Jumping in before fully reading all the guidelines, worldbuilding like I assemble IKEA furniture.
I’ve got plenty of worldbuilding notes for a region I’ve named “The Scatheland” sprinkled throughout my house,I figure here’s a place to distill them down to single juicy Lore Nuggets™️.
Jumping in before fully reading all the guidelines, worldbuilding like I assemble IKEA furniture.
- How a tavern gets a name
Formerly a nondescript tavern with lodging above. An eccentric wizard owned the building and kept to himself in a second story room he kept locked nearly every hour of day and night. One night a large explosion rattled from his second floor study shaking the building violently. Everything in the tavern suddenly began to float, the whole place had become absent of gravity. It lasted only a brief moment after which all the plates, tables and patrons crashed to the floor. Everything that is, except for the unlucky stray goat that had wandered in through the open door. This goat floated ungracefully for the rest of its days, 2’ off the ground. Being unable to reach its food source at the ground level and too unnatural for breeding stock, the goat stuck close to the tavern where it was entertainingly fed tablescraps by the locals.With a near constant food source and little physical exertion - the goat grew enormously fat and could be seen lazily floating through the tavern like a small grumpy blimp en route to the nearest half finished plate.
Thus the nameless, wholly unremarkable tavern became known as The Floating Goat for decades afterward.
To catch up with a second post, let’s dive in to the “pantheon” of The Scathelands.
Only 4 major god like entities, but their influence is wide and accessible to nearly all.
- The God of Time
This god values specific moments of importance to the mortals who experience them.
To Her, time is a flowing river under Her command. When mortals crystalize a moment in time through ritual sharing of stories or consistently marked intervals of time, those moments become a glimmer in the stream and catch Her eye.
These moments allow Her to reach through and influence reality.
They act as reference points for the life of a mortal.
It is believed by the faithful that ritual offering of specific moments and memories at Her shrines allow Her to place your soul back in that moment, possibly for eternity.
Those who fail to share experiences and moments are lost to the chaotic flow of the timestream and are dissolved utterly.
Rumors of a small handful of Time Scribes who have rejected the demands of this God calling themselves Multineers attempt to contact themselves in other timelines and wield the power of Time for personal gain.
Time Shrines exist only in the mind of one under the influence of a specially prepared compound. A subject who has imbibed Ataraxia finds themself suddenly in a space from their past or future seated at a simple wooden table, the Time Scribe across from them waiting, both hands on the table palm up, a small empty inkwell in one hand.
This space is only experienced by the Time Scribe and those who have taken the Ataraxia.
TIME CLERICS (TIME SCRIBES)
Some souls get recycled over and over, spread across timelines. They might be any kind of various humanoid, but they will always be marked by their X shaped pupils and impossible memories.
They celebrate chronological holidays, as well as processing the Ataraxia plant.
Clinking glass inkwells and a brightly colored feather quill standout against their simple black robe and heavily verdigrised copper chain necklace.
A Time Scribe carries no weapon, but may be persuaded to wield time itself if persuaded or unwisely threatened.
RITUAL OF REVERIE
It is common for people to speak with a Time Scribe as many times as they can over the course of their life. The more times a memory is recorded in their tomes, the more likely the Time God may place them in that memory upon their death in a sort of eternal afterlife.
The Time Scribes facilitate this ritual by administering a very special tincture of the rare plant “Ataraxia”. The processing of which is not completely known by any one region, only these Clerics are privy to it.
Once ingested, a memory must be recounted. This produces a filled inkwell, from which the Time Scribes later transfer the memory into their heavy copper bound tome.
- GOD OF LIFE + DEATH
This singular entity nourishes life with one hand and culls life with the other. A field of fresh wildflowers, a plague of locusts. The power to heal and to ruin. The pounding heart before a duel, the sharp focus of a mountain climber, the bravado of a bull fighter, the temporary invulnerability of a mighty barbarian - This God recognizes individuals who knowingly put their life on the line for a greater purpose and often bestow gifts in those moments. Knowing that all living things must eventually die, They have a fondness for risk taking mortals.
When a mortal throws themselves into a lethal situation for a greater cause they become keenly observed by this God. A successful continuation of life is a delightful surprise, and a lethal failure will still land them softly in the Hand of Death if they have not angered Them.
Enemies of this God are those who seek to trap souls or force them to obey them rather than becoming Reborn or falling back into the Abyss,those who see no value in the lives of others, and those who would dare defy Death’s Hand when it is their time.
Angering this God dooms your soul to slip between their fingers and fall into oblivion. Gaining its blessing though, nourishes the soul beyond any natural decay.
SHRINE OF LIFE AND DEATH
More open air arenas than typical shrines, open to spectators, but more often than not are dismally unpopulated by living beings. Existing at the center of a field of graves and haunted by wayward spirits. Often deemed too dangerous for commonfolk to visit, it takes a certain strong willed or daring individual to pay homage to this God. The SoulStream can be drawn down through these shrines temporarily allowing for daring resurrection attempts, returning a soul to the body before it is out of reach. These shrines also allow the God of Life and Death to punish those who have angered Them by using their souls to animate the bones strewn across the arena floor during the Dance of Life and Death.
LIFE AND DEATH CLERICS
These are voiceless zombies who are shrouded in torn rags and haunt the shrines. They drag a shimmering longsword behind them as they float among the many headstones that ring the shrines. Any stray spirits will avoid anybody being ushered into the arena by one of these clerics.
After the gauntlet is concluded, the cleric buries the fallen and scratches the amount of enemies they destroyed in the ritual combat before they fell into their headstone.
THE DANCE OF LIFE AND DEATH
Offering prayer here takes the form of facing a gauntlet of mindless spirits until you are inevitabley overwhelmed.
Once you fall the gauntlet ends, the resident spirit buries you and records your exploits. If the God wishes it, you awaken in your grave and may attempt to unearth yourself. Any such person is marked by their stark white hair, lack of heartbeat, and cold skin as a Reborn.
- GOD OF HOPE
The God of Hope responds to a true wish, a primal and earnest desire or yearning for change. Often these moments arise from an individual in deep despair or a collective of oppressed people who cry out for help. This God offers an opportunity to them,however small, something that must be embraced right then and there. They may show up in the form of a single gold coin to an impoverished family, a crack in the wall of an innocent prisoner, or an unexpected visit from a helpful stranger. Often prayers to this God are answered initially by something suddenly going missing, it is believed whatever is lost to one person may be just the right thing somebody else needs and The God of Hope knows this.
Commonfolk have the wisdom to avoid pleading for personal gain to The God of Hope, these prayers always result in an initial windfall that ultimately leads to being worse off than they were to start.
SHRINE OF HOPE
Hope Shrines always have a large well at their center with a brass bell hanging over it. The Shrines have no apparent clerics tending them, harmless copper eating bug beasts are commonly found crawling around the place. Any item removed from the well will be sought out by creatures of pure greed and violence. These creatures are physical manifestations of irredeemably dark wishes offered to The God of Hope. While these wishes may or may not be addressed, their negative energy is stored deep within the wells and can be released upon those who have earned this God’s ire.
RITUAL OF THE FATES
Cast an item into the well and offer a single word of hope skywards. The item need not be of high value, but such items are more likely to catch the attention of this God, the bell over the well will respond to the magnitude of the offering or the purity of the wish.
The Bell can ring clear(Bless) and bright in response to a heartfelt wish for a better world and will toll ominously(Bane) in response to a dark heart’s desires.
Large sums of wealth that may accrue within the well attract larger versions of the metal eating bugs or even metallic wyrms.
- THE LEGEND OF “THE LUCID DREAD”
The discovery of a jewel laden network of caverns under an unassuming island kicked off vicious competition between seafarers and the 3 port towns of Blackwater Bay.
The cruelest of these Portmasters, Szabo, was rewarded for his heartlessness by gaining the largest share of the island riches through murder and kidnapping.
Suddenly overnight Szabo and his horrible men vanished, the keep they occupied atop the cliff left torn open and empty.
The walls were caved in as if pummeled by cannon fire from the sea, yet no cannonballs were recovered. No thunderous volleys were reported by the subdued townsfolk that night either.
Instead the entire cliff face and ruin was speckled with strange pink sand, stamped over with narrow prints suggestive of elven boots…
Rumor spread from the port towns of a silent galleon which had slid out from the pitch black sea and launched dozens of glowing pink orbs into the foul keep noiselessly, bursting into clouds of rosy grains. The pirate ship came to be known as The Lucid Dread.
THE LUCID DREAD
a mythical elven galleon armed with rows of cannons, loaded with rosy crystal orbs. Upon impact they noiselessly burst into a cloud of powerful narcotic pink sand, leaving their targets sleeping soundly with vivid dreams of swashbuckling heroics on the high seas.
Awakening the next day only to find all of their riches stolen, and the area coated in a fine layer of the strange pinkish sand of some undiscovered island…
This rosy sand is a key ingredient in divination rituals when cast across the eyelids of the diviner and another, a shared dreamlike vision occurs.
- GOD OF KNOWLEDGE
This God dwells in the abstract space of the mind. Discovering a secret door, uncovering a hidden truth, learning of new skills or history. These are all important moments in which this God revels.
A Shrine of Knowledge is usually a welcome space in most communities, often a small library or some collection of historical objects. Individuals that serve this God are compelled to acquire and maintain important pieces of information, whether historical,arcane, or otherwise deemed important. Generally helpful to visitors who come to their doorstep with a question on their lips as long as a secret can be paid as well, for secrets however small are powerful things to this God.
The Clerics of the God of Knowledge all suffer from a form of Curse, often in the moment of a great epiphany or enlightenment this God may place a Curse on an individual. From that point forward they seek knowledge, their mental skills rapidly enhance while any physical traits begin to dwindle away.
THE SEEKERS CURSE
A Cursed individual may suddenly find themselves able to solve riddles instantly, recall historical poetry uncannily, or even blurt answers to questions they have never known before. This preternatural intelligence unnerves their friends who tend to avoid the unblinking, scrutinizing gaze. Attempts to resist gathering knowledge causes the Cursed to grow papery skin and a leathery hide, ultimately becoming a completely unmoving leathery corpse wrapped in papery bindings with everything they’ve learned in their life scrawled out in blood on their wrapping. No known attempt to remove or dispel the Curse has yet been discovered…
RITUAL OF SHARED KNOWLEDGE
Sharing knowledge of particular items,places, or people is always appreciated by the cursed Clerics. Ones true name dashed on a scrap of paper may stave off their inevitable death for an hour,while a well guarded royal secret onr arcane discovery may grant them several months. Whether continuing their lives is an act of mercy or torture is up for debate.
- THE RECENT HISTORY
Roughly 200 years ago the Red Moon King attempted to claim this region for himself.
A series of omens heralded his appearance all those years ago - starting a chain of events that resulted in 4 individuals being marked by the 4 gods to challenge the threat.
As the Red Moon drew near these 4, known as the Dawn Warriors, left this world to battle the Red Moon King in his.
In a flash of cosmic light the Red Moon was obliterated, the ground opened up forming The Scathe and the Dawn Warriors appeared near dead atop the western mountain range. The people of the Scathelands lauded them as saviors and they were set to live out their days as Legends…
As time went on however, each one fell ill. Their brush with the Red Moon King had tainted them, warping each one into an evil and undying version of themselves…
The decision was made with heavy hearts to entomb the 4 in hidden locations, to let their legend live on and inspire the people, but protecting them from the monsters they had become.
Decades have passed and remnants of the Red Moon King still persist in the form of strange Red crystal shards scattered across the land and secretive cultists seeking to suppress any defenses against the inevitable return of their true King…
- THE 4 DUSK WARRIORS
Once heralded as Legendary saviors of The Scathelands, their bravery and heroism inspires new generations to glory. Their ultimate fate however spreads through whispers and campfire tales, questioning if they truly had conquered The Red Moon King or became his champions…
Once called the Dawn Warriors, after their fall into monstrosity they have been referred to sadly as The Dusk Warriors.
Human Barbarian turned Undead Berserker
A ferocious barbarian of the Plains, earned the mark of the Gods defending his villages only bridge against an onslaught of Trolls. Once the horde was slain he found himself marked with a great scar and was nearly impervious to damage while in the throes of battle.
After returning from confronting the Red Moon King Viscerin hardly spoke and instead fought for 10 days straight at the Shrine of Life and Death. Finally falling on the 11th day they arose as a Returned with the highest tally anybody had ever seen. Stalking the graves and attacking any who came near, until the Clans subdued him and trapped him in a dungeon made of stone…
Elf Ranger turned Time Stopping Man Hunter.
Cerros came upon a Timeblade in the High Forest and upon defeating another wielder became marked by the Gods. Many tales were told of the Elf who could strike 10 men down in the span of a single second.
Once they returned from defeating the Red Moon King however They retreated to the High Forest and any who would happen upon their accursed territory felt the icy breath of absolution on their neck as they were mercilessly hunted and exterminated. A secretive and arcane trap had been sprung to seal them away in a dungeon lost to time…
Goblin Cleric turned Cruel Hag.
Robbed a caravan and returned a kidnapped human child within to its family at great danger to herself.
Became blessed at that point and wielded tricky magic.
Upon their return they took a liking to fulfilling requests of her with cursed items and whispered to the shadows instead of those standing before her.
Turning into a heartless hag and tormenting the realm before being imprisoned in a dungeon on a mist shrouded island…
Human Wizard turned Murderous Arcane Mummy .
Successfully translated portions of the Omens after finding an old stone tablet beneath Dampfaen, days before the Volcano erupted. Upon this timely revelation he was marked by the Gods with the Curse of Seeking.
After returning from the encounter with the Red Moon King he secluded himself in his chambers, scribbling furiously on all surfaces. His curse ravaged his body as he was unable to tear his attention away from repeating the same phrases over and over. He found himself sleepwalking often and after one jaunt resulted in the grisly deaths of a dozen guards he locked himself into a deprivation pod at Cragwatch and was forgotten…
- THE STEEL GORGE (A sinkhole filled with teeth like debris of jagged metal and stone leading down to a massive underground cavern containing an ancient labyrinth)
In the prosperous town of Cliff Haven a fierce rivalry simmered between the owner of a magic shop and a master metalworker.
The gnomish artisan Frubbish Silverspark despised the cocky human mage across the marketplace, Morat the Magnanimous.
Morat enjoyed nothing more than spying on the projects of Frubbish and putting arcane copies out for sale right before Frubbish was finished.
Frubbish was infuriated by this and hastily built a jagged wall of metal scraps and half finished weapons, behind which he banged away madly on some very large and very secret creation.
Morat was not deterred and climbed the wall in the middle of the night, the light of Frubbish’s furnace still active and blazing. He did not expect what he laid his eyes on. Behind the wall Frubbish had constructed an ogre sized mechanical creature, 3 sturdy metal legs held up a sort of steel shell inside of which Frubbish was seated, carefully tightening one of the many joints that held half a dozen metal scaled arms to it.
Morat gasped and a misplaced foothold slipped, slashing his ribs against a broken blade.
The commotion alerted Frubbish - and upon seeing his hated rival once again spying on his creation he laughed a shrill maniacal laugh.
“Your days of undercutting my creations are over Morat! You couldn’t copy this thing if you lived 100 more years, doesn’t matter any how. You’ll soon see just what it was made for HAHAHA!”
The giant steel creature lit up green in several places as some arcane material flared to life and so too did Frubbish’s greatest invention.
It barreled through the wall, giving chase to the wounded mage.
Morat shuffled through the moonlit marketplace desperately reaching for the door of his shop. Bursts of steel pellets demolished the wooden beams of a market stall to his left as the devious machine launched shrapnel from a green glowing barrel swiveling wildly below the crazed gnome.
Morat was a clever man and had an escape plan up his sleeve, as he shoved into his shop he grabbed a small dark bottle from a shelf and ripped off the cork - thick mist immediately began to spill out and obscure the various trinkets on sale. He knew if he could just last a few more seconds the entire building and all its contents would be nothing more than a rising ethereal cloud.
Just then a massive metallic arm slammed through the heavy glass window and then another punched through the stone wall easily, pulling the gnome inside. All manner of bottles and containers were spilled, each one holding some sort of magical essence within it. One particular jar which was secured tightly to a shelf by thick rope held a destructive ground shaking spell, which was set loose upon the area when a stray pellet blast shattered it.
Suddenly the foundation of the magic shop and of the marketplace itself began to rumble and break loose, falling hundreds of feet into the hollow cavern thought to exist under Cliff Haven.
The weight of the massive metal contraption was too much for the disjointed rock to support and it plummeted down into the darkness until it’s glowing green light was no longer visible. Morat opened his eyes and found himself high above the marketplace, looking down he could see a widening sinkholefilled with debris and metal. That’s when he realized he and his entire shop had completed their transformation, all the matter that made up Morat’s Magical Atelier and in fact Morat himself had been transformed into a wispy cloud, the duration of this effect was unknown to Morat…but he decided he’d rather not be near this place when he manifested into a corporeal form again.
In the thick of the night a single strange cloud scuttled across the moon, heading in the opposite direction of all the rest…
- MORAT’S MAGICAL ATELIER
A magic shop and its owner that are under a constant magical effect that turns both into a wispy sentient purple cloud every 4 hours.
The shop materializes from the cloud and drops into place stone by stone exactly in the form it had originally, Morat awakens often disoriented and in a state of panic to get things done before he becomes ethereal again and drifts off.
He doesn’t have much time to craft new items these days, but he is keen on trading, and even keener on anything that might give him more control over when and for how long he turns back into a wisp of air.
All sales are final.
- GAPROOT VILLAGE ( An ancient village on stilts with a strong connection to the Gods, planted within swirling and healing waterways)
Waterways crisscross the village, the swirling currents can change drastically after sudden and frequent rainfalls.
Most structures here are made of bent wooden boards fitted tightly together into pod like huts held up above the waters by boardwalks and numerous wooden beams.
Massive snails called “Howdah Snails” act as ferries and beasts of burden. These snails are an important and revered aspect of Gaproot and live for hundreds of years.
A powerful positive life force springs forth from the grounds here as well as a specific kind of tree called a Gaproot Tree. The roots of these large trees grow quickly and reach towards each other to form natural bridges, the presence of these trees are the main reason why this village withstood the opening of the Scathe nearby. The roots hold the village together and even reach out over the Scathe attempting to bridge the seismic wound, to no avail…
AREAS OF GAPROOT VILLAGE
- The Sticks (docks and broad walkways amidst a jumble of support beams and planks-shops, snail pens, and inns)
- The Flow House (a large tavern of swirling wood with an opening in the floor where the waters rush past, not uncommon to have aquatic creatures burst into the interior of the tavern from time to time)
- Gaproot Grove (a dedicated area for druids to grow and train Gaproot trees. Focused on a form of agricultural architecture to get these trees to span the great length of the Scathe)
- Temple of the Tetrad (a wide flat topped stone pyramid supporting ancient statues of the 4 gods, very much overgrown with vegetation, but provides a sweeping view Eastward over the Scathe and towards Cragswatch)
- GARRADEM (Crossroads city of stone, bastion of the Plains and waypoint to travelers)
Massive boulders and carved out rock formations interwoven with rope bridges. A central pillar of black stone is visible at its center for miles across the Plains. The Dawn Pillar as it’s known is the traditional seat of power for the ruling Barbarian chief, currently held by Windgleam the Unbreaking, leader of the various tribes across the Plains.
A bustling marketplace makes Garradem an attractive destination for nearly anybody trekking across the Scathelands. Goods and rumors exchange swiftly here.
AREAS OF GARRADEM
- The Stoneyard (part cemetery part arena part gathering place, dozens and dozens of petrified individuals surround the outskirts of the city, victims of the pervasive cockatrice flocks)
- The Dawn Pillar (watchtower of glittering black sandstone, serves as a watchtower and keep containing soldiers and tribesman readied to defend the city together if called)
- Gulley Market ( a refreshingly shaded gulley canopied by rock hard Gaproot trees, a place to spend coin or make some)
- Hunters Ruin (a sprawling collection of ruined stone structures, semi standing walls, all reclaimed by nature, a small group of Plainsmen stock the area with exotic beasts for travelers who wish to experience the thrill of the hunt)
Garradem makes me curious as to how the barbarian chiefs are selected. This a decision by council thing or a whoever is strong enough to off the current guy situation?
13 THE RED ROYALS
Before the first coming of the Red Moon King, a faction of loyal cultists eagerly awaited his arrival. When the Red Moon finally did appear, this cult was emboldened and began kidnapping and murdering nobility, offering their fealty to their new King with blood.
With the help of the original Dawn Warriors these cultists were subdued and seemingly disbanded…
However in the decades following the repulsion of the Red Moon King from this land, an evergrowing faction of cautious, clever, and cruel cultists have persisted. Exceptionally wise observers may notice ruby ornamentation on weapons, crimson velvet decor, or other nods to their affiliation. Amongst these individuals exists a code of ethics, formed to keep their motives hidden and their power consolidated.
Red Elders are those with firsthand experience of the first coming of the Red Moon King. They act as arbiters of duels and intellectual leaders amongst the cult. Always they are seen hooded and robed in red silk garments, something inhuman lurking behind their gleaming eyes…
Oooo good question, I like the idea of the different tribes having a totem they can gift somebody they see as worthy of challenging the current leader and if one gathers enough of these totems they are entitled to a ritual combat against the current leader for control of the Dawn Spire and Garradem.
Ah democracy AND violence. The best of both worlds
Exactly haha, I think there was something like this in the Dark Crystal tv series and maybe Black Panther? Idk, but seems like it would give a PC a fun way to test their mettle against a badass Conan dude.
14 GRUBS AND STICKS
In the years following the Red Moons dread influence on the Scathelands the Daybreak Plains have been the hunting and breeding grounds of a type of monstrous mutated grub.
The rumbling of wagon wheels and stamp of marching warbands is often all it takes to alert one of these creatures to the presence of a potential meal.
Suddenly bursting from the ground, spewing acid and dragging victims into its jaws while the majority of its body remains hidden underground.
Travelers of the Plains often can be seen carrying a long forked staff they deftly sling rocks with. Used to hunt small game, deter the ever present cockatrices or to challenge each others skills.
Traditionally one would sling a stone out off the path and challenge another to sling one as close to theirs as possible.
When it was discovered the clacks and thumps of these rocks attracted the grubs, it became an invaluable tool for guiding groups through grublands safely. Don’t be surprised if an old plainsman challenges you to a game of Slingstone if you carry a Slingstaff in Garradem.