Cover designs for the Inspirisles campaign setting. Front features the Friends, the World Willow, the fabled sword, Caliburn and a looming wyrm. Back features some human kids, animal guides and Caliburn in the stone.
‘Long ago, belief in the fey and their magic’s began to fade, and with it, the land of the Inspirisles cracked and its seas churned.
Desperate to stop this devastation, a grand meeting was held between the seven principle houses. But centuries of bad blood and feuding are not easily forgotten, and talks were left in tatters.
Convinced the races would never see eye-to-eye, Silvane, an impulsive glow prince, decided to act alone. Travelling to the forbidden and dangerous depths of the Starless, a place he had secretly visited as a child, he sought out the spriggan, Abbranor and pleaded for her help. She agreed to aid the only glow to have shown her friendship over fear.
Abbranor sent her mischievous changelings to the Earthly cities where they kidnapped and traded places with countless human babies. These abducted newborns were prisoners from the very beginning, growing to know only slavery and darkness.
All the while, Abbranor’s changelings terrorised their human families, and through fear and superstition, belief in the fey was restored.
Thinking the land had healed naturally, the seven rulers enjoyed a period of happiness, where magic and merriment flowed like the waters surrounding their kingdoms.
But their festivities would be short-lived…
In exchange for Abbranor’s help, Silvane had promised her sole dominion over the Starless and a seat on the council of the Glowing Court.
Learning of her son’s betrayal, Queen Oona Mithdragil banished Silvane and drove the spriggan back to the depths empty-handed.
As time passed and Abbranor’s changelings returned home, the rulers felt the ground beneath their feet crack once more. Desperate, they had no choice but to honour Silvane’s pact.
And so an accord was struck. Abbranor was given the Starless and her place on the council and in exchange her minions returned to their frightful work. To seal the deal and as a gesture of goodwill, the spriggan offered infants to the rulers of the principle houses to raise as their own. These children would come to be known as Foundlings.
For many centuries, Abbranor’s influence on politics was tolerated, but after a bitter feud with the knockers over mining the mineral-rich Starless, the council turned on the spriggan. Barely escaping with her life, Abbranor took shelter with Silvane (now Vane: ruler of the exiled glimmer) and together they plotted revenge.
As vengeance turned to war, creatures previously oppressed by the rulers of the Inspirisles saw an opportunity…
Realising Abbranor’s attentions were elsewhere, the diabolical witch, Leanan stole away a dozen newborns, consuming their laughter to extend her life and wickedness.
Unopposed by the capra, whose duty it was to slay their kind, trolls moved upon civilisation, covering the land with the shadows of their colossal bridges.
With his restless legion, the sluagh, Morghast laid siege to Avalon in search of the fabled blade, Caliburn.
And discarded by the Crone of Craft eons ago, the twisted fomorians climbed from the abyss looking to extinguish all light.
As the ages passed and the war raged ever on, talk of wyrms on the horizon reached ears too filled with battle and blood to pay heed.’
Inspirisles History, Scriv the Bard
‘Belief. The keystone of the Inspirisles. The energy binding all things. In its absence, the land and its peoples would fade from life and from memory.
In ancient times, wyrms were the keepers of Belief. They hoarded it in their vast lairs, barely able to contain the boundless power surrounding them. It was seen as their duty, and so great were their stockpiles, the fey could live off stray particles escaping through cracks in the earth.
Though most accepted this arrangement, considering wyrms to be the only beings able to tolerate such magic, some regarded them with suspicion and wanted the dust removed from their keeping. These antagonists would come to be known as Linds, named after the serpent said to have poisoned Gogmagog.
The Linds quickly gained support and their rumours of wyrm greed and betrayal spread far and wide. Groups carrying the Lind banner struck at the many lairs dotting the islands and the wyrms were forced to defend themselves, using Belief to smite these intruders. Unfortunately, when word of their slaughter reached the principle houses, wyrm’s became the common enemy.
From then on, Scale Maidens, a sorority of skilled monster slayers established by the Glowing Court, would hunt wyrms refusing to give up their dust reserves.
Unable to convince the rulers of their innocence, and with their numbers falling rapidly, in their desperation the remaining wyrms gathered to consume all their Belief at once.
Now bursting with raw power, the wyrms assaulted the principle houses, casting long-forgotten spells and destroying whole communities with their elemental breath. The devastation was unthinkable and though only a handful of wyrms survived the onslaught, their victims numbered in the thousands.
Feeling the Belief fade from their bodies and exhausted from its effects, the remaining wyrms returned to their lairs and fell into a death-like sleep. Their breathing slowed, their limbs stiffened and their skin took on the hue and texture of the lair surrounding them.
They would not be seen again for thousands of years.’
Inspirisles History, Scriv the Bard
‘I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!’
Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
With the rumblings of war, Abbranor withdrew her changelings from Earth, leaving the rulers to find new ways to gather Belief and restore the land.
Travelling via All’s Well, a mysterious portal leading to the British Isles, only the brightest and bravest fey are sent Earthwards to spread belief in their kind.
These elite are known as Dusters.
Groups are sent to observe children from a distance and decide how sensitive they will be to Dusting. Children who talk with an imaginary friend, invent games in the schoolyard, write tales of adventure and read under the bed sheets past midnight are prime candidates.
Once selected, a child is sprinkled with piskie dust containing mites that consume Belief before returning to the Duster like iron filings to a magnet. The amount of Belief absorbed depends entirely on the skill of the Duster.
‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spread across the Inspirisles are eight races, or ‘friends’ to the Foundling players.
Populating distinct locations from city to forest, tin mine to tundra, seven of these communities work tirelessly to restore Belief and prevent the collapse of the Inspirisles. Whilst the eighth, an exiled people known as glimmers, refuse to help, sheltered far beneath the surface where the cracks go unseen and the tremors unfelt.
Of the friends, capra and piskies populate the majority of the principle houses, whilst knockers, giantheld and bucca keep largely to themselves. Wyrmbitten are naturally scarce, whereas the number of glows and glimmers dwindle with the war raging ever on.
It is prophesized that a child of Earth will once again take up the sword Caliburn and unite the fey, bringing an end to the war and preventing the destruction of the dual realms.
Inhabiting the mines of the Inspirisles, these solitary creatures are fiercely protective of their dank, inhospitable homes. Forever digging for veins of silver and precious gemstones to adorn anything plain or lifeless, they love the arts as much as they love wealth. Knockers travel great distances to seek an audience with the Inspired, Kilna, believing he is the patron of their race.
Capital: Pengreggi Mine (Cornwall)
Ruler: Atom Cragholm
‘Your first memory was of rock and the constant hammering of metal. Just as you were adjusting to the darkness, something was poured into your eyes, blinding and burning. For three days and nights you cried, unable to see anything but a strange darkness, not a wall of black, but something pulsing with life. Then your world appeared. Hewn rock, gleaming gemstones, carts, buckets, picks and mole-like creatures surrounding your amethyst crib.’
Said to be ancient fey bitten by the first of the wyrms, these noble reptilian creatures were forever searching for clues to their mysterious past. With the return of their ancestors, many wyrmbitten now feel lost and purposeless, while others hope to earn the favour of their revered descendants.
Mention a wyrmbitten’s missing tail and expect to earn yourself a sworn enemy.
Capital: Shedscale Plateaux (North)
Ruler: Surissa Halftail
‘Your first memory was of steam and a desperate thirst. Just as you were adjusting to the heat, something was poured into your mouth, thick and acidic. For three days and nights you cried, unable to drink anything. Where was the milk of the breast you so desperately craved? Then sustenance came. But it was more of the black liquid, only now it tasted wonderful. Drinking too much, you belched a tiny cone of flames, nearly singing the hairs of the snake-like creatures surrounding your scale crib.’
These wingless outcasts of the Inspirisles were once glows. Most seek to destroy their suntouched cousins, while the few wish reconciliation and a return to the surface of their youth. Abandoning magic long ago, they now rely solely on cold-iron weapons to destroy their enemies.
Capital: Dweomite Caverns (Starless)
Ruler: Vane Mithdragil
‘Your first memory was of dancing blue lights and terrifying echoes. Just as you were adjusting to the darkness, something was clamped around your neck, tight and cold against your soft skin. For three days and nights you cried, barely able to move your head to drink. Then you were released, but only long enough to join the other newborns in a prison surrounded by creatures with sharp, glowing eyes.’
Lawmakers to all who inhabit the Inspirisles, before Prince Silvane’s recklessness, these highborn fey were considered the wisest of the friends. Now they must end a savage war to restore the respect they have lost. By organising Dusting excursions to Earth, glows contribute the most Belief to the roots of the World Willow.
Capital: Glowing Court (Midlands)
Ruler: Queen Oona Mithdragil
‘Your first memory was of sunlight and the rush of air against your cheek. Just as you were adjusting to the brightness, something was poured over your hands, warm and tingling. For three days and nights you cried, unable to move your fingers to block the sun from your eyes. Then sensation returned and with it, a strange feeling in your palms. Leaning over your golden crib was an angelic creature with wings spread wide.’
Typically homebodies, these practical creatures populate the urban districts of the Inspirisles. Their numbers make up every merchant, moneylender and innkeeper you are ever likely to meet. They can also be fierce warriors when called upon… especially with the threat of trollkind at their borders. Capra are constantly discovering new ways to use Belief and harness its properties.
Capital: Weldspa City (SE)
Ruler: Delbos Dunderlin III
‘Your first memory was of incense and an exchange of raised voices. Just as you were adjusting to the noise, something was pulled up over your head, the material tickling your skin from head to toes. For three days and nights you cried, your normally chubby arms and hands alarmingly invisible beneath the cloth. Then it was pulled away, restoring your limbs and revealing a goat-like creature with a long braided beard.’
Inhabiting the stone circles and dolmens of the Inspirisles, you’ll find these inquisitive creatures tinkering with rare materials salvaged from Dustingexcursions to Earth. Blending them with magic, Piskie inventions are as wondrous as they are dangerous. Mercenary Piskie’s have been known to forge cold-iron weapons for glimmers.
Capital: Pooka Barrow (Ireland)
Ruler: Joanna Whistlefoot
‘Your first memory was of whirring cogs and metal sparks. Just as you were adjusting to the chaos, something was placed between your tiny fingers, a miniature hammer you struggled to grip. For three days and nights you cried, the tool returning to your hand as soon as it was dropped. Then you held it still and the green-skinned creature beside your leafy crib smiled.’
Raised in tribal society, these strapping creatures are known as the ‘Gifts of Cormelian’, said to have been shaped by the mother of Giants when she could not bare children. Lone giantheld are a rare sight, but occasionally a tribe member will be sent to learn the ways of civilised fey.
Capital: Hoarfang Crevasse (Scotland)
Ruler: Chief Otto Grimknuckle
‘Your first memory was of icicles falling to your lips and the howling wind. Just as you were adjusting to the cold, something prodded your shoulder. For three days and nights you cried as a inked pattern began to form on your skin. Then it was finished and the huge bear-like creature stood to admire her design, casting her colossal shadow over your stone crib.’
Closely related to merfolk and selkies, these creatures differ by being as at home on land as in the sea. For this reason, they are expected to guard against underwater threats from the Starless. Their loyalty has faded in recent times and many now forsake their duties for the deep reefs of the ocean.
Capital: Bent Trident Basin (Welch coast)
Ruler: Yara Tal
‘Your first memory was of crashing waves and salt on your tongue. Just as you were adjusting to the taste, your head was pushed underwater and kept there until the last bubble escaped. For three days and nights you cried, anticipating another submersion and struggle for breath. But when the time came, your chest no longer burned and you could focus on the fish-like creature floating above your clamshell crib.’
‘They roam this island in plain sight, taking in the culture as if food critics or travel writers.’
On the Inspired, Matilda Oakley
The Inspired are the closest thing the islands have to deities. Their influence can be felt across the kingdom at all times and ultimately players will need to impress them if they are to return home.
The Inspired are obsessed with their place in the world and their impact on its inhabitants. They walk freely amongst the people sharing wisdom from stories of oldand helping to collect Belief where they can. Born from the elements, they can also be wildly unpredictable, dealing out blessings and punishments equally.
In an attempt to connect with the locals and shed their divine reputation, the Inspired established trades in their homelands. Though they intended to keep these ventures modest, nothing the Inspired touched would ever be anything less than extraordinary.
Kilna started out making simple weapons and armour, but his forge burned brighter than any other and before long he was using the rarest metals knockers could mine to craft powerful artefacts desired the world over.
Egrain landscaped a walled garden in the grounds of Avalon, but her land flourished like no other and before long she was picking fruit and herbs with mysterious and wondrous properties. Her white grapes are said to heal any wound.
Eathelyn established a bathhouse on Shedscale Plateaux to provide a little relaxation for tired fey, but soon their treatments, were resolving every pain and misery imaginable. The Eathelyn massage is said to unlock the bodies true potential.
Vorm built an airship, the Gallant Gull to tour the skies above Bent Trident Basin, but his crew wanted fame and glory and before long they was hunting every pirate on the high seas. When Vorm’s black sails break the clouds above you, pray he’s just passing by.
KILNA OF THE FIRE
(Death/ Forge/ Light/ War)
Kilna was born from Gogmagog’s heart and is deeply passionate, especially when it comes to food and the arts. The taverns Kilna frequents light up like a hearth, but serve him a tasteless meal and he’s likely to belch an inferno and burn your establishment to the ground. You can often find him in the town square juggling and swallowing fire.
Kilna and Egrain are vicious enemies.
Personality:❖ Extroverted attention seeker.❖ Lively and explosive.❖ Artistic.
EGRAIN OF THE EARTH
(City/ Grave/ Knowledge/ Nature)
Egrain was born from Gogmagog’s body and is inseparable from the land she walks. The places Egrain visits will often erupt with vibrant flowers, but bring a naked flame anywhere near her and you risk being swallowed by the earth beneath your feet. You can oftenfind her talking to the World Willow.
Egrain and Vorm are constantly bickering.
Personality:❖ Introverted philosopher.❖ Thoughtful and nurturing.❖ Practical.
EATHELYN OF THE WATER
(Life/ Nature/ Protection/ Tempest)
Eathelyn was born from Gogmagog’s bladder and is attuned to people’s emotions and struggles. The lakes Eathelyn frequents will bubble playfully like hot springs, but pollute their waters and they might curse you with unquenchable thirst. You can often find them spelunking the flooded caverns of the Starless.
Eathelyn and Egrain are the closest of siblings.
Personality:❖ Extroverted therapist.❖ Chatty and enthusiastic. ❖ Emotional.
VORM OF THE AIR
(Knowledge/ Nature/ Tempest/ Trickery)
Vorm was born from Gogmagog’s lungs and his mood can instantly change the weather. The clouds Vorm sails through will often darken with rain and if he’s feeling especially moody, expect lightning and fist-sized hailstones. You can often find him conducting Starlings in a mesmerising dance.
Vorm and KIlna are bitter rivals.
Personality:❖ Introverted depressive.❖ Sullen and brooding.❖ Reckless.
‘Why are creation myths always so gory?’
On Gogmagog’s Fate, Matilda Oakley
The storied history of the Inspirisles and the fey that inhabit them differs depending on whom you speak to,but all agree on how it began.
The first of the giants, Gogmagog was suffering. The Crone of Craft had cursed him for stepping on her latest sculptures, a set of beautiful carvings now crushed under his massive, hairy feet.
Outraged, she conjured a hungry Lindworm inside of him, which slowly poisoned his every organ.
Desperate to stop the pain, Gogmagog reached down his own cavernous throat and pulled out his stomach, lungs and bladder before collapsing with an earthshaking thud.
And thus the four elemental gods were born. From his stomach came Kilna of the Fire, from his lungs Vorm of the Air, from his bladder Eathelyn of the Water and
from his rotting body, Egrain of the Earth.
Feeling guilty over Gogmagog’s death, the Crone
of Craft took his four children in and raised them as her own. And in return they gave her sculptures life, awakening the races of the Inspirisles.
Inspirisles History, Scriv the Bard
This week I began the art for Inspirisles. Whilst I had previously decided to hire an artist and advertised this position, after experimenting in the Apple shop with an iPad Air, I was convinced I could complete the project independently. I will post some examples of the setting art and character designs forthwith. I will need to consider if I can handle environmental vistas and location maps too.
My RPG Workshop mentee sent my the spooky cover for his adventure and it looks great. He is doing really well to keep up with the lessons and I will tackle them posthumuously when it comes time to write the Inspirisles adventure ‘Foundlings‘.
The adventure for TTRPG group Dark Galaxies Gaming (@DarkGalaxiesDM) has now been sent to the editors, who will tweak our writing and transfer it to the desired format using something like InDesign (jealous!). I can now move on to the first adventure following the introduction.
For the week ahead, I will continue to produce art for Inspirisles. As I’m away in Devon, I’ll get used to the iPad Air I’ve purchased and develop an illustrative style predominantly using watercolour brushes.
Go to relevant pages for these updates.