Arena of Storms
A large and variegated section of the world cordoned off by the Wall, a gigantic structure which was, according to some accounts, erected at the wishes of the God of Storms to prevent mortals from approaching Paradise. It is home to all races except the Reptiloids, who inhabit the Sands Vast and Burning between the Wall and Paradise. The gods view the affairs of the Arena as a kind of game which they join or leave with little thought to the long-lasting consequences of these actions. They often play favorites with one tribe or another, or will aid a tribe to interfere by proxy with another god's chosen people.
High above the earth of the Arena lies suspended the Sun-Dragon, who glows bright at day and dims at night - it is said the moon is a dragon egg. Legends differ on what will happen when the egg hatches, some tell of a wonderful paradise when the Arena is defended by twin dragons from outside intervention while others forebode of a nightmarish existence of eternal daylight called the Ever-Day - as such differing and conflicting cults have formed that commit rituals to encourage their end-goal sometimes involving sacrifice.
The Arena is vast, with a variety of environs within it. It is coldest at the middle, and warmer as one approaches the edges. At the center of the Arena is Mount Beartooth, home of the God of Ice, which is located on the Frozen Sea, which borders on the Great Sea, which extends to the Wall and takes up one third of the Arena. The Great Sea contains the Ymargerrous Isles, home of the Cyclopes. The rest of the Arena is covered mostly by jungle and forest, with some plains and steppes.
The Corporeal ParadiseEdit
A pleasant, plentiful land of eternal springtime, free of natural hardships. The home of most of the gods when they desire to take corporeal forms. Some gods reside elsewhere most of the time because of their dislike or fear of the God of Storms, who is the de facto ruler of Paradise. Paradise is the location of the Sacred Orchards, wherein grow the Apples of Life that grant the gods their longevity and allow them to maintain their powers. Mortals and Demigods have attempted on several occasions to gain access to Paradise, but none have been successful.
A mysterious realm deep below the surface of the world. It is inhabited by the souls of the dead, the Goddess of the Underworld, and the Titans (the creators of the gods) and Demons (spiritual beings opposed to the gods' love of corporeal existence) who were defeated by the gods in ages past. The Volgyn live under the surface as well, not deep enough to be in the Underworld, but still deep enough for the Titans and Demons to communicate with them.
Magical power is derived from knowing the true names of things and entities. The true name of a thing is extremely long, containing a theoretically infinite number of syllables, but uttering even one syllable of a true name grants one a little bit of control over that thing. The gods know the true names of a great many things, and some mortals, called Druids, are able to tap into this power because have enough favor with one or more gods that they can request miracles. However, the gods can always refuse help, and are not known for keeping their promises. Some mortals, called Namers, have learned snippets of the names and are thus able to perform a limited amount of magic independently, but this is an easy way to incur the wrath of the gods if they find out about it.
The High God also known as the God of Elements, the God of Storms and the God of LightningEdit
The God of Storms is indisputably the most powerful god. He is also the most ruthless and cruel of them all, and enjoys plaguing the Arena-dwellers with lightning, hail and the dreaded Thunderborn hordes. His cruelty causes the Arena-dwellers (except the Minotaurs) to refuse to give him worship, which angers him and causes him to punish them more, creating a vicious circle of punishment and defiance. It is widely believed that even if all the Arena were to worship him exclusively, the malice of the Storm God's heart would not be contained and he would continue his attacks anyway. His ceaseless cruelty has roused heroes and other gods against him numerous times, but these attempts to depose him have all been quashed under his mighty fist, though some were very nearly successful. The God of Storms ordered the construction of the Arena and the Sands Vast and Burning to prevent further attempts by the mortal races to interfere with his endless brutality.
According to one legend, the God of Storms' anger and hatred of mortals are the result of his loss of control of the element of fire. He used to be the God of Elements, but fire was stolen from him by a man and woman who ventured into Paradise.
The Goddess of WaterEdit
A consort of the God of Storms, mother to the God of Ice and Goddess of the Sea.
The Goddess of AirEdit
The chief deity of the Birdmen and wife of the God of Storms. Her main concern is ensuring that mortals don't climb over the Wall, which the Birdmen have made one of the main focuses of their culture.
The Goddess of FireEdit
A goddess worshiped by the Reptiloids and one of the creators of the Sands Vast and Burning. She is mostly loyal to the God of Storms, and is allowed inside Paradise.
The God of EarthEdit
The god most worshiped by the Reptiloids, who helped create the Sands and, in some accounts, the Wall itself. He is allowed to freely enter Paradise.
The Goddess of the UnderworldEdit
A goddess whose original station has long been forgotten, who once challenged the God of Storms and was killed as punishment. However, she was powerful enough even in death to assume control of hell, which is a physical place deep underground and now the home of the Demons and Titans.
The God of CreationEdit
Creator of the sun and the world, which was corrupted by the other gods. Possibly the father of the God of Ice and/or the Goddess of the Sea.
The God of RiversEdit
The God of Rivers is lord of the River Yore which flows through the Wall and provides the Arena's inhabitants with most of their water. The River Yore has many tributaries as well that. He is the foremost opponent of the God of Storms and because of this, he is one of the most widely worshiped gods. However, it is unclear whether his opposition stems from his sympathy with the mortals of the Arena or his jealousy of the Storm God's power. In any case, his defiance resulted in being very unpopular in Paradise, so he mostly lives near his river. He is entirely intolerant of those who would pollute or otherwise interfere with his river, and will punish them severely.
The Goddess of the SeaEdit
An erstwhile wife of the God of Ice who left him when his Demigod son waged war on the God of Storms. She is the daughter of the Goddess of Water and either the God of Storms or the God of Creation, and therefore sister or half-sister of the God of Ice. She is hated by the God of Storms for having been married to the God of Ice, and now resides within the wall, in the Great Sea, where she is the chief deity of the Cyclopes.
The God of DeathEdit
Father to the God of Sickness and, by some accounts, the Elves, who serve his son.
The Goddess of LifeEdit
Responsible for the Elves' inability to contact the gods (or, by some accounts, only the good gods) because she was offended by their lineage of Death and Sickness.
The Goddess of WoodlandsEdit
Mother to the Elves and possibly the Dryads, and master of the forest animals.
The God of SicknessEdit
Master of the Elves, and son of the God of Death. According to those who maintain that Elves are incapable of contact with any god, he has since lost contact with his servants and they have gone astray, spreading throughout the Arena's forests.
The God of IceEdit
The God of Ice resides atop Mount Beartooth and is worshiped by the Humans who live there. His mother was the Goddess of Water and his father was either the God of Storms or the God of Creation. He inadvertently angered the God of Storms by taking a human wife, and was punished by being banished from Paradise. His son by her, the first Demigod, raised an army against the God of Storms, but was narrowly defeated. According to some, this resulted in the God of Storms separating the mortals and the gods, though others maintain that the existence of the Wall predates the war.
Demons live in the Underworld, below the Arena. As an entity they are identical to Gods and Nature Spirits, separated by ideology rather than any composition of their being. The ideological differences that separate Demons from Gods is that Demons believe the world should exist in an incorporeal state, where individual thoughts are distinct but contact one another in a way that is difficult for a mortal to comprehend, while Gods prefer a world with the physical existence currently found. God and Demon fought in a war that the Gods prevailed in, casting the Demons to the Underworld. Due to their ideology when a Demon takes form in the mortal world they usually take it in the form of a disembodied sounds or sights. Demons may interfere in mortal affairs by gifting mortal who have bargained with them or whom they wish to benefit with magic, creating sorcerers. Such sorcerers are often shunned by most of society as Demons are viewed as worse than Gods due to clever manipulation from the Gods. This magic allows mortal to tap into their incorporeal nature, however this often strains that sanity of mortals not used to this exposure and drains their very life essence, as well as the life essence of beings around them making sorcerers the enemies of Elves and Dryads alike. The most powerful sorcerers end up becoming completely non-corporeal and exist much like spirits. The leader of the Demons during their war with the Gods was an entity called Thunder, who was trapped by the High God. Their current ruler is his wife, an entity called Banshee who exists in the Arean as a fatal scream that terrifies the mortal supported of the Gods.
The nature spirits are the same kind of beings as the gods and the demons. When the war between the gods and the demons started, the spirits chose neither side, as they did not prefer corporeality over incorporeality, or vice versa. When the gods won the war, they were angry at the spirits for not aiding the, and as punishment they forced them to create the material world by permanently taking corporeal forms such as the mountains, the earth etc. But due to their rejection of the gods' and demons' dogma, they were still able to manifest in incorporeal forms while retaining their corporeal forms.
Many Nature Spirits were obliterated after the God-Demon war for their neutrality, however most that do exist do so by signing contracts with certain Gods. River spirits pledged allegiance to the River God, lightning spirits to the High God, etc. Nature Spirits allow Gods to have much dominion over their chosen element.
The Titans are ancient and powerful beings that once ruled the world before the coming of the Gods. They took little notice of humans before the Fall, and generally ignored them, as they were little more than animals at the time.
However, since their defeat and imprisonment deep beneath the earth, below even the Demon realms, they have become interested in the everyday lives of the human Tribes as they fight the Storm Gods bastard offspring and their environment. Some have even started to aid the tribes in what little ways they can from within their ancient cells.
The ideology of the Titans on the nature of existence was the eventual merging of all being into a perfect singularity. Demonkind and Gods rejected this as both value their individuality - Demons believe in an incorporeal existence with distinct individuals. As such both teamed to stop the Titans from achieving their goal, accusing the result to not be a perfect being but a being who's identity suppressed the non-Titans' identities. The Titans still argue that this existence will be a paradise.
Birdmen are nearly as advanced as the Minotaurs. They live atop the Wall, and serve the Air God by preventing other races from climbing over the Wall and escaping the Arena. Their feathers contain a peculiar metallic substance which, when melted down, is forged into tools and weapons. Only down feathers, or the feathers of the dead, are used in this way. A Birdman colony contains at least one Insectoid hive, which are used as sources of slave labor and occasionally food.
Centaurs are savage steppe-dwelling archers who are a persistent bane to Human herdsmen.
A race of one-eyed giants and the apparently the only race to use boats. According to legend, their native islands are home to great stone structures that surpass even those of the Minotaurs. They subsist mainly through piracy and raiding and often terrorize coast-dwelling Humans.
A race loyal to Humans, though only those they deem intelligent enough to be worthy of their aid. Cats are attuned to the spiritual world and thus have magical abilities, most notably shapeshifting, which they can bestow on Humans who deserve it. Cats often shape-shift into Human form (though they retain some cat-like features as they can't shift completely) to communicate more directly with the Human world. improve humanity by uplifting them and making them more intelligent and civilized, leading them to greater knowledge and the ability to outclass the Minotaurs. They especially hate Demonkind, as Demons abuse and attack cats for being a balanced split between the physical and spiritual creatures.
When a God mates with a mortal (willingly or unwillingly), the offspring is a Demigod. Demigods carry most of the racial traits of their mother. However, they are invariably much stronger, faster and more robust than the mortal race they were born from.
They also last much longer, demi-gods living up to 750-1250 years, depending on their mother's race. And they don't start even showing signs of aging until about 80% of their life is up. And even an aging demigod can easily trounce most humans. '
Demigods, however, often died from misadventure due to the meddling of the gods. Either their parent god disapproves of actions they took, or a rival god of their parent decides to strike against them. Often when gods disagree or have a current rivalry, they will manipulate events to have their Demi-God children compete in proxy wars that can be fatal.
The god with the most prolific amount of offspring is the High God - the God of Storms. He is not a subtle lover either, he will usually make one blunt offer and if it is not accepted immediately, resorts to force or trickery.
Upon their 24th Birthday, all offspring of the God of Storms are approached by one of his emissaries. They are forced into a choice - work under his instructions, or become his enemy and face a likely death.
A race loyal to Humans. Dogs are acutely attuned to the physical world, and can grant boons of strength, speed and other physical skills to Humans they favor. Dogs are intelligent and many of the more powerful dogs are even sentient. Where Cats come into conflict with the spiritual creatures that threaten Man, and are hated by Demons and their kind for it. Dogs fight the horrific creatures that would kill many a man during a hunt or rampage through a settlement, and have made enemies among many of the greater creatures that inhabit the world.
An all-female race that hails from many of the forests and jungles of the Arena. They have light green skin and dark green hair - they are fairly humanoid, but are in fact a plant. When they are 'in mating season', the dryads will also bloom flowers in their hair which release pollen at certain times. They are said to be the chosen of the Goddess of Water and the Goddess of the Underworld, as they sprout from the ground like trees. Dryad tribes are usually based around their environment, such as a particular forest or grove. There are often physical distinctions that mark what tribe the Dryad comes from. Dryads do not always remain in the forest they were born in, this can be for a number of reasons. Sometimes the princess of one forest will be married to the princess of another forest and there will be a royal procession. Sometimes dryads will look outside the forest for warriors to deal with plant-gobbling monsters. And often dryads are exiled for breaking some of the strange laws of their lands. Dryads have impregnation through pollination - Sometimes, however, a dryad will give birth by pollinating herself. Normally this is impossible, but it does happen. The children born this way are shunned by the society and usually exiled - dryad myth holds that the mother must have been raped by a God and the child is thus likely evil. The exiled usually needs to find another race to integrate with, or fall victim to the perils of the world. Exiled Dryads are said to sometimes band together in their own tribes.
Elves are children of the God of Death and the Goddess Woodlands, and servants of the God of Sickness. They are putrid, hideous creatures who often mask themselves in more humanoid forms. They spread rot and sickness and pervert any area of woodland they stay in. However, their latent life energies cause the rot and sickness to be undone when they leave. They are enemies of the Dryads because they are walking embodiments of death and decay, and of Humans because Elves are fond of the taste of their flesh. They are forbidden from having any contact with the gods because of a curse bestowed on them by the Goddess of Life.
A barely sentient race of winged bug-people, the Insectoids have little impact on the Arena besides making the lives of their Birdman overlords more comfortable. They are incapable of understanding or imagining anything beyond the most basic primal instincts and direct experience, which is why they haven't simply flown away from the Birdmen; they don't understand that another life could be possible. They have no ambitions beyond serving the hive (which they view as including the Birdmen), eating, sleeping, and mating. They live in hives which are housed in huge wasp-nest type structures stuck to an area of the Wall near their respective Birdman colony. Insectoids have three sexes -- "Y", who fertilize the eggs and get food for the hive, "X", who provide eggs and protect the hive, and "Z", who incubate the fertilized eggs. Only one member of the hive is "Z", and is the "queen" of the hive. Shortly before dying, she generates another "Z" Insectoid, the "princess", who is very small and delicate and is obviously tended to very closely. Princess entrails are a delicacy in Birdman society.
Humans are found all throughout the Arena, but are only really dominant in and around the snowy climes of Mount Beartooth. Most tribes are hunters and foragers, but the steppe-dwelling tribes raise flocks of livestock. Humans have domesticated a large range of fauna, including mammoths, bears, giant rabbits and, in the Xinorran Jungle, tigers for transportation and warfare. The Xinorran tribes are unusual because their political and military power is wielded entirely by females.
The most advanced and powerful race, the Minotaurs have developed villages, towns, and even a few cities, all of which are called Labyrinths. (Labyrinths are rarely literally such. The name comes from non-Minotaurs, who used it to describe the confusion they felt in the cities, with their tall buildings and winding streets. The Minotaurs took it as a term of pride, a reminder of how more advanced they are.) They have a relatively developed economy among themselves and with other races, which features coin money, trade caravans and records of transactions written in simple pictographs carved into stone, wood or bone. Labyrinths are relatively safe from the natural hazards of the Arena, and Minotaurs will allow non-Minotaurs to live among them, but at a steep price -- the Hornless are taxed so heavily that they are practically slaves. Additionally, Hornless females have no rights and may be raped without consequence, and the bodies of the Hornless are often eaten by the Minotaurs after death. Minotaurs' savage side is further evidenced by their raiding the settlements of other races, mostly looking for more slaves. As if the Minotaurs weren't unpopular enough among the other peoples, their chief god is none other than the God of Storms.
The building block of Minotaur society is the herd, which is led by a bull who has sired at least two adult calves and whose sire is dead as well as his cows and his unwed siblings. A herd will often rule over vassal herds. All members of a Labyrinth are part of the same herd; any Hornless among them are also considered members of it, albeit ones of much lesser status. When the Minotaur race is faced with a great crisis, the chiefs of all the major herds (those with at least one vassal herd) will gather on an island in a volcano's flooded bowl, believed to be the place where the first Minotaurs were created, and engage in Nujin -- "the breaking of the horns" -- a one-on-one combat tournament to the death, the winner of which is declared the High Chief of the entire Minotaur race until the crisis is resolved, at which point the eldest sons of the chiefs thus killed become the new chiefs of their herds.
Minotaur Namers are different from Namers in other races because they don't actually use the true names of things -- instead, they activate runes inscribed with the true shape of a thing they wish to manipulate, and are thus called Runecasters. A Runecaster typically keeps his collection of runes in a bag called a Bag of Shapes. Once a spell is cast using a rune, it must be given time to "cool off" before it can be re-imbued with mystical power and used again. Particularly powerful spells will shatter their runes when they are cast. As a result of this difference, Runecaster spells always work the same way every time they are invoked -- they're reliable, but very inflexible. Forging a rune is a long and difficult process, so most Runecasters don't have more than one copy of a particular rune.
The only race that lives outside the Arena, the lizard-like Reptiloids inhabit the Sands Vast and Burning, the desert zone between the Wall and Paradise. As desert lizards, they spend most of the day sleeping or sunbathing and are active at night. They are not a particularly populous race, as a Reptiloid female can't lay more than three eggs in her lifetime. They are nomadic hunters who subsist on monstrous Devilflies and other desert creatures. Reptiloids have been completely isolated from other peoples for most of their history, but occasionally a runaway Birdman will come into contact with a Reptiloid clan. From the Birdmen, Reptiloids learned of the gods and so chose the Goddess of Fire and the God of Earth, the creators of the Sands, as their primary deities. Birdmen also introduced the Reptiloids to concepts such as codified laws and trials; before this, Reptiloid justice consisted mostly of public wrestling matches, although these matches are still used sometimes as per their new code of law. In imitation of the finery of upper-class Birdmen as was described to them, many Reptiloid chieftains wear sleeveless, backless garments and jewelry made of gold (rather than Birdman feather-metal). Reptiloid druids call upon the gods through ritual battles or fighting tournaments called rys-u-mattah.
Reptiloids are able warriors, distinguished by their unique style of wrestling, in which victory is achieved by lifting one's opponent above one's head, then dropping him. They are also proficient in the use of several weapons, including the spear-mace, the traditional weapon of their people, comprised of a blunt bludgeoning end and a pointed stabbing end. They also make use of bows, spears, tomahawks and daggers.
A wandering race of merchants, Snakemen are disliked and mistrusted all throughout the Arena. They are skilled in many trades, but their mind-altering pheromones have led most races to regard them as possessing magic powers of unsavory origin. They are likely related to the Reptiloids.
Long ago, a band of Humans tried to escape the Arena by digging under the Wall, but they couldn't find their way back to the surface. The Earth God took pity on them and made them smaller and enhanced their senses so they could survive underground, but took away their sight. The resulting race is the Volgyn. They live deep enough underground that they can communicate with the Demons and Titans in the Underworld. The Titans and Demons have granted the Volgyn some understanding of magic.