This is the fifth in a series of articles introducing The Strange. You can read the first one here.

Ardeyn is a recursion of extravagant sorcery, mystic blades sheathed in living souls, and an evil god called Lotan the Sinner whose prison is the world. At Ardeyn’s core, Lotan burns.

Dragons, soulshorn, homunculi of the Betrayer, invaders from alternate recursions, demons of Lotan, and other insidious threats that hide in ancient qephilim ruins are ever-present in Ardeyn.

Once, Ardeyn was guarded from Lotan the Sinner by the Maker, his Seven Incarnations, and their angelic qephilim servants. But when they fell long ago, they left Ardeyn open to attack. Now mortals (humans and fallen qephilim alike) have taken up the fight to protect the place known as the Land of the Curse.

When player characters translate to Ardeyn, the translation itself gives them some context about the recursion they’re entering; it’s what every recursor knows about Ardeyn.

What A Recursor Knows About Ardeyn

  • Ardeyn operates under the law of Magic and is influenced by Sumerian myths.
  • Spirits of the slain live on in Ardeyn, and they are drawn into the subterranean Night Vault; a recursor who dies in Ardeyn would leave behind a spirit subject to the same rules of death.
  • The Maker and Seven Incarnations who safeguarded Ardeyn are dead or missing, except the Betrayer (who was the Incarnation of War before he murdered the Maker).
  • Strangers called kray continually test Ardeyn’s borders, and they sometimes find cracks through which to enter, thanks to the efforts of the Betrayer.
  • The entire land of Ardeyn is built upon the petrified body of a god called Lotan the Sinner.

In addition, player characters learn about qephilim, and can even choose to become qephilim when they translate. Qephilim are a race descended from immortal angelic beings who served the Maker and his Incarnations. In the past, seven qephilim kindred groups each pledged to a particular Incarnation. During the Age of Myth, before the arrival of humans, magnificent qephilim cities dotted the breadth, interior, and even the skies above Ardeyn. But most of the qephilim cities were destroyed in a cataclysm, and now qephilim numbers are a fraction of what they once were. Seven different kindred of these creatures once existed, though only a few survive into the modern era.

Cartographer Hugo Solis
Cartography: Hugo Solis

The Shape of Ardeyn

Ardeyn is a limited world, and it’s much smaller than Earth. Nor is it a globe; if one imagined that Ardeyn is a massive body pulled into a fetal position on its side, then the inhabited side is the top, and it holds all the Daylands and the encircling Borderlands. (Some say it is the shape of Lotan, encased in the stone of an imprisoning world).

The Daylands are where most living creatures of Ardeyn abide. The Borderlands mark the transition from the Daylands to the cliff edges of Ardeyn, beyond which boils the Strange. The underside of Ardeyn is called The Fall. It’s like a vast, jagged ceiling of stone with no floor beneath, and few creatures live there. The tunneled interior of Ardeyn, the Night Vault, is densely inhabited, if mostly by spirits of the dead.

Across its longest dimension, from the crown of the Queendom to the foot of Megeddon, Ardeyn stretches some 900 or so miles, and is rife with lost cities, secret shrines, sleeping demigods, magic swords, and forgotten wishes capable of waking even Lotan the Sinner. But should all that ever pale, a jaded adventurer merely need journey to the edges of the world and set sail in a chaos skiff, there to voyage across the Strange itself.

By Lead Artist Matt Stawicki

This is the fifth in a series of posts introducing The Strange. You can read the next one here.

Bruce Cordell
Bruce Cordell

Bruce Cordell has written well over 100 roleplaying game products, including titles for four different editions of Dungeons & Dragons. He’s also penned nearly a dozen novels. Major credits at Monte Cook Games, where Bruce is a Senior Designer, include The Strange, the Ninth World Bestiary, and Strange Revelations, among many others.