Shadow of the Cacklefiend
Living on Eden
Note: this is a guide of practical information for players.
Living on Eden, Introduction
Short story: Life is hard here. REALLY HARD. Long story: Eden is a world trapped in an era of superstition, slavery and constant warfare. The very climate itself is resistant to life, ruined by sorcery. Here, survival is a challenge. Eden has fewer sentient races than other DnD worlds, but it doesn’t need them to be a challenging and dangerous environment.
Whats the climate like? HOT!
Simply put, there are 2 main climate areas on Eden; Desert and Savanna. There are only two seasons; Dry and Rainy. The Dry season lasts 3/4ths of the year. During this time there is virtually no precipitation at all and temperatures are always 100+. During the rainy season temperatures drop to a bit more moderate levels in the Savanna and stormclouds release a grudging downpour. During the rainy season it usually rains for a total of 10 weeks in the 12 week period. During this time riverbeds in the Savanna flood and a sea of grass rises up. In the Desert however, the rain simply melts down into the sand or fills a few lonely oases.
We pick through the bones of civilization…
There are no countries on Eden. There are no international laws, Geneva Conventions or National Guard. There is no one you can go to for help. There are a few lonely cities in the wilderness ruled by tyrannical dictators. These are the last outposts of civilization desperately trying to cling to life in a world that refuses to tolerate its existence. To survive on Eden you must be self sufficient, you must be willing to ruthlessly defend your life from those that would take if from you.
Whats the food like?
The general climate of Eden makes harvesting plants difficult which has been a critical factor in making sedentary life comparatively rare. The typical diet of most consists of meat supplemented by various grains and tough fruits and vegetables. Many foods are salted for preservation. Water being a rarity, alcoholic and dairy beverages are extremely common.
Whats life like in the cities?
The cities of Eden are all independent nations ruled over by tyrannical dictators and their lackeys. The city-states are all unique and fiercely independent. While the exact planning of each city is different, they all follow a few general rules.
The cities elite all live in the central quarter of the city where there also exist temples, academic and government buildings. The private houses in this section are all huge palaces manned by countless slaves and servants. Just outside this area live those of the middle class which include merchants, artisans and scribes. Outside this area live the modest houses of the poor. All cities are surrounded by a wall, but in most cases there are many houses and buildings built outside it by and for poorer citizens. Nomadic bands and tribes that travel to the cities for trade and resupply make camp outside the walls also.
For the average citizen of a city life is easier than that of the nomadic groups, but at the cost of freedom. All citizens must pay taxes and answer to the Tyrant-Lord of their city. The Tyrant-Lords employ police of a type, but these are often no more than hired thugs.
Every city has at least one large Colosseum (and usually many smaller ones) where gladiatorial fights are held pitting slaves against ferocious monsters and the soldiers of the Tyrant-Lord. These Colosseums provide entertainment (however bloody) for the cities populations, distracting them from the toil of their own downtrodden lives.
Ok, the cities are horrible. What about outside them?
Life is much more free outside the cities, but also far more dangerous. Horribly dangerous monsters stalk the dunes and grasses Eden all of which would be more than happy to devour a lone traveler. It is because of this that anyone traveling the wilderness of Eden does so in a group, anything else is suicide. While most nomadic tribes are welcoming to guests, woe betide those who fall into the clutches of Haksoon raiders, Yeenoghu worshiping gnolls, savage goblinoids or the slave-caravans of the Nagpa.
Surviving in the wilderness is not easy. You cant go to the wall-mart or quick-trip to buy food and drink, you have to find it. If you cant find it, your dead. Among the nomadic tribes it is considered common custom to be very providing and generous to those wandering the desert and often they will throw a feast in the guests honor, but it is unwise to overstay your welcome or to rely on handouts for your survival. Eden is a big place and the tribes are constantly moving.
The Money of Eden
There are no coins or paper money on Eden, instead the currency takes the form of small gold bars of various dimensions. The size of each gold bar is in proportion to its value with larger bars being worth more. Each bar has a hole through one end and most people run a metallic ring through these bars (the metallic ring being a safety precaution. Its much harder for a pickpocket to cut through iron than leather!) This system allows for a common currency between different city states and tribal groups.
Clothing of the Sands and Cities.
The clothing and jewelry a person wears on Eden functions as a status symbol just like in every other civilization, but the types of clothing vary according to lifestyle as well so it is also a practical skill to be able to tell what position someone is in society.
Humans of the City: Due to the scarcity of plant-life, Leather is the most common material for clothing and forms the main outfits of all lower class citizens and a good portion of the middle class as well. Due to the monetary constraints and the fact its 100+ degrees outside most city-dwellers (especially those with performing manual labor) tend to wear minimal amounts of clothing.
Fine linen fabrics exist but are highly expensive and therefore only available to the upper classes. Various colors of dye exist, but due to the fact that it requires a noticeable amount of water to dye an item of clothing these tend to be astronomically expensive. A full dyed linen outfit would be worth a fortune on Eden. Metals are common on Eden so jewelry of all kinds are found on all layers of the social order.
Humans of the Desert: Just like in the city, the vast majority of material that makes up the outfit of a nomad is made from leather. Unlike their urban peers though the nomadic humans tend to cover almost all of their bodies in a layer of clothing to protect it from the elements.
Gnolls: Like humans the outfit of a gnoll depends a great deal on their environment. Those ‘civilized’ gnolls that dwell in the cities follow the same guidelines as their human neighbors. Mostly this is done in an effort to fit in or flaunt status.
Gnolls that exist in their traditional tribal societies however typicaly wear little clothing. The fur that naturally covers their bodies gives them significant protection from the elements already.
Slavery is practiced by virtually every race on Eden other than the Elves and Niyyat Gnolls. Treatment of slaves varries from group to group. A Nomadic Imer Human might treat his slave as a member of the family even allowing him freedom and marriage into the tribe. A Human city-noble on the other hand might treat his slaves very cruelly.
The most infamous of slavers however would have to be the Nagpa, a race of vulture-like creatures who’s entire culture seems to be built upon capturing and selling slaves. Universally despised by all races (including their clients) it is a common nightmare for children to be taken in the night by the claws of a Nagpa. In addition to slavery there is a huge market for the capture and selling of exotic and dangerous animals everywhere on Eden.
The creation of magical items does not cause Blight, or the destruction of the nearby environment and therefore is not a Banned practice. Also unlike sorcery you do not need to be born special in order to create a magical artifact. Anyone can learn the practice.
Those who create magical items are known as Artisans and hundreds of them live in cities and nomadic tribes. They create everything from ‘normal’ magical items like rings and weapons, to the bizarre like magical tattoos or lamps. Most of them will make anything on-order.
Water being such a precious resource on Eden small thinks like personal hygiene become unfortunate scarcities. Only the obnoxiously rich and privileged can afford to take baths with any regularity.
In the common city household however there exists a special room known as the Rhokur. The room is usually placed close to the center of the house and functions similar to a shower. Basically, it is a room of varying size with no windows and no roof. During most of the year the rooms roof is covered over by a tarp. There is also at least one drain in the center of the floor. During the rainy season the tarp is removed and those living in the household shower under the open sky. The water is collected from the drains and is then used to irrigate crops. Considering it rains for weeks on end during the rainy season, there is plenty of time for the yearly shower.
There are usually a bare handful of surprise rainstorms that happen during the dry season. Whenever these godsends do arrive many city goers drop whatever they are doing and run home into their Rhokur. The sight of hundreds or even thousands of people fleeing to their homes for a shower is something the desert nomads find very amusing.
A variety of perfumes and other sweet smelling substances are sold (many for exorbitant prices, especially just before the rainy season when everyone is smelling pretty rank…)
Merchants and Treasure Hunters.
The profession of Merchant is one of the most lucrative and also the most dangerous on Eden. Merchants stalk through the savanna and deserts from one city, town or camp sight to the next selling many valuable, rare and expensive items. (usually only that last bit is 100% accurate…) However to acquire these items and to sell them merchants must travel through the wilderness of Eden, something exceedingly dangerous. Because of this most merchants travel in a caravan for protection and hire guards and guides to escort them through the wilds.
Many of these guides are Treasure Hunters, an occupation intimately linked with Merchants who buy the artifacts they recover. Ever since the cataclysm there are virtually hundreds of ruined cities hidden among the sands of the Dune Sea hiding within them countless riches. Many desperate and brave/stupid individuals take up the mantel of Treasure Hunter. A few of them live up to the claim and actually venture into the wastelands. Even fewer return. Almost none come back with anything more than the clothes on their back.
Several however have returned with enough wealth to buy their way into the nobility of one of the cities.