While Acryn is the largest city on its own continent, there are plenty of other cities, minor nations and terrains out there on the same landmass, and settlements to rival Acryn on other continents. Restoring connections with these places and exploring the Flux’s effect on the wider world will be a major theme of Memento Mundi, and we will be adding significantly more information about how the world was before the Upheaval over the next few months, in order to provide inspiration for GMs to draw upon for adventures and NPCs.
Acryn's immediate territory extends for around 230 miles to the north, 300 miles to the west and 340 miles to the south. Within a 150 mile radius of the city, the land is mostly fields and hills, dotted with villages and with a few larger towns along the major roads in each direction. Further north-west, the fields give way to wooded lakelands, a few small mountains scattered among them, while towards the south-west the foothills and extents of the bluepeak mountain range mark a rough border. All settlements within the territory hold to their allegiance with the city, especially in the wake of the upheaval, though many smaller towns were abandoned as refugees made their way to Acryn itself. A drive to re-establish full occupancy of the towns, sparing Acryn from overcrowding, has been initiated by the city council in the last six months, but the process is slow, and complicated by the after-effects of looting.
Just over the horizon from Acryn's port, a string of islands hosts a variety of small fishing villages, close enough that sailing to them with a skilled wayfinder aboard is a reasonable prospect. Many of their citizens have abandoned them, but due to the rising prices of fish on the open market, enough to keep them alive have been tempted to stay.
A great river flows from the bluepeak mountains, reaching its delta a mile south of the main port of the city. A separate, more informal set of docks exists here, servicing both boats travelling on the river, and those who for whatever reason wish to avoid the main ones. A smaller river flows from the lakelands, plied by skiffs and small yachts.
Heading due west along the great trading road, you will find the land growing somewhat more arid and savannah-like before leaving Acryn's territory.
To the north-west, at intersection of the Great River and the colossal lake Miquil sits the city of Margush, the most powerful settlement of the lakelands proper. Unlike Acryn, the towns and villages nearby are not technically subjects, but many are dependant on Margush as a trading hub, where the game and fish harvested from the forests and lakes can be placed on a boat to Acryn, or sent westwards upon a different channel. Enormous amounts of wealth pass into the hands of the greatest merchants in name, and in the summer the lake itself is covered in the pleasure barges and skiffs of the great and good, hosting lavish parties and entertaining business clients. Due to the proliferation of these, the tendency over time has been for fishing to be the primary source of food in the winter, and hunting to provide for the summer, also useful for allowing stocks to replenish. A great tradition of crafting has evolved in the lakelands to provide the showy luxuries demanded by the rich, and trade in these to Acryn is considerable.
The Upheaval has had very polarised effects on the two geographies of the lakelands. The great lakes themselves have been largely unaffected, as vistas across the whole of them are easily visible from the taller buildings of the towns and cities. The forests, on the other hand, have become distinctly treacherous, it being very difficult to identify where consensus ends and flux begins. The Wayfinders guild has established an office here, and while it does not have the same monopoly on the talent it does in Acryn, it nevertheless does exceptionally well in the market.
If you continue west along the trading roads, Savannah gives way to scrubland, and just as the first hints of desert begin to creep in, you will find yourself at the river of Trantia (flowing down from the lakelands to the southern shore of the continent) and the city of Liarus, gateway to the great central desert. Stretching westwards and south, the central desert was ever a major obstacle to the conduct of trade across the continent – not a complete impediment, but enough to make western wines and finery valuable trade goods on this side, and the artifice and knowledge of Acryn and neighbours valuable on the other. Liarus acts as the staging point for travellers entering the desert on this side, and a relief for those travelling from the other. Since the city sits upon the road that forms the shortest crossing of the desert, even travellers from the north-west and south would often come here before attempting a crossing, the routes from nearer their homes to challenging for all but the hardiest of traders. Since the Upheaval, this has been even more so – the great road forms the only consensus route across the desert, and any other passage is suicide without a wayfinder, and dangerous with all but the very best. The conflux of traders from across the continent means that this is a place where anything can be purchased, and it also acts as something of a hub of diplomacy, with great embassies from all the powerful cities of the continent. On a hill in its center lies the Axia, a great stone on which are drawn the symbols of Aetheyta, a place of great pilgrimage, and a vital part of the city’s success - for a stream of cool water constantly flows from its base, giving life to the city.
Across the Bluepeak mountains lies Caul, industrial powerhouse. Acryn has the edge in the latest scholarly designs, but Caul has a clear advantage in the infrastructure to get it produced in quantities of thousands, and the bounteous mines of the southern Bluepeaks to provide the materials. In years past (less enlightened times, some like to say) the two cities made frequent attempts at war, but these generally proved abortive due to the logistical difficulties of fighting across a mountainous border. Nowadays the rulers of both laugh off their history even as they sign trade deals, but the common people of both maintain some animosity and suspicion. However, it’s undeniable that peace has been better for both than war, and belligerent elements have been in the minority for the past decade.
The connectedness of its mines and peripheries have given Caul perhaps the best access to industrial materials and production of the continental powers post-Upheaval. There has also been an upswing in what was previously a minority religion - that of the Lord of the Rock, patron of hard work and industry. Before the upheaval, much like in Liarus and Margush, this and other local cults counted perhaps 15% of the population as followers. Now the message of hard work as key to survival rings all the truer, and closer to 40% attend gatherings and services.
Before the Upheaval, Junnes was a smaller version of Liarus - gateway to the desert on the far side, and defiantly independent of the Serradic Empire, being useful enough to the Eastern cities that they would make some attempt to defend an annexation, and politically convenient to the empire as a neutral base for trade. Unfortunately, surrounded by featureless expanses of sand and without the Axia to provide an endless bounty of water without the use of surrounding springs, Junnes fared badly during the Upheaval. Terminally badly. Precise events have been pieced together largely from the lucky few who survived fleeing into the desert, but general consensus is that it became clear within about a week that the city simply couldn’t cope with the new circumstances, and the riots and exoduses started mere days after that. Most who fled into the desert died of exposure, lost in the Flux. A very few (some groups lead by those who would later join the wayfinder’s guild) made it to Liarus, or even in one incredible case to towns near to Caul . No one knows exactly what happened to those who remained behind, but by the time travellers once more found it upon their horizons, no sign of the bustling life that once filled the city remained, sand weathered buildings sitting empty and near-silent, disturbed only by the wind. At least by day. By night, these first few travellers found the darkness pierced with screams and shrieks, and unseen forces from the shadows stealing their party away as they fled from the ruined inn they had occupied. Most now avoid Junnes, giving it as wide a berth as the patch of consensus around it will allow, though the lure of the riches that must surely lie within tempt a few brave souls to make incursions. Some make it out before nightfall. Most who don’t are not heard from again.
The south–western third of the Continent is (or at least, certainly was) occupied by the Serradic empire, an imperial conglomeration of four large cities, and the towns and villages surrounding them. Around 50 years ago, ruthless expansionism from Serradis, greatest and most south-western of the four, secured an initial sweep northwards, conquering Tovis and Batra, with Russa agreeing to terms before the armies turned East. Junnes instead made pacts of neutrality, backed up by its friendship with Liarus and the inconvenience of assaulting it, and there the Empire’s expansion stopped. One attempt was made to annex the city twenty years later, but the intervention of ambassadors from Acryn’s mage guild helped see of the invasion.
Unlike most the rest of the Continent, Serradis, from which the empire sprang, had a strong tradition of religion, and the religious hierarchy is deeply intertwined with the civil government. Rather than one god, as in Caul, or four as in Acryn, the Serradic Empire’s religion has a diverse cast of feuding gods, spirits and their messengers, supposedly having their home in great Alabaster cities in the southern depths of the desert. The religion holds that these gods often come among mortals unseen to help, hinder or merely amuse themselves, and that it is the duty of those who welcome them to expand the borders of what they may experience. The religion has been going in various forms for hundreds of years, but the faction who interpreted this as a literal command to go forth and bring the world into the fold of their faith only arose relatively recently.
The government of the Empire since has been markedly militaristic, and it is openly understood that it was only the practicality of being cut off behind a desert, combined with the hindrances of the Empire’s attitudes to magic, that prevented an immediate sweep across the continent. The high priests of the Serradic gods say that magic is not something for mortals to toy with, and that its use subtly undermines the integrity of the mind and soul. Use of magic is banned within the Empire on pain of death for residents, and immediate exile with no appeal for foreigners. Magic was rare enough before the upheaval that this had little effect on day to day life, but as the failure of the invasion of Junnes showed, would have had more consequence had Acryn pitted itself against the empire.
Across the Eastern Ocean, nearly a month's travel by boat, can be found the Eastern Continent, and occupying the coast nearest Acryn, the territories of the King of Valydd. Hundreds of years ago, the people of Valydd were raiders, sailing up and down the shores of their continent pillaging. At some point (probably within 200 years of the present date), they switched from raiding to conquest, and built themselves a kingdom. The kingdom maintained a proud nautical and military tradition, and are generally in a state of conflict with at least some of their neighbours across the inland seas that border their territory. In order to support this, trade and scholarly endeavours grew rapidly as the demand for resources and military improvements grew.
Acryn has never been close enough to Valydd to be seen as a threat or a potential conquest, and a major source of knowledge for the Symposia of the kingdom, and thus trade between the two has been ever buoyant (often taking place on the isle of Thys as a useful middle ground between the two). Some tensions have always bubbled under - several of Acryn's royalist noble families fled to and remain within Valydd, and their unashamed warlike tendencies disgust more liberal thinkers within the city, but intellectual disgust has never been especially good at standing against the potential for profit and shared success.
Since the Upheaval, no contact has been made with Valydd. Thys lies closer, and a very limited number of ships accompanied by the best wayfinders make it through, but so far every attempt to reach Valydd has failed, and most who have tried have never been seen again.
A large island lying around ten day's fast travel from Acryn and twenty from Valydd, Thys and the smaller islands surrounding it are a mixed bag of legitimate traders, barely hidden pirates and locals happy to work for one or both of them. The convenience of the island for trading between Caul and Acryn and Valydd means that many are willing to put up with the threat of piracy, while the pirates in turn try to avoid preying too heavily on any one company, in order to ensure that their golden goose is not scared away. Thys has no official ruler, but deference tends to be given to the Master of the Consortium, a representative of all the local groups with business on the island. That the consortium often has pirates and merchants rubbing shoulders within its ranks is something that it is considered impolite (and often fatal) to point out.