From the Savathar Mountains in the north through the K’naghi Savanah and south to the Scorched Lands is a vast swath of dry hills, arid mountains, and rolling grasslands peopled by an equally wide variety of cultures. Cartographers love borders, and these many and varied places are routinely grouped into one colossal region known as the Disputed Territories. Much of this region’s history is bound to eternal competition for resources, particularly water. Nowhere is this history more apparent than at Lake Chonia, just north of the Baevonia Mountains, in a region scholars know as Old Grekia.
Old Grekia, the Ephemeral Empire
The city-state of Grekia, the largest city ever known—even one-thousand years later—once sat on the deep and clear waters of the Grekian Sea. Today the sea is but a fraction of its former size and depth. Its shores have steadily receded with the long march of time to form what is now known as Lake Chonia. The ruined foundations of the once great city rise from the murky waters and sundried coastlines, casting pale shadows of its bygone grandeur.
Grekia occupies a unique place in Aventyr’s history. Much of what is known about the old empire is lost or forgotten, even to studied historians. The city’s ruins are not the only place one might search for answers about Old Grekia; throughout the Savathar Mountains, the Scorched Lands, Pradjna, and even the western Klavek Kingdom one might find isolated ruins that bear a distinctive runic language decorating portals and columns. These sites are clearly connected, for the architecture and epigraphs are nearly identical, even in sites on opposite sides of the continent. But this language has never been translated, and no contemporary scripts or palimpsests have ever been discovered.
What scholars know of Old Grekia is limited. It was a vast city-state, with a far-reaching influence, but to call it an ‘empire’ is casuist, for there is no evidence that its satellite structures were in any way built to control the surrounding territory. On the contrary, it seems many of these places were temples to a water goddess, almost certainly a progenitor to Vasi. Thus, while Old Grekia could be thought of as an empire-like in terms of acculturation, it was not truly an empire. Despite this, “Grekian Empire” is used in common parlance to denote not only the shining city on a lake that was, but also the wide-reaching influence held by the monumental city-state.
War for Old Grekia
Today the region of Old Grekia is perhaps the reason some forgotten cartographer first penned the words ‘Disputed Territories’ across such a vast swath of land. From the shoals of Lake Chonia to the arid mountains of Baevonia, Old Grekia is land of constant conflict. The baronies of Baevonia and the nomad tribes of Chonia both make claim to be the inheritors of Old Grekia. Both cultures value and protect sources of clean water—whether mountain spring or an underground river. And both view the ruins that dot their lands as built by their ancestors, and within them lay secrets to restoring these lands to their erstwhile verdant glory. But there ends their cultural similarities.
The nomad people of the vast savannah are loosely allied against incursion from all directions: the Baevonians in their mountain fortresses to the west, the orcs and ogres from the Savathar Mountains to the north, the dark spirits of the Stygian Weald, and all the dangers of the Great Grass Sea. Despite the need for constant vigilance, caravans and travelers along the Lymph Road—at least those who do not fly Baevonian banners—find a cautious but courteous people eager for news and trade. Most prized, whether in trade or tale, are tidbits of Old Grekia.
By contrast, when a caravan on the Lymph Road leaves the plains behind and climbs into the foothills of Baevonia they come to Isav’s Gate, the first of three primary fortresses along the road now known from afar as the Baevonia Pass, but to the people who live here it is known as the Castle Road. Not only must travelers pay tax and toll, but they must undergo inspections, secure permits and licensure, and avoid the optional but convincingly encouraged Passage Insurance Plan or an Extended Line of Credit. Of course, those who present a gift of an Old Grekian artifact or a pastelky rubbing find that bureaucracy churns to their advantage.
But the Lymph Road is no highway; the caravan road moves between landmarks, only portions of which are clearly marked. If travelers head west into the mountains a bit north or south of Isav’s Gate, they may bear witness to a clash between these two oddly similar yet entirely different cultures.
Wo’Mataja. A likely place to seek shelter from dust storms common in the foothills of the Savathar Mountains, Wo’Mataja was once a Chonian settlement, now in ruins, that travelers on the Lymph Road could stumble across instead of arriving at Isav’s Gate. Only if they take the time to explore the ruins can anyone learn why Wo’Mataja is no more.
K’Tarik. A Chonian settlement in the contested foothills of Baevonia, K’Tarik is a sacred place, not only for the nearby cold mountain spring, but there is also a Grekian temple here. The locals are less welcoming of travelers to K’Tarik than elsewhere in Chonia, owing to the regular incursions from Baevonian war parties.
Baevonian War Camp. The path through the valley ahead is closed off by a hillfort large enough to be a village. Protected by pitfalls and pike clusters, the regiment stationed here can travel a day’s ride away and return here to safety before the Chonians can muster a force large enough to threaten the fort. The camp is the forward position in the ongoing war against Chonian aggression.
In the coming weeks we’ll be updating all three of those locations, as well as introducing more about the Chonian and Baevonian cultures, but you can read Jonathan’s original design notes on each of them now! (Wo’Mataja, K’Tarik, War Camp) Get in the comments or join our Discord and let us know if there’s any parts of Old Grekia you’d like to see more of!