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Thread: Resvier: A P6 Setting
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Resvier: A P6 Setting
NOTE: the following is very long. Anyone interested in this setting can PM me for a copy of the full draft document which has better formatting and navigation. It is intended to compile this into a PDF when editing is complete. Constructive criticism is encouraged.
Resvier is designed as a setting for P6 – utilizing the E6 rule set for Pathfinder. I decided to create this setting because I felt utilizing E6 restrictions allowed me to pull in all of the cool stuff I like from D&D, and to take advantage of its familiarity and archetypes, without dealing with the absurdities and verisimilitude breaking pretty much inherent in high-level D&D.
I chose to utilize Pathfinder simply because the Pathfinder OGC pool is broader and it includes a variety of cool concepts I find useful, so that I can make fewer compromises during setting design and still get the setting I like – which the straight-up d20 SRD simply can’t provide. However this setting should be backwards compatible to use 3.5 with little difficulty.
Resvier is intended to be a fairly generic setting. This was done to allow for the utilization of as much content as possible and to thereby maximize player choice and storytelling options. I did not want to cut out any classes or races during the design phase and instead structured assumptions to integrate them. This does mean that a lot of standard D&D tropes get included, but I have tried to at least slightly subvert them at points to produce surprises. This is a P6 setting, but it should feel like D&D in as many ways as possible.
I have not chosen to attempt to model a whole world, or even an especially large geographic area. Resvier is a single area the size of a large nation-state that will be presented in some detail. I wanted to produce many minor sovereign states below the kingdom level within a fairly united cultural context because I felt that more accurately represented what the cultural and political situation of the Middle Ages represented across large areas.
Much of the material presented here will not, however, be specific to Resvier. The design assumptions should be useful for anyone wishing to put together their own E6/P6 setting. There are even a number of pan-global items (the divine Pantheon for example) that could be used in developing another part of the world if one wanted.
One of the things I tried to build into this setting, both in the mechanical design assumptions and the fluff, is that adventurers matter. Level 6 can be achieved quite rapidly, and at that point the party is a group of major players who can have significant influence over a city or even a small state, and if they make allies and leverage their abilities properly, can even can the overall course of history in the whole region. This is partly expressed through the unification debate – Resvier is presented as a splintered nation with competing viewpoints that stress either the unification of all the states into a single one, or each sub-region developing on their own and becoming more unique. This debate is designed to not map cleanly on the alignment compass at all, with solid arguments for and against found for good/evil and law/chaos viewpoints. However, it will be something an adventuring party, especially as they quickly level up, will find difficult to ignore.
This document is modeled as a full-fledged campaign-setting book. Resvier is intended to be immediately playable off this document and the Pathfinder Core Rules with P6 structures in place. It offers a nation at a key point of national transition, one filled with myriad races, vibrant characters, cunning magic, and weird monsters. It is my hope that it will be a source of real inspiration and utility for DM and Players of E6/P6 games.
Last edited by Mechalich; 2015-09-03 at 05:43 PM.
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Re: Resvier: A P6 Setting
Overview and Contents
Resvier is a campaign setting for use with the Pathfinder RPG, within the context of a ruleset limitation known as P6. Essentially, all advancement in level stops at level 6, after which characters gain additional feats. The Resvier setting applies this restriction globally and builds its world within these assumptions.
The setting itself describes the region of Resvier – a discrete territory the size of a large nation-state located on the continent of Murchom on the world of Basaron. Resvier is geographically isolated from the rest of the continent by a mountain range and is designed to function as the whole setting area on its own. With P6 limitations on personal power and enhanced mobility this territory should be sufficient to encompass essentially any form of campaign.
Resvier is a geographic region, it is also a nation state. The territory was originally ruled by a number of petty-tyrants known as wizard-kings before unification by a mighty warlord named Simark the Conqueror. The Simark dynasty he established ruled for over three centuries before collapsing in a multi-generation assymetric conflict known as the Dynastic War. A warrior-adventurer named Jellard reunited part of the country fifty years ago and established the Jellard dynasty, but much of the country remained in the hands of divided splinter states.
In the present situation the land is divided between many powers, struggling with the legacy of conflicts past and looking towards conflict to come. Into this dynamic, unstable reality step a new generation of adventurers with the power to change the course of a nation. They will contend with powerful spellcaters, brutal armies, and terrible monsters across the face of Resvier.
Chapter 1: Characters – this chapter discusses the roles of race and class in Resvier, and provides a small selection of specialty feats for use in the setting.
Chapter 2: Magic – this chapter discusses the role of magic in the world of Basaron and offers a ritual magic system for use in Resvier campaigns.
Chapter 3: Daily Life – this chapter outlines aspects of day-to-day life for the citizens of Resvier, the role of magic and religion in society, and the niche belonging to adventurers.
Chapter 4: Geography – this chapter provides profiles of Resvier and each of its splinter states, covering their physical and cultural context, their political situation, and numerous adventure hooks.
Chapter 5: Religion – this chapter discusses the role of deities and faith in Resvier and the nature of the gods of Basaron.
Chapter 6: Organizations – this chapter outlines several groups active in the struggle for control of Resvier acting beyond the boundaries of governmental or religious authority.
Chapter 7: History – this chapter presents and in-depth history of Basaron with a special focus on Resvier and events that shaped the nation.
Chapter 8: Monster – this chapter discusses the nature of monsters in Resvier and the role of a number of important monster types.
Chapter 9: Running Resvier – this chapter provides useful advice for DMs intending to utilize the setting and additional world-building content.
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Resvier is a land of history, and also a land of heroes. Adventurers, ranging from simple tomb-plundering thieves to mighty wizards to the titanic figure of Simark the Conqueror, have long made their mark upon this landscape. Heroes and villains of all kinds walk the nation and struggle to wrestle with its destiny.
An adventurer in Resvier is an elite figure. Individuals with levels in a PC class are rare and they represent those who have departed from the ordinary paths in life. The overwhelming bulk of the population consists of 1st level commoners, experts, and warriors, with a smattering of adepts and aristocrats thrown in. Those who chose to dedicate themselves to the martial arts, to specialized skill-oriented paths, or to the mystical devotion of spellcasting stand apart from ordinary society in subtle but significant ways.
Powerful figures are uncommon, and the mass of the peasantry rely upon them to utilize their skills and magic to drive back the dangerous monsters that threaten civilization on all sides. An adventurer has vast privileges, but also significant responsibilities, with these expectations spread across the shared culture of the land. As such, adventurers as have the ability to rise to influence the setting in massive ways. Empowered by the compression of P6, a fighter can rise to the command of an army in months rather than years, a priest can come to dominate a faith in a few seasons and change policy for the whole nation, and a wizard can unlock mystical secrets to make nations quake.
These characters do not exist in a vacuum, but live surrounded by the people and societies of the land, and this is reflected in their mannerisms, motivations, and personalities.
Races of Resvier
Resvier is home to hundreds of different forms of sapient being, from the omnipresent humans to the mighty dragons to the brutal giants. With the exception of ancient aberrations such as aboleth, none of these races are native to the world of Basaron. All arrived as migrants from elsewhere or through interbreeding among beings that had already arrived.
The overwhelming majority of Resvier’s residents are members of populations that have been present in the region for centuries at least. Many of these groups are small and exhibit only modest internal variation. Even humans, by far the most populous race, can be organized into no more than a handful of cultural groupings. Everyone else is easily identified as a foreigner.
Resvier hosts stable populations of roughly forty playable standard races. A smattering of others can be found living in the underdark beneath its surface or the aquatic lands offshore. Most of these populations are small and highly regionalized. This section briefly highlights the origins, presence, and role of each of these species as they are found within Resvier.
The conquest and long reign of the Simark dynasty melded most of Resvier’s once disparate human population into a single people: the Resvieri. A somewhat dusky folk with predominately brown hair and brown eyes, they tend to be at most modestly hairy. Facial hair is rarely worn save on the truly aged. Their facial features are quite variable, due to the mixed heritage. The Resvieri population represents the great majority of the human population of Resvier in almost all regions.
A portion of the human population dwelling on the east coast has diverged culturally from the Resvieri and is now known as the Rency. Physically identical, they dress differently, often favoring bright colors, and incorporate numerous merfolk loan-words into their regional dialect. On the northern coast is a group known as the Marvan, who have mingled with refugees from the north and have black hair and flatter faces. They are leaders in the rejection of the gods and have turned instead to ancestor worship. Finally in the inland region of Quorvast lives a population of semi-nomadic pastoralists known as the Quor who have grown apart from the other humans of Resvier and adopted a different lifestyle as they make their tanned and windblown way across the rugged land.
Humans in Resvier are filled with internal conflicts as they fight amongst themselves in a way the other races rarely even contemplate. They are also the traditional rulers, having a history of dominance descending from the reign of Simark the Conqueror, who established humans as Resvier’s ruling majority.
By far the most abundant of Resvier’s races, humans total almost three-quarters of all sapients, just over eleven million in all.
Regions: Resvieri can be found in every region. Rency are limited to Falrency and Imbrancy. Marvan are found in Marvance, and Quor in Quorvast.
Once, dwarves ruled all of Resvier, until they lost control of it due to overextension and the numerical superiority of humans. Despite this, they remain a powerful and well-known presence in the region. Most of Resvier’s dwarves live in the Treste Mountains and owe allegiance to the kingdom of Trestegard, which is considered part of Resvier but retains a great deal of independence. Others are found in major cities and towns, where they are generally valued as craftsmen. Heavy metal and stone enterprises are largely controlled by the agents of the dwarves.
All dwarves of Resvier are members of a single ethnic group, and resemble standard Pathfinder dwarves. There was once a slightly paler and shorter grouping of dwarves living in the Pard Mountains, but they have interbred sufficiently with the others that this group is no longer extant – though their lost works remain buried deep.
Resvier dwarves generally get along well with humans, though they may have strong political opinions and are not shy about expressing them. They are historically allies of the elves, but there is presently bad blood between the two races regarding perceived elven failures to aid Trestegard against Jellard I. The dwarves are generally united as a people, but opinions vary on their best path. Almost universally dwarves despise goblinoids and the other violent races that compete with them for mountain territory.
Dwarves are the second most abundant race in Resvier, with roughly eight hundred thousand individuals.
Regions: Dwarves are most common in the Treste Mountains, where they are the majority. A significant minority can be found in Pardien as well. Otherwise they exist mostly as small communities in urban areas.
The elves, widely perceived to be in decline for thousands of years, are actually in a stronger position in the present than they have been for many centuries. Their kingdom of Alshalsha is sovereign in its own right, unique among the splinter states of Resvier, and their population has finally grown sufficiently dense that they can match the numbers of other races on a territorial level. Recognition of this is slowly filtering across the land, and the elves have begun to move with slightly greater pride.
The elven population deliberately presents a united face to the outside world, and physically all elves in Resvier are part of the same ethnic group, but there are some cultural differences. Elves who have lived in the Shalsha Forest for thousands of years are conservative and isolationist compared to those elves who have lived among humans for a few generations – mostly those who settled small elven neighborhoods in major cities starting with the Simark conquest. These elves have adopted a number of human and dwarven cultural traits and live a less mystically infused lifestyle.
Widely known for their magic, elves retain a largely number of arcane spellcasters not out of inherent aptitude, but due to their lengthened lifespans and a national policy to encourage the training of wizards even from among the lower classes. Additionally, the prohibition of inheritance by wizards, long a human custom, does not exist among elven nobility.
Most elves are wary of humans and consider dwarves their best allies. The present situation with Trestegard is strained, but most elves hope to see it repaired within their lifetimes. They often get along quite well with less-numerous races, though they may act somewhat patronizing towards them at first.
Elves are the third-most abundant race in Resvier, with slightly over seven hundred thousand individuals, by a wide margin.
Regions: The overwhelming majority of elves hail from Alshalsha, but small communities trace their origins to all the major cities.
Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Orcs
The generally evil and often violent races tracked under the collective label of ‘goblinoid’ have a large and well-known presence in Resvier, despite considerable efforts to remove them. Small settlements of these races can be found almost everywhere in the wilderness, and larger settlements, in some cases even rising to the size of towns, have formed in their strongholds in remote regions. These races would play a major role in the politics of Resvier if they could ever manage to unify for the long term. Instead, they tend to expend most of their energy fighting each other.
Goblins can be found everywhere in the region, mostly living in marginal territory – often hilly or rocky areas with poor soil – and scrapping out a meager existence supplemented by preying upon their neighbors. Their lives tend to be brutish and short, but they mature rapidly and have a high reproductive rate. True survivors, they have avoided all efforts at extermination.
Hobgoblins are more common in southern Resvier, where they carve out fortified dominions in uncharted forests and use them to raid for slaves and build bandit empires. Though these holdings are almost inevitably crushed, they can hold out for a long time, especially if they avoid becoming an existential threat to the local nobility or ally with stronger monsters. Regimented and organized, hobgoblins may ally with humans under certain circumstances, and can serve as barely acceptable mercenaries in the worst kind of army.
Orcs are most common in Resvier’s north, especially on The Rise and in the Treste Mountains. Extremely violent, they are strong but disorganized, rallying behind charismatic chieftains with rapid turnover. Their forces are often at war with the dwarves, but they seek dominance over all.
All three races are unlikely to be their own rulers. Unable or unwilling to unify as a group, and limited in their ability to develop industry or magic due to their marginal lands, they tend to be subjugated to powerful monsters. Others, unwilling to serve, may leave their communities and seek life elsewhere. While prejudice makes life among humans extremely difficult, the law technically mandates equality for all races, including the goblinoids. From such desperate struggles adventurers take form.
Goblins and orcs are quite numerous, with almost four hundred thousand individuals in Resvier. Hobgoblins are less abundant, with roughly two hundred thousand.
Regions: Members of the goblinoid races may hail from any part of Resvier.
Gnomes and Halflings
These races are present in Resvier, but their numbers are not great and their influence is modest. Both races are highly regionalized, with gnomes living almost exclusively in Falrency, and Halflings highly concentrated in a small region immediately south of The Brean. Both groups are relatively prosperous, having specialized in the production of certain goods – gnomes bricks, dyes, and glass, halflings herbs, spices, and tobacco – and avoided a role in major conflicts. They may have their own local nobility, but largely play no part in the feudal affairs of Resvier and hire human mercenaries to fulfill their obligations.
Both races get along well with others, and are often acknowledged fondly by their human neighbors and admired for their business acumen. They have existed within the framework of human life long enough that they are only rarely treated as outsiders, though the inner workings of their cultures and villages remain opaque to most humans.
Gnomes, with roughly one hundred and thirty thousand individuals, are slightly more numerous than halflings, at one hundred and five thousand. None form the majority population in any settlement larger than a large town. Adventurers from these races are relatively rare, in part due to the difficulty of small races functioning in a society built for larger people, but they do exist.
Regions: Gnomes hail from Falrency, Halflings from south-central Resvier.
These generally hostile scaled humanoids are confined primarily to the Pard Mountains. They exist in some numbers in warrens carved into caves and cliff sides. Highly communal, they can muster sizeable hordes and have a profound influence on the overland trade across Resvier’s northern border, especially when they enter into the service of dragons.
Outside of the mountains kobolds are almost never seen and have little influence and few rights. Though they outnumber many other races, they are generally considerably less influential. Their lives tend to be short and end in violence. A small number escape this cycle and become adventurers, but such instances tend to be shocking and they have little history of heroism or villainy.
There are perhaps one hundred and ten thousand kobolds in Resvier.
Regions: Almost all kobolds hail from the Pard Mountains.
Resvier contains a stable population of every standard playable Pathfinder race, though the total number of individuals might be as few as ten thousand. This includes traditional ‘half-breed’ races such as half-elves or tieflings. Generally such races are true breeding and trace their origins to migration to Basaron thousands of years in the past. Actual half-breeds with mixed parentage are extremely rare.
Of the several dozen races of this nature, several commonalities hold true. First, all of these races are highly regionalized. While adventurous individuals may travel widely, the bulk of the population of commoners exists in centralized communities in a certain area. Despite this, the major cities are diverse enough to contain residents of almost every race.
Second, these races are generally outside the human feudal structure. They have their own governance systems and nobility and reach arrangements with the barons and dukes regarding military service and taxes according to their own needs. Most of these arrangements date to the Simark dynasty, but the nobility has tended to maintain them. Inter-racial violence is generally a bloodbath for all involved.
Adventurers and leaders from these less numerous races have at many times had a great impact on the history of Resvier. Due to the policy of inclusion under the Simark dynasty they largely stand equal under the law, enabling all to move about as they wish and making wildly mixed adventuring groups surprisingly common.
Regions: Various, see geographic descriptions for details.
Resvier is intended to accommodate all extant Pathfinder classes for use by PCs within the restriction of the P6 rule set. Certain classes will be more common in Resvier than others, with PC classes in general being very rare compared to a standard setting. The ninety-nine percent of the population is intended to be represented by 1st level characters with NPC classes.
The distribution of classes is also shifted by region. Certain classes are more common to a particular area or regionalized race: paladins are common in Orhanan, while Tengu generally become rogues and most live in Branc. While PCs are often the exception to extant trends, the following section highlights the presence and roles of the major classes in Resvier.
Rough and tumble warriors powered by the strength of their convictions are not common in the armies of Resvier, which tend toward professional feudal warriors. They are mostly found at the edges of society, often among the goblinoid races, swamp-dwelling races such as Grippli and Lizardfolk, or in isolated human settlements deep in the mountains or the inland desert of Quorvast. Barbarians may also be found among the ranks of foreign mercenaries in Resvier, having migrated from the north, the east, or the distant south.
The wandering inquisitive folk known as bards are found in Resvier with some frequency. Many of the larger courts employ a scholarly entertainer, and there is an official barding college, dedicated to Reniri, in Viercal. With their varied skills, bards fill many roles, but they are drawn to urban life in most cases. The majority of Resvieri bards are humans, though gnomes and halflings also take up the path on occasion.
The primary servants of the divine, clerics are possibly the most common form of spellcaster found in Resvier. All races produce clerics and they are found in both small hamlets and large cities, across every region. Most clerics follow the Ten, though in Marvance they lead the worship of the ancestors, and with extreme rarity a cleric might formally dedicate themselves to Qhom. No cleric in Resvier is dedicated to a concept or philosophy, nor may they worship quasi-deities such as demon lords.
Found throughout rural Resvier, and occasionally in cities as well, druids serve as the emissaries of the natural, primordial world. The precise source of their power is unclear, as they do not serve gods, and many believe they draw on energies left behind by the absent elders that once existed beside Qhom. Druids are found among every race, but tend to predominate over clergy among nonhuman races that live closer to nature, such as catfolk or vanaras. They are most common away from the coasts and farmland.
The most common PC class in Resvier is that of the fighter, a highly trained warrior found among the feudal nobility, local militias, paid mercenaries, and all kinds of specialty organizations. Every race relies on trained professional combatants for defense and organization, and they may be found everywhere, but they are most abundant in settled lands where armies may march. Fighter is the class most common taken by advanced monsters and multiclassed aristocrats.
While Resvier has numerous religious monastic orders, their martial monastic comrades are rare. A handful do exist, scattered about great estates on the edges of civilized lands. They attract like-minded individuals of all races, but most monks are human, as only humanity has the numbers of extra upper-class children to devote to monastic training. Monks have no consistent role in Resvier, as they are too few to have a dramatic impact save as individuals.
Almost all paladins in Resvier are members of a small number of holy orders dedicated to Alshiel, with a much smaller group dedicated to Emprino. The other gods are uninterested in such practices. Paladins are not numerous, the requirements to join such organizations are very strict, but they may have considerable influence. Most are allied deeply with their church and work alongside other agents. Dwarves and humans are the most common paladins, but Alshiel will accept any who can show conviction to meet her standards. Paladins are most common in Orhanan and Pardien, where they have stepped into the role of governance.
Wilderness warriors, rangers are almost as abundant as fighters, once farmland is left behind and the land grows untamed. These warriors serve a similar role as fighters among their small, isolated communities, but rarely group together. Some serve in armies as outriders and scouts while others form loose-knit societies alongside druids. The majority of Resvier’s rangers are actually nonhuman, due to the abundance of nonhumans in rural environments beyond prime agricultural land.
Nefarious, outcast elements are found in every society, and so rogues are almost as abundant as fighters. Drawn primarily to cities and towns where they can utilize their talents best, they are pooled from every race in the urban melting pot. Many join adventuring parties or thieves’ guilds. Others work as freelancers for churches, nobles, and even monsters.
The ability to unleash the power of arcane magic through innate gifts is considered dangerous, frightening, and highly unpredictable. However, such persons have little choice but to develop their powers. Sorcery is rare, but no less common than wizardry, and drawn from all races. These spellcasters tend to live on the margins of society, struggling to find acceptance. Some races, such as elves, gnomes, and samsarans, are more tolerant of sorcery than others, and their communities may feature small sorcerer guilds.
Wizardry has a long, and decidedly checkered, history in Resvier. The consummate practice of arcane power – with a considerably greater pedigree than sorcery, it has long shaped the flow of the region despite the relatively small number of practitioners. The legacy of the wizard-kings, now centuries old, still colors the relationship of wizards to society, and many are prohibited from a variety of practices as a consequence of their study. Most commonly, among humans and dwarves, wizards cannot hold or inherit noble titles. Wizards congregate in specialized colleges, and are most common among long-lived races and those with class distinctions, as the time and money required to become a wizard makes the path out of reach for most lower-class persons.
Other Pathfinder base classes are available to PCs in Resvier, but are extremely rare among NPCs and have no regular role in society. While famous individuals have held such classes – Jellard I was a Magus – they are present only in very small numbers at any one time. With only a handful of dedicated practitioners, members of such classes are unable to form large societies. Many work closely with other classes, inquisitors are members of a church and work closely with clerics, while alchemists reside in wizard’s colleges, and so forth.
PCs are welcome to take such classes, but they will lack for role models and a support network compared to members of more common classes, and may not be recognized save by highly knowledgeable persons, especially outside their home society. A shaman, for example, may be well known among her tribe, but be mistaken for a druid elsewhere.
Resvier does not explicitly prohibit any prestige classes, but the restrictions of P6 makes meeting the prerequisites of many prestige classes impossible, and for most of those that are enterable only one or two levels will be available before hitting the cap. This choice is rarely made and no prestige class is common in the setting.
Resvier is a P6 setting. As such, players will have access to a wide variety of feats to be added to their characters after achieving level 6. It is not within the scope of this setting to provide a listing of approved or disapproved feats for use in P6. DMs are encouraged to determine or research their own application of the P6 rules that makes the most sense for their particular campaign.
There are some considerations regarding feats for use in Resvier however, and a small number of unique feats relevant to the setting are introduced in the following section. Some of these feats relate to the ritual magic system introduced in the Magic chapter.
Enhanced Rituals [Ritual]
You cast rituals as a higher level caster.
Prerequisite: Ritual Spellcasting, character level 6
Benefit: Your effective caster level for the purpose of leading magical rituals increases by 1. You may take this feat twice, its effects stack.
Meticulous Rituals [Ritual]
You take extra care when conduting rituals, increasing your chance of success.
Prerequisite: Ritual Spellcasting
Benefit: You can a +3 bonus on the spellcraft check to complete a magical ritual.
Ritual Spellcasting [Ritual]
You can take part in magical rituals.
Prerequisite: Arcanist, cleric, druid, oracle, shaman, sorcerer, witch, or wizard.
Benefit: You can take part in magical rituals for arcane spells – if an arcane spellcaster – or divine spells – if a divine spellcaster. If a cleric, druid, shaman, witch, or wizard, you can lead magical rituals.
Path to Lichdom
You have begun the mysterious process of attunement and discovery needed to convert yourself into a lich.
Prerequisite: Ability to cast 3rd-level arcane or divine spells, character level 6
Benefit: None, this feat represents an investment of experience and effort towards achieving lichdom, nothing more. This feat may be taken up to four times.
You have altered your essence so that you may bond your soul with an outsider and transform yourself into a lich.
Prerequisite: Path to Lichdom x4
Benefit: This feat allows a character to bond with a chosen outsider and for the purpose of lichdom. It does not represent the ritual transition to undeath itself – a 6th level magical ritual, only the preparation.
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Chapter 2 - Magic
The world of Resvier is a world of magic. The existence of spellcasters and spellcasting is well known, firmly established, and highly present. People are aware of magic and are likely at least modestly acquainted with its basic capabilities. Almost everyone knows at least one divine spellcaster, and probably knows of an arcane spellcaster.
However, the capabilities of magic are highly constrained. Limited to level six, spellcasters cannot cast any spell above the 3rd level, or produce any item with a caster level above 6th without engaging in complex and costly rituals. Even when ritual magic is undertaken, limits remain on its capabilities.
As such, magic is powerful, but it is not a supreme power. A brutish hill giant remains an extremely dangerous threat to the most powerful wizard in Resvier, and a properly equipped regiment with the right tactics can take down almost any spellcaster. Magical items are useful, but specialized, and their availability is constrained. Martial characters believe they can challenge the might of priests and wizards and often do so successfully. The mightiest of beings – dragons – combine mystical and physical capabilities.
The Nature of Magic
The world of Basaron, and the solar system in which it resides, were pulled forth from the void by the actions of Qhom and its fellows. This was done using a supreme system of commands, a quantum language that could alter reality and manipulate the nature of existence at its most basic levels. Such was the power of the elder divines.
Initially those who arrived on Resvier had no ability to use magic. Their attempts to manipulate the universe through symbolism and will met with no response. Not even the gods could utilize spellcraft, though they retained mighty supernatural abilities.
Eventually, however, in a moment of supreme divine insight, the goddess Reniri discovered the resonant numerology of meaning buried within languages – initially draconic, later others – and used them to develop a method to emulate the powers unleashed by Qhom. Thus were the secrets of magic unleashed upon the mortals of the world.
Reniri’s attempt to overthrown Qhom failed, and in the process revealed the imperfect nature of her mystical understanding. Magic, as known to the people of Resvier, is a pale imitation of the true reality-shaping powers wielded by Qhom and his fellow elders, or so it is believed. Within the narrative context of Resvier, this justification shapes the limitations imposed by P6 and ritual magic.
Arcane and divine spellcasting functions normally in Resvier, within the limitations of P6. However, regardless of any method used, it is flatly impossible for a character to cast a spell of 4th level or higher or to produce an item with a caster level of 7th or more without assistance. It simply cannot be done.
Certain monsters, notably higher-level outsiders, can cast spells as significantly higher-level casters. A trumpet archon, to use an example present in Resvier historically, casts spells as a 14th level cleric. This functions normally, with certain restrictions. First, the same absolute limits on the powers of ritual spellcasting apply to beings with spellcasting powers. Raising the dead, for example, remains completely impossible. Second, spellcasters of this nature cannot engage in ritual magic with members of playable races, or with each other (the one exception is the coven-dependent abilities of Hags, which function normally).
In order to cast more powerful spells, spellcasters must work together in multi-person rituals. This is a complex, expensive, and time-consuming process. Despite that, rituals are essential and widely utilized. Widespread use of ritual magic enabled the wizard-king era and has shaped many nation defining events. Major faiths and wizard colleges are willing to utilize rituals whenever the need is great.
Who Can Use Rituals
Ritual magic is not available to all spellcasters. Only full-fledged, dedicated channelers of arcane or divine power can unlock access to this greater tier of mystical might. Additionally, as rituals require preparation, only those who prepare their spells can initiate ritual magic – though spontaneous casters can participate in rituals as secondary representatives.
Clerics, druids, and shamans can initiate divine rituals. Witches and wizards can initiate arcane rituals. Oracles can participate in divine rituals, arcanists and sorcerers in arcane rituals. Bards, maguses, paladins, rangers, warpriests, and other partial spellcasters cannot participate.
Ritual practice requires training in collaborative spellcasting and ritual forms. This is represented by the Ritual Spellcasting Feat, which is required to initiate or participate in any ritual. This feat is extremely common among clerics and wizards who have a long history of collaboration among their institutions. Other spellcasters are less likely to learn the method, but some do when need arises.
Learning to cast any spell in ritual form, even a spell that could be cast normally in P6, requires spell research. This is complex, and very difficult, and research the rituals for upper level spells should involve extremely high DC skill checks and likely other, lesser ritual castings of divination spells in order to unearth the required information. Once learned, ritual practices can be taught to others. Learning a ritual from an instructor requires the Ritual Spellcasting feat, a Spellcraft check to recognize the spell level, and one day of instruction per level of the spell in question.
Only a small number of rituals are common enough for teachers to be available. This includes all spells with the [Healing] descriptor, the planar ally and planar binding series of spells, summoning spells, and any spell used to create undead. Outside of this limited selection, research is likely to be required.
What Rituals Can Do
Ostensibly a ritual can be used to cast any spell, including casting spells of 2nd and 3rd level by lower-level spellcasters. In practice rituals are primarily used to cast a limited selection of spells that have dramatic, long-term impact. Partly this is due to time constraints – taking hours to cast a spell that is only useful for a few minutes has highly restricted applications.
Rituals are commonly used for advanced healing purposes, with spells such as heal or restoration having great utility in this regard. Divination is also highly valued, with spells that allow scrying or communion with deities utilized regularly at major junctures. The most common use of rituals, however, is to summon powerful assistance. Divine casters call on allies, while arcane casters bind servants, and both create undead servitors.
Rituals can be used to produce constructs or advanced magical items. In this case the normal creation rules apply, but a ritual is needed to cast each required spell, and the ritual takes ten times as long (can be broken into stages) and costs ten times as much in order to make the effect permanent.
What Rituals Cannot Do
There are certain magical effects that are present in the ordinary Pathfinder game rules that simply cannot be duplicated by rituals, no matter how much effort and power is applied to the practice.
No effect can raise the dead, induce reincarnation, or any similar effect. Death is permanent.
No effect can duplicate a sapient individual, ie. clone or simulacrum.
Magical effects cannot be made permanent via permanency or other means – this ban prohibits automatically-resetting magical traps.
Rituals cannot duplicate the effect of miracle, wish, or a related spell. Only deities and genies have access to such reality altering powers. Additionally, genies who have access to wishes cannot be compelled to render them forth via summoning.
Planar travel is impossible, as is teleportation. Called outsiders possessing greater teleport as a spell-like ability retain this ability but can transport themselves and their personal possessions, nothing else, and any request posed to such beings when called can require only a single teleportation. Free use of this ability is only available to outsiders who have breached planar boundaries on their own or entered through a gate.
The most common usage of ritual magic outside of advanced healing powers is to summon extraplanar aid. Sometimes this takes the form of summoning style spells (especially useful in siege operations). More often, elementals and outsiders are called to Basaron using planar ally or planar binding rituals or a variant of these. There are specific limitations on what these beings are capable of accomplishing, whether called or summoned. There are only two ways for an outsider in Basaron can bypass these limitations: entering through a natural planar breach, or passing through an artificial breach created by a ritual casting of gate.
Limitations on called beings are significant. Firstly, they can only remain in Basaron for a maximum of 1 day per caster level. This holds true even in the case of a failed binding where the outsider breaks free and acts according to its own will. Second, they are immediately returned to their origin upon completion of their chosen task, unable to linger for more than a single round. Third, their magical movement capabilities are restricted. A called being can teleport a single time if stipulated to the requirements of their task. Any called being with the ability to plane shift can use this ability only to return to their home plane, which immediately terminates the circumstances of their calling regardless of completion status.
Casting rituals are complex, expensive, and prolonged. The following system outlines the requirements for utilization of ritual magic in Basaron. This system is designed to represent a system where rituals are possible, but very difficult, especially for higher level spells, and costly in terms of resources not readily replenished. DMs are encouraged to modify the system as needed if it seems to produce ritual results that are too difficult or too easy.
The following rules covern ritual spellcasting in Basaron:
A ritual casting must be led by a caster of prepared spells with a caster equal to the level of the spell to be cast – 1, ie. CL 3 to cast a 4th level spell as a ritual. Feats exist to boost caster level for the purpose of casting high-level rituals.
A ritual requires a number of participants equal to the level of the spell squared. So a 4th level spell requires 16 casters to work together, while a 9th level spell requires 81. These spellcasters may be of any level, but for every level above fourth the ritual requires an additional caster equal to the spell’s level – 3. A 5th level spell requires an additional second level caster, a 6th level spell a 3rd level caster, and so on. This requirement is cumulative, so a 9th level spell requires additional, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th level casters in addition to the leader.
The casting time of a ritual equals spell level x 3 hours.
Ritual preparations cost spell level x 300 gp and are consumed completely by the spell, even if the ritual fails (ritual preparations rarely actually take the form of a pile of precious metals, and it is possible to conduct a ritual to summon a demon using an equivalent value of blood or sacrificed children or similar thematically appropriate substitutions).
Successful completion of the ritual requires the leader to make a spellcraft check with a DC equal to 10 + (spell level x 2). It is not possible to take 10 on this check or to have anyone else provide aid. If the check fails the ritual fizzles and nothing happens, but all expended resources are lost.
Extremely high level spells of levels 7, 8, and 9 are subject to an additional cost of 500 XP per spell level. 9th level spells are subject to an extraordinary cost to be adjudicated on a case by case basis by the DM.
If the ritual has a target, that target must be within range for the entirety of the ritual casting. This is easy enough in the case of a person to be healed, or a corpse being raised as a zombie, but it is effectively impossible to use rituals to attack a moving target. It is possible to use a ritual cating to attack a target held in place, ie. casting dismissal against a confined outsider, or against an unmoving object such as a castle.
The effective caster level of a completed ritual spell is always the minimum level required to cast that spell.
Metamagic cannot be applied to rituals in any way. Static bonuses, such as the ability increase provided by the augment summoning feat, do apply.
Rituals can be used to cast spells necessary to produce magical items, including inscribing a ritual upon a scroll. Conducting a ritual for this purpose doubles the casting time and multiples the cost by ten. Item creation costs remain as normal.
Magic Items and Spells
Characters in Resvier have access to all spells of 3rd level or lower that are present on their spell lists. They can acquire magical items that may be produced within the limitations of P6 and may, under very rare circumstances, acquire specialized items that were produced using ritual magic. Resvier has very few unique magical items or spells, but a small number are listed here.
March of Hours
School: universal Level: all 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S, M (charcoal pencil)
Effect: 1 mark, approximately one square foot in size
Duration: 24 hours
Saving Throw: none; Spell Resistance: no
This spell, originally developed by the church of Drogje, allows for simple timekeeping. The caster draws a specific rune on a single hard surface, usually a wall. For twenty-four hours thereafter this mark shifts to the numeral for the hour of the day presently in progress, numbering zero (at midnight) to twenty-three (at eleven pm). At the end of the duration the mark fades away. The mark does not glow or produce illumination but is large enough to be read easily in low-light conditions. It will glow if detect magic is cast upon it. It can be dispelled as normal, or removed using erase.
Use of this spell is very common, and many apprentices spend a good part of their mornings going from one shop to another casting the spell repeatedly for a very small fee.
School: Universal Level: all 3
Casting Time: 1 minute
Components: V, S, M (clear glass crystal)
Range: Close (25 ft + 5 ft per caster level)
Effect: 1 planar breach
Saving Throw: none; Spell Resistance: no
This spell, accessible to spellcasters of all kinds, is used for a single purpose – to seal breaches between the planes. The spell draws upon the united authority of The Ten and Qhom to mark the breach and allow the gods to immediately draw it closed, which takes place one full round after the spell is cast. Breaches closed with this spell are closed permanently.
Knowledge of this spell is widespread, as its capabilities are of great import, but few spellcasters have the knowledge immediately at hand.
New Magic Items
Aura: medium abjuration CL: 6th
Slot: none Price: -
The Octagonal Rods were developed by Simark I and produced by Ytana. They are a legendary item in Resvier. A single rod is useless, with a minimum of three necessary to have an effect. Each rod is a two foot long dowel of stone, not circular, but eight-sided along its length.
When placed in the ground and turned, octagonal rods issue a barrier of light connecting to two other rods each no more than twenty feat away. These barriers have the effect of a magic circle against chaos, evil, law, or good, as chosen by the initiators. The rods must be placed into the ground at the same time and turned in the correct direction to initiate this function. This circle is considered to be diagram reinforced in all cases.
A being trapped within the barrier produced by octagonal rods can attempt a charisma check to escape. The caster level of the effect produced by the rods increases by 2 for each rod utilized after the third (CL 8 with four rods, CL 12 with six rods, and CL 16 with the maximum of eight rods).
The barrier remains in place for a maximum of twenty-four hours, but it is dispelled at any time if the barriers are breached in any way from the outside.
Octagonal rods are used to trap outsiders so that they can be subsequently targeted for dismissal rituals or subjected to a synchronized mass assault (it is amazing how many crossbowmen can be ringed to fire into the space). Though far from foolproof they were sufficiently effective to break the power of the wizard-kings.
The Simark dynasty considered these items of great importance and dozens were ultimately crafted. The dynasty maintained strict control over this precious military resource, but many octagonal rods went missing or were acquired by nefarious persons during the upheaval of the Dynastic War. The knowledge of how to create them also spread too many corners.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 3 - Daily Life
The following is a primer on everyday life in Resvier, including conventions that may be considered as standards across the whole of Basaron.
Time and Seasons
Day and Night
Basaron’s day is twenty-four hours in length. Resvier experiences significant seasonality, especially in the north, with the days at the height of summer stretching to almost sixteen hours in length while shortening to little more than eight hours in the winter. While complex timepieces are few many people, especially the upper classes, have a decent grasp of the hours in the day through the use of sundials, hourglasses, and the March of Hours spell, originally developed as an orison by the church of Drogje, but now used by all casters.
The Basaron year is three-hundred and sixty-five days exactly. This can be calculated out to fractions of a second with magical instruments. Legend states that the Ten adjusted the orbit of the planet, which had wobbled significantly prior to their arrival, in order to prevent confusion and further ice ages.
The year is divided into ten thirty-six day months, one for each of the ten deities. The five remaining days, which are the final three days and first two of the year, are assigned to Qhom. Aberrations tend to be more active during those days and most people spend midwinter quietly, with religious service common.
The months proceed as follows: Clearfall, sacred to Drogje, begins the year in winter. Winter fades into spring towards the end of Graspfall, sacred to Tranveed, and spring dawns in Greenfall, sacred to Emprino. Spring becomes summer during Brightfall, sacred to Scemaenn. High summer is the domain of Ximoc, in Sparkfall. Summer continues through Lightfall, sacred to Caliata. Autumn begins towards the end of Steadyfall, sacred to Alshiel. Autumn proceeds during the shifting temperatures of Manyfall, sacred to Ysilame. Winter closes over during Chillfall, sacred to Kuniken. The final, wintry month is Passfall, sacred to Reniri.
Major holidays are found during the months sacred to the good-aligned deities. Greenfall festivals are usually held on the first of Greenfall and in Resvier a large communal bonfire is traditional. Lightfall festivities are usually during the beginning of the month and celebrate the bounty of summer, often coinciding with weddings. Steadyfall festivities are usually held at the end of the month and commemorate the harvest. There is generally a local holiday chosen by the lord, often during Brightfall to celebrate the conclusion of the planting season. A fifth natural holiday is proclaimed for the anniversary of the current monarch’s enthronement. This present date is Graspfall twenty-two. Aurin has answered for the month’s association with Tranveed by ordering all executions of known Tranveed cultists to occur on this day.
The months are divided into six day weeks. Generally persons work sunup to sundown each day, but receive a half-day off on the sixth day, either morning or afternoon, depending on their faith. The days of the week were named by the dragons and are as follows: Metalisday, Chromasday, Primasday, Imperisday, Outerday, and Drakesday. The proper names are in draconic and are difficult for humans to pronounce, so most people simply refer to the days by number, as Firstday through Sixthday.
Marking the Years
Essentially all civilizations of consequence in Resvier use the Orbital Years calendar, which takes as Year Zero the founding of the ancient global elven civilization, almost ten thousand years ago. This date is somewhat arbitrary, and annoys certain ancient entities such as aboleth and dragons, but its high accuracy has made the production of any other calendar rather superfluous. Further, the gods are quite content with the division of annual authority according to the current calendar and have looked with disfavor upon mortal attempts to change it.
That said, the aboleth do have a different calendar, one that claims a lineage over exponentially greater time, and it is in use by certain civilizations that have little contact with the gods – mostly underground races – or occasionally by particularly fanatical cults of ancestor worshippers.
Class and Station
Modern Resvier functions under a strong feudal system. Nobles hold lands in the name of the king or ruling noble. Temples and organizations also hold lands but have similar obligations. Land is supposed to produce a small amount of taxable income that is returned to the king, and a larger supply of armed force when called upon. There are national laws, to some degree, but nobles have a great deal of authority within their own lands so long as they continue to meet their obligations. Kings and rulers are expected to defend their subjects, both from foreign aggression and, more commonly in Resvier, marauding monsters and warlords.
The overwhelming bulk of the population is small farmers, laborers, or warriors. In some areas large numbers of peasants will be herders instead of farmers, but their lot is much the same regardless. These people live on small plots rented from the local nobility, they do not generally own land with the exception of those in the Tourvene Republic. Some small number of peasants are bequeathed small plots to own due to special service or may have inherited them, common in the case of the descendants of druids.
Few peasants are bound to their lands. Slavery is forbidden in Resvier, outlawed by Simark I as a break from the wizard-king era and never reintroduced. While goblinoids and others such as drow may raid for slaves, these are not accepted citizens of the kingdom and rescue efforts are mounted when possible. Serfdom does exist, but it is restricted. Generally confinement to the land is a criminal sentence, but first generation refugees are also usually made serfs. These persons are generally assigned to frontier areas in order to aid in land reclamation.
Craftsmen and Merchants
Specialist craftsmen and traders stand above peasants in income but not formal status. While regional cottage industries may be robust, most workshops are small and disunited. Guilds and merchant houses exist, especially on the coasts, but they are generally controlled by the nobility, as the military demands of the recent era have caused the landed classes to retain considerable oversight over wealth and to restrict the size of the armed force those without titles are allowed to maintain. As a result, wealthy guilds and merchants are likely to seek quality over quantity and are a prime source of employment for adventurers.
Nonhuman craftsmen have greater freedom to organize and may form large guilds. As a result a number of niche industries are regionally dominated by crafters from a single, numerically small, race. This lack oversight never applies to arms and armor or magic, whose production is always carefully monitored and whose profits are snapped up by the nobles.
Alchemists, arcane spellcasters, bards, and similar adventuring types who are neither beholden to the divine or the martial, are considered to be specialist craftsmen in Resvier, though of a particularly prestigious sort.
The lowest ranking noble position in Resvier is that of the knight. By law any knight must hold land or receive a bequest, however small, within one year of being knighted. Otherwise the knighthood is revoked, which usually has poor consequences for both the knight and the one who knighted him.
Most knights are masters of a small territory, usually a grouping of thorps and hamlets or a small village. They do not traditionally live on this land, but instead appoint a constable to oversee it and live at the court of their lord. Some, but not all, knights allow those in their charge to appoint an elder or elect a mayor to handle local business. A knight’s primary responsibility is ensuring readiness by training a small cadre of men-at-arms when the call comes for battle. The active management of the knight’s holdings is often handled by the lord’s factor.
Like most noble ranks, there is an equivalent religious and organization-based position. The religious equivalent is the prior. For a position of this type held by the member of an organization the title is reeve.
Knighthood is hereditary, though it may be stripped on grounds of disloyalty, heresy, incompetence, or turpitude. This is relatively rare, since it involves a trial. Most knights in this position are instead given a suicidal mission and allowed to march into effective exile with whatever they and their squire can carry off. Unscrupulous lords might have them killed later on. Occasionally a knight manages to succeed at such a task – often with the help of adventurers – and return a hero.
Resvieri primogeniture is blind to gender, and titles pass to the eldest of either sex. However, it is not acceptable to inherit multiple titles, and in the case of the children of two married knights – a fairly common occurrence – the eldest acquires the largest fief and the smaller goes to the next offspring. If there is no heir, the lord distributes the fief to a landless knight, or appoints a new knight to take the post.
Knighthoods are usually awarded for battlefield valor, though it is not unknown for trusted servants, factors, or others to inherit. Vacant inheritances may also be given to a church as a donation or placed in charge of an organization. The latter is most common if there is an heir who is not yet of age – fifteen.
The average knight is in charge of approximately one thousand people. However, due to the portion of the population that does not acknowledge the human rulers, and the component of land held by Priors and Reeves, there are only around ten thousand knights in Resvier.
Above the knights stand the lords. Most lords hold either a large rural territory composed of many thorps, hamlets, and small villages, or a town and its surrounding territory. Generally all human lords command a fortified place of some kind, though some are grander than others, and lords living in the same town or city as their superior often directly control only a small manor house or keep. Dwarf and elf lords generally do not build separate castles from the holdings of their people, nor do those lords of other races numerous enough to have one or two lords of their own (gnomes and halflngs have three lords, lizardfolk have two, catfolk, grippli, half-elves, half-orcs, kitsune, ratfolk, samsarans, tengu, vanara, and viskanya all have one).
The religious equivalent of a lord is an abbot. The organizational equivalent is a steward.
Lordship is hereditary and while subject to removal on the same grounds as a knighthood, this requires an inquest from the lord’s superior assisted by a ranking cleric and almost always involves magical truth spells. Lordships are rarely lost save through warfare or plague – and the plague must be severe since lords can usually acquire clerical aid of some potency. A lord may choose an heir from among the knights of the holding if one is lacking, or bequeath the estate to a temple or organization – with the permission of a superior. If the lord dies without an assigned heir their superior may assign it accordingly, or may hold some sort of contest to choose the new lord. Bribery is extremely common in such matters.
A lord has governance of approximately thirty-thousand people, and is responsible for their defense. This not only includes the forces of subordinate knights, but also a household guard and levies from whatever urban areas are included in the domain. Lords also manage the monies supplied by churches and organizations that supply funds in lieu of armed adherents. There are between three and four hundred lords in Resvier, averaging roughly ten per province.
Most lords do not handle administration in a particularly hands-on fashion and appoint factors, trained specialists in accounting and management of land, to conduct the business of taxation and the assignment of levies. This is especially common in war-torn areas where the lord spends a great deal of time on campaign.
Traditionally greater nobles were the governors of one of Resvier’s thirty-four provinces. They have variable titles: Baron, Duke, and Prince are all in usage, with each associated with its respective area. Duke is generally considered a greater title than that of baron as dukes may control Grand Duchies such as Imbrancy that contain multiple provinces and have subordinate greater nobles. The title of prince is reserved for the ranking noble of a region with a long established tradition of independence such as Quorvast.
While no organization holds such a large territory, present day Resvier contains two territories governed by the Church of Alshiel as Bishoprics. The ranking officer in these areas is a Bishop.
This level of authority is the only one associated with landless nobles. Ranking lords may be appointed as earls or ministers in order to serve the king or other ruler. Such persons are considered equivalent to barons. It is not unheard of for those not of noble birth to be granted such rank, though it is rare. Great heroes might be granted such authority, but no real responsibility, as a publicity move – dragon slayers have been known to achieve this status.
The heads of the various faiths, including the leading druid in Resvier, are addressed as if they had the rank of earl. The heads of the senior arcane institution and the leading bardic college are also granted this honorific. If anyone manages to successfully identify the head of the mystery cult of Qhom they will also be granted this recognition.
It is very difficult to remove a noble of this level from power. A decree from the sovereign is required, and in a divided Resvier that is likely to trigger rebellion. The status of great nobles is hereditary for those who are landed, but not for those appointed to their ranks. Should a position open up without an heir the sovereign will decide how it is filled. Extensive politicking is inevitable in such cases.
Resvier is currently divided between thirteen sovereign states. Despite this only two persons claim to be kings anointed by the Ten and rulings accordingly. The others are merely nobles. This is largely a historical artifact. When the Simark dynasty fell, the trumpet archon First Song of Dawn made it quite clear that anyone claiming the crown would be considered a usurper and that she would punish such treachery. That threat was sufficient to intimidate all claimants until Jellard I, who still went through a charade of being appointed by a majority of nobles.
The Queen of Alshalsha of the elves is the only other monarch, and even in this case the elves proclaimed themselves as rulers specifically disavowing authority over Resvier as a whole and asserting their ancient empire.
While in some ways king is just a word, it carries power. The Jellard dynasty can claim, at least in theory, all the rights and prerogatives that the rulers of the Simark dynasty held. The various other sovereigns cannot. This matters primarily in discussions with foreign powers, in the situation that a greater noble’s fief has no heir, or when dealing with those monsters that consider rulership important, notably devils and some classes of dragon. The idea of a single king for all of Resvier has power, and fuels the unification cause.
Adventurers in Society
While adventurers, as powerful individuals, stand outside the standard social order, efforts exist to limit that. Within the restrictions of P6 the power of an individual adventuring party is limited and their ability to flout existing institutions and the law is constrained.
Roving armed folk who are not attached to the retinue of a noble are considered to be either mercenaries or criminals. Adventurers generally prefer to be considered the former. There are laws governing the actions of mercenaries, including spellcasters, and adventurers are subject to them. Most of society considers adventurers to be either elite mercenary units or, if they are attached to an institution or noble house, an elite household guard.
Some established adventuring companies are attached to large mercenary groups as subcontractors, providing a veil of legitimacy over their actions while granting a great deal of operational freedom in return for modest kickbacks.
Basaron does not have a common tongue. Individual regions usually have a single human tongue spread over a fairly large territory, with between ten million and fifty million speakers. Lands without established nation states, such as the distant southern jungles, may have many languages among much smaller groups. Resvier has a single dominant language – Resvieri.
The primary trade language is dwarven, a legacy of the Iron Surge. It is widely spoken among traders and craftsmen above and below ground. At sea it is largely replaced by aquan, as the hard consonants of dwarvish are difficult to hear underwater.
Scholars primarily rely upon elven and draconic for their documents. Draconic was the scholarly language of choice in the Muram Empire and many ancient sources utilize it as a result. Mundane ancient texts may be written in Muram, now a dead language.
Prior to the Simark conquest Resvier had a number of regional languages. Of these only Quor, the speach of Quorvast, retains any usage at all among small isolated populations in the interior. The wizard-kings preferred to record in demonic, draconic, or infernal, but mundane documents from that era may be found in numerous dead languages.
The various races of Resvier retain their own languages, and often use them for private matters or specialized rituals, but generally speak and write Resvieri.
Coin and Commerce
Resvier’s economy is primarily agricultural. Most people work every day on farms or as laborers and common craftsmen. Villages and towns strive for self-sufficiency, with most trade being conducted in luxuries on behalf of the upper classes and in agricultural goods that can be transported from one region to the next to match with production conditions such as alcohol, timber, and wool.
Craftsmanship is a personal affair, usually conducted by one person and a handful of assistants. Only the largest towns and cities have joint workshops. Almost everything is made by hand, advanced industry is limited to water mills and a handful of temperamental windmills mostly of dwarf manufacture.
The primary crops in Resvier are cereal grains: barely, rye, and wheat. These are supplemented by vegetables, with cabbage of particular importance in the northern portion of the country. Potatoes are a significant crop in some areas, but they are difficult to grow with consistency without druidic aid due to the presence of nematode pests. Corn, alone among major crops, is not known on the continent.
Resvier’s moderate climate, especially in the south, is ideal for vineyards and fruit trees, and these are grown extensively. Portions of the peninsula of Imbrancy specialize in the production of berries, as the land there is suited to them. Honey drawn from extensive flowers is produced there, and on the island of Quorvast after seasonal rains.
Chickens, ducks, and pigs are the most common livestock, with at least small numbers kept by almost every farmer – though ducks depend on the availability of open water. Sheep and goats are cultivated heavily in the uplands, especially on The Rise. They are kept primarily for milk and wool, not meat. Horses are kept for labor, and most villages also have a small number of oxen kept for heavy work tasks. Dairy cattle are kept when possible, especially in the richer pastures of the south. Meat cattle are a luxury and are kept rarely, the nobility is more likely to hunt for meat than grow it.
Game is valuable as a meat source in many areas, especially wild boars, which are considered a menace and hunted aggressively. Fur-bearing animals are also important, and may be harvested in the Shalsha Forest or the forests of Falrency and Branc. Marsh-dwelling fur-bearers such as beaver or muskrat are common in the Great Fen. In the south west the sub-tropical swamps yield a harvest of alternative animals, including reptiles whose skins are highly valued.
Timber production is a major industry in many areas, and most villages have at least a patch of forest nearby. Large inland forests of great age exist, but these are less commonly harvested than the secondary growth that emerged in areas abandoned during the Dynastic War. The Jellard dynasty has focused on harvesting from these areas to encourage the reclamation of farmland.
Mining and Earthwork
Ore is mined wherever found, and quarries wherever there is stone of decent quality. These extractive industries, including some mining of coal are dominated by dwarves and any large operation is likely to be directed by a small dwarven concern regardless of location. Gnomes and oreads are also a significant presence in the mining business, with gnomes in particular focused on the utilization of lighter substances such as sandstone and the production of brick and gravel.
Dwarven metalwork and stonework is highly prized and often commissioned by nobles, but most everyday work is still conducted by the human majority. All races produce their own pottery, but halfling works are considered to be the best.
Books and Paper
Resvier’s bureaucrats, clerics, and wizards utilize large quantities of paper. Paper is produced in a small number of paper mills that are considered highly valuable and under the protection of Reniri. Plant fibers, pulp, and rags are all utilized in the production of various forms of paper.
Most such paper is utilized in every day functions and in the production of block printed texts. Woodblock prints are widespread and utilized to disseminate royal proclamations and to produce religious texts for popular consumption. These works are generally of relatively low quality, but they have spread a measure of education to the peasantry.
High-quality texts, such as official documents and all magic, are still recorded by hand. For such important materials vellum is the preferred medium, with sheepskin the most common. Books produced in this way are considered works of art and may be highly illuminated.
Architecture and Engineering
Most construction in Resvier happens without magical aid. Summoned creatures may be used for brief applications, but most large construction relies on heavy labor and skilled engineering. Specialists in large-scale construction are rare and highly valued. Castles are extremely important both for defense and as status symbols and great sums are poured into their development.
Siege weapon technology is also important. Trebuchets and large ballistae are features of most fortifications and are assembled by major armies. Such weapons are a useful non-magical deterrent against certain physically large antagonists, particularly dragons and giants.
Most people in Resvier do not travel extensively and when they do go from village to village do so on foot. Horses are preferred but riding horses are a luxury and most travelers walk beside their pack mounts or warhorses. Most travel follows fairly narrow dirt tracks wide enough for a single wagon, but there are a small number of major roads established by the Simark dynasty. These routes now cross the boundaries of sovereign states and are plagued by bandits and monsters. Overland travel of any considerable distance is a matter of organized caravans with hired guards and outriders.
River travel by barge and coastwise travel by ship are the preferred means to move large quantities of goods. These methods are generally safe and well-established, with the areas well patrolled. In the east the merfolk charge tolls for passage ‘over’ their territory but these fees are not onerous and the aquatic people are useful trade partners in many cases. Seaward travel by ship is less common, as the oceans can be stormy and plagued with dangerous beasts. Such efforts are only undertaken by powerful merchants backed by well-capitalized nobles.
Airborne travel does exist, but it is extremely rare. While flying mounts can be and are trained for the purpose and for warfare, and flying couriers are an important means of spreading information, this sort of thing is reserved for the elite. Flying about unescorted is also unwise, as it is considered a violation of dragon and drake territory and likely to provoke attacks.
Resvier currency is silver and gold, standardized by weight. Transactions conducted for a value of less than one silver piece are usually done informally via a barter system or local tab. Copper coins exist in some foreign countries but are not used in Resvier – though copper itself has value and will be traved by merchants. Foreign trade is generally conducted using standardized trade ingots, mostly in silver, but occasionally in gold for large transactions.
Most coins pass through many hands and may be quite old. A large fraction of the coinage currently in circulation in Resvier dates from the Simark dynasty. These coins are dwarf-struck, fashioned in specialized presses. Jellard coinage uses the same methods, though it competes with other coinage issued in separate states. Modern Jellard dynasty coins are dwarf-struck as well, but some early coins and coins issued by other states may have been fashioned by humans or gnomes.
Simark dynasty coins are circular disks bearing the dynastic seal and year on one side and the stamp of the mint on the other. The Simark rulers did not place their faces on coinage. The Jellard rulers do, but retain the mint stamps on the opposite side. All coins in regular circulation are flat circular disks.
Older coins, issued during the wizard-king era, exist, and may be common in old dungeons, dragon hoards, and the like. These coins are considered to be of low value and are not accepted by many merchants since the wizard-kings drastically debased their coinage in order to save the gold and silver for the demands of outsiders. Turning in such coins generally requires that they be smelted down for whatever metals can be retrieved. Coinage from northern nations is often similarly debased and merchants dealing with foreign concerns prefer gems, ingots, or trade goods, not coin.
Magic in Society
Arcane magic is very rare in Resvier, much less common than divine magic. Arcanists and sorcerers struggle to achieve mastery over their gifts, while wizardry requires years of dedicated study in order to gain the ability, years simply unavailable to the overwhelming majority of the population, and witches must make complex pacts with elusive entities to gain their powers. Many citizens of Resvier will go their entire lives without encountering an arcane caster in any form.
Perhaps one person in several thousand is an arcane caster of any kind, and there are only a few thousand in all of Resvier. Of these, they are not distributed equally across the land. While arcanists and sorcerers travel widely and may be found almost anywhere, witches prefer isolated rural areas and wizards are concentrated in urban areas capable of supporting arcane institutions.
The common people do not understand arcane magic, having only the vaguest of ideas as to its workings, or the differences between the various types of arcane casters, and may even confuse hybrid casters such as a bard or magus with true spell-channelers. Even among the nobility magic is generally viewed with suspicion, though the ambitious work hard to secure the allegiance of spellcasters.
Due to the reign of the wizard-kings, the people of Resvier retain a deep suspicion of arcane magic blended to political authority. Generally any noble who enters a primary spellcasting class is assumed to have forsaken their right of inheritance. Magic is respected, but kept apart from ordinary society.
As a P6 setting, the capabilities of arcane spellcasters are not overwhelming. Persons familiar with the abilities of the arcane, such as ranking nobles, veteran soldiers, clerics, and most elves, are far less fearful of mages. Wizards are powerful but not invincible, and are vulnerable to being swiftly overwhelmed.
Certain types of spellcasting are restricted by law. Enchantment spells that compel, especially charm person and suggestion, are considered a gross violation of person rights when used for anything but the briefest periods (ie. ‘Stop fighting!’). If evidence can be produced denoting use of these spells over the long term, severe punishments are possible even if no criminal actions were taken otherwise.
Divine spellcasters are not abundant in Resvier, but they are much more common than arcane spellcasters and considerably more accepted. A general estimate would suggest they are at least five times as numerous, perhaps more so, especially at lower levels. Most people in Resvier have met a divine caster and know of at least one within a day's walk or so. Any given village is likely to have a resident adept, cleric or druid, and even hamlets do so on occasion.
The majority of divine casters are adepts, clerics, and druids. Inquisitors, Oracles, Shamans, and Warpriests are considerably less common, though they may be favored in certain regions or among certain races. Shamans, in particular, predominate in areas where the ancestor cult has replaced the worship of the gods.
Most people respect divine spellcasters as agents of powerful beings, either the gods, the ancestors, or the natural world. Generally, if the origin of a divine caster's power is not obvious it is assumed they serve the mysterious Qhom and left at that. The missions of such beings are assumed to be important and are usually allowed to pass unchallenged unless they represent a rival faith.
Resvier's citizens are almost universally religious. Few races dare reject the gods entirely – even blasphemous beings such as the aboleth acknowledge Qhom's authority at least. Even the ancestor cult recognizes the existence of the gods, it simply believes they have failed to serve the people of the world and therefore need not be worshiped. Members of the cult would rather be guided to the outer plane associated with their beliefs than be remanded to the court of a god upon death.
The most common form of worship acknowledges the whole of the Ten, with perhaps one god given a position of prominence. Farmers often acknowledge Emprino above all, while the poor prefer Alshiel and romantics Caliata. The Jellard dynasty has chosen Drogje as their divine patron, a testament to their commitment to order and oversight. Even the evil gods are respected, and only the worship of Trenveed is openly forbidden.
A small minority secretly gives their faith to Qhom. Such persons do not advertise and may outwardly profess a different faith. The mystery cult holds all events in secret, priests usually go masked, and identities are not demanded. While there is no law that says one cannot worship Qhom openly, and some iconoclasts have done so to great historical note, it is uncommon and seemingly not how the faith would prefer to be organized.
The major churches all hold a powerful influence in Resvier. Many control large amounts of land or accept vast donations and endow mighty institutions. Ranking heads of the church are considered major nobles and regularly consulted by sovereigns. Such persons are often not the most accomplished spellcasters, however, but simply the best politicians. Many are nobly born, though commoners do rise to the highest ranks within some faiths with great regularity.
Magical healing is available, but spellcasters above 3rd level are very rare and likely to be found only in large towns and cities. While wounds can be healed, minor damage repaired, and blessings offered to better fight disease or poison, cures for truly devastating conditions require travel and the appeal to a senior spellcaster if they can be gained at all.
Powerful ritual magic can allow clerics to accomplish together what one cannot accomplish alone, or potentially summon an outsider for the purpose, but there are some strict limits. Most important is this: the dead cannot be raised. Death in Resvier is quite permanent and no power short of direct divine intervention can bring anyone back (and since such an act would precipitate a war amongst the gods, it is not going to occur).
Due to the P6 limitations on raw spellcasting power, item crafting is, if anything, proportionately more common than it would be in a setting with unrestrained level progression. Almost all senior spellcasters, whether arcane or divine, eventually learn to craft at least some items. Most magical items produced are not permanent: potions, scrolls, and wands. Mystical arms and armor are the next most common. Rings and wondrous items are particularly rare, and are usually produced for specialized purposes.
Due to the inherent durability of magical gear, those that do retain their power have accumulated over time. Weapons and armor dating to the Muram Empire remain in use, passed down as priceless heirlooms of noble families, or pulled from dragon hoards. Some dwarven and elven items are far older, having seen thousands of years of service.
While magical potions, scrolls, and wands are sold commonly enough, long-lasting equipment is never marketed for mere gold, at least not openly. Adventurers may gift items to nobles, temples, or arcane orders and expect compensation in return, but this is an exchange of favors, influence, and services. Expecting to trade a magical sword for a sack of cash is considered extremely uncouth, and it is likely that only criminals would do such things.
Powerful magical items, crafted with mighty rituals, do exist, but they are very rare. Such potent mystical pieces were never made randomly, always crafted for a specific purpose, the resources required to produce such objects is simply too great for them to be utilized otherwise. Among the most common such items are bane weapons, crafted by various faiths to equip mighty champions in order to slay various monsters. Items that augment the powers of a summoner are also notable among greater items, as the wizard kings desired them greatly and were willing to sacrifice mightily to produce them. Otherwise such items are generally unique.
In Resvier, perhaps one ritually created item is made every century. The Jellard dynasty, for example, has seen the creation of but one: the stone golem Jellard I had crafted as an unparalleled siege weapon. Even mighty adventurers are lucky to grasp one such item in their hands during a lifetime.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 4 - Geography Part 1
The storied kingdom of Resvier is a land in transition. As it approaches the end of its fifth century it must decide whether it wishes to be one kingdom or many. Long associated with an inclusive identity, it struggles with fragmentation, cutthroat politics, and recovery of heritage lost through infighting. Isolated from the rest of the world by mountains and ocean, it is a prosperous land of many peoples. Known for rich agricultural land, the production of fine wines, and a culture of excellence in craftsmanship, it was and remains a popular destination for refugees seeking a new life, though fragmentation has changed this.
Resvier traditionally occupied a vast peninsular structure. Stretching an average of three hundred and fifty miles wide and five hundred miles north to south. The total land area is roughly 215,000 square miles. Much of the country is rich agricultural land, cleared from primordial forest, which occupies the majority of the wilderness. There are numerous wide slow rivers, fed by coastal mountains and a central plateau, with considerable marshlands along the coast.
The climate is warm-temperate in the north to sub-tropical in the south, but is generally moderated by ocean currents from extremes, with a Mediterranean climate predominating. This is largely a consequence of the shallow Nesieraen Sea to the east. The land grows somewhat more arid to the southwest, especially on the island of Quorvast off the end of the peninsula. While snow is a normal property of the winters save on the southern coast where it is rare, the growing season is generally long, warm, and wet, allowing for excellent production.
Resvier is traditionally divided into thirty-four provinces, most of which are relatively stable over time. Presently nineteen provinces are encompassed by the kingdom of Resvier, while fifteen are in the hands of twelve splinter states. The following entries describe each of these political divisions.
Population: 685,000 (Elves 90%, Humans 3%, Wyrwoods 1%, Other 6%)
Religions: The Ten, Druidism
Imports: books, stone, salt, silver
Exports: artwork, herbs, jewelry, magic items, silk
Alignment: CG, NG, N
Ancient beyond the reckoning of any save its residents, the elven kingdom of Alshalsha has existed in some form for many millennia. Though the current incarnation is younger than the majority of its citizens, this land has an ancient character and culture. Known for its artwork, magic, and the slow, careful lifestyle of its long-lived people, this kingdom is a world of fascination and mystery to many observers from without.
Often polarizing, and rarely understood by outsiders, the kingdom of the elves is both a thorn in the side of Resvier, and a power player on the regional stage. Some seek to crush it, others seek to emulate its independence and develop institutions to match its robust culture. The elves themselves simply want to live their own lifestyles according to their free choices, and to keep the often horrific cycles of human violence at bay.
Though smaller than any historical elven claims, Alshalsha is stronger for its density, and represents a new era in elven presence in Resvier, one where they can project power in a fashion similar to their neighbors for the first time. As such, it remains a land in transition.
Life and Society
The Shalsha Forest, a remnant of the primordial verdant vastness that once covered much of the continent, has long been a home to elves. It remains their home still, a land aged and unique compared to their neighbors. Alshalsha is structured differently than human domains, with farms and villages blended seamlessly into the surrounding forest, leading to a highly specialized managed wilderness surrounded by patches of truly wild landscape.
The people here, whether elves or otherwise, struggle to live in harmony with their surroundings. Theirs is a culture that thinks over the long term, planning across the centuries of an elven lifespan. It is a risk-averse place, one that moves slowly and adapts to change with difficulty. It is also a land of great beauty, celebrated for its exaltation of the arts, of patient work, and steadfast time-honored practices that are almost perfectly suited to a given task. The people of Alshalsha do not strive towards innovation, they seek mastery.
Queen Delissira, of the long-lasting Lassunimar lineage, rules Alshalsha, and has done so for the entirety of its existence, having begun her life as the Duchess of the Grand Duchy of Shalsha under the Simark dynasty. She is a diligent champion of her people, and has a fine sense of policy, but has been known to react with excessive caution in a crisis. Despite this, she remains popular due to her history of just rulings and her encouragement of the arts. Her court is aided by a Council of Seers, including several powerful spellcasters. The elves are considerably more tolerant of arcane magic than most human states, and this is evident in much of their life.
While Alshalsha’s economy remains heavily agricultural, the people cultivate a varied crop base including many plants that grow as epiphytes or are cultivated in raised patches hung between the trees. The elves produce few grains, but a vast quantity of vegetables and nuts. They refer to their farmers as gardeners, and consider the practice an art like any other. Artists, what most would consider specialty craftsmen, are a large portion of the civilian population, since the long-lived elves tend towards development of vast skill with a single craft.
Major Geographical Features
Alshalsha resides almost entirely within the primordial Shalsha Forest, a vast land of deep greenery, tall trees, and open understory. While much of the land is under cultivation, the hand of the elves and their fellow inhabitants lies lightly upon the terrain, and seen from the air it is difficult to find anything but unbroken forest.
Bramblespite: This region of forest in the northeastern section of the country has a villainous countenance. Here the trees are surrounded and overgrown by twisting vines, sprouting harsh thorns, poisonous leaves, or other hazards. The land reflects its ruler, hag coven known as Flickerspite, which is led by a witchfire.
Terrible monsters, including hags, nagas, and serpentfolk, dwell in the wood, and they command tribes of humanoids nearby and brutal undead servitors. Of late they have begun to range east extensively, preying upon the construction parties cutting the Ironpike Road. These raiders are a point of contention between Resvier and Alshalsha, and the elves would welcome help dealing with the problem.
North Hills: though the transition between the Shalsha Forest and the wooded slopes of the Treste Mountains is gradual, the areas known as the northern hills blends both landscapes. The soil here is vulnerable to runoff and heavily tinged with the acids of the predominantly coniferous over-story. Less fertile than the rest of the land, it has long been a place of refuge for violent humanoids, especially goblins, who seek out the gaps in patrols between the elves and dwarves and then widen them through their depredations.
Webwoods: Patches of the Shalsha Forest, mostly in the warmer south and far from any settlement, can occasionally be found almost completely cloaked in spider webs. These patches are never large, usually a few hundred meters on a side at most, but they are eerie and intimidating. Normal forest life avoids them, as they are infested with giant vermin of various kinds.
These woods are the home of colonies of Aranea, shapeshifting spider people with a dark reputation and an innate grasp of sorcery. Informal agreements between the aranea and the elves exist, and the two peoples leave each other alone, but others may not acknowledge this non-interference pact, and the aranea do not welcome visitors as a result. Adventurers often seek out webwoods, for they have a reputation of being built over ancient ruins that hide mystical relics.
Major sites within Alshalsha are uncommon and difficult to find, but for those that know the land, there are many unique locales hiding beneath the boughs.
Carvekeep: This strange fortress is built entirely of wood, but resembles a stone castle, so carefully were the logs cut and placed together and then mortared with resin. It is obviously not of elven construction, and is sized to proportions smaller than human-sized. Hidden deep in the forests near no obvious settlements its presence is a puzzle to those not familiar with the residents.
Carvekeep is a trade fortress maintained by the Wyrwoods. This elusive and xenophobic construct race lives in hidden hamlets scattered across the Shalsha Forest. Most reside in elven lands, but though they trust the elves, they do not share their hosts’ openness regarding guests, and their small settlements remain closed to outsiders. Carvekeep is where the Wyrwoods come to trade with outsiders, mostly knowledgeable merchant companies and adventurers. It is also a hosting point for Wyrwood adventurers, who have effects, mail, and savings sent here, rather than revealing their homes. Should they fall, most prefer their bodies to be returned here as well – something relatively easy to accomplish considering their remains do not decay.
Ruled by the watchful eye of Birchbright (LN wyrwood Mnk 4), the fortress is carefully patrolled and outsiders are never left alone or unobserved. The guards here are very capable, as they consider their posting the frontline for the safety of their people.
Estre Stones: Buried deep in a coniferous section of the southwestern forest is a monument composed of a vast array of standing stones, several hundred in total, arrayed in a complex, leaf-shaped pattern vaguely resembling a ginko leaf – a tree that does not occur for thousands of miles. The stones are ancient, dating to the fall of the hags, and the landscape between them is heavily overgrown. Many stones have been shifted by tree growth, earthquakes, or the actions of massive beasts, and the canopy covers the whole array.
Interspersed among the primary stone pattern are a number of smaller dolmen structures, most half-submerged into the soil. These are much more recent, dating to the Muram Empire period or later, and some remain in use to the present. A number of these dolmens are embedded with magical effects, traps, or guardians.
The Estre Stones are a sacred site of the White Brambles organization, and druids, rangers, and their affiliates gather here regularly. Even they do not know the central mystery behind the ancient menhir formation, nor do the fey who sometimes hold revels in this space. It is believed that the stones could be used to empower mighty ritual magic, or that they are somehow sacred to Qhom, but tantalizing runes left behind have never yielded any material clues to date.
Illshalara (Small City, 9,900): The City of Wisps is the elven capital, a city of lucent spires, glass windows, and myriad magic located in a secluded cove on the western coast. Long a center of magical study, it is now the elven capital, containing both the Queen’s Palace and the Towers of Woven Light, Resvier’s premier school of wizardry.
An ancient city, Illshalara hides many mysteries, from the arcane-assisted construction, to the gates to fey realms hidden in gardens and backstreets, to the wisps themselves, strange multi-colored creatures seemingly formed of light and related to the cruel will-o’-the-wisp but much more animalistic and lacking the malicious nature of their cousins. They flit about endlessly at night amongst the towers of the city.
Open to outsiders, the city has a number of non-elven residents. Many of these are arcane spellcasters or sages, seeking to take advantage of the city’s ancient lore and many long-lived residents. Also a center of the arts, the city hosts many expositions in large galleries endowed by the nobility. The Queen’s Gallery is the most prestigious, and sponsoring an entry is a sure way to gain an audience with the monarch, but the administrator, Lady Ressiema Mialis (NG female elf Arst 2/Brd 3) is not easily persuaded and impossible to bribe.
There have been elves living in the land that comprises Alshalsha for thousands of years. This particular section of forest did not become any more important than any other until the establishment of Illshalara after the fall of the hags. As human numbers in Resvier grew, the elves retreated in concentric fashion towards their city.
The elves were defeated by Simark the Conqueror, unwilling to sacrifice the seemingly endless lives his assaults demanded of the defenders. Their kingdom was assimilated into Resvier, but the elven nobility retained rule of their territories and few humans migrated into the forests thereafter, allowing the distinctive character of the land to remain mostly intact.
Cultivating ties with the dynasty to preserve their de facto independence, Alshalsha regained a great measure of prosperity until the Simark line collapsed. Though relatively untouched by the Dynastic War and able to quickly declare and maintain independence, the kingdom did suffer for lack of trade. When humans beat plowshares into swords the market for art collapses, and the elves were forced to endure considerable privation by their standards.
Their defeat by Jellard I in 9773 was a huge shock to the elven populace and to Alshalsha. The kingdom lost almost half its territory and a full third of the population was forced to relocate, a major burden on the crown. Many of the younger generation were lost in the fighting that followed, a problem that contributed to their failure to press the assault and relieve Trestegard when Jellard brought war to the gates of the dwarves. Though the Queen was able to retain independence through diplomacy, the elves know their position is precarious. They cannot hope to stand against Resvier should it assimilate the remaining splinter states.
Currently the elves are rearming. Their population, more concentrated than ever before, has developed a powerful army and a growing spell-corps of arcane spellcasters trained in battle. Led by Hallar Silversheen (NG male elf Cav 4/Wiz 2), a descendant of the legendary dragonrider, they have increased patrols, built alliances with the araneas and wyrwoods, and beat back many dangerous monsters. Much has been lost in Alshalsha, but much has also been gained, and the elves are beginning to awaken to the idea of holding their remaining territory with positively dwarven resolve.
Plots and Rumors
The ongoing development of the Ironpike Road, which will allow overland trade with the dwarves to bypass the Simark-era route through Alshalsha, is deeply troubling to the elven kingdom. It could spell economic disaster, and some have spoken up about potentially engaging in conflict or hiring mercenaries to prevent the road from being built. At the very least there is considerable suspicion from Resvier that the elves have allowed Flickerspite’s operations to continue because the hags harass the road crews.
Hidden Scales: Rumors abound in Illshalara about a dragon wandering the city in elven form. These rumors all hinge on the use of some ancient shape-shifting magic and suggest that this wyrm has infiltrated the Towers of Woven Light and is making off with ancient secrets. No one knows whom this beast might be masquerading as, or even what manner of dragon it is supposed to be, and several investigations have turned up nothing. Despite this, sightings of a winged beast at twilight persist, and paranoia is rising among the wizards.
Moon Curse: Savage murders in the southern section of the country have been attributed to a band of lycanthropes operating in the region. Dozens have died already, and the villages are living in fear, but patrols have failed to successfully track the shapechangers down. The leader of the group, Sharlaisse Vehallaib (CE male elf werewolf Rng 2) is wise to wilderness lore and knows the routes of the elven militias. The local aranea are desperately seeking adventurers to handle the problem quickly, before local hatred seeks any available shapechanger as a target. Qessyi Spindlefinger (TN female aranea) has been seeking out aid in nearby towns.
Population: 400,000 (Humans 85%, Tengu 12%, Other 3%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: cheese, grain, leather goods
Exports: coal, flowers, perfume, wine
Alignment: NG, N, LE
The Duchy of Branc is among the smallest of the splinter states of Resvier, and the least distinct. Many foreigners, without recognizing the border on a map, would have difficulty realizing it is not actually part of Resvier. The culture is almost entirely Resvieri, with the façade of independence mostly imposed from above by the dictates of the nobility.
One thing that is different is the crops. The southern edge of the Pard Mountains hold warm air from the eastern sea over Branc, allowing for bright sunshine, good weather, and the production of famous wines and perfumes. The land as a whole has long devoted itself to the manufacture of luxury, and the life of the nobles displays unmatched decadence.
The same decadence, and its accompanying greed, are the reason for Branc’s continued existence. The nobles balk at the mere thought of sharing their vast profits with the crown, even as the people struggle to feed themselves on lands devoted primarily to cash crops.
Life and Society
Branc was long the first stop for refugees entering Resvier, with the desperate finding themselves eagerly snapped up by powerful nobles hungry for workers to labor on their vast estates. Devoted to industries that require a great deal of brutally hard manual exertion and suffering under heavy taxation, free peasants often move south, but the nobility adapted by utilizing criminal serfs and immigrants. For centuries under the Simark dynasty this made the land prosperous and produced world renowned articles for trade.
Life has grown harder since, with the closure of sea trade due to Falrency to the east, and the need to field an army to prevent outright conquest by the Jellard dynasty. The nobility have managed to hold themselves together far enough to keep the state afloat, but crises are growing and the divide between the powerful and the peasantry has never been wider.
The common people mostly think of themselves as Resvieri, and largely ignore the lines on the map drawn up by cartographers. It is easy for the peasants to slip past cordons to visit relatives on one side or another, and trade in small quantities is not worth bothering to try and criminalize. No one is truly sure whether Jellard would make a better ruler than the current Duke though.
That includes the Duke himself. Wendel Ristain (LE human male Arst 5) is a conniving figure interested in entertainment and in lining his pockets with as much gold as possible. He vacillates back and forth over the idea of unification, uncertain which course is most profitable or safest, and is unlikely to make up his mind without a considerable push. Despite this indecision, he is very good at looking after his own interests, and has no qualms about involving dark elements to have rivals dealt with.
Major Geographical Features
Branc is most agricultural, with large areas of swampland, timber preserves, and a significant system of small lakes. The landscape is organized into large estates ruled by powerful nobles.
Forest of Crows: this large, patchy forest in northwest Branc is the home of much of Resvier’s Tengu population, living in hilltop villages surrounded by enclosing woodlands. This forest has been altered by centuries of silvaculture. There are few conifers, and the majority of the trees produce berries or nuts that can be gathered by the locals. The landscape is rugged and home to a number of woodland monsters, with several small forest patches claimed by youthful green dragons.
Kaskalam Peat Bog: a vast peat bog covered in many areas by vegetation, this oddly shaped depression sweeps and swoops a peculiar amorphous impression across central Branc. The bog represents a valuable resource, with peat cutters working to claim the land and export the rich fuel, especially to the timber-poor mountain fortresses of Pardiem. A number of surrounding villages focus their effort on the cultivation of peat and the utilization of other marsh resources.
Harvesting here is dangerous however. Not only is the ground uneven and capable of trapping the unwary, the bog is a hideout for undead. The infestation dates to the Dynastic War, when undead spawned by a battle in the south were driven here by large armies. They have since multiplied and strike in darkness against the vulnerable before slinking back to hideaways buried deep in the shifting, thick peat. Druids, once a common sight in the area, have been driven out, and the Church of Emprino has failed to cleanse the bog. Local nobility, eager to increase the harvest, is looking for a solution.
Yilbrack Sinkholes: located in southeast Branc, these three holes in the ground, each over one hundred meters across, descend down over two hundred meters to a low stony floor. All periodically flood due to spring snowmelt and then dry up for a relatively short set of months in the fall. Strange and unusual vegetation clings to the walls and odd insects valuable for their secretions can be harvested from them. Each of the holes provides access to multiple caves and passages to the underdark below. By tradition, when they are not flooded they can be used as a secure trade zone between the surface and the world below.
Intelligent monsters are aware of the interest humanoids possess in the sinkholes and have a tendency to lurk there in ambush every spring. Annual calls to secure the location attract numerous adventurers.
Chateau Villare (Small Town, 1,400): Since the Dynastic War a single name has stood above all others when it comes to the vintages of Branc. That name is Chateau Villare. This large, rambling estate has belonged to the Villare family for many generations, and is currently in the hands of Ranscou Villare (N male human Arst 3), the 18th family head. A man with an absolute passion for excellence in oenology, just as his father was. He manages his land with this in mind to the exclusion of almost all else.
Notoriety and quality have brought incredible prosperity to Villare, whose wines are frequently exported to royal courts to the north and to the towers of rich elven nobles in Alshalsha. The estate is in excellent condition and even the lower-ranking workers are relatively well off. Ranscou has poached expert vintners from across the duchy and beyond in order to improve his product.
However, such mundane measures cannot fully explain the unprecedented run of dominance by a single estate. Many of the chateau’s rivals suspect some sort of new mystical process is at work to somehow enhance the product, whether through manipulation of the growing conditions, the vines, or the wine itself. No less than three arcane spellcasters are regularly employed by the estate, and others could work in secrecy. So far all efforts to pierce the veil surrounding the mysterious perfection have failed due to extraordinary security measures, but nobles continue to offer great sums for the secret.
Ebrand (Small City, 8,200): the capital of Branc, Ebrand is a city of great manor houses built by the rich nobility. The central district of the nobles shines with the display of authority, culture, and wealth greater than anything outside of Viercal’s palace district. It surroundings, however, are largely expansive slums and a collection of crowded markets, shops, warehouses, and workshops that strain to provide the nobles with what they demand and keep the hungry population fed.
Ebrand has expanded in recent years as peasants have left the land and migrated to the city. This has increased crime, poverty, and the influence of dark cults. Unrest is simmering, and unless there is reform it is unlikely to dissipate quickly. The nobles have responded by hiring additional guards and repurposing troops from the border.
The insular realm of noble parties and salons has recently been shaken up by the actions of a new arrival. A mysterious dilettante, believed to be a devotee of Ysilame, has taken to crashing events in a variety of guises, embarrassing nobles, exposing crimes, indulging in petty theft, and unveiling spectacular poetry compositions. Known only as Spindle (CN female human Ora 2/Bard 1/Rog 2), this figure is rumored to have some tie to the current Duke. She is targeted by bounty hunters and at the center of several conspiracies.
Kitemasters Guildhall: Hidden deep in the woods near the Forest of Crows is the Kitemasters Guidhall. This seemingly small complex – actually much larger through a combination of underground tunnels, hollow trees, and false boulders – is the long-established training ground for the best spies in Resvier. Constructed in his twilight years by Simark I’s spymaster Grackle, it has a storied, if checkered, history.
The Kitemasters, a freelance organization of espionage operatives of all kinds, gather here to train new members, exchange gossip, and relax while putting false identities aside. Extremely strict rules of anonymity and confidentiality, and no secrets are to leave the complex. Equally harsh penalties are provided for those who fail to maintain the rules or for those who are unwilling to put rivalries aside while present. Senior Kitemasters, retired from active duty, enforce these policies.
Currently the Guildhall is overseen by Fallin Blackgloves (N male fetchling Rog 5), a dangerous former court spy from Imbrancy now in late middle-age. He gets along well with humans, tengu, and many other races, but keeps his own council and never takes off his gloves. He also enforces the strict neutrality of the Kitemasters when it comes to the unification debate. Despite this he has not been able to prevent Kitemasters from being drawn into conflict with Double Mirrors agents working for Resvier.
Branc’s history is bound up in its soils, so well-disposed for growing luxury cash crops. It has long been wealthy, ever since grapes were first put under systematic cultivation by the wizard-kings. The history of inequality and unrest is equally lengthy.
Nobles of the duchy tend to keep their own council, and soldiers from Branc fought on every conceivable side of the Dynastic War, backing whichever powers seemed likely to offer them the best deal. They tacitly supported Wilsand as his star rose, but abandoned him to avoid offending Jellard. Sensing weakness, the duke chose to grab independence for the gold it offered, not out of any greater motive. Now they consider returning for the same reason.
The forested portion of the duchy has been the home of the region’s tengu population for many centuries, ever since Simark I endowed large estates upon his trusted spymaster Grackle as a reward for decades of service. Conflict between the tengu and the human majority has largely been kept light, mostly by careful avoidance on the part of the avians. Otherwise, Branc is among the less tolerant portions of Resvier, and many of the mighty chateaus make a point of hiring solely human workers. Exceptional individuals can bypass this informal discrimination – anyone able to further the noble’s fortunes will be welcomed with false warmth – but racial tensions remain in the duchy, compounded by inequality.
Plots and Rumors
The court of the duke is filled with rumors regarding the possibility of unification. King Aurin Jellard has dispatched an ambassador to discuss the possibility of unification and to monitor the situation in the duchy. The ambassador, Ninon Surenare (LN female human Arst 4), is unpopular in Branc and has survived several attempts on her life. She has taken to hiring adventurers as bodyguards and is searching for a way to establish clandestine contact with the tengu, hoping to secure their support.
The Blood Cellar: Rumors persist of a secret wine cellar buried beneath some long-forgotten chateau or keep, where the wine was flavored with the blood of corpses taken by the priests of Kuniken. The temple in Ebrand categorically denies such practices, but rumors persist and occasionally a strange bottle with unusual narcotic properties and a solid red label surfaces. Agents from the Church of Emprino are looking for a way to confirm these rumors and punish the death clerics is they can be found culpable.
The Bacchanal: Everyone in Branc believes in the existence of a mobile fey court that wanders the land during the nights of summer, sampling wines, tossing about fragrances, and generally partying wildly. It is supposedly a source of wildly mind-bending substances and useful herbal cures, but few are able to find this carnival and emerge with their sanity intact. It is also said that if a bride and groom find the Bacchanal and conduct a marriage there the fey will bless the union and watch over any children produced. Certain rich merchants seek to take advantage of this effect, while certain inquisitors wish to put a stop to it.
Population: 1,545,000 (Humans 85%, Gnomes 8%, Gillmen 1%, Undines 1%, Wayangs 1%, Other 4%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: gold, jewelry, mercenaries, silver, wine
Exports: brick, dyes, pearls, rope, salt, seafood, ship supplies
Alignment: LG, LN, LE
The Grand Duchy of Falrency is the most powerful of the splinter states of Resvier. Possessing fertile farmland, strong trade ties, valuable industries, and a dense, dynamic population. It is the master of its own destiny. The dominant partner in an alliance with Imbrancy to the south, Falrency serves as the anchor in the east against aggression from the rest of Resvier.
Long close to the aquatic kingdoms of the eastern sea, the people of Falrency have a culture that incorporates traditions from the seafloor and from nations to the north and south. They hold different holidays, bake bread differently, favor white wine over red, and speak with a distinctive accent. While many residents still consider themselves Resvieri, along the coast there is a growing subpopulation that considers themselves Rency, a different people.
This is a land engaged in a cultural transition. Should it remain independent for another generation or two it will truly represent a nation all its own.
Life and Society
Flarency is a mercantile land. Long the center of trade to the north and east, and with the aquatic nations, its roots to the sea are ancient. Many towns are traced to forts constructed by the Muram Empire, and the lively civil culture of the empire was partly inherited. While the feudal system remains strong, craftsmen and merchants have a greater degree of authority and independence, and mighty merchant houses are far more likely to own land here than in any other duchy. Even the military is different. With fewer knights living on the land, the duchy relies upon contracted support for its defense, including numerous mercenary companies.
Ties to the ocean are strong. The sea’s bounty provides food, luxuries, and trade, all essential to the life of the duchy. The population is concentrated on the coast, and even inland industries are often engaged somehow with the oceanic trade, whether by supplying ship parts, stores, or gathering in goods from the rest of Resvier. Much overland settlement is concentrated along the Kalen Turnpike, a road constructed early in the Simark dynasty period to channel overland trade to the city of Gloust.
Though prosperous, the land is not peaceful. Mercantilism is a cutthroat practice that takes its tone from the business as warfare doctrines of Ximoc, whose faith is quite powerful in the duchy. Hard work provides few guarantees, and a run of bad luck can lead to devastation. The destitute become brigands, preying up the roads, or turn pirate at sea. Smuggling is rampant, with countless cargos snuck in and out of small ports south of Gloust or routed through Pardien in order to evade the duchess’ heavy taxes.
There is also outright battle. The current duchess, Therese Aren (LN female human Arst 2/Clr 2) is an ambitious ruler with dreams of forging a nation out of Resvier’s eastern coast. She gathers armies with plans to assault Branc or besiege the Great Fen. She also watches for a potential assault from the new king.
Major Geographical Features
Falrency has a mixture of terrain. The landscape is mostly lowland coastal plain. It is rocky in some places, but most of the territory is quite fertile. Large forests, shared with Branc, are found inland. The coast is low-lying and quite marshy in many places, interspersed with the mouths of rivers draining from the Pard Mountains. The coastline is very thickly settled, with countless fishing villages, trading port towns, and more. The population is less concentrated inland, but there are still many large estates that run intensive agricultural operations.
Burn Pits: A pair of vales in northern Falrency are blasted landscapes, ruined gray colorlessness utterly devoid of life. The land smolders, soaked with smoke and slag and fouled by toxic gases. Nothing natural lives here, but the area is haunted by incorporeal undead, mephits, and the occasional achaierai. This place is a legacy of a battle between asuras and devils, ruined utterly during the fall of Muram.
The Burn Pits have a dark reputation. During times of plague it was common to dump the dead into the land, causing the bodies to crumple to ash. This does halt the spread of disease, but it led to the birth of ashy horrors. Rumors persist of ancient treasures hidden here by wizard-kings, especially liches, drawing adventurers. Many druids have an interest in banishing the poisons and reclaiming the land, though all efforts have failed so far.
Saltspray Bay: This wide, shallow bay in the center of Falrency is a source of many ocean-based resources. Fishing boats ply the waves in weather fair or foul, setting lines and traps, and aiding divers who plunge for abalone, pearls, and sponges. The bay is held jointly between the duchy and the merfolk kingdom to the east, with strict limits on what each side can patrol. Not so foolish as to challenge sea dwellers on the ocean, these limits are strictly respected. Both sides patrol the bay, making it one of the most monster-free territories for hundreds of miles.
Tooth Coves: the coast turns rugged and rocky north of Gloust, as the landscape rises to meet the edge of the Pard Mountains. Along these region are a series of deep coves with gravel beds. Ocean currents cause large quantities of detritus, shells, and teeth to accumulate on the stones. The teeth come in many varieties, but dragon teeth, shark teeth, and the strange fangs of deep sea leviathans are all common.
This strange bounty of material cast out of the sea draws scavengers of various kinds, and the coves are rarely empty. Monsters both aquatic and terrestrial prowl the region, including at least one deadly chuul. The rugged lands above the coves are not frequented by humans, but scattered hamlets of Wayangs are found here. These unusual humanoids rarely associate with outsiders.
Gloust (Large City, 22,500): the second-largest city in Resvier is also its largest port. Gloust traces initial settlement to a Muram Empire harbor camp, one that expanded into the largest Muram outpost south of the mountains. It was controlled and fought over by powerful wizard-kings for centuries. Simark seized it through his lightning march via the Great Fen, and it became an important part of his kingdom.
The duchess rules in Gloust, but shares control of the city with a mayor who reports to a large merchant council as well as the nobles who control various districts. A complex formula governs who receives what portion of the docking revenue. Trade is the lifeblood of the city, and most flows by sea. The docks bustle endlessly, providing employment for a huge portion of the populace.
Work is profitable, but unforgiving. Dangerous work leads to injuries, and the merchant houses have no compassion for those unable to work further. Crime is common, with a powerful thieves’ guild, the Anchor Banes, operating throughout the city and demanding protection money from all major players. Beggars are liable to be thrown into debtor’s prison, where they are sold to grindingly harsh labor on estates in Branc, or given to wizards for the purpose of cruel experiments.
Despite its troubles, Gloust is a place of great openness. All races are welcome here, and the only judgment is upon the quality of one’s coin. Many migrants from the rest of the continent and elusive members of aquatic races can be glimpsed with regularity in Gloust.
Hermald (Large Town, 4,200): located on the southern edge of Falrency, Hermald borders Resvier along the edge of the Great Fen. Once a trade-focused town that took to the sea in small ships and kept close bonds to the lizardfolk, it has recently been overwhelmed by a massive influx of soldiers. This town is now the host of the Red Shields mercenary company. Its lord, Lady Amandine Jasseil (LG female human Arst 3) has been almost completely overshadowed by the commander, Knight-Captain Vabrin Cassern (LE male half-elf Ftr 4) and barely retains control of her town.
While officially ordered to maintain the peace and guard against aggression from Resvier, Vabrin has dreams of glory as a great slayer of lizardfolk. He is making a number of aggressive moves, inspiring fear amongst the townsfolk, who already walk small around the many soldiers.
The Underwater Docks: During the reign of Chloe Simark, construction was begun on a vast dockyard extending out into the bay on the southern edge of Gloust. This mammoth enterprise was primarily sunk beneath the waves, an extrusion of concrete, metal, and wood that formed into a immense system of platforms, cranes, and machinery designed to allow direct access to the bay below the surface, and to take cargoes deposited there to the rest of the docks without needing ships.
An eerie structure worked almost exclusively by teams of amphibious gillmen and undines, it is controlled by the Harborhouse Merchant Guild, a powerful concern with a specialized trade relationship to the merfolk.
Mouvent (Small City, 5,300): The city of Mouvent is the capital of the Duchy of Xarency, the second, southern province of Falrency strongly influenced by its large population of gnomes. While the lord, Severin Kallattal (LN human male Arst 2/Ftr 1) is human, the city is essentially a gnome holding, dominated by their neighborhoods and influence.
Fed by several converging streams from the woodlands in the western section of the province, Mouvent contains no less than six water mills, and is an important industrial center. The gnomes use this power to produce bricks, dyes, and glass. The goods made here are high quality and distributed far and wide. The town also hosts the headquarters of several gnome cooperatives that are active throughout the region producing a variety of specialty goods – in particular salt.
Falrency is among the most ancient of the lands of Resvier in terms of human settlement. Explorers from the Muram Empire advanced the development of this region well past that of the rest of the peninsula for centuries, until the empire pulled out and imperial knowledge disseminated across the landscape. This ancient legacy left ruins and fully functional structures across the land, providing the foundations of cities such as Gloust.
The fortunes of Falrency waxed and waned under the regime of various wizard-kings. Some, more enlightened then the rest, saw the benefits of trade with the aquatic races and the nations beyond. Others thought to fight them. The population rose and fell accordingly. The richness of the coast always meant there was considerable gold to fund mighty rituals, and the landscape bears the scars of the violent clashes in many places.
Simark made Falrency his with the aid of the lizardfolk, and the grand duchy was fully integrated into the kingdom. Ties with the sea were strengthened and trade made the region prosperous and fostered joint identity with the rest of Resvier. That identity collapsed along with the Simark Dynasty and the valuable trade it created.
Duke Orsin Aren saw the collapse of the nation quickly and declared independence early. An ambitious ruler, he made extensive military ventures, but succeeded only in solidifying the positions of his enemies against him. The trade links to the north he sought through the mountains were severed. His successor, Jorsin Aren, was much more successful. He kept the duchy out of the tumult of the Dynastic War and cultivated links with Imbrancy. Through a series of careful marriages, Jorsin placed Falrency nobles in every major house in Imbrancy. Restoring trade with the merfolk he also made the duchy rich once more. By 9750 he effectively had control of both grand duchies and was able to pursue an alliance that has remained in place ever since.
Prosperous again, Falrency is prepared to flex its ambitions. The pronouncements of the new king mean that the time to act is short, or they will lose the initiative. Many of the people, however, having grown comfortable in isolation, would rather have nothing to do with Resvier and want to avoid any further conflict. They may prove difficult to rally without a galvanizing force behind them.
Plots and Rumors
As the most powerful of the splinter states, Falrency holds a pivotal position in the unification debate. If it were to merge into Resvier, and especially if it brought Imbrancy with it, it would only be a matter of time until one nation claimed the whole region. Therese Aren has no intention of such submission, having far greater plans, but overtures have been made. King Aurin Jellard has made a standing offer to marry his eldest child to Therese’s eldest, a union that would bring the two states together peacefully. If placed into dire straits, it might be possible to force the duchy to accept.
Dye Cast: The Guild of Dyemakers has received a grand commission to repair several highly valuable ancient monuments by restoring their coloration to its original, several thousand year old vibrancy. The problem is, the emblems in question are located underwater. The guild no longer has the reagents necessary to conduct this repair and needs to rediscover and secure a considerable supply of the missing ingredient. Should a third party achieve the goal instead, they would be able to command a considerable favor from the merfolk kingdom.
Shadow Rumble: A small group of Asuras are secretively active in Gloust. They appear to have gathered a number of Dark Folk, Fetchlings, and Wayangs around them. Their current purpose is unknown, but it is possible they are making a play for control of crime in the region. A number of factions are looking for further intelligence on this group, which has so far remained very elusive.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 4 - Geography Part 2
Population: 900,000 (Humans 71%, Galthains 1.5%, Half-Elves 5%, Half-Orcs 6%, Samsarans 6%, Trox 1.5%, Vanaras 5%, Other 4%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: glass, ship supplies, silver, wool
Exports: ale, fruit, pork, seafood, timber
Alignment: LG, NG, N
Sitting on the rugged, windswept southeastern coast of Resvier is the Grand Duchy of Imbrancy. A land in recovery after the long struggles of the Dynastic War, it is now part of an informal eastern alliance that serves as the greatest threat to unification. The lesser partner to Falrency to its north, and sometimes controlled outright by those nobles, it remains a land of fearsome tradition and strong fiber.
A land of both sea-dependent coastland and hilly inland, it is a place of contrasts and specialization. Harboring more races than any other splinter state, it is a truly communal place in some ways, while deeply riven in others. Visitors usually come away surprised and awed.
For now, Imbrancy struggles to decide where it stands, and whether or not it can gather its disparate powers into a formidable strength, or if the decisions of the age will be made for it. More than perhaps any other land, it is desperate for champions.
Life and Society
Imbrancy is a landscape of patches. While overall very fertile, its habitable lands are not evenly distributed. Extremely rich soils are found surrounded by rocky forests. Good seaside harbors are bounded by deadly rocks. Excellent pasture hides among bramble-coated hills. The losses of the Dynastic War are visible in many places, in the abandoned stone foundations strewn across a land that knew happier times.
The principle unit of life in Imbrancy is the village. While tolerable roads wind their way about the coastlines, most people live in relative isolation with only a few hundred to a thousand fellows in their sphere. Each village strives hard for self-sufficiency, but each one also specializes. Pride in crafting flows deep here, and every place struggles to find something it can master and can its own. This robust cottage industry was once very useful, but with the increased danger in the backcountry it has become little more than a curiosity in many portions of the duchy, as the local peddlers are unable to form regular conduits for the goods to reach major markets.
Imbrancy is classically feudal. The villages have their knights, whom they almost never see, with the nobles living in the handful of towns surrounded by their chosen men-at-arms. This strong force of cavalry marshals beside the urbanized townspeople to form a small but highly professional army bolstered by adventurers drawn from the backcountry areas. These loose and often ad hoc hierarchies are not especially efficient, but they have done well in preserving the complex traditions of the land.
The current duke, Oster Palaven (N human male Ari 3) is a disinterested ruler who has delegated a great deal of authority to his brothers-in-law from Falrency. The most important of these is Bejain Aren (LN male human Ari 1/Ftr 4) who has taken command of the duchy’s armies and seeks to merge the duchies formally, by force if necessary. He is restrained from launching a coup primarily because disunity would allow Resvier an excuse to invade.
Major Geographical Features
Imbrancy is a varied land. The coasts are often stony and gravel-filled, though sandy beaches extend in some areas. Fertile farmland exists along the coasts and in inland patches, surrounded by vast forests, swamps, and hills. Though there are no true mountains, the central spine of the peninsula rises in forested hills that can reach just above one thousand meters. These wind-rounded ridges may have jagged lower slopes, shaped by rockslides and the actions of powerful magic.
The northern coast, along Fanwind Bay, is the most heavily settled and has warm weather moderated by sea breezes, while the south coast can be quite steamy and is routinely struck by powerful storms blowing from the distant lands beyond.
Rollridge Hills: The central spine of the peninsula is covered by a large range of wooded, sub-mountainous escarpments. They divide Imbrancy in many ways, directing the flow of water and serving as a barrier to overland passage. Though they are not especially difficult to cross physically, for there are numerous passes, they are haunted by hostile inhabitants.
The eastern half of the Rollridges are partially cleared and are used for herding and upland cropping. On the southern slopes they are home to numerous small communities of Vanaras, who live in the temperate cloud forest that they have developed there. The northern slopes, slightly cooler and with traditional temperate vegetation, are home to the isolated villages of Resvier’s Samsarans. Illusive and highly magical, they tend to discourage visitors, but may trade with those who live nearby.
In the western portion of the duchy the Rollridges are higher, sharper, and thoroughly forested. This area, which is over a third of the whole duchy, is inhabited by a great mixture of races, including half-elves, half-orcs, gathlains, and trox. These are mostly organized into villages or small tribes, often with very complex systems of alliances established over many generations. They are only nominally loyal to the overall feudal hierarchy, though many clan leaders are recognized as knights and are expected to draw a levy if the duke calls.
Monsters are common in the Rollridges, and are a threat to any inhabitants and especially travelers. Cyclopes, hags, ogres, and trolls are all major sources of trouble. The formation of a hag coven usually leads to a call for aid from the duke.
Spurtusk: the eastern most extension of Resvier is the small Spurtusk Peninsula. A rocky area marked by sheer cliffs, it is largely devoid of settlements in the present epoch, though there are old ruins dating to the Muram Empire scattered about. The stone of the cliffs is extremely hard, and difficult to quarry.
This area has a poor reputation and is haunted by dangerous monsters and undead. It is sometimes utilized by smugglers, as there are good harbors on the southern side of the peninsula and the merfolk kingdoms rarely patrol so far south.
Vhoust Lake: located on the northern side of the Rollridges, Vhoust is a mysterious, murky, lake of great depth, plunging through many layers of ancient rock. The water level never seems to change, regardless of the weather. The lake has many beds of reeds and algae along the shores, and harbors numerous fish.
Rumors of stranger things haunt the lake, including ethereal fey, murderous wisps, and the persistent legend that if one plunges deep enough they emerge into a sea in the depths of the underdark where the aboleth swim. Attempts to confirm this by magic have so far met with failure, as something seems to prevent spells and summoned servants from traveling more than a few hundred feet down.
Altarancy (Large City, 14,500): Though a valuable port city, Altarancy is overshadowed by Gloust to its north. A compressed, slightly ramshackle city with a history of bad fires, it is dominated by local affairs, including the rich fisheries of the bay, and the export of timber from the Rollridges on vast barges. Much of the city’s wealth is captured by a dangerous guild of thieves, the Salt-Hooks.
On the hills that make up the city’s south side there is new construction of a major keep to house the Falrency nobles who sometimes winter in the city. Considerable local resistance has been fostered against this movement, and construction has been halted many times due to theft and sabotage.
Cullar (Large Town 3,300): the largest settlement of the Vanara, Cullar is tucked in alongside a mid-sized lake in south-central Imbrancy. The town is an open, pleasant, place, but festooned with vines and overgrowth, a verdant canopy that man outsiders find intimidating. The Vanara conduct a great deal of trade here, and also contract with caravans that move goods through the interior of the duchy, among the rugged lands of the Rollridges. Lasalar Red-Cheek (LG female Vanara Expt 5), a veteran caravan master and leader of a large cooperative, is constantly on the lookout for guards to help guide loads through the most dangerous areas.
Greenstone Quarry: located deep in the Rollridges, this is a quarry that produces a remarkable, deep green marble considered of great hardness and beauty that is highly valued in the constructions of the nobility across Resvier and beyond. Blocks are extracted by the heavy labor of Trox led by Quarrymaster Sagrick Hardhands (N male trox Expt 4) carted to a nearby river, and floated down. The quarry has recently been forced to halt activities due to an infestation of gargoyles.
Imbrancy was one of the last regions of Resvier to be settled in numbers. Giant clans dominated the peninsula until well into the reign of the Simark dynasty. After a series of campaigns cleared this problem away – an early victory for the Dawnstorm knights – settlement was encouraged. Many nonhuman populations gravitated to the area or expanded on early pioneering efforts, leading to the dynamic inland mixture found today. Humans mostly stuck to the coastal regions where they could utilize fishing to supplement their farming on the difficult to clear land.
From early on the nobility cultivated ties with Falrency to the north, relying on their extensive contacts with the aquatic peoples to build trade linkages. This enabled a shared culture to grow between the two grand duchies.
When the Simark dynasty fell Imbrancy fought on in the name of the crown, motivated by a combination of firm feeling by the then duke and gratitude by the many non-human races for their territory. Unfortunately they were seriously wounded when their armies were defeated and the raiders swept along both coasts in 9735. After this the impoverished nobility became the victim of a deliberate strategy by the more powerful Falrency. Systematic marriages, often coupled to the forgiveness of debts, led to the subversion of the duchy beneath the will of outsiders.
Imbrancy recovered somewhat, but became the only-partly-willing partner in an alliance against the rest of Resvier in order to preserve the independence of the eastern coast and the valuable trade routes that represented. Easier to attack than Flarency, it has been the land of Imbrancy – particularly the relatively narrow strip of territory between the Great Fen and the Rollridges – that has been the center of most such conflicts, and a result that land is terribly militarized and largely depopulated.
For now there is growing popular discontent, especially inland, over the actions of the nobles, and the leading lights of Falrency are greeted with bitterness on the streets of Altarancy. This has produced a troublesome balance. Falrency nobles have the resources to conduct a coup and forcibly merge the duchies, but doing so would inevitably trigger a popular revolt and allow Resvier to invade. Many luminaries on all sides seek the means to break the deadlock.
Plots and Rumors
Imbrancy is twisted with plots between the native nobles and the Falrency based interlopers who have worked to subvert a great deal of local power. Further, there are ongoing efforts to disenfranchise lesser nobles from the inland territories who mostly keep their own council and avoid obeying anyone outside of the duke.
Lady of Chance: An oracle of Ysilame known as Mistress Crimson Rope (CN female half-elf oracle 3) has been wandering the coast of late, spreading the word of several new and unusual games of chance. She has a reputation for fleecing young knights of all their coin. Some think she is blessed by the goddess, others believe the games are rigged somehow, others simply wish to learn the arts of gamesmanship from an obvious master. Her appearances have become quite noteworthy, despite bounties that have begun to gather about her. The church of Drogje has dispatched an investigator named Brickle Scar-Hand (LN male half-orc inquisitor 3) to discern her true agenda.
Upwelling: contacts among the Salt Hooks thieves’ guild claim they are losing valuable smuggling business to the actions of unknown coastal marauders. Raids are brutal and shockingly well-informed, coming from both land and sea. The nobility seemingly knows nothing. Old hands whisper of the possibility of an aboleth, and are seeking outside help to begin a hunt.
Population: 425,000 (Humans 73%, Gripplis 8%, Nagajis 5%, Viskanyas 11%, Changelings 3%)
Religions: The Ten (Tranveed cult highly active)
Imports: armor, beef, magic items, timber, weapons
Exports: copper, fruit, olives, rope
Alignment: LN, N, CE
A major outlier, the duchy of Keinrency is a state of seeming contradictions and simmering mysteries. Allied to Wilsand during the Dynastic War, the duchy followed him into defeat, suffering terrible losses at the Battle of Twining Rivers. Despite this, it managed to marshal unexpected strength and resist conquest despite many reversals. Now it remains steadfast in opposition to the Jellard dynasty, though many members of the populace find their current rulers abhorrent and have no desire to retain independence.
A coastal duchy, Keinrency is split into informal northern and southern divisions. The northern half, bordering Alshalsha, resembles the rest of Resvier, though the climate is quite warm, and it is well known for orchards of all kinds. The southern half is low-lying and marshy, and is occupied primarily by a nonhuman populace that finds this territory, which ranges from saltwater mangrove habitat to blueberry bogs, suitable. Rangy and wild, humans are rare among the strange flora.
The nobility of Keinrency, proud and defiant, refuse to bow before their hated enemies in Resvier. The peasantry thinks much the opposite, as they suffer under stifling embargoes, a nasty blockade, and have little ability to trade without anyone other than the elves to their north. The nobility has chosen to ignore the opinion of the masses, oppressing uprisings with brutality despite their regular occurrence. Backed by powerful magic, the court persists in this path, even as they grow more and more isolated from potential allies.
Eventually Resvier will move in force to subdue them, it is only a matter of time before war comes to Keinrency. The nobility seeks any edge to ensure victory, including the backing of those living in their murky south. The peasantry simply hopes to survive.
Life and Society
The potential for oppression latent in feudalism is on display in Keinrency as nowhere else in Resvier. Peasants are worked to the bone, forced to labor constantly on mandated fortification projects, and to remit a vast portion of their harvest to the needs of the army. Most exist just barely above starvation, and freedom of movement is limited. Holiday feasts are poor, limpid things, for few people can find anything to spare.
Nobles do not live the high life either. The energy is devoted to martial exercises or magical training. The latter predominates. Keinrency has established its own school of wizardry in Kenral and churns out spellcasters who work to produce hordes of combat-oriented mystical items and weaponry to give the elite knights an advantage over their more numerous enemies. Almost all social events are organized as contests, with the families flaunting their strength in displays of dominance and readiness. Many spend far more money than they truly possess to build ever larger fortifications for the day that war does come.
In the south, matters are different. The land is home to Resvier’s native populations of Grippli, Nagaji, and Changelings, and on stable ground the mysterious and somewhat aloof Viskanyas. These species live in the fetid marshlands accordingly to highly specified ways of life, often on good terms with local monstrous beings such as Vodyanoi. These groups have their own, isolated nobles and are expected to contribute to the defense of the duchy. Generally they do not send military forces but supply funds instead, something they are able to do through outside trade enabled by considerable smuggling. This conduit to acquire currency is essential for the duchess – Nacine Fethay (LE female human Arst 2/Cav 3) – so mercenaries can be hired and paid from the distant north.
Major Geographical Features
Most of northern Keinrency is cleared warm deciduous forest that has been converted to farmland. This agricultural region resembles much of the rest of Resvier. On the northern border it fades to forest as the Shalsha Forest takes over. In recent years the forest has expanded southward as Keinrency’s population contracts due to the needs of war. This northern fringe is now filled with bandits and outlaws, many of them preying upon the elves from the seeming safety of the neighbor.
In the south, Keinrency’s fields and glades give way to a vast expanse of highly varied bogs, fens, hummocks, mangroves, and reed beds. The complex geology has been carved by shifting ocean currents and alterations in river routes and drainage, as well as the endless labor of burrowing organisms and dam-construction. Conventional farming is difficult save in a handful of sheltered raised areas. This vast collection of swampland has no official name, since no one faction holds it, and most peasants and northern Keinrency simply think of it as ‘The Coast.’
The Burn Spur: On its northwestern edge Keinrency notches sharply upward. This portion of the landscape is mostly given over to orchards growing sugary fruits, notably mangoes. The soil here is shallower than elsewhere, and an extremely deep black shade. Most farmers avoid building on it, preferring to clear down to bedrock, for it has a foul reputation and pigs that wallow in it tend to develop strange sores.
This region was once part of the Shalsha Forest, but was the sight of a grand battle between mighty green and red wyrms. Ultimately the red triumphed through the expedient of setting a huge swath of forest on fire for weeks at a time. The trees never came back in the centuries the dragon ruled there. Rumors persist of caches of dragon treasure buried deep along the coastline.
Demon Swamp: In the far southwestern corner of the duchy the land turns cruel. The swamp here, an extensive waterlogged grassland that is often flooded to many miles inland at high tide, is filled with dark vapors, twisted dead trees, and boiling, sulfurous springs. Ordinary creatures avoid this area, leaving it to be haunted by aberrations, giant vermin, and demons.
Ancient ruins can be found on the few stable areas in this region, but few are empty. Dark monsters and dangerous cultists are known to operate here. The Grippli population attempts to patrol, but the dark sign of Tranveed can be found scrawled upon buildings with regularity.
Kenral (Small City, 6,200): once a vibrant provincial capital, the city of Kenral has found hard times. Warfare with Resvier and isolation from trade have caused many to abandon the city, and crime has grown rampant among those who remain. The noble sector is largely a military camp, given over to constant drill and the droning of spellcasters are their labors. Legal protections are few, with those found guilty, or even suspected, of committing a crime likely to be drafted into the army. Despite this, a powerful thieves’ guild, the Cunning Fog, coordinates a great deal of smuggling and has many nobles in their pockets.
Large portions of the city harbor numerous vacant, burned-out buildings. Torched during the Tranveed Purge of 9810, they have not been rebuilt, for demand is minimal and they are considered to be haunted by demons and their victims. Undead shelter within some.
Matrain (Large Town, 3,700): On the eastern edge of Keinrency lies the border town of Matrain, now converted to a massive army camp. Most of the original construction has been leveled in engagements or fires and most of the area within the formidable walls consists only of tents. The stony central keep is ruled by Lord Kregein ‘Red Ruin’ Laestaen (LN male human Arist 1/Ftr 5), Keinrency’s leading general. A skilled and ruthless military mind, he has pressed his conscripts and knights into battle against superior forces and emerged victorious, but he has spent little effort to improve morale. The townspeople have mostly fled, leaving only merchants who supply and service the army in place.
Trembling Towers: this ruin in north central Keinrency is one of the most recent destroyed castles in Resvier. It was the center of activity by the cult of Tranveed until 9810, and for a time was a secondary capital to the duchy. During the purge it was sacked briefly, but many of the inner areas and dungeons were simply abandoned after the demons fled. Several adventuring expeditions have attempted to penetrate it fully since, but have been stymied by squatting cultists and dark folk.
Keinrency sided with Wilsand in the final years of the Dynastic War, seeking vengeance against Jellard over his acquisition of the horde of Zilcas Bile-Borne. The then Duke, Mathis Fethay, placed his forces and his sons at the right flank of the battle formation at the Twining Rivers. When Jellard completed his attack, this force was trapped, overrun, and annihilated.
Mathis’ wife, Ines, was presented an offer of surrender by Jellard. Furious and wrathful, she ordered this emissary executed and had his head displayed atop the walls. Unsurprisingly, Jellard invaded.
Ines mustered an army, but she also acquired additional help. Spells and summoned allies strengthened her forces, so that even though Jellard shattered the army, they held the border fortresses of Matrain and elsewhere. Distracted by other campaigns, Resvier’s troops retreated and Keinrency endured.
In time it became clear that Ines’ supporters were not morally inclined individuals. Appointed to the Trembling Towers, they began to gather up the destitute, refugees, and others. Horrible screams would issue forth from the keep, and demons followed. By the 9780s it was clear that the Cult of Tranveed had subordinated the duchess and gained de facto control of the state.
However, nothing was done about this for many years. Atrocities mounted, but Ines eliminated all rivals with swift brutality and the continual aggression of the Jellard dynasty – now wielding rather accurate accusations of demon worship – kept the state in a militarized defensive posture. People fled, businesses failed, and a huge portion of the northern border was abandoned to steady forest regrowth as elven adventurers struck out against Tranveed cult activity. The duchy grew terribly miserable, and the nonhuman southern portion became deeply recalcitrant with regard to their taxes.
The death of Ines in 9810, to causes still unknown, was a catalyst. A band of adventurers, backed by funding from the Grippli, assaulted a major temple in the south. Successfully led by Clement the Swift (CG male human Slayer 6) they destroyed the temple and put every last acolyte to the sword. Building on this success and supported by a growing cadre of deserting troops, they launched the Tranveed Purge. Over the course of the year every major stronghold of the cultists and their demons was thrown down, culminating in the sacking of the Trembling Towers. The cultists scattered and Clement was wed to Nacine Fethay when she took the office of duchess.
Despite this victory, the cult was merely driven underground, and the dark god retained great influence over the nobility and the spellcasters of the duchy. The marriage between the hero and the duchess proved loveless, and Clement was hopeless at court. He now spends almost all his time in the distant south searching for demons, while the state remains corrupt and struggling. Brutal taxation has allowed them to maintain a presence in the field, but a major clash with Resvier is seen as inevitable.
Plots and Rumors
Subversion of various nobles by the Cult of Tranveed is something of a pastime in Keinrency, and investigations are constantly ongoing, led primarily by the inquisitors of other faiths. Corruption among those faiths and among the arcane population is also a major problem, but has proven much more difficult to detect. Support for a second purge among the population remains strong, and adventurers willing to walk carefully in the halls of power are much in demand – though bad ends are common.
Murderous Defection: Kregain Laestaen has proven his loyalty to Keinrency many times. The same cannot be said of his subordinates, many of whom lost parents or siblings during the Tranveed Purge. Should the current marshal be removed, a successor might be amenable to bribery by Resvier. Such a turncoat move might bring a huge portion of the army with him, and doom the duchy. Spies are thick in Matrain.
Slippery Secession: The residents of southern Keinrency, mostly nonhuman, have remained part of the duchy mostly out of inertia. However, their ties to the leadership are weak, and potentially breakable. Rumor places a high-powered negotiator sent by Resvier in the area with intent of convincing a majority of local nobles to peacefully transfer their allegiance. This would surely trigger a war, but it would be hopeless for Keinrency. So far, it seems reception has been mixed, but the duchess has put a large reward on the head of the representative.
Labrean and Nasabrean
Population: 600,000 (Humans 90%, Other 10%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: clothing, iron, timber,
Exports: cheese, grains, herbs, livestock, vegetables
Alignment: LG, NG, N
The vast, slow-moving alluvial plain of The Brean, carved over long ages by the Abrea River, has long been the agricultural heartland of Resvier. The linked duchies of Labrean and Nasabrean, each sitting on one fork of the great river, have long served as the divided centers of this fertile region. Devastated during the Dynastic War by the consequences of incredible violence and poor decisions by the leadership, it has turned inward looking.
Nobles struggle to preserve their face-saving claims to independence even as they remain under the thumb of the crown of Resvier. The common folk simply struggle to rebuild and repopulate, returning vast tracks of abandoned and burned farmland to the plow. All struggle to avoid further wars and to protect the new generation from violence in the service of expansion.
Among the simplest and most uniform of Resvier’s regions, this land is attuned to the rhythm of farming, of pulling growth from the land and husbanding those gains tightly. After much loss, it has grown deeply conservative and fearful of change.
Life and Society
The people of the Brean are overwhelmingly human farmers. The nobility is small in number, as vast expanses of cleared land are relatively easy to divide and govern. Wilderness is limited here and monsters are few, so there has always been less need for armed knights. Troops are drawn from the abundant townsfolk, and have generally allowed for a powerful army, though these days soldiers are few in number as the population recovers.
Life in the duchies follows the cycles of seasons and weather, planting, weeding, and harvesting, all in accordance with tried and true methodology. Village solidarity is strong, with long-serving mayors quite common and local authority generally significant. Many knighthoods were eliminated during the Dynastic War and simply not replaced, the local lords appointed constables to oversee the territory instead. Those few knights who remain retain no men-at-arms, due to the restrictions on armies required by the vassal agreements between the duchies and Resvier.
Though each duchy is ruled by a duke, they are not truly sovereign. While they may govern their territory and provide for defense, there are strict limits on the actions they may take without consultation with the king. Though their armies are considered independent and do not have to serve under the authority of Resvier’s nobles, they are expected to fight Resvier’s enemies and support its aims.
The noble courts have largely emptied due to the weakness of the states, and both fulfill their military obligations largely to the remittance of a considerable portion of their taxes on to the crown for the purchase of mercenaries, rather than place their own people under arms.
Major Geographical Features
The Brean is a vast alluvial plane formed by the action of the Abrea River. This slow-flowing river that gathers water off The Rise in the center of the nation has built up a very rich bank of soil prior to draining into the vast swamps of the Great Fan. Barges labor back and forth along the river continuously, carrying the bounty of the land to other markets and down to the sea. Wide and flat, the land is mostly cleared and the river long-ago channeled into steady passages that manage the annual flooding through a complex natural irrigation system that includes a number of small-scale but persistent enchantments dating to the Simark dynasty.
Tallasser Islands: near the center of Nasabrean, the Abrean River splits into four separate branches and is dotted with several dozen small islands. This area is difficult to navigate, as buried snags and often hazards have a tendency to spin barges loose from control or hold them fast in place. Raiders often strike at the barges in this area, operating out of hidden camps on the islands. Efforts to purge this banditry have so far proved unsuccessful, and stories of cruel fey operating amongst the raiders persist.
Altar Mounds: in far eastern Nasabrean rise a series of small, rounded hills, looming as much as one hundred meters above the marshy lowlands. These mounds, mostly assemblages of piled gravel, earth, and stone, are of ancient lineage. Widely reputed as haunted, they seem to draw undead from the surrounding region. Rumors of strange treasures from the Hag Reign linger, as do wretched tales of disappearances. Confirmation of what lies beneath the mounds has so far failed to emerge.
Sabrean (Large City, 20,200): The third-largest city in Resvier sits along the gentle northern fork of the Abrea River. A major agricultural hub and inland trade hub, the city is known for its vast markets, where almost anything can be purchased, including exotic items from across the seas or far to the north. Trade through this city is rarely direct, with items passing through the hands of varied consortiums, small companies, and guild houses, but it is robust. The agricultural goods of the duchies provide a solid baseline and guard against the proliferation of bubbles.
The existence of Sabrean is the primary reason the duchyies are able to retain nominal independence at all. The guilds greatly value this status as they have strong negotiating power with the less potent dukes than they would with the crown and have put forward large sums to hire the mercenaries necessary to protect the region and make outright annexation a bloody proposition. The power of gold secures what knighthood cannot.
Mercenaries represent a problem for Sabrean, however. Most companies muster in the environs of the city and the area is flooded with poorly regulated soldiers, including many nonhumans and foreigners who mesh poorly with the highly traditional townsfolk. Keeping order is the responsibility of Tallasan (LG female human Cav 4), commander of the city guard, but her resources are over-stretched and her agents are unable to deal with many of the more dangerous supernatural threats in the city.
Temple District: As the founding city of Simark I’s kingdom, Sabrean became the de facto holy city. While major temples were also built in Viercal, several faiths, especially those adverse to the kingdom’s authority, chose to keep their headquarters in Sabrean. This remains the case to the present, with the temple district of the city’s southern side the shining light of the city. Major faiths headquartered here include Caliata, Emprino, Kuniken, Scaemaenn and Ysilame. The city also holds the only official shrine to Trenveed in the kingdom. Worship is prohibited and the stony sepulcher lies empty, but the deity’s existence is at least acknowledged. The faiths occasionally meddle in city politics, but most of their effort is spread nation-wide. A number of major landed monasteries – used for training new recruits – are located on grants nearby.
Control of Labrean and Nasabrean has long been essential for control of Resvier. It was the foundation of Simark’s march to conquest, and its loss signaled the end of Wilsand’s power and the rise of Jellard. Control of the Brean comes with it the ability to feed the whole of the country, a resource of inestimable value in an agrarian economy.
Outside of its importance in wars, the Brean is a sleepy region, flowing with the endless cycles of farming, where humans have long been dominant and most monsters have been cleansed. Faith in The Ten is strong, and the people hold fast to their traditions. Peace is preferred here, and the residents wish to keep it this way.
The duchies suffered immensely towards the conclusion of the Dynastic War, when their short-sighted abandonment of Wilsand’s cause allow Jellard to snap them up in a rapid, brutal campaign that forced Nasabrean to fight Labrean and saw refugees flee in all directions. Massively depopulated from its pre-war peak, the people struggle to grow their villages and reclaim land that has gone to weeds and forest since it was last cultivated.
Most of the common people are content with vassaldom, though they consider themselves citizens of Resvier. If joining the kingdom promised greater peace, however, most would support it. Too many have marched to war from their towns.
Plots and Rumors
Diplomatic efforts to formally subsume Labrean and Nasabrean into Resvier are ongoing. The king’s chief diplomat, Jaten (LN male human Brd 5) circles both courts constantly, searching for the right combination of blackmail, bribery, and exhortation necessary to convince a coalition of the nobles to submit. The other side works to counter him, backed by merchant gold and several of the churches. Against this dance several more sinister forces are gaining ground.
Regrowth’s Champions: Much of the Brean’s lost wilderness was reclaimed during the Dynastic War. Now the farmers are gradually taking it back. This is inevitable, but many druids and rangers wish to the limit the speed at which it happens and preserve certain sites of great natural significance. Known as Regrowth’s Champion’s this informal circle is not unified, and it struggles to control renegade elements that would burn and destroy spreading settlements in order to gain a place of trust and authority as court. However, until a dominant leader emerges this cannot happen.
White Nails: Goltharuth White-Skull (NE male augmented humanoid (lich) Wiz 6), a nine hundred year-old undead spellcaster, has recently returned to his mausoleum beneath the loamy soils of Labrean he once ruled long ago. No longer desirous of rulership, he has launched a very private, personal crusade against the followers of Caliata, who he believes wronged him long ago. His minions, the White Nails, consist of a number of renegade arcane spellcasters, undead, and the desperate. They are seeking information and looking to strike out with cruel hatred whenever the opportunity arises.
Population: 450,000 (Humans 83%, Kitsune 7%, Other 10%)
Religions: Ancestor Worship
Imports: coal, pottery, spices
Exports: cloth, clothing, iron, gold
Alignment: NG, N, NE
The Barony of Marvance lies in the north of Resvier, in a partially isolated region with the Treste Mountains to the west and The Rise to the south. This location, combined with trade to the north through the city of Dourved, has given it a somewhat different character than the rest of the country. The convulsions of the Dynastic War, peaking during Olannal’s Crusade, only increased this differentiation, with the arrival of a massive wave of northern refugees giving rise to a new people and dividing the culture.
Marvance, alone among the states of Resvier, has partially abandoned the traditional worship of The Ten and turned to ancestor worship, having endured too many horrors at the hands of those who claim to represent the divine. Now its leaders face a difficult choice, embrace the new faith and solidarity with the changing population, or seek to maintain the ways of their forefathers. Pressure from outside influences weighs heavily.
Embarrassed by Jellard I in battle and then ignored while he fought the dwarves, the barony has no desire to reunite with Resvier, and may covet independence to a greater degree than any other state, especially among the peasantry. To serve this goal it has built strong bonds with the Tourvene Republic, even though most find that experiment in democracy far stranger than their religious changes.
Life and Society
Marvance is a land struggling to rebuild and to develop an identity from recent chaos. Olannal’s Crusade and subsequent conflicts swept almost everything away. The old nobility was entirely destroyed, and estates were granted to military leaders, adventurers, and even wizards who managed to preserve something in the chaos following the crusade by the first baroness – herself an adventurer of highly dubious origins – following the conclusion of the conflict. No noble house is even a century old, and in many cases are still in the hands of the second generation.
The lower classes are divided, mostly along ethnic lines. Resvieri still generally hold to the same sort of lives that have filled the villages for generations, and hope for peace and say their prayers to The Ten. In the towns and cities they live side by side with Marvan, a different people with northern influences and black hair who worship their ancestors and consider all the gods to be traitors. The history of the land lends weight to this argument and ancestor worship has drawn many Resvieri into the fold, at least partially.
This is a land largely without traditional priests, having wandering oracles and shamans instead who maintain small shrines and call upon the blessings of the ancestors. The people are somewhat furtive, and quieter than elsewhere in Resvier, and their festivals are restrained. Food is carefully husbanded, as the memory of famine has not left the land, and outsiders may be viewed with suspicion beyond the cities, especially in the west, where they are thought of as spies.
The current baron, Leon Sousaunt (N male human Ari 4), is an elderly man who is deeply troubled by the state of the barony. Though he hates Resvier and will here no talk of peace, he worries much about the growing power of criminals in the cities and the possibility of violence between the Marvan and Resvieri. He can see the growing tension in the land, and worries that if Resvier does not attack, his people will find their way to violence otherwise. He fears his daughter and heir Yvette (LG female human Ari 2/Ftr 2) sees Resvier as evil and will make aggressive moves when her time comes.
Major Geographical Features
Castle Islands: This series of small, rocky islands lies just offshore of Marvance. Though small and mostly unable to sustain trees, they are excellent sources of fish and certain unique herbs. Smaller rocks contain seabird colonies and sea pupping grounds that are important resources as well, though bunyips and sea drakes stalk the area and make harvesting a dangerous affair. Certain haunted islands hold old citadels of the wizard-kings that were deliberately chosen for isolation, and have remained frozen in time.
Pellesion Gorge: The Pelles River forms the northern third of the border between Marvance and the Treste Mountains. For most of this length, until it spills out into the narrow bay that forms the Dourved harbor, this river carves and immensely deep and winding gorge across the landscape. While the western side is technically part of Resvier, the entire gorge has long been considered Marvance territory and the western edge of human holdings. The steep-sided gorge has pasture for mountain goats, and is also a haunt for griffons and other winged monsters that nest on the heights.
Rumble Woods: this large forested region hugs the southern edge of Marvance, just beneath the sharply upward sloping terrain that leads to the rise. Rocky and cut by many streams, it is not suitable for easy farming and has long been a wild region. This area is home to wood giants and to their brutal master, a terrible athach that has lorded over the region for many years and is said to keep a mound of bones made up of the adventurers that had tried to stalk and kill him.
Structurally Marvance resembles much of Resvier. Farming villages surrounding local trade towns feeding into large towns hosting fortifications. Ultimately the economy flows to the northwest, to the capital city and the important sea routes to the north, but most life is steady and highly localized. The land is most heavily settled along the coast, where the Marvan have rebuilt the devastated population, while the southern edge contains many areas reclaimed by wilderness following the violent burning of Olannal’s Crusade.
Dourved (Large City, 16,300): The capital of Marvance is a major city of Resvier, carrying significant trade northwards. While it is not a mercantile center on the level of Gloust, it is an important focus of trade, particularly in the export of crafted metal goods from Trestegard that are highly coveted for armies in the violently fractured lands to the north. This trade is not what it once was, as efforts to restrict it are ongoing, and Dourved has a somewhat rundown feel. Much of the city is new and poorly built, as it was swept by a series of major fires during Olannal’s Crusade.
Dourved has an active criminal element that conducts widespread operations and has de facto control of many of the city’s recently rebuilt docks and slums. Lacking a major thieves’ guild these factions compete against each other for territory, led by local strongarm bosses. Attempts to clean up the city by the ancestor cult have met with opposition from underground operatives loyal to Ysilame and Ximoc.
Lost Line Keep: located on the western edge of Marvance, this keep was an important bulwark against the Treste Mountains for centuries, and stopped many an invading force of goblins or orcs. During the Dynastic War it was seized by the faith of Kuniken, who turned it into a charnel house and garrisoned it with legions of the dead. Olannal’s mobs burned the keep out, but the stones themselves weathered that assault largely unscathed. Human forces did not reclaim the keep. It was seized by a troll warlord known as Bitterteeth (NE female Troll Bar 2) and her many minions.
For ten years the mass of allied humanoids used the keep as a base of operations for terrible depredations. Then, one night, they all simply vanished amid terrible screams and a baleful red glow that lit the horizon. Few have ever dared to investigate since. None have returned.
Willow Strands: This series of towns in northeastern Marvance occupies a relatively balmy region along the coast and remains warmer in winter than its surrounding areas due to the presence of a shallow shelf extending some distance out to sea. This shelf is frequented by ocean-going fey and therefore avoided by human sailors. As a result the region has long served as the homeland for the Kitsune population of Resvier.
While many Kitsune live in urban areas, the heart of their people resides in this cluster of closely networked towns. Outsiders are welcome so long as they behave themselves, though they may be subject to gentle pranks. The Kitsune have their own lord, Embaw Whitestreak (N male kitsune Ari 4) who has ruled for many years. They are loyal to Marvance but have secretive trade contacts with the gnomes for the production of salt on their extensive beaches.
The early history of Marvance is tied to their proximity to Trestegard and their ability to trade with the dwarves. This commerce, which was highly valuable to early wizard-kings, resulted in the development of Dourved – at one time the largest city in Resvier – and an impressive nautical heritage. The Simark conquest reduced the importance of this trade, and Marvance became much more agrarian and similar to any other province.
Marvance was devastated by the Dynastic War. Several early claimants used its people for bloody assaults on the dwarves in an attempt to destroy pockets of Simark loyalists. Later foreign mercenaries seized Dourved and were only beaten off with great cost. With trade and crop production disrupted, famine ravaged the countryside and survivors fled to the cities only to encounter plague. The population plunged, and the people turned to the worship of Kuniken in a desperate bid to ward off disease. This largely failed, leading instead to a horde of zombies walking amongst the people and terrorizing them to remain in their homes. Most of the nobles were slain and the High Priest of the death goddess briefly claimed the barony as a bishopric.
When Olannal’s rampant forces came down from The Rise, they found ample tinder to ignite the fires of fanaticism. However, while the cleansing force of the crusade led to the destruction of the death priests’ power base, the undead held to suicide, and the violence claimed endless lives. When Olannal perished, the land was devoid of leadership, and the people cried out that the gods had betrayed them.
Salvation came in the form of a wave of immigration from the north, with people fleeing a conflict that was, if anything, even more terrible. These people, who became the Marvan, were ancestor worshippers, and offered their faith as a stable alternative to worship of fickle gods. This trend grew rapidly, as ostracized priests had no way to counter the spread of the new faith, and would-be knights latched on to the power of shamanic magic to aid in their rise to nobility.
Marvance was forced to field an army to oppose Jellard I in 9782, only to fail miserably on the battlefield. Rather than fight a series of disadvantaged battles that would bleed a weakened land, the Lady Rachile Soussaunt negotiated for peace by allowing Jellard safe passage to attack the dwarves. She also parlayed this diplomatic victory into control of the barony.
Later campaigns went better, as Marvance regained the strength to field a true army and focused on training their troops well. They also paired with native woodsmen from the southern portion of the barony to lead harassing attacks on their opponents, preventing conventional invasion. Bitterness against Resvier remains high, though the barony is now struggling with their embrace of a foreign faith and the divides it has spread among the population.
Plots and Rumors
Surrounded on both sides by Resvier, Marvance is vulnerable to attack, though it is distant from the southern heartland of the nation that would conquer it. Popular support for defense is high, however, and therefore direct attacks would inevitably be very costly. Both sides plot against each other, with a particular focus on enabling or preventing the trade in dwarven arms.
Blockade: The baron is convinced that Resvier is assembling a massive fleet with the aid of the elves for the purpose of blockading Dourved and other smaller ports in order to strangle Marvance’s trade. He believes that pirates and refitted merchant vessels seized off the Castle Islands are being assembled for this purpose. Resvier-affiliated ships with armed soldiers aboard have been sighted in the region, and ships have been disappearing, but it remains unclear if the baron is even close to the correct deduction.
Foreign Entanglements: A group of adventurers from beyond Resvier known as the Eagle Cutters has recently been active at several points in Marvance. They are not a particularly kind group, but they have amassed considerable funds through defeating a variety of bandits and monsters. Several local leaders are worried that they may attempt to sieze control of a plot of land near the borders and then attempt to secede into Resvier. Local lords watch them closely.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 4 - Geography Part 3
Population: 400,000 (Humans 90%, Other 10%)
Religions: The Ten (Alshiel dominant)
Imports: glass, herbs, spices, steel
Exports: cheese, fruit, horses, leather goods
Alignment: LG, LN, NG
The bishopric of Orhanan is one of Resvier's youngest states. Founded by the sainted Lady Bethera Cuisaun, it is dedicated to the worship of Alshiel and controlled by the Dawnstorm Knights, an order of cavaliers, clerics, and paladins of Alshiel. A coastal land, it has flat, lowland plains that make for excellent pasturage and elevated tracks of glacial till that are finely suited for orchards.
Known for fruit, cattle, and horses, it has quickly developed a reputation for attention to the plight of the common folk and severe restrictions on the authority of the nobility. Among the most open of the smaller states, it remains well defended by the Dawnstorm and their allies, and has been at peace due to this presence.
While devout and holy, the paladins are poorly suited to an area of bounteous agriculture, capable mercantilism, and lively port towns. The strict rule and piety of the leaders is holding back development, as are the heavy taxes needed to maintain them. Many people, especially the nobility, wonder if they would not be better off as part of Resvier. At the same time, dark entities walk the woods and untamed bottomlands, seeking to undercut the rule of the paladins and point Orhanan as a dagger at Resvier's southern heartland.
Life and Society
Orhanan is a young land, born out of devastation. Its people have little in the way of popular identity to separate them from Resvier. The largest change is the dominance of a single faith. Worship of Alshiel, regarded as having saved the land, is absolutely dominant, edging out the other good and neutral gods. The sainted Bethera, savior and founder of the nation, is almost an object of worship herself, considered the chosen of the goddess. Her images are everywhere.
Those who lived through the horrors of Olannal's Crusade and the dark years that followed tend to be very devout, and never miss the weekly services. Younger generations find this somewhat stifling, having no desire to live in a nation of monks. This divide is spreading some measure of instability across the small region, as it the unification debate.
Generally untouched by war, the people of Orhanan are peaceful, secure in the knowledge that their faith and its champions defend them. This perception is somewhat erroneous, as the Dawnstorm lack the numbers necessary to fully control the territory and monsters are becoming more abundant in the shadows with so many holy warriors forced to patrol the border. Even so, Orhanan is perhaps the most peaceful region in Resvier.
Rule by the bishop of Alshiel is strict, but kind and merciful. While taxation to pay for the Dawnstorm and a seemingly endless series of monuments to the goddess is quite high, the land is prosperous and can afford it. Nobles grumble about the diversion of funds from civic purposes to religious ones however, and grouse at the severe limitations imposed upon their power by the ability of temple-appointed priests to overrule their dictates.
Most Orhanans are farmers, especially in the large orchards or on the considerable dairies. Horse-breeding is a major regional institution, and this area breeds the best horses in Resvier. It is also a center for leather working due to the abundance of cattle and horses. Many towns contain tanneries nearby and these are central to the life of the Ratfolk who live on the edge of Orhanan towns and villages.
Major Geographical Features
Orhanan is a coastal plain. Raised regions of glacial hill support abundant orchards, while the lowlands are filled by bottom-land forests that absorb wide-ranging spring flooding that extends out into many of the rich pastures. Traditional grain crops are grown in drier sections near to the towns. The land is bountiful and youthful, but requires much maintenance.
The Shallow Forest: this bottom-land in south-central Orhanan floods regularly. The marshes in the delta region are overgrown with reeds and harbor hungry monsters. Little is produced here and the locals generally avoid the area. Bits of stable land found here above the flood-line can host small camps for dangerous cults or monsters.
Dawnbreaker Cliffs: these elevated cliffs on the eastern coast of Orhanan shelter a combination of orchards, among the best in Resvier and producing rare crops such as olives. The cliffs themselves, and the many sharply bounded offshore rocks just out to sea, host myriad seabird colonies and dangerous predators such as sea drakes. Powerful storms break over these cliffs, and give rise to impressive vistas when dawn breaks through at last. The Dawnstorm Knights were founded here, with Brightbreaker Keep located on their northern edge.
Ribbed Plains: central Orhanan is covered in rolling pasturage of thick, deep soils and unusual rolling geology. The land beneath is often festooned with tunnels, for the Ratfolk have lived in this area for a very long time. Their warrens, usually located near human towns, dot the region and are centers for feverish industry. It is not a land without danger, however, for the tunnels hide powerful burrowing predators and passages to the world of caverns beneath.
Orhanan is a small relatively open land. It has no true cities, but many villages and small towns. The land is widely tamed, for the purpose of raising animals in pasture, but often thinly settled. It is a land of great holiness, but also dark shadows.
Brightbreaker Keep: the central headquarters of the Dawnstorm Knights, Brightbreaker Keep is a truly impressive castle built onto a massive rocky outcropping on the northern edge of the Dawnbreaker Cliffs. Housing an impressive temple to Alshiel, it serves as a garrison for several hundred soldiers and a training camp for scores of young recruits eager to join the order. Adventurers are not needed here, the surrounding countryside is some of the safest in Resvier, and the current leader of the order, Lord Imbrick Rondel (LG male human Pal 6), quickly sends any off to other stations.
Mercyborn (Small City, 7,000): Renamed by Bethera, this once modest city has risen to become the provincial capital and seat of the bishopric government. Centered around the largest temple to Alshiel in Resvier, an extremely ambitious construction still being built, it is a city of hope and piety, where even the most desperate can come and receive a helping hand – though such handouts do not come without strings attached. Those availing themselves Alshiels' generosity will be expected to pay their debt in sweat serving the needs of the goddess and her clergy for a time.
Unlike almost any city of its size, Mercyborn has no noble lord claiming ownership of the land. All the nobility here perished in Olannal's Crusade and now the faith administers the city directly through a council of clerics. The current Bishop, Keltha Minchae (LG female human Clr 6) oversees the rule of Orhanan from her spartan chambers in the temple. She is a kind ruler, and steel-eyed, but firmly believes that proper faith is the answer to many of the problems of the state, and has little tolerance for politicking or the concerns of merchants she believes motivated solely by greed. She makes a point of walking among the common people for at least some time every day, and uses her spells to heal the sick as much as she can.
Ricketskins (Large Town, 3,800): The bazaar town of the Ratfolk, Ricketskins is by far their largest settlement and the largest leather market in all of Resvier. Three-quarters underground, the commercial areas and tanneries dominate the surface, while the warrens are dug deep into the soil below. The city smells bad due to the treatment of hides, but the ratfolk and the local human residents don't seem to mind much. Traveling merchants put up with it, for while the ratfolk drive hard bargains there is great value to be found here.
Once simply the province of Orhanan, this land was long noted for fine orchards and fine pastures, and it has produced valuable crops and mounts since time immemorial. After Simark's conquests its population grew, and it was settled for the first time by Ratfolk during the second century of the Simark dynasty. The ratfolk were a natural fit for the necessary but harsh work of tanning, a practice few humans desired to undertake and many found unclean. This, combined with the eminently tunnel-friendly landscape, drew many to the region and made them an established part of the life of the province soon after.
During the Dynastic War this land was repeatedly pillaged by warlords seeking mounts or to raid the underground treasuries of ratfolk merchants. This devastation brought about plague, and spread a fanatical movement devoted to Kuniken which counseled that the death of all was imminent and to embrace undeath. Abandoned tanneries became charnel houses and breeding grounds for ghouls, lycanthropes, and zombies. Undead predators devastated the herds. The cure, the radical crusading horde of flame-wielding inquisitors and mobs that came to be known as Olannal's Crusade, was perhaps worse than the disease, and by 9760 Orhanan was a teetering ruin of a land.
Lady Bethera Cuisaun, a noblewoman from a relatively preserved area near the coast, was unwilling to watch her home die. She sacrificed her entire fortune and dedicated the rest of her life to aiding the poor, claiming a revelation from Alshiel herself. Using the money she gathered together clerics and paladins to summon archons, knowing these tireless and incorruptible champions could help heal the land. Through deep personal devotion and diplomacy she worked with local adventurers to raise vast sums by recovering lost treasure and selling off the relics of the undead to distant lands.
After several years, Orhanan was sparked into a rebirth, and life began again to grow. Bethera continued to journey across the province, raising money and working to aid those most in need. By popular acclaim she was made the de facto ruler of the land, and no noble could dare to refuse her gentle-stated requests. Unwilling to allow the land to fall into the hands of Jellard I or some other rapacious monarch, and with the blessing of the populace, if not the nobles, she arranged for the Dawnstorm Knights to take control of the military and for the church to administer governance directly.
Orhanan has since recovered well and become prosperous once again, in no small part by selling horses to the mount-hungry knights of other provinces and states. However, success has bred greater ambition. What was once seen has necessary piety has become limiting, and the divide between the truly devout and those who find holy writ overly strict is growing.
Plots and Rumors
Resvier’s new king has pressed hard to engage Orhanan diplomatically. This includes an appeal to the paladins that they could better serve the innocent and needy if they were freed from administration and border security. Some are listening, while others claim that no state not dedicated to the faith of Alshiel is worthy. Divides are growing in the chapter houses.
Deep Warrens: Ricketskins has seen a rash of unexplained disappearances lately. No claims have been forthcoming or culprit found. Most of these have occurred underground, and worry is spreading the something may be attacking the people from below. Experienced tunnel scouts are sought to investigate.
Horse Disputes: Breeders in eastern Orhanan have become embroiled in a complex series of accusations and recriminations regarding foals, stud-rights, and the disposition of several prized animals. It seems someone is meddling in the region’s horses – possibly using minor magic in addition to conventional forgery and rustling, causing a great deal of mischief and generally disrupting the business and ruining the intricate breeding schemes used by the master trainers. It is unclear who benefits from this chaos, but fingers are being pointed and without a resolution matters may come to blows soon.
Population: 260,000 (Humans 41%, Dwarves 3%, Oreads 8%, Wyvarans 6%, Kobolds 42%)
Religions: The Ten (Alshiel dominant)
Imports: Armor, Fruit, Grains, Timber
Exports: Gold, Iron, Silver, Stone, Wool
Alignment: LG, NG, N
The mountainous region of Pardien is the least populous of the splinter states of Resvier, but it is politically among the most important. Controlling the northern border of the region, it guards against invasion from the north and sits atop a breeding ground for aggressive humanoids and monsters that threatens the rest of the great peninsula. Elevated and mountainous, its inhabitants are largely confined to a small number of fertile valleys and alpine meadows, but it is a land with a rich history and strong heritage.
After local nobility collapsed during the Dynastic War, the Silversky Order of paladins took control of the region as a bishopric, citing the mandate of Alshiel. Their control of the land is light, and most areas are still controlled by local knights and by factors reporting to a small number of lords, but their hold of the key pass forts means they have a military stranglehold over the region that is not readily challenged and a great deal of cultural influence.
Life and Society
Pardien is divided by topography. Sheltered valleys allow for tightly knit villages struggling for self-sufficiency against the demand of harsh winters and the depredations of monsters. Growth is slow, tradition is important, and hospitality is essential. The conflicts of the Dynastic War depopulated many areas, and abandoned villages are a common sight, especially in the remote inland areas.
Most of the population is human, living close-knit lives in families and clans that can trace their history back centuries. These people consider themselves solidly part of Resvier, but the rule of the nation is a remote concern they have little interest in fighting over. They are far more worried about the next meal and the next dragon raid.
A modest dwarf minority can be found living in Pardien, often alongside human residents. While the dwarven kingdom that once controlled all of Resvier from these mountains is long lost, mines remain, and dwarven guilds contribute to their production. Mines are also worked by Oreads, found in some number in communities in the northwestern section of the mountains. In the central heights reside Resvier’s small Wyvaran population, an isolated community that struggles to remain free of draconic dominance. Out of necessity all of Pardien’s peoples get along well, as they face encroachment from a hostile landscape and a rapidly breeding kobold population. Solidarity is strong, and hard living has bred considerable regional pride.
The leadership of the bishopric is firmly aligned with the paladins. The need is too great for much internal squabbling. The bishop, Alparib Fettaral (LG male human Pal 5) has worked hard to spread regional unity and to dispose his limited resources in optimal ways to protect the people, though not always with success.
Major Geographical Features
Pardien exists entirely within the boundary of the Pard Mountains. These mountains are moderately high, but quite steep and very rugged, being relatively young. Sharp and cold streams run down from snow-capped peaks and plunge through frigid alpine lakes. A mere four navigable passes – meaning traversable by carts or burdened animals – lead through the mountains. During the winter travel is essentially impossible from village to village without skis or magical aid. This geographic isolation leads to a localized existence, but also to highly impressive features.
Firefall Pass: the easternmost pass through the Pard Mountains is also the shortest, a modest route of only roughly forty miles that connects directly to a road to the city of Gloust. It is also the pass least used. For over a thousand years, dating to the rule of the Muram Empire, the pass has been controlled by Embriscaesos the Firefall, an adult red dragon. At this point the route has become synonymous with his title. The dragon is a terribly ferocious creature, and demands tribute from all who would cross his pass equal in value to ten percent of everything they bring across – including their lives – this cuts profit margins of even the most valuable caravans to the bone. However, the dragon keeps his word and lets those who pay pass. Those who chose the other passes are subject to attack by drakes and kobolds who serve the dragon, and occasionally the wyrm himself.
Embriscaesos spends much of his time asleep, and is only active perhaps one decade in five, but the dragon has many spies and servants, and those who have used his pass without paying while he sleeps can expect to feel his wrath when he wakes – or if they’ve died in the meantime their descendants and any place they’ve ever lived. In several states including Branc and Flarency, crossing Firefall Pass without paying tribute is a crime punishable by death.
The immensity of the dragon’s depredations are incalculable, and the rewards the Silversky Order would offer for anyone able to destroy him would be incredible, but Embriscaesos is terribly cunning, and has feasted on scores of would-be champions over his long career.
Mirror Lake: An alpine lake of almost perfectly circular nature and incredible stillness, Mirror Lake lacks any visible inlets or outlets, fed entirely by tiny underground sources. Its stony bottom, with a high metal content and clear waters allow the surface to function as if a giant mirror at times. This lake is a known gathering point for fey beings who consider it sacred ground, and the shores contain several shrines to Caliata.
Twelve-Legs Peak: This mountain is the second highest in the range, existing as a towering vista on the north side of the landscape that falls directly on the divide between Resvier and the rest of the continent. Stark and stony, it is surprisingly warm, for the dark stones here absorb heat. This makes it a favored territory of the famous inhabitants that give the peak its name: Behirs. The peak is a treasured territory for the many-legged monsters, and there is always at least one adult behir claiming it as home. This elder is often challenged by a younger rival or perhaps an eager mate, meaning it is possible to find more than one behir on the peak at a time. Other monsters hunt lower down on the slopes, but all acknowledge this leadership.
The landscape of Pardien is fragmented by mountains. Each village and town tends to be located within an otherwise isolated valley with limited access to the outside world save by rough trails. With the exception of the four passes, overland traffic is mostly limited to trains of donkeys, mules, and the occasional yak. Civic life is therefore divided into a patchy series of locations. Each major pass is guarded by a series of fortresses, designed to defend the nation from outside aggression. Many of these castles are massive and powerful, built to great size during the Simark dynasty. Several now lie in ruins, with the Silversky Order unable to spare the troops to properly man them.
Aurien Eyrie: this temple, located atop the isolated snow-capped peak known as the Pale Spine, is the most sacred site of the Wyvaran for their worship of Emprino and Scaemaenn. They gather here at regular intervals, flying upwards as there is no entrance from the ground. The clerics who guard this place are powerful, led by the Most Holy Skyclaw (N female wyvaran clr 6), but reclusive. The wyvarans are only loosely loyal to Resvier, maintaining the independence of their semi-nomadic alpine communities to a great degree.
Dalarency (large town, 3,700): the seat of the bishopric lies in central Pardien on the southern side of the mountain range. It occupies a large, widely sloped valley with rich soils and access to a number of high meadows suitable for grazing. It also stands on the route of the second shortest, and most-utilized, overland pass, and has built a major industry around supporting caravan travel. The town is ruled by Lord Reginald Tarsail (NG male human Ari 3) a younger noble who has worked to rebuild the authority of the nobility in the region and produce structures independent of the paladins. He is a man of faith and has no intention of challenging the order, but his reforms are altering the way of life in the bishopric.
Skygate Peak: Sitting at the crest of the central pass, this castle was built at great cost by the Silversky Order and serves as their command fortress. It is a soaring construction of white towers and sheer drops. Accessible only by a single road, it is essentially impregnable to land-based attack. Each of the eight main towers mounts a highly advanced ballista capable of firing enchanted bolts, and a massive supply of crossbows for every defender, making it difficult to assault by air. The bishop holds court here, despite the isolation, and dispatches paladins across the mountains to maintain order.
In 9678, worried at increasing reports of raids on caravans by drakes and kobolds, and responding to a personal appeal, Wendel Simark commissioned the paladin Ellisarn Treadir as head of the Silversky Order, with a mandate to recruit like-minded allies, cleanse the region of monsters, and keep the passes clear. Several large estates in the Pard Mountains were granted to the order in trust for funding, as was the right to a portion of the customs duties for trade entering the country from the north.
While the order had a number of initial successes in beating back the monsters, the kobold population inevitably returned as a new generation gestated in deep and hidden warrens. Ellisarn himself fell in battle during an ill-advised assault on Embriscaesos the Firefall (who still keeps the paladin’s banner on the wall in his lair). The order settled into their fortresses and fought on with stubborn dedication.
During the Dynastic War the majority of the province’s nobles backed an ill-fated attack on Falrency. Most perished in the attempt, and others were killed by an outbreak of disease in 9828. Widespread chaos resulted, and in 9830, the Silversky Order, faced with the likelihood of complete trade breakdown if nothing changed, stepped in and took direct control of the province.
This decision was not made lightly, and even after considerable debate several paladins left the order – believing it was not their calling to rule. As a result of this dissension, the rule of the Silversky Order was much lighter-handed than that of their fellow paladins in Orhanan. Their focus was on the maintenance of order and the protection of the people. Extant feudal systems were little changed, and heirs were found to fill absent holdings. The Bishop simply took over the rule of duke and moved the court to the principle fortress.
Matters have stabilized since. Trade has returned, spurred in part by the need of merchants in Resvier to ship their goods without utilizing the ports of Falrency. However, the paladins have limited resources and the depleted population of Pardien has a long way to go to recover from the trials of the Dynastic War. Kobolds are multiplying in the hills and represent a growing threat, especially with Embricaesos active once again. There is considerable worry that the dragon might attempt to take the province outright, especially if Tranveed cultists offered suitably deferent support.
Plots and Rumors
Resvier would like to assimilate Pardien, preferably peacefully, as taking on a group of dedicated paladins in a mountain campaign is obviously foolish. The king has made it clear that, should Resvier be reunited, a large portion of the army would be deployed to the Pard Mountains for peacekeeping purposes, an offer that appeals to men and women who have spent their whole lives fighting monsters and worrying about foreign invasion. However, the Silversky Order is far from persuaded yet.
Breach Slag: There have been sightings of demons in the high mountains, including flight profiles that suggest Vrocks. The Silversky Order does not believe there is any group active in the region with the power to summon such monsters. They are worried about the possibility that a planar breach may have formed somewhere in the mountains and are seeking confirmation so they can lead a major effort to close it fast. Unfortunately the terrain is exceedingly remote, and aerial surveys have so far found nothing.
Old Halls: The Queen of Trestegard has dispatched a group of veteran adventurers led by Moran Trandle (LG male dwarf Ftr 5) to the Pard Mountains for the purpose of organizing and supporting expeditions to recover any artifacts or resources of the lost kingdom of Feldshield. Moran is eagerly recruiting adventurers by offering them information and logistical support to plumb the depths of the old dwarves halls. He is also seeking for agents to treat with the Wyvaran, believing they may have a number of useful leads for his efforts.
Population: 350,000 (Humans 80%, Ifrits 6%, Kasathas 4%, Sulis 7%, Other 3%)
Religions: Druidism, The Ten
Imports: Cloth, Grain, Herbs, Timber
Exports: Copper, Gold, Rugs, Seafood,
Alignment: LN, N, CN
The island of Quorvast lies to the southwest of Resvier, separated by a shallow strait and warmed by hot, dry winds. It is an arid region, with the inland approaching desert conditions, especially on the southern half. It is quite warm, being semitropical with very hot summers and little rainfall. On the coast this can be very pleasant, but the interior regions are dry and oppressive.
Though long a part of Resvier, Quorvast is in many ways unique among the splinter states due to its geographic isolation and the variations in life there. The people live either coastal lives focused around the sea and orchards, or pastoral inland lives where they cultivate goats and live close to the land. The inland population is isolated from the rest of Resvier and has seen considerable population divergence. This region also hosts different monsters than much of the mainland, giving the adventures a different flavor.
This independence has been honored through the rank of Prince, applied to the official ruler of the principality. Officially this makes the leader of the island the highest ranking human noble in Resvier, though the dwarves and elves have traditionally had their leaders honored as princes as well. The people of Quorvast are proud of their island, but few in number, and have had difficulty resisting outside aggression from the mainland.
Life and Society
Much of the population of Quorvast lives in a series of towns and villages clustered along the coast. There are no major settlements inland, and those who live there function as semi-migratory herders. The these settlements are ruled by feudal leaders, but in contrast to the mainland they are generally ruled directly, with the knights and lords living among the people in relatively modest manor houses or keeps, not in distant fortresses. The few castles that do exist are small and isolated, many have seen little use since the years of the Simark Dynasty.
The people live lives similar to other Resvieri coastal dwellers, especially on the southern coast, fishing in small boats, working carefully managed farms – Quorvast favors drought tolerant crops such as sorghum – and handling their crafts. Inland the Quor people live a rather different life as semi-nomadic goat herders, but they interact with the rest of the locals regularly by working in seasonal mines and stopping at trade towns. There is little conflict between the two groups of islanders.
People here tend towards druidic worship rather than the established deities, though shrines to The Ten remain, they are simply poorly attended. This faith is particularly common among the small hamlets of Ifrits, Sulis, and the semi-nomadic communities of Kasatha that occupy the interior. This focus stems in part to contact with genies, found nowhere else in Resvier, and especially the small resident population of Jann. The people are particularly careful avoid overgrazing and to husband water resources.
The rule of the nobility can be harsh, for Quorvast has strict laws and little mercy, but this is generally accepted. Most crimes are punished with terms of brutal forced labor in the open pit mines of the interior, subject to harsh weather and monster attacks. The people are proud of their ability to survive such trials. They are equally proud of their independence, and have no intention of submission to the Jellard dynasty. The current ruler, Prince Andre Cosaro (LN male human Ari 6) has maintained a strong military and regularly leads his elite troops on expeditions to face down monsters and keep them sharp.
Major Geographical Features
Quorvast is a harsh land, baked and dry. The inland is covered by shrubs and stone, while the coast has sandy beaches and numerous coves. The interior rises to significant elevation in the center, and the southern coast is particularly dry and barren. This wilderness is difficult to traverse due to the shortage of water not choked with silt or metals. Mineral resources are rich, and there is suitable grazing, but most people avoid that landscape. The coastlines are more accommodating, and their hills have gathered soil to produce excellent orchards and rich, if narrow, floodplains.
Acluskar Ash Fields: This region, on the western edge of the island, is scourged by the power of the volcano Acluskar. Though now dormant, the land is harshly forged, with wide lava flows, and buried lava tubes beneath. The austere region is hostile to most life, but it is home to the Ifrits of the island, who forge strange tools from metal and stone revealed by the volcanoes power.
Eastern Plains: the arid short-grass plains, bordering on desert, of the eastern half of the island’s inland region are wide and trackless. Soils are thin and rocks abundant. Few humans live here, for there is no cover from the sun. Instead this is the realm of the Kasatha, who travel in roving bands following the semi-wild herds of the region. Skilled hunters, they have been known to prey upon outsiders when desperate, but are otherwise approachable. This region hides a number of crumbling ruins, left behind by genie-taming wizard-kings from before the Simark dynasty. These ruins have a foul reputation and the Kasatha avoid them.
Ribbon Reefs: the eastern edge of Quorvast is bounded by a brief area of shallow water before rapidly dropping off to the depths. This area is filled with vibrant reef structures that are teeming with life. Fishermen flock to the area, but they must compete with pirates who anchor among small rocks and the tribes of Cecaelias beneath the waves who consider this to be sacred ground. Rumors of treasures left by buccaneers on secluded islands abound, but the shifting coral outcrops are extremely difficult to navigate.
Soar Sands: Most of inland Quorvast is rocky, but in the south-central portion of the island there arises a vast collection of dunes, miles on a side. This sand is not brownish, but black, and it becomes incredibly hot under the sun. The warm air above these black sands attracts numerous flying creatures, ranging from small birds to mighty dragons and sphinxes. Several of the highest dunes are contested territory in mating campaigns by drakes and other creatures. Humanoids avoid this region, as they are likely to be seen as a food source.
Manytents (Small Town, 1,600): Deep in the heart of the island, among rocky hills of austere orange beauty, and standing by a pale pool of water that seems to never run dry, lies the exotic town of Manytents. Ostensibly a settlement of the Suli, and run by the knight Dedalian Bathomo (LN male Suli Ftr 3), it is better known as the home of genies in Resvier. There is always at least one band of Jann in residence, and usually a single genie of another type. Audiences with these genies are highly sought after, but difficult to obtain, requiring that any supplicant perform a task of use for the poor of the town. This generally takes the form of an excursion into the desert to slay a troublesome beast, though other tasks of greater note may be requested of the truly capable. Earning a visit with the genies means little of itself, but it is a first step towards earning prolonged goodwill and great rewards.
Quorvast (Small City, 7,400): the coastal city of Quorvast is located on the northern coast in the best harbor on the island. It is built up from the ocean into a series of hills, crowned by the Prince’s keep on a major outcrop. Constructed almost entirely of adobe and stone, it is an easily fortified city, at least from the sea. It lacks completed overland walls and has been successfully attacked in this fashion in the past. This city is highly mercantile, with large markets focused on trade, particularly with the exchange of goods from the inland portion of the island with mainland Resvier.
Though the prince’s guard is powerful, it competes with a large thieves’ guild, the Sun Bloods, led by a figure known as Bright Shades (NE female Tiefling Rog 5). A great deal of smuggling – more important than ever given the island’s independence – is run by this guild. The prince wants them destroyed, and has a standing bounty on the head of their leadership.
Sunset Plinth: Located on a small, isolated rock on the northern coast of Quorvast is a short obelisk, only about two meters high. It is carved from a single piece of perfectly white marble. A small field of grass surrounds it. A circle of steps, cut into the sheer face of the rocky outcrop, winds its way down to a small anchoring platform at the bottom. This is the place where First Song of Dawn departed from Resvier in 9749, fifty years to the second after her initial summoning. It has become a sacred site of some importance to the faithful of Alshiel, and to good beings in general. Many pilgrims visit with some regularity. It is believed that summoning rituals to call upon the aid of archons are easier here, though no one has truly tested this belief.
The island of Quorvast has a long history of habitation, but only at a low level. It was settled by human migrants thousands of years in the past, but they lacked the tools to conduct regular agriculture in the hard soils and settled into a pastoral existence. They forged bonds with the local genie residents, and in time populations of half-breeds migrated to the island as well.
Later, as the Muram Empire rose far to the north, wizard-kings took an interest in Quorvast and its genies and sphinxes. These unusual monsters had great utility, and many a wizard came pursuing the legends of wishes. Battles amongst these spellcasters left behind brutal scars and hideous ruins.
Simark landed on Quorvast with a large force of Kasatha mercenaries, and after his conquest gave them custody of large tracts of land on the eastern half of the island. Though initially resented by the locals, these outsiders soon fitted in to island life with ease. The Kasatha even joined in certain small rebellions later in the dynasty, as Quorvast struggled with heavy taxes.
Quorvast was the first province to declare independence during the Dynastic War, believing that they could avoid conflicts on the mainland and develop their own state. This proved not to be. Without regular trade the economy struggled greatly and there were famines in the early 9700s. They were conquered, rebelled, and conquered again before the prince, led by adventurers known as the Swift Wind Company, secured a defensive alliance with the Jann and managed to present sufficient strength to ward off additional attacks. Jellard I made plans to invade, but died before enough vessels could be assembled.
The troubles of the Dynastic War led to separation between the people of the coastal regions, who identify with Resvier, and the inland population, who identify closer to the genies and to the elements. These once minor differences have become a major gulf, one bridged only by substantial gifts from the Prince to the leaders of the inland tribes. This division is a problem for Quorvast, as the island relies on the strength of the interior, and especially of their Jann allies, for defense. Should the alliance fail, it would create severe vulnerabilities.
Plots and Rumors
The rest of Resvier is largely ignoring Quorvast at present, content to let the state sputter along, sustained by such smuggling as they can manage – mostly through the swamps of Keinrency. The island is currently concerned more with internal matters.
Dead Sands: Black-robed worshippers of Kuniken have been seen in several coastal towns on the southern coast, proclaiming that the false faith of the druids shall fall and that a champion of the dead has arisen. The local lord, Essira Yalantae (LN female human Ari 2) believes they may be referencing a lich who once ruled the island over a millennium in the past. She is eager to quiet the agitators and get to the root of this growing menace.
Spire Bandits: Coastal caravans in the hilly western region of the island are reporting numerous attacks. Whole groups have gone missing, and bodies have been found horribly mutilated and left open to display. The local guards have found nothing, but the lack of tracks suggests the attacks have come from above. Weapons were used, so it was not drakes or other beasts. A nest of harpies, gargoyles, or other winged monsters is likely responsible. A local Trenveed cultist, Adaman the Skave (CE male Ifrit Clr 4) wishes to ally with this group and use it to ignite a guild war among the smugglers.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 4 - Geography Part 4
Population: 8,420,000 (Humans 76%, Dwarves 9%, Lizardfolk 1%, Catfolk 0.5%, Other 12.5%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: books, silk, ivory, jewelry, sugar
Exports: armor, fruit, grain, herbs, pork, weapons
Alignment: LG, LN, LE
Resvier, the kingdom at the heart of the Resvier Region that now, to the considerable displeasure of its masters, controls slightly less than half the total territory it once commanded. Despite this limit, its territory contains much of the prime agricultural land and most accommodating climates, giving it a massive advantage in population and resources over its collective rivals.
Occupying a large peninsula isolated from the mainland, Resvier has a long history and many strong traditions. Though primarily agricultural it has several vibrant urban areas, including the capital city of Viercal. A highly inclusive state, it has long welcomed people of many races and included them openly in its culture.
Now united under the rule of the Jellard dynasty and with new leadership, Resvier is rapidly approaching the milestone of five hundred years of existence. Resvier culture extends past its current borders and this has inspired the desire to regain control of the territory lost during the Dynastic War.
The kingdom of Resvier has control over the dwarven principality of Trestegard in the Treste Mountains, but the dwarves function with a great deal of independence. The duchies of Labrean and Nasabrean, though nominally independent, are official vassals of Resvier and subject to its policy.
For the present Resvier seeks to regain control of the entirety of the peninsula by assimilating – by whatever means necessary – those areas it lost control of during the Dynastic War. This goal is quite open, but many within those states are sympathetic to it.
As a large nation Resvier is a powerful feudal kingdom, but central control is weak due to the disruptions of the recent wars and the leverage of powerful nobles. Any major moves will make it vulnerable to reprisals by jealous rivals, and threaten overextension.
Life and Society
Resvier has long been a land defined by the rhythms of agriculture. The soils are rich and fertile and the climate is mild and highly productive. A wide variety of crops grow well here and for many centuries the populace was prosperous. It was also, following the Simark conquest, a peaceful land, with little threat of outside attack and the threat of violent humanoids relatively contained. This changed with the Dynastic War, which tore the land apart and dramatically reduced the population. While Resvier has since recovered somewhat, the legacy of that violent period will be felt for generations to come, and remains ever-present in the fractured status of the nation.
Most residents of Resvier believe in unification, but in a distant, mythologized way transmitted in stories from their ancestors. The peasantry, still wounded by famine, plague, and warfare and continually threatened by dangerous monsters, is anything but eager to fight. The nobility, by contrast, sees unification as a matter of essential pride and national spirit. They push hard to invade vulnerable splinter states and take back the lands they consider theirs.
Most of the Resvieri live in small hamlets and villages and interact only distantly with the agents of their noble rulers and are concerned only with providing for their families and their personal safety. These people cultivate grains, keep chickens and pigs, and supplement their output by hunting and trapping such land as available to them – and occasionally poaching. For these people, life is largely a mono-racial existence, as they rarely interact with members of other races, even among the settlements of nonhumans.
The small proportion of the Resvieri who live in towns and cities have a different life. Most are common laborers, but a significant minority are skilled craftsfolk forming a modest middle class. These people interact regularly with members of a wide variety of races and are exposed to myriad ideas carried about by merchants and adventurers. They are also much more aware of the conflicts between faith and the powers of arcane magic.
Founded as a united nation by a single individual, Resvier’s leadership yearns to return to that status, but the prestige and power of the ruling Jellard dynasty cannot come close to matching that enjoyed by the previous Simark dynasty. The current ruler, Aurin Jellard (LN male human Ari 6) fully intends to change that. He has worked hard to bind his lineage to the legacy of the Simark dynasty in ritual and symbolism. He has also tried hard to tighten control over the nobility, though his reign is yet young and little has been accomplished so far.
Major Geographical Features
Resvier is a large and diverse land with countless fields, forests, hills, mountains, marshes, and rivers. It shares a number of large natural features with its splinter states. Originally almost entirely forested, most of the Resvier heartland is now semi-cleared for agricultural production, with alternating fields, forests, and villages. The landscape is generally gentle, with modest changes in elevation.
The southern portion of the nation is significantly warmer than the north, and has somewhat different vegetation. Crop cultivation changes, with orchards growing dominant in the southern regions and more of the upland areas in cultivation compared to the north.
Gisudo Forest: This large forest in south-central Resiver is generally unremarkable save for its size. However, it has an important history. This area was defended by an alliance of druids and rangers against the prolonged aggression of the wizard-kings in ages past. Their principal foe was a vampiric wizardess known as Violet Bone Rose. In opposition to this fiend, the druids allowed dhampirs to settle on the edges of the forest, and their small population remains in this region now, living in isolated villages and keeping their activities out of the eyes of the masses. Druidic influence remains strong here.
Great Fan: Occupying the low-lying zone at the bottom of the Bay of Rancy, the Great Fan is a vast, swampy river delta occupying a curving area some seventy-five miles long and forty miles thick. Filled with waters both brackish and fresh, shifting with the tides, and constantly murky, it is a truly treacherous place where life is very difficult. The boundaries of the swamp continually shift with the course changes of the powerful Sourain River, and little ground is stable for long.
The majority of Resvier’s lizardfolk population resides in or around the Great Fan. Their small villages are difficult for an untrained observer to notice in the swamp. The lizardfolk population expanded their territory after the Simark Dynasty fell by undoing a number of projects that drained portions of the Great Fan. They have presented a unified front to hold onto this ever since, keeping human settlers out of their territory. Violence between the races on the edges of the swamp is depressingly common.
Nalar Valleys: The narrow region between the Treste Mountains and the Rise is known as the Nalar Valleys. It is a land of powerful rivers, deep ravines, and strange landforms. There is rich soil here in pockets, and the region has always been well inhabited, but it lost much during the Dynastic War. Many communities are barely surviving and are beset by monsters, this is especially so on the western edge, where goblins and orcs driven from the mountains by army action have taken to the forests to pillage.
This rugged, dynamic, and somewhat isolated landscape has long appealed to Resvier’s tiefling population, and the majority of their hamlets and villages can be found sheltered here. They avoid the major trade routes, worried about outsider prejudice, but will trade their goods, including rare metals and gemstones wrested from the foothills, with those they trust.
This area has struggled with isolation since the closure of the road through Tourvene by royal decree. While there is a great deal of smuggling, this traditional gateway to the mountains waits desperately for the road from the south to be completed.
Oscour Forest: The smallest of Resvier’s great woodlands, this forest resides in southwestern Resvier and is home to a number of fast-growing trees that take advantage of the warmer climate. Its edges are harvested extensively for lumber, but the interior is generally left alone. The depths of this forest are home to dangerous beings, including green dragons, and humanoid intruders are not welcome.
Shalsha Forest: While large portions of Resvier remain forested, the Shalsha is different. Remnant of the primordial forest that once stretched across the continent, it is a deep and verdant landscape that has never been tamed by human hands. Thick and massive trees with gnarled branches, dark leaves, and thick undergrowth mark a forest difficult to pass through. Most regions have never been cut, much less plowed, and contain fey beings and strange monsters not found anywhere else in the kingdom.
Approximately half of the Shalsha Forest is contained within the boundaries of the elven kingdom of Alshalsha, but the rest, stretching east to the edge of The Rise, was seized by Jellard I during his conquests. Human settlements in the vast forest are few and far between, clustering near lakes or on rocky protrusions. While some are hidden, most are known and connected to a carefully maintained network of peddler trails to allow commerce. The eastern half of the forest, lying with in the province of Olsha, is home to Resvier’s catfolk population. Friendly with the elves and once interspersed among them they relocated here after that population withdrew following the Jellard conquest. A great deal of secretive trade presently crosses the border in catfolk hands, as they do not even consider it to be smuggling.
The deep forest, especially outside patrolled elf territory, is a dangerous place with drakes, giant vermin, and trolls all common menaces. Most traffic between the Treste Mountains and the heartland avoids the forest, preferring to pay the elves their tolls along the coast or to take the Rising Road over The Rise. However, the Jellard Dynasty is working to develop a major road through Shalsha Forest in order to undercut their rivals and capture more of the trade. The effort, now in its third decade, has been plagued by many problems.
Sudorency: This area, devastated by the wizard-kings and the battle of Simark’s conquest, needed extensive restoration to be made productive again, but it lay on very valuable agricultural land with significant clay deposits. The landscape was tamed by halflings, and now hosts the majority of Resvier’s halfling population in tightly organized villages interspersed among the human population. They specialize in the production of pottery.
Sudorency is a relatively sedate region, but its wide open territories of cleared land have a tendency to attract airborne predators.
Treste Mountains: These high mountains occupy the northwestern coast of Resvier. Though taller than the Pard Mountains they are older, with gentler slopes, extensive alpine meadows, and many fertile valleys and lakes. Most of the lower slopes are heavily forested, though settled areas may be terraced for crop production.
Traditionally the domain of the dwarves, the Treste Mountains are divided into a settled inland area on the mountains’ eastern fringe, and a far wilder region extending towards the coast, which is dominated by hostile humanoids and monsters. Many of the snowbound high peaks are claimed by dragons.
The entirety of the Treste Mountains are contained within the principality of Trestegard, ruled by the dwarves and granted considerable independence.
Vier River: The Vier, as it is commonly known, is a vast river that originates in the Treste Mountains, passes slowly south through the Shalsha Forest, and then makes a long, winding, southwestward journey to the sea on the southern coast. It is navigable for the entirety of its post-forest length and has long been a major nexus of barge traffic. The capital city of Viercal sits at a junction point on the river, where the Fesdoin River coming from the east joins to it.
The river is a major center of commerce and settlement and its length south of the forest is perhaps the mostly densely populated portion of Resvier. In addition to Viercal the primary towns of three southwestern provinces can be found abutting it. The river is generally safe from monsters, but barge traffic is vulnerable to thievery.
The kingdom of Resvier currently controls nineteen of the region’s traditional thirty-four provinces and the majority of the population. It contains dozens of towns and small cities of considerable local importance, and scores of castles, including major ruins. Most of these locations are similarly styled and famous only for one or two local specialties or historic events. Each may have its own problems with monsters, politics, or trade, however, and all struggle with the question of unification. Areas that border splinter states tend to have suffered more from the Dynastic War than others, but no region was untouched.
Ironpike Road: Begun over twenty years ago under Jellard II, the Ironpike Road is an effort to create a new thoroughfare to reflect the political reality of the new era – notably the independence of Alshalsha. With the traditional north-south routes cut off, the effort has been made to construct a new road north through Olsha to reach Trestegard. This has proven expensive, difficult, and has cost much loss of life due to accidents and attacks, but the work continues. Rumors suggest that security is recruited both to guard the construction, and to sabotage it.
Planktown (Large Town, 4,000): Located on the Eastern Road, Planktown sits on the border of Resvier and Falrency. It is also wedged between the swamps of the Great Fan to the south and deep forests to the north. This narrow corridor, less than five miles wide at its narrowest point, is marshy and difficult to traverse. The town itself is built raised up on planks to prevent the accumulation of mud. It is overlooked by the forbidding Stonemarsh Castle, a powerful keep reliant upon magical effort to keep the foundations from flooding.
This area is flooded with soldiers as well as water, as both states garrison the area quite heavily. There have been no actual battles for years, but the atmosphere is tense and spies on both sides are numerous. Resvier seeks to find some means of effectively attacking across this narrow front into Falrency should it come to war.
Trestegard (Large City, 11,700): The dwarven capital city of Trestegard is the second-oldest functional city in Resvier and the only one controlled by dwarves. While officially beholden to the king, the city and surrounding mountains hold a great deal of independence. Queen Larch Artrium remains on the throne and has worked to mitigate the damage of the Dynastic War even as she turns continued conflict to the profit of her people by the production of arms and armor.
Trestegard has a highly industrial character. The city’s forges and smelters are fed by countless mines across the mountains and on The Rise to the southeast and they churn out a seemingly endless supply of goods. The dwarves have a reputation for quality in metalwork that stretches well beyond the boundaries of Resvier and quality control is monitored very carefully by the major guilds to insure it stays that way. Specialty goods for a variety of exotic environments, including the oceans and the underdark, are available, and dwarven expertise can also be hired out to conduct major products elsewhere.
Dwarven society is highly regulated and has a significant clan hierarchy, though this is not always obvious to outsiders as the dwarves, with a seemingly innate understanding of their place, move through their complex rules seamlessly. Outside visitors are often advised to hire a guide from among the city’s small non-dwarven resident population.
The dwarves are currently reaping the benefits of Jellard III’s ten year campaign to defeat the monsters of the mountains. Though not entirely successful the dwarves are looking to take advantage by spreading out settlements, and are recruiting homesteaders from among dwarven refugees from the north. This is dangerous work, and guards, scouts, and warriors are highly in demand.
Twining Rivers Battlefield: The location of the great battle between Jellard and Wilsand, the Twining Rivers is also a commercially and strategically important river port of considerable trade value. The small town of Twining Rivers remains as it long has between the flows, but the battlefield itself has been claimed as a major memorial site.
A large temple, dedicated to Ximoc, was raised on the location with the tacit approval of Jellard I, despite local protests. It has remained a local flashpoint, with vandalism common and outright attacks by other faiths not unknown. Clerics of Kuniken are often found roaming the battlefield, raising undead and stirring up trouble. Claims persist of valuable artifacts buried in the mud of the river banks not yet recovered by scavengers.
Viercal (Metropolis, 57,700): Viercal is the capital of Resvier and its largest and most important city by a considerable margin. It is home to many important merchant houses, a number of leading nobles, the royal barding college, the royal wizard academy, the principle temples of several of The Ten, and more. Not the least is the presence of the royal court itself within the city walls. The city stretches across both banks of the Vier River, spanned by a number of large bridges. The western and northern bank is the most prestigious side of the city, being higher in elevation and regulated by cooling breezes, while the major docks and the city’s poor live on the eastern and southern bank.
Viercal hosts industries of all kinds, and can supply almost any need an adventurer could desire. The city is most known for its all-important river trade, the conduit for commerce throughout southwestern Resvier. It is also known for animal training, a tradition that stretches back to Simark I’s numerous hunting dogs and has diversified into the breeding, keeping, and training of animals of all kinds. While the best warhorses are produced in Orhanan to the south, the citizens of Viercal breed specialty cats, dogs, and other pets, including a number of exotic animals utilized by spellcasters as familiars. Hunting falcons and other birds are a major luxury production, with exotic varieties bred here that are not otherwise found for thousands of miles.
The importance of the city is such that its lord is considered an earl. Currently that post is held by Samanta Kessimau (LG female human Ari 2/Brd 4) a skilled administrator and accomplished socialite who is cousin to the queen. Though now in her middle years, she was once acclaimed as a great beauty and retains many of her charms. Samanta works closely with the major players of the city and is generally a kind ruler. Her authority must compete with the actions of the king, however, and with the duke of the Grand Duchy of Viercal, in which the city resides. A strong supporter of the Jellard dynasty, Samanta believes highly in unification, and regularly conducts drives for enlistment in the army among the poor.
The history of Resvier has largely been related in the general history section. The kingdom is presently under the control of Aurin Jellard, fourth monarch of the Jellard dynasty. The king is a strong and youthful ruler who intends to unify the region into one nation by the five-hundreth anniversary of the Simark conquest in 9846. Aurin’s efforts are aided by his Queen Rosine (N female human Ari 3/Rog 3) and his two children.
In general the nobility of Resvier support the dynasty, and there have been no major rebellions since the reign of Jellard II. The peasantry is less supportive and wishes for a return to peace instead of continual war. Popular uprisings have occurred in some areas, though the king is struggling to reform the administration while building his armies.
As yet the new king has hewed to a diplomatic tack and made no aggressive military moves. This is not expected to last, and most of the nobility expects an attack on Keinrency – by far the most vulnerable of the splinter states – to occur very soon.
Plots and Rumors
Countless intrigues swirl around the court of Resvier. Criminal activities, magical schemes, nefarious monsters, religious disputes, and above all the unification debate all color the opinions of informed and connected citizens. All eyes watch the royal court, anticipating the first major move by the newly enthroned sovereign.
Capital Controls: The conflict between Samanta Kessimau and Valery Trussoun (LE male human Ari 2/Ftr 3), the Duke of Viercal over the politics of the capital city has grown intense. Where Samanta has tried to reform dockside practices and offer protection to the many laborers engaged in the river trade, Valery has strong ties to the Night Spikes, a powerful thieves’ guild active throughout the city. He has worked had to preserve their lucrative protection schemes and smuggling enterprises in return for major kickbacks. Samanta is searching for evidence to take to the king against the duke. Valery is looking for a way to have his rival quietly eliminated.
Let it be War: The king has made significant diplomatic overtures in the hopes of talking some of the splinter states back into Resvier, particularly the bishoprics of Orhanan and Pardien. The Church of Ximoc considers this intolerable, desiring very much that unification be achieved by brutal conquest and that the paladin-regimes be smashed utterly beneath the boots of militarism. They are working closely with a number of nobles to independently launch an attack on one of these states and thereby force the king to back their approach.
Mountain Vengeance: Jellard III spent ten years attempting to tame the Treste Mountains at swordpoint. This effort was moderately successful in reducing the population of violent humanoids, but at the same time the retreating populations unified against the outsiders and sought leadership. That leadership has emerged in the form of Baleparen Melt-Fist (LE male fire giant), a mighty warlord who has unified the mountain giant tribes and built a loosely organized but potent horde. He does not yet have the logistical support to invade anywhere, but the possibility of an attack on the Ironpike Road that could overrun the Nalar Valleys is growing.
Population: 400,000 (Humans 82%, Fetchlings 4%, Strix 6%, Other 8%)
Religions: The Ten
Imports: ale, fruit, pork, salt
Exports: fur, iron, stone, wool
Alignment: NG, CG, N
Tourvene lies atop the large, rugged plateau known as The Rise that dominates north-central Resvier. This region has long bred independently minded folk and has led to the development of the splinter state now most starkly separated from the rest of the region. A cool area with many hills and moors, it is cold in the winter but hot in the summer when the sun beats down.
The land here has much up and down, but it is not harsh in the way of mountains and winding trails make the landscape passable. Semi-forested hillsides are ideal for grazing and are patrolled by countless sheep, a central industry of the land. Cutting streams fall away from the heights, lending clean water and a source of power to the many clusters of villages along the river valleys.
Much of Tourvene resembles a slightly scraped away version of Resvier, where everything is maringally wilder, tougher, and more independent. Though the national character can be recognized here, the people hold fast to their own family and traditions, and the solidarity of the village has always been stronger than the compulsion of the nobility.
Life and Society
Most of the population of Tourvene lives in mid-sized villages scattered along a series of river valleys and dales beneath the major hills of The Rise. These tend to be arranged in long, semi-linear patterns progressing north to south. The hills themselves host small thorpes where shepherding families live and work, carrying their wool and grain down to the mills along the streams below. Truly large settlements, even on the scale of towns, are rare, in part because good soil is too precious to spare.
Upland regions, which tend to be forested, host truly isolated populations. This includes the resident Strix, living in clans among the trees, and the elusive population of Fetchlings, clinging to the shadows on the deepest hillsides and most isolated canyons. These trade with the human population, but tend to remain distant from them otherwise, as there have long been low-level disputes over herding rights.
Tourvene has some differences in the crops compared to the rest of Resvier, preferring potatoes and beans to grains as staples and utilizing different spices, including large quantities of basil, mint, and oregano in most dishes, favoring various stews. This is part of a varied regional culture that has led to many citizens of Tourvene to see themselves as superior to the ordinary peasantry of Resvier.
This impulse came to fruition after Olannal’s Crusade, when the people of Tourvene refused any attempt to reconstitute their devastated nobility and remade the barony into a republic under the guidance of foreign adventurers. The small state is now ruled by a representative council of elders – voted upon by the mayors of individual villages – and each village choses its own mayor. There is no executive, but the army, officially a militia, is commanded by Marshal Ederica Ollasiaon (NG female human Ftr 5), a descendant of the Order of the Stake adventurers. She holds a great deal of unofficial authority to make decisions for the defense of the republic.
Tourvene’s experiment in democracy is limited – only adults who hold property in the province may vote, a rule that excludes many landless shepherds – and young, but so far the fledgling republic has weathered several attacks from without. This effort is aided by a strong, if informal, alliance with Marvance, which serves as an outlet for Tourvene’s extremely important wool exports. If this trade were lost, then the republic would be isolated and might face economic ruin even without attack.
Major Geographical Features
Tourvene sits atop The Rise, a massive, roughly circular plateau of uplifted land in the center of Resvier. Though not truly mountainous, the land is very hilly and sloped. It gets quite cold in the winter and heavy snow is common. Many of the slopes are wooded, while others are cleared and hosts shrubs and fast-growing grasses.
The landscape is quite dramatic in places, with dynamic landforms and awesome visual spectacle. The slopes are particularly stark on the edges of The Rise, with only careful winding paths allowing access to this elevated region. This is a key factor in the defensibility of Tourvene.
Flicker Forest: This forest, in western Tourvene, crawls and swarms across several hills, slopes, and valleys. It is a thick composition of heavy conifers, firs, hemlocks, and spruces mostly. The shadows lie thick here, and undergrowth is thin upon the layers of needles. At carefully tended clearings within this forest are the villages of the fetchlings, secluded and hidden. Outsiders are generally unwelcome in this region, and there are rumors of strange ruins and odd glades controlled by shadowy beings.
Kalai Lake: This small inland land rests between a pair of high escarpments. It is fed by rainfall and snowmelt, having no outlets due to the elevation, and often almost drying up in the height of summer. Due to the stones in this area, the lake is highly alkaline. Normal creatures do not live here, but the lake hosts a vibrant population of oozes and slimes that feed off the chemicals, and giant vermin that feed upon them in turn. For some reason this region is frequented by young metallic dragons, who seem to have developed some sort of game involving the strange waters.
Rippling Falls: In southeast Tourvene the edge of The Rise is particularly stark. Water flows in this direction, as countless streams and runoff from the high hills here form the Abrea River below. During the spring the snowmelt floods over the edges of cliffs and explodes through the banks of mountains streams to create a dramatic series of whitewater currents and waterfalls that stretches for several miles and has multiple drops of over a hundred feet through the air. This seasonal event is sacred to the Strix, who make sport of catching fish as they plunge through the falls and giving them as mating gifts. Much of the rest of the time the area is empty, watched over by druids and fossergrims.
The residents of Tourvene are spread in villages that run down the long valleys of the landscape. Large settlements are difficult to manage in the environment. By contrast, the abundant alpine water resources makes it easy to site highly defensible castles, and Tourvene hosts a number of these well-maintained and used for defense by the republic. The many ridges and slopes of the region hide a number of ancient ruins and isolated residences.
Crestline Keep: Located on the eastern edge of the province, this mighty castle stands guard over the pathway that once linked Tourvene to central Resvier and the bounty of The Brean. Now that traffic is mostly closed, but armies watch on both sides of the border. Crestline is the headquarters of the Tourvene militia and has been the location of several battles. Presently the situation is at peace, but the garrison is always looking for scouts to discern enemy movements, or warriors willing to clear monsters from the surrounding countryside.
Rising Road: This name is given to the portion of the cobbled track that stretches north from Viercal and terminates in Dourved. Constructed during the Simark dynasty, it has long been a major thoroughfare for overland trade in Resvier. The road remains well maintained and is guarded by a number of fortresses. Tourvene restricts use of this road greatly, charging serious tolls for use by Resvieri merchants. The border is closed on the southern access, and trade has largely dried up, though there is some smuggling on narrow goat paths.
Tellglade (Small City, 8,100): Located very close to the center of Tourvene, the city of Tellglade sits at the bottom of a wide, open valley with exits north and south. Located near the source of the Abrea River, it is crisscrossed by numerous streams and is known for the delicate bridges that span these gaps. Numerous mills lie to the south of the city, channeling this waterpower to refine wool from the surrounding regions.
Tellglade is the location of the Hall of Councilors, the elected elders who hold responsibility for governing the state. There are nine such representatives, and they work in session for most of the year. Much of their work is commercial in origin, insuring that taxes are paid and that trade continues. They also issue regular denunciations of Resvier’s activities. Several major mercantile concerns are headed in Tellglade.
The rugged lands of Tourvene were not settled until quite late in the history of Resvier, though the native strix have claimed the land as a home for millennia, and the fetchlings have hidden themselves there almost as long. Major settlement in the province followed Jassira’s Crusade, when refugees from that conflict chose to remain in this isolated land to avoid the wrath of the Wizard-kings. Tourvene is perhaps the only region in Resvier that does not retain ruins from those ancient petty despots.
The region cultivated independence, with each town and local lordling holding his own court. This situation allowed Simark to conquer the province easily, for despite formidable natural barriers, the people were unable to unite against him and the towns fell one after another. The region was integrated as the Duchy of Tourvene and experienced a long period of peace following this. The cultivation of wool became the local specialty, and brought a great deal of wealth up to The Rise.
The Dynastic War hit Tourvene hard. Armies marched up and down the Rising Road, and by the 9730s brought a terrible plague to the land. The population plummeted and much of the nobility collapsed. Worship of Kuniken grew widespread. In 9751 Hawkin the Mistlord, a powerful vampire who had taken control of the remaining lords, declared himself master of the independent province.
Depravity seized the state. Hawkin raised an undead army and conducted necromantic rituals in town squares brazenly. Dissenters were murdered and then their bodies were forced into menial servitude. Terror swept the landscape.
The response was not long in coming. In 9756 Olannal, an inquisitor of Caliata, gathered together a horde of acolytes and massed the peasantry in armed mobs to unleash the conflagration known as Olannal’s Crusade. The movement, furious, uncompromising, and wrathful, spread like wildfire, attacking the faithful of Kuniken and their allies in Marvance, Orhanan, and large chunks of Resvier as well, at its height raging from sea to sea in a fiery band across the region.
Hawkin and his allies were destroyed in 9758, as mobs set fire to Tellglade and the Fellowship of the Stake, a professional group of foreign adventurers, tracked down the vampire and ended him in his buried lair. That same year Olannal’s furious assault collapsed when the inquisitor and his aides unleashed violent purges and withdrew to terrible infighting. In the end Olannal took his own life rather than face the consequences of his actions.
Tourvene’s nobility lay dead, and had spent several years openly serving a vampire. The people wanted no part of it. Leadership of the province was offered to the Fellowship of the Stake, but the adventurers refused the responsibility, instead guiding the people to develop a republic, a form of government occasionally seen in the north.
Jellard I attacked Tourvene repeatedly, without success, and he denounced the very idea of an independent republic, cutting off all official trade from the moment he took power. In the years since resentment of Resvier has grown strong in Tourvene, and it is the most implacable foe of the kingdom. All efforts by the new king to even send an ambassador were refused.
Plots and Rumors
Tourvene has little experience with politics, but that has not stopped widespread corruption and plotting from settling in amongst the elders. Vote-buying and trading are common and other similarly blatant perversions of the process run rampant. Despite this, the needs of defense manage to keep the state mostly functional. The elders work against the military with some regularity.
Hill Predators: Attacks by wolves on the heights in southern Resvier have increased greatly in frequency, ferocity, and skill of late. Someone or something must be controlling them, but the purpose remains unclear. Attempts to investigate have resulted in lost lives, and now a number of villages are growing agitated in terror. So far, the government has dithered, and the possibility of mob violence grows.
Shadow Walkers: A group of Shae have moved in amongst the Fetchlings of Flicker Forest, capturing paramours and engaging in strange games that result in suffering and loss for the conscripted particpants. Local leaders want the problem to be solved, but they desire to have responsibility defelected from the Fetchlings and to avoid a violent solution, as Shae are deeply respected by their people. So far bribery has failed, and a search for alternative solutions is ongoing.
The nation of Resvier occupies only a small part of the continent of Murchom, itself only a moderate portion of the land area of the world of Basaron. Most residents of Resvier have a very limited knowledge of what exists beyond their borders, especially with regards to directions other than the northeast. Skilled merchants, however, often trade with other regions extensively, and certain territories have long-standing bonds with Resvier.
It is not the purpose of this setting to discuss the remainder of Murchom or Basaron in detail. PC contact with other lands is intended to be limited to trade ports for caravans – north of the Pard Mountains – or ships – in the east and south. The following brief descriptions are provided to indicate trade context and sow seeds for possible expansion.
Beyond the Pard Mountains lies a complex temperate continent of a great many nations and states, most of them small and constantly in conflict. Though it has been almost a thousand years since the fall of the Muram Empire, no dominant nation has emerged in this area, in part due to the lack of major geographic barriers, making borders almost impossible to secure. Resvier, at its Simark dynasty height, was twice the population and size of the next-largest nation.
Foreigners from the north regularly visit Resvier, and many come to settle as refugees, with the most recent mass immigration affecting Marvance particularly. People from the north are not that different from the Resvieri, most are agricultural peasants living in a feudal society, though alternative forms of governance such as magocracy, theocracy, and autocratic rule by monsters are much more common in these fragmented states. The climate is generally somewhat more hostile and population densities are lower due to the constant legacy of conflict.
The area immediately north of the Pard Mountains is occupied by two nations: Vosarb in the east and Matrokarce in the west. Matrokarce is an autocratic state ruled by a heritage of theocratic warlords and conflicts heavily with smaller kingdoms to its north. It is a major buyer of dwarven arms and armor. Vosarb is a mostly coastal nation ruled by a mixed oligarchy that includes mages and priests alongside merchant princes. It trades extensively with Falrency and Imbrancy.
The Nesieraen Sea stretches to the east of Resvier for almost five hundred miles before reaching land. The territory there includes a large number of small nations occupying a region of accommodating climate similar to southern Resvier. This region lacks cultural similarity to Resvier, in that each nation is primarily dominated by worship of a single patron deity and massive cultural turnover tends to be coupled with change from one faith to another. Few people who live in Resvier have spent much time in the region, as there are significant linguistic, cultural, and ethnic differences.
Trade across the sea is common and highly valuable, including exotic goods such as silk, spices, and other materials not produced in Resvier itself. While the journey is of considerable distance, it is profitable for committed ship captains and this trade has been a significant source of the wealth powering Falrency and Imbrancy’s continued independence.
Yacar, the Distant South
Over a thousand miles to the south, and almost double that in some places, across the Tunnov Ocean, lies the jungle-covered coastline of Yacar. This land contains no known kingdoms and a variety of peoples who are ethnically much different from the citizens of Resvier. Little is known of this territory are the Resvieri have never penetrated any significant distance into the jungle.
The journey to reach these shores is extremely hazardous, but some great ships dare it as the returns in profit can be immense: rare furs, ivory, and precious metals can all be acquired here for modest quantities of glass, steel, and other refined goods. There is also exotic magic in the region greatly prized by certain spellcasters. These visits are rare, however, and few people from Yacar have ever come to reside in Resvier.
The shallow and wide sea to the east of Resvier is among the most densely populated aquatic territories in the world. It is home to a number of powerful kingdoms of Locathah and Merfolk. Many of these have long-standing treaties with Resvier governing tolls, trade, and territorial usage. Relations are generally cordial, and Resvier has long posted an ambassador to the court of the most powerful merfolk nation and welcomed one to Viercal.
The amphibious Gillmen serve as a bridge between both worlds, and conduct a great deal of trade in the underwater docks of Gloust.
The Nesieraen Sea population is fairly large, with almost two million sentient beings, mostly merfolk, occupying the territory extending eastward for five hundred miles.
The vastness of the great Tunnov Ocean extends south to the distant coast of Yacar and west as far as anyone knows. While scholars are fully aware that the world of Basaron is round, they have only a vague grasp of the lands to the distant west. While it is possible to question outsiders who have visited them, the complete lack of observational context makes such information largely useless for practical purposes. No one in living memory has traveled to such places and yet returned.
The Tunnov Ocean hosts powerful storms and many dangerous hazards. Not least among these are powerful kingdoms of Sahuagin who live near major trade routes and attack almost any ship they can reach.
Resvier has a fairly extensive underdark region beneath it. Like the aboveground areas, this underdark is isolated from the rest of the continent by the Pard Mountains – the roots of the mountains are a massive upwelling of extremely solid igneous rock that is essentially without cavern systems. The cavern system in the rest of the region is quite extensive, especially beneath the Treste Mountains and The Rise.
This area is inhabited by a number of civilizations, including large societies of dark folk, drow, and duergar. Generally these form modestly sized city-states around supplies of food and water capable of supporting them. The rest of the region is often inhabited at extremely low densities and occupied by hostile monsters. Smaller tribes of derro, mites, morlocks, svirfneblin, troglodytes, and others survive in marginal territories. The total population of the region is only perhaps one million sapients.
Interaction between the residents of the surface and the underdark is low, for passages that connect the region to near surface caverns are few, rare, and regularly plugged by the actions of surface rulers. Trade is extremely limited at best, and most encounters are hostile. Residents of both surface and underdark occasionally dare the other world in search of powerful magic. Such expeditions are usually the province of powerful adventurers.
Resvier has a single large satellite, a reddish orb known simply as the moon. Comparatively only around three-fourths the mass of earth’s moon, it is also smaller and more compact. Tidal effects are therefore somewhat lighter on Basaron. The moon belongs to no god and cannot be reached by any known magical power, as it lies beyond the planar barriers erected by Qhom. The moon orbits in a thirty-six day cycle with standard phases, though these revolutions do not match the months and vary slightly. Lunar and solar eclipses can occur, but rarely, such events are considered sacred to Qhom.
Five other planets, including two gas giants, exist in the star system Basaron occupies as the second world. A significant number of asteroids and small dwarf worlds can be found in a belt between the third and fourth worlds and in the icy lands at the distant edge of the system. It is possible using optical enhancement of specialized magic to see these worlds, but like the moon they cannot be reached by magical means or planar travel.
Outer dragons and certain other space-faring beings can travel from Basaron to these other worlds by flying through the void, and they do so with some regularity. It is possible for them to carry passengers, and in this way characters can travel to other worlds. It is left up to the DM to determine the nature of such worlds, whether they contain life, and other concerns, should characters from Resvier travel to such distant realms.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 5 - Religion
The world of Basaron is a land of active, powerful faith, but not one of vast religious diversity. Clerics channel the power of a small, well-defined group of deities with a global presence, or adhere to the non-theistic practice of ancestor worship. Druids and shamans call upon the inherent spirits of the world itself. No other philosophy has successfully manifested the legitimacy conferred by overt magical power.
The deities are competitive entities with an active interest in spreading their faith and bringing their dogma to dominion over others. They are also a united force, dedicated to securing the boundaries of the world and preventing intrusion by entities from other distant spheres or foreign planes. This action prevents the intrusion of archdevils, demon lords, elder evils, and other semi-divine entities from acting in Basaron, and therefore worship of them is impossible.
Most people in Resvier devote their worship to a single united religious philosophy. There are four of these in common society: worship of The Ten, druidism, ancestor worship, and worship of Qhom. There are also a handful of heretical cults that offer their prayers to Asuras or Qlippoth, but these beings are not divine and cannot grant spells. Among those who worship The Ten, it is common to choose a single patron god, and the churches are considered to be individual entities, but most of the common folk observe seasonal devotion to various gods when the need arises. Druids and ancestor worshippers may also have chosen spirits they honor above others while acknowledging the whole of the world’s mystic framework. Only the servants of Qhom consider their deity the one true god, believing all others are usurpers upon the authority of the elder entity.
For those who have individual patron deities, which includes many adventurers of all kinds, the relationship to the divine is closer than the amorphous connection between followers of The Ten as a whole. It is through their pledged followers that the gods attempt to work their agenda for dominance upon the world, with each striving against each other in various ways. Openly proclaiming a patron deity is an act of commitment to a cause in addition to a church, and will be noticed by fellow members of society. While some choices of this nature are innocuous – worship of Alshiel versus Emprino is rarely remarked upon – others are of great significance – the followers of Ximoc are eyed worriedly while those who dare to serve Trenveed are openly outcast.
During the Arcane Upheaval, large numbers of mortals questioned the idea of faith in the gods for the very first time. Many of these individuals died as a result of the terrible conflict, curses against the divine their dying words. At the same time the Psychopomps, feeling their role rejected by the goddess Kuniken’s embrace of undeath, broke free from divine mandate and took to guiding souls on their own. They provided a bridge to allow those who fell without faith to contact the world from the afterlife.
This led to the practice of ancestor worship, wherein the shades of the dead were given prayers and asked for advice. Though the ancestors cannot grant spells, this faith is very real and clerics of various ancestral groups receive and cast spells without any difficulty or limitations compared to those who follow the gods. This faith draws on inherent power associated with positive and negative energy that even the gods cannot block – despite their desire too.
Ancestor worship has long been highly stigmatized and, in many eras, actively persecuted by the followers of The Ten. It has persisted in marginalized areas and among outcast groups oppressed by the major cultures who feel neglected by the gods. In Resvier ancestor worship is found almost exclusively in Marvance, where it emerged in reaction to the disruptions of Olannal’s Crusade. It remains to be seen if it will persist.
The rituals of ancestor worship resemble a cross between divine worship and druidism. Temples and traditional shrines remain in place, but they are dedicated to a large number of spirits who serve various guiding roles. Each of these major ancestors is assumed to have influence over various aspects of life and the ability to intercede from their watchful places on the Outer Planes.
Ancestor worshipper clerics have access to the Community, Healing, Protection, and Repose domains and the Ancestors, Family, Home, and Souls subdomains. They must take the Ancestors subdomain if taking Repose.
Druids worship the ambient powers of the world and its creatures. They believe mystical, spiritual energy suffuses everything, that life and nature are sacred, and that the cycles of life are everlasting. This faith acknowledges the existence of the gods and of the ancestors, but believes that the ambient power of the spirits is closer and truer in comparison, and that shaping this elemental energy is the proper role of mortals rather than subservience to uncaring deities.
Druidism encompasses more than mere druids. Adepts, rangers, shamans, and even some oracles all follow the creed, though they may express its practice somewhat differently. The largely animistic practice of druidism stresses the immediacy of the sacred, the idea that everything is mystical and the world itself sublime. This practice is by far the most common in rural areas and among non-agricultural peoples who deal with the raw beauty and power of untamed nature on a regular basis.
Generally druidism avoids conflict with other faiths. Without a divine impetus towards dominance it is generally free to coexist with other creeds. The principle exception is that the animist cultures tend to oppose development and immigration on their lands by others of all kinds, and conflicts can emerge in such situations. In Resvier druidism is dominant on Quorvast and among isolated communities deep in the forests and mountains.
Druidic rituals tend to be simple, and primarily take place outdoors on in enclosed natural environments such as caves. They often involve animal sacrifice, burning of sacred herbs, or other raw rites that stress a direct connection to the surroundings.
The elder deity stands apart from the gods of The Ten. Its worship is clandestine, elusive, and mysterious. This mystery cult stresses the inherent unknowable nature of reality and the limitations of the mortal mind. Qhom is well established as being little concerned with the opinions and struggles of mortal beings. Few choose to worship it as a result, but some are drawn to the inscrutability of this being and its unquestioned immensity.
The faithful of Qhom stand alone, without allies by both choice and circumstance. While the churches of the gods do not dare to officially prohibit the elder’s worship, considerable stigma exists amongst most cultures for those who would devote themselves to a being widely considered hostile to the development of mortal life and society. Instead, the mystery cult draws support from secret societies and conspiracies deep within the shadows. Those who totally reject the extant order often find themselves inexorably pulled into Qhom’s orbit.
Despite its isolation, Qhom’s mystery cult avoids conflict. This is largely simply a function of its nature. While the rites take place in secret and the allegiance of most members is hidden, the deity makes no demands upon its worshippers and the cult effectively has no agenda beyond simply existing. As a result, it avoids drawing attention from those who would oppose it. Additionally, Qhom’s faithful remain continually on guard to terrible threats to Basaron as a whole, and can be counted on to oppose such dread creatures as Asuras, Divs, and Qlippoth that all other faiths despise. Ultimately, no one wishes to make an enemy of a god who can take on the entirety of The Ten and triumph.
The mystery cult of Qhom is active throughout Resvier in small, isolated cells. It is somewhat more common in the Tourvene Republic than elsewhere.
Clerics who follow Qhom must take the Void domain. However, they may choose any other domain as their second domain, reflecting the elder’s all-encompassing approach.
The world of Basaron, and indeed the entire solar system, has a single pantheon of ten gods, known simply as The Ten. The only other deity, the elder being known as Qhom, exists in steady but largely frozen opposition to them. These gods have dominion over the major aspects of life in the world and over the principle moral stances. They are united in their opposition to other faiths and allied with Qhom to preserve the world as their own from the incursions of outsiders. Internally they are very much divided into ten separate churches, each striving to gain complete control over the world and thereby become the sole deity.
The faith of The Ten, either collectively or as individual deities, is by far the dominant form of worship in Basaron and Resvier. Over eighty percent of all mortals can be found following at least one of these gods. Taken together The Ten strongly oppose ancestor worship, though in Resvier they have stopped short of launching an actual crusade. They tolerate druidism and Qhom grudgingly, mostly because eradication of these practices seems to be impossible. However they work to keep them on the margins and gather the allegiance of all major civic authorities.
In Resvier, as in most regions, nine of the gods are able to practice openly, while one, Trenveed, is proscribed. Though his existence is acknowledged, his faith must perforce exist underground, for society is unwilling to accept a being of such unrestrained violence. Certain of the faiths are allied with each other, formally or informally, while others have long-lasting enmity.
All of these churches have temples with some level of hierarchy, though that of the chaotic deities is rather informal. Each also has a major role in society and claims a month on the calendar as their own. Most have a set of formal prayers and rituals, and all count clerics as their primary servitors.
In Resvier The Ten are the strongest faith in most regions. Certain gods are dominant in some regions and less powerful in others. Alshiel, notably, has earned great authority in Orhanan and Pardien, but has little pull in Alshalsha or Keinrency.
The world of Basaron has elven gods and only eleven gods. These beings are known across the world by a single name in all cultures, though their titles may vary. Interlopers are not tolerated.
There are no racial pantheons. While any given race may favor a specific deity over the others, humans and dwarves, dragons and orcs, all worship the same deities.
There is a single pantheon of deities, The Ten. This grouping is organized by alignment, with one god cleaving to each of the nine principle moral stances. The tenth deity, the goddess of magic, stands apart from such struggles, committed to principles divorced from moral debate. Beyond The Ten stands Qhom, the ancient elder deity that predates the pantheon and many of the moral-centric concepts its represents.
Though the gods compete amongst themselves for control of Basaron, all stand together to maintain their ironclad control over the world, waging great battles across the Outer Planes to prevent intruders from entering their realm.
The gods cannot intervene directly in the world, they must act by providing guidance to their servants and through messages passed to their outsider subordinates. They can also dispatch outsiders through planar breaches to carry out their wishes, though this is unscrupulous and tends to earn the wrath of Qhom. They cannot manifest avatars or otherwise appear physically in Basaron in any way.
Despite these limitations, the gods have vast influence through their churches and servants. Their schemes are many and can easiy change the course of nations. Their changing alliances and feuds also express themselves through their faiths, and such events can shift society at catatrophic speeds.
Note Regarding Domains: the domain lists in the following entries are considered a guide. Gods may have access to additional domains in fitting with their purview, subject to DM approval. However, the number of domains any one deity possesses is limited and domain overlap between gods should be minimal.
Lawful Good Goddess of Mercy
Symbol: Silver sword crossed with golden lance on a white field
Domains: Community, Glory, Good, Protection
Subdomains: Archon, Heroism, Honor
Favored Weapon: “Surging Honor” (lance)
The Lady of the Bright Smile is the kind and generous goddess of mercy and righteousness. She supports wise and benevolent kings, restrained counselors, responsible village leaders, and the overall just application of power. Though firmly wedded to the supremacy of law over the failures of men, she is first and foremost committed to the temperance of mercy in all things. Though all have the potential to be redeemed, evil beings who reject the outstretched hand shall be purged to protect the innocent. While Alshiel is worshipped widely in all nations, she is the principle patron of two Bishoprics, both of whom claimed independence with the backing of her paladins and priests.
Church: Alshiel is worshipped throughout Resvier, but her faith is strongest where clerics can call upon support from allied paladins. This is true in Orhanan and Pardien, and to a lesser extent in Tourvene. Her faith struggles in lands where the nobles are estranged from the common people, such as Branc, Keinrency, and Quorvast.
Neutral Good God of Sea and Sky
Symbol: White clouds above a great wave
Domains: Air, Healing, Water, Weather
Subdomains: Agathion, Cloud, Ice, Oceans, Storms, Wind
Favored Weapon: “Pressure Front” (flail)
The Bounteous Windlord is the master of cloud, current, rain, and wind. He is also the god of leisure and well-earned pleasures. Of contrasting moods, he sends both balmy days and storms, but generally looks kindly upon the people of the world and prefers to bring good weather. Somewhat lazy at times, he is more likely to bask in the wonders of the world than fight hard with other gods. Married to Scemaenn, he generally defers to her, though he works carefully to temper her occasional callousness with a helping hand.
Church: Emprino is widely worshipped by the common people. Sailors follow him, while farmers and herdsmen worship him jointly alongside Scemaenn. The faith has less traction among the nobility, but few oppose the good works done in his name. Out of all the faiths, the clerics of Emprino have the greatest humility.
Chaotic Good Goddess of Love
Symbol: Swirling wheel of flower petals
Domains: Charm, Fire, Good, Liberation, Luck, Travel
Subdomains: Azata, Exploration, Freedom, Love, Lust
Favored Weapon: “Heart Piercer” (rapier)
The free-wheeling Mistress of Romance supports all beautiful things, and counts love and commitment greatest among them. However, she is a whimsical power, supportive always of freedom and choice, and known for many lovers but having never settled for marriage herself. Given to wanderlust, she is also the patron of explorers, the lost, and the desperate, and has a soft spot for those in truly terrible situations. She is a powerful, if somewhat erratic, foe of evil in all forms, especially evil that tries to mask its depravity in beautiful gloss.
Church: Caliata has a selective number of worshippers, and is the patron of romantics. She is often worshipped by free spirits and young people. Her faith is generally rather disorganizaed, but manages to get together to fight evil. Her faith is somewhat out of favor in much of Resvier due to Olannal’s Crusade.
Lawful Neutral God of Rule
Symbol: Ledger above a steel spearhead
Domains: Artifice, Law, Nobility,
Subdomains: Inevitable, Leadership, Toil
Favored Weapon: “Deduction’s Edge” (ranseur)
The Lord of Measures is god of government, hierarchy, law, and truth. His is utterly fair, but never kind. A symbol of authority and civilization, he is patron of inquiry and order, and supports the practice of scientific discovery over that of magic, considering the latter capricious and fickle. While the pantheon cannot agree on a leader, Drojge serves as the speaker and administrator during the conclaves of deities and is seen by many mortals as the leader of the gods. The dwarven Cruicard dynasty claims him as patron, believing that their sovereign ancestor was given the mandate of kingship by Drojge in person. Drojge is wed to Kuniken, a pairing considered very strange on the surface, but that is committed to by both deities with equality and possibly even love.
Church: Drojge has perhaps the most highly organized and formal of all churches. He builds solid temples, always in the same style, in a great many communities. His clergy have formal ranks that they keep carefully, and there is a strong judicial tradition behind adjudication of all disputes. Drojge desires stability above all, and backs those in power firmly, insuring that they remain so, but also issuing stern advice to limit their excesses. Drojge’s influence over everyday life is considerable, but the common people are not especially fond of him.
Neutral Goddess of Earth
Symbol: Tree rooted on a split rock
Domains: Animal, Earth, Plant, Sun
Subdomains: Caves, Day, Fur, Growth
Favored Weapon: “Growthforger” (warhammer)
The Worldborn Lady is the enigmatic goddess of nature, the land, and all living beings. Neither cruel nor kind, impulsive nor rigid, she simply is. Existing as the embodiment of the world she preserves that which is, changing only with the slow rhythm of season and stone. She has few enemies, save for creatures of origins beyond the world that she does not accept. Generally dominant over her husband Emprino, she interacts little with other faiths. The exception is Kuniken, for while Scemaenn acknowledges the necessity of death, she finds the undead to be abominations.
Church: Scemaenn’s church is highly dispersed but quite prominent. She is widely worshipped alongside her husband by the common people. Fishermen, herdsmen, woodsmen, and others who work directly with the natural world all serve her. Her faith has a similar doctrine to druidism, but the two groups do not agree, as they have significantly different philosophies. Her small churches are common in mid-sized communities.
Chaotic Neutral Goddess of Chance
Symbol: A coin shifting into a die
Domains: Chaos, Madness, Trickery
Subdomains: Deception, Insanity, Nightmare, Protean, Thievery
Favored Weapon: “Slicker-Slice” (scimitar)
The Lady of Dice is the goddess of chance, change, and mind expansion. She is considered by some to be the goddess of madness, but while Ysilame may inflict such conditions as a punishment she is herself quite sane, if free-spirited. She is commonly worshipped by the outsiders of society, those who do not fit the good aligned deities or the rigid policies of Drojge and who desire more than the impersonal attention of Scemaenn. Unmarried, she is known for lovers mortal and immortal, of both genders, and for taking many forms.
Church: Ysilame has a very limited formal church, and her temples are generally quite small. She is the patron of beggars, gamblers, and outlaws, and her shrines are often found in out of the way places. Her followers lack the organization to accomplish great works together save in a strangely spontaneous fashion.
Lawful Evil God of War
Symbol: Scales on atop a broken shield
Domains: Evil, Law, Travel, War
Subdomains: Devil, Tactics, Trade
Favored Weapon: “Vital Importance” (longsword)
The Lord of Irons is the god of business, trade, warfare, and wealth. His doctrine joins both into a singular struggle for personal advancement. He is a greedy entity devoid of mercy or caring, but a strong believer in rules and legal structures. Chaos imperils earnings and is unnecessarily wasteful, and he has no tolerance for it. Ximoc’s faith operates quite openly and has great authority in some places. He is a major rival of Caliata, and there are several myths claiming she left him at the altar and started a never-ending feud. As god of war he favors, strength, organization, and professionalism, but also subterfuge and the exploitation of the enemy’s weaknesses. Once, long ago, Ximoc was married to Reniri, but her desire to spread to the discovery to magic to all beings, rather than simply to those he deemed worthy, led to their divorce. The split was formal and not especially acrimonious, but the two powers remain suspicious of each other.
Church: Ximoc’s church is powerful, but careful. He has a number of temples throughout the world, especially in large cities with a significant merchant culture or military tradtion. His church emphasizes its adherence to the law and downplays the deity’s extreme mercilessness and ruthlessness. He is deeply opposed to the chaotic gods and works against them on every level. His follows are hierarical based on personal strength and accomplishment, and ritual challenges are common.
Neutral Evil Goddess of Death
Symbol: White skull on a black field
Domains: Darkness, Death, Evil
Subdomains: Daemon, Loss, Night, Undead
Favored Weapon: “Finality” (scythe)
The Lady of Needles is the cold and detached goddess of death, pain, and undeath. She is a true psychopath, lacking essential emotions to temper her from abject cruelty and twisted experimentation. All things die and all things end, but neither must be the end, and she has embraced the development of undeath to the horror of most. Despite her faith’s well-known vile nature it is widespread, though often carefully circumscribed. Few are willing to spurn the mistress of the dead, however, for all shall require her pitiless services at some point. Kuniken is married to Drojge, a strange arrangement that makes little sense to mortal minds but seems to suit the deities just fine.
Church: Kuniken’s church is allowed to exist, but usually monitored closely by those in power. The true rituals of the faith usually take place out of sight at secret hidden temples. Undead are of great importance in the church, and many intelligent undead are followers and even clerics. All acknowledge Kuniken – for death is a part of existence that cannot be ignored – but she is a diety to be feared and appeased, not worshipped.
Chaotic Evil God of Torment
Symbol: Shattered fortress wrapped in chains on a red field
Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Strength
Subdomains: Catastrophe, Demon, Ferocity, Rage
Favored Weapon: “Ripping Breaker” (spiked chain)
The Lord of Broken Smiles is the god of betrayal, murder, and torment. He personifies all the worst emotions and gets along with no one but himself. A being of endless anger, jealousy, and wrath, he will stop at nothing to ensure his desires and to obliterate his enemies. Worshipped mostly by kindred souls, he cares nothing for his supporters save as a measure of status and a way to gain influence in the world. His faith is forbidden by essentially all governments, but it thrives among criminals and marginalized races. Trenveed is only too happy to offer support if it leads to an increase in battle and suffering.
Church: Trenveed’s followers are referred to as a cult, as in essentially all nations his worship is officially prohibited and must exist underground. His worshippers are too unstable to form much of a church anyway, as their organization lasts only so long as a single individual can keep them in line to pursue an agenda, otherwise they quickly descend into infighting to see who should be in charge. Cults tend to grow rapidly and burn out with great violence, which suits their master just fine. He desires fear and subjugation, not regular services.
Neutral Goddess of Knowledge
Symbol: A book split by a staff
Domains: Knowledge, Magic, Rune
Subdomains: Arcane, Language, Memory, Wards
Favored Weapon: “Puzzle Digger” (kukri)
The Lady of Runes is the goddess of knowledge, magic, and memory. Normally scholarly and quite detached, focused on mysteries beyond mortal ken, she retains an interest in the free dissemination of information, so that all beings might reach their full potential. Disagreement over this led to her ancient split with Ximoc, after her discovery of the powers of magic in the earliest days. Having attained stewardship over the arcane, Reniri has largely withdrawn from the actions of the other deities. She maintains no full-fledged temples, only small shrines, and has few clergy. However, her presence is felt through magic even among cultures that do not acknowledge the gods.
Church: Reniri’s church is a restrained affair, as she alone among the Ten is not directly striving for dominance. Her followers build small chapels and shrines, usually near gatherings of arcane practitioners or houses of learning. Services are short and focus on the recollection and sanctity of knowledge. Many work actively to preserve extant knowledge and recover that which has been lost. The hierarchy is loose, but all clerics are expected to report to a home institution and keep records of their service for review.
Symbol: a blank gray disk on a black field
Subdomains: Dark Tapestry
Favored Weapon: “Shard of Nothing” (throwing axe)
Qhom is the unknowable deity with authority over the unknown, the unknowable, and the strange. It seemingly predates the current era and the current divine pantheon, but its power is such that the others cannot drive it forth. Some cultures consider Qhom to be the creator agency that built the world. This may be true, but Qhom is not in the habit of answering inquiries. Nevertheless, it is worshipped. Mystery cults to this deity abound and it is widely worshipped by aberrations and other monstrous beings, including those dragons that feel it necessary to bother with deities at all. Qhom is believed to plot against all the other deities in order to shift the world to some completely new state of existence.
Church: Qhom does not have a church, it has a mystery cult of secret practices available only to those who has been initiated. Initiation does not necessarily mean clerical training, but it does mean one has been sought out and tested by a follower. Most followers of Qhom keep their faith quiet, nominally acknowledging the Ten and participating in secret services. Most of the members of these cults have only a vague idea of what Qhom desires, and they enact esoteric rituals and conduct strange missions with little understanding of their purpose, supported only by their belief that the will of the elder is correct above all.
The nine alignment oriented gods each want the same thing: total dominance. Each believes that their way is correct and that they should rule absolutely over the others – including their spouses in the case of married divinities – and harness the full power of the pantheon to their will. While they may vary in their pursuit of this goal, and their assertiveness towards it, it is something they all share. Each full intends to have their followers dominate the world, unite it behind a single alignment, and render total power into their hands.
Should this be achieved, they would then take the fight to Qhom and with the power of the entire pantheon in their hands, destroy that being and remake the world in accordance with their designs. This is quite possibly a delusion, there being no evidence that the collective might of the gods subordinated to a single alignment could defeat the elder, but they all want to try. As such the gods scheme and plot and work hard to spread their faith far and wide.
Despite this often violent rivalry between the gods they remain united in many things. First, Basaron is theirs, and they have no intention of allowing anyone else to take a piece of it. The pantheon collectively works to eliminate outside threats via titanic battles on distant planes, and to combat internal threats such as the ancestor cult and druidic animism. Their unity against internal threats is fragmented however, due to a long history of attempting to use druids against their rivals and convert animists to one specific faith. Their opposition to the ancestor cult is considerably more organized.
Reniri stands somewhat apart from the other gods. As custodian of magic and knowledge she has moved past the ambition for conquest and seeks instead to solve deep mysteries and watch over the evolution of the world. She remains deeply suspicious of Qhom and her followers are constantly directed to try and pierce the veil of the mystery cult, though often with little success.
As for Qhom, it remains an enigma. It is not even clear if it represents a single being or some sort of composite. Undoubtedly of extraordinary power, it remains uninterested in the squabbles of the other gods in almost all cases. Qhom’s most significant intervention in the history of Basaron was the cleansing of Muram when the Qlippoth brought it low, but it is not clear precisely what that portends.
The divine entity known as Qhom exists in part to upset expectations. With inscrutable, alian motivations, hidden followers, and a seemingly irrational agenda, it works as an ideal agent to alter details of the setting to suit the needs of a particular campaign. While Qhom’s agency should not be abused in order to preserve its central mystery, the elder divine being represents all that is unknown and indeed incapable of being known about the world.
Further, the actions of Qhom, and its potential fellow elder gods of the early days, serve as an in-universe justification for the P6 nature of the world, should on be needed. The boundaries of this particular world are different from those of other worlds, occasionally in ways that are even known to people in the setting. For example, Basaron is visited with some regularly by Outer Dragons, who have relayed the names and natures of powerful fiends that simply are not present within its cosmology. A DM need not articulate this justification, but it is made available in case it is found useful.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 6 - Organizations
While some beings prefer to keep their affairs highly isolated, whether illusive druids or arrogant dragons, most beings in Resvier leverage power by joining together in organizations of like minded individuals. This is especially true given the limitations on personal power imposed by P6 and the collaborative requirements of ritual magic. Almost everyone in the land owes their allegiance to someone else through an organizational link, even as they may claim complete independence.
Many official organizations have already been elucidated in prior descriptions: the feudal structure of Resvier and its splinter states, the churches of the various deities, the joint efforts of certain localized races, and the existence of merchant guilds and companies. Countless others exist, sacred and secular alike. Resvier holds virtuous paladin orders, vile demon cults, greedy thieves’ guilds, and philosophical monastic societies in every corner. Powerful monsters from dragons to nagas to rakshasas form hierarchies to serve their desires.
The land also contains a number of multi-faceted organizations that work outside of the traditional power structures to accomplish their goals. The following entries describe a sampling of some of the more powerful of these unusual organizations. Some are good, some are evil, and some contain multitudes.
The Avulse is an underground organization that deals in the production, development, and distribution of desirable terrors. The group grows and deploys mundane narcotics of many kinds, including a considerable business in opium, but also deals in substantially darker commodities. Potions, poisons, distillations of rare blood, demonic grafts and more are their stock in trade. If it can be named, the Avulse will endeavor to produce it, for a price.
This dark organization has links to many criminal enterprises, often supplying assassins and thieves with deadly tools and products. They cater to the depravity of all kinds of vices, and will take payment in forms of indebtedness incalculably worse than coinage. For this they are much hated, but also rightly feared.
Widespread, the Avulse has no one leader. It is governed by a council of seven Blood Merchants, who retain their positions through deep paranoia, for the only way to acquire the posting is to kill the previous holder, and to present the proof to one of the others. These leaders need not be humanoid, and often are not. Hags, nagas, rakshasas, and even undead have all held senior positions in the Avulse, for the group cares little as to one’s origins, only for a lack of scruples. Currently a powerful spirit naga known as Bile Moon serves as the senior Blood Merchant.
Membership in the Avulse is drawn from many origins, but the group relies upon terrible practices that begin at kidnapping and spiral down as far as the imagination goes to produce its concontions and magic. Overlap with the Cult of Trenveed is considerable in some areas. Martial power is just as valued as magical power, but the key to success is the ability to make deals and hide one’s true nature. The hierarchy is generally quite loose. Blood Merchants appoint deputies and managers to various projects in an ad hoc manner, with local leadership recruiting those they need. Most of the lower level operatives are persons chained to service by their addictions, a critical tactic to insulate the leadership from the agents of good.
It is said that the royal keeps in Viercal and elsewhere hide secret rooms accessible only to those who carry mystical keys. These rooms hide terrible secrets and have access to all the conversations that carry through the walls. Whispers are heard and compiled by a cladestine group of carefully chosen operatives, anonymous, elusive, and utterly loyal to the crown. From beneath thick disguises and endless strata of false identies they work on behalf of the dynasty to preserve the function of the kingdom and insure it is never compromised. These are the secret police of Resvier, beholden only to themselves, for even the monarch can be overruled at need. They are known as the Double Mirrors.
There is a great deal of misinformation and rumor abounding regarding the Double Mirrors, but the organization does exist. It traces its lineage to the spies of Grackle, Simark I’s spymaster, though there have been many disruptions during their history. The group fractured during the succession disputes that brought down the Simark dynasty, and spent most of the Dynastic War murdering each other. They managed to reconstitute themselves after Jellard I’s coronation, but remain at very low strength. The new dynasty barely trusts this group and they remain officially outlawed.
Members are selected at a very early age and are usually orphans raised and indoctrinated to absolute loyalty to Resvier – with the group’s own slant on what is best for the nation. They are trained in stealth, combat, infiltration, disguise, and other tools to make them ideal paramilitaries and spies. They are also embedded with mystical keys that are sewn beneath the skin and crumble to dust if removed.
The Double Mirrors focus on external threats to Resvier’s sovereignty – including the modern splinter states – such as invasion, planar breaches, and underdark incursions. They also monitor the monarchy and the chief nobles for outside influence, trying to prevent subversion beneath the power of a faith or a mighty monster such as a powerful outsider. They care little for the actions and goals of the monarch, so long as those choices are made with a clear mind.
Currently the Double Mirrors do not have a uniform leader, being instead broken into three major cells: one in Viercal, one in the north near Falrency, and one in the west monitoring Trestegard and Alshalsha. Authority is held by the senior trainers, but field operatives are given a wide degree of discretion. The price of such authority is a policy of absolute zero tolerance. Treachery is punishable by swift death.
Most people aware of the Iron Bones believe it to be little more than an advisory agency used by adventurers and mercenaries to negotiate contracts while they are in the field. Their actual influence is considerably larger. Though membership is small, and the agency operates out of a single stately manner in Sabrean, the power of these iron mongers is immense.
The diplomats, merchants, and negotiators of the Iron Bones represent independent military groups ranging from the smallest of adventuring parties to the largest mercenary companies. They offer a variety of services ranging from contract assistance to information to insurance to referrals. Everything they do comes with a price, of course.
Their goal is simple: to gain complete control of the mercenary market and maximize their monetary gains. Towards this end the engage in a wide variety of tactics. They will push very hard for good deals for those they represent, while doing a great deal to insure the performance of independents is embarrassing and a failure. Those who attempt to cheat them face terrible punishment from highly adept adventuring parties kept on retainer for that specific purpose.
Though the Iron Bones do not engage in outright villainy and are generally careful to adhere to the letter of dictates by nobles attempting to control mercenary action, they know what their goal is and are not easily diverted from it. Prolonged conflict serves their interests, and they will act to ensure no side achieves a quick victory in any affair by offering discounted services to the disadvantaged side in the form of arms and troops.
The group has a strict, military-style hierarchy, though agents have a great deal of discretion when on assignment conducting deals. Most members are retired soldiers or diplomats selected for their intelligence and business acumen. In-house enforcers are mostly former adventurers receiving a very generous retainer. The current leader, Aladaen Steelbind (LN male human Ftr 6) is a powerful, if elderly, former mercenary with a cunning mind for business and a cutthroat sense of opportunity. He is working hard to provoke war between Resvier and Keinrency with troops positioned to bleed the duchy dry before its fall.
Simark the Conqueror depended on the magical items known as Octagonal Rods to bring down the outsider minions of the wizard-kings. Once his throne was secure he directed Ytana, the creator of the rods, to organize a secret unit with the task of guarding and securing these and other magical treasures. This group would become known as the Octets.
Initially tasked with the sanctity of magic and preserving the realm from extraordinary threats – primarily outsiders but also including dangerous beings such as aboleth – the purview of the group gradually broadened into a general support for good endeavors from the shadows. A tradition of carefully pragmatic righteousness, formulated by the original Spark Rider veterans who served as many of the early members, grew up in the organization. In time, they came to recruit from among adventurers throughout the country, focusing on veterans with established records of virtue.
The Octets were devastated by the Dynastic War. Though state sponsorship had been limited in the later years of the Simark dynasty, the war stripped them of estate income and their garrison keeps. Their vaults were raided repeatedly by dragons and other monsters, with most of their items lost. By the end of the war only a handful of members, led by the samsaran wizard Iseilly, survived.
Jellard I provided unexpected support, offering Iseilly a modest estate in northern Resvier. He was concerned with magical items possessed by his enemies, and hoped that they would focus their efforts in Falrency and Marvance. Iseilly, working creatively, managed to rebuild the Octets into a nationwide organization, though their numbers remain small.
Composed primarily of adventurers who have sworn to guard against abusive use of magic and to return dangerous magical items for safe keeping, the Octets are a diffuse organization devoted to the cause of good. Members are expected to support one another and have the ability to call upon limited information resources and support when engaged in duties related to their key doctrines. This primarily comes in the form of spellcasting, as Iseilly converted her estate into a small magical college that trains wizards and arcanists.
The current leader of the Octets is Brizzana (NG female aasimar Wiz 5), a vibrant middle-aged woman with a matronly nature and something of a tendency to mother her charges. She is skilled teacher, but a cautious adventurer, and has worked hard to husband her assets and prevent disasters.
The Superior Order
The Superior Order rejects the concepts of blood inheritance and democracy in favor of a simple doctrine: rule by the strong. They believe those skilled of blade and mind that should be dominant in the world, and that the complications of bureaucracy and law are limitations designed by the weak to impede those capable of achieving true power. Ruthlessly competitive, they work hard to gain all they can for themselves and the like minded.
Founded by disgruntled sorcerers and wizards among the nobility of the Simark dynasty who chaffed at laws forbidding their inheritance, the Superior Order has a magocratic conspiracy at its roots. While the group later expanded to take in non-spellcasters, it remains dominated by those who command magic and believes that wizards should rule. Despite this prejudice many clerics, warriors, and monks join the Superior Order, believing that they will gain much more in a new, ability-based world than the current one.
The conspiracy is a dark one. Viewing society as corrupt and worthless they are quite willing to shed blood and to call upon dark powers to get their way. The unworthy are to be purged and stepped upon in the path to a better order, and if people get hurt, so be it. Combining aspects of the doctrines of all three evil gods, they wield any weapon they can find to secure power for themselves. Their leaders plot tirelessly to conduct coups in any number of Resvier’s states.
The Superior Order acknowledges a single authoritarian leader – the First Soul – but this leader may be challenged at any time, and elaborate plots to sieze leadership suction up a great deal of the order’s energy and resources. Many bemoan this state of internal conflict even as they plot desperately to gain control. This breeds paranoia at the top of the ranks, and the machinations of the Superior Order make the Avulse appear stable by comparison.
Racial animus is a considerable part of the Superior Order’s operations, and generally only humans are allowed as members, while non-humans are often condemned to magical slavery. Altering one’s state of being is permissible, however, and lycanthropy and vampirism are common life choices among the senior leadership, with many seeking to master the secrets of lichdom in their later years. Bonded service to another being, such as a devil, is not accepted, and those who form such contracts of subordination are ruthlessly purged.
Currently the Superior Order is led by Timothe Vasame (NE male human werewolf Wiz 6), a dangerous spellcaster born in Imbrancy who dreams of claiming the duchy for his own. He is coordinating the breeding of an army of fiendish wolves for the purpose.
The White Brambles is an ancient organization dedicated to the preservation of Resvier’s wilderness areas. It is an informal alliance of druids, rangers, and other like-minded individuals committed to mutual support of each others endeavors. The group is restrained in almost all matters, and generally avoids direct confrontation with major powers, but can exert considerable influence and local might to direct the spread of populations.
Members of the White Brambles hold regular meetings to keep track of activities regarding the territory under their stewardship and to formulate plans to deal with problems that have arisen. Outsider incursion, widespread clearing, and infestations by aberrations are all issues they consider important. Members may act directly, or they may chose to join or hire outside adventurers for the purpose.
Of particular importance to the White Brambles are the secluded, semi-fantastical realms within Resvier that harbor populations of dinosaurs, dire animals, and other legendary beasts. These are kept hidden and carefully monitored to prevent their destruction, and to prevent the outbreak of dangerous beasts to populated areas.
The group has no centralized leadership, but tends to follow the rulings of elder members by region. There is also usually a representative to the crown and to other governments, often self-appointed.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 7 - History Part 1
The history of Basaron is generally quite well known, at least the recent parts. There are two major reasons for this. Firstly, elven civilization has been able to maintain a continuous presence for the totality of recorded history on a single uninterrupted calendar. Secondly, the gods have made it a point to reveal large portions of the historical record to their followers due to their desire to marginalize the position of Qhom and to undercut certain rogue classifications of outsiders. While this documentation, which leans heavily on the revelations of Reniri, is somewhat biased, it does present the broad strokes quite well.
The following historical summary is focused on the conditions that impact the region of Resvier, and not the whole of Basaron or even the continent of Murchom. It begins broadly but will focus its analysis of the modern era on specifics to national history. As Resvier has spent the last thousand years in a condition of relatively high military and political isolation due to natural barriers, this leaves out little.
It should be noted that history is registered in Orbital Years, an astronomy based calendar that is highly accurate and was devised by Reniri and calibrated by Drojge. Every civilization of consequence in the world utilizes this calendar. The beginning of the calendar is tied to the founding of elven civilization. Events do predate this, but are known only generally at best.
The Founding Eon
Thaw and Visitation (-10000 to -5000 OY)
It is believed that Basaron was long trapped in a frozen state, only emerging around -10000 OY. Following this the world warmed, developing soil, plant life, and widespread forests and grasslands. Animal life emerged from sheltering caves, rare hot springs, or in some cases was seeded anew from other worlds.
During this period there was no humanoid sapient life on the planet. Certain strange and aberrant monsters, such as aboleth or iku-turso, may have dwelled deep beneath the frozen oceans during this period. Their conception of time does not map to that of humanoids so it cannot be known. Strange and ancient ruins have been noted deep underground and in ocean trenches, but they are mostly depopulated. The aboleth themselves have long since faded to barely a memory.
Later in this period, around -7000 OY Basaron received its first new visitors. Outer dragons, mighty explorers capable of crossing the void between worlds, reached the planet. After visiting they departed, carrying word of a new and unspoiled world across the cosmos. Shortly thereafter, perhaps at about -5500 OY, the first humanoid explorers made tentative landfall. This exposure did not lead immediately to settlement, but it drew the eyes of interested gods, dispossessed divine beings seeking a new home.
The War of Black Hours (-5000 OY)
A swarm of migrant gods, emigrants from worlds destroyed by plague, fiends, undead, or other cataclysms, made their way to Basaron, seeking to establish new followers and grow strong. They expected to battle amongst themselves and eventually set up a large pantheon, as happens on many worlds, with each race claiming their own deities. Instead, they found themselves opposed.
Elder beings made their home in the planar landscape surrounding Basaron, and considered themselves its master. They did not take this intrusion well, and brought incredible eldritch might to bear in order to preserve their carefully managed world. They fought in the black void, utilizing powers beyond mortal understanding. The known gods were on one side, Qhom was on the other. There were undoubtedly other combatants, but their names are forbidden and lost. Perhaps the aboleth know who they were, but they do not speak of it.
The Pantheon of Ten claims that they were the strongest claimants and forced a peace from their opponents while all others were driven away. Followers of Qhom claim otherwise – that the ten betrayed the other gods in the darkness in order to make an agreement with the elder and retain a place in the world. Regardless of the truth, there was an agreement made. Ten gods were chosen and permitted to remain and claim Basaron alongside Qhom. All others were forever banished away. Terrible planar barriers were erected that prevented not only the incursion of other divinities, but all extraplanar beings of great power, barring access to archdevils, demon lords, and others.
The Migratory Period (-5000 OY to -1000 OY)
With the gods established in their roles, they quickly worked to bring new beings to the planet, populating Basaron with all manner of sapient races, animals, monsters, and oddities. The history of this period is confused, with no one deity claiming credit for the arrival of any particular creature. Qhom’s machinations for and against the various gods led to a discordant process and muddled history, and knowledge of this era is difficult to produce in any fashion.
There were no established civilizations during this time, only hunter-gatherers spread across the world. Further, there was no utilization of magic, for the gods had not yet unlocked the conditions that allowed manipulation of these forces within the environment of Basaron. Such knowledge that does exist of this period is preserved by dragons and a handful of truly immortal monsters. Most are sufficiently inhuman so as to make their insights difficult to translate.
What clearly did occur following arrival, however, was spread. Gradually, in a process taking several millennia, the major sapient races expanded across the planet, coming to occupy all continents and territories, with most settling into the environments they would later control by the end of this period.
The Arcane Upheaval (-1000 OY)
Reniri, goddess of knowledge, eventually spearheaded the discovery of magic and all its potency. This crystallized a moment of supreme ambition for the goddess. She divorced her husband Ximoc and launched a challenge against Qhom, one the other deities belatedly joined.
This challenge did not succeed. The elder revealed a power to fundamentally shift the reality of the world, making attack impossible and forcing the others to concede lest they erase Basaron utterly. Great portions of the world were damaged in the process, leading to several lasting consequences.
Firstly, the power of magic became available to mortals with Reniri taking on the role of goddess of magic. Secondly, the conflict birthed the horrible race of destroyers known as Asuras, who seek endlessly to unravel the existence of the world. Finally, magic led the goddess Kuniken to her fascination with undeath. As a result, the race of outsiders known as Psychopomps broke with the goddess and began to act as custodians to the faithless spawned by the destruction the war unleashed. This was the beginning of the ancestor cult.
The Troubled Eon
Early Years (0-3000 OY)
The elves took to the utilization of magic faster than any other mortal race, due to their ability to spend centuries experimenting. These key discoveries allowed for the development of a widespread, low-density elven civilization across the face of Basaron. Elven towns kept in touch using communication spells, specialized items, and the occasional summoned agent. They also developed a warning system that allowed them to avoid marauding scourges such as dragons and giants.
Other races were not so lucky, and it was rare for a village to be sustained for more than a couple generations before some powerful monster destroyed it. This prevented any other major race from establishing urban areas and clearing significant cropland – necessary steps to found a civilization. Elven forest-cropping evaded many of these difficulties and their civilization was sustainable.
The Hag Reign (3000-6000 OY)
The first beings to understand the capabilities of combining magical practice into rituals were the Hags, who possessed an intuitive understanding of the process through their covens. Once hags unlocked this power – aided by outsider advice disseminated by Night Hags – they amassed vast power. During this period humans, dwarves, orcs, and others managed to begin civilization, but they did so in thrall to powerful hag covens that largely kept them as playthings.
Hag-ruled villages and small towns were terrible places of torment and repression. The power of the covens and the sacrifice of slaves kept the dragons and giants at bay, but it did little to advance civilization. Hags were interested in maintaining their dominance and having slaves make them pretty things, not giving them tools to rebel. This era was therefore one of suffering and stagnation.
Elven civilization maintained itself during this period, but did not act to overthrow the hags. Instead the elves retreated, beginning a millennia-long of relocating themselves away from their problems, a strategy that is still being invoked to the present. While some may have looked to the elves for salvation, it did not come from such quarters, and many were themselves enslaved by the hags.
Fall of the Hags (6000-6500 OY)
However, though technological development was limited, the hags were unable to conceal the power of ritual magic forever. Eventually, after millennia of hiding and suffering, secret cabals of spellcasters worked together to unlock powerful rituals. They summoned powerful outsiders into the world, casting down the hags and driving them deep into the wilderness.
This series of attacks dramatically reduced the prevalence of powerful monsters as well, with giant tribes broken up and dragons driven deep into their lairs. While most beings eventually adapted to the periodic presence of potent outsiders, and such summonings became rare after the hags were overthrown, the retained ability to unleash such beings upon the world changed the dynamic in favor of those races that could muster trained spellcasters in numbers working in concert.
The Iron Surge (6500-7500 OY)
Having reduced the threat of powerful monsters, civilization grew rapidly in the years following. Villages and towns grew up, and alongside these industry expanded. The greatest initial beneficiaries were the dwarves. Naturally disposed to craftsmanship and with ready access to valuable resources, they carved out kingdoms from dragon lairs and quickly repurposed vast piles of metal that had been left to lie unused for millennia.
An arms race followed. Dwarven implements were sold to humans seeking to open a hostile frontier and build nations, to elves seeking to defend their forests, and even to aquatic races now emerging to the surface and hungry for tools that cannot be forged below the waves. Such expansion inevitably led to a vast influx of well-crafted arms and armor into the hands of barbarian tribes and hostile races.
In the face of this difficulty, conflict eventually exploded.
Scatter Wars (7500-8000 OY)
This centuries-long period of violence saw nascent empires struggling endlessly against each other and against the barbarians at their gates. The conflicts were messy, mostly small-scale between tribes, but gradually grew larger over time as military technology advanced, integrated with magic, and saw the deployment of the first professional armies.
Five centuries of more of less perpetual conflict created vast demographic changes. Though initially possessed of greater organization than the humans, the dwarves and elves could not keep up reproductively with the casualties compared to faster-breeding races. Dwarven kingdoms fell or retreated into deep mountain ranges. The elves drew back, moving to the remaining edges of the primordial wilderness and consolidating to more defensible densities.
Across the continent of Murchom human city-states gradually integrated into a major federation that would eventually grow to dominate much of the continent. Known as Muram, it became extremely powerful and more and more centralized. In 8024 OY the proclamation of Victar Narrell as the first Emperor marked the beginning of the modern period.
The Modern Eon
Muram Empire (8000-8800 OY)
The Muram Empire was a powerful federation of city-states maintained by a massive professional military force and largely ruled by its officer class. The army owned much of the land, controlled the imperial bloodline, and put down rebellions and attacks along the borders. Their army was highly trained, well equipped, and extraordinarily expensive. The high cost of fielding this force led to revolt by nobles and peasants alike, and widespread instability was common and over time undercut many of the institutions of empire through considerable impoverishment.
The long reign of the empire cemented human dominance across the face of Murchom. No other race could effectively challenge their armies or their capable control of ritual magic. Even mighty dragons retreated from imperial lands, sick of being attacked by summoned outsiders and the occasional golem.
Technological development also increased tremendously as the empire discovered and disseminated new ideas to a wide variety of peoples, even the border kingdoms and barbarian tribes beyond proper imperial territory. Urbanization allowed for the first major metropolises and massive populations could be marshalled for immense civic engineering projects – canals were a favored measure – that in many cases still stand. Much of what is considered modern knowledge traces to the discoveries of the Muram Empire and the foundations of magic, science, and religious practice were all laid there.
Muram’s Fall (8700-8800 OY)
Eventually, however, the empire’s military focus proved immensely destabilizing. The first cause was widespread xenophobia. Military leaders were used to seeing nonhumans as foes first and citizens a distant second if at all. Persecution eventually became official, with members of other races either fleeing imperial lands or confined to massive ghettoes. Many such refugees traveled to Resvier, a land barely controlled by the empire, or similar frontier regions. Others turned to crime and plotted civil unrest.
This led to massive discontent among the bureaucratic class that had to try and actually run the empire while dealing with ever-increasing demands for resources by the army. In the early 8700s several attempts to alter imperial structure by emperors and reduce military expenditures resulted in coups. Realizing the army controlled not only the weapons, but also the magic, secret societies went underground and sought any resource they could in order to subordinate the state. These dark prayers were answered not by demons, but by the Qlippoth.
Alien and ancient, these terrible fiends allied with the discontented to unleash chaos throughout imperial territory. Planar breaches were opened using fell sacrifices, allowing marauding Asuras to charge into the world and distract the agents of the divine. Key military leaders were assassinated and terrible feuds sown, until the army split into five factions at war with itself. The resulting conflagration tore the empire apart.
In the capital city of Muram the Qlippoth seized power openly, rapidly converting the world’s most populous city into an abyssal charnel house of horrors. Tens of thousands were sacrificed, tortured, burned, or otherwise massacred by the fiends to assuage their hideous appetites. The gods, with their followers fighting amongst themselves and their servants tangling with Asuras, were helpless.
In the end, relief came from an unexpected source. Aeons, the agents of the mysterious Qhom, were called forth by the hidden mystery cult. Arising from remote places, forgotten hamlets, and impoverished shadows, the secretive followers of the elder drove the Qlippoth back and destroyed them. However, Qhom is not a being possessed of kindness. In victory, the Aeons set fire to Muram and shattered the stone to the very foundations. Canals were rerouted to flood out the city, and all was buried in mud.
This sequence of events led to a widespread outcry against the gods. Large portions of the human populace throughout human lands shifted away from the established pantheon and adopted the ancient practice of ancestor worship instead. Qhom’s mystery cult also grew greatly in power. A vast religious divide opened across the continent where previously there had been only the competition between the various faiths.
The empire crumbled after the capital fell. Various military units still loyal to their officers carved out dominions as warlords where they could, but all attempts to claim imperial authority failed. The imperial name was poison and it would not be even partially restored for centuries.
After Muram (8800-9822 OY)
Riven by deep ethnic, racial, and religious divides following the fall of the Muram Empire, the continent was reduced for a long time to chaos. City-states struggled against each other, trade collapsed, and monster populations increased. In time small nations would emerge again on the strength of mighty conquerors, but nothing even close to the scope of the empire.
When Simark I founded Resvier and unified the whole of the peninsula in 9,346 OY his new nation was more than twice the size of the next largest sovereign state. This situation has continued to the present day, with large numbers of small nations competing against each other, against tribal populations, and against powerful monsters. The complex history of the continent north of the Pard Mountains is of little consequence to Resvier, as they are able to trade with many states and no one capable of sending a threatening force across the mountains exists.
The peninsula of Resvier, on the western end of the continent of Muram, has long been separated from the imperial heartland to the east and the deep forests to the north by the barrier of the Pard Mountains. History rests lighter here, for no major civilizations took form until late in the Scatter Wars, when human refugees finally began to make their way over the mountains in numbers. The history of Resvier is presented on its own from this point, focusing on the Modern Eon, in greater detail.
Pre-Modern History (0-8000 OY)
Naturally forested, Resvier was long a stronghold of the elves, based out of the ancient coastal city of Illshallara. Otherwise they lived at low density much as they did everywhere else. When the hags became dominant they took control of Resvier just as they did other lands, and the elves retreated to the western half of the peninsula, avoiding conflict and largely severing ties with the aquatic kingdoms found in the shallow sea to the east.
When the hags fell the dominant powers in Resvier where a pair of dwarven kingdoms. In the east, the kingdom of Feldshield in the Pard Mountains. In the west, the kingdom of Trestegard in the Treste Mountains. Feldshield was initially the greater kingdom, as it maintained the trade links to the north. The dwarves of the kingdom attempted to claim the lands to the south, ruling over the human city-states developing there.
The result was over-extension, leaving Feldshield vulnerable to attack from the north. This occurred, combined with rebellion in the south, and opportunistic attacks by dragons. It swiftly toppled the kingdom, with surviving dwarves dispersing either to Trestegard or to elsewhere on the continent. This event did disperse dwarven crafting knowledge among many of the human populations on the peninsula, leading to greater development of those proto-states.
Wizard-Kings (8000-9346 OY)
In 8044 OY the wizard Evard the Binder and his disciples ordered elementals to construct a city along a major confluence in the Vier River. Evard, who had studied arcane magic and ritual spellcasting in the Murom army and was a master craftsman of magical items, led an arcane movement of hundreds of apprentices all able to support his rituals. He was the first of the so-called Wizard-Kings, a long series of autocratic spellcasters who would build or seize control of city-states by mobilizing a cult of intensely loyal followers. Most such kingdoms were short lived, unable to sustain themselves following the passing of their gifted leader. They were also small, unable to expand due to inherent limits on delegation of authority.
Evard’s kingdom was no exception, collapsing in 8083 when he died. The city he founded, however, would live on considerably longer. He had chosen his site well, and the river trade led to great prosperity in the city that eventually became Viercal – capital of Resvier.
Most wizard-kings were charismatic but cruel. Naturally talented, they taught their secrets to ambitious apprentices and loyal sycophants, and based their power on the strength of the mighty outsiders they summoned to their service. Such spells carried considerable costs, whether in blood, gold, or other treasure, forcing such polities to raid their neighbors in order to develop. As a result, the patchwork of city-states was often at war, with new ones rising and falling with great frequency.
Beginning in the 8300s, with the Muram Empire at the height of its power, imperial interests began to look to Resvier. An overland expedition in 8336 OY was met in the passes by a rare alliance of three wizard-kings and native clerics. Though the imperial troops crushed the local forces with ease, they swiftly discovered that a single powerful extraplanar being could hold one of the passes more or less indefinitely after the wizard-kings pooled their might and called a glabrezu to the field. When winter came the empire retreated. Four more assaults were made in the next decade, but all failed, leading only to the establishment of permanent forts in the Pard Mountains.
The empire changed tactics, sending troops by sea into the areas of Falrency and Imbrancy. These troops made some headway and were able to hold large portions of the coast, but any taxation they levied was eaten away by the expense of such distant postings and the tolls for military shipping demanded by the aquatic nations of the sea. Imperial efforts did lead to the founding of the cities of Altrancy and Gloust, which remain the two most important coastal ports. By the late 8500s, with the empire’s finances slowly collapsing, all imperial resources were pulled out of the region, though many spellcasting officers deserted and set themselves up as wizard-kings.
When the empire fell, Resvier was impacted both directly and indirectly. The mystery cult of Qhom emerged within the peninsula just as it did elsewhere on the continent, and Aeons were unleashed to destroy any Asuras and Qlippoth found there. At the same time a massive number of refugees made the perilous mountain trek to seek solace in a seemingly peaceful land.
A group of northern wizard-kings, allying with the clergy of Ximoc, reversed this intention. Forming an alliance and drafting refugees en masse, they led a march south to conquer their way to the sea. The leader of this effort was the high priest of Ximoc, Jassira the Black Whip. Jassira’s Crusade, as the conflict became known, was halted on The Rise. There the wizard-king force was met by an elven army led by Shyrrik Falconcrest, and his dragon ally Xallasorix Silversheen. Shyrrik led the charge that shattered Jassira’s Black Legionnaires and Xallasorix ripped apart a force of summoned devils. The crusade crumbled after that. Many of the refugees deserted to settle on The Rise, giving the region its noted independent streak.
Hadcar, who ruled a small province in south-central Resvier, would not have been a wizard-king of any great significance except for one thing. Terrified of death, he engaged in an endless search for a form of immortality. He researched ancient lore on hags, bribed dragons, dissected vampires, tortured devils, and more. Eventually, through a means that has never been truly discerned, he discovered a complex magical ritual to borrow the spellcasting essence of an outsider and graft his soul into a receptacle bonded to that outsider. As a result he achieved lichdom in 8860 OY, the first to do so in Resvier, and perhaps the first worldwide in millennia.
This transition immediately solved certain continuity problems regarding his empire and earned him the support of the clergy of Kuniken. While undead wizards were not a new development – there had been several who had embraced vampirism in the past – lichdom was a considerably more robust state of existence allowing for an immortal ruler. It worked well for Hadcar for a time. He ruled for two hundred and fifty years as undead, expanding his domain to a regional duchy of considerable potency. The problem came when his thanademon ally was banished by holy crusaders of Alshiel and then called up and murdered by a rival wizard-king. The lich died in hideous agony en route to eternal torment.
Hadcar’s secret ritual had already leaked prior to his death, and it spread wider following it. At least a handful of wizard-kings had transitioned to lichdom by the 9200s, perhaps as many as a dozen. These beings fought each other mercilessly, each believing only one immortal deserved mastery of the nation. These conflicts actually weakened them all, as they were forced to go underground and abandon their thrones or risk destruction. This spate of warring, mostly in the late 9200s, generally weakened the network of city-states across Resvier. Arcane magic became considerably less abundant as the liches slaughtered younger spellcasters fearing that they could expose them.
In 9324 OY, a nation named Weldeen launched an attack across the Pard Mountains. They succeeded in forcing the sparsely defended passes, but their armies bogged down in the countryside when reinforcements were unable to swiftly traverse the passes. The next year they were forced to retreat as a rival attacked their northern border.
However, the overall weakness of the armies of the wizard-kings had been exposed in several defeats on the field of battle. The leadership was almost wholly dependent on the power of a small number of elite extraplanar beings to maintain control. These traits were noticed by a particular combatant who survived several of the losses, a minor noble by the name of Judoc Simark, then seventeen.
Last edited by Mechalich; 2015-09-03 at 05:35 PM.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 7 - History Part 2
Simark the Conqueror (9330-9346 OY)
Separating the actual historical achievements and character of Simark from the national myth that he became has proven quite difficult in Resvier histories. He was born in 9308, in a village northeast of The Rise. He was the second son of the local lord there, but became the heir at the age of nine after his elder brother was slain by plague. He displayed great talent for military practice from a young age, becoming skilled in riding and swordsmanship. Following the demands of his father he was properly educated, though he had no great love of learning.
He bonded very easily with others, having inspiring charisma. As a youth of twelve he befriended the beautiful Talia Fedrin, who would go on to become a renowned wizard and a major influence on his policies. Talia was ostracized by many for refusing all lovers male and female and for her adherence to Qhom. Simark ignored this to focus on ability, an early example of the meritocratic inclusiveness for which he later became famous.
When Weldeen invaded in 9324, Simark volunteered to serve in the army of the wizard-king Vecarone in his father’s place, leading a hastily assembled force of some two hundred. It did not go well. Simark struggled with the hardships of the campaign, he placed demands upon his green troops they were unequipped to meet, and he failed to properly gauge the backbiting politics of their discordant alliance effectively. Simark fought in three battles, all defeats, and there is little evidence to suggest he performed much better than any of the other inexperienced officers.
Despite this, he survived, and critically he remained on campaign. He was able to observe the use of small numbers of summoned combatants to harry the invaders and halt their progress due to their immense personal power. This led him to the critical realization that the power of the wizard-kings was not in their armies, which were largely useless, or their combat magic, which was insufficient against the weight of numbers, but in their conjuration. Seeking, and later finding, an effective counter to this would be a pivotal factor in Simark’s conquests to come.
Simark briefly returned home in 9325 after the war concluded. He did not remain for long, saying goodbye to his parents after a week; then left home in the company of twenty men, heading north towards the mountains.
It is at this point that matters become unclear. Simark spent five years wandering Resvier in the company of a small number of men and women before he emerged with an army in 9330. This adventuring period has been deeply obscured by history, with almost any local adventurer active during that time period later claimed to be Simark, possibly in disguise. The fact that he admitted later in life to traveling incognito during this period, including dressing as a woman at least once, has only confused the issue further.
Certain events are well established. Simark explored deep into the Pard Mountains, acquiring a considerable fortune by plundering lost dwarven ruins. He is also known to have led a small volunteer unit during the Snowblood Rebellion where he reunited with Talia Fedrin. He survived a meeting with the legendary Jorogumo and earned a debt from her. He crossed over a wide area, entering every duchy of Resvier at least briefly.
The overall goal of all this effort was threefold. Simark needed an army, a base of operations, and a way to take the fight to the wizard-kings. The last goal was the most difficult, and one that had eluded many would-be warlords for centuries. Along the way he acquired a number of notable companions. The transmuter Talia Fedrin, the dwarven oracle Iscara Barbican, the tengu spymaster known only as Grackle, and the one who ultimately held the key to the defeat of the wizard-kings, the Oread stonecrafter Ytana. He also assembled a personal warband of skilled fighters, an elite unit of several hundred known as the Spark Riders.
In 9330, Simark, still only twenty-four years old, made a lightning attack on the town of Sabrean, overwhelming its poorly equipped and led garrison in under an hour. It was not a randomly chosen attack. He had plans for a major campaign and intended to secure The Brean, with the best farmland in the country, first. The local lord raised an army to suppress Simark, only to discover that the young conqueror had quit Sabrean with a rapidly recruited force and marched on the poorly defended fortress of Liscon, where the Wizard-King Ascaral Greeneye held court.
Simark was outnumbered perhaps three to one, but his forces were well-led, well-equipped, and spurred by the promise of freedom from the tyrannical wizard and his followers, who had a history of mass rape and of sacrificing virgins and infants to pay their demons. Ascaral, goaded by carefully seeded rumors, took to the field in person with his key apprentices, deploying with his bodyguard behind a screen of six babau and a vrock. The wizard expected to lead his demons forward and then whip his massed troops to mop up.
He never expected Simark to charge. The Spark Riders plunged directly toward the wizard’s pavilion. When the demons counter-charged, Simark deployed his secret weapon – the first documented use of the octagonal rods. Trapping the demons within magic circles, the cavalry advanced directly into the wizards. While spell assaults wrought a heavy price for this aggressive move, the wizards were trampled beneath the charge, and Simark raised Ascaral’s green-eyed head up on a pike for all to see.
The remaining officers turned on the wizards within their ranks and surrendered immediately. Within hours companies led by veterans were dispatched across Ascaral’s holdings carrying octagonal rods and surrender demands. Many wizards were murdered in uprisings by angry commoners or assassinated by nobles who sensed the change coming. Others fled. Some even surrendered. While Simark executed ranking officers, he did not begin the purge some expected and many desired. Many of those who turned their colors were welcomed into the expanding army, and the conqueror drafted apprentices to assemble his own corps of arcane casters.
Simark’s ambitions were immense, his kindness limited, and his awareness of the necessity of speed paramount. He directed brutally deep conscription to field a massive army, demanding boys as young as twelve, and launched immediate attacks in all directions. The impetus behind this was the nature of the octagonal rods. They were powerful, but they were in many ways very limited, and he knew that the Wizard-Kings – justifiably brilliant if cruel men and women – would unlock their secrets and counter them quickly. The young conqueror had to maximize his gains first.
And he did. In 9331 his forces bound the bonded devil of the lich Taset Blackbane and destroyed him utterly. In response three other liches either fled the region or went into hiding, and a fourth, Jerome the Paleskull, attempted to assassinate Simark only to be trapped and obliterated. Several lesser wizards and provincial administrators turned their colors to the rising power. This, combined with a pair of skilled victories to the west, allowed him to march into Viercal and name it his capital.
Progress slowed after this as Simark worked to assimilate his gains and to fight off better equipped foes who had raised real armies. He pressed to the coast south and west by 9333, but progress northward and eastward stalled. The elves refused to submit to Simark, though they also did not bother to fight him, a situation he obliged by pulling forces from that flank. The independent towns of The Rise did not submit easily, but their disunity allowed him to steadily take them one by one. The major campaign from 9333 to 9338 was on the eastern peninsula. It was here, battling a powerful coalition of spellcasters that Simark began to make inclusiveness a major policy point. Drafting a series of laws that mandated strict equality of treatment to the various races and acknowledged environmental preferences and alternative taxation payment methods, he successfully triggered mass uprisings among the gnomes, halflings, lizardfolk, and others. In 9338 a lizardfolk chieftain named Spitscale guided a major armed force through the Great Fen and allowed a forced march to Gloust that delivered the city into his hands and toppled the northern coast with great swiftness.
In the following two years Simark’s armies managed to lure the goblinoids out of the Pard Mountains and smash them at the Battle of Smolder Field and to land on Quorvast in force and take the island in a series of brutal battles through weight of numbers. By 9341 he held all of Resvier save for the northwestern quarter. There his forces faced the remaining wizard-kings, many now working with giant clans, the dwarves, and the elves.
This coalition, with its superior one-to-one capabilities and intimate knowledge of the terrain, represented a serious threat. Simark invaded in the summer of 9342 from The Rise and in 9343 from the south and was repulsed both times. By this point his forces, weary from over a decade of constant campaigning, were calling for peace. Many questioned whether they needed to bother with the traditionally dwarven or elven holdings anyway. They had never had human rulers in known history.
Accepting this advice in part, Simark suspended campaigning until 9346, setting that as the date for a single, final effort to drive ‘to the sea’ and agreeing to desist completely should it fail. Through this bold stroke would Simark cement his legendary reputation, and his equally legendary ruthlessness.
The key was the remaining human forces clustered in the small, river-addled region between The Rise and the Treste Mountains. They were led by a triumvirate of surviving spellcasters. One of these was Kalena the Bolt-Witch, a powerful and intelligent but barren woman who had been spurned by several of her fellows for her inability to provide an heir. Simark made a secret proposal to her. Join him and turn upon the elves and he would use a wish secured from one of Quorvast’s elusive djinn to heal her infertility.
Kalena accepted, and on the eve of battle in 9346 she joined with Simark’s best to murder her fellows and launch a night raid on the elf and dwarf camps. Their lines shattered, the conqueror never gave them a chance to reform, pushing them back to stronghold after stronghold and brutally reducing any who failed to surrender without quarter. The elves, unwilling to accept such hideous losses even though the human assault could not be sustained, surrendered first. Promising them an equal place in his kingdom if they would join him against the dwarves, Simark fused the units and marched into the mountains.
The dwarf king Haracle Sagard, knowing his position was hopeless, but desperate to spare his people’s lives and pride, offered to duel Simark in single combat for the throne of Trestegard. Simark accepted and won the contest, but refused to allow the dwarf king to kill himself, famously grabbing the axe blade with bare hands. Haracle Sagard was made High Marshal of the new Kingdom of Resvier – a word meaning ‘Home of the People’ in early Resvieri – and though the dwarves were forced to foreswear kingship, their noble titles and territorial claims were fully sustained, a benefit extended to no other conquered region.
Simark’s history has been related at some length for two major reasons. First, the campaign of conquest and unification he waged remains very relevant to a Resvier struggling with issues of unification in the present day. Second, many of the persons referenced during this period of conquest became central figures in the national myth whether as honored heroes or deplorable villains. The roles of these individuals, not least of all Simark himself, have been debated endlessly and woven into countless stories. They are referenced to the present in popular culture and idioms with great abundance.
The Simark Dynasty (9346-9698 OY)
Judoc Simark ruled from 9346 until his death, at the age of seventy-one, in 9379. He led only one major military campaign following the peace accords – a suppressive action against the violent humanoids of the Pard Mountains in 9352. This established the northeastern border at its current point. It also made the rest of the continent fully aware of the united Resvier and led to considerable refugee influx due to Simark’s policy of full legal equality.
Simark I, as he is generally referred to in history describing his rule, was a skilled but somewhat distant ruler. His principle policy contribution was to retain strict national control of the army. Soldiers were levied from each province by the crown and officers were forbidden to serve in their home provinces, with semi-regular rotations of the senior staff. This kept the military from building a local power base and made it much more willing to suppress rebellion. Beyond this he allowed his talented and loyal ministers, especially Talia Fedrin, to conduct the state.
The state’s major policies were equality for all races, freedom of religious practice with the exception of the Cult of Trenveed, strict limits on men-at-arms levels by the landowning nobles, and the promotion of trade to the east through diplomatic ties with the aquatic peoples. Simark appreciated strong castles, but aside from garrisoning the Pard Mountains extensively, built only one royal keep. Apart from a modest obsession with hunting dogs he was not an extravagant ruler, and after centuries of phenomenally spendthrift wizard rulers, the dynasty’s monetary demands were actually quite light.
The promised wish successfully restored the fertility of Kalena, and the royal couple had three children, who were the focus of their efforts. The eldest child was Aelena Simark, a brooding but deeply discerning young woman who understood politics, and while not talented in martial pursuits, made a distinctive effort to pursue them for appearances. She was the clear choice of heir and was named accordingly, with Simark I citing the long history of non-gendered inheritance by dwarves and elves.
To prevent a power struggle, Simark I established, shortly before his death, the principle of either placing non-heirs in holy orders or having them study wizardry – with wizards prohibited by law from taking the throne. Succession occurred without difficulty, and Aelena successfully suppressed those few uprisings that occurred in the name of remaining wizard-kings. With her reign the Simark Dynasty began a long period of relative peace and prosperity.
Isolated from outside threats, Resvier developed into a populous and prosperous nation over the next several hundred years. No outside attack ever breached the Pard Mountains, or really managed to come close to doing so. The state remained mostly stable internally as well, with intrigue primarily limited to struggles among the heirs. Sitting kings and queens were largely free to pursue their own policies, though some were controlled by powerful ministers.
As a consequence of this development the population rose to a height of twenty-six million, and the land was dotted with castles and thriving cities. The mountains were largely tamed, with goblinoids, kobolds, and giants driven to the most remote regions, and dragons largely retreating into slumber. The utilization of outsiders was kept minimal, mostly for certain large civic projects such as the undersea dockyard of Gloust.
Regrettably, no situation remains stable forever. In time the mechanisms that Simark I and his advisers had formulated to keep power in the hands of the crown were subverted. Cracks are traceable to the 9620s, when the Galrone family, long amongst the most powerful noble lineages, managed to marry scions of their line to both royal children. In 9638, when Tavain Simark took the throne, a great deal of the realm’s power passed into the hands of his father in law, First Minister Padiril Galrone.
This did not immediately precipitate a crisis. Powerful nobles had gained authority over the crown before, but by doing so they brought family interests into alignment with national interests and the dynasty continued. Despite this, the fortune of the dynasty began to unravel gradually.
Tavain displayed little concern for the duties of kingship, preferring to spend his days painting out of a seaside palace on the southern coast. His eldest child, Elaine, was a wastrel, given to spending most of her days half-drunk. While this pleased Padril Galrone, it displeased the fire-breathing Icar Simark, Tavain’s fourth child and second son.
Icar, cunningly, avoided holy orders or wizardry by taking the position of permanent ambassador to the merfolk. Spending his adult life undersea, he cultivated a number of unusual allies. In 9659, with Tavain on his deathbed, Icar had his elder sister assassinated. The deed did not go undetected. Fetori Galrone, Padril’s son, hired a team of adventurers who managed to trace Icar’s deed all the way through the aboleth he’d negotiated with and provide conclusive evidence of the prince’s responsibility. Exercising his vast power at court, Fetori had Icar executed in 9660.
This scenario left Fetori as the regent for Elaine’s ten year old sole offspring Wendel Simark. A vast portion of the nobility was deeply offended by this situation, and backed the challenge by Dussain Simark – Tavain’s grandson by way of the wizard Hibrin Simark, very much alive and in charge of the prestigious Arcane Conservatory – for the Regency. Many of the nobles quickly sorted themselves into armed camps.
A widespread power struggle was averted by the actions of Wendel himself. The youth, sickly and terrified of his guardian and his cousin alike, wrote to High Marshal Rever Sagard begging assistance from the army against the nobles. Rever, grandson of Haracle Sagard, considered loyalty to the crown a personal and family obligation. He mobilized the troops, marched into Viercal over a puny armed resistance, and executed Dussain and Fetori both. Stability was restored, for the moment, but the precedent had been established of securing the throne by armed force, and many of the human majority nobles were unhappy to serve beneath a dwarf, however briefly.
Wendel ascended to the throne in 9665, at the young age of fifteen. He proved a wise ruler, but somewhat timid. Barely able to ride or hold a sword, he was little respected by the military or the nobles, and his efforts to conduct reform were hesitant and slow. He and his wife had difficulty conceiving, and only with elven aid did they manage to have a single child, Marisane Simark, in 9672. Wendel, never healthy, would die of illness in 9687, only thirty-seven years old, despite the best clerical care available.
Marisane Simark ascended the throne in 9687, during a winter storm, at the age of fifteen. She would be the last Simark ruler. Wendel had never trusted the nobles, and Marisane was raised by a combination of carefully selected clerics, wizards, and nonhumans. In particular, she was very close to her elf tutor, the Lady Qualissa. This created an immediate problem of perception, one that was exploited by Vartel Galrone, now firmly in control of an alliance of noble houses. Vartel put forward the rumor that Marisane was an imposter, a half-elven child cloaked in magic and controlled by Qualissa. He also suggested that the two were lovers, a suggestion the unmarried Marisane was particularly vulnerable too.
Finally, Vartel found a champion for his side in the form of Cambrin Simark, the child of Dussain Simark and of indisputable royal lineage. Cambrin, a mere boy when his father was executed twenty-two years earlier, was now a young man of extraordinary renown. He had successfully fought monsters on the island of Quorvast and was a skilled merchant with support among the wealthy. Cambrin had no real desire for the throne himself, but he harbored a burning hatred of High Marshal Rever Sagard.
Vartel proposed that Cambrin marry Marisane – they were separated by three generations and so not considered blood kin. The young queen recoiled at the idea. While there were good political grounds for refusing anyone associated with Vartel as a match, Marisane’s inexperienced manner led to her openly insulting Cambrin in court.
The young man stormed out, rode north to Sabrean, and raised his banner declaring Marisane illegitimate. The year was 9690. It was to be civil war.
Forced to draw heavily on dwarven and elven support for her claim, Marisane was unable to convince many of the uncommitted nobles to her side. Despite this, Cambrin’s early supporters proved unable to match the royal army, and he was defeated in a pair of pitched battles and retreated north. He was not caught, however, and Rever Sagard did not commit hard to pursuit.
Over the winter Cambrin rallied support and, with Vartel’s assistance, convinced certain units to mutiny. In the spring of 9691 the two sides fought the Three Battles of Kindrel Crossing. This terrible month-long engagement ended in a stalemate, but it destroyed the heart of both armies. Cambrin would remain outside Sabrean, besieging the city for over a year while Marisane struggled to regroup and raise a new army. Nobles in contested areas and at the fringes of the country looked to their own advantage. Many refused to send troops. Others stopped paying taxes.
War followed back and forth, devastating The Brean and the fertile central valleys in the process. Cambrin fought on for five years, all the while writing exhaustively to nobles across the country to solicit support. He would die mysteriously in his camp during the winter of 9696, found in a pool of black blood. The cause has never been determined.
Marisane blamed Trenveed cultists. Vartel blamed elven assassins. The queen’s explanation is far more likely given history – though troublingly no less than six different agents of Trenveed claimed credit for the deed in subsequent decades. Regardless, the war did not stop with Cambrin’s death. It only widened. Several nobles along the coast declared they would never follow an elven puppet queen. They declared for various Simarks, all descendants of Tavain, and raised their own armies.
In a surprising turn of events Cambrin’s army performed considerably better after his death. Kivian the Red, a mercenary warlord and veteran of two decades of battles in the morass of northern continental warfare, was a far more experienced general than his nominal superior and willing to engage in total war. Burning a huge swath of countryside on his flanks, he tied up the royal army in relief efforts. Dashing southwest he assaulted Viercal itself, absorbing huge losses to overwhelm an undermanned gate. Kivian’s forces sacked the palace and forced Marisane to flight.
Already weakened royal legitimacy collapsed as Marisane fled. Though the royal army caught up with her, she was forced to engage in a brutal siege to retake Viercal from Kivian. Though surrounded, Kivian threatened to burn the city to the ground, paralyzing the royal army. Thus immobilized, they too were soon surrounded in turn. High Marshal Sagard led a break out and a push towards the elven holdings, but Kivian sortied from behind, overtook them as Vartel’s reinforcements attacked from the front in anticipation, and overran them.
Vartel wished to capture Marisane, but Kivian, who dreamed of the crown for himself, located the queen first. Marisane, anticipating a forced marriage, took her own life with a jeweled dagger. So ended the Simark Dynasty in 9698.
Always linked to this brutal death was the act of terrible retribution that followed. Essia Simark, a royal relative in holy service to Alshiel who had grown up alongside Marisane, led a great congregation in requiem for the fallen queen, tying it to a summoning spell of immense power. Calling for justice for the dynasty and a protector for Resvier, she brought forth First Song of Dawn – a Trumpet Archon. In payment for the task, she offered her own life. With tears in her eyes, the celestial accepted, leaving Essia the Martyr as a legend of Resvier.
Kivian did not live out the day. First Song of Dawn remained in Resvier for many years, intervening sporadically in the wars that followed to prevent massacres. Her conjuration remains among the most powerful spells worked in the past millennium.
Dynastic War (9699-9773 OY)
The deaths of Cambrin and Marisane left Resvier without any strong claimants to the throne, but there were plenty of claimants available. While Tavian’s lineage had been severely pruned, the descendants of his two siblings were in many cases alive and well. Some existed within prominent noble houses. Various powerful factions quickly declared for the crown. By the end of 9699 there were five claimants to the throne with armies in the field.
With this much upheaval the traditional institutions broke down. Following Essia the Martyr’s actions the various faiths took sides, whether to mitigate the violence, to spread it, or to dominate it. Wizards also acted to join or dominate armies. Military orders, such as the Silversky Order of paladins, found themselves empowered to play in local politics. Various cohesive racial factions, such as the lizardfolk, made moves to secure or acquire new lands. Finally, powerful monsters either allied with existing sides or attempted to take control of them. This was mitigated somewhat by the actions of First Song of Dawn – recorded as having fought three duels with the Green Dragon Jaskeskaris – but not eliminated.
In 9702 the conflict changed when the Principality of Quorvast declared itself to be independent, refusing to acknowledge any claimant to the throne. Other states followed, proclaiming themselves sovereign. In time more than nobles would establish their polities. Bishoprics, magocracies, and the Republic of Tourvene all came into being. At the greatest expansion of fragmentation the former kingdom of Resvier had been broken up into twenty-six states.
This desultory conflict between warlords is generally not worth recording in detail, especially with regard to states no longer in existence. The overall process was one of a conflict between numerous warlords who ground down the institutions the Simark Dynasty had established. While initially most focused on the claim to restore the crown, eventually this largely lapsed as well.
The elves and dwarves deserve mention here, as their cases were particular. Both races had supported Marisane and were devastated with her loss. High Marshal Sagard sank into a deep depression, believing he had failed, and was unable to act upon his retained military superiority. He would fall in battle in 9706. Instead, both races declared for independence, the elves first in 9708 and the dwarves ten years later in 9718. Though neither kingdom was especially populous, they retained terrain advantages and were largely able to conserve their military strength by maintaining a defensive posture. Both sides contributed to the conflict through production, the dwarves through arms, and the elves through magic, that they sold to all sides.
As the conflict wore on, the population of Resvier fell. Battle deaths contributed, as did famine and disease, but the primary factor was simply a massive drop in birth rate. Societal disruption dramatically reduced the willingness of women to bear children, and nutrition deficiencies meant that childbirth deaths rose dramatically. Overall, by the time the Dynastic War came to an end the population had fallen to under fourteen million, and would recover only slowly from there. Large amounts of territory under cultivation were abandoned, especially in marginal areas, and reclaimed by wilderness.
Before discussing the events that led to the end of this conflict, the origins and role of the extant states should be briefly mentioned:
The elven kingdom was declared in 9708, and has remained in place since that date, making it the oldest continuous state in Resvier. A single queen has held the throne during that time. The elves consider this a restoration of the appropriate order of things, and already regard obedience to the Simark Dynasty as a temporary disruption. Alshalsha made no major moves until late in the war, when they fought with the Tourvene Republic and then with Jellard I.
The duchy of Branc declared independence in 9762, making it one of the last independent states to form. The local duke split from the side he had been supporting after a major defeat, but successfully held his borders. Branc is among the least differentiated of the separate states, and a foreigner who cross its border would have some difficulty realizing they had left Resvier.
The Grand Duchy of Falrency declared independence in 9712. Falrency’s leading Duke, Orsin, attempted to carve out a powerful kingdom in northern Resvier from 9721 to 9730, but failed. This action did lead to the formation of Pardien. The duke’s son later engaged in a deliberate policy of political marriages and economic aid to Imbrancy, forming a strong alliance between the two duchies that remains in place to the present.
The Grand Duchy of Imbrancy fought in the name of Marisane for many years, before being subject to a brutal scorched earth campaign in 9735. Devastated, the leading nobles were pushed out, and alliances by marriage to Falrency led to independence and a new ruling lineage. The forces of Imbrancy stood together with Falrency but remained on the defensive for much of the rest of the war.
Keinrency was seized by Vartel as a base to use against the elves, and was severely pressed by war for many years. Later the state backed the claim of Wilsand against Jellard I and lost. It declared independence last of all, in 9770, and miraculously beat back Jellard’s punitive campaign.
Labrean and Nasabrean
These baronies in the heartland of Resvier were war-torn early in the conflict, recovered later, and then joined Wilsand in 9758. Following the Battle of Twining Rivers they defected to claim independence.
Marvance declared independence as a Bishopric in 9741, only to watch the state degenerate as armies marched across it repeatedly, besieged the coastal city of Dourved, and the clergy turned to the worship of Kuniken. In 9756 the barony was swept over by the Olannal Crusade. Subsequent to this a movement led by former soldiers restored order and established a new nobility while rejecting the presence of organized religion.
Orhanan was divided up between four different states prior to 9754, when they all went to war against each other and the region collapsed into famine and depravity. The Olannal Crusade of 9756 purged the land of Kuniken worshippers and undead, but otherwise made matters worse. Orhanan was saved by the actions of Bethera, a priestess of Alshiel who led missions of mercy and reorganized local infrastructure. By 9762 the church of Alshiel had taken control of the region with Bethera as Bishop.
The Silversky Order of paladins was commissioned in 9678 to cleanse the Pard Mountains of monsters and make them safe for trade and travelers. By 9730 they found themselves the only functional authority in the region and, unwilling to see further conscription of vulnerable villagers by lowland warlords, claimed authority over the region as a bishopric.
The principality of Quorvast declared independence in 9702. They were conquered in 9712. Rebellion led to independence in 9718. They were conquered again in 9728. A subsequent rebellion, backed by Jann, secured long-term independence in 9743. Quorvast refused to back either side toward the end of the war.
The rugged land of The Rise was crisscrossed by armies throughout the 9740s. In 9751 a powerful vampire, Hawkin the Mistlord, declared himself master of the region and banned the worship of all deities save for Kuniken. With the death goddess already grown strong due to decades of conflict this did not collapse instantly. Instead it lead to Olannal’s Crusade and the destruction of much of the landscape. Hawkin had been backed by almost the entirety of local nobility, something not lost on the peasants when the mobs tore the vampire and his allies to pieces. At the urging of the band of northern adventurers – the Fellowship of the Stake – who had slain Hawkin, the surviving elders reincorporated Tourvene as a republic in 9758. While this decision had lasting consequences, Tourvene survived assaults by Wilsand and Jellard to remain independent till the end of the war.
The end of the conflict period can be traced to the rise of two figures, Wilsand and Jellard, who each claimed the mantle of royal authority and united a large portion of the country behind them. They were deeply contrasting figures with different backgrounds and approaches, but each man was truly talented and though they were foes they respected each other. Their antagonism was necessary to reduce an asymmetrical conflict into a dualistic one, a struggle from which the victor could potentially dominate the whole region.
Wilsand was of noble birth. He was heir to the grand duchy of Cosarency, immediately to the north of the Brean. After his father died in battle he took control of the house and began to build its fortunes. His strength was not in martial affairs but in politics and trade. He increased the wealth of his household by shrewd business deals and built numerous alliances. This led to natural leadership of a major coalition that was formed to halt the rise of Jellard.
Timoc Jellard was not of noble blood. His father was a minor military officer, his mother a combat wizard. He was born in 9724, during the height of the Dynastic War, and was surrounded by battle for much of his life. He studied both combat and magic and was known for his strategic acumen. Not a natural politician, he was an inspiring leader, able to quickly earn loyalty and keep it.
Jellard was a commander of some importance in the army of the briefly-independent Duchy of Hiorancy, in the southwestern corner of the country. Following its dissolution in 9756, he led his remaining soldiers to strike out on their own rather than be swept up in the tumult of Olannal’s Crusade. Offering his services to a non-political cause, he fell in with a group of adventurers known as the Scar Hunters. This group took a mission from the Grippli of the southwestern marshes and fought through several tribes of boggards, culminating in battle with Zaclas Bile-Borne, a black dragon who had been a scourge of the region for decades.
Persuading the adventurers to join his forces, Jellard used the dragon’s treasure to hire a large mercenary force. He won a series of battles in 9759 known as the Four Weeks that gave him control over half of the province of Saesurcal, immediately west of Viercal. Two years later the warlord Nanten Roush attacked Viercal, leading the overwhelmed earl of the city – much devastated by repeated conflict – to beg Jellard for assistance. In the summer of 9761 Jellard routed Roush and marched his troops into the capital.
Later that year the High Priest of Drojge appointed Jellard as a duke, and gave him claim over all of Viercal province. Seizing this opportunity, Jellard proclaimed that his higher rank entitled him to govern Viercal, and when the earl protested the newly minted duke had him imprisoned. This action sent shockwaves throughout Resvier’s society. Suddenly Jellard was more than another minor warlord who’d leveraged his armed success into a title. He was a power on the rise to be reckoned with.
When Jellard defeated a joint assault by his neighbors to the east and claimed both provinces as his own in 9762, this reality was cemented. Wilsand, firmly ensconced as duke, made full use of this. He exaggerated the threat of Jellard and introduced the rumor that the upstart was intending to claim the crown – something that no one had done since the death of Marisane for fear of offending First Song of Dawn. Privately Jellard would later confess that he had not even dreamed of claiming royal prerogative until Wilsand put the idea out there.
These machinations rallied many forces to Wilsand’s side. South from Branc, he gained the adherence of most of the territory west to Tourvene and east to Falrency, with his loyalists extending all the way down to the coast. This included critical support from Labrean and Nasabrean and the loyalty of the western strip of coastline containing Keinrency – still offended about losing all that dragon gold.
Jellard pulled together his own coalition in response. He had the support of the southwestern heartland of the nation. While his territory was smaller than that of Wilsand’s his reputation as a military leader drew in widespread recruitment from free men-at-arms across the land. Warriors from Orhanan and Tourvene in particular who were discontent with their new regimes entered his forces.
Both men built up their armies for several years, each recognizing that drawn out conflict did not serve and seeking to draw the other into decisive battle. It would not be until 9770 that both sides drew up their full forces across from each other at the Twining Rivers – an unusual plain where the watersheds traceable to the Treste Mountains and The Rise but up against each other.
The key to this battle was treachery and elves. Jellard made a bargain with Queen Delissira. In return for elven guides to allow his elites forces to travel through Shalsha Forest and attack Wilsand from the flank, he would allow Alshalsha to retain its sovereignty when he took the throne. This agreement – one upon with both sides would later renege – effectively decided the battle. Wilsand had attempted to convince the elves to side with him, but they refused, preferring Jellard for reasons that remain unclear.
The Battle of Twining Rivers ended in catastrophic defeat for Wilsand. Though he retreated, his troops were broken, doubly so when Labrean and Nasabrean defected from his side to proclaim independence. This short-sighted move was only sustained when Alshalsha attacked Jellard from behind in an effort to reduce his rapid gains.
Though surrounded, Jellard fought free on the strength of his Scar Hunter companions. Harrying the elves with only a small force, guessing correctly that they would not push hard into human lands, he pursued Wilsand, tearing eastward and northward in a series of rapid, continuous campaigns that absorbed much of his enemy’s former holdings. Defeated, Wilsand fled the country. Successfully evading assassins for over a decade, he settled into a long exile and actually outlived Jellard.
Regardless of his fate, the flight of Wilsand left Jellard the master of much of the country. In 9773 he called a convocation of all major nobles and demanded they choose a king. Even though the independent states either voted against him or refused to participate, the majority was secured. He was crowned Jellard I on the first day of 9774.
The Jellard Dynasty (9773-9822)
Jellard I began his rule at war with Alshalsha, Keinrency, and Tourvene, and with several other states refusing to acknowledge his crown. The campaign against Keinrency was a partial success, the conflict with Tourvene ended in a stalemate, and the conflict with Alshalsha ended with Jellard snapping up half the territory and swearing to drive them into the sea the next year. This did not happen, as the elves made an alliance with the dwarves, then the independent kingdom of Trestegard, and launched a winter attack.
For ten years Jellard fought the dwarves, skirmishing all the while with other rivals. He had success in the north, pushing the border to the boundary of Marvance and, in 9782, winning the right to move an army uncontested across the territory in order to attack Trestegard. This stroke turned the tide in the long war, bypassing the buffering and mostly impassable forest to allow a human army march upon the dwarven stronghold by road. Behind the strength of a stone golem, fifteen years in the making, and massed siege weaponry, Jellard’s troops broke open the dwarf-wrought gates and took to fighting in the city. Casualties were massive, but when the elves failed to come to the aid of the dwarves due to not pressing hard enough against the holding force to the south, the dwarven queen Larch Artrium surrendered.
Negotiations incorporated Trestegard into Resvier, but considerable independence was allowed the dwarves. Won with great expenditure of blood, this favorable deal was not soon repeated. No small measure of bad blood remains between Resvier’s elves and dwarves over this incident, especially regarding those who fought in the relevant armies.
Ever the warrior, Jellard attempted additional campaigns up until his death in 9788, but succeeded only in forging a strong alliance between Falrency and Imbrancy in the east.
His efforts in domestic policy were modest. He was unable to build a potent, centralized state in the image of Simark, and instead pressed into function a highly feudal state that raised most of its troops from the obligations of nobles and towns. Greater control was obtained over churches and spellcasters. Though the temples held large amounts of land on their own, Jellard was able to impress upon them the need to send troops and clerics just as landholding nobles did, and he allowed only a lower level of taxation, not complete exemption. He deliberately chose Drojge as his patron, stressing law and order in his society, though privately he gave a considerable quotient of his prayers to Ximoc.
Jellard II, born Lucinde Jellard, was her father’s third daughter and fifth child. All her senior siblings had died through assassination attempts, in battle, or to disease. Though raised as a warrior, her relative youth meant she spent much of her formative years living in a palace with the expectations of kingship, rather than on the battlefield. Her skill in the throne room was considerably greater than that on the battlefield.
Jellard II made serious inroads into domestic policy and diplomacy. She made the feudal system more robust by organizing contracts for pay for mercenaries, placing landed nobles in charge of the major merchant houses to make certain they were not evading service and taxation obligations, and by reaching arrangements with independent martial and spellcasting orders such as the major druidic circles and the Silversheen Knights.
On the military front she had two priorities. The first was the conquest of Falrency and Imbrancy and control of the lucrative eastern trade. This was a miserable failure and she lost considerable forces fighting on the borders of the Great Fen early in his reign. Only later, as an elderly woman, did she make a successful attack on Nasabrean, turned their forces by offering vassal status, and then enforced vassalage on Labrean as well. This was in 9808. She died two years later in 9810.
Jellard II was succeeded by her eldest son, Frederic Jellard, who was enthroned as Jellard III. He was not widely considered a strong ruler. Though his reign was considerably more peaceful than that of his predecessors, he made little progress towards strengthening the state in civil or military policy. His principle diplomatic effort was to coerce Labrean and Nasabrean into full integration with the kingdom, but this failed. His armies spent most of his ten years on the throne bogged down in the Treste Mountains, attempting, with some success, to reduce goblinoid populations and slay giant warlords. However, this was phenomenally expensive due to the lack of good roads – though he did continue construction on a major thoroughfare through the Shalsha Forest – and harassment by partisans and adventurers in the service of Marvance and the Tourvene Republic. He led one brief, fruitless, assault on Falrency in 9816.
Frederic died relatively young in the spring on 9821. His eldest son Aurin was enthroned as Jellard IV. A vigorous ruler in his early thirties, with a diplomatically adept and firmly loyal wife, he has already firmly grasped the reigns of state and initiated significant reforms in all areas of civil policy. Resistance to this agenda has been met with swift action, but tempered by strict adherence to the law and a measure of mercy. He favors exile, preferably to the rugged and distant lands of the far south, over execution.
Aurin has made it clear that he seeks reunification of the whole region under the crown of Resvier. He wishes to accomplish this by the five hundred year anniversary of the nation’s founding in 9846. While his initial moves have been diplomatic, everyone assumes war will come sooner rather than later.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 8 - Monster
The needs of P6 means that not every monster can function in the setting in the same fashion as traditional Pathfinder that accommodates levels 1-20. For Resvier, the design choice was made to modify existing statistics as little as possible while adjusting monster presence via changes in the frequency of appearance and general ecology of many higher-end monsters. For the most part these changes are expressed across a series of power tiers approximated by Challenge Rating.
First Tier monsters are those from CR zero through six. These generally function without any change whatsoever, though some monsters in the CR five and six range are more likely to be found as individuals than as groups, altering their social structure slightly. This class of monsters will be by far those most commonly encountered in the setting and the only ones widespread across the region.
The Second Tier of monsters are those from CR seven to ten or eleven. These monsters are rare. They are not at all abundant, with likely no more than half-a-dozen of any given monster found in the setting at most. As such, they are not generally able to function as a self-sustaining population and may require different origins or explanations as a result. A good example is the specialty giants: fire, frost and so forth, which exist in the setting as enhanced hill giants and will be found as individual specimens among them. Monsters in this range require immense resources or the careful deployment of powerful adventurers to counter and therefore the presence of even one monster at this level has a powerful impact. A grouping of Second Tier monsters, such as a Hag Coven, is a significant threat to a large city or even a duchy.
The Third Tier of monsters are those ranging from CR eleven to fourteen. These powerful beings are sufficiently capable on their own, often with magic available to them that only potent ritual castings can even hope to match, that they are significant setting elements in their own right. Monsters in this tier are considered unique entities in Resvier, and there will only be one of each type active at any given time. That does not necessarily mean only one exists, just that only one is functional. For example, there might be several Purple Worms, but with an activity and hibernation cycle of centuries, only one is ever awake at a time. This is particularly relevant to the case of outsiders: where only a single Ice Devil or Trumpet Archon is responsible for Resvier at once. Third Tier monsters are players on the nationwide stage. Their appearance and choices can alter the course of the whole setting. Most will have historical importance and be known by name to sages.
Resvier simply does not contain any monsters above CR 14. Monsters of this power level destabilize the setting and are not included. Out of all four Pathfinder Bestiaries this excludes roughly one hundred and fifty monsters. Another roughly twenty-five monsters are excluded for other reasons – notably constructs with high caster level requirements and monsters that are intrinsically linked to high CR monsters, such as Formians. The default assumption behind Resvier is that such monsters simply do not exist in the setting, including in the cosmology and the worlds beyond. This means that outsider hierarchies are compressed and reformulated in many cases, and that certain monster classifications, such as linnorms, are absent. However it is easy to modify the setting to state that such beings do exist in the planes beyond and that they could hypothetically visit Resvier in the future, allowing for plotlines to prevent the generation or summoning or such dread entities.
A special mention should be made of dragons, iconic monsters who by definition cross multiple tiers. Dragons are limited in Resvier to the first six age categories, topping out at adult (this does mean that a hypothetical Adult Gold Dragon exists in the setting as a CR 15 monster but this is not a major difficulty). Resvier’s dragons mature more slowly than dragons elsewhere, growing at only one-fifth the standard rate, but reach sexual maturity at the Young age category.
These dragons have a long standing divine-mediated pact that governs territoriality. Resvier is considered the territory of a single adult of each breed – any newly emergent adults either leave the territory for other regions of the world or other worlds entirely, or challenge the reigning adult to a mortal duel. Additionally, while there are twenty draconic breeds potentially present in Resvier (the setting does not feature the Imperial Dragons) generally only a handful will be awake at once, with the others sleeping across the decades.
Monsters in Resvier can be sorted into groups by CR and then measured by collective numerical presence in the region. This is done using a powers of ten system that is designed to approximate the level of threat a given monster offers to the bulk of the level one NPC population. For example, a goblin, at CR 0.5, represents a significant threat to an extended family, a grouping approximated to ten people. Therefore such beings are present at roughly a ratio of one in ten to the total population – a statistic already reflected by the goblinoid populations in the demographic statistics.
Extrapolating this system from the weakest to most potent monsters is useful as a way of imaging the distribution of monsters throughout Resvier, and of providing a rule of thumb for the level of threat, and how widespread that threat is, for any given individual monster.
Monsters from CR 0-1 serve as threats to ten people and exist at a frequency of one tenth of the population. There are roughly one and a half million such monsters, which are mostly goblinoids, kobolds, and other small monsters such as Giant Vermin, Gremlins, Sprites, and low-level undead.
Monsters from CR 2-3 serve as threats to roughly one hundred first level NPCs. For example, an ogre versus a mob of peasants. These monsters are fairly abundant, existing at a frequency of one in one hundred for a total of one hundred and fifty thousand. Common monsters in this group include powerful humanoids such as ogres or ettercaps, mephits, the weakest class of outsiders such as dretches, crossbreed animals such as hippogriffs or howlers, lycanthropes, and undead such as heucuvas and skeletal champions.
Monsters from CR 4-5 are powerful creatures that represent a threat to a whole village of one thousand first level NPCs. The type example for E6 is that of a manticore. Monsters in this range are essentially able to function as equivalent to small military units in their own right, and in the absence of PC intervention, likely to face such opposition. These monsters exist at a frequency of one in a thousand, meaning there are roughly fifteen thousand in Resvier. Common monsters of this type include a wide variety of classic monsters such as drakes, hags, harpies, minotaurs, owlbears, trolls, wraiths, and some weaker outsiders.
Monsters from CR 6-8 are mighty and dangerous monsters that represent the typical heroic challenges for potent adventurers. The represent a threat to an entire city of ten thousand first level NPCs, or in the rural environment, an association of several towns and villages. Without PC assistance fighting such monsters may require assembling an army. These monsters exist at a frequency of one in ten thousand, with only roughly fifteen hundred found in Resvier. As such any individual monster of this type is likely to have no more than a family group or small pack present in the setting, and individuals may be widely dispersed.
Monsters from CR 9-10 are very powerful monsters that represent the upper range of what a heroic P6 party could challenge without special planning and support. These beings are capable of threatening a metropolis or wide region entirely on their own, and if they have the desire and mindset to do so, setting up their own de facto fiefdoms. Many of these monsters have leadership roles among their fellows, whether that be an outsider hierarchy, giant clan, or a subverted humanoid tribe. As a threat to roughly one hundred thousand level one NPCs, these monsters generally cannot be challenged without PC aid, and if they must be armies and specialized tactics are required – or perhaps the deployment of siege technologies in the case of some of the physically larger monsters. These monsters exist at a frequency of one in one hundred thousand and there are only about one hundred and fifty of them in the setting at once. They are unlikely to be surrounded by others of their kind and may be local notables with long history.
Monsters from CR 11-14 represent the height of power in Resvier. These are the most powerful individual beings in the setting and have capabilities that playable races simply cannot match one to one. These monsters are a threat to roughly one million people, making them capable of seriously impairing small nations entirely on their own. There is really no conventional response available to first level NPCs to counter some of these threats, regardless of numbers. However, at a frequency of one in a million these monsters have only about fifteen individuals active in the setting at once. Each monster in this category is a serious force with wide-ranging influence and probably historical importance. Some, particularly long-lived dragons and immortal outsiders, may well be household names.
Role of the Mighty
Utilization of CR 11-14 monsters in Resvier requires some adjustment of their abilities, nature, and function to accommodate the restrictions of P6. While these extremely powerful individuals absolutely can be challenged and killed by adventurers given the right amount of intelligence, materials, planning, and support, such encounters are major events and have far-reaching implications. The destruction of Smaug in the Hobbit is perhaps the classic literary example. Not only was it a complex encounter that involved unique items and exploitation of a key weakness, the death of the mighty dragon had geo-political ramifications for the entirety of Middle Earth. Even when another high-power monster more or less immediately replaces the one slain – such as when the lead demon or devil is eliminated – the disruption of ongoing plots and alliances will shift the landscape.
DMs are encouraged to determine the identities of the approximately fifteen high-level monsters prior to the beginning of a campaign, and to incorporate them into planning. A sample grouping of monsters will be presented, but this is intended primarily as a suggestion. However, it is encouraged to distribute the monsters across a spectrum of general roles. The following breakdown is offered as a model: 3 adult dragons (varying alignments), 3 powerful outsider lords (one evil, one good, and one neutral), 3 physical scourges such as giants or massive animals and vermin, 2 undead including powerful template bearers such as vampires or graveknights, 2 unusual horrors such as aberrations or fey, and 2 others chosen to taste.
The role and presence of certain monster types and well-known figures are significantly altered by the conventions of P6. The following descriptions summarize changes to certain types and groups of monsters.
These strange and rare outsiders are the inscrutable servants of Qhom. They appear very rarely and are impossible to summon under conventional conditions – though ancient texts whisper that long ago Qhom’s priests could do so with strange rituals. The Aeon hierarchy is capped at the Akhana. Such a being is active in Resvier for perhaps a few days each century.
Rare outsiders, the Agathions are the mighty servants of Emprino, and are dispatched to serve the cause of good when placed into crisis. Due to their affiliation with the god of storms, they are easier to summon during major climatic events. Their hierarchy caps at the Leonal, but ritual magic is used to summon lesser versions with some frequency as the priests of Emprino are more likely to choose this approach than those of Alshiel or Caliata.
These beings are very rare in Resvier. Powerful ritual magic is occasionally sufficient to summon the weakest classes of angels, Monvanic Devas, to the world in order to aid against some terrible crisis. At the highest of levels Astral Devas represent the most potent angels known, and among the most powerful beings anywhere in existence in the setting, the leaders of holy legions in the heavens. A single such entity might be active in Resvier during a major crisis. The last was seen in response to a demonic incursion.
For P6 this template has been adjusted to work for a humanoid of 6 hit dice. Otherwise it is largely unchanged. Animal lords are created by Scemaenn to address a crises of a particular species of animal. Such power is usually bestowed only to combat the depredations of outsiders or undead.
Dire Animals, Megafauna, and Dinosaurs
These mighty variants of known beast and ancient beasts out of time are very rare in Resvier. While Giant Animals and Vermin are not less uncommon than in other fantasy settings these particular throwbacks are not well known. They are found only in specialized areas where the wilderness has been reshaped into new forms for some reason. Secluded mountain vales, strange outcroppings in the desert, and curious offshore islands may hide the realms of these creatures, but they are not commonly found in the life of Resvier.
Like many outside hierarchies, the Archon ranks are compressed in Resvier. Trumpet Archons represent the most powerful forms known, messengers and great champions of Alshiel. Lesser archons may occasionally be found in Resvier fighting against the forces of evil, but like all outsiders their ability to enter the Material Plane is dependent upon rare planar breaches and ritual magic for all but the very weakest members.
This group of outsiders traces its origins to conflict between Qhom and the other gods. Shortly after the discovery of magic, the ten gods of the modern pantheon believed they had mastered all things and attempted to force Qhom from the world. This attempt was not successful, as the elder revealed an ability to manipulate reality that made direct conflict impossible. However, the fallout from these twists and bends in the fabric of existence were the Asuras. The Asura hierarchy is capped by the Aghasura. These beings are rare, and are opposed by other outsider groups, but they often find support in the schemes of those who have fallen victim of Ximoc in warfare.
Azatas serve Caliata. Their hierarchy is topped by the Ghaele. They are present in Resvier occasionally, attracted to moments they consider to be great, but do not move with the openness of Archons. They remain tireless foes of evil according to the dictates of their passions.
Constructs are extremely rare in Resvier due to the limitations on magic. The production of a construct is not only extremely expensive, it requires a massive exertion of powerful ritual magic. As a result constructs become rare at a lower CR than almost any other monster type, with any construct above approximately CR 6 being considered a unique being crafted for some specific purpose by the effort of thousands. However, such reasons due occur, and because constructs are generally immortal and can sit immobile forever (and thereby avoid destabilizing the region in the way other monsters of their power cannot) a number do linger in deep dungeons and forgotten ruins. The Muram Empire was the primary historical source of constructs, and while Resvier was never truly imperial territory some constructs were relocated to the region for various duties or brought there later.
These evil outsiders are sometimes called up by servants of Kuniken, but that dark goddess prefers undead servitors and minions and as a result daemons are primarily summoned by independent cults or enter Resvier through planar breaches. They follow their own agendas. While several unique daemons dominate their hierarchy, no class has outright authority. Derghodaemons, Meladaemons, and Thanadaemons all compete against each other, often to the point of mortal combat for the right to answer the rare summon powerful enough to bring them to the material plane.
In the P6 context Dark Folk represent a fairly powerful subterranean monster race. Their various forms produce large societies and can occasionally challenge well established underground dwellers such as duergar or drow.
The demon hierarchy is topped by Nalfeshnee, but many lesser demons, particularly the brutish Glabrezu, refuse to acknowledge such authority and the demon hordes remain schizophrenic. While Trenveed claims many demonic followers among his servitors, many more demons are independent, following their own erratic agendas. Lesser demons are summoned into Resvier with some regularity by the cultists of Trenveed – who encourages the practice. Powerful ones are almost unknown, as demonic cults can rarely amass the organization and resources needed to undertake such a summoning.
A single Gelugon serves as the supreme master of all devils concerned with Resvier. At their order lesser and least devils are deployed as needed through carefully discerned points of weakness between the planes or unleashed through terrible summoning rites by the priests of Ximoc or unscrupulous arcane spellcasters. Generally devils are servants of Ximoc, but the Gelugon always has a separate agenda to advance the interests of Hell, and all devils are induced to work toward it when they have free moments.
These corrupted genies are sometimes found wandering wasteland regions, especially on the island of Quorvast. Though they acknowledge a Sepid warlord, their hierarchy is loose and most pursue destruction on their own terms.
Resvier hosts dragons of all types except the Imperial dragons, though the mysterious Outer Dragons only rarely visit the planet’s surface. The overwhelming majority of Resvier’s dragons are confined to the three earliest age categories, but they remain intelligent and articulate monsters of some power at that age. More powerful dragons are rare, with their activities limited to cyclical emergence. However, many areas have a resident dragon in the juvenile to adult range that they are aware of and live in some level of terror of offending. Many dragons, finding it preferable to combat, simply extort tribute from local nobility and spend their time indulging in amusements.
Drakes are powerful apex predators found throughout many environments of Resvier. They compete with other winged hunters such as griffons and with greater monsters such as dragons and giants. Fiercely territorial, drakes divide up the entire region into a patchwork of dominions between themselves and dragons. Some settlements enter into tributary relationships with local drakes. Druids and rangers can sometimes utilize the territorial network as an information source.
Small elementals are regularly summoned by spellcasters for support, while larger ones are among the most common ritual summons. Free-willed elementals are only very rarely encountered when some event opens a breach to their extraplanar abodes during a natural disaster of some kind. Elementals maintain lose hierarchies behind their elders, but these beings have little interest in the events of Resvier.
These powerful elemental humanoids are rare encounters in Resvier, but they occasionally can be summoned by powerful ritual magic at consecrated sites, especially on the island of Quorvast. There is great interest in doing so because genies represent the only beings in the setting with the ability to bestow wishes. The resources, resolve, and effort necessary to undertake such events is extreme, but it has been done. Genies in Resvier, with the exception of Jann, are always named individuals who have made multiple appearances through the course of history.
Tribes of Giants are among the most powerful grouped entities found in Resvier. Cave, Hill, River, and Wood Giants all exist as functional tribes of individuals, while more advanced giants represent exceptional mutations of giant-kind found in the setting. A tribe of these mighty individuals is basically an army waiting to march, and the emergence of a powerful leader can transform tribes from lords of remote wilderness fiefdoms to the nucleus of a conquering horde of humanoids. The dwarves and elves both record many such events through the course of their long history. Many giants compete with dragons for territory in the wilderness regions. Both groups may demand the nominal allegiance of mid-level monsters that reside within territory they claim.
These rare undead function more or less normally in Resvier. They cannot be created by spellcasters and come into being only in two ways. First, suitable vile and terrible warlords may spontaneously arise as graveknights following a particularly grisly demise. Second, the chosen warriors of Kuniken may become graveknights following ritual suicide if their faith is true and their dark goddess accepts them. This second form of graveknight does not reside on the material plane but serves the goddess in her realm and may be summoned as a servitor in place of a daemon.
Lone hags function more or less normally in Resvier. Hag covens are somewhat different. A hag coven is essentially a powerful ritual spellcaster and therefore has a great deal of capability to alter regional power structures. Other power players are fully aware of this and Hag Covens are monitored and influenced comparative to this importance. Hag covens are often utilized to provide the spellcasting might for wilderness warlords, whether powerful goblinoid chieftains, giants, or dragons. Hags are considered an affront to Scemaenn and are deeply opposed by druids and rangers.
These strict clockwork outsiders are perhaps the outside type least commonly found in Resvier. Drojge, whom they all obey with absolute commitment, only allows them to be dispatched when something has gone terribly awry. The Kolyarut (they refuse to even acknowledge the prospect of more than one existing) governs their operations. They do not enter the material plane on their own and only respond to summons when Drojge has instructed his priests specifically that one should be called. Arcane spellcasters know better than to try and compel an inevitable to service. The presence of any Inevitable beyond an Arbiter on Resvier is a sign that something serious has occurred in the nature of events.
The type example of a unique monster, there is only one Jorogumo in Resvier. She is an immortal schemer whose offspring are not additional members of her kind, but instead Araneas. While her children have become their own true-breeding race, their mother still exists. While the Jorogumo can be struck down, in death she crumbles to a mass of tiny spiders that disperse on the wind. Eventually, over the course of a decade, these will reform her once more. Her abject destruction would require a considerable quest.
Members of this strange fiendish race are occasionally found in Resvier, though they are poorly known even by sages. Rarely summoned, they occasionally take advantage of planar breaches, often crossing over from the Plane of Shadow. Kytons may establish themselves in secure dungeons for the long term, indulging their tastes, but are rarely interested in influencing greater events. The Kyton hierarchy is capped at Interlocutor.
The P6 rules generally prohibit the existence of Liches, since a phylactery has a CL requirement of 11. However, it is possible to bypass this through ritual magic and a specific tree of five feats that allows a spellcaster to borrow the essence of a named outsider in order to form the phylactery. Doing so means that entity is bonded to the phylactery. This means that said outsider always knows where the phylactery is located, and the destruction of the outsider destroys the phylactery and vice versa. This is generally a bad deal for the outsider, but certain power-mad demons, supremely ambitious devils, and other oddities were willing to make the pact with certain wizard-kings in the pre-Simark era. Most such beings were later destroyed, often by the actions of the outsiders who outranked them as punishment for such betrayals, but a few linger in dark places. All P6 liches remain bound by the level limitations but may have a wide array of feats unknown to the outside world.
Divine spellcasters can become liches by the same process, but this transformation is available only to clerics and oracles of Kuniken – the goddess of death simply claims the soul of anyone else who tries. There are presently no known divine liches in Resvier.
Lycanthropy generally functions normally in Resvier, and there are a number of lycanthropes present in the setting. The curse of lycanthropy can, however, be cured by the casting of a Remove Disease spell by anyone able to cast it within 3 days of infection.
Resvier hosts a single Mercane. This being is a person of great importance as they are one of a very few sources for magical items beyond the ability of P6 characters to craft. As such the Mercane is extremely difficult to find and demands prices that cannot be measured in simple coinage, goods, or spells. Of course the unscrupulous may attack this merchant, but not only does that mean facing powerful bodyguards, it also means being targeted by the wrath of the whole network of mystical merchants across many worlds. Anyone who robs or kills the mercane is likely to face powerful outsider assassins or killing constructs shortly thereafter.
Powerful spellcasters within the context of P6, nagas are always isolated individuals. They are usually found leading cults of minions. In Resvier nagas are one of a certain class of monsters that can be traced to a single progenitor, in this case the single Royal Naga found in the setting. This elusive and careful individual is not regularly active, but is well known in myth and has an almost divine status among the nagas themselves.
Ysilame unleashes Proteans upon her occasional whim. Such actions are rare, as the other gods get offended when planar barriers are breached for little reason, but occur at unexpected moments, not regular intervals. The Proteans have no hierarchy, but the Imentesh is the most potent type in recorded observation. It is possible to summon a Protean, but the followers of Ysilame can rarely muster the effort and consider doing so in bad taste anyway. Arcane casters generally avoid this practice as controlling Proteans is nearly impossible.
These outsiders have unusual status. They effectively exist in opposition to Kuniken, the undead-affiliated death goddess of the setting. Instead, they report to no divine being and do not acknowledge the authority of the gods at all. In fact they are often worshipped indirectly by the ancestor cults that exist in certain areas of Resvier. Their leader, the Morrigna, has encouraged this practice, something that has led to considerable fighting between Psychopomps and Daemons.
These ancient and strange outsiders are almost unknown on Resvier, mentioned only in pre-Simark dynasty fragments and then only rarely. They are almost never encountered and cannot be conventionally summoned as no rituals to do so survive. Likewise the gods monitor planar breaches and by rare agreement always send agents to immediately destroy Qlippoth interlopers. Despite this, Qlippoth can emerge in Resvier by exploiting botched, disrupted, or otherwise corrupted summoning rituals of sufficient power. Members of their strange race, of which the Chernobue is the most powerful known, can then linger until destroyed. This is often brief, for all other outsiders will attack Qlippoth if given the chance. Despite this their practice of emerging only when a powerful summoning has been invoked often means they unleash bloody chaos and alter history in unexpected and dark ways before their destruction.
These strange fiendish beings can be found in Resvier, albeit rarely. Many of the gods, including the evil ones, consider them perversions of the natural order, but they cannot prevent their emergence. They seem to be more common in areas where faith in the divine has given over to ancestor worship, and many Rakshasa masquerade as agents of ancestral authority.
This is a race that claims ancient pedigree in Resvier. Most Serpentfolk attempt to take control of lizardfolk and nagaji settlements and leverage them to gain mastery of territory in their own names. Thw actions of Serpentfolk have influenced human opinion against lizardfolk and nagaji and at present both races are extremely hostile to serpentfolk as a result.
Rare monsters found on the island of Quorvast, sphinxes were once powerful seers and guides to the rulers there until it was conquered by the Simark Dynasty. A handful remain, but they avoid humans.
Most undead function normally in accordance with their abilities. However, the energy drain special ability has been removed from Resvier and replaced with constitution drain. This modification is necessary to allow recovery from such attacks.
Vampires are powerful and dangerous undead in P6. They exist, with the modification that their energy drain ability is replaced by constitution drain as it is with all such effects. Among the most powerful urban monsters, vampires may have shadowy networks of influence over towns and cities. They are much feared and often opposed by specialized hunters, usually inquisitors or paladins. Vampiric reproduction is influenced heavily by the conventions of P6, as characters with 5 or more hit dice will be quite rare. As a result vampires are often on the hunt for suitably powerful individuals to make into more of their kind.
Unique Monster Roster
The following is a listing of thirteen high level monsters active and present in Resvier at the current date (9822 OY). Two slots are deliberately left open to be filled by DMs for campaign usage, but the entirety of this list should be considered optional. These are among the most powerful individual entities in the setting and their appearance should not occur lightly. Preference for another monster is perfectly good grounds to alter this listing.
Several of these monsters have been noted at various points in the Geography chapter regarding their activities. These connections will be noted in their entries.
Cirosallstritos the Sleet – Adult Cloud Dragon
With a lair among the highest peaks of the Treste Mountains, Cirosallstritos has watched the land beneath her for many centuries, with cautious, distant interest. Much more active than many dragons of her age, she can be seen with regularity in Resvier, though generally only at high altitudes aloft on the wind. A great traveler, she has been to many foreign lands and has considerable knowledge of them, though her interest includes highly esoteric topics such as bird classification and the varied names of weather patterns.
Generally she prefers to avoid conflict, finding battle crass, though she willingly defends her territory against aggression and has interceded in the infighting of drakes upon occasion. When confronted by dragon slayers, as has happened on rare occasions, she defends cautiously, but purges vengefully, so as to discourage such attacks. The dwarves of Trestegard, in order to secure her good will, send regular ‘gifts’ of crystalline goblets – an item she collects from all over the world.
The devourer, for it has long forgotten the name it once possessed, is among the most ancient of beings to still walk the lands of Basaron. It was once a psychopomp in the service of Kuniken, but during the Arcane Upheaval it was caught by the barriers Qhom raised to alter reality when the gods faced the elder. This sheared the essence from the being and left behind a shattered thing consumed by a hunger for souls to replace the wound at the center of its existence. It was also the first undead being in the world, and spurred the goddess’ fascination with the form.
The ceaseless stride of the devourer has now brought it to Resvier, perhaps drawn to the upheaval of Olannal’s Crusade. Whatever the reason, its slow march brings terror, for the scourge is pitiless and unceasing. It choses its attacks with care, mostly moving erratically from one small hamlet to another. Fully aware that massed attacks can bring it down – which dooms it to a decade of horrible torment at the edges of reality until it reforms – it avoids large numbers. Clerics of Kuniken consider its presence a sign of divine favor, but the devourer despises all deities for its terrible fate, and considers its former mistress first among the hated. It enjoys sending the souls of her followers to oblivion.
Embriscaesos the Firefall – Adult Red Dragon
Born while the banner of the Muram Empire yet flew strong over much of the continent, Embriscaesos made his name as a young dragon by toying with imperial scouts and wizards. When the empire collapsed he avoided the chaos by journeying to Resvier, and celebrated his adulthood by challenging the reigning red dragon of the Pard Mountains to a death duel. Victorious in a titantic battle that set a conflagration upon hundreds of thousands of acres, the dragon known as the Firefall claimed control of the shortest of the passes through the mountains. From there he let it be known that all intending to use the pass owed him tribute. A thousand years later he rests atop a towering pile of precious metals, and the swords and shields of countless fallen champions who tried to liberate the pass from his demands.
Embriscaesos is active in the present era, but he remains quite content with his tributary scheme and only occasionally indulges his rages by burning a village or sailing vessel. He is tireless in hunting down and removing good dragons who attempt to lair in the Pard Mountains, and makes it clear to younger reds and whites that rivals will not be tolerated. Challenges from humans amuse him, and he might be lured into answering one from a suitably famous opponent, though he would never actually engage in a fair fight if he could help it.
This immense and terrifying monstrosity is found in the Great Fan in eastern Resvier, where it has dwelled for centuries. It is only irregularly active, mostly setting up deadly ambushes near common trade routes or lizardfolk hunting grounds for a few scattered weeks during the summer, though if injured and enraged it may assault nearby settlements until all it detects has been destroyed. Utterly fearless, it attacks anything from black dragons to whole war parties. Lizardfolk working in tandem with druids and paladins have seriously injured it in the past, but it has some secluded hideaway – probably deep beneath the swamp – and it has always managed to escape to in the past.
The Froghemoth recloates its primary lair once each year, during the winter period sacred to Qhom. It will vengefully assault anything that dares to disturb it at this time, but will otherwise ignore all others.
Grindbone the Athach
The powerful and mutated giant known as Grindbone is considered a mutated wood giant of immense power, though he has the statistics of a standard Athach. Exiled from his family as a child he grew up to immense power in the Rumble Woods of southern Marvance. In time he returned home, slaughtered and consumed his parents, and enslaved all the giants and other large humanoids of the region, instituting a reign of terror.
Grindbone has been challenged by many adventurers, including agents of the White Brambles, but the Athach is quite cunning and has so far managed to defeat all challenges using ambushes, minions, and traps. He keeps a massive mound of bones preserved from his victims. The Athach is well aware of his vulnerability to massed arrow fire or spellcasting, and avoids venturing beyond the shelter of the woodlands.
Ishasheeel the Royal Naga
The progenitor of Resvier’s nagas is an ancient being that recalls the Hag Reign. Generally content to lounge through the centuries in secluded luxury waited upon hand and foot by enspelled slaves in one of its five manor houses, it maintains a variety of contacts in order to trade magical services for vast quantities of money – it enjoys utilizing charm abilities to make one human pretend to love another. Ishasheel avoids intervening in the affairs of its naga children, but keeps contact with several who are members of the Avulse, just to keep abreast of developments, and to hire assassins to eliminate anyone who learns about it in ancient lore and comes looking to disturb its pleasures.
The Jorogumo, for there is only one of her kind and she has no other name, has long wandered the continent of Murchom far and wide, but she has a personal love of Resvier and has often spent considerable time there, as she does now. This cruel temptress is most commonly seen deep in the mountains, where she offers succor to attract males (and occasionally females) who appear lost or in trouble and then turns upon them and rips out their hearts as part of her mating ritual. She is well known historically and many tales caution against dealing with beautiful women appearing on the road, but few are able to resist her charms even forewarned.
The Jorogumo is more complex than her usual actions appear and has meddled in the politics of Resvier in the past. She finds certain human concepts such as conviction and destiny amusing and has been known to appear at momentous moments to interject a seemingly random complication into affairs. It is possible to appease her in such circumstances without violence, though her alien motives can be very difficult to grasp. Faced with opponents capable of injuring her she retreats, for pride is no part of her being.
Mirdalgaes the Beneficient – Adult Bronze Dragon
Lairing in a secluded location in southern Resvier, possibly an offshore island, Mirdalgaes has been a steadfast patron of goodness for the better part of a century. Originally from lands far to the east, she arrived during the Dynastic War and seized the territory from the green dragon Hasikallamar of Imbrancy’s Rollridge Hills. Though she refused to intervene directly in the Dynastic War she worked hard to mitigate its damage and to prevent powerful monsters from taking advantage.
Hers was a strong voice for restraint against the zealotry of Olannal’s Crusade, though to her shame the inquisitor out-debated her in front of thousands, an event critical in bringing the conflict to Orhanan. Ever since she has been distant from human affairs, working instead to counter the activities of monstrous creatures.
This massive monstrosity is found in a cavern system beneath the Treste Mountains. Idle for decades it was awakened by a battle between Resvier forces and a large tribe of orcs. Promptly consuming both its initial rampage, it is now moving about throughout the region, devouring anything that gets in its way. The worm has little by way of motive, but it has a taste for ‘spicy’ creatures such as giant vermin and other acid-bearing animals.
Torencath the Pale – Graveknight
Torencath was a mighty warlord of the Dynastic War, and he served as the chief commander in Marvance in the 9850s when Kuniken’s worship was ascendant in the region. He was killed in battle early in Olannal’s Crusade only to return to command the undead legions in an attempt to halt the mobs. Unable to grasp the advantages of his small but elite force or to develop a counter to widespread clerical magic in time, he was defeated, but not destroyed, and has now arisen again to rebuild his forces.
Torencath is active in northern Resvier, were he works independently, unwilling to serve Kuniken’s church directly, to build an undead force that he intends to lead to conquest. He has a hidden base in a ruined keep, but can often be found afield, facing his many enemies. Several nations have a heavy bounty out for him, but many others are eager to employ such a powerful warrior.
In game terms Torencath is a level 6 human fighter with 20 additional feats. He has the Graveknight template and any other simple templates the DM might wish to apply to increase his capabilities.
Wings Grant Release – Monvanic Deva
Wings Grant Release followed a horde of fire elementals into Resvier during a volcanic eruption in the eastern sea that opened a planar breach five years ago. He managed to close the breach and destroy the elementals, but remained in Basaron afterwards, considering it an opportunity to do good. This is a vilation of the rules, but as a follower of Caliata the angel does not much care. However, he has chosen to remain circumspect in his actions to avoid drawing overt attention.
The deva can be found all over Resvier engaging in clandestine actions to promote the cause of good, taking care to avoid observation as much as possible when doing so. He avoids Quorvast in particular, since the genies there could report upon him to his superiors. He would be a powerful ally for a specific cause if approached by the right group of adventurers, though finding a mighty being who wishes to avoid notice is a grand challenge in and of itself.
Xuvakax – Ice Devil
The gelugon Xuvakax has made himself available to the church of Ximoc as an ally, engaging in complex plots to see Resvier gain control over the entire region through the means of brutal military conquest. The motive is entirely self-centered. Xuvakax has been taking payment for callings of himself and his many minions at a steep discount in return for future favors. The goal is to suitably indebt the church so that when the conquest does take place, Xuvakax can demand to be gated into Resvier and take direct control of the nation.
The devil is rarely present in Resvier, since calling him requires an extremely difficult ritual casting of Greater Planar Ally or Greater Planar Binding, but his many servants can carry out his orders and communicate some portion of his will. Divination spells used to contact him directly also allow him to exert influence over the church. The followers of Ximoc are not fools and are aware that the devil is trying to subordinate them. They have safeguards in place, but their rush to force a conquest on a short timetable is causing them to make mistakes.
Zalinga – Morrigna Psychopomp
A powerful outsider, Zalinga has been active in Basaron for several centuries, ever since she was gated into the world in the distant east in order to aid the ancestor cult against a pan-faith crusade against it. She has recently come to Resvier to shepherd the nascent ancestor cult of Marvance into long-term stability. Zalinga is a subtle creature who avoids exposure and operates behind the scenes so that she is not pressed into confrontation as she has no intention of being banished from the physical world. The ancestor cult is aware that they are receiving support, but not the identity of the source.
Zalinga has drawn the attention of several other faiths by destroying powerful outsiders dispatched on missions to Marvance in order to undercut the ancestor cult. Should Resvier invade she is liable to take on a very active role, knowing that the Jellard dynasty would like ban ancestor worship in the case of conquest. She is working to recruit powerful adventurers to prevent this outcome.
As a Morrigna, Zalinga has power over spiders, a trait shared by the Jorogumo. The latter considers herself the true mistress of the eight-legged, and should the two become aware of each other conflict is almost inevitable.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Chapter 9 - Running Resvier
Resvier is designed to provide a suitable sandbox for any possible campaign within the context of P6. The setting was explicitly designed to provide a backdrop that accommodates P6 from the start in order to spare potential DMs the work of altering a setting so that its assumptions meet the conditions imposed by P6. This was intended to maximize the verisimilitude of the setting for campaign purposes.
The setting is intended to provide possibilities for a wide variety of campaigns, from those that stress wilderness monster slaying to court intrigue to magical research to political upheaval. The central conflict presented for Resvier in the present timeframe is that of the struggle for unification of the country. This conflict has been presented so that PCs on any portion of the alignment spectrum could reasonably argue to be perfectly in sync with their motivations while seeking to produce unity or prevent it.
Resvier assumes that the PCs will rapidly become powerful figures in the setting. A party that survives to achieve level six is capable of producing rapid, significant change on a broad scale. The historical record of the kingdom is filled with examples of people who managed to do just that. It is a perfectly reasonable PC goal to overthrow the kingdom and become a dictator. Not that such a thing will be easy – it would require many allies, prolonged planning, tremendous effort and a great deal of luck, but it is absolutely possible to do so, and to do so relatively early in an adventuring career. There are no unbeatably overpowering obstacles in the way.
Even Resvier’s small number of high CR unique monsters are designed to be beatable, with great difficulty. While it may be impossible for a party of four adventurers with typical gear to defeat Embriscaesos the Firefall, a party with a dozen level 4-5 allies, legendary bane weapons, and ritual magic support very well could. This setting was not designed to present anything short of a god as impossible to defeat in combat.
Resvier is a single geographical region united by a single overall culture vaguely inspired by medieval France. This was done deliberately in an attempt to produce a setting that matches the core expectations of heroic fantasy in a coherent way. Groups craving a setting with a dramatically different flavor will have to look further afield, but Resvier was deisgned with the intent that regional areas would offer considerable variety of options. The rugged mountain regions allow for a semi-artic setting, while the island of Quorvast is largely desert. The setting’s refugee past allows for characters of all races and makes considerable allowance for players wishing to portray a foreigner with a different background.
Each of Resvier’s splinter states is designed to display a varied approach to the traditional feudal setup. This ranges from the vaguely Swiss-style Tourvene Republic to the mercantile Falrency to the classically oppressive feudalism of Keinrency. DMs are encouraged to exaggerate this variance if it serves the purpose of their campaign.
Like any D&D setting, Resvier contains a number of dungeons. However, the P6 nature of the world means that dungeons are somewhat different than they are in a traditional setting. Notably it is almost impossible for an individual being to craft a dungeon. Even an adult dragon will require considerable minions to perform the delicate construction tasks.
Many, perhaps most, dungeons, are therefore not created whole cloth but represent conversions of previously extant structures. Castle ruins are perhaps the most common example, especially with a large number of castles severe damaged during the Dynastic War. Even castles whose walls have been throne down may have underground territories that can be expanded by monsters and used as a suitable lair. Abandoned temples are also a common source of dungeon seeds, as the may have possessed extensive crypts, underground archives, or other rooms that can be converted.
Resvier also hosts a number of sources of older dungeons. Keeps and towers raised by the wizard-kings yet stand in many areas, their magically reinforced stones resistant to the erosion of the centuries. Often possessed of very poor reputations and guarded by fell creatures, they may retain relics from that distant period. Reaching back further, the Pard and Treste Mountains both contain forgotten dwarven holds lost following the Scatter Wars. A small number of elven possessions, likewise long abandoned, linger deep in poorly explored wilderness areas.
Many dungeon structures, especially those within cities, are quite modern, constructed by secretive groups ranging from the truly vile Tranveed cultists to the simply eerie servants of Qhom, to even generally benevolent groups such as the Octets.
The total population of the Resvier Region is approximately 18 million sapient beings. Of these, just under fifteen million (14.835 million) live aboveground in traditional environments. Slightly over two million sapients reside in aquatic territory surrounding the region and bonded to it via trade linkages and regular cultural interaction. A final approximately one million live in underground environments beneath the terrain.
The aboveground population is heavily human dominated, with just over 11 million human residents. Dwarves and elves are the other highly abundant races, while other major races are less numerous. While humans are found everywhere, the homelands of other races are much more localized, usually confined to a single province. This is not intended to represent prejudice, Resvier has long had legal equality for all races and the urban population is quite cosmopolitan. Instead, the population localization is designed to give each race a small homeland of its own where it can develop its own culture within the greater umbrella of Resvier.
Resvier is sub-divided into thirty-four provinces. Each averages about 450,000 inhabitants, but some provinces are much more populous than others, dependent on the presence of good agricultural land and the depredations of warfare. The overall population density is 69 per square mile. The population is 5% urban and 4% isolated, with the 91% of the population being rural people. The rural environment includes countless thorpes, hamlets, and villages.
The region as a whole is thirty-eight percent cultivated and sixty-one percent wilderness. Cultivated territory is occupied by settlements or agricultural land of varying species. Land held by nonhumans may not initially appear to hold these divisions, but it does. Elven territory, for example, appears to be almost entirely forested wilderness, but the majority of this forest is actually settled and cultivated by forest agriculture at least as intense as human grain fields. Dwarves likewise often keep their settlements underground, and have vast piles used for the growth of root crops located across hilly terrain.
Fortifications and Settlements
Resvier’s urban population is spread across one hundred and twenty-five settlements above the size of a village. These tend to be mid-sized settlements, primarily large towns (47) and small cities (60). The latter category including the important cities of Illshallara and Trestegard. There are only a handful of small towns (13) and a large cities (4). These large cities are Altarancy, Dourved, Gloust, and Sabrean. Viercal, the capital, is the only metropolis.
This tendency towards mid-sized settlements is partly a consequence of the Dynastic War, which caused many small towns to be reduced to villages and a number of large cities to become small cities. However, the technologies available simply make it easier to sustain settlements in the 2,000-10,000 person range.
Fortifications are more numerous than towns. There are roughly three hundred operational castles of some form scattered across the landscape. Most of these are held by local lords, but some are in the hands of aggressive humanoids or powerful monsters. There are another roughly seventy-five castles that exist as ruins, not occupied by a force functioning as a legitimate garrison. Most of these are infested with monsters of various kinds. Beyond this, there are perhaps one hundred devastated fortifications that remain only as foundations. Some of these are resting atop underground complexes that may be dungeons.
In order to accommodate the core assumptions of P6, Resvier alters the distribution of NPCs by class and level considerably. The design goal is the overall reduction in abundance and class level of NPC characters generally match two core P6 goals. One is that 99% percent of the population is represented by 1st level characters with NPC classes. The second is that characters at level six represent major movers and shakers among the population – heroic individuals.
Mechanically this change is modeled by modifications to the mechanics used to generate the highest-level local member of the character classes. First, the community modifiers table is overhauled. Resvier modifiers are as follows:
The class level rolls are as follows:
Repeated roles are not made at any point. A Thorpe or Hamlet has a 4% chance of adding 8 to the role for druid or ranger. PC classes remain the same, with the exception that any role that would indicate a level above six is reduced to six plus a number of additional feats: with 6 +5 feats counting as 7th, 6 +10 feats as 8th, 6 +15 feats as 9th, and 6+ 20 feats as 10th
These changes have a dramatic impact. Thorpes and Hamlets are highly unlikely to have any NPCs with class levels above level one, and only have the possibility of having higher-level fighters and rogues. Villages and Small Towns will have a highest level NPC of 2-4 in a small number of classes. Level 5-6 NPCs only emerge in Large Towns and higher, and arcane spellcasters only in large cities and metropoli.
This method also preserves the expectation that non-spellcasting classes, particularly fighters and rogues, will be the most abundant types of NPCs at all levels of organization, and divine casters such as adepts, clerics, and druids will be considerably more abundant than arcane spellcasters. The adept, in particular retains a valuable role in this setting without becoming rapidly overshadowed by other spellcasting classes.
Alternative base classes are not added to this table, as doing so would increase overall numbers. Instead, they can be swapped in freely for other classes. Alchemist swaps with Adept, Cavalier with Fighter, Inquisitor with Bard, Oracle with Cleric, Summoner with Sorcerer, Witch with Wizard and so forth.
Basaron has a specialized, isolated, place in the cosmos, though most of the residents aren’t aware of this. Acting in concert with the Ten, Qhom erected vast barriers around the world across the many planes. As such, the world is only tenuously connected to the broader cosmos. However, the planes beyond Basaron remain infinite, they simply do not contain precisely the same things as their components on other worlds.
The primary consequence of this is that the barriers bar beings of extraordinary power, essentially any being above CR 14, from entering the cosmos surrounding Basaron. This mostly applies to powerful outsiders, but it also includes adventurers from other worlds, mighty dragons, and the like. Anyone trying to force passage had best be prepared to combat the entire pantheon and their servants. As a result, the hierarchies of outsiders on the planes surrounding Basaron have developed anew, with truncated chains of command, as explained in the monster entries.
It is possible for beings from other worlds to reach Basaron by traversing the void of space. However, beings above CR 14 that attempt to venture to the planet in this fashion will also be attacked by the gods and their agents. Elder outer dragons have an informal agreement to never get closer than the upper edges of the atmosphere, but other interlopers are occasionally swatted, forming rather dramatic meteor showers.
Due to the prohibition on planar travel, it is functionally impossible for anyone from Basaron to travel to another plane save by passing through a planar breach. Doing so is almost immediately fatal in any case, since the other side of a planar breach is generally an intense battleground of beings attempting to get through said breach – especially asuras and qlippoth, who will happily destroy any errant mortal that gets in their way. As such, hardly anyone has ever ventured to the other planes and returned, and the people of Basaron are dependent upon knowledge relayed by outsiders and the gods in order to understand the nature of these distant realities.
Basaron has access to the standard inner and transitive planes: the four elemental planes, the two energy planes, the astral plane, ethereal plane, and shadow plane. The most common planar breaches open to the elemental planes, and for this reason Basaron sustains a small resident genie population.
The outer planes are considerably more remote. The people of Basaron are aware of ther existence of nine classical outer planes, one for each alignment, where the gods of The Ten dwell and the ancestors go. If other planes exist, they lack any knowledge of them because they have no way of contacting the beings there. The realm belonging to Qhom is unknown, though it seems that his servants the Aeons can be found on any of the known outer planes.
It is understood that the spirits of the dead travel to the outer planes after death, and that they can be contacted by various magical means. Ancestors have related that life in the outer planes generally represents an idealized vision of the world according to each persons moral framework (alignment) dominated by the relevant class of outsider. The realms of the gods are somewhat different, having been reshaped by the particular desires of The Ten, but they retain this general morally determined configuration.
The residents of the planes cannot journey to Basaron on their own. Even those outsiders possessing plane shift cannot use it to travel to the material plane. They must either be called or summoned into the world, or find their way there through an extremely rare tear in the fabric of reality known as a planar breach.
Planar breaches occur when the various points of the cosmos rub up against each other, ripping through the barriers and creating a small hole that energy, objects, and persons can pass through. These events are not common and when discovered the gods work very hard to have their servants close them – easily done by casting seal breach. However, many outsiders seek to reach Basaron through these breaches, as when doing so they have full access to their abilities and may remain as long as they wish. Asuras and qlippoth, which have no active adherents liable to summon them, hunt for breaches with the greatest thoroughness. Chaotic outsiders may seek them out with some frequency, and will likely utilize any they happen upon, while neutral outsiders are more reluctant, and most lawful outsiders flatly refuse to use this offense against the cosmic order save at the greatest need.
The most common planar breaches occur for short periods of time with the elemental planes. These tend to open during massive natural disasters – fires, landslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. where conditions on the material plane briefly mirror those on the respective elemental plane. Such an event happens in an area the size of Resvier perhaps once a year and lasts no more than an hour or two. This is generally enough time for a handful of elementals and a genie to pass through. Quorvast, exposed to the violence of the ocean and therefore with more dramatic weather than the rest of Resvier, tends to draw such events.
Planar breaches accessing the transitive planes are much less common but they tend to last longer. These breaches tend to form during strange and surreal events when large amounts of energy is unexpectedly discharged. The destruction of constructs and magical items can trigger such breaches, as can perfectly natural explosions and strange phenomena such as lake outgassing. Breaches of this kind may last for as much as several weeks if not closed. However, due to the relatively low density of outsiders in the transitive planes few beings are likely to cross over during such events.
Breaches to the outer planes are more common than those to the transitive planes, but still rare. They generally last a few days at most, but this is not necessarily fixed. Asuras have the power to hold such breaches open if they can gain control of them, and will undertake every effort to do so. As a result, closing such a breach may mean a dangerous quest to reach the location and seal it – though the servants of all religions work together to face asuras. Breaches to the outer planes are unpredictable, and no one can easily predict when they occur. In a region such a Resvier such a breach may occur once a decade.
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Re: Resvier: A P6 Setting
Jeepers, but this is detailed. Fantastic. And it deserves a detailed response, not the early impressions which I'm going to throw out here—time constraints, and all that. First, props on such a massive undertaking and such fine-grained detail! The places where this shines the most are the Plots/Rumors and Important Sites. Lots of nifty adventure ideas, very atmospheric, I want to use several of these.
Please give us a brief historical and geographical overview right away. Just a paragraph or two, enough to give some context before you hit us with specifics. I don't mind flipping through the text to get all the details about something, but it's a pain to flip for generalities.
The races section could be profitably templated:
or some such.
You don't need to restate the core fluff of the classes, e.g. Clerics are "the primary servants of the divine," unless you're departing in some way from standard PF roles. Tell us what's different, not what's the same.
I'd move the magic rules to an appendix. Give us an overview of the hard limits (no spells above a certain level, death is permanent, etc.) and the exceptions (ritual magic) and direct us to the appendix for the crunch. New spells definitely belong outside the main body of the text. Speaking of crunch, what's the activation time for an enscrolled ritual?
Please indicate the surrounding water on the map. It took me a while to figure out that the place is a peninsula, connecting to the mainland northeast of Pardien. Also, are those squiggly things contour lines or giant hedge mazes or what?
A few specific notes, on the bits that I've been able to give a closer reading to (the early stuff):
What do you mean by "asymmetric conflict?" Usually, this term refers to something along the lines of guerrilla tactics vs. a conventional force. I think you're trying to describe a multi-party conflict, but I'm not sure.
The intelligent races are "migrants from elsewhere." This is described much later in the history section, but I'd like a bit more on that up front.
If the region has a single dominant tongue, why is there a trade language? You only need a trade language when people cannot otherwise understand each other. Is it used to trade with people outside the region, or is it a sort of secret cant shared only among traders? The note about Aquan replacing the hard consonants of Dwarvish underwater is a very nice touch!
Who considers flying to be a violation of dragon and drake territory? I'm tempted to read this as if it were a matter of treaty, which I think is probably wrong.
And with that, I've got to go do the things and stuff. Again, fantastic work!
- Join Date
- Jul 2015
Re: Resvier: A P6 Setting
Please give us a brief historical and geographical overview right away. Just a paragraph or two, enough to give some context before you hit us with specifics. I don't mind flipping through the text to get all the details about something, but it's a pain to flip for generalities.
You don't need to restate the core fluff of the classes, e.g. Clerics are "the primary servants of the divine," unless you're departing in some way from standard PF roles. Tell us what's different, not what's the same.
I'd move the magic rules to an appendix. Give us an overview of the hard limits (no spells above a certain level, death is permanent, etc.) and the exceptions (ritual magic) and direct us to the appendix for the crunch. New spells definitely belong outside the main body of the text. Speaking of crunch, what's the activation time for an enscrolled ritual?
Please indicate the surrounding water on the map. It took me a while to figure out that the place is a peninsula, connecting to the mainland northeast of Pardien. Also, are those squiggly things contour lines or giant hedge mazes or what?
What do you mean by "asymmetric conflict?" Usually, this term refers to something along the lines of guerrilla tactics vs. a conventional force. I think you're trying to describe a multi-party conflict, but I'm not sure.
The intelligent races are "migrants from elsewhere." This is described much later in the history section, but I'd like a bit more on that up front.
If the region has a single dominant tongue, why is there a trade language? You only need a trade language when people cannot otherwise understand each other. Is it used to trade with people outside the region, or is it a sort of secret cant shared only among traders? The note about Aquan replacing the hard consonants of Dwarvish underwater is a very nice touch!
Who considers flying to be a violation of dragon and drake territory? I'm tempted to read this as if it were a matter of treaty, which I think is probably wrong.
Thanks again for the comments.
- Join Date
- Nov 2011
Re: Resvier: A P6 Setting
Well done! Your micro-setting, that actually isn't micro at all, is a gust of fresh air! Your good example made me dig in the darkest corners of my closets for my old E6 setting notes and I'm currently reworking it. I hope to read more on this boards about Resvier and the adventures you run in it!Saints, Sailors and Poets
- Join Date
- Mar 2018
Re: Resvier: A P6 Setting
Wow! Great setting
I'm actually planning to play on it.
Tried to PM you asking for the PDF or anything, but cannot find a way.
Is there any link to download the setting?