Within these covers is your guide to the land of Skarr.
Read carefully, and you will uncover more of its glories, byways, and dangers than you might learn in a year of perilous travels. More adventurers should be so well informed when they venture into realms wild and strange. If they were, more might live to tell their own tales.
I am Izrafel of Graccus, called by some Izrafel the Alchemist, called by others Izrafel the Mage, and far worse things by others still. I’ve walked these craters for over four thousand years, yet I am far from the oldest, wisest, or mightiest to walk the ground of Skarr with my well-worn boots, and that is truth. But if you learn the long history of my deeds, you’ll know precisely what I stand for and what I am, and that’s a rare and precious thing, knowing yourself. Do you know exactly what you stand for?
Think on that while I let my tongue loose for a bit and roll the splendid sights of these lands over you like the great green waves that crash on the rocks below where Mount Rinja rises up out of the cold and mighty Iron Sea. Let me speak of the wonders bards sing of under the starry night sky all over these fair lands. Let me tell you of soft blue moonlight and spell stars in the hair of elven women, their bare shoulders all silver, dancing in the dappled moonlight under the giant trees of Raythorne Forest – indistinguishable from the ghosts that also roam the shadows there. Either could be a potential ally, or the death of you if you are not careful.
Let me speak of brawling, bustling Rinja, The beautiful prismatic towers of The Crystalspire, and of a hundred other proud cities with their lanterns and rumbling carts and shadowed alleys and dripping sewers, their intrigues and strivings and riches. Let me whisper of the realms below, the Deeplands, a world of sunless caverns where cruel elves with obsidian skin; purple-hued mind flayers; and things far worse battle in the depths beneath your feet; and gems are born in the hottest deeps where rock flows like water. Heed my tales of old magic in forgotten tombs or marked by standing stones and portals that with a single stride span continents.
Beware cold claws that reach from the shadows, and proudly sneering courtiers in gleaming finery whose honeyed tongues and sly plots are colder and more perilous still than steely talons. Harken to tales of wild places where dragons battle each other in the sky, and ruins only adventurers – like you – have seen, that are haunted by fearsome beholders, shape-changing horrors, and oozing things made of eyes and tentacles that lurk… and hunger.
Hold, and listen well! If you heed not a word of mine in all your days, remember this: Skarr needs its heroes.
I’m one such to some, though I am old and battered and have left a heap of bloody, bitter mistakes behind me high enough to bury empires. Your sword must flash beside my faltering spells, for Skarr faces new, rising dooms that I cannot face alone. Our homeworld is lost to us, but the life we would make here stands in worse peril now than ever since the Cataclysm. Old evils stir, or return unlooked-for, looming like storm clouds over the darkened hills. Strife and change tear nations and cities asunder. Who can see who shall rise over all? Even the monks of Far Skara Brae, who guard well the words of the prophet Mendax who is never wrong, cannot know.
It might just be you, if your swords and spells are ready and your heart bold. Skarr needs you, lest we fall unguarded to the dangers all around.
Adventurer, I am Izrafel, and I say to you that these forgotten realms are yours to discover, reforge, and defend, yours to make anew in winning your own desires. Go forth and take up arms against the perils that beset us!