|Races||Sihndar, assorted micro-minorities|
|Flora and Fauna|
Drowda, also referred to as the Forbidden Continent, is one of the most dangerous lands in Aloria. Situated in the Far North of Aloria, it is filled with Essence that has escaped the broken tear between dimensions, known as the Veil, during the time of the Cataclysm and in the centuries since this event occurred. This has resulted in the continent being filled with various tainted Flora and Fauna which have battled against the region’s lone protectors, the Sihndar, for three centuries. The Sihndar live the entirety of their lives dedicated to preventing these otherworldly forces from leaving their forsaken continent and wreaking havoc elsewhere. Drowda is a place of beginnings and ends, where the Drovv civilization collapsed, where the Cataclysm altered the world forever, and where the Sihndar developed into the powerful warriors they are today.
Drowda’s history is steeped in the Void Invasions. From this location, in an uneven but inevitably completed timetable, Void Invasions occurred when the civilizations of Aloria had grown too much in magical power, weakening the Veil to the point of no return. But after the Fourth Void Invasion ended, a new Race came to call the northern reaches home. Known as the Drovv, their people are only known in records for three things: their strange physique of long necks; their surprising physical strength and combat skills; and their knowledge of the Void Cycle. Seeking to avoid the use of Magic, they lived simple lives but hardened themselves in combat, preparing for the day when the Void would come. Their dedication to the ways of warriors could eventually attract the interest of a group soon known as the Cult of Drovv. This group arose in the Allorn Empire’s province of Drowda, a region near Drovv territory of little consequence and considered a backward land by the majority of the Empire. Despite this, the Cult developed a strong following under the tutelage of the nearby Drovv. Unfortunately, the Drovv’s centuries of preparation were not enough to hold back the darkness that came with the Fifth Void Invasion. Millions of Drovv died in the desperate defense of Aloria, but the Void was an otherworldly foe. Their vile armies and corrupted creatures surged outward, causing the Drovv to go extinct while massacring those of the Cult who stood in their way. When the Allorn Empire’s army was formed, much of the surviving Cult joined up and became major leaders in the battles that followed. The Cultists pushed on ahead, attempting to reach their old home territory and somehow found themselves in what is nowDrowda when the Cataclysm occurred.
The Void was defeated, but in the process something had drastically changed. Magic energies of both the Void and the Exist tore across the continent as land bridges and chunks of land were sunk, isolating it from the world. For the Cult of Dovv, it was a living hell. Many promptly died of poisoning from the raw power of these otherworldly Essences, but the ones who did manage to persevere adapted. Their skin and hair were altered, and they now had power to help them combat the magical forces and foes which emerged all around them. The same energies also corrupted the local wildlife and twisted the continent, transforming what had been a briskly cold but habitable region into a warmed-with-energy inhospitable dark landmass. However, the survivors persevered and did very well, carving out territory for themselves and developing into the Sihndar based on the lessons of the long-dead Drovv. Over the span of 130 years, the Sihndar Xasters and their supporting fortresses formed across the continent, and the Sihndar fully developed into a people while their continent’s wildlife continued to also develop and solidify into their murderous forms. In 150 AC, the Sihndar all met and devised many systems and beliefs which sent thousands of them away from Drowda, seeking knowledge and allies from the wider world which they knew existed at this time. Drowda has since seen many of its dangers kept in check by the constant efforts of the Sihndar, aided by outside parties interceding and aiding them in this harrowing task. The death of the physical form of the Archdemon in 302 AC had some effect in clearing the darkest areas of the continent, but Drowda remains largely as it did nearly 300 years ago.
Drowda is in The North Belt of Aloria, found to the north of the Regalian Archipelago, northwest of Ellador and north of Jorrhildr. The continent faces the freezing waters of Narrow Ice-Bræ Gap to its northwest, but Drowda’s own waters are positively tepid, if not warm. The likely reason for this is the continued existence of Essences and cracks in the Veil that leak exotic forms of energy into the world, all of this raw power keeping the continent largely humid in what should otherwise be a freezing landscape. There are also a series of volcanoes on the continent which blow their heat over the rest of the terrain due to wind patterns, serving to maintain the temperate climate of many areas of Drowda. Drowa is a continent covered in hostility, from rugged mountains to wild forests and hilly plains, filled with creatures as diverse as carnivorous plants to fierce beasts. Additionally, rifts, fissures, and cracks between this world and others dot the wild, leaking their energy into the surrounding areas, making them warped and violent places. The coastline and edges of the continent are jagged and varied with many boulder and rock beaches meeting jagged cliffs or dark forests. Dotted across all of these regions are the Xasters, the great fortress-cities of the Sihndar people based on the architecture of the Drovv who came before them.
- Click HERE for more information on Drowda’s geography
The flora of Drowda have largely been twisted and mutated into horrifying renditions of themselves, also commonly changing in color and form. These mutated plants are generally more dangerous in the west and southern island, as opposed to the mild and passive flora which live in southern regions or in the plains. The majority of what seems to be plant life on Drowda is actually fungi; mushrooms of many sizes (including those as tall as trees) dot Drowda’s surface. Unique plants, such as the Eluhwa or Honey Ball, make frequent appearances along the coasts, plains and forests of Drowda. Others, such as the man-eating Reapers, exist deeper inland.
The fauna seen on Drowda is likely the greatest threat to any adventurer exploring the region. The beasts here come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is their Void-induced mutations and madness. Many creatures on Drowda are hyper-aggressive and will attack anything sentient they see due to the influence of the Void. A prime example of this is the Giant Drow Spider, an arachnid well-known for its devastating abilities, or the Drowda Vas Pirion, a vast carnivorous bat. Another lesser-known creature is the Shssisse, semi-intelligent reptilian hunters which wander Aloria and feed off of Void Essence. On the other side, there are a few animals which are not aggressive or even violent despite their mutations. The most prominent of these is the Drowdan Stag, a species of non-aggressive cervid the Sihndar keep as pets as well as mounts for small units of agile light cavalry or scouts. Another species with members kept by the Sihdar is the Qilkar, a large winged reptilian-mammalian creature capable of leaping great distances.
Drowda is politically united by the singular Race that dominates the landmass. All Xasters are led by pairs of elected royals known as Duo-Kings and Duo-Queens, These four leaders oversee few aspects of an individual Xaster’s functions, with the real power resting in the Xaster Councils, groups of between twenty and forty Elders who control all aspects of the fortress-city they ruled over. Political disunity between the Xasters is unheard of, as while each Xaster goes its own course, influencing the resident Sihndar as a result, outright conflict and warfare is not conducive to the end-mission of all loyal Sihndar, defeating the threats of, and cleansing, Drowda. Any differences between Sihndar usually comes down to local groups who encounter one another to sort them out, and while most are based on the trading of barbs and quips, the odd duel or two is known to exist if the differences between Sihndar subcultures is extreme enough. The Regalian Empire is nominally aligned with the Sihndar Xasters, sending them support in the form of bureaucrats and other simple supplies, but little else. These contributions ultimately fall to the nobles of the Regalian realms, and in recent years, many of them have been diverted by affairs elsewhere in the world, with Drowda ultimately remaining stable.
- Click HERE for more information on Xan-Xavacellon
Xaster Xan-Xavacellon is the most commonly visited Xaster by outsiders when they first arrive in Drowda, and for good reason. Resting against the coastline of the relatively peaceful plains of southern Drowda, Xan-Xavacellon has been able to grow a political establishment to the point that some outside nations consider it the unofficial capital of the Sihndar people. They are also enjoyed by outsiders because of their principles, of rejecting any agreements with powers dark or mysterious through pacts to instead rely on their own wills and strength. Xaster Xan-Xavacellon stands tall when approached from any angle, built up and around a sheltered bay which is now a bustling harbor. While Demons rarely rise or attack from the sea, the defensive walls which curtain and surround the quays make it clear the Sihndar take no chances. A seeming central avenue leaving the harbor takes travelers into the next quarter, only for the avenue to abruptly end and split off into a dozen smaller roads winding through the sprawl of the Sihndar city. This system exists in all Sihndar Xasters, to funnel foes into singular routes or lead them to sudden dead ends, all the while tall towers allow archers and machines to fire or pour down pain. It is more intricate in Xaster Xan-Xavacellon however, decades of limited combat seeing dead-ends falling into disuse, and outside groups preferring stretches of road that clearly lead from one location of importance to another, resulting in banners of different colors to lead the way through the structures. Despite all of this beauty, there is the same oppressive tone to all Xasters well and alive here, the aforementioned banners dull tones rather than anything bright, while the structures themselves possess the characteristic brutal, functional style of the Sihndar. However, the Xan-Xar Academy and Sihn-Xan Alramar Academy, for leadership in conflict and political leadership respectively, have hints of non-Sihndar influence, due to the routine visitations, lectures and interactions with outsiders the schools support. Carpets, and foreign fineries as well as foods, are more commonly located here.
Xan-Vernh stands as a testament to the dangers of Drowda, and that no matter the victories against the demonic forces they face, no Sihndar should ever grow complacent in their vigilance. Once a grand, sprawling fortress-city of foundries and the greatest smiths of Drowda, the citadel and its supporting fortresses were all destroyed by the volcanic power of Alamat, who rules the volcanic landscape the Xaster rests in. This event occurred shortly after 150 AC, in the first few years of Sihndar outreach to the rest of Aloria when fortunately for the fortress, saw a number of apprentices and younger warriors or smiths going abroad to learn and collect new materials for forging. In information recovered from dubious sources, Alamat was supposedly prodded into his extreme actions by another power, though if this was a god from elsewhere in Aloria or a fellow Greater Demon at home in Drowda is unclear. Regardless, his choice to destroy the Sihndar presence in his land was immensely successful, and the ruins of Xan-Vernh stand as clear evidence of his wrath. The modern ruins are half consumed by a slowly moving pyroclastic flow, once a source of heat for the city’s outlying forges but now their destruction, as the magma sharply rose during the city’s destruction. Many walls remain but are blacked by soot and ash, their tops melted down by dancing fire demons, who delight at ruining the great fortifications and halls of the city yet further. The inside of the city is a mess of collapsed buildings and great fissures, from which jet toxic volcanic gasses or the dull, far below heat of the magma which once surged up to envelop parts of the city. But by far the more macabre and disturbing part of the city is the central citadel, where thousands of survivors fled only to suffer a terrible fate: a firestorm. Alamat slammed the great tornado of flame down onto the central structure, incinerating hundreds instantly while others lost all oxygen and died in agony. Others still were mortally wounded or found the stone which melted around them to offer a horrifying tomb. The tower is now warped into an almost alien form, half-melted in a twisting motion toward the sky and is now residence to one of Alamat’s greater servants known as the Wicked Dancer.
The Veil is not necessarily a tangible location, but its influence in Aloria’s long history is noteworthy enough to warrant mention. The Veil is a non-physical window into the realms of the Exist and Void whose location in Aloria is closest to Drowda. As a result, at this weak point between the worlds, piercing the Veil is easiest, which is why it was the constant location of the different Void Invasions. Unfortunately for the world, the Veil was damaged due to the Cataclysm. Rather than properly close itself, it was torn, and continues to leak foreign substances in the mortal plane. Currently, the Veil remains damaged but not in the extreme way it once was, efforts by the Sihndar and more gradually sealing the worst of these tears in reality. The damage to the Veil also means that most outside Mages who come to Drowda struggle with the blend of sensations they feel, while Sihndar Mages are more principled and prepared for the whispers or temptations of the Void and Exist. The Veil itself is said to be occasionally seen in Drowda, a warping, shifting effect in a single point like a curtain being blown by wind, despite neither being present. Most of these Veil sightings are known to occur near the north of the continent, and can be on the misty marsh-covered ground or high in the open air. It is sometimes described as a vertical version of Njal’s Lights, the northern phenomena of multi-colored streams arcing across the northern sky, but the Veil is instead seemingly monochromatic.
Grave of the Drovv
The Grave of the Drovv is not one structure or ruin presay but instead a section of the toxic marshes lorded over by Qamtaar. This particular location is said to have been the site of the Drovv’s main city, a grand and powerful fortress said to be built around the entrypoint of the Void Invasions into the plane of Binral. However, when the Fifth Void Invasion began, nothing could stand against it, and while the battle was fierce, the Drovv ultimately fell in defense of the world. It is said that some of the earliest Sihndar expeditions north across the landscape of Drowda were efforts to seek out this great settlement, only to find it rapidly dissolving and collapsing into the putrid pools of Qamtaar, who taunted the Sihndar by summoning Demon mockeries of the Drovv, formed from the dreadful marshes, to fight those who followed their teachings. However, these stories might be only tall tales, and even the modern Xaster of Xan-Savel is careful in the language they used regarding these stories. Most doubts center on the lack of any evidence for a large-scale city in the area, for while the marshes and swamps destroy matter, they do not encompass every inch of land in Qamtaar’s domain, and surely something would remain or have at least been sketched or preserved by the Sihndar by the time the Xaster formed. Still, the Grave is a site of pilgrimage for the Sihndar and their allies, a place of memory and remembrance in direct rejection of the influence Qamtaar has over minds. Several shrines dot the “shoreline” of the region, with the largest being a true grave, a series of simple stones expanded into a proper shrine over the apparent body of a Drovv woman the Sihndar dared not disturb upon finding her body, instead simply honoring the Extinct Race by giving it a proper burial. The shrine is also the one best guarded, a fortress standing less than a mile away with a commanding view of the surrounding area. It is known as “Grave-rest” in Common for its close proximity to the Grave of the Drovv.
- Why so few remains of the Drovv survive is not clear, but it is believed the Void was ruthless in extinguishing this first victim Race of their return after millennia away.
- Drowda’s diverse climates are believed to one day prove a problem, as it is unclear what role the Greater Demons might be playing in preventing Drowda from freezing over like many other nearby continents given its northern location.
- Sihndar in wider Aloria who feel homesick often indulge in potato soup in mimicry of the Praeter Stew commonly found in Sihndar cuisine which is made from the beneficial plants of the hostile continent.