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Dark Kingdoms in the Tempest

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  • Dark Kingdoms in the Tempest

    Having some difficulty understanding how each of the Dark Kingdoms are represented in the Tempest. I think the inter-changeability of terms is what's doing it. For instance, "Stygia" is both synonymous for the Dark Kingdom of Iron (i.e., the ruling empire of the Western Dead) and the capital City in the Tempest, located on the Isle of Sorrows. If I'm also correct, the Dark Kingdom of Jade is also called the Yellow Springs, and there is an analogue to the city of Stygia for it in the Tempest, known as the Jade Palace (right?). The Egyptians have Amenti. The Bush of Ghosts (Australia) has Karta. However, what about the other Dark Kingdoms? I've been reading up in the books but I'm missing some. What does the Dark Kingdom of Ivory have? Obsidian has three islands, correct?

    Any help with straightening this out would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Let's see, we have three big powerful centralized empires in the Underworld that are bonded to the most successful and sophisticated Old World living civilizations in the Skinlands. They typically control a large swath of the Shadowlands, mostly superposable to their cultural/political turf in the living world, and have a vast island/city/continent realm in the Tempest:

    The Dark Kingdom of Iron AKA Stygia the realm in the Shadowlands with Stygia the city in the Tempest for the Western world (it largely absorbed the Muslim world as well);

    The Dark Kingdom of Jade AKA the Yellow Springs in the Shadowlands with Yu Huang's palace (and his artificial Hell) in the Tempest for East Asia;

    Swar the realm AKA the City of Delights in the Shadowlands with Swar the city in the Tempest for South Asia;

    Last but not least we have the Dark Kingdom of Ivory AKA the Bush of Ghosts, the Underworld reflection of Africa, that controls that continent's Shadowlands. It pretends to be a centralized empire like the other three to protect itself from them but its Tempest realm is actually split into many small polities, the Lost Kingdoms.

    Then we have an array of weaker polities that are bonded to Skinlands civilizations maybe once powerful or important but since then decayed to minor stature on a global scale or gone extinct, so they have limited or no representation in the Shadowlands in comparison to the big guys. Nonetheless, they retain relatively important realms in the Tempest that represent their old glory. They are typically peopled by ancient wraiths or coming from relatively small native populations that cling to the 'old ways'. They are: the Dark Kingdom of Obsidian AKA the Flayed Lands (Mesoamerican civilizations), the Dark Kingdom of Clay AKA Karta (Australian Aborigine civilizations), the Sea Which Knows No Sun (Polynesian civilizations), and Amenti (Pharaonic Egypt civilization). Les Invisibles (Caribbean Creoles) is perhaps an halfway case between the big guys and the faded glories.

    We also have the various cultural offshoots of the above, such as the minor strongholds of rebels and dissidents from the aforementioned civilizations, and the Far Shores, a vast array of artificial Afterlife realms in the Tempest built by living or historical cultures that are mostly imperfect or failed/corrupt attempts to build waystations or alternatives to Transcendence. We also have the special cases of a few Tempest realms that have a small population but are still exceedingly important in Underworld ecology and politics due to the power of its inhabitants, such as Dis, the haven of the Ferrymen, and Enoch, the city of those Cainite vampires who roam the Underworld.

    And below it all, the Labyrinth, AKA Spectre Central, which is a case all its own. For Spectres cultural allegiances largely break down due to their hive-mind. Their realm is a literal, political, and spiritual chaotic maze of savage hordes and local warlord strongholds ruled by bickering Malfean God-Kings that spans the entire lowest level of the Underworld. To spectres, Oblivion, their individual Malfean, and their caste matter, much more than their original culture.

    Exceptions mostly concern the fact Malfeans in disguise rule Swar and the Yellow Springs and try hard to cut off their turf from outside interference by their rivals all the way to the Labyrinth, and in the Underworld section of East Asia the metaphysical distinctions tend to get blurry between ordinary wraiths and kuei-jin AKA their special brand of vampire-Risen hybrids, and between the Spectral Labyrinth ruled by Malfeans and the 1000 Hells ruled by the demonic Yama Kings.
    Last edited by Irioth; 06-19-2017, 11:55 AM.


    • #3
      Thanks, Irioth! Sounds like you know your stuff.

      Follow-up - My understanding of the Flayed Lands is that they represent only Central America, with The Islands of Flint and Lands of Gold representing North and South America, respectively. What I read today suggested that the Islands of Flint are basically abandoned, and the Flayed Lands' version of Stygia was the Fifth Sun, now with a new stronghold called The New Sun. As far as I could tell, no one knows what happened to the Lands of Gold...

      Am I on point with this? You seem to know your Wraith stuff so any feedback is appreciated. Thanks for the detailed response, again.
      Last edited by Trategos_Sol; 06-18-2017, 11:11 PM.


      • #4
        Yeah, the Flayed Lands represent Mesoamerican civilizations in the Tempest, not much else from Precolombian America, and they are the big thing in the Underworld for 'traditional' Native American wraiths. Like most other 'fallen' Dark Kingdoms, Stygia has basically taken over their Shadowland turf in Mexico and Central America. Only old wraiths that pre-existed Spanish colonization and a relative trickle of modern ones that are familiar and identify with Precolombian culture populate the realm. I am sorry I know little about the other Amerindian Dark Kingdoms, b/c it has been years since I read about them, I am not mindful which books such info was published in (so I cannot make a check in my collection), and IIRC anyway lore about them was much more limited than for the other DK I summarized. I seem to remember that yeah, the Islands of Flint are basically abandoned or nearly so, but that's all.

        About Dark Kingdoms, please allow me to make an aside rant about a pet peeve of mine. The Underworld being split into a few realms that mostly align with noteworthy civilizations is all good, but I'm very annoyed with the game splitting Arcanoi between 'Universal Western Standard' Stygian powers and 'Non-White Special Snowflake' Dark Kingdom powers. Tying supernatural powers to cultural or racial identity rubs me as terribly bad and wrong. Souls are souls, death transcends all cultural barriers, and all Arcanoi are refinements of basic features of wraith existence that any character can develop with enough effort.

        As a consequence, at my table any wraith character from any Dark Kingdom or cultural background is able to learn and use any Arcanum of any kind, be it Stygian, Jade, Dark, or anything else, if they put their mind to it. I'm willing to make exceptions only for Chains of the Emperor (since special intervention of Chinese mages was involved in creation of its users, and nobody has reproduced the feat) and perhaps one or two Dark Arcanoi (since a Spectre mindset seems more or less essential to their use). There are Stygian wraiths that have good reasons to learn and use Way of the Scholar or Way of the Soul, and Yellow Spring wraiths that have good reasons to learn and use Castigate or Usury, so they do.
        Last edited by Irioth; 06-19-2017, 07:47 AM.