The Holy Country

During the Great Darkness, the Only Old One, a Troll who may have had one or more divine parents, took control of the Castle of Lead on the Shadow Plateau. His strength saved many trolls, and others who sheltered until his 'wings'. He would rule this land until the early 1300s, though the EWF and the God-Learners would both challenge him. The land's many peoples sometimes resented his rule, but his power was undeniable. In the end, even the God Learners came to rue crossing the Only Old One. Until Belintar, the Stranger from the Sea, came out of the waves. He killed or drove off the Only Old One, then forced all the pieces of his country into submission and built the City of Wonders, a marvelous capital.

From then until 1616, he ruled, periodically reborn in a great contest, the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Fate. Then Jar-Eel the Razoress slew him and the Lunars are moving in and Malkioni exiles have seized one of the six realms of the Holy Country for themselves. It remains unclear if the Holy Country is dead or if it, like Belintar, will rise again.

Beast Valley

Ruled by the seemingly Immortal Ironhoof, this is a collection of animals who turn human, humans who turn animal, oddly sentient animals, oddly animalistic humans and half-man, half-animal monstrosities, from chimeras to centaurs to talking owlbears who do philosophy to feral escaped herd men from Prax. Ironhoof is a minotaur except when he's a centaur or a bugbear (half bear, half insect of course), or... He sometimes dies then comes back to life and is known to be a devotee of the Horned Man.

Raiding, that's another question.

They are not Hsunchen but the two groups sometimes work together and are sometimes mistaken for each other.

The inhabitants mostly live by grazing and hunting and raiding their neighbors; the population is thinly spread (1 hex can support 28 minotaurs or centaurs, 56 solarians or bugbears, and about 200 kobolds), but very potent if Ironhoof is alive to lead them. They allow caravans to pass down the river or the trails but they must pay a tax which tends to be rather... arbitrary.

The most dangerous inhabitants are the boar-riding Tusk-Men, who appear to be part human, part troll and part boar. They wreck havoc across Sartar and the Holy Country, though most especially on regions near Beast Valley, then escape into caves and return home. They live in the western hills, using tunnels to reach other parts of Sartar and the Holy Country and plunder them, then return home; this is generally assumed to be magical.

Beast Valley has no real army; each tribe of Beast Men fields a force of warriors led by a chief and whenever Ironhoof is alive, he assembles those small hordes into a big one which mostly relies on hard-hitting melee forces. A warband might range from 20 minotaurs to 200 kobolds. A strong chief might unite multiple warbands into a horde of a 1000 or so warriors. Ironhoof unites all the hordes. One such horde numbered 30,000 strong and basically laid waste to everything in sight just by trying to feed itself.

Allies: Balmyr Tribe of Sartar, Ducks Enemies: Dragonnewts, Grazelanders, Sundomers, Troll Woods Trolls

Caladraland

This is a huge swatch of jungle with volcanoes which created it all during the time before the Dawn; rich soil grows crops and jungle like crazy and the natives worship the Volcano God and Goddess, the children of Lodril and Gata, Aurelion (half brother of Asrelia, earth god) and Caladra (fire goddess). Caladran culture encourages tight sibling bonds and teaches siblings will be reincarnated together, over and over until they achieve all their dreams and then will go to live in the heavens with Caladra and Aurelion, assisting them. Men protect with weapons and women destroy foes with fire magic. Men till the earth and women burn down the forest to fertilize it. Women also handle the cooking and men the weaving. Men fish and women hunt. Men learn to find firebone and earthblood, which can be burned and turned into useful things. Working together, men and women turn firebone into diamond, which edges the weapons of the Caladralanders, making them incredibly sharp and strong. The Caladra / Aurelion cult has four runes: Earth, Heat, Fertility, and Harmony. Male initiates gradually turn more and more black (coal level black, not like normal humans) and women gradually become orange like a fire. The deeper your initiation, the more change.

Some people, however, initiate into other cults. Ernalda has some popularity here, as do Heler and Gustbran, but the most common other cult is Veskarthan the Deep (Earth, Heat), the volcano god father of Caladra and Aurelion. He fought Argan Argar and lost and was forced to build the Castle of Lead; he hates Trolls still. He is most commonly worshiped as a war god.

Caladrans live in movable villages, practicing slash and burn agriculture and sometimes dodging lava flows and ash falls. They maintain shrines at the major volcanoes but have to rebuild them a lot.

Every summer they fight wars to take captives to sacrifice at the volcanoes. Without them, their harvest will fail and they will go into hard-to-escape decline.

Each village fields a force of part-time warriors, led by the chief. There is no central government now that Belintar is dead, but every village is part of a confederation which fields a joint force. Men fight with a mix of ranged and melee weapons, while women support them with fire magic; every warrior is accompanied by a woman into battle. Massive amounts of fire magic helps to make up for their lack of discipline. They excel at guerilla warfare. (A typical village of 600 people could in theory field up to 300 adults to fight, but in practice will send about 50 warriors (7 or 8 of which will be highly skilled) and 50 fire priestesses (of whom 7 or 8 will be devotees) into the field. A confederation of 10 villages could thus field 75 highly skilled warriors and 425 part-time warriors, 75 fire devotee priestesses and 425 fire initiates. Such a confederation occcupies 10 hexes of the map.)

Allies: God Forgot Enemies: Esrolia

Matriarchy of Esrolia

This was once a normal Orlanthi land, but many of its men rushed off to battle against the sea during the Godtime and perished; the desire of the Vingotking rulers to send even more men into the meatgrinder led to a coup by the women of Esrolia. The whole basis of society changed when the Earth worshippers took command, banning worship of Orlanth and replacing him with Barntar and other lesser male deities. The rise of the many cities of Esrolia worked further changes; the old tribes and even the clans are long gone. Esrolian society is a collection of extended families headed by 'Grandmothers', who owe fealty to Earth Queens; the Earth Queens collectively rule through a council. To become a Queen typically requires a contest which is a Heroquest. Some titles are held for life, others are temporary. However, they are divided into factions which now endlessly squabble with the Pharoah dead, hampering a strong response to the Lunars. Indeed, the Red Earth faction calls for conversion to the Lunar faith. Most women initiate to Erlanda; about 1 in 7 initiate to some other goddess, or in a few cases gods (like Issaries, Lhankor Mhy, and Heler).

Men are basically second class citizens; they're essentially regarded as overgrown children who have to be controlled for their own good. They can hold no position of authority and are always under the authority of their family and their spouse if married. Their marriages are decided for them, generally on a political basis. That being said, men are found in any non-political occupation, though most are farmers in the country and craftsmen in the city, usually initiated into Barntar, Issaries, or some craft God like Gustbran. (Always male gods; women may initiate to any allowed cult, men are restricted. Warlike gods are banned, like Orlanth, Humakt, Elmal, etc.). Certain men rebel, with covert initiation into banned gods, though hiding the tattoos is not an easy thing.

The army of Esrolia is always underfunded and poorly trained, due to this division and the fact that Esrolian men are not encouraged to be very tough, while Esrolian women mostly see war as something that stupid people do, unless you have no choice, though some Queen factions support preparations. Further, male gods who might make male soldiers tougher in war are banned. Shield and spear forces usually fight best behind the hefty fortifications which the Esrolians invest in copiously; they are also quite skilled at siege warfare. Also, Esrolia has so many people, it sometimes wins by sheer numbers. The cults of Babeester Gor, Maran Gor, and Vinga provide elite forces and magical aid.

Esrolia has a standing army of 30,000 people, but can supplement this with another 120,000 poorly trained milita when needed. Esrolia fields 2,000 light cavalry, 1,000 heavy cavalry with lances, 15,000 medium spear infantry, 10,000 lightly armored archers, a thousand Earth priestesses of various cults, and a thousand elite initiates and devotees of Babeester Gor, Maran Gor, and Vinga known as the Fist of Esrolia.

Esrolia is hugely populous; the population density tends to be 3-5 times that of Sartar, producing huge amounts of fruit, grains, vegetables, and meat. Coffee is a very popular drink along with tea. Esrolia is much more urbanized than most Orlanthi lands, with some 30% of the populace in cities, in part because the countryside produces a huge surplus.

Allies: Heortland. Enemies: Caladraland, God Forgot, Righteous Duchy of Maniria

God Forgot

Population: 100,000

During the Great Darkness, this land mostly sank into the ocean and the rest turned very swampy; the gods of the inhabitants abandoned them and never came back. Even Magasta, the lord of the Sea, would not listen to their pleas. So they decided the Gods could just go hang. Unfortunately, bitterness could not ward off the Great Darkness. What saved them was the Rock of Heaven falling from the sky. This strange rock / structure was riddled with rooms and machines and inside it, the creatures of Chaos could not come. Further, they discovered many secrets from it which they used to create the city now known as Refuge.

During the Second Age, the God Learners came and the people of God Forgot mixed technology, sorcery and God Learner wisdom. The Rock of Heaven became the Clanking City, home of Zistor the Machine God. Then the EWF, the Orlanthi, and the Dwarves allied to destroy the city and its god. Once again, the natives concluded religion was not worth it and gods fail you in the end.

The inhabitants of God Forgot do not practice any religion at all, nor do they dally with spirits or delve into mysticism. They are sorcerors and technologists. There are constant rumors of a secret Zistor cult, but nothing is proven. Their technology remains interwoven with sorcery; basic training in this constitutes the 'common magic' of the land.

The God Forgotters are heavy consumers of coastal birds and sea food; they fish and trade in boats powered by strong jets of water generated by complicated devices known to involve burning wood or earthsblood (from Caladraland), elementals, and sorcery. The boats are made of thin, powerful ceramics. These boats are shallow and can operate in the parts of the country which frequently flood.

Gods Forgot is at its driest during Dark Season and at its wettest during Sea Season. Fire Season is a miserable bath of humidity, though water levels gradually sink during Fire, Earth, and Dark Season, then rise as the storms of Storm Season come and the ocean rises or maybe the land sinks during Sea Season. At 'high tide', every swamp hex is under 4 to 8 feet of water; at low tide, the swamp becomes dry ground with many small streams and ponds. Most settlements are on the areas that never sink below water. Gods Forgotters can build impressive roads, but rarely bother because flooding will bury them much of the year.

They are quite aware the Duke of Maniria is looking to extend his rule to them and they don't want it at all. They don't want the Esrolians either. The Caladralanders are too chaotic to conquer them, so they ally with them.

God Forgot sort of follows the Malkionist Caste System, but the war which trashed the Clanking City led to revisions of it; now you travel to Refuge and take an exam at 18 which determines if you will be an Official, a Soldier, a Sage, a Craftsman, or a Farmer. Officials govern, Soldiers fight, Sages study magic, history, engineering, and other lore, Craftsmen make and operate technologies which have been certified, and Farmers fish and grow crops (And act as teamsters). In practice, most people end up like their parents. Changing your assigned caste isn't impossible, but is very hard. Each caste wears distinctive clothing, dominated by a caste color: White for Officials, Silver for Soldiers, Purple for Sages, Blue for Craftsmen, and Green for Farmers.

God-Forgot fields a force of heavy infantry with pole-arms in enchanted armor, backed by golems and by lightly armored missile troops armed with crossbows; when possible, specialty bolts are supplied which may explode, cause paralysis, poison targets and so on. Older Soldiers often have artificial limbs. Forces are small and elite. Sages provide magical services in war. Hoverwagons (using Elemental Air magics) and Bubbleboats transport forces. 2,000 Heavy Infantry and 3,000 Missile Infantry Soldiers can be turned out to fight, more in an emergency, along with a force of 1,000 golems, sustained by the Sage cast and the repair work of the Craftsmen. Few Sages have direct combat magic, but they are highly effective in field fortifications and sieges.

The inhabitants of God Forgot have extended life spans but not true Brithini immortality. They live, on average, 140 years, if not killed first. The time other cultures devote to religion, they devote to a mixture of group sorcerous rites and to maintenance of their magical items and technology.

Allies: Caladraland, Heortland. Enemies: Esrolia, Righteous Duchy of Maniria

Heortland (Hendreiki Lands)

Heort! Son of Damdrev the Horned and Red Drenyan! Heort! Of the Deer Folk Clan of the Vingotking Clans! Heort, who entered the Darkness and found Hengall and learned the secret of the Star Heart! Heort! Who won the I Fought We Won Battle and brought back hope! Heort! Who united the Eastern Vingotkings! Heort! Friend to Tukutu and ally to Ezkankeko, the One and Only Old One! Heort! Who lead the Army of the Man Rune at the Unity Battle! Heort! Who rediscovered secrets of Orlanth! Heort! Who brought back the Lawstaff and taught us to live under Orlanth's laws! Heort! Who divided the Clans by the Secret of Three: War, Balanced, and Peace! Heort! Who led the Unity Council that brought light to the world when the Sun returned! Heort! To whose greatness we all aspire!

Fractious, proud, and great, the Heortlings have squabbled endlessly with each other, the Esrolians, the sea folk, the trolls, the dwarves, each other, the elves, the Beastmen, God Forgot, various invaders, Tusk riders, each other, each other's pets, their herds, other people's herds, Praxians, dirt, the sky, the Sun, the Lunars, the EWF, the God-Machine Cult, the God-Learners, those Pamaltan crazy elves, more Trolls, the Kitori, dragons, dragonnewts, trees, random winds, lack of wind, each other, imaginary sea people, Sheng Seleris, Kralorelans, Pentans, more Praxians, the Esruvlians, and the Ducks. This has left them vulnerable to conquest many times, including paying tribute to Ezkankekko, being conquered by the Empire of Wyrm's Friends, a brief period of rule by bird-riding women they try to pretend never happened, a period of God-Learner invasion, rule by the Esruvlians and something never spoken of to outsiders at all. Do not ask.

They have often ruled the Esruvlians to their south and have largely ruled Esruvlia since the fall of the God-Learners. After the fall of the God-Learners, the Orlanthi clans ruled the countryside, Malkionists ruled the cities and there was an uneasy balance. The God-King slew King Andrin in the early 1300s and many clans fled north into Dragon Pass to escape. When Belintar returned Andrin to life, he restructured the land so that the Malkionist areas were ruled by royally appointed nobles and sheriffs. Northern Heortland, where the Hendreiki lived, remained traditionally Orlanthi. Gradually, the Malkioni outnumbered the Orlanthi more and more and took more and more power over their own region. But while Belintar lived, he kept them in check.

But when Belintar died, Seshnelans arrived and led a Malkionist revolt and now the country is broken in two and the south ruled by Duke Richard and the north by King Broyan. Further, the Lunars are trying to conquer the country and the Sundomers raid it without mercy. The Heortlanders return the favor, of course.

Heortland is a classically Orlanthi culture; the regions which changed are now in the hands of Duke Richard, who is hated in Heortland as a foreign invader who leads traitors. The Lunars are hated but those who followed him are MORE hated. King Broyan is a sturdy, experienced warrior and a powerful initiate of Orlanth and Elmal. He has given refuge to Starbrow and her followers.

Each clan has a small number of Weaponthanes and a larger fyrd they can call out to fight, but only the thanes can fight year round; the fyrd is hard to keep in the field during Sea Season when it needs to plant and Earth season, when it needs to harvest. This is a huge problem in the face of Seshnelan-style knights and the Lunar Army. A typical clan can field 20 Thanes and 200 fyrd; a typical tribe can field 180 thanes and 1800 fyrd. In theory, Heortland could put 3,600 thanes in the field and 36,000 fyrd. In practice, if you assembled every clan together, your army would probably slaughter each other and trolls, broo, etc, would descend on all the defenseless steads and eat everyone. Heortlanders are much better at small-scale to medium-scale raiding and that's a serious problem for them right now.

Allies: Balmyr Tribe of Sartar, Esrolia, Troll Wood Trolls Enemies: Lunars, Sundomers

Righteous Duchy of Maniria (formerly Heortland, known also as Esruvlia)

The destruction of Danmalstan during the Great Darkness forced many Malkioni to flee to distant lands; several small colonies survived the darkness in this land, though surrounded by Orlanth worshipers, the Heortlings. A struggle between them ensued; the Malkioni came to take the name Esruvlians, and sometimes fell under Orlanthi rule. They created their Aeolian Church, which blended aspects of Orlanthi and Malkioni practices.

The coming of the God-Learners tipped the balance in favor of the Esruvli, who ruled under the God-Learners. After the fall of the God-Learners, the Orlanthi clans ruled the countryside, Malkionists ruled the cities and there was an uneasy balance. The God-King slew King Andrin in the early 1300s and many clans fled north into Dragon Pass to escape. When Belintar returned Andrin to life, he restructured the land so that the Malkionist areas were ruled by royally appointed nobles and sheriffs. Northern Heortland, where the Hendreiki lived, remained traditionally Orlanthi. Gradually, the Malkioni outnumbered the Orlanthi more and more and took more and more power over their own region. But while Belintar lived, he kept them in check.

But when Belintar died, Seshnelans arrived and led a Malkionist revolt and now the country is broken in two and the south ruled by Duke Richard and the north by King Broyan. The imposition of the Rokari church doesn't sit too well with the Malkioni or the Orlanthi, though the Esruvlians learned long ago to adapt to their environment. The Esruvlians say, Survival trumps clinging to past ideas, for the dead have no ideas. Most of the Malkioni are Aeolians, or would be if allowed to do it their way.

In theory, if you assembled *all* the knights and their followers, you could field 450 knights, 1,000 light cavalry, about 1,000 priests, wizards, holy warriors and other oddballs, 15,000 heavy infantry (pikemen with shields), 15,000 archers, 10,000 light infantry with spears, and 5,000 mercenaries, funded by the cities - 2500 medium infantry and 2500 archers. The odds of assembling *all* of those are pretty low and would strip the defenses of the borders and then Praxians, trolls, more trolls, sea monsters, heretics, rioting peasants and the like would run amok.

Shadow Plateau

Once Ezkankekko, the Only Old One, son of Argan Argar and Esrolia, ruled here from his Castle of Lead and the City of Black Glass, which Argan Argar forced Lodril to build; now he is dead, long dead, slain by Belintar. But with Belintar fallen, some believe he may return from the grave to save the Holy Country. Or eat it. Or maybe some of both. As it stands, the land is always in shadow, even in full sunlight, and trolls and monsters of the Darkness roam the land and live inside the plateau in scattered bands.

Troll Woods Trolls

Once the trolls of this forest, allied with the Darkness rune-masters of the Kitori ruled a huge swathe of this area. But King Tarkalor Troll-Slayer of Sartar crushed the trolls and the Kitori and now they hide inside their forest, hemmed in by their neighbors. In recent years, they had aided the Heortlanders against the take-over by Duke Richard of the Righteous Duchy of Maniria. What is left of the Kitori and the Trolls live together in the forest, greatly shrunken in numbers.

An ancient Mistress Race troll, Cragspider the Firewitch, and her family rule from the Great Troll Delving, an underground fortress where the Trolls grow fungus, mine lead, and hide from the sun. It connects to tunnels with secret exits they use to raid into Prax; there are great Temples here to the troll gods and goddesses. Cragspider is incredibly ancient and possibly of divine descent. She long ago performed the Heroquest that ensured any Trollkin birth would come as an entire litter and not just one. She also is rumored to command Fire magics and a Dream Dragon of Darkness.

Allies: Heortland, Kitori, Taralas Elves, Shadow Plateau Trolls Enemies: Beast Valley, Prax, Righteous Duchy of Maniria

[Back to Main Geography Page]?