Kam Ultdour is a moderate-sized island nation located south of the Hudan Technocracy and east of the Necklace of Plenty. The Merchants League have established some trade links but for the most part Kam Ultdour is little troubled by the outside world.
The reason for this is due to its government, called by the League a "Paranoid Thaumocratic Anarchy". Rulership on Kam Ultdour is a matter of magical talent, but the magicians in charge are much more interested in politicking, duelling or all-out magical war in order to prove who is the strongest, than they are in leading an effective government. The non-magical inhabitants of Kam Ultdour, known as the mun, spend their time working for one of the Magician Lords and trying to avoid magical fallout.
The Magician Lords
In the distant past of Kam Utdour there was a lot of all-out magical warfare, resulting in strange kinds of residual magical effects and unstable reality not normally found so close to the Inner Continent. It eventually occurred to the magicians that, if they continued at their current rate, there wouldn't be much left of Kam Ultdour to fight over. The open fighting eventually subsided into a perpetual cold war, with each magician sitting in his place of power glaring at the others and putting up more and more wards and shields whilst sending out mun agents to stick a knife in his enemies. Each Magician Lord has nominal control over the region immediately surrounding his stronghold, a demesne, and it's a testament to his power and political skill if he holds any more. The general pastimes of a Magician Lord consist of maneuvering for power, out-maneuvering his power-grabbing neighbours, maneuvering and out-maneuvering his underlings and picking out a successor who isn't too untrustworthy.
The mun and "womun" of Kam Ultdour are generally at the mercy of their ruling Magician Lord, who often changes on a weekly basis. Farmers and herders tend to work in loose communes, while the few towns and villages appoint a Petitioner who theoretically presents pleas to the ruling magician (when they are certain of who that is) but really acts like a mayor. The most contact many commoners have with the wizards is when a minion comes to collect their taxes once a year. Many Ultdouri have taken to giving taxes to anybody who looks moderately official, just in case. It often works out to be the safest option.
Besperthan is Kam Ultdour's one and only city, a place created by a rare show of cooperation by the Magician Lords to allow trade with the outside world. It is ruled by a council of magistrates, each one representing a Magician Lord, and so the council of magistrates can vary considerably in number. Theoretically, it is outside the demesne of any Magician Lord, and any Magician Lord who attempted to take over Besparthan would find the others teaming up against him or her, so it is a place of relative safety. This is an attractive proposition to the mun, helping to swell the population of Besparthan. The Merchants League buys local wool and particular crops and animals native to Kam Ultdour, in exchange for magical trinkets, foodstuffs and vugs (popular with the Magician Lords as pliable servants). The League has some influence in Besparthan and helps to maintain the truce between the Magician Lords with a mixture of diplomacy and the threat of force.
Kam Ultdour is roughly comma-shaped, with a mountain range, the Walls of Winds along the northern edge. The rest is mainly a large plain, with rivers flowing to meet at Besparthan, in the crook of the comma. The main crops grown here are barley, sorghum, chickpeas and potatoes, plus prandeshins (a round, head-sized, melon with a characteristic dark red rind) . Large goats are herded in the mountains, where temperate fruit trees like apples, peaches and urda have caught on. Although horses and tembu have been imported by the Merchant's League, most Kamites still rely on large, sturdy native dogs for their heavy larbor. They also sometimes hunt with giant ferrets.
Overland travel is something taken very seriously by the Ultdouri. River travel is used in preference, but where this is not possible roads are well marked and the traveller is advised not to stray from them under any circumstance. Shifting areas of geography, zones of wild magic, strange summoned creatures and warped wildlife all serve to make life difficult or deadly for the incautious traveller.
Using Kam Ultdour
Kam Ultdour is a place of wierd magic. Centuries of magical warfare have left the land scarred with strange loci where even natural magic fails to operate as expected.These loci tend to belong to one of several types:
- Metamagic: These loci automatically enhance spells cast in their boundaries with one or more metamagical effect. Conversely, some loci produce an opposite effect on the same parameters affected by metamagic feats. For example, one locus might cause all spells to act as extended and maximised whereas another may provide the opposite effect to Enlarge Spell and reduce the range of all spells cast within its boundaries.
- Focused: These loci affect only spells of a particular type. They may extend the range of all Divination spells, or increase the damage of all Fire spells, or decrease the effect of all Conjuration (Healing) spells, for example. The particular effects vary wildly form locus to locus but many are similar to the metamagic loci.
- Wild Magic: Spells cast within the boundaries of such loci have wildly unpredictable results, often nothing like the intended spell. A full breakdown of wild magic effects is beyond the scope of this discussion, but for a simple mechanic just roll or select a random spell of the same level and apply that effect instead. Some wild loci are slightly more predictable, and tend to at least produce a spell of the same school as that intended.
- Null Magic: These loci function as anti-magic zones. The Magician-Lords avoid them but they are popular sites for the mun to gather.
It is a common goal of adventurers to seek out the advice or help of a powerful wizard. In fact, most of the Magician-Lords aren't that powerful (about 6th-8th level in game terms) since competition between them stops anyone from rising too quickly. Magician characters may even decide to challenge a Magician-Lord for control over his demesne. There are, however, a small group of powerful Magician-Lords who term themselves the Conclave of Ultdour, and are also known as The Seven amongst the mun. These seven are around 14th-16th level in power, high for mortals of Conclave. They do not, as a rule, interfere in the affairs of the outside world. For one thing, each of The Seven keeps tabs on the others, and view any contact with outsiders by one of their number to be a sign that the Magician-Lord in question is seeking some nefarious advantage against the others. This usually ends badly for the outsiders. For another, The Seven have become so insular in outlook that many of them fear the world outside Kam Ultdour. Fear is not something that powerful magicians like to admit to feeling, and so they like to pretend that there is nothing outside Kam Ultdour worth considering.
Simply gaining the attention of one of The Seven is an adventure in itself. Getting them to cooperate or provide assistance is another. Powerful or daring adventurers may, instead, wish to defeat one of The Seven in order to steal his or her secrets.
The Seven, and their interests, are listed below. All use the wizard class.
Once, there were eight members of the Conclave, but the death of Ybrim left a space on the Conclave (as well as a space in the island) that has never been filled. For additional flavour, gamesmasters may wish to change some of the "name" spells of the SRD from the traditional "Circle of Eight" names to the names of The Seven (plus Ybrim). For example, Osp's Secret Chest or Relrahu's Private Sanctum.
- Panjandras. A man with short dark hair and a neat goatee beard, Panjandras specialises in fire magic, and the summoning of creatures, particularly fire spirits. Some say he is part fire spirit himself.
- Mokashka the Sea Queen. A dark-skinned woman with elaborately braided hair, commonly dressed in flowing blue and green silk robes. Mokashka has performed extensive research into weather, and storms in particular. She wields a lot of power amongst the mun as the owner of a large fleet of merchant ships.
- Iskahal the Impressive. The youngest looking of the Seven, a tall blond man with chiselled features, Iskahal is most interested in the use of magic to gain power in the mun world, by charm, illusion or simply through flashy shows of power. Iskahal, of all the Seven, has a reach furthest beyond Kam Ultdour.
- Osp. A hearty-looking man with a badger-beard and no hair, Osp's researches focus on the worlds beyond the Mortal Realm, from the Netherworld to the Heavens. No mortal knows more than he concerning the Wanderers that circle Conclave between the Firmament and the Mortal Realm.
- Sreza of the Golden Arch is a tall, older woman with sharp bone structure and a perpetually sour look. She lives and dresses austerely, which is ironic given that her specialisation is in the nature of matter, creating magical items and in the transmutation of matter. Rumours say that her demesne contains vast hidden caches of riches.
- Yuijastru. A jovial bear of a man, Yuijastru specialises in the forces of life. Although he has a vast knowledge of the natural world he also likes to tinker with it, creating new forms of life and reanimating dead creatures.
- Gelm Uftaat is a small, very quietly spoken man. His specialisation is information. The owner of the largest library of the Seven, a master of divination and the creator of the largest number of unique spells, Gelm is extremely reclusive and does not share this information with anyone.
- Relrahu the Untouchable. As the name suggests, Relrahu specialises in protective magic, and conducts extensive research into the field of immortality. Relrahu is an ugly man, every inch a stereotypical hideous hunchbacked monster, although those few who meet him in person find him to be urbane and gentle. The rest of the Seven wonder what Relrahu has to hide in his heavily guarded demesne.
(c) 2009 The Creative Conclave.
Necklace of Plenty
The Kam Ultdouri people are a blend of the nekuu folk common in this part of the world, with an evident mixture of moa-ruaki. As such they have a tendency to be small and lithe, with dark coppery-golden skin and dark hair. They speak a local language, Ultdouran, but most inhabitants of Besperthan can, these days, speak a bit of Low Imperial or Moa-Ruaki.
The giant ferrets of Kam Ultdour are domesticated versions of the native weasels, that have been bred to be about the size of a medium dog, and very fast. They are used primarily for hunting (usual game is geese, turkeys, rabbits, foxes, and small deer, and occasionally the penguins who live on the northern coast) or as guard animals.
The local species of dog has been bred as a pack animal (although they can be ridden by small beings). They are usually hitched to a small wagon or sled, and their hair is used for making rope (prandeshin vines are also used).
Gap of Ybrim
The Gap of Ybrim is a deep strait which divides the main body of Kam Ultdour from a roughly trapazoidal extension to the east. The channel is perfectly straight and sheer on both sides, being cut directly through the Wall of Winds Mountains. It is never, ever sailed through, except by the stupid or insane. Legend has it that Ybrim was a powerful Magician Lord who, in a fit of pique at being outfaced by a rival, cast down his staff. The staff blew a hole not just in the floor of his tower and in Ybrim himself, but in the entire island. This was allegedly the event that ended the all-out magical war and led to the current state of affairs. The Gap is said to be home to all manner of strange aquatic monsters, and its depth is unknown.