The Saga of Ice and Wave
an online game being STed by Moxiane
It is the month of Ascending Wood in Realm Year 763 and the world is yet as it should be.
The Scarlet Empress reigns supreme from her throne in the Imperial City, the Imperial Legions march across the Threshold, keeping the peace and extracting the taxes from the tributary states and satrapies that line the Inland Sea. The Great Houses of the Scarlet Dynasty war (discretely) amongst themselves, competing for power, money and the attention of their mutual ancestress, who dispenses largesse apparently at whim, raising some of their number to unthought-of heights (witness the rise of House V’Neef) while slowly dismantling others as an object lesson in what happens to those who plot against their leader.
The powers of the Threshold are largely content with their status as tributary states of the Realm – their taxes, while onerous, are not desperately so, and the Legions will respond quickly to attacks by raiders, internal revolutions and even assaults by the Anathema, and a duke or king in good stead with the Empress can expect an elite cadre of Dragon-Blooded warriors, sorcerers and monks, together with several thousand trained soldiers to deal with the situation. Treaties and trade agreements with the others powers and players of Creation bring in great wealth for even less effort than required for a satrapy, and the adventurism of the Empress’ early reign as regards the Scavenger Lands seems to have mellowed to a grudging acceptance of the region’s right to exist.
And yet, quietly and in the shadows and corners of Creation, events are stirrings. Rumours from the North speak of a new voice amongst the icewalkers – one that speaks of conquest and revenge upon their “civilised” cousins. The Deathlords, boogiemen of uncounted generations, have not stirred for months – the common folk breathe a sigh of relief, but those in power wonder, what are they planning? And the Fair Folk, the purest, most unrelenting enemies of Creation’s very existence, stir always at the edge of the world, sallying forth from the many Wyld zones left over from the great incursion three-quarters of a millennium past to wreak havoc and unweave the world a little more.
It is at times like this that the whole world seems to hold its breath. Great things are afoot, changes that will shake Creation down to its very roots, but whether for good or ill even the best astrologers of the Realm cannot say. It is at times like this, when everything is in flux that the destiny of thousands can change with the strike of a sword, the stroke of a pen, or the right word into the right ear.
The Frozen Desert
In popular tales the North is a place of plains of ice and snow that stretch out endlessly beneath the eternally grey sky until the eye cannot distinguish where one ends and the other begins. In these stories the Land of the Dead, the Underworld, lurks inside every shadow, for life in the North is very hard, and death is very near, even on the relatively temperate south-facing coast they are subject to sudden snowstorms which blast in from the far North. Shadowlands are common in the North, the border between the lands of the living and the dead is thinner here, and something as minor as a village dying in a snowstorm can be enough of a seed to create one of these border zones, but it seems that even the Dead find the North too cold for their liking at times, and many ancient shadowlands remain unclaimed by any of the powers of the Underworld.
Travel in the North is rarely undertaken casually, the vagaries of the climate mean that the yeddim-drawn wagon is the preferred mode of transport for the majority of those who need to move around. Slow and ponderous, these great shaggy beasts are capable of pulling vast loads and can withstand all but the harshest winters, making them the draft animal of choice. For those who need to move faster there are the fleets of ice-runners, rapid sailing boats on steel skis that run across the snow- and ice-covered plains of the North at great speed, wind permitting, and the feathersteel-and-canvas airships of the Haslanti League, which have their own unique set of problems for the casual traveller.
The Razor-Spray Sea
The Great Western Ocean is changeable at the best of times, but in the Northwest where the poles of Air and Water meet it is better described as capricious. The air gets so cold that spray from the waves turns into needles of ice capable of stripping flesh from bone, and a sailor’s eyes can turn to ice after a few moments exposure to the relentless gales from the North. The sea itself can freeze solid in a heartbeat, trapping and crushing a ship’s hull, and dooming the crew to a frozen death on the ice floes. These corpses drifting down from the North on icebergs are a well-known sight during the Coral winter, but even the most desperate raider would not touch such a graveyard, for they are considered sacred to Kashai, the Daimyo of Frozen Death.
What could there possibly be to make journeys into such an inhospitable place worth the risk? The answer is simple: money. Gemstones are blown down from the Pole of Air to collect in the lea of rocky outcroppings or icy crags – blue-white diamonds, startlingly azure sapphires, white topaz and other jewels can be found by those willing to risk life and limb. For those with a greater sense of self-preservation and longer-term vision there is the burgeoning trade in ice-wine. A popular drink in the North, it is highly alcoholic, doesn’t freeze in even the worst Northern blizzards, and has been described as feeling like drinking liquid ice. Its inability to travel well and the relative difficulty in obtaining the fruit used to make it mean that the Guild has only a minor interest in the chilled elixir thus far.
The spirit courts of the Northwest can likewise change from icy politeness to raging anger in a heartbeat, and then switch back with as little warning. The Storm Mothers of this place are considered cruel even by others of their kind, their courts home to horrendously mutilated sirens, aliceph whose tentacles have been cut, burned and even severed as well as other, lesser, spirits all of whom have been touched by the rage of the Storm Mother in some way.
- Tideholme - A small kingdom on the Northern Threshold, tributary to the Realm.
- Marama's Fell - A huge shadowland north of Tideholme.
- Coral - A militaristic nation-state of raiders and pirates.
- Whitewall - A walled city ruled by a triumvirate of identical gods.
- The White Sea - The sea of the Northwest, wracked with storm and ice.
- The Blessed Isle - The centre of Creation, and home of the Realm.
- The Map - A map of the local area, taken from Stephenls' creation
- Glossary - because you never know...
- Cassia - Fire-aspect rogue on the rise (played by Kraken)
- Cynis Venia - Wood-aspect former Realm socialite (played by FiatVictrix)
- Sian Nerivus - Water-aspect diplomat (played by LeumasWhite)
- Aia - God-blooded catgirl
- Ragara Kerzoro - Fire-aspect warrior (played by Tiffa)
- Saffron Iceflow - Water-aspect smuggler captain (played by MelWong)
- Argent Light From An Azure Sky, aka "Silver" - Elemental-blooded navigator
The Supporting Cast
- Gods and Elementals - supernatural beings encountered or mentioned.
- The Exalted - Dragon-bloods and Anathema
- Mortals - the poor cousins of Creation
- Chapter 1 - Prologues
- Chapter 2 – The Wanderings of Sian Nerivus
- Chapter 3 – Something Stirs
- Chapter 4 – Unpleasant Discoveries
- Rocks and Shoals
- Unfriendly Neighbours
- Candles, Kisses and Violence
- The Horror of Misty Island
- Necessary Repairs
- Unregretted Leavetaking
- A Little Piece of Desolation
- Sub Nocte
- A Darkness Underground
- Ties That Bind
- Shadows and Tears
- Flames, Angels and Boats
- Hospitality Declined
- Goodbyes and Other Nocturnal Activities
- The Opposite of Ignorance
- Chapter 5 – House Calls
- From Darkness, Love
- People Talking About People
- New Beginnings
- Con-Artists, Cheats and Crooks
- Preparing the Way
- Prohibited Trade
- Hostile Acts
- Sex, Violence and Alcohol
- Nightmares of Mine
- Saving the Night
- Small Lies and Large Explosions
- A Hot Night Out
- Last Words
- Kicking Over Anthills
- Blood on the Streets
- Chapter 6 – The End of an Era
- Chapter 7 - Responsibilities
A Minor Miscellany
IceAndWave/HouseRules - minor stuff, most likely. IceAndWave/Comments - A place for people (players or otherwise) to comment on events, setting, whatever... IceAndWave/CharGen - the rules used for character generation. IceAndWave/WyrmBlooded - the newest threat from the Underworld