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A Guide to Aestis Part One: Land and People

Updated: Apr 11, 2023





Welcome to Aestis, the lands featured in our core book Arclands: The Spellforgers Companion (to get your free 160 page full colour download, remember to subscribe to this site).


This article is our beginner’s guide to the lands and environments of Aestis and in future posts we’ll look deeper at the peoples, cultures, history, conflicts, coins, intrigues and magic of these lands.


This guide is for DMs and players who are looking to create an Arclands campaign, and for anyone who is enjoying A Fire in the Heart of Knowing and would like to understand more about the world. Let’s begin with the Arclands themselves.


The Arclands are a region along the southern coast of the Greater Arc Sea. They run from Dancare and Wardenhal, the westernmost cities all the way to Dran in the north eastern city of Dran. The ninth city of the Arclands, the ancient and mystical city of Gol, lies in ruins after being devastated by a tsunami centuries ago.


The Arclands are the wealthiest and most populous part of the continent, a combination of fertile soils, a temperate climate and trading networks ensured that human civilisation began here in the guise of the earliest imperium, the Vannic Empire.


The Vannic world was built on a previously shattered civilisation of the Fey peoples, an almost entirely extinct culture that the official Aruhvian Church (the dominant faith across Aestis) refuses to acknowledge as a legitimate historical fact. In Aruhvian doctrine the Fey were demonised as the offspring of fallen Graces.


The only other non human peoples that have been acknowledged by the scholars in the city of Harenis are the Firg peoples, giant craftsmen who live in the Firg kingdom in the west, and the amphibious Jaraki who live alongside humans in Oloris. In addition to this there are the small rat-like Ryvvik who live and work in the ships that cross Hermia’s seas and the mysterious shape changing Skabbakh.


It is widely known that there are more non human peoples that have long existed beyond the Arclands and those that have started to emerge as a result of the cataclysmic event known as the Sundering some three centuries earlier (we will address the Sundering soon, but that really requires its own blog post).


Beyond the Arclands lie the Outer Kingdoms of Ghotharand, Veska, Oloris, the Vire, Del’Marah, the Molvar, the Mill Lands and Mordikhaan, with numerous small fiefdoms that exist in between these great states.


Each of these states exists in a web of complex strategic relations with one another, but at the heart of this great network in Arc, the great metropolis at the centre of the world. Arc was the capital of the Arc empire, now long gone.


It now sits at the heart of an empire of debt, Arc’s bankers and diplomats control the flow of money across the continent and make and break nations as a result.





Crisis


The people of many societies across Aestis seem to be living with a constant sense of fear and uncertainty, fuelled by the memory of the catastrophic Sundering that occurred three hundred years ago.


This event has left a lasting impact, and they may be haunted by the fear that another catastrophe could occur at any moment, potentially bringing about the end of their world. As a result, they may be prone to caution, pessimism, and a deep sense of fatalism, always aware of the fragility of their existence and the tenuousness of their hold on life.


They may also be deeply religious or superstitious, seeking comfort in rituals and beliefs that offer some sense of protection or control in the face of overwhelming forces beyond their comprehension. Ironically, Aruhvianism has not been the beneficiary of this increase in religiosity, as the church is widely mistrusted.



 


GM's note


Many people in small settlements and towns tend to react with suspicion, fear, and possibly violence towards anything supernatural. They view such occurrences as a threat to their way of life and feel that supernatural entities pose a danger to their survival. Depending on the nature of the supernatural being or event, they may react with a range of responses, from attempting to banish or destroy it to seeking to appease it through offerings or other forms of tribute.


Their response may also depend on their cultural and religious beliefs. If they believe in a pantheon of deities or spirits, they may interpret supernatural events through the lens of their religious teachings, seeing them as signs of divine intervention or punishment. Alternatively, if they have a more secular worldview, they may view supernatural occurrences as the result of natural forces or phenomena that they do not yet understand.



 





Emptiness


In the wake of the Sundering, the people of Aestis have been left with a profound spiritual void. The monotheistic faith of Aruhvianism, which had once provided a guiding light for many, collapsed along with the death of the Keeper. Without the presence of a divine being to offer guidance or protection, many people have been left adrift, struggling to find meaning and purpose in a world that seems increasingly hostile and unpredictable.


In this spiritual vacuum, dark forces have found it far easier to seep into the world and take advantage of mortals. With no faith to anchor them, many people are vulnerable to manipulation and deception, and there are those who seek to exploit this vulnerability for their own gain. These dark forces may take many forms, from malevolent spirits and demons to corrupt political leaders and warlords who seek to gain power through fear and intimidation.


At the same time, the collapse of Aruhvianism has left many people with a sense of despair and fatalism. They may feel that the world is beyond redemption, that there is no hope for the future, and that their only option is to try to survive as best they can in a hostile and unforgiving world. This fatalism can lead to a sense of apathy and resignation, making it difficult for people to muster the will to resist the forces that seek to oppress them.


In this context, it is not surprising that many people have turned to fear and superstition as a way of coping with the challenges of their lives. Without a strong faith to offer them comfort and guidance, they may resort to seeking protection from charms and talismans, or turning to self-proclaimed prophets and mystics who claim to have special insight into the workings of the universe.


In the religious text, the Aruhviad, the final part of the text - the Book of Lamentations promises eternal life for those loyal to the precepts of the religion (poverty, piety, pain and purge) at the feet of the Keeper himself.


Ever since the Sundering, these certainties of spiritual redemption have been thrown into chaos.

Many have given up belief in an afterlife in the Celestial Realm, without the belief in an afterlife in the Celestial Realm, the people of Aestis often struggle with the feeling that their lives lack any ultimate purpose or meaning. Some are left with a sense of existential despair, feeling that their actions are ultimately futile and that there is no ultimate reward for their efforts.


In some this has lead to a sense of nihilism, where individuals feel that there is no inherent value to their lives and that nothing really matters in the end. In others, however, a new spirit of self responsibility for ones moral choices has flourished as some humans and non humans realise that in the absence of a deity to worship, responsibility for the fate of the world comes down to them.



 


GM's note


Without the belief in an afterlife in the Celestial Realm, the people of the Arcverse may feel that their lives lack any ultimate purpose or meaning. They may be left with a sense of existential despair, feeling that their actions are ultimately futile and that there is no ultimate reward for their efforts. This can lead to a sense of nihilism, where individuals feel that there is no inherent value to their lives and that nothing really matters in the end.


In addition to this, the absence of an afterlife may also make it more difficult for people to come to terms with death. They may feel that death is a final and irreversible end, with no hope of reunion with loved ones or continuation of the soul in another realm. This can lead to a sense of grief and loss that is more profound and difficult to process than it might be in a culture where an afterlife is believed in.



 


The Wild Lands


The decline in the power of governments to protect their populations since the Sundering has had profound consequences for the people of Aestis. With large areas of the wilderness now designated as the Wild Lands, many people are left without any kind of protection or governance, making them vulnerable to attack by non-human populations that have emerged in these areas.


The emergence of non-human populations in the Wild Lands may further compound the sense of fear and fatalism among the people of Aestis. Without a strong central government to protect them, they may see these non-human populations as a threat to their safety and security, further adding to the sense of chaos and uncertainty that pervades the world.


At the same time, the emergence of non-human populations may also pose a challenge to the traditional power structures of Aestis. With these populations able to defend themselves and assert their own interests, traditional power structures based on human dominance may be challenged and undermined. This could lead to a reconfiguration of the political landscape, with new alliances and power structures emerging to accommodate the new reality of non-human populations.


Overall, the emergence of non-human populations in the Wild Lands is a further manifestation of the profound changes that have swept through Aestis since the Sundering. It highlights the decline in the power of governments to protect their populations and the increasing fragmentation of the world into smaller and more isolated communities. To navigate this new reality, the people of Aestis may need to find new ways of thinking about power, community, and governance, and to build new alliances that can help them to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing world.



 


GM note


The decline in the power of governments to protect their populations since the Sundering has had profound consequences for the people of Aestis. With large areas of the wilderness now designated as the Wild Lands, many people are left without any kind of protection or governance, making them vulnerable to attack by non-human populations that have emerged in these areas.


The emergence of non-human populations in the Wild Lands may further compound the sense of fear and fatalism among the people of Aestis. Without a strong central government to protect them, they may see these non-human populations as a threat to their safety and security, further adding to the sense of chaos and uncertainty that pervades the world.


 


At the same time, the emergence of non-human populations may also pose a challenge to the traditional power structures of Aestis. With these populations able to defend themselves and assert their own interests, traditional power structures based on human dominance may be challenged and undermined. This may one day a reconfiguration of the political landscape, with new alliances and power structures emerging to accommodate the new reality of non-human populations.


Overall, the emergence of non-human populations in the Wild Lands is a further manifestation of the profound changes that have swept through the Arcverse since the Sundering. It highlights the decline in the power of governments to protect their populations and the increasing fragmentation of the world into smaller and more isolated communities. To navigate this new reality, the people of Aestis may need to find new ways of thinking about power, community, and governance, and to build new alliances that can help them to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing world.


Finding Fate


The Lonely Road is a term used to describe the path taken by wanderers in the Arcverse who are searching for meaning and purpose in a world that has been transformed by the Sundering. While many people are content to remain within the safety of their communities, a small number of individuals feel a deep urge to wander, explore, and find answers that traditional sources of authority, such as priests and kings, can no longer supply.


These wanderers are often known as the Fateborn, those with a spark of power that flooded into the world with the Sundering. They feel a strong yearning within them that draws them into the wilderness to seek some elusive energy, often in the form of Spellforges. These powerful artifacts are believed to contain the energy of the gods themselves, and the Fateborn believe that by harnessing their power, they can gain insight into the mysteries of the universe and find their place in the world.


For the Fateborn, the Lonely Road is a deeply personal and spiritual journey, one that takes them far from the safety and comfort of their homes and communities. It is a path filled with danger and uncertainty, as they must navigate the wilderness and confront the many challenges and obstacles that they encounter along the way.


However, for those who are willing to undertake this journey, the rewards can be profound. The Fateborn believe that by embracing the challenges of the Lonely Road, they can find a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, and gain insights into the nature of the universe and their place in it.


Overall, the Lonely Road is a symbol of the profound changes that have swept through the Arcverse since the Sundering. It represents a new kind of spirituality and a new way of seeking meaning and purpose in a world that has been transformed by cataclysmic events. While it is not without its dangers, for the Fateborn, it is a path worth taking, one that offers the promise of greater understanding and enlightenment.


If you love the Arcverse and want more, message us via the site or twitter @versehome. We would love to know what excites you about this universe as we start our plans for Arclands 2.0


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