The first continent we’re going to look at is the humid, jungle entangled, swampy marshed land criss-crossed with a myriad of lagoons and waterways: Guul Draz. The lore says that there are more ruins here than anywhere else. Strange to begin with. But, despite a near impossible terrain to deal with, civilization still thrives and commerce booms. Humans and merfolk have settlements and travel the waterways. But, for quite some time a vampire city, Malakir, has grown in population despite the current trouble in spawning new residents.
With all of this to deal with, the current talk of the swamps is the risen skyclave that begins to dominate the skies over Guul Draz. What it actually is and why it is rising now is the question. Of course, we know that it’s all because of Nahiri meddling with the other skyclaves; stealing a particular artifact out of each one, thus disturbing them all. But the people on the ground are probably still piecing things together.
So what’s the story on the skyclaves? What are the mysterious orbs that shine like the sun? Why is the Roil still angry even though the Eldrazi are long gone? And with Jace, Nahiri and Nissa all on the trail of the answer, who’s going to get to them first and what’s the end game for #ZendikarRising?
So, we’re neck deep in the swamp and the ruins are rising to the sky. First off, what are these ‘skyclaves’?
This kingdom was whispered about when the Eldrazi were let loose on Zendikar. It was the stuff of legends and ruins. As the people of this plane were busy running for cover and fighting for their life, they had no time to question what had happened and why there were ruins in the first place. Ask anyone, especially Nahiri, and they will tell you that everything bad about Zendikar is due to the Eldritch Titans and their spawn. But someone or something created ruins out of civilization BEFORE the Battle of Zendikar.
So, the skyclaves are a remnant of Kor civilization. And the new lore released by WotC lays out the fate of all seven of these sky cities. And only one was toppled by the Eldrazi. What about the rest? Let’s look back at the swamp. The skyclave that is rising form Guu Draz was the only one of the seven that was taken out of the sky by the Roil. That means the other five were taken down by other factors which we will get too soon.
But why did the Roil take down this one skyclave in the first place? Reading over the laundry list of endings, this ancient Kor Empire built up its fair share of enemies including those among the Kor. But the Skyclave that shadowed Guu Draz found an enemy in the Roil itself. Not only did they do battle with this elemental force, the Roil ‘swallowed’ it and sank it into the swamp. Why?
Better question is how does the ancient Kor Planeswalker, Nahiri, not know of the tumultuous history of the Kor? Does this mean that there were more enemies to the Roil than the Eldrazi? Obviously, the Roil itself thought of the Skyclave of Guu Draz was enemy enough to make sure it disappeared. Couple that with the whole scene where Nahiri activated the ‘key’ and obliterated Nissa’s elemental friend and, by the looks of it, all life in the area (besides Nissa and Nahiri) and you may just have a scenario where there was an ancient rivalry between the Roil and the Skyclaves.
CAMPAIGN PITCH and IDEAS
The continent of Guu Draz is loaded with tons of flavor and peoples. There’s lots of commerce across the twisted waterways of the swamps which opens up opportunity for Merchantile patrons, needs for adventures to guard shipments and even transport close to the many ruins in the swamps. Humans and Merfolk alike travel the swamps. But the most interesting peoples of these swamps are the Vampires that have a capital city in it.
The vampires here are different. They do not prey only on sentient beings. Only a Blood chief can make more vampires. They are more savage and tribal here (rather distasteful to a Soren type vampire) which makes them great hunters and, therefore, amazing Rangers. If you’re going deep into the swamps, best guide is a vampire. Just make sure they stay well fed.
Playing a vampire in other continents of Zendikar is a bit trickier. They tend to keep to themselves and stay hidden. They are not outright hated and hunted, but mistrusted in places they are not in any sizeable number. Still, the societal stigma is there, much like the looks a Tiefling gets in some places.
If you DMs want to pull a grandiose move, you could have a character as a fledgeling Bloodchief trying to rise to power. Or maybe an evil group that wants to keep that from happening. Once we get all of the lore on #ZendikarRising, you could join an expeditionary group headed for the new ruins aka the Skyclave. Or delve deep into the vampires past and try to forge a new direction. The dark skies the limit!
So, let us know what kind of things you’d do with the denizens of the swamps of Zendikar! Savage vampire ranger? How about a vampire hunter? Maybe you could find an amazing subclass for the humans and merfolk here? You are as much a part of this as we are! Let’s homebrew Zendikar together!!
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