The Lands of Southern Kalamay
This rough terrain is home to settlers of every kind who wish to live out from under the thumb of the various kingdoms in the region. It has ample verdant farmland, if one can avoid the predators and other dangers that roam the land long enough to cultivate it. The two major villages in the Borderlands are Zinn, just outside of the Parn and Kyan, just outside of the Dorenbar Mountains and the road that leads to the main gate of Falconia. These two marketplaces have some of the best shops one can find in the region – as well as some of the most trouble.
Clan of K’thar
The orcs in the marshes of the region have united under the banner of K’Thar. A fearsome leader, K’Thar rules through ultra-violence and all the other clans have made concessions to him to avoid destruction. It is all part of his master plan to storm the great wall of Maas and crush the kingdom under his muddy boot. Hemmed in by the dwarves to the east and the wizards to the north, K’Thar knows that it is either take Maas soon, or be destroyed.
Eons ago, the dwarves ruled the entire southern half of Kalamay, with one contiguous empire that stretched from Glacier’s Horn in the north to Dorenbar to the south. After the Great Battle and the ensuing chaos which melted Grimthor’s Glacier, the Great Torrent poured down and wore away the foothills that connected the two halves of the dwarven kingdom. A rift began to form between the two sides as Dell Dorenbar blamed the Helm of Glacier’s Horn for involving the dwarves in the matters of men. While it is unknown if Grimthor’s Glacier would have melted without the dwarves aid in the battle, Dell used the devastation of the kingdom as his chance to secede from the Helm. He claimed the southern mountains as his own and named his new nation after himself.
The Helm was displeased, but in no position to fight a civil war across the raging waters of the Torrent. Centuries passed and as the water receded, the foothills became exposed. Now not fit for dwarven mines, the land proved very fertile for the displaced humans to the north. As the kingdom of Maas formed between the two dwarven kingdoms, trade was established from both, each side competing with the other for business. Over the last two thousand years, the rivalry has cooled – for dwarves. It has gone from a sacred blood feud to a deep seeded anger and resentment. If a Helmish dwarf and a Dorenbarren dwarf find themselves in the same tavern, bystanders would be wise to leave the area, unless they enjoy the liberal use of racial epithets and drunken bar fighting that will ensue.
Dorenbar is a departure from the typical dwarven practice of kingship passed through paternal lineage. The only king Dorenbar ever had was Dell Dorenbar and his bones that now rest in the throne are still referred to as king. In his absence (as most of Dorenbar is convinced he will come to life again if needed), Dorenbar elects a Caretaker to serve a term of 25 years. A dwarf can be reelected as long as he lives, and many have. They can also be impeached, usually by the blade of an executioner’s axe if the kingdom votes for it. In this manner, they are the only dwarven democracy on record in Kalamay.
Dorenbarren goods are of slightly less value then Helmish goods as they are made cheaper with weaker materials. The cost difference allows Dorenbar to deal in greater quantities, especially with the nearby Falconia and their need for more and more weapons and armor. Under the shrewd leadership of Caretaker Morvin Coaldust, now in his second term, their coffers grow and so does their business. Rumor has it they have even struck a deal with the elves of Gladenspire for raw materials for the elven craftsman to use in their ramp up to war. If true, it is the first case of the elves and dwarves speaking to one another in close to 2,000 years.
The Enlightened Lands of Valmorrow
300 years ago, a group of eight wizards, disgusted by the god-mongering in Falconia and the distrust of magic in Maas, wandered out into the marshes and created a nation-state to serve as a safe haven for mages all over Kalamay. Each wizard built a tower and took a piece of land to serve as the academy for their respective school of magic. The Divination Academy served as the de facto capital of what was to become known as Valmorrow. Over time, a free and just society sprang up within the borders of the various academies as the council of wizards ran things in a fair and just manner, dealing with problems such as crime and defense with the unbending forces of the arcane. However, all did not go according to plan, as Lord Zachariah, Deacon of the Necromancy Academy performed one experiment too many and devolved into insanity. Eventually he discovered the secret of lichdom, and craving power beyond all, became one. The academy was plunged into darkness and became what is now known as the Shadowood. The Abjuration, Conjuration and Illusion Academies stand ever vigilant on its border as the uneasy peace continues to this day.
The following leaders comprise the current seven-member Council of Valmorrow:
Hadrian, Lord of Evocation – human female from Maas
Finnister Malaviel, Lord of Enchantment – ancient male elf who left Gladenspire under mysterious circumstances a millennia ago
Tannerlee Featherall, Lord of Abjuration – human male from the Borderlands
Brinn Wooddawn, Lord of Conjuration – male half-elf from Falconia
Whippoorwill Manderstaff, Lord of Illusion – female gnome, origins unknown
Neldon Tornstock, Lord of Transmutation – human male from Maas
Brendolyn Veritas, Lord of Divinition – human female who has somehow stayed alive since the Council’s inception. She is the unchallenged leader of the council and has been for its entire existence. It is rumored that she and Finnister are lovers and that he has somehow devised an enchantment to keep her alive far beyond her years, however in all public dealings, the two are very cool and professional. She blames herself for not seeing Zachariah’s fall into darkness before it was too late.
These towers house the schools of the Academy:
The Black Tower (Necromancy) – Built of ebony, the Black Tower rises up out of the earth like a skeletal finger reaching toward the sky. Shrouded in the twisted forest of Shadowood, no one knows how Lord Zachariah constructed the Black Tower, or what he does inside – but the imaginations of the students at the academy never cease to try.
The Blue Tower (Conjuration) – Unlike the other towers, the Blue Tower was not constructed on site, but was summoned whole from another plane of existence at the conclusion of a month-long ritual conducted by Brinn Wooddawn in a tent at the location of the present site. Where the tower comes from and what it is constructed of remain mysteries to all but Wooddawn and his closest apprentice, but what is known is that it has magical lights that come on and turn off at the flip of a switch without the use of flames!
The Divine Tower (Divination) – At the behest of Brendolyn Veritas, the Divine Tower was built by a partnership of the Church of Appar and the Church of Talis. The priests of Talis used their divine energies to create prismatic blocks of the essence of magic itself, and the priests of Appar assembled these pieces into the single greatest symbol of mortal achievement ever created. Within the gigantic structure, the Great Library, home to the entire world’s known knowledge stretches out beneath the Tower’s diamond-sparkle eaves. Priests of Appar and Talis maintain the library and their separate worshipping wings. The spire of the tower houses the school of divination, and the very top contains the council chambers where the lords of each school of the academy meet.
The Gold Tower (Enchantment) – Finnister Malaviel single-handedly built the Gold Tower by having his personal treasure hauled by ship from Gladenspire and tossed into a pile in the middle of the field where the tower now sits. Weaving an enchantment over the course of a week, the pile slowly formed into a golden tower. It has taken Finnister years to perfect the architecture that now exists, and he spends a good part of his time researching new enchantments in order to tweak its look to his liking.
The Green Tower (Transmutation) – the original Lord of Transmutation was the ancient elf Holaran Flaelenstaff, a traveling companion of Finnister, Lord of Enchantment. Upon deciding to found a school of transmutation, however, Holoran, who was fast approaching the end of his long life, discovered a means of immortality while being able to subtly guide his students for years to come. Holaran then polymorphed himself into the Green Tower, a living tree similar to those in Gladenspire, but built for the comforts of a school. Its beauty is breathtaking – if one does not dwell on the fact that they are sitting inside the polymorphed bowels of a hideously old man.
The Red Tower (Evocation) – It is said that the original Lord of Evocation, Bartholomew Haystack enjoyed seeking out the remaining red dragons of Kalamay and challenging them to one-on-one duels – which he won three times. These gigantic carcasses were hauled back to Valmorrow, and the scales were used to line the outside walls of the otherwise utilitarian Maas-built tower that houses the Evocation School. It is interesting to note that while the whereabouts of Bartholomew Haystack are unknown, no fourth red dragon carcass ever returned to Valmorrow.
The Silver Tower (Illusion) – No one knows how much of the Silver Tower is real, and what is illusion. It appears to be a shining silver tower with many rooms. However, once inside, the architecture does not seem to have any rhyme or reason and many wonder if it actually is a tower at all. Only Whipporwill Manderstaff knows for sure, and the enigmatic illusionist is telling no one.
The White Tower (Abjuration) – Built of polished sandstone, the white tower was painstakingly assembled by a handful of dwarven stoneworkers from the Helm and a team of human abjurers from all over Kalamay in order for the tower to be impenetrable. Each stone was covered in white chalk runes to protect against every conceivable attack and damage-type known. Once the construction was complete, additional runes were inscribed throughout, ensuring that no one but those bearing the mark of the Lord of the school may enter. Even then, it is advisable to watch your step and heed your actions – The tower is not forgiving in its defense. Technically, the tower is beige, but there is so much white chalk scribbled on every inch, it is difficult to tell.
The High Elves of Gladenspire have seen better days. The austere beauty of their enchanted kingdom and its tree shaped towers that reach past the highest branches toward the heavens is beginning to lose its luster. The High Ones are approaching the end of their 2,000 year lives and the energy which created the kingdom is beginning to ebb. As a result, the edges of the kingdom are wilting, especially where it butts up against the sewage polluted twin rivers of Darrien and Ariel. The rivers are so named for the two legendary elves who founded Gladenspire and fought back the hordes of gnolls to the east. The rivers have begun to lose their natural magic as the humans in Falconia and the gnolls in Oaklock sully their sanctity with the aqueducts from the two respective capital cities. Where the two rivers meet the Great Torrent, Gladenspire has ceased to exist altogether, leaving behind the twisted mess of the Turned Earth, where trolls and scags have claimed the land.
The High Ones, too weak to impart their wisdom to the elves down below the branches struggle with all of their might to maintain the kingdom. This has given Councilor Halithon the opportunity to seize control in their absence. He has spent the last five years doing the unthinkable: preparing the elves for war. Though there are many who speak against him, the hideous sight of the Turned Earth has convinced many to take arms against both human and gnoll in an attempt to destroy the aqueducts and the pollution of their sacred land. Diplomacy on all sides is beginning to break down and many fear the time of Gladenspire’s final battle has come nigh.
The Helm of Glacier’s Horn
This dwarven kingdom is known as the Helm, and so is its leader as he is believed to be the personification of the kingdom itself. The current helm is Helm Branthor Coppervein and he does fit the bill as a representation of the kingdom. A blustery, stubborn, often foolish man, Coppervein’s incompetence is usually only outshone by his greed. While the Helm creates the sturdiest armor and the greatest weapons in all of Kalamay, the bloodline that runs to Branthor may have become a bit too inbred, and may explain how it has managed to fall so far from its former glory.
The Holy Realm of Falconia
Once a part of the Kingdom of Maas, Falconia seceded when King Rutherford II refused to recognize the right of the See to issue decrees declaring the laws of the crown immoral. A brief civil war ensued, but the two leaders were able to draw up a peace treaty in the interest of protecting the land. That was 200 years ago and Falconia has gained in strength ever since due to a good relationship with the dwarves of Dorenbar and healthy trading with the Borderlands. Rumor has it that the See is looking across the Torrent once more at taking Maas as its own.
Falconia is a theocracy run from the See, which serves as both capitol and the seat of power of the Church of Falcon. Known as the Lifebringer, the Rainmaker, the Daybreaker and various other haughty titles, Falcon is the only deity allowed to be worshipped within the walls of Falconia. Local temples in each village and city in the realm serve dual roles as places of worship and municipal centers that levy taxes and perform the other functions of local government. The See runs the operation under the direction of a sole pontiff known as The Beak, with an elder council known as the Five Talons. When a Beak dies, the Talons select a member from within their ranks to ascend and the new Beak appoints a replacement Talon from among the many priests of Falcon throughout the land. Priests of Falcon each receive a falcon familiar, which acts just like the wizard spell of the same name.
While paladins of Falcon enforce the law with a heavy hand, there are several active thieves’ guilds which run a healthy black market of alcohol and undercover houses of ill repute. The See also houses a fairly large enclave of gnomish engineers who are permitted to follow their own ways and worship as they please in so long as they continue to service the elaborate aqueduct system of the city. Having been born and bred to do just that, they seem content for the time being, relishing in the intricacies of running water in every home.
The Noble Kingdom of Maas
The Kingdom of Maas is a traditional feudal kingdom held under the rule of King Rutherford VII. All classes and races can be found within its borders, though wizards and sorcerers are often persecuted. Since the creation of Valmorrow to the north, most citizens who wish to engage in magic travel there. Temples to every god in Kalamay can be found with the exception of Falcon, as it is expressly forbidden to worship him within the borders of Maas.
Maas, in short, has seen better days. Trade with the other kingdoms has all but ceased as they find themselves completely dependant on the metal and mineral goods that filter down out of Glacier’s Horn. Their relationship with the orc clans in the marsh to the north and strained relations with Falconia and Oaklock across the Torrent has resulted in their traditionally impressive shipping industry losing business as their ships are plundered and the larger, more protected vessels of Falconia pick up the slack.
Rutherford VII is not half the man of his ancestors and he spends his days indulging in women and wine in the royal palace in Bell’s Anchor while the kingdom stagnates. Several of the younger barons have begun to plot an overthrow of the throne, but it is a difficult time to foment revolution, when the threat of war from outside seems to spill from every border.
The Oaklock Empire
The Oaklock tribe of gnolls seized control of the gnollands over two thousand years ago. In the wake of the great battle, they intended to take the ripe land left behind when the Torrent receded and built two shining cities on the two small rivers coming out of the Dorenbar Mountains, using enslaved gnomes to build aqueduct systems to keep the cities functioning to the greatest degree. However, their foothold did not last long, as they were turned back by an alliance of the dwarves of Dorenbar, the elves of Gladenspire and the men of Maas. Forced back to Jackal Reach, the mountains and the magical enchantment of Gladenspire itself has held them at bay ever since. But rumor has it Narl Oaklock, the new emperor smells weakness in Gladenspire and is preparing the attack once more.
The halflings of this region are comprised of vicious tribal warriors. They roam the Parn in loose packs worshipping animal deities and fighting amongst themselves. Travelers who enter the Parn do not usually last long as spears pierce their throats with nothing but a slight rustling of the tall grass to mark the passing of the tribe that did the deed. There is an unwritten truce between the settlers of the Borderlands and the halflings of the Parn within the marketplace of Zinn on the border where the halflings trade food, animal skins and leather goods for valuable metal tools and weapons. Fighting is forbidden in the marketplace and enforced by the Foxtail tribe, the most civilized and largest of the halfling tribes.
While PC halflings may choose for their characters to be from the smattering of civilized halflings that exist within the major cities of the region, most halflings live in the Parn and are accustomed to its ways. Those that shirk their tribal bonds and take to city life are shunned by the Parn’s inhabitants.
While border skirmishes occur every so often, the halflings are mostly content to stay within the confines of the Parn, forming alliances and battling the other tribes for supremacy. Each tribe has a head shaman with several tribal priests. Sorcery is not uncommon, but the study of the arcane is frowned upon. The eight tribes in order of size and their defining characteristics are:
1. Foxtail - Mainly warriors with a chieftain. They control the border with the Borderlands
2. Beavertooth - Skilled swimmers and builders. They control the area by the river.
3. Squirrelfur - Skilled with ranged weapons, they control the trees to the north.
4. Badgerclaw - Barbaric warriors who are known to sacrifice their prisoners.
5. Crowsbeak - Skilled farmers. Their shaman is very powerful.
6. Owleye - Night hunters who use stealth and thievery to their advantage
7. Rabbitsear - Tribe on the verge of extinction. They rely heavily on sorcery to stay alive.
8. Mousefoot - This tribe was all but wiped out in battle against the Foxtail and Badgerclaw tribes. Those that remain lead nomadic lives striking from the underbrush whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Lord Zachariah bides his time in the deep dark of the Shadowood. What he has been up to these past few centuries is unknown. What is known is that those who enter the Shadowood do not return. Tales of the keening of banshees and ungodly screams ripping through the trees has kept many a young academy member awake long into the night.