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The Rise of Nithian Studies

by Ville Lähde

Here's a little idea I started toying with one day, while reading the Ylaruam Gazetteer.

When Nithia was destroyed for the sins of its Thanatos-worshipping leaders, three immortals placed the Bead of Oblivion under the city of Surra-Man-Raa. Since then, any travellers passing the city within 12 miles have lost all recollections of the lost Empire. The Gazetteer seems to leave it at that. Nithia becomes lost in the mist of history.

But what if some Ylari scholars started paying attention to the very effects of Oblivion, and this would lead them to the secrets of the lost Nithia? A scenario:

Many scholars are researching for ways to fulfil the Dream of the Desert garden. While doing some archaeological digs they find out that there are marks of dense vegetation and moisture in the Ylaruam area, long ago. This will direct some of their studies towards the ancient ruins (Nithian), study of which has never been too popular in Ylaruam, as al-Kalim advised against it.

The university sends out various expeditions to recover textual fragments ("hieroglyphs") from those ruins in order to know when and why the desert was born. In time, several of these expeditions seem to suffer from a strange malady, they seem to get no info, actually some of them lose bits and pieces of their memories of previous learning. (Remember, that if the expeditions were directed to learn more about the old Nithian ruins, it is plausible that the scholars were briefed with that little info available on Nithia.)

Through principles of simple inference the scholars are bound to notice that something in amiss in the Surra-Man-Raa region. However, the idea of an artefact of oblivion would be too big a leap of faith. Thus it is likely that they'll send some more expeditions, this time directed specifically at Surra-Man-Raa. The university will lose even more "live" info on Nithia, but will eventually gain something - even if it takes years for them to figure this out: that the strange "Nithia" is the object of this Oblivion.

This signals the birth of a new branch of scholarship: the Nithian studies. But where might they start? Actually, there are a few good places:

The elves and the dwarves should have some information, even in textual form, about the lost Empire. It should be nearly forgotten, perhaps "disguised" in stories, songs and metaphors of hubris and fall. But something may be found.

Alphatians have been around a long time , and as an ancient civilisation they should have at least some info on Nithia. Perhaps even notes on the general character of the civilisation, its relation to Thothians etc.

Traladaran folklore might also include hidden details of the flight of Traldar from Nithia (some suggestions in the campaign scheme The Division of the Five). Also, the Nithian colonisation of Minrothad may have left some fragmented hints.

Effects of all this? It's of course up to the DM. But for example, the scholars might be able to piece together the general reasons for the birth of the desert, if not the celestial reasons behind it. The role of the Alfheim forest (diverted rainfall) and Rockhome mountains (diverted rivers) might increase the xenophobic attitudes of some in the kin faction: "The Outsiders have robbed us of our riches. It is they who stand in the way of the fulfilment of al-Kalim's dream!" This is not too far-fetched, claims like that have been made in RW, too.