This is a sneak preview of the Silken Call. 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.

The Silken Call

Introduction

To many of the Gifted Races, the Silken Call is a place of alien beauty. Silken threads are woven into strands and walls and bridges throughout the idyllic woodlands, crisscrossing over the many falls and streams that come tumbling down from the mountains. To those invited, the many colors of the morning dew that settles on the silken strands create a dazzling display in the early light. Those uninvited, however, would face a silken maze full of poisons, silken traps, and deadly guardians if they were to navigate the depths of the land.

The face of the Silken Call, to the outside world, is Queen Eranthis and the Spidersilk Elves who have come to her land to embrace her Faerie nature. The Queen is said to be a direct descendant of the first Spider Sylph, Eirene, and has inherited all of her Faerie magic. Her presence and her rule has changed the elves that have come to dwell in the Silken Call, and they bear her marks. Although many other creatures dwell in the forests and vales of this land, Queen Eranthis and her court receive almost all visitors.

The Queen is said to be tolerant, if somewhat distant, to those who come to her land in peace. Diplomats, merchants, and scholars have reported visiting the court to seek her favor. She has many gifts to offer those who win her trust; lucrative silk trade, magical silken treasures, enchantments of poison and web, and knowledge; the Queen is said to be knowledgeable on a great many magical topics. Before visitors can enter her court, however, they must win the trust of the Spidersilk Elves that dwell in the Silken Call. One of the great houses of those Elves must sponsor any visitors to the court of Queen Eranthis.

The Silken Call is the home to other races that, while sentient, are very different from most of the Gifted Races. While the entirety of the area is ruled by Queen Eranthis, the most curious and unusual people of the area might be the Oombule. These puzzling and contemplative creatures have been described as giant silkworms or perhaps caterpillars, with arms and almost human faces. The Oombule are particularly fond of puzzles, riddles, and philosophical banter because, they claim, it occupies their mind so they can weave their silken strands without thinking too much. They not only create much of the silk for which the kingdom is known, they are also masters at creating objects out of their silk. While some of their works are beautiful, some are deadly, especially when combined with the poisons and venoms from the spinderlings and spiders found in the kingdom. It is said that they are also fond of gathering treasure and leaving them at the edges of the Silken Call, guarded by non-deadly traps and puzzles. Although the Oombule generally do not intend harm to those who would cross the borders to win their prizes, other creatures of the land tend to hunt in those areas for they have learned that outsiders come seeking to win the treasures left behind.

Other creatures also roam the Silken Call; attracted by the Queen’s magic and loyal to her sovereign will. The Spinderlings are dangerous humanoid creatures that appear to be at least half spider. They do not talk in any language the Gifted Races can understand, but they seem to know the Queen’s will when she speaks it. They are dangerous, and tend to be violent to anyone they do not know who invades their areas. The Silken Call is also home to a wide variety of large hunting spiders that act as pets to the Queen and the Spinderlings.

Far more dangerous, however, is the seething pit called the Hive. Once a proud and well-crafted entrance to the ancient Underroot of the Eurvein, the Hive remains the last Rootgate to remain open. While all other Rootgates into the under-kingdom where destroyed ages ago to prevent the Infestation from spreading, the Hive proved to be the too heavily guarded and the guardians, it is said, can gnaw through the enchantments before they can collapse the halls and tunnels that touch the surface world. The Spidersilk Elves guard the lands around the Hive, and they must deal with those (fortunately) infrequent occasions when the Infestation spills out into the lands of the Silken Call.

While the Hive is infested by insect spirits that threaten all of the Silken Call, the insects don’t often swarm into the forests. They are far more aggressive and dangerous if Insect Shamans are in the area. The twisted magic of those individuals seems to send the swarms into a frenzied state where they flood out and attempt to consume everything in their path.

Costuming

Spidersilk Elves favor black, gray, and white outfits accented with bold colors such as crimson, wine, and indigo. Spider motifs are common, but not required. The woven silks harvested from the spiders and from the Oombule are strong as steel, and so many clothing pieces and accessories are crafted from it. The Spidersilk Elves wear silk accents, but the nobles and accomplished Elves actually wear a lot of cotton, linen, and leather because it is rare and expensive to them and the silk they trade is common. Certain bold individuals may wear other colors if they do not hunt in the forests, but such extravagant displays while favored usually include spider web patterns and designs.

Roleplaying

~ The dawn’s dew on a web, the delicate curve of a rose’s thorn, and the final struggle of a strand-tangled moth: these are all, in their ephemerality and danger, beautiful gasps of the natural world. To understand true beauty is to look in the fleeting, hidden places.

~ To be connected to the Silken Call is to be connected to the larger world- particularly its hidden, mournful places. Those so connected have learned to carry the quiet suffering of invisible strangers.

~ The Queen’s will is known by all those within the Call, even if she does not directly state it. When those who bear Eranthis’s mark are many miles and generations removed from the Call, they will feel, eventually, the strands of silk beckoning them home. All those touched by the Call recognize each other as more than mere kin.

~ Every Gifted life is as an intricate weaving: whorls and loops of experience knit together to craft a unique story- each of these stories is worth both speaking and repeating. Listen earnestly to the experiences of others.

~ Subtle glances, careful words, and precise strikes are just as effective as rallying cries and massive armies.

Religion

Worship of the Pale is the common among the Spidersilk Elves. Magi are not unheard of, especially since Sollos is a close and trusted ally. The Spidersilk Elves generally avoid the Woven Faith as the divine threads feel foreign to the elves.

While Insect Shaman are forbidden and even hunted in all lands, they are particularly hated in the Silken Call for obvious reasons. As a result, the Spidersilk Elves look upon all Shamans with suspicion if not outright hatred.

Spidersilk Elf player characters can become Shaman or worship the Woven Faith if they want to play a rebellious member of the race; there is no rule restriction against any religion.

Magic

The elves that learn Arcane magic tend to favor Chimera and Weald. The use of Poisons comes naturally to these elves so Alchemy is also common. Other types of arcane casters do exist, but are uncommon.

Society

The Queen of the Silken Call is Eranthis. She dwells in a castle created of marble, glass and silk and she resides over her Spidersilk Court in those halls. Each house of the Spidersilk Elves sends one High Representative to the Court to advise the Queen, and vote on matters that are beneath the Queen’s attention. The court consists of the High Representatives, their entourages, the Queen’s favored, and visitors so it can get to be quite an affair if all attend.

The Queen tends to give the Spidersilk Elves as much freedom to act as they please as she can, even though two of the houses bear a hatred of outsiders and can cause havoc with the outside world. The Queen is sympathetic to those affected, and can sometimes be swayed to intervene, but she finds it distasteful to dictate the actions of the nobles of the Spidersilk Houses, even when they disappoint her.

There are four great Spidersilk Houses. They vary greatly in temperament, though all serve the Queen; the Houses range from openly aggressive, such as House Vilefang, to hospitable and welcoming, such as House Silkveil. Certainly, there are those Spidersilk Elves who exist well outside the Spidersilk Houses; however, every Spidersilk Elf can trace their lineage, not particularly far back, to at least one of the Houses.

House Silkveil – House Silkveil, with Houselands in the southern part of the region, is a place of artistry and refinement. House Silkveil considers itself to be the ambassadorial arm of the Silken Call, and offers hospitality and safe haven to any who ask. Lead by the elegant Lord Araneo Gala, the House shares the closest relationship with Sollos. House Silkveil is known, perhaps obviously, for its masterwork silks: the great looms of Silkveil produce cloth that is prized across the world, and the tapestries, woven on these looms, can be found in nations from The League of Seven Charters to Kyrzenwold. House Silkveil is, perhaps more quietly, also referred to as the House of Gentle Poisons, due to its members not insignificant genius with such things. Those in House Silkveil are frequently well-rounded courtiers, gifted in the scholastic and visual arts, as well as turns of combat; chimerical mages, in particular, are favored in House Silkveil. Their House’s heraldry is a white orb spider, atop a golden web, on an indigo field.

House Venomsong – Located in the western forests of Spiderwold, House Venomsong is a house of art, poetry, music, and beauty. While more reclusive than their ally, House Silkveil, House Venomsong similarly welcomes outsiders. Indeed, as the House closest to the Grove of Early Spring, House Venomsong frequently serves as a way-station for those Pale followers on a pilgrimage. Lady Tetragnatha Nephila, a softspoken skald, frequently asks visitors for stories of their worship and travel. A house of master alchemists and bards, one of the more peculiar exports of House Venomsong is tea: those of Venomsong hold a special reverence for tea. Indeed, tea-taking is often a time for wistful meditation on the ephemeral nature of life, and the slow decay of all things. To take tea is, within House Venomsong, to engage not merely in a social nicety, but in a deeply personal ritual. House Venomsong gatherings are often punctuated by poetry and song contests, accompanied by tea ceremonies, that last long into the early hours of the morning. The Venomsong Heraldry is a white orb spider, atop a golden web, on a plum field.

House Vilefang – Often considered the Sullen Twin of Venomsong, House Vilefang is known for its moody, reclusive members, and acidic xenophobia. Since House Vilefang openly despises outsiders who enter the Call, people often wonder why they are considered twin-houses with Venomsong: this is because House Vilefang boasts many master alchemists, as well as some of the deadliest poisons in Aerune. Lord Loxocelus Necra, perpetually vague leader of the house, makes it well-known that he rewards Vilefang members who excel in deadly, odorless poisons. House Vilefang, similarly, is known for making expert use of the cave systems throughout the Call, and its members are said to prefer to the cold, dark of the underground to the outside light. Most members of House Vilefang have badly scarred faces and bodies: this is, it is said, the result of alchemical accidents. While many find House Vilefang visages frightening, those of the house see their faces as marks of pride. The House Vilefang heraldry is an emerald green spider, atop a silver web, on a black field.

Player characters cannot be active members of House Vilefang.

House Garrote – Lady Latrodecia Sicarius, leader of northern House Garrote, proudly claims that her House, in service to the Queen, has executed the greatest number of trespassers to the Silken Call. While House Silkveil opposes such assassinations vehemently, and Queen Eranthis has, numerous times, stepped in to intervene, Garrote maintains that, to protect the sanctity of the Call, outsiders must be dismantled. A House of master assassins and rogues, House Garrote members are universally expertly trained and highly skilled. House Garrote, like House Vilefang, often excuse Pale outsiders who are on a pilgrimage to the Grove of Early Spring. Unlike those of House Vilefang, who rarely leave the region, those of Garrote often do surprisingly well outside of the Silken Call: their natural interest in the arts and sciences, as well as their dangerous charisma, find them swiftly amassing friends and allies. Even Garrote softened by international travel, however, maintain a soft arrogance. Garrote heraldry is a vermillion spider, atop a golden web, on a black field.

Player characters cannot be active members of House Garrote.

Regions

The Spidersilk Courts: Queen Eranthis’s lands, the Spidersilk Courts are located in the center of the Call, so as to offer each noble House equal access to them. The Spidersilk Courts, with their web-reinforced stonework and masterful marble architecture, are places of exquisite craft and decoration. Queen Eranthis’s castle, named Castle Eirene, serves as the center of Spidersilk politics and innovation.

The Dew Fields: Surrounding the Spidersilk Courts, on all sides, are the Dew Fields. The word “field” is perhaps misleading, as the Dew Fields encompass not only meadows, but also forests, swamps, and marshes. They are named, however, for a phenomenon unique to the Silken Call: it is said that, near and during the earliest dawn hours, the dew collected of the grasses of the Dew Fields holds special alchemical properties. Beyond this phenomenon, a great number of powerful alchemical plants grow throughout the Fields.

The Houselands: The Houselands are segregated throughout the Call. To the South, closest to Sollos, are the pristine and bright lands of House Silkveil. To the North are the holdings of the Garrote. The western woods, though they would never claim official ownership, are the holdings of Venomsong. While House Vilefang, nominally, owns only a small area in the east, it is well understood that they control, at any given time, a number of cave systems throughout the Call.

The Segestrid Woods: The Segestrid Woods are, seemingly, a rather tiny tract of forest in the northwest of the Call. They are, however, of great spiritual importance to the Spidersilk Elves. Clumsy outsiders call The Segestrid Woods the Forest of Death, or the Deathwoods. This is because the dark woods are, culturally, places where Spidersilk Elves sometimes go to die: those Spidersilk Elves who feel that their lives ought be over expose themselves to the elements and quiet dangers of the Segestrid. Outsiders sometimes consider this behavior a creepy sort of suicide, though Spidersilk Elves consider it a noble act befitting the long history of the Silken Call. Queen Eranthis, once a year, makes a royal, solitary pilgrimage to the Woods. She says that this is, foremostly, to honor those lost, but also to acknowledge, however ambiguously, that, “Despair is something that has always threatened our people.” It is a somber and grim place, and the ebony trees and bald birches are often ringed with long-dead corpses. While many Pale followers make pilgrimage to the Grove of Early Spring, many Korred of Autumn, regardless of their faith, often seek audience with the Queen to ask if they might visit the Segestrid.

The Mulberry Den: The Mulberry Den is a large area of land, including a mulberry forest, in the East. This land is the only space in the Call that is not governed by Queen Eranthis, instead, in this hazy, heady tangle of web, smoke, and strange smells, live the Oombule. Although the enigmatic Oombule would prefer to philosophize over smoking pipes, and would gladly give up their authority should the Queen demand it, they appreciate her gesture. The Mulberry Den, and the lopsided, mushroom-covered structures that serve as Oombule houses, is a place where only the most intrepid individuals go to meet, it is said, impossible visions.

The Ambuscade: The Ambuscade is not a single place, but instead the meticulously vexing land that serves as the perimeter of the Silken Call. The Ambuscade is tended by all denizens of the Call, but particularly the Oombule. In this winding snarl of traps and puzzles, the Oombule leave treasures and riddles for those foolish enough to seek them out. Additionally, those of House Garrote, hoping to injure outsiders, often weave deadly webs, which entwine with less dangerous traps of the Oombule.  A paradoxical place, it is unclear whether the Ambuscade serves as deadly lure or genius ward- most, likely, it serves as both.

The Hive: Few Spidersilk elves have visited the Hive. Located deep in the southeast mountains, the Hive stands as the last open entrance to the Underoot of the Eurvein. While it was once a proud and beautiful testament to Eurvein culture and life, it now stands as a badly infested reminder as to the dangers of the Hive. All four noble houses work to help guard against the seeping threat of infestation. House Vilefang, however, has the most familiarity with the underground cave systems of the Silken Call; accordingly, they seem to be able to best know when the Hive infestation endangers the Call. House Vilefang, assisted by the other houses, are charged with guarding the Hive; it is said that this duty has engendered in them their hateful xenophobia.

The Grove of Early Spring: One of the sanctified Groves of Pale Worship, the Grove of Early Spring is the origin of the Pale New Year, and, as such, is one of the most revered places in the Silken Call. Tended by the Teacher, the Lady of Names, the Grove is centered around the Lady’s Cottage: an intricately carved, elegant structure of ebony wood. Plum trees, in near perpetual blossom, surround this Grove, and it is protected, by Pale warding, from all those who wish to do it harm. The Lady prefers privacy to company, and, so, to be granted attendance in the Grove is a great Honor. For one season, the Late Winter, the plum trees stand without blossom, and it is during this time that Pale pilgrims flock to the Grove: throughout the Late Winter, the Lady teaches of the New Year. On the First Day of Early Spring, the Lady gives a name to the new year, death names to those who have died, and life names to the new births. On the Second Day of Early Spring, the Pale New Year, the trees once more spring into full blossom, and Pale pilgrims set back to their homes to bring names to worshippers. The Lady’s rule is that, if a visitor comes to her Grove, and sees snow on the plum blossoms, it is taboo to enter her sacred space. Seemingly without fail, snow appears on the Plum blossoms on the Third Day of Early Spring, and does not melt until the start of Late Spring.

People

Queen Eranthis – The Queen is, at best, enigmatic, and, at worst, distant. Said to be one of the only living descendants of Eirene, the first Spider Sylph long lost to the Fading, Eranthis shoulders the weight of centuries. The Queen, a woman of measured neutrality, cryptic aristocracy, and restrained melancholy, embodies many aspects of the Silken Call. She harbors, however, a perceptible sadness- those who visit her throne room sense that she carries in her bearing the grief of generations. The Queen, seemingly, answers to no one save the will of the strands and the Teachers of the Pale. Since she is an endlessly reasonable person, this is no small blessing.

Araneo Gala – The noble leader of House Silkveil, Lord Araneo is a graceful, polished gentleman of boundless wit and only mildly delimited charm. He oversees the happenings of House Silkveil with a satiny charisma that, generally, wins over even the most stubborn of detractors. A gifted mage of Chimera, Lord Araneo appreciates those visitors who might present him with innovative magics. He is rumored to be a terrible romantic, and has a long, rather storied history concerning his many lovers of all genders.

Tetragnatha Nephila – The retiring leader of House Venomsong, Lady Tetragnatha seems to prize her talents as a skald over her talents as a leader. This is not to say, however, that she is to be disrespected: whereas her counterpart, Lord Araneo Gala, is ebulliently charming, but undeniably arrogant, Lady Tetragnatha, and her court, present as sophisticated and reserved. Lady Tetragnatha’s love of art and poetry, particularly works connected to impermanence, are well known, and it is said that she is a good contact for those seeking sojourn to the Segestrid Wood.

Loxocelus Necra – The leader of House Vilefang is taciturn, gloomy, and, on his bad days, violent. He lives, with his houselanders, mostly in the cave systems that surround the Silken Call. Lord Loxocelus’s face is scarred and disfigured: it is said that his scars are the result of alchemical accidents, and, potentially, alchemical abuse. It is unclear whether the Lord is proud or ashamed of such scarring- most likely he is both. Little is known of the Lord other than his hatred of outsiders, and his willingness to, when the mood strikes him, use his poisons against them.

Latrodecia Sicarius – The aggressive and vitriolic leader of House Garrote, Lady Latrodecia is often a force that must be, if not actively countered, carefully controlled. While her temper is capricious at best, over the past few years, her hatred of all outsiders has mellowed to a simmering hostility. She continues to decry, however, any and all users of the Woven Faith as meddlers with, “something they do not understand.” It is said that, against the wishes of Queen, Latrodecia hopes to train her troops of assassins in the haunting Segestrid Woods.

Salticirio the Wanderer – Not all those who call the Silken Call home align with the four houses, nor do they stay within the Call itself. Salticirio the Wanderer, frequently dressed in the garb of the Tatterfolk, sometimes combined eerily with the costumes of Dremasque and Sollos, is a traveling peddler-mage of things “wild and wondrous.” A strange, perpetual favorite of Queen Eranthis, Salticirio, who seemingly breaks every rule the Queen sets forward, holds a special place among the Spidersilk Elves.

Oo’laruambi – Little is known of Oo’laruambi, the inscrutable leader of the Oombule. Oo’laruambi, known for his frightening appearance and brilliance-bordering-on-madness, seems to dictate most of the riddle-twisted actions of the Oombule. He wanders, from time to time, outside of Oombule lands- though only, it is said, when he senses a genius similar to his own.

The Lady of Names – A secretive and compassionate woman, the Lady of Names is a Pale Teacher connected to the Grove of the Early Spring. As the Pale New Year falls in the Early Spring, the Lady of Names is so-named for her duty: she gives a name to the new year, death names to those who have died, and life names to the new births. Because the Lady of Names knows the names of the new year’s animals and plants, she calls them forward to be pursued by the people. Additionally, based on the whispers of nature, and the secrets of the people, she names a few chosen Gifted that will remain protected against the Hunts of Consequence. While she can be influenced, the Lady of Names keeps her reason for acknowledging these Chosen to herself. The Lady of Names lives in the Grove of Early Spring, and presents as a Spidersilk Elf. Most denizens of the Silken Call have, at one point, met the Lady, despite her privacy.