The initial setting for what has become The Cordus Primer was the campaign backdrop for my Lost Marches game. Set in one corner of a world, post ‘event’, The Lost Marches is a ‘western marches’ style of play. As I’ve expanded the world, the Primer needed a new name that would reflect all of the various realms within. Cordus, latin for aftermath, fit the bill.
Over fifteen hundred years ago, three forgotten Empires united together as one. Together they were known as The Great Compact. The borders of this realm extended far beyond those of the lands today. It’s said that several wars and too rapid of an expansion took its toll upon the populace of The Great Compact. This and other matters led to the inner collapse of the Compact and the time of The Fracturing.
A millennium later, a handful of successor Kingdoms has had time to heal and grow. Once again humanity has reason to spread and retake some of the lands that were lost during The Fracturing. With this return to expansion, some fortunate settlers have found ancient riches among the ruins of the Compact.
Those with a poor chance of inheriting, or with a sense of wanderlust, now travel to the border of the Kingdoms. From the border, these Settlers and Adventurers strike out into the wreckage of the once great Compact.
If their luck holds, Adventurers may be able to find a lost horde, or they may be able to establish themselves as Nobility over the reclaimed lands. With no law enforced, these lands are full of opportunity, and even more danger.
Withing The Lost Marches (which shares the calendar used in the Kingdom of Insulia) the calendar contains eleven months, each matching the thirty-day lunar cycle of the moon Bahamud. Each month is in turn, broken into three tenday’s, each ending in a Market Day.
The year begins upon the first day of Spring, in the month of Pelor’s Return. While Spring and Fall come and go quickly within two months, the seasons are longest in Summer and Winter with three and four months respectively.
None reach the Emerald Jungles by accident. First one must make their way to the Southern coast of the Insulia, and lay eyes upon the Sweltering Sea. Strong winds constantly rake along the coast from the Southwest, driving sea traffic further East. If one does dare board a ship, it must be well stocked.
The journey South, will take you twenty-five days away from land, and through waters that are warm enough to brew tea. Around the twenty-fifth day, landfall can be made upon the Dragon’s Chain. A series of islands that are home to several active volcanoes and the single ‘City’ of the Southern Seas.
To call Open a city is a stretch at best. It’s an outright lie to nearly any northerner who is used to the prosperity of Civilized Realms such as Insulia. Open has a population that fluctuates between one thousand during the cooler months and two thousand souls during the trading season. As a ‘free port’ city, bedecked with shops and docks that dot it’s deep water bay, Open is both a merchants paradise and nightmare. As a ‘free port’, there are but two laws of Open, No blood may be shed within Open and Honor all deals once struck. Breaking either law means death.
After Open, another five days aboard ship are needed to skip through the rest of the Dragon’s Chain and it’s reefs. Seasoned Captains follow the established shipping lanes to either The Port of Crackclift or Bottle Bay. Those who wander from the lanes have been known to fall to the blades of pirates and sea-beasts. This has left much of the southern coast un-explored.
Three days west of Open, lies the Port of Crackclift. As the older of the two southern towns, it is home to a small Dwarven mine and an exotic lumbering company. A trio of retired ‘Merchant Captains’ has made Crackclift their permanent home. Going so far as to pay for a small temple of Pelor to be established in the East end of the small town, Crackclift would be nearly familiar to new arrivals.
So named for the shape of the low breakwater that has been formed, Bottle Bay is an unruly place with only three permanent structures. One, the Lodge, houses rich visitors from the Civilized Realms. The second is the Ivory Ossuary, which is used for the storage of trophies from big game hunters that visit the Lodge. The third and final building, the stoutest of them all, houses the spices collected for the Red Tounge Spicing Company.
Bottle Bay’s proximity to the great Thundering Lizard River, allows would be Big Game hunters the opportunity to travel deeper into the wilderness of the Emerald Jungles by small boat. A far easier method of travel than on foot.
The local Lizardmen have spoken with Druids and Rangers on more than one occasion, hen pressed on the subject of ruins in the jungle. Tales hold that The Eludo Kingdoms once warred with each other throughout the Emerald Jungles of this Southern continent. What befell them, and how long ago is a mystery to date.
Beyond Limen and the Second Valley lies the hinterlands. Few hearty souls have made their homes in the vast wilderness since the return to The Lost Marches. With no law and order beyond a day’s ride of Limen, only Adventurers risk such a distant base of operations.
The Lost Marches are in a world that is being reborn after a dark period. Considerable knowledge was lost with the fall of the The Great Compact, and some options are limited because of this.
The Civilized Lands are predominantly composed of, and completely ruled by, Humans. The last census of the Kingdom of Insulia showed that forty-five of every fifty citizens were human, while three of the fifty were Halfling. The other two were most frequently Half-Elven, Half-Orc or wayward Dwarves.
Gnomes and Tieflings are simply unknown in the lands that once belonged to The Great Compact. As a direct result, the languages of Gnomish is unknown.
Beings that resemble Dragonborn are creatures of legends, akin to Dragons. Nonetheless, the most erudite scholars claim to both speak and read Draconic, the supposed legend of Dragons.
The elder races watched the Great Compact crumble, and they have maintained a certain distance from the survivors. Dwarves and Elves are unlikely to travel with Humans into The Lost Marches, while Dwarves are somewhat more likely to journey south to the Emerald Jungles or at least be seen in the Capitol of Insulia. Otherwise, they remain within their own realms and generally refuse to discuss the world that once was.
Fighter – Fighters are prohibited from using the Eldritch Knight Archetype.
Monks – Monks are restricted to the Way of the Open Hand monastic tradition.
Paladin – Paladins are prohibited from following the Oath of Ancients.
Ranger – Rangers use the Revised Ranger, with the Hunter and Beast Conclaves from the Unearthed Arcana found HERE
Rogue – Rogues are prohibited from using the Arcane Trickster Archetype
Warlock – Unavailable to PC’s
Sorcerer – Unavailable to PC’s
Sword Coast Adventurers Guide – All Archetypes are acceptable unless noted above.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything – Highly restricted, check with the DM first.
Since The Fracturing, the Pantheon of Gods that actively respond to the prayers of Clerics has dwindled. This has caused a fundamental change in society, with Pelor’s acceptance as the de facto religion of all of the human Kingdoms. The Gods who are known to have active Clerics are:
Moradin – The father and creator of the Dwarven people. A harsh but fair judge, Moradin favours strength and force of will in his children but insists that they are tempered with Honor and Law at all times.
Domains: Forge, Knowledge
Alignment: Lawful Good
Pelor – The sole God worshipped by ‘Goodly’ people. Pelor the Lightbringer is the God of Justice, Light and the natural world.
Domains: Light, Nature
Alignment: Lawful Good
Ioun – The Goddess of knowledge, magic and study. She remains neutral in all things except her hate for Vecna.
Domains: Arcana, Knowledge
Raven Queen – The Goddess of the dead and dying. Goodly people only turn to her during funeral rites.
Domains: Life, Death
Bane – The God of war and slaughter. Bane’s power has been on the decline for over a century.
Domains: Tempest, War
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Vecna – The God of evil secrets and the Undead has been all but forgotten due to his silence.
Domains: Knowledge, Trickery
Alignment: Neutral Evil
One of the few bastions that survived The Fracturing was the Academy of High Magic. All but a few rogue Wizards belong to the Academy, and they maintain a stranglehold upon higher magical learning. When a Wizard reaches second level they are restricted to the three Arcane Traditions listed here:
The Lost Marches lie on the bleeding edge of the wilderness. The countless Guilds, Noble Families, Merchant Alliances, and intrigues of the Civilized Lands have not yet fully spread to the Barony Limen. Those that have can be broken down into Orders and Factions.
What has made its way there, are the various Orders that guide young Campaigners. These Orders take a multitude of forms, and all have their roots in the Civilized Lands, but each seeks to train and recognize its members.
As a Campaigner advances in skill, the Orders recognize this with certain titles and training. While titles hold less value outside of Insulia, they are still respected and all would be advised to heed the word of a Radiant Servant of Pelor, least they need his healing might later.
Numbers in parenthesis indicate a level or level range.
Fighters and Rangers
Monks of the Way of the Open Hand
Wizards of all three Orders
All Clerics and Paladins of Pelor
Paladins of Pelor
Clerical Worshipers of Pelor
While a Campaigner is accepted by an Order for who they are, Factions are groups that work for specific purposes. They are composed of members of nearly any of the Orders and work toward goals of their own choosing.
Found in: The Emerald Jungles
Despite its name, the Ancient Brotherhood of Mariners cares not which sex you belong to, as long as you have served upon the Sea. Composed of the nautically inclined, the Brotherhood acts as a union which controls shipping across the Sweltering Sea.
Symbol: Members of the Brotherhood frequently wear either a red sash about their next or waist. Alternatively, those who are committed to a life at sea may have a tattoo of a red parrot on their left forearm. In either case, once a month the sash or tattoo allows the Mariner to benefit from the effect of a potion of water breathing as a bonus action.
Advantages: Whenever you serve aboard ship, you’re considered a true Mariner, and your advice is headed. Should you speak for a person, your word is likely to be taken at face value. Likewise, in any Port, you are understood to be representative of the Brotherhood, and you’ll see steep discounts from businesses that cater explicitly to Sailors.
Disadvantages: You represent the Brotherhood, and some establishments have banned all members as undesirables. You’ll be prevented from entering most shops that cater to the upper-class.
Found in: The Lost Marches
The Shield is a solid traditionalist group. They wish to bring the First Valley, Second Valley, and Limen under the Fedual oversight of the Kingdom of Insulia. All expansion is done in the effort to gain political power and advantage for the Nobility of Insulia.
Symbol: A cloak clasp in the shape of the Royal Arms of Insulia. The clasp will cast Gentle Repose upon the body of the owner if they die.
Advantages: In exchange for your dedication, The Shield protects their own. If your body is returned to The Shield’s headquarters in Limen, they will raise you from the dead.
Disadvantages: You must tithe 20% of all new wealth to the Crown of Insulia.
Found in: The Emerald Jungles, The Lost Marches
Dungeoneers, Tomb Raiders, Relic thieves, and Mystics make up The League. Set upon plundering The Lost Marches for the riches of the Great Compact, The League will frequently aid one another.
Symbol: A pin in the shape of a Feather/Quill worn on the lapel or chest. This pin is well known, merchants will charge you 10% less for all of your purchases and pay you 10% more for goods they buy from you.
Advantages: You have the option to purchase items that were nearly unknown (or frowned upon) in The Civilized Lands. You may purchase Potions of Healing, Greater Healing, and Poisons at the League’s Hall.
Disadvantages: Each lunar cycle, you spend at least one-day copying notes and/or carrying messages/packages for The League.
Found in: The Emerald Jungles
Trophy Hunters, Safari enthusiasts, and ‘biologists’ form the bulk of the group known as The Slayers. Known openly for their goal of ‘taming’ the savage world of the Eludo Kingdoms, Slayers roam deep into the emerald jungles in the hopes of discovering new beasts to add to their trophy rooms.
Symbol: A mithril hat pin in the shape of an arrow identifies a Slayer. Once per short rest, you can rub the blood of a fresh kill into the pin as a free action. Your next melee or ranged attack has advantage.
Advantages: You know that there is big money to be made in helping nobles hunt big game. As a downtime activity of at least three days, you may join a noble’s Safari as a guide or hunter. You’re paid a handsome fee for this service, all expenses and 5GP per level/day.
Disadvantages: You are a proud murderer of the wild things of the Eludo Kingdoms. All creatures native to the Emerald Jungles can sense this, and automatically treat you as unfriendly (at best).
Found in: The Lost Marches
Yeoman serve Baroness Limen, the founder of Limen and the woman accredited with taming The First Valley. Yeoman act as a force of Order and Law in the name of the Baroness.
Symbol: A heavy silver chair worn about the neck. This chain grants you advantage on Charisma saves and checks within Limen or the First Valley.
Advantages: As a Yeoman, you answer only to the Baroness and her Constable. While in Limen, you are provided with accommodation befitting your rank in the Castle at no cost. Further, you will be granted land and assistance should you wish to settle/fortify The Lost Marches.
Disadvantages: You are in Feudal service to the Baroness, and as your Liege, she may call upon you at any time for any service.