Friday, August 28, 2009



There are three main native ethnic groups upon Delos, each with their own physical characteristics, as well as traditions, taboos, and other quirks that put them apart from other tribes. Every native of Delos has some generally similar traits, as well as particular ones, and all are given below. Players using delosian characters should use the below items of interest as templates only, there can be many differences as each individual is different.
All delosian natives can speak either Ashante, Kongon or Tzulan, depending on where they have lived the majority of their life. Common tongue or Delosian must be learned as a separate language. Due to strong oral traditions, all delosian natives are assumed to be illiterate and must learn to Read and Write to become a spellcaster. In general, weapon skills will start out being primitive unless the tribe has extensive contact with outlanders and has access to steel or modern type weapons.

The Ashante occupy the rainforests of western and northern Delos. They are builders and farmers, tending to form a village and stay there for decades rather than relocate every season. As a people they are not naturally warlike or argumentative, and in general avoid confrontation. However, when aroused they are fierce warriors. Anyone threatening their land or family finds out that the Ashante can defend themselves very well and will often fight to the death. They are the least xenophobic of the three main ethnic groups, and happily trade with outsiders that treat them with respect. Their alignments tend to neutral, mainly neutral good or evil.
Physically, Ashante tend to be of medium height and dark-skinned. Most have tightly curled hair and broad noses. Children typically go naked most of the time, while young adults of both sexes wear simple loincloths. Most of their clothing is hide from wild animals, and skins from such animals as leopards, jaguars, hippos or elephants is especially prized. Clothing is accessorized with belts, bags, drinking vessels and other items. Wealthier individuals decorate their clothing with cowrie shells or glass beads. Ashante wear thick leather sandals although they often go barefoot when in the rain forest itself. Both men and women wear their hair short.
The Ashante people get along well with most others of their empire. They trade with both outsiders and Kongons, and the occasional Mbantu ship-borne tribe. Their enemies are the Tzulans, orcs and any slavers. They are also highly suspicious of elves, whose activities over 500 years ago upon Delos have led to legends passed down through generations painting them as evil, magic using demons. Dwarves, gnomes and halflings are looked upon with curiosity and may be mistaken for some sort of animal or short, ugly human.
There is a central king of the Ashante, but many Ashante rule themselves by their own tribes and obey their own laws. Every two years there is a large festival and tournament among the Ashante tribes held at the king’s palace, and the Ashante send their village leaders and others as representatives. Any chieftain of a village is allowed to join a council of elders that debates the direction of the Ashante empire for the next two years. The King is largely a figurehead, his council of elders makes policy while he enforces it, although he is expected to lead any battle against a Tzulan army. The King is elected for life, and typically one of his sons will rule after him (chosen by secret vote by Ashante elders, shamans and witchdoctors), although if he has no sons or they cannot be found worthy the kingship will be passed to another worthy candidate.
The Ashante excel in body painting using colorful minerals and plants found in the rain forest. They cover their faces and arms with body paint before entering battle or performing a ritual. To help ward off heat, the Ashante wear a thick mixture made from certain plants (which also is effective warding off insects…foreigners are generally repulsed by the smell and feel of the product!).
The Ashante are excellent farmers and also raise many animals including cattle, chickens, swine and goats (imported from outside Delos in the last 100 years). Milk, cheese, eggs and meat make up the main diet. This is supplemented by their wide variety of crops, including fruits of all sorts, peanuts, beans, onions, wheat and yams. Two special crops are bananas, which are both eaten and used to make banana beer; and palm trees, which are harvested for both its nuts and sap. The nuts are squeezed for their oil which can be used for everything from cooking to cleaning weapons, and the shells can be cooked and eaten. The sap can be used to make an alcoholic beverage called palm wine which is very mild and dry. The Ashante do not eat much seafood or wild game.
The religions of Ashante include the Gods Umgawa, Merci and the elemental gods of earth and air. Beast cults are common for more isolated tribes, and many shamans of Faerel exist within Ashante territory.
The Ashante feel a need to remain close to their ancestors, so they rarely bury the bones of their relatives. These remains are housed in round wooden boxes called reliquaries. Whenever a group of form a village, they will build a small shrine to house the reliquaries, and protect the shrine with magical constructs called Kano Dolls. The Ashante practice male circumcision as part of the coming of age ceremony, and an uncircumcised individual is not seen as an adult among the tribes.
When in battle or hunting, Ashante typically use short hand weapons such as knives, clubs, hand axes and spears. Their missile weapons include boomerangs, slings, throwing blades, short bows, and javelins.

SUGGESTED STARTING WEAPONS: Knife, Club, Hand Axe, Spear, Javelin, Throwing Knife, Sling, Short Bow, Javelin, Blowgun, Short Sword (Any weapons may be iron, steel, bone or stone depending on tribe’s location).
SUGGESTED STARTING ARMOR: Hide or leather, small shield (wood or hide)
SUGGESTED STARTING PROFICIENCIES: Hunting, Hiding, Survival (jungle), Agriculture, Animal Handling, Brewing, Direction Sense, Fire-Building, Cooking.

The Tzulans occupy the savannah and scrub of the eastern part of Delos. They are warriors and raise herd animals. They are semi-nomadic and will sometimes travel to find better water holes or grass for their herds. Tzula warriors are specialized in the spear, and they are seen as very brave and valorous although they are prone to bragging, bullying and unnecessary acts of bravado (which are looked upon favorably in their society). Their tribes are arranged into clans, with a chieftain at the head of each clan. In theory all clans bow to the leadership of the largest clan, whose king is chosen by a large group of elders. Trials by combat occasionally take place when there is a difference of opinion between clans, but the king is always chosen by the elder council. Their alignments are of all sorts, ranging from all evil alignments (lawful, chaotic and neutral). Some tribes tend towards chaotic good but these are rare.
Physically, Tzulans are tall and dark-skinned, with little body hair. They dress in loincloths and wrap around blankets called “shuka”. Their clothing is brightly colored in shades of blue, red, yellow, and black. Most wear sandals but some go barefoot. Tzulan men shave themselves bald and remove all facial hair upon reaching manhood. Tzulan women braid their hair and color it with clay, usually red or orange. Members of both sexes wear jewelry in the form of beads (glass and colored wood), cowrie shells or gemstones.
The Tzulan people are constantly battling enemies, both outsiders and members of other tribes. They continually have border battles with both Ashante and Kongons, and recently have engaged in much warfare with Taranthian sponsored mercenaries and explorers, although an uneasy truce has taken hold the last decade or so. All other Delosian races view the Tzula with a mixture of fear and respect, as their tribesmen warriors are far superior to any other on the Delosian continent. They view all non-humans, including half breeds, as sub-people or as animals, and have no qualms enslaving such beings as dwarves, elves, halflings, gnomes, orcs and others. Non-Tzulan natives are also captured and enslaved, as well as their own tribesmen if a battle is fought between two tribes over land or cattle.
The Tzulans do not produce much art, but they have a great love of body decoration. Ritual scarring is common and is a sign of great deeds accomplished by the warrior. Scar patterns are made by slicing the skin with a razor and then rubbing ash into the wound so it leaves a permanent, dark scar when it finally heals. It is typical for a Tzulan warrior to receive a scar upon defeating a superior foe or participating in a great battle. As can be imagined, heavily scarred Tzulan warriors should be given a wide berth!
The Tzulans exist mainly on a diet of meat and milk. Cattle are used for both, although chicken and goat are also eaten. Certain wild beasts such as elephants, zebra or gazelle are also eaten. The Tzulans do not fish or farm, although they will eat vegetables or fish if they are taken from a raid of another tribe in non-Tzulan territory.
The religions of Tzulans include the Gods Umgawa, Axea, and Beast cults of such animals as Lions or other dangerous predators. Some tribes worship elemental gods of earth and fire.
Most Tzulan rituals involve battle and combat. The coming of age ceremony often involves hunting and slaying a ritual enemy, which can be a certain monster, animal or Ashante/Kongon tribesman. Parts of the defeated creature are then brought back to the tribal elders, then fashioned into some sort of curio or charm that is worn by the warrior. Tzulan warriors that are cowardly or retreat from battle for whatever reason are often expelled from their tribes or even ritually sacrificed.
When in battle or hunting, Tzulans use the spear above all other weapons and all warriors are specialized with it. Variations such as the long spear, heavy spear or two handed spear are also widely used. The warriors also favor knives and some are beginning to use the steel swords they have traded for with the Taranthians. The javelin and long bow are used, although the bow is usually only for hunting as generally missile weapons are seen as cowardly weapons during battle. The Tzula wear hide armor and carry large body shields made of leather or hide.

SUGGESTED STARTING WEAPONS: Must have Knife, Spear (specialized) and Javelin (iron or steel) to start.
SUGGESTED STARTING ARMOR: Leather or Hide, large shield
SUGGESTED STARTING PROFICINCIES: Survival (jungle/Savannah), Fire Building, Rope Use, Animal Handling, Animal Lore, Endurance, Running, Hunting.

The Kongons occupy the southern half of the continent of Delos, which is mostly swamp with two major rivers running through the land. They are generally hunter/gatherer types who are the least technologically advanced of the major tribes of Delos. Their lifestyle lends themselves to being excellent trackers, scouts, and hunters. Fishing is also a major source of food and most Kongons can both fish and swim, as well as operate small boats. They are friendly and talkative, but the constant struggle for survival against the elements and the orc pirates cause them to view life seriously and they do not often have celebrations or holy days, as these are seen as letting their guard down. Unlike other Delosian tribes, many Kongon tribes make their home in cavern complexes that are dry and above the water line. Their alignments tend towards neutral good or evil, with many tribes leaning towards chaotic.
Physically, Kongons are short and somewhat fair skinned light brown. They have short frizzy hair and small, tight features. They often go barely clothed or totally unclothed in villages, wearing only light loincloths while hunting. The men wear ear, nose, eyebrow and lip jewelry using natural decorations such as bone and wood. Women are not allowed to be decorated thus, instead wearing many necklaces, bracelets and anklets for jewelry.
The Kongo tribes fight a never-ending battle against the orcish pirates on the southern islands. This is their main humanoid enemy besides the bestial lizardman tribes within the swamps. Orc pirates prey on the Kongons for both slaves and food, and there are also primitive orcish tribes in the hills that must be dealt with. Ashante and Tzulan tribes number among trading partners, and the Kongons occasionally deal with Mbantu ships that sail up one of the two great rivers dividing their territory. Surprisingly, the Kongons count several intelligent lizardman tribes as some of their staunchest allies, trading with them and coming to each other’s aid in mutual defense pacts when one or the other is attacked. Many Kongon tribes form symbiotic relationships thus, whether it be with lizardman tribes, black dragons who will protect the Kongon’s village in return for human sacrifices, or even primitive orc tribes when necessary for survival.
The Kongon’s excel in certain artwork, particularly carving wood. They have also been known to paint on cave walls creating beautiful murals, and many of these double as magical guardian devices. Their very detailed wood, ivory and stone carvings are often traded to nearby Ashante tribes, which in turn trade them for much wealth to the outlanders to the north or northern Ashante tribes.
The Kongons eat gathered foods such as berries, nuts, roots and tubers. Many are eaten raw, but the tougher varieties are boiled until edible. Several of the tubers consumed by the Kongo are poisonous, but the Kongons have developed immunities to these varieties. A type of spinach called “Wabe” is found in abundance in the swamp, and is both nourishing and full of vitamins, although not very tasty unless heavily spiced…it is often traded in bunches to Kongon tribes not near the swamp. They hunt swine, which is their main source of meat, and eat many types of fish and crustaceans that live in the swamps, rivers or ocean’s shore. The Kongons seem to have a pronounced weakness to all alcoholic beverages, and it is quite easy to get one drunk with only a couple of mugs of wine or beer.
The religions of Kongons include the Gods Umgawa, Ert and various Beast cults. There are a few water elementalist shamans, and many of the Kongons worship Faerel.
Kongo tribes do not often interact with each other, but when they do it is considered an occasion for a rare celebration of life and love. Upon contact, the village elders will make plans for a gathering and mentally match up unmarried men and women of both tribes, which can lead to much haggling. Marriage partners are chosen by the elders, and a large mass dance and ceremony is given to wed the couples. The two tribes will often merge into one after a celebration such as this, or at worst become “brother tribes” that will live near each other and come to each other’s defense. New tribes are started when these celebratory weddings bear fruit in terms of new children, the new families will go out on their own within a year or so to form their own young tribe. Elder tribesmen often contribute to the hunting and fishing until the day they die, while the elder women of the tribe serve as de facto leaders of villages when every able bodied man goes out to hunt or gather food. A Kongon that no longer contributes to society will often quietly leave the tribe one day to die alone, hopefully by reaching the ocean to the east and swimming to the sunset. Sometimes they are accompanied by younger sons or grandsons, and this is seen as a coming of age ceremony for the youngster. This is considered a somber occasion for the tribe, although elder members who complete this ritual are greatly honored.
Kongons are not skilled at metalworking, and have strong taboos against steel (which often rusts quickly in the humid, wet environment of southern Delos). Most weapons are of wood, with tips of bone or stone, although if they acquire a iron weapon they can use it. Preferred weapons are clubs, spears, knives, bows, staffs, slings and javelins. Kongons do not rush into combat like other natives; they are masters at the art of the retreat and ambush. They use the terrain and elements to their advantage, as well as any missile weapons, and will usually only attack a foe if they have him or it outnumbered.

SUGGESTED STARTING WEAPONS: Club, Dart (stone or bone tipped), Knife (stone or bone), Spear (stone or bone tipped), Long or Short bow (arrows stone or bone tipped), Quarterstaff, Slings (stones only), Javelins (stone or bone tipped), Blowgun (bone tipped needles)
SUGGESTED STARTING ARMOR: Cord (plant fiber) or hide, no shield
SUGGESTED STARTING PROFICIENCIES: Fishing, Hunting, Boat Piloting, Hiding, Artistic Ability (carving or painting), Foraging, Set Snares, Survival (Jungle/Swamp), Tracking.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

History of Maugre's Port

This port has a short but varied history. Founded by merchants from the league over 100 years ago, it was first nothing more than a landing spot for merchants wanting to trade with natives. Within a few years a permanent settlement began to be formed, with native tribes taking advantage of the ships who landed by setting up crude trading facilities right off the beach. About twenty years later several merchant houses had rough semi-permanent facilities set up, and a wizard’s tower was built by an exiled Blue Necromancer. He disappeared a few years later and the tower stood unused (due to the presence of a demonic being bound to the interior) until Gladstone took it over 20 years ago.
About 70 years ago, several merchant houses from the League formed an alliance and built the first rudimentary wall that blocked off the peninsula from the beach and jungle. For the next 50 years the village went through several masters. First, a Delosian chieftain raided the village and set himself up as the head of the village. He terrorized the merchant houses for many years until his power waned and he was killed by rivals. Then, a succession of merchant houses controlled the village, depending on who hired the most and deadliest mercenaries, or who struck the best deal with the various tribes surrounding the village. Finally, around 30 years ago one Merchant Prince from House Zalos managed to eliminate all other heads of houses in the village, and used ruthless power to enslave and exploit the local native population. He terrorized the coast for many years with his fleet of mercenary pirates and managed to amass a fortune as he had a stranglehold on all trade that went through the port.
Eight years after that, a group of adventurers passed through on their way to exploring the Lost Plateau. Several of the party members had problems with the Merchant Prince and the Taranthian temple outside of town, and eventually entered a pitched battle with the Merchant Prince and his mercenary hordes. The adventurers were almost destroyed and survived only by fleeing into the interior of Delos. Two years later, Maugre and his group emerged from the jungle backed by a large group of native Delosians, mercenaries, and his now highly experienced adventuring group, which surprise attacked the village supported (covertly) by weapons and magic supplied by disgruntled Merchant Costers from the league that the Merchant Prince had exiled. Maugre’s troops killed all the outland mercenaries, slaughtered the Merchant Prince’s servants and allies (who were revealed to be Serpent Men in disguise) and publicly executed the Merchant Prince after the town was taken. The temple to Taranthus was razed, the Taranthian priests and slavelords were put to the sword, and a secret worship cavern to Seth was sealed off after many Yuan-Ti halfbreeds and purebloods were killed. Maugre immediately instigated himself as leader and renamed the village Maugre’s Port, installed his large mercenary band as the city guard, allowed his friend Torath to build a large temple to Akadia outside town, and invited the three merchant houses that supported him to immediately set up trading costers in the town and establish bases. The takeover was so quick and so complete that House Zaros has never mounted a return, and merely wrote off the loses in Delos and established a new coster in Nidik (Citadel of the Taranthians on Delos).
Maugre, with the help of Torath, Gladstone and the High Plutarch, has run Maugre’s Port for over 20 years with very few incidents. He has set up all the profitable enterprises in town, and indirectly gets a piece of the action through all three merchant coasters and the cities inns and taverns. He is retired in a sense, amusing himself with the occasional ferreting out of an underground Taranthian slave ring or Serpent man plot. Mostly he is a figurehead that uses diplomacy to deal with infighting between the merchant costers and the semi-annual native uprisings in the jungle. Although he is black he is not Delosian, being born far to the east in a Taranthian slave camp before escaping to New Emphyria when he was a young boy. To this day he has a fanatical hatred of anything Taranthian, and also of orcs (his parents were killed by orc pirates while escaping the Taranthian empire on their way to New Emphyria).
There have been a few attempts to attack Maugre’s Port the last 20 years, all meeting in failure. This is due to many things, mostly his troops excellent equipment and experience (all are trained by Rhone-worshipping military men and equipped with excellent steel swords, bows, hide armor and shields) and the behind the scenes machinations of powerful spellcasters such as Gladstone, Torath and the High Plutarch. He has a highly elaborate spy system, and every major enterprise in the Port can be said to have an employee in the pay of Maugre or one of his minions (this includes all inns and taverns, all the major temples, all the Merchant coasters, and the City Guard which is directly under his control). It is accepted that within Port Maugre everything said somehow gets back to the ears of Maugre himself, and the natives are in superstitious awe and dread of him. He often strolls the town with his huge cat on one side and the impressive seven foot bodyguard Threespear on the other, causing the villagers to scurry from in front of him as he checks on his troops or meets with the merchant houses. He is a strict man with few vices, and demonstrates only passing interest in women, only consorting with Nann or Henrika (who of course are also his spies and report back to him). He never drinks or uses drugs, and has been known to discipline soldiers that report to duty inebriated or fall asleep at their posts by having them whipped and humiliated in front of the entire guard. However, he has a soft spot for children and the great cats of the jungle (Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, etc). He often chats with young children in the streets and lets them pick fresh fruits from his personal garden. He has been known to personally purchase captured great cats from the Delosian jungle, nurse them back to health or train them, and then release them or present them to his friends as well-trained and faithful guardian pets (both The High Plutarch and Torath are shadowed by fanatically loyal and highly trained cats, a Leopard and Lioness respectively). Unless player characters belong to one of the Merchant costers or catch his attention somehow through an incredible deed, they probably will not interact with Maugre.

House Tarn, House Mith, House Valaryan:
The three main trading costers operating outside the league through Delos, these estates contain the dozen or so employees and mercenaries needed to run the business side from here. By Maugre’s decree, each coster can have no more than 50 mercenaries working for them at one time, and no more than 25 staying at each estate. Usually the number is somewhat half that, as mercenaries are usually hired by the deed and job and then quickly unemployed once the job is finished. Breaking this rule results in the confiscation of all property on the premises, so all three houses use spies to watch the others so as to be ready to report any infractions…so this keeps everyone honest, and prevents any one house from having a great advantage over another.

House Tarn: Gemstones (diamonds), copper
House Mith: Wood (mahogany, cedar), native art items, animal hides
House Valaryan: Ivory, Spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon)

Delosian Timeline


270-900 The Ashante Empire. This was the golden age of Delosian culture, as a hereditary monarchy ruled Delos for over 600 years. Most ruins across Delos were built during this period. The Orcish citadel of Surlt and other landmarks date from here. This union of all Delosian tribes was virtually without conflict. However, the long-lived empire fell to the Shadowmasters and the Tcho-Tcho during the Night of Shadows and demon attacks during the years 900-901.

780 A contingent of exiled Red Necromancers lands on the shores of western Delos. They make contact with the Black Necromancers and the worshippers of Shadow, adding their unnatural and evil knowledge of raising the dead to the Black Necromancers already potent zombie creation. They eventually find their way to the Tcho-Tcho tribe in the city of Leng, and their experiments in Negative energy lead to the discovery of the Plane of Shadow.

901-971 The Shadowmasters Empire. The evil Shadow worshippers and their servants the Black Necromancers ruled with fear and death during most of this century. They subjugated most tribes and practiced demon worship and human sacrifice, destroying or enslaving all who resisted. It took decades, but a union of the surviving tribes led by the great warrior Benin eventually rose up and destroyed the Shadowmasters, the Tcho-Tcho people were driven back to their city of Leng, and the worship of Shadow was contained to the Forbidden Plateau from then until the present.

972-997 Benin Empire. Ruled by the great warrior Benin, for 25 years the united tribes of Delos exterminated the remnants of the Shadowmasters and Tcho-Tcho, and eventually conquered the entire continent. Benin is considered the greatest ruler in Delosian history, as most of his conquests were accomplished by wit and intelligence rather than bloodshed. After his death in 997 his empire gradually fragmented into many separate tribes.

998-1160 Time of No Empires.

1001-1056 Attempted conquering of Delos by the Silver elf House of S’thelian. Hundreds of elves landed and attempted to subjugate the Dark Continent, thinking the great jungles of Delos would be ideal land for the expansion of their noble house. Their pride and hubris did not allow them to think that this task could not be accomplished, and they seriously underestimated the number of priests they would need to support an endeavor. However, nothing more than a beachhead of a few fortresses, towers and keeps were ever actually established, as disease and constant battles with native tribes, orc pirates, serpent men and Shadow worshippers dwindled the numbers faster than the elves could keep them up. Eventually the humbled elves (finally numbering only a few dozen) attempted to return to the Elven Isles but their ship was lost along the way. The elves now refer to the disastrous expedition as “S’thelian’s Folly” and it is constantly used as an example of underestimating a task by elves today.

1150-1200 The Kongon Empire. A loose confederation of tribes led by a powerful king and a pair of black dragon allies on the southern coast of Delos ruled the land for a few decades. This empire fell to treachery within from Taranthian priests and mages.

1165 Taranthian empire lands on eastern shores of Delos. The explorers for the empire set up base camps, a citadel, and slaver operations. They immediately begin to war with the local tribes, but manage to topple the confederation of tribes set up by the Kongon empire.

1201-1244 Time of No Empires. The Taranthians use these decades to build up their fortifications and foothold on the eastern side of Delos.

1244-1289 Mali Empire. The legendary warrior Mali of the Tzulas led his people in attacks against the Taranthians, eventually sacking their citadel and killing or driving all survivors from the Delosian shores. Taranthians would not attempt to return to Delos for 150 years.

1290 Death of Mali. With Mali’s death, the union of tribes he had put together eventually fell apart into warring factions.

1291-1380 Time of No Empires.

1381-1409 Sokoto Empire. The Delosian wizard Sokoto managed for a short time to unite most of eastern and southern Delos, including the Kongon and Tzula tribes. However, orcish pirate attacks increased, and Sokoto was killed during a gigantic battle against a union of all orcish pirate tribes in a week-long siege that also killed thousands of orcs and men. Debris from this great battle, along with the bones of orcish and Delosian natives, still dot the isles on the southern side of Delos. The orcs take over the citadel of Surlt during this time.

1403 First landing on the NW shore of Delos of alliance of merchant houses from the League in what would soon become known as Soldier’s Port.

1410-1426Time of No Empires

1425 Exiled Blue Necromancer builds the wizard’s tower in Soldier’s Port, and several merchant houses set up semi-permanent encampments to facilitate trade with local native tribes.

1427-1446 Songhay Empire. A short lived union of tribes led by the Songhay tribe of the Ashante. This union was destroyed by the return of the Taranthian empire.

1440 Merchant houses from the League operating out of Soldier’s Port build the first rudimentary wall that cuts off the peninsula from the jungle and beach. At this time several more permanent structures have been erected including the first “Number One Inn” and the Vistnan temple.

1446 A boat full of Golden Elves arrives at Soldier’s Port, looking for evidence of the Silver Elf House of S’thelian which fell almost 400 years before. They are reportedly searching for elven artifacts, but disappear into the interior of Delos and are never seen again.

1447-1490 Tzulan Empire. A union of Tzulan kings united themselves with the Ashante and Kongon tribes to fight the return of the Taranthians. After a period of expansion, the Taranthians were driven again to the eastern edge of Delos. During this time, the Ashante and Kongon tribes rebelled against the harsh commands and rule of the Tzulas and left the alliance. This left the Tzulan empire in a stalemate with the Taranthians, and the borders of the Delosian empires as they presently are now.

1480 House Zalos of the League manages to take control of Soldier’s Port. They are supported overtly by the Taranthians and covertly by the Yuan-Ti (serpent men). House Zalos ruthlessly exploits the local native population and they sponsor terrorism and pirating through orcish mercenaries.

1488 Maugre and his adventuring party land at Soldier’s Port. They run afoul of the local merchant house of Zalos and a temple to Taranthus while preparing to explore the Forbidden Plateau. They are attacked and run out of town by the various forces and escape to the deep jungle.

1490 Maugre, backed by his now powerful adventuring party, mercenary allies, tribesmen, and support from various Merchant Houses attacks Soldier’s Port. His small army kills all members and mercenaries of House Zalos, razes the local temple to Taranthus, and kills many disguised serpent men. He proclaims himself leader of the town, changes the name to Maugre’s Port, and installs his followers and friends as leaders of the area. House Zalos, all Taranthians and slavers are executed and banned forever from Maugre’s Port, and the merchant houses that assisted Maugre (House Mith, House Tarn and House Valaryan) are given exclusive rights to trade within the town.

1495 Tzulan empire and the Taranthian empire sign a mutually beneficial peace accord. From now on, Tzulans will not be taken as slaves by Taranthians, as long as the Tuzlans supply slaves from other Delosian native tribes (such as the Ashante and Kongon) and allow the Taranthians to set up a port on the eastern side of Delos without being attacked. In return the Taranthians will supply the Tzulans with steel weapons and other supplies.

1500 One of the black dragons that ruled the Kongon empire over 300 years ago is released from a stasis he was placed in by Taranthian mages, and begins to attempt to reclaim his territory in the great swamp.

1505 Trade with southern Ashante villages begins to be disrupted by constant raids from tasloi and snake creatures, sometimes led by deadly Yuan-Ti (serpentmen) warriors and spellcasters.

1506 An Ashante village is found destroyed, all inhabitants killed and turned into undead Shadows. A group of warriors assisted by priests of Umgawa, Horus and Akadi defeat and lay to rest the unnatural creatures. Rumors begin to be heard that the Shadowmasters have returned.

1508 A deadly group of Leopard Cultists begin to harass and attack Kongon tribes in the southern swamp. They also begin to disrupt all trade along the Tiger River and several villages along the edges are found deserted, with blood and leopard tracks covering the area.

1510 1178 The present year in Azura.

Delosian Information

The main problems with jungle adventuring are the heat and humidity. Soldiers and adventurers do not wear heavy metal
or padded armor unless they have the advantage of a Fire Resistance Ring, Coolness ring or spells vs heat. Only leather and hide armor are commonly worn. Characters who insist on wearing heavy armor run the risk of suffering heat stroke; there is a 20% chance per hour of this occurring. Magical spells or items can negate the heat. However, the rainforest humidity plays havoc with metal armor, causing it to rust at a rapid rate. Weapons of steel suffer similar fates.
Pack animals are available for sale in the trading cities. Animals from outside the Dark Continent cannot be brought there, due to prevalent hoof-and-mouth disease carried by local flies. Native-born animals are immune, but others will catch the disease in 1-4 days, become weak and sick, and die in another 1-4 days. In addition to
normal horses, oxen, and donkeys, the PCs can buy tamed water buffalo. These are docile animals with the same statistics as wild buffalo. Their encumbrance and weight limits are equal to those of a draft horse.
Natives may be hired in the trading cities as hirelings on expeditions. They are skilled at a variety of tasks: bearer/porter, pack-animal handler, valet, or spear bearer. Pay for these men averages 1 sp per day, more for dangerous journeys. If more than ten are hired, one will be a village headman in charge of the others, paid at a rate of 1 gp per day.
Disease lurks in the air and water of the tropics, and is carried by insects. People who are not native to the Dark Continent have a base 5% chance per day (non-cumulative) to catch some form of disease. This chance increases to 10% in swamp areas and to 75% if untreated water is consumed. There are two types of diseases: debilitating (70%) and fatal (30%). Debilitating diseases reduce a character’s Strength by one point per day, until the Strength score is down to half the original value, rounded up. There is a cumulative 10% chance every day that the disease will break on its own. Once the disease breaks, Strength is recovered at one point per day of rest.
Fatal diseases rob a character of one point each of Strength and Constitution every day. When one of these abilities drops below three, the character must make a system shock survival roll, based on his or her original Constitution, not the reduced score. Success means that the
disease breaks, and the character will recover one point each of Strength and Constitution for each day of rest. Failure means that the character will slips into a coma and dies in 1-3 days. If a character contracts a fatal disease, there is a 20% chance it is the dreaded jungle fever. The rules for this are the same as for other fatal diseases, except that the rate of loss and recovery of Strength and Constitution is two points each per day.
When reducing the Strength of a fighter with exceptional strength (18/01 or higher), reduce the score to 17 the first day. Note that a heal or cure disease spell will cure a disease at any time. Anyone who recovers from a disease without the aid of magic is permanently immune to that
disease. Magical curing grants only one month’s immunity. There are dozens of strains of debilitating and fatal diseases. Immunity to one strain does not guarantee immunity to any others.

Weapon choices must change in the jungle. Small to medium weapons (swords, axes, maces, etc.) cause no problems and are often used by the native kingdoms. Polearms, and the infantry block formation based on them, are unwieldy in the jungle. Siege weapons, such as catapults, are hard to move in the dense jungle or trackless Savannah.
The natives of the tropics have adapted well to warfare there. The warriors wear light armor equivalent to leather. Their shields are large and oval, providing more body protection than round shields. The preferred weapon is the versatile spear, which can be used one-handed with a shield, two-handed, when mounted, or can be thrown. Knives, warclubs, and machetes are common melee weapons. The bow or blowgun is used by many tribes. Javelins are used by some Savannah tribes. Unique or unusual weapons such as the bola, throwing blade, and a variety of spears (leaf spear, barbed spear and heavy spear) are found here. Most of the natives carry iron or bronze weapons, and a few of the more primitive tribes use bone or stone weapons. The only steel weapons found in native hands are not made by them, they are either traded for or stolen from outlanders.
The natives tactics emphasize ferocity and cunning. They excel at
ambushes, and will drive home their charges into the teeth of any resistance. The native kingdoms have organized armies of trained soldiers equal to anything found in the north, and sometimes of far larger size than feudal armies. The most fearsome allies of the natives are the diseases that lurk in the drinking water. Northerners have no natural immunities, and the diseases spread like wildfire through their military units.
For a northern realm to conquer the Dark Continent would require a tremendous investment in acclimatizing soldiers, forming units without polearms or cavalry, and recruiting regiments of clerics to combat disease. This is beyond the capability of most realms, and the rest have not felt confident they would win such a war. The one attempt to establish a beachhead on Delos by a nation was met with abysmal failure over five centuries ago, as hundreds of elves from west of the Memeryan Sea landed on Delos after a long ocean journey. The elves attempted to conquer the native tribes and exploit the continent, but they fell to attrition (both disease and battle) after a few decades. Their ruined towers, fortresses and keeps (along with their magic items) can still be occasionally found in the depths of the jungle. The Dark Continent remains free because of the land itself.

Slavery was not unknown on the continent even centuries before the first explorers from other lands arrived. Native tribes often took prisoners after battles fought with rival tribes and these unfortunates were sold, used as slaves, or sacrificed. The arrival of Taranthian explorers almost 200 years ago brought an outside influence into the politics of slavery on Delos.
Taranthian slaver caravans move into the native lands across the continent, searching for small villagers or stragglers to put into chains. The native kingdoms are not usually targeted, as they have large military forces to discourage such predation. The usual targets are the more primitive and isolated villages. Men, women, and children are taken, and the elderly and infirm are slain or chased off. Once captured, the natives are chained into long, single-file lines and marched to the coast. Some die on these merciless treks. On the coast, the natives are packed tightly into ships for passage to the eastern lands. Many more die on the voyage. The slave trade is an inhumane practice of cruelty and death. Of late, the Tzulan empire has captured entire Ashante villages and sold the natives to the Taranthians as slaves, a huge source of conflict between the two nations. Other slavers include the orc pirates in the southern isles and the serpent men and their allies.
Several of the northern nations have set up friendly trade agreements with the nations of the Dark Continent. These nations have a vested interest in fighting the slave trade, since without the native tribes their source of many trade goods are slowed or stopped entirely. Thus, the merchant houses based out of Port Maugre and Nidik have been known to hire mercenaries or adventurers to destroy slaver bands wherever found. Unfortunately, these efforts are not united or systematic. Thus, the slavers are able to move from area to area and continue their evil trade.

Trade goods
The Dark Continent is a wealthy land. The mineral wealth alone includes the most valuable metals: gold, platinum, iron, copper, and silver. Gemstones are found in many places, but mainly are of low value. There are rumors of ancient diamond mines lost somewhere in the mountains. No one knows exactly where they are. One item that is rarely thought of as valuable is salt; this item is valuable in many Azuran cultures. The Dark Continent has valuable salt deposits in its hills. Products of nature are another source of wealth. Spices are abundant in the forests, including pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Resinous saps are tapped from trees and made into incense and perfumes, A few types of wood, such as mahogany and tropical cedar, are found in the forests. Many animal hides are valuable, including leopard, zebra, giraffe, cheetah, rhino, and hippo. Ivory is taken from elephants and hippos, but at great risk to the hunters.
The native kingdoms manufacture some items valued in the north. Art objects of bronze, gold, and ivory are exported, as well as more practical items such as cedar or mahogany chests with elaborate carvings. Fetish and walking sticks, totem poles, and other items with native carvings are highly valued. It must be remembered that Native kingdoms do not understand most forms of Azuran currency; they value cowrie shells, glass beads, steel weapons and gold nuggets as much as traditional gold or silver coins. Often times coins will be melted down to form jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces and other accoutrements. The majority of coins found as treasure will be from foreign or ancient empires, including mintage from the ancient Ashante empire, the Taranthian empire, the Weymerth League, Elven empires, and even vintage Lyrian coins (which may be worth more to collectors and sages than their actual coin wealth).

Native kingdoms

There are three major native kingdoms on Delos, each with a dominant ethnic type. The Tzulans, Ashante and Kongons each control a portion of Delos, although the borders are nebulous and often fought over. In Delosian recorded history, several times a kingdom has ruled the entire continent. However, within the last century there has not been one controlling empire, another “time without kings” period in the continent’s history. Instead, all three of the above named tribes have their own rulers and kingdoms.
The Tzulans are mighty warriors, and they control the eastern half of the Delosian continent, from the city-state of Nidik to the Great Swamp on the south. Their lands include jungle with the wide savannah and scrub to the southeast. On the eastern shore of their kingdom are settlements of the Taranthian empire, and at this time an uneasy truce exists between the tribes of the Tzula natives and the Taranthian merchants and slavers. The Taranthians and their allies have promised not to take Tzulans as slaves in return for being allowed to set up a city and fortress on the eastern shores of Delos and not be attacked. In return, the Tzulans trade slaves to the Taranthians for steel weapons and supplies.
The Ashante are merchants and farmers, and all their empire is rain forest on the north and north-western side of Delos, from the City State of Nidik to the great river Achebe. Their lands are all jungle with areas cleared out for raising both crops and domesticated wildlife. They trade with the merchants out of Port Maugre, as well as the Kongo tribes and others. They are somewhat advanced, and relatively peaceful although they have been engaged in border wars with the Tzulans for centuries (the area between Nidik and the river Xonmo has been disputed since the Ashante drove the Tzula back across it in the last war). The are excellent hunters and farmers, and barter with other tribes within their territory for what they need.
The Kongo tribe are hunter-gatherers, and they have the smallest of the three empires. Their territory is mainly the southern half of the continent, including the low lying river delta and great swamp. They are engaged in constant warfare with orc pirates, and this along with their isolated nature (the great river Orbo and river Setomo define it’s west and east borders respectively) have held their society back in terms of technological advancements. They mostly use bone or stone weapons, live primitively, and do not often trade with other tribes. They are excellent fishermen, sailors and hunters, and most villages are self-sufficient. They are unlikely to engage in mass combat, preferring to retreat and attack by surprise when the terrain can be used to their advantage. Unlike the other empires, many Kongo tribes have mutually beneficial relationships with other entities that allow them to survive against the elements and other monsters…alliances with orcs, dragons, and especially intelligent lizard-men tribes are necessary in order to battle the many enemies they have.
In it’s history, Delos has had many other empires and native types that have rose to prominence and then disappeared, or been absorbed by other tribes, left Delos for the many islands surrounding it, or been destroyed through warfare. Remnants of these tribes can sometimes be found in the deep jungles or in isolated areas of Delos. Among these are: The Mbantu, a nomadic island race that inhabits the island groups surrounding Delos, although some small settlements may be found on the rocky shores here and there on Delos itself; the Xonmo, an isolated race that dwells in and around the great volcano in the center of the Forbidden Plateau, they are very primitive (caveman level), worship fire and have fire priests; the Tembu, an offshoot of the Ashante race that was once it’s own empire but absorbed by the Ashante empire; they are more flamboyant and outgoing than their Ashante cousins and often rise to positions of power or influence in Ashante tribes; and the evil Tcho-Tcho, the demon-worshipping tribe of darkness that serves the god Shadow and lives in the city Leng on the Forbidden Plateau.

Traditions, religions and taboos

Many of the traditions of the Delosian natives are unusual to outsiders; some such as ritual sacrifice and cannibalism, are seen as primitive and repugnant. However, these traditions must be understood or at least recognized by outsiders or disaster may result.
Each empire has it’s own traditions, and each tribe within an empire may have it’s own unique taboos. Some of the tribes value war more than anything, while family might take the highest priority among some. Below are some generalizations of most Delsoian natives:
Children and the elderly are held in high regard. Most families have as many children as they can support, and the amount of children a married couple has can lead to a position of importance in the tribal hierarchy. A man or woman of age who dies unmarried or childless is seen as a failure or cursed, and native Delosians will often be married and have families by the time they are teenagers. Since most Delosian parents are busy with survival, children are raised by their grandparents until they are of age (usually 16, but sometimes 12 or 13 in some tribes). The coming of age ritual in most tribes can involve a quest for an item, a journey to a certain location, killing a certain totem animal or opposing tribe member, or another important activity. Once the ritual is complete, the native is accepted into the tribe as a full member.
Delosian natives who become adventurers and do not settle down are seen as perpetual children and not respected within their villages. A certain amount of “sowing of oats” is expected, but any native not being married or having children by age twenty is treated differently than most “responsible” members of the community. Anyone not married or with family by the age of thirty may be shunned or expelled from his tribe unless extenuating circumstances exist (for example, the village shaman, witchdoctor or tribal hunter may be made an exception based on his contributions to the village).
Most village leaders are the elders of the village, as age is respected for wisdom and knowledge it brings. Some exceptional ancestors that showed great wisdom are honored and remembered within a village for decades after they have died. The Delosians believe their ancestor’s spirits watch over them, and their funerals are often celebratory affairs especially if they dead elder has led a productive life. Disturbing the dead (raising skeletons and zombies) is seen as the ultimate taboo, and necromancers or evil priests that do this are killed by whatever means necessary and will not be associated with under any circumstances.
The God Umgawa is the head of the Delosian pantheon, and the most worshipped god on the continent. Neither good nor evil, Umgawa treats all worshippers and priests equally, believing in survival of the fittest. Many natives worship Umgawa and also placate other gods of the pantheon or the elemental gods, although the other gods have their shamans. Other members of the pantheon are aspects of other Azuran Gods, and are demigods: Merci, Goddess of fertility and growth (Altreya); Axea, God of war and battle (Kazull); Horus, God of sun and Light (Lurell), and Ert, God of death and the underdark (Inari). Other gods worshiped include the Elemental gods, and some forbidden gods such as Seth. Outlander gods are usually never worshipped, although occasionally a native will become a worshipper or even priest of an outlander god if they are indoctrinated early enough. In general, adult Delosians will never convert to outlander religions.
Taboos are small quirks that tribes exhibit that are often incomprehensible to outsiders. However, taboos must be obeyed and often battles are fought because one or the other has been unintentionally broken. Each empire or tribe have their own taboo, and outsiders are urged to carefully learn them before interacting. Some common taboos among tribes are: discarding arrows that miss when fired, as the wood is cursed; never using steel weapons; fearing magic and putting mages to death; never eating meat except on holy days; eating the hearts or brains of defeated enemies; having certain colors be lucky or unlucky; avoiding certain animals while on journeys, and dozens of others.

Delos the Dark Isle


The Dark Continent is a varied land but is hot nearly everywhere. The famous rainforest roughly follows the drainage of large river basins and surrounds the entire central plateau and mountain. It is bordered on the east and south by a chain of mountains, hills, and lakes. The hills and mountains are low and weathered. Rainforest soil is poor for farming purposes. The daily rainfall leeches most of the nutrients from the soil. Once the tropical growth is removed, the soil turns to hard clay in only a season or two. To the east of the jungle, the thick trees gradually give way to open scrub and eventually to the wide savannah. The tropical plains are broad and level, broken by numerous hilly ranges, plateaus, and gullies. The soil is better for crops here, although water can be scarce at times. Water is plentiful elsewhere, and the island has numerous small lakes, rivers, and swamps. The rainforest has interlaced systems of rivers and lakes, which form large drainage basins. The great swamp that borders the south of the continent is one of these. The dominating feature on the large island is the central plateau, which is many miles across, thousands of feet tall, and surrounds a tall volcanic peak that hides many secrets. The Forbidden Plateau is very difficult to reach, as the sheer cliff walls rise many miles in the air. The sides are dotted with caves inhabited by swarms of Pteradons and their evil masters the Pteramen. However, anyone actually reaching the summit would find hidden wonders that perhaps no white man has ever seen, including ruined cities, ancient civilizations, deadly cults and monsters, and forgotten magic and treasure.

The People

The natives of the Dark Continent have become superbly adapted to the harsh heat of the land over centuries of evolution. Dark skin and tightly curled hair seem odd to northerners, but they are excellent adaptations to harsh sunlight. The natives are also immune to many of the deadly diseases that lurk in the air and water. The natives know the land well and can find food and water there. Northerners find that they must adopt the natives’ ways or perish.
There are five main races native to Delos. Tall, dark-skinned natives dominate the Dark Continent and are found in most areas. These native Delosians are divided into three main ethnic groups (Tzula, Ashante and Kongo) and many subgroups. One race, the pygmies (Agogwe), live only in the center of the jungle region. Once they lived throughout the entire rainforest basin, but have lost much of their territory to their taller neighbors (Pygmies are a tribe of dark-skinned halflings that are centuries removed from their brethren across Azura, and think they are the only race of their kind left in the world). Another race, the jungle dwarfs (Kitu), were once found all over the Dark Continent. Now, their last stronghold are the caverns within the south eastern base of the Forbidden Plateau. A few packets of them are found in other areas, but only in very small numbers. The fourth race are the lizard-men (Unthalhu), who primarily inhabit the great swamp and warm coastal waters to the south. There are both primitive tribes in the depths of the swamp and more civilized lizard-men who are able to interact with society. The fifth race, orcs (Ngoloko), inhabit the southern edge of Delos and the dozens of small islands there in great numbers. Most belong to pirate clans who make the seas around Delos a dangerous place to sail. However, several large tribes of Orcs are also scattered throughout the forests of Delos and on many of the islands south of Delos.
The pygmies and jungle Dwarves live quiet, non-materialistic lives and do not have nations or wars of conquest. The dwarves do have one enemy, the deadly Utucheckulu, who are an evil offshoot of the jungle dwarves. The other natives have numerous warring tribes, kingdoms, and even large empires. They are the main participants in gathering trade goods. Unfortunately, they are also the main targets of slavers.
Traditional Azuran demi-human races (dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half-orcs, half-ogres, ogres) that are not native to the Dark Continent are found in the trading posts run by northerners. Many humanoid races are also absent. There are no native goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, or ettins. In place of these, other humanoids have filled the niches the other races normally fill. Tasloi, kech and trolls live in the jungle. Kobolds and jungle giants live in the rougher terrain, and utuchekulu (evil dwarf-like beings) stalk through the forests. Other intelligent creatures that have formed small groups include beastmen, frogmen (bullywugs), grippli, mongrelmen, jackalweres, serpent men (yuan-ti) and their allies the ophidians and histachii. Aarakocra, brightly colored like parrots, live on the central plateau. Sahuagin, locathah, and nixies live in the warm seas.

Animal life

The Dark Continent is home to the largest normal land animals in the world. The elephant, rhino, and hippo are common, along with giant versions of these creatures. Predators include many of the great cats, such as lions, jaguars, cheetahs and leopards, as well as hyenas, jackals and hunting dogs. The savannah is home to huge game herds, including water buffalo, gazelles, zebra, and giraffe. The jungle holds no large herds, but game is still abundant. There are several species of small antelope, okapi, and wild swine. Great apes live in the forests, including carnivorous apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and small communities of dakons. Monkeys are numerous, and baboons live in the hills.
The hot climate is ideal for cold-blooded creatures. Snakes and lizards are common. Poisonous snakes thrive in the hot lands, including cobras, asps, mambas, and vipers. These kill more people than any other animals. Crocodiles are a hazard on the rivers, where they feed on the hundreds of species of fish. Insects and arachnids by the millions are found in the jungle, ranging from tiny (disease-carrying) mosquitoes to huge spiders and scorpions. Giant forms of all the above animals, plus frogs, insects, fish and more are found in the more isolated areas. The most dangerous animals are not the rhinos, elephants, or even the cobras. The remnants of several dinosaur species live on the Forbidden Plateau. These huge beasts are rarely seen, even by the natives, but many are vicious carnivores.

Plant life
The jungle is famous for its layered depths. The tree canopy stretches unbroken for hundreds of square miles. Plants of the jungle adapt to the daily rainfall by growing leaves with pointed tips; these shed water quickly. The jungle does not give way suddenly to the savannah. The change is gradual, with the trees slowly thinning out and shrubs growing abundantly. Eventually, the trees become scarce, even the shrubs thin out, and the savannah sweeps from horizon to horizon. The grasses here are very hardy. They have adapted to the dry climate by developing deep root systems and thin leaves, to reduce the area available for water loss. The animal herds are migratory, passing through areas quickly and grazing the plains almost down to the soil. Thus, the grasses are very hardy, allowing for a quick recovery once the herds have moved on. Due to the influence of magic, several plants have developed a crude intelligence. These have devised a number of deadly
attacks, as a way of supplementing the poor tropical soil. Plants like the man-trap, yellow musk creeper, and vampire vine are infamous among the natives, along with all the various types of slimes and molds.

In addition to the threats of men, beasts, and plants, many types of unnatural monsters live on the Dark Continent. The fiercest monsters of all, dragons and their kin, are found in several areas. Black dragons thrive in the swamp, and green dragons live in the jungle-clad hills of the interior. Bronze dragons live in the hills. At least one red dragon is said to dwell within the great volcano. Jungle stirges, su-monsters, flying snakes and giant wasps inhabit the upper reaches of the jungle trees, while nagas slither through the green below. Creatures such as manticores, dragonnes, wyverns, behirs, chimeras and cockatrices inhabit the hills surrounding the Forbidden Plateau. Dragon turtles live in the seas, near the mouths of large rivers. The great swamp and nearby areas are home to many hydras of all types. Froghemoths, a gigantic froglike abomination worshiped by the bullywugs, inhabit many of the freshwater lakes.
Some undead are found among the evil tribes. Savage priests and black necromancers raise skeletons and zombies to be their servants. Ghouls haunt the jungles in packs of a dozen or more, with ghast leaders that can often cast spells. Unique types include the Hungry Dead and Ju-Ju Zombies, along with several types of shadows and shadow hounds summoned by the worshippers of darkness, the God Shadow. Very rarely, black necromancer liches are located within some long-lost tomb, researching forbidden magic or building an undead empire…