Freebie Mondays: Welcome to Cryptonia!

Freebie Mondays: Welcome to Cryptonia!

The pages are very old, weathered and heavily stained. At some point in the past they must have been treated with a substance to preserve their core material, otherwise there is no way they would have survived this long. It still seems as though they will crumble at the slightest touch, so every part of the artifact must be handled with extreme care.

The first page reads:

The Entariem appeared in the sky today.

It is what many of us dreaded, but no one knows exactly what it means.

Only time will tell.

* * *

There is obvious space missing to the ravages of time before the next entry, which says:

Dawn has come again. The Entariem remains, but so do we.

Like shadows, we rise from our beds and go about our business. Trade in the trade district. Administration among the administrators. So many insects moving through so many familiar channels, all hoping it will always be this way, each knowing change is on the horizon. It glows with a sinister light, and everyone that feels it cannot help but shudder at the dark possibilities it foreshadows.

I had no wish to live in times such as these.

* * *

It is obvious several pages are missing before the next discernible entry.

The Teyrdaugh is spreading.

Many have given in to their growing sense of doom. If the Simetris fall, it will all be over. We will be isolated, without hope of rescue or recourse.

The Entariem remains fixed in its position, the harbinger of our ultimate doom.

I am not the only one who finds it difficult to believe Aleonath would allow such a thing to happen. Curse the wretched hand of Agos that strayed from the divine path he was offered. Curse Emorad who corrupted him.

While others may be content to flee or fall to escape whatever waits beyond the horizon, the work continues. How can it not?

* * *

The next several pages contain entries too smeared or tattered to be discerned. Eventually another reads:

The Entariem is gone at last. But its disappearance comes too late to offer salvation.

The Simetris have faltered. Without them, our dark fate is assured.

May Aleonath preserve our souls.

* * *

The final entry reads:

The death toll mounts.

At last the work ceases.

From stardust we come and to stardust return.

Welcome to Cryptonia

Tales of Cryptonia is a homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign world I created for my friends to play in. I pitched the idea as Indiana Jones in Space, and my players instantly fell in love. The bulk of the story takes place in Ashvaleryan (also known as the Ash Vale), an intergalactic civilization that rose from the ashes of a much older, more advanced civilization now known only as “Cryptonia.”

Asvaleryan is a largely peaceful empire made up of a diverse group of races and planets that have lived in harmony for several thousand years. But though trade and tourism thrive, the citizens of Ashvaleyran have hit a wall in terms of scientific discovery which has stalled their advancement in certain fields.

Not to be discouraged, many still compete to remain on the bleeding edge of science and technology. Poised on the brink, a singular discovery could be enough to catapult the successful party to a place of both fame and fortune.

Ashvaleryan’s history is long and complex. The empire did not form from a mere agreement between planetary occupants – though such a treaty was used to strengthen its foundation. It grew from the remnants of a much older and more spectacular empire whose name has long since been lost to time. This empire so eclipsed Ashvaleryan in terms of technological and magical prowess, its death caused lasting echoes throughout history – including the loss of much of the knowledge they once possessed.

As historians and scientists struggled over the years to reconstruct this lost knowledge, they coined the phrase lost remnants of Cryptoinia. Originally meant as an in-joke among those studying the lost civilization’s fragments, the term stuck. It has now become common to make reference to “Cryptonia” during discussions of Ashvaleryan’s missing progenitor civilization.

Not much is known about Cryptonia or its original occupants. Some ruins have been uncovered, but many are damaged beyond repair or salvage, leaving only tiny hints to be interpreted based on context. Though it is clear the ancient civilization never completely collapsed, as echoes of it can be found in Ashvaleryan’s own culture – the two civilizations worship the same gods, for example, under the same names, and several of the original traditions have obviously survived.

The most relevant tidbit prized from the ruins of Cryptonia, however, is that they possessed a quick and powerful way to traverse between planetary systems that does not rely on Ashvaleryan’s more limited hyperspace train network. If Ashvaleryan or any of its occupants could discover the secret the ancients used to traverse the stars, it could change the face of the galaxy forever.

Thus scientists, mages and historians scour the territory that once belonged to the Cryptonians in search of the civilization’s holy grail – a codex believed to contain the coordinates of one the fallen civilization’s great travel hubs, now referred to as the “Oramanti.”

More about Ashvaleryan

Ashvaleryan is an empire of significant size that occupies the majority of a four-arm spiral galaxy roughly similar in size to the Milky Way. Its occupants are many and varied, and have long since learned to live in harmony despite their many differences.

The empire is ruled by a council of elected officials – though the way each is elected varies. The seven core planets – those who forged the original alliance which created the Ashvaleryan Empire – have special powers not afforded other member planets. As such, there is a Council of Seven who sit at the center of the empire and form its leadership. The Seven are afforded special powers, especially in times of emergency.

For average citizens, planetary and interplanetary travel is relatively accessible, which has allowed Ashvaleryan to establish large and reliable trade networks. Goods are relatively cheap and easy to produce and ship. Likewise, citizens travel throughout the empire to experience exciting or luxurious services. Ashvaleryan is well known for its network of universities, which ensure most citizens have a decent or high-level of education. Most citizens consider themselves to possess a high quality of life and satisfaction.

While the problems within Ashvaleryan are minor, they are not the sole occupants of their galaxy. Other powerful nations vie for access to valuable resources and trade networks. Areas of the galaxy remain wild and untamed – perfect breeding grounds for piracy.

And while travel within the established trade network is relatively quick, simple and easy, adding new ports to the travel network is an expensive, cumbersome and time consuming process which has greatly stymied the expansion of Ashvaleryan’s borders.

Travel by Hyperspace Train

Travel is a major aspect of day to day life in Ashvaleryan. Most people live on the same planet they work on, but often families are spread throughout the galaxy. Millions of tourists travel to choice destinations, and thousands of high profile business transactions between planets are processed every day. This requires a fast and reliable transit network connecting every planet within the empire.

Travel is accomplished via a series of high-speed train lines that cut through the hyperspace tunnels weaving beneath the fabric of regular space. Ashvaleyran pioneered this network, though it now connects them with several of their neighbors. Though spaceships can shuttle passengers between celestial bodies within a singular system, no other method of interplanetary travel exists.

There are two primary companies who run interstellar trains. The largest and most popular is Thresina. When the hyperspace network was first discovered, and the massive undertaking of laying interstellar track began, Thresina was on the ground, investing in new technology and even providing employees to assist with the construction efforts. Thus they were in a position to scoop up many of the initial train routes when the system was up and running.

Rumors abound about Thresina’s conduct in the early days of intergalactic train travel, but no one can deny that they are a juggernaut in the field. For several years they maintained a monopoly over train travel which was only broken by a mandate of the Council requiring Thresina to share critical areas of publicly owned track with smaller companies. The resulting scandal has mostly faded from public memory now, though it has left a small portion of the population with extreme distaste for the company. Still; Thresina is most often the fastest and cheapest way to reach your destination (or the fastest and most luxurious, depending on your tastes).

Since the Council ruling, a second up and coming company has managed to gain traction as Thresina’s primary competition. The Browslyn Alliance is a recently formed group of small, private companies who wished to give Thresina a run for their money. Their trains tend to be smaller and more expensive, and their routes tend to be less direct. However, they have recently earned themselves a formidable reputation for comfort and customer service. If you want to travel in style – travel Browslyn!

I hope you enjoyed this first peek at my homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. As my players interact more with the world, I will provide updates on their antics, plus a closer look at some of the settings and characters that make up the Cryptonia universe.

Incidentally, I streamed the creation of this post in case you want to watch it come together!

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