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Sylvigoth

We all knew it was a matter of time, as signs to our unmaking were known since my grandfather ruled this land. My family's failings have doomed us all. He failed to slay the last of the vampire counts, my father could not prevent their escape and I underestimated what the retaliation might have been.

The day the vampire counts returned, there was no one here to stop them. They were different, now, in both agenda and desire: They weren't going to live and hide in the shadows, they were determined to rule from them.

Dezinar will cease to exist in a matter of years. Soon, this plane will be in their image, my people slaves in the very land they once were proud to call their own.

Journal entry of Marcus of the Trueblades, Baron of Sashstow

Sylvigoth, or Dezinar as it was once known, was a relatively normal world: perfect in the eyes of some. It was calm, arable, comfortable and teeming with life. It was a perfect world for colonies to be developed, especially during the times of the Third Age.

In the last four hundred years however, that all changed. A once vanquished enemy returned, this time with an army behind them. With time, they were able to amass power and numbers with off-world help. With the advent of the Fourth Age, all but a handful of the present Planar Militia was pressed into service elsewhere. With their major obstacle gone, the Vampire Counts arrived in full force and eventually claimed the plane as their own.

Sylvigoth is a world of dark, numerous forests and rolling hills clashing against tall, jagged peaks. There is an abundance of water and rainfall is heavy across most of the world. It is not unusual for a fog to be present through most of the day. Several continents are known to exist but only the largest one, Denarest, with a Trigate leading from Rubia, is extensively developed.

Sylvigoth is a different world now. An ever present feeling of gloom and dread fills the air and the once joyful populous has been replaced with husks of former men and woman, some literally so.

The World

Habitability

Surface

Sylvigoth is a wet world, resulting in most of the surface being either covered in snow and ice, dense forests or fertile fields. Two continents are known of, though the second has only recently been discovered and is devoid of any major settlements. About 51% of the world's surface is covered by water, including several larger lakes.

Thick trees cover the majority of Sylvigoth's land, including the famous Sylvigothic Pine which is well known for it's durability and ease to work with. Aside from the forests, there are large rolling plains and rigid stone crags in higher altitudes. In the furthest parts north, the land is covered by glaciers and snow that lasts most, if not all, of the year. Due to the amount of water present in the atmosphere, heavy rainstorms are common. Flooding is also common, and special precautions have to be made for permanent settlements.

The primary continent is known as Denarest, and houses all major settlements and population centers on Sylvigoth. In the southern reaches, where it is drier, the seasons tend not to be as harsh as elsewhere, offering an extended growing period during the summer for crops. As you progress north however the seasons get more and more harsh, being much colder. The increased humidity results in large amounts of snowfall which has been known to completely cover and cut off smaller towns.

The second continent which lies west of Denarest is only known to the Planar Council by crudely drawn maps and stories, as it was never discovered or explored by any of the members of the Adventurer's Guild hired to find it during the Third Age. However, the Vampire Counts have established many of their own kingdoms here which were used to resupply after the failed attack in the earlier part of the Third Age. They have named the continent "Vexum" in honor of one of the most ancient and powerful vampires, Vexumal the Bloodfather.

Atmosphere and Weather

The Sylvigothic air is generally damp due to the increased amount of water present. The high volume of rainfall with the cooler air means that fog is common. It can range from thin mists in the dryer areas, to extremely thick near larger bodies of water.

The weather on Sylvigoth is incredibly wet, with rain being a constant factor. It is very common for a light shower to persist for long periods of time, including over the span of several days. Heavier rainstorms are uncommon but after they occur it isn't unusual for a few days to go by without much precipitation. Due to the general wet nature of Sylvigothic weather, this also means that the winters can be incredibly harsh due to the high levels of snowfall.

Temperatures vary based upon your location on Sylvigoth, as well as upon the four seasons. Northern Denarest's average temperature is typically 46°F, where as the average on the southern range of the continent is 52°F.

Sylvigoth's four seasons are similar to many other planes that have them. Spring tends to be pleasant, being cooler in the morning and nights with a warmer day period. Summers tend to be very warm, with temperatures even reaching 92°F in some places. Autumns on Denarest are cool and dry, which leads to be being the main period of harvest. Winters can be extremely harsh, with it not at all unusual for it to reach temperatures around 5°F in higher altitudes.

Natural Resources

Sylvigoth is teeming in an abundance of natural resources, but is famous for its extremely high quality lumber. Sylvigothic Pine is incredibly valuable due to its strength, durability and density when compared to its weight.

Copper, Iron, Silver, Gold and Mithril are also mined in great abundance, with several large Coal deposits being known about but not yet taken advantage of. While precious gems have been found in the various mines, there has never been any of considerable quality or quantity to make mining for them specifically a worthwhile endeavor.

Though being very rich in latent magical energies, elemental materials are uncommon. Those that are found tend to be of the Nature, Water and Death subtypes.

Magic

Magic flows everywhere on Sylvigoth, being incredibly concentrated along the ley lines that undoubtedly stretch across the surface of the world. The number of magical creatures in the wild is thus incredibly high, which was a lure for big game hunters for a large portion of Sylvigoth's past.

Due to the intense magical energies present here, Sylvigoth attracted a fair number of wizards who had looked to build their private studies here. With the occupation of the Vampire Counts, many of these wizards were either slain or forced into employ for the plane's new masters.

Ecosystems

Main article: Sylvigothic Flora and Fauna

On Sylvigoth, there are generally considered to be three separate ecosystems: The grasslands, the forests and the deepwald. 47% of the landscape is grassland, the rest being divided into the mountains, thick forests and inside the depths at the oldest parts of the wood, the deepwald.

Grasslands

The grasslands are generally the portions of the surface that are not as heavily forested and have larger, open areas. The vegetation varies depending on the altitude level and quality of soil, but many crop plants (both native and from off world) are capable of growing here. Sylvigoth is somewhat famous for the wide number of different flowers that grow in the wild, ranging in a wide variety of colors. Trees and shrubs are generally absent, but can still be found and are more common as you progress closer to the thicker forests.

Bodies of water are extremely common, with lakes, ponds and rivers dotting the landscape in great number. The wildlife present in the waterways is numerous, which lead to the development of many fishing based communities along the largest of these bodies. Due to the amount of natural rainfall, irrigation isn't generally needed for all but the dryer areas of Denarest.

Wildlife in the grasslands tends to match that found on other planes with similar climes: it has a low amount of diversity, but a high abundance of wildlife. Sylvigothic horses can still be found in the wild in great number and make amazing, fast steeds. There are a variety of grazing animals feeding on the nearly limitless assortment of grasses available. Smaller animals and rodents, such as gophers and prairie dogs, feed the carnivorous animals that make the grasslands their home. Sylvigothic wolves come in many varieties and temperaments, with coyotes, foxes, badgers and ferrets also being numerous.

Alpine

The colder, alpine regions tend to have less trees and more of a tundra ecology, meaning shrubs, mosses and lichen are more dominant, as well as a variety of flowering plants. As you descend in altitude, the alpine tundra shifts into the boreal forest which covers most of Denarest. Many of the non-moss plants found here are related closely to those found in the grasslands. The wildlife also is similar, many of the species making the alpine environment their home being evolutionary offshoots.

Forests

The boreal forests are brimming with coniferous trees, some reaching as high as 300 feet. The heavy rainfall ensures a long growing season for the trees, which result in trees that are incredibly tall, thick and sturdy: the main reason why Sylvigothic lumber is famous.

In the southern regions, due to the thick layer of decaying material that constantly covers the forest floor, a variety of other flora also flourishes. Small deciduous trees, ferns, mushrooms and other plants are numerous. The further north you get however, due to the colder, longer winters, the quality of the soil decreases.

Numerous birds and insects make the forest regions there home, much more so then in the less wooded areas. The animals that survive here range from larger herbivores such as deer, elk, moose and forest aurochs; larger predators such as bears, lynxes and wolves to small creatures like rabbits, voles, beavers and other rodents. All of these animals have evolved various ways of surviving the long, harsh winters: Some hibernate, some bulk up extra layers of fat while the rest tend to grow extra, thicker layers of fur or feather. Due to the climate, a pure carnivorous diet is inefficient: omnivores are king in this ecosystem.

Deepwald

The oldest, deepest, darkest regions of the forests are known as the deepwalds. These regions are incredibly magical, and many supernatural beasts make this region their home.

The trees here are misshapen and have eldritch, unnatural appearances. The bark of the oldest trees is as dark as twilight which gives an ominous vibe when contrasted to the phosphorescent fungi that grows in the magically enhanced soil underfoot. The sap of these old trees runs a deep, virulent red.

Aside from the variety of wildlife that makes its home here, it is known that the deepwalds are home to malevolent intelligences such as spirits, elementals and magical creatures. The twisting nature of the deepwalds also spawn carnivorous plant-life.

The deepwalds are not peaceful, nor are they safe. Sylvigothic natives know to avoid it.

The Vampire Counts, however, revel in this ecosystem. The peak levels of magical energy fuel their rituals, with the isolation the deepwalds providing acting only to insure their secrecy.

The People

History

The original Dezinari consisted mainly of humans who had arrived from Rubia, also a colony plane. During the second age Rubia had experienced a major population boom, which led to many explorers and adventurers looking to both make a name for themselves and make a profit. This would ultimately lead to the growth of Dezinar, and its penultimate downfall at the hand of the Vampire Counts.

Before the Second Age

As there is no native intelligent life on Sylvigoth, there are no known events of historic signifigance.

The Second Age

The second age led to the first explorers and settlers passing through the Rubian Trigate, but not until its final years. The civil war that had broken out during the Second Age caused a huge population boom on Rubia. This population boom would be responsible for the initial gathering of individual vampires who would later be known as the Vampire Counts. The vampires figured that they would be able to feed freely due to the unorganized nature of Rubia's quick settlement, only to be dispatched quickly once they organized. Initially the Rubians figured they had destroyed the entirety of the Vampire Counts, only to find out that not only were they wrong, but that their neighbors would pay dearly for their assumption.

Third Age

Settlement happened on Dezinar in a quick, organized manner. A number of lower nobles quickly moved in and with blessings from the Planar Council, establishing a number of kingdoms. With their connections on Rubia and their large coffers, it would only take two hundred years before Dezinar was built up to a point of no longer needing outside assistance.

During the later part of the Third Age, the Vampire Counts reemerged from the wilderness and struck the largest city on Dezinar, Sashstow. Thankfully several regiments were present from the Planar Militia and they were quickly disposed of to the thought of Dezinari leadership. This initial blow lead to the abandonment of the original purpose behind the Militia's presence: exploration of the rest of Dezinar.

The Adventurer's Guild had contracted several regiments on Rubia as well as countless mercenaries to sail westward and explore the other lands on Dezinar, of which little was known. Dezinari leadership thought there may be at least one additional Trigate on their world, of which they could make an ample profit from. Nobody knows fore sure, but it is highly suspected that the Vampire Counts operated not only from the deepwalds, but from one of the landmasses to the west.

When the Dezinari Army and Planar Militia struck back against the Vampire Counts, they would make their retreat as costly as they could for the Dezinari inhabitants. They kidnapped thousands of residents only to disappear almost as quickly as they had shown up. It was assumed that they sailed westward, but no evidence could be found. The surviving inhabitants were both furious with the failure of protecting the other residents, and filled with relief that the Vampire Counts were gone.

If they had pressed on, they could have prevented what came next.

Fourth Age

When Joukenhainen returned, the Planar Council fought back as hard as it could, but it was not prepared for the large, organized force that formed the Recreant forces. After many lost conflicts, the Council would end up withdrawing the Planar Militia forces off of worlds that were considered "low risk" to where they would do more good. The Vampire Counts did not expect this at all, but were quick to capitalize on the unique opportunity the sudden loss of thousands of soldiers provided to them.

Dezinar had a standing army, but it was nowhere near enough to prevent the onslaught that followed the departure of the Planar Militia. The Dezinari fought valiantly, but in the end, the conflict was not theirs to win. After almost 40 years of initial warfare, guerrilla tactics and the last major strikes by Dezinari rebels, the Vampire Counts defeated the last Dezinari noble, Marcus of the Trueblades, and turned him into one of them.

The Vampire Counts immediately placed forces at the Trigate to prevent people from fleeing to Rubia and to kill anyone who would venture into Sylvigoth. One by one, the smaller settlements fell to the Vampire Counts, only increasing the size of their vampiric and undead army. It was only a matter of time until the largest cities, and then the capital of Sashstow, would fall to an army consisting of what was once their own citizens.

Now, the Vampire Counts rule over the remaining population with an iron fist. Secretive notes are sent out across the planes, welcoming fellow vampires to partake in their rule. Camps of citizens are set up just to breed future generations of "livestock", or in the case of beings who cannot be turned into vampires, killed and raised as the undead.

Politics

On Sylvigoth

The leader of the Vampire Counts on Sylvigoth is a Storm Elven vampire who was once known as Durek Hammerfell, but now is just called Grim Lord Hexfang. He has existed for thousands of years, and was turned into a vampire in the second age. He was one of the last vampire stragglers to come to Rubia, and nothing more than an underling at the time.

Today, he is one of the most powerful vampires of known existence, bypassing many of the weaknesses vampirism places on it's host. This, combined with his extensive knowledge into the areas of Animancy and Dynamancy have led him on his own to be a force to be reckoned with.

Grim Lord Hexfang rules over all of the other vampires that make up the Vampire Counts in a hierarchy similar to those found in the courts of nobles. He has three Barons: Baron Tsimon, an elder Ternate Hydrafolk vampire, The Baroness of the Dark, the ghost of a nameless Dezinari princess who was tortured till death, and Baron Longcloak, a relatively young Djinni Dwarf vampire already well known for his cruelty.

Each of these Barons rules over a number of vampire "houses", which usually specialize in a particular area.

Baron Tsimon is an extremely ancient Ternate Hydrafolk vampire who grew to respect Grim Lord Hexfang's cruelty, leadership and his continual physical evolution as a vampire. Lizardmen vampires are extremely rare, so the horror of a three headed vampiric lizard beast is enough to break the will of lesser men. He is an accomplished alchemist and general and has more victories under his belt then he can remember.

The Baroness of the Dark is the ghost of what is presumed to be one of the last Dezinari princesses whose name is unknown. She is extremely angry which is caused by the constant pain of her torturous existence. Though not capable of practicing any forms of magic, psionics or other supernatural abilities she would have known in life, she makes extensive use of her ghostly abilities and is especially fond of tearing living beings apart with her own, incorporeal hands.

Baron Longcloak, a Djinni Dwarf, is relatively new to the life of a vampire when compared to his peers, only being three hundred years of age. An extremely powerful psion, he always specialized in telepathy and enjoyed turning people into mindless thralls. Now, combined with the innate hypnotic prowess of being a vampire, he is Grim Lord Hexfang's forceful, corruptive diplomat.

In the Planar Council

Due to the takeover by the Vampire Counts, Sylvigoth has no representation on the Planar Council. The former Dezinari representatives have left the council to see what had happened to their home plane. They never returned.

Military

The Dezinari army is all but demolished, only small pockets of resistance fighters continue to exist though their numbers continue to drop with no major victories.

The Sylvigothian army put in place by the Vampire Counts is composed primarily of their raised undead forces, including large bodies of lesser vampires, skeletons, zombies, ghouls as well as many spectral beings.

Culture

Culturally, the residents of Dezinar have a similar culture to those on Rubia, though as time progressed they did end up developing some aspects of their own. The culture is at great risk of change however, due to the invasion of the Vampire Counts.

Religion and Spirituality

Religious beliefs of the people on Sylvigoth follows the standard practice of many of the planes in the worship of the Infinite Children. Churches, shrines and cathedrals can be found, though now many of these buildings lie destroyed and the shrines all but hidden.

Since the Vampire Counts have taken over, they have actively squashed all practices of religion, converting the places of worship to places of testament of their power.

In the second wave of colonists, there was a group of young women who ran off into the woods, never to be seen again. From time to time, however, near the deepest parts of the woods, people say you can hear the sounds of young women laughing and singing. In the beginning of fall in the towns directly neighboring the wood, it is common practice for those houses with children to put tied bunches of pine cones on their front doors in the belief that the young women in the wood won't steal their children.

Before the takeover, several groups of monks, each of different orders, had come to Dezinar, hoping the solitude of the relatively unsettled lands would make great places for their abbeys.

Society and Traditions

Families on Sylvigoth are of major importance, with the father figure playing a pivotal role. The oldest male in the family is the guiding figure, and upon his death the mantle is passed to the next generation. Though they have separate houses, the leading family tends to live in what is called a "Clanalhum", which is a massive home with enough room for large gatherings.

Work ethic is also of great value to the natives, with sons often following in their father's footsteps. The woman's place in a family is more open than in other worlds, with daughters also able to follow in their father's footsteps should they choose to do so, without being looked down upon.

There are three major holidays that people celebrate on Sylvigoth:

Winter's Light is celebrated at the end of the week of the first snowfall, and involves the hanging of lanterns on all the buildings and trees in the cities. There is a huge feast in the center of town, usually consisting of many roasted animals, candied fruits and alcoholic beverages.

The Wolf's Run is celebrated in the beginning of the autumn. It involves slaughtering several animals and spreading their carcasses throughout the town, with all townspeople locking their doors. Any wolves who are still present in the town after sunrise are killed, their pelts being turned into cloaks for the children.

Spring Tide is celebrated in the spring, and involves people giving gifts to others in the town, to people they love and have feelings for. These are hand-made gifts, made over the long winter period.

People on Sylvigoth tend to live simple lives, not actively seeking the finer things in life, instead enjoying the things readily available. Games and sports are very common, including hunting for sport. This is especially compounded by the takeover by the Vampire Counts, who take great pleasure in robbing the natives of any pleasures they may have.

Cuisine

The Sylvigothic dishes tend to all be simple, being nothing more than basic bread, prepared vegetables and fresh fruit. Meat, when available, tends to be shared across several households. Porridge is extremely popular, as the other main use of oats is in the use of making alcoholic beverages.

The exception to this is in the case of festivals, where the methodology of cooking changes from "simple" to "excessive". During festivals and family feasts, spices, garnishes are used, with no expenses seemingly spared. At these occasions, the centerpiece is usually a massive roast of a pig, cow or stag of some sort.

Clothing

Hide and leather makes up the bulk of all clothing worn by those on Sylvigoth, with metal being used sparingly for things such as pins, buttons and decoration. There are many beasts with thick furs that are used for clothes, bears, stags, mammoths and wolves are the most common.

Every person on Sylvigoth understands the value of a good pair of boots and a heavy, warm cloak. The rugged terrain, tough weather and cold temperatures make these two items very important.

Arms and Armor

Metal is generally not used for armor, meaning that the armor developed is made from the thickened hides, tanned leather or woven padding.

"Suits" of armor are usually a combination of these, ranging from light to heavy. Lighter suits of armor will consist of of woven padding with a layer of leather, meant to not hinder agility and movement on the battlefield. Heavier suits, however can be made from multiple layers of hide and leather, offering as much protection as the materials will provide. Heavier armors usually also have helms made around the heads of animals, with antlers of stags being used for decoration.

Metal armor can be found in some cases, but not for the general rank and file of the armies. These are usually seen in the form of scale mail, usually laid over leather or woven padding.

Weapons made on Sylvigoth tend to be utilitarian in nature, favoring weapons with multiple uses: axes, picks and spears primarily. Bows are the primary ranged weapon, adding to the image of the hunter also being a warrior that many Sylvigothic soldiers have of themselves.

As the citizens of Sylvigoth tend to be larger and heartier, their weapons follow suit. The typical mindset is "larger is better", meaning larger axes that are used for cutting wood can also be found used in war. Due to the favoritism of two handed weapons, shields are primarily an afterthought for many warriors on Sylvigoth, but those that are made are usually made of wicker covered in a layer of hide or leather.

Language

Allspeak is the only language on Sylvigoth, as the colonists primarily came from Rubia. Natives from other planes may bring their own languages with them, but there is no native tongue on Sylvigoth.

Music and Entertainment

As one of the more popular past times is drinking, it should come as no surprise that one of the more popular forms of entertainment is the drinking song. Many families have their own, some going back hundreds of years. Much of the music consists of vocalization, musical instruments being more of a rarity than other worlds.

Storytelling also is very popular, and it is not an unusual sight to see a group of people around a fire as the rest of the city has gone to sleep. Stories of epic hunts, long treks, surviving the wilderness and defending homes are the most popular. Storytelling is more important now that the Vampire Counts hold over the Sylvigothic citizens almost as slaves, as it is a form of expression they cannot remove simply from them.

Magic

Magic is viewed upon with wary eyes to the residents of Sylvigoth, as one of the primary tools of the Vampire Counts is their animantic powers. There once existed a college to the magical arts in Sashstow, but after the successful takeover of the Vampire Counts, the college was promptly destroyed. Several wizards of some renown still exist, but they are in hiding as the Vampire Counts hunt them down.

In the basements of Direholdt however, a group of younger Hemomancers toil endlessly in the hopes that they can come up with some way to gain an edge against the growing vampire population. Their blood magic could hold a key in saving Dezinar from it's new, corrupt masters.

Due to the destruction of their houses of worship, many prophets and clerics have also gone into hiding. Almost aware of their plight, it seems the Infinite Children are paying special attention to their worshippers in these dark times.

The Places

Main article: Notable Sylvigothic Locations

Lore Points

  • The forests have been the home of several odd creatures being spotted, with observers stating they are chimeric in nature. The beasts reportedly have the head of a dragon, the body of a stag and the tail of a lion. As more and more refugees fail to return from the woods, it is beginning to be thought that it is these creatures that are responsible for the disappearances and not the Vampire Counts.
  • There are rumors that one of the Grim Lord's higher ranking officers has defected and is now being held as a prisoner in Direholdt. If he was to be rescued, given his recent time as a prisoner, he may be prone to assist his rescuers in some way or another.
Summary
Status
Languages None
Demonym Sylvigothic
Size Normal (24,159 mi)
Satellites
Taaros
Hours per Day 24
Planar Capital Direholdt
Largest City Ghaststow
Countries None
Native Races None
Ethnic Groups 58.5% Vampiri
41.5% Normal
Human Ratio 49%
Population ≈ 24.5 Million
Leaders
Grim Lord Hexfang
Council Proxies None
Ambient Magic Very Rich
Planar Neighbors Rubia
Planar Exports (When Exporting) Lumber, Meat, Fruit, Alcoholic Beverages, Metals, Precious Metals, Paper, Coal
Planar Imports (When Importing) Grain, Finished Goods, Riding Animals