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Northern Kingdoms

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Northern Kingdoms
Setting: Terrwin
Provinces
Signursk - Crikland - North Tamarkin - Heldarrin - North Vanshire - New Wentworth - Lancaster - South Vanshire - Ovlait - Engleside - South Tamarkin - Lake Draffanay - Joinland - Beil - North Sambrador - Gabblar - South Sambrador - Meglarrine
Geography
Ketalina River - Heldora River - Lake Draffanay - Melgarr River - Olbain - Tamarkin Valley
Other Regional Topics
Besquerri - Loggari - Pentragone Dynasty
Pantheon
Regional Deities: Calmirr - Lantern - Malvorin - Maraki - Oromo
Setting-wide Deities: Modrobene (Velteris, Sezeltain) - Quarri - Reymez - Sellas (Hensha) - Untoz
Theojuves Snallygaster

The Northern Kingdoms are a region of Terrwin, consisting of a number of small duchies and principalities in a near constant-state of war. The population is clustered in the central region, bound by two rivers that create a fertile valley between them, and it is there that the high density has produced centuries of conflict that continue to spill into the present day. Age-old feuds and land claims reignite frequently and with little warning, and the area's high concentration of people who are technically "noble" leads to many of them having little actual power despite their perceived birthright; many nobles are therefore constantly scrambling for whatever scrap of actual power they can seize. Many of these nobles degenerate into warlords whose followers are little more than bandits, and who ply the roads and waterways for unwary victims.

Commoners of the Northern Kingdoms generally live a hard-scrabble life, either gleaning a meager living from a small plot of land rented from a noble, toiling in urban tenements slaving for the rich, or preying on others as a criminal. Farmers are frequently caught up in their lord's political struggles, as domains change every few years, and each ruler exerts his authority in his own way. The urban poor are treated as second-class citizens, and are, in fact, little more than slaves free only to choose from a handful of mostly interchangeable masters. Even those who reject the noble authority of the Northern Kingdoms' elites are forced into a life of crime, most often in the service of a dejected and landless noble.

Contents

Geography and Ecology

Civilization in the region is centered around a Y-shaped river system. The two northern tributaries are the Ketalina River on the west side and the Heldora River on the east, both of which originate in the Delugian Mountains which mark the northern boundary of both the Northern Kingdoms region and Terrwin proper. The southern segment is called the Melgarr River, and eventually empties into the Bog of Ungor (though the region known as the Northern Kingdoms does not extend far south of the union of the Ketalina and Heldora rivers). The area between the Ketalina and Heldora rivers is a fertile valley known as the Tamarkin Valley, which also contains Lake Draffanay.

The Northern Kingdoms are a southern temperate region, with semi-arid plains in the regions furthest from the rivers. Closer to the fertile river valleys, more vibrant grasslands spring up, followed by thick forests that continue until near the rivers' banks. In the valley between the Ketalina and Heldora rivers, small stands of forests dominate the occasional hill, while the rest of the land is a marsh-like grassy area. The rivers themselves teem with fish and crustaceans, while Lake Draffanay is home to several unique species of both plant and animal. The extreme north end of the Northern Kingdoms grows rocky and dry, and is little inhabited in the areas closest to the Delugian Mountains.

Areas

There are eighteen provinces in the Northern Kingdoms.

  • Beil - area south of Haldarrin along the Heldora River
  • Crikland - a plateau in the Delugian Mountains, and the ultimate source of the Ketalina River
  • Engleside - area just north of the northern tip of Lake Draffanay
  • Gabblay - section of the Heldora River closest to Lake Drafanay
  • Haldarrin - beginning of the Heldora River as it flows out of the Delugian Mountains
  • Joinland - area between the Heldora and Ketalina rivers just before they merge
  • Lake Draffanay - large lake, and surrounding coast, in the Tamarkin Valley
  • Lancaster - area where the Ketalina River flows southwestward
  • Melgarrine - area on either side of the portion of the Melgarr River that lies within the Northern Kingdoms
  • New Wentworth - most northern section of the Ketalina River after leaving the Crikland plateau
  • North Sambrador - northern part of the sparsely populated region east of the Heldora River
  • North Tamarkin - border between the Tamarkin Valley and the Delugian Mountains
  • North Vanshire - northern part of the sparsely populated region west of the Ketalina River
  • Ovlait - section of the Ketalina River that begins veering southeast towards Joinland
  • Signursk - the border between the Delugian Mountains and Vanshire
  • South Sambrador - southern part of the sparsely populated region east of the Heldora River
  • South Tamarkin - area west of Lake Draffanay and east of the westernmost part of the Ketalina River
  • South Vanshire - southern part of the sparsely populated region west of the Ketalina River

Though these eighteen provinces are the closest proxies for official regions in the area, more informal designations also exist. The area between the rivers is called the Tamarkin Valley, and is home to most of the population of the Northern Kingdoms. Vanshire is the area west of the Ketalina River, and Sambrador is the area east of the Heldora River. The region immediately around where the Ketalina and Heldora rivers is sometimes called The Joining, while at the opposite edge of the Northern Kingdoms, the mostly sparsely-inhabited areas where the plains meet the Delugian Mountains is often referred to as Olbain. Some of the mountains in Olbain are connected to Chull, a troglodytic setting that extends throughout the Delugian Mountains and beyond.

Ecology

The Northern Kingdoms are a southern temperate region, with semi-arid plains in the regions furthest from the rivers. Closer to the fertile river valleys, more vibrant grasslands spring up, followed by thick forests that continue until near the rivers' banks. In the valley between the Ketalina and Heldora rivers, small stands of forests dominate the occasional hill, while the rest of the land is a marsh-like grassy area. The rivers themselves teem with fish and crustaceans, while Lake Draffanay is home to several unique species of both plant and animal. The extreme north end of the Northern Kingdoms grows rocky and dry, and is little inhabited in the areas closest to the Delugian Mountains.

Six ecological regions constitute the Northern Kingdoms. The largest in land area is the semi-arid grasslands that cover Sambrador and Vanshire in the regions that extend away from the rivers and their fertile soils. These dry, rocky regions are not quite deserts, and subsidence farming is possible; large-scale agriculture, however, is not except in certain small localities. Native plant life consists mostly of hardy short grasses and woody shrubs, many of them sporting thorns, or poisonous berries or leaves, to defend against the small herbivores that form a large part of the local fauna. Coyotes are the most common predator. Between these arid plains and the rivers lay lands of dense forest, mostly oak and maple, with deer, wolves, bears and other typical temperate fauna. The second-largest ecological region is the Tamarkin Valley, a verdant land that lies between two major rivers. Largely marshy, the Valley is filled with tall grasses, many of which have specialized by sharing root systems such that several acres worth of land may be covered in hundreds or thousands of shoots that are, despite appearances, one specimen connected by roots. Hills dot the region, and on these drier, elevated habitats, large shrubs and trees can be found. Abundant organisms in the Tamarkin Valley include a plethora of turtles, alligators, marsh-adapted otters and other creatures. The smallest land ecological region in the Northern Kingdoms is the Olbain, an informal area that extends the length of the Northern Kingdoms where it meets with the Delugian Mountains. Plateaus and rocky terrain have produced many small, specialized niches with their own plant and animal life, however, only a few are large enough to produce truly distinct variants. The province of Crikland is especially known as home to several unique organisms.

The three rivers (or more properly, two tributaries and the resulting river) constitute an additional ecological zone, as does Lake Draffanay. The rivers are wide and swift-flowing, with only a few regions rocky enough to create rapids. Hundreds of varieties of small fish constitute the base of this area's food chain, most of them feeding on small crustaceans and other creatures, and most of them considered palatable to local denizens. Some of these have complex life-cycles, swimming from Crikland or Heldora all the way past the Northern Kingdoms to the Bog of Ungor, and then back. Higher in the food chain are otters, larger fish and crustaceans, and turtles and snakes. Snails are the most important scavenger in both the rivers and Lake Draffanay. The lake has no direct connections to either river, but features many very similar species; many scholars have proposed that the lake was, in fact, originally fed directly by the rivers. A change in course is theorized to have cut the lake (which may have been much larger at the time) off from its water source. The loosely-compacted soil, however, absorbs enough water to keep the lake from drying out. The primary difference between the fauna of the lake and the rivers is that the denizens of the lake are much larger than their river-dwelling cousins.

Climate

The region of the Northern Kingdoms generally recognizes three seasons. The year is said to begin with a cold, windy and mostly dry winter, in which the inhabitants rely mostly on preserved foods and some specialty treats that are available year round, such as the fruit of the winterberry bush. Many of the larger animals in the Northern Kingdoms hibernate, though others merely hide and wait out the season. After winter comes the growing season, when the population of the Northern Kingdoms launches into a flurry of work to plant and then harvest the year's crops. This is a warm and often wet season - farmers tend to divide it into three dry spells, each alternating with a wet spell, though this is a very rough approximation and is caused by periodic fluctuations in the gases released by the Bog of Ungor. The last season is the autumn, a chilly, windy and dry, though storm-intensive, time of year. In the fall, a few crops are grown in quick seasons, mostly fruits and sweet vegetables which are canned for use in the winter. Less hardy animals are slaughtered in the fall, and their meat is salted to preserve over the lean months to come.

Society and Culture

The Kingdoms are a network of duchies, principalities and even kingdoms, though the name is primarily a historical artifact, and most of the old kingdoms have splintered into smaller fifes. All are vassals of the Pentragone Dynasty, who are now reclusive figureheads. Actual authority comes from local feudal lords and some royal ministers, officers and hangers-on. Most of the cities, and the most powerful political entities, are clustered around the rivers or the lake. A few extend westward, however, into Vanshire and Sambrador.

Sentience

Humans

Humans constitute about 90% of the population of the Northern Kingdoms. They are the ones most likely to be Loggari, and are most fervent in their devotion to the politics of the local nobility.

Dwarves

Elves

Gnomes

There are few gnomes in the Northern Kingdoms.

Rainids

The Salmon Rainids of the Northern Kingdoms belong to the Besquerri tribe. Like all Salmon Rainids, they begin life as tadpoles and and travel to the destination of their home river. There, they metamorphose into adult Rainids and swim back up the same river. In this case, they mate far to the south in Relnid, and then the females travel through the tributary that runs through Berylia, while the males go through the Northern Kingdoms. Traditionally, they only go through the Heldora River, though occasionally a few renegades will travel to Crikland instead of Heldora. To many surface-dwellers along the Heldora River, Salmon Rainids are only seen when they leave the river on missions of vengeance, fulfilling vendettas against any who would defile the river - this is the Heldoran Crusader class, followers of the interregional god Quarri.

Snow Rainids are found throughout the mountains of the northern provinces of the Northern Kingdoms region. This includes the mountains of Signursk, Crikland, North Tamarkin and Heldora.

Other Races

Concentrated mostly in Crikland and surrounding provinces, Eaglings, Wood Golems and Bofro are small segments of the Northern Kingdoms population.

Pentragone Dynasty

The Pentragone Dynasty rules the Northern Kingdoms. The family has served as monarchs for centuries, and are well-respected throughout the region. However, due to inbreeding, they are a profoundly deficient lot - most are barely functional mentally, and some are even hideously deformed. Despite this, those Pentragones who are competent are very charismatic, and tend to be profoundly good. The family holds onto power because of an ages-old curse which says that the region will be decimated by a disaster on the day that the Pentragone Dynasty falls. Thus, the local elite steadfastly support keeping the family on the throne despite their inability to manage a large empire in order to ensure the security of them all. Without a strong central power, however, there is no check on the machinations of minor Loggari nobles, powerful merchants, churches and other institutions, and these groups constantly scheme against each other while paying superficial respect and humility towards the doddering monarchs of the Pentragone Dynasty.

Nobility and Loggari

Hundreds of titled familes, all of whom theoretically serve the Pentragone Family, rule the Northern Kingdoms. These are collectively known as the Logarrine Families; members of these families are addressed with the title Loggaros (abbreviated Lgrs., plural Loggari). Any family can become a Logarrine Family, by having one member walk the Tessellate, a network of looping lines marked by dark tiles on a mosaic in the Pentragone court in Pentargos in Melgarrine. Any person, as well as his or her entire family forevermore, who walks the Tessellate pattern successfully becomes a Loggaros. The Tessellate requires strong will and leadership to walk successfully as powerful magic assaults the would-be noble's ego and higher thought. Anyone who fails the walk dies instantly.

Loggari are the only people in the Northern Kingdoms legally allowed to conduct most kinds of business transactions, own land, charge interest or hold offices of political importance. These rules are not strictly enforced in the exterior of the region, such as North and South Sambrador, and Crikland, where there are few Loggari families. In the most populous areas, near the rivers and the lake, Loggari families abound and most non-Loggari have little hope of rising beyond pauper status. It does not therefore follow that all Loggari are rich, as some are quite poor, but virtually all of the rich in the Northern Kingdoms are from Loggari families. While humans constitute the vast majority of Loggari, it is not limited by race, and there are Loggari elves, dwarves, rainids and other races. The patron god of the Tessellate and the Loggari is Omoro.

Pantheon

See List of Northern Kingdoms Deities

Modrobene is, of course, known in all parts of the Northern Kingdoms. His Velteris Avatar operates Temples throughout the area, and his Sezeltain (snail-based) Avatar has a presence among the inhabitants of the region's rivers and Lake Draffanay. The chief Modrobenian Temple for the region is the Church of Undrells in South Tamarkin. Hensha's numerous Avatars are an important of the Northern Kingdoms pantheon as well. Sellas, patron of the beet - the most important crop of the region - is the most widespread manifestation of Hensha, though her other Avatars also maintain a significant presence. The chief Henshite Temple is the Cathedral of Ste. Winifred in Ovlait.

Ketalina, Heldora and Melgarr are the most important Avatars unique to the Northern Kingdom; though ordinary people do not generally know that all three are Avatars of the same deity (called by scholars Calmirr), it is not a well-kept secret. They present as a family, consisting of the patriarch Heldora and the matriarch Ketalina, and their son, Melgarr. Within each of their sections of the river, these Avatars have Temples in all major cities, and shrines scattered about. In their counterparts' rivers, the remaining Avatars have a few Temples in the major cities only, in order to maintain a high profile as a family unit across the region; in addition, each of the three has several other Zones besides the river itself, and the other Temples serves these interests.

Omoro, god of law, order, the Tessellate and the Loggari nobles, is worshiped throughout the region, though he is very strongly based in the city of Pentargos in Melgarrine. He is known among nobles throughout the Northern Kingdoms, and as a god of law and order elsewhere; his influence even extends further south towards the Bog of Ungor.w

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