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02 March 2014 @ 04:00 pm
Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom Gazetteer  
No map yet, but I have some location ideas. Here you go!

The Kingdom of Flowers
The central kingdom of Agarica, the Kingdom of Flower has extended its influence over most of Agarica for centuries, until the Dragon Emperor brought their dominion crashing down. The land is lush and fertile, with mild summers and warm winters, and has been prosperous for the majority of its glorious history. The new order means the mandragora have scattered as refugees or bowed down to the yoke of their kappa overlords, and the many of the amanita simply see themselves having exchanged one set of masters for another. Some of the kappa who speak Florian have even made a joke at the kingdom's expense by changing a syllable in the name--from kanoku, the Kingdom of Flowers, to kinoku: the Mushroom Kingdom.

For now, the situation looks grim for the Kingdom of Flowers. The Princess of the ruling House of Peach lies captive in the Dragon Emperor's new palace and the other Great Houses of the mandragora are either utterly destroyed or scattered to the winds. Only the House of Daisy, headquartered as it is in the Floral colony on the Raptok Isles, remains entirely free. The Brothers of the Hammer, the elite warrior guard of the Dragon Emperor, scour the Kingdom of Flowers from top to bottom, seeking out those loyal to the old regime and dragging them off in chains. Taxes have increased, and bands of mycon bandits roam on the kingdom's borders almost at will. Now, more than ever, the Kingdom needs heroes.

The Kappa Wastes
South and east of the Kingdom of Flowers, the land slowly rises before suddenly thrusting itself upward into the vast bulk of the Turtleback Mountains. On the other side, in the mountain plateau beyond, lie the ancestral homelands of the kappa tribes. Volcanic and arid, the land is harsh and cruel, forging its inhabitants into raiding and nomadic wandering simply to survive, following the paths of the ancestors as revealed by their shamans. The spirits are more active here than elsewhere, and occasionally reach out and tutor a student in the art of controlling the lava and smoke that leaks from the land.

The kappa would often come ranging out of the wastes on raiding expeditions into the Kingdom of Flowers, but in years past the kingdom's sorcerer-priests raised a mighty eldritch wall on their borders to hold off the kappa. When the Dragon Emperor united the tribes, he did so with the aid of the Xhamekh, a cabal of sorcerers shunned by all the kappa who worship strange gods from the darkness beyond the Star Road. Their witchery proved potent where the shamans' powers had failed, and the kappa horde destroyed the Barrier and flooded over the Kingdom of Flowers almost before the Floral armies could be called up. Those kappa who remain in the Wastes are the ones most dedicated to the ancient ways, whose shamans teach that the kappa are there because the land is punishing them for the sins of their past, and they cannot leave until the ancestors tell them that they have expiated their deeds. There is no love lost between them and the Dragon Emperor's horde, and clashes on the border of the Wastes are as common as they ever were.

The Forest of Shadows
On the Kingdom of Flowers' northern border lurks a vast, trackless woodland. Little light penetrates between the eaves of the forest, and travelers often find that paths through the forest change under their feet, leading them to the heart of the woods and away from safety. If that weren't enough, the forest is home to maddened giant insects and twisted spirits who delight in tormenting intruders before devouring them. Like the Kappa Wastes, the spirits here occasionally take sorcerous students, and the briarwitches are spoken of in low voices throughout the lands of Agarica. The Silent Ones know the safe paths through the forests, and their caravans grow rich on the trade routes they run to the kingdoms beyond.

The Raptok Isles
In the glittering Narrow Sea south of the Kingdom of Flowers lie the tropical Raptok Isles, named after their primary inhabitants. The raptok lead a simple hunter-gatherer existence, hunting the native thunder lizards and warring among themselves. The Kingdom of Flowers established a colony here long ago, and from there the raptok were introduced to the wider world. The colony remains free and is the last stronghold of old floral culture, but their continued overtures to the raptok have mostly been rebuffed. The isles are free of any lord's yoke, and that's how their dwellers like it.

On the shores of the Great Salt Ocean lies the ancient country of Chai, slumbering dreamily in the east. Originally ruled entirely by mandragora who are culturally distinct from those in the Kingdom of Flowers, the ruling order has become much more diverse since the institution of a series of examinations to qualify for civil service. Now chuzan and amanita fill the ranks of the daimyo as well, and Chai is as strong as it as ever been. It will need to be, because the Dragon Emperor is turning his eye toward it, and while the Chaians have strong defenses to the north due to the threat of the Hyperboreans, their ability to stop an invasion from the south is much weaker.

Life in Chai is mostly peaceful and agricultural. The majority of the population farms rice or cultivates fungus, but herding thunder lizards is another common occupation. They're used for agriculture, for war, for food, and even for sport--thunder lizard racing is a common pastime for the daimyo, and even the commoners can attend a pit fight or a race on festival days.

The Muskalan Confederation
The stronghold of the chuzan, Muskala borders Chai to the east, the Forest of Shadows to the southwest, the Crescent Sea to the south, and Hyperborea to the northeast. With its place as a nexus, it grows fat on trade, and Muskalan merchants are only a little less common than Silent One caravans in the surrounding kingdoms. Unlike the Silent Ones, though, the Muskalans are also known for producing mercenaries, and bands of Muskalan soldiers are in high demand, especially the grenadiers. The creation of bob-ombs is well-known throughout Agarica, but the Muskalans know of a much safer method of producing explosives--yet another source of their wealth.

While Chai is temperate due to its closeness to the ocean and to Hyperborea, Muskala has a far more variable climate. It freezes in winter and bakes in the summer, and its inhabitants are hardy and used to privation. Much of the taxes levied by the Princes of various cities in the Muskalan Confederation go toward buying food to feed their people. Social stratification is also extreme, and a not-insignificant portion of the population is essentially trapped in debt-based peonage. That also fuels the reputation of the Muskalans as mercenaries, as those with no money and nothing left to lose will trade an almost-certain life of drudgery to the slim chance of freeing themselves from debt as a soldier of fortune.

Note: A picture of a chuzan grenadier can be found here.

In the far north of Agarica, where winter never entirely loosens its grip, lies the kingdom of Hyperborea. Ruled by a tribe of white-furred kong-like creatures and their ice witches, the main populace is a cosmopolitan mix of chuzan, amanita, and mycon. While Hyperborea is mostly quiescent in the winter, every summer Chai and Muskala feel the fury of Hyperborean raids moving speedily on their horned ice-snail mounts with blizzards advancing before them. The kingdom is mostly quite isolated, but contains large deposits of starmetal that it trades for foodstuffs and worked goods with Silent Ones caravans. Occasionally, for their own reasons, an ice witch will go wandering into the warmer lands to the south.

Hyperborea claims much more land than the part that's actually settled. Almost the entire northern half of the country is a vast wilderness, ranging from tundra and fungal pine forest in the south to the blasted polar wastes of the north. This part of the country is mostly uninhabited, but ice witches go there on pilgrimmage to commune with the spirits of winter, and the Hyperborean armies occasionally go to fight off attacks from the multi-armed, hairy rampaging beasts that range down from the pole during winter.

The Scarlet City
More of a city-state than a true county, the Scarlet City is one of the few permanent dwellings of the Silent Ones. The city is a technical marvel, a mass of turning gears and puffs of steam and reddish light shining from the ever-burning streetlights, and its technicians travel far and wide offering their services to all the kingdoms in Agarica. Non-Silent Ones are not allowed to remain within the walls after nightfall under penalty of death, but the trade-town outside the gates is still full more often than not. The latest source of speculation on the Silent Ones' actions is the balloon that's risen over the city. Enormous and covered in scaffolding, the Silent Ones seem to be building some kind of structure beneath it and rumors are that they are building a flying city. Most people scoff and something so obviously ridiculous, but others look at the cloud kingdoms and note that the Predecessors did it and no one is quite sure what the limits of the Silent Ones artifice really is.

Built by the Predecessors long ago, Etemenanki still draws adventurers seeking to delve into its secrets. It is an enormous tower over two miles high, thrusting itself up from the plains on the west of the Muskalan Confederacy. It is so tall that it overshadows many of the Cloud Kingdoms in their orbits, and so Etemenanki is the primary point for those seeking to trade with the inhabitants of those isolated dwellings. While there are routes mapped out that traverse much of the tower, it is so large that well over 90% of its rooms and corridors remain unexplored, either because no one has found a way in, because they are protected by Predecessor traps or wild animals, or simply because they're too far away from the settled regions. The occasional haul of artifacts from an expedition outweighs the tales of hideous death met by many as they explore the tower, though, and so the explorations continue.

The Great Bridge
Perhaps the largest remaining Predecessor artifact in the world, the Great Bridge connects the continents of Agarica and Pithek, extending almost a fifty miles across the Narrow Sea. The entire surface appears to be formed of a mirror-smooth reddish crystal, but it offers as much purchase as well as cobblestone to travellers' feet. Despite its utility, the bridge is rarely used--it is low enough now that waves often wash over it, and there is obviously no place to find food or water other than the sea. Furthermore, the carnivorous fish of the Narrow Sea will occasionally leap over and snatch a traveler to drag them to their doom. Despite these dangers, a few fishing communities have built ramshackle towns in and around the structure of the Great Bridge. These communities are great places for those who want to have few questions asked about their background or who have nowhere else to go.

The Scrublands
At the southern terminus of the Great Bridge lies a flat expanse of grasslands dotted with the occasional copse of trees. There are no settlements here, and the area is home to groups of thunder lizards, tribes of savage kong, and ruins from the long-vanished Kong Imperium. There are no colonies from Agarica here because there's nothing anyone wants, and the dangers of the land make it not worth the risks.

The Shifting Sands
Much of the northwestern part of Pithek is a trackless desert, home to widely-scattered oases, savage creatures, tribes of nomadic mycon and brown-scaled relatives of the raptok, and pyramids built by the Predecessors. They extend hundreds of miles toward the Great Sea before petering out in a range of unnamed mountains far to the west. The desert is not well-mapped, and without a reliable map of the oases and with few guides, it is little-traveled.

The Kong Jungles
Across the Narrow Sea from the Kingdom of Flowers and the Kappa Wastes is the vast, steaming bulk of the Kong Jungles. Dotted with ruined temple-cities and outposts of the imperial legions, it's now overrun by barbarian kong tribes, thunder lizards, and predatory flora, and dotted with the settlements of the kremlings. The kremlings are much more civilized than their former masters, but they also are highly isolationist and do shun contact with outsiders unless their venomancers need further raw material for their experiments. Despite the dangers, the sheer variety of alchemical reagents and artifacts from the imperial cities means that there's always one group or another heading to the jungles hoping to make a big score

The rest of Pithek
...is little explored, the hostile nature of the area just across the Great Bridge and the dangers of sea travel except over very short routes or while hugging the coast means that very little of Pithek has been explored, and since what has been explored is so unappealing, there is little appetite for more. The occasional band of enterprising adventurers or explores travels to Pithek, but the continent swallows most of them without a trace. For the moment, Pithek jealously guards its secrets.

The Cloud Kingdoms
There are a number of floating islands, of varying sizes and hovering at varying heights over the land. Most of them are too small to support much more than some small fungus or scraggly trees simply due to a lack of water, but some of the larger ones are inhabited, usually by amanita or by the isolationist pidgit-folk, who refer to all ground-dwellers as "dirtwalkers" with a sneer in their voices and refuse to deal with them. Those who climb Etemenanki can earn their respect and bargain with them for the secrets they have wrested from the cloud-spirits.

Rumors persist of kingdoms that are cloud in truth as well as in name, made of somehow-solid cloud matter, with cloud-plants and cloud-animals and cloud-people. There is never any kind of reliable source for these rumors, only a tale heard in a tavern or something told from a friend of a friend to a caravan guard, but despite that, the tales keep being passed along.

That's what I have now as the skeleton I can flesh out. There's more space in the west and north of Agarica for other nations, and of course Pithek is almost entirely blank, to say nothing of the oceans or what's under the sea.

I'm also going to be going through Mario Monsters for ideas. The sorting by terrain type thing they do is really helpful!
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