The Record of the North
This is a page of notes and comments that give basic information about how the Shattered Lands differ from the world presented in the D&D core books. There are, of course, differences not mentioned here, but this is where the things that don’t have a home elsewhere go.Contents:
- Interplanar Travel
The Shattered Lands is a lower magic world than the core book world. To reflect this, magic items are less common. Thus, “sunrods” and “everburning torches” do not exist. Adventurers use torches, which are also noted for providing light for a certain period of time and then ceasing to do so. Likewise, journeybread isn’t magic, just tasty.
Many items that are well made or made of special materials grant +1 to +3 bonuses without enchantment. A well-balanced sword might give a +1 bonus, or a rowan wand act as a +2 implement in the hands of a wizard. Generally speaking, only items of greater than +3 bonus or with special abilities are necessarily enchanted. Players shouldn’t expect such items to show up as often as the Player’s Handbook might lead them to believe.
Alignment doesn’t exist in the Shattered Lands. Ignore it whenever it comes up in the rules. Good and evil are just as complex in the Lands as in the real world.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how your character’s moral code differs from your own, I recommend writing down 3-10 basic beliefs your character holds, such as “A promise is a promise,” “those who cannot defend themselves are doomed to be victims,” and “charity is always rewarded.”
This also means that the theologies of various religions are not labeled as “good” or “evil” in the rules of the setting. Granted, you may find the worship of a goddess of growing things more attractive than that of a war-god who demands his followers bathe in the blood of their captured enemies, but the latter god seems perfectly good to his worshippers.
For the inhabitants of the Shattered Lands, the various layers of reality are differentiated by their relationship to “the world.” Although directions are meaningless in this context, most conceptualize the world we know as being between two worlds above and two below.
Directly above the world is Jandana, a place where dreams and nightmares receive solid form and the landscape itself seems to respond to the minds of the people who walk them. Those who have been to Jandana describe it as having land, water, and sky like this world, but say that all things seem more alive and real there, more like they should be and less like they are. This is the home of fey creatures like the Eladrin and, originally, the Elves.
Jandana is like the ripples of sunlight on the surface of the water, and above and beyond it is the Astral Sea, a realm of golden light where the domains of the gods float freely. Those who have been there say that it was constantly filled with harmonious music, and that the celestial inhabitants of that realm left wakes of silver foam behind them as they traveled from domain to domain.
Directly below the world is The Duat, a silent realm like a warm, shallow sea under a dark gray sky. Islands dot this seemingly endless expanse, some of them brooding iron palaces where the Lords Below gather their infernal legions and wait for the world to change, others filled with the lights and music of the Halfling gods, called the Drowned Ones. Those who have visited there say that it is difficult to keep from sinking into despair when wading the sea of the Duat, as the meaning and vibrancy of one’s existence seems to wash away with the gentle ripples of the water. On the islands, however, the substance of the Duat sometimes rots away like ice on a pond, and the force of the lowest realm, the Elemental Chaos, breaks through.
The Elemental Chaos is a place of substance but not of form, where cause does not necessarily follow effect and beings of raw elemental power clash in seemingly pointless conflict. It is not a place of subtlety or of grace, but it is one of great energy and potential. Those who have traveled there say that it was like being surrounded by clashing symbols, rushing waves, and roaring flames all at once. It is only through powerful magic that the more fragile bodies of mortal visitors can be preserved in this place.
Beyond and surrounding all of the realms is the Outer Dark, where strange beings that never were, and never will be, wait at the edge of existence. Even the wisest cannot tell what that place is like, or what might happen if its inhabitants found their way into this world.
Travel to and from the Elemental Chaos and the Astral Sea has always been possible only through powerful magic. Usually, only beings of those realms make the journey, and then only when summoned by those on this plane or when sent by a higher power.
Travel to and from the Duat and Jandana now can only be accomplished through great magic, but it used to be easier. In a time in the past known as The Confluence, the ways between the worlds were straight and the passage could be made freely. Eladrin armies came and went freely from Jandana, and the Lords Below raised great forces of Tieflings to seize this world. But around 1400C, after four centuries known as the Period of Invasions, the Confluence ended and the ways were bent once more. When the Confluence ended, some life-giving power dried up inside the Eladrin who were in this world. They were rendered sterile from that moment on, and all Eladrin who have traveled to this world after the Confluence have suffered the same fate. Tieflings, being originally human and of this world, were unaffected by the ending of the Confluence, and continue to pass on the marks of their oath through procreation.
Travel to and from the Outer Dark is rarely effected. The beings of that realm constantly seek to break into ours, and it is very perilous to give them entry.
RacesAll the races in the PHB are present in the Shattered Lands. However, there are a few changes:
- Eladrin are not simply long-lived, but are actually ageless. Once they reach adulthood, they do not age and live until killed.
- All Eladrin in this world, as opposed to Jandana, are sterile. They are capable of sex, but some life-giving force in them has been broken and they cannot conceive children.
- No races can breed with each other.
- In a related note, half-elves are genetically human, although of course the concept of genetics as we understand it doesn’t exist in the Shattered Lands. What is often called a “half-elf” is actually a human who was adopted by the Eladrin as a child and changed by magic to be more like his or her adoptive parents.
There is no single unified religion for all the races in the North. Check the Lore page for more details.