Bastion is by no means the largest moon of The Sisters, but what is lacks in size, it more than makes up for in it's complexity of environment, and peoples.
As described in Day 2 of our blog series, a quick brief of Bastion:
A temperate equator, a single northern polar cap, and an ash-choked southern sea, Bastion is a chaotic and thrilling moon, full of oddities and ancient ruins. Long abandoned since the last Closure, Bastion has in recent centuries reopened to the mortal races of Tempest, and the intermingled mortal races dance and discover along it's surface with childlike vigor. Though not the largest of the moons, Bastion is home to a density of population unseen anywhere but Dawnhome.
The bulk of Bastion can be broken into four main geographical areas. For the sake of brevity, these also will be what I stick to (though I may meander around just a little). These areas are the continents of Nillin, Va'Einbrek, and Orus. Joining them will be a series of islands in the southern hemisphere, the Athalan Archipelago.
While there are many unexplored places in Bastion, it is worth noting that much of the world is known. Having adjacent moons and their diligent Astronomers has a habit of clearing up any false ideas of an undiscovered continent for our folks across the Sisters.
Let's begin with Nillin, shall we?
The second largest landmass of Bastion is also perhaps it's most diverse. Nillin was originally settled long ago, near the opening of the Gates, by a sect of human pilgrims and native halflings, who fled across the plains of Orus, and discovered Gates which brought them to Nillin's southern edge. Gradually, these two intermingled and produced the Qiron. In time, as kingdoms of Orus were settled and voyagers sent out, many seeking freedom from the feudal laws of Geskar fled to North Nillin, in time settling into a confederacy which became known as Ocrary. The continent remained a mainly backwater land of castoffs, bandits, and rebels till a group of pirates discovered a long-abandoned city of great import in a bay along it's Eastern shore. This city, in the ages to come, would gain it's name, Evenfell. It was after the establishment of Eventide (How the city of Eventide changed to Evenfell is a story for another time, I assure you), that Nillin truly became a tour de force.
Things/Places to know
A Drük kingdom which has strongholds through the red rock of western Nillin. Displaying the solitary of their orcs ancestors, and a deep connection to hewn stone passed through their dwarven blood, many cities in this land are carved into the massive mesa which dominate it's landscape.
It's capital is Koviodura, which lies in the center of a great caldera atop a mountainrange. Perhaps the greatest repository of knowledge throughout the Sisters, Koviodura is worlds-renown for it's libraries and scientists.
The government of Arja'fet is a ruling senate, represented by elected officials throughout the various mountainhomes.
What once was believed to be backwards society of backward swamp-folk has in recent years been proven not only rude, but strikingly incorrect. Coupling the Qironfolks love and quick-study of the arcane with the discovery of a multitude of ancient ruins, Qiron has become an arcanists treasure trove of pillaged and forgotten lore. Though still inhabited by atavistic swampfolk, the Qiron have proven to be more than willing and generous in sharing their knowledge.
Fierce worship of the Gatekeeper Divine is most common in Qiron, as is His most commonly displayed attribute - that of life’s ultimate passage, death.
The closure to the Adamantine Steps one steps, the thicker the swamp becomes. Eventually, all but the most stalwart (or foolish) of folk would turn back, for the beings which lurk in the deep swamps practice all manners of heretical magic, chief among them the most grievous sin of necromancy.
A large and forbidding expanse of sparse vegetation, pitted through by deep ravines, and deadly canyons. Inhabiting the center of the continent, it is all but unfortunately populated by ne'er-do-wells who prey on the many traders and travelers who much navigate it's depths.
Many a kingdom has attempted to claim and subdue the Craglands, but it's winding paths and dangerous turns have foiled any attempt, given time.
The Craglands is notorious for it's uncanny and disastrously powerful weather, and the greater-than-average amount of ruins which dot it's landscape and depths.
A feudal kingdom establish high in the peaks of mountainrange known as The Adamantine Steps, Checa is a xenophobic and martial meritocracy of warriors. When the lords are not killing eachother while vying for the Opal Throne, they are preoccupied by other wars with the native Hobgoblins and Ogres. This is perhaps for the best.
The main exports of Checa are deadly alchemical mechanisms, fine weapons, and disgraced warriors. The warriors a clash of those cast out by their masters, or those who have willing forgone the path of steel.
Athalan Annex (North/South)
The Athalan presence on Nillin has been received in many ways. While the older Southern annex is praised for it's trade with the Drük and Euri, the Northern Annex has proven to be a slight too great for the Ocry people, as it was their land which was lost in the last war. And though the Athalans are now sheathing their blades, it is commonly believed that in due time, war will arrive to Nillin once more, waving Athala's Visage on it’s banner.
A confederacy of allied city-states who long ago banded together to fend off any who would attempt to take their hard-won land from them. Since the last war and it's losses, Durvia has been made the new capital, and all major governmental business is handled within it's walls.
The Rackamack Mountains to the west have a large Ogre population, and similar to Checa, you can commonly rest well at night knowing they are mainly fighting each other. Every generation or so however, a new Clanlord of Ogres rises, and carries out new decrees. The current Clanlord, the bluntly named Three-Tusk, has opened up much of Ocrary to trade, and commonly deals out mercenaries to the neighboring kingdoms should they require more heft to their troop's punch.
The last remnants of the Kingdom of Geskar in Nillin is held by a few islands. Mainly dealing in trade with Nillin these days, their ambitions of conquest neutered by the recent Closure of Dawnhome.
The crown jewel of Nillin, is our very own titular Evenfell. A sprawling, island city of multiple towering tiers, settled deep in the Bay of Evenfell. Walls and buildings of unknown make crowd the streets and lend an uncanny and disorienting view to the city from the sea, as many sailors can attest. Discovered long ago by pirates and used as a hideaway, the city in time grew into a major trading post. And when the plethora of Gates held within it's depths were discovered, it became a major cultural point of interest for almost all the Sisters. Drawing to itself many scholars and beings of power, Evenfell rose to greatness without much delay. Throughout it's long history, it has had triumph and despair, having been at times pulled to war, or arms atwist with foreign invaders. Boasting the single greatest magical academy across the system, Evenfell remains to this day a major force across the system. I would like to talk more of it's history or details, but for the time being, stay content and watch our Blog, I promise that more is coming.
A small, northern continent which connects wholly to the moon's polar cap, Va'Einbrek is a hostile and frightening land, sparsely populated and hardly well-known outside of it's immediate neighbors (Which are, as you would imagine, remarkably few)
Brenden and I recently build out Va'Einbrek alongside Dakota and Ryan of The Primordial Project, a worldbuilding podcast of stellar renown. You can check them out whereever podcasts may be found, but a link to their twitter is here.
Coming soon on our Patreon, is the session which we recorded while creating Va'Einbrek.
Things/Places to know
The Tar Flats
The difficulty of a land which bowls towards the center is the runoff which accrues in the middle of the land, rendering travel immensely difficult, and the growth of life-giving crops all but useless. Thankfully for residents of Va'Einbrek, it's largest moneymaker in recent centuries has been the Tar Flats. This horrid flat plane of sticky, black tar boasts the largest non-transient (to a certain extent) population of gnomes on the Sisters, who astride great moving cities of their own design, have been faithfully fishing out runoff gold and gems from the muck and mire for generations.
The Salt Cities
This moniker is new, much to the chagrin of the once glorious cities of Va'Einbrek. Once the main distributors of fine jewels and metal throughout Nillin, the cities have in most recent time been relegated to shipping out vast quantities of salt to fill the trade ships which leave their shores, the once bountiful mines and streams having long ago relinquished their fullest bounty.
A kingdom of dwarves lives here, mountainhomes carved into the permanent ice plains. The nostalgia that brought the foolhardy people here long ago having since faded, as now it is only honor and grit which keep them in the inhospitable land. Armed with munitions and fine weapons, the Dwarves of Mazam wage a never-ending war against the race of beasts which rise out of the ice. These Primordials charge day and night against the cities of Mazam, seeking the heat and food promised within. The citizens of Mazam known that to leave their home for greener pastures would almost certainly damn the rest of Va'Einbrek, the Primordials growing with vast strength if not stunted by the polar cold.
A strange and lawless kingdom, Beris is the physical domain of the God Brandobaris, and he himself resides as it's king. A harsh land of debt and murder, Baris is nonetheless a frequently traveled-to destination for those downtrodden or infamous enough to believe that necessity states they must move here. Crimes committed in Beris must be paid for with gold before being played out, as the God of Thieves must have his due. Those who do not follow the simple decrees of Brandoberis are considered Indebted, an unfortunate position commonly known to snake through family lines, passing from father to son until repaid.
The Athalan Archipelago
In the hot, humid south of Nillin lay a series of islands that were at one time a holding of the Kingdom of Geskar, till the cruel laws and hatred of the human masters led those below them to revolt. Led on by their Empress, the citizens of the archipelago seized the bulk of the islands by force, driving out their old owners. Now the established foothold of the most fearsome Empire across The Sisters, the heart of the Athalan Empire is a magical and cultural wonder.
Things/Places to know
The Imperial Bay
The heart of the Athalan Empire is contained in a series of five islands that house in the Imperial Bay. In earlier days, bureaucratic law dictated that the cities of the bay squabble for the goods of the land, causing infighting and wars. Since the rise of the Empire, the four cities of bay, now connected by Gate and blood, function seamlessly as both ports of trade and a defensive structure of the Imperial capital, Brightspear
The newest capital of the Athalan Empire, Brightspear is a truly awe-inspiring sight. While a massive metropolis entirely cloaks the nearby cliffs and mountainsides, massive flying fortresses, estates and even entire districts lay hung in the air by truly mythic means of magic. Carved out from the stone pulled from the rocky depths of the Chalice Sea, the floating Ts'vadi of Brightspear humble even the greatest of arcanists across The Sisters.
The Queen's Crown
A series of bridges and roads which connect the five core islands of The Athalan Empire, the bridges so massive they soar over even the Imperial Bay, as trading ships safely pass through the space below. Athala herself oversaw the creation of the Crown, so important was it to her. Though the bulk of the Archipelago is connected via innumerable Gates dotting it's surface, the Crown provides a cheap way of transport for peasants goods, and pilgrims who seek a more strenuous method of communing with their Goddess.
Named for the wheat and wild grasses which grow aplenty throughout it’s southern coast, the Gildcoast is the breadbasket of the Empire. Diligently patrolled and fiercely guarded, the Gildcoast is a restful land which many war-weary citizens find themselves drawn to, having earned their rest.
The first of the settled lands of Bastion, Orus was an extension of the Geskar Kingdom of Dawnhome for most of the ages since the Opening of The Gates. The largest of the continents by far, Orus has the greatest population this side of Dawnhome. Ancient and splintered by war, Orus is a land of strife and conflict perennial. The innumerable civil wars that have played across it's surface though, were nothing to the terrors of the Elfwar, or the infected wound of Darkenshard, which sits at the center of it's lands.
(As an aside, Orus does not at this time have a completed map. We will be building it out in more geographical detail at another time.)
Things/Places to know
The oldest kingdom of Dawnhome, Geskar is a monarchy that spans ages. Originally the entirety of Orus was under the strict rule of Geskar, but as the ages worn on, and the settlers became natives, rebellion was inevitable. Now a shadow of it's former glory, the Kingdom of Geskar on Nillin only manages to hold their grip on the western coast of the vast continent, having lost out to their fiercer Athalan Empire in the East, as a civil war shattered it's remaining borders. Few Kingdoms have adjusted the fate of Bastion as much as Geskar, and most fateful decisions of the lands within can be traced back to it's many lords.
Allied with the Sovereigns of the Eons during the Elfwar, Geskar bargained to regain their lands in return for their support of the invading elves. This has earned them lasting enmity among the peoples of Bastion. Now that the Gates for Dawnhome have closed, and the Elfwar ended, Geskar is only now discovering the full, burdensome weight of their ill-thought alliance.
Geskar has been hardest hit by the Closure of Dawnhome, and has faced more than it's fair share of coups in the years that have followed, as entire ranks of lords rise up to rake control of the now empty throne.
A kingdom born during the period known as The Brother's War, Tonia is the sibling-rival of Geskar, having torn themselves away for the sake of freedom. Now solidly controlling the Northern territories of Orus, Tonia's strength is such that is has been able to hold an easy truce with the Athalans to the east, and Oboland to the South.
Tonia's stability can be traced to the strength of it's mages, who's arts are augmented by the scant remaining knowledge of The Rent.
The second kingdom born out of The Brother's War was Oboland. Named for the bastard daughter of a ruling lord of Geskar, Oboland controls the heat-blasted southern reaches of Orus, and contributes the most to the metallurgy of the folk of Orus. The neighboring kingdoms commonly send their prisoners to Oboland for punishment in the mines, and are handsomely rewarded with metal for their donations.
A fateful pact has kept the titular Obo alive for centuries, and still you may find her, scheming upon her throne, making plans to take back her birthright.
Athalan Empire Annex
The Eastern edges of Orus are under the firm control of the Athalans. Much of the land was destroyed in the Elfwar, and has been all but overrun by glory-seeking bandits and wayward monstrosities unleashed during the conflict. The bulk of the Athalan armies are stationed in this land, committed to regaining lost ground of the Elfwar, and holding back the presence of Chaos of Darkenshard.
Culturally distinct from the rest of the Athalan Empire, the Annex is granted certain rights not freely offered to the rest of the empire - Most notably the right to judge their own citizens, and force conscription for their armies.
A large island off the southern shores of Orus, from which sprung a staggeringly vast number of Gates to Keenor. The main theater of war during the Elfwar, the land here is torn and ripped asunder, chaos-twisted and overgrown. Few would dare to go to Feytorn, as the latent magics and creatures which still haunt it's borders are most deadly.
The war having ended, the Athalans now patrol the waters around the island, constantly wary of any new push the elves may make. Six massive seatowers form a bulwark that can alert of any armies movement coming from Feytorn.
In a last ditch effort to drive the kingdoms of The Sisters to hopelessness, the Elves of Keenor called down massive shards of The Rent to strike the multiple moons, hoping to bring creatures of chaos and magical disarray in their landing. The largest of these shards collided with Central Orus, but through the intervention of the Athalans and Kingdom of Tonia, the shard was weakened in it's crash, saving the continent from outright obliteration.
A malignant wound the Darkenshard remains, however. Uncountable foul beast crawl forth from the miasma-choked land surrounding the crash. Eldritch and obscene sorcery twisting and corrupting all nearby.
These brief notes I believed were worth mentioning, though they failed to have any proper place in the previous sections.
The southern cap of Bastion is a massive series of active volcanoes, and while some landmasses are rumored, few ships sail too long in this direction. While extremely risky for pirates, nonetheless there are raids which oft come back to these scant areas of refuge.
The sea which connects northern Nillin and Va'Einbrek is near impassible, the well-named Shattering Sea appears by all counts to be a magical misstep of some long-gone civilization. Unstable, jagged islands of basalt and granite fly through it's waters as if on a vast invincible lift, sometimes ascending to thousands of feet before crashing back down into the seas below. The complete unmappable nature of these deadly islands has forced all seafaring traffic to navigate past Nillin via it's southern passages.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick traipse through Bastion!
I expect you’ll see much more of it in the years to come, as our parties continue to discover it’s secrets and change it’s future. There may be parts of the world that aren’t ever seen in the podcast, and that’s okay, I promise we’ll continue to try to fill in the gaps on the blog, and who knows, maybe a full blown sourcebook sometime in the future.
Come back tomorrow when Brenden will be closing out the series!