Eiren, The Middle Lands (3.5e Campaign Setting)
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The Bloodhills where quiet now. Just two days ago this place had been called something else, but there was not a soldier on either side of the conflict now, nor an officer nor a king who by now didn’t thought of it as Bloodhills. None remembered the old name, it was not proper anymore. At the edge between the swamp and the fields, both armies had collided with the might and bloodlust of leviathans like it hadn’t been seen in centuries, pushing forth for conquest or glory. The dead had both now. Their bodies had conquered glory like their blood bathed the ground, and in the blood soaked mud they where all the same now. The ones still standing looked so similar, covered in blood and mud, the soldiers had began talking to each other over the battlefield, asking the man in front of them about his side of the conflict before using their swords and maces, chains and spears. It was a horribly civilized madness.
The night had fallen, and the mists were now thicker than ever. Kolan fell right where he was in the mud and took out his meager rations, trying in vain to start a fire in the wet grounds to warm his meal. Suddenly, the wind shifted, taking away the mists for a few moments, and less than ten feet away he crossed looks with another soldier, sitting in the mud, trying to start a fire to warm his meager rations.
“Hey –he called- got wine?”
The fellow reached into his bag and drew forth a small bottle. Biting the cork, he takes a drink, plugs it back and tosses him the bottle.
“Help yourself –the half orc answered with an accent so thick Kolan almost laughed- got any meat?”
Kolan nodded after a few moments and tossed him half his meat ration. Then took a drink and both half orcs approached. Soon a fire was shining bright in the hills, and before they knew it, they where drinking and sharing rations.
“So why did you join the army?” His enemy, who introduced himself as Marron, asked him.
“Family business ever since my great grandfather. Grow up, enter the army and serve your nation for six years, retire and serve the city guard, then climb your way up from there, you?” Kolan took a look at Marron, his clothes where different from his own, and he couldn’t tell the fabric. Right now, it could have been sheer mud, far as he was concerned.
“Born in the Grey Swamps, didn’t had a choice. Would have done anything to get out of that hellhole” Marron took a look at Kolan, his weapons where different from his own, a morningstar and a short sword for backup, instead of his scimitar and long dagger. The eastern was also wearing boots, while he was using sandals. He wondered how long he would keep using them in the desert, if he ever made it to it.
Kolan nodded as if that was a whole sentence, and both sat in silence for a while. The light of their fire drew in more soldiers, and before they knew it they where a rather large group with roughly as many folks from each army. There was little talk around the fire. Someone would ask for wine, and someone would pass it along. They all knew what would happen when the mist lifted enough. Finally, the sun came up and the mists began parting, much like the men that slowly began standing up and walking off back to the battlefield, until just the first two remained.
“Glory to you. You where a good host” Said Kolan to Marron.
“Glory to you. –The half orc paused and considered this for a moment- I thought it was your fire”
They picked up and packed away their things, break camp, cleaned up their clothes and armors as best they could, and smiled to each other before charging.
Welcome to the Middle Lands
Eiren is how the inhabitants of the Middle lands call their world, a land divided between vast kingdoms, realms and the occasional empire that rises and falls within a century or two as the political intrigues cause the fall of many a realm in ways far deadlier than swords.
The world of Eiren saw the light for the first time back in 1995, and has since gone trough several periods of expansion or revision, as cities and kingdoms shifted, grew or died to reflect the adventures of the players and the lasting effect they had upon the world. In the beginning, there was the Founding, with a group of players and a new Game Master sitting on a kitchen and going trough adventures as they struggled to bring peace to the warring kingdoms of the Middle Lands, the de facto name given to the lands between the arctic north and the southern jungles. Then was the time of the Gryphon Wars, when the newly founded alliance was tested against the might of the already ancient Alquian Empire, which saw with grim eyes how the previously weak grew strong and couldn’t be bullied into submission anymore. The Age of Discovery is upon us! Over five hundred years have passed from the last battle of the Gryphon Wars, and the Protectorate, or to use its official name, the Five Crowns Alliance, boils with intrigue as every ruler sitting at its council feels his kingdom should be larger than it is. The armies prepare, for the Middle Land kingdoms have no more room to grow. Having expanded during half a millennia of peace, and stretching their borders to every mile of useful terrain, they look now upon lands on other planes with greedy eyes, driven by the lust of gold and lands, glory and conquest.
Stretching along the entire north of the Middle Lands, the Dragonback mountain range is home to many kinds of sentient beings, the vast majority hostile to one another. They wander under the sky live as nomads, travelling with the stations in order to survive the harshness of the mountains. The sole exception to this would be the stoic dwarves of Mithralhome, their cities strong and vast, well guarded from the rigours of the surface weather in their vast tunnels. Some of their tunnels are so vast that the roof is dozens of feet over their heads, and it is said the dwarven artisans decorate them with glowing gems in a perfect imitation of the night sky. The first city of Mithralhome was founded nearly two millennia ago, by a band of dwarves that while exploring the northern mountains found veins of gems so rich that it is said they had to cut and work the wondrous gems where they where, instead of taking them to their artisans. Ever since, the dwarves of Mithralhome have distinguished themselves as earthly mystics and the extraction and work of gems rather than iron, which they can easily afford to acquire from the neighbouring kingdoms to the south.
When the Green Knight called to their door, the dwarves readily joined his newly found alliance, following what they said was the Voice, a dwarf made of solid diamond that came to them in dreams and urged them to break loose of the Alquian grip on the trade routes and the excessive prices they imposed on any good destined to their cities, forcing the dwarves to pay in gems and blood for the most basic of commodities,
The dwarves from Mithralhome are artisans and mystics, sharing little in common with their relatives to the south. They claim that their leaders follow the dictates of the Voice, an earth spirit that urges them to bond with the gems of their mountain homes and to create everlasting works of unmatched beauty. The average mithral dwarf sees the mountains as family and guides, and does not takes lightly to the irresponsible exploitation other races made of them. As individuals, they see hard times as nothing but passing rain, their friendship is indestructible diamond, and enemies as the tools of the gem cutter, shaping them into better versions of themselves, important tests to be endured and overcome. As a race, they are slow to anger and slower yet to placate, and it is said that when their leaders make a decision, they take it for themselves and every generation after them.
Allies and Enemies:
The mithral dwarves where the first kingdom to hear the cry for union of the Green Knight, even before his own homelands where rallied after his mighty presence. As such, they are said to be the soul of the Five Crowns Alliance, and they live to such part by offering advice and guidance to the other kingdoms of the Protectorate. They have little enemies, short of the random horde from the north or the occasional dragon, and have formed especially powerful bonds with the gnomes of Blacklake, assisting in their defence against the dreaded grey swamps, sometimes arriving to their defence in platoons of mystic warriors even before the gnomes themselves become aware of the invaders.
The average mithral dwarf is slightly lower than the average dwarf, but also slightly broader in the shoulders, and they wear both their beards and hair long and carefully maintained in braids that fall down their backs as their beards fall down their chests. They have deep dark eyes and hair that ranges from snow white to the deeply black, being a deep brown the most usual. They wear jewelry in their hair and beards, usually bands of steel with small gems held in such a manner as to create runic patrons on their beards and hair. In the areas they normally inhabit, their clothes are thick and appropriated for the cold climate of the mountains, layers of fur over their shoulders, while inside their own cities and when they wander to the south, they wear loose clothes that leave their arms exposed and sometimes go with just a leather shirt under their armors.
Organizations of Mithralhome:
The guild is the oldest institution of the Mithral realms, predating their royalty for a few days, as the awe struck dwarves quickly organized and regularized the extraction and work of the fabulous gems in their new home. Practically every dwarf is or was an active member of the guild, and its leadership often falls to the dwarven Thane. The guild decides the prices of gems and has the final word on the grading of the goods the artisans craft within their realms, sometimes also deciding on matters such as the opening of a new mine shaft or the funding of a new town where there used to be just a mining camp.
Current leader: Orson Mithralsoul, dwarven Thane for the Mithralhome realms. (Male Mithral dwarf, Cleric 12, Mithral Knight 3)
House of the Mithral Knights:
The House, as they call it, is the most prestigious knightly order within the mithral realms, founded by the Green Knight himself on his passage by the subterranean realms. Over time, its members have grown into the most respected arbiters of justice under the mountains, and The House now handles most of the judicial system and has a voice of trust to call a veto on any new law of the dwarven Thane until the House leaders of at least three different cities come to an agreement on the matter.
Current leader: Spirita Blackhelm, avatar of the Voice. (Female Mithral dwarf, Cleric 15, Mithral Knight 5)
House of the Iron Knights:
Those dressed in the black armor of the Iron knights are the warrior mystics in charge of the defence of the realm against its enemies. They are the officers of the army, and the Iron council decides on matters such as pre-emptive strikes against the northern barbarians who wander too close to the Dragonback Mountains, and the sending of reinforcements to the island realms of Blacklake on the south. Much like the Guild, every dwarf is expected to wear the black armor for a period no lesser then six years, unless he chooses to serve in the regular army of the Protectorate for a similar amount of time.
Current leader: Caxius Silvereye, Iron Knights commander and northern general of the Five Crowns Alliance. (Male Mithral dwarf, Cleric 14, Iron Knight 3)
The Mithral realms keep two operational portals, one leading directly to a small outpost in the Earth elemental portal, and one leading to a newly found city on another material plane, coming out to a mountain range in the middle of an equatorial jungle.
The Human Realms:
If the Mithral realms are the soul of the Five Crowns Alliance, the human realms are both its sword and shield arms. Ever since the founding of the protectorate, no other realm in the alliance has been able to provide as many soldiers, knights and supplies to its armies as the human kingdoms, large city states organized in a half moon around their mother, shining Eopolis, or the City of Winds as it is sometimes referred to in song or poetics. Eopolis is an expansive mass of buildings that has long ago outgrown the need for walls between it and the world around it. It is both too deep in the territory of the Protectorate and just much too ample for any enemy to seriously consider a siege against it. It is a popular saying that even from the flying ships soaring through the city, it is impossible to see its north and south ends at the same time, nor its west and east. It takes over two days for a person on foot to go from a side to the other, including stops for sleep and food at its countless taverns. Logistical realities make it impossible for the city to be as self reliant as it wished it was, and thus the countryside around it is continuously replaced by farms, hamlets, villages and cities in a continuous growth as what used to be suburbia becomes a integral part of the city, and what used to be virgin lands are again turned into farms. Perhaps curiously enough, at the very heart of the city, an odd process seems to be occurring as the oldest buildings are taken down and nature reclaims the land, making the city look like a gigantic white ring with green in and out of it. That is, until new farms are built in the middle of the inner wild lands –to which the locals refer to as The Park- and the cycle begins anew. That is, of course, except for the Lightkeep, or The Keep, as they call it. Both the oldest and the largest building in the city, standing trough centuries of war, peace, wilderness and civilization in the middle of The Park like the most recognized landmark in the city.
The inhabitants of the human realms in general –humans themselves or not- and those of the capital in particular, tend to see all the other realms as slightly backwards, too backwards, or plain out oddities. They prize themselves in the level of culture and civilization they have accomplished the miracle of public, nightly illumination on the streets, the level of beauty and art displayed by their architecture, and the high ratings of literacy they have achieved within its own population. That is not to say they are without fault, for they tend to look down on individuals from other realms, have social problems unheard of in the realms of other races, and have to deal with overcrowding and food shortage on a ever day base. For every theatre and museum, there is a couple of rogue’s guild fighting at night for control of the streets. To compensate for every public plaza, where philosophers and bards argue about the virtues of an idea over another or a the validity of a specific, obscure law as they engage in duels of wit and culture using the sharp swords of language, there is the Slums, where the city guards cant enter after nightfall in any quantity under a full squad, save they hold a death wish or are in league with the rogues guilds. The typical inhabitant in the human realms is atypical; they don’t have a unifying policy, outlook or religion. Each inhabitant has its own beliefs, and the single thing they all seem to agree is in their right to disagree, valuing the freedom of cult and thought over almost anything else. As a race, the humans continuously push forth, both towards the future and the past, learning new skills as they dwell in the mists of forgotten lore, driving mighty armies to worlds beyond their own, and continuously trying to forge A Legend to outlast the Keep as they say. Perhaps is merely the latest fashion, but recently a cult of the body seems to be taking root between the citizens of the cities, and as such inner plumbing is gaining acceptance and is more and more considered a clear sign of the rank of a house’s inhabitants to count with their own running water. The rest of the population doesn’t wants to be left behind, and as they demand more and more public fountains and aqueducts to supply them with fresh water, bath houses with all sorts of reputations have began appearing trough the cities.
Allies and Enemies:
The few human realms far enough to the north of the south have their share of troubles both with the barbarians that make it past the Dragonback Mountains and the nomads from the Malarena desert, respectively. Other than that, there hasn’t been a serious threat to the human realms in the Middle Lands for well over half a millennia now. That may change soon, as they have begun sending more and more troops trough the gates they control, looking for new territories to develop and expand into, constantly pushing for resources and lands.
While one says “the human realms” that does not means that only humans inhabit the cities. Far from it, both the capital and its satellites are a complex mix of races of all kinds, which would make defining the average inhabitant an impossible task. Rather, one could mention their clothes and fashions, as they tend to dress pretty much in a similar style, with complicated hairstyles that reach to behind the shoulders for the males and between the back of the head and behind the ankles for the females, usually arranged in gravity defying styles with the use of wigs and metal skeletons. The clothes tend to be have clear colours and long coverage of the body in a form fitting manner, with low shoes for the males and high heels for the females.
Organizations in the Human Realms:
Truly, the capital is a power by itself. It has both the most massive population of the Middle Lands ever concentrated on any given area, and the most men at arms by virtue of its city guards alone, even before one considers the forces of the regular army. The capital sets the fashion, dictates the laws and is the stage for the political intrigues of merchant princes with wealth and riches enough to buy a few minor kingdoms. The Human Realms, and the capital specifically, don’t have a nobility or a royal line in the manner of most other realms, instead the people has been self reliant ever since the day the first house was erected and the people called to ”Rule for yourselves, for the consequences of your actions will certainly be yours” by the first known lord of Lightkeep, Sir Roderick Lightbringer when the first inhabitants asked for permission to swear allegiance to his house.
Current leader: The city of Eopolis is ruled by a Council composed by two elected representatives from every district in the city. They have the powers to change laws, dictate martial law and make military decisions.
The massive, ancient fortress standing at the heart of Eopolis, has been there since before the city was built, and most assume it to have been built somewhere between six and nine millennia ago by unknown, lost methods and techniques, as archaeological evidence found in recently uncovered ruins point to the fortress already having a important role in the world history well before the dwarves arrived to the Middle Lands from beyond the sea, and possibly at a time when the elven kingdoms of Silverspire and Yellowleaves where still much too young to be called kingdoms. The Keep has apparently always been the home of the Lightbringer family and its adherents, and most of the city nobility try to imply or prove that they share some ancestry with its inhabitants. The Lightkeep stands at the center of The Park, and it was under its shadows that the first houses of the city where built when a few bands of nomads tried to settle around it for protection from the beasts that at the time used to roam the countryside. In a way, the history of the city is the history of the keep and its inhabitants, who have always been the first to move and call its countrymen to action. The keep itself, however, stands under its own power, is ruled by its own laws, has its own hereditary Keeplord to dictate laws and sentences, and is in a sense both the cornerstone of the Five Crowns Alliance and the only kingdom within its borders that is not a member, often being referred to as The Sixth Crown. Tough its inhabitants have always shown a complete lack of interest for the inner politics of the Protectorate, even shunning political charges and honours, they are traditionally regarded –with no little pride on the Eopolitans part- as both the true royalty of the Alliance and its greatest champions, usually being dragged into leadership positions at times of strife.
Current leader: Sir Eldric Lightbringer, Lord of Lightkeep and honorary commander of the Five Crowns Alliance on air, land and sea (Male Aasimar, Paladin 17)
The College of Achronological research:
A relatively new institution, the College is simply the place to be seen, the organization to be a member of, and the cause to support for the culturally aware. Of course, in a society where even the lowest peddler and mongrel knows how to read and write and can take pride in being many times more civilized than those poor barbarians elsewhere the College has gained an amazing number of adherents, and a success that no doubt has dazzled even its founder while the institution grows out of any reasonable proportion faster than anyone can follow, dispatching explorers and field teams into ruins and trough portals to the planes faster then they make ´em as its supporters say. The College is also considered as an unofficial Adventurer’s Guild, since within its walls you can find the latest magical theory, the last rumour about monster sighting, and the last merchant prince trying to prove himself as a connoisseur and a patron of the arts looking for a group to sponsor as they bravely ride a lost city or forgotten temple in search of the Artifacts of ancient ages.
Current leader: Glorion Wondermaker, Director of High Studies (Male Gnome, Wizard 10/Loremaster 7)
The city states around Eopolis keep a total of eight planar portals built on the countryside before previously forgotten fortresses, and they all send explorers and settlers trough them almost everyday, every portal leading to a different material plane.
Elven Crown of Yellowleaves
One of the two elven crowns in the Protectorate, the elves of Yellowleaves suffered greatly during the Gryphon Wars as their forest kingdom was right in the path of the troops on their way south or north, and while half a millennia is generations ago for the humans, and a tale heard at the knee of their parents for the dwarves, there are still elves that actually experienced them first hand, mostly in positions of prestige right now, the guardians that watch the southern borders of the Protectorate and still look for intruders and marauders.
The Yellowleaves forest covers the entirety of the terrain between the Gryphon Peaks and the Ocean of Spirits; over a distance long enough to have both spring and winter at opposite ends of the forest at the same time. The forest is like a small world on itself, with ecosystems that are unseen anywhere else in the Protectorate, and beasts already extinct in the rest of Eiren, giants of ages pasts that get lost between the mammoth trees of the forests, some of which are so large and ancient that they have their own minor, ancient realms as one goes up towards the top, housing some races in their entirety, remnants of ages long past that cling to their last days.
While there are several different realms on the Yellowleaves Forests, the elves are by far the more numerous and prosperous. They see the passing of time from a unique perspective, and many of them still remember the world ending forest fires that burned trough their emerald kingdom far too recently to be spoken of. Most of them are stalwart champions of nature, militant and well trained warriors that are fast to move into action and quick to make friends and foes, especially when the health of the natural world is involved. They tend more heavily towards law than other elves, and are firmly organized in a militant force, even this far after the Gryphon Wars.
Allies and Enemies:
While the older generation of elves begins fading away, the new have grown up as an integral part of the Five Crowns Alliance and feel themselves true citizens of the Protectorate, watching against the attacks of the desert nomads as their citizen’s duty. They are the last line of defence before the invaders can move to the north, and as such they welcome anyone willing to assist them in their task.
The Yellowleaves elves are both taller and stronger than the common high elf; they dress in the colours of nature and are easily differentiable by their brief clothes in the colours of canopy and dirt, and their visible weapons. Even an elf that is in the middle of her own home will carry a longsword or elven light blade at her side.
An elite organization of forest warriors and druids, the wardens are the only elves to openly remember the World Ending Fire and even sing about them in public, their sorrowful dirges echoing over the few places that still remain as nothing but scorched wastelands over half a millennia after the death of the last flame.
Current leader: Alu´ise Earthsong, Arch druid of Yellowleaves (Female Yellow Elf, Druid level 15)
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