Dungeons & Dragons Online

Elara: Griot’s Guide to the Heart Sea

This is a guide to a world I created, Elara. The region focused on here, the Heart Sea, is largely inspired by 15th-century western Africa (though two of the realms draw on ancient Nubia and medieval Morocco) and incorporates some aspects of that area's folklore and culture.


Unfortunately, it's too long to paste the whole thing, but here are the opening sections:


In a crowded university room, an elderly human recounts the city's history to their students. A cyclops warrior raises her bow against a sasabonsam with grotesque wings and knife-sharp claws. Standing before a towering temple, a sorcerer with flaming hair declares that he is destined for greatness. A robed serpentfolk bows before a massive, levitating dragon, who warns of terrifying danger in the future.

This is Elara, a world of magic, spirits, and supernatural wonders. 9,000 years ago, legend has it that the ancient Divinities left the multiverse that they created, beginning the Age of Abandonment. 6,000 years ago, divine magic returned–the Age of Recovery. Two thousand years ago, the Age of Magic started when a secret was unearthed that allowed Elara’s people to wield immense magical power without the aid of deities or spirits. These events each changed the world forever, and in recent decades, there have been signs of another revolution.

Individuals of great magical power have begun to claim a connection to the gods, powerful spirits, or even the disappeared Divinities, calling themselves Godtouched (or Spirit-touched). Some of these Godtouched strive for power or immortality, while others have used their power to benefit others. They have caused a great deal of controversy: some have dismissed the Godtouched as fakes, others honor them and seek their help, and others still target them out of fear. Meanwhile, diviners around the globe foresee a great threat that could bring devastation to Elara if it is not prevented. A new era is approaching…

The Heart Sea

The Age of Magic began in the Heart Sea. Located between the continents of Unyu in the north and Relhani in the south, this tropical sea is traveled by merchants, scholars, daring adventurers, and countless others.Humans are the most widespread ancestry in the Sea, but one-eyed cyclopes, quadrupedal centaurs, and scaly serpentfolk are common as well. Rarer peoples include shapeshifting changelings, merfolk of the ocean, shifters with beastly forms, otherworldly spiritkin, and the genasi, who are blessed with the power of the four elements.

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This region can be divided into three smaller ones. The Heart Islands include the Dragon's Isle, the city-state of Qanzar, the Kati Republic, and the Lawless Isles in the west. Eastern Relhani is a desert region that includes Baroy, Zhade, the theocracy of Utacha, and the northern portion of Teridania. Southern Unyu's terrain is primarily savanna and semidesert; it contains the Odea Empire, the Frona Cities, and the Suyo Lands to the north of the sea, and the Yuna and Zin Empires to the east of it.

The World

The Heart Sea region covers only a fraction of the globe. Further north, Unyu has many more wondrous places, and the same is true of southern and western Relhani. There are five other continents: Adyra lies to the west of Unyu, and dragon-ruled Alifis is to the north, past the Intermediate Sea. Divu's lands are to the west and south of Relhani. Magalo, the home of the giants, is across the Magalon Ocean to the east. The three empires of the continent of Yimosa, and the four island chains of Veru, are in the distant west, past the Gargantuan Ocean. Nearly all the waters in the northern hemisphere are within the Eternal Ocean, and the Frigid Ocean lies to the south of Divu and Yimosa. The Ikon Ocean separates Magalo from Yimosa; it includes the stormy Konnu Archipelago, which is halfway across the world from the Heart Sea.

The Planes

The Multiverse is split into seven (or ten, depending on whom you ask) dimensions of reality, called planes of existence. The Mystical Plane is believed to be the source of magic, and it is often used as a bridge between planes. Elara and the universe it is part of are in the Material Plane. When people of the Material Plane die, they first go to the shadowy Underworld, where they live a second life as long as their first. Next, they travel to Orun, or the Overworld, where they reside forever as ancestor spirits. Some religions claim that Orun is the home of the gods. Not all spirits are ancestor spirits. Elementals hail from the Elemental Plane, composed of four seemingly infinite expanses of air, earth, fire, and water. In the Demonic Plane, demons war with one another and hunt their captives for sport. The home of the nature spirits is Vita, a surreal plane of unending wilderness, which is also where dead beasts and plants go after the Underworld.

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Arcane magic is acquired through learning and practice, or in the case of warlocks, pacts with powerful spirits who give the warlock a portion of their knowledge. Artificers combine arcane magic with their mastery of alchemy and artisanship to craft magic items. Griots use music or words to invoke the power of memory, history, and creativity. Wizards study for years to master formulas that allow them to manipulate the magic of the Mystical Plane.

Divine magic is practiced by clerics, who are granted magic by deities or ancestor spirits. Those who reject the existence of deities claim that all clerics use the power of ancestor spirits. Mediums (or media) are empowered by spirits, and unlike spiritual clerics or wildmages (who use magic provided by spirits), they allow spirits to practice magic through them. Primal magic is used by wildmages, who draw power from nature spirits and repay them by ensuring the safety of their local biome, and rangers, who commune with those spirits for aid in their hunts. Sorcery is rare, chaotic magic wielded by people who were imbued with power from another plane, or mutated by a magical accident. Some people believe that sorcerers are reincarnated from powerful mages of the past.

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Every religion acknowledges the spirits (and the disappeared Divinities) to some degree, but Spiritualist faiths venerate them exclusively. Three other major religions follow deities, though there are many smaller ones. One of them worships Moziu, the deity of magic, who is associated with the stars of the night sky. Dualism (or Celestialism) involves the worship of sun and moon deities. Great Sun symbolizes logic and order, while Rimal represents emotion and chaos; Dualists believe both are necessary for the universe to function.

Others revere the nine deities of the Elaran Pantheon. They believe that Jatosa, god and goddess of storms, oceans, creativity, family and medicine, created the other eight. Namely: Chapi (god of wildlife and hunting), Gwidi (goddess of law, loyalty, and community), Ilysha (goddess of forges, fire, and artisanship), Leyeru (god of greed, generosity, and trade), Meju (god of agriculture and domestication), Obanu (goddess of learning and prophecy), Qedosho (god of the dead and the Underworld), and Ryrte (goddess of fury and violence).

The rest of the document includes maps, descriptions of each region, and sections about the calendar, ancient history, other worlds, species, organizations, languages, ethnic groups, monsters, and names.


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