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Ambur - Outside Starpoint

by Rodger Burns

"It's a third the size of Karameikos, there's got to be something else interesting there besides a theatre town."

Terrain - Flat, featureless plains, no terrain features of note at the 24-mile hex scale. Knowing the Alphatians, the area has almost certainly been artificially deforested sometime in the past two thousand years; it also has to have a whole bunch of small rivers, valleys and similar.

History - This corner of Alphatia was the last refuge of the Yannifey tribesmen after the initial Alphatian conquest, and by the time the Empire got around to expanding this far the Yannifey had learned some things - battle tactics, power sources of primal or Entropic origin, ways of making pacts with nature spirits and other strange beings - that kept the battles from being entirely one-sided. The Alphatians still won, but there were several battles where the Yannifey extracted a fairly high price from their conquerors... and so there's old cursed battlefields, hidden Yannifey burial mounds and places of power, and ghosts of dryads, nixies and similar scattered across all of Ambur.

More recently, there's the fact that Ambur hasn't always been the 'theatre kingdom' - like almost every nation in Alphatia it's reinvented itself several times over in the past two thousand years. Most recently, it was a focal point for the study of illusion magic, glamers, deceit, shadows and eventually Nightmare - and it ended spectacularly, as too many poorly-controlled experiments and wizardly feuds collided with each other and resulted in a year-long orgy of chaotic destruction. Entire square miles of countryside were scoured by Blackflame, dozens of towns and wizards' towers were half-warped out of Normal existence and trapped in stasis between the two dimensions, and creatures ranging from brain collectors to deep glaraunts took up permanent and involuntary residence in Ambur. Even three centuries later not all the damage has been cleaned up, and the rulers of the kingdom still live in quiet fear of a recurrence. What's more, the phantasms used on the Starpoint stage and the stargazing of the kingdom's astronomers have, at their core, the old teachings of illusions and Nightmare...

Economy - Outside of Starpoint, this is mostly subsistence agriculture and herding. Crops are mostly roots and tubers such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, and also pumpkins and squash; the various magical taints in the soil mean that these are often oddly-shaped, and sometimes rotting from within or mildly toxic (the common farmers of Ambur have a sense of humour that tends towards the extremely barbed). As a result, anybody who has a choice usually chooses to try herding sheep instead of planting - not that this is any pleasure trip, either. The countryside has things a lot nastier than wolves that go after the country's flocks, and the local equivalent of sheepdogs are generally magically-enhanced to be a lot rougher and more temperamental than in more mundane countries. Sheepherding in Ambur gets hazard pay.