The Mountains of Morpheus
In this land, sleep brings visions, and visions bring unrest.
At the northern reaches of the world, the region of Drau Mura brims with strife, oppression, and intrigue. Among its wind-swept landscape, from the chilling barbarians’ forests to the dark streets and squares of Mercadia, few forces are more feared — or alluring — than the Mountains of Morpheus. Those who travel through the mountains, whether out of necessity or adventure, suffer dreams of otherworldly danger and beauty, succumbing to inspiration and madness.
The dragon-blooded kingdom of Kala Anar sifts for gold among conquered people. In the countryside, Sibarii peasants turn to brigandry to fill their bellies and strike back at their oppressors. The merchants’ guilds of the Tesia dispatch spies and killers throughout the land, and within their secluded covens, druids frown over portents and scrying pools. The Mountains of Morpheus lure visionaries, madmen, and desperate adventurers, even as mortals scheme and die in their shadow.
The campaign takes place in Drau Mura, a northern region of the world predominantly inhabited by human beings. To the south lie the feuding domains of the Arius Kingdoms and kingdom of Kala Anar, as well as the Federation of the Tesia, an alliance of four cities dominated by merchants’ guilds and elf-blooded families. Immediately to the north lie the Sibarii, a collection of independent city-states that cooperate against more united political forces while scheming behind each other’s backs. States of conflict and alliance frequently shift, and a dispute may be settled by bloodshed as often as a well-placed dagger or bribe.
Underground dwarven citadels to the far north are locked in a perpetual conflict with frost giants, while to the distant northwest lies a reclusive elven kingdom. Eastern Drau Mura is relatively wild, inhabited mainly by semi-nomadic clans, some with orcish blood. From west to east, Drau Mura spans about 800 miles, and can take easily over a month to traverse by foot.
The Present Day
It is the autumn of the 177th year following the conclusion of the Crying War; or, in Kala Anar, the third year of the rule of Monarch Valentini IV; or, according to the druids, the 30th year of the Period of the Falcon.
The young and ambitious Monarch of Kala Anar has recently established his protection over (which is to say, conquered) the formerly independent city-states of Tsinnamarch and Strigis. Tensions flare as the Sky-born aristocracy seeks to enforce its authority over new territory, and as former independent militias turn to brigandry or change loyalties to new masters.
Although elves and dwarves have inhabited the continent for many generations, human beings are the dynamic movers and shakers of Drau Mura. Among humans, the four ethno-regional peoples are:
- The Azna, who make up much of the population of the Sibarii and the Tesia’s city-states;
- The Arius, organized among several western kingdoms;
- The people of the kingdom of Kala Anar, themselves divided into the Sky-born and Soil-born castes; and
- The semi-nomadic Eastern Tribes.
Halflings are typically found among the peasantry of dwarven and Arius lands, with a few merchant families among the independent city-states. The elf-blooded Vanir, an ethno-religious minority of half-elves, is concentrated on the southeast coast. Half-orcs number among the Eastern Tribes, who do not racially distinguish them from humans. People of other races are rare, and hail from distant shores.
Bards, fighters, rangers, and rogues are all well represented throughout Drau Mura. Many barbarians hail from the Eastern Tribes, but the Azna and Kala Anar’s commoner caste practice a form of highly disciplined combat that resembles the outlanders’.
Druids are the dedicated adherents of the Old Ways, a nontheistic faith tradition popular in the countryside. Monks usually live at a remove from towns and cities. Each class has members who dwell in the Mountains of Morpheus, passing down secret rites that enable them to survive the otherwise maddening dreams.
The kingdom of Kala Anar is esteemed for its sorcerers, lending credence to the link between magic and the aristocracy’s purported draconic ancestry. Warlocks tend to choose a deity as their patron, though this is often a cover used to allay public suspicion of their dark arts. Wizards are perhaps the least common among the spellcasting classes. Their organizations are small and often-short lived; wizardry is frequently preserved through family lines and local fraternities.
Although their religions have existed for a long time, formal orders of clerics and paladins were rare until several generations ago. They are most often associated with Ashoum, the popular organized religion of the region, and act as the church’s martial arm.
The Mountains of Morpheus
The Mountains of Morpheus are of specific interest to this campaign. The phenomenon, whether magical or spiritual, of erratic and intense dreams is well documented among the people of Drau Mura. Even with guaranteed safety, shelter, and food, few travelers would dare to venture more than ten days through the Mountains. With few exceptions, those who stay in the mountains for over a month perish, transform into monsters, or go irreparably mad.
Nevertheless, many see the risk worth the reward. The dreams bequeathed by the Mountains can be the stuff of otherworldly inspiration. The devout hear the voices of their gods and ancestors, and magicians of every stripe may acquire strange and puissant spells. The wrathful and desperate seek out the location of a sworn enemy, or a rare ingredient. Dreams reveal the location of hidden secrets and treasure, within the mountains or elsewhere.
Drau Mura (~800 miiles east to west). Gray dots indicate the centers of the Arius Kingdoms; red dots indicate cities of Kala Anar; blue dots indicate cities of the Federation of the Tesia; tan dots indicate the city-states of the Sibarii; green dots indicate sites in the wilderness.
Strigis and Tsinnamarch area: