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Secrets of Davaniaby Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 5
Secrets of Davania
Being an introduction to the continent based on rumors and lost history
by Francesco Defferrari
“The great continent of Davania has been the home of countless nations, as it is more ancient that you puny humans could ever understand. Each of these people thought they were meant to stay here and flourish forever, becoming as powerful as the Immortals. They were wrong. The mountains, the trees, the waters, the sands now grow and flow over their bones, if their bones are left.
Yet, we do know that some of the ancient people are not dead in Davania, only resting, only hiding, only waiting for a time they’ll be back. Some of these ancient people indeed are not hiding at all, and they can’t wait for the time of their return, so you can easily encounter them, and it could be the last meaningful event of your life. There are legends about forgotten people that live in the highest peak and in the darkest forests. Let me tell you that these aren’t legends at all, puny human.
Ancient kingdoms still survive in Davania, alongside the people that thrived before and after them. All these people had a time in which they ruled over countless miles, and they thought they would have been the lords of their land forever. But it wasn’t so, because they all fell, maybe because they defied the Immortals, maybe for some cataclysm, maybe because invaders destroyed them.
And through the millennia in Davania, many cataclysms struck and many invaders came.
You have no idea how many people came here, each of them claiming to be the rightful rulers of Davania, each claim as valid and enduring as the people doing it can sustain.”
As spoken by Asbeidar, the Ancient, The Ruby Overlord.
Rumors on the ancient people1
These tales could be heard in Kastelios or any city in the Sea of Dread. The DM can select one of them randomly rolling 4d12 (so you can have a use for it beside very large weapons).
4 - There is a region of volcanoes in the southern desert of Izonda, and a city built and inhabited by efreets and other fire creatures is rumored to lay there. The efreets claim they were the original master of all this land, and that once their empire spanned all Davania.
5 - There is a legend about a forgotten city in the Fire Bay of Vulcania, that once was built and inhabited by Fire elementals when this world was young and lava was more common than water.
6 - There are cities still inhabited by earth creatures, such as rockmen, geonids and more, in the deepest reaches of the Brasol range and the Ice Peaks.
7 - Powerful Fire salamander clans claim the volcanos of the Aryptian Basin.
8 - The Great Air Empire still rules in the coldest land of the south. It’s the most ancient nation in Mystara, as it existed continuously for millions of years.
9 - Somewhere under the Sea of Steam the immense coral palace, imperial seat of the ancient Water Empire, still stands under the waves.
10 - Medusae, some say, are the secret movers and shakers of north eastern Davania, where once laid their empire in times more ancient that anyone could imagine.
11 - Desert Ghosts roam the Aryptian desert and control gates to another world2.
12 - The children of the elements claim to be the original inhabitants of Davania, and they are probably right. Over millennia they have spawned countless genasi races and countless times they have tried to reclaim their lands. Elemental or genasi nations, cities or cabals could be present in virtually every corner of Davania, along with portals to the elemental planes.
13 - There was once an Age of Oceans when most of the continent was underwater and many sea creatures claimed then the oceans and the coast of Davania, some of them, ancient progenitors of jellyfish, squids, koprus, shark-kins, crabmen and scorpionfolk could still live along many seaside nations of Davania.
14 - Crabmen have a nation in north western Davania3 and still live in great numbers on the coasts and in all the shallow waters between Davania and Brun.
15 - There was then an Age of Worms when strange people ruled the continent, as the decapus, the dusanu, the scamille, now the stuff of legends or denizens of the most remote lands above and under the earth.
16 - The wurmlings4 are a race of intelligent worms that live and trade from the Savage Coast to northern Davania, and they have extensive underground domains.
17 - During the Age of Insects, araneas, formians, hivebroods and many other insectoid races ruled Davania for millions of years. The stories say that Formian hill cities still dot Vulcania, and the delicate wings of the Flying Nations still catch the sun in the jungles of Pelatan, Arica and northern Izonda, and the Araneas still rule vast lands of the Jungle Coast that once was part of the thrice fallen empire of Aran.
18 - Over the Green Bay flying ships and strange constructs are searching for traces of a long lost empire of powerful and intelligent insects that once ruled half the continent.5
19 - Caymen and Gatormen have powerful tribes in Adakkia and trade with local humans.
20 - Somewhere after Yasuko lands there are powerful nations of frogfolk.
21 - A Therapsid6 civilizations survives in eastern Arypt, guarded by a mighty dragon.
22 - Tortles7 and wallaras8 once had powerful and numerous nations in all south western Brun and north western Davania, while now only isolate communities remain.
23 - Saurial tribes9 roam the Aryptian savannah where once a great jungle stood in ages past.
24 - A survived branch of pteryx10 hides in the Brasol Range.
25 - Miles south of the Hinterlands rises the Sunlight Tower, that appears in this world only for a day every ten years, the ancient seat of The Sun Court, one of the original fairy courts of Mystara, with its immense treasures and dread guardians.
26 - A strange race of people descended from plants and insects lives west of the Hinterlands.11
27 - In the Hidden Wood there is a sacred place that according to Ents is the primeval forest of the planet.
28 - Under the desert of Izonda there is a massive underground fungal forest where intelligent fungus men dwell. They know when the next major cataclysmic event will hit the planet.12
29 - In the western Ice Peaks once stood the capital of a Dragon Empire, a city so big that spans an entire mountain range and little creatures can walk over it without even noticing its existence.
30 - The ancient capital of the Serpent Empire still stands on Lake Arypt. The lake and the area indeed took their name from the reptilian empire than once spanned half of Davania13, and the area is still the domain of lizardmen and intelligent snakes.
31 - In the remote past Davania was entirely occupied by a race of entropy-worshipping lizardmen that had an empire larger than all Adakkia and Izonda. All the other races were their slaves, and their descendants still live numerous in these regions14.
32 - Bird-men of many breeds have nations in Pelatan, in the Korva plains15, the Vulture Peninsula16 and many other places of Davania, some big as giants.17
33 - In the Gulf of Mar, elephant men18, rhino men, gnolls, and other strange creatures dwell, killing humans on sight. Other beastmen inhabits the most remote lands of Davania.19
34 - Leopard men, lion men20 and other cat men live everywhere in Davania, and they consider themselves masters of the land, as they have lived here much longer than humans.
35 - Dragons, sphinxes, pegataurs, enduks, faenare, centaurs, zebrataurs, fauns, drakes, fairies, and other ancient races had a kingdom in Pelatan that was destroyed in the Great Rain of Fire and is now ruled by human women with great magical powers.21
36 - Centaurs, fauns, drakes, dryads and other fairy folks claim all the ancient forests and humans entering them will never find a way out.22
37 - The upper reaches of the Brasol Range towards Adakkia are inhabited by brutemen, stone giants and monkey men.
38 - Elves and halflings have left Davania long ago, and only the evil ones have stayed, killing humans on sight.23
39 - A powerful gnomish empire rules the whole of Vulcania.24
40 - Ogres and other humanoids live all over Davania and have powerful empires in Izonda and in the Green Bay. They are powerful and advanced, but breed humans as cattle.25 Other man-eating orcs live in the Jungle Coast.26
41 - An island in the eastern sea was once a mighty human empire, but black dragons destroyed it and now only steam clouded islands with huge treasures remains. But beware, because the dragons still guard them,27 and often attack the eastern kingdoms of Davania.28
42 - Copper-skinned natives who serve lizardmen inhabit the Jungle Coast and once had an huge empire, whose magnificent and magical pyramids are now hidden in the woods.29
43 - Ochaleans have founded a nation called Yasuko in the Jungle Coast that trades through the oceans as far as Skothar.30
44 - The Milenian city-states of the north coast were once part of a great empire, from which the Thyatians came centuries ago. The capital of the Empire however is now a cursed city in the Hills of Desolation, between the Hinterlands and Manacapuru lands.
45 - Another great empire once flourished beyond the Gulf of Mar, but its inhabitants were all eaten by vulture demons and now the land is cursed.31
46 - The tomb of an Immortal is hidden in eastern Davania, and knights guard it and its treasures, killing anyone who comes too near32.
47 - Black men from another continent have conquered north western and south eastern Davania, so that their empire could proceed to the full conquest of the continent.33
48 - Insert your own rumor about Davania here.
The rumors described here could be true or not as the DM prefers, any of them, heard in Brun or somewhere else, could be a starting point for an adventure in Davania.
2 A reference to the Hollow Moon, see John Calvin’s “Once in a Blue Moon” article published in Threshold magazine issue 2.
5 The canonical Mek http://pandius.com/mek.html were created by a long-dead race of inhuman, insect-like sorcerers that I imagine a bit like these guys: http://dndtools.eu/races/dragon-compendium--109/diopsid--30/ and whose remains or descendants could still live somewhere in the area.
12 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myconid The reference to cataclysm is due to the fact that in cases of cataclysmic events such as asteroid impacts or extreme volcanism, mushrooms spreaded where plants dwindled due to cloud cover and difficult photosynthesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Paleogene_extinction_event
14 This rumor refer to the Carnifex Empire of Y’hog created by Geoff Gander, see here: http://pandius.com/lore.html Lizardmen, troglodytes, lamara, sis’thik and other reptilian races of Davania were often themselves slave of the carnifex or the serpentines in the past. Powerful lizardmen with troglodytes subjects canonically inhabit the Amalur lowlands (Poor Wizard’s Almanac II and III).
18 See here for Pachydermion: http://pandius.com/pacyderm.html They aren’t probably as hostile as the rumor says. Other creatures similar to Giffs (http://www.spelljammer.org/monsters/conversions/Giff.html) or Rhino men could or couldn’t inhabit the area as the DM prefers.
19 Other appropriate anthropomorphic animals (buffalotaurs, gnutaurs, llamas, pangolins, armadillos, opossum, sloths could be created by the DM who wishes so)
20 About the presence of simbasta (lion rakasta) pardasta (leopard rakasta) and other breeds of rakasta in Davania, check Giampaolo Agosta’s article in this issue of Threshold, Bruce Heard’s article “Rakasta of Mystara” in Dragon magazine 247 (May 1998) and also Simone Neri (http://pandius.com/rakhevol.html) and Marco Dalmonte (http://pandius.com/rak_hist.html)
21 That’s a reference to the Golden Realm (by James Mishler: http://pandius.com/ageblack.html) and the Golden Matriarchy of Pelatan that now stands in the region (http://pandius.com/pelatanm.html) inhabited now only by humans but also by all the above mentioned races and more.
22 Centaurs are mentioned by the Poor Wizard’s Almanac as common in the Meghala Kimata Plain, and drakes in the forests of Emerond
23 A reference to Kwythellar elves (http://pandius.com/kwyth.html), the savage elves of southern Vulcania mentioned in the Princess Ark series (Dragon 161) and the unusual halfling of Platea: http://pandius.com/platsum2.html
24 A reference to the Empire of Snarta, that however doesn’t rule the whole Vulcania.
25 A mix up of the Dictatorship of Izonda and the N’djatwa Kingdom. Only the latter actually eat human (and other races) flesh.
26 A reference to Bogdashan jungle orcs, whose eating habits are not specified in canon or fanon products, and therefore left to the DM’s discretion.
27 This is actually a mix up of the story of Oceania and Lhomarr: the first one was destroyed by Night Dragons, but it’s still over the waves, while the latter was sunk by Outer Being magic.
28 A reference to Cestia, often under the attacks of Night Dragons.
29 A reference to Manacapuru and Katapec
30 A reference to M-orientals and M-polynesian cultures that could be connected in the Sea of Steam
31 Another reference to Varellya. Note that, according to PC2 Top Ballista, nagpas helped build Serraine long before the fall of Varellya.
32 A reference to Vanya’s Rest.
33 It’s true that men from Tangor, in Skothar, have founded colonies in Izonda and Vulcania, but that’s unlikely to be an actual imperialistic plan, as the two migrations are a thousand years apart.