Istanor is the name of a planetary system that spans the high-fantasy worlds of Varfell, Annor, and Nagroar. All three worlds have stark differences, but are connected by crossovers, or places in the world so similar to another part of the realm that they might travel through to its counterpart.
The Demon-God Zolak-dias has returned to curse Istanor with his forsaken beasts, armies of undead, and hellish horrors. He plans on using these forces to sow chaos into the worlds of Istanor, softening the defenses for his grand, terrible assault.
Istanor. The Known World. A land of heroes and villains, gods and monsters, wonder and excitement, magic and mystery. Istanor spans the three realms of Varfell, Annor, and Nagroar. Varfell is a land untouched by the demonic planes, and houses some of the most unique characters. The arts flourish as science and magic are developed hand-in-hand, with architects and sorcerers working in the same laboratory. Nagroar, known as Nivla by the Elves, is a land of untamed wilderness, and cutthroat people. As with every land, perhaps there is peace or something worth saving at its core. Nagroar has a strong connection to the extremes of magic, and is the closest to the gods and the demons. Annor has seen war and strife; the people there are of a hardy sort, and monsters roam the land. It is not all doom and gloom, for Annor is the land of heroes, the land of adventure, and where tales begin…
Legend tells the bold adventurer to beware the dangers of Frenegoth. Once a tomb for the burial of the honorable dead, the deceased take up arms again to defend their final resting place. Those who dare defile the tomb risk becoming puppets to the dungeon’s magic themselves…
A small city across the Dappled River from Silenas, Harveston has been seen as an easy and cheap trading hub for food and services, as merchants often pass through town on their way to the Silver City. The buildings are made of dark wooden panels and intricate, lighter-colored roofs, with the streets outlined with cobbled stones. There are a number of businesses and homes in Harveston;
A “village” of mages and divine warriors dedicated to containing the evils that dwell within the Elder Glade; the dark forest next to the city that blurs the line between Varfell and the realm of the Demon-Gods. The buildings are all made of great stone towers, and the mages export nothing other than their knowledge of how to combat malevolent magic. As such, they rely on donations of food and clothing from nearby villages, who consider themselves indebted to their service.
A large farming town in the Kingdom of Aspia, and among the most wealthy of the settlements near the eastern border. Merchants often stop by Ravenknell on their way home from Silenas, offloading goods they were unable to sell in the grand market to the farmers in exchange for food on their journey home. Ravenknell has a large human population, though half-elves and halflings are not uncommon.
A small village deep in the Jaded Jungle, built on wooden stilts and suspended walkways. They export exotic crops, and welcome few travelers. The local population is made of mostly beastfolk, and is overseen by an elite group of Naga known as the Bronze Scales.
A small, advanced, and wealthy island nation with a singular city providing everything needed for the inhabitants. The land rests off the Caredem Coast of Fenaclen, hosting their closest neighbor, the trading city of Femalina. The architecture in Elucanas is Victorian in style, with clean white walls and beautiful blue roofs. The majority of the workforce is made of skilled artisans, and Elucanas has come to be known for its wonderful culture and legendary glassblowing abilities.
The Silver City, a place rich with opportunity and adventure. Silenas is built against a mountain and organized like the layers of a grand cake. The bottom layer is where one enters the city, and most honored guests are immediately funneled up to the next floor to avoid the stench of the poor miners who work on the lowest level. The middle level is by far the largest, hosting those with just enough gold to afford their way out of the bottom district to those able to live comfortably with what wealth they have. The top level hosts the nobility and the rulers- a group of advisors representing different areas of the upper and middle portions of the city.
Description: Velenor is a half-elf with tan skin and dark brown hair. He has a lanky build, bright green eyes, and a charming presence.
Special Abilities: Suggestion, Vicious Mockery, Inspire, Heal Minor Wounds.
Backstory: Velenor Enrell was born in Elucanas, a wealthy island nation off the coast of Femalina, in Annor. He began his studies as a glassblower working in his father’s shop, but the bardic arts called to him. The Minstrel, a famous and powerful figure in Elucanas society, watched young Velenor playing with scraps in the streets to make music, and took him as his apprentice. When the Anchor Campaign hit Elucanas and the government was overthrown, Lord Caspian (the former ruler) commissioned Velenor as a spy. He would perform in taverns and eavesdrop on the drunken guards. He would sneak into buildings or charm his way into palaces. One day, his mark was a loving family, oblivious to the conflict. He dropped his lockpicks, picked up his lute, and left the evil career he joined.
Description: Aroros is a human with pale skin and dark blue hair. He is neither muscular nor thin, with piercing blue eyes and an intimidating gaze.
Backstory: Aroros Sarovar was from a small, wintry town in the northern regions of Annor. With both of his parents involved in the military, with his father being a captain and his mother a blacksmith, he grew into the role of a leader. When a band of werewolves and other night beasts attacked another village nearby, he mobilized a group of other young fighters to strike them before they reached his town. Though he fought valiantly, most of his force was wiped out in the conflict. Only he and a close friend survived. One night in the camp of the dead creatures filled his mind with monsters and terrors, and he awoke to his friend attempting to stab him with a makeshift shiv. He was forced to put him down, and the decision has haunted him since. He refuses to return and face the town, even though decades have passed since the battle.
Description: As a human, Calvin Curios has brown hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. In his true form, his hair is a snowy white and his skin the same pallor as bone. In both forms, he wears blue-gray robes with simple black cloth underneath.
Special Abilities: Shapeshifting, minor illusions, destructive spells.
Backstory: Calvin Curios was born Cas, with his twin sister Sai. Cas and Sai grew up with their mother, and very rarely had two copper pieces to clink together. By the time they came of age, their mother had saved enough money for Cas and Sai to take a boat to the mainland and seek their fortunes. Cas started studying magic and learning how to change the world, while Sai slipped into the more villainous path of thievery. Cas, attempting to fit into this new world, took several dozen aliases and forms, usually as a human.
(Tiefling/Half-Demon Mystic Rogue)
Description: Rouge is a thin tiefling with small horns and a sharp, spaded tail. She has light purple skin and dark hair, with eyes as red as hellfire. She wears dark leather armor to help her sneak around while also offering some semblance of protection.
Special Abilities: Unlock, Thaumaturgy, Fire’s Vengeance.
Backstory: Rouge Wildwood was unplanned, and born to the name Ingrid. She was surrendered on the doorstep of the owner of the Wildwood Farm. He immediately took her in, and raised her as his own. When left to her own devices, she would traverse the city and cause mischief where she could. One day, she saw Scarlet, a Kenku thief, who took her under his literal and metaphorical wing to teach her the art of thievery. She claims the day she died was the day she watched as the guards hung him for his crimes, and she began to call herself Rouge after him.
Description: Elyndra has pale skin and long dark hair. She wears a brown apron, stained with the many herbs and potions she works with, and a puffy green tunic underneath, with buckled shoes. She has a wide-brimmed hat with herbs tucked into the band, and usually carries a large backpack overflowing with different alchemical ingredients.
Backstory: Elyndra was raised in Morel by her grandparents. She was always encouraged to help others and explore what she wanted to do in life. With easy access to her grandparents’ garden, Elyndra discovered a love for potion-making. When her grandmother fell ill, she made potions to ease her symptoms until her end, and swore that she would have enough power to heal others in that situation. She traveled to Harveston to see how she could help, and to meet new kinds of people.
(Elyndra is an example of the complex backstory all NPCs will have.)
Occupation: Thief, fence, and occasional mercenary.
Description: He has a lean build and sharp features, with dark hair and piercing green eyes. Tyadron has a few scars on his face from various scuffles he has been involved in, and wears practical, black leather armor that allows for freedom of movement. He carries a modified dagger; silver with black gems encrusted into the hilt.
Occupation: Blacksmith, specializing in weaponry.
Description: Aiden has lighter skin and ash-colored hair, with flecks of ginger like embers coming out of a forge and spots of white from age. He has the beginnings of a beard, and wears a simple black blacksmith's apron over a gray tunic.
Description: Eilistra has slightly iridescent skin, and feathered black robes that seem to shimmer a rich indigo when she casts spells. She often hides her face behind masks or a large, pointed hat due to the discrimination she faced as a creature of darkness. She decided to give those who hated her something to fear.
Description: Fenwise is short, even for a halfling, with long and unkempt blond hair cascading over her pale skin. She chooses to wear a humble tunic with plain leather armor, and travels the world looking to help people in need with the power granted by her devotion.
(Dark Elven Merchant)
Occupation: Magic Item Merchant.
Description: Arvikan is the flamboyant Drow merchant of magical goods in Silenas, though he finds himself traveling to wherever the adventure leads. He is tall and unusually heavy for an elf, though he still retains a slim physique. His skin is gray, and his hair the color of ash.
Factions and Organizations
The Moonclaw Traders
A group of traveling Tabaxi merchants, led by J’hansi Ro-kall, and consisting of the thief Kaida Sunwhisker, the bard Sable Songweaver, and warrior Orion Steeltooth. They often travel through crypts, ruins, and caves to avoid the bandits and law enforcement; they trade in both local and exotic goods, and are known for being shrewd and cunning.
The Redstone Guild
The most influential thieves’ guild in Istanor. The criminals nest in a secluded lair on Nagroar, where they plot heists, perform jailbreaks, spy on nobility, and complete contracts and bounties. Recently, they’ve taken an interest in older, lost legends, and the mysteries relating to its founding have left the guild’s leaders with a disorganized band of common criminals.
The gods and goddesses of Istanor often claim dominion over an aspect of life in the three worlds, and are divided by their role in the formation of the universe. Demon-Gods fought over the virgin realms, and spilt each other’s blood onto it. The Gods cleaned the land and blessed it, making it suitable for life.
Aytheron, God of Life
Often depicted as a fusion between multiple wild beasts, Aytheron is usually shown as a humanoid with the head of a deer with gilded antlers. He is credited with the creation of Istanor, and is the leader of the Istanorrian gods. He is the patron of druids, hunters, survivalists, and wild creatures.
Catlava, Goddess of the Moon
Catlava appears as a lanky blue humanoid with a long spade tail and ridged horns. She was originally associated with thieves, murder, and evil things due to her kinship with Zolak-dias, but she has grown to be honored amongst the other gods. She is the protector of night-wanderers, and the patron of thieves and night creatures like werebeasts.
Eyiox, Goddess of Might
Eyiox often chooses the form of a large eagle with golden feathers in the rare times she interacts with mortalkind. She is the patron of soldiers, and historians and priests alike question whether she claims dominion over valor or order.
Ywennve, Demon-Goddess of Fate
As an abstract concept, Ywennve appears as a humanoid covered in dark robes, and a face that continually shifts underneath a plague doctor’s mask. They wield two objects that they present to those faced with difficult decisions- a candle held in a hand of flesh and a dice held in a skeletal hand. The candle represents the quiet, safe, uneventful life while the dice represents the risky gamble of adventure.
Zolak-dias, Demon-God of Forsaken Beasts
Zolak-dias is considered the most evil of the Demon-Gods, choosing to adopt the appearance of a winged serpentine in his few dealings with the darker souls of Istanor. He is the patron of evil and vile creatures and deeds, and the nemesis of Aytheron.
Fauna and Flora
Wyrmflies - Small, winged, serpentine creatures that are common pests in dark, wet areas. They typically attack alone, and their bite carries venom.
Carnivorous Fae - Delicate, fairy-like creatures that nest in Gloomweld bulbs. When the plant flowers during the nighttime, the fairies are released, and prey on any foolish enough to travel through Feltleaf Forest in the dark. Alone they are easily extinguished, but become extremely deadly in large groups.
Magma Drakes - Fire-breathing reptilians that live in the hearts of active volcanoes. Their scales are resistant to extreme heat, and they are an object of fear for those wishing to explore the more hellish locations of Istanor.
Bloodvines - A vine that grows in the depths of the forests. Its leaves are deep red, and its sap is harvested as a natural dye.
Gloomweld - A flower found in a few sparse locations of Annor, on the edge of forests that bear some sort of enchantment. The plant flowers every night, and returns to a bulb every morning. Its petals turn from a deep violet to a wonderful gold as it approaches the stem, and some claim the flower sparkles at dusk.
Quest Idea 1 - “‘Til Undeath Do Us Part”
Rumors of a necromancer dwelling in Harvok’s Crossing have frightened the local populus for years. Now, an apprentice of the Embroidered Scroll Mages Guild has approached the government with a new urgency, but turns to the player for help when they do not heed her words. Harvok’s Crossing is hidden deep within the mountains, and the player will have to use stealth, wit, and strength to disable the components needed for a grand necromantic ritual, and to destroy the lich that lives inside. Alternatively, approaching the lich will reveal that he is summoning all this power to return his dead husband to life, and after that he will withdraw from the practice entirely in favor of his old life.
Pass: Kill the lich and stop his ritual OR let him live and help him safely complete the ritual.
Fail: Allow the ritual to continue as normal.
Map Areas: Harvok’s Crossing.
Quest Idea 2 - “Dungeon of Dragonlings”
A new flier has appeared on the local notice board, offering a reward for the retrieval of a weapon in the shape of a dragon’s claw. The player must brave the marshlands before reaching Frenegoth Crypt, the entrance to the kobold hideout. After successfully navigating to the tomb, the player will be met with a few undead, and sparse amounts of wyrmflies. Upon reaching the main chamber, the player will see a large number of kobolds living in a cave behind a ruined wall. The artifact is guarded by two kobolds, who can be killed or bribed so as to leave their post, and the player can choose to sneak into the camp or eliminate all of the kobolds to retrieve the Dragon’s Claw.
Pass: Obtain the Dragon’s Claw weapon from a group of Kobold warriors.
Fail: Fail to recover the artifact.
Map Areas: Frenegoth Crypt.
Quest Idea 3 - “The Moon God’s Mask”
The ruins of the ancient elven citadel Ebonspire have been repurposed as a temple to Catlava, the Istanorrian Goddess of the Night. Seperphos, the walled jungle town nearby, has been trapped in a state of eternal night because the Moon God’s Mask has been split into three shards hidden in the ruins by Sorcerer M’kille. Upon reaching the ruins, the player is greeted by three mistflies, each guiding them down a separate hall. The Hall of Moonrise is a workshop full of magic material, and the shard is inside of an arcane timekeeping tool. The Hall of the Beasts is an armory, decorated with embroidered swords and rough furs, with the shard embedded in the mouth of a large werewolf statue in the far corner. The Hall of Memories contains a library full of books, and putting four tomes in the right order (history books, in chronological order) on a shelf unlocks a small alcove where the shard is. Placing each shard in the brazier at the center of a sundial will recreate the Moon God’s Mask, and end the curse on Seperphos.
Pass: Find the shards, recreate the mask, and gain Catlava’s Blessing- a buff that allows the player to be somewhat stronger during the night.
Fail: Fail to recover the shards and/or kill the leader of Seperphos, and gain Catlava’s Curse- a debuff that weakens the character while outside at night.
Map Areas: Seperphos and Ebonspire.