Nastal

Culture

Though the Shattering divided the world, for most, life went on. Not so for the residents of Nastal, whose world ended that day. Following the Stand of the Seven, a famous war in which the mortal Company of Seven achieved a narrow victory over the lich Valedir, Nastal was ill prepared for another disaster. When the Shattering came, it swept away life and hope, leaving abject poverty, widespread disease, and utter desolation in its wake.

Those who survived the cataclysm have never recovered what they lost. Much of northern Nastal is a wasteland where soulless raiders hunt any travelers who are too slow to evade them. The forests of central Nastal are dominated by woods where dangerous spectres threaten to draw the unwary into the conflicts of the past. Some civilization survives in the south, but dwindling resources have left it a crumbling edifice of its former self. It is a brutal land, and the few who call it home must be vigilant, lucky, and often merciless to survive its many blights.

Language

Naastrine is the native tongue of Nastal. Cirth is spoken by most, and Velysh is common as well. The smallfolk of Northcrest speak Durnamn, though it is little heard elsewhere. In more isolated areas, such as Woodhaven, the different languages in use have begun to intermix over time, resulting in speech that can be difficult for outsiders to understand.

Demographics

Because most of the populace was wiped out after the Shattering, no race is clearly the most common in Nastal. Humans have a slight plurality, with the sylvan races in a close second. Smallfolk dominate the town of Northcrest and can be found elsewhere in the northern wastes. Fae, particularly wylde fae, are common in the forests to the south. Cambion and empyrean outlanders are prevalent near Coastimland. Golems left over from the Stand still wander the wastes, and Scorned homunculi can also be found living as lone outcasts.

Politics

Dangerous travel, limited resources, and sparse populations prevent most cities from interacting enough to coordinate any regional government. Most follow an informal democracy where a charismatic leader or influential group rallies others to consensus, and laws are kept simple if they are codified at all. Only the kingdom of Crestfallen clings to a more traditional form of rule, though even that is falling apart due to the problems which plague the city.

Immortals

Although many residents of Nastal have lost faith, others cling to the hope that the immortals will deliver them from their suffering. Among those, the Company of Seven maintains a strong following, though with different emphasis depending on the region. Arkrist is favored near Coastimland, Istensia in Crestfallen, Imphalios among the golems of Thaedmore and the smallfolk of Northcrest, Loreyza by the fae and sylvans of Woodhaven, and Tenaebrus in Begrudge. Angori are few, but those who survive revere Arimir through his servant Kuganam Gamthal. Education is practically nonexistent and many blame magic for the Shattering, however, so few revere Atrazius outside the mage's guild of Crestfallen.

Areas

  • Begrudge - As a meeting point between Jastrey, Doctalan, and Northcrest, Begrudge is a necessary middlepoint for travelers skimming the wastes. The town itself has little in the way of resources other than fuel, and exists under constant threat from the soulshorn, so its denizens are forced to trade and steal to survive.
  • Coastimland - Some say the troubles that plague Nastal are the result of weakened planar boundaries, and Coastimland lends credence to that theory. When the end came, two permanent portals tore open there, one a fiery chasm leading the Pit, the other a sublime column of light leading to the Seven Heavens. Fiends and serathine poured from both breaches, devastating the countryside for miles around. Though the battle has calmed, both forces remain entrenched, making Coastimland a perilous place to venture.
  • Crestfallen - Homeland of the Bard King and last bastion of civilization in Nastal, Crestfallen has fallen on hard times. Jacob Silver’s descendant Tyrralius Silver still sits the throne, but many believe the line of kings has fallen far from its famous progenitor. The populace is largely oppressed by the king’s soldiers, and many live in poverty due to dwindling resources.
  • Doctalan - Few places are as deeply Scorned as the city of Doctalan, a feature its new residents use as a defense. Completely barren for miles in every direction, it has come to be home to simulacra, revenants, mongrels, and other outcasts who are naturally resistant or immune to the Scorn. This keeps the city safe but isolated, allowing its wretched citizenry to live in relative peace.
  • Jastrey - A lonely precipice of verge is all that remains of the town of Jastrey. On the day of the Shattering, tales say it slipped off the edge of the shard and plummeted into the Void. Some claim to have glimpsed an echo of the town in the Void where it once stood, though most dismiss the notion as nothing more than a hallucination brought on by the hollow winds.
  • Northcrest - Once a mining village, the surface of Northcrest is little more than a crater-marred wasteland. The surviving smallfolk dwell deep within the town’s old mines, protecting themselves from the soulshorn by means of mines, mounted cannons, secret tunnels, and fortified entryways. Strangers are disarmed and treated with extreme caution before being allowed into the city.
  • Ogmash - For ages, the Stravane Mountains have been a breeding ground for monstrous races, but none so prominent as the ogres of Ogmash. The town was cleared by golems under the command of Thaedrin shortly before he ascended to immortality as Imphalios during the Shattering. Thaedmore, the great city he began erecting in its place, was never completed. The area has largely been reclaimed by the ogres, though pockets of golems still remain.
  • Shirelan - Shirelan was once a small farming community. After the Shattering, its proximity to the Void Scar made it the birthplace of the soulshorn. It is now a den where the soulless raiders take their captives and work on their wasteskimmers.
  • Woodhaven - Woodhaven was a peaceful logging village before exposure to the Scorn killed off most of the adult population. Isolated by the White Woods, the children who remained developed into their own primitive society.

Mysteries

  • Headhunters of Ourokos - Travelers speak of golems who wander Nastal in search of living victims to behead. These golems are conspicuous because their naming runes have been forcibly removed and they only ever speak to cryptically assert that they seek heads for "Ourokos," though no one has ever seen the being to which that refers.
  • Scorn - Many of Nastal’s problems arise from a baleful magical aura known as the Scorn, which permeates many areas. Those who expose themselves to the Scorn, either by living near Scorned land, drinking Scorned water, or hunting Scorned game, eventually grow pale, weaken, and waste away. Most collapse into piles of ash upon their deaths, though some have been known to rise as homunculi instead. Avoiding further exposure can prevent the sickness from advancing, but there is no known cure. Scorn itself is undetectable, but is usually evident from lack of wildlife or vegetation.
  • Sequematia - Like its siblings in the Firetorn Forest and the Moheragh, Sequematia was once one of the three great sylvan capitals. History says it was protected by a powerful enchantment that redirected outsiders who attempted to find it and prevented it from being recorded on any map. All contact with the city was lost during the last days of the war with Valedir when the White Woods appeared. Some say its denizens hid within their city to avoid extinction, others that they were all slain, and so none still live who can find their lost city.
  • Soulshorn - Prolonged exposure to the hollow wind near the void is known to drive people mad. Extremely strong hollow wind, however, can actually damage a person’s soul. Such people go beyond mere madness, becoming deranged raiders who torture and kill all who cross their path. Soulshorn are easily identified by their animalistic rage and the way they compulsively mutilate their own flesh.
  • Void Scar - A river once ran down from the mountains and passed west of Shirelan. Now it is a gaping chasm known as the Void Scar. The hollow winds are so strong that they create a shadowy aurora visible from many miles away. Only the soulshorn can survive near the Void Scar; others who venture too close risk being slain by the soulshorn or of becoming one themselves.
  • White Woods - On the day Valedir silenced the sylvan city of Sequematia, a great swath of Nastal’s woods turned bone white. Echoes of the past play out beneath the ivory canopy, drawing those who enter into the final days of the war. The specters encountered there are not undead, nor is the phenomenon a distortion of time. Rather, it is as if the woods themselves are scarred by their bloody past, doomed to perpetually replay the conflict that colored them.

Parlance

  • "Wasteskimmer" - Any sort of engineered riding device used to travel the wastes of northern Nastal. Since the soulshorn began using them, traveling at great speed has been the surest way to traverse the wastelands safely. Many are at least partly sail-based, allowing them to harness the extreme winds that sweep through the territory, though other forms of emergency propulsion are not uncommon.