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The Dravish Civilisation

by LoZompatore.

Here you are an article about the Dravish civilisation. I tried to derive as much info as possible from the few official supplements that describe this ancient and lost civilisation of western Brun.

AFAIK the Dravish civilisation is cited in just four official supplements:

- Dungeon Magazine #6-7, which provide most of the information and loosely describe three Dravish cities (Dravya, Yazak and Bylot);
- X9 "Savage Coast" that gives some clues about the Dravish origin of the city of Risilvar;
- X5 "The Temple of Death" with just a single hint about "the Yazak Steppes being also called the Dravish Steppes";

We may connect the info above with some hints given in SC supplements about the tortle society, which is linked to the Dravish.

Here is what I got:


Dungeon Magazine #6-7 give by far the most useful info about the possible extension of this civilisation.
In these modules it is said that Dravya, Bylot and Yazak are connected by some kind of permanent teleportation gates, that enables to travel from the temple at the city centre to another. Most notably, these teleportation routes seem to rely on some kind of "path" in order to work properly: two teleportation gates (similar to vertical stone disks with a hole in the middle) are always connected by a straight line similar to a road. The road crosses the plains of the region without diverting from its linear path and without encountering any obstacle: they are best visible from above (in a way similar to the Nazca lines of our world). Exactly halfway between two gates there is always some kind of earth mound built across the road. The mound is a little hill with always a different shape (DMG adventure lists a ring, two half-circles and a turtle-like shape): the shape of the mound is such that it collects rain water and so it may act as an oasis if the surrounding area is dry.

"Scattered over a square mile is the rubble of a ruined city. The most conspicuous structure in the city is a central 50' tall mound. Several huge stones with holes the size of a man bored through them stand about the central mound. Stone arches stand 20' over some streets. The rest of the ruin is only 10' high or less, with a few 20' tall stone pedestals and 30' tall brick pillars poking above the rubble."

"...Mysterious paths... connect the lost ruins and intersects several large earth mounds on the Yazak Steppes. Only PCs who look down from the tops of the mounds or fly at least 20' above the paths are able to see these roads.
...the paths were made by clearing away stones on the surface to reveal the soil, which is the same colour as the rocks. The difference between the soil and the stones is in texture only. so the paths are noticeable only from above.
The paths are human made, are not magical and are almost perfectly straight. The paths pass straight over all terrain and disregard vegetation and barriers... These paths had a religious significance to the ancient people who scratched them out. The lines correspond with the teleport directions of the magic gate stones."

As I said above, the teleportation gates are always around the central temple of the city (the temple itself being a cut-off pyramid). DMG adventure says that Dravya, Yazak and Bylot have an identical central urban layout (a single city map is provided for all of them). City map shows six different teleportation gate oriented along different directions:

For the sake of the DMG adventure just two teleportation gates for each city are still working (the ones connecting a city to the other two locations of the module). Nevertheless, if we prolong the "teleportation lines" from the other gates on a map we may deduce the presence of a lost Dravish settlement where two or more lines connect.
Moreover: in my opinion, given the features of the teleportation gates and paths, the Dravish civilisation is land-locked. So we might say that there is a Dravish settlement any time a teleportation path meets the sea.

From X9 module, another single teleportation gate is cited in the Dravish ruins of Risilvar (X9, page 24):

"Temple: ...The stone table is the resting place for a magic black wheel of obsidian. The wheel is formed from six wedge shaped pieces of the black stone. This three foot diameter artifact is the Wheel of Infinite Travel. Anyone who stands on the wheel and wishes to travel to another location they have visited before, instantly teleported here. The wheel does not go with the wisher. Correct device operation is only discovered by experimentation."

Even if the shape of the teleportation gate is slightly different from the description given in DMGs#6-7 we know that the ruins in the city are of Dravish origin (the sacrol who guards the temple speaks Dravish, moreover the temple itself is a cut-off pyramid).

Another interesting info about the possible extent of the Dravish civilisation comes from an odd hint in Dungeon#6 (in the "gossip" section of the adventure) where it is said that there are 4 lost Dravish cities in the Savage Coast:

"There are five ancient and lost cities on SavageCoast lands (False. There are only four)."

What is more interesting is the fact that neither Yazak, nor Dravya nor Bylot are set in the Savage Coast: the borders of the area are clearly shown in a general map inside the same Dungeon Magazine 6 adventure. Yazak, Dravya and Bylot are set in another region called Northern Wildlands, the Savage Coast being south of it.
So, if Risilvar is a lost Dravish city in the Savage Coast, we may infer that there are three more lost Dravish cities in the area. In my opinion, a good candidate might be the so called "Zul Monoliths", along the coast of the central Savage Coast. From the official supplements we don't know who built these ruins, but they are now inhabited by tortles. From DMGs# 6-7 we know that tortles (and snappers) were ancient servants of the Dravi people.

I tried to link together all these information with the intent of derive the possible extension of the Dravish civilisation. Here is the results:

Some remarks:

- The two settlements SW with respect to Dravya and Yazak (along the eastern coast of the Yalu Bay) might well be canonical: from DMG adventure we know that there are paths connecting Dravya and Yazak to the coast.
- With this disposition of settlements, the Savage Coast will have 4 lost Dravish cities: Risilvar, the Monoliths of Zul and two more settlements. The city near to the plateau is necessary in order to connect the city of Risilvar to the rest of the Dravish teleportation network, while the other city could be located where it is now built the Gator capital city Gurr'ash.
- The two settlements numbered with an "8" (NE of Bylot city) Might well be farther from Bylot. I set them there because in such a way their position is coincident with the path of the migration of the ogres of Ogremoor when they fled from the battle of Khuzud (from GAZ10). I find it nice to have the humanoids raid and ransack these two Dravish settlements (if they are not already in ruins) in order to replenish their supplies along the road to the east.
- There might have been a Dravish settlement near the Khuzud region, where Wogar and Ogremoor forces battle. Maybe we may think that "Khuzud" is the name of this ancient Dravish city.

- I placed a Dravish city along the Yalu river escarpment (the escarpment is taken from DMG#7 info), because in the adventure it is said that most of the Dravish civilisation was destroyed by a huge earthquake that deviated the original route of the Yalu river, causing massive droughts (along with plain destruction) in the whole Dravish territories. Here is the earthquake description from DMG#6:

"When the earthquake which destroyed the Dravish cities occurred, the land west of the EmptyValley tilted toward the SavageGulf. The Great Northway (Yalu)'s course was shortened, and the river plunged into the rift and along a new fissure to the sea instead of following the new EmptyValley."


About the technological level of Dravish civilisation, here is what I got, basically from DMG#6-7:

Dravish buildings are made of dry clay bricks, the temples themselves being more like an earth embankment covered with bricks and gold (from the temple in Risilvar described in X9 module). Other building elements (arches, columns) are made of stone:

"Scattered over a square mile is the rubble of a ruined city. The most conspicuous structure in the city is a central 50' tall mound. Several huge stones with holes the size of a man bored through them stand about the central mound. Stone arches stand 20' over some streets. The rest of the ruin is only 10' high or less, with a few 20' tall stone pedestals and 30' tall brick pillars poking above the rubble.

Most of the building within the city were built of sun dried bricks. .. These ruins have been deserted for centuries. Nothing perishable remains."

Is it not known if the Dravish cities are surrounded by city walls.

Dravi know how to work iron (there are rusty metal statues in the ruins) and gold. If they use iron we may set the height of their civilisation after the Nithians (who officially should be the first civilisation able to use iron after the Great Rain of Fire), sometime around BC 1850 - 1750.

"Four rusty metal statues of ancient warriors stand on the corners of the pyramid top."

" A magnificent almost magical golden pyramid stands gleaming before your party. Except for the stone stairs, the entire structure is formed of golden levels that lead to a shimmering temple at the top...
...The flat pyramid top is 40 feet above the street level. An ornately carved stone building stands in the centre of the pyramid top, its door facing the stone stairway to the south."

Dravi seems to be good magic users: apart from the teleportation gates the ruins are infested with golems and many types of animated statues. About the teleportation gate, DMG adventure says this:

" The first gate stone was created by a powerful Dravish magic user centuries ago in the city of Yazak (shell folk claim he had a tortle or a snapper apprentice, depending on which clan you talk to). During the earthquake which destroyed the Dravish cities and shifted the Great Northway's course, the secret to operating the gate stones was lost.
Natives who later discovered the gate stones did not realise their magical powers but knew they were important to their ancestors."

It is important to note that the teleportation gate is activated only if the user wears a fragment of a tortle or snapper eggshell.

Dravish society seems to be a warrior-like one. There are many warrior statues in the ruins, moreover we know that Dravi sacrificed captured warriors in their temples:

"Thousands of human skulls have been stacked and mortared together to form a 10 foot wall... The skulls in the wall are from captured warriors who were sacrificed in the pyramid temple."

For some unknown reason, there is a pile of Dravish people bones at the bas of the Risilvar temple. Maybe they are casualties from the great earthquake that destroyed the Dravish civilisation, even if Risilvar seems to me quite far from the point of origin of the cataclysm:

"In the middle of a wide avenue, only a few yards from the central earth mound, thousands of sun bleached human bones form a grisly 20' tall pile... Gold glints from the teeth of several skulls atop the bone pile. If the skulls are searched, 5-100gp worth of artificial teeth are found. The ancient Dravs apparently practiced dentistry."


I try to derive a rough Dravish timeline. The info are very few, so most of the timeline events are just my speculations:

1) In my opinion, Dravish settled the area after the Great Rain of Fire, and allied themselves with tortles. From SC set we know that tortles lived in the area well before the Cataclysm, because they were discovered by the Oltecs when they settled there:

The Oltecs discovered the presence of the tortles and the manscorpions, both races having scattered settlements along the central Savage Coast... ...The tortles were harmless and easily dominated and have remained so ever since. For the last 4000 years they have lived as peaceful farmers and hunters, on the edge of other societies.

Heard hinted about the hypothesis of having the tortle as a very ancient race connected with the land, the environment and the climatic balance.
Moreover, from SC we know that the aranea systematically changed their shape to adapt to human form not before 2000BC. This decision was made to disguise their race to face the settling of the area by increasing numbers of humans and demi-humans.
For this reason we may think that the first Dravish settlers arrived in the Yalu Bay area from the north around BC2000, their civilisation being some centuries older (possibly as old as BC2300 or so).
Maybe we can connect the Taymora migration to the same movements of people who brought the Urduk and the Taymora in the Sind and Known World regions.

About the fall of the Dravish civilisation we may associate the earthquake with the geological upheavals that destroy the ancient southern coast of the Known World, dooming the Taymora and isolating the elves and the Makai. Possibly the earthquake happened around BC1750 and destroyed the biggest Dravish settlements. Humanoids invasions (the goblinoid horde - possibly the followers of Ungar from GAZ10 - that raids the Yazak Steppes around BC1700) may scatter or enslave the rest of the Dravish people.

Isolated colonies may fall in the following centuries: the Bylot settlements around BC1200 when they were raided by the humanoids of Ogremoor.

Interestingly, the Monoliths of Zul were resettled by tortles (possibly fleeing from their ancestral homelands in the Dry Flats between Bylot and Dravya) not before BC700. From SC:

"Tortles were largely ignored by the Nithians, perhaps because they were still rare on the eastern coast."