Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ærypt and Zakhara

Following up on my previous post on Desert Elves & Orcs, I thought I might detail the region they live in some more.

Ærypt is a pastiche of Arypt, Erypt, and Egypt with Gygax's Necropolis and Ravenloft's Har'Akir thrown in.
So Zakhara was detailed in the Al-Qadim boxed set and I am going to use that as much as possible. Ærypt is different. I mentioned that I want to use Gygax's Necropolis product as a basis. "Necropolis" is actually two products. The first was Gary's "The Necropolis - And the Land of Egypt" for the Mythus RPG. The second was "Gary Gygax's Necropolis" for d20. Both offer me something that my Ærypt needs; a springboard.

What if we took 3rd or 4th Dynasty Egypt, and then made it very evil and full of undead? We get Ærypt. I will also borrow from my other favorite setting, Ravenloft, and use the background for Har'Akir and its Darklord Anhktepot combined with the Masque of the Red Death background on Egypt and Imhotep. I never liked MotRD's treatment of Imhotep, but Anhktepot is fair game! I have some ideas here, but I also have an issue now. My Ærypt is sun-baked deserts and Zakhara is a land of sands, dunes, and trade routes by camels and oasis's. Looking at the Mystara Map, Arypt is a land of some savannas, scrub land, and jungles! That won't do at all.

So I was comparing these two maps. One is of Arypt of Mystara and the other is Erypt of Oerth. The shapes are similar and fit well with the "Lower Ærypt" on my map. What can account for the changes? Simple. Dark Sun. Or at least the ideas from Dark Sun. Combine those, knowing that my starting point is lush Pre-Dynastic Egypt and my ending is the sun, baked, undead infested lands like Har'Akir or Necropolis, I have my history. Plus the nice thing is I am using the Mystara timeline, but about 640 in the future.
Here we go:
Long Ago* the lands known as Ærypt and Zakhara were once a fertile plain. The inhabitants were few, but they made peaceful lives. To the far west Jungle Gnomes and Jungle Elves lived. Along the Eastern Coast lived tribes of Catmen, known as Rakastas. Till one day a great hole opened in the sky and down came gods (Humans really) they brought with them their slaves (orcs) and began to settle. While the peace of the land was broken, there was no outright warfare. The Gnomes went farther west to avoid contact, but elves were fascinated by the new gods. The Rakasta found much in common with these humans and were soon integrated into their society. Yet as the years grew on it was obvious that these gods were not the benevolent kind. To erect their giant pyramids they soon took elves as slaves as well, with the Rakasta as their cruel task masters. For years untold the elves suffered under the yoke of the humans and watch as their forests were plundered and cut down to build more and more temples, all for the glory of the Sorcerer Kings. But even this was not enough.
The latest Sorcerer King, Anhktepot craved more and more power. Eventually he came upon a ritual that would enable him to take magic from the very Earth herself. He drained the land to fuel his own urge for power. The there was a price. The land around him died and became a desert and he became a withered undead thing. The growth of this desert was horrifically fast. Within 100 years the lush green land was nothing but sands. Having enough of this the tribes of Elves and Orcs banded together and overthrew the Sorcerer King. Anhktepot was defeated and buried alive deep in his own pyramid in the dead city of Har'Akir.
The elves. Homeless began to travel the deserts in search for a new life, but unwilling to leave the lands of their birth.
Let the place simmer for 500 years and voilà. Instant new land with history and reasons to adventure. All that treasure that the locals won't touch. Danger, mystery, everything we game for.

Enjoy your Fourth of July weekend!

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