(Originally written by Joseph Carriker)



This area of Creation has a long history. During the First Age, the great City of Glass dominated the area completely, with a vast network of glass roads. Occasionally, small portions of these deep red roads can still be found here and there through the hills. They make excellent camping spots, as they remain tremendously cool during the day, and radiate the day's heat pleasantly through the night.

These wild hills were the hunting grounds and territory of the Ka-Khan, the Khan of Khans, the Lunar Exalt who merged the Three Tribes of the Plain of Windswept Bones and led the attack on Chiaroscuro. A great dhole-god, a prophecy remains among the Delzahn that he shall return one day.

It is clear that Tamas Khan never intended for his people to become so dependent on the city, and his dholeman children know this.


Though these hills are usually green, the soil here tends to be dry and somewhat sandy. The plants here are tough scrub brush and evergreens such as cedar, palms and similar tough succulents. Moreover, the trees that grow here tend to be gnarled and impressive, capable of withstanding droughts and high, searing winds that blow up from out of the South.

The food of this area is well-known throughout Creation. Olives, dates and similar fruits are to be had in abundance, and vegetables and lentils are quite favored. The main grain grown here is rice along the rivers and a variety of other arid grains. Goats are kept for their meat and milk, as are cattle along the river and near oases and other water-rich locales.

The hillsides themselves tend to be covered in succulent grasses and other hardy foliage, providing ample fodder for the tough horses of the Delzahn, goats, camels and the mighty yeddim. There are also plenty of predators here: dhole-hounds, jackals, lions and packs of claw striders. Prides of simhata can be found occasionally, as well.

These hills also often contain a variety of ruins, from ages past. Many of these are set into the depths of the craggy hills themselves, protected from destruction by their construction. Among the hills can also be found the occasional thumnas — an artificial hill made of scree, gravel and sand. These hills were constructed as protection for tombs by the tribes and people of these lands. Though this was not a First Age practice, it is said that the first thumnas was constructed for the body of Tamas Khan, interred in a tomb hidden as a hill, that his foes might not find and despoil his grave.

In the centuries since, a variety of great heroes, many of them Exalted, have been interred in the thumnas, which are always constructed with some thaumaturgical property that prevents the hungry ghosts within from escaping.

These are not the strangest of the lands, though. It is clear that the Essence of this land owes much to the Elemental Pole of Fire, far to the South, for fully half of the demesnes (and thus Manses) to be found here are aspected to Fire. Locals refer to these demesnes as "chimaera lands," due to the strange gouts of flame that erupt from the ground itself. It is known that many gods and elementals favor these sites.

Tamas River

The single great river that flows down from the hills to the sea, the Tamas River is named for Tamas Khan, who is said to have fought the god of this river, and when he won, he chose as his victory prize the right to have the river bear his name, rather than the god's.

The Delzahn

The Delazhn are a tribe of notorious horse-archers and raiders. They disdain their city-dwelling cousins as fat layabouts incapable of surviving in the wild; the city-dwelling Delzahn of Chiaroscuro consider the tribal folk to be the descendants of the cripples and cowards too afraid to answer the call of the Tri-Khan, and deserve the meager life they have, ekeing out a survival from the hot plains of the South while they live in luxury in the City of Glass.

On the plains, a young Delzahn learns to keep on the move.
Children can easily handle a camel by their fifth birthday. Horsemanship comes next, though the young are rarely permitted to have mounts of their own. Horses are used for hunting and warfare; when a Delzahn is given his own steed, it signals the formal beginning of adulthood. After receiving a horse, the young nomad rides along for three days, contemplating the open savanna. Meanwhile, the tribe moves on, so the rider must track it down again.

Women and men have strictly divided roles. Women are expected to gather and tend to the tribe's possessions and their family's lineage, while men engage in hunting and war. At the same time, the Delzahn don't assign gender according to biology. Any member of the tribe may select a different gender.
Called dereth, people who choose a gender different from their sex must wear a gray sash or veil at all times. Many dereth are shamans, since they are used to living in two different worlds. They are not discriminated against outside of the customs surrounding their chosen gender. Most dereth choose their role after the rite of passage: men return to the tribe with fresh meat from the hunt, while women return with a poem or song.

A tribe's wealth is measured by the number of animals it owns. Ultimately, the local orkhan (sept chieftain) owns all of the tribes' possessions, but he usually allows each family to tend its own herd in peace. Families do require his permission to trade anything with an outsider. Likewise, any theft offends the orkhan (and by extension, the entire tribe); stealing can provoke an escalating spiral of violence.

Fortunately, Delzahn customs provide for a less extreme solution — one that actually promotes stealing in certain circumstances. The thief can escape retribution by offering the tribe an unmarried adult. These newcomers are married into the offended tribe, which then demands a modest dowry.

The cycle of theft, marriage and gift giving gives the horde a common identity and fuels economic exchange. Delzahn marriages are polygamous, with multiple wives and husbands sharing a complex of tens and their share of the tribe's herd. Only one partner can be added to the marriage at a time; her status is delineated by the order in which she joined the family. Since the Delazhn have a taboo against killing or dishonoring any first-line relatives, this practice leads to a convoluted web of clan alliances and rivalries. A full sixth of Chiaroscuro's Delzahn population claims descent from the orkhans and thus the right to own property.

Taboos against internecine warfare have led to an elaborate system of ritual duels. The dueling circle is the favored choice for settling personal disputes. Here, the winner forces the loser out of the perimeter. Horse archery duels are used to resolve inter-clan affairs. Death is an inauspicious way to win, so the Delzahn fighters cultivate surprising restraint and ingenuity in combat. For this reason, Dlzahn mercenaries are foten hired to keep the peace throughout the civilized South.

Above the orkhans of each sept are the khans, each of whom claims dominion over a dozen or so septs through rights conferred by lineage and ritual combat. Nobles show their allegiance by granting all of their property to their liege, so each khan is fabulously wealthy. Nobles are expected to display their wealth as evidence of their following and tend toward irch, if garish, fashions. In fact, like the orkhans, the khans allow most of "their" property to reside with the people who care for it.

The Delzahn horde is far from unified, though the Tri-Khan currently holds the most power. The current Tri-Khan lives off the spoils from Tamas Khan, though, and the tensions between the Delzahn of the city and those of the plains grows.

Hundreds of years ago, Immaculate monks travelled South to convert the Delzahn. Between native influences and the fact that the Immaculate Philosophy's dogma was somewhat less developed than it is now, a weird heterodoxy took hold with the horde. The dominant branch of the faith is heretical by the orthodox view, promoting spirit of worship as a de facto veneration of the Immaculate Dragons. Later missionaries have elicited almost no interest from the population (though the Tri-Khan courts them to gin the Realm's favor), leading to sporadic violence between Immaculate shamans and orthodox monks.

Taban Arslan Clan (Pop. 1600):
The Five Lions Clan is one of the most fearsome of the nomadic Delzahn tribes — they are also the most critical of city-dwelling Delzahn.
Any urban dwellers that they capture on raids are put to the sword immediately, and they refuse to foster children from kin who have gone to the cities. Indeed, they hold funerals for their kinfolk who choose urban life.
The Taban Arslan are known to have allies among the dholemen who harass the citizens of Chiaroscuro. The khan of Taban Arslan is called Qutlugh Arslan, or Fortunate Lion.

Mongke Gal Clan (Pop. 950): The Eternal Flame Clan claims the watering holes the furthest south of the Plain of Windswept Bones, which are the Delzahn lands.
Its khan, a one-legged man named Sube, or Needle's Eye, is one of the most skilled archers of the Delzahn, and does not hesitate to delve deeper into the deserts to raid caravans traveling north with gems and firedust.

Vachir Oyugun Clan (Pop. 1300): The Thunderbolt Wisdom Clan is the second-largest of the clans. They are led by Suren Unegen, the Majestic Fox, a dereth warrior who has many wives and husbands, and enjoys claiming new ones from those cities he raids. The shamans of the Vachir Oyagun are powerful, with allies among the air elementals of the great windswept plains.

Minghan Qutugh Clan (Pop. 1150): The Thousand Holies Clan is known for its close association with the gods of the Delzahn, and for their rejection of even the basic Immaculate religion. It is only fitting, then, that their shamans act as the keepers of a great secret: the whereabouts of the tomb of Tamas Khan. The clan guards the area around the site of Tamas Khan's thumnas, but only the shamans are permitted near it.

Chiaroscuro - The City of Spires

Also called the Great City of Glass, Chiaroscuro is quite definitive.
In the First Age, it was a city of tall glass spires, the glass of which was as hard as steel and shimmered in the Southern sun in a thousand hues. In its towers lived a population of some 20 million souls.

With the fall of the First Age, however, the city was destroyed by some unknown means. Thousands upon thousands of its glass towers were thrown down, destroying the city. Eventually, in the wake of the Contagion, the city was repopulated, with sections of the terrible steel-like glass shards cleared away so that humans can live here again.
Though people live in the glass buildings, they dwell only on the ground floors of them — it is unknown how the people of the First Age got to the higher levels of these towers, or the lower levels.

Chiaroscuro is ruled by the Tri-Khan, the descendent of Tamas Khan, who gathered under himself the Three Tribes to raid the cities north of his people's lands.
They cut a swathe of looting and military victory through what are now the Mattahuk lands, and ended their rampage at the sea, here, after a protracted seize against the inhabitants of the glass city's ruins.
They threw open the gates of Chiaroscuro eventually, and proclaimed him the victor.

As a result, many of the members of those tribes settled into the life of lords in the city. In the years since, the Delzahn of the cities have become fractious, spoiled nobility with a touch of a savage air they consider their birthright.
Many of them go to spend time among relatives in the tribes in their youth, but they consider the city theirs. The clans that have evolved from the victorious founding fathers are fond of feuding among one another, and duels among individual Delzahn nobility are quite common as well.

The Plaza (Pop. 1,001):
A large open area some ten blocks by ten blocks square, the Plaza is the acknowledged domain of Grandmother Bright.
The Plaza sits alone in the ruins of old Chiaroscuro, surrounded by streets and streets of ruins. A wide path has been cleared that leads to the rest of the city, allowing traffic to and from the Plaza, but this tends to be abandoned by night, for fear of the hungry ghosts that dwell in the ruins flanking the causeway.
The Plaza itself is surrounded by a circle of salt etched into the ground — the people of the city say that it is to keep the ghosts who dwell freely in the Plaza from leaving, but it is honestly to protect the people of the Plaza from hungry ghosts. The Plaza is very safe and secure, the people happily dwelling among their ancestors and honouring the little gods of Chiaroscuro.

Highsilk District (Pop. 100,000):
The center of modern Chiaroscuro, the Highsilk District is where merchants and nobility rub elbows in the shadow of the Trikhan's palace.
The core of Highsilk is very upper-class, though it is ringed with a number of mercantile centers, large apartment complexes and other "middle-class" features. The Highsilk is also home to the Plaza of Tents, the huge bazaar run by the Guild. The Highsilk is found just south of the Docks.

The Docks (Pop. 150,000):
The massive Dock district stretches all along the northern shore of Chiaroscuro. Though it is ruined in some places, most of these places have been recovered.
In the very center is the Harbormaster's Demesnes, the channels by which most ships enter the docks and are taxed appropriately. Though much of the glass in the rest of the city was damaged with the City of Glass' fall, the great blue glass breakwaters that protect its harbor still stand.
The eastern portion of the Docks is home to the Tri-Khan's naval docks and strictly off-limits to non-military personnel. The far western section abuts the Erulfan District and is owned by the Guild, which they use for berthing their huge trade-galleys.

Erulfan District (Pop. 250,000):
Located in the western portion of the city and separated from the rest of Chairoscuro by the ruins of the old city, the Erulfan is something of a "working class" district.
The Guild maintains a great deal of control here, and it is the location of their Chiaroscuro enterprises, including the massive, fort-like Citadel of Perfumed Delights, a major slave training-and-trading center.

The Circle of Fire (Pop. 3000):
The Circle of Fire is a very distinctive district. It is very small, carved out of the ruins by Immaculate Monks shortly after the construction of the Temple of the Scarlet Flame. A circle has been cleared around the mighty fire manse and its edges well-salted and warded against ghosts and other dangers.
The Temple isn't the only structure in the Circle of Fire, however — there are various dwellings for monks, meditational sanctuaries, gardens that provide food for the monks and temples, as well as several temple incense and sacrifice vendors.

Shatterstreets (Pop. 150,000):
Found just south and east of the Highsilk district and the Docks thereof, the Shatterstreets are a selection of ruins reclaimed for the populace of Chiaroscuro by the Tri-Khan.
Despite its name, there is precious little in the way of broken glass to be found here, save for in the occasional alley or abandoned basement. (Manses: Healing Home of the Multitudes)

Ruins of Old Chiaroscuro (Pop. 10,000):
Everything that isn't one of the other districts is part of the Ruins of Old Chiaroscuro. These immense mazes of ruined glass towers are home to many things. Some areas house spirit courts; others are home to tribes of hungry ghosts or cut-throats and thieves.
Few go into the Ruins without having some kind of purpose there — usually something sinister that must be hidden from the eyes of others. There are also a few smaller neighbourhoods carved out of the rubble and surrounded by salt.

Surrounding Territory (Pop. 257,000):
The hills surrounding Chiaroscuro feature a number of smaller villages and towns that are considered part of Chiaroscuro by the Tri-Khan, and thus patrolled by his troops. These go a long way toward providing food for Chiaroscuro proper.


Other Coastal Realms

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