Ravenloft: The Shadow Fallen
The Land of Mists is different from many worlds you might know. Rather than being some sort of sphere or globe upon which continents and oceans are arrayed, our world is one in which each land is adrift in an endless sea of fog. A nation might be utterly alone in the Mists, while other larger patches of land might play home to several competing countries. This may seem strange to you, outlander, but to the natives of this world, it is your tales of orbs hurtling through a void that sound mad.
The most basic unit of measurement in the Land of Mists is that of a domain. This is defined as any region that resonates with its own mystical character, preventing certain kinds of magic from working across its borders. A domain can be as small as a mansion and its grounds or as large as a mighty nation that takes weeks to cross on horseback. Well known to scholars (though less so to the common folk) is the idea that a person can bind themselves to the fabric of a land through dark ritual, becoming a sort of spiritual avatar of the land itself. Such “lords of the domain” tend to keep themselves hidden for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to avoid challenges to their power.
If a domain is all alone in the Mists, isolated from any other lands, it is known as an island. No one knows how many such islands exist in the Mists, since they tend to be rather hard to reach—and even harder to escape. When several domains clump together with contiguous borders, they are known as a cluster. Such clusters often share a common character among them, and usually have a common language or set of religious beliefs.
Connections through the Mists do exist, and such paths are called Mistways. Every cluster has several permanent, reliable Mistways connecting it to other lands, while most islands are lucky to have a single Mistway connecting them to any other place at all. Indeed, most islands are totally cut off from the outside world, save by random chance of stumbling across them during an unlucky journey through the Mists.
Traveling through the Mists is possible without a Mistway, though very dangerous. Beyond the possibility of becoming lost in the Mists forever, wandering without end, it is well known that dark beasts live in the deep Mists. Such creatures sometimes manage to find their way out into the world of man, becoming horrifying predators. Fortunately, most cannot survive for long outside their native habitat; unfortunately, quite a few are clever enough to lair in the shallows, coming out only to hunt, and some are resilient enough to live outside the Mists for months or years.
None know how large the Land of Mists might be in its entirety. Scholars and explorers have spent their whole lives seeking new lands and finding no end to their variety and strangeness. Perhaps there is no end at all. No matter the truth, this travelogue will stand as a testimony to the exploratory spirit, acting as a gazetteer of known (and rumored) lands.
Continue at your own peril.