A capsule setting for fantasy gaming
The land of Atar is a land beset on every side by the forces of chaos and wildness. Lawless men and creatures from out of nightmare roam the land and the wilderness is a little explored new frontier. Only the Star Stones provide sanctuary.
The Star Stones are powerful artifacts whose origin is a source of speculation and superstition. Some say they were a gift from the gods. Some say they fell from the heavens. Some say they are the crystalline hearts of ancient immortal beings whose dreams created all things.
Nobody knows for sure where they came from but everything depends upon them. Each Star Stone is a gem or crystal the size of a man’s head, of a shape that is hard to define and which seems to contain too many angles and facets. Each shines with its own light that seems to come from within it and the shadows of which extend in unnatural ways that make no sense.
Stones of Sanctuary
OnionVolcanoArt – DeviantArt
Each Star Stone protects its surroundings from the chaos in the world. The city that houses a Star Stone is a sanctuary against the foul creatures of darkness that ravage in the unprotected wild areas. Dark magic cannot hold sway within the boundaries of Star Stone’s presence, and the worst abominations of malevolent nature cannot draw close to it.
The city that houses a Star Stone is a safer place than anywhere else in the land of Atar. Such a place can grow and prosper, and people can dwell there in a state of relative security. The further one gets from the Star Stone the weaker its protection grows but even the borders of a city state are safer than the lands further out. Towns, villages, farms and mines can grow up in these outskirts with less immediate danger than otherwise.
This is a world where there is not a single frontier but rather a number of perimeters around the cities of the Star Stones. When people must travel – merchants, explorers, people seeking work or adventure – they find the way hard and dangerous and there is always a need for protection from the threats that lurk in deep woods or endless plains, trackless mountains and haunted marshes.
Cities of the Star Stones
Forgate – The Harbour City – bulwark of trade including sea trade. Beyond the Star Stone’s reach there are ocean dwelling fish men and great aquatic monsters.
Newholt – The northernmost keep – a doughty sanctuary far to the north of the land where the hardy come to make their home and stake their claims in the unexplored lands beyond
Kargun – The Fortress of Warlord Anmusta – a well fortified city built in the shadow of a citadel. The Warlord keeps his people safe but rules with an iron fist.
Larys – City of Shadows – ruled over by a mysterious cabal of sorcerers and repository of arcane lore sought out by many. The city also has a thriving criminal underworld and maintains a good market for smugglers which causes tension with Forgate.
Denizens of Atar
Humans represent the forces of order and it is they who have built the cities in which the Star Stones are housed.
Dwarves exist in small communities, usually family groups, in caves and other remote places. They are reclusive beings with great skill in crafting and forging artifacts of power. They are not just short viking alcoholics, they are magical beings of earth and stone and metal whose ways are not comprehensible to mankind. Resembling short and often twisted men (no women have been seen) each has some distinctive physical feature such as a single eye, a hunched back, a mouth in their belly and so on.
Elves are immortal spirits of nature made flesh, beings of supernatural substance who sometimes, for reasons unknown even to themselves choose to take on a humanlike form for a period. They appear like shorter, slighter, more beautiful interpretations of humankind and they retain their affinity with the natural world, finding human settlements crowded and oppressive. They have a deep understanding of the magic of nature and sometimes their memories of previous lives can surface in an unpredictable manner allowing them to ‘recall’ encounters from centuries before.
Orcs are violent beast-men and some scholars suggest that they are literally twisted parodies of the worst of humankind’s aggressive and territorial natures. They seem to have no community or culture beyond the war band and the raiding party and nobody has yet seen a female orc or an infant. One dark rumour suggests that they defile the fallen bodies of their foes and from that dark remnant a new Orc will rise to join the endless battles. They will kill without mercy and spread without restraint if they are not stopped wherever they are met.