Difference between revisions of "Research:The Broken Lands"

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Warning: This page concerns archaic world setting information from the I.C.E. Age of GemStone III. It is not canon in contemporary GemStone IV, nor is it canonical for Shadow World as the details may be specific to GemStone III. It is only historical context for certain very old parts of the game and these things should not be mixed.

This is a research page for interpreting the Broken Lands in its original historical context. It is impossible to understand the Broken Lands without the Shadow World source books, as its basic premise is elaborating relationships from that world setting. However, it was also made with its own specific lore texts which were unique to GemStone III, which would be considered non-canonical in Shadow World. It becomes a matter of interpreting and guessing at the intent. The Broken Lands most likely also has more cryptic symbolic meaning relating it to the archaic death theology and mechanics of Purgatory, and should probably be interpreted as a spin-off story of The Graveyard.

The Broken Lands was introduced by GM Kygar in the I.C.E. Age in a few phases between 1992 and 1994, with the exception of the Sheruvian monastery, which was instead after the De-ICE by GM Sayzor in late 1997. What is now called the Lysierian Hills was built to be an idyllic contrast around a hidden portal to an exotic locale, which was then chosen to have an "Unlife invasion" theme, elaborating on the relationship between the servants of the Unlife with the Dark Gods in the Wars of Dominion.

Archaic GemStone III Documentation:

Related Projects:

The following research pages are interrelated with the subject of this one:

Shadow World

The world setting of GemStone III in the I.C.E. Age (Dec. 1989 - Sept. 1995) was set on Kulthea rather than Elanthia. This is the archaic Shadow World historical timeline, in contrast to the modern History of Elanthia. The story for the Broken Lands is "The Broken Land", but on the Wiki is labeled "A Popular History of the Broken Lands" (1993), and it is set in the context of Shadow World. This means the details and areas associated with the story must be interpreted in terms of the contemporary Shadow World source books. More subtly, it must be interpreted using books of an early enough date, as details first existing in later books would be apocryphal.


The Broken Lands was developed late enough for Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992) to potentially be relevant. However, the specific Iruaric glossary that was adapted and Iloura's shrine must have been from earlier books, coming instead from Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990). The Master Atlas Addendum in particular has some vestigial admixtures of the Unlife on Charon, the moon of the Dark Gods, before that language was removed from later books. For explanations of paleo-history, crypto-history, and potential weaknesses of methodology, see Research:The Graveyard.

I.C.E. Source Books

These books are especially likely to have some degree of relevance to the story. The Uthex Kathiasas story is unique to GemStone, it does not exist in the source books.

  • Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989)
  • Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990)
  • Demons of the Burning Night (1989)
  • Quellbourne: Land of the Silver Mist (1989)
  • Creatures & Treasures II (1989)

Authorial Intent

Some information is recorded on the authorial intent of the Broken Lands, which helps constrain the range of possible interpretations. GM Kygar did an interview in the Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V, which was the September/October issue of 1994. In this he describes how the whole concept was formed before any of it was created. The Seolfar Strake is north of the High Plateau on the Quellbourne maps, unlike the post-I.C.E. Age maps which place the Lysierian Hills south of Glatoph. Kygar describes making this region as a contrast for the Monastery, and describes earlier in the interview that the Kral (Modern: Krolvin) were only added to the Seolfar Strake in 1994 because of combat mechanics needs, as opposed to the "natural-growth" approach that was used for the original parts.

"The second approach is to come up with a concept or a 'main thread' and then to allow an area and the creatures to grow up around that concept. I think of this as a 'natural-growth' design, rather than addressing some specific need. Most of the Seolfar Strake, Monastery and areas beyond the Monastery are of this design concept. Because they are 'natural-growth' design, they do not always address the needs of every character class or type. I don't see a problem with that, and make no apologies for it. If there are 'gaps' in the area or creatures, then those gaps can be filled by other areas and other creatures.

When I started on the Seolfar Strake, I decided to have a natural sylvan setting in the foothills of a mountain, along with some buried ruins that contained a gate to a more remote and exotic locale. After looking at the Quellbourn map, I decided on Seolfar Strake as the location, since that was a previously untouched area of the island. Having a general idea of the setting and situation, I then had to search for a theme to justify it all. I read through a lot of background material about Kulthea, looking for a good plot to have it all revolve around. I settled on an Unlife invasion theme, but wanted to add a twist that had not yet been explored. The background material made it clear that the Unlife and the Lords of Charon had worked together during the Wars of Dominion. I selected that as the theme."

- GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), page 18

This "background material" has no modern analog in the world setting of Elanthia, so the "theme" of the Broken Lands is highly archaic. In the following paragraph he describes the additional background material that is not canon in Shadow World or Rolemaster. These include the legend of Uthex Kathiasas itself, the modified Iruaric glossary (1994), and the Temple of Darkness Poem (1994). The purpose of the Monastery in preventing the servants of the Unlife from exiting the Broken Lands is particularly interesting, because the legend implies instead that it was hidden so that it could not be found.

"Anyone who has not read the additional background material about the Monastery and areas beyond that are in the Tomes of Kulthea should do that. The legends and information that I came up with are not official RM material, so the only place you will find them is in the Tomes. Reading those should explain the exact history and plot of the area, though it does not give you every possible detail. Only after I have written a history and background foundation for an area like this, do I actually start building. I think the effect in the Seolfar Strake works. The approach is quiet and sylvan, with nary a hint of the dark struggle that takes place within the mountain. The Monastery itself fits the historical purpose for which it was designed, and that was to guard against intrusions of the Unlife through the gate that is located there. By reading the history and then really exploring and looking at the Monastery itself you can easily get a feel for the centuries of dedicated labor that the monks served. You can understand how their increased isolation from the rest of the world made them lonely and restless. In the end, they succumbed to the very powers that they were set to guard against and became servants of the very powers that they opposed. It's a tragic tale I guess." Kygar smiled a little.

"In any event, given that tale it was easy for the creatures to develop themselves. The wild creatures in the outer Strake are natural for that setting. The spectral monks and monastic liches in the Monastery are a very natural result of the history of the place. The general abilities of all these creatures are pretty natural."

- GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), pages 18 & 24

Kygar then went on to explain that the Broken Lands itself is designed as an extension of the Monastery story, and that there is unifying theme and purpose behind all of it. He explicitly says that there is more to it than its surface meaning, and that you have to dig into the background to understand what it all means. Though part of what he is talking about is the dome puzzle which no longer exists.

"The area beyond the Monastery is an extension of the story. It was all developed in the same way. There is a theme and tale behind all of it, and in light of that theme it all makes sense. I don't want to go into Man'Ta Pn'Tairken in too much detail because there are some (hopefully) neat things there for people to discover on their own. I can only encourage people to look beyond the surface. Dig into the Tomes and find the stories that give it all meaning. My areas and creatures are more than simple conglomerates of game mechanics. They have purpose and reason behind them, well most of them anyway, and by understanding that reason you should be better able to discover how to deal with them." He chuckled to himself. "Hmm, that was a pretty long answer."

- GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), page 24

Empress Kadaena

Black Hel

Wars of Dominion


Major Sub-Texts