The world of Whymsia is fairly typical as far as geography goes, though by odd coincidence its five major continents have each evolved along different genre pathways:
- Mageria, the northern continent, home to wizards, warriors, dungeons, dragons, and other "typical" fare.
- Emberglow, ancestral home of the dwarves and host to the world's greatest (and questionably sane) inventors, alchemists, artificers, and other thaumatic crafters.
- Kratos, a rugged land full of dinosaurs, dragons, snake-worshipping demon cults, and well-oiled barbarian warlords who live by the strength of their massive thews.
- Sparron, a waterlogged and shattered continent now home to pirates, vikings, swashbucklers, and other ne'er-do-wells of the high seas.
- Wu-Shan, the largest southern continent, home of samurai, ninjas, monks, and more politics than you can shake a chopstick at.
Mageria is the largest continent and is divided into several dozen kingdoms, duchies, freeholds, city-states, and other competing governments. Most areas operate on a semi-feudalistic model, though exceptions abound.
- Greater Mageria is the largest pocket of civilization on the continent. Though its various nations vie for dominance, the independent port city of Nexus is by far the most powerful (or at least the most rich, which is the same thing). As this is the (theoretical) starting point for the campaign, it is described in more detail below.
- The Elven Freeholds lie to the east of Greater Mundania. Not surprisingly, the elves have monopolized the largest stretch of forest on the continent, and scholars dispute whether it or Wu-Shan is their native home. The borders between freeholds are inscrutiable by outsiders, though apparently the elves know where they are, and the size of individual freeholds varies enormously. (The Freehold of Lloreth, for example, is basically five or six trees roughly near each other with a fancy treehouse in the middle.) Culture varies widely by freehold, though they're all fiercely independent and don't like interference from outsiders. Outsiders usually refer to them by culture instead of specific freeholds, eg, the Wood Elf freeholds, the Dark Elf freeholds, the Hippie Elf freeholds, etc.
- The Fringe is a stretch of barren tundra and taiga stretching around the top of the continent. It's inhabited chiefly by barbarian horsemen (mostly humans and half-orcs) who are excellent bowmen, have decent honor, and otherwise do all the things barbarian outriders are supposed to do. Each tribe has its own individual name, and being nomadic you can’t really pin the territory down. They subsist off mammoths, ice dragons, border towns, and other native prey.
- Abys'Al sits just outside the Great Desert, and is home to all the trappings one would expect there: snake-charmers, flying carpets, harems, cutthroats, etc. The city takes great pride in the depravity of its rulers, and tends to think poorly of any who let more than a week go by without a good flaying. Not surprisingly, it tends to be avoided by Good-aligned folks, but for those seeking to cross the desert there isn't much other choice.
- The Wild Lands are just what they say: a wild, uncivilized land filled mostly with swamps, fens, and monsters. Supposedly there are tribes of cannibal halflings hidden deep in the moors, though no one who's found them has escaped to confirm it.
- Hydrake lies on the edge of the Drowned Shore, yet another object lesson in why greater Macguffins are best left alone. It's built on several score islands that are slowly (or sometimes quickly) sinking into the sea. This has led to a thriving real estate trade between the surfacers and the local merfolk. Hydrake is known for both its fine art and fine food, with only the occasional wandering sea monster detracting from an otherwise picturesque scene.
- The Sacked Lands are a collection of city-states on the west coast of Mageria, across the sea from the Sparron Archipelago. The name comes from the frequent pirate and viking raids, which reduce net productivity here to almost zero. Most of the cities pay “protection” to one or more pirate lords; it doesn’t help much, since they then get raided by the other ones, but as the locals say it’s better to have one pirate lord on your side than none. They’ve also learned that pirates are easily distracted by rum, shiny trinkets, and whores, and so make sure to have lots of them stocked by the shore anytime an incoming ship is sighted. Not surprisingly, this makes them a popular port of call for any ships passing through. Sytiinduk is the largest city in the region, though that's not saying much.
- Fjordheim is the generic name for a collection of small nations along the northern rim of the Psylibon Ocean, just touching the Fringe. The mountains (loaded, of course, with fjords) keep the barbarian nomads at bay, for which the local inhabitants make up by going on longboat raids to their neighbors. The Sacked Lands are the most frequent target, but Sparron is also often hit. (And hits in return, though few of the Pirate Lords are willing to sail into Fjordheim's frigid waters.)
Greater Mundania takes its name from the Mundanian Empire that ruled much of the region several centuries ago. Under the rule of its philosopher-priests, the Mundanians established an idyllic land of peace, prosperity, and plenty. Afteer about a hundred years it collapsed of sheer boredom, but the region maintains the name nonetheless.
- The Free Cities is a collection of independent city-states none of the surrounding nations have managed to annex (usually because they're more trouble than they're worth). Nexus is the foremost of them, being a rich port city and seat to the Guild of Adventurers. Pott-Sylvania is a decent second, and if its noble houses could stop backstabbing another long enough to look outward, it might provide some serious competition.
- Umlout is a orderly and chilly nation, with arguably the best ale in Greater Mundania. There are lots of dwarves here (not surprisingly), all of whom are astonishingly fond of lederhosen.
- Sangria is controlled by the vampire lords. Though somewhat oppressive, the vampires take care of their herd, have great health insurance, and arguably better death insurance. (Any citizen dying of old age or injury can seek out a noble and accept vampirization in exchange for exile, thus getting a shot at immortality so long as they don’t compete with the locals.)
- Ishod is a theocratic kingdom focused around the worship of the goddess of footwear. Affluence and pomp are shown not in the finery of garb but in how fancy (and gaudy) your shoes are. Though some people do go for quality over style, flashiness is the rule. The Queen’s footwear so large she cannot actually walk in it, and must be pulled by several attendants. (The shoes have wheels on the bottom and are more like small carts she straps into.)
- The other nations are of little note, but tend to fall into two categories: those governed by Good Rulers (Tryte, Drahb, Teenica, Lesser Mundania, Waddavewe, Ynsipid) and those oppressed by Evil Overlords (Calamyta, the Imperium Malefactum, Repugna, Frigidia, Pernicia). Both make frequent targets for people trying to change the status quo, and every few years at least one of them has a forcible change in rulership.
- Agraria (more properly, The Socialist Republic of Agraria) is one of these recent changes in leadership, wherein the proletariat farming peasants rose up against their erstwhile "noble" oppressors and instated a glorious and decentralized rule By Farmers, For Farmers. All its towns have been recently renamed (Farmville, Farmington, Farm Haven, etc.), and social(ist) life revolves around the quarterly farm fairs. Agraria is primarily noted for its novelty livestock (dire fowls, feyswine, and the occasional scrivener spider), and its chief exports are beef, pork, mutton, wheat, fried dough, and carnies.
Glowstone: Once upon a time Emberglow was the southeast corner of Anteon. The ancients used Emberglow as the dumping ground for their thaumatic waste (like radioactive waste, but with magic), and after thousands of years--including Anteon's unfortunate end--the local artificers and alchemists discovered how to refine crude thaumatic slurry into glowstone. This thaumactive mineral looks like translucent glass, usually blue or green but sometimes other colors. It gets its name from the soft magical glow it gives off in the dark, though when properly charged it can shine even in daylight. Prolonged exposure has been known to have...unusual effects, though not as severe as raw thaumactive waste causes. As monsters only rarely carry it as loot, glowstone is one of the few natural resources that is actively mined out of the ground.
- Dragonmouth is the largest city on Emberglow and seat of the Techgnostican Empire. Ruled by the Priests of Mechanus, all the city revolves around the Great Machine. (Literally; the city is built on one of the surface cogs, six miles in diameter.) Glowstone streetlamps line the streets while airships hug the sky above.
- Blue Sands is a moderate-sized trading city on the north end of Emberglow and the capital of the Freestone Republic. It’s the chief port of sea trade with Mageria, due to its highly sheltered gulf. The name comes from the traces of glowstone (crude and otherwise) that wash down the river from the Thaumatic Waste and tinge the local sand blue. It tends to make things go a little weird, but not as bad as in the Waste itself. Most water is distilled or at least allowed to settle before drinking.
- Cliffhaven is a city on the edge of the sea, built most of the way up the local mountains. It's the capital of the Kingdom of Highwinds, and has made its fortune through extensive airship trade (mostly within Emberglow, sometimes overseas).
- The Thaumatic Waste lies in the middle of Emberglow. Though all three nations claim parts of it, none go to great lengths to enforce the borders. (Primarily because the geography has a tendency to move around every few months.) Despite the dangerously high ambient magic, the area is surprisingly well inhabited because of the great fortunes to be made in glowstone extraction. The people of the Wastes are rugged and tough, usually have loyalty only to each other, and have grown used to the bizarre magical effects of the region (eg, the occasional rain of octopi).
- Last Reach: A small Techgnostican outpost on what amounts to a (very large) sheer rock jutting out of the water, Last Reach exists to spot (and hopefully deter) the occasional dragon-riding barbarian incursion from Kratos. (And the occasional mass dragon migration, or hungry solo dragons, or anything else that has to do with dragons wanting to go from Kratos to Emberglow.) More of a military outpost than a city, Last Reach has nonetheless become a refuge for people seeking escape from the Church of Mechanus without having to go too far from home.
Kratos is a raw and uncivilized land, ruled by hidden cults and roaming barbarian hordes. There’s no true civilization beyond the tribes and occasional outposts. Not that people haven't tried, but the local monsters seem drawn to civilization like sharks to fresh meat.
Everything in Kratos seems more extreme than elsewhere: the mountains more rugged, the deserts more vast, the jungles more dense, and everything more deadly. Hidden snake-cults make living sacrifices to their dragon gods; undead kingdoms feast upon any living flesh they find; barbarian warlords rule the deserts from dire horseback; and dragons, dinosaurs, kraken, and other beasts infest anywhere else they can beat out the competition. In short, Kratos is the adventurer's dreamland.
The natives admire brute strength over subtlety, and thus tend to eschew magic in favor of physical might. Barbarians are the most common, but fighters and rangers are also popular classes. Most native magic-users are wild mages of some sort, and what they lack in control they more than make up for in sheer power. As for races, halflings and humans are the most common, with half-orcs making up a sizeable minority.
- Myrhaven is a port city and one of the few bits of “civilization” on Kratos, but only just barely. Most of the people are from Mageria, but there are a few from elsewhere. It used to be claimed by the nation of Tryte, but they realized it was more trouble than it was worth and gave (read: forced) its independence.
- Ulkaren is a seasonal meeting place for many of the nomad bands. It has some regular, year-round inhabitants, mostly traders and craftsmen, but most people come and go with the seasons. Which seasons vary by tribe, so you can usually find at least one or two of them hanging around.
- Nest-of-Dragons is a half-mythical city hidden deep in the middle of thick jungle and violent volcanoes. Supposedly it's the seat of the great Cult of Serpentis and the repository of several nations' worth of treasure and dragon-hordes. Not much else is known, but what more does an adventurer need?
The Sparron ArchipelagoEdit
The Sparron Archipelago (often just called "Sparron") is what remains of the northwestern part of Anteon, an ancient continent that got blasted apart in one of the world-shattering apocalypses that threatens to occur every few years. (Unlike most, though, this one actually succeeded.) Nowadays it's inhabited chiefly by brigands, rogues, rapscallions, and othe ne'er-do-wells, all loosely organized under the banners of the Pirate Lords. While there are dozens of Pirate Lords from all races (Paisley Jack, Captain Childes, Long John Adamantine, Dread Richards, etc), the most dreaded are the gnomish pirates (Bluebeard, Pinkbeard, Greenbeard, Purplelocks, etc), who are renowned for their ruthlessness and bloodlust.
Maps of the interior of Sparron are sketchy at best, seeing as how the Pirate Lords tend to gut on sight any cartographers they find stumbling into their waters. Thus all the well known locations are along the fringe of the archipelago.
- Stormport is a sort of semi-neutral trading ground. Outsiders are (relatively) safe, and the pirate lords (generally) don’t attack. Common advice is to enjoy the rum, but don't turn your back on anyone.
- Barbosands is a medium-sized, low-lying island on the south of Sparron. It has one village of the same name, which is supposedly a resupply point for anyone passing by the continent. It’s an open secret that literally everyone there is in the pay of at least one (and often several) pirate lords, passing information on what groups are going through, who would make a good target, etc. Keep on your guard and always watch your back (and front, and sides, and above you for good measure.)
- Turnere is similar to Barbosands, but on the other side of the continent. Its name comes from “turn here,” it being the northeastmost point in the islands. Though technically part of Sparron, Turnere has more cultural affinities with Fjordheim due to countless viking raids over the centuries. One result of this is that you're less likely to be backstabbed here than elsewhere in the islands; instead, the locals prefer to go at you from the front, usually with something large and blunt.
Wu-Shan is the largest of the southern continents and the only one to be ruled by a single empire (conveniently also called Wu-Shan). It is a land of subtle beauty, from the fine symmetry of its mountains to the artful serenity of its bamboo groves. (When, you know, they're not being used as epic battlegrounds by the local ninjas and samurai.)
Each province of Wu-Shan is ruled by a hereditary shogun, all of whom report theoretically to Her Holiness and Eminence, the Regent of Earth Under the Heavens, the Holder of the Eighteen Sacred Virtues, the Vermilion Empress of Wu-Shan.* In reality, everyone knows that the country is ruled by the Council of Evil Viziers, but since they seem to be doing a decent job no one's really complaining. (Except possibly the Empress, but as she is too Holy and Pure to mingle with commoners, the only people she has to complain to are the Viziers themselves.)
*It is actually a capital crime to shorten her title, though few enforce this.
Elves are the predominant race in Wu-Shan, though there's a sizable minority of humans and, of course, half-elves. Other races are usually limited to major port cities, having never really set down roots in the interior. Most classes are represented in Wu-Shan, and it is the primary source of the world's monks, ninjas, and samurai.
By design of the empire, the population of Wu-Shan is more spread out than elsewhere, with very few large cities. Major points of interest are:
- Tarum Tsun (The Forbidden City): The capital and seat of the empire. It is a major tourist attraction, and is heavily advertised over the other continents as a place to come, enjoy the food and mystic insights, and spends your gold. (Especially the latter). Presumably the Empress lives somewhere within the city walls, but no one's seen her for a century or two and the locals don't seem to be in much hurry to find her.
- Pallisade of Falling Waters: A large city build around an extended waterfall (several tiers over several hundred yards). The local shogun's palace is built into the waterfall, accessible via tunnels. (And carefully protected so that the occasional flood doesn’t wash it away). Pallisade of Falling Waters is supposedly one of the most harmonious places in existence, with that harmony disrupted only when the winter chill freezes the entire place solid.
- Mugu Gaipan: A decent-sized coastal city and a major trade port with the rest of the world. It is also the most disaster-prone city in the world, with random eathquakes, volcanoes, floods, firestorms, and rampaging giant monsters thrashing the city every few months. The locals have learned to take it in stride, and specialize in rebuilding the city from scratch within a few days. (It's one reason all the walls are made out of rice paper: it's easy to replace in a pinch.)
- Na Sing Se: A major military city located near the northern coast of Wushan. It boasts the continents' largest deposits of gold, silver, and jade, and not surprisingly has been conquered at least forty-seven different times by warring shoguns (who often made use of the maze of mine tunnels under the city to get inside). Nowadays the Evil Viziers have made things much more orderly, and an assassin or two can usually suffice for what once took three legions of samurai.
- Li Chan monastery is a secluded monastery deep in the heart of the continent. It is the training ground for monks and other seekers of ancient knowledge, or at least those who care at all about their pedigree. It is strategically located near almost endless tracks of mist, bamboo groves, waterfalls, and other necessities for proper monk training.
- Remnant of Thousandfold Folly is a large crater on the eastern edge of Wu-Shan. Up until a few centuries ago it was a thriving province, until one year the local ruler decided to one-up the Empress and become a divinity. No one's quite sure what Macguffin he activated, but at least it's helped deter similar aspirations since then.