Monday, 8 August 2016

Age of Dreams

AGE OF DREAMS: (High fantasy) The world is inhabited by all manner of fantastic beasts and races, the most prominent of which are Elves, Dwarves and Men. Dragons exist in the remote places, leading barbaric clans and raiding the Heartland villages. There are no grand cities or architecture to start with, only fortified towns, though towards the end of the Age, monuments equivalent to the Seven Wonders are erected, and cities on hills and across rivers. The Age officially ends with the disappearance of the Dragons and the founding of the Calshani Empire.

1)      Shemeld: Bordered by the Dragonspine mountains to the north and west and the Ousedon river to the south, the lands of Shemeld are a loose affiliation of clans rather than a single country. Having no allegiance to the Dragon shrines in the far north or Calshan in the south, Shemeld is instead a mixture of disparate cultures. Dwarves trade in Shemeld towns, and although Elves are hostile to Shemeld trespassers, there are routes through the forest that they grudgingly allow. By the end of the Age of Dreams, Shemeld is a sovereign nation under the rule of the Calshani.

2)      Unelma, the Dreaming One: Highest of the known Dragons, Unelma explored the world, and from his dreams he formed life to dwell there. He dreamt of the mountains, and they became Dwarves. He dreamt of forests, and they became Elves. He had nightmares, and they became monsters. After the monsters came, he stopped his dreams taking shape, yet he still dreamt of many things. He dreamt of nobility, corruption, greed, humility, arrogance, deference, poverty and riches. These dreams begged to be real as the others before them. Unelma finally took all these disparate dreams, and they became Humans.

3)      Calsharon, Queen of Reason: Unelma’s worst enemy, and head of the Cult of Reason. In a world of magic and mystery, Unelma advocates her followers to trust their senses over their imaginations. Slightly hypocritical, in that to battle an immortal dragon, she requires magical immortality herself. Calsharon rejects the notion that dwarves and elves are better than Humans because they have lived for longer; in her retelling of the Unelma myth, both races are part of Unelma’s nightmare, and only Humans were created with purpose.

4)      Nightwyrm Temple: The largest Dragon shrine in the Dragonspine mountains, Nightwyrm Temple is reputedly where Unelma and his strongest brood reside. No-one’s ever seen Unelma there, only his children, and they’re hostile to any who’d invade their caverns looking for him. His followers are occasionally gifted with dragon blood, giving them magical powers and the ability to shape reality through their dreams. The fact several locations nearby are filled with goblins and monsters is probably not coincidental to this.

5)      GOBLINS: Children of Nightmare, goblins are the cave-dwelling, sun-fearing enemies of the Dwarves, who lives as bandits and scavengers in the abandoned places of Shemeld. Goblins hate pretty much everyone, including other goblin families; they curse Unelma for making them this way, they curse Calsharon for leading purges of the southern clans, and they curse each other for not bowing to their family’s obvious superiority. Studies of the goblin language have yet to find a word that can’t be used as a swear.

6)      DWARVES: Children of Stone, Dwarves live either in vast underground halls, or in mining towns on the surface. They’re in a state of constant battle against goblins, dwarves are renowned as armourers and soldiers in addition to miners. They’re somewhat standoffish with humans, only trading with Shemeld clans, and having a distrust for Elves and the southern lands of Calshan. They’re also obsessively secretive about their crafts; since humans stole metal from their fallen soldiers, they’ll never send any weapon out of a stronghold unless they can guarantee it’ll return.

7)      ELVES: Children of Wood, Elves live nomadic lives through the forests, never staying too long in one place, usually because they’re too busy chasing trespassers and cutting them down. Elves claim to be the first of Unelma’s creations, and so are clearly his chosen people; everything that followed, be it Dwarf, Goblin or Human, are the result of the Dreamer’s nightmare. Humans often romanticise and misunderstand Elves; yes, they’re beautiful, attuned to nature and live free. No part of that means they’re in any way nice.

8)      The Shoe Troll: A phenomenon among young trolls, who steal shoes from nearby villages and wearing them as hats. No-one knows why they do this, nor why it’s so prevalent. Scholars have theorised it may be a status symbol; that by stealing from the civilised world, the young troll shows daring. Others claim the creation of armour is a troll’s rite of passage into adulthood, and younger trolls can only mimic their elders. Elves and Dwarves, however, believe the Shoe Troll to be part of Unelma’s dream. Not every dream makes sense, after all.

9)      “Sire, we face an army of zombies with mages who can raise the dead. Is sending the conscripts and levies in first really wise?”

10)   When the epic tale ‘The Great Discovery’, which tracked the journey of Unelma across the face of the known world, was recreated by mapmakers, they found several landmarks around the world weren’t in the same direction Unelma is said to have travelled. The possibility arose; has the world changed since the Great Discovery, and the landmarks altered? Or did Unelma, highest of Dragons and supposed father of all life, have a terrible sense of direction?

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