The Splintering Wheel

The Splintering Wheel is a continuing game of Dungeons and Dragons and Feelings I am running. It is an open table, centrally located hexcrawl game, mechanically inspired by The West Marches.

The setting is desert based fantasy/dieselpunk. It’s races are culturally adjusted and it contains both firearms and Automobiles.


Shoalmourn is a human kingdom which has retracted back into itself as the climate has changed and the deserts have encroached on their lands. The prevailing wisdom is that they have been abandoned by Oli the Seasonkeeper who is upset with their excessive use of magic and lack of filial piety, and idea gleaned from High Elves. To rectify this the humans of Shoalmourn have become less socially mobile and more rigidly controlled by their mid level governments.

The Town of Qaval

Qaval is a human town of approximately 3000 people at the south-easternmost corner of the largely subterranean human kingdom of Shoalmourn. It’s remoteness has earned it a reputation as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Adventurers and outcasts gravitate to this settlement either lured by the call of the expansive wastes that surround it or escaping the rigid control of Shoalmourn’s brutal inquisitorial guardforce. Adventurers are known to meet in what is referred to as the forum, a public square between two taverns, a flophouse and a smithy, inhabited by a seemingly voluntarily homeless man known only as Caesar.


There is one god and that god is IA.
IA is the Splintering Wheel, gaoler of the world.
His domains are Life, Death and Destruction.
He is uncaring and eternal.

There are seven Wardens that obey IA and tend to the world.
They are as follows:
Oli, the Seasonkeeper, whose domains are Nature, Construction and Tempest
Horu of the Undergrowth, whose domains are Death and Nature
Avio, the Kilnmother, whose domains are War, Construction and Travel
Shobi of the Skies, whose domains are Knowledge, Light and Tempest
Nodermu the Pure, whose domains are Knowlege, Life and Destruction
Shan the Patient, whose domains are Knowledge, Trickery and War
Kilarbi the Flare, whose domains are Trickery, Light and Travel


Races here list their defining traits according to Hofestede’s Cultural Dimensions, their societal structure and the styles of their artisans.


High Power Distance, High Uncertainty Avoidance, Past Oriented
A rigidly structured matriarchal society centred around great houses built along the ancient spice routes. Their crafts and architecture are dominated by elaborate designs reminiscent of Qing Dynasty Cloisonné, Girih Mosaics and Medieval Persian Carpets.

High Elves

The masters of the great houses the high elves are the most rigidly bound by their matriarchal structure. High Elves almost never leave the region around their house’s holdings. It is believed that High Elves that venture from their homes are struck down by a wasting disease which is evidence of the displeasure of IA and his Wardens.

Wood Elves

The carpenters and tradesfolk of the Elves are less strict than their noble brethren. Their families typically owe allegiance to a High Elf House and go out into the world to deal with their affairs.


The great architects of the Elves, the Drow reshape the undercaverns into tunnels, halls, pits and spires. Originally slaves to the High Elves, forced to construct their great houses they escaped beneath the surface of the world. At their height they constructed vast magnificent subterranean cities that glittered with magical light but as the Fold of Nodermu spread through their culture they rejected this grandiosity for it’s imitation of the hubris of the High Elves and disbanded to live simpler lives, practising their arts primarily as an expression of piety.


Low Power Distance, Collective, Feminine, Indulgent

Dwarves are a nomadic people whose trails are said to be written into their very bones. Their family groups are large and intermingled and exemplify their saying “it takes a whole caravan to raise a child”. Many of the less hospitable places along their paths have hidden towns of caves and tunnels carved into rock faces over generations within which to shelter. Fond of life’s simple pleasure the echoes of their joyous music ring out from their camps most nights.
Their crafts are dominated by colourful paintings,bold symbolic stonecarving and elaborate beadwork similar to Romani and Native North American arts.

Mountain Dwarves

Sometimes known as Seasonal Dwarves they are recognised by their brightly painted conical tents that move along the landscape with the weather, never staying in one place much longer than a few weeks.

Hill Dwarves

The wagons of the Hill Dwarves, often insensitively called Mud Dwarves, commonly make camp in and around the large settlements of other races often for months at a time until trade with the community dies down.


Low Uncertainty Avoidance, Future Oriented, Feminine

Bundled in heavy hessian robes few people have seen the face of a gnome. Their skills and craftsmanship is often full of sharp angles and mechanical embellishment. If it has a plate of steel bolted to it for no reason or unnecessary patching it’s probably gnomish. If it has no baling twine, fencing wire, zip ties or silver tape it probably isn’t.

Forest Gnome

Now called Wild Gnomes these creatures are rarely seen amongst the trappings of civilization only wandering out of the desert into towns individually to trade for a few essential supplies.

Rock Gnome

Rock Gnomes, commonly called Tame Gnomes, gather in warrens in abandoned spaces around cities and towns such as empty storehouses, back alleys and dry sewers. Often they are employed for repetitive, delicate or menial tasks, sometimes unnecessarily in the belief that if they aren’t kept occupied they will turn to mischief and crime.


High Power Distance, Collectivism, High Uncertainty Avoidance
Halflings Build huge suburban sprawls around bountiful clear water sources notable for their canal-lined streets watering the large gardens and fields that they grow between houses and buildings. They invest heavily in their social strata and civic organisations. Titles are highly prised and respected from Mayor to book club secretary.


Stout halflings are industrialists who build large communal factories, mills and breweries. The foremen of these institutions are often important community members.


Lightfoot halflings tend the gardens and fields that criss-cross the halfling sprawls. They are considered brash and gossipy by Stouts who think that Lightfoots use petty politics to gain status instead of hard work.


Collectivist, Masculine, Future Oriented
Masters of tools, invention and teamwork, Humans use regular communal expressions of faith to power their indomitable march towards industry and agriculture. Their admiration for the skilled and well mannered Drow has lead to their cities filled with networks of subterranean rooms beneath simple heavily reinforced surface structures. Only the largest human cities contain buildings with multiple above-ground storeys.
Humans are known for their bold, minimalist art styles often using large sweeping brush strokes, and simple shapes in bold colours in expert spatial arrangements.


High Power Distance, Collectivist, Low Uncertainty Avoidance, Indulgent
Once known as half-orcs the sturdy Ogrin are industrious labourers who build small dense towering cities of baked wattle and daub criss-crossed with wooden walkways and narrow streets. The high walls of these cities are filled with the scents of hearty food and drink as Ogrin life is seen as a trade of labour for earthly pleasures. Simple work and cuisine.


Masculine, High Uncertainty Avoidance, Restrained
Often found in positions of significant power and influence Saurians rarely construct their own communities, preferring to insert themselves into the societies of other races. Their work is fine and subtle in all fields, when they do express flourishes they are powerful and filled with sharply honed raw colour and emotion.


Individualist, Masculine, Future Oriented
Believed to be abandoned by The Wardens Tieflings are often the subject of pity amongst other races who see their “deformities” as the manifestation of the wrath of IA. They are however, fiercely self-sufficient and will often sabotage charity directed towards them. Their work is sturdy and smooth, often embued with curls and waves carved into silver and hardwoods.


Low Power Distance, Individual, Masculine, Past Oriented
Known for the grand masonry of their massive coliseum fortress cities built atop towering mesas. Huge ghostly white Goliaths have earned a fearsome reputation in the fairy tales of other races due to the brutality of the ritual combat that dominates the social order and culture of their civilisation.



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