Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wörld of Metal Gazetteer: The Southlands

Land of Gothic Metal

South of the Sea of Skulls lies the dark and brooding nation of Amaranth, marked by shadowy cyclopean palaces, winding narrow streets, and wooded countryside that gives way to desert as one travels further south. Due to its cloud cover Amaranth seems constantly shrouded in gloom. Its people are not numerous but are very powerful, many being magic-users. The social structure is feudal, with each area being ruled over by a Count or Countess from a castle. All the counties are answerable to the Maiden Circle, a group of sorceresses plagued by dreams foretelling doom.

On the western end of the continent is the County of Hunger, ruled over by a court of vampire aristocrats. They extract a blood tax from their peasants, who generally consider it a worthwhile price to pay for the protection they are afforded by their masters. On the other side of Amaranth, in the badlands near Scream Mountain, one finds the County of the Moon, whose rulers are a family of werewolves. The tax they levy upon their subjects is somewhat more harsh.

Amaranth is the source of Gothic Metal, a shiny purple-blue substance, which is renowned for its capriciousness. A sword of Gothic Metal may alternately shear through steel or turn back to cut its wielder; a helm of the same might turn aside a dozen sword blows, only to contract upon the wearer's head and crush them while they sleep. For this reason, along with the metal's rarity, it is not often used to make arms and armour. Instead, the nobility of Amaranth have it crushed to a powder and mixed into wine. The resulting concoction bestows a bout of maniacal genius followed by a period of debilitating melancholia.

Sounds like: Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Evanescence.

Scream Mountain
Land of Glam Metal

At the far end of the Sea of Skulls, on the coastline between Amaranth and Carceron, there is a huge and ancient mountain. This is the birthplace and homeland of all elves. Wild, deceptive and dangerous, the elves of Scream Mountain use their substantial magical powers to carry out raids on the nearby lands of Amaranth and the Svetsmelt. With their enormous hair, colourful armour and ghastly facepaint, an elvish berserker is a truly terrible sight to behold. Worse, they augment this terrifying visage with the power of glamour, such that a single cohort of a dozen elves have been known to put whole armies of humans to flight.

At other times, though, the elves can be strangely peaceful, even enticing to the unwary travellers who pass by the mountain. Many a wanderer has been seduced into following the elves back to their holdfasts on the upper slopes. Some have even returned from the mountain to tell the tale, though they always come back profoundly changed. Such is the nature of elves that one can never tell if they are playing a trick, setting a trap or being perfectly sincere.

Scream Mountain is also known as the main source of Glamour Metal, which resembles gold but is far more valuable. Glam Metal has the property of igniting a powerful desire in any being who looks upon it, but the desire is never aimed directly at the metal itself. A box made from Glam Metal will make people fight to the death to claim whatever is inside it. A Glam Metal necklace, worn by a woman, will make any man who sees her fall instantly in love. Needless to say, this metal is highly sought after, but the elves generally keep it to themselves and use it to play cruel pranks on their victims.

Sounds like: Poison, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P.

Land of Stoner Metal

South of Amaranth is a vast grey desert, mostly uninhabited save by wolves and boiling stormclouds. Brief torrential rains can be as deadly as dry heat in this place. The only people who live in the Thundersands are hardy nomads, bandits and inbred cannibals. They have their own cultures and ways of life and care little for the affairs of the northern lands. The only thing they trade regularly with other lands is their unique varieties of psychoactive drugs. These are distilled from plants that grow quickly in the lakes that form after the rains. This brackish liquid, known to the locals as 'bong water', gives rise to a brief flourishing of life before seeping back into the sands.

Strangely enough, the level of technology is higher in the Thundersands than anywhere else save perhaps Harthrakken. The deep desert is littered with mechanical relics of a fallen civilisation, including vehicles known as 'cars' and 'motorbikes', structures called 'gas stations' and long smooth roads called 'highways'. The nomads do not know how to build these devices, but they do know how to scavenge them and keep them working. This mechanical knowledge is passed down through the tradition of oil-shamans. Inquisitors from Harthrakken have travelled here in the hope of stealing the technology of the Thundersands, but have met with limited success due to the oil-shamans' hostility.

The local metal unique to Thundersands is called Stoner Metal. This substance resembles rock but can be forged, albeit only with great care. Any living creature that touches Stoner Metal with their bare flesh will be instantly turned to stone. Because of this great power, the nomads rarely bother with forging the metal. Instead they use it like stone to make primitive clubs or misshapen bullbars for their cars. To see a man hit by a car, turned to stone and then shattered to pieces at the same instant is a horrifying or exhilarating experience, depending on your point of view.

Sounds like: Kyuss, Truckfighters, Bongzilla.

Next on Wörld of Metal Gazetteer: The Volklands.

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