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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Danu's Fall.

While on the Material the first cultures began to form, with the great empires and ancient civilizations of prehistory rising and falling in their disparate terrains, a similar change was occurring in the land of FaeReie. The time had, after untold years, at last come for the Lords of FaeReie to surrender their thrones to their heirs. Though Cernunnos, his heir stolen by Ahriman’s temptations and Xaos’s morphic touch, had yet to select a successor, his three counterpart Queens each had prepared and raised a daughter to see to their throne as their time came to an end.

But something happened that changed the intented outcome of this change of power. The exact details are a closely-guarded secret, even all these eons later, but what is known is that Danu, minstrel queen of the third Court, had turned her eyes to the World’s Shadow. None know if she was collaborating with the banished enemies of the Lost Court or seeking to extend the hand of forgiveness and redemption; however, the other courts were fearful of the risks inherent in whatever action she took. Once more, FaeReie went to war - and this time, without the aid of Echidna’s monsters or Ahriman’s hordes, the victory was far swifter and far more decisive. The three other courts descended upon Danu and her people - the Tuatha Dé Danann - and routed them in an overwhelming defeat.

The price to be paid for this defeat, whether Danu’s intents were benevolent or hostile, was nothing less than banishment, just as the Lost Court before them had been cast out. Many of the Tuatha, seeing their imminent departure, chose to defect to the other courts, begging succor and pledging eternal subservience to their new Queen or King in an attempt to escape the dreaded sentence of exile. However, the vast majority remained loyal to their lady, and departed with her. Mighty magic, the last true power of Danu and her people in FaeReie, was used to pull their ancient home - the eternal forest of Sentara - through the gate by which they were forced to depart.

Sentara and its people emerged on the continent of Stormwind, filling a vast coastal plain on the continent’s eastern shore with the sudden arrival of the entire woods; despite the great forest’s size, however, its new finite boundaries made it immensely tiny compared to the endless forest they had once called home. A vast city was immediately built, called Abartach after one of the Tuatha’s heroes, from which Danu would rule her people from her new throne. For a short time in the life of the Fae, they lived peacefully, believing that in exile they could continue on at least in a shadow of what had come before.

It was not to be. Time took its toll on the Tuatha, and as the centuries passed, they began to change. They began to weaken, their strength and magic sapped away by the mortality of the Material. They began to age, and to die. And their children were born weak, small, and powerless, and while in the eyes of other mortal races even these diminished creatures lived impossibly long, in the view of the once-immortal Tuatha their lives were painfully short. Slowly but surely, all but the mightiest and greatest of the Tuatha, and all newborns, became something else: a race of fey-tinted creatures more mortal than majestic, who the Tuatha deemed as Elves.

Now a race in cultural and existential decline, the Tuatha and their Elven offspring turned to new goals - to establish, secure, and strengthen themselves among the other mortal races of their new reality. Meanwhile the dread secret of the cause of their departure remained hidden away, secured only by Danu and her closest confidants, unknown and unknowable to even the newborn Elves, much less any from beyond Sentara’s borders. The fallen queen became a recluse, never leaving Abartach, to the point where only a few short Elven generations later her very existence was considered something of a myth, and even the most stalwart Elf had to consider within himself if she still lived at all, or whether the few and dwindling remaining true Tuatha clung to the memory of a ghost, the last shred of their old lives gone to the winds of mortality.

The Dawn of Mortals.

It was from the spare few who remained on Finiens after the War of the Courts ended that mortal-kind would in time be crafted. Using their previous creations as a template, the Aspects and the Avatars began their work anew, crafting and forging life to refill the emptied world. Alongside their creations were the offspring of Echidna, monsters and beasts and stranger things, which in turn produced more of their own kind, spreading their bizarre progeny into the wilds of the earth. Animals and beasts were made first, the mundane and the fantastic, creatures of all shapes and sizes. But after them they turned their attentions once again to  sapient life. Life that was made in the image the Aspects had desired from the first, but could compete - intellectually - with the enlightened children of Echidna’s spawn.

In the aftermath of the Lost War, the lands of Finiens had been cleaved apart, shoved away, relocated, combined, and otherwise shifted about and reorganized from their original, intended designs. Five distinct lands, five continents; to each, three lives were given.

To the northernmost, Stormwind, was given the nomadic prides of the Leoni, the industrious mountaineer tribes of the Kobolds, and the boisterous barbarian packs of the Orcs.

To its neighbor, Senkaku, came the cunning and noble clans of the Naga, the clever and curious flocks of Tengu, and the populous hordes of miniscule Nezumi.

To the south, the jungles and mounts of Paziou became home to the hardy and reckless Dwarves, the nimble and resourceful Halflings, and the ambitious and efficient Humans.

Further south yet, the broad and vast continent of Wachara now housed the mighty Giants, the resolute Fenrin, and the unfathomable Dragons, the mightiest of Echidna’s brood.

And last of all, furthest south, the remote land of Teremvor hosted the sturdy Lizardfolk, the persevering Gnolls, and the tyrannical Hobgoblins.

At the last the Aspects stood and looked over their creation, and pronounced it almost complete. But there was one thing left to do. None knows which of the Aspects made the suggestion or initiated the final creation, nor why such a terrible thing was suggested, but whatever the reason, the others acceded in short order and the last craft began.

Taking the mightiest of all their remaining resources from which they would create, the Aspects forged eight new beings of wonder and terror, mighty engines of destruction beyond anything before made or born. Once created they were scattered throughout the world, placed in deep slumber and hidden away in remote parts of the world.

Firbohlg, giant of giants. Tiamat, serpent from the sea. Tarrasque, beast to end all beasts. Orochi, the living island. Ahmmut, devourer of domains. Fenrisúlfr, the fangs of flame. Tsemeques, the frozen titan. And Ziz, scourge of the sky.

These Children of Perdition, sealed in their concealed places, were locked away for a time in the future where they would be needed for a task unspoken. Theories range everywhere from the ultimate time of Finiens’s unmaking to a failsafe should Nidhoggar break free of his deep prison and seek once more to devour the earth. But the Aspects are silent on such things, and have always been.

And for a time, the world knew not of them, hidden away and forgotten by mortal men, spoken of only as legends and dreams in the earliest days of life.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


As with all things, it was only a matter of time until peace came to an end.

None knows how long this primeval proto-world remained in its potentially-infinite stasis. It may have happened swiftly, or generations upon generations could have lived, died, and been reborn before at last the calm was broken. Kingdoms could have risen and fallen, wars come and gone, triumphs and glories crested and ebbed, or it could have been the space of a heartbeat, here and gone in the blink of an eye.

But at some point, after life had come and existence had been established, came the next threat: boredom.

Two of the Aspects began to express a disdain for the world they had created. Ahriman and Xaos, tired of their art already, bid their sisters to wipe the slate clean and let them begin anew. Arete and Braghain immediately refused, the former unwilling to see so many lives obliterated for the sake of their entertainment, the latter horrified by the idea of their craftsmanship being dissolved back into the dust and darkness from which it had been formed. Fighting once more rose amidst the Aspects, and for the first time in unmeasured eternity, those who were once unified - first as One entity, then as one in Purpose - were now opposed, Good against Evil, Order against Chaos. Mazuda attempted what she could to keep the peace, but as the discourse and confrontations grew fiercer, the other four drew only further apart, not closer together. Seeing she could do nothing to end their battles, she withdrew, leaving her four siblings to their fighting.

The Avatars, uncertain as to the nature of the conflict nor their place in it, flocked to The Ancient of Days. To them she issued a proclamation: they would remain neutral, showing no open allegiance to any of the four disparate causes that she feared would soon tear Finiens apart in their bickering. They would see to their Creation, and to it alone, and to Mazuda only would they be accountable; should the other Aspects have issue with their actions, they were to see it brought to her, not to command the Avatars under her hand. The four Elementals, Ireshkigal, and Zshagothotha continued their assigned duties, remaining uninvolved in the conflicts, and for a time, life went on.

But such was not to be forever. While the others either did not notice in their infighting or did not care, Ahriman saw the act of his sister in claiming all the Avatars under her own sway, and rebelled. He stretched his will and his hands to the skies above and the earth below, called forth the elements they had once forged with, and crafted himself a new Avatar of his own, a furious, destructive thing, an incarnation of Wrath whose name has been blotted from the ages, and imbued it with his own power. He then delved deep into the earth, beyond the Seal, and approached the imprisoned Nidhoggar, to whom he offered such power as bounty in exchange for aiding his plans of destruction and vengeance against Mazuda. The hungry serpent eagerly agreed, and was imbued with the might of Gluttony, and given his first task - to reach out to the Life they had created and draw them to darkness.

Both this Wrathful horror and the Gluttonous serpent found eager purchase for their temptations in the mind of the great warrior lord, Balor. At their subtle urgings, the great king waged war on all around, until at last he struck against his fellow lord and ladies, seeking to seize all five thrones for his own. They, at Ahriman’s behest, attempted to touch the minds of his generals as well, and tainted all but one - his daughter and heir, Feada.

Finding no purchase in the one target he had sought from the beginning, Ahriman turned his attentions instead to the other Courts. Calling upon the aid of his then-ally Xaos, he seduced the heir of the hunter’s Court, Echidna, and tempted her to betray her father Cernunnos; in exchange for power unfathomable, she agreed to lead an army against her own Court, seize the throne for herself, and fight alongside Balor and his armies to destroy the other Courts and subdue the world. At Xaos’s touch, she was transformed, taking on the form of a great serpent-woman; she was then given to Ahriman’s Wrathful warlord as bride, and the army she had been promised given as a brood of her own birthing as Echidna became the Mother of Monsters.

Despite this, however, victory was not theirs to have. The other Courts fought back fiercely, battling their fellows under Balor’s command and the newly-bred monstrosities of Echidna with equal vigor, their Queens and King and Heirs leading the charges against enemy forces with the ferocity of all the indomitable wilds. So fierce was the battle, so relentless the strife, that when at last the winning blow was struck - a spear to the heart, a blade to the flesh, an arrow to the eye, and a spell to the soul - the backlash of Balor’s fall shook the entire world of Finiens….

… and sundered it.

Balor and his Court - including, perhaps unintentionally, his daughter Feada, who had desired no strife with her fellow Courts - were cast away into a world of bleak shadows and empty echoes, a world defined by all the things dreamed but without substance, all that was ever wished for but could never be. A world of the lost and forgotten, a shadow of things that would never come, they found themselves endlessly taunted by images of the great kingdoms they would have forged had they triumphed, only to find them so much smoke and ash. This shadow of the world was now their conquest and their prison, and try as they might, the six - The Nether King himself, his very name cleaved away from him with that final blow, plus his four generals and his now-imprisoned heir, locked away by her father and his troops for fear of another betrayal - could find no escape.

Victory bloomed anew for the other four Courts, however, but likewise they were severed from the world they had known; their prison, however, was of much greater grandeur, and perhaps not a prison at all. After the battle, they found themselves in a world vibrant with life, filled with endless wonders alien and beautiful and terrible. A world of infinite potential, unbound by rule or law, spiraled out from their triumph - a victory touched by the fickle whim of Xaos, who had withdrawn his support for his brother at the last second, allowing the Courts to seize victory at the price of his sway on the world they had just won. This wonderland had taken its toll on them as well, and its inhabitants felt themselves change as the years rolled on - severed from Ireshkigal’s call, death and life blended into a persistent immortality, where the very world itself returned them anew if slain, often in different shapes and forms just as much as unchanged entirely. As the eons turned, they forgot their lives before the war, their connections to their creators, and all but the infinite mystery of their new home. Deeming themselves the Fae, they called their realm FaeReie, and the four surviving Courts claimed their new demesnes within the infinitude of endless possibilities. Their betrayer kin, deemed The Lost Court, were largely forgotten, spoken of only in hushed whispers with loathing and fear.

As for Finiens itself, it was left largely uninhabited, with only a few sparse pockets of surviving creatures left on its surface. The Aspects were forced, to Xaos’s glee and Ahriman’s grudging acceptance of a partial victory, to begin anew, leaving these echo-worlds to their own devices and focusing their full attention on this new central, anchor world of the Material. New creatures to populate it were formed, both by the hands of the Aspects and by the womb of Echidna, who - despite fleeing to the safety of Mazuda’s shadow to escape the dangers of that final battle - retained her partnership with the Wrathful monstrosity, and continued to give birth to all unimaginable creatures of horror and power and unfathomable beauty and strangeness, greatest among them Zmejgorynych, Father of All Dragons.

It was not only Finiens itself that was damaged by the aftermaths of this conflict. The very borders of its tiny universe had cracked, crumpled, and split, opening miniscule, distant gaps to the myriad realities beyond its borders. As the sphere of starlight and shadow hurtled its way through an infinity of realities, with its walls now opened to them from those other existences things began to flow into this strange comet of a universe that hurtled along and through and past their borders.

And here they found resonance in the conflicts between the Aspects. Celestial entities of all shapes and ranks - angels, archons, azata, sephiroth, agathion, and more - presented themselves to Arete, pledging their services to the Excellence of Virtue in her war against Evil. The eternal clockwork and perfect calculus of the inevitables and axiomites resonated with Braghain, forming a living bastion of gears and numbers to stem the flow of madness, the Unchanging Infinity at its banner and helm. Devils, demons, kytons, daemons, asura, divs, yugoloths, and innumerable other fiendish evils cavorted and schemed and tempted and betrayed in the brimstone depths before the eyes of Ahriman, and the Malign Seed was pleased and ecstatic with their vileness. The endless songs of proteans and slaadi and the restless battlecries of the valkyries reached the ears of Xaos, and the Ever-Shifter swept himself into the chorus, maestro and performer all at once. And the inexplicable amorality of the aeons and the dutiful dirges of the psychopomps found court before Mazuda, and the Ancient of Days divided them in her service, sending the former to see to the operation of the universe unseen and placed the latter under Ireshkigal’s wings, to see to the process of souls in this new reality.

And souls, indeed, did it all revolve around. For these new servants, soldiers, and seekers demanded souls be delivered as due, as price for their services and loyalties and cooperation. No more would the Matron of the Tombs merely return a soul to life once more after each death; rather, only those so destined for such a rebirth would be given that fate, while others would depart to realms unknown, in which they would in due time join the infinite numbers of the extraplanar throngs.

The First-Forged.

Assured that no further malice lurked in the concealing dark, the Aspects returned their attentions to their work. The Five were pleased with the creation of their new warden of earth, and decreed that more such servants should be crafted, to see to the proper formation of the world and the oversight of life as it was made. They called up water from the depths below, flame from the stars afar, and wind from the air above, and gave them form and purpose. Satisfied with their work, the Aspects turned to the more daunting task of populating the world.

It was, at first, a simple task. Their four wardens provided the raw materials in varying amounts, and the Aspects shaped them into whatever they felt suited the purpose for which they had been made. Soon the world was rife with creatures of all sorts, flora, fauna, and all things beyond and between. But something was lacking. These creations were, in some way, incomplete.

Arete was the first to suggest the missing link: these creatures, impressive in many ways as they may be, and wonderful creations each in their own way, were naught but beasts and foliage, life and breath but no thought, instinct without will, purpose without conscience. They lacked the spark of mind to be anything more. They could craft from stone and sea, sky and star, but these things were energy and matter without thought themselves, and from them nothing could be made that had will. Even their wardens were mere automatons, acting by command of their makers; they possessed no thoughts of their own.

To form will, Arete suggested they must give of something with will. This proved satisfactory to her brothers and sisters, and all five provided a lock of their own hair for the purpose of the experiment. Zshagothotha, watching from above, offered its own assistance, and the locks were given to it, and from the formless a new life - the first Soul - was given form, bound together by the eldritch energy of the Seeker. Thus was forged the first true Child of the Aspects, the first Soul, the first Avatar - Ireshkigal, First-Holder and Last-Taker.

Pleased with the work, the Aspects immediately set Ireshkigal to the duty of creating souls to fill new life, and managing the flow thereof. Though proud of their creations, the Aspects were not so foolish as to believe their world would hold them all forever; thus to Ireshkigal was also given the task of culling those whose time had expired, and returning the seized souls to the proper place in the cycle. A Soul would be incarnated, born, live its life, age, die, and be returned to the beginning of the process, born anew.

Now that there were Souls, there could be proper Life. The Aspects’ first action was to have Ireshkigal give Souls to their four wardens, so that they could better fulfill their roles. Thus did Chthon, Aegir, Kenna, and Venta come to be, next of the Avatars to take their place under their creators. And with the aid of these new Five and the watching Zshagothotha from the darkened skies, the Aspects began the work of crafting intelligent life.

Their work was art, creation in a thousand, a million, a billion brilliant forms, life without limitations, without restrictions, unlimited potential given form. And, in time, leaders arose among these, prominent powers who united those beneath them through inspiration, charisma, force, or enthusiasm. The disparate life forms began to gravitate towards leaders who espoused their likeness or their ideologies, and in time distinct affiliations or “Courts” were formed.

Miranda, giver of life, healer and maker, mother of many.
Cernunnos, hunter of beasts, leader of warriors, master of monsters.
Danu, speaker of great words, whose songs could mend wounds and break the hearts of Avatars.
Ophelia, weigher of lives, wise judge of all she saw, sparer of innocents and executioner of the guilty.
And Balor, warlord and conqueror, fearless and fearsome, he of the burning eye.

The Aspects were so impressed by their leadership and capabilities that each gave a gift to one of these leaders, lengthening their lives so they could continue to lead their people without fear of death or decay.

Arete gave to Miranda her Mercy, that life would be born and raised with kindness.
Braghain gave to Ophelia her Practicality, that judgement would be passed without sway by emotion or lie.
Ahriman gave to Balor his Malice, that his prowess in battle would not be blunted by sorrow or fear.
Xaos gave to Cernunnos his Cunning, to be unpredictable and ever-changing, an untraceable predator.
And Mazuda gave to Danu her Inspiration, the word of the muse, that her talents would never flee.

The five were then instructed to each select one of their children, who would share their gift and serve as their heir; for these kings and queens would not reign forever, but in time their successor would claim their place. And in time they too would be succeeded by offspring of their choice. And so the cycle would continue.

Miranda chose Titania. Cernunnos chose Echidna. Danu chose Amaerellae. Ophelia chose Maedhbh. And Balor chose Feada.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The One becomes Five, and the Beyonders Come.

The One had been all, encompassing all things, undefined and undefinable. But where once was One now were Five, distinct and unique, unified in origin but separated by form and function. Yet together they worked, hand in hand completing the final desire of The One, the purpose for which they had been created, even as Identity forged within each a calling for their ultimate purpose.

Xaos, the Ever-Shifter, worked first, spinning forth the endless depths, forming the untamable waves and wilds, setting the sea to endless motion.

Braghain, the Unchanging Infinity, bound the ocean in shackles and chained it to the stars above, drawing the untamed tides into the sway of the universe.

Arete, the Excellence of Virtue, composed the sky, singing each star a note and each breeze a stanza, weaving forth the endless song of the heavens.

Ahriman, the Malign Seed, filled the stars with flame, the rain with frost, the wind with blades, and the void with hunger, outfitting the universe with deadly radiance.

And last of all Mazuda, the Ancient of Days, took hold of the sky above and the waters below, and brought them together, and locked them in place with the seal of land. And by her word their work was done, and called Finiens, for here sky and sea had been brought together as a sphere of endless horizons.

The One was the first and forebear, and The Five, or The Aspects of Existence, the Crafters of this new world. But even now, at the dawn of existence, they were not the only. Something had been in this dark pocket when The One arrived, and something had followed it here.

Perhaps it had consumed whatever had been here before, devouring it and leaving the emptiness in its wake for The One to find and to claim. Perhaps it had been attracted to the void, knowing that soon prey would be made for it. Or perhaps it was simply fate, or fortune, or random chance. But regardless, almost as soon as Finiens was forged, something came to see it unmade: Nidhoggar, the Devourer.

As the Aspects looked over their work and saw it satisfactory, and began making their plans for further creation, Nidhoggar attacked the freshly-minted world, lunging from the darkness of the oblivion and sinking its many maws into the sea and sky and stone. The Aspects, unsure of the nature and purpose of this creature, ignored it at first - in their newfound independence, they instead began to argue, blaming one another for its existence, accusing each other of creating it for the purpose of undoing the work of the others! Yet it soon became clear that Nidhoggar’s presence was not due to any act of their own or of The One, but that rather it must have come from somewhere else. United once again in purpose, the Aspects confronted Nidhoggar, who had torn through the sphere of Finiens from pole to pole like a cored apple, and had begun to ravage the planet from its southern edge upward.

While her four brothers and sisters battled with the great many-headed serpent, Mazuda called to the earth, demanding a prison be forged and a warden to rise from below to shackle the beast. The very stones of the world heeded her call, and raised up with chains of iron and magma, granite and crystal, sand and silt and mud, and grasped hold of the many coils of the Insatiable Gnawer as the other four Aspects held it still. A great, silent form grasped these bonds and dragged Nidhoggar, screaming and hissing and raging, back through the chasm it had carved into the core of the world, and sealed the prison shut behind. The wounds it caused were healed, but at its southern pole the seal remained, cloaked in ice and stone, hidden from view.

Wary of more hostile forces lurking in the darkness, the Avatars turned their gazes out to the dark twilight that enshrouded their universe, and amidst the stars and emptiness found another stowaway. Unlike Nidhoggar, however, this form meant no ill, despite the strangeness and incomprehensibility of its nature. The One had passed through many realities - and unrealities - in its search for a place of its own, and in one of those worlds between worlds, something had taken notice of it. A curious alien form had decided to follow The One in its wanderings, unnoticed and unheeded, lurking on the edges of existences where its nature could not Be and following eagerly behind like a forgotten child in places it could Exist. And it had come to this empty realm with The One and watched as The One became The Five, and observed in fascinated silence as the Aspects had worked their craft; and, being present in the universe as it was made, the reality in which it now found itself had been made to allow its existence.

The Aspects were, again, of many differing opinions about what to do with the strange interloper. Braghain wished to study it, discern how it worked and how a creature so alien had managed to retain its unique state once the world had solidified. Ahriman wanted to destroy it, claiming a desire to prevent the creature deciding to later wreak havoc as Nidhoggar had. Arete wished to speak with it on its nature, where it had come from, why it was here, and what it planned to do. Xaos paid almost no heed to it and was uninterested in his siblings’ bickering.

But in the end it was Mazuda whose desire swayed the Five to agreement. She bid the entity welcome so long as it remained peaceful, acknowledged it an established part of the world they had made, and promised it a place in the creation to come as an emissary from Finiens to worlds and existences beyond when the time came in the future for those of this new world to look beyond the stars. The entity was named Zshagothotha, Seeker Behind the Stars, and all of the black void around Finiens was given to it as home.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

About Finiens - The Out-of-Character History

Before I go too deeply into the worldbuilding and mythos and storylines, I should probably tell a little about how Finiens came about.

My introduction to D&D (and through it, Pathfinder) came first not through stumbling onto the games or being brought in by other players, but by the video game Neverwinter Nights. My first roommate in college played on a NWN Persistent World known as "The Realms of the Dragon Reach", and watching him play the game and roleplay with the other characters dragged me into it like no other game I'd played before. I purchased the game and its expansions immediately and was hooked straight through the next seven years or so. I in turn introduced it to my friend and future sister-in-law - known as Ebon_Fyre on Paizo and Belladonna or Bellamortis elsewhere - who in turn, along with my roommate, introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.

That was 2003. Fast forward about five or six years. We've bounced from server to server in NWN and our PnP group is about a quarter through Paizo's Savage Tide Adventure Path. Due to some frustration with various players and staff members at the time, we bid the NWN server we're currently on a not-so-fond farewell and decide to strike out on our own, and make our own server. In this time, we've played on no less than six different servers, all set in the Forgotten Realms, and we've grown quite tired of it; however, we know next to nothing about Greyhawk, aren't fans of Eberron, don't like the limitations inherent in Dragonlance, and have never heard of Golarion. So we decided to invent our own world.

At the time, we called the project Stormwind Paradigm, after The Stormwind Fallacy popularized on the WOTC forums (where I lurked under the username Edge_of_Oblivion and mostly never left the safe confines of the "Let's create some new Vestiges" thread), as we felt that the SWF did an excellent job at vocalizing our complaints about the playing and GMing style and mindsets of the server community we'd just departed. We tied this further into the world by calling the continent upon which it was set also Stormwind - I at the time had not yet played World of Warcraft, so I didn't know about the existence of that particular name's prior use.

As you can probably expect, we got absolutely nowhere. While both of us had some experience with NWN's toolset, neither of us knew anything about scripting, hosting, or haks, in addition to growing greatly accustomed to the additional content our old server that we had no way of reproducing. Likewise between work, school, Ebon and my brother's moving away, the eventual collapse of the Savage Tide game, and not long after having our NWN addiction replaced by WoW, the server project never got much past the planning stages.

But Stormwind did. We developed the adventure town of Port Haven, in the kingdom of Olympia, and its desert neighbor of Denvushain, the elven forest of Sentara, the swamp-wood lair of the yuan-ti in the Sombersong Woods, the towering Titans mountain range, and beyond them the barren, barbaric realm of the Ice Claw and the distant East Asian-inspired Senkaku Islands archipelago (yes, named for the disputed territory on our own Earth). And there we sort of stopped. We'd talk occasionally about our grand plans for running a NWN server, or when that proved beyond a shadow of doubt to be an impractical goal we moved on to the idea of running a play-by-post forum community, but that likewise never played out. So for a few years the project lay fallow, untouched, almost forgotten.

In 2008, I started working on an unrelated project. One of my old hobbies was tinkering around with RPG Maker 2003, which I'd picked up just out of high school and occasionally poked around in. From time to time I'd come up with ideas for games and plots, and usually I could get a fair bit of story worked out; what would usually happen is I'd get a fair bit written then actually start trying to work on the game itself, and my lack of any ability whatsoever when it comes to sprites would usually get the best of me, and I'd abandon the project due to graphical incapability. This time, though, I tackled the project from a different direction - I wrote out the story first, using that year's NaNoWriMo competition as motivation, with plans to give the whole thing another try yet again once I was done with the story itself.

I never finished the story, entitled Altered Enigma, though it's on my to-do list. But I did invent something that would see a great deal of future use - the continent of Wachara. At the time, it consisted of a mere five regions - the necromantic desert empire of Anhur, the Camelot-esque kingdom of Galadae, the collapsed bandit-ridden realm of Naltaskar, the Romani-inspired nomadic culture of the Olori, and the barbaric anti-civilization of The Northlands. I also made vague references to the "dark continent" of Paziou, originally located to the south of Wachara; I'm not sure if I intended that to be a hat-tip to Paizo, though I might have, as I was semi-active on the forums at that time due to my running Savage Tide and getting involved in the FAWTL community there.

I poked and prodded at Wachara for several years, while our PnP group pretty much ceased to exist - after Savage Tide fell apart, we tried to shift to a play-by-post format, but it never quite held. People moved away, we lost internet contact with a few of our old players, and... well, life moved on. In 2010 I moved across the country from Arizona to Tennessee, and after a dearth of D&D/PF gaming for several years, I convinced a few friends - among them the friends now known as Scintillae and Faceless on Paizo - to give a shot at playing some Pathfinder via Skype and MapTool. Likewise, I decided to run the game not in FR, not in Greyhawk, not in Golarion, but in a world of my own creation - Wachara. Or more accurately, a then-unnamed world that I, pretty spontaneously, decided included Wachara, Stormwind, and Senkaku as separate continents on the same planet.

After a slightly fumbling start, we decided to scrap the short-lived, practically plotless game in favor of picking up Paizo's Kingmaker, which I'd picked up some time before. Halfway through the first chapter of the AP, I managed to convince Ebon and my brother to find some time in their schedule to jump into the game with the rest of us, and as the colony of Iomrall began taking shape in-game, Finiens - as the world came to be called, courtesy of Scint and her Latin expertise - began taking shape out-of-game, thanks to a collaborative effort from our group. Scint provided a home for the avian-elves of the Ael-Vari by creating the Ancient Rome analogue of Divus, as well as creating the wilderness of Seredína and the cult-colony of Eirene, and helping me flesh out the disparate Olori Lands after their unified country of Olorunium collapses during the events of Kingmaker. She and Ebon likewise assisted with some of the geographical adjustments, such as moving Wachara into the southern hemisphere and Paziou into the northern, relocating the Senkaku Islands, and the addition of the fourth continent of Teremvor and creation of its inhabitants, the Goblinoid cultures of Finiens and the anarchic lizardfolk of the Ti'Larinn. And Ebon reminded me of our original ideas for the deities of Finiens, with the Five Aspects of Existence and the Avatars that served and represented them to mortals, allowing me to discard the conglomerate Greek/Roman/Norse/etc. placeholder pantheon I'd begun the campaign with.

Stir in a few unexpected developments, wild mass ad-libbing, and bizarre PC actions during the actual playthrough of Kingmaker and voila, here we are.

Thanks to the developments of the campaign as well as Scintillae running her Council of Thieves game in Stormwind and Faceless running Rise of the Runelords in Paziou, the world has gotten several opportunities for almost all the major continents to see some level of development and attention, though admittedly Wachara has gotten the most for obvious reasons. Moreover, feedback from several commentators on Paizo's forums - from readers of the three campaign journals I've written to fellow supporters and fans of non-humanocentric campaign settings, nonstandard racial alignments, and exotic/monstrous playable races - have requested further information on the world, its peoples, its places, and its history, thus bringing us to the purpose of this blog: sharing Finiens with Paizo fans and the Internet.

So here it is. Hope you enjoy, and eagerly welcoming feedback, suggestions, and commentary.

In the Beginning, there was The One.

The One was All. The One was None. It was without face, without shape, without name. And yet it was possessed of potential for anything. Its thought was life. Its word was oblivion.

The One had wandered the Black Beyond for eons, seeking a place of its own. It moved from realm to realm, world to world, universe to universe, swimming through the void, breaching the barriers between existences without hesitation. It could not be stopped, because what it was was not. Yet it could not act, for it had not found its place; in all its endless wandering, all it had found was that which already was claimed. Such was the only limit upon its reach - it could not act upon the work of another’s hand.

So it searched, and wandered, and watched, and dreamed. It saw the works of others, and saw that they were good, or efficient, or interesting, or desirable. It could not touch, nor take, nor steal, but it could remember, and adapt, and invent.

And in time, it found what it sought. A dark pocket of space and time, outside all established realities and unrealities, far from the reach of other Crafters. When it found this place, it sensed immediately that it had found a place for its own, and so shrouded its prize in a cloak of darkness and starlight, to hide from prying eyes until its work was done.

Within its globe of shimmer and night, The One began its work. It had seen the many worlds Crafted by Others, and wished to do the same for its own. But it had seen much, in its eternities of wandering, and was of many minds as to how to begin.

Give it form and function, perfectly suited to the tasks it must perform, spoke an iron spark, unwavering and true.

Give it power and fury, that nothing may stand before it, that it may claim all it wishes and crush all it opposes, hissed a sinister cloud, seething and boiling.

Give it freedom and flexibility, that it be not restrained, to bend rather than break, burbled a liquid flame, ever-burning in endless shapes.

Give it heart and soul and an iron will, with respect and honor to all rather than only the one, sang a pure note, sincere and without guile.

Give it life and breath and being, and give them unto us, that what is not may be, what is formless may have shape, what cannot be seen given sight, what is one may be many, instructed an endless eye, which saw without sight and heard without hearing, and perceived all things.

And The One thought of all these things, and thought them well; and thus to give way to its conflicting influences it sundered itself, dividing its essence among the voices.

Hello and Welcome

By suggestion and request, this blog will serve as a place for me to drop ideas and information regarding the homebrew setting used by my gaming group, Finiens, as well as discuss ideas, share and accept suggestions, and all around just talking gaming stuff. And maybe post up a bit of my homebrew work.

Here goes nothing =)

Brian, a.k.a. Orthos/Oblivion