Fantasy Nerd Hole
On Illistran, death is merely the next step. The Great Cycle is the belief that the afterlife does not truly begin until the spirit has left this world, known as reaching The Beyond. Shortly after death, the spirit of a living being leaves it’s body and moves onto the next step of its existence.
Typically, spirits will wander aimlessly across the plane. Although some have shown affinity to staying near places they frequented in life, there is no set behavior. Spirits without purpose become known as Restless over time, warping their form and losing any semblance of what they once looked like. The spirits of beasts and wild animals are most typically found in this state however this fate befalls all souls without a purpose eventually.
Few are able to influence or, even more dangerously, control spirits in their normal or restless forms. The Cyclical Order holds few remaining Elders that are able to manipulate a spirit.
Illistran has no centralized form of government. Instead, Barons have carved up control of the known continent and nearby island chains and engage in petty Territorial Disputes against each other. These battles have become more akin to games than actual conquests. As the troops are not the Barons’ Rank and File guards but instead legions of the undead, these battles are nearly ceaseless and becoming more and more elaborate in nature. Employing necromancers, scores of undead are raised and pitted against warring territories. A relatively new tactic that’s become a source of competition for these Barons is to create undead monstrosities, sutured together from various parts of the undead.
Citizens living under these Barons are provided meager protection against the encroaching Spectral Wastes and often are unnecessary casualties in the war games.
Outside of Baron rule, the only other form of organized power is the Cyclical Order. Although not recognized as a form of government, most Barons recognize an importance in their nature, yet few are willing to offer aid for their services.
The known world consists of a central continent and a cluster of islands off the East coast known as the Drowned Chain. Although there is speculation of other land masses beyond the sea, any ship that has attempted to traverse the waters has never been heard from again.
Away from coastal areas, the landscape is littered with woods and forests. Lacking any mountain ranges and few changes in elevation, sea winds frequently blow fog great distances across the continent. Storms are often blown in from sea year round.
Cities and townships of various sizes fall under Baron rule. Few attempt to live beyond controlled Baron lands but stories have spread about druids disappearing deep into the woods to perform their magics.
Due to the failing strength of the Cyclical Order, more and more restless spirits have congregated on Illistran. Once a spirit has become Restless and their form begins to change, they begin to emit a blight upon the world around them. Although it does not seem to affect living beings, the landscape around them slowly breaks down into a chalky white substance. Attempts to replant flora in these areas have thus far proven unsuccessful.
Neither a governmental or religious order, the Cyclical Order exists as a necessity to follow the Great Cycle, which requires the aiding of the spirit population inhabiting the plane move on to what comes next. Having been established by elves hundreds of years ago, this now dwindling order verges on the point of ending, already upsetting the balance of life and afterlife on Illistran.