Posts by Bart H.

artist, photographer, gamer, father, nerd.

The Northern Lands

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The Northern Lands as seen through the eyes of the Falsduran run from the Great Ice (aka Angrelid) all the way down to the Edeldale (known to the Falsdurans as “The Six Kingdoms of the Lie”). Their perception of the lower central kingdoms is based on their belief of dragons. They reject that Herras was the vanquisher of all dragons, since there is an ancient white dragon living in the Angrelid, who’s breath continues to push the ice south.

While there are not actually any “nation states”, each Jarl running their own village, there are two distinct regions populated by men: The Falsdur and the Gamhald. The Falsdur consists of mostly farms and agrarian Northmen, while the Gamhald is a bit wilder and incorporates the fishermen of the West Coast.

Beyond there are the great mountains of the Gallendaag, where Hill, Stone, Cloud and Storm giants roam as well as communities of Goliaths. Beneath, in the deep earth, are the Fire giants. The most trouble comes from bands of raiding Hill giants, errant groups of Stone giants and occasionally the Fire giants who brave the surface.

Farther East is the Huldvastan, where wild men and elves roam. Further still are the Rastlud, magical islands where a number of warlocks have carved out as their own territory.

Lesser Known Dieties

There are several dieties found throughout the known worlds; several have risen in popularity and worship during the time of Herrasian Era. These represent a few of the more common ones encountered by the players:


Talhannin – The Minstrel
Domains : Good, Healing, Music
ANIMISM

In many tales of Famil Dandurrin, there is a gnomish bard that is mentioned. Talhannin, a fair faced and light hearted companion is usually there to help bail Famil out or heal him when he is hurt. While he is most often described as a handsome grinning, sandy haired gnome, he sometimes appears as music on the wind, as a kind halfling farmer with a distinctive whistle, or a very clever finch. Those who follow him are usually bards, skalds or poets and serving him as a cleric requires that you know at least one instrument to mastery.  There is no set pattern of dress or worship, but nearly ever cleric of Talhannin wears a holy symbol in the shape of a lyre with a small bird sitting on it.   (NG)


Haggach – The Werewolf
Domains : Evil, Strength, Transformation
MONTHEISTS

A smattering of purist humans have associated themselves with this cult, believing in the superiority of Lycanthropes, representing themselves as stewards to those undergoing the change. Typically, any race of lycanthrope is allowed to join the cult (except elves), but the positions of power are still held by humans alone. The majority of members hold other positions in society and the clergy disguise themselves as something else. They tend to meet in old Elven temples or consecrated sites which they immediately profane. When in ritual state, they wear grey robes and are often tattooed with the image of Haggach, a Werewolf with two outstretched knives. They are the sworn enemies of Eadowyn, who’s wiles in the form of the shapeless moon cause them to lose control.   (CE)

Ransharna – The Master of Djinn
Domains : Magic, Weather, War
POLYTHEISM

In the far south there is a legend of a great warrior who defeated a Rakshasa Prince and retreated to his magical keep, which gave him eternal life and a mastery over magic in the realms of deserts. He rules a court of Djinn who serve him and carry out his will on the material plane. His clergy are almost all from the southern desert, though his popularity is on the rise. Clerics of Ransharna are required to carry a scimitar and lose proficiency in simple weapons to favor only that one.  They are identified by ritual tattoos under their eyes and the most powerful are accompanied by a Djinni. (N)


Shuttaret – The Whirlwind
Domains : Law, Wind, Tenacity
POLYTHEISM

Sister to Ransharna, Shuttaret left her home in search of her brother when he disappeared into the Dry Realms. Her determination is legendary, as she walked every inch of the desert to find him. So driven was she, that she gave up the need for food or drink. After not finding him, she sat and meditated until she became sand. Only then was she able travel anywhere on the wind and finally came to settle around her brother’s palace. Her clergy pride themselves on feats of endurance. They are most often identified by their covered faces and wearing a cloth tunic belted with a long sling (“Thundersling”) which makes the noise of a desert wind when twirled.   (LN)

Datakha – The Thieving Serpent
Domains : Trickery, Knowledge, Revenge
POLYTHEISM

Jealous of the power Ransharna and Shuttaret achieved, Datakha was once a Naga that vowed to find the Hidden Palace and take it from Ransharna. In several stories he fashions a plan to infiltrate the Dry Realms, but is somehow thwarted by Shuttaret’s sand and wind. Datakha represents vengeance and most clerics of the Snake take a vow of vengeance against a people or government (in game terms, they gain a favored enemy as a Ranger in lieu of Destroy Undead). Datakha is accompanied in his dealings of the material world by mummies of fallen priests.  His active clergy carry snake like staffs and wear a headband fashioned to appear as a striking Naga. (NE)


Mamaranda – Mother of the Jungle
Domains : Good, Plant, Healing, Animal
ANIMISM

In the jungles, there are few gods or clerical practitioners, many following the path of the druid or medicine woman. However, there are a group of believers that ascribe the birth of the deep jungle to Mamaranda. Her skin is a dark as the night sky, but her eyes burn green like the jungle itself. She is kind, but not gullible; stern but never cruel. Her servants wear a torc of bone and vine. Little else is known about them, but travelers to the southern jungles have sworn her followers can transform into many shapes which have provided them protection.   (CG)

The Breaking of Longbridge

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It had been a year of treacherous deeds. Under the Reeve of Longbridge the people suffered and with no answer from the King came all out rebellion.

There need be no retelling of the terrible tale that set off the revolt. Everyone is painfully familiar with the destruction of the bridge. By late 633 arrows and spellfires have stopped raining across the river and there is a tense quiet gripping the two sister cities, so close and yet so spiritually apart.

The Northwest bank has become High Hold, a new enclave of power for the barbarians of the Spearfolk. Ejected are the new religions and customs replaced by the more animist tradition of the many clans. And the folk of the far bank have embraced this new alliance.

On the side of Glimring, Southbank, seized and secured by the wealth and power of Bannon Bowsprit are the wealthy. His cousin, now guard captain, has bullied remnants of the King’s Guard to serve him, though few understand how.

Powerful magic was expended to carve two great walls around each of the remaining pieces. What remains to be seen is the influence of royal power and the reach of Glimring on this once loyal asset.

Clatterton

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At the intersection of the middle kingdom sits the village of Clatterton, so named for the great amount of hoofed traffic passing through and around it. It boasts the most extensive collection of horse trading (the Hoofmarket) and is home to the southern tournament grounds used by many knights in the region. However, it’s claim to fame is the Cistern Citadel, a stone keep surrounding a massive fountain, which magically produces fresh water for its inhabitants. Surrounding the village proper is a large, high wooden fortification, encircled by a number of farms.

The villagers of Clatterton are generally happy and friendly, seeing much of the kingdom’s traffic pass through it’s gates. There are number of local services and business, but nothing comparing to the capital. Conducting any other sort of business in the village requires a pass coin from the appropriate guild, who watches over the Guildmarket with a heavy hand.

Most unusual is it’s government structure; a warden of Clatterton, appointed by the King’s Court, but answering to a pair of crotchety old mages (one a wizard and the other a sorcerer) who’s machinations have subtly altered the village over the years. Each has his own tower and they rarely interact, except in the most dire of consequences. The Warden himself usually stays out their affairs, busying himself with the day to day troubles of keeping a village safe and clean. He employees a number of guardians (village constabulary) known as the Pallisade Watchmen who dutifully mind the gates day and night.

Magic : Glowstones

Among the arcane substances mined by the dwarves for greater consumption are Glowstones. These soft, phosphorescent rocks glow brightly when warm. If held in the hand of a living creature they will produce a pale, green light slightly brighter than a candle and feeling slightly cool to the touch. They last a total of 1d6 hours and give off soft light in a 10′ radius and dim light in an additional 5′, as long as they are held.  However, there is a moment of attunment (1d4 rounds) each time as the stones power grows. While unconfirmed, it’s thought that these stones can last twice as long in a cold environment and half as long in the tropics (where they always give off a phosphorescence providing dim light up to 5′).

They can often be found in barrows and crypts to light the way for respectful visitors. It’s thought that the harsh light of a torch disturbs the dead, whereas these arcane embers do not. They are rumored though, to attract curious spirits.

They are prized by adventurers and dungeon delvers who wish to quietly skulk about without being completely blind as the soft light can’t be spotted as far as a candle or torch (normally, you can’t see one until you are within 20′ of the user). Their rarity and popularity have commanded an inflated price on the surface of the world. As a commodity, they can vary from 2d6 gp each, but in the Deep Earth, they are usually given away as playthings to the children.

Once used up, they appear as little more than milky, quartz-like stones with a greenish cast. These can often be found discarded around crypts and trails under the Deep Earth.

Festival Days

While each religion has it’s own specific days associated with worship, there are some universal days that are celebrated in the Edeldale.

BRIGHTFEAST – Origin; Davanic worship
On the First day of Lightsong, a festival celebrating the light returning to the world is held across every major holding. From the highest lord to the lowest born, each family lights a multitude of white candles (in lieu of any magical lighting, torches or lamplight) at sundown and partakes in a meal of four courses; the Bland, the Bright, the Hot and the Tepid. This represents coming from darkness to light, the brightness of the sun (or Dava’s countenance), the warmth of the sun, and a reminder what it is to be without it.

Traditionally the meal begins with a type of round bread (davanloaf), followed by a lightly spiced meal (varies by culture), followed by peppers and a cold soup. At the end of the meal, candles are all extinguished and generally, the darkness of the night is filled with quiet song.

CHAMPION’S WEEK – Origin; Spectacle of the Many Tribes
In further days, the Spearfolk were more autonomous, but lived closely together. Each tribe would elect a champion to compete in what they referred to as “The Spectacle”; a massive series of games and contests to determine the Champion of the Folk. The festival usually begins on the 16th of Newgraze, but over the years has been held at different times due to war or tragedy. In any case, it’s always begins and ends on a Chorseday.

During the week, in memory of the original spectacle, there are contests of strength, games of skill and in the more urban areas, tournaments of magic and wit. During the week, several events will be hosted and culminates on the following Choresday. Champions may hold temporary title, be awarded a great prize or just retain the title and status of Champion until the following year. In all cases, the Champion is given some red mark or article of clothing to show their status.

DRAGONSBLOODOrigin; Herras’ slaying of the last red dragon
In the spirit of Champion’s Week, on the 30th of Newgraze is Dragonsblood (or Dragon’s Eve in some communities). On that night there are reenactments of Herras’ deeds. Children often wear dragon masks and attempt to scare adults (who usually laughingly comply). The festival usually is a night of great boasting and tale telling. At the end of the evening, a large bull’s heart is served and an effigy of the King (or in the case of Glimring, the King himself) is spattered with blood.

THE NIGHT OF HARD BISCUITS – Origin; The Dwarves entry into Edeldale
It is said that all the best brews mature by the month of Lightsong. So on any given Settlesday of that month a city, community or even a humble Dwarven outpost, hosts a NIGHT OF HARD BISCUITS (Sometimes called “Toast’s Night” and other times, just “Biscuits”). The timing varies, as rumor has it, because the ancient kings didn’t want ALL of their vassals to be incapacitated by drink in a single evening. So it was decreed that each region or village would be authorized to have a night of drunken revelry in accordance with a set schedule.

The name of the event dates back to Men’s first encounter with the Dwarves. They exchanged goods and cursed the almost rock-like biscuits the Dwarves gave in trade. That was until the first or Uli’s envoys came down from the mountain to drink and the humans realized that the the biscuits were in fact, designed to only be eaten after being dunked into heavy Dwarven stout. While the two peoples had previous a very formal and indifferent relationship, this drunken feast fostered immense goodwill and was responsible for the alliance the Dwarves and Men now have.

GRANDFEASTOrigin; farm tradition and possibly, Aerthan tradition
At or near the end of harvest, a great feast begins on Choresday through Settlesday. The actual timing is based on the the amount of harvest taken in. But this three day festival features agrarian tokens and traditions. No matter how poor, each community contributes a portion of the harvest to this event. In some towns it may be little more than three days of donated goods to be redistributed among the farmers. But in larger towns and cities it’s 3 nights of bountiful eating and drinking. There are songs that date back hundreds of years, showing of livestock and sharing of rustic traditions.

While it’s just considered a great culinary event in the cities, most who worship Aerthas, treat this as a festival of Thanks and end the evening of Settlesday in prayer and worship.

[more to come]

The Dancing Maiden

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As one enters Glimring from the StoneGate, the first district encountered is the Traveler’s District. No surprise then, that many who have traveled into the Capital from this gate end up at the Dancing Maiden.

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Just off Courage Alley, its entrance is tucked into a small walkway opposite a fairly austere manor (the home of a local noble, who never seems to be home). The drainage canal just beyond rarely causes a problem until the hot summer months. Courage Alley occasionally is patrolled by the King’s Guard, but is rarely the site of civil disturbance.

Inside, the inn is primarily a long, stone drinking hall with a grand fireplace in the middle. At one end is the entrance to the kitchen and bar, at the other, a stage where young performers ply their trade. Virtually all of them are students who are practicing their craft before performing in the Entertainer’s district.

A set of stairs near the kitchen leads up to a smoking and sleeping room. At the end of that chamber is a locked door for parties requiring a more private stay. To sleep in the bar costs a mere 2 copper, upstairs 1 silver and the private room costs a gold piece per night. The only enforcement here is by the bar owner, Baldren the Wheezer, an older human with a pronounced rattle when he breathes.

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The Dancing Maiden surrounds an old courtyard which has seen better days, closed in by a number of private residences. Across Courage Alley lies a tumble of apartments and small shops catering to the needs of its itinerant guests.

Notable patrons include Pillut Dilt, the alchemist who runs his shop just next door, Lord Aren Bellsweight (the owner of the manor across the way), and a dwarven tinker called Vandholm. Both Pillut and Vanholm own shops within the courtyard.