Introduction to Dark World
While the World of Kulan is the primary world in its cosmology, its not the only important world worth noting. The world named Maran is an evil mirror to Kulan’s more hopeful landscape. Yes, Kulan isn’t perfect, but Dark World is fighting a losing battle against the forces of darkness. The world began as a one-shot adventure that allowed my friends to play evil characters. While I hadn’t intended for the world to become more, I felt I needed a world that was significantly darker than World of Kulan. Plus, it gave me a world to place a homebrewed version of Karameikos that Icould use as an alternate starting point for the Transformation land that would become the Kingdom of Ahamudia in the Lands of Harqual on Kulan.
Here’s a Dark World synopsis I wrote and posted on my old Walk the Road wiki:
On the world of Maran, whether it’s drow in the dark forests, orc raiders from beyond the Sea of Terror, the Vashar of the Wretched Plateau, or the vile Jerren halflings hunting humanoids for sport across wild plains and harsh deserts, evil is everywhere. Evil wizards & sorcerers fight for control of dark, magical cities, scattered across the entire planet, from the western lands known as the Fetid Territory to the eastern lands of the Dark Empire of Kiltann. Orders of vicious holy warriors fight against each other for the right to spread evil across the lands of the Low Shores and beyond.
Truly “good” characters are the exception rather than the rule on Maran. Those good folk that have managed to find solace are often backed up by angels and other celestials, who have gone native in order to better protect the remaining lands of good. The region around the Great Interior Sea is one of these bastions of righteousness with dozens of human, elven, gnome, and halfling communities — protected by heroes of the Celestial Paragons. South of the Low Shores is a strange region (dominated by the lands of the Hyberiae Peninsula) that is home to dozens of opposing forces, whether they are good or evil. Warlocks, angels, merchants, vile dwarves, demihumans, celestials, and devils rule numerous cities, where dark heroes struggle to keep their independence.
Neither evil not good dominates, although evil is very much ahead. Demons and devils are everywhere and fight with each other and against the world’s natives. They rule swaths of land, with tiefling servitors, and worse, at their disposal. Some of the most powerful cities are ruled by Archdevils, paragon aberrations, or powerful, unique undead. Demons are more numerous then devils, however, which has meant that many devils have had to form alliances with powerful sorcerers, vile warlords, and in some cases, even the lawfully-aligned celestials.
All this makes Dark World a dangerous, strange, twisted place to try to live in, especially if you’re a mere mortal trying to hang on to your soul.
DM’s Note: This was the old introduction that was posted on my old “Walk the Road” wiki. It’s still the best introduction to Maran.