Amshi Island (usually just referred to as Amshi) is a beautiful little place. A lush green island of temperate climate, with green forests, wide open fields, only a few goblin tribes that pose no real threat to the people of the single village near the center of the island, a village called Hollow Town... a genre-savvy player would probably call it the 'tutorial island'.
Of course, it being an island implies that it is surrounded by sea, and it is. A sea of clouds, namely, for Amshi floats amidst an endless expanse known as the Sky Ocean, which looks like a sea of clouds when looked at from above. Venture far enough away from Hollow Town and you'll arrive at the edge of the island, which is just an endless fall down. But, few go this way, for Amshi has something far more interesting to offer to prospective adventurers. And that something is the Dungeon.
Hollow Town was built around its entrance, and as far as anyone, even the oldest villagers will tell you, it's always been this way. A massive cylindrical hole in the ground in the middle of Hollow Town, lined with stairs descending into the ground and big walls around it so no drunkard falls in. Some ten meters across, it's big enough to handily lower something as big as horse carriages in without any troubles. Anyone can go in, if they heed the warnings that the Dungeon is a deadly place, especially for the unprepared, and the recommendations that one proceed with caution.
Though the name sounds a bit depressive, Hollow Town (named this way because of the gaping hole that is the entrance to the Dungeon) is a beautiful place full of friendly villagers. It boasts a large variety of intelligent species as its inhabitants, from humans to beastfolk to hobgoblins and even a family of amorphous slimes. The villagers are very welcoming to people who sometimes stumble into the village with little recollection of how they got here and where they even are, regardless of their species, color or beliefs. As such, while it's not a big town it is certainly a diverse one.
Lorewise, there’s not much to know. The people who live on Amshi have been born there and as far as written records go back it’s always been this way. Same with the Dungeon, which has been there since forever. It’s managed, as much as it can be managed anyway, by the Adventurers’ Guild, a group with great personnel and the backing of the villagers who secure the exits and provide security to people descending into the Dungeon. Due to the quality of the materials, metals, medicines and other items that can be found in the dungeon the islanders generally lead a good life. Even so the Dungeon remains widely shrouded in mystery.
There are a few notable islanders:
Margery, the half-dwarf innkeeper of the "King's Head". Though no one knows what a 'King' is, rumor has it that Margery found the sign of the inn washed up on one of the 'shores' at the edge of Amshi one day, and that she found the name so catchy that she named her inn after it. Margery is a matronly woman with a big smile, a bigger stomach and an even bigger rolling pin if she catches you trying to sneak out without paying your tab. She provides very affordable rooms to people who have yet to find a more permanent residence and is known for her Level 8 Cooking skill, which makes her the best cook on the entire island. Which isn't to say much, but her dishes are always delicious.
Karnakka, an orcish craftswoman known best for her forge. She's a great master of her craft, a level 10 blacksmith and in fact the only NPC on Amshi to have a level 10 skill, though she is rather humble about it. When she isn't hammering iron into masterwork weapons and armor she works with leather, though she can only do so much with Goblin hides. In fact, she welcomes the opportunity to smith materials from the dungeon, if adventurers bring anything to her.
Thordan, the priest of the single cathedral in Hollow Town. Thordan's a Kethsian, a humanoid over two meters tall with feathered white wings. As a follower of the Church of the Path, he believes in a God of Order and claims that it is He who creatred the System, which rules all living beings. He holds weekly sermons to his flock and provides spiritual guidance, while also performing rites such as baptisms, marriages and even exorcisms or curse-lifting. Though he is a fervent believer, his beliefs are not exclusive and the cathedral is sometimes used by people of other faiths for their own ceremonies, so long of course as they cause no disturbance or damage.
Ceril Carnillean, the elven mayor of Hollow Town. Ceril's function is officially the passing of laws and rules, funding town projects with tax money, maintaining the town guard and a few other details, but because of how peaceful Hollow Town is, he rarely does more than act as the chairman of the town gatherings.
Titus Octavius, a Lupus (bipedal anthropomorphic wolf beastman) and the current head of the Guild of Adventurers. Though his fur is starting to gray, his mind remains sharp and the blade of his axe even sharper. He works together with the heads of the Guild outposts in the Dungeon to keep things as orderly as possible.
Players wishing to adventure, to battle, loot and all that good stuff can enter the Dungeon, a multi-layer area with increasing difficulties the deeper one descends. It’s divided into Strata which each have its own little theme. Its entrance is located in the center of Hollow Town. While there are some warnings and a gate to keep people from just stumbling in, it is accessible to everyone.
THE DUNGEON STRATA The Dungeon has five Strata of each increasing difficulty. In the Medium they are vertically arranged above one another in the Medium architecture, meaning that the harder Strata that are arranged lower on the vertical structure are more “warped” and chaotic due to being close to or dipping into the upper parts of the Dreamscape.
THE STRATUM LORDS Stratum Lords are the Shardworld equivalent of World Bosses. There is one per Stratum, and they’re the most challenging enemy at that level. While it is possible to beat a Stratum and descend relatively easily, players can only reap the greatest rewards if they defeat these Stratum Lords. The most valuable loot that they drop are their “coins”, unique tokens that are proof of one’s conquest. Legend has it that they have some as-of-yet unknown use...
THE DUNGEON'S LORE Little is known about the Dungeon outside of how it is a structure warping the very fabric of reality. However, scholars have found that the bones and remains of various creatures found across various sites on the island have an uncanny resemblance to the creatures living in the dungeon Strata, and mages have detected large concentrations of lingering magic from well over 700 years ago - sort of like lingering radiation in real life.
As the game follows the philosophy of letting its players explore and discover everything themselves rather than giving them all the answers, there are clues located all over the five Strata which players can dig up, connecting the puzzle pieces one at a time.
Stratum 1: Clearflow Forest
Clearflow Forest is the ‘basic’ Stratum, forming a beautiful landscape of plains and temperate forests in spring/summer time, divided by rivers and lakes - kind of similar to Amshi's surface, really. There are some areas especially near the center of the Stratum where swamps and bogs have formed, which is where the more dangerous monsters reside. It’s a very safe Stratum to the point where most adventurers can breeze through it in a matter of hours, unless they mean to take on the Stratum Lord.
Enemies include giant insects, frog-fiends, goblinoids and crocodiles.
Stratum Lord: The Shell-Shocking Crocca, a large but short-ish crocodile with a turtle shell. It charges up as it moves, indicated by the shell glowing, and releases it as electric discharges.
Stratum 2: Brightside Ocean
This Stratum is entirely underwater, and considered one of the most beautiful Stratums due to its crystal clear water and lit areas no matter how deep one descends, extensive underwater flora and fauna, coral reefs and other areas. There are numerous “air bubble” locations thrown around the Stratum which form safezones along the ocean floor, some just big enough to dunk one’s head in to breathe, others large enough to form a dry camp in.
Enemies include fishes, merfolk, fish-men and undead drowned.
Stratum Lord: Great Swarmlord, a giant white shark that summons and commands schools of fishes. These can form ‘armor’ by attaching to it, harass players, form walls to obscure the Swarmlord’s movements and more.
Stratum 3: Winding Labyrinth
The Winding Labyrinth is an underground cave system full of twists and turns going up- and downhill, with forks and crossings that confuse adventurers and cause many to get lost. To make matters worse cave-ins occasionally seal passages and the local fauna excavates new passages, in particular the Stratum Lord.
There are all sorts of little secrets to be found in the ‘pockets’ if the Winding Labyrinth, from frozen lakes and gurgling streams to mushroom forests, crystal-filled caves to underground fortresses carved out by someone who’s long since stopped using them.
Enemies include 'ancient' creatures such as dinosaurs, prehistoric animals, burrowing worms and giant insects.
Stratum Lord: Silver-Snouted Tunneler, a giant mole that constantly moves around the Stratum, digging new tunnels and sometimes causing cave-ins. If provoked it attacks with claws and by throwing rocks, as well as tunneling away to ambush and cause earthquakes.
Stratum 4: Coreland
Coreland is dubbed Hell or the Underworld because of its looks: as a huge underground cave dominated by a perpetually erupting volcano, it’s a wonder that life is possible at all. The temperatures are anywhere from warm to unbearably hot. There are lava rivers and lakes, tunnels acting as shelters and shortcuts, stalagmites offering some protection and constantly shifting grounds as the magma swallows some islands and cools in other places to create new footholds. Most of the creatures here can fly or burrow, or swim through the magma.
Besides things like fire and lava elementals, dragonoids, lava-swimming fishtypes and such there is a particularly noteworthy enemy, the Flame Scrolls. These are flying skulls that are on fire, which cackle madly when they spot an adventurer nearby and try to bite or burn them.
Stratum Lord: Flame Skeletitan, a T-Rex-sized skeleton covered in flames that make it resistant to damage and melt any surface it comes into contact with. The Flame Scrolls call the Skeletitan if they spot an adventurer and aren’t eliminated fast enough. Otherwise it randomly wanders the Coreland.
Stratum 5: Chaos Plains (Codename: CHAOSPHERE)
Constantly ravaged by warped storms changing the lay of the land, the Chaos Plains are infested by chaotic and warped creatures of nightmare. Not only the enemies are dangerous here, the land itself seems to turn against the people that move through it. From lightning strikes to spatial warpings that make short distances long or even randomly teleport adventurers around, one must always stay on their toes in the Chaos Plains.
This is the only Stratum where the Adventurers Guild has no outpost, because the land is too chaotic and unstable to maintain a structure.
Enemies include Shadow beasts, Headless Riders, Liches, Spirits, 'warped' versions of enemies encountered on other levels and many more.
Stratum Lord: Spectral Dragon, a giant purple/black dragon that breathes fire, poison, ice or electric at random. It also occasionally ‘warps’ space, randomly teleporting itself and players around it around, rearranging positions.
Stratum 5.1 (?)
To those who make it to the Chaos Plains and seek to find an exit, they will eventually come across a 'distortion' along the terrain that forms the edge of the accessible area. Around this distortion space flickers like a defective lamp. Perhaps the warps occuring all around the plains make you wary of this. Or perhaps you dare to reach through it, and see if there is more to it...?
Amshi QuestsTHE DESCENT
Reaching the lowest Stratum of the Amshi megadungeon is relatively simple: players need to find some way to progress. That ‘some way’ is an ancient terminal of sorts, found in the center of each Stratum. One just needs to access the terminal and download an access code that lets its user teleport themselves to the respectively next Stratum. The difficult part is to reach the terminal and to remain undisturbed by the local monsters for long enough to complete the process: something seems to trigger them to attack any individual that tampers with the terminal.
Once a character has obtained a code it’s theirs forever. They need only to say it aloud to be teleported to the Stratum they’ve unlocked. Because access codes are unique though every player needs to get their own - copying someone else’s doesn’t work.
Teleporting down will bring the player to the edge of the Stratum, where they can find an outpost of the Adventurers Guild where they can rest up if desired.
When descending for the first time the following word requirements must be met to pass each of the sub-quests:
Clearflow Forest to Brightside Ocean: 1.000 words
Brightside Ocean to Winding Labyrinth: 1.500 words
Winding Labyrinth to Coreland: 2.000 words
Coreland to Chaos Plains: 2.500 words
Chaos Plains to ???: 3.000 words
(Total: 10.000 words)
This requirement can be split up (e.g. players can descend one or two levels, then do something else until they’re ready to continue). Once they reach a certain Stratum, they don’t have to repeat the quest nor meet the word count to get there.
Note: This quest does not require players to take on the Stratum Lords and does not award a coin!
COIN COLLECTOR (Story Quest)
Each Stratum has a world boss known as the Stratum Lord. They are huge and dangerous creatures that threaten unaware adventurers and even the settlements if left unchecked. Because they roam the Stratum, finding them can be difficult.
For all the danger they pose, they are also lucrative targets to take on! They drop some nice gear as loot, but the main appeal to defeating a Stratum Lord is their unique coin drops. As a pocket-sized trophy of one’s conquest over these powerful creatures, these are coveted as a collector’s item. And perhaps they even have some as-of-yet undiscovered use? Stratum Lords also drop access codes allowing players to unlock access to the next Stratum, saving players the effort of going to a terminal for one. Of course, if you just want access to the next area finding a terminal is far easier.
Note that if you have previously completed the “The Descent” Quest you’ll still need to write the full amount of words.
Clearflow Forest Coin: 2.000 words
Brightside Ocean Coin: 4.000 words
Winding Labyrinth Coin: 6.000 words
Coreland Coin: 8.000 words
Chaos Plains Coin: 10.000 words
(Total: 30.000 words)