Deep in the Drunken Forest, a sage sits in the steamy haze and drinks palm wine. The visions come to her, slow and surreal, brought by the palm wine’s blessing.
High in the bough of a verdant tree, a man crouches with a bow. Stag horn tattoos rise around his temples, and his feet hug the tree’s limb as though embracing an old friend.
A you man dances through the trees, twin gandasas clutched in his hands, their blades shaped to look like the fangs of a great tiger. He steps through a cluster vines and plunges his twin weapons into the heart of a panther.
Welcome to the Tiger Legion.
The Tiger Legion is one of humanity's most populous tribes. Comprised of three distinct and codependent legions, the Tiger Legion’s distribution of labor and resources allows it to maintain a strong foothold in the perilous jungle. The Tiger Legion’s three tribes are the Fang Swarm Legion, the Palm Wine Legion, and the Treestag Legion
The Serpent Pact is one of Almira's most secretive human tribes. Often trained in assassination, stealth, and theft, citizens of the Serpent Pact lives in hidden cities within Tai Ke, the Endless Desert. Members of the Serpent Pact often worship Alquatl, and their divine casters are well trained in his deific style. Members of the Serpent Pact who take animal companions often train cobras to work with them, as the cobra is the sacred animal of Alquatl, and the venom of the cobra is especially potent.
Rashid ibn Nazareth, born of the Serpent Pact and scout for the armies of Tzalandar, raised his spyglass to the horizon. The wind of the desert whipped his cloak, drawing a hiss from his companion. Shamshir, Rashid’s cobra companion, wrapped himself tighter and flared his hood.
A crashing sound echoed before them, and the gargantuan div lifted itself from the sands. Black cloaked and red eyed, the thing scanned the desert with knowing eyes, and began to advance on Rashid’s position with slow deliberate steps.
“Time to go!” whispered Rashid hurriedly, and slid down the dune to his waiting mare. “We may need some backup.” Whispering spells of speed and concealment, he lowered himself over the horse’s neck and sped off towards Tzalandar.
The Serpent Pact has no specific agricultural or trade practices. However, these masters of of stealth and theft are well known for their forays into the Palace of Sin to steal food and supplies. Those who have been to their hidden cities note that they are well stocked with items like water, food, weapons, and medicines. Sick soldiers and the families of the fallen will often find mysterious gifts on their doorsteps, expensive medicines, food, or bags of coin with the symbol of the Serpent Pact prominently displayed.
The hair on the back of Kaela’s neck stood up straight as she walked carefully to the door. Two days ago, Rhys had answered the door for a stranger and a Div had slain him on the spot. Now a widow and single mother of three children, she did not want to take such risks. Peering through the curtained window, she saw naught but an empty courtyard.
Gingerly, she walked to the door and opened it. On the doorstep was a small basket covered with a cloth. Peeling back the covering revealed a sight that made Kaela’s jaw drop. The basket held a small fortune in gold coins and three loaves of freshly baked bread. There was also a small piece of paper with a note
“Our condolences, may the blessings of Alquatl follow you always”
-Rashid ibn Nazareth, Khan of the Serpent Pact
The following archetype, the Cobra Khan, represents the skill set of a raid leader within the Serpent Pact. Khans direct the hunters and assassins of the Pact against specific targets, delegating jobs such as gathering provisions for non-combatant members and assassinating potential threats. On missions of great importance, the khans lead their troops themselves, striking down enemies before they can sound an alarm.
In Almira, death is a constant presence. Hordes of monsters slaughter civilians at will, demonic butchers carve and slaughter humanoid slaves by the thousands each day; death is everywhere.
So what happens when a creature in Almira dies?
When death occurs, a creature's soul begins to enter an excruciatingly painful state of decay. The soul must quickly cross The Four Bridges of the afterlife and enter The Catacombs. Once interred there, the pain stops and the dust of the decayed soul used to create new souls. Thus the cycle begins anew.
There are two exceptions to this rule. Samsarans are reborn immediately as a new baby samsaran, and the souls of kitsune live eternally in Tian Ta, the Godspire.
The Four Bridges:
Each of The Four Bridges corresponds to a specific aura that creature possessed in life. To cross a bridge, the soul must answer a question or endure a test. If a question is answered incorrectly, or a condition of the test or question is missed, the soul’s decay quickens, leaving it at risk of never seeing The Catacombs, and being unable to reincarnate. The deity Oglahain, Keeper of Descents, helps the newly deceased make their way past the trials of The Four Bridges.
The First Bridge - Alignment:
The first bridge that must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Alignment. The creature must answer what alignment is thinks it possessed during its life. The bridge of Alignment crosses a pit of ice and fire, which corrodes the soul if it answers incorrectly. Evil creatures, who often see their evil causes as just, tend to corrode more quickly at this bridge.
The Second Bridge - Emotion:
The second bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Emotion. To cross this bridge, the creature endure each emotion which it caused in others. Those of strong mind are able to atone, repent, or simply endure the onslaught of negative emotions. The souls of the weak minded begin to decay.
The Third Bridge - Health:
The third bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Health. This bridge requires no test, but is incredibly long. Those who were strong of body in life are able to cross without too much effort. The souls of the weak-bodied decay along the journey.
The Fourth Bridge - Magic:
The fourth bridge and final bridge which must be crossed on the road to peace is the bridge of Magic. This bridge is peppered with ley lines, which can be tapped for the power to undo small amounts of decay. While those unschooled in the art of magic need simply will the energy to reform their broken spirits, those schooled in magic must use their respective magical arts to accomplish the task.
The Catacombs are a large spiraling tower in the heart of the Unformed Plane of Earth. The souls who dwell here bask in its peace, and decay until their essence is harvested to create new souls. The Catacombs are ruled by Chriuk, the Graveyard Man.
Cleric of the Fourth Bridge:
Followers of Oglahain often assist their god in preparing the living for their eventual and inevitable death. Clerics of the Fourth Bridge use their magics to prepare the souls of the deceased for their decay and rebirth.
Members of The Path, known as Sojourners, seek spiritual enlightenment through immersion in academia. A monastic order, Sojourners follow the 7 tenets of The Path. These tenets are:
While the path has no central location, branches are often found throughout Almira, and many Sojourners of The Path take up posts in the libraries of major cities. Below are two archetypes available to members who study The Path. Be sure to check out the style feat chain dedicated to The Path as well, which you can find here.
The gods of Almira make themselves known to their followers quite often. Some live in temples, in cities, or in palaces on the mortal plane, while others make frequent visits to their most faithful. It is not uncommon for the peasantry of the world to have seen a deity or two by the end of their lifetime. This presence often incites the followers of deities to emulate their style of combat and spellcasting. Below, you will find the style trees of Alquatl, the Hidden Blade, Talia, the Questing Goddess, and Asheera, Storm of the Mind. You can find out more about these deities on the Pantheon page.