C H A L D E A
Chaldea is a world rich in arcane magic, mysticism, and divine affluence, a planar realm conjured into being by vast primal forces spewed forth from the Pearl Universe’s engine of life: the singularity of creation. Chaldea is not a planet, moon, or any other observable celestial body—it is a collection of floating lands that drift according to astrological influences through the endless waters of the Great Sea.
Species. The dominant life forms of Chaldea are humans, orcs, dwarves, elves, and dragons. Of these, only dwarves and dragons are native to Chaldea, but despite their head start, their numbers are dwindling toward inevitable extinction. Based purely on population, humans have inherited Chaldea. Humans and orcs immigrated to Chaldea from other worlds, brought by dragons to fight the dwarves in the Claw Hammer War approximately 1,000 years ago. Elves came of their own inquisitive accord shortly after humans arrived.
Geography and Peoples. The mystical Great Sea is vast and apparently without end, and thus the full accounting of islands and continents floating upon it is not precisely documented, at least by anyone living today. The Kordavan Empire recognizes the following continents, island-continents, and island chains:
The largest of the island-continents is the Anum kingdom of Akkadia, a female-dominated society ruled by the demigoddess daughter of Ishtar. Akkadians are dark-complexioned humans who migrated to Chaldea and are direct descendants of the Anunnaki, whose divine influence continues to shape the kingdom’s politics. Ishtar, the greater Anum goddess of storms and fertility, directed her eldest daughter, Iltani, to Chaldea as part of a political alliance with the Ma’at church of Set, whereby Iltani was betrothed to emperor Kordaava. Akkadia is almost exclusively populated by humans; other humanoid species are not verboten by law, but they are, by neglect, highly encouraged to stay away. Even when it comes to commercial business and trade, elves, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes rarely visit Akkadia, instead directing business matters through intermediaries and guilds.
Akkadia is rich in agricultural beauty with broad tracts of fertile farmlands across verdant countryside with low plains and hills and extensive natural waterways for optimal growing seasons. Because Akkadian boasts a year-round warm temperate climate—four seasons and mild winters—the central-planned farming system provides continuous produce. Interspersed throughout Akkadia’s extensive farming communities are three distinctive desert biomes: hot and dry, semi-arid, and coastal.
The small continent of Ata-Aimilleuse is home to two kingdoms: the human Aimians and the hostile Atars, a species of dual-winged centaurs who control elemental winds through mystical arcane arts. Divided by the rugged Atar Mountains, the two kingdoms couldn’t be more different. Aimilleuse is a member of the Kordavan Empire and is one of the most active members in Imperial affairs. Ranked one of the highest tourist destinations in the world (after the Imperial capital of Saratof), Aimilleuse is an international center of art, arcana, philosophy, and architecture. Spacious tracts of fertile farmlands have guided the kingdom’s prosperity, making them the leading exporter of wine, followed closely by wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork. By comparison, the dreaded Atars operate a limited government system and prefer isolation from the rest of the world. The hermit kingdom is one of the most heavily fortified regions in the world, staunchly guarded by a sophisticated tower system that encircle the kingdom’s border regions. In sharp contrast to Aimilleuse, nothing penetrates their border either in or out, including commercial imports/exports or information. Over the past five centuries, Aimilleuse and Atar have been in an almost constant state of war—only since Kordaava’s coronation has there been peace, leading to an explosion in Aimilleuse prosperity and power. But what is transpiring behind the Atar’s towers of defense is anyone’s guess.
The people of the enchanted emerald isle of Dorsang, though mostly Dorian humans, are proud to host the largest community of halflings in Chaldea. The isle’s rich and vibrant Gaelic culture is inseparably linked to Tuatha Dé Danann, the tribe of Celtic gods and spirit entities of Mag Mel. Dorsang’s seaside capital, the Free City of Esh, is the only place in Chaldea where freedom of religion is tolerated (by Imperial decree), and as a result, the city is home to the greatest variety of religions—the city skyline is dominated by architectural contrasts of shrines, temples, and cathedrals of many pantheons. Freedom of religion, diversity, equality, and tolerance are high values Dorians exercise with a singular pride. The prestigious University of Dorsang on the outskirts of Esh is a world-leading institute of higher learning and is a World Legacy Site. The university boasts the greatest number of Imperial senator graduates. Adding further to Dorsang’s novelty, the island features a navigational hazard, known by seafarers as the Dorsang Drift—a powerful ninety-degree, constantly shifting current that spins around the island like a clock hand. For less-experienced captains, inadvertently getting caught in the drift will send the ship sailing past Dorsang to be potentially lost at sea. Therefore, sailing to Dorsang for the first time should only be attempted under the supervision of a seasoned navigator.
Muromachi is a pioneering colony established by Nikkei explorers from beyond the Tongdao who became lost at sea, came upon the World Serpent constellation, and, once upon Muromachi’s mountain shores, never returned home. Theocred, the elder dragon who has lived on the small island since the time of the Claw Hammer, rules by tyranny, intimidation, and fear and allows the Nikkei by his grace to live on his island, as long as they aren’t too needy and irritating. While a kingdom of the Kordavan Empire, Muromachi utilizes a government feudalism system of lords, vassals, and fiefs.
Muromachi is the easiest land on Chaldea to which to sail. The World Serpent constellation haunts Muromachi’s capital city, Port Facility, and due to its immense size, it is the easiest Anumian spirit to summon, locate, and follow. Therefore, Muromachi is usually the first destination that new and aspiring captains and navigators attempt to reach (once traveling beyond safe sight of land for the first time). Because of this ease, however, Theocred—who despises noise and the plague of humanoid species upon Chaldea—has directed extraordinarily high taxes and tariffs on all foreign nationals who enter Port Facility, thus taking financial advantage of the Anumian safe harbor. Muromachi is a spider trap of sorts, one that catches many an unwary traveler. Because of the astrological difficulties required in sailing the Great Sea, large numbers of ships each year become lost in the mystical divide, never to be seen again. Those who are lucky enough to spot the World Serpent constellation grasp it quickly like a lifeline thrown to a drowning victim. Once in Port Facility’s safe harbor, sailors have discovered the steep taxes levied to be so burdensome that they are forced to sell their ships to cover the debt, and the crew becomes landlocked. Muromachi is essentially a penal colony of lost sailors, many of whom are willing to sell themselves into indentured servitude to any ship that will have them in order to to escape Theocred’s cruelty.
Niessia and Tamica
The continents of Niessia and Tamica are joined together and are the most populous. Some would argue the contiguous landmass is a single continent, but the aged bards of Dorsang insist they are not. The two continents are bordered by the enchanted Garnon Forest, where the tapestry between dimensions is thin, and the rugged skyscraping Cloudforger Mountains, where the fierce lion-riders of Tavja rule.
The prominent human kingdoms of Tamica include Roosh (home to the Imperial capital, Saratof), Latium, Mantis, Ta Shemau, Hakhamanesh, Vlachia, and Andalus. There are significant elven communities in the Dire and Georgian forests, and a significant orc nation lives in the Hills of Hatred. Several of the dwarven clans who remain in Chaldea are located in Tamica. Dragons, who are solitary creatures by desire, naturally avoid public scrutiny and population centers. Despite their reclusive nature, however, two dragons have remained active in Imperial politics, their names well known to humans: Lalfroth, the grand vizier of the empire and member of the Council of Consuls, and Vishkon, ally of elves and nature.
The prominent human kingdoms of Niessia include Hesse, Tavja, Stollhofen, Somacia, Ardaya, Mycenae, Griotunagardar, and Kinahhu. Small elven colonies exist in the Garnon and Seaxes forests, and a powerful orc nation resides in the kingdom of Niesse, ruled by the Elder Dragon, Sureniel.
The Pan-Erindi archipelago is an ever-changing series of tropical islands caught in the spinning suction around the Tongdao maelstrom, a colossal four-hundred-mile wide extra-dimensional vortex. The maelstrom’s power and influence is so vast, it attracts islands, drawing them down into the misty dark depths of the bottomless sea. The process of being drawn into the whirlpool is slow on a geological time scale: the islands rotate, circumnavigating the maelstrom until, after many decades or even centuries, they are consumed by the dark, churning tornado core. The hot, stormy islands are populated by the descendants of explorers and settlers from beyond the Tongdao. Their population is paltry and faces impending doom daily, staring into the maw of Tongdao without flinching. Visitors to Pan-Erindi’s capital, Qhuanchang, can only marvel slack jawed as they reel from the stark horror of the maelstrom’s ravenous appetite to consume islands as casually as a monkey eats a banana. The citizens of Pan-Erindi, however, go on about their lives nonchalantly, no more concerned about the constant roar than a fisherman facing the morning tide. “No one has truly lived until they have faced death” seems to be the motto of their lives. Sailing the treacherous Pan-Erindi sea isn’t undertaken lightly; even the most seasoned captains joyfully hand control of their vessel to the “Tongdao pilots guild”—professional navigation experts accustomed to sailing the Pan-Erindi straits. The schooling required to become a Tongdao pilot is strenuous and one of the longest, most difficult training experiences in the world, demanding years of study to memorize treacherous waterways and constantly moving islands. Ever since Lazzaretti Gold, the Imperial cartographer to the emperor, reported that the Tongdao was a portal to a great world beyond, explorers and gravers alike have entered the maelstrom, never to return.
The maritime kingdom of Perrin is the most powerful kingdom outside Tamica economically, politically, and militarily. Perrin’s naval power is unparalleled in world history—even Emperor Kordaava’s impressive armada of military sea vessels pales in comparison to those of the seafaring nation of Perrin. Their ship designs, materials, and fabrication techniques are superior in all facets, as are their Anumian navigation, exploration, trade, shipping, ports, and sailors. The sovereign state of Perrin’s long, rich history is united and linked with the Great Sea. Those lucky few who purchase and or operate a Perrin-made vessel understand the precision quality Perrin architects apply to every vessel they manufacture.
The population of Perrin is almost exclusively human (Perts), except for a modest colony of elves in the Aelfwood Forest. While synonymous with sailing culture, Perrin’s dark, romantic history is linked violently to dragons. Both historians and archeologists believe Perrin is the birthplace of dragons—evidence indicates the first dragon crawled out of Mt. Ryeger in the Greycloak Mountains during the breaking of the world. When humans first came to Perrin’s shores following the Claw Hammer War, it wasn’t long before they and dragon beasts were at each other’s throats. Soon thereafter, “Here be dragons” became the motto of Perrin culture. The white dragon of Perrin is emblazoned on their national flag and on the breastplate of every Perrin knight.
The continent of Somarria is widely derided by cultivated folks in the civilized regions of the world as wild and untamed, scarcely worth contemplation. They say its brutish barbarians and monstrous creatures feast upon the land like maggots on a dead carcass. Adding further to Somarria’s inhospitable infamy are its major geographical zones that are treacherous and desolate: Marn, the Mountains of Chaos, Taxia, and the ice desert Arctica. Chief amongst the undesirables in Somarria are the Chaos hordes and the devilish monsters that randomly appear, pulled by fate through The Veil. The Veil is a colossal reality-bending temporal storm permanently raging in the Mountains of Chaos that supernaturally connects Chaldea to the Chaos worlds and extraplanar realities around the Pearl Universe. The jungle kingdom of Marn is no less dangerous with its plagues of giant Cthulhuian insects. By conservative estimates, Marn provides some 70 percent of the worlds elicit drugs, hallucinogens, spices, exotic fruits, liquid spirits, and counterculture products, both natural and arcane. Yet not all is hell and damnation in Somarria—there are the prominent and prosperous human kingdoms of Targonia and Tete, and the two largest elven kingdoms of Chaldea are also here, one in the Lynnwood Forest and the other in the exotic flora of Marn. In the vast wilderness between these coastal kingdoms and The Veil are numerous tribes of humans, orcs, goblins, giants, and many undocumented species besides.
Tritonis is the smallest of Chaldea’s island chains—a quaint smattering of fourteen warm tropical islands with only minimal support for humans and even less for other species. Tritonis is a kingdom ruled harshly by Tritons and mermaids. Humans are considered third-class citizens and make up roughly 10 percent of the population, as they exist solely in support of Tritons, as do other Olympian species like centaurs, satyrs, minotaurs, and even a minor conclave of orcs (primarily half-orcs), who provide brute labor for piracy and privateering. Tritons are disdainful of humans and keep most as slaves; free humans are beneath contempt and are only marginally tolerated for business purposes. Human cuisine is a Triton delicacy, and it’s very common for humans to be openly hunted and stolen from passing ships, lured into the sea by siren songs.
Triteia, the capital city, is located on Samos, the largest island. The city itself and the expansive unnatural harbor were Triton-built solely to interact with land dwellers. While it’s true that Tritons prefer life beneath the water, they are a duality species, capable of surviving in two worlds, relying on their mer form in water and then naturally shifting into human form to interact with air breathers and land-dwelling species.
Beneath the waves is where the real action is. The Shallow Heart Sea is a coral paradise—if it were a mountain on land, it would easily be the highest in the world. No one knows the true population of Triton, as their numbers are a closely guarded secret.
In Triton folklore, it is taught that Tritons came to the Great Sea (and thus Chaldea) directly from Poseidon’s home plane, where the mystical veil linking the two great bodies of water lies. Dragons tell a different story: Nuretees the elder sea dragon was responsible for bringing the Olympian tritons to Chaldea during the Claw Hammer War to control the Great Sea and the coastal waters so the dwarves could not escape Niessia by sail.
Great Sea Navigation
The Great Sea is a seminal force, influencing the natural and supernatural world of Chaldea at every level. Because Chaldea is composed of several large continents, moderately sized islands, and island chains, ocean travel is of critical importance. Further complicating sailing, Chaldea’s lands float aimlessly like so much flotsam and jetsam moving randomly or possibly according to some planar laws yet to be discovered. Ships navigate the Great Sea using both Anumian constellations and Fate Card astrology to guide them safely from port to safe harbor. If ships remain within sight of land, sailing along the coastline of any given continent or island, there is scant chance of getting lost at sea; however, once a ship passes beyond the continental shelf and into the mystical Great Sea, with land far to stern, ships must rely on Anumian constellations to guide them safely to other lands. Navigating the Great Sea is serious business, not to be ventured lightly—captains on small ships and dedicated sailing masters on larger vessels often specialize in Anumian astrology, a form of arcane mysticism that takes decades to master. Even the most seasoned navigator can get lost at sea, making these special skills the most important element aboard ship. Experienced sailing masters and highly skilled navigators demand high salaries, often eclipsing even that of the captain. As a result, a captain’s quarters on a small ship and the dedicated chartroom on a larger ship frequently look like the laboratories of some mad wizard.
Religion and Spirituality
When humans immigrated to Chaldea as mercenary armies for the dragons in the Claw Hammer War, they brought with them the worship of the gods of their home worlds. For example, the Ardayans brought the worship of Qurayshites from Nabatea, the people of Ta Shemau brought the worship of the Pharaohs of Ma’at, the Perts brought the worship of the Celtic Gods from Mag Mel, and so on.
After Kordaava became emperor of Chaldea, he quickly declared the worshipping of Set to be the official religion of Chaldea. The worship of all other gods was strictly forbidden throughout the empire. (One minor exception was in the Free City of Esh in Dorsang, where worship of all religions has always been openly tolerated.) After the declaration, religious institutions and staunch supporters flocked to Dorsang in droves. Setite church elders bristled at the at the blind eye turned to the anomaly in Dorsang, a burr in the saddle of Set codification. When pressed why he would allow such sacrilege as the worshipping of false gods in Chaldea, Emperor Kordaava refused to answer and or ever hear of it again.
Faith is a human trait. Dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and orcs of Chaldea do not tend to place their faith in gods.
The Chaldean calendar is rooted in the patterns of the 52 noble Anumians. Each Anumian, in a predictable order, manifests more intently than the rest for a period of seven days, forming the basis for the Chaldean week. This pattern of 52 Anumians manifesting for one week at a time forms the basis for the Chaldean year. This year is organized into four seasons, signaled by the arrival of the Anumians Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
In older times, there was no single way that Chaldeans organized calendars. Most human kingdoms counted years according to the reigns of their rulers, which, of course, was different from kingdom to kingdom. Dwarves kept extensive genealogies, which varied from clan to clan, and referred to historical events based on a reference point to some person of prominence—for example, “in the 87th year of Greybeard Toragar of the Stonehold Clan.” The elves tracked years altogether differently, in accordance with the mystical cycles of the Mother Tree.
Festivals and Holidays
Chaldea, with its rich diversity of species and colorful cultures, is home to numerous annual festivals and celebrations that are observed throughout the empire while others remain strictly regional. Humans, showing reverence to their gods, created religious holidays (holy days). Many human celebrations were brought to Chaldea from off world, like the Norse Yule festival and the Olympian Dionysia. Anumian constellations are the source of authentic Chaldea festivals, linked to specific Anumians and their weeks. Every Anumian has a holiday, though most are minor and scarcely worth mentioning; others, however, are more prominent and have escalated in stature to the point that they are now recognized and celebrated worldwide. Fey’s midsummer festival is wildly popular in the Garnon for its midsommarstång dance but scarcely recognized outside the great forests of the empire. By contrast, the Hessen volksfest is celebrated annually in Augstat’s International Faire on back-to-back weeks: first Fermenter, who teaches the fine art of crafting alcoholic spirits, and then Drunk, the spirit who “encourages us to excess.” Celebrating the love of spirits and carnival fun that goes with it is important to Hessen national pride. Due to the worldwide popularity of fermented spirits, the rambunctious volksfest has gained increasing popularity in other kingdoms. Even the Gallic Aimians, wine aficionados, are more than happy to put goblet aside in favor of stein during volksfest.
Various religious holidays celebrate Set. Justice Day, for example, celebrates Set’s defeat of Osiris by holding a public execution, where a condemned criminal (typically) is killed in a ritualistic fashion in the town square.
Sporting festivals include jousts, tournaments, and gladiator fights. A traditional sport—now illegal in most kingdoms outside of Somarria—is Graver’s Day, wherein a monster is set loose in the countryside for gravers to chase down and kill.
Political festivals include Emperor’s Eve, which is celebrated on the eve of the New Year, resulting in much late-night debauchery and, in some cities, fireworks.
An example of a seasonal festival is Bonfire Night, when elves, magicians, and various fey celebrate the first fall of snow with the lighting of bonfires and sacrifices to fire elements for the warmth of the flame.
Popular with the masses is Servant Washing Day, on which masters of households are supposed to wash their servants instead of the other way around. Sometimes this leads to raunchy behavior, but mostly it’s an excuse to head to the nearest beach or river for public skinny-dipping.
Dwarves don’t worship gods, but if anything in dwarven culture approached worship, it would be their reverence for Clan Week, when all clan dwarves are expected to return home for a week of celebration and renewal of oaths.
Naturally, Chaldeans also celebrate birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, births, coming-of-age milestones, and deaths.
The most common language of Chaldea is Kordavan, although dwarves are quick to point out that Kordavan is the same language as dwarven. By Imperial decree, Kordavan is used in all business, military, education, and civic settings, which has led to its widespread adoption.
Most kingdoms also have a local language that is widely spoken, particularly in rural areas. Also, elves, dragons, dwarves, and various other fantastical species have their own languages. Bards also have their own language, Auldic, which efficiently captures additional information in the form of its writing.
Code of Law
After conquering the world, Emperor Kordaava created a Code of Law that was designed to reign supreme over the diverse laws and tenets from the various kingdoms of the world. He also built a courthouse in the capital cities of each kingdom where parties could appeal for justice. Outside each of these courthouses is a large Obelisk of Law, upon which are inscribed these laws for all to see.
Most kingdoms of Chaldea use a local currency that is authorized by the emperor. For example, the gold daric of Hakhamanesh, the silver groschen of Hesse, the gold aureus of Latium, or the iron mon of Muromachi all meet this standard. Not all kingdoms use coins, however. In Andalus, where literacy is high, most people engage in transaction by simply writing IOUs, which the receiver might pass along in a subsequent transaction, and so on. In Ardaya, all commerce is transacted at the local temple, which tracks one’s current balance of money owed to the temple or owed to the individual by the temple.
Above all is the Imperial standard for currency, the Emperor’s Gold Sovereign. These are very large ornate golden bars, almost the size of a small brick. The EGS is the official currency for large-scale financial transactions between nations and banks and is regulated by the Imperial Consul of the Central Bank. Kingdoms throughout the empire are encouraged to comply with various Imperial policies, and those who do are rewarded with better exchange rates between their local currency and the EGS, which helps the local economy.
Chaldea is one world, or plane, of thousands—perhaps millions—in Yggdrasil’s wide, sweeping branches: just one average metaphysical neighborhood in the even larger Pearl Universe.