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Thread: [PF] Dragpocalypse: A Dragonrider’s Unofficial Pathfinder Campaign Setting

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    Default [PF] Dragpocalypse: A Dragonrider’s Unofficial Pathfinder Campaign Setting

    Part 0: An Indexent Proposal

    Part 1: Terms and Conditions (see below)
    Part 2: An Ontological Examination, aka Skip
    Part 3: Let There Be Overview (see below)
    Part 4: Arbor the Wood (see below)
    Part 5: Benthos the Deep (see below)
    Part 6: Karoo the Desert (see below)
    Part 7: Lea the Plains (starts below)
    Part 8: Nome the Urbanity (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...-Setting/page2)
    Part 9: Root the Underground (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...74#post1166374)
    Part 10: Sine the Hills (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...98#post1166698)
    Part 11: Stratus in the Sky (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...54#post1167054)
    Part 12: Zenith the Mountain (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...20#post1167220)
    Part 13: Dragons in Space (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...97#post1171597)
    Part 14: Places of Interest, Specific (http://www.thetangledweb.net/forums/...45#post1172545)
    Last edited by Isada; 12-31-2017 at 08:52 PM.

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    Part 1: Terms and Conditions

    Dragonrider
    The term provokes countless reactions from dragons and their kind ranging from laughter to scoffter, cold rage to purest pity. To many, it embodies the last remnant of humanoid hubris amongst the broken and scattered non-dragon peoples who now share their place in the world of Dragpocalypse with the unthinking beasts, just below the sentient beasts. An equal number consider it a euphemism embodying the last and only hope of the humanoids in escaping their place in pyramid of predators and prey, for few among the Riders willingly call themselves ‘familiars.’

    Dragpocalypse
    Unsurprisingly, this is a term coined by those same humanoids who would dare speak of dragonriders though perhaps not in the vicinity or thought-presence of any of their dragon overlords. The world of Dragpocalypse, to be described within, is one in which dragons and their kind have replaced humanoids as the dominant societals. Humanoid society now exists only in fragmentary or dragon-codependent form.

    Humanoid Familiars
    This guide assumes familiarity with the third party content class of Dragonrider released by Rogue Genius Games. It is herein interpreted as a dragon or one of its kind taking on a humanoid familiar. The class as written offers various apologies from both the humanoid and dragon perspective on conforming to the class restrictions. This guide offers another, more than one other, but all boiling down to the same short: power.

    In this world, humanoids have lost all access to magic. At this time, some even question whether they ever had it in the first place. A humanoid who becomes a Rider gains access to magic. Though this will be touched upon again in greater detail, it is recommended for a campaign of entirely Dragonriders that the player of the Rider be allowed to choose a spell list at first level from any of the casting classes though conform to the class’s other spellcasting restrictions.

    The Dragonrider class offers very reasonable explanations from the Dragon’s perspective. The Dragpocalypse explanations are less so being for the most part left to the reader. Rather than give justifications from the alien mind of a dragon, the effects and consequences of having that bond between two powerfully sentient and, in the case of the dragon, a truly powerful being are herein explored. The player of the Rider may put together their dragon’s justifications from these pieces or may find it more stimulating to leave it a mystery to be explored during the campaign.

    It is recommended that the DM control the use of the Dragonrider’s void-jumping touched upon in Part 2 if the DM would like to use this unique form of teleportation at all.

    Abusive Notation
    Isada, you devilish old goat, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. I do not even recognize that as a word.

    You are most probably correct. I use the words that I like and while the derivatives of these words are likely words in English, the words that I use may not be. UNTIL TODAY.

    One of them is humanoid--every PC race is going to be referred to as humanoid so I don’t have to keep writing ‘PC race,’ which is more likely to break the suspension of disbelief that’s already going to be stretched to the outer limits.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-01-2017 at 10:42 AM.

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    Part 2: An Ontological Examination, aka Skip

    I see you’ve discovered that, despite being author, I can’t tell you what to do. Very well, I’ll just have to live with that.

    The Premise of Myth
    Picture the ocean as a four-dimensional object. This is The Ocean. Every ocean in every world, in every universe is of The Ocean.

    The Ocean is a Form, one of a group of objects that is here both the most essential and the fullest possible expression of itself. This Form, The Ocean, and all Forms exist across all worlds as oceans or what have you because the Forms are these four-dimensional objects, hereafter to be loosely referenced as tesseracts.

    The Inner Sea of Paizo’s Golarion is one face or Paradigm of The Ocean tesseract while Earth’s very own Atlantic is but another Paradigm.

    There can be countless Forms--The Mountains, The Forest, The City, The Village, ad nauseum if your world needs them. This guide however, is only interested in the Forms as they relate to dragons and Riders.

    The Premise of Being
    Consider the Paradigm of New York City. It’s full of people. You would not find these people in the Paradigm of Paizo’s Absalom. You would instead find humans, half-orcs, dwarves, etc. People are Paradigm-specific.

    This campaign setting assumes that dragons are not. An urban dragon in the Paradigm of New York City is the same being of urban dragon in any Paradigm of The City. The red dragon in the Paradigm of Paizo’s warm mountains is the same being of red dragon in the warm part of The Mountains. Dragons and their kind are not Paradigm-specific but Form-specific. They are not Forms, they are of the Forms. They are not Forms yet.

    The Premise of Power
    When a dragon, a Form-specific being, bonds with a humanoid as a Rider or familiar, a Paradigm-specific being, the two become a new being together as one. Each retains their old three-dimensional shapes and existences, but their bond adds a degree of freedom, a fourth dimension to their being. This fourth dimension is not so much perceived by dragon and Rider as it is acted upon. As a four-dimensional being, the dragon and Rider are tesseracts--they have become a Form themselves.

    The Dragon And Rider is Form that exists within some environmental Form and Paradigm, say The Desert and the Sahara Desert. The dragon and Rider can’t perceive their Formness, which means they exist entirely in whichever environmental Paradigm they’re currently located, here the Sahara Desert.

    The magic of the dragon and Rider, however, specifically teleportation, can tap into the Formness of The Dragon And Rider. Teleportation thus allows them to shift their Paradigm of existence from one environmental Paradigm and Form, the Sahara Desert of The Desert, to another Paradigm of the present Form, the Osirian Desert of Paizo’s Golarion. This four-dimensional, tesseractile teleportation works three-dimensionally within the tesseract teleport as well, allowing the dragon and Rider to teleport from the middle of the Sahara Desert to the edge of the Osirian Desert if they so choose.

    Mobility is power, especially mobility across worlds when your dominant society is a consumer society with destruction-loving members who actively wreck havoc on efforts by subordinates and equals toward productivism. Think mobility of self, of goods, of evils, of allies of enemies. Mobility is power but may be as simple and complicated as the power to escape and start anew.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-02-2017 at 09:00 PM.

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    Part 3: Let There Be Overview

    The world-building of the Dragpocalypse campaign setting focuses on dragon and kind communities of environments within this world of Dragpocalypse based on the environmental Forms referenced in Part 2.

    The world of Dragpocalypse exists on the massive planet of Colossus. Colossus is a curious planet whose nine continents are of a single, Formic environment: forest, mountain, marsh, hill, etc., and which stretch to a cold north, hot south, rainy east and arid west. These continents are connected by the imaginatively named Sea of Colossus which also follows the easy-to-remember scheme of cold north, hot south, rainy east, and arid west. The interpretation of an arid ocean is left to the reader.

    The nine respective continents are:
    -Arbor, the forest continent (including jungles)
    -Benthos, the continent sunk below the sea
    -Karoo, the desert continent
    -Lea, the plains continent
    -Nome, the urban continent
    -Root, the underground continent
    -Sine, the hill continent
    -Stratus, the sky continent (a liberal application of imagination is recommended)
    -Zenith, the mountain continent

    Technically, there are ten Seas of Colossus, one between each of the nine continents. As the distinction of seas is irrelevant against the setting of the aquatic/sunken continent of Benthos, however, they will be glossed over in favor of examining Benthos and the Sea of Colossus as a single aquatic entity. The ultimate arrangement of the nine continents is left to the reader, though for ease of reference they will be treated as though in alphabetical order.

    Colossus is the only planet in its solar system. It orbits a single sun-star, Solaris, and is orbited by a single satellite-moon, Lunarium. While the space-vacuum of its solar system is not inhabited by any viable Rider species, it is the home environment of Dragpocalypse’s Outer dragons.

    The world of Dragpocalypse has confirmed planes of Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Shadow, Heaven, Elysium, Abyss, Hell, and Boneyard, all inhabited by their respective planar, but these can be assumed to be equivalent to their official Paizo designations. The same goes for the Esoteric dragons in the Ether and Astral Planes as well as the Dimension of Dreams. While Occult dragons are also Esoteric, they live in the Material Plane and will be touched upon in Part 13.

    Drag-dangit, Isada, you’ve touched upon an environment to which my favorite dragon/kind is native but you’ve failed to include said dragon/kind in the narrative. PM me through TTW or Discord and I’ll take a look, though I can’t guarantee it’s inclusion.

    Magic and Technology
    As mentioned in Part 1, it is assumed that humanoids in the world of Dragpocalypse have lost access to magic although they can regain this by becoming Riders. As such, magic items can be discovered by any or crafted by Riders. Should you choose make use of the world-jumping aspect of Riders described in Part 2, magic items can be bought in other worlds and imported and would be exceedingly valuable--ripe for hoarding.

    The world of Dragpocalypse is for the most part at a technological standstill. While tech could be imported by Riders from other worlds, most humanoid populations are under threat of dragons and kind and don’t have the luxury of time for invention. Most live in state of hunting, gathering, and fear.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-02-2017 at 09:01 PM.

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    Part 4: Arbor the Wood

    Places of Interest: Glass Castle of the Linnorm King (Taiga), Court of the Green (Hylos), Village in the Mist (Akela), Village of Ash (Cardoon)

    Taiga
    Native species: Imperial Forest dragon, Forest drake, Tatzylwyrm, Taiga linnorm, Father of All Linnorms

    Taiga is the cold, coniferous land that stretches from sea to sea across the Arborean North. The woods are lush evergreen to the west and white with the near-constant snows of the east. The pressure and pile of such snows has led to a phenomena known as a ‘glass castle’ where the snows upon a swathe of woods have crystallized into icen glaciers and trapped the trees within.

    The Father of All Linnorms reigns supreme in Taiga and none dare challenge him. When he is not in a deep and frozen sleep within a glass castle, he prowls freely through Taiga, scattering all before him.

    Taiga linnorms recognize only the Father of All Linnorms as the supreme. While traditionally solitary, should any other dragon or kind enter their coniferous territory, they attack as one.

    Unfortunately for those broken and scattered fragments of humanoid society attempting to etch together a semblance of a life in Taiga, Imperial Forest dragons have claimed the deep but most habitable center of the land for themselves. Though solitary, each one is a malicious being who will go out of their way to hunt down every humanoid in a village should they discover such an establishment.

    Should one encounter a Forest drake in Taiga, run. Run or hide. The solitary, pairs, or rampages of Forest drakes are here because their ancestors were driven out of the temperate forest just south of Taiga for being even crueler and more degenerate than the temperates. The relative scarcity of their favorite prey, elves and fey, here in Taiga has only drawn out and crystallized this nature.

    Tatzlwyrms are the smallest of the dragon kind in Taiga. Their subterranean nests occupy the southernmost fringes of the land where they can stay well away from their deadlier cousins.

    Humanoids have taken a hint from the Tatzlwyrms and keep their residences hidden and often underground should they be forced to sustain themselves at the fringes of Taiga. They wander in small, family groups of hunters and gatherers. Any family as large as a clan would draw unwanted attention from the dragons and kind who rule the land.

    When the family needs more members, they wait for the women’s period of fertility, then seek out another family. One or more women have ritualistic intercourse with the males of the other family to become pregnant. The children they bear are raised by everyone in the mother’s family group and belong to this group.

    The women of the Taiga families are revered for their ability to keep the entire family alive in this capacity. This leads the majority of families to look to a woman and mother as the head of the family.

    Hylos
    Native species: Jabberwock, Jadeling, Smoke dragon, Mist dragon, Gorynych, Green dragon, Imperial Forest dragon, Pseudodragon, Pseudowyvern, Tatzlwyrm, Forest drake

    Hylos, the land of temperate forest, sits just under the frosty northern Taiga and follows its neighbor from sea to sea across central Arbor. The evergreens of the north filter into a forest of deciduous hardwoods and softwoods. Their deep root system keeps the trees of the arid west watered while those in the near-perpetually rainy east are protected by soil with excellent drainage that sends the rain into the underground rivers common to most continents on Colossus.

    Though the Green and Imperial Forest dragons are typically solitary beings, their clash for territory and supremacy in Hylos has led to an alliance between the Greens to keep the Imperial Forests down. Most Hylean dragons and their kind have been forced to take a side, and because of their well-known proclivity for intelligence and cunning, humanoids may also find themselves involved whether by choice or drafting.

    The only Hylean dragons outside the war between the Green and Imperial Forests are the unfathomable jabberwocks. These solitary but immensely powerful beings wander the temperate forests pursuing some purpose known and understand only by them. They are, however, creatures of wanton destruction who give this gift to any they meet in their wanderings. Allies who fall out of favor with the Greens are assigned the task of hunting Jabberwocks to win back their favor and place in the power structure, but for most the assignment is the equivalent of a death sentence.

    The Smoke dragons, Mist dragons, Tatzlwyrms, Jadelings, Pseudodragons, and Pseudowyverns have allied with the Greens as a matter of self-preservation for the most part. The intelligent Jadelings are happy to use the order imposed by the Greens to climb the ranks normally unreachable to such small creatures. They serve as the eyes of the Greens, attaching themselves to the Greens’s allies and serving as both liaisons and spies. This has given rise to a general distrust of Jadelings by everyone but the Greens.

    The Smoke and Mist dragons as well as the Tatzlwyrms and Pseudowyverns have less interest in climbing social rungs than the Jadelings, but they would rather have the order of the Greens than be subjected to the wanton and destructive whims of the chaotic Imperial Forests.

    Of all the Green allies, the Pseudodragons are the most empathetic. They are the ones to argue in favor of humanoid preservation, among other species, and form strong bonds with friends of any species. This has placed them at the bottom of the draconic pecking order.

    The Gorynychs are the most powerful allies of the Imperial Forests. The Imperial Forests have fostered the Gorynych delight in killing dragons by rewarding them with the creature’s land and treasures. They even allow the Gorynychs to take humanoid slaves.

    The Hylean Forest drakes have allied with the Imperial Forests not out of any particular love of the Imperial Forests’s chaotic brand of cruelty but rather out of spite. These proud beings would rather be ‘free’ or at least unregulated on their own, private territory under the Imperial Forests than bow to the artificial order that the Greens would impose.

    The Imperial Forests only have room for humanoids as slaves and even then, these are the slaves of their Gorynych allies. Humanoids are permitted to live in small tribes under the Greens, but they must swear fealty and are closely monitored. Those with particular skill and cunning may be chosen for special tasks by the Greens, but the majority are serfs bound to the land and responsible for raising game for the Greens and their allies. They practice communal subsistence farming supplemented by little else as the surrounding woods and everything in it has been claimed by their overlords. Even the slightest infraction may be punished by the razing of farm or village.

    Akela
    Native species: Mist dragon, Kongamato, Korir-kokembe

    Akela is the southeastern stretch of Arbor forming jungle between the tropics of Colossus and along the equator. The constant showers of the east have turned this jungle to rainforest while the continent’s central jungle is sustained by the subterranean waterways. Heavy humidity often leads to massive, rolling waves of fog across the jungle floor.

    While the Mist dragons are the most powerful dragons in Akela, these beings prefer to remain secluded with their clan from the comings and goings of the jungle. Mist youths, however, often come together during a massive fog wave to ride the mist and are sometimes stricken with curiosity by any humanoid constructions they should pass.

    Although Kongamatos typically will not hunt humanoid prey, their taste for herd animals has driven humanoid villages into hiding to protect their farms and beasts. Some villages suffering a Kongamato attack never recover and are forced to separate into wandering tribes or clans to support themselves by hunting and gathering. Any settlement larger than a village has no way of hiding from the keen eye of the Kongamatos.

    Akela’s Korir-kokembes neither seek out humanoids nor prey upon them. Their symbiosis with disease-carrying vermin, however, turns all chance encounters with such beings into a nightmare of contagion. Anyone who reports of simply having seen a Korir-kokembe is placed in quarantine at best and at worst, killed or exiled.

    Both the wandering groups and small villages of humanoids in Akela are exceedingly respectful and wary of the dragons and kind. Some make sacrifices to the Kongamatos in opposite directions from their villages in order to keep these beings at bay, although this practice also risks drawing the vermin of the Korir-kokembe. Any true bond between a humanoid and dragon is most likely to happen with a young Mist. While a travel-loving Mist would not anchor themself as a village protector, they perceive no shame in guarding their humanoid as long as their humanoid maintains what they consider proper bounds.

    Cardoon
    Native species: Lava drake

    Though Southwest Arbor is blisteringly hot and arid, there is no shortage of vegetation in the forest continent. The trees here are hearty and heat-resistant such as the baobab, acacia, and all manner of succulents. There is a wide stretch of Cardoon home to cacti packed needle to needle known as Needle Run.

    Humanoids who have committed the most grievous of crimes, such as inadvertently drawn the attention of a Lava drake to one of the hidden, underground villages, are exiled to Needle Run. Lava drakes rise en masse from the deep volcanic crevasses that crisscross the seaward edge of Cardoon. They are feared by humanoids not merely for the destructive threat they pose to villages, but for their deviant desire to be turn these humanoids into their cult followers and be worshipped as gods.

    Those villages subjugated by a Lava drake are free to build above ground, but they must also make war at the Lava drake’s whim and provide ritual sacrifices. It is not unknown for Lava drakes to raze such a village of cultists for failing to live up to the imposed standards.

    Rampages of Lava drakes wander Cardoon as vigilantes of arbitrary law, usually fear and suspicion. Should a Lava drake’s settlement of cultists appear to be too large or powerful, they destroy it with impunity.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-03-2017 at 01:45 PM.

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    Arbor, cont'd

    Immigrants
    Species: Guardian dragon, Mithral dragon, Star drake, Elder Wyrm, Scitalis, Taniniver, Vishap

    The Green dragons of Hylos have captured immigrant Guardian and Mithral dragons and bred them to serve their campaign and purposes. They are treated well and with great dignity so long as they maintain their place and due to their fewer numbers, they typically do.

    Star drakes in Arbor rarely stay longer than a decade or so before migrating elsewhere. They are creatures of curiosity and true tourists, traveling the land and treasuring even the most harrowing experiences.

    Elder Wyrms are hunted down in Taiga and Hylos by the linnorms and dragons who fear their power. In Cardoon, they are hunted by the vigilante rampages of Lava drakes in fear of being ousted as the local distributor of ‘justice.’ Elder Wyrms who find themselves in Akela, however, are rarely left in peace for the most part. It is there that they can act on their insistent sense of justice by appointing themselves arbiters of humanoid affairs. The clashes between two Elder Wyrms who have arbitrated different rulings on the same issue are as legendary as they are destructive.

    Scitalises, beautiful but much weaker than many of their kind, are hunted for sport in Taiga, Hylos, and Cardoon. While not hunted in the jungles of Akela, they feed on herd animals like the Kongamato, which often leads them to be driven off by their much stronger competitor and die of starvation.

    Taninivers are a plague not only upon Arborean humanoids but every race of dragon and kind on the continent due to their contagious dragon-blighting diseases. Should one be discovered, they are instinctively hunted down in every corner of Arbor.

    The Vishaps’s propensity to claim territory leads to them being hunted down in Taiga and Hylos, but because their interest is in the ley lines of a land, they are mostly left to their own devices in Akela. In Cardoon, they are only set upon if their activity draws the attentions of humanoids, as the Lava drakes cannot stand that any cultist or potential cultist might worship another dragon kind as god. The Lava drake rampages gladly kill both the ‘false god’ and their ‘heretics.’

    Dragonriders of Arbor
    In general, immigrant dragons and kind are more likely to bond with a Rider due to their status of fleeting security in Arbor. Should an immigrant Rider be discovered, however, they are hunted at once in Taiga, Hylos, and Cardoon. They are treated with suspicion in Akela and must actively earn the trust of their neighbors, humanoid, dragon, or both, if they wish to avoid resentment, blame, and even hatred should calamity befall the natives.

    Riders in Taiga are nearly unheard of, mythical in existence. They are seen as a turn of hope for the humanoids though may still be shunned due to the hostile attention they draw.

    Riders in Hylos are propagated as a perversion by the controlling Green masterminds and those who kill them are afforded award and status. The propaganda is only reinforced by the Riders who bond with an Imperial Forest or ally for survival, only to discover they have almost no means of controlling the dragon’s chaotic, destructive impulses and are simply a tool for accelerating the dragon’s growth and power.

    Riders in Akela are rare but not unheard of as even the curious Mist dragons tend to be solitary beings. Riders of the Mists are considered local heroic figures and are expected to act as such. Those who fail are ostracized by the humanoids and are even further distanced from the already suspicious dragons.

    Riding is considered a privilege for only the most loyal of followers by the Lava drakes but is often seen as betrayal by the humanoids. There are as many Riders in Cardoon as their are fanatical Lava drake cultists, and each cultist Rider is expected to maintain if not heighten the degree of fanaticism that earned them the Riding privilege.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-05-2017 at 09:08 PM.

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    Part 5: Benthos the Deep

    Places of Interest: Rime Strait (Rime), Sunken Temple (Wegs), Raving Reef (Teresthai), Wandering Isles (Sea of Colossus), Maw of Colossus (Benthos)

    Rime
    Native species: Gare linnorm

    Rime is the body of cold, gelid waters between the northern arctic reaches of the continents on Colossus. During winter months, the surface of Rime freezes over with a thick icen shell occasionally broken by the isle-sized glaciers that drift through its waters.

    If the hostile temperature and lack of vegetation were not enough to deter humanoid settlement, then the presence of Gare linnorms clinches it. They will eat anything that enters the waters of Rime to feed their massive appetites and even prey on each other when food grows scarce.

    Wegs
    Native species: Mist dragon, River dragon, River drake, Gowrow, Gilded sea serpent, Spitting sea serpent

    Wegs is the body of shallow waters off the temperate middles of the continents. These temperate waters deepen further from the land masses and eventually connect to the wide, open ocean, the Sea of Colossus. The waters of Wegs support underwater forests of kelp and underwater fields of seagrasses which help sustain the immense oceanic ecosystem.

    The Mist dragons of Wegs have done their best to avoid the fiercer and more chaotic River dragons which has led to the River dragons claiming supremacy over the temperate waters. Mists always keep to a clan for safety while swimming and traveling the heavy morning fog that rolls in toward the continents as the Rivers will scald anything with impunity and treat all of Wegs as their territory. Territorial spats between River dragons are common and often create temporary pockets of scalding hot water that boil any passing creature. Rivers can’t be bothered to clean the boiled dead, leaving them instead to wash up onto the continents, food for the birds.

    When they are not preying upon those forced to fish for survival, the Spitting sea serpents and River drakes of Wegs war with each other. Their constant territorial struggle has caused Spitting sea serpents to stay in pairs to contend with the rampages of River drakes. As a result of these fights, wounded and dying, mostly the odd River drake, are so commonplace that they have become a staple in the aquatic ecosystem, especially for the vicious Gowrows.

    In place of large herd animals, Gowrows have taken to preying on the casualties of territorial warring. Whether these be drakes, sea serpents, or dragons, Gowrows will finish them and dine sumptuously if somewhat cannibalistically. While typically a solitary creature, because Gowrows now feed on the same prey, they have an unspoken between them. This extends to the hunting of Gilded sea serpents as Gildeds travel in clusters for safety against such attacks. The only time Gildeds are truly safe is during the Gowrows’s decade of hibernation. It is then that the Gildeds have and raise their young.

    Aquatic humanoids who reside in Wegs have much to fear from the dragons and their kind, but the dense kelp forests and the remnants of buildings now ruined and sunk into the sea provide enough cover for a small family in a large area. Each additional family in one location increases the likelihood that a humanoid will be found and lead to all of them being preyed upon.

    These aquatic humanoids have evolved to be parthenogenetic--they can become pregnant without intercourse. The death of one or more members of a family is the most common trigger for one or more living members to become pregnant. The children are raised by all who survive and never leave the family if they can help it.

    Teresthai
    Native species: Mist dragon, Coral drake, Gilded sea serpent

    Teresthai is the body of shallows off the southern tropics of the continents. Most notably, the waters of Teresthai are home to stunning rainbow reefs of Colossus. The reefs support one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, helped by the fact that few dragons and kind have a taste for these perpetually warm waters.

    Coral drakes are the most vicious of the dragon kind predators in Teresthai, but their greed for hunting grounds is kept in check by the clans of wandering Mist dragons and clusters of Gilded sea serpents, who could easily overpower the solitary corals.

    The Mists and the Gildeds try to avoid one another for the most part. As long as the Mists stick to hunting larger prey and the Gildeds to medium prey, they have no quarrel, and most are perfectly content to keep it that way.

    While the aquatic humanoids in Teresthai are still vulnerable to attacks by Coral drakes, the Mists leave them alone. The Gildeds, however, are happy to prey upon any of these medium-sized beings that wander into their hunting grounds. By keeping track of the Gildeds’s rotating hunting grounds and staying mobile, aquatic humanoids are able to sustain themselves in hunting and gathering clans. Clans rarely band together unless each member has shrunk in population as humanoid tribes are much harder to hide from the Corals.

    Coral gestating season is the only time that Corals are less sensitive to signs of humanoid activity as the drakes become enervated and stick to their lairs. It is then that humanoid clans will seek each other out to allow their youths to find marriageable mates. Clans tend to be matrilineal with males joining the clan of their married pair as additional protection for the next generation.

    While everyone in the clan protects the young, the older generations of a family raise the children belonging to their family. Members of a clan are generally forbidden from marrying to prevent incest as they do not keep written records of the bloodlines. Instead, the elders of a clan arrange to seek out different clans from generation to generation as they are the ones with the most extensive memory of the clan’s history. This has naturally led to rule by counsel of elders although because clans are not very large, those members who are of age are generally allowed to express their opinions at the clan meetings. The elders simply have the final say.

    Sea of Colossus
    Native species: Imperial Sea dragon, Brine dragon, Cetus, Dragon Turtle, Shen, Fanged sea serpent, Shipbreaker sea serpent

    The Sea of Colossus is the body of international waters that make up the planet’s vast open ocean. Many powerful currents run through these deep, wild waters that stretch between the continents. Traveling with these currents can reduce the travel time of even the largest of dragons across the ocean, making them an extremely valuable resource.

    Imperial Sea dragons, Brine dragons, and Shipbreaker sea serpents constant contend with one another for huge oceanic territories. The Brines, led by a circle of their Great Wyrms, have banded together to attempt a systematic distribution of territory. The Shipbreaker sea serpents absolutely refuse to conform to any Brine ruling and in their awesome might actively hunt and kill the Brines who approach them about such treaties. Unfortunately for the alliance of Brines, the have no support from the Imperial Seas, either. While the Imperial Seas don’t support the Shipbreakers and do their best to avoid those mighty sea serpents, they believe that the territorial regulations of the Brines would put an end to the free and wild seas that they love. Thus, they drive off but try not to kill any Brines who come to them about negotiations.

    The Circle of Great Wyrms attempts to impose its will on the lesser threats (than the Shipbreakers) with contingents of younger Brines assigned together as watchers. The Cetuses, Dragon Turtles, and Fanged sea serpents can’t rely on the ‘protection’ of the Imperial Seas, who are as likely to turn a blind eye to others as drive off the Brines on them. Nor can they count on the Shipbreakers, who would sooner prey upon them. Their best hope, which is still exceedingly slim, is to seek out the protection of a Shen in its mirage castle. Even then, a Shen will only protect those beings who become their subjects and servants.

    Shen rarely venture out of their mirage castles, but when they do, neither the Imperial Seas, the Brines, nor the Shipbreakers are eager to deal with them and risk utter destruction. Shen are regarded as near-gods, barely mortal incarnations of the Sea of Colossus itself. While the dragons and kind don’t go so far as to worship Shen, they give them at least grudging respect.

    The Sea of Colossus’s Cetuses, Dragon Turtles, and Fanged sea serpents who have not pledged their servitude to a Shen can typically be found avoiding the Brines and Shipbreakers on territory claimed by the Imperial Seas. They dare not attack each other while in Imperial Sea waters, nor do they dare attack the Shipbreakers as they are not guaranteed any aid. They do, however, freely hunt other, non-dragon creatures, including any humanoids who have somehow found themselves in these waters, most likely by mistake.

    Wide, wild waters of the open ocean offer no protection whatsoever to any humanoid who might find themself here, and thus there are no settlements of any size to be found in the international waters of the Sea of Colossus.

    Benthos
    Native species: Deep Hunter sea serpent, Brine sea serpent

    Benthos is the floor of the world, the deepest, darkest, and most crushing of Colossus’s environs. The temperature varies widely throughout the seafloor depending on one’s proximity to one of the many thermal vents. These vents are the source of diverse and flourishing life independent of the light of Solaris. Tectonic activity periodically changes the shape and placement of the immeasurably deep trenches that gouge rifts into the seafloor.

    Deep Hunter sea serpents rule the depths of Benthos. Solitary beings, they tend to stick to their own lair and hunt on their own territory. They do not hesitate to kill any Brine sea serpent on their territory. This has left the Brines with a burning hatred for their larger cousin.

    Should a Brine discover a fight between another Brine and a Deep Hunter, the uninvolved Brine will attack the Deep Hunter not to aid their brethren but out of spite. Several Brines together are capable of killing a Deep Hunter. This does not, however, improve the intelligence of the Brines. The victorious Brines almost invariably end up killing each other in a fight over the Deep Hunter’s lair shortly thereafter.

    Even aquatic humanoids have not adapted to the pressure of the deep, which remains unsettled by their kind.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-06-2017 at 09:10 PM.

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    Benthos, cont'd

    Immigrants
    Species: Guardian dragon, Star drake, Vishap

    Immigrant dragons in the open Sea of Colossus and in the shallows of Teresthai have the advantage of not being actively hunted down as in Rime, Wegs, and even Benthos, though even among Star drakes, few dare to plunge to those depths for an extended visit, much less to join the ecosystem.

    The Mist dragons and Gilded sea serpents of Teresthai leave immigrants alone for the most part. While the Coral drakes are still a threat, most immigrants must swim out of the shallows to hunt on open seas not claimed by the Corals, Mists, or Gildeds anyway. While this puts them at risk of being discovered and preyed upon by a contingent of Brine dragons or the odd Shipbreaker sea serpent, it is the surest method of maintaining the relative peace in Teresthai.

    Hunting in the Sea of Colossus is risky, but residing there is even riskier. While the immigrants have their choice of servitude to a mostly benevolent Shen or keeping to the semi-protected territory of Imperial Sea dragons, servitude is the safer choice. Often times, the other dragons and kind in Imperial Sea waters realize that there will be less prey when joined by the odd immigrant and may sabotage that immigrant. The Imperial Seas don’t allow dragon in-fighting in their territory, but they aren’t always around and neither do they question the sudden disappearance of a tenant.

    The treatment of Guardian dragons, however, is an exception. Due to their immense power, the presence of a Guardian tends to incite a temporary alliance among the native species of a region to different methods of approach. In Teresthai, the alliance aims to drive the Guardian out to the open waters of the Sea of Colossus. In the Sea of Colossus, the presence of a Guardian strikes fear among the Brines and hatred among the Shipbreakers. While the two groups do not formally work together, they do use each other and their proclivities to take down the discovered Guardian. Any Vishap who dares to claim territory is likely to meet the same end as a Guardian.

    The Gare linnorms of Rime and the River dragons of Wegs actively hunt down all immigrants. Both have turned it into a sport of sorts, with the presence of even a single immigrant setting off a massive hunt joined by all Gares or all Rivers in the vicinity.

    Dragonriders of Benthos
    Immigrant dragons are more likely to bond with a Rider than other dragons in Benthos simply due to the fact that their lives are in greater peril anyway. The added attention for having a Rider tends not to change that.

    Riders in Rime are unheard of due to the fact that Rime’s arctic climate has prevented any humanoid settlement. A Rider who travels to Rime, however, can count on being hunted by Gare linnorms.

    Riders in Wegs are hunted by River dragons and shunned by the aquatic humanoid communities for the undue attention that they draw. They are not welcome among the relatively peaceful Mist dragons as they are similarly viewed as a disruptive oddity and reason to fear the Rivers. The smaller dragon kinds tend not to bother the Riders who’ve been exiled possibly into their territory. It is not unusual for a Rider to become a shepherd for the smaller kinds who allow them to hunt and hide on their territory. Any Rider who protects a species that attacks a humanoid community, however, is instantly reviled by that community.

    Riders in Teresthai are shunned by the Mists, who view riding as a disruption to their community order, but they are considered a boon to the aquatic humanoid clans as defenders, especially against the Coral drakes. Although humanoid clans can’t risk open communication and harboring of a Rider lest they draw Coral attention, they keep secret communications with Riders, who can help distract a hostile dragon long enough for a clan to escape into some safer hiding.

    Riders are bred and raised in the Sea of Colossus by the Brine dragons under orders of the Circle of Great Wyrms. Riders are used as a first-strike task force against the greatest of threats, Shipbreakers and the occasional Guardian dragon. As such, they have something of an honored position in Brine society although their loyalty to the Great Wyrms has been bred to the extreme to avoid any threat of insubordination. Due to their presence in Brine society, other natives of the Sea of Colossus are hostile toward any Riders they might encounter. Should the Brines discover a Rider bonded to a non-Brine, they first attempt to negotiate and integrate the Rider and dragon into their society and then follow up with beneficial brainwashing to ensure loyalty.

    Riders in the deep darkness of Benthos are for the most part nonexistent due to the immense pressure and extreme conditions of the water which only the few can tolerate.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-07-2017 at 08:56 PM.

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    Part 6: Karoo the Desert

    Places of Interest: Natural History Museum (Tundar), Badfield (Vanta), Maze of Dune (Asharu)

    Tundar
    Native species: None

    Tundar is the frozen desert that stretches across the north of Karoo. The land is entirely barren, devoid of all vegetation and even bacterial lifeforms, sterile, as it were. As such, this environment inhospitable to the idea of an ecosystem is entirely uninhabited in the Material Plane. Should one encounter a lifeform here, it likely will not remain living long enough to leave Tundar and will instead be perfectly preserved under crushing layers of wind-shaped ice.

    Vanta
    Native species: Amphiptere

    As the term ‘temperate desert’ is ripe for confusion, Vanta is now known as the badlands of Karoo, a desert whose scrub experiences four seasons. In springtime, the sparse vegetation springs into sparse bloom. In summer, the sun burns away the scrub and their fallen flowers--this is literal; late summer is also known as wildfire season. In fall, the ashes of the scrub fertilize the ground and rejuvenate the hardy bulbs, root systems, and tubers. In winter, frigid winds blow the barely-held ashes and dust of the land throughout Vanta, reshaping the landscape. Winter is also known as windstorm season.

    Despite the harsh conditions of Vanta, life finds a way. Unfortunately for the humanoids settled here, that way has led to a mass propagation of the Amphiptere, the hamster-tier breeding machines of the dragon world. The creatures simply and swiftly outnumbered any that might prey on them and had the good luck of being the only dragon species native to Vanta at the dawn of Dragpocalypse.

    The land now belongs to the Amphipteres who patrol their territories in huge flights of 18 or more able to take down even the strongest of Vanta’s other inhabitants by sheer number. When a flight can’t find enough food to sustain itself, it will attack a neighboring flight and cannibalize any of the dead that come of the attack, including those from its own flight.

    Humanoids are a favorite prey of the Amphiptere and had they the intelligence, they would invariably domesticate them for livestock. As it is, they’ve merely hunted humanoids into near extinction. Humanoids exist in scattered families who hunt, gather, and keep careful track of flight movements.

    Most humanoid families live underground in small, concealed dugouts. Depending on the activity of the nearest flight, they may have to rotate dugouts every night.

    When a family needs new members, one family will search out a another and, sometimes wordlessly, negotiate a trade. If a family needs more protection, for example, they might trade a child for a young adult. Elders are the only family members who are not traded. They are the keepers of a family’s history, and it considered an honor and a miracle to become an elder of a family. A family’s collection of oral history and stories is considered its most treasured and sacred relic.

    Asharu
    Native species: Blue dragon, Brass dragon, Amphiptere, Desert drake

    South of Vanta is Asharu, a desert of the genuinely sandy, broiling days and chilly nights variety. During the daytime, mirages are common occurrences and lead many an unwary or fatigued being astray into deadly pockets of quicksand. Sandstorms are even more frequent and devastating, the orange-gold sands capable of abrading soft flesh to the bone in minutes.

    Wellsprings spring from underground rain-fed reservoirs and create the occasional oasis, the most valuable resource in the desert. As such, they are points of contention among the dragons of Asharu. Those who control the oases also control all the surrounding beings dependent on that water.

    Amphipteres are far from the dominant species and apex predator of Asharu. Most of them are bound to the oases of the Blues as the Deserts take no prisoners and the Brasses drive them off at the insistence of the humanoid tribes that they protect. As subjects of the Blues, their population is strictly regulated, often by deadly sport.

    Blue dragons, Brass dragons, and Desert drakes endure a constant struggle of war and supremacy over the oases. Blues, as the most naturally organized of the Asharu dragons, hold the majority of the oases though are almost matched by the Brasses, who have delegated planning and organization to the humanoid communities to whom they have given refuge and continued protection. Those oases controlled by Desert drakes are held only due to the sheer number of the Deserts in mega rampages upwards of 20 drakes.

    The Deserts have no interest in coexisting with or enslaving other beings. They attack on sight as a full rampage and will not stop until the intruder on their territory is verifiably dead. They will leave their oasis to chase down such a target. Should they find an unclaimed oasis, the rampage will determine if this oasis provides better hunting grounds and settle accordingly, potentially abandoning their old oasis entirely.

    The Blue dragons of Asharu don’t fight for control of oases out of need for water but from a desire for control. Unlike the Deserts, they are capable of keeping ecological balance on their minds and would never exhaust an oasis’s resources to the point of cannibalism. Instead, they rigidly regulate the water consumption and grazing of all creatures on their territory and accept tithes of life in payment for keeping the species alive. The Blues set these tithes loose within an oasis-free hunting ground, give them a head start, then take their time wearing the creatures down.

    With the mega rampages of Desert drakes proving a true and deadly threat and the Brass dragons not opposed to driving the odd Blue off an oasis, the Blues have been forced to band together into a loose coalition even more organized and efficient than the solitary Blue. Each oasis is presided over by a Great Wyrm, each independent of other Great Wyrms but overseeing the younger Blues of the lair. The old and the wyrm form the Great Wyrm’s guard force while the adults make up the task forces. The juveniles and young are tasked with learning and are constantly pit against each other both to strengthen the young, weed out the weak, and maintain a sustainable new generation of Blues.

    While Brass dragons have no need for the water of the oases themselves, they value the intelligent conversation, gossip, and other entertainments provided by humanoid tribes, who do need the water, especially for their herd animals. Brass dragons shepherd the tribes from oasis to oasis held by fellow Brasses where the humanoids can safely water their flocks. Brasses guard the resting oases for the sake of the humanoids.

    While the tribes know of each other through the Brasses and their love of gossip, due to the dangers of inter-oasis travel and the risk of overgrazing, few humanoids encounter a fellow outside of their own tribe. Even trade is a purely internal tribe affair, and mostly bartering at that. The tribes are subsistence herders without any true monetary system although they keep track of debts with knots on a rope of hide.

    While the Brasses handle the protection of their most entertaining wards, the humanoids arrange the rotations and travel logistics through the tribe elders. The elders cannot order the Brasses, but their dragon protectors respond well to reason when combined with rhyme and other interests. It has become a tradition to stage a grand display or even play of sorts for the Brasses when the tribe is in need. This has developed into a regular, peacetime staple.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-08-2017 at 08:52 PM.

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    Part 7: Lea the Plains

    Places of Interest: Will-O-Bog (Bogach), Bridge of Reeds (Mariskaz), Village in the Shadow (Meithleorai), Crown of Salt (Zabana)

    Bogach
    Native species: Tarn linnorm, Mist drake, Nycar

    Bogach comprises the frigid floodplains of northern Lea, stretching from one swamped coast to the other. The eastern and western seaboards are perpetually cold salt marshes that lose salinity but not chill as their waters travel into the continent.

    Tarn linnorms haunt the cold, misty bogs of Bogach. Though they sleep for centuries at the bottom of the marshpits, the weaker denizens live in fear of the time when the two-headed beings will awaken. The yearly earthquake or the odd swampgas explosion is enough to send every lifeform in Bogach scrambling for a place to hide.

    When the Tarns finally rise, it is only the sheer number of the other dragons that keep them from extinction during the season of the Great Hunt. The Tarns kill first for sport and second to fill themselves for the next hibernation. This, their short period of wakefulness, also serves as their breeding season. The common method of courtship is to compete for the most kills, the third reason to kill.

    During the hundreds of years while the Tarns sleep, the Mist drakes in their rampages reign supreme over Bogach. Territory belongs to rampages as a whole with border disputes/slaughters involving these whole rampages. Power constantly shifts between clawed hands with no single rampage ever continuously rising above the others.

    Though tiny, clutches of Nycar can be just as deadly to the humanoids of Bogach as a pair of Mists. While they will attack a lone humanoid, they tend not to attack the greater numbers of a whole family. If the humanoids of Bogach discover a clutch of Nycar eggs, they often take them to raise the Nycar as protection for the family. A clutch raised by humanoids is not any more docile than the wild Nycars, but the family is able to point their savagery away from its members.

    Humanoids in the cold wilds of Bogach survive as hunters and gatherers in family units. They typically keep a hidden residence in the swamp much like a beaver’s dam on some far, less-patrolled corner of a Mist rampage’s territory.

    Different families keep track of each other and carefully arrange marriages when children are born in order to prevent incest. These arrangements include to which family a child will marry into when grown and which families their children must avoid.

    As the swamps of Bogach, deep and frigid, do not easily transmit disease, families tend to let their dead sink to the bottom of the very marsh on which their camouflaged abode floats. This has given rise to the belief that their home is protected by the spirits of their ancestors. Children are popular targets for these stories of defending ghosts and zombies.

    Mariskaz
    Native species: Smoke dragon, Peluda

    Eastcentral Lea is dominated by the vast marshscape of Mariskaz. Much of Mariskaz lies below sea level, combined with soil unable to handle the daily rains, the land has turned to wetland over sinkholes. This region of Lea has begun to crumble into the ocean with more landmass getting carried off by the tide every year.

    The Peludas are the masters of Mariskaz and turn every foray by the water’s edge into a nightmare. Ravenous at all times of the day, even after gorging themselves, Peludas attack and attempt to eat everything that wanders into their territory. What they cannot eat, they regurgitate into the swamp, enriching the disappearing soils with nutritious detritus.

    The Peludas prefer the wetness of water to the wetness of the squelching wetland floor, leaving the drier stretches of Mariskaz to the far dociler Smoke dragons. The Smokes do not go out of their way to attack every living thing that enters the territory of their wing and primarily eat fruits and vermin.

    The humanoid tribes of Mariskaz often befriend nearby wings of the Smokes by leaving out fruit for them. Befriended Smokes who are allowed to hunt vermin in the tribe’s village do so with minimal property damage.

    The tribes tend toward subsistence farming and away from hunting and gathering, an activity which invariably puts them up close and personal with Peludas. The Peludas make swamp travel nearly impossible to the effect that tribes rarely trade with each other beyond what they can persuade a Smoke to fly and carry over.

    More importantly, this has led to a high potential for birth defects among a tribe’s people without much new blood. Marriages are stringently regulated by the tribe elders. Children are treasured by the village and raised by both family and extended family, which is oftentimes everyone in the tribe.

    The dread of Peludas in the water has led the humanoids to an aversion to water and all forms of water travel as a result. They do not even bury their dead in the water. Instead, tribes hold funeral pyres at their village center and sow the ashes over their fields. This has given rise to beliefs that the ancestors protect the tribe lands and walk among the fields.

    Meithleorai
    Native species: Salt drake, Psiwyrm

    As one heads west, the wetlands of Mariskaz rise up to become the grassy plains and salt flats of Meithleorai. Though expansive, the flatlands offer few places to hide from airborne predators.

    Psiwyrms are the overlords of Meithleorai. With their ability to stay airborne for exceedingly long periods of time, nothing escapes their watchful eye. Meithleorai has effectively been divided into the territories claimed by pairs of Psiwyrms. The Psiwyrms, understanding that there isn’t enough land to go around, independently maintain a low birthrate with a pair typically laying either one or two eggs in a lifetime.

    While territorial conflicts are common, Psiwyrms keep busy lording over all the other beings on their own territory for the most part. They demand tribute from their subjects and may take without warning though not without respect for the needs of the entire ecosystem. Psiwyrms may prey upon a species to the verge of extinction but never past it.

    The Salt drakes of Meithleorai would prove a threat to the Psiwyrms except that the Psiwyrms strictly regulate the Salt population. Anyone found hiding Salt eggs is promptly torn apart along with their entire family, and the eggs are taken by the Psiwyrms. If the Psiwyrms don’t eat the eggs, Salts who have been captured for defiance are forced to do so.

    Psiwyrms allow the humanoids of Meithleorai to hunt, gather, and farm, but do not allow any grouping greater than a village. The humanoids are left to their own devices except when their overlords decide it’s tribute time and come to call upon the village with devastation.

    Humanoids leave in shadow and terror of the Psiwyrms overhead and most never dare to defy them. They simply make the best lives that they can for themselves and hope they and their family are not targeted during the time of tribute. Humanoid families tend to be very large just in case.

    Zabana
    Native species: Gold dragon, Salt drake

    The salt flats that begin in Meithleorai extend south into the heat and golden-grassed plains of Zabana. The heat of midday is deadly to both the plants and denizens of these savannahs, and wildfires are not uncommon during the hottest months of the dry season. These are rejuvenating fires, however, and return nutrients to the poor soils that would otherwise be unable to support any life at all.

    Gold dragons rule the grass plains of Zabana but leave the salt flats to the Salt drakes. They are beneficent rulers who follow a strict code and leave their subjects to their natural order unless there’s an infraction. The natural order includes the wildfires and their devastation, which has bred some resentment from their sentient subjects. Few, however, are powerful enough to challenge the supremacy of the Golds and their law.

    The Golds themselves obey their Circle of Great Wyrms, though these eldest and most powerful of the dragons typically slumber in lairs below the golden grasses. Elder dragons preside over a territory from a lair while the younger dragons patrol their family’s territory, observing for the most part. They hunt as well but with control and consideration for the ecosystem.

    With limited land and resources in a territory, the Golds do not permit humanoid settlements to exceed the bounds of a village. Humanoids may hunt, gather, and farm, but their hunting is as regulated as the Golds’s own.

    Unlike in Meithleorai, humanoid settlements can and do trade with each other. They don’t have a true monetary system, instead trading with barter and keeping track of debts with animal teeth on leather strings. Most villages keep and tithe herd animals to the Golds. Those that do not typically tithe hunted prey instead.

    Villages, acknowledging that the lands have been given to them by the Golds, tend to treat their lands as communal properties and leave the delegation of jobs and labor to the village elders. Families raise their own children, but these children also learn at the feet of a Gold emissary when they are old enough to manage classroom etiquette.

    Elders teach history and the oral traditions of the village while the Gold emissary teaches the children about the processes of the natural world and how to respect these processes. With this knowledge comes responsibility, however, and any adult humanoid found despoiling a Gold’s territory is exiled to the salt flats and the whims of the Salt drakes.

    Though the Salts primarily consume salt, the rare presence of a humanoid on their mostly barren territories is a delicious treat that few can resist. A humanoid presence can even become the catalyst for a territorial struggle between multiple Salts at once.
    Last edited by Isada; 11-09-2017 at 08:55 PM.

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