The Labyrinthe Gameworld
The Labyrinthe Gameworld Introduction
The Game World used at Labyrinthe is collossal, and has been developed and and shaped by over 20 years of character interaction (and in some cases inaction). One of the main problems of a guide such as this is that the game-world really does develop as aventures and player actions dictate, so the character and even geography of the world can change slowly over time. There are, however, a couple of common themes in the game world that have stayed pretty constant:
- There are huge swathes of undeveloped and uncharted lands in the game world. Even in areas (commonly called demenses) that have a massive city, like the Capital of the Empire – Halgar, the developed areas are dwarfed by the expanse of land that remains sparcely populated and rarely visited.
- The Labyrinthe gameworld exists in a time where perfect information does not exist – even with supernatural communication. The vast majority of people that live in the game world are normal citizens (peons) who rarely travel out of the village or city in which they are born. They tend to be a suspicious and territorial lot, and their experiences of other areas are limited to the stories and tales of travelling mercenaries and merchants.
The two points above means that even if your character is one of the most powerful in the game world, it is very possible that when on an adventure you will be travelling to a place full of people who don’t know who you are, and probably don’t care. If you happen to be adventuring in the right place, however, then status and position can be a real advantage (or sometimes a big disadvantage!)
Main Geographical Areas
As mentioned above, there are many areas of the Labyrinthe game world that remain unchartered, and there are probably entire continents to still discover. That said, there are currently 4 significant lands that are reasonably well documented, and a short introduction to each of them is provided below. The majority of adventures at Labyrinthe take place in one of those 4 significant lands – the Empire, and the background for that area is highly developed. Later in this section we go into a little more detail on each of the cities which make up the Empire.
The majority of characters and adventures at Labyrinthe are based from the Empire, centrally placed amid the other significant areas, with all of the major cities controlled and managed by player characters. The full history of the Empire (and of the governmental systems that pre-dated the Empire) can be found in the sourcebook called the Realm of Glass.
A short introduction to each of the major cities in the Empire can be found here (link to cities page), but please bear in mind that these introductions really just touch on the nature of the city and those that run them. Events in these cities continually shape and change the nature and structure of the cities and these regular events are usually published in a (roughly) monthly publication called the Companion.
The Southern Baronies
Lying to the south of the Empire, separated by the Brandin Mountains, there is much that is familiar here to a citizen of the Empire. The clothing, armour, language and general customs are little different from those found in the North. Most of the savage creatures of the Empire also live here, but this is very much a human donimated society. Elves are killed as they are assumed to be kin to the Faeries that plague the people of the Barronies, and the creatures of the Far North are mere legends.
The Baronial lands are divided into Waldgrafines (provinces), each ruled in tiny segments by the hundreds of Barons who hold absolute sway over those within their borders. They in turn are ruled over by the military leaders (the Graf).
The southern continent itself is a wild and stormy place, composed mostly of dense forests and hills that make agriculture difficult, but metals commonplace. The rituals unleashed during the Chaos Wars and the sporadic conflict with the Enemy have ignited savage pockets of wild magic throughout the land. People are devoutly insular and rarely leave the Barony in which they are born. Strangers are always viewed with suspicion and outsiders always treated coldly by each village as the inhabitants assume them to be spreaders of ruin or plague.
The Baronies are feudal in nature with a ruling and a serving class. There are hundreds of amall laws that the Barons can call upon to justify their actions, but within their own lands they can effecively act as they wish. There are no actual law courts and no judiciary body to hear the woes of the serf apart from the word of their Baron.
As a result of the devastating ritual Chaos Wars, and the confilct the Enemy, an organisation called the Circle was formed. It was decreed that users of supernatural power would never again make war upon one another, that such a thing would never be allowed to occur. Those who possessed supernatural power were given a simple choice – join the Circle or leave the Baronial lands in permanent exile (those taking exile eventually arriving in Ishma becoming known as the Salahman).
All users of supernatural power are inducted into the Circle, the overtly “Vochstelen” traveling the fairs of the Baronies testing the children of each village and escorting those of potential to the Circle’s huge fortress in the South of the Baronies (Corris Mount). Undisciplined and uncontrolled supernatural power is not tolerated under any circumstances (those people avoiding the induction into the circle being called “Hedge” and considered outlaws). Whilst the Circle has no official power over the Barons the reality greatly differs. The Barons are all a little wary of the Circle and willingly take any “advice” they might be given.
The Circle pronouced a number of Edicts which were formed from an agreement called the Arathelian Accords, and those that refer to the Circle are:
“No supernatural power shall be left to the whim of the individual, All power is part of the eternal circle of element-man-spirit. All those of power will accept their place in this circle.”
“No user of supernatural power shall use this power against a fellow user of the higher arts. Never again shall the land be rent by the thoughtless and childish misuse of power”
“Those of power shall not involve themselves in the acquisition of wordly dominance. They shall not be exalted over others, they shall hold no material positions of influence”
“The safety of the Baronial lands is the paramount responsibiliyt of those of power. The actions of a ritualist of power will be questioned neither by sef, Baron or Waldgraf”
“Deific and Draconic power is an unthinking tool. Glory or obedience is not to be paid to a personification of either spiritual or elemental power”
Further much more detailed information on the Southern Baronies and the humans (including the daemonic races) can be found in the source book “Dominion of the Circle”
Ishma - (Land of the Seven Winds)
Lying off the West Coast of the Empire, across an unforgiving sea, lies the desert lands of Ishma – the Land of the Seven Winds. The Ishmaic Confederacy could be seen to be a very “young” nation, with organised “government” only taking form after a large number of Nobles and their families were exiled there (see the Realm of Glass for further details on the Banished). The Banished, however, soon found that the lands of the Seven Winds were far from deserted, but were in fact teeming with life and forces of hitherto untapped elemental power.
The landmass known as Ishma had been known about for centuries, but it was known as a place of death. Not a single mission had ever returned and it had even been used for many years as a place of banishment, with that puishment being considered worse than swift execution.
One of the few things known about Ishma during this time was that it was a huge source of Elemental power. No divinations or ritual prying was able to offer insight into why this might be, but for many years opposing magiocracies south to gain enlightenment as to the exact nature of the power they could detect. Despite a great many expeditions none of them were successful – indeed, only one such expedition sent any work at all – informing their superiors that the members of the party were remaining where they were – and further than any attempts to contact them would result in the deths of the messangers employed.
Over the last few years more information has been unearthed about the mysterious and deadly Land of the Seven Winds, and it has been learned that the source of the Elemental power is known as the Athfash Ban Mir (or Great Sink), located in the centre of the landmass. Deep beneat the low mountains, the Athfash Ban Mir is said to descent to the very depths of Primus and it is said that it is from this that the loose elemental power used by the worlds mages pours. Certinaly an enormous quantity of elemental power howls from it’s depths and it is the seven prime “colours” of magic that provide the winds that gave the land its name.
Hundreds of miles of tunnels and caverns lead from the Sink, twisting and turning in maze-like ruin around the central region until the emerge out into the surrounding areas to spew their power into Primus. Above these tunnels the land is full of like – plants and trees that thrive upon the natural energies released. Beyond the area of the Sink, however, the rest of the Land of the Seven Winds is barren – mostly composed of savage desert over which the Winds stream across Primus.
The only seemingly indigenous, intelligent people who line in the area of the Athfash Ban Mir are Athfanal – wild, brutal creatures of the elements that feed upon the power that streams from the Sink. Seemingly closely related to the elves of the Empire, these Wild Elves live purely upon the mana that flows all around them. They are also known to have enslaved another race of Ishma, the lizard-like croll – holding them enthralled with powerful magical spells.
The Far North
Unlike the Empire, the Baronies and even Ishma, it is not known how large the Far North actually is. There are some scholars who would hold that such geographical certainties cannot truly be applied to the lands that lay to the north of the Empire and certainly there is not the concept of nation that exists elsewhere. Indeed, the concept of mapping and defining would be an alien and even terrible aim for many of those who dwell in the Far North for once something is so defined it reduces it – makes it captive to others.
It is even said that even if the time and skill were available for such expeditions then for every dozen that so sought to achieve such a mapping then there would be thirteen different maps so produced. It is entirely possible that the Far North is changeable, that its geography changes from year to year for it is a place of endless discovery – where stories dwell and give birth to tales (which in turn spawn rumour).
In the Far North dwell beasts of myth and tribal heroes of legend. Valleys are stumbled across where fickle tribes resemble no other or terrible beasts make their lair. Unlike the Baronies however, the Far North is not a dark and desperate place, it is a ‘land’ of song, tale and delight – of harshly preserved freedoms and derision for the night that seeks to sneak about the people there. Optimistic and carefree, the Far North is almost childish in its denial of fear and woe. Here giants walk and adventure is glorified above all else.
It is a very ‘High Fantasy’ realm, where deeds are done for glory alone and where evil has a very defined physicality to it. Mythical beasts roam the varied lands, from the hard and desolate plains that abut the Empire to the snow of the further reaches, the hills and valleys that lay between – near everything can be found in the Far North.
This is still, however, a primitive place – the tribesmen are no less sophisticated than their southern neighbours but their ways are both more direct and poetic than can be found elsewhere. It is not a place where lost kingdoms and ancient kings are to be found – that is the Baronies. It is not a place where dark cities or enlightened churches can be explored – that is the Empire.
Most importantly, it is not a place of certainties. The Far North dwells very much upon the now and generally has little to do with the past. Nothing is written down and tales spun over generations take on new life with every telling. Every tribe has different tales of its past and apart from what is described as the ‘Heart and Soul’ (the core of common lore) these stories vary differently amongst the numberless tribes that roam or settle in the vastness of the Far North.