Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Known History of the Seven Spires

Here is a short known history I originally put together from Monte Cook's notes on Ptolus and mine on the Seven Spires and Behemoth (the world).

You live in an ancient Kingdom unsure whether or not it has toppled a millennium ago.

A few years ago, the first men and women who would one day be called “delvers,” returned from exploring the regions below the city of Ptolus. They were laden with gold and magical treasures. A few months later, others started to plunder the Maze under the holy city of Laelith. Today, hundreds of new would-be delvers pour into the cities of the Spires each month, hoping to strike it rich like others before them. Most end up dead, but they keep coming. Entire industries have evolved quickly to service the needs of these “adventurers.” In the shadow of seven ancient spires with a very dark past, rising impossibly high above the western shore of the Altalith lake, a whole new form of economics, politics, and social structure struggles to be born.

Creatures and individuals that normally remain in the shadows are drawn to these large gatherings of adventurers and magic. The needs of the adventurers prompt renewed devotion to magic, science, and religion. As the old nation of Osterande dies, Ptolus -- for years a backwater town on the edge of civilization -- is quickly becoming the center of something much larger than itself and is now able to compete with Laelith itself. Rumors of omens and prophecies and children born with strange birthmarks and abilities emerge from both cities with increasing frequency. No one knows just what yet, but something is happening to the Spires.

An insignificant port-city -- until recently -- Ptolus was originally built around a fortress, Dalenguard, which was erected to watch over the area once controlled by the dark master of an army of evil creatures. Ptolus is built over Dwarvenhearth, the ancestral home of the Meinedd Sidhe known as the Stonelost.

Called the ‘City by the Spire’ (since one of the Seven Spires rises strictly above it) Ptolus lies in the shadow of strange rock formations surrounded in mysterious legends and rumors. These tales tell of even older battles waged and cities erected on the site -- much of which might actually be at least somewhat true, for recent developments have revealed that vast complexes lie under the city.

Of late, Ptolus has become a city of adventurers as treasure-seekers have flocked there to explore and plunder the labyrinthine structures beneath the streets. If the stories are true, these catacombs involve the sewers of the city, the remains of an older settlement (and its sewer system), Dwarvenhearth, and even more -- plunging impossibly deep below the city.

Ptolus lies in a cool, rainy, costal area with harsh winters. It serves as an important port on the Altalith Lake and was part of the ancient kingdom of Osterande. With the collapse of its government in the years that followed the Punishment, Ptolus now maintains an independent status, ruled by a council dominated by Royal representatives.

Laelith has long been the siege of Faith over the Spires. It was the residing place of the Consul of the Host, and now remains the place where the God King guides and enlightens the believers of Lothian's Church.

Laelith streches over an ancient plateau now inclined towards the Altalith lake. It wasn't always this way, but when the old faith was exposed by Saint Lothian, the Punishment shook the holy city more than any other location of Osterande. Blood rain and ash fell over the world. When the Punishment was over, many blocks of the city, even whole districts, lay in ruin. The whole city was tipped more than thirty degrees towards the lake. This happens ages ago, it seems, but still in some parts of the city you can see the scars left by this cataclysmic event.

Today, Laelith fully recovered. Each year, it attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the Spires. These pilgrims often visit the palace of the God King and the temples of the elements under the supervision of the Church of Lothian (the Cults of the Elements are part of the Church of Lothian from which the God King is the highest ranking representative).

Under Laelith spreads its Maze, a collection of ancient galleries dating back to the days before the Punishment and more recent excavations from all sorts of inhabitants of Laelith and denizens of the Long Dark (also known as the Underdark). This means some of the tunnels and rooms of the maze are tipped towards the lake while other, more recent tunnels are not. It sort of constitutes a web or grid of caves and corridors with various levels and inclinations.

The world

A single silvery moon hangs above in the night sky. There are stories of other, ancient moons which existed prior to the Punishment and fell from the heavens when the Host committed crimes to the face of the divine.

It is uncertain for the inhabitants of Spires whether the world, called Behemoth, is round or flat. Many assume it is flat, with the Spires lost in a sea changing into Mist to trap the unwary and make them from the Edge of the World. Some scholars think Behemoth is in fact round. According to these eccentrics, one could travel from one side to come back by the other in a straight line, but so far no noble house supported this theory. It is more and more known and popular with each passing decade, though.

Learned folk know that the world is made up of matter and energy (the essence of both of which can be expressed as fire, earth, water, and air) and that matter is made of particles smaller than a person can see. Magnetism, lighter than air gases, and other basic aspects of science are not unknown, either.

Most people know that the Ethereal Plane is a magical place that shares the same space with the world but is apart as well, or ‘out of phase.’ The Elemental Planes are conceptual places based around the fundamental building blocks of matter and energy. Whether Heavens and Hells exist or not is unknown, but the existence of divine beings of good or evil essence has been proven many times by holy priests and terrible acts of devilry.


The history you have been taught as a child centers around the existence of Osterande and its Fiefs. You know that many centuries ago there was a great war of the Lost Ones against the Verrik and the Uladhrim, and you know that the Great Host of Men, Sibbecai and Giants came from the North to save the day. You do not know what was the nature of the Lost Ones, nor the traditions of the Lost Kingdom. It is one of the great fascinations of the people of the Spires (similar to the fascination Egypt was inspiring at the end of our 19th century), and many scholars devote their entire lives to the discovery of facts and artifacts related to the Lost Ones.

When the Lost Ones were defeated at the Battle of Amaranth, Osterande was born. Men, Giants and Sibbecai, along with their Litorian, Verrik and Uladhrim allies created new Fiefs to administer the land. The powers were concentrated in the hands of the Consul of the Host, both the spiritual and temporal leader of the Spires’ peninsula.

But soon the lieges and lords of the Spires grew complacent and vile. The Old Religion of Cathain was explosed by a Saint going by the name of Lothian, and soon he was arrested and executed. The earth trembled and the heavens grew angry. The Punishment then occurred, shattering the land, creating the Lakes, killing many inhabitants of the known world. When darkness fell upon the world, it was to remain for the following centuries.

In the years that followed, the Gate to the Underworld was discovered in the Arkhanian Vale and the city of Manifest was built. The few cemeteries remaining in cities and villages to this day have been built before the Punishment, even if they are still in use (which is extremely rare but is the case in Ptolus and Laelith).

Countless wars between the old allies of the Host occurred concurrently. The old Throne of the Host was broken. Two distinct titles replaced the former Consul in the years that followed the Punishment. The God King of Laelith would forever hold Lothian as his true God and rule on the spiritual realm in his name while the Prince Consular of Ptolus would stay at the head of the state.

It worked for a time, but a time only. Soon, the relations between the two lords of the Host became tensed, and when Prince Consular Zaphram Sedais declared the use of magic could now be officially practiced anew (it fell into disuse in the years that followed the Punishment for fear of further revenge), the God King declared it spiritually unacceptable. The Edict of Devilry was ordered by the Lord of Laelith, and most followers of the Prince Consular and the Senators of Ptolus were hunted down by the faithful to the Church of Lothian.

What was unknown to the God King at the time was the impact it would have on the popularity of the Church during the next centuries. The Church of Lothian, after a sudden period of glory was soon said to be corrupted and inhuman. Many new spiritual movements challenged the Edict of Devilry, and after a reform of the Church leading to the creation of the cults of the elements, it was abandoned altogether by the spiritual authorities of the Spires.

With years and generations, the Old Senate of the Host fell from grace. No true lord would now see the need to discuss their own matters of state in the Senate of Ptolus. The Fiefs were not the same friends anymore. The title of Prince Consular still exists though. Its present holder is Princess Andares d'Astradeen who also happens to be Duchess of Harmoria. She never attended a single session of the Senate but does not miss an occasion to remind visitors and diplomats of her rank in official business.

Both the God King and Andares are very ambitious people, and both are contemplating the possibility of bringing back the title of Consul from the past. This would create a rift both spiritual and temporal among the fiefs of the shredded kingdom of Osterande. Whether the Spires need this conflict or not remains to be seen.


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