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The lost continent of Abraxas

Abraxas is a lost continent from before the beginning of recorded history, which is destined to give rise to myths of sunken lands like Atlantis and Mu. Here advanced technology coexists with magic, primordial animals stalk the jungles, incredible civilizations flourish, and Mankind must share the planet with alien races from other worlds and planes of reality.

There are five great city-states of Abraxas: Vertis, Utesh, Tamo Anchan, Eibon and Argistillum. The wide plazas and towering palaces of the cities indicate high refinement, in some cases even decadence. Nobles are carried in carved sedan chairs by their slaves to watch the death-duels in the arena. Fortunes are gambled and lost at great feasts. Assassination and intrigue decide who holds power.

The cities are connected by the Vadem causeways, teleportation gates designed by the great wizards of the still more distant past. On payment of a toll, the causeways allow rapid transit from one city gate to the next.

Other relics of old science-sorcery still remain, lighting the streets with glowing posts at night or enabling the very rich to glide over the forest in sky-yachts when they care to go hunting. Some actinic lances survive from ancient times - weapons capable of hurling blasts of electric energy. But few now know how to recharge them, nor how to make the causeways function when they grow dim. What was once technology is now becoming, through ignorance and secrecy, a magic art.

Each city has its own character. When Abraxas finally sinks (many millennia yet in the future though that is) some of its people will escape to create the civilizations of our own ancient history. Thus the city of Tamo Anchan shows similarities with Maya and Olmec culture; the descendents of Eibon will become the Carthaginians and the Etruscans; Argistillum's survivors are fated to found Babylon; Vertis gives rise to the halcyon image of Greece and Troy; Utesh's beliefs and customs will live on in Ancient Egypt.

For millennia the city-states of Abraxas have enjoyed peace, but now they are under attack by the Ulembi, ruthless aliens who come from a dying star cluster beyond the Coal Sack and are capable of psionically broadcasting their physical forms through outer space. The cities must put aside their rivalry and send champions to meet the menace before it is too late.

Built on high cliffs overlooking the sea, the white marble of Vertis is shown off to good effect in the magnificent towers, domes and colonnades. Lovers of theatre and art, the Vertides have filled their avenues with slender statues of exquisite beauty, and each day in the open-air theatre above the bay there are masked plays telling the heroic tragedies of ancient times, interspersed with musical interludes and comedies.

But life is not mere leisure for the Vertides. They are keen philosophers, and devote much time to trying to recreate or even improve on the wonders of the past. Not only is Vertis's navy the envy of all Abraxas, but they have a fleet of two dozen sky-boats armed with ion projectors which help to deter enemies from supposing these peace-loving philosophers would be an easy conquest.

However, although as a people their grasp of ancient technology is impressive, the Vertides make poor individual sorcerers - perhaps because of some innate lack, perhaps only because their mind set is more directed towards logic than imagination.

Government: Affairs of state are debated in the Senate, a council made up of Vertis's most prestigious citizens.

People: The Vertides are average height, fair-skinned; hair is usually blond or brown, more rarely red or black, and wavy rather than curly. Long flowing beards are common in older men as a mark of wisdom. Clothing comprises tunics or togas, often clasped with silver, there being no gold mines near Vertis.

Eibon is built in the foothills of the Delenda Mountains, on the edge of the Akali Desert. Behind its battlements, the city rises on the swell of the three hills where it stands, its tall blockish buildings climbing in tiers. The biggest buildings are made of the reddish local stone, but this is hard to quarry and so most of the city is constructed of bricks made with lime and the crushed shells of sand-crabs which blaze like coral and diamond dust in the sun.
In the heart of the city, the temple groves stand out like lakes of greenery. Their sacred gardens are always well-watered, despite the low rainfall. Public squares can be seen on different levels of the city, connected by the steep streets with frequent steps. Cutting across the city are three old walls half fallen to ruin: the walls that separated the old quarters of the city, now ransacked for their stone and closely clustered with the poorer dwellings. In places overgrown with flowers, in others blackened and widely streaked where refuse has been thrown down, these walls stand like weathered rock ridges across the city.

On one hill, in the Byrsan quarter, can be seen a host of warlike monuments. Spiral pillars capped with bronze support the pediments of temples to Tirvecto, the local god of the desert's heart, patron deity of the Eibonites. On a lower hill is the teeming warren of the overcrowded Strangers' Quarter, given over to commerce; it is here that non-citizens have their homes. The bright cloths of the dyers' clans, stretched out on the rooftops, give this quarter the most color. Further back, against the mountainside, is the Megaran quarter with its high towers and curious obelisks like upturned cones. Here are found the temples of the universal gods, with their cylindrical minarets of iron that look like skeletal black chimneys. Above circle the sacred reptile-birds, grown fat on sacrifices.

Government: The ruler of Eibon is called the True Man. This is not a hereditary position: the True Man is that lord whose heraldic badge is worn by the majority of the city's elders. If things go badly, if the city suffers poor harvests or reversals in war, the True Man may wake to find the badges have changed, his support evaporated.

People: The Eibonites are average height, hook-nosed, swarthy brown in complexion with curly red, brown or black hair. Beards without moustaches are fashionable among men; women wear copious make-up and plait their hair up in elaborate styles.

The common beast of burden in these parts is a kind of waddling long-nosed camel (related to Macrauchenia). For warfare, the Eibonites use the massive long-necked parvum (related to Indricotherium) that grazes on the trees and shrubs of the desert fringes.

Tamo Anchan
Tamo Anchan is set atop a granite plateau above a sweeping jungle. Much of the city is built of a dark blue stone, which in the case of the noblemen's palaces is inlaid with rectangular gold plaques. The major buildings stand on pyramidal platforms, with high stairways simulating the city’s own position above the Tershen forest, and have tall Mansard-roofs, often adorned with "horns" along the ridge. Arches are corbeled or trefoil. Wide esplanades open from the streets around the perimeter of the city, the parapets of which overlook the jungle.

Throughout the city are parks planted with bright green moss. Here and there can be seen the ivy-twined stela which depict the rulers of ancient times and, in hieroglyphics, relate the great deeds they accomplished.

To the north is the great Lake of Stars, down towards which is directed a giant viewing scope. This device, left over from ancient times, monitors the pattern of stars in the lake (which do not mirror the stars above) and represents them as a three-dimensional matrix in the tower that supports the scope. The Anchan priests believe the lake is a portal through to another place, perhaps the underside of the world, and that the stars shown there have a sacred influence on their dream lives, just as the stars above affect their waking lives.

Government: The city's king is called the Deodand. He is appointed by a council of high priests and clan-chiefs, who take advice from astrologers. As long as his rule goes well, the Deodand enjoys the luxurious comforts of a god on Earth. But in times of trouble he must be sacrificed, the theory being that his soul can then go to plead the city's case in the Court of the Gods. From this custom derives the euphemism, "He has been sent to petition the gods," said of anyone dying violently or unexpectedly.

The clans of Tamo Anchan are: the Blood Ritual Clan, the Celestial Beast Clan, the Ceraunic Beast Clan, the Serpent Guide Clan, the Clan of the Vision Quest, the Axis Tree Clan, the Bird of Time Clan, the Manta's Spine Clan, the Fruiting Body Clan, and the Jade Skull Clan. Highly trusted individuals can be appointed Ahau, or "bannermen", by the clan-chief. Bannermen have special status. There are very severe penalties for a non-bannerman (of any clan) who insults or harms a bannerman, regardless of circumstances.
People: Anchans tend to be shorter than average (5'5") but nonetheless sturdily built. Noses are slightly flattened, eyes oriental, full-lipped mouths; skin color is glossy ochre; hair blue-black. Hair is straight and worn long. Facial hair is uncommon. Clothing is often woven of flax or feathers from the jungle birds, dyed in brilliant colors and set off with fire opals and black pearls from the lake.

Anchans set great store by personal bravery in battle. The highest honor to which a young warrior can aspire is to earn his place in one of the War Lodges, each dedicated to its own totem constellation or planet.

Set on an island beyond the easternmost exit arch of the Vadem Causeway, Utesh can only be reached by boat or flier. From a distance the city resembles one vast pyramid shimmering in the white coastal light. But in fact there is no pyramid in the whole city: the buildings are arranged in a grid with the smallest at the perimeter rising to the central tower called the Sky Axis wherein are the dual thrones of the Ward of the Red Crown and the Ward of the White Crown. Thus the overall form of all the buildings sketches out a pyramid, ensuring that the cosmic energy collected by the Sky Axis is properly focused and conveyed to all the inhabitants.

The city is built of golden stone, the buildings comprising broad spire-topped towers (shaped like Cleopatra's needle) or square arched colonnades. Often the tops of columns are carved to resemble stylized sea fronds, for the Uteshi believe themselves descended from the merfolk who dwell on the ocean bed. Murals commonly depict the city's bird- and animal-headed gods, or replicate in stylized form the all seeing Eye of Horus that stares from the summit of the Sky Axis.

To the west, on the mainland, is the necropolis. Here the tombs are pyramid-shaped, again the aim being to focus cosmic forces so as to preserve the bodies that lie within.

Government: Utesh is a theocracy. The priesthoods of the different gods function like ministries, in theory comprising two factions whose heads (and supreme priests of the temples of that faction) are the Wards of the White and Red Crowns. In practice, byzantine intrigues and alliances blur the simple factionalism of the system.

People: The Uteshi average slightly over six feet and are of slender build. Faces are typically high-cheekboned, eyes almost feline, jaw sharp, skin tawny olive-gold. Hair is white or very pale fawn. However, men usually shave their heads but may have long sideburns or small straight beards; women keep their hair very short except for Mohican-style crests.
Culture: More important than monetary wealth in Utesh is neth - literally, "eye". A man's degree of neth shows how well respected he is. Nobles are born with more neth than commoners, citizens have more than foreigners. Certain professions (notably the priesthood) carry more neth than others. You can earn more by good manners, poise, learning and heroism. Neth is used up like spiritual currency - in return for favors from the gods, and to balance against any wrongdoing that might otherwise result in imprisonment, torture or death.

Standing at the confluence of two rivers, the original walls and oldest buildings of Argistillum are seemingly the newest structures in the city, being built of an almost indestructible resin-colored stony substance comprising ceramic bonded into a microscopic metal lattice. The Argistes no longer know the secret of making this, so their more recent buildings are of somber black granite clad with bronze and yellow tiles. Every archway is flanked by statues of the winged sphinxes that are the legendary guardians of the city.

Argistillum is most famous for its hanging gardens: terraces above the level of the streets that overhang them, dangling creepers and vines to give color and life to the place. Underfoot, the refuse of the streets is hidden by a carpet of reeds brought fresh from the river each day by slaves. Also renowned throughout Abraxas is the menagerie of Argistillum, where the visitor can (for a fee) view creatures both known and unknown.

Although great scholars and lawgivers, the Argistes have a streak of callousness, if not outright cruelty. The Arena is a place where all classes of Argistillum come to watch gladiators contend against fierce monsters and each other, in battles usually ending in death.
Government: The city is ruled by a triumvirate, each with different responsibilities. The King Above is charged with maintaining Argistillum's standing with the gods. The King of the World is the city's temporal leader, responsible for warfare, diplomacy and trade. Third and most sinister is the King Below, never seen by "his" subjects - a creature from another star, kept in a glass globe deep underground from where "he" issues cryptic advice about events yet to come.

People: Argistes are average height and build, very pale-skinned (almost milk white) with a faint yellowish cast to their features. Hair is curly; brown, black or blond; often with a single silvery streak (called by other nations a "cruel streak"). Men and women alike wear their hair in long ringlets, though men often shave their brow to create a receding hairline.
Dress: Clothing for men usually consists of sandals, loose trousers and an open gown that leaves the chest bare. A wide silk belt is patterned to show the man's clan and temple connections, and not infrequently a long curved dagger is tucked into this to show the clan may not be trifled with. Women wear a sheath skirt, slit to permit freedom of movement, and a short vest covering the breasts. The vest is held loosely closed by a colored cord in the case of unmarried girls.

Other locations

The Cabiri Archipelago

The Cabiri are a seafaring people inhabiting a number of small city-states spread throughout an archipelago of many islands and white coral atolls. The Cabiri trade with the ports of the mainland, but to them property is less important than custom. Property can be lost, but the right to fish in a certain bay, etc, can never be taken away. Such rights descend through the female line and form the basis of the Cabiri economy.

Cabiri society is shame-based. To insult a Cabiri obliquely or even simply not to take his word for something is to shame him. To avoid disgrace, a man will choose blood feud, exile or even suicide. Cabiri who have been deeply shamed without possibility of redress will say "Lady Moon has turned her face away" (the Moon being one of their gods) and become fatalistic and withdrawn until some happy stroke of luck encourages them to fight for their good name.

There are twenty-four clans, each of multiple lineages. All clans are represented in every township. Nine of the clans comprise the Pelagian Cabiri, and these have responsibility for matters concerned with the sea: fishing, coastal trade and the navy. The other fifteen clans are the Chersonese Cabiri, who are concerned with matters relating to the land: farming, crafts, markets and the army. The township's two rulers are the heads of the paramount clan in each faction, and they rule on alternate days.

Each clan is responsible for certain rituals, many of them relating to government. Eg, for a city-state to declare war requires twenty-four rituals to be performed. War therefore cannot happen without the consent of all the clans. But a lesser state of aggression can be declared by only nine Pelagian Cabiri rituals, giving those clans considerable sway when it comes to foreign policy.

The people of the archipelago are human-like but recognizably not like other men. Their flesh, bone-white with a yellow tint, is luminescent and their pale-gold hair glows like gold. Somerset Maugham puts it best:
She glowed, but palely like the moon rather than the sun, or if it was like the sun it was like the sun in the white mist of dawn.
Cabiri society is matrilineal, with inheritance passing through the female line. The clans are exogamous: men marry outside their lineage and clan, going to live with their wife's family. As in old Celtic society, a man is usually closer to his sister's children than his own, as they are the ones who will inherit his family's responsibilities, rights and property.


The original Chorazin was a splendid oasis in the heart of the Akali Desert, its people impregnable from attack by reason of the leagues of scalding black sand that surrounded them. Pipes deep beneath the desert brought water from the Delenda Mountains to fill the city's cisterns. But Chorazin was destroyed when a meteorite laid a pall of poisonous iridium across the mountains, polluting the water so that the inhabitants became mad and fled into the desert.

Now there are two Chorazins. One is the half-buried ruin where bands of eremen(desert folk) make their lair. The scholar Zaverchand has speculated that it may be in imitation of the crested helmets of the ancient murals that the male eremen's dorsal fins have grown so exuberently large. The other Chorazin is a twin of the original, cut off in its own pocket dimension at the time it was abandoned. This Chorazin is the destination of wizards seeking a place to meditate and expand their arcane knowledge.

The Akali Desert itself is an unwelcoming region whose jet black sand forms huge rolling dunes. Tors and crags of blinding white stone stand above the desert, blasted by the wind into baroque shapes. Who knows what ruins lies buried under the sand, or what creatures dwell in the interior of the desert? No explorer has ever gone there and returned to tell of it.


Xanthus is a floating city on the back of a giant crustacean-like creature half a mile across. The people of Xanthus are at the mercy of this creature's whims as it drifts feeding on plankton. Fearing that it may one day dive under the waves, they worship it as the god Ix and make sacrifice of the old and deformed by hurling them into a crevice called the Barathron (actually the creature's dorsal gill-vent). Food comes from fishing, weeds and barnacles cultivated at the rim of the shell, and nets hoisted aloft to trap birds. On festival days holes are drilled by the priests and part of the god's flesh is then tapped, a morsel that Ix in his vastness never notices.

The buildings of Xanthus are in fact growths on Ix's shell: a hard, orange-mottled yellow carapace rising like a low island in the sea. The aristocrats of Xanthus occupy buildings at the top of the shell, where they are safe from the destructive effect of a heavy swell, but all would die if Ix sank entirely, and so Xanthic society is more egalitarian than most. The key feature of Xanthus's inhabitants is their harshness; they have had to be ruthless to survive. Thus they are a people who despise weakness, which they cannot afford, and it is considered the duty of the old and sick to make way for the young.


Humans are not the only intelligent species in Abraxas. There are others, some of them well organized and genocidally hostile. The eventual ascendency of Man is not a foregone conclusion.


An intelligent pre-human Terran race descended from pterodactyline ocean gliders. When the vlis's distant ancestor adapted to life on the ground, the powerful forelimbs evolved into its legs and the smaller hind limbs became its arms. Several hundred million years on, the hind limbs moved around through a widening of the pelvic girdle and the legs moved back. The creature thus has a low hunched stance with the thorax and head supported like a table-lamp on strong backward-jointed legs; the overall height is about five feet.

Possessions are typically carried in a pan or bag strapped under the thorax; the vlis's long slender-digited arms can easily undo the flaps, remove a needed item, and reseal it with horridly unhuman dexterity. Sometimes this pan will be found to contain a freshly-severed human head; the vlis are believed to collect such heads in order to restore them to sentience in their laboratories, where the head can be maintained in a vat indefinitely while the vlis subject it to interrogation and experiment.

The vlis are man's deadly rivals on Earth, regarding humanity as usurpers of their rightful supremacy. In addition to being skilled fighters, usually with a spear held in both hands, the vlis can use magic and have a sonic screech attack which can distract or stun an opponent.


Creatures from a star cluster beyond the Coal Sack, who came to Earth by psychically broadcasting themselves through outer space to escape their own dying world.

Ulembi have large heads whose hard ridged integument resembles a walnut. This skull protects the creature's huge brain. A ring of dark globular eyes protected by deep recesses allow the ulembi to see in all directions at once. There is a short neck and then the ulembi's trunk bifurcates, the two stout limbs resembling large serpents. At the end, each limb divides into four tentacular fingers. The ulembi can balance on one limb or on its "elbows" while holding something in the fingers, but rarely needs to do so because all ulembi are able to manipulate small objects by telekinesis.

When fully reared up on its limbs, an adult ulembi's head can be as high as eight feet off the ground. But it can also splay its limbs out low, moving with ghastly stealth through undergrowth no more than a few feet high.

In combat the ulembi is able to bristle its scales, giving the limbs a rough jagged surface like pineapple skin. This allows it to flay the skin off an unarmored opponent. Young adults sometimes wear bronze vambraces on the lower limbs, with which they can deliver powerful whip-like blows. Older ulembi disdain physical combat altogether, preferring to use their psionic power to instill a feeling of dread and despair in a foe.

Given a short time with a subdued victim, the most powerful adepts of the ulembi can psionically rewire his brain so that he will serve as their agent. This can even take the form of subliminal commands, so that the victim does not know he has been affected. Eventually tumors form in the brain of the victim, however, and madness and death soon follow.


The offshoot of humans altered by an ancient wizard's genetic sorcery. Eremen are recognizably human in origin but have the features required for survival in the desert: large membranous ears, heavy brows, a limber frame, folds of fat around the belly, and elongated webbed digits. A dorsal fin that usually lies flat along the spine can be erected for temperature control as well as conflict and mating displays.

The genetic changes have caused some reduction in these creatures' intelligence: you might be attacked by one wielding a metal club it had found, the club actually turning out to be an ion pistol that it lacked the wits to operate.


Hive-dwellers, the descendents of an alien race stranded on Earth in the far past. The churuk thrive best in the sulfurous atmosphere of volcanic rifts, but are hardy enough to tolerate normal air for days or weeks at a time.

The basic body form of a churuk is of a lozenge-shaped torso armored in chitin and with three limbs arranged around the rim. This form can develop in quite different ways, however, according to chemical jellies administered to the eggs during development. Some churuk hatch as Brains, others as Workers, others as Striders. The Striders have powerful legs. The Workers have one of their limbs developed massively for heavy labor or combat; for travel they can move slowly with their other limbs or latch onto the back of a Walker. The Brains are the most intelligent; they have only limited mobility but can latch into the back of a Strider or Worker and directly take charge of its cerebral ganglion (its eyes then close in sleep).

Mottling on the chitinous shell allows a churuk to identify the members of its hive and egg-clutch.

Other fauna


A carnivore with a long proboscis, triangular membranous wings and strong kangaroo-like hind legs. The munigant lopes across the plains dragging its wings, which are fringed with long bristles like primitive plumage. Spying prey, it leaps aloft and snaps its wings out to the side, gliding forward at great speed while bringing its legs forward and extending its claws. If the prey fails to dodge it is seized with the wing-hooks while the strong clawed legs inflict a lethal wound. The munigant then injects a chemical that softens the bones and proceeds to suck them out, leaving only the skin to dry in the sun. (Abraxaens have a superstition that a person slain by a munigant becomes a ghost-skin that will slither under the door at night to wrap itself around the living.)


Arboreal creatures with very powerful hind legs and smaller forelimbs used for grasping branches. The derophyr's torso slopes downwards from the hips to its heavily plated head, the forequarters being counterbalanced by a short flattened tail. The overall height of the creature (when standing, measured from feet to pelvis) is about four feet. Its distinctive rattling call - braap, braap, braap - which echoes for miles through the forest, is created by rapidly vibrating the face plate while blowing through the mouth and nose.

A derophyr's legs propel it vigorously through the trees. On the ground it has an ungainly gait, hopping and strutting awkwardly. During the mating season it is not uncommon to encounter derophyrs out of the trees, disorientated by a midair collision of heads which is the ritual of male competition for females.

Derophyrs subsist on a diet of leaves, berries, insects and small game. They are dangerous to humans not because they would normally tackle prey as large as a man, but because when gazing down from the trees they can mistake humans for smaller animals. Additional danger occurs in the mating season, when dazed male derophyrs will leap at and headbutt anything on two legs.


Creatures of primordial but earthly origin, elytrums are solitary hunters whose intelligence is not definable in human terms. They display forward-planning and a high degree of vicious cunning, but appear to have no ability to develop language or speculative thought.

Elytrums consist of a central soft body sac covered with globular eyes. From this extend many thin multiple-jointed limbs of varying lengths, resulting in a creature something like a spider.

The elytrum can hang in cover (above a door, in trees, etc) waiting to drop on prey that passes below. More commonly it forms its limbs into a framework structure, pumping them with fluid to hold the shape, and then weaves a thin waxy integument around this framework. The wax can be different colors, allowing the elytrum to impersonate inanimate objects, other creatures - even humans. They can also mimic sounds or simple phrases, making the disguise complete.

Two tell-tale signs may give warning of an elytrum in disguise. The creature cannot increase its weight, and at only 30 kilograms or so it is far lighter than a real adult human. Also, the waxy integument does not perspire, and over time is liable to harden and crack.


"Magic" is part of daily life (like technology for us today) and comes in two types. The first is Thaumaturgy. In this period of the distant past, glittering rings like those of Saturn still encircle the Earth – remnants of a second moon that exploded. Adepts trained in the use of Thaumaturgy can draw down cosmic energy, called vril, that is focused by these rings. It is a form of magic that is powerful but unpredictable, based as it is on the solar-magnetic “weather” within the rings.

The other main form of magic is Wizardry. It is derived from the combination of the Four Substances (Earth, Air, Fire and Water – the “elements” as they were handed down to the ancient world) with the Four Essences (Aether, Life, Ur and Death). Wizardry is typically less epic in scale than Thaumaturgy, but more reliable and controllable.


Powerful automata, usually bipedal, that a medieval observer would describe as an iron golem and to the 20th century eye might resemble a robot. Although entirely mechanical, daedalanths have a microscopic symbiote integrated into their metal lattice. This symbiote metabolizes minerals and metal from the local environment to maintain the daedalanth. Daedalanths are therefore enormously resilient and even "heal" if damaged - albeit very slowly.

Individual daedalanths vary considerably in appearance, according to the whims of their creators. A daedalanth built as an ancient potentate's bodyguard might be fantastically decorated and gilded, with a face like a mythological mask, while one built to quarry rock might not be even vaguely humanoid.

Daedalanths can sometimes be brought under control by wizards who know the magic words to alter their programming; otherwise they remain steadfast to whatever order they were originally given.


Sometimes also known as "gnarls", these are wooden automata, the result of a mutation in the micro-organism designed to structure daedalanths. Hydraulic muscles provide xoanons with great strength but sluggish reflexes. They are not living creatures any more than daedalanths themselves are, the wood recycled to construct them being dead. However, sometimes flowers and fungi take root in the xoanon's "bark" giving it a bizarrely organic look.


Human-like androids constructed right down to the cellular level from life-simulating nanomachines. Emulants are not truly alive in the sense that individual cells are just tiny machines containing no DNA blueprint for the whole. Nonetheless the creature's metabolism parallels that of a truly living organism burning food for energy which is circulated to all parts of the body by means of fluids, etc. Emulants are often beautiful and can pass for human, except for tell-tale signs like the too-regular tint to the iris, the lack of perspiration, the absence of any blemish or callus on the skin, and so forth.

Living armor

Using the same organometallic microbe that sustains daedalanths, the wizards of ancient times created armor that conformed to the wearer's body and could self-repair any damage it took. The usual form of such armor is of a breastplate with neck flanges and articulated arms, one of which (often the left) ends in a blade weapon or long claws. Despite being organometallic, living armor suits are very regular, almost machine-tooled, in appearance and do not display the asymmetry customary to living things. (This results from the very precise non-mutable makeup of the sustaining microorganism, which comprises very large but stable spherical nucleotides. Not that even the most accomplished modern wizard would have a clue about such things.)

Advantages of living armor are that the blade weapon never needs sharpening and the protection afforded by the suit is far greater than normal steel. The armor augments the wearer's strength and, in those cases where it includes a helmet and visor, also gives enhanced vision and hearing.

On the downside, any other metal the wearer carries will gradually be digested to sustain the living armor. Moreover, these suits always leave the back unprotected - perhaps because the genetically modified soldiers for whom they were designed were never intended to flee from their enemies.

Not everyone can use living armor. It seems necessary for the wearer to attune the suit for it to function properly. In some cases the attunement takes so well that the armor cannot be removed. This is random (presumably geared to some dormant gene in the wearer) and not associated with any attribute such as strength or psyche.

Energy weapons

Weapons of the distant past which, by reason of their technology having been kept secret, are regarded now as magic wands. Various types exist: neural batons, photonic staves with lasing crystals, actinic and plasma lances that can be hand-held or mounted, larger ion cannon, and huge orbiting neutron-beam weapons. In most cases the weapon's power cell is inert, but some still have enough charge remaining for a few precious shots, and a few are rechargable by wizards who know how to channel cosmic vril energy into them.


Functioning fliers are very rare today but were previously in common use by nobles throughout Abraxas. The styles are as diverse as the natures of the men who used them. Some are sky-yachts, often of wood or light metal. Others take the form of flying arks or palanquins. Some are even more fanciful: a circular terrace complete with plants and banks of seats around the rail; a glass-like floating bubble; a canopied bed borne aloft by cherubic mechanicae; a giant cupped hand of ebonite.

Controls also differ, so that the man who is adept in piloting one flier may have no idea how to operate another. The most convenient control systems involve an interlocutor - essentially an inbuilt neural net that pilots the craft according to spoken commands. Others use an assembly of globes, rods or dials that the pilot must learn to operate. (Item of interest: the current fashion in Argistillum is for wizards to acquire an autistic idiot savant to operate their flier, the functioning of the controls apparently coming naturally to such unfortunates.)

The Vadem Causeway

The Vadem Causeway is not a physical road but a network of teleportation routes extending between archways close to each city. The Vadem gates consist of raised platforms with steps leading to a circular arch of ancient star-metal. Each gate transports the user to the next on the circuit, allowing rapid travel from city to city. A rapid burst of light is seen streaming away from the arch after a person steps through.

As the Vadem Causeway is a potential problem in wartime, each city has its own safeguards against an influx of enemy soldiers appearing outside its walls. Utesh is protected by the straits that cut it off from the mainland. Vertis has constructed a grille that can be dropped across the archways. Argistillum has a dam that, if opened, floods the vicinity of one archway; the other is kept dead in the sights of the city's one plasma cannon. Tamo Anchan has surrounded its archways with high walls with only a narrow gate out; Eibon relies on its own city walls and the fact that any invading army would have to endure the scouring desert winds.