Jade Empire Worlds Spotlight

Take a look at a few of the magical realms you'll travel to in BioWare's upcoming Xbox action RPG.

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BioWare has a long history of crafting exotic locales for its many successful RPGs, and for its new mystical game Jade Empire, the company is branching out into uncharted territory with a series of Eastern-themed designs that will help bring the game more fully to life. We were kindly provided with a few new tidbits of information (and screenshots!) relating to some of these numinous environs; feast your eyes below.

Tien's Landing

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Tien's Landing has a long and storied history, although more recent struggles have seen it greatly reduced in influence. The original village was one of the oldest in the Jade Empire, serving as a gateway to the Silkworm River trade route. It was even thought to be the initial stop of Sagacious Tien, the first emperor, on his legendary journey from the uncharted east, and was named as such. There are no records to prove this claim one way or another, however, and it did not protect the town from the plans of more recent leaders.

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When the great drought ended 20 years ago, Emperor Sun commissioned a dam to tame the fast-flowing waters of the Silkworm River. The resulting reservoir made travel safer for tradesmen of the region but also flooded the basin where Tien's Landing was located. Ample warning was given and the village was resettled further up the river, but when the gates of the dam were finally closed, some of the more undesirable residents were apparently left to perish in the waters. Shame over this event is cited as a reason Tien's Landing has not yet regained its former importance.

The Temple of Dirge

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High on a crag in the western mountains of the Jade Empire, the walls of Dirge have stood amid the snow and wind for hundreds of generations. Once the heart and soul of a powerful and thriving monastery, the temple now lies in decay and seems like another world compared to the lush valleys far below. The only signs of life are the few small wildflowers sturdy enough to grow in the cold of the mountains.

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For centuries this place was home to a mysterious order of monks, but now the temple and the structures around it lie empty. All that lived here were apparently killed in a great battle decades ago, the culmination of a siege launched by an overwhelming force. Though their bodies were destroyed, the spirits of the slain still seem to linger in the passageways. Trapped by strange energies, they have become puppets in an endless drama, forever replaying the moment of their deaths.

This once sacred temple is now home to a malevolent force that has twisted it into an evil and perilous place where no living creature dares to tread. Stark and uninviting, the Temple of Dirge is more a trap than a sanctuary, waiting to be sprung by unwary spirits and mortals alike.

The Quarry Caves

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The Quarry Caves are an ancient network of tunnels that run underground near the original site of Tien's Landing. The stone produced there was famous throughout the Jade Empire for its resilience and texture, and it was used to build the Imperial Palace and many other famous buildings. Originally the quarry was manned by skilled rock cutters, but as demand grew, convicts and prisoners were brought in to work in increasingly horrible conditions. As it became more and more like a prison, rumors circulated of cruel and terrible treatment down in the depths of the caves.

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The last project to use the stone of the quarry was a dam constructed 20 years ago to tame the Silkworm River. The reservoir behind the structure was meant to make travel easier, but it would also flood the caves and nearby Tien's Landing. The villagers had ample warning and resettled further upriver, but when the gates of the dam finally closed, the prisoner workers were abandoned. In the years since, stories were told of lingering cries for help coming from the newly formed lake and the occasional traveler disappearing. Now the dam has been opened, and the quarry caves are once again open. Locals are convinced that the ghosts of those lost now lurk in the area, looking for a greater justice than the enduring shame of the living.

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