“Mardas Vhula-gai” is a ruined city overrun by tribes of Dabu gnolls, an outpost of the Kingdom of the Gnoll Queen, located in the arid desert wilds outside of Narumbeki. The name is Southern Goblin for “Devouring Darkness,” and the gnolls have many goblin allies amongst the ruins. The original name of the city is long lost: the city was cast into ruins by awesome powers millennia ago, perhaps during the ancient War of the Gods.
Mysterious glyphs on the oldest surviving pyramids and pillars of the city are well worn and faded, but still glow faintly at night, even after tens of thousands of years. What magic they contain or generate is unknown to current scholars. These runes are one of two reasons why this ruined city is of any interest to anyone but the humanoid raiders who lair here.
The other is that Mardas Vhula-gai is one of two known locations on the continent, other than Cassadega, where vril technology and artifacts can be found. This fact draws the interest of scientific researchers and arcane scholars from across Midgard: from the God-Kings of Nuria-Natal and Ishadia, to the Arcane Lords of Dornig, and the Archmages of Bemmea, the City of Mages perched on the far western edge of the continent.
Persistent rumors in the Southlands speak of unsacked pyramid complexes here, with treasure hoards as yet undiscovered, still guarded by mighty vril-powered Guardians. If wrested from their ancient wardens and the humanoid raiders, these caches of ancient power and wonders could grant intrepid (and extremely lucky) adventurers nearly unlimited wealth and power. Wealth and power enough to buy or topple entire kingdoms… perhaps barter with the ancient elven lords or even the gods themselves…
So less scrupulous traders and bold adventurers continue to come to Mardas Vhula-gai, the “City of Sand Pirates,” for supplies, slaves or vril artifacts and weapons. One should not do so lightly, however, as those deemed weak and vulnerable are summarily attacked by the gnoll and goblin raiders, enslaved, and eventually eaten.
At night, however, even these fearsome humanoids hordes flee to their tents and burrows, when the mighty Devourer comes out of his pyramid lair to feed. For no creature is safe, when the Tyrant of Mardas is on the hunt for his nightly meal….
All adventuring parties need monsters to fight, treasures to plunder, cunning adversaries to outwit, and perhaps even sometimes a place to hide out from the authorities. I know that is what I am looking for as a Pathfinder player. With this in mind, I have created three new lost cities for the Southlands region in Midgard. My goal for myself was to create a trio of locations that teemed with intrigue, mystery, and danger. Places where players like me can find ancient tombs to explore, ancient cults to confront, and ancient enigmas, like the techno-magical secrets of vril, to unravel.
Here in Mardas Vhula-gai, I wanted to create a place where there are not only numerous monsters of all kinds to fight and overcome, and a trove of tombs and temples to explore and plunder, but also a place where characters can uncover the vast powers of Nurian rune magic, the ancient and unfathomable power of vril, and even the deep magic of more ancient kingdoms and cults.
I wanted to create locations, mentors, and foes so that fighters, monks, and rangers can learn new skills, powers, and fighting styles drawn from the scouring desert wind and sky. Places where clerics, druids, oracles, and paladins can learn the ancient mysteries of aasimars and angels, or even draw power from the very desert itself.
Here in these lost ruins, I also wanted to give players the option of becoming one of the humanoid natives of the Golden Southlands: a Dabu gnoll ranger or fighter, indiscriminate both in violence and diet; a Dust goblin sorcerer or vril technomancer, cunning in the ways of ancient, unfathomable technomagicks; or even a nagaji oracle, serving the ancient and mysterious machinations of the god-like Nagas of the Southlands. Dwarves and elves are nice, but who wants to be Thorin or Legolas every Halloween?
Here is your chance to try whole new playable races, in a whole new wide open (and very perilous) campaign setting. Here are myriad deadly secrets for us all to discover, mighty magics for us to win, and ancient power that could be ours to wield, if one only we dare tread the twin Paths of Glory and Death, in the timeless Lands of Gold and Salt….who’s with me?