“There are only two types of people who dwell in the Badlands; the savage and the dead.”
-Silas Calford, Victran Hunter and member of Anhur Company
Once home to first age Shapers, the Badlands is now known as a deeply inhospitable wasteland ravaged by storms, hostile wildlife, and lethal living conditions and inhabited on the fringes by wildfolk, outlaws, lunatics, and fanatics. Travel in the Badlands is highly dangerous without the right gear.
A vast and cracked wasteland shattered by first age technologies and Lingua Arcana, the badlands are inhabitable only on the fringes, where the environmental conditions are less lethal to life. This is due to the deadly fire and electrical storms which encircle the heart of the region, making travel impossible. The further from this storm one goes the less the tumult can be felt, but the landscape is still harsh and unforgiving; from deadly crevasses and gorges that release blasts of toxic gas or flame or house monstrous insects and predators; to plains of cracked obsidian where a single inhalation of glass shards can shred a persons lungs or a tumble can leave a person torn to shreds on the shattered volcanic glass; to vast first age ruins cloaked in a perpetual and poisonous night and haunted monstrosities. Even on the outer fringes, hundreds of kilometers from the storm, only the hardiest and most ruthless forms of life survive. This area, sometimes dubbed “The Burned Lands” show the scars of ancient battles and tumultuous geology including fields of metal and Orick fused and twisted by unknown forces. The only redeeming trait is the presence of numerous slag heaps and exposed veins of ore, making a bountiful material harvest for those willing to risk the considerable danger. Those humans brave, foolish, or crazy enough to live in this area are commonly known as Kerta (derived from the Ossandrian word for Contest), Urangi (derived from the Luxi word for Insane) or simply Badlanders in the common tongue. These folks survive in the withering heat on barren lands, crafting their homes in the shadows of first age relics or in seemingly endless caves beneath the wasteland. Indeed, rumors suggest that there is more territory beneath the badlands than there is above it…
Those who stay in the Badlands are frequently driven to madness. The environment, the creatures that inhabit it, and the brutal nature of life there take a terrible toll on the inhabitants. As a result, Badlanders are almost universally feared or shunned by others. The minority who have maintained a semblance of sanity and survived their initial exposure to other cultures often find their way into martial professions. Badlander gladiators draw huge crowds in Ossandrian arenas and many Tollam long to test their might against the renowned savagery and feral battle-prowess of such folks.
The wildlife of the Badlands deserves special note for being frighteningly resilient and cunning. Predatory beasts such as Evicar, Wyrms, Roga, and Glass Snakes all exist alongside equally aggressive and carnivorous fungal life. These creatures hunt the landscape or lurk in the crevasses and tunnels beneath it making all travel in the area treacherous.
There is no common culture of the Badlands. Instead each tribe, clan, or outpost has its own traditions, beliefs, and social structure. The only commonality is a brutal pragmatism that drives each group to survive using whatever is at their disposal. As a result such outposts can range from lawless fortresses to hardy and insular clans, to religious enclaves and hermitages seeking to escape the rest of Aeldos. The only major culture to venture into the Badlands in any number are the Ossandrians who have set up several expeditionary outposts with limited success.
Historical records for the region indicate that the area was once home to the massive Shaper city of Hyperion, a wonder of the first age that defied mortal reason and physics. This incredible city, itself the capital of the Shaper faction, was built around ‘The Turning Tower’, the heart of Shaper knowledge. Constructed using the Lingua Arcana, the Tower was said to stretch into the clouds and exist both within and beyond reality, acting as a portal to other worlds, including the many and massive Sanctums of thousands of Shapers. At the height of the Imperium, Hyperion and the Tower were considered the indomitable fortress of an invincible faction gifted with knowledge equivalent to the Ayr themselves. Many lorekeepers, curates, and philosophers suggest that the hubris of Hyperion was the source of the cataclysm, or that the Shapers were responsible for the great calamity. Whatever the cause, the great ruination subsumed Hyperion and the tower in an apparently endless storm of terrifying power, rendering both to ash and turning the once fertile and powerful region into the badlands.
While no Badland culture has risen to prominence there are many stories and tales of Urangi of special distinction; wildfolk, explorers, artefact hunters, and other strange folk who walk the wasteland in search of fortune or fate. Stories about the lost and hidden wealth and knowledge of Hyperion also drive many to delve the Badlands, even if few ever return.
The bizarre, dangerous and unique environment of the Badlands has given rise to a variety of terms for the phenomena experienced there:
- Inferna: Whirlwinds of fire that can arise without notice and melt iron and steel.
- Weepers: Subterranean horrors, the tentacles of which lick at the edges of deep black crevices that split the landscape.
- Wisps: Strange sounds that seem to echo off the air itself and often distract travelers at precisely the wrong time.
- Glossolalia: Words in alien tongues, reverberate in your teeth
- Burrowers: Funnels and whirlwinds that churn endlessly at gouges in the earth
- Kakophonia: Zones of particular peril to Arcane Linguists that can drag a shifter through their forms, warp a Shapers control of the world, or drive a Singer mad with emotion.
- Kruven: Powerful winds carrying invisible shards of volcanic glass that can shred flesh, both internal and external.
- Banes: Toxic shadows that seem to emanate from certain objects and areas in the Badlands.
- Tempest: A general term for a particular type of electrical storm that drops cascades of lightning across the sky and land.
Ructor: Lethal subterranean outgassings that can melt flesh, fuse metal, or cause instant death.
Trees in the Badlands are considered the dwellings of the honored dead – no doubt in part due to their rarity and unnatural traits. Few trees can survive the harsh conditions of the Badlands, and those that do are often vast, gnarled, blackened, and hard as stone. These trees grow in small copses, supping from hidden water sources or deriving sustenance from some other obscure vein. Badlands Shamans often dwell in or near such trees, guarding them and deriving their spiritual authority from them. Such shamans guard the trees with fanatical zeal and devout dwellers of the Badlands make pilgrimages to these trees to hang strips of material as a form of worship. Such acts are seen to connect the worshiper to the tree in a form of spirit oath. Some records suggest the rare Urangi shaman who encounters the vast forests beyond the badlands are often shocked and manic at the sight of so many divine symbols.
The Silent Grave
Records for the Badlands region also speak of a Grave, a first age prison for the powerful, known as Rephaim or Absheol…