The Seas of Dun'Orta
Welcome to The Great Deep.
An ancient world, long since drowned by the great sea, exists now as only a smattering of islands and several underwater cities. The ocean is home to a tremendous amount of terrifying aberrations, which threaten to swallow up civilized races. Only arcane magic, held only by a select few women, can create protective barriers around the populated islands of the world. It’s a desperate world; as beautiful as it is dangerous. The first people to walk its shores called it Dun’Orta; Elven for ‘The Great Deep’.
The Five Core Features that govern Dun’Orta:
1. The world is an ocean: Dry land is scarce and in short supply. The few islands that exist are almost all populated, with all sorts of peoples and cultures dominating them. In between islands are vast stretches of open water, which take a long time to travel across. As trade is essential for survival, magically powered sea and air vessels exist. Below the surface of the water are ancient sunken cities and dungeons, often holding amazing treasures of ages long forgotten.
2. Familiar races aren’t what you expect: Growing up in an island paradise plagued by terrible sea monsters shapes the way a race and culture grow and advance. Here, Drow and Halflings exist like tribal brothers in the jungles, masters of primal magic. Orcs and Half-Orcs are known for their strength, but are legendary for their scholarly minds. Dwarves are renowned shipbuilders and engineers, building the world’s first magical underwater cities. It is rumored that the Dragonborn empires have left Dun’Orta, living in a giant floating city above the clouds. Tieflings rule as a phallocracy, where the men rule all. Elves and Eladrin are the dominant nobles and middle class of the world, while Humans are few and despised, valued only as labourers and slaves; a race downtrodden and defeated. Human women, however…
3. Only women can wield arcane magic: The double X chromosome taps into the arcane, allowing women to wield arcane power sources. Mages are highly coveted, as arcane magic users are extremely rare. Only about one in a hundred women possess the aptitude and ability to wield the raw power of the arcane. When their talents are noticed, they’re often collected by ‘mage-scouts’, traveling agents seeking to collect all eligible women to be trained in magic to benefit the world. Rogue magic users are often as dangerous as they are useful.
The most powerful mages in all the world hold the most authority. Each island nation has its own form of government, noble houses, empires, and clans, but above all of them are the tyrannical and capricious Sorcerer Queens. Each one the superior magic user from her race, having all competed to be the best in the world. No governmental decision, law, war, or treaty is passed without their consent, acting more like living goddesses than political leaders. Lesser mages and other people drawing power from them, because…
4. The Gods are silent: The harsh world of Dun’Orta evolved without the belief in omnipotent deities. Its people believing the worship of a god to be a ridiculous idea. The Divine power source is all but non-existent, with only a handful of clerics, avengers, and invokers throughout the world, drawing power from sun or storm magic. Access to the outer planes and worlds is cut off. Do the gods not exist at all, or are they merely silent? Perhaps they’ve been utterly defeated by the biggest threat to Dun’Orta…
5. Aberrations rule the Seas: Dun Orta’s entire ocean is populated by terrible creatures originating from the Far Realm. Horrible giant squids, Aboleths, sea-lurking Beholders, the great and terrible navy of the Mind Flayer Combine, as well as a number of unspeakable alien horrors. It is only by the magical protection of the Sorcerer Queens and other powerful arcane magic users that islands are protected. Every vessel that travels the sea is threatened, and needs a ship-bound mage or magic ward to protect it. No travel is truly safe, but every travel is necessary.