Aurora: The Wandering Empire

Long, long ago in the time before the Sundering, there were gods who held dominion over the celestial heavens and influenced the people of the Prime Materia through angelic servants and mortal clerics. The expansion of their sovereignty was held in check by the Primordials, ancient elemental beings with whom the gods harbored longstanding enmity.

When the veil between worlds was ripped open, gods and primordials and mortals from across the multiverse were suddenly thrown together, the immediate result being several large scale conflicts erupting all at once. Eventually the utter chaos of this cataclysmic event subsided with all sides suffering heavy losses. Most of the gods and primordials however had killed eachother in the great pandemonium.

When the Primordials died, the elementals under their auspices were freed of their bounds and flew into utter bedlam, essentially becoming like wild animals.

When the gods died, many of their angelic servants lost all sense of purpose, and begun aimlessly wandering the ruined realms of their dead gods while slowly going mad over the long centuries. Some angels took their gods dogma and followed it to the most extreme degree. Angles of the God of law will hunt down and mercilessly punish criminals wherever they find them; angels of the god of war constantly see to ignite the flames of strife and conflict, angels of the god of love enthrall and force people to become lover slaves to one another, etc.

The servants of the slain god of light (we'll call him Pelor, or Helios, or Torchy) had an entirely different idea. They found a new sun god in the form of an infant celestial deity fathered by the light god upon the goddess of knowledge, and they began to raise this godchild up in the image of their former master. Though a font of great divine power, and viewed by many mortals as a being of awe inspiring puissance, the godling is still a child by the reckoning of the immortal celestials. Where once the gods presided over the angels with absolute authority, now the angels influence the will of a god to their own ends, which is pretty much preserving their way of life from before the Sundering and the following wars.

The godchild sits in isolation and tranquility within the uppermost room of the highest tower in a grand, golden city floating upon a great magical cloud and surrounded by honor guards of armored angels, as well as an armada of levitating cathedrals that are capable of devastating foes with blasts of seering radiant light. This floating space Vatican travels along the Angel Roads, great pillars that fold two points of space together for quick travel from back when the celestial realms of Empyrean and Apollyon were whole, bringing light, warmth and protection to the people who live in the desolate outer reaches of known space. 

For the various peoples who live on the dark edges of space, this grand floating city of gleaming golden towers is the closest thing to daylight that they know. They offer their love, devotion and obedience to the goldchild, who in turn consumes this energy and uses his will to power the the whole grand procession at the behest of the archangels who rule the divine armada. Because the city's regular procession, the folk along the Angel Roads have come to know it as “Aurora”, after an old world term meaning “sunrise” from the days when there was a sun.

Though the godchild rules in name, most actual decisions are made by Araehel, the archangel who discovered, protected and mothered the infant deity (angels do not have any innate gender, but some choose to take on either a male or female aspect). Besides Araehel, there is a council of seraphim who debate and rule on a number of issues concerning Aurora and the worlds she visits. The council is split into two parties, one who wants to focus on improving their existing territories, and another, led by council member Sabrael who wants to broaden the cities influence and involve Aurora in other conflicts. Michratheon is another member of the council who was secretly a servant of the dead god Asmodeus, and seeks to subtly disrupt and undermine the city, in an effort to ruin it from within.

Michratheon also secretly runs an extensive criminal network within the city itself through “his” underlings Uziel and Zaradhel.

Aurora itself is home to a number of pilgrims from all around it's orbit, who live in the lower levels of the city and perform menial labor in exchange for a pittance and being within close proximity to the godchild. Many of these become soldiers in the ever growing army of Aurora, and they support the angel Sabrael's vision of an expanded empire. The mid-levels of the city are populated by deva, a race of humanoids who were once the angelic servants of many gods, but gave up their divine aspects in lieu of going mad without their gods. They represent the merchant and artisan castes of Aurora.

There is another purpose to the procession of Aurora and it's radiant glow. Beyond known space is a force of utter destruction. A vast, nonsentient space virus that knows nothing but the instinct to consume. The Nihil (working title) is a immense organism not unlike a giant amoeba that lies hibernating beyond the reaches of the various inhabited realms of space. Before the Sundering, the Celestials had to eke out a civilization in their earliest days by driving this organism back further and further to allow for their expansion into the stars. That makes this thing the natural predator of angels and gods. Now, the only thing keeping this ancient threat pacified is the procession of of the golden city. Imagine an immense cloud of utter blackness, with the faint light and dying screams of partially digested souls within it. Now imagine this is the size of a continent. Travel too far out amongst the stars, beyond where even the astral krakens and other wild celestial beasts roam, and you may find yourself within the Nihil's obliterating embrace.

Campaign Front

The godchild has been kidnapped! Who had the power, resources and motive to do it?

Was it one of the archangels hoping to further their own ends? Was it mortal forces who learned the truth behind the facade of Aurora? Was it worshippers of another god? A cult dedicated to the worship of the Nihil?

And what happens when the one thing keeping the Nihil at bay is taken out of the picture?


  1. The inspiration for the city of Aurora came from Antioch's Horizon idea from the trial run of his Sundered World campaign. Initially it was just a city run by archangels and other celestial beings, but I thought it would be cool to have the whole machine powered by an actual god.

    Of course in a Sundered World the gods, who I reckon represent a kind of order in D&D lore, are not really a thing anymore, so Zeus on the summit of mount Olympus doesn't cut it. My idea of the baby space pope comes from the “Golden Child”, which is a 1986 adventure/comedy with Eddie Murphy about a divine child being a pawn in the machinations of adults. My idea of the godchild is that the kid pretty much a duracel battery and a campaign poster, but ultimately still acts like a little kid, so when he throws tantrums the archangels try to cover it up and blame it on something the people on the outer edges of space angering the god through their impropriety or something.

    The idea for the nihil is because I wanted a threat that wasn't just mustache twirling evil that players could just knock hit points off of until it dies and shats treasure.

  2. As an aside, before this goes in the book we are now at 61/150 pages. This does not include art or maps, so almost halfway there!

  3. I'm really loving this whole Sundered World series. The idea of "an armada of levitating cathedrals" alone is very cool.

  4. Eeexcellent. I am not sure if/when we will start up a Kickstarter. Maybe for art. I would love to get some quality art in there. It would also be nice to help fun the setting for other systems, namely 4th Edition. I could also see FATE.

  5. We want to get a rough draft in the can and scrape some concept art together before we kickstart A Sundered World, so that people will have a full grasp on what it is we're pitching.

  6. There are various Google+ communities where you can find help with art or publishing.

  7. Wait a second. A kickstarter means that you're going to publish a physical book, right?

  8. That is the plan. Even if we do not do a Kickstarter, or it fails, a print-on-demand service should still be doable.

  9. So... the Nihil. You compare it to a virus, but then talk about it as an organism and compare it to an amoeba. These are two very different things. Just pointing that out. :P

    You also compare it to the size of a continent. Now, I know continents are massive, larger than I can really comprehend, but doesn't it seem a little small? I mean, this is supposed to be an entity (or non-entity) that threatened the universe before the Sundering. I'd imagine it's large enough it could consume a world, if not a system/galaxy/universe. Or maybe it's more like an intelligent black hole, and size doesn't really matter. ...does size matter outside the universe?

    Anyway, Aurora sounds pretty cool, and I like the background for Devas. I noticed some of the angels had a Hebrew name scheme while others had a Greek name scheme, though looking back, only Michratheon has a Greek-ish name (also interesting because Asmodeus is Greek, sorta). Whether intentional or not, it works, and as a person with interests in language and meaningful names, I dig it.

  10. Very good points.

    I guess I just wanted to convey the notion that the Nihil is not a moustache twirling cartoon supervillian, but rather like a force of nature. Something not sentient, and utterly implacable that lives only to consume without a shred of empathy, or malice.

    And you're absolutely right that continent size is too small scale for this beastie. Maybe more comparable to a small galaxy or large planet.

    You're correct in that the names I've chosen for specific angels are indeed Hebrew in origin. This is just out of tradition more than anything else. I went with Michratheon simply to mix it up. When I'm writing a fictional place, I like to throw in names from different linguistic backgrounds to illustrate that people migrate and different cultures mingle. I feel this lends more of a living, breahting quality to the setting.

  11. I had originally envisioned devas as least angels that were basically always about as powerful as mortals, or perhaps saw a reduction in power after the death of their gods, but shedding their mantles to avoid madness is also a good angle (though I wonder about other angels?).

    I could see a paragon path/feat chain/aspects/prestige class/compendium class where the angel taps into its forsaken glory at the risk of going (temporarily?) insane.

  12. @David Guyll:

    The way I see it breaking down is this: The mad angels are the celestial beings that held on to their faith even as their gods were slain. Deva's were the ones who gave up hope and traded their divinity to hold onto their sanity.

    The deva who live in Aurora made pilgrimages there hoping to regain their lost divinity, but since their faith was weak they are treated as second class citizens by the angels which is STILL better than the mortal denizens of the city get treated.

    That's a good idea...mechanically I could see that as being a racial move for Deva characters, with the rider effect: "for the remainder of the session, the GM may lie to you - even if the rules say he must answer truthfully"

    Speaking of villainous idea occurred to me concerning Mes Abatru. Of course being the necromantic equivalent of Las Vegas, it is known for it's spectacular entertainment venues. But the biggest is the gladiatorial arenas that are run by a former angel of the Warbringer (I vote using deities from real world mythology, so ostensibly Ares or Thor). There is a very lucrative trade in shanghaiing soldiers and adventurers outside of the city, and smuggling them in to fight in the colosseum.

    Also, I've decided that the peace in Mes Abatru should be kept by a secret police force made up of wraithes and specters.

  13. What about those skeletons in Libris Mortis that can entomb you in the ground? If the city is ruled by a lich it should be easy to make transmuting skeletons that can pop out of the walls, grab people, drag them into underground dungeons and keep them there.

  14. Another good idea. I just like the idea of players robbing a casino or something and wraithes melting through the walls to catch them.


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