- Fortune Hunters
- Dark Mariners
- Draconid Legion
- Order of Yosoth
- Sunless Kingdom
- Axibalán Empire
The Ecstasy of Gold
The leader of our motley groups of adventurers is a terrifying individual, a veteran of numerous excursions into the depths of the underground realm below snowy fields at the end of the word. Captain Vicente Escobar is completely unhinged from reality, yet his men will follow him into the pits of hell, a place not far removed from these nightmarish lands. His tactical expertise and keen eye for treasure has made us wealthy beyond belief, but I fear for our everlasting souls for the deeds we have done…
Journal Entry – Ensign McCardell 1691
Within a few short years of the discovery of the previously uncharted wasteland beneath ice and snow, scores of grizzled veterans and starry-eyed dreamers came by sea to lay claim to this new land and the glittering treasures that it held.
It was not a land uninhabited though, and many perished under its sunless sky. Some have returned though, better equipped and bringing with them scholars and masters of arcane arts that some would consider impure, but are necessary to retrieve the artifacts of this lost world.
Fortune hunters come from different countries, with expeditions and ships funded and led by wealthy nobles working in collaboration with powerful factions within kingdoms. The stated goal of the expeditions is scientific exploration and discovery of the nature of the world’s history. The unstated goals center around conquest and plunder, utilizing freebooter pirates and mercenaries to neutralize any savage natives encountered, as well as scholars and priests with experience using and countering the powers of ancient artifacts.
Their main advantage in combat is their gunpowder weaponry and the ability to rout an enemy at long range. Many are also protected with heavy steel plate armor. For the time being, the fortune hunters have not discovered a method for transporting their ships underground, so they have relied on horse and cart to haul treasure back to the surface. This has also limited the amount of heavy artillery available, although large cannons would be of use in many battles. Small cannons are brought in some cases and have devastating impact on the enemy.
Doom Crawls from the Slimy Seas
Our musket balls crashed through the plating of the warrior creatures as they lurched out from the murky depths and shuffled nauseatingly on slimy tentacled limbs towards our position, taking a toll on their advance, but our confidence was short lived. A foul creature came among the warriors, protected from our fire, and though I did not note any eyes, its gaze made my blood turn to ice. I remember little of the flight after that into the forest, only that two of our men remain now, gibbering in madness as they stare into the dark…
Journal Entry – Captain Remy Dubois 1690
Little is documented about the force known as the “Dark Mariners”, as they inhabit the nighted depths of the Shadow Sea, but some scholars have found a link between their technology and artifacts of the Ancients.
It is theorized that beings these may actually be the degenerated offspring of the gods of Axibalán lore, and the original creators of the artifacts coveted by all.
From such a noble civilization, they have completely devolved into nightmare, mixing their bloodline with the foulest of undersea life. A stone tablet dredged up from the sunless ocean, covered in glyphs, has been partially translated and indicates that their history may have begun to degenerate with increased reliance on esoteric forms of communication, manipulation of cosmic energy and twisting of their own physical forms to enhance their abilities.
The Dark Mariners are an enemy to all creatures living above the sea, able to slither up on land while carrying their own water and lay waste to all in their path using terrifying blasts of energy. Their weaponry and armor is some sort of natural material, neutrally buoyant and resistant to most weapons. It has been noted that it is susceptible to volleys of lead shot though.
Many of their forces utilize different types of ethereal electricity in the form of superheated gasses, known as ethereal plasma by esoteric scholars, while others wield lightning and others some form of magnetism. Backing up the main vanguard are hideous telepathic wizards and massive living constructs of golden alloy and slippery flesh. These forces enter the battle from beneath the sea, carried within monstrous vessels that vaguely resemble gigantic sea creatures.
Savage Legion of Scaly Devils
These creatures seem to possess a keen intellect, something we had not suspected after our initial encounters. Our engineer made note of this to the captain after finding what appeared to be hand-carved firearms, made by skilled hands from lumps of an abundant bronze-like metal, and using an explosive crystal powder to shoot out jagged rocks and shards or razor-sharp glass. The Captain would have none of this though, and ordered a full charge towards the next group of the savage devils we spotted, only to see his troops felled by blasts of crystalline death from all sides.
Expedition Log – Pilny the Aged, 1692
Many early explorers died at the claws and teeth of savage reptiles during the earliest excursions into the Underlands. It was said that these reptiles were similar in appearance to dragons of legend, yet walked upon two legs and showed cunning intelligence and the ability to communicate.
As more expeditions returned, they found that the draconids had been steadily carving out their own empire, with groups as far up as the mouth of the Underland entrance.
This is apparently a very young species, as no pictograms exist of their origin outside of those in a recently captured Axibalán temple. Murals in the temple describe how the draconids were a creation of the Axibalán sorceresses from glittering, flying dragons but were banished from the empire and hunted mercilessly. The mural is not clear on the reason, but draconids are clearly devious in nature and fully capable of forming an organized assault. They have also somehow managed to discover the basic nature of metallurgy and some of our men have recently reported of battling draconids equipped with metal armor vaguely in the form of our own.
Draconids have been found at many sites with ancient artifacts and have been extremely difficult to dislodge. It is not known what these creatures would want with the artifacts as very few have been seen with any capability to use them, but it would be unwise to ignore their threat. They seem able to reproduce at an extraordinary rate and colonize areas rapidly.
The Draconid Legion is organized with a caste system, with the lower castes quite savage and incapable of more than simple communication. The middle caste is the draconid warriors, who are typically smaller in size, but are able to use advanced battle tactics and often wield metal weapons. The upper caste is comprised of the elder draconids, highly intelligent creatures that are resistant to most attacks due to their heavy scales and metal armor.
The Call of the Ethereal Void
The book has proven its worth… The incantation is now completed and I can see the wispy strands of the ethers seeping into view, coalescing into the form of which the seers spoke… Ay, Gothagga of the swirling void, take our offerings of the souls of our enemies, open the temple of elder gods and bring forth the Jewel of Nahuatel!
Fragment Notes – High Priest Yang, 1692
A mysterious group rumored to wield power behind kingdoms and governments through esoteric means, the Order of Yosoth has been whispered to have been studying many artifacts recovered from the Underlands and trying to decipher the part they will play in their apocalyptic vision of the future.
Sources to be unnamed have indicated that the Order has vast funding sources, and have launched their own expeditions to capture ancient artifacts for their own nefarious agenda.
The rumors of esoteric magic and association with demons have recently been confirmed after the incident at Dunkelheim, where an unspeakable horror was contained and banished only by the powers of mages of the Order of Yosoth. It is not clear, though, if the Order was responsible for summoning what eventually destroyed the city block, but their activities portend a horrible end for all of humanity.
Their activities are still difficult to predict, but what is clear now, based on accounts from those working the docks, is that the Order has procured a number of magnificent vessels for expeditions to the Underlands. The ships have begun boarding some of the most powerful sorcerers, occult scientists and demonologists that have been reputed to wallow in the depths of things most vile. Some dock workers speak in hushed voices of loading crates that emanate sounds of no animal they have ever heard, floppings and writhings that leave them white with fear. Others describe seeing lighting and hearing thunder when there are no clouds in sight, and glimpsing fantastic metal devices crackling with energy.
It is believed that the ships will arrive soon in the Underlands, carrying their unholy passengers and cargo. Those in the new lands must pray to their god to protect them from powers few can imagine.
Creatures beyond description reside in the fungal forests of the Underlands, some of which do not even appear like they are related to any other earthly species. How else to explain the insectiod Clal-Chk and their living weapons. I managed to remove one of these weapons from the shattered remains of a warrior and almost lost my arm to the infernal thing. The firing mechanism was contained within the body of the weapon, and protected with sharp chitenous ridges that snapped shut. Fortunately, I was wearing a mail glove as protection but it was shredded as I pulled free.
Journal Entry – Pilny the Aged, 1691
The Sunless Forest stretches for hundreds of miles underground, all the way up to the entrance point of the caverns at the surface in Whalebone Bay.
The forest is neither entirely dark nor a forest in the true sense of the word, as the trees are actually a mixture of fungal and plant life in shades of blues, reds and purples. It has been theorized that the plant life absorbs the magnetic and ethereal energy that twists and courses throughout the land. There is enough of that energy to produce a low glowing light at all times, with bursts of brilliant colors during energy storms.
The inhabitants of the Sunless Forest are loosely organized and consist primarily of troglodytes, reptilian creatures with bird-like features and a propensity to ally with any powerful forces. Troglodytes speak in a sing-song manner, but have an uncanny ability to mimic languages and show surprising intelligence, making them uniquely suited as mercenaries for the highest bidder.
Other inhabitants of the Sunless Forest include giant birds, savage little kobbolts, disgusting giant humanoids called trolls by our men, and a race of tall insectoid beings called “Clal-Chk” by the troglodytes. The trogs utilize simple stone axes and spears made from the strange fungal trees but the enigmatic Clal-Chk weapons are actually living creatures that fire poisonous darts or spray out powerful acid.
The service of any of these creatures can be hired through negotiation with the wily trogs, who desire gold more than anything else.
An Empire of Magic and Blood
The top of the pyramid was slippery with gore but we held off the assault from the horde of the savages, more beast than man. Their stone-edged weapons cleaved through armor, flesh and bone, but as the the last one fell, I spared a moment to claim the glittering golden disk suspended in pale blue light over a dark-stained altar. It was then I saw the flash of light from crystal-tipped arrows shooting into our men, blasting them off the top of the pyramid, while a vision of golden skin and burning hellfire rose into the air…
Log Entry – Captain Johan DeBorgt, 1692
The origins of the Axibalán Empire date back a millennium, first described in pictograms carved into the walls of ruins in the Jungles of the New World.
Some have theorized that a tribe of natives, possibly those living in Aztatlán, discovered an underground network of roads and tunnels leading under the oceans and to a vast underworld named Mictlán.
Artifacts brought back from the Underlands have been found painted with scenes showing a second group splitting off from the main tribe, blossoming into a powerful empire headed by a queen who could channel the “energy of the gods” as they called it. The origins of this queen remain unknown but her descendants are surely more powerful and savage than any native tribe known to civilized man. The empire has expanded across most of the Underlands in a constant search for artifacts of their ancient gods.
The Axibalán Empire is ruled by sorceresses, tall and powerful, who handle streams of ethereal energy like conductors of a symphony. Few men are apparent in their society, but those that have been identified have been priests involved in the most blasphemous rites imaginable, ones that often involve the form of physical transmutation of man and beast. The frontline soldiers of the empire are the unholy spawn of these rites, mixtures of men and various bloodthirsty creatures that had lived ages ago on the surface and are still found lurking in the Underlands. While not armed with modern weapons, the raw power of these beastmen is enough to shatter most enemies. Combined with the magical ability of the sorceresses, the Axibalán forces are a difficult challenge to overcome.