Setting Information for The Return
The following gods are worshipped in Haven and now Rebirth. There are names of other gods known from histories and from the neighboring orc and goblin cultures, but little is known about them. There may be even more gods completely unknown.
- "Mother" Messalene: Motherhood, childhood, safety, healing. Sex: Female, Align: NG, Cleric Domain: Life; priests' honorific is "Mother" or "Father". Wife to Barthadene.
- "Shieldlord" Barthadene: Justice, battle, law, honor. Sex: Male, Align: LN, Cleric Domain: War; priests' honorific is "Shieldsworn". Husband to Messalene.
- Caladas "The Inevitable": Death, lifecycle, time, fate. Sex: Male, Align: N, Cleric Domain: Death; priests' honorific is "Harbinger"
- Zarat "The Unchained": Freedom, chaos, mystery, danger. Sex: Male, Align: CE, Cleric Domain: Trickery; priests' honorific is "Unchained" (priests are rare, however).
- Senta "The Builder": Crafts, civilization, creation, knowledge. Sex: Female, Align: LG, Cleric Domain: Knowledge; priests' honorific is "Builder".
Since the Return, some have begun worshipping Nature and gained druidic powers. As yet, Nature is not personified as a god in this worship.
- Common Languages
- Haven: Automatically known by all PCs, language spoken in Haven and now in Rebirth (replaces knowledge of common).
- Dwarvish, Elvish, Gnomish, Halfling: Spoken within the demi-human racial communities in Rebirth.
- Orcish, Goblin: Spoken by nearby humanoid communities.
- Exotic Languages
- Giant: Reconstructed partially from ancient books and partially from ogres encountered in the East Hills.
- Draconic: Known largely from ancient books, but the dragon Kathalzar spoke it.
- Maltheyan, Tarathusian: Two languages from pre-Magewars civilizations, known only from ancient books. Maltheyan is an ancestor of Haven. Tarathusian is more common in ruins in Rebirth, but both languages have been found.
- Salzatorran: Spoken in Salzatorra. Also a descendent of Maltheyan, but not easily comprehensible by Haven speakers.
- Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal, Primordial: Spoken by summoned creatures dealt with occasionally by powerful spellcasters.
- Sylvan: Spoken by the fey originally present in the southern parts of Rebirth during the Return.
New Haven and Rebirth
New Haven is the capital of Rebirth, population roughly 50,000. A large river (Lifestream) runs by New Haven from the west, widening to the large Lake Palateth adjacent to the city, then flowing south. Surrounding New Haven, out to a distance of about 20 miles, are a number of small farming towns, total population around 10,000. There is also a quarry and two mines (iron and a mix of copper and some other metals) on the far side of the river from New Haven, and a third small mine (gemstones) in the west. Some of the outer villages are devoted mostly to grazing animals or support for the mines or quarry. Surrounding the nation is the Fence, a 10' tall wooden wall completely surrounding Rebirth and protecting it from outside incursions.
To the west of Rebirth are the West Plains, home of orc tribes forever at war with each other and with Rebirth. The North Forest lies to the north and north-west and is not usually a source of much trouble inside Rebirth, although the authorities believe a particularly notorious gang of bandits has its home camp there. To the east lie the East Hills, inhabited by goblin tribes which sometimes raid inside Rebirth. To the south-east the East Hills give way to the Dreaming Hills. Those who sleep in the Dreaming Hills suffer from terrible nightmares, and not even the goblins will enter them. South of Rebirth is the South Forest, home to various fey creatures that hate the people of Rebirth but at least stay on their own side of the Fence. To the south-west of Rebirth are the desolate South Hills.
The lands beyond that are largely a mystery. Some exploration missions set out in the early days of Rebirth, but most disappeared completely, and those that made it back inevitably had taken severe casualties. Beyond the East Hills and the Dreaming Hills, a mountain range is visible, the Eastern Range, but no one in Rebirth has reached them, or at least no one who lived to return. Somewhere far to the west lies another nation, known as Salzatorra purported to be full of wonders but very hostile to outsiders.
Life in the demiplane of Haven was very regimented. Laws were strict, non-conformity was strongly discouraged, and everyone had their place and job to do. Rebirth has inherited much of this culture, although with some slight loosening of the restrictions. The older people, especially, those who remember living in Haven, disapprove of those who do not fit in, while the younger generation is more flexible and interested in exploring.
Rebirth has a sense of itself as an island of civilization in a hostile world. There is a strong sense of solidarity, that the people of Rebirth must stick together and put aside their personal aspirations in order to keep the nation safe. The idea that anyone would want to explore the dangerous lands out of simple curiosity strikes most residents of Rebirth as simply suicidal. Not all are comfortable subsuming their desires to the needs of the nation, however. A few decades of relative safety since the borders of Rebirth were formed have made some complacent about dangers outside, and others are unhappy with their place at home. After many early exploration expeditions came to grief, the borders were closed and exploration was forbidden.
Rebirth has no formal class system, but there is little social mobility in practice. Those from the wealthy and powerful families usually tend to themselves become wealthy and powerful, whereas those from poor families usually follow their parents' professions. Those who refuse to follow this path generally end up homeless, outlaws, or dead (and often more than one of those), although a few do manage to make a better life for themselves.
Crime is rare and harshly punished, but not unheard of. There is some petty crime in New Haven, including smuggling of contraband into the city, but those who commit major crimes are usually found out and punished. Outside the city, the inner regions of Rebirth are quite safe, but the outer part of Rebirth is more wild and occasional bandits, wild animals, monsters, or raiding parties of orcs or goblins attack travellers or even the outlying villages. The army patrols the borders diligently and quickly deals with major threats, but the smaller dangers are low priority and often are let slide due to limited manpower.
Notable buildings and locations in New Haven
- Lake Palateth: A large lake east of the city named after a hero who died during the Return. It has plenty of fresh-water fish and is a central hub for trade in Rebirth.
- High City: A fortified hill in the center of New Haven, location of the Capitol, the Citadel, and the Vault.
- Capitol: Seat of government, where High Council and Low Council meet. Also home of the Court.
- Citadel: A castle located on the High City, the last line of defense in case New Haven is attacked.
- Vault: A secure building in the High City, used to store the city's most valuable items, including the portal artifacts.
- Registry: Home of many bureaucratic organizations, including the Adventurer's Bureau.
- Library: Store of preserved information from before the Magewars.
- Mage College: Central gathering place and school for the city's wizards.
- Korvenar Park: A large park inside the city walls, named in honor of a hero who died during the Return.
- North Park: A smaller park in the city.
- Market Square: A large open square usually filled with small vendors in stalls.
- Justice Square: A smaller open square used for public punishments, including executions, whippings, and stocks.
- Prison: Used to hold accused criminals before trial as well as those undergoing incarceration.
- Barracks: Home of the Army and Home Guard.
- The Bulwark: A fort located on a hill at the south edge of the city.
- Great Bridge: A large stone bridge over the Lifestream River to the southeast of the city. The city side is fortified with a large gate. The Great Bridge is a relic of past ages.
- Temple District: Location of temples of gods worshipped in Rebirth. Most temples are located on Temple Hill, but there is also a druid grove at the base of the hill, and many priests live in the vicinity of Temple Hill.
- Cemetery: Located near Temple Hill, it has served as the main cemetery for the city, although it is now mostly full.
- Other Districts: The city is informally divided into neighborhoods, mostly called Districts. Other than the Temple District, the standard districts are the Lakefront District (largely expensive manor houses), the Bridge District (a working-class district near the Great Bridge), the Military District (many soldiers' families and members of the Home Guard live here), the Market District (a commercial area around Market Square), the Middle City (containing government buildings like the Registry and Library and home to many upper-middle class professionals), the Park District (a mixed district between the two city parks), and the Lakeman's District (around the North Docks, and home to many fishermen and river traders).
- Docks: There are two sets of docks in the city. The North Docks are much larger and handle most of the trade from upstream the Lifestream and Rough Rivers, as well as most of the fishermen who fish Lake Palateth. The South Docks handle trade from downstream the Lifestream River and are also home to recreational sailboats owned by some of the richer inhabitants of New Haven.
- Sewers: Warren of tunnels under New Haven used to drain rainwater.
- Return Memorial: Located just outside New Haven. Site of the start of the Return, now a statue memorializing those who died in the fighting. There is also a graveyard near here, reserved for those who died fighting for the Return or the defense of Rebirth.
Notable locations in Rebirth outside New Haven
- The Fence: Guards outer border of Rebirth. Four stone forts guarding entrances from different directions. In most places, the Fence is a wooden palisade behind a deep ditch, with occasional guard towers. Where a river enters or leaves the Fence, a metal grate in the water prevents the entry of large dangerous aquatic monsters. The Fence is periodically patrolled by the Rebirth army.
- Forts: In addition to the four main gates (North Gate, East Gate, South Gate, and West Gate), each of which has a fortification and a gate (almost always closed), there are 8 substantial forts located near the Fence to provide bases for troops to react to incursions and hole up in case of a major attack. Going counter-clockwise, they are known as Northwatch, Outer Guard, Iron Fort, Eastwatch, Feywatch, Lonely Fort, Orc's Head Fort, and Outlook Fort.
- Towns: A number of small towns are located around Rebirth. Most of them are farming towns, but a few of them are dedicated to other products. For instance, Stoneville is centered around the quarry, and Woodville is largely a logging town.
- Lifestream River: A large river that enters Rebirth from the west and leaves to the south. It is over half a mile wide at most places and not very fast-flowing. There are two bridges, the Great Bridge in New Haven and the Lifestream Bridge at Life's Crossing. Both bridges are based on pre-Magewars bridges, although in the case of the Lifestream Bridge only the supports remained at the time of the Return. There are also two ferries, West Ferry and South Ferry.
- Rough River: A fairly large river that flows into Rebirth from the East Hills and empties into Lake Palateth. The upper reaches of the river are fairly rough (giving it its name), with severe rapids above Bargehome, the limit of navigability of the river. There is another set of mild rapids near Roughbridge, the site of the only crossing of the Rough River, but they are bypassed by a small canal with a few locks.
- Placid River: A medium-sized calm river that flows into the Lifestream from the North Forest. The main crossing is a ford between Hopeville and Placidton, but it can really be crossed anywhere.
- Dream River: A medium-sized river with its headwaters in the Dreaming Hills southeast of Rebirth. At one point it splits in two then rejoins and flows into the Lifestream. The main crossing is a ford west of Galvor's Isle. Barges going to or from Galvorton need be dragged over the ford. Most of the people in Rebirth think that drinking from the Dream River will affect your mind, but those who actually live near it dismiss those rumors.
- Flank River: A small river that flows into Lake Palateth through New Haven. There are at least three bridges over it inside the city, plus another south of Freeburg.
- Coldstream River: A small river that flows in the Rough River. Its headwaters are in the Eastern Range. It is small enough to bridge easily, and there is one bridge between Bargehome and the Coldstream mine, and another near the Fence.
- Coldstream Mine: A copper mine located east of Bargehome. It also produces some other metals, including a little silver and gold.
- Hope Mine: This is a mine which produces various gemstones, including diamonds.
- Old Forest: At the time of the Return, the South Forest extended into the southern parts of what is now Rebirth. Most of that was cut down and the fey creatures living there died or retreated further south. However, one segment of the forest still stands, the Old Forest, and a few remaining fey creatures live there. They rarely go far beyond the edge of the woods, and few of the residents of Rebirth will enter the Old Forest.
- Galvor's Isle: An undeveloped island in the Dream River, named after a dead hero of the Return. A few dangerous creatures still live there.
- Horngal's Hill: A large hill in Western Rebirth, named after a hero who died in the Return fighting the green dragon Kathalzar.
- Army: Used to the defend the borders of Rebirth.
- Home Guard: Keeps order in New Haven.
- Adventurer's Bureau: Handles licensing and regulation of adventurers.
- High Council: 5-person group that is the primary governing body of Rebirth. Members are chosen by the Low Council and serve 10-year terms. The current members are General Konrad Malleth, Shieldsworn Melna Horn, Thera Palanteka, and Korna Lassentine, plus chairman Lonth Malzeth. Members are addressed as "High Councillor".
- Low Council: 45-member council that debates changes to the laws of Rebirth; however, in practice, their opinions are largely advisory as the High Council makes most of the decisions. The only real power the Low Council has is to choose the members of the High Council at the end of their terms. Members of the Low Council serve for 10 years as well and are selected by the High Council. Typically the Low Council represents the influential power groups in the nation, including military, priests, wizards, and merchants' groups. Members are titled "Councillor".
- Court: Tries all crimes. A court case is usually presided over by a cleric of Barthadene and the Zone of Truth spell is used to ascertain the truth when needed.
- Temples: Barthadene, Messalene, Caladas, and Senta all have large temples on Temple Hill in New Haven, as well as smaller temples scattered throughout Rebirth. Each has a temple hierarchy with the leaders located in New Haven. Worshippers of Zarat do so largely in secret. The druids are less organized, but do have an informal hierarchy.
- Guilds: Most groups of tradesmen are organized into guilds, which organize apprenticeships and certification of tradesmen, lobby the Low Council for laws working in their favor, and in general look out for the health of their trade. Most guilds are headquartered in New Haven, and a number of high-ranking guildsmen are on the Low Council, with one merchant (Korna Lassentine) on the High Council.
- Mage College: The guild for wizards in Rebirth, and a school where they are trained. Headed by Thera Palanteka.
Rebirth measures dates PE (Pre-Exile), YE (Year of Exile), YR (Year of the Return).
- 15 PE: Start of Magewars, which devastate the land.
- 0 YE: Portal to Demiplane of Haven, start of the Exile.
- 1,273 YE = 0 YR: reopening of portal, start of the Return.
- 3 YR: Area of Rebirth cleared, population relocated from Haven, portal closed.
- 6 YR: Borders of Rebirth closed, no further exploration allowed.
- 25 YR: Current year, Adventurer's Bureau founded.
Haven's spellcasters conducted extensive divinations to determine the best area to open a portal. They picked a spot by a river with nearby sources of iron and stone for building, as well as fertile farmland. There were still some fearsome monsters in the area, and the armies of Haven faced horrible trials in claiming the land of Rebirth. Orc tribes ruled the western parts of Rebirth and goblins the east. The southern part of what is now Rebirth was covered by forests infested with fey creatures. The defeat of the green dragon Kathalzar by Haven's most powerful heroes was the turning point, and by 3 years after the opening of the portal from Haven, the area was secure enough to migrate the population through from Haven and close the portal forever. Early exploratory expeditions mostly disappeared, so in year 6 YR, the borders of Rebirth (by now ringed with a sturdy wooden wall) were closed, and no further exploration allowed. The heroes of the Return mostly retired and many are now in leadership positions in the government of Rebirth.
Haven had strict population controls, but this was not felt necessary in Rebirth. Consequently population growth is beginning to strain the resources of Rebirth. Matters are not serious yet, but the leaders forsee the need for additional space and more resources, particularly those that cannot be found in the current lands of Rebirth. The younger generation, which did not fight in the Return and does not clearly remember the cramped confines of Haven, is more restless and eager to see the world outside Rebirth. Consequently, the High Council has decided to create the Adventurer's Bureau and license explorers to go beyond the borders.