Dark Paths
A Wizard-Hunter's Tale

Background Information

Campaign Chronicle

Xambria

Xambria

   Xambria was a walled city of great beauty, known for it's splendid hanging gardens, quiet shrines, and tree-lined boulevards. The inhabitants, the Xambrians, were a peaceful people whose daily lives revolved around the practice of mysticism, a field of magic they may have learned from the reclusive Ariane.

   During the latter part of the Second Millenium, Xambria was attacked by the surrogate forces of the Quaranians, who took thousands of prisoners, marching them across the plains to the city of Quaran. Here, they were sacraficed in the Fire Pits of Malnagar as offerings to the rebel shaitan Zahur. In an attempt to eradicate the xambrian people, the quaranians destroyed all traces of Xambria, smashing the Xambrians' homes into rubble, burning their crops and possessions, and poisoning their lands.

Quaran

Quaran

   Located in the south of the Kharakhan Wastes, the ruins of Quaran stand as grim reminders of the most sinister nation in the annals of Talislantan history. The Quaranians were black magicians who vacillated dangerously between diabolism and demonology. The original walled city was constructed of black and red basalt with rows of iron barbs lining the walls and parapets, which were designed both to keep invaders out and to prevent the city's inhabitants from escaping.

   Today, little remains of the city of Quaran save a few stark stone towers, rows of blackened and defaced statues, and the rusted hulks of ancient killing machines. Generations of occultists and tome-robbers have come to this place of the course of centuries to sift through the ruins in search of Quaranian artifacts. Many articles have been retrieved from the ruins, often to the great regret of those who found them. Countless others may still remain buried in the tombs, vaults, and underground pits, awaiting discovery by those who covet infernal knowledge above all other considerations. The modern-day Rajans claim to be descended from the Quaranians, though it is more likely that the Quaranians created them.

The Xambrians

Xambrians resemble the Ariane in stature, but have bone-white skin and long, raven-black hair. Their customary mode of dress includes a cape, high boots, a vest, and tight breeches of black strider hide, with gauntlets of fine silver mesh.

Ancestry

These folk are descended from the ancient Xambrians, a peaceful people who were all but exterminated by a cult of black wizards known as the Torquarans. At their hands, untold thousands of Xambrians perished in the Firepits of Malnangar. A few Xambrians escaped into the Wilderlands and went into hiding. Assisted by unknown benefactors, they somehow managed to survive The Great Disaster, disease, and starvation. To the spirits of their ancestors they swore an unbreakable oath, to find and bring to justice the murderers of their people. The last of their descendents, the Xambrian wizard hunters, can still be found scattered across the Talislantan continent.

Society

The few remaining Xambrians have but one goal in life: to hunt down and bring to justice the reincarnations of their ancient enemies, the Torquarans. The Xambrians have no homeland, no clans, and no families. They do not marry, and can mate only with another Xambrian; no other union will bear fruit. Unable to bring infants with them while undertaking such dangerous work, Xambrian females are forced to abandon their offspring at birth; usually to a family or individual whom the Xambrian has come to know and trust.

No matter how they are raised, Xambrian children are doomed to grow up as outcasts. They look, act, and feel different from others, and are subject to protracted periods of depression. During their early years they may hear "voices" in their heads, or experience hallucinations of varying duration and severity. As they get older they begin to develop strange powers, for which there seems to be no logical explanation. Then, on the eve of their thirteenth birthday, young Xambrians receive a vision from an ancestral spirit, who explains the Xambrians' heritage and the reason for their existence. From this point on the child is a Xambrian wizard hunter, and will receive spiritual guidance and training from the ancestors, until he or she is ready for "the calling".

Government

Xambrians are guided by the ancient code of their ancestors: "Justice, not vengeance." Aside from this Xambrians recognize no other law or authority.
Customs

At any time following the first spirit vision, a Xambrian may receive "the calling"; a summons from the spirit guides, letting the Xambrian know that one of the enemies of his people has returned to Talislanta in the form of a reincarnator, and directing him to travel to the place called Omen, the mountain of skulls. Once here, the ancestor-spirits will tell the Xambrian how to locate the reincarnator, and will invest the wizard hunter with a portion of their spiritual strength. From this moment on, the Xambrian will not rest until he or she has carried out the vendetta.

Magic & Religion

Xambrians revere and obey the spirits of their ancestors, whose souls can never know rest until their murderers have been brought to justice. From their ancestors, Xambrians learn abilities that enable them to resist and combat magicians; talents necessary to the pursuit of their life's goal.

Language

Most Xambrians speak Low Talislan, and can read old Archaen. Among themselves, wizard hunters prefer to converse in ancient Xambrian, an otherwise dead language that was once used by their ancestors. Common Xambrian names usually end with the suffix, "an", a tradition among the families of old Xambria. For example: Javan, Xiran, Shian, Ishan, and Xian.

Defenses

Instructed by their spirit guides, Xambrians learn the use of the runesword, tracking skills, and and the ability to counter and dispel magic. Thus, they are well able to defend themselves.

Commerce

When not on a spirit quest, Xambrians will sometimes take work as bounty hunters, Wilderlands guides, mercenary scouts, or adventurers. They do so not because they covet riches or recognition, but so that they can survive and continue the ancient vendetta against the enemies of their people.

Worldview

Xambrians owe allegiance to no king or nation. A grim and moody lot, they are regarded with suspicion by most Talislantans. Many regard them as cursed, and want nothing to do with them. Xambrian regard for modern-day magic-users of any sort ranges from distrust to outright hatred.
A Shadow Across the Soul
Of all Talislantans perhaps none are so tortured in mind and spirit as the Xambrians. Their ancient ancestors were nearly eradicated by the Torquaran wizards, who waged a campaign of genocide upon them for no other reason than sheer hatred. Their homeland, ravaged by warfare and the effects of The Great Disaster, lies in ruins; an inhospitable wasteland, haunted by the spirits of their ancient ancestors, and the specter of that grisly monument, Omen, the mountain of skulls.

For the few Xambrians who survive to the present day, life holds little in the way of happiness or serenity. Sworn to seek justice for the terrible wrongs done to their people, no Xambrian is free to pursue his or her own individual aspirations. Marriage, raising a family, building a home, or even settling down in one place for any length of time are not possible; a Xambrian must be prepared at all times to follow the calling, whenever it may occur. Outsiders regard them with superstition and mistrust, and such friendships as they may make are usually temporary at best.

Traveling through hostile wilderness, spending weeks or even months completely alone, always waiting for the calling but never knowing when it will come; this is the fate of the Xambrians. It is no wonder then that some folks say of the Xambrians are a doom-haunted folk who bear a shadow across their souls.