D is for Dungenesis

Approximate time to read: 4 minutes.   

travel-in-Symbaroum-3Davokar exists as a reaction by the environment to the damage inflicted upon it. The forest would exist if the corruption didn’t, but not to the same extent and certainly not with the same level of destructive ferocity bottled up inside.

But, D is not for Davokar.

D is (obviously) for Dungenesis.

You will never hear that word in the world of Symbaroum. Heck, outside of this blog you probably won’t hear it either, except in reference to this blog!

The fact that the Symbaroum Core Book covers the most civilisation before the present day kicks off the thinking what came before. And if the Symbaroum Empire has such an impact on today with artifacts, ruins, traps and Abominations – what havoc might the creations of the ancestors beset upon the unknowing?

That Is Not Dead

The Symbaroum Empire was not the first great civilisation to grace the world. It simply happened to be the last and had left an undeniable imprint in its wake. The Symbaroum legacy owes much to the civilisations that came before – and the world now suffers for it.

The phrase “Standing on the shoulders of giants” serves best to describe how the Symbaroum Empire came to harness such power. The results they achieved in the realms of magic and technology came about through the discovery and adaptation of the work of many past civilisations. They attained new heights in the process, but at considerable cost. Not least the Empire likely fell because of what they did. A reign lasting thousands of years vanished almost overnight.

Corruption saturates the land because of what they did. They sought to harness magic in ways previously never achieved through a combination of lore and experiment now thankfully lost. Then they disappeared, almost as if the Empire never existed.

Given the scattered records, the complex language and the period of time passed, historians and loremasters have struggled to determine whether the corruption erupted before or after. Did it kill them or has the power flowed across the land because when they vanished it went unchecked?

Whatever the truth of the matter, the Davokar forest has grown like a scab across the pustulent wound.

There’s Always a Bigger Fish

Davokar has expanded, thickened and deepened over the last thousands of years, from several smaller patches of a forest into the substantial blanket that exists at present. Once tall trees stood tall over great stretches of lush green undergrowth; now, dark and gnarled guardians with weathered bark hunch over tracts of land thick with barbed underbrush. The creatures of the forest, perhaps once the hunted have now physically twisted and transformed in aberrant hunters.

However, the land has not responded with Davokar alone. Deep beneath the ground lie the relics and landscapes of truly ancient civilisation, aeons past, and one of those – like the Symbarian enchanters – harnessed magic so powerful the incantations and ritual of today pale in comparison. They had the power to control and transform the elements themselves, twisting and shaping the world to fulfil their needs and serve as their defenses. The harmful magicks of the Symbaroum triggered them.

For the centuries following the decline of the Symbaroum Empire, splinters and spines of stone have punctured the surface like swords piercing the soft belly of a hated enemy. As if seeking out an itch, these fingers poke and prod through the underground and appear at random.

Why the term dungenesis? The curious loremasters of later ages – including those of current day from the Ordo Magica – found these extrusions to be parts of ancient architecture, honeycombed with corridors and chambers. The forms have become twisted and broken, subject to collapse or expansion that make the insides difficult to explore or even traverse.

From the perspective of the limited ‘archaeology’ completed by more studious treasure-hunters, it seems like the ruins have come to them rather than the other way around. Dungenesis causes an explosion of rock and earth as the spines pierce the surface with considerable speed and force, utterly wrecking the landscape for miles around.

Most splinters only emerge part of the way, rarely topping the height of the trees by more than a dozen yards. Many linger and become part of the new landscape they create – others diminish, crumble or even subside back into the soil. A few outlying scholars suggest that the Earth Towers might be a Symbarian city impaled by a dungenesis eruption centuries past, but the spikes have since decayed away or sunk back beneath. As no one has ever reached the bottom Tower levels, who can really say?

A Firm Nod

I can’t go without handing a few firm nods to the sources that nudge this idea into existence. The living dungeons of 13th Age, for one, have to be worth pointing out. Gareth Hanrahan did a fine job of taking the idea a step further with Eyes of the Stone Thief.

The dream sequence in Brazil has to have been in there somewhere, where Sam – in heroic flying form – must dodge to avoid towering filing cabinets spearing up from the ground.

And Symbaroum itself, with the Earth Towers of the Black Leech Rift, which had my mind racing the moment I read the name. Scant information appears in the Core Book, but I daresay something more might follow – and what letter comes after D?

Final Note

This, like many other articles this month, is a stub. I plan to expand on the topic over time. As with all articles on The Iron Pact, these are no sanctioned or canon within the Symbaroum background – so, if I don’t expand upon them who else will!

Specifically, I plan to look how the sins of the Symbaroum Empire impact on Ambria and Davokar in light of the conscience of the ancestor race that created the basis for dungenesis. The Ordo Magica compare to these two like infants in the face of Einstein and Hawking. The current grasp of magic pales, with almost no comparison. The reaction of the underworld against the corruption of the overworld may confine itself mostly to Davokar at present, but for how long and can the Ambrians, or indeed the Elder Races, do anything about it?


  1. This is a great idea. I also immediately thought of 13th Age. I may pick up Eyes of the Stone Thief and pilfer some of ideas from it.

    • As mentioned at the end of the article, I will definitely return to this subject – and all those covered this month. I can cover them in brief terms at best at the current rate. Dungenesis of the surface could fill a supplement with background, hooks, seeds, beasts, random tables and so on.

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. E is for Earth Towers – The Iron Pact
  2. G is for Goyl – The Iron Pact
  3. From ‘neath the Loam – The Iron Pact
  4. The Korrigan – The Iron Pact
  5. Archaeology Today – The Iron Pact
  6. Evocation by Art – Dungenesis – The Iron Pact

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.