Karthica (3.5e Campaign Setting)
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Overview & Basic Geography
The world of Karthica is loosely based on the societies of ancient Greece (classical era), but there are also influences from medieval europe, and lots of completely original material also.
Karthica consists of three major landmasses, Phyros, Olmetir, and Trakylon. There are also numerous smaller island interspersed between the landmasses, and in the surrounding oceans. Seven "Great Cities" dominate the political landscape, and vie for control over Karthica.
Far to the East lies a massive and mysterious continent, Gugansa, of which little is known.
Before giving the history of Karthica, it is important to explain the calendar. Before there were seven "Great Cities", there was a mythical "City of the Gods" that ruled over all Karthica. A great tragedy separated the "City of the Gods" from the physical landscape of Karthica, thus creating the division between mortals and gods. The calendar year zero is the year of the separation. Years prior to the separation are "negative" years. The history given here goes to the date of my own campaign, 512.
The City of The Gods
Long before the race of men inherited dominion over the earth, the twenty divine lords ruled over Karthica from the lofty towers of the Immortal City, which straddled all three continents in its glory. For a thousand years, the gods thus ruled Karthica, until a massive and evil army arrived on the shores of Trakylon, having traveled many miles overseas from Gugansa.
The leader of this army was a powerful sorceror named Fandar, who was the son of the Arcane Deity Chublusk, patron of Gugansa. Fandar's army was near limitless, and he managed to breach the outer wall of the Immortal City itself, but the heavily defended inner wall was impregnable. For fifteen years Fandar laid siege to the Immortal City, until on the first day of the sixteenth year he performed a heinous blood rite.
A million of his followers slit their own throats, and their souls were forged into a powerful attack on the Immortal City. The magic wave was so strong that it tore open a hole between the material plane and the abyssal void, and all but two of the gods were cast into the void, along with their city.
However, Samutor and Elefrin, twin brother and sister, had been out in the countryside when the separation occurred, wreaking havoc behind Fandar's front lines. The two deities, realizing that the city had been lost, launched a suicidal attack against Fandar, and managed to slay the sorceror after a six hour duel. Samutor died of grievous wounds soon after the battle, and the fate of Elefrin has been lost to time.
What is known is that the death of Fandar threw his army into disarray. They began to war wtih one another, and within thirty days most were dead. The remainder laid down their arms and settled Trakylon, while the original mortal inhabitants of Karthica settled in Phyros and Olmetir.
The First Age of Peace (c. 0-70)
For roughly seventy years, the people of Karthica lived in relative peace, and focused on rebuilding their shattered homeland. They soon discovered that although the gods were no longer physically among them, they had not abandoned their mortal allies. Magic could still cross the barrier between planes, although it was impossible to generate a spell potent enough to return the gods to the material plane.
Three "Great Cities" emerged, Hoklipon on the south-eastern continent of Trakylon, Zenbizir in Phyros to the north, and Delinos on Olmetir to the west.
The Forty Years War (c. 71-111)
In the year 71, Hoklipon seized control of the shrine to Gurdol on the tiny, rocky island of Dendell. The City of Zenbizir immediately declared war on Hoklipon. The people of Delinos were split over whether to support Zenbizir or Hoklipon. Although historically the City of Hoklipon was not to be trusted (they were, after all, the descendants of invaders from Gugansa), the oracle at Handes reported that the gods favored Hoklipon.
A civil war soon erupted in the continent of Olmetir. Many of the towns south of Delinos seceded, and eventually merged to form a new city, Ryon. After thirty-five years of war, Zenbizir and Hoklipon were nearly destroyed from the stalemated conflict. The two cities of Olmetir formed a tentative alliance and invaded the other two continents, with Ryon claiming Trakylon and and Delinos claiming Phyros.
The Olmetirian Dynasty (c. 111-155 / 156-190)
The Olmetirian kingdoms ruled Karthica for about 44 years. After that time, Ryon experienced a revolution. Its king was thrown out of power and a senate installed in power. The people of Trakylon voted for independence, and the infant Ryonian democratic government could do little to oppose the move. The Trakylonians rebuilt Hoklipon and regained status as a "Great City" within two decades.
On the continent of Phyros, three revolutions were brutally repressed by Delinosian armed forces (in 158, 163, and 175). Immediately following the defeat of the third revolution, several natural disasters struck Delinos. A plague killed 20% of the population in the city, a hurricane destroyed its northern fleet and the port towns of Costica and Fortula, and a volcanic eruption demolished the great monument of King Lyson. The terrified people of Delinos consulted the oracles and were told to abandon the continent of Phyros immediately. They complied with the wishes of the gods.
The Era of the Six Cities (c. 190-320)
For 130 years, the political situation in Karthica was relatively stable. Following the withdrawal of Delinosian troops from Phyros, the Phyrosians formed two cities, New Zenbizir and Afgar. Commerce and culture floruished, and the "Great Cities" grew in wealth and power. Emmissaries from the mysterious lands far to the south came bearing gifts, and a pan-Karthican festival was created that featured atheltic competitions, sacrifices and meetings between the rulers of the various cities.
The Hegetite Intrusion (c. 321-328)
In the year 321, a fierce sea-faring people invaded Phyros from the north, and within six months controlled the northern third of the contintent. A hasty alliance was formed between New Zenbizir and Afgar, and the Delinosians contributed ships and soldiers as well. After three years, the Hegetites ("barbarians") had been mostly scattered, although skirmishing continued until 328.
The Elven Ascendance (c. 335-337)
Soon after the Hegetite's had been defeated, a new Great City (Talthor City) was declared on the large archipelago of Talthor, which lay between Phyros and Trakylon. The inhabitants of Talthor City were fey folk, primarily a race known as "elfren". The offspring of "true fey", the elfren were wise, long-lived, and inquisitive. Talthor rapidly became the center of innovation and magical knowledge.
The Second Age of Peace (c. 337-388)
For many years, the land of Karthica saw no major wars. There were occasional clashes between rival towns, but for the most part peace and prosperity reigned.
The Furtian Tyranny (c. 389-415)
In 389, the democratic government of Ryon was placed under immense pressure by a devastating plague. A civil administrator by the name of Hirophus took control of most of the cities affairs, and within a month the plague dissipated. At the time, it was believed that Hirophus was chosen by the gods, and he accepted the title of High King. He soon began to impose his will upon the surrounding towns with an iron fist, and began to challenge the territorial possessions of Delinos to the north.
With the covert assistance of elfren agents from Talthor City, the people of Ryon finally overthrew Hirophus's son, Hirophus II, in 415. A new democratic government was created, with safeguards placed in the new consitution that would hopefully prevent future threats to democracy.
The Modern Era (c. 416-)
Since democracy was restored to Ryon, no significant political developments occurred. Five wars were fought, but no major territiorial changes occurred. Talthor City became a respected place of neutrality, and a frequent objective arbitrator in disputes. In 480, a second Hegeitite intrusion occurred, but was rapidly destroyed by an coalition force comprised of troops from five of the seven cities.
But now, instability threatens Karthica. New Zenbizir and Hoklipon have been heavily expanding their military capabilities, leaving many afraid that a terrible war is imminent. Reports of a massive Hegetite fleet have left Phyrosian coastal dwellers panicked, and deep in the tropical mountains in the heart of Olmetir, something is driving out the uncivilized beast-men, who are overunning the settlements that border the mountains. And most disturbing of all, there are claims that a cult to the ancient and evil sorceror Fandar has arisen in Delinos.
The Seven Cities
The Delinosians are expert sailors. Their shipbuilding skill is unmatched by any of the other great cities. Their powerful navy protects sea routes between the continents, ensuring open trade among all the cities... in return for a small fee (deserved, of course.)
Delinos is ruled by the Governing Council, which consists of five elected individuals. Terms are 5 years, with no term limits. The Council has absolute power, issuing edicts by majority vote.
The Republic of Ryon is a democratic state, and its population takes great pride in this fact. Many Ryonians even believe their form of government to be morally superior. Ryon produces great thinkers and philosophers.
The government of Ryon consists of a "Head of Affairs" who directs the "Senate". Ryon is divided into ten districts, each of which elects two senators, one from among the commoners, and one of noble blood.
The people of Arcatus are industrious and practical. They generally keep to themselves, and try to avoid provoking the aggressive city of Hoklipon to the north. However, the Arcati possess some of the most magnificent fortifications even built, designed to make invading their lands too costly to consider. Arcatus possesses extensive iron ore deposits.
The government of Arcatus is nominally a hereditary monarchy, but real power resides at the local level, among the artisans.
Hokliponese society is based around war. The city has always stagnated in times of peace, and the city is almost always engaged in some minor conflict in order to keep its troops fresh and well-prepared.
Hoklipon is ruled by a king, who nominates a successor. However, there is a council of five "judges" who may impeach the ruling family and elect a new king. The new king cannot be one of the judges, or a blood relation of one of the judges.
The City of New Zenbizir is full of energy and ambition. It lacks the army of Hoklipon, the navy of Delinos, and the craftsmanship of Arcatus, but New Zenbizir does have a remarkably diverse population. Elfren and humans live side by side with centaurs and dwarves. The openness to outsiders should not, however, be confused with general liberty.
Although the judicial system is semi-independent, ultimate power rests in the hands of a "Supreme Governor." The Governor selects ten individuals to form his governing council, which with a unanimous vote can veto the king. However, every year the king has the opportunity to replace council-members at will. Thus although the council elects a new leader upon the king's death, the king can fill the council with those who will elect his desired heir.
Afgar is a wild land of plains and rolling hills juxtaposed against impenetrable forests and rocky cliffs. The inhabitants live in fertile valleys that criss-cross the volatile landscape. As a centralized city Afgar falls short of its rivals, but that is not to suggest it undeserving of the title "great". Though the Afgarian government is highly decentralized, Afgarians possess a surprisingly strong sense of common identity. Most internal disputes are settled peacefully, and in times of strife the various communities are quick to come to one another's aid.
Afgar is ruled by a king and queen, who by long-standing tradition have equal power and authority.
The glorious city of the Elfren is beautiful and illustrious. People travel from all across Karthica to study at its prestigious University of The Arcane and Academic. The city is governed by the high lord of the Elfren. The selection process is unknown to any outsiders.
- Map of Karthica (Karthica Supplement): A map of the three continents of Karthica.
- Deities of Karthica (Karthica Supplement): A reference guide to the 20 Karthican gods and goddesses.
- Races of Karthica (Karthica Supplement): A reference guide to the various sentient races of Karthica.
- Equipment of Karthica (Karthica Supplement): A guide to the various new weapons, armor and adventuring gear that the setting adds to vanilla D&D.
- Karthica House Rules (Karthica Supplement): Custom OPTIONAL rules for the Karthica campaign.