The County of Belskin, The Sword Coast, and the Isles of the Red Men
[The County of Belskin, The Sword Coast, and the Isles of the Red Men]
This area was heavily damaged by the Luatha, who devastated Seshnela during the final fall of the Middle Sea Empire. Much of the Sword Coast was laid waste and it is occupied only by small groups who hold onto traditional contracts with the County of Belskin, a Dwarven nation. Monsters now occupy the Haunted Forest and roam the Sword Coast.
The County of Belskin
- "Theophilus", Rokari Preacher: The Mostali are all going to burn in the hells, but these are *insane* Mostali and best avoided. Unless you need iron badly.
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: Fascinatingly strange; it looks like what happened to the Ducks is now happening to them. They are of course welcome in the Open City, especially their iron. I'll admit I'd like to meet one, if we can be sure they're not mentally infectious.
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: The best Dwarves you will ever meet. We need to find a way to open trade with them.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: They only trade with Seshnela a little and the Sword Coast a lot, but they are interesting to visit and at times, they will trade other things than iron. Something odd is definitely going on here.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: Something strange is going on here, and unless you *really* need iron, my instincts say to avoid it.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: You can't reach it by sea, so I have never visited it. But I hear they have very formidable defenses, and I suspect it's all an act, even if I'm not sure what it gets them.
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : The best dwarves you will ever meet, throwing wild balls, hunting monsters underground, riding around on pigs with lances... They're crazy but it's a fun crazy and well worth visiting. No sexy women but plenty of battles and loot and *no Lunars*.
This was once a fairly normal Dwarven stronghold which had signed deals with the rulers of certain towns in western Seshnela to supply them with iron on a regular basis. The Devastation of the Sword Coast did not void these contracts and they still make regular deliveries to the locations in return for various raw materials. They engage in limited trade with the Kingdom of Seshnela as well.
However, cut off from any central leadership with the vanishing of the Nidian Decamony, they seem to have gone a little crazy. They now all have noble titles and act, at least around humans, like they are chivalrous knights who just happen to make things all the time. It's unclear if this is an act for their customers or they really believe it.
Count Belskin presides over what used to be Iron Mountains Settlement One; he wears a big white hat with feathers stuck into it and a sword on his hip; his heraldic symbol is an iron sword crossed with a forge hammer in black on gold. He is loud and flamboyant and prone to grand statements and hard bargaining. His willingness to haggle is the biggest clue something has gone wrong.
- Castle Belskan (70,000): This is a triple ring castle with a vast underground complex, high on a mountain slope, nearly two miles above sea level. Ice-Capped Mountain #28 rises another four miles above the castle. Favored visitors are brought up to the castle in a giant mechanically moved tower. The rest get to climb switch-back roads to reach it. The quarters for humans are adequate but unless you have a long-term contract, bring your own food or you get to eat dwarf food and no one wants that. No one has ever stormed this castle since its construction early in the Third Age. (The original settlement was largely underground and faced a God-Learner siege successfully). The castle walls bristle with Dwarven Tube Weapons.
- Great Castle (20,000): This is a double-ring castle built by the God-Learners, full of odd devices of their invention; even the Dwarves are not sure what everything does. When the Middle Sea Empire fell, the Dwarves tunneled in and stormed the castle. It is known to be linked by both Black Road and tunnel to the capital. Most of the time, shipments owed to the Sword Coast states and payments made by them are exchanged here.
The Haunted Forest
- "Theophilus", Rokari Preacher: A hideously evil place, demonstrating why Krjalki cannot be trusted.
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: A demonstration of the power of the Mostali. A *hideous* demonstration. Unlike most places, its residents are not welcome in the Open City; we don't need to buy fear.
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: One day, we will have to defeat the monsters and heal this land, but for now, it must remain other people's problem, much as I hate to say that. If you can cleanse it, I salute you.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: The bold can gain great treasure; anyone else will likely run screaming into a monster's mouth.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: Too dangerous to be worth it.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: You can gain impressive treasure, but anyone weaker minded than Gunda or I will basically snap and then be eaten by a monster.
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : Don't go here unless you are very tough of mind and body. I had an interesting adventure, but it's incredibly dangerous, even for me. Also, some of your loot may be God-Learner-Tainted, and having to destroy your loot is annoying.
Languen was the center of God-Learner efforts to seize the Iron Mountains and its iron. When their empire began to collapse, the Dwarves built a giant mechanical bird, flew over the city and dropped a metal cylinder which was 200 feet long and 20 feet wide. It exploded, spraying a purple gas over the area. Everyone went mad with fear and died of fright or killed each other for fear the other would strike first. The gas spread over a huge area and then it turned out it was somehow infectious, so those who fled carried the fear with them. If divinations of the time are true, the Dwarves spent a century making this weapon, but everyone fears they have another in reserve.
The land became so stained with terror that everyone fled and trees grew over it; then monsters made of fear began to appear. They cannot leave the forest and in recent years, Seshnelan magic has pushed them back deeper into the forest. Few are brave enough to enter, but it is said great treasures lie around abandoned for those brave enough to reach them and strong enough to survive the monsters.
- Purple Winds: Clouds of fear gas still drift through the area, dozens of feet across, causing people to be overcome with horror to the point of homocidal mania or absolute terror. It is hard to affect them with Air magics, according to surviving heroes.
- Ruins of Buefor: This was once a flourishing, productive city, until Languen was destroyed; refugees flooded into the city, bringing the fear with them. Monsters stalked the night and the people fled. But now the danger was known and they were turned back to become feral homocidal bands of killers or to die of terror. Ghosts roam the streets and ancient cathedrals slowly crumble; even plants fear to grow into this city. Feral ghoul bands, roam the ruins, desperate for flesh, protecting ancient treasures left behind.
- Ruins of Languen: Nothing lives in Languen but the dead roam as ghosts, zombies, ghouls, and skeletons. Purple Winds and Terror Mirrors and far worse can be found. The center of the city is levelled but the outer fringes survive; many God-Learner books and devices are still to be found if you can survive.
- Terror Mirrors: These creatures shapeshift into the form of whatever you most fear, then chase you until you collapse and eat you. They generally try to pick off people on their own because they often struggle to keep a consistent shape in the presence of multiple foes.
The Isles of the Red Men
- "Theophilus", Rokari Preacher: I am pretty sure they are Vadeli and if they are not, they are still heretics who reject the Sharp Abiding Book. They must come to the true faith or burn. Do not deal with them, I can smell that the real cost is your soul.
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: I don't trust them, though they seem to follow the true path. They are too helpful to be true.
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: Misguided, but they mean well and do not follow the Ten Sins of Vadel. Many folk came out of Danmalstan who are not Vadeli. I don't think they are Vadeli any more than the Luatha; the Luatha are clearly hideously evil, and just as odd looking. I am willing to give them a chance.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: Brilliant traders, able to get anything; something odd is going on here, but I'm not sure if it's evil or they're just cunning.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: They must be touched by our Goddess in some way, but resist the Lunar Way. In the end, they will come to agree that We are all Us. And for now, they make good trading partners, but as with all business, watch your wallets.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: I tried to burn and pillage them and couldn't find their islands. Stupid magic. Cowardly bastards! FIGHT ME!
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : I had the most amazing time there, I think; it's hard to remember anything. Do not snort any purple powders, I can tell you that.
These islands didn't exist before the Closing. Now they do and they're full of humans who are red. Red like a tomato is red. They otherwise seem totally human with the normal abilities of humans.
The Red Men are Brithini. The Arolanit assert they are the filthy followers of the accursed Vadel. They assert they are merely faithful Brithini who only wish to help others with their trade. Many are wary of the Red Men and yet they have so much to offer and pay fairly for all they buy. They don't seem to act like Vadeli.
Thus, many deal with them warily, hoping they won't be left holding the bag. So far, no one seems to have been left holding the bag, but that just makes everyone more nervous. If you want it, they can get it for you. Special, unusual orders may be expensive but they can get it for you.
- Bin Gorol Harkant (25,000): There is a small trading station but most of this fortress-city is reserved for the Red Men; it seems to be a center for research into magics relating to animals, though, as the city is riddled with animals that do tasks from messenger birds to water-wheel pulling fish to talking dogs who assist the blind.
- Porath Shin Mogolotha (130,000): This city is vast and sprawling on a scale which few in Glorantha can easily comprehend. It appears to be thousands of years old with dozens of styles of architecture even though a few hundred years ago, it didn't exist. Mind you, the inhabitants claim to have always been here. There are no temples or shrines here, as the ways of Zzazabur are followed here, though unlike Arolanit, the Red Men seem utterly unconcerned that having foreigners around might disrupt their magic or practices. If you want to buy it, they have it for sale if you poke around enough. The City is most noted for the Hero Labryinth. Anyone may enter it and try to reach the center, facing magic, traps, and monsters. While they do so, a huge audience watches what's going on, shown in great mirrors around the city. Winners get potent treasures and wealth; most die for the amusement of the people. Condemned prisoners may also be sent in. The heart of the city is a mile-tall pillar of red stone, about 100 feet across. It is said that it acts as a beacon around the world to Red Men ships.
The Sword Coast
- "Theophilus", Rokari Preacher: Come to us; we can break the curse and bring you to the light. Your false faith cannot save you.
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: There comes a point where you should stop banging your head into the wall, then complaining there is a wall in the way of your head.
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: If we did not face the Kingdom of War, it would be our duty to help them. I am sure they could be brought to the light. I admire their courage and determination.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: Probably doomed, but in the meantime, they are good trading partners. A very stubborn people.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: My heart goes out to them; they are barely clinging to the land in the face of armies of monsters and a hideous curse. They should turn to the Red Goddess, who could break the curse. In the meantime, a great place to get iron as it's all they really have and they need many things.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: Tough minded people with nothing worth stealing. Except iron, I suppose. I don't deal in bulk metals, unless it's gold or silver.
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : I admire their determination and toughness. Lots of monsters to fight, but not much treasure. The women are okay, but not impressive.
The curse of the Luatha means nothing grows here that humans can digest. There are fir trees and grass and brambles and flowers but while you can raise cattle, you can't actually grow crops. Some people settle here anyway because it enables them to buy large amounts of iron from the Dwarves according to ancient contracts. Most cling close to their strongholds because tons of monsters roam the area, feeding off the deer which flock in profusion and off the herds. Many states claim a lot more land than they really can hold.
The locals are Malkioni, who follow the Sword Coast Malkionite Church, which has some saints only venerated here. The Sword Coast Malkionites also commit a lot of heresies compared to outsiders. They are Hrestoli in their basic approach, believing in a loose caste system where membership conveys certain rights and duties; adhering to those duties guarantees Solace after death and the Joy of the Heart during weekly church services on Godsday. Four saints are prominent here:
- Saint Froalar: Patron saint of Ranchers. Froalar recognized that the differing conditions of the Sword Coast forced major changes in the way the people lived and ensured their survival by the shift to ranching.
- Saint Goery: The wife of Froalar, she is the patron of the Wise; she encourages the use of magic to aid the community, not personal gain.
- Saint Martin: Normally considered one of Dromal's many sons, he is considered the broad patron of craftsmen and the craft caste in the Sword Coast.
- Saint Yves: Manservant to Saint Froalar, he was a gentleman's gentleman and encourages the servant caste to take pride in surviving in one of the most dangerous regions of Glorantha, while still being loyal to their bosses.
The highest caste is the Rancher Caste; they make war, lead the community and protect and tend the herds. They actually make up a majority of the population. Under them is the Caste of the Wise: sorcerors and priests, who use magic to help the community. They are the smallest caste. Under them are the Crafters, who use their skills to make things. And at the bottom are the Servants, the lowly who work for a living without any herds or magic or craft skills. They can leave this group by obtaining one of the above. Women are the same as men in terms of caste membership; this drives the Rokari crazy.
What defines the Sword Coast is a combination of belief they are the toughest people on Glorantha combined with a deep despising of the Kingdom of Seshnela AND a deep fear of it. They are proud of their independence and have repelled past efforts at conquest. But Seshnela is very powerful now and they have issues with food in good times. Whether they can keep their independence is an open question.
There is talk of a league but how to organize it remains an open question.
- Fuches (1,500): This small kingdom controls the main land access route to get iron, so it makes a lot of money off other states coming to get their iron. Every state pays it a small fee also to help pay for constant prayers which drive back the fearful things of the Haunted Forest. Shrines dot the river it stands on, with constant prayer to hold back the forest's terrible power.
- Ruins of Jeumont: This ancient Middle Sea Empire city was once home to 40,000 people and now it's half destroyed by nature and the rest is merely buried in trees, vines, shrubs, and other growth. Aldryami stalk the ruins, ensuring it stays overgrown and destroying anything God-Learner related which turns up. Many think the old university vaults may be intact though, but no one has found them yet.
- Orenjise (6,000): This is the largest community on the Sword Coast, made possible by importing armies of food from outside and raising as many cows as they can get away with. If the Dwarven Contracts allowed unlimited iron sales, this would probably be the only settlement on the Sword Coast except for the really stubborn. As it stands, everyone has to come to Great Castle or sail up the river here to get Iron, enabling Orenjise to charge a toll which lets them buy more food. Orenjise is calling loudly for a league because it knows it is the easiest target for the Seshnelans.
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