Apr 30, 2013

The Book of Zargo Zar the Sage

One of the artifacts that the archivists at Parn Tandalorn are most keenly interested in locating, and one which has so far totally eluded magical location attempts, is an ancient book of spells and lore concerning the Elemental Gods, by an Old One scholar named Zargo Zar the Sage.

The book was written by a wizened academic over many, many years.  It reads like a chronicle, but at times is hard to follow, because over the time it was being written, Zargo Zar was slowly going mad.  It details the growth of the Old Ones, hints at their origins (created by a forgotten entity, that the Sage refers to as "the Spirit of Man") and also the fascination that so many of them had with the Elemental Gods.

The few excerpts that have survived discuss spells to summon servitors of the Elemental Gods, and also spells to ward off them.  More often, these are referred to in carvings and remnants that are found in other Old One artifacts and documents.  One of the things that supposedly exists is the Lay of Ba'a Zarn - which is an epic poem talking about how Ba'a Zarn, the Builder, battled a powerful entity allied with the Earth Weaver.  The entity was named Corruption, and supposedly it was not able to be slain, but it was trapped, beneath the Great River.  The Archivists at Parn Tandalorn have debated, for many decades (centuries) whether this was figurative, or if the Great River (which was constructed by Ba'a Zarn the Builder) was really built as a prison for Corruption.  Without the book it is hard to know.

Another portion of the book, that supposedly survived, is the Sage talking about the Lord of Fire and his minions.  This has been mentioned, in (presumed) heiroglyphs carved on a tablet embedded into the side of the Altar of the Old Ones (in the far south of Bartaloo region), so although not much is known about the construction of Altar, the Book of Zargo Zar either was in existence before the Altar was built, or came about at around the same time.

Locating the book, or even part of it - excerpts, spells, poems - would make for an admirable gift to the Archivists, but it also might help to save the world.  The ancient book, the Earnish-Amantic has a number of items in it relating to the Lady of the Air (another of the Elemental gods).  These are all taken from, and reference, the book of Zargo Zar.

Lands to the East - Ying, land of Sorcerers

Ying is the name often referring to area to the east of the Valley.  It is actually a vast ocean, that the Great River flows into, covered in Island Chains.

Precisely, Ying is the name of a seaborne empire that exists, ruling from the island Kelewan.  It is the Ancient Imperial House of Ying.  The empire is ruled by a succession of Sorcerers, descending from the original (Ying I) who subjugated a powerful fire elemental and stole his powers, many centuries ago.  The ancient Ying Empire was a contemporary of the Old Ones in the valley.  The grip of the empire over the subjected peoples is extremely tight, and with their ancient magic and their naval forces, this is easy to maintain.  Most of the peoples and nations that have been subjected and made part of the empire come from small island nations, and don't have the resources to stand up against a mighty empire.

One of the things that makes the Ying empire so strong, is of course, the strength of her navy.  The great ships of the Ying navy are constructed from the remains of the massive dragon turtles (larger than typical sized dragon turtles - much larger), using the shell for the hull.  Combined with magical construction techniques (like the forming of the shells through spellwork, and the imbuing of it with magical metals for strength), this makes for extremely tough, and excellently built, hulls.  Some of the ships, of course, last for centuries and centuries.  The oldest are from more than a thousand years ago.  Over time, the sorcerers that work with the vessels find it convenient to bind spirits and elemental beings to the hulls, so that they each eventually take on a personality and become alive.

The society and culture of the Ying empire is such that they are extremely scared of, and shun anything to do with the gods.  Their fear of the elemental gods was what kept them separate from the Old Ones, and their fear of the Three Goddesses, and their whole pantheon of demigods and saints, is what keeps them out of the Valley, and away from the culture of the Westron Baronies.  Still, there will occasionally be one of the massive Dragon-Turtle Ships from the Ying Empire that travels  westward on the Great River, sometimes reaching as far as Suuviz or the Shale March.

Apr 28, 2013

Xander One Eye - Captain of a band of Rogues and Bugbears

Xander One-Eye is the name of a leader of a band of marauders from out of the eastern reaches of the Tiazarr Forest, near the Tiazarr River, in the Wychwood Region.  These Marauders take advantage of the fact that much of the City of Ten Gates (capitol of Gorrem) does not hold much military power this far east, and the reputation of the Forests in the Wychwood Region keeps the Sun King Barbarians far south of here.

Xander takes his name from the fact that when he was a younger man, he took up the career of "Highwayman", and would regularly hold up carriages and travellers along the road from the City of the Ten Gates, down southeast, towards the City of Fire (capitol of the Barony of Lynch).  While a wagon train bearing some of the Baroness' Best beer out of Gorem was traveling the road between the Plum Woods and the Belley Woods, the train made its way through the Greenapple Commonwealth.  While stopped at one of the small towns there, to trade some of the award winning beer to the Halflings that live there, Xander stowed away on one of the wagons.  As the wagon was leaving town, he climbed out and told the driver to "Stand and Deliver".  Well, the driver was none other than a pair of Halfling drovers, from the Commonwealth, and the watchman had been peeling some apples with a small paring knife, and sharing them with the wagon driver.  Well, Halflings being deadly accurate with thrown weapons, it wasn't long before the startled fellow flung his knife, and Xander lost his eye.  He continually tells the story to keep up both his reputation as a brigand with a sense of humor, and also as a self reminder towards humility, and not to take ANYONE as not being a threat.

Brigands of Xander One Eye

These days, Xander as a 9th level thief, has built himself a nice stronghold in the dark confines of the Tiazarr woods amongst the Wychwood trees (for which the region takes its name), and has attracted quite a following.  The main part of his gang, are some 30-40 human brigands (about half of them fighters, and half of them thieves).  Along with that, however, he has impressed a band of Bugbears into joining in his gang.  These shelter separately from the human Brigands, and answer to a Bugbear chieftain named Arpus Ard, who counts himself as one of Xander's lieutenants.  Arpus Ard has mustered a few dozen Bugbears to join the gang of Xander.
Arpus Ard and his sergeant
Here is a map of the region, showing the many forested areas of Wychwood, between Gorrem (and the City of Ten Gates) and the Tiazarr River.

Apr 26, 2013

Wiifandra- Old One Mistress of Ba'a Zarn the Builder

A little known figure from the era of the Old Ones is that of the mistress of the last king of the old ones, Wiifandra.

From the sketchy accounts that still survive, and those that have been pieced together by the Archivists at Parn Tandalorn - mostly from surviving images and translated texts inside ruined sites of the Old Ones, it appears that Wiifandra was imbued with great magic powers, but that she sometimes disagreed with her consort, Ba'a Zarn the Builder, especially on matters concerning the Elemental gods.

Images that have survived that depict Wiifandra, depict her in one of two ways.  Within Old One sites, she is shown riding in a very large chariot (befitting her large size, as of all the Old One race), and it is being pulled by two gargantuan cats, similar (and probably the same) as the great plains cats (of the Shattered Plains) that are allied with, and ridden by, the Aublan Cat Riders.

The Archivists at Parn Tandalorn have surmised that one of the reasons for Ba'a Zarn to have build the King's Highway, was for the purpose of Wiifandra, and others of his clan, to be able to ride their chariots up and down the length of the Valley.

The other depiction of Wiifandra, is that of a powerful sorceress, aiding the Shagmen of the Darkearth Plains against the coming of the Storm King Barbarians.  These images are amongst the oldest of the surviving images in old settlements, and the barrow mounds of Jarls, among the Storm King Barbarians.  In such images, she is shown assisting the Shagmen against the Storm King Barbarians.  Curiously, in the images, the Shagmen are often depicted as being more sophisticated and advanced than they appear today.  In modern times (approximately 1500 W.M.) the Shagmen are quite primitive, much like our modern concept of a Neanderthal man.  And yet in the imagery that survives, they are depicted as tool users empoying quite sophisticated weapons and armor.  This may have been an attempt by the early Storm King Barbarian Skalds to show their enemies as being more powerful and advanced than they actually were; or the Skalds might not have been present at the battles, and only drew warriors in the way they were familiar; or (most intriguingly) something might have happened to the Shagmen from those earliest times, almost two millenia ago, when Wiifandra first fought for them, and then she disappeared (shortly after the disappearance of the other Old Ones).
Wiifandra, helping the Shagmen (right) against the Storm King Barbarians (left)
 It is rumored that as the advances of the Storm King Barbarians grew more and more intense, with their fleets of dragonships coming out of the north, down the various rivers out of the Destriel Mountains (especially the Greywater), that the Shagmen were beaten back.  A single lone strong point survived, and this was around the cliff-side Solitude of Aether - the last home that Wiifandra used before departing the Valley.  It was located along the southern shoreline of the Great River, as it passed next to the Jazzan Mountains, under the Falls of Arning.  There was a transplanted colony of Shagmen living in caves near the River, and they served and worshipped Wiifandra.
The Solitude of Aether, along the southern shoreline of the Great River
When Wiifandra departed, many of her loyal Shagmen departed with her, and the rest were changed in some way.  Some Archivists claim that they became the Shagmen we know of today, in order to hide the memories of Wiifandra and her magic, others say that those located at the Solitude of Aether were changed into something else.

The biggest secret about Wiifandra, and where she departed from her consort, Ba'a Zarn, was that she was a completely devoted worshiper of the elemental god, The One Beneath the Waves.  She not only worshpped the sleeping god, but she used her considerable magic to create and contact followers of his, and also to imbue the knowledge into the Shagmen.  This is not known, currently, to the Archivists, or to anyone in the Valley.

When she left, some of the things that Wiifandra left behind, were a number of spells related to the worship of The One Beneath the Waves, as well as contacting and serving the servitor races of that elemental god.  Also, she left behind some of her personal magic items.  She left behind the Staff of Aether, the Bracers of Deep Knowledge, and the Tiara of Darkness.  The location of these is not known, but they are each of a powerful (artifact) level.  Many of her spells are assumed to be located in copies of the Book of Zargo Zar the Sage.

Apr 25, 2013

Veltin Crimsea - Demigoddess of the Red moon

Veltin Crimsea is one of the three daughters of the Goddess of Magic, Magenta.  As things are in the world of the Valley of the Old Ones, Veltin Crimsea is also one of the three moons of the world, the Red Moon.

She is referred to by many as simply the Red Lady, or the Demigoddess of the Red Moon.  She has a distinct position of being the only member of the pantheon of the Church of the Three Goddesses to have evil worshipers and also evil clergy (neutral evil).

Veltin Crimsea represents the wilder, more sadistic, aspect of magic.  She is the aspect of the night, and of necromancy, and of seeing the value in having evil to balance the good.  Needless to say, the more prosaic of the clergy of the order of Veltin Crimsea have some problems with other members of the overall church, because of this position.  Her worshippers are sometimes open adherents of this order, and sometimes they are members of other branches of the church, drawn to the worship of Veltin Crimsea, as if it were forbidden fruit.

The more urbane parts of the order view their position as a relationship to the other two daughters of magic... The Demigoddess of the White Moon represents militant good, and the Demigoddess of the Golden Moon represents the alluring benefits of "light" magic.  Against these, Veltin Crimsea balances the White Moon with evil, and strong evil worshippers (although, they are balanced, neither favoring law nor chaos); she balances the Golden Moon with darkness and the magic of the night.

The more wilder, some would say "purer" parts of the order view their position as this - the strongest daughter of Magenta - the one that is due to take over as the next Goddess of Magic - is Veltin Crimsea.  She should therefor be above her two sisters, and in dark places it is even whispered that she should be above Magenta herself.

Organized clergy of this order of the church do not have their own Cathedral, and barely have their own bureaucracy.  They often exist in places where general clergy of the church exist, such as at Narn, and in some others of the larger Baronial cities.  When they must be, they are funded by the Magenta branch of the church.

In secret, however, there is a wide variety of Red Lady cultists.  Often, remote gatherings, called Clutches, are ruled by a trio - two women (one old, one young) and a male who has become a sort of werebat.  The famous poem, by Uin Dagavart, called "The Red Moon" has the opening stanza,
All of them bound up tight in the clutch;
Ruled by the crone, the maid and the bat.
Evil has wrought, tho' welcome by such;
Those who hate this, and this who hates that.

 The followers are typically drawn to the wilder aspect of Veltin Crimsea, and they are often organized into bands of thugs, intent on thwarting those who work great works in the name of good.  The Paladins of the White Lady are a particular foe.

Rites are typically performed under the red moon, but are to be shunned when the white or gold are ascendent.  Talk of witches' cauldrons, and drinking the blood of innocents, is MOSTLY the rambling of peasants, and stories intended to scare children.

If there is a single place of power for the followers of the Red Moon, it would have to be the valley along the Two-Moon River.  However, strongholds of thugs and clutches can be found in many remote locations - bogs and fens, dark gnarled forests, and the solitary wind-ripped rocky peaks of mountains.

Apr 24, 2013

Barony of Ungams - And the City of Harp

In the Nightside Region, there is a barony, one of the younger, southern Baronies, settled only a short 600 years ago.  It is currently ruled by Baron Virondis Pulchky, also known as the Music Baron, from the City of Harp.

The capitol city of Ungams is an interesting place, as it contains some very fascinating locations, and also because of where it is located in the Valley.

It is near the Nell Nod forest, and all of the different threats that come out of there, and it is also located near the edge of influence of the Sun King Tribes.  In the plains around the Barony, the Khozaki people dwell, with their great herds of riding lizards, the Fethta.

Along the edge of the Nell Nod Forest, the Temple of Light was built by Padre Kelvin, in the year 603, about three hundred years before the establishment of the City.  At that time, there were only scant and dispersed settlers in the region, often living in fortified hillforts, or they were purely nomadic.  At this time, the Westroners in the area were in a state of constant strife with the Khozaki people, and it often turned into violent raids and small scale warfare between settlements and nomdic groups of the two cultures.  The only thing that brought them together was horrific Mass Frenzy of the Sun King barbarians in the 8th century.

Within the city is the great Cathedral to Saint Horace, called the Stone of Life.  The Cathedral is itself built as a series of tiered semi-circles, the front (outer edge of the circle) of all of them forming a smooth face to the front, forming the face of the Cathedral.  This face is decorated in the typical fashion of Westron Cathedrals - lots of fluted and decorative pillars; stained glass windows; gargoyles along the various levels of roofs and balconies.  The top of the Cathedral, along the front outer edge, has multiple towers and steeples, all topped with gargoyles.  Most of the gargoyles of the Stone of Life Cathedral have the faces of Animals, rather than devils or grotesques.  The back of the cathedral, is as mentioned, a set of tiered steps - 8 stories high - and each story having an open semi-circular balcony.  At the center of a circle that the semi-circle building would form, there is a flat green park, with radial walks covered in decorative white pea gravel.  At the center of the radial works - the center of the park - there is a rising white obelisk coming out of the ground.  All up and down the obelisk are carvings of the various different types of animals (non-magical) of the Valley.  Every point of the semi-circular building is equidistant from the Obelisk.  The Stone of Life, as it is called, is key to the worship services of the Order of St. Horace.

One of the domes at the top of the Palace of Seven Harmonies

The seat of power is the Palace of Seven Harmonies.  This is at the heart of the City, on the tallest of the five Harp Hills that make up the base for the city.  The center hill, called Oldoon, has the Palace built on top of it.  The Harp Hills are what give the name of "City of Harp" to the capitol.  Underneath the hill of Oldoon, however, exist the Dungeons of Suel Sonas.  Suel Sonas was a vizier, then an official title in the City of Harp, in the first century after the founding of the Barony.  It was thought that the growth of the Barony would be enhanced if there was a place to put convicted criminals, including those that practiced crime out among the nomads and settlers.  So, Suel commissioned a group of Dwarves to come and build the underground penal site.  The dungeons were named for him, and although he passed away several years before the dungeon was completed, still it was named for him.

The current ruler, Virondis Pulchky, is 8th regent of the city and the barony to hail from the Aeryfell family.  Within family tradition, each new generational member, and especially those who are considered for the Throne in Ungams, must exhibit some musical talent.   Baron Pulchky, when he came to the throne, was already an accomplished player of the large Hawm flute.  He had done a number of compositions, and his playing is most excellent.  He continues, as Baron, to play whenever possible.  He, more so than any of the early Aeryfell barons or baronesses, patronize the musical arts.

Apr 23, 2013

Tears of Heaven - Enchanted lakes in the Destriel Mountains

Far in the northeast part of the Valley, in the Destriel Mountains, there exist a series of interconnected lakes, known as the Tears of Heaven.

The name, and source, of these lakes remains quite mysterious.  At the center of each lake, there is a spout of water, pouring down out of the heavens, that fills the lakes.  Because of this pouring and the splashing and diffusion of the water vapor, the whole region is constantly in dense fog.  The countryside immediately surrounding the lakes is also home to immense plant growth, and very thick forests consisting of the very tall, Cloudhome Trees, exist in a thin wall around each lake.  These dense forested areas are only half a mile thick, at most points, around the Tears.

The region around the Tears is giant country.  This includes the peaks and slopes of the Destriel Mountains, and all along the valley floors where the Tears themselves are located.  There are several species of Giant to be found here, and even among the same species (for instance, Hill Giants), there are competing groups under different leaders, who constantly make war on each other, as well as making the immediate area quite dangerous for travelers and adventurers, who might be seeking the secret of the Tears of Heaven, or one of the many Old One sites in the surrounding mountains.

Apr 22, 2013

St. Jaspar - Patron Saint of Strength and Rocks

St. Jaspar is a member of the constellation of minor dieties and apotheosized saints that make up the Nadene branch of the Church of Three Goddesses.  In this case, St. Jaspar is the patron saint of Strength and Rocks.

St Jaspar began life as Jaspar Wilderman.  He was a fighter in the service of the Archduke of Scallen, back in the early 280s, when Scallen was the capitol of the Kingdom of Ymnaris.  Jaspar was a captain of a company (100 men) of halberdiers, serving by patrolling the Pellet Water river, and also the Falcon Woods.

While on patrol, he once encountered a strange scene, while separated from his men.  He was traveling with half of the company of halberdiers, tracking a raiding party of Bugbears out of the Falcon Woods, and was separated from his men early one morning.  While he waited for the half company to reform, he was searching an area around a gorge of water.  The water was welling up out of the ground, and filled a small natural rocky basin, before running of in the light woods as a tiny stream.  He came across a young goatherd girl, sitting by the gorge, and tending to a mother goat and her young.  The young girl looked up to see Jaspar coming across the clearing towards the gorge, when a band of Bugbears, led by a berserking Minotaur, came out of the woods and charged the young girl.  Jaspar sprang into action, but only had his hunting knife and a short sword with him.  He immediately charged the Minotaur and grappled with it, stabbing again and again.  The Bugbears were amazed, and stood down to watch the fight, and see how their monstrous leader would fare against this brave soldier.  The girl gathered up the goat yearlings, and retreated to the base of a big tree, just outside the clearing of the gorge.  Finally, Jaspar succeeded in killing the Minotaur, and the band of Bugbears would have charged the fatigued hero, except at that point, a patrol of the halberdiers arrived on the spot, and gave good sport to the Bugbears.  They were soon killed or routed, and the soldiers in hot pursuit.  Jaspar bound a gash on his arm as best he could, and then immediately looked after the girl, to see if she were okay.

That was when the girl revealed herself as the goddess Nadene, the goddess of fertility.  She thanked Jaspar for his bravery, and immediately gifted him with immortality, and great strength, and told him that the stones where he stood would be the basis for his power.  And so, Jaspar Wildeman became St. Jaspar, patron saint of strength and rocks and the earth.

Over time, the great strength of St. Jaspar began to reveal itself, in lots of fantastic feat.  Also, the sages and mystics of the age realized that had become something more than human through his encounter with Nadene.  There were those who began to pay homage, and to worship the relationship between the saint and the goddess. Over time, this grew into the young version of the Order of St. Jaspar.  A home for the order was needed, and the fantastic stone formation at the heart of the City of Shadows, the capitol of the newly formed Barony of Henn, was chosen as the site for this. Work began, on the Cathedral at Earthroot, and it grew over the centuries.  All of it is constructed of stone, and much of it is carved directly out of the great formation itself.  Much of the traditional ritual within the Order of St. Jaspar involves self meditation, and the only communal acts are the playing of slow reflective music, on stone instruments (flutes, mostly, but also a strange sort of xylophone type instrument), and the recitation of ethical oaths of behavior.  Because of the solitary nature of the order, much of the cathedral is given over to individual cells, and small meditation rooms. Much of the meditation has to do with the Way of Stone, which involves the great mystery, of how is stone alive?

The order attracts those from all walks of life, but it has a special appeal for those who make their labor in life through working the earth, especially in trades that require great amounts of physical strength.  This includes masons, stone carvers, miners and even some farmers.  Because of the background of Jaspar Wilderman, and his simple story of courage being rewarded, the order also appeals to warriors and soldiers in no small numbers.  There are even a number of Dwarves and Gnomes in the mix, from those communities where they have taken to following the Church of the Three Goddesses.

 The clergy of the order includes both men and women, although men predominate.  Both are viewed as equal, however.  Strength and acts of strength are seen as gifts from St. Jaspar, and the path from novitiate to full priest is full of different stages of exhibiting personal strength - usually physical strength, but also strength of mind and strength of character.  Outside the single largest concentration of the Cathedral at Earthroot, there are a number of churches and community halls dedicated to St. Jaspar.  There are also a large number of hermitages and abbeys.  Living in community, isolated from the world, is very appealing to the men and women who are attracted to the Order.  Typically, clergy wear white robes, trimmed in geometric shapes of some color or other, reflecting the church or community they are associated with.

A school of clerics, who are not only encouraged to move out among the peoples of the valley, but who also regularly take up arms against evil and injustice, exists.  It is from this school, the way of the wandering stone, that the Brothers and Sisters of the Wandering Stone come from, and also where most clerics (in the sense of the adventuring class) will come from.  The monastic branches of the order will refer to these as the Rolling Stones, and these wanderers (who also, in their way, dedicate their life to understanding the mysterious Way of Stone, but through the application of force to right wrong and thwart injustice) will refer to their monastic brothers and sisters as Mossbacks.

Apr 20, 2013

Current (1534 WM) Regents of the Westron Baronies

In the current era of the Valley (year 1534 since the Westerner Migrations first began out of the Olmart Empire, so it is marked 1534WM), each of the various Baronies is ruled over by a regent of some sort.  Most of these are Barons, at least in the nomenclature of the Kingdom of Ymnaris.  The Kingdom was first established, in the year 26 when the First City was settled (now often called Hogle).  The capitol of the Kingdom moved progressively eastward with successive generations and waves of migration.  Each of the four fiefdoms that originally housed a capitol city of Ymnaris is entitled to the title Duke for their ruler, however they are still commonly referred to as Baronies.  Up until the Neill family assumed the throne of the Kingdom of Ymnaris, several generations back. the ruler of the kingdom was referred to as the Archduke, however with the growing separation from the Olmart Empire, this title was dropped, and the title of King (or Queen) has been in use now, by the Neills at least, for the past 352 years (since year 1182).

Rulers of the Westron Baronies
Hogle - Duke Keevar Silverhand (m, age 54), settled year 26. Capitol of Kingdom of Ymnaris from the year 26 until 165.
Macester - Baron Tyremius Ap Troft of Trofthall (m, age 162), settled year 82.
Ockham - Baron Guiscar the Enlightened (m, age 47), settled year 107.
Scallen - Duchess Safeeny Everlight (f, age 53), settled year 163. Capitol of Kingdom of Ymnaris from 165 until 341.
Kof Karn - Baroness Talena Ap Ironheart (f, age 31), settled year 219.
Khomaes - Baron Aldra Ap Iaggio of Erthos (m, age 59), settled year 231.  The city itself is ruled by a Proctor.
Henn - Baroness Lendara Astern (f, age 32), settled year 285.
Pellorix - Duke Falden the Just (m, age 51), settled year 341. Capitol of Kingdom of Ymnaris from 341 until 642.
Werms - Baron Kilgar Ap Huim, Ne Etro (m, age 45), settled year 352. The city itself is ruled by a Magistrate, typically a magic user (currently, a mysterious hooded person titled the Wizard of Werms).
Huygen - Baroness G'Melan Luce Ap Viellot (f, age 33), settld year 394.
Gorrem - Baroness Catherine Ap Terrasund of Tatelis, also called The Second (f, age 49), settled year 462.
Na Kram - Baron Farris Quar Nev of Borleos (m, age 73), settled year 558.
Lynch - Duchess Tindra Ap Logis of Oakforge (f, age 40), settled year 642. Capitol of Kingdom of Ymnaris from 642 until 1021.
Botts - Baron Pesar Ap Gansford of Tuldis (m, age 51), settled year 728
Ungams - Baron Virondis Pulchky (m, age 59) , settled year 902.
City of Narn - King (Archduke) Alasdair IV (m, age 37), settled year 914. Capitol of Kingdom of Ymnaris since 1021.
Devrie - Baron Huntain Dorren of Ymnar Hall, also called The Miner (m, age 51), settled year 1022.
Futtonol - Baron Rolan Ap Kopf of Kopfheim, settled year 1099.
Kennidor - Baron Hugh Voxely, of Lakecastle (m, age 39), settled year 1186.

A curious  event occurred just over four hundred years ago.  The gathering of Barons in the year 1015 had agreed that a new capitol for the Kingdom was needed, as the Tower-Keep of Oakforge (in the Barony of Lynch at the City of Fire) was under constant threat at the time by an army of chaos creatures out of the western Nel Nod forest.  The new location was to be the new settlement forming between the Erando and Moa Thola rivers, which would become the City of Shale, and capitol of the Barony of Devrie.  However, at the last, just before the Malachite Throne was to be transferred to the new site in 1021, a group of northern Barons made the case for transferring it to the city of Narn instead.  Narn was previously not considered, because it was built on the site of a long dead city, taking advantage of the ruins that were there already when the Westroners came in 914, however it was thought to be a safer location, than another capitol in the wild south, where the Sun King Barbarians still threatened all of the settlements and cities.

The new location, at Narn, satisfied most, except for the southern Barons from Gorrem, Lynch, and Ungams, who have referred to Narn as the Shadow Capitol, and refer to Devrie as the Chosen Capitol.  These tensions have spread to understandings and relations among the various eastern Baronies, but nothing has come to open war.  With the passage of three centuries, the original animosity that accompanied the founding of Devrie, and the change of the Capitol from Devrie to Narn, has been mostly forgotten, but the establishment of alliances (however tenuous the reasoning) between the different groups of Baronies, has proven a strong motivation for mutual support, and trade, ever since.

Apr 19, 2013

Quills of Barthemius - Curious Rocky Formation in the Lost Mare River

At the widest point of the Lost Mare river, where the Nightwash River joins it, running deep and fast down out of the Destriel Mountains, there is a most curious formation of stoney structures.  These are very tall (hundreds of feet) stony pillars, in the middle of the Lost Mare, called the Quills of Barthemius.  The Lost Mare is almost a mile wide at this point, and flows much slower than the Nightwash does, when its fast flowing and frigid waters come crashing into the Lost Mare.  At the base of Mount Estelle, where the Lost Mare flows out from under the Iore Glacier, there is a valley with numerous hot water springs, that not only feed into the Lost Mare, but have a warming effect on the waters, so that although it flows out of the icy heights of the Destriels, it is quite warm for a northern river.

Where the Lost Mare is met by the Nightwash, along a two mile long stretch, there are numerous of these tall stone pillars.  They are often about 400-500 feet tall, and 60 or 70 feet across at the base, narrowing little in their towering heights.  The pillars are thick in the river, and are too close together for all but the smallest craft to navigate through them.  There are channels to the west and east of the pillars where somewhat larger craft can navigate, but the river grows shallower there, so only barges and low draft longboats are often found here.  The space between the pillars is sometimes as narrow as 10 or 12 feet, sometimes as wide as 30 or 40 feet.

The tops of the pillars make for an interesting  There is a breed of curious eight legged goats known as Spider Goats that dwell there.  [gamer's note, these are not the monstrous fanged blood drinking Spider Goats that are found in the game, "Mutant Future", but they are interesting enough as they are].  The goats were joined, years and years ago, by a band of Satyrs that came over from the realm of Faery, through one of the many portals in the Harp hills.  These were led by a Satyr druid named Balthemius.  Balthemius and his brethren, taught the spider goats how to use their latent telepathic ability, and awakened an intelligence in them.  The descendents of the Satyrs, as well as a number of Fawns, have taken up permanent residence on the plateau of stony islands, along with the spider goats.  Northguard rangers that have visited the Satyrs report that their reason for remaining on this side of Faery is by order of King Oberon to keep an eye on the Unseely Court creatures that rise up out of the huge sinkholes to the east, along the southern banks of the Nightwash river.  Balthemius himself is still alive, and it is not know just how old he is, or how long he has lived here, but he was not here in the time of the Old Ones.  The Quills are named in his honor, and he performs a great number of good deeds (although, being a Satyr, he is also known to be mischievious, or certainly his brethren and their telepathic Spider goat companions, are).

It is supposed, by a large number of druids and naturalists, that whatever it is that has given the spider goats the ability to use telepathy, as well as their intelligence, is similar to the similar abilities found in the Great Horses of the Darkearth Plains.

The great sinkholes on the southern bank of the Nightwash river is where parts of the Nightwash disappear in vast waterfalls, deep into the earth.  The region is riddled by layers of underground realms, many with permanent portals to the Unseely Courts.  Without the diligence and watchfulness of Barthemius and his satyrs and goat allies, as well as the Great Khan of all the Horses, there would no doubt be more incursions of the darker, evil races into the surface world.

The spider goats are a curious breed, with a number of special abilities, other than their intelligence and telepathy.  They have the ability to climb sheer walls, and although the Satyrs have constructed a number of bridges connecting the wider separated Quills, the goats have an incredible leaping ability, able to jump 20 or 30 feet, as an adult.  The females have an uncharacteristic development, even for a magical creature.  They have spinnerets, and can generate a web (same effects as the spell) that has a range of 40 feet.  This web is used only for capturing prey and enemies, and not used for building webs or nests.  The thick flocks of nesting black geese provide food for the spider goats, and the breeding cycle of the breed has adapted to this cycle, so that when the black geese come north from the south parts of the Lost Mare river in the early spring to nest and lay eggs in the crags on the sides of the Quills, the goats are also ready with their young, and feed on goose while nursing their young.

Other than in their natural habitat of the Quills, there is a group of Spider Goats that can be encountered abroad.  A successful raid by a number of Drow elves (actual Drow, as per the AD&D race, rather than the more typical Dark Elves encountered in the Valley - proper Drow in this setting usually only occur as temporary incursions from the Unseely Realms, but this group has come over permanently, and lives in one of the underground realms in the nearby countryside) captured a number of young spider goats some decades in the past, and have been raising and multiplying them, imprinting their evil alignment and philosophy on them.  These are sometimes encountered, with the members of the Aa'Lega Coven of Drow Elves, and others.

Name: Spider Goats (Drow variant)
No. Encountered: 2-12 (with a Drow hunting party, or as part of a Drow lair)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 90' (can jump 30'; can scale sheer surfaces)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 Kicks, 1Bite; or 1 charge
Damage: 1d4+1 (kick); 1-4 (bite); 1d6 (charge)
Save: MU2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class:VI (remains on dead victims)
Special: Half of all spider goats encountered can shoot out a web 30', acts as the spell was cast by a 4th level magic user (lasts for 8 turns).  On a successful charge attack, victims Man sized or smaller have to make a saving throw vs. paralyzation or be knocked down.  Against a knocked down opponent, a spider goat that makes a successful Bite attack, will remain attached to their victim, doing 1d6 damage automatically every round, until the spider goat is slain.  The Drow version of the Spider Goat has also been trained to use a psychic shriek attack, based on their telepathy.  This causes all characters below 3rd level (or creatures below 3HD) that are within 80' of a spider goat to make a save vs. magic each round that they want to act.  Spell casters within 80' of a spider goat are particularly vulnerable to the psychic shriek.  They may not employ any spells that requires a Verbal component.