Kesmai

Overview


Kesmai is a small island located at the western tip of the archipelago of Mu. Like the rest of the known worlds, Kesmai was created by the ancient ghods, for their amusement.

History


Kesmai was once the central base for a group of Pirates that plagued the high seas surrounding the island. These pirates were ruthless, and they plundered many ships passing between the different lands, especially the Illyrian ships due to the vast wealth of that nation. The Pirates cleared the entire surface of Kesmai. Much of the indigenous life was destroyed, or moved underground to avoid the marauding pirates.

The Brotherhood of Yasnac

Many aeons ago the island was used as the last sanctuary of the persecuted Brotherhood of Yasnac. The Yasnaki were once respected among magicians, but when their leaders yielded to the temptation to experiment with foul and blasphemous sorceries, they were banished from Mu by the Grand Order of Thaumaturges. The brotherhood fled from imminent destruction and took refuge on the isolated, mysterious island of Kesmai, where only pirates and other fugitives dared go. The brotherhood bargained with the pirates who were using the island as a headquarters. In return for sorcerous aid, the pirates yielded the northeastern part of the island to the brotherhood, where they built a small settlement and shrine.

Soon, though, the Brotherhood grew in power, and they tired of dealing with the pirates. One night, the brotherhood summoned a Drake from their shrine on the East Side of the Island, and they sent the Drake to devour the Pirate camp. Once the Drake was finished, the Brotherhood, in one of the few truly successful efforts, transported the Drake to the province of Leng, where it took up residence.

The Brotherhood then took over the Pirates camp, and they discovered there the entrance to the catacombs. In their explorations they also discovered the portal system that had been established by the ancients. They were to become a key to many of the experiments that they performed.

The brotherhood excavated a shelter deep beneath the city, partly to hide and protect the Brothers from attack, and partly to provide the unending darkness required for their worst experiments. The underground shelter was slowly enlarged into a series of catacombs. Driven both by pressure from the outside world and by their own increasing craving for The Dark, the brotherhood, after a time, moved completely below ground. A small fishing village was maintained to provide cover for the comings and goings of the underground city.

Evildoers came eagerly to the hidden headquarters, where opportunities for advancement in The Black Arts abounded. As the power and wealth of the brotherhood grew, they were able to concentrate a great deal of time and energy on bizarre experiments in genetics, often using unwitting visitors to the Island as starting material. This dark magic combined with the putrid mists emanating from the swamps to produce a myriad of peculiar species. Many of the higher life forms created in this manner developed extraordinarily assertive survival traits. The brotherhood had a brazen arrogance, and occasionally entertained emissaries from other evil organisations, giving tours, and sometimes making gifts of the horrific creatures they had created. At the peak of their power, the sorcerers of the brotherhood were known and feared all over the civilised world. Eventually the inner circle of the brotherhood launched several especially ambitious and perilous experiments.

The brotherhood hotly desired revenge on the Grand Order of Thaumaturges for masterminding the expulsion from Mu, but for many years none of the suggested plans were dire enough to win general approval. Finally the Lord Emperor of Kesmai perfected the means to obtain the vengeance they longed for. The Emperor, strongest of all the brotherhood in the black arts, devised a way to combine his power with the brothers of the inner circle, and summon one of the dreaded Dragons of Droon. Timing would be critical since the dragon would appear in the temple with the brothers for an instant before it was teleported into the gardens of the imperial palace of Mu. The plan was accepted by the brotherhood and the horrible ritual begun. When the dragon appeared right on cue just before the last incantation, the power unleashed burst the coronary arteries of the weakest member of the inner circle. Without the missing brother, the last incantation could not be completed, leaving the Yasnaki with an unwelcome guest.

Destruction and Abandonment

The dragon showed little gratitude for the release from its imprisoning sleep. Breaking free of what feeble control the brotherhood exercised, it crushed the Lord Emperor with one unanticipated sweep of its claw. The dragon then flew into the laboratories, where the latest bizarre mutants were kept, and ate most of the ongoing experiments, apparently finding the mutants more tasty than members of the brotherhood. A few creatures escaped, rampaging through the halls in search of their previous masters. Much bloodshed ensued, and many unfortunate brothers were most cruelly slain (although not as cruelly as they deserved). After gorging itself on mutants and brothers, the dragon returned to the temple in the depths of the dungeon and took up what appeared to be permanent residence. It was a dark dragon, and thus much attracted to the smell of evil that filled the temple. The presence of a dragon in the highest sanctuary prevented the brotherhood from performing their most solemn rites so they undertook to dislodge the creature and regain access to their most powerful talismans and charms, upon which the dragon was now resting. This they were unable to do, since the dragon slew all those who dared disturb its rest, including several mighty demons conjured up for the occasion. During its occasional foraging, the dragon eventually cleared the region around the temple, and destroyed everything entering its diminutive domain.

The strange mutants freed by the dragon's rampage continued to roam the dark corridors, most of which had to be abandoned by the brothers. In the ruins of the dungeon, the dark forces and ghastly chemistry went unchecked, producing vast numbers of creatures. As the population of monsters grew in the deeper recesses, the brotherhood was forced to move ever closer to the surface. In time, the creatures from the depths overwhelmed the meagre remnants of the Yasnaki, with the exception of a few who developed an uneasy truce with the monsters, and lived among them. After the downfall of the brotherhood, no visitors came to the Island. The inhabitants of the town eventually migrated to greener pastures, leaving the town to be overgrown by the forest, and overrun by various wild things…

Rediscovery & Exploration

Kesmai was rediscovered by voyagers during the early years of the Age of Exploration. The first few colonising expeditions to the island of Kesmai were decimated by the exotic indigenous life, but in time the surface was cleared, and the village was rebuilt. When Zod the Mighty collected a number of scrolls (and quite a bit of treasure) from monsters he slaughtered, the story of the dragon's coming was pieced together and the great quest begun. Zod's sister, AseLaind the Conqueror has come to Kesmai in fairly recent times to explore and map out the system of portals set up by The Ancients. Her brief messages give hint of many lands forested, frigid and fiery. One is the frozen land of Axe Glacier, named for its dominant landmark. She discovered a dangerous country of desert plains and cliffs known to the inhabitants as Leng. Her travels then led her to Oakvael, a land of forests and pits with a treetop town. Her latest message tells of her journey to cold Praetoseba, known as the Underworld, where she quested for a return to the surface lands and life. Many brave and powerful warriors have followed AseLaind and Zod into deep dungeons and distant lands, only to be brutally slain by the monsters living there.

Resettlement & Commercialisation

The commercialisation of Kesmai in recent years (including the recent formation of a Chamber of Commerce in the town of Kesmai) has greatly increased the number of would-be heroes coming to the island. Although life is dangerous every where, the Island of Kesmai provides an unusual number of opportunities for advancement, hence adventurers flock to Kesmai and the other unexplored lands, from all over the civilised world, to visit strange places, to challenge exotic beings, and to kill them. Indeed, such is the popularity of Kesmai now, that the Town Council has recently engaged the services of experienced adventurers to assist new arrivals in finding their feet. These are easily recognised by the [Guide] badge they wear and by their unique, if somewhat quirky, mode of dress.

Politics


The Town Council, with the assistance of the Town Wizard, has prohibited certain kinds of magic in some public areas, both to protect the citizenry, and to preserve the buildings of the town. Any wizardly spell which fries to induce a change of terrain will change the alignment of the caster to neutral which in turn will induce the scorn of all the local lawfuls, some of whom, despite their sedentary ways, can pack quite a punch. This includes fireballs and ice-storms as well as the usual terrain illusions and concussion. If you look around, you will notice that this part of town is always 'brightly lit'. There are also signs on the paths back into town, warning magic users to be cautious. The town wizard recently cast a powerful spell on the town which grants protection from the effects of area spells though if you listen carefully you can hear their sound effects while his powerful magics prevent the damage from the spell. Be warned that just the attempt of casting these spells will cause a lawful wizard to still change alignment. Several of the buildings around the outskirts of town are constructed with materials enchanted with the spell of impervium, since the Town Council and the inhabitants like the town the way it is, and do not want any uppity wizards rearranging it.

The Council is interested in catering to the influx of adventurers, since they provide one of the major sources of income for the city. In fact, the Town Council would be disappointed if some great hero did manage to clear the dungeons, since if there were no monsters to fight, then there would be no profit in selling maps to the dungeons (some useful, some not), weapons, healing potions, herbs. and ale.

Geography


The island is surrounded on all sides by treacherous reefs that successfully bar most shipping, and make swimming impossible. There are many varieties of wild and dangerous fish in the reefs, and swimming in the ocean is at best a risky proposition. Even the bays and inlets are often infested with sharks. It is rumoured that there are beds of oysters somewhere near the island, where pearls of great beauty were once found, but it is deemed safer to seek the treasures in the dungeons than to dive for the riches of the sea.

Kesmai Town

The town of Kesmai, located near the west end of the island, is a small collection of buildings grouped around a central square.

Temple

The largest building in the settlement, opening onto the north side of the town plaza, is the local Temple of Thaumaturgy. Inside the temple, there are always priests on duty to take donations and convert non-believers. The main room of the Temple is an imposing expanse of expensive carpets and golden fixtures paid for by the donations of adventurers hoping to thus obtain favour before entering the dungeons beneath the city. To the west of the main room is a small chapel dedicated to the memory of the many great warriors who perished in the depths below. The main entrance to the dungeon is found just beyond the chapel, in an annex maintained by the Town Council.

The Blue Noose Tavern

The other two buildings fronting on the plaza are the town tavern and the gymnasium. The tavern, on the west side of the plaza, has a wide selection of local alcohol and information. The barkeep likes to know what is going on in the city, and information you can obtain from him is usually reliable.

Gym

The gymnasium is an imposing building on the east end of the town plaza specialising in short courses of instruction to adventurers on methods of fighting the local vermin.

Sheriff's Office

The office of the local Sheriff is just to the south-east of the temple, behind the gym. He is, however, rarely in his office, spending most of his time walking the streets looking for evildoers.

Docks

Armoury

Main Street runs south from the plaza to the sea, where the municipal pier juts out over the ocean. The first intersection south of the plaza on Main Street is the Street of Thieves. The town armoury, the most important shop in Kesmai, is located just south of this intersection, on the eastside of Main Street. The armoury sells a full line of new weapons and equipment, and buys used weapons and other paraphernalia, at reasonable prices.

Bank

Opposite the armoury, on the west side of the street is the bank. With death an ever-present danger, your gold is safest in the bank's impregnable vault.

Tannery

Locker Room

The second floor of the bank building is a locker room. It is reached from stairs at the south-west corner of the plaza, near the entrance to the tanner's shop. Your locker is a magical box, with room to store valuable items and spare weapons.

Dojo

To the west from Main Street, the Street of Thieves turns to a dirt path after a block. A local Martial Artist has setup a gymnasium where you get basic induction in the Arts.

Eastern Markets

The dwellings of the local peasants are east of the Main Street, at the other end of the Street of Thieves. They are too busy trying to provide themselves with food and shelter to take much notice of the random adventurers who come to the island. The plaza on this street holds an active market on most days.

Wizard Shop

The Town Wizard has his lowly abode just to the north of the plaza, off the alley.

Sage's Hut

A humble sage has been living just east of the plaza for some years.

Thieves' Guild

The Thieves' Guild is headquartered on the south side of the plaza.

Pawnshop

A pawnshop is located just inside the entrance to their building. Around here, one can also find the seller of recall rings - handy devices which return the wearer to the spot where it was put on the instant it is removed.

Western Ruins

The trail starting at the end of the western side of the Street of Thieves leads through the woods to the west coast of the island, where there are some ancient ruins, which contain a second entrance to the dungeon.

Shrine of Tranquility

To the north of this entrance is a small islet where arcane rites were performed by those who dared not come into town by daylight. These ruins should be avoided, unless you are looking for a unique way to commit suicide.

The Eastern Wilderness

The Street of Thieves turns north after passing through the plaza, and at the edge of the woods, turns to a path which leads to the east end of the island. Shortly after this path enters the woods, it forks to the south and east.

The Swamp

The southern fork leads past the Swamp to the Southern Bay. Hidden in the swamps to the east of the path are the oldest ruins on the island. Within these ruins, practitioners of the Black Art once performed their most solemn rites. Only the brave or the foolish dare explore the depths of the swamps.

Southern Bay

Rocky, Ironbar, and Phong

Across the bridge at the head of the bay to the east is another weapon shop which caters to those characters which do not want to enter the town. A little further to the east is the abode of Phong, the Martial Arts master. Nearby you will also find the master blacksmith, Ironbar, the sweet sound of his hammer ringing throughout the area. Provide him with ore and ytrill (not the easiest commodities to find) and he will forge you a black broadsword of outstanding quality.

Centaur's Island

A group of centaurs has taken to wandering the eastern woods, protecting the wildlife from any further intrusion by the human population. There is a great hatred of any that walk on two legs, as a result of the original intrusion of the pirates, and worsened by the wanton destruction caused by the brotherhood during the height of their power. The centaurs will attack any that cross into their domain (which at times leads up to the very edge of town).

The Graveyard

Between the centaur's island and Ironbar is an ancient graveyard. Legend has it that many ghosts and spirits walk the graveyard at night, though none have actually proven the existence of such spirits. In the centre of the graveyard is a special portal, that will transport the person activating it to the realm of the underworld, where that person may quest to regain lost skill and constitution.

The Pit

Also near Ironbar is a small pit, which will lead directly to the dungeon, somewhere between the second and third levels. Caution should be taken when using this access, as the bottom of the pit is usually guarded by hoards of hobgoblins, trolls, gargoyles, goblins and even wraiths and wights.

Ydnac's Abode

In the farthest reaches to the east, in the small shrine the brotherhood used to summon a drake, a lone survivor of the brotherhood still exists. Since much of the brotherhood's power was derived from teamwork, his power is not as great as it once was, but Ydnac is still powerful in the ways of thaumaturgy. If an adventurer were to slay him, his lair may yield a legendary returning hammer.

Hermann and Harriette's Cave

Hermann and Harriette, brother and sister and a pair of knights from the old order grew tired of the constant hunting of the brotherhood and have retired to a partially hidden cave on this part of the island. The approach is guarded by two vicious griffins and sometimes bears - including the much-feared Smokey, the super bear. Any fighter who seeks knighthood must brave these hazards to reach Hermann. Harriette deals with only knights and then only those knights that have made the brave effort of slaying the dragon. A knight who has struck down the dragon and retrieved its agate gem should take this to Harriette, whereupon she will impart some of her wisdom to those Knights (along with a more practical token of her esteem).

Stonehenge

To the south and east, an ancient portal exists that will transport an adventurer to Leng. This portal was much used by the brotherhood and although the area is somewhat overgrown, it is still active. As it leads to the portal complex in Leng, adventurers may use it as a means of accessing any of the other lands.

Dungeons

There are several entry points into the dungeons, but the busiest one is in the temple. The catacombs are on four levels, often referred to as -1,-2,-3 and -4 by the modern adventurer.

-1 Former Yasnaki Residences

The top level of the dungeon was once where the brotherhood maintained their residences. A library of their works was once in the north-west corner of the level, though most of the works have been destroyed (though not before a few of the brighter orcs and goblins managed to learn a few of the secrets of using magic). Much of the level is now inhabited by the lowest of creatures, skeletons and kobolds, with an occasional orc or troll. On rare occasions, a wight, one of the weakest of the undead casters, can be found, and these should be treated with respect.

Thieves' Guild Entrance

A secret passage leading to the thieves' guild may be found on the eastern side of this level.

-2 Former Laboratory

The second level of the dungeon was one of the places where experiments were conducted. In the far south-east corner of the level, a small temple, of sorts, can be found. Inside this area is a portal that leads to the land of Leng. Near the portal room is a grand door that will lead straight to the third level of the dungeon. The inhabitants on this level are slightly stronger than those found on the first level. There are fewer kobolds but many more goblins and orcs - some capable of casting a fireball or web, so caution should be taken when first entering this level. Also, an occasional gargoyle, some hobgoblins, or a wraith may be encountered, though those are mostly near the temple area that connects with the third level. Skeletons abound, generally in groups of three, wights are more numerous, and the trolls are tougher (and sometimes in groups).

Shrine of Bones

Also on this level, hidden behind a secret door, is the Shrine of Bones. In this shrine, a person may attempt to summon an ancestor to obtain any gifts of experience or weapons that the ancestor is willing to impart.

Trog's Lair

Many years after the downfall of the brotherhood, a disfigured fighter made his way through the dungeon, and, finding a hidden room hidden behind several secret doors, took up a sort of residency, The Trog, as he was called, appears to be part troll, part ogre, and part human. He can be a formidable opponent for a beginning adventurer, but poses no real threat for an experienced warrior. In the shrine of bones, is the secret passage that leads to a climb up to the Trog's lair.

Thieves' Guild

In the south-west corner of the second level, behind a secret door, is the lower level of the thieves' guild, Oswulf, the thief weapon trainer, keeps his facility here and it is from this level that access to both the first and second levels of the dungeon is reached.

-3 Underground Lake & Experiment Cages

From the second level, the brave adventurer may take any of the several staircases to the third level. Many years ago, a river flowed from above, though the source of that river has been lost. What was left is now a vast underground lake. The lake itself is uninhabited, though one may occasionally find some monster or another on the island in the lake. Much of the rest of the level was used either as residences for the higher sorcerers of the brotherhood, or as cages for some of their more hideous experiments. Here, some of the monsters begin to show some real toughness. No longer will you find kobolds (unless they have wandered from the levels above). Mostly, you will find the tougher orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, wights, and wraiths. Salamanders that breathe a wall of fire wander here as well, requiring that most adventurers have adequate protection from fire to survive. Seldom will a monster be found by itself, unless it is a spell caster.

Leng Portal Room

Axe Portal Room

In the south of the level is a strange room. It seems to open up to the sky, and is filled with trees. In its centre is a large patch of ice surrounding a portal,which leads to Axe Glacier.

-4 Former Main Lab & Summoning Rooms

In the deepest regions of the Kesmai dungeon, the fourth level, the brotherhood established their main laboratory. Many of their foulest experiments were conducted here, from the lake above, the river flowed down, and flooded parts of the lowest level. A pair of secret doors and a hallway of permanent darkness guarded a summoning room in the south. Monsters were created that were the ancestors of some of the greatest monsters now found. These monsters were transported (using the portals) to the other lands and placed there as guards.

Oak Portal Room

In the north-west corner of this level, another magical portal can be found. It too seems to open to the sky and is surrounded by trees. This portal leads to Oakvael, the land of the mighty trees.

Grand Summoning Room

In the northern most section of the level, is a special temple area. It was from this area that the brotherhood made their infamous attempt to summon the dragon. The north-east corner of this area was the office of the High Priest of Yasnac, with a sacrificial altar still marking the area. The central chamber was the grand summoning room where the actual ritual was performed. The dragon, which has been named Daisy by the local population, still resides in the far western part of this chamber, near the altar used during her original summoning.

Crypt

Behind the altar is a crypt, in which were once stored the remains of some of the original Yasnaci members. Ghouls now guard the crypt area. Some say that the ghouls ate the remains of the former high priests still in possession of part of their power. Others claim that the ghouls are the animated remains of those former high priests. Whichever story is true (if either of them is); the ghouls that guard the crypt are formidable opponents, particularly with the poisonous bite. If an adventurer should be fortunate enough to slay the ghouls and any other guardians as may be found in the crypt, they may sometimes find one of the legendary returning hammers that the brotherhood captured.

See Also


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