Most of the major works of the Earthwardens are dated throughout the Interregnum 50,000 to 70,000 in the past. The planet was still in turmoil from the Galactic Civil Wars so it’s expected that some of their work has been lost to the still changing planetary surface.
Xa’ar has some new material on the Earthwardens, but I thought I would explore the most significant endeavors built by the Earthwardens.
Ancient submarine “highways”
Above ground entries to the network are cleverly hidden in rocky coastlines or lonely atolls. follow island chains and undersea ridges, always in shallow water.
Inside, the roads are arched corridors made up of coral and shell; some areas are translucent to allow filtered sunlight to illuminate the tunnels by day.
Access via Earthwarden artifacts.
I hope that many GM’s have introduced the Coral Roads in their SW games/campaigns. Not only is it a great SW “element”, but it does allow the players to travel safely from one area to another and enforces the broader concept that Kulthea has many secrets.
ENIGMATIC ANCIENT STRUCTURES:
The Earthwardens left many mysterious structures around Kulthea. Some have been repurposed or cities and towns have sprung up around them without the people even knowing the age or provenance of these buildings. Almost all are built with interlocking stones of Cavarite.
Essaence Towers. Often built at the nexus of an Essaence Foci, the towers can be seen as power conductors or antennae: they can focus and control nearby Flows. The use of these towers is beyond most today, but a few hold this secret knowledge…
Essaence Spheres. It’s believed that the Earthwardens built undergrounds complexes to store and protect powerful artifacts and knowledge.
Block Tombs. It’s not clear what their original purpose was, scholars believe they were actual tombs for Earthwardens (they don’t date back to the 1st era) or they could be an artifact of some unknown Interregnum civilization. Either way, the surviving ones have been co-opted by the the Z’taar Priests to be used as their Chapter Houses.
It is believed that dozens of tunnels were created to facilitate travel, but only a few survived and some remain hidden or their entrances blocked by tectonic activity. The Tunnels are a marvel of ancient power–their flows reversing direction on a regular schedule and allowing for ship transit in both directions. The Tunnels resist damage and blockages. Three of them are:
Imarij Sea Tunnel in Agyra. The southern entrance is found at the base of Nontataku and is a major hub of commerce for Agyra.
Grotto Path in Emer. A critical path for trade, the Tunnel is now a dangerous transit due to the presence of Krylites.
Naichon Tunnel. East/West tunnel between Bokorean Kingdon and Ur Jujuy in Falias. Hidden and rarely used.
One of the final legacies of the Earthwardens was the creation of guardians placed throughout the hemisphere. Five of these Golems were built, powerful enchanted warriors who could be utilized by those with access to ancient knowledge.
Earthwarden ruins in Red Dawn Pass, Falias
Isle of the Turning in Mythenis
Earthwarden ruins in NE Kelestia
Earthwarden temple under Nontataku in Agyra
Earthwarden temple in Vog Mur
MEGALITHS, STANDING STONES AND CIRCLES:
These structures are found throughout Kulthea, mostly in wilderness areas. They are mysterious and avoided by locals, although they are meant as safe havens against dark forces; especially Demons. These structures can be single monoliths, dolmens are stone spirals but typically have similar powers. The stones will often glow whenever a Demon or servant of the Unlife is near…
These are just a few examples of the legacy of the Earthwardens but the possibilities are endless!
Two of my favorite elements of Shadow World are the Earthwardens and the Dragonlords. Both groups represent incredibly mysterious but powerful influences in Shadow Worlds history. Until the Xa’ar supplement, which delved into the origins of the Earthwardens in more depth, we only knew that both groups sprung up in the early Interregnum without further explanation.
However, it was the Dragonlords that really fired up my imagination but while they are ubiquitous in Shadow Worlds history, there has never been an “origin story”. It wasn’t until the Xa’ar supplement that a solution clicked in my head and tied up quite a few loose ends. I would cite the following excerpts from various SW books:
One such group actually became trapped in the event horizon of a singularity and suffered a time dilation of many thousands of years before they were able to escape.
These K’ta’viiri built enchanted places of guardianship to help protect these weaker races, and came to them as teachers and counselors. They would become the Earthwardens, and they inhabited the Shadow World for a period sometime between 70 and 50 thousand years ago, though almost certainly not for that entire period. Apparently after a time they felt they had done all they could, and departed again for space. However many of their structures survive, some of an enchanted stone, and some—like the Coral Roads—are living legacies.
Note: This establishes that the Earthwardens are actually Ka’ta’viir that returned to Kulthea during the middle of the Interregnum period.
c. 1500: Founding of the Four Orders (Elder, Oak, Nya, Thorn), Elven animistic groups dedicated to protecting the natural order and combating demonic and other evil forces (demons remain relatively common,trapped in this plane after the Wars of Dominion; and within a few centuries the order will face the threat of the Unlife). The original founders are four remaining Earthwardenswho elect to stay behind. They do not divulge their true nature to their Elven followers; nor do they fully reveal the powers of the Isle of Lost Magic. They teach the ways of nature and related professions. Each possesses a staff of the named order, and they (and their Elven successors) are called the Guardians of those staves.
Notes: This establishes that not ALL of the Earthwardens left as mentioned in the first section above. Not only did they establish the Four Orders, there is a Druidic/Animistic legacy created.
re: Taranians. Over time they added settlements on other continents and connected to them via a high-speed underground rail system, which they referred to as the Subshuttle. Exactly why they went to the expense and trouble of constructing a tunnel system under the ground and beneath the oceans is unclear, but it is believed that either the skies were unsafe because of a proliferation of hostile creatures and/or beings,
Note: Something was happening on the surface that motivated the Taranians (and Worim) to build underground. Were Dragons ruling the sky and the lands of Kulthea?
There were only a few hundred of them, along with mates and offspring, but they decided to remain on Kulthea and do their best to restore their world to its former beauty. They would keep a low profile, remain aloof from politics and power, but they would aid the fragile peoples in need where they could. They built protected roadways, and constructed magical guardians who could be summoned to fight against the terrible demons that now walked the earth. They kept apart from the Jinteni and Wôrim and the Elves for the most part, and faded into legend as those civilizations rose. Like all the K’ta’viiri, the Earthwardens were powerful masters of Arcane Essænce, but in particular they were able to tap the Channeling power from the earth like few others. Thus they had great ability to manipulate nature as only the most talented Animists can today. Also, when they returned to Kulthea, they abandoned most technology in favor of Magic—though both were somewhat unreliable in the fi rst fi fty millennia or so after the fall of the empire.
Notes: The Earthwardens went from Arcane magic to “Channeling from the Earth”. This should not be confused with Channeling from Orhan as it appears the Althans and Ka’ta’viir were unaware or perplexed by the Lords. “Channeling from the Earth” should be seen as a tapping of primal power from the planet: Flows, Foci etc.
Earthwardens, who spent most of their energy on rebuilding the planet’s ecosystem. They received unexpected help in that from the Fey Folk of Orhan: Naiads, Dryads, Oceanids and others. They came to respect these spirits and work in cooperation with them, though even they never fully understood the nature of these ephemeral creatures, created by the hidden Lords of Orhan.
Notes: Again, we see a collaboration between the Earthwardens and “Fey” powers. Very Animistic/Druidic.
Around 40,000 years before the beginning of the Second Era, most of the Earthwardens decided that their work was done, and wanted to resume their travels. Their ship had remained in orbit during this rebuilding, and they hoped to embark on a great journey to another galaxy. A handful—and their descendants—remained on the Shadow World to continue their efforts. A few survive on Kulthea to this day, but most have retreated to a simple, reclusive way of life.Some like to refer to themselves as ‘The Elders.’ One is the Storm Wizard; he was always the most talented at creating magical golems.
Notes. Quite revelatory! Here we see conclusively that “some” Earthwardens stay behind.
[ Andraax gives one of the Dragon Rings, the Daath Leerssoi (K. “Maker of the Shadow Drakes”) to Tev Yu’um, a Lotana Mentalist who is also a clanlord in the T’sai steppelands of NE Mulira. This ring allows Tev to assume the form of a blue Air Drake. It becomes apparent to Tev over the centuries that the ring has other powers than allowing its wearer to assume dragon-form: he gains knowledge of the Great Drakes—including their language—and is granted a lifespan akin to those creatures.]
Note: The Daath Leerssoi are basically the opposite of the Dragon Helms. They allow mortals to assume the shape of Great Dragons (while the Helms allow the Dragons to assume mortal form). But this is not just a physical change but imparting of knowledge and language.
[Yu’um knows that people are growing suspicious of his secretive ways and mysteriously long ‘lives,’ and he fears that he is losing the ability to control himself in Dragon-form.
Note. Using the Dragon ring risks him being subsumed by “Dragon-form”; becoming more creature. We should assume that this risk exists for the other rings as well. Are some Dragons in SW actually mortals lost to their rings power?
A Blue Dragon is spotted several times …. [It is in fact Yaalc Muul awakened, but his mind is unstable: most of the time he does not remember that he is actually human.]
In dragon form now he is more animal than man, and he rarely reverts to his human state any more except to go back into slumber.
Note: Again, there is this idea that the transformation into Dragon kind subsumes a “humans” personality and memories.
Tev Yu’um was given one of the Daath Leerssoi (K. “Maker of the Shadow Drakes”) by Andraax. It is a ring that allows a human to assume the form of a dragon, with virtually all the powers and abilities of that dragon. He was given the Kodul ring, which transformed him to a Blue Air Drake: a fl ying dragon, but with a breath weapon comparable to those of the Great Drakes
Note: Here is is even more clear that the rings are akin to the Dragonhelms and the powers of a Great Drake.
Ssoiayig Saer (K. ‘Caves of the Drakes’ Birthplace’), the ancient secret breeding caves overlooking the Silver Scales Lake.
Note: A clue to the origin of Drakes? Does this ancient place preclude the idea that Dragons were another experiment of the Lords of Essence?
[The Dragon Helms are completed, and the Six gather. What they do not know is that Krelij, using the knowledge gleaned from Oran Jatar, has also made six rings. These rings, which he names the Daath Leerssoi (K. “Makers of the Shadow Drakes”), allow a human wearer to assume the powers of a dragon.
Note: The Rings are created at the same time as the Helms by Krelij.
So what should we make of all this?
Dragons, Great Drakes and Dragonlords were “birthed” sometime during the Interregnum and probably not a remnant of the 1st Era or a product of Orhan.
The Earthwardens slowly assumed new “earth and elemental powers” and worked with the Fey creatures and Elves to rebuild Kulthea.
Some of the Earthwardens stayed behind on Kulthea while the rest left about the same time as the emergence of the Dragonlords.
Around the time of the Dragonlords appearance, the skies of Kulthea became dangerous and non-terrestrial races (Taranians and Worim) were forced to build/hide underground?
The Dragonlords are avatars of Kulthean earth powers: elemental creatures that can “ride the flows” and control great powers.
There are magical helms and rings that have similar but opposite powers: one to turn Dragons into men and the other to turn men into Dragons.
RM Companion I references the “Ritual of Ascension” that allows a Mage to transcend into a Drake/Dragon.
Terry never circled the square, but is it reasonable to argue that the 6 Dragonlords were Earthwardens that underwent the “Ritual of Ascension” to become permanent guardians of Kulthea? After the Ritual the “nature” of being Dragonkind overwhelms their past memories and Althan/Ka’ta’viir background and they become more “wild” and elemental; even being construed to be “evil”. Certainly, some of the Dragonlords more than others, but as Terry notes: their motivations and behaviors are unfathomable to mortals.
That’s my theory and solution. Have any SW users come up with something else?
The recent discussions on Druids here on the blog seemed a relatively easy assignment. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to Druids and generally argued for a more distinctive Druid by making them either a semi-spell user or even an Essence based profession. For me the Druid was just a new name on a predictable template already covered by Clerics, Animists and Rangers.
However, several comments and some googling made me start thinking about Druids quite a lot…
Who were the Druids?
There is not a lot of first-hand knowledge of the Druids, but it’s generally believed they were: “philosophers, teachers, judges, the repository of communal wisdoms about the natural world and the traditions of the people, and the mediators between humans and the gods.” So, in some respects this sounds a lot like a Cleric or Priest, and in RM terms, a Channeler. But there are other descriptions of Druids that evoke a more mysterious and perhaps even sinister aspect. Then, while reading this description,
Druids, like numerous cultures both prehistoric and modern, were fascinated by the movements of stars and other celestial bodies. This implies that they were still using Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge to track different astronomical alignments.
I was struck by a thought. While the Druid profession was missing in the original RM, the Astrologer was not. The Astrologer is an odd profession–I certainly thought it was cool when I first was introduced to RM, but the concept seems curiously unfinished. First, I think star-based spell lists are a very setting specific idea and the the lists themselves were incomplete with very few actual spells on each list. Assuming some fixes to the Astrologer lists, a great Druid concept would consolidate the Druid base with the Astrologer base lists. That would make the Druid interesting and unique while still retaining some the cool factor that the Astrologer promised. In this scenario I see possible Druid Base Lists as:
“Far Voice” But a rewritten combination of Astrologer “Far Voice”, “Way of the Voice” & “Starsense”
“Visions” A combination of Astrologers “Time Bridge” and “Holy Visions”
“Starlight”. Original Astrologer but needs some fixing.
“Druidstaff”. Either the original RMC I version, Hurin’s version or my BASiL list “Talisman”.
“Natures Forms”. Original Druid list.
“Stone Mastery”. Original Druid list.
“Weather Mastery” type list as an alternate.
These six Base lists make a Druid very distinct from other Professions, especially the Animist and Ranger, by dropping the Animal and Plant control spells. To me this still feels like a “naturalist” spell user but in a more raw and visceral way. There is a nature and elemental angle to the class with “Starlight” and “Stone Mastery” and a touch of a Seer with “Visions”. Plus the elemental spells and the Druidstaff gives the Druid combat and offensive ability. “Far Voice” allows the individual Druids to communicate across vast spaces with each other–providing them a network of information.
I was pretty satisfied with this new Druid concept and would have left it alone…but I kept thinking about Druids and Shadow World. Shadow World has an organization that aligns quite well with a Druidic concept: The Earthwardens. In SW canon, the Earthwardens helped heal and rebuild the shattered planet. They built great earthworks, megalithic constructions, circles, henges, and passages, while nurturing civilization back from the brink. This is a familiar tale–not unlike legendary figures in our own history: Hermes, Thoth, Quetzalcóatl, and other “bringers of civilization” that were steeped in hermetic traditions.
While it’s not implicitly stated or clarified, the Earthwardens were using “proto-magic”; early Essaence before it was divided into the individual realms. The Earthwardens built structures on Essaence Foci–basically “Earthnodes” and “Leylines” often associated with Druidic tradition. While the Earthwardens esssentially disappeared during the Interregnum, it’s conceivable that their knowledge was passed down through a secret tradition and organization: The Druids.
So putting it all together we have an organization/profession that utilizes “proto-magic” and “Earthnodes” and is the repository of ancient traditions and wisdom. To me, that sounds a lot like what many people would think of for a fantasy Druid archetype. What types of spell powers are proto-magic? Luckily, I don’t have to write a bunch of new spells–just adopt the Arcane Magic lists as Druid base lists! In fact, Rolemaster Companion I has every thing we need: earthnodes, arcane magic and Druids! The base lists would be:
Bladerunes. A great utility spell list that gives the Druid weapon enchanting ability and replaces the list “Druidstaff”.
Earthbloods Ways. Obviously, this is easy to convert to Shadow World’s versions: Essence Flows and Essence Foci.
Entity Mastery. I would make some changes and eliminate the homoculous spells, but I like the idea of a Druid commanding Golems and Elementals.
Ethereal Mastery. Not sure about this one, but I like the concept of Astral Projection for Druids.
Mana Fires. Feels very Allanon’ish and Druids should be “Wielders of the Secret Flame”.
Shapechanging Ways. Gives the Druid the connection to Flora and Fauna.
The Arcane lists in RMC I are right on point for Druid spells and work well as inherited knowledge of the Earthwardens. With these lists, Druids tie into SW history and make a kick-ass profession with unique powers.
So what do you think? Druid/Astrologer or Druid/Arcane? I like them both, but Druid/Arcane fits my SW campaign. You can read my amended history of the Earthwardens in this file (inspired by page 5 of Rolemaster Companion I)