, but for a few years now the Marmo seem content to hold on to Kanon and exploit its resources and population for their own gain.Alania
Another peace-loving nation where knowledge and learning are highly valued, Alania is the oldest of the human kingdoms on Lodoss. It was only spared conquest by Marmo because emperor Beld was more interested in marching against Valis than conquering the north-east of Lodoss. Still, Alania lost several villages and border fortresses in its south, between the Forest of No Return and the coast, the largest of them fortress Myse, Alania's southernmost fortress. Only very recently has king Kadmos VII sought the help of troops from Flaim and mercenaries to take back the lands lost to Marmo during the war. Right now Alania's territorial integrity has been restored, but the southern border fortresses are still in bad shape.
Alania is home to the great temple of Marfa (home of the high priestess Neese) just north of Tarba, the mountain home of the ancient silver dragon Brahmd (close to the temple of Marfa), and the only dwarven kingdom in Lodoss (also in the White Mountains and close to Tarba).Flaim
Flaim only became a true kingdom in its own right less than twenty years ago, when Kashue Arnarge, said by many to be the greatest swordsman of his generation, rose from humble origins and united the tribes of the western Storm and Fire Desert and took control of the towns and villages west of the desert. Staunchly allied with Valis, the troops of Flaim marched fearlessly against the invading armies of emperor Beld, the ancient dragon Shooting Star, and were instrumental in the fight against Marmo during the attempted resurrection of Kardis. All these fights took their toll on Flaim's troops and some question if the proud desert warriors can still make a difference if another great war should come over Lodoss. The god of War and Virtue, Myrii, is strongly revered in Flaim and his temple in Blade rivals the main temple in Roid in size and importance.
Moss was once just a collection of small, independent holdings, but the golden dragon Mycen ruled a good portion of the central Gold Mountains together with the Dragon Riders allied with him. Over time many smaller domains joined under his protection and guidance to form the country now known as Moss. Not a kingdom in any real sense, Moss is more a confederation or commonwealth of independent baronies, duchies, and independent cities. What central authority there is is exercised by Prince Jester, the leader of the Dragon Riders, from the city of Dragon Breath.
Moss is allied with both Valis and Flaim, and does a lot of trade with Valis, most of it passing through the coastal town of Dragon Scale on the Great Bay. Before the War of Heroes, Dragons Scale was also doing trade with Kanon and some refugees from that land have made it across the Great Bay and settled in, or around, Dragon Scale.Marmo
The dark island is home to many goblins, kobolds, ogres, and creatures even these humanoid monsters fear. It is also home to humans tainted by the miasma of darkness that hangs like a shroud over the island that truly deserves the title "accursed" more than the rest of Lodoss combined. Here only strength matters, might makes right, and weakness means eternal servitude.
Marmo rules its lands with an iron fist – including the conquered kingdom of Kanon. But who rules Marmo? These days no one is really certain. When emperor Beld died, his second in command, Ashram, claimed the throne, but he, also, perished during the failed resurrection of Kardis. Nowadays rulers and warlords claiming the throne of Marmo seem to come and go every other day and anarchy rules the island under the dark clouds.Other locations
There are many other locations in Lodoss that could be mentioned, but of those, perhaps the lands of the elves and dwarves deserve the most notice.
The one, and only, domain ruled by dwarves
lies deep beneath the White Mountains, where the dwarves mine, play, laugh, and live. They keep to themselves for the most part, but enjoy cordial relations with Alanian traders who prize dwarven wares, and the priests and priestesses of Marfa who have their main temple near the dwarven kingdom and will treat everyone with equal friendship and hospitality. Once there was also a dwarven kingdom in the Gold Mountains, but it has long been abandoned, its great tunnels fallen in disrepair and now occupied by foul creatures.
The Forest Of No Return
is the home of the High Elves – and it is not a land to be entered by anyone else. The forest is alive, and inside its borders time passes much faster than in the world of mortals. If someone is lucky enough to ever leave the forest they will find that in the few hours they spent inside the forest, years, maybe decades have passed in the world outside. Their children will be old men and women, villages and towns will have changed beyond recognition, and no one will remember the traveler who thought he had disappeared for only a few short hours. Do not enter this forest without an elven guide, and even then pray that the gods smile on you, for if not you will soon find out that this forest truly deserves its name.
The Forest Of Mirrors
is the home of most of Lodoss's Wood Elves. They live in seclusion from the world around them, protected by elaborate illusions that lead wanderers astray, but they do sometimes mix and mingle at least a little with the humans living at the edge of the forest and sometimes from such an encounter a Half Elf is born. Gods of LodossFalis
The supreme god of light, Falis embodies law, justice, and enlightened civilization. All priests of Falis undertake their novitiate in the church's grand temple in Valis. Priests of Falis are welcomed in all civilized lands as healers but also mediators and adjudicators. Most priests of Falis are be either good or lawful in alignment.Marfa
Where Falis represents law and civilization, Marfa embodies the virtues a good and just society should be founded on: Compassion, empathy, and understanding. While the priesthood of Marfa does not exclude men, women are far more common as priests of Marfa. Priests of Marfa are renowned for their peaceful ways, but they will take up arms to defend the helpless.Myrii
The god of war and virtue does not encourage conflict but rewards those who fight diligently and proudly in the course of good – but only if all other means have been exhausted. "Battle with heart, not blade" is a common saying for those who follow Myrii's path and only when an enemy leaves them no choice are priests of Myrii supposed to take a life.
Priests of Myrii must uphold the Seven Virtues of Light: Honesty, Humility, Charity, Compassion, Justice, Valor, and Prudence.Cha Za
The god of trade and commerce stands first and foremost for Honesty, Charity, and Prudence. A trade done following those virtues and truly in Cha Za's name will profit all parties and disadvantage none. But while they will follow those virtues, Cha Za's priests also understand that some people will do dishonest business in their gods name. Those should be punished, but punishment can take many forms. While they do not condone theft, priests of Cha Za acknowledge that tricking a trickster can be a valid way to spread their faith.Rada
The god of wisdom and knowledge should be mentioned here, but the priests who serve the patron of arts all take a vow of non-violence that might make them rather ill-suited as player characters.Wait a minute. Weren't these gods all killed when the Age Of Gods drew to a close and Marfa and Kardis had their final fight?
Yes – and no. The physical forms of the gods were all pretty much destroyed in the battles between Light and Darkness, but their spirits very much exist without a physical form. For gods there is a big difference between being killed and no longer existing. But if you doubt that's possible you are welcome to visit the temple of Falis in Roid, where the priests will be happy to enlighten you. They are used to questions like this.
Races of LodossDwarves
are shorter and heftier than humans, people of great strength and stamina that prefer to live underground, but suffer no penalties in daylight or under an open sky. Of the civilized non-human races of Lodoss, dwarves are the most common, but outside their kingdom in the White Mountains of Alania they are still a rare sight – but a welcome sight also, for dwarves may have a reputation as gruff and grumpy people, but they are also valued craftsmen and blacksmiths.High Elves
are not available as player characters. While their flesh and bones are just as vulnerable to stick and stone as a human's, their natural life span is truly unlimited. High Elves fought on the side of the Gods of Light in the war between the gods, but when the age of gods came to an end in the final battle between Marfa and Kardis, the High Elves retreated deep into their woods and hid in another dimension where they still reside. Encountering a High Elf in Lodoss is exceedingly rare, and when one does encounter a High Elf they are easily mistaken for a Wood Elf
. Wood elves share the lithe build, fair hair, pale skin, and long pointy ears of their High Elf cousins, but not their unlimited life span. Neither have they retreated as far from the mortal world as their cousins. As long as they are left alone they do not care much about the affairs of humans, but while they keep their distance they also keep a close eye on anything that could intrude on their lives. Races in game terms:
As all allowed classes will be available to all races, some need extra Race Moves. If you play a Dwarf or an Elf, pick either the Race Move available for your class, or one of these:Dwarf:
- Unmovable: When you Defy Danger using WIS you take +1 forward if you try to stay a course you have set for yourself in pursuit of a personal goal
- Strong Back: Your Load increases by +2
- Light As A Feather: When you don't wear armor, carry no shield, and are below your Load, you get +1 forward when you Defy Danger using your DEX
- Swift Parry: When you don't wear armor, carry no shield, and are below your Load, you get +1 armor.
Edit: A note on Elven magic:
- Pick a Human or Elf Race Move at the start of the game. When you reach second level you can pick a Race Move from the race you haven't already covered, but only when reaching second level. Either it's in your genes and it will show soon, or it's not. You will still share some physical features from both parent races, but when it comes to the game rules you'll have to make up your mind at 2nd level.
All elven magic is elemental in nature, no matter the class of your character. Elven magic ususally summons the aid of the Spirit of Air (Sylph) or the Spirit of Water (Undine) and only extremely rarely the aid of Fire or Earth spirits. As far as the rules are concerned that makes no difference (it's the outcome of spellcasting the rules are concerned with, not the "special effects") but you should still describe elven magic accordingly.