The Isle of Aradia lies south and east of Mystara, a part of the Mystaran Archipelago. With its long, arid summers and constant threat of sandstorms, Aradia is a harsh climate inhabited by a colorful-but-stubborn people, accustomed to the sun-beaten terrain and skin-chapping winds. Her size is nearly double that of Mystara in land mass, though most remains an unsettled and barren sea of sand dunes, dotted by the occasional lush oasis.
The crown jewel of Aradia, known as Hazuz, is Aradia’s largest city and trading center, famous for it’s bazaar whose staggered tent tops meander like a brightly colored snake winding through the streets. The spectacular view of its gleaming spires can be seen for miles across the water. Many of Hazuz's domed roofs and towers are decked with gold, tile, and inlaid glass, sparkling in the sun. The city positively glows, giving it the title Hazuz the Golden City. Notable features among its renowned architecture include the Palace of the Grand Caliph, the Public Gardens, and the Grand Bazaar. The city is known for its far-ranging merchants, its universities, sages, and textiles. Tourism is also a considerable source of revenue, especially visits to the Court of Enlightenment.
The land is full of secretive cities, unwelcoming to travelers, huge deserts, lush oases and powerful genies who meddle in the affairs of humans frequently. The continent is governed by a theocracy headed by Grand Caliph Akenim al-Duni, who rules from the capital city of Hazuz, the Golden City. Aradia is a land of many types of exotic magic and powerful warriors. Aradians are firmly convinced they are more civilized than the rest of the world and treat these 'barbarians' accordingly.
Inhabitants of Aradia
Aradia is also home to a diversity of non-human inhabitants, but the majority is comprised of human Aradians with brown skin, dark hair and relatively small height. They usually all speak the common language of Midani and share in the common culture of Enlightenment, racial values are much less prominent than elsewhere. Aradia’s society is also made up of demihumans such as elves and dwarves, as well as humanoids such as orcs, goblinoids, and ogres. Unlike most settings, there is practically no racial disharmony in Aradia: humans, elves, and orcs alike share the same culture, lifestyle, and social status, and races traditionally considered evil savages, such as goblins, are instead valued members of society. The largest nomadic tribal people of Aradia, known as the Al-Badia, are predominantly human, whereas the smaller Al-Hadhar tribe possess greater racial diversity. The nomads and city-dwellers, humans and non-humans alike, are all united as a single culture under a single religion and as subjects of the Caliph; the entire isle of Aradia is effectively a single empire, although different regions, city-states, and tribes have unique local cultures. Only few Aradians venture outside their homeland, usually as traders, and can then be found especially in the very south of Mystara. Far from the bustle of city life, in the massive sea of unexplored sand, one race has claimed a new home, mostly unnoticed by the Aradian people, though the nomadic tribes are acutely aware of them. The Kokarri, an aerial race that once sought to conquer Mystara and drain it of all resources, now sit in the air high above the Isle of Aradia in their floating-rock city, but what they seek in this barren land is a mystery...
Like Mystara, Aradia is also host to astounding mythical creatures and races, from Genies, to the Roc, the Scorrow and the Naga. Just as many of those races rarely inhabit Mystara, the same is true of Aradia’s lands, having seldom seen the likes of a dragon or fae.
It is said there is no better guide through the sandy, unyielding seas of Aradia than a Dune Elf. Known amongst their kin as the Ake’tavari, it is unclear when they migrated to Aradia but they have been observed traversing the deserts in their festooned opulent caravans for millennia. A long tradition of recording history through song has yielded clues about their arrival but historians aren’t certain, and some say they originated from Mystara, while others disagree. What is known is that the Dune Elves have carved their existence from the wisping mountains of sand for eons, adapting remarkably well to their environment where other species struggle against it to merely eke out a survival.
Highly territorial, ecologically minded, extremely secretive and typically arrogant, the Ake’tavari culture revolves around their relationship with the natural world. This relationship dominates the actions, conversations, art and crafts of the desert nomadic people. To the Ake’tavari, the land is mother, father, friend and foe, providing for and taking from the clan in an unending cycle that holds its own beautiful patterns and logic. Their abilities in using stealth and cunning make them successful raiders and thieves, while their cleverness at using the wastes and canyons to their advantage make them able warriors and hunters. The tough wastelands have created a tough people. Yet, there is a delicate beauty about them, as can be seen when they gather around a fire in their fine silk garments, singing in dulcet tones and playing their instruments. Thei bardic spells tell vivid tales in streaky-watercolor scenes through their song-magic above the glow of the fire. Bardic magic is a core cultural practice for Dune Elves, and every elf is inclined to musicianship, singing, or storytelling of some fashion.
Dune elves are characterized by their long pointed ears, pearlescent white hair, pale golden-to-bronze skin and golden, green, or tawny eyes, all of which serve to both keep them cool in the sun and blend in with their sandy environment. Their stature and build is that of the high elves but with tawnier sand-colored skin. Some believe the Dune Elves evolved from the High Elves. While the similarities are strong there are other distinctions beyond the aesthetic. Dune elves possess an aptitude for long distance travel, and are capable of maintaining a respectable pace through the desert without fatigue nor need for stopping regularly to set up camp. Desert elves only tend to stop during sandstorms, when they erect their insect-like folding silk tents of ingenious craftsmanship. Like most elves, Dune Elves find animal mounts to be barbaric and unacceptable and are prideful in their self-sustenance. However, they move through the desert at such a pace that most humans need a mount just to keep up.
The greatest enemy of the Ake’tevari are the Scorrow, with whom an endless territory war has been ongoing for as long as the historic tales have been told. Scorrow move through the deserts at night, hunting the Dune Elves for prey and for bloodthirst. It is for this reason that Dune Elves travel day and night, only stopping when absolutely necessary, their skin coloration and light fabrics making them nearly invisible in the dunes. The Dune Elves, like all elves, are precise and skilled fighters. By combining their sickle blades and spears with their legendary stamina, they can quickly become the most deadliest of opponents.
Genies are creatures born from Elemental Chaos and are native to the Isle of Aradia. Having aided the Elemental Guardians in their ancient battle with the demons over control of Mystara, Genies were imprisoned, and still are to this day, in common objects and scattered across the realm. They embody the chaotic force of violent storms while possessing benevolent minds. Only the noble genie possess the power of the Wish.
Though genies do not require food or drink to live, they enjoy rich flavors, smells, and other sensations. They commonly desire succulent fruits, great feasts, pungent wines, fine perfumes, shimmering silks, smooth satins, soft velvets, and other rich fare
Genies resemble extremely tall human men and women; they are both well-muscled and physically fit. Their features are aristocratic and considered attractive by human standards. Their skin tone ranges from pale blue to a more common olive-brown or dark tan characteristic of Aradians. Their eyes are usually brown, but a rare few have blue eyes. Genie garments are typically shimmering silk, designed for comfort and to flaunt their muscular physiques. The genie are ruled by the Grand Caliph. All genies must swear allegiance to the Great Caliph, whose word is law. For disobeying a caliph, a genie risks punishment, but the penalty for disobeying Grand Caliph is death.
While no genie likes being enslaved, genies are the most tolerant of temporary servitude to mortals. They may be forgiving of a mortal master's flaws or even amused by them. They view short-term servitude as determined by Fate, and know that no one can defy one's fate. However, long-term service upsets them, and being imprisoned is considered anathema. They will not forgive betrayal. Those who wish to gain the brief service of a genie should gift them with fine meals, gemstones, magical items, flattery, and other forms of bribery.
Rocs are gargantuan eagle-like birds that inhabit the highest mountains in Aradia. A roc’s plumage is either dark brown or golden from head to tail. These enormous creatures are 30 feet long from the beak to the base of the tail, with wingspans as wide as 80 feet and weigh in at about 3,000 pounds. They prey upon large creatures such as cattle, horses, and camels. Legend says that at one time, giants inhabited Aradia, and they tamed the roc and trained them as mounts, though such a thing has not been seen in millenia. A solitary and effective hunter, the roc swoops down upon prey, seizes it in its powerful talons, and carries it off to its lair. A mated pair of rocs hunt and attack in concert, fighting to the death to defend their nests or hatchlings. The nest of a roc will be a vast tangling of trees, branches, and the like, built along the windswept crags of the Southern Aradian mountain cliffs.
Nagas are a race of intelligent snake-like creatures with widely differing abilities and alignments. Desert nagas covet luxury, wealth, and power over others. With bodies covered by shimmering, coin-like scales, desert nagas slither deftly through forsaken dunes and abandoned ruins, scouring such places for treasures and weaker creatures they might force into service. Their forked tongues spread only lies, and others whom they can't manipulate they destroy with their insidious poison and destructive magical abilities. A typical desert naga measures approximately 12 feet long and weighs upward of 300 pounds.
Arrogant and sybaritic, desert nagas seek to dominate lesser creatures, relishing the fear they inspire and power over other beings. While some manage to carve indulgent fiefdoms from tribes of goblins, orcs, lizardfolk, or other barbarous races, the luster of cosmopolitan fineries proves enticing as well, leading some to infiltrate city sewers and slums to gather an urban following. They particularly relish morbidly crafted jewelry and treasures, often adorning themselves with jeweled bands or taking their ease atop piles of treasure.
Desert nagas hate others of their kind, especially other desert nagas, seeing their brethren as deadly opponents to be dispatched swiftly and mercilessly—often rightly so.
Nagas favor spells over other forms of combat, and all Naga possess a certain amount of spell-casting power. They have also been known to eat the flesh of humans, orcs, and other races. Some, but not all, are venomous, but every naga has the ability to charm and be charmed.
Scorrow, aberrations of Drow similar to Driders, have the torso of a drow and the lower body of ascorpion. They are some of the most fearsome creatures of the Aradian desert. They often will choose to hunt prey based on difficulty involved in the hunt, tracking their prey for days and even weeks across the desert. Scorrow live in vast caverns dug into the Aradian mountainsides, and only venture out in the dark of night to hunt in bands of five to seven, abhorring sunlight as much as the drow elves of Mystara. Scorrows typcially hate other races and they tend to be chaotic evil. They are known to have such a disdain for weakness that they will leave behind their young if they do not develop quick enough. Brutally savage and cunning, the Scorrow practice ritualistic scarification on themselves, an important part of their religion -- the eldest of Scorrow having skin banded with thousands of striped scars. Reported abilities include a powerful constitution-damaging poison and numerous spell-like abilities. If the reports from the drow are to be believed, most of these aberrations were presumably powerful clerics or wizards prior to their elevation in status, so it is wise to expect conventional spellcasting ability as well.
Ratfolk are numerous as well as highly adaptable, and may be found everywhere throughout the Mystaran Archipelago. Their colonies typically are found within slums, sewers, underground burrows, and hillsides of lush overgrowth. The Aradian desert is believed to be their point of origin. Ratfolk societies are communal and are best described as living in chaotic harmony.
They are sentient creatures and can be rather organized. Most ratfolk belong to large raiding parties, but there's a few that seek other vocations. They can be very cunning, when not outright vicious, and may take up work as crafters or merchants either in cities or caravans. Though it is rare, it is not completely unheard of ratfolk taking up the art of magic casting.
Climate and Terrain
Aradia is a vast plain of sand and stone, bisected by a Y-shaped mountain range, which carves up the realm into three distinct deserts. The largest and most remarkable of deserts is the High Desert. This is a vast plain, only slightly elevated above the level of the ocean, and covered with sand, gravel and crushed seashells, the telltale sign of a former sea basin, now evaporated. The high desert is the hottest and most barren stretch of Aradia, where cautionary tales warn of its hellish heat, damning mirages and scarcity of water, food or shelter. White, powdery alkaline dust wreaks havoc on metal weapons and armor when the spring windstorms are at their worst, and an unprotected face full of the dust can cause temporary blindness and asthma. The High Desert is no place for mankind, though the Dune Elves and Scorrow are known to traverse it with ease.
Throughout Aradia there are springs of water which burst forth and create verdant spots, called Oases. There are thirty-two of these which contain fountains, and Date and Palm trees; twenty of them are inhabited. They serve as stopping places for nomads and caravans, and often contain villages. Were it not for these Oases, no living being could cross this waste of burning sand.
The burning winds that blast through these deserts are often so violent that they has been known to dry up the water of these springs, resulting in the most disastrous consequences. Wind storms are far more dangerous in the desert than the winds that have been known to ravage boats out at sea. Clouds of sand are raised and rolled forward, submerging anything in its path, including whole tribes of people who were unlucky enough to be caught unprepared in such harsh conditions. Many perish of the most horrible thirst; only then is the value of a cup of water is really felt. However, not all fall victim to this violent climate. The burrowing Scorrow weather the sandstorms particularly well, their legs and claws able to rapidly dig into a bed of sand where they cover their entire bodies and shelter until the sandstorms pass. Also well-adapted are the Dune Elves, whose remarkable insect-like tents constructed of fine silk stretched tightly over light wooden frames will withstand high winds and grating sands for hours. It is well known that Dune Elf tents are a necessity for traveling the deserts of Aradia, but they are costly, and as such are hard to come by in the Hazuz bazaar and are a target for theft.
Comparatively to Mystara or Eyr, the mountains of Aradia are barren and sparse. However, they offer much in a land that is lacking. A variety of thorny scrub, coniferous trees, grasses, and brush dot the mountainsides and provide fuel for burning. Small streams weep through fissures in the peaks, the seepage from deep internal aquifers combined with cool condensing air in the higher altitudes forming small precious sources of water. Here in the mountains live many of the nomadic tribes, moving from cave to cave for shelter and herding their beasts along the slopes in search of tough edible grasses. Also making home of the mountains are the Rocs, giant birds of awe-inspiring size, the likes of which are known to strike camels and even larger beasts for their prey. A roc’s nest should be avoided at all costs as one travels through the mountain ranges.
Resources of Aradia
The punishing climate of Aradia is host to myriad varieties of beautiful and strange creatures, as well as exotic spices and herbs. Flora and fauna are indeed one of Aradia’s biggest exports, comprising roughly a third of its outbound trade, currently under heavy taxation by the Caliph. Another third of the total exports can be attributed to craft goods, such as linens, silks, baskets, pottery, stoneware, oils, perfumes and other exotic items. The remainder of exports is made up of mined ores and metals, of which come from a massive underground mine of the size and scope greater than any in Mystara or Eyr. It is said the mine is operated with forced laborers who toil in the depths producing their quota of rare metals and gems to the Mine Baron.
Waters around Aradia are bountiful with pirates and corsairs who charge traders tolls to cross their seas, such traders willingly pay these exorbitant fees as Aradia's exotic trading goods tend to be well worth the hassle back in Mystara. Occasionally the pirates decide to completely cut off Aradia from Mystara.
• This information can be obtained ICly through a Bookshop boon quest.
• Mystara characters may use Aradia in their backstories
• Mystara characters may travel to and from Aradia
• At this time the Ifreet is not a playable race, and the Roc may only be played as an NPC or mount.
• Aradian lore is loosely based off of the Al-Qadim expansion for Forgotten Realms.