Korla 1: The Conflicts Beneath
The People of Korla
The Common Peoples of the Durshkali Empire:
The known world is dominated by the Durshkali Empire. The empire grew from an alliance between a human kingdom and a federation of orc tribes. Humans and Orcs make up a majority of the empire’s population and many of the nobility are Half-orcs born from arranged marriages that solidified the ties between the orc and human leaders.
The Mountain Folk:
The Knochten Mountains west of Durshkal are home to Dwarves and Goliaths. The dwarves survived the Cataclysm by withdrawing into their mountain citadels, where many goliaths also took refuge with them. However, some goliaths refused to forsake their traditional nomadic lifestyle and still revel in testing themselves against nature.
To the north of Durshkal, the Minotaurs of the Iron Fang Peeks are loosely divided between two philosophies: the semi-nomadic Stonehoof Clans and the disciples of the Way of the Labyrinth, known as the Wayfinders. The Stonehoofs seek to tame their bestial nature by embracing it and anchoring it a close spiritual connection with the natural world, while the Wayfinders seek to subdue their dark side through meditation and discipline.
Because of their association with arcane magic, constructs are treated as second-class citizens at best. Most are slaves or indentured servants. Warforged tend to be used for heavy labor or mercenary work. Warforged mercenaries and bodyguards are highly valued and the most well-treated constructs.
Shardminds tend to be employed as skilled artisans and servants. They are typically less well-regarded then warforged because they are too proud and less useful for manual labor. Some shardminds even make the absurd claim that they are heirs to an ancient civilization that predated the cataclysm.
Shardminds and warforged are distrustful of one another as a whole, but are typically willing to give a grudging chance to individuals of the opposing group.
Elves are nomadic traders who travel between settlements in large caravans. Travel between communities in Korla is unsafe without the safety of numbers, experienced guides, and trained warriors, so elven caravans are always accompanied by merchants and other travelers. Half-elves are typically the result of a human having traveled with an elven caravan for any length of time. And while elves play an important role in the empire by facilitating travel, elves and half-elves are greeted with some wariness by the common people of the empire because the elves consider themselves a free people unbeholden to the laws of the empire.
The Dragonborn are a scattered people not native to Korla. Some travel with elven caravans, offering their services as mercenaries, while others live in small, close-knit communities within larger imperial towns and cities. Dragonborn are most prevalent in the independent city-states along the coast east of Durshkali territory. These coastal cities include a large minority of dragonborn who have immigrated to the mainland from The Sea Spines archipelago, where they follow old tribal practices.
The Eladrin and the people of Durshkal have a strained, courteous relationship. The eladrin oppose the empires persecution of arcane magic, while Durshkalis are wary of the eladrins’ open use of witchcraft. Eladrin still have knowledge of the time before the Cataclysm, although this information is carefully protected. And even their society is still recovering from the destruction that followed the Cataclysm. Even the Feywild was struck by storms of arcane energies unleashed by that disastrous event. And while the eladrin survived the Cataclysm better than any other people, their society also suffered from a civil war not long after, which led to the split of the eladrin, elves, and drow.
Gnomes are a mysterious folk for whom the Cataclysm was a blessing. In the chaos that ensued, they seized the opportunity to rebel against the fomorians who had long kept their people enslaved.
Wilden are a young species who first emerged in the feywild near places that had been most ravaged by the spellstorms of the Cataclysm.
Tieflings, Halflings, and Genasi are not native to Korla. They arrived on Korla by ship only 18 years ago. They hail from empire across the sea name Bael Nerath. Bael Nerath is a caste based society in which the tieflings form the ruling class. Genasi comprise the warrior caste of Nerathi society. And while genasi are only second to in rank to tieflings only, all genasi were once humans at the bottom of the caste system before undergoing a painful and dangerous transformation ritual. The final two castes are the artisan and servant class. Artisans are peasants and skilled labors, and this caste is a mix of humans and halflings. Members of the servant caste are exclusively halfling. As the tieflings’ personal servants, halflings in the servant class have more prestige and less apparent freedom than the members of the artisan caste. However, halflings protect their peoples’ interests by using their position as servants to act as spies and power brokers among the tiefling nobility.
The Hidden Strangers:
Some Durshakali tell legends about a people called the Githzerai. These reclusive, adaptable people live in incredibly remote, difficult to reach places, and some of the legends even claim that the githzerai make their homes in the Elemental Chaos and visit Korla through portals from that wild realm. Some say the githzerai are nomadic and others speak of hidden monasteries where githzerai ascetics contemplate the world and guard knowledge that predates the Cataclysm.
While the legends of the githzerai speak of an exotic, mysterious people encountered only by bold explorers, stories about the Shadar-kai tend to be grim cautionary tales. These fierce, eerie people hail from the Shadowfell, the realm of the dead. And unlike the legends of the enigmatic githzerai, stories of the shadar-kai are certainly real, though not many Durshkalis have met one. The shadar-kai have a reputation for embracing pain and living life with fierce passion and recklessness. The more tragic tales claim that this is the only way for the shadar-kai to survive the soul-draining gloom of the Shadowfell.
Devas, Dopplegangers, and Shifters exist in Korla in small numbers. They have no unified identity or distinct relationship to the world.
A note about racial abilities in Korla: House rules have been applied to any races that have not already been updated to reflect D&D’s new approach to character design by providing a choice of two out of three possible racial ability bonuses.