I’ve been avoiding sharing lore and worldbuilding stuff alone for my homebrew setting, simply because I thought people might want to see mechanical stuff and get an idea of what I was doing first. Of course, that assumes anyone reads what I write, or cares about someone else’s homebrew – neither of which are highly likely. Anyway, I think it’s time, so I’m sharing some of the player-facing setting material. The first part is a brief history of the world and talking about how I’ve organized the game – through massive world trees known as the Sorrow Trees.
One campaign is focused on a time when the Sorrow Trees open, and in the other game they are firmly closed.
Before the World
In the exact center – as well as anyone can determine given the expansion and contraction of the area – of the Ascended Plains is a towering statue of a beautiful humanoid, holding a curved and broken horn of a caprex in one hand, and an unfurled scroll that stretches to the statue’s base in the other. No one can agree on what the humanoid looks like, as each creature who looks upon it describes the statue completely differently, save the statue’s beauty.
The scroll contains the same short tale, written in common, dwarven, elven, giant, and goblin. Over time, additional stone scrolls have been placed at the base of the statue, each repeating the words in yet another language. Not all of these ancillary scrolls remain today, but they are common enough that some scholars make the trek regularly to deposit scrolls with esoteric and ancient languages on them. The scroll reads:
Before the World, there was nothing but the void and the hunter
The hunter claimed the void as its lair, storing the treasures from the start of time
Our first and sovereign spoke into the void, calling the world by its name
Liafa, having been named and known, answered our king’s call
Tender Hesta welcomed Liafa into being with a gift of purpose
No more shall Liafa be the thing of the void and the hunter
Having so spoken, Hesta’s guidance crystalized into being
Liafa is for all who seek to share it, and Liafa is for them
The Hestic Shield shines bright in the heavens
Stars of ours and others shed the light of guidance upon us
We must become the beacons we wish to be
Liafa shall never again be hunted and lost
Scholars are uncertain who the statue is supposed to represent, and who Tender Hesta might be – or if the Tender portion is simply descriptive and not part of a proper epithet. Regardless, the world has been known as Liafa since the earliest known recorded histories, and the beautiful display of lights in the night sky bears the name of the Hestic Shield.
The Sorrow Trees
According to the church, when the world was called forth, upon it were five great trees. These trees were Liafa’s gift to mortals. These trees bore within them the sorrows of mortality, collecting them and them for others to remember and study. Knowing the crushing weight this would cause any mortal, Liafa created five custodians – one to watch over each of the trees, and to be in service to the Throne of the First.
Of the five, two were charged with the stewardship of what is, two were charged with what was, and one was charged with what might be. The Silver Prince was created first, and granted the world’s secrets.The Silver Prince’s consort, the Green Princess wove a garden to contain the flowers of fate given by Liafa. The three that form the Corvid Choir, were to stand guard over regret, from within the Mirror Lands. Joining them was their love, the Horned Prince, left alone in the far north, given only the dreams of mortals.
The Silver Prince and the Green Princess became known as the Living Court, with their servants and children reveling in the world of the living and the things that are. The Corvid Choir and the Horned Prince took the mantle of the Deathly Court, with their offspring and loyal servants finding comfort in things that departed the world of the living, and for things that might have been. Between the Courts stands the Dutiful Giant, set to watch over potential, and to build in the name of both and neither court with her children.
Around the trees the Dutiful Giant and their family built walls and cities for mortals, offering them their first safe haven from the dangers of the world. The trees were open to mortals, allowing them to venture inside and gain knowledge, should they prove themselves capable of overcoming the challenges set before them. The truly brave were able to share their knowledge with the world. Though more than one mortal became lost in the trees forever, unable to bear the weight of the world’s sorrow.
However, the trees have fallen silent, and their great gates closed. Not since the Censure have the seekers been allowed inside the walls of the trees.
“California – Giant Trees” by sara marlowe is licensed under CC BY 2.0