|Warning: radius and size of spires and circle not to scale.|
That is why the ancients built what was once known as the Silver Spire, and its sister spires known as the Cardinals. These towering crystal-shaped stone monoliths, flecked with streaks of unknown metals, were once able to teleport huge amounts of personnel and resources across the Empire. It is theorized that they somehow break the limitations of line-of-sight teleportation from spire tip to spire tip, but that knowledge was lost in the war against the Overking and his Chaos Courts 986 years ago.
In the war, the underground complexes that once moved the men and material that shaped a continent, were warped by Chaos magics, turning them into labyrinths filled with strange creatures. Many heroes and villains of that age died in those underground bastions of the Empire, many finding themselves fighting side by side against overwhelming odds -- but in the end they succeeded.
The Overking was imprisoned, the power that fueled the Courts somehow leeched by the Silver Spire itself (turning it black as night), and the Chaos Courtiers were left to fend for themselves. Some fled into the spaces between the former Silver Spire (dubbed by many as the Shadow Spire) and carved out realms of their own; others ensconced themselves into the caverns and labyrinths and dungeons all along the perimeter of the Kingdom of the Wheel.
It is rumored that the wondrous teleport halls of the spires must all be found in the mega-labyrinths beneath the Shadow Spire and the Cardinals so that the Empire might once again regain a semblance of its strength and find a more permanent solution to the Overking. It is rumored that the luminaries of that legendary age knew that solution, but were slain before it could be enacted. It is rumored that the Overking's imprisonment -- the result of a mad, one-in-a-million chance taken by the ragtag aides and retainers of the legends of that time -- would last only a thousand years, and time is running out.
Will you join the expeditions into the spire labyrinths, map out their secrets, and prepare against the Overking?
Behind the DM's Curtain
So where did this come from?
This was started because I realized several things about my 'Karameikos-and-Philippines-inspired-setting': (1) it's gonna take a while before I start posting key location stuff; (2) I wanted to create a setting in the same cosmology that was less culture-focused and more dungeon / castle / weird creatures / evil mastermind oriented; (3) I took a look at OSRIC and was wowed by it, and remembered a classic campaign by a friend -- Bill Homeyer -- known as the Kingdom of the Wheel; (4) I remembered that it was structured really nicely to maximize the usage of a lot of random tables in AD&D; (5) I realized that some tweaks to the Kingdom of the Wheel allowed people to create mini-sandboxes with at least one mega-dungeon per spire.
So I decided to stick posts about the Kingdom of the Wheel (a lot of the Wheel ideas were from him, but the stuff I don't remember because it was quite a while ago, I'm filling in with embellishments and rationale because he was very stingy with revealing secrets, dammit) in between my efforts to create my original Enigmundia setting just to share some of the joy and sense of wonder that Bill's old campaign imparted to me.
Furthermore, rather than my proposed HEROic D&D ruleset, this one will use OSRIC for game mechanics -- primarily because I played this setting in AD&D and it feels right.
Wherever you are Bill, thanks for taking pity on a stupid kid fresh from the Philippines who didn't quite understand what a rune of death trap was and kept trying to read it.
About the Spires
The spires are artifacts and are protected by powerful arcane and divine magiks for some reason unknown to mere mortals. They are really tall -- I've not done the math yet, but I'm thinking at least a 5000 feet up. That makes the distance to the horizon around 30 miles. So the empire is 60 miles across? Then again, the spires are tall, maybe they can be seen above the horizon and I can stretch it out a bit more. What's the curvature of the earth? Hm, I'll need to revisit my math and geometry.
I'll need to figure out how to use some graphic design software to superimpose the darn thing on a map. Here's a mockup of the Kingdom superimposed on the map from the excellent Roma Imperious setting (Hinterwelt). Still not to scale, but it helps me get an idea of how I can proceed.