This is a sneak preview of the Sollos. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.

Sollos

Introduction

The people from Sollos are a reserved folk, both introspective and spiritual. Their silk clothing and robes can make a visual impression that make them stand out from many other kingdoms, and the culture of the people places a great emphasis on the words they say and how they say them. The Sollosir do not like to break their oaths, either deliberately or mistakenly, and this leads them to carefully consider their words.

The most peculiar thing, perhaps, about the Sollosir is that many of them cannot and do not always have a choice of what they will say. The men and women of Sollos live in both the present and the past. The folk of this land sometimes hear echoes of past Sollosir, and when the whispers of the dead become strong enough, those echoes can become fully manifest and take hold of the folk from this land, offering opinions and making decisions for the living.

This process is not random; echoes only manifest in men and women who knew and interacted with that person in the past. It is not enough, it seems, to have spoken with the person whose voice is within the echo. The most powerful manifestations come to people who spent time with the people in the past; traveling, playing, fighting, and seeing the world together.

Echoes only whisper to, and manifest within others who are most like them. Echoes manifest in people who see the world, at least in part, as they did. The most common manifestation comes from the echoes of past relatives. The closer the relative was in demeanor and experience in life, the more likely the echoes will visit the living who survive them.

When an echo fully manifests in the living it takes over. The echo will control the host for some amount of time, making decisions and even offering opinions. The echo, however, has only the memories and talents that it has shared, either in life or during some past manifestation. It cannot recall knowledge or memory unless it has shared those words and scenes with its host.

When you make a character from Sollos, you first choose whether you are susceptible to whispers and Echoes. If your character is not susceptible, then you will understand this process happens to your country folk but you do not experience it. That is perfectly fine.

If you choose that you are susceptible, then you create both your character and the personality of the character who can manifest within you. You must decide on the personality of an Echo that can visit you. While it is possible for people from Sollos to be visited by more than one Echo, we do not recommend it for player characters.

There are restrictions on how Echoes can manifest and what they are capable of when they do.

~ You cannot choose an evil Echo. An Echo can never cause you to perform some act that you would never do, either for emotional or moral reasons. That is not to say that an Echo can’t make rash decisions, or make your life more interesting and complicated. They just don’t have the control over you to make you break your emotional or moral codes.

~ An Echo only remembers talents and experiences that you shared. It can offer insight or perspective; it will never provide additional knowledge or skills. An Echo can, however, use any of your skills and while manifested might choose (if you decide this out of game) to use your skills or items as it sees fit.

~ You can never manifest an Echo to try to end or circumvent a game effect. Echoes are just as affected by game effects as you are. If an Echo would cause some questionable interaction with some specific game effect, then you cannot manifest the Echo until that game effect has been removed or cured.

~ The folk of Aerune have at least some vague understanding of the Sollosir and how Echoes manifest. They hold all folk responsible for their actions, and an Echo that is manifest is no excuse or defense for any action or inaction. The Sollosir know full well that an Echo cannot force someone to truly act against their will.

~ You as the player choose when your Echo becomes manifest, and when it chooses to relinquish its hold on you. Although your friends can certainly convince your Echo to end its manifest, the decision should be made out of game to offer maximum fun for you and your fellow players, and to enrich the shared story. Echoes that are obstinate or annoying will drain the fun from the game for everyone, and we don’t want that.

Not all Echoes are benevolent. There are Echoes that contain whispers of malevolence, and the Sollosir guard against these. These whispers and Echoes can gain enough power to enter the physical world and become Eidolons, appearing as violent or even depraved haunts or spirits. These Echoes, and the Eidolons they can create, have given rise to orders of mystics which work to quiet their whispers, and quell the appearance and destructive purpose of these malevolent spirits.

Malevolent Echoes and even Eidolons can enter and manifest within Sollosir who, through their actions, are rife with Hubris. Acts of Hubris make Sollosir susceptible to Echoes which have become corrupt or evil, and fallen Eidolons that roam the land. It is for this reason that the Sollosir strive to be particularly virtuous, and distrust those who are not.

Players are not generally susceptible to these malevolent spirits, although if a player commits some act of Hubris they might, for a time, be susceptible to these dark Echoes or the Eidolons that roam the land. This might take the form of a Frenzy effect, or in extreme cases the player might become plot controlled for a time. Players of Sollosir characters who commit too many acts of Hubris and become too susceptible to these malevolent entities could potentially be driven to permanent darkness and malevolence and could lose their characters in a manner similar to permanent death.

There are four orders of mystics, and four temples that house them. Each have developed their own method to quiet these malevolent spirits, or to destroy the Eidolons that roam the land. Mystics trained at the Shrine of the Empty Glass use colored glass and mirrors to quiet defeated Eidolons, trapping the Echoes in the glass until they can be cleansed in the temple itself. Mystics of the Shrine of the Bronze Mask wear some form of metal mask to protect them from the strongest of the Eidolons, and concentrate on militant arts to destroy those haunts. Mystics of the Shrine of the Endless Flame purify Echoes and Spirits with fire, although this can cause great pain in the victims. Mystics of the Shrine of the Soothing Rain draw Echoes into liquids they carry, and cleanse those Echoes in the fountains and falls of their shrine.

As a result of all this, the common and noble people of Sollos are, for the most part, virtuous and introspective. That is not to say that common wisdom never fails the folk who dwell here. The land has its share of less virtuous folk. Many who have never heard the Echoes presume they are not susceptible and do not fear any manifest, although violence of wandering Eidolons is always a threat. Sometimes, however, whispers can manifest late in life. These unexpected occurrences serve as a reminder to all folk of this land that it is better to be virtuous in life.

One affectation of the people of Sollos is that many are given, by a member of the noble houses, a title that is usually appended after their name. These titles are considered honorable, though a person might be given a succession of titles throughout their life, each replacing the former. Titles such as “the Wise” or “the Cautious” are common, but more unusual titles like “the Illuminated” or “the Sorrow Drowned” are considered both more interesting and more prestigious. As a result, lords and ladies of the land who are more literate and who have a flair for dramatic language can often gain more power simply because they give out more interesting and sought after titles.

One defining feature of Sollos is that the people trade for lots of silk from their northern neighbor, the Silken Call. This silk has a particularly fine quality and is surprisingly strong, and this means that the people of Sollos use it to craft a large number of goods. They use the silk in clothes, tents, curtains, rope, and other crafts.

Costuming

The Sollosir people favor loose, flowing clothing and many of the nobles use silk to accentuate and decorate their outfits. The Sollosir usually start with a loose shirt that, when worn, is long enough to fall over the thigh. They favor loose trousers either tucked into high boots or gathered at the ankle over low boots or sandals. Low pointed shoes are sometimes worn. Over this simple base layer, they will decorate themselves with long flowing and patterned layers of silk or other rich fabrics. Vests, tunics, surcoats, robes, sashes and other well-tailored over-layers complete the fashion. Women that favor a more traditional look might wear dresses with intricate patterns.

To match these flowing outfits the Sollosir favor similar accessories on the head. Flowing headbands tied in the back, head wraps, long hair scarves, and recently even deep mantled hoods are worn when the weather is foul or the Sollosir does not want to be recognized.

As the months grow colder the Sollosir simply add layers of cotton or silk to stay warm.

Young men and women from the affluent houses of Sollos are encouraged to travel when they have finished training or scholarly pursuits to widen their horizons. As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals from Sollos to favor the dress of other kingdoms and countries so long as it isn’t so decorated that they risk appearing prideful.

Roleplaying

~ Be virtuous, for succumbing to Hubris invites the Echoes of madness and violence.

~ Be aware during negotiations that an Echo can manifest, and might not understand the situation.  Have others present who will recognize this and can take over a conversation or negotiation.

~ Do not let Eidolons linger over your wounded and dead.

~ Be proud of your title. Those who question it are questioning your own honor.

~ Learn the mannerisms of your allies so you can recognize Echoes within them.

Religion

Many of the people of Sollos favor the Celestial Court; it is the most common religion in Sollos. Magi are not uncommon here. Some of the rangers of Moongarden have adopted the Pale religion. Although less common, some folk who have traveled in their youth have encountered and adopted The Woven Faith or have even turned to Shamanism.

Magic

Mystics and Magi are perhaps the most common, although House Zenith has Shadowmancers and practice that type of magic. Otherwise both arcane and divine spellcasters are scattered among the noble houses and the common people.

Society

The common people of Sollos work in villages and farms, providing food and raw materials to the noble houses in exchange for a fair wage. Though the land is divided by rivers that flow towards a great swirling vale in the center of Sollos, the whole of the country is broken and rocky with very little flat land. Although there is a great deal of vegetation, this makes it impossible for traditional farming. Sollos depending on beans and vined fruit because those are the easiest to grow in the terrain. The people of Sollos also have to spend more time traveling, as roads either wind to a fro between rocky hills and canyons, or they go up and down over hills carved with paths or stairs.

There are currently five great noble houses in Sollos, and a number of lesser houses. Each greater house has a lord who holds the title of Sha, which is appended to their personal name when addressing them. Lords of the land use Mir as a title in a similar fashion. These houses rule various parts of the land, with one house dwelling in and tending to a large round structure called the Ancestria. The Ancestria acts as the country’s capital, and the emissaries of the great houses meet here.

As an example, the head of a great house might be called Loros-Sha Ancestria, or simply Loros-Sha. His knight might be called Harrod-Mir Ancestria.

House Ancestria – This house both dwells in and acts as keepers of the Ancestria, a massive round fortress built into the mountainside in northern Sollos. The Ancestria is both the house where nobles gather and policy is made, and the under tombs that hold the ashes of noble lords and ladies after they die. Nobles of House Ancestria tend to be scholars and don’t tend to travel. The house has a large number of Magi who teach the worship of the Celestial Court.

House Highsun – This house has holdings in the south of Sollos, with many of their towers built up the slopes of the mountains. House Highsun is the most militaristic of the noble families, and generally wear long suits of lamellar armor and carry spears and swords. Shields are not uncommon. House Highsun also has the best mines and most skilled smiths in Sollos, although most of the armor is created with silk reinforcement and embellishment. House Highsun holds Tisal and although there is some trade with kingdoms and countries to the south, Highsun still guards against influence from the Commonwealth of Blacktallow. Sollos saw the court of the former Queen Elysia as rife with Hubris, and is cautious as a result even though that queen has been disposed.

House Morningstar – A house with a large number of Eurvein, this house has holdings along the entire northwest region of Sollos. They have mines all along the mountain range where they produce some of the finest gemstones in Aerune. Magi consider these gems to be among the purest in the lands, and favor their use with their divine magic.

House Moongarden – This house holds the lands to the east within Sollos. These rocky lowlands provide the best areas for the vineyards and small gardens that provide food enough for both the people of Sollos and trade with the Silken Call. House Moongarden, as a result, keeps rangers to guard its lands. The rocky, broken terrain forces the gardens and vineyards to be built apart from one another. This makes it easy for hobgoblins to enter the land from the eastern mountains undetected, and bandits to rob the unwary and disappear into the hills and forests of the area.

House Zenith – Holding the lands north of the Ancestria, this house holds Easin and derived much of their wealth from the silk trade with the Silken Call. The nobles of this house are said to be Shadowmancers, and the warriors and scouts prefer to employ subterfuge and stealth over brute force. House Zenith is also known to be less forthcoming than others of Sollos, largely keeping to themselves and their dealings with the Silken Call.

Regions

All of Sollos is a land of broken rock grown over with vegetation. The center of the kingdom was twisted in ages past, and it is now rock basin formed into a large spiral. The rivers that flow into the basin form a similar and unnatural spiral pattern as they flow in a circle around the large basin. The Shrine of Soothing Rain is built on the shore of a lake that is almost perfectly round. All the rivers flow into the lake, and yet somehow it never rises.

The Ancestria is built into the mountainside. What can be seen is a large, circular, pantheon like structure with arched entrances. The upper floors of the Ancestria have halls and offices and it is used as the center of government for Sollos. The undertombs store the ashes of the nobility.

The north of Sollos is broken into a number of canyons, which makes navigating the area cumbersome. The high land over the canyons is surprisingly hard to explore, as House Zenith has hidden most paths or stairs that provide a means of ascension.

The other areas of Sollos are comprised mostly of hard, rocky hills choked with vegetation. The rivers have carved canyons through the land like furrows, and the vales and gardens are typically separated by winding paths.

People

Loros-Sha Ancestria, the Esteemed – The sha of House Ancestria and the high lord of Sollos, Loros-Sha commands three votes on the Council of Nobles. He is old now, and many expect him to step down and leave the seat and title to one of his four sons.

Mariem-Sha Zenith, the Whisper at Dusk – The sha of House Zenith, Mariem-Sha is still young and skilled, it is said, in many arts that exemplify her house. While the members of the house are reserved and rarely speak, she takes visitors directly. There are visits where guests at House Zenith heard only the voice of the Whisper at Dusk.

Master Callaos, the Master of the Pool – The master of the Shrine of the Soothing Rain, Master Callaos spends his days gazing into the Swirling Lake. It is said the master sometimes sees visions in those waters, as did the masters before him.

Master Na’ar, the Scorched – The master of the Endless Flame is also someone who received the cleansing flames as a youth to free him from the madness of a particularly powerful Eidolon. The Scorched still bears the scars of the burning. The Master is less introspective than many mystics, and fights tirelessly against Eidolons and malevolent Echoes with both weapon (he favors a staff) and the magic of fire.

Master Alia, the Reflection of Alkym – Master Alia is the master of the Shrine of the Empty Glass. With this position comes the responsibility of holding Alkym’s Mirror, an ancient artifact that allows her to glimpse Echoes in the world around her. Although she appears youthful, she has actually been the master of the Shrine for many more years than her features might suggest.

Master Aarethen, the Bronze Lion – Master of the Shrine of the Bronze Mask, Master Aarethen is unusual as a master in that he has often sought enlightenment among the beasts of Sollos. He has become akin to them, and he can grow and fight with wicked claws in battle.