This nutshell document is intended to get you up and running quickly within the world of Zetacron, and is an entry point to all encyclopedic content about the world itself.
It is broken into sections for the major subject areas, and important individuals, places, and events are described using glossary-type entities.
If you have time, read this entire page. If you don't just read the 'Zetacron for the Impatient' section, below.
You have no time, you don't even want to read the whole nutshell! This is for you: the top 10 things to know about Zetacron.
Zetacron is two worlds, connected by a Gate. This Gate, situated in the capital city of Al'Salar, Damascus, is an artifact of the ancient Atlantean society. None know how it work, but few care: it is the Gate that makes trade between the New and Old worlds possible. Al'Salar controls the gate, and thus, the trade.
Brittania: Brittania is the newest kingdom in Zetacron: recently reclaimed for mankind by King Lionheart from the humanoids, it is a land of fortune hunters, toughened warriors, and adventuresome immigrants. Brittania is filled with ancient, unplundered ruins from the ancient Atlantean civilization. They won't be unplundered for long. The capital of Brittania, Drakelow, is built atop the ruins of an ancient Atlantean city, and is the cultural center of the New World. Read more.
Arden Woods: The realm of the nature goddess, Gaia, Arden Woods is a vast primeval forest in the south of Brittania. Dangerous to enter without a guide or an elf, it is filled with plants and creatures which will defend the forest with their lives. It is the birthplace of the elves, and the place to which they are drawn to return, to be assimillated back into nature.
Al'Salar: A land of spices, carpet merchants, and curved sabers. Al'Salar is known as the "country of merchants," and it is not hard for visitors to tell why. Al'Salar was claimed by its current people during the dark ages: they control the Gate, and thus control trade between the Old and the New worlds.
Vinland: A mysterious northern land from which comes raiding ships into Brittania. Large bears of men, armed with axes and rough swords sail magnificient ships into civilized harbors, and slaughter and pillage everyone and everything they can find.
The Far North: North of Brittania, and even north of Vinland is the vast, frozen North: perpetually frozen, and plagued by fierce, endless storms, it is from the North that Quetzalcoatl and His minions come, and in the North that the Mammalian gods can be found.
Ubaya: Ubaya is a rich jungle continent, filled with people of dark skin, situated south of Brittania. The native Ubayans were not involved in the Slithwars, and were not affected by the dark ages. A few generations ago, Ubaya was annexed by Al'Salar. It has since regained its independence, but not without lasting social ills.
Al'Salar: Al'Salar is the center of trade in the Old World, as well as the only gateway to the New. Vast ships of the air and the sea ply their trade to and from Al'Salar from the assorted regions of the Old World. Al'Salar is also one of the only independent kingdoms, since Ordovia conquered all the lands on its side of the Gate. The capital of Al'Salar, Damascus, is an ancient merchant city that spans both sides of the gate. If it's for sale, it's for sale in Damascus.
The Empire of Ordovia: Ordovia was once one of many squabbling kingdoms of humans that reformed after the downfall of Atlantis. A land of superstitious folk, half-timbered architecture, and exotic cooking, it also is the seat of power for the Creator. Using the Creator's presence as "proof" of divine favor, Ordovia went on a program of conquest, finally (and recently) subjugating all of the Old World, except for Al'Salar. King Lionheart (now of Brittania) narrowly escaped political assassination, and fled to the New World, where he founded the kingdom of Brittania with the help of allies in Al'Salar.
Old Wallachia: Wallachia (the name of which is a forbidden word by the new Ordovian overlords) is a kingdom of mists and canyons, and the vast, floating Rivenstones. These stones, which detatch from the earth during great quakes, hover above the ground by some arcane force. They vary in size from tiny pebbles floating in the mist, to vast floating mountains, upon which are built the cities of Wallachie. Vicious dire wolves prowl the canyons at night, making travel by land treacherous. Instead, the Wallachians built airships: floating ships that they use for trade, plying the clouds as regular ships ply the waves.
Old Transylvania: Ordovia's current ruler, Vlad Dracul, traces his roots back to Transylvania. Very little is known about this land by outsiders, although much is suspected: old wives speak of vampires, werewolves, and worse...
Old Xiphias: A land of fishermen... Not Done.
Old Al'Watan: A land of merchants, Al'Watan is very similar in culture to Al'Salar, which is unsurprising, as it was a group of wealthy families from Al'Watan that forged Al'Salar, proclaiming their independence from their former country. Al'Watan is now thoroughly under the grip of Ordovian rule, however, and most of the ancient customs are being eradicated.
Barbarian Lands: Several nations of barbaric people live in the south of the Old World, in a broad region. Principally nomadic, these lands are claimed to be a part of Ordovia by Ordovia, but the barbarians have other ideas. A notable barbarian nation is the Amazons, who are said to spring from the earth fully-formed, already knowing how to ride and shoot.
Brittanians: The people of Brittania are a mix of people from all countries: a true land of immigrants. "True Brittanians" are those descended from the original inhabitants of the region before the fall of Atlantis: King Lionheart himself, as well as many of the ruling families of Brittania.
Al'Salar: The people of Al'Salar are short, with blue-hued skin and dark hair. They dress in bright colored, sumptuous silks, and prefer curved sabres to other weapons. They are generally considered human, though some claim their lines have demon blood. They are unique in that they worship not only the known Gods, but also thousands of named spirits - no one but an Al'Salarian can know them all.
Vinlanders: The people from Vinland are tall, blonde, and muscular, with bushy beards and long hair. They dress in rich furs and elaborately decorated armor, and carry axes and large, heavy swords. No Vinlander women have been seen by civilized folk, but it must be suspected that they leave their women at home when they go pillaging. Some Vinlander tribes live in the deep north: they dress in so many furs you can barely tell they're human.
Ubayans: The native Ubayans have nearly black skin, and decorate themselves with ritualistic scarring and tatoos. It is very fashionable among Ubayans to shave their bodies completely clean. They are currently regaining their independence from Al'Salar, not without difficulty.
Dogs: Dogs (and some other animals) in Zetacron can speak, having been raised to near-human intelligence by the Atlanteans. They tend to live in human cities: no pure canine societies are known. They thrive in industries where opposable thumbs are not needed, such as messengers, guides, and singer-songwriters.
Dwarves, Common: Common dwarves are the variety that almost destroyed the world through their carelessness. Maybe that's not fair... the ancient dwarven empire was a marvel of machines and technology: they harnessed fire, air, and earth to their bidding. But they went too far, and nearly destroyed everything. Now, their empire fallen, they are a short, dour people who excell at mining, brewing, forging, and drinking (not in that order). As smiths, their work cannot compare to the Fey Dwarves, but dwarven blacksmiths are commonly found in most human cities in Zetacron (so they can't be that bad).
Dwarves, Fey: Fey dwarves are a mysterious subrace of dwarves that live in the Far North of the New World. They are renowned for their nearly mystical control over metals: they can spin iron into thread, make gold as hard as steel, and make the strongest alloys known in the world. However, they live a life of self-imposed solitude in the North: they are cursed, bringing bad luck with them wherever they go. They welcome visitors (although few go), but demand extravagent prices for their work. They are also voracious eaters.
Elves: Elves are a noble seafaring race, but not by choice. They are eternally called to the home of the nature goddess, Gaia. Unfortunately, if they answer this call, and enter her realm, they are assimilated into nature: their minds are destroyed, and in a few months they are rendered unrecognizable to former friends. Most elves fight this call, living the most unnatural life possible: on the sea, in immaculate angular ships, covering their bodies with tattoos and piercings. They rarely step onto land, preferring business associates to meet on their ships instead.
Fishfolk: Found in every port, and found on the crew of nearly every ship on Zetacron, fishfolk are not one race but a whole group of subraces: humanoids with the heads of various types of fish: squid, hammerheads, tuna, etc. They have dull, scaly skin, and can survive comfortably under the water or above it. Whole fishfolk cities live under the waters of Zetacron, these cities do a brisk trade with surface-dwellers.
Gnomes, high: High gnomes are the bookish scholars of Zetacron. There are several large gnomish cities, but gnomes live often in human cities, working as sages, librarians, and counsellors. Facts and figures fascinate gnomes, and the acquisition of knowledge obsesses them.
Gnomes, low: Low gnomes are ugly, stupid, and incredibly strong. Smelly and brutish, low gnomes live in shantytowns around the edges of human and gnomish cities alike. They are greatly valued for their enormous strength and generally gentle natures, and often form work crews for major construction or excavation projects. Gangs of rogue low gnomes wander most human cities at night.
Slith: Slith are the loathesome creations of Quetzalcoatl. Lightning-fast and vicious, able to climb walls and ceilings as easily as striding across the ground, they live to kill and destroy. They have mouths instead of eyes.
Lizardfolk: Lizardfolk are sometimes considered a group of species, rather than one: worshipping the reptilian gods in the steaming jungles of Ubaya, Lizardfolk are as diverse as the reptile kingdom. Fast and vicious raptor-men, huge and powerful brutes, and ancient, shrivelled shamen live in ancient lizardfolk cities, where they perform vile sacrificial rites to their dread gods.
Insectoids: Thriving in the searing desert Old World kingdom of Kemet (west of Al'Salar), the Insectoids live in vast pyramids swarming with undead, insects, and the vile combination of the two.
The gods of Zeta are present in the world, unlike in some fantasy worlds. They live on the same ground, they breathe the same air -- you can go and meet them, if you so dare.
Just because they're present, doesn't mean the gods are heavily involved in the world. No -- they keep a safe distance from the foolish shenanigans of mankind, for the most part. They tend to live in remote areas, with guards and traps for the unwary who seek their counsel.
Worshipping the gods is a little different in Zeta, as well. For one thing, only Zeus has an official church. The rest of them have a secret ritual, unique to the god, that you must learn and perform to begin a life of servitude.
Also, Zeta's gods are ...well... I'll let you read about the gods themselves. Let's just say that they're not the normal sort of thing you think of when you think 'god'.
Zeus, The Creator: Zeus is the divine creator and lord of all Zeta. He is so moody and filled with angst that his own priests keep people from seeing him out of embarrassment.
Ares, God of War, Combat, and Prowess: Ares is the master of every weapon, fighting style, gymnastic move, and sport that the world has ever seen. He's even tried his hand in poetry (and may the gods help you if you have to hear it). Unfortunately, he's not the friendliest bloke. He's about as arrogant, acidic, selfish, poor-tempered as Quetzalcoatl is hard to pronounce.
Erat, Divine Artist: A giant man with big black boots, Erat likes to eat, laugh, and make beautiful art with his surprisingly gentle hands. The lord of all that is creative, and the visual artist responsible for each evening's sunset, he is known to spontaneously appear after artists create particularly moving pieces, and grant them boons.
Gaia, Nature Incarnate: From her hairy legs to her ankle-length matted hair, Gaia defends the world against the atrocities of mankind's progress, whatever the cost.
Ire, The Healer: She's tall, she's strong, she's a tyrant if she doesn't like you - she's Ire, the goddess of healing! It's her fault that nobody may be raised from the dead on Zeta: "If he was too stupid to live the first time, why should he get a second chance?"
Loki, King of Thieves: Although he looks (and smells) like a hobo most of the time, Loki is a master of the con, the hustle, and disguise. Sadly, this doesn't stop him from drinking himself into oblivion and crashing in public parks. Do not leave him alone with your kids.
Poseidon, God of the Sea, Drinking, and Smithwork: A brooding gaunt fellow, Poseidon lurks at the bottom of the ocean, forging things on his magic anvil, brewing things in his magic brewery, and cooking the finest cuisine the world has ever seen.
Thanatos, God of Knowledge: Thanatos, from his labyrinthine library lair, is the master of both magic and technology, but not of the wise use of either. He goaded the ancient dwarves into overdeveloping their technology to the point of self-destruction. Thanks, Thanatos - the dwarves sure love you now!
Orion, God of the Northern Hunt: Orion, and all of his followers, are nutters. They get off on climbing unscalable mountains, just to jump off again. Orion creates the most frightening abominations the world has ever seen, just to hunt them down with a knife and not much else. And this is before breakfast!
Moreau, The Hermit: Moreau lives inside a forbidding rock in treacherous waters - there are no doors, windows, or openings of any kind. Very little is known about the hermit - some say that he will come out at the end of the world, some say that he's so hideous that if the sun shone upon his face, it would go out. Most agree that he is the most powerful of the gods - sort of an absentee landlord.
Quetzalcoatl, The Malign Presence: It came from Outside the world, eons ago. Most of the gods say Loki let It in. Loki says he didn't. It is the personification of evil - It created the Slith, a monstrous race that adapt themselves to their surroundings through grafts and vile rituals - It is amorphous, a dark cloud taking the shape of whatever is most useful to it at the time. It feeds on suffering, grief, and woe. Fear It. Oh: and don't worry if you can't pronounce Its name. Nobody else can, either.
The Mammalians, Mammoth, Man, and Stag: These three stalk through the northern wastes for unknown reasons. When encountered, they are always traveling, and usually in a storm. The mammoth, a giant elephantine beast with huge horns and shaggy fur, is deathly silent. The stag, a superb white specimen with massive antlers, exudes a royal air. The man, tall, proud, and wild, is the spokesman for the group, and he speaks clearly, slowly, and simply.
The Insectoids, Undead, Swarm, and Spider Queen: The lords of the insects live in the scorching desert. The swarm is a hive mind, malign and alien. The Undead master is a giant rotting creature that can infect the living with the curse of the undead. The spider queen weaves webs of deceit, and rules all three. The insectoid gods are the enemies of all free people, they've thrown their lot in with Quetzalcoatl.
The Reptilians, Raptor, Behemoth, and Snake: The reptile masters bask in the depths of the tropical jungle, demanding ever-greater sacrifices of blood and souls to be sated. The Raptor is fast and vicious, tearing its enemies still-beating hearts from their chests before consuming their souls. The Snake is said to be able to swallow the world whole. The Behemoth is vast and silent, endlessly waiting.
The Avians, Flock, Predator, and Oracle: The avian lords rule from remote mountaintop eyries, shrouded in mists. The Predator watches with His keen eyesight, and consumes the still living flesh of his prey. The Flock acts as a single creature, although each member has opinions, thoughts, and feelings of its own. The Oracle Sees.
The Atlantean Empire: For hundreds of years, humans ruled over all the peoples and lands of Zetacron. Their empire was known as Atlantis, and they as Atlanteans. The Atlanteans were favored by the gods and masters of powerful magic and lore. They built vast cities, the principle of which was known as Artifex. They built the Gate, connecting the New World (where the Atlantean empire was founded) to the Old World, and created colonies there.
Demihuman Rebellions: Atlantis was not a Utopia. Although the Atlantean emperors were wise and noble, and carefully chosen, regional rulers and dukes could be cruel and petty. As a result, some of the subject people, particularly of the nonhuman races, were mistreated. When this became unbearable, the demihuman races rebelled. There were several demihuman rebellions, with many slain on both sides, before elves and dwarves managed to gain their independence from the humans.
The Dwarven Empire: The newly independent dwarves created an empire of their own, under the surface of Zetacron. Worshipping Thanatos, the god of knowledge, they studied and mastered the forces of nature: sun, wind, fire, and earth were under their control. At the height of their powers, they were able to create living beings of their own, and devastate armies with powerful rays of energy. Their ambition proved to be their undoing, however. In attempting to master the power of earth tremors, they accidentally destroyed their largest city, killing tens of thousands of dwarves, many of whom were women and children. Thanatos is largely blamed for this catastrophe, for urging the dwarves to greater and greater wonders, without considering the consequences of their actions. Technology is now feared and mistrusted amongst most good folks, and dwarves loathe it, actively campaigning alongside Gaia's followers against its adoption.
The Slithwars: The Atlantean empire's final downfall was foreshadowed by the coming of Quetzalcoatl, the malign force of evil. Widely believed to be allowed into the world by Loki (although Loki protests this, of course), Quetzalcoatl created the vile Slith: vicious creatures with mouths for eyes, bred for one purpose: to slaughter other living creatures. Fast and vicious, and nearly unkillable, armies of Slith invaded and nearly destroyed the Atlantean empire utterly. Only an unprecedented alliance between men, dwarves, and elves were able to hold out, and drive the Slith back into the northern waste.
Dark Ages: Sadly, the cost to the free peoples of the defeat of Quetzalcoatl's forces was too great. The Atlantean empire, once all-encompassing and indestructable, was fractured into many warring countries, as various contenders for the emperor's throne brought themselves forward. None proved to be able to unite the people, however, and mankind was left with five hundred years of chaos and regression. Nearly all of the Atlantean knowledge was lost: the secrets of crystal magic were destroyed along with Artifex at the end of the Slithwars, and technology was feared and loathed. The Al'Salar family and their private armies moved in to secure the Gate from marauding humanoids, but the New World itself was largely abandoned to orcs, trolls, and worse creatures. Eventually, some semblance of order was formed: several human countries rose from the chaos, and Ordovia began empire building.
Foundation of Brittania: When Vlad Dracul, the ruler of Ordovia, began his quest to rebuild an empire worthy of the memory of Atlantis, Lord Lionheart XI decided the time was ripe to reclaim his anscestral lands in the New World (his anscestors had ruled the province of Brittania in Atlantis). Having built and trained personal armies for years, he gathered his forces, and signed a treaty with Al'Salar. In exchange for help in founding a new country of Brittania, Lionheart would recognize Al'Salar's claim to the lands it already controlled on the New World side of the Gate, thereby monopolizing the lucrative trade between the newly forged country with its abundant natural resources and the Old World. Together, they forced the humanoids back from the prized farmlands of Brittania, and a massive immigration campaign began: mostly of immigrants fleeing the rapidly expanding Empire of Ordovia.
Atlantis Reforged - Ordovia: Vlad Dracul took control of the country of Ordovia through the ancient mechanism of succession: assassination. Once in power, Dracul began building armies, and conquering neighboring lands. Over many years, he has managed to bring the entirety of the Old World under his control, with the exception of Al'Salar, whose economic power is too great to simply invade and destroy (and which is protected by powerful sorcery and a dragon). In the South, various barbarian tribes manage to maintain their freedom, but it is only a matter of time before they succumb.