Shadaar lies beneath a dense forest that covers a mountainous area. Beneath the thick limbs and dark canopy of the trees, deep in huge caverns hidden underground, there lies the city of Shadaar, heart of an empire that reaches for hundreds of miles unground. Although the numbers of night elves dominate as the sentient race in this region, a vast diversity of life dwells both underground and in the forest above.
With remnants of Charr to the west and hostile patrols of solar elf soldiers sent from Flamespire, one might think Shadaar has plenty to concern itself with in its corner of the world. However, Empress Sabilia has an even greater imperative. After the departure of the elven gods of old after the Healing, only one deity rose in their stead. This goddess, Vanima'du, was a night elf herself. The Empress, a priestess of the departed goddess of the night elves is now Vanima's highest priestess and possesses power on par with that of a demigod. Her imperative now is bringing the blessing and truth of Vanima'du to elvish people everywhere. For this reason, she's sending expeditions by air and sea and establishing colonies everywhere she can for the purpose of contacting other elfish people. Despite the fact that a night elf colony or diplomatic mission is often interpreted as invasion or other hostile action, Empress Sabilia has no intention to stop trying.
Night elf communities are organized into Houses. These are something like extended families, clans, where the community shares the responsibilities of raising and teaching children, defense, and establishing order. Since fewer females are born than males, and because this culture venerates a goddess that places more importance upon females and the feminine than males, females tend to rise higher and faster in society than the males. Competition among female night elves, unfortunately, further reduces their numbers.
Males traditionally take on responsibilities for raising and instructing the young, and other tasks considered "menial" by the females. This includes gathering food and production of basic tools upon which society rests. They also fill the ranks as soldiers and if they show aptitude, might be taught wizardry. Males are not accepted into the priesthood since night elf social rules have long established spiritual guidance as a female role, although males are accepted if they take the role of holy warrior, paladin, under the command of high priestesses. Nor are men respected should they become a witch. This is considered reaching beyond their station, even though should a female establish a pact with a demon for power she would be praised for her initiative. Males are not trusted to place the needs of their House above the demands of a greater demonic patron.
Since males are more plentiful than females, it is common for a female night elf to take two husbands, or possibly three. Only females of very high standing will have more than three husbands.
The demigod Empress Sabilia encourages competition among the Matriarchs of the Great Houses, even as she demands absolutely loyalty to herself. Due to her influence, the priesthood of Vanima'du have the greatest influence and power in night elf society.
The Great Houses and Houses usually are internally divided into guilds. Typical guilds include an assassin guild, mages guild, mentor's guild, trade guild, mining guild, farming guild, smithing guild, and war guild. These guilds variously compete and cooperate with one another. For example the trade guild might hire warriors from the war guild. The mentor's guild might pair with the mages guild to provide magical training to young night elves. In times of war, the mages guild will usually work in conjunction with the war guild. All these guilds will answer to the Matriarch.
In turn, the Houses pay tithes to the Empress's Temple of Vanima'du and obey the commands of the Empress, often through the word of priestesses.
Currently the three most influential people of Shadaar include Empress Sabilia herself, her consort Warlord Myrrinnil and Mistress of Whispers Lilensil.
Myrrinil is the most prominent general of House Sulidan, Sabilia's own Great House. He has led successful, if bloody campaigns agains the solar elves of Flamespare and brought the goblin kingdom of Chulaan to heel. He has been the Imperial Consort for 62 years, making him a rather recent choice for the Empress and something of a new trend for her. She typically picked her mates for their beauty and never for their ability to think for themselves. Warlord Myrrinnil is still young at only 164 years of age and has reached as high a position as any male night elf could achieve.
The Mistress of Whispers Lilensil, mistress of the assassins' guild for House Sulidan, is responsible for gathering intelligence regarding enemies and potential international rivals for the Empre. Her organization is vast, complex, and well-embedded within Shadaar society. Beyond Shadaar Lilensil relies upon handlers that recruit from among the other races to spy on their own kind for Shadaar.
Customs of Shadaar
- We never let a slight go unanswered.
- We bring civilization to the lesser races, even if we must bring it with shackle and collar.
- We respect talent.
- We are the true children of our goddess.
- We flourish in the dark.
The following aspects represent people revered in this culture and who represent the ideals of the culture. These are roles that can be attained within the culture. They, or variations of them, can be used to help define an NPC aspects.
- Missionary Priestess of Vanima'du, Alluring but Poisonous Sorceress, Furious Paladin of the Goddess
The following one-word descriptive adjectives or nouns can be used to describe what things this culture values. Use them to help fill out aspects for NPCs and to help provide a deeper sense of who the people of this culture are.
In ages of the distant past, there was a god named Corin who created the solar elves and a goddess named Bellath who created the night elves. Corin and Bellath were considered mated, a married pair until one day Corin discovered, or was told or was deceived (the stories vary), that Bellath had loved another. Their split was said to be both angry and violent and their children reflected that conflict. The solars accused their night elf brethren of deceit just as their god accused Bellath. The night elves disputed this and struck back. War erupted.
In this time it is important to say that these two groups of elves were they only races of elves. Both lived in the parallel world of Faerie, created for all the children of Corin and Bellath, not just the elves. And during the all-too-short age of peace and harmony, the lunar elves appeared. Some claim cross-breeding or experimentation produced them, other say they were a joint experiment of both Corin and Bellath. Whatever the truth, these elves are racially distinct from either solar or night elves. And when war broke out, they claimed neutrality — and were resented for it by both sides.
The war was incredibly destructive. Some groups of solar elves and night elves tired of the fighting and fled to Erandor. Their descendants eventually evolved to become forest elves and the wild tribal elves. In time, these elves evolved enough to become so distinct from their parent races that the ceased to resemble them very much at all.
As the war wore on, the night elves realized they were losing. Ultimately, they had to flee just as their goddess fled Corin. This Retreat from Faerie became their lowest point. By hiding their numbers and leaving behind mounds of their own dead, the night elves were able to deceive the solars that they'd been wiped out. However, enough had been saved to establish themselves in a great hidden cavern that eventually was to become Shadaar.
In time, this small group prospered. Centuries passed while night elf numbers grew. They sharpened their wits and their military strength on the black iron hammers of the slave-taking dwarves of Charr. Slowly, their control and influence spread below and above the earth. The Foundation of Empire had occurred.
The War with Charr never really ended. The stubbornness, numbers and strength of the deep holds of these titan-tainted dwarves made them quite resistant to the growing power of Shadaar. Even after the Healing of the World displaces both nations, Shadaar continues to search for signs of these ancient enemies.
The Goblin Conquest occurred when Shadaar made contact with the inquisitive but not terribly brave goblins of the mountains to the west of Shadaar. Capitalizing on the goblins' panic upon encountering Shadaar magic and skill in combat, Shadaari forces spilled out of the mountains to overrun even the goblins coastal settlements along the northern Gulf of Chulaan. But once the goblins submitted, Shadaar withdrew. They secured yearly tribute agreements and took with them some goblin technology regarding lighter than air travel, and expanded upon it. The Conquest resulted in the acquisition of airship technology that the night elves employ today.
Eventually, the solar elves discovered that their ancient enemies still existed. The Arrival of Flamespire was a shock not in that the solar elves finally discovered them, but in the immensity of magical power that it required to transport an entire city of stone to another world. Now the solars search the darkest woods for signs of their old enemies. It seems inevitable that full scale war will again erupt.
The culture’s skill pyramid has Deceive at it’s peak with Provoke and Stealth below it, and NPCs from this culture will tend have these at a higher than normal rank for an NPC of that type.
With the skills are stunts. Each skill has a rebel and a paragon stunt. Rebels reject the cultural norm while paragons represent this aspect of the culture.
- (Paragon) Master Manipulator. When you craft a lie using create an advantage, you gain a +3 when you invoke the aspect you placed instead of the normal +2.
- (Rebel) Takes One to Know One. You are very familiar with lies and liars. You can use Deceive instead of Empathy to defend against attempts to deceive you.
- (Paragon) Dark Sorcery. This stunt is the same as the sorcery stunt but you can use Provoke to cast spells instead of Will.
- (Paragon) Inquisitor. You are an expert in getting information from prisoners using either physical or non-physical means. You gain a +2 bonus to overcome rolls to get information. This may require a contest for named characters.
- (Rebel) Wheedling. You know how to get under people's skin. Gain a +2 bonus to to create an advantage actions to place aspects of anger.
- (Paragon) One with Shadow. Your natural camouflage and skill provide you with near-invisibility when you want to be. So long as you are at least one zone away, you can use Stealth to defend against ranged attacks Shoot or a magic skill.
- (Rebel) Assassinate. If you have not been detected, then you can make an attack using Stealth instead of Fight or Shoot. This can happen not more than once per scene.
This culture was created with guidance from the excellent article, "Culture from the Outside In", from the Fate Codex: Vol. 1, Issue 2.