Setting Notes II

The Kingdom


The main human region in the known world is known colloquially as the Kingdom. A disparate collection of territories, it's culture and common practices vary across its lands. This is partially because of the vast distances between the many Dukedoms that make up the Kingdom and partially due to the relative youth of the empire. For only 50 years ago these areas were separate, hundreds of small kingdoms and city-states that warred amongst themselves. They were united in a bloody war that lasted for many years, and from the ashes the Kingdom was forged. From Neverwinter on the northern coast far away to the Capital, it is a strong empire, albeit one that is stretched thin. Peasants know little beyond their lands, and most local lords have never visited the Capital, let alone met the king or even their nearest Duke.

Calendar
Kingdom folk use the Old Calendar - a 400 day year with a ten day (tenday) week, a Sabbath and many festival holidays. This may be due to the strong influence of the Elvish civilisation on the tribal cultures that preceded the Formation. It is predominated by events relating to seasonal shifts such as Solstice, especially to break up Winter which is the longest season.


Locations


The Capital might have another name, but it's role in the Kingdom has long since overshadowed it. Home to the royal palace and most of the commerce in the Kingdom the Capital is too far away to effect the lives of most ordinary folk, and the King too absent. His council does most of the ruling, and even their reach does little to go beyond the palace walls. The true rulers are the Dukes of the various regions of the Kingdom, largely without interference by the Capital they rule their allotted lands in the way that they see fit.

Dessarin Valley

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The Dessarin Valley is an expanse of grasslands, hills and forests that stretches from the city of Yartar in the north down to the village of Amphail. It is a habitable region, filled with villages, homesteads and towns as well as dozens of farms and smaller settlements. The valley is littered with buildings old and new, with various chapels and manor houses standing near ancient ruins and forgotten outposts.

The history of the valley is mostly based on local myths and legends. It is said that a great dwarven kingdom once stood here, before it was cast down when the giants from the Sword Mountains crusaded through on their way north. Some elements of the dwarven occupation can still be found, with the Vale of Dancing Waters and the dwarven ruins in the dessarin hills the most obvious examples. Rumours persist of an ancient dwarven city beneath the entire region, but few are brave enough to search the caves and tunnels below ground. After the fall of the dwarves the area was occupied by the Knights of the Silver Horn, a group of paladins and warriors who the legendary Caradoon brothers Samular Brightflame, Fenwick Snowcape and Aphail the Just. Much time has passed since these events, but the human settlers first brought here by the Silver Horn still occupy the land.

In the modern era the Long Road passes through the region, helping trade from the northern city of Neverwinter go south to Crydee or east to Leor. Many dwarves from Mirabar also travel the roads, taking their wares south to sell in the dwarven city of Caldara. Other travel in the region is possible via the many trails, roads and river-ways, although in recent times their safety has been less than assured.

Yartar is the largest city in the valley, and despite much of the political weight of Amphail it is home to the Waterbaron, the lord of the Dessarin region. The current Waterbaron Iago Thynne keeps a delicate peace between the Black Network and the Brilliant Circle, a paladin group that moved into the city in force some years ago. He rules from his tower astride the dessarin river. Yartar primarily serves trade going downriver or south down the long road, and is renowned for its merchants, bargewrights and wagon makers. There is currently a turf war taking place in the streets of Yartar between the Hand of Yartar, the Black Network affiliate, and a new criminal organisation known as the Kraken Society. Despite this violence this is the prime trading city in the dessarin region.

Red Larch sits at the centre of the valley, a town that makes its trade off stone from nearby quarries. The town is led by a council of elders, and is named after the red leaved larch trees that occupied the place where the town was built. It is protected by its constable, but has had trouble in recent times. Much like its neighbouring towns of Beliard, Womford or Tribour it is made up of primarily farmers and shops to assist those merchants travelling the Long Road.

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Many strange creatures live in the Dessarin Valley. Some, like the Elves of the High Forest, are friendly towards the townsfolk of the valley and have even been known to trade, while others raid the many caravans that travel the region. It is a wild place, untamed and still filled with mysteries. The ancient owners of the land still roam in nomadic tribes, known as the Elk Tribes. Some are peaceful, while others reject the advancements of civilisation. Some like the Uthgardt are fierce and often violent towards those they see as interlopers.

The Bargewright Inn covers a hilltop a few miles west of Womford and is a sprawling settlement of wooden buildings surrounded by large stone walls. Bargewright was once a single inn as its name suggests, but after decades of servicing the many travellers and merchants that pass through it has grown into a city sized collection of shops, inns, stables and taverns. The Inn has its own guards, known colloquially as "Swords", and is governed by an elected "Inkeeper" or "Keymaster". Some rumours persist that the Inn is a gathering point for criminals across the valley, and even that it is run by the Black Network itself. But no formal witnesses to this effect have ever come forward.

Summit Hall is a massive fortress built atop a natural rocky outcrop in the valley, a base first created by Samular Caradoon centuries ago. It served for a long time as the base of operations for the Knights Samular, a paladin sect, before it was overtaken by the zealots of the Brilliant Circle. It is now their base of operations in the region and the home to Exemplar Silverspear, their leader and rumoured former ally of The Bright One himself.

The Elven Realms

Elven genealogy is a largely theoretical study for humans, as no Elf would allow a human to analyse their family line in any detail. Some details however are known. It is believed Elves are split into three main racial groups. The most common by far are the Wood Elves. Dark of skin and wild, these are the Elves that live in the many forests and glades of the Kingdom, seldom interacting with humans but for the occasional hunt. Many Wood Elves are called Wild Elves and live amongst nature in roaming tribes, often led by druids. When Wild Elves come together to form settlements more often and not they are led by High Elves. High Elves are the nobility of the Elvish people, and are divided into the Moon Elves of the High Forest and the Sun Elves of Elvandar. High Elves are typically arrogant and wilful, staying in the depths of their forests or towers and caring little for the affairs of men. The final Elven group are known as Dark Elves. A rumour to most, it is said that Dark Elves live under the very earth itself and reveal themselves only to pillage and destroy. Where the Wild Elves worship forest spirits and the High Elves the Goddess of the Moon or the Tree of Eternity the Dark Elves are said to worship chaos itself. Hundreds are said to be sacrificed on their alters to the old gods hidden below the lands of men.

The High Forest is a massive forest that stretches from the north all the way down to the southern coast. It contains many smaller settlements of Wild Elves all ruled by the Moon Elves who dwell in the centre of the forest. These are the elves of the Moon Goddess who dwell within the mountains of the moon. The moon elves, grey skinned and lithe, are sometimes referred to as "high elves" or "elder elves", but in many cases the lines of Moon and Wild elf are so interbred it is difficult for outsiders to determine these castes. These elves live in the mountains and the high trees of this region, led by their queen who dwells within the High Moore in the city of Evaraska. The edge of her realm to the east is protected by the giant elven statues known as the Twins, who some say magically guard her realm against intruders. One of the few elven settlements known to humans is the Shadowtop Cathedral, an elven outpost on the western edge of the high forest where select humans are welcome to live among the treetops with the elves.

Within the Green Heart, on the scimitar coast, is the kingdom of Elvandar. A bastion of the Sun Elves.

Dwarven Keeps

The Dwarves are said to have covered most of the world with their karaks and mines, but now little but ruins remain in the world. Stalwart and private folk, most dwarven settlements do little trade with the humans around them only when necessary. Some like Stonehill in the Sword Mountains have shut their doors to humans entirely, wary of the younger race's impetuousness and rashness. For most people dwarves are known only as traders and travelling warriors, the grim owners of the thousands of dwarven ruins that spot the Kingdom.

Nevertheless after the Portal Wars the realms of Dwarf and man have begun to trade once again, and some few settlements opening their doors to the people of the Kingdom. One such settlement is Mirabar, a dwarven city that now has a whole district for humans, halflings and many other races. With their red and black axe banner the soldiers and emissaries of Mirabar have been seen across the region, setting up trade delegations with human cities or re-establishing mines. It is said that the High Council of Mirabar even has a human sitting amongst it, although what human could impress the dwarven council is unknown. In the Green Hear there is the city of Caldara which is fast becoming a trading hub to rival Crydee.


Religion and Deities


The Pantheon of Light

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The Father is God of Light, Order, Justice and Truth. He is at the head of the Pantheon of Light. It was he who took the creations of the Old Gods and instilled order, forging reality from the hell-scape of possibility and chance the Old Gods manifested. His Light threw back the darkness of uncertainty and brought Truth to the minds of men. When humanity were created by the Mother to balance the creation of the Elves by the Old Gods the Father took pity on them, watching over them and meting his righteous Justice upon any who would do wrong. He still keeps his eyes on humanity, empowering those who serve him and maintaining Order.

The Father's children embody his own principles. His son Solare the God of Light is presented as a crusading knight with a sun sigil, while his daughter Liara the Goddess of Justice is a robed and winged figure wielding a sword. The God of Order has no name, as it would simply bias him, and oversees all things to maintain balance.

The Father is married to a goddess known colloquially as The Mother, but whose true name is Chauntea, the human goddess of nature, harvest and healing. Her sigil is a red rose set into a golden wheat leaf, and she is often worshipped by travelling druids and healers.

The Lord of Light's brother is Liavoth, God of seas, storms and good fortune. He is said to watch over sailors that pray to him. Niece to the Father and daughter to the God of Seas is Almorus, goddess of luck. Almorus is considered a minor goddess of that group of deities. It is said she is worshipped at vast cathedrals in the Capital, but within the outer coasts she is invoked more at gambling dens and horse races. Some heretics consider her goddess of thieves and charlatans, but this is widely denied by the church.

The Dwarven Ancestors

Many theologians note the similarities between the gods of the Dwarves and those of the Pantheon of Light, some even remarking that the Dwarves may have introduced the early humans to these concepts. For instance similarities have been drawn between the human god Liavoth and the Dwarven Stormlord, god of ocean and weather. The Dwarven ancestor pantheon is led by Morodan, dwarven smith god of creation and order. He is said to have been the great smith who forged the world itself on his anvil in an age long past. Apart from nomenclature the primary difference between the two pantheons is that the Dwarven gods are considered to have once lived, ancestors who passed into heaven and took up their mantles. Some, such as the Urgo the Trickster, are said to have left behind puzzles for his people to solve in order to receive great rewards.

Pagan Gods and the Old Gods

Before the Lord of Light conquered Heaven and forged the universe scripture tells us the realm without light was ruled by Old Gods. Long removed from all but the most forbidden scriptures, the names of these Old Gods are mostly lost to the ages. Some whispers of Nyarly and Nyarlathotep remain, but their worship is all but forgotten. Some, like the Great Old One which is said to be a tentacled beast of pure chaos, have none foolish enough to worship them. Others like The Void are used in necromantic and other foul rituals by those that hide in the darkness. Some say that Dendar the Night Serpent is the source of all nightmares in the world, but luckily few remember this creature of primordial chaos.

Many of the Old Gods live on in Pagan worship. Here fey spirits and daemons are worshipped as gods, while some pagan gods are but simpler forms of gods formally worshipped elsewhere. Some of the Gods of the Green Heart live on in secret worship, even after the coming of the Church of Light. In recent years worship of Cimmeria, known as the Dark Lady has sprung up in secret temples around the regions. Some say the War of Karse was driven by a group of her cultists, but this has not been confirmed. Many scholars suggest her relation to the Old God known as the Great Mother, but few will vocalise these suspicions.

Some of the Old Gods have simply be translated over the years into worship in the new religions. The Sunlord, ancient god of battle, fire and light is one such example, elements of his worship having carried over to the Lord of Light and in particular his son Solare.

In the darkened forests and frozen mountain regions, primitive tribes maintain their worship of ancient Totem spirits. These mighty beings draw power from the natural world, their strength waxing and waning with the seasons and the flux of civilisation. Among the fiercest is the Storm Lion, for whom feats of glory on the hunt or battlefield are acts of worship. Storms and hurricanes - said to be caused by his roars - are taken as signs of his favour. In the hills of the Dessarin valley each barbarian tribe takes on their own totem animal, with Bears, Elk and Wolves common symbols.

The Orcs worship Gruumpsh, god of battle and outcasts. Pictured as a one eyed old Orc, Gruumpsh is said to watch over those who would conquer or who are scorned by civilised society. He is generally interested in chaos over order, and revels in the deaths caused by his followers. Due to the nature of Orc worship very little reliable scholarly information is available about Gruumpsh.

The Elven Gods

The Elves are tight lipped about their gods, but many scholars consider the Elven pantheon to consist of over a hundred different gods, daemons and fey spirits. Some known are Elandrin, goddess of the sun, and the Shadow Fox, trickster and god of shadows. Within the Court of Seasons the nobles worship the Oak of Ages, a mystical golden tree said to contain the essence of Elandrin.


Legends and Myths


The Brilliant Circle are wandering Paladins, said to be attached to no arm of the church. They travel the lands bringing down justice upon those who try to avoid the light, and justice for those who aren't able to defend themselves. In recent times stories have arisen of a valiant new leader, a paladin with a hammer of pure light who is trying to take justice to the top of the church itself. He is known as the Bright One and it is whispered by some that is the Sunlord's wrath made human form.

The Black Network goes by many names, but its influence can be felt all across the Kingdom. In Crydee it is the Cult of Shadows, in Karse the Bladed Guild and in Leor simply the Thieves Conglomerate. This is because for all their connections the Black Network is a loose arrangement of spies, thieves and assassins ruled by no single figure. They have their fingers in countless pies, and if criminal activity goes down in the Kingdom it is a safe bet the Black Network was involved in some way.


The Other Planes


It was long speculated by the Warlocks of the Kingdom that other planes existed, but it was not confirmed until the Portal Wars. When the forces of Suran flooded into the world the world was flooded with magic the likes of which was previously the stuff of legends. The academic study of magic spread across the lands, with colleges of magic being set up in Crydee and Leor. Although small these colleges would begin to gather knowledge and capable spellcasters to begin unravelling the mysteries of the universe.

It is believed that beyond the Material World there are other planes of existence. Some, like the Astral Plane, are believed to be locations of pure thought and energy while others like the Elemental Planes** are said to host cities and other material objects.

The Realm of Air

Little is known about the Realm of Air but that it is the home of the Air Elementals and the mysterious bird-men known as Aarakocra. The Aarakocra are said to be the servants of beings known as the Wind Dukes and enter the material planes only on missions from these 'dukes'.

The Realm of Fire

The Realm of Fire is believed to be the source of many of the creatures seen in the Kingdom since the Portal Wars. Beings such as the bronze skinned Azer or the flame lizard Salamanders seem to trace their lineage to the Plane of Fire.


Suran


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A strange land accessible from the Kingdom only through portals. First interactions took place during the Portal Incident in Neverwinter. A larger rift was located in the Greet Heart, but was shut by the Wyrmsbane company.

The people here are shorter and stockier, living hard lives in the desert that seems to dominate the land. They are organised into Clans, and are extremely militarily focused. They live in cities and fortresses carved directly out of the rocks of their world. They seem to be led by black robed wizards known as Great Ones. Due to a lack of metals in their world they use armour and weapons made from stone or plastics, and their primary interest in the Kingdom seems to be raiding for ores. Some speculation has arisen that Suran exists within the legendary plain of fire, its lack of ore and heat a reflection of its proximity to the mountains of fire.

The war with the Surani is considered over for most, the invaders driven off and their portals closed. But the impact the war had on the people of the Kingdom should not be understated.

One sole outpost exists in Suran from this world, an ancient sandstone temple that was rebuilt and occupied by the Wyrmsbane company. It still runs as a Temple of the Light for those Surani who wish to convert, and a method of travelling between it and the other worlds has been suspected.

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