World of Farland

A world conquered by evil and ruled by the Lords of Sin; A unique campaign setting designed to be used with all editions of D&D.


Treatise on Eruna

   
Treatise on Eruna

PART ONE OF AN ON-GOING PROJECT (p1 done)


RASILHI'IN

It is commonly known that the people of Budum-Ishi venerate the gods in more animalistic forms, representing them with the heads and temperaments of beasts and birds. It is less commonly known that they are the last decaying remnants of an empire that once spanned much of Eruna, now all but lost to the golden sands of the Cen-Cenla desert. However, only a fraction of the Budum-Ishian nobility recall the shared history that brought about both of these facets of their culture. As yet, no outsider that has stumbled onto the truth has returned to tell of it, for these twisted aristocrats have a singular loathing of lesser mortals speaking openly of these things.

Five days' west from Njarakere lies the ruined temple-city of Ushpnath, once the spiritual heart of the lost Ishian civilization, said to have been built over a magical nexus left over from the world's creation. Whatever the truth of that claim, there was undoubtedly some powerful magic working on its inhabitants, for on the days deemed most sacred to any given god, those born on that day were possessed of the heads of animals - and more interestingly still, these heads were of the same kind for each day. With the passing of decades, the initial horror and despair changed first to acceptance, then reverence, until at last even being a relative of a Holy-Headed One, a rasilhi, was considered a literal divine blessing.

Predictably, the rasilhi'in swiftly took over all priestly duties in old Ishia. Within a century of their ascension, they had dominated the citizenry utterly and begun projecting their own natures onto the god whose holy day they were born on. Then, equally predictably, the first schisms appeared as the rasilhi'in vied for even more power for their patron deities - and purely coincidentally of course, themselves in the bargain. Entire cities became converted into temple-fortresses dedicated to the worship of a single god, and to the scorning of the rest of the pantheon.

In Ushpnath alone was retained the sanctity of the pantheon as a whole; and though they bred true among themselves, a human could birth rasilhi'in only within that city, further adding to each faction's desire to control it totally. Such a tension could only have one outcome. Politicking gave way to subterfuge, which gave way to open persecution, which gave way to civil war. The city of Ushpnath was but the first to be ripped apart. The rest of the Ishian empire followed in a cataclysm of blood and ruin, and the last of all that had been good and pure passed into memory.

The heyday of rasilhi'in might have passed with that of Ishia, but they remain a notable presence within the noble houses of Budum-Ishi and, to a lesser extent, Sefu-Ishi. This is due primarily to the Chambers of Ascension, a hideous disguising of the slave pits they still maintain in secret below the ruins of Ushpnath to bolster their flagging numbers and slow inbreeding. Despite their best efforts, the rasilhi'in have been able to produce only a few dozen births each year, for early unspeakable experiments revealed that a purely human child is produced by premature removal from the womb, as the actual change into a rasilhi comes only during a natural birth on the appropriate sacred day. Similarly, ordinary human children are born to rasilhi'in of different patrons.

Rasilhi'in typically remain unseen by the lower orders of society, save for the most trusted of their servants, and almost no outsider is permitted to look upon them, for it is believed that they are not worthy to do so. Their existence is not so much a deliberate secret, as an accidental one. Certainly such dignitaries as the ambassadors from the Wintervale and the Lords of Sin work closely with rasilhi'in, but were emissaries to be sent from the Liberated Kingdoms, they would doubtless be met by human counterparts.

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RASILHI'IN TRAITS

Age.
Rasilhi'in mature slowly, reaching adulthood in their thirties, and typically living to about 150 years of age.

Size. Relative to many species, rasilhi'in vary considerably in size, typically ranging from four to seven feet in height. They are all considered Medium.

Alignment. Rasilhi'in are taught from birth that theirs is a higher, nobler purpose than that of mere mortals, who must always show deference and may be punished at the slightest hint of impudence. Nearly all rasilhi are evil, tending towards lawfulness over neutrality.

Type. Despite their peculiar origins and physiology, rasilhi'in are considered Humanoids.

Names. Rasilhi'in names are drawn from the same pool as ordinary Ishian ones.

Ability Score Increases. Rasilhi'in are groomed early to dominate the lower orders and to understand clearly the nature of this divine right. Their Wisdom and Charisma scores both increase by 1.

Aquatic. Rasilhi'in of Hahtmet-ka have functional gills and breathe water as easily as they do air. When fighting underwater, they do not suffer disadvantage on attack rolls. However, they have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on hearing, due to a lack of external ears.

Bite Attack. This quality is shared by the rasilhi'in of Padmek-ka and Absoket-ke. Whenever they take the Attack option in combat, they also snap with their powerful animal jaws as an additional attack. They are considered proficient with their jaws and a successful hit deals 1d6+Strength piercing damage.

Emissary of Heaven. Rasilhi'in of Vornok-ka are the rarest and most venerated of all, given only the best of everything. Their Strength, Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence scores are all increased by 1. When they are not deafened, they have blindsight out to 120ft and advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on hearing. When dealing with Ishians, including other rasilhi'in, they have advantage on all Charisma checks.

High Adjudicator. Rasilhi'in of Shemzan-ke are invariably tutored in the intricacies of law and religion, to properly fulfill their function as arbiters of society. They have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks, as well as Intelligence checks related to law or religion. Their Intelligence is also increased by 1.

Keen Sight. This quality is shared by the rasilhi'in of Shemzan-ke, Nekhbet-ka and Tenlennen-ke. They have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight.

Keen Smell. This quality is shared by the rasilhi'in of Padmek-ka, Nekhbet-ka and Heshket-ka. They have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on smell.

Necrophage. This quality is shared by the rasilhi'in of Nekhbet-ka, Khephri-ka and Heshket-ka. They gain adequate sustenance even from rotten or spoiled foodstuffs and liquids, and are immune to becoming diseased or poisoned from such nutrition. In addition, non-corrupted meals are twice as nourishing, so they consider what would be half rations to most creatures equivalent to a full meal.

Patient. This quality is shared by the rasilhi'in of Khephri-ka and Absoket-ke, masters of conserving their energy and striking when the time is perfect, not a moment before, whether in battle or in diplomacy. They gain advantage on Initiative checks.

Venomous. Rasilhi'in of Seket-ka lack the strength to make biting an effective combat strategy, but may harvest their venom outside of combat to apply it to a weapon. A living creature hit by such a poisoned weapon must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or suffer 5 (2d4) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. They can harvest enough venom to coat a weapon, or up to five arrows or bolts, before needing to complete a short rest to replenish the supply.

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THE ISHIAN PANTHEON AND CALENDAR

Whilst the exact details of the various beliefs and practices are difficult to ascertain, careful studies have revealed the close approximations of the Ishian pantheon to that of the Farlandish. Complicating matters is that some deities seem to have been merged or are wholly unknown - and not solely among the minor gods. Rasilhi'in are master theologians, as is only to be expected, tutored from birth in the purpose and origin. Understanding the Ishian pantheon and calendar, then, is one step towards understanding the rasilhi'in.

Each god is strongly associated with a month, preceded by a intercalary day that is deemed most sacred to that particular god. Heshtail, for example, in his Ishian guise as the Herald of Floods, is most heavily venerated in the Flood month when the great river that flows through Budum-Ishi threatens to burst its banks - following, if only they knew, the annual autumn monsoons breaking against the Greatwall Mountains three months earlier.

Each month consists of five weeks, that are each seven days in length, leaving five days left over at the end of every year (and at the end of Vornoth's sacred month) as a celebration of the pantheon entire, as well having simply survived the year. It has been suggested that Bestra's absence from the pantheon, as well as the unusual structure of the calendar, means that the calendar is a relatively recent invention designed to cover up the goddess' excision from worship.

The calendar itself is built to remember a story about the gods, telling of how they formally established the passage of the year. After the people had finished a celebration (although of what, exactly, remains unsaid), there was a grim frost that told them the good times were coming to an end - a warning from the Lord of Balance. So the people swiftly planted crops in the Bosom of Absoket-ke, the fertile earth about the river, and prayed to Great Deceiver as they harvested them, that they might outwit the coming disaster. Foolish Tenlennen-ke watched them work, exhausted merely watching them and gave no aid, so there was much left behind when the Feaster Below rose up to take it. Behind him came Heshket-ka, bringer of suffering and hunger and misery.

But those who remained strong in their faith knew the gods would not abandon them, and a great wind rose to drive away the dark gods that were causing them harm, a reward from Shemzen-ke for their obedience. The Lord of Ruination followed to complete their defeat, a light frost settling in his footsteps, and in his wake Hatmeht-ka released the purifying waters to wash clean the evil and make the land fertile again. Then the people were happy again, for they knew that the good times were coming around once more, and in the deepest waters of the flood, they heard the comforting voice of Vornok-ka, who watched over them always.

Common NameIshian NameAssociated AnimalSpecial Notes
Heshtail the Merciful
Hatmeht-ka (Herald of Floods)
FishTypically represented as a great fish, too powerful to suffocate out of water, the violence of his passage dragging the waters of the world in his wake. Growing in importance as a patron of healers.
Bestra, Lady of Goodness
Athwar-ke (Jubilant Mother)
CattleSee notes
Kantor the Crusader
Padmek-ka (Lord of Ruination)
Cat (75% leopard, 25% lion; both sexes of the latter commonly have manes)Appears conflated with Thranton and Flamgart. Depicted with a sword of lightning and a crown of fire. Hailed as an unstoppable warrior who shows no mercy to his vanquished enemies.
Neltak, Lord of Law
Shemzan-ke (Judge of Adherence)
Bird (50% ibis, 30% crane, 20% owl)Venerated as female, appears conflated with Janora. Her most important tenets are that to defy the law is to defy the natural order of the cosmos; and that the station of one's birth is both immutable and predestined. Highest of the three judges to examine a soul upon death.
Dekk, Lord of Balance
Nekhbet-ka (The Shadowgate Warden)
Bird (80% vulture, 20% falcon)Appears horribly conflated with Grlarshh. Patron of embalmers and necromancers, invoked to permit the dead to return to life. One of the three judges to examine a soul upon death.
Bel, Lord Thief
Seket-ka (Great Deceiver)
Snake (50% hooded cobra, 50% horned viper)Patron of sorcery, lies, and vengeance. Tricked his way into becoming one of the three judges to examine a soul upon death, intending to steal away the most interesting ones for his own personal use.
Vornoth, the Dark Walker
Vornok-ka (Watcher by Silver-and-Gold)
BatGrim master of the Ishian pantheon, whose all-seeing eyes are the sun and moon. It is believed that eclipses signify Vornoth giving his full attention to the mortal world.
Tal-Allustiel, Elflord
Tenlennen-ke (The Jester of Heaven)
SwanVenerated as female, appears conflated with Reannan and Calbran. Invariably portrayed as a naive, feckless, childish buffoon who is only still alive due to good fortune and being an amusing pet to the superior gods. A popular folk deity to be made fun of in song and poem.
Khuldul Rockcarver, Dwarf-father
Khephri-ka (The Feaster Below)
Vermin (50% scarab beetle, 25% scorpion, 25% spider)Rasilhi'in of Khephri-ka are loathed by necromancers for depriving them of valuable material. They dispose of the corpses of particularly reviled individuals by eating them, symbolically assuaging the terrible hunger of Khephri-ka, who otherwise must content with the most unworthy of souls condemned by all three judges.
Khuckduck Gemcutter
Heshket-ka (The Scuttling Despoiler)
Vermin (60% rodent, 40% mustelid)Appears conflated with Bunga Proudfoot. Considered a bringer of plague and herald of woe, sent to punish and torment the unrighteous, without regard for harming the righteous as well. Has massively grown in importance since the absence of Athwar-ke, who formerly and formally opposed him as patron of healers.
Aknor the True
Absoket-ke (She Who Waits)
CrocodileVenerated as female, appears conflated with Salystra. Has informally replaced Athwar-ke as patron of women and motherhood. Teaches that perfection is patience and practice.


By comparison to the old Aelfarian calendar, the modern Ishian one is significantly more accurate, which makes converting dates between the two something of a hassle, even to experienced chronologists. Much of the struggle comes from trying to resolve the problem of the biannual submonth Tanaros necessary in the Aelfarian calendar, as well as getting to grips with the fifteen unusual intercalary days in the Ishian calendar. As a consequence, what few records exist in either culture detailing events from the other are quite reliably inaccurate.

Ishian MonthAssociated GodRough Conversion
Amekser, Second FrostNekhbet-kaLate Kantalos to middle Neltalos
Shefzi, Sowing of EarthAbsoket-keMiddle Neltalos and Thrantos
Aphenzi, Child From EarthSeket-kaBestalos
Kanku, WearinessTenlennen-keHeshtalos to early Janoros
Ketsi, ForebodingKhephri-kaEarly Janoros to middle Reeanos
Ophuk, TormentHeshket-kaMiddle Reeanos to late Flamgos
Ptath, Great WindsShemzan-keLate Flamgos and Calbros
Amekur, First FrostPadmek-kaDekkos to early Belos
Meht, FloodHatmeht-kaEarly Belos to middle Vornos
Vorphu, Deepest WaterVornok-kaMiddle Vornos to late Kantalos


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THE BETRAYERS

When the rasilhi'in first started to fight among themselves, one faction stood apart from the violence, preaching forgiveness and fellowship. For this, their corrupted brethren turned on them with unrelenting brutality, excommunicating them and casting out their patron, Athwar-ke the Jubilant Mother, from the pantheon as having betrayed the holy purpose of their creation. Those they could not kill were driven into desperate exile into the Mountains of the Sun, then even into the sea beyond where at last, in the myriad small isles of the Selfhaven Archipelago, the embittered refugees found some measure of peace.

In those days, the islands had been inhabited by a curiously peaceful race of ogre-kin, of uncertain origin - perhaps refugees themselves from the first wars with the elves, perhaps a clan stranded there by accident, perhaps even descendants of long-forgotten explorers - and the outcast rasilhi'in gratefully, if a little grudgingly, merged their culture with that of their generous Havenish hosts. In time, more than just cultures were merged, with the first union being that between Tarog Starwatcher, a ogre-kin chieftain, and Mhynua Rage-As-Bull, a rasilhi priestess.

Their love became enshrined in legend and in time, their names evolved to become those of the new hybrid offspring, though ironically the original attributions have been reversed. Asterian Havenish are almost indistinguishable from the original rasilhi stock, but they typically have explosively short tempers and a fondness for petty cruelties. By comparison, Minotaur Havenish are as broad and intimidating as any ogre, but with much of their breadth seemingly dedicated to a disarming naivety and compassion.

For over two thousand years, these twin peoples lived in complete isolation from the world, until even the exodus that brought their ancestors there was forgotten. They knew nothing of the encroachment of the Cen-Cenla across Eruna, nor of the coming of the plagues to the east, nor of the endless warring between the splinter kingdoms of the west. Then came Black Wilhelm to their shores, once the most feared corsair of Daven and newborn Kale, now master only of a single pitiful sloop that had escaped the destruction of his pirate fleet.

It was he who saw the potential in the Havenish and taught them again of the outside world, quietly stewing in his own impotent rage and lust for revenge. Though he died before he could rebuild his fleet and sail again to raid and pillage, the shamed pirate left behind a new mood that gripped the Asterians strongly. Ignoring the cautious advice of the Minotaurs, over the next few generations the more adventuresome of them built seaworthy ships to sail in secret to the lands Black Wilhelm had spoken of with such hate-filled greed. They found that the pirates who had replaced him along the Davenian coasts were little more than smugglers and bootleggers, but thirsty for more - and the Asterians saw a way to exploit this.

So it was that the Selfhaven Archipelago started down the road to becoming the pirate haven that it is still known as. On occasion, a fleet would sail out of Elder Daven or Kale City or even Hangeria, assaulting the harbor-towns and shanty-villages along the islands' coasts. But at their heart, the Asterians hid behind the protection of their Minotaur siblings until the danger was passed, before manipulating more into their service like grim puppeteers, bringing despair to their well-intentioned kin.

Time and time again, pirates gathered at the old haunts. Robert the Blue was seduced by Asterian whispers when he sought to cleanse the infestation, instead becoming a part of it. Stephan Tormsson openly founded Inharbor some three centuries later, ostensibly to serve as a trade hub, yet it would take nearly as long again for the city to be recognized as the pirate nest it truly was, now fortified beyond the ability of any normal fleet to assault. The dread vampire Kibor even forged an alliance of convenience with the Asterians, for it was in their domain that he found the one whom he would help transform into the Lord of Gluttony, Saithith the Bloated.

Indeed, it was the learning of this final terrible act which tore apart the Havenish. Most of the Minotaurs abandoned the Archipelago and sailed back to the western mountains of Eruna, leaving the Asterians behind to plot and scheme and manipulate at their leisure. Of course, the twin peoples could not so easily divided. There is regular traffic between the Archipelago and the Mountains of the Sun, as Asterian and Minotaur alike travel to that land where their temperament will be most appreciated, leaving blood-kin behind in search of their soul-brethren.

And north of the Minotaur territories, where the last crumbling cities of the old Ishians still stand, their forgotten cousins watch from the shadows, the ancient hatred of the exiled rasilhi'in as potent as ever it was, waiting for the moment to strike and purify the world of the Betrayers at long last.

*****

ASTERIAN AND MINOTAUR TRAITS

Age.
Asterians and Minotaurs will both live to about 150 years of age, but whereas Asterians age slowly, generally reaching physical maturity in their thirties, Minotaurs are typically full-grown adults by their early teens.

Size. The average Asterian will rarely reach six feet tall at the shoulder, but their horns will typically add another foot to their height. They are Medium in size. Minotaurs are typically ten feet tall at the shoulder, with their horns able to reach a staggering three feet in length. They are Large in size.

Alignment. Nearly all Asterians live in the Selfhaven Archipelago, surrounded by pirates and schemers and brigands, and thus usually end up drifting towards evil and chaos. Minotaurs, nearly all of whom live ordered and peaceful lives in the Mountains of the Sun, tend towards good and lawfulness.

Type. Despite their peculiar origins and physiology, Asterians are considered Humanoids. Minotaurs are treated as Monstrosities. Interestingly, magical effects such as Charm Person or Dominate Person will still work on Minotaurs when used by Asterians, although the target Minotaur will have advantage on the saving throw.

Names. Both Asterian and Minotaur names are drawn from the same pool as ordinary Havenish ones.

Ability Score Decrease. Asterians and Minotaurs are not easy to get on with, being respectively emotionally distant and naturally intimidating. Their Charisma score decreases by 1.

Bearer of Burdens. Minotaurs are treated as Huge creatures when determining their carrying capacity. Their speed only drops to 10 feet when pushing or lifting weight in excess of their carrying capacity.

Demonic Interest. Asterians have unknowingly attracted the attention of Baphomet, an archdemon terrifyingly able of reining in his baser instincts to make plans centuries in advance and treat with others almost as capably as a devil. His interest in keeping them alive to study manifests as granting advantage on any one roll they make, which they may do once each time they complete a long rest. Asterians neither realize the source of their mysterious good luck, nor so much as stop to think about it.

Gore. Minotaurs may make a melee attack with their horns, dealing 2d8+Strength piercing damage if they hit. They are considered proficient with their horns. If they move at least 10 feet straight forward to a target and then hit them with a gore attack in the same turn, they inflict an additional 9 (2d8) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must make a Strength saving throw or be thrown up to 10 feet away and knocked prone. The DC is equal to 10 + the Minotaur's Strength bonus + the Minotaur's proficiency bonus.

Labyrinthine Recall. For some reason, Asterians and Minotaurs are gifted with memories for direction, able to perfectly recall any path they have taken and navigate the most convoluted of mazes. Indeed, even the maze spell has no effect on them.

Monstrous Might. An adult Minotaur has 9d10 HD, which are treated as levels in the ranger class, except the Minotaur does not receive any Favoured Enemy or Spellcasting features. They have a natural armor bonus of +4, a speed of 40ft, and increase their Strength and Constitution scores by 2.

Ram. Asterians may make a melee weapon attack with their horns, dealing 1d6+Strength piercing damage if they hit. They are considered proficient with their horns. If they move at least 20 feet in a straight line towards a target and then hit it with a ram attack in the same turn, they inflict an additional 5 (2d4) piercing damage.

Reckless. Asterians have a particularly short temper, a curious racial memory of when their ancestors were pure rasilhi'in exiles of old Ishia. They attack furiously and savagery in combat, able to choose to gain advantage on attack rolls as a reaction for the remainder of their turn, but all attack rolls made against them will also have advantage during this time.

Twin Peoples. Asterians and Minotaurs are a literally divided race, physically and morally, but inextricably united for all this. They are unable to breed naturally outside their race, even with human or ogre-kin peoples, from which they were both descended; and their children are equally likely to be Asterian or Minotaur, regardless of what the parents themselves are. It is worth noting that, despite the bad blood between them, neither Asterian nor Minotaur will tolerate infanticide if their child is of the 'wrong' kind, considering it the most heinous of all crimes.

This is an excellent idea, and something that is needed on the site! Thanks. I will work my way through this.

Yeah, I read it and this is excellent so far.

PART TWO OF AN ON-GOING PROJECT (p2 done)


YRRKUNE AND FEREKSFOLD

FEREKSFOLD, THE REALM BENEATH


Ask of us all and you shall receive our all. Our lives, our souls, our honour. Only one boon we beseech of the wisdom and mercy with which you are graced - strength of arms enough to safeguard us against the Black Flood.
-Suoyu Linzhu, Chief of Chiefs, 'negotiating' the vassalage of Yrrkune to the Dweller in the Vale; 5242 FR

Though their existence has only recently been revealed to the wider world, the human peoples of Yrrkune have long been aware of the menace below, a crawling chaos that seeks to overthrow their rule and bend the surface realms to its indecipherable will - the Fereksfold, or Gaishkokka in the Kunese tongue, the Empire of Vermin. For centuries they waged brutal wars of suppression and extermination, seeking to end the threat that haunts their dreams, only to fail time and time again. When Yrrkune subordinated itself to the Wintervale, the sole condition was for enough military forces to be dispatched to key locations in order to prevent further incursions from the underground.

The results of this were mixed. Initial encounters favoured the bolstered Kunese forces. They reclaimed their farmland, made safe their forests, opened new quarries and mines, even occupied the shallower regions of the Fereksfold itself. The impetus of their assault was enough to solidify, even today, the Kunese hold on the surface, such that all but a few paths into the deep Fereksfold could not be sealed. This effectively placed its inhabitants, the ferekkin, under siege, bottling them up under enormous pressure and forcing adaptation or extinction. So the ferekkin forced themselves to adapt.

At first, mass starvation and disease ravaged their population, but gradually the frantic pace of their lives, which led them so much more swiftly to their deaths, was calmed. Their metabolism slowed to a crawl, then further still, so where once a ferek might have needed its own body weight in food each day, it now needed less than half that in a week. Their falling numbers stabilized, then grew again as their new equilibrium was reached. Finally, a mere millennium after their crushing defeat, they were ready to exact vengeance.

The Kunese occupiers in the shallow Fereksfold stood no chance. What had once been a shrieking, animalistic horde had become an army of unparalleled discipline and finesse. Ordinary soldiers felt as though they were mired in mud, fighting the wind itself. Kunese bowmasters were struck dumb as their arrows were plucked from the very air. At each garrison, the Iron Guard stood shoulder to shoulder, barricading the way back to the surface; and at each garrison, their shields splintered under blows that seemed too weak to break glass.

At the very borders between the light and dark, the onslaught paused. Towering oluks and bazoks, far hardier than any man, grimly withstood the waves hurled against them, spilling the first blood for the allies. Dazzled by the sun, the ferekkin found themselves actually threatened by these enemies, but battled furiously on, intending to expunge even these monstrous foes and secure their borders. Then the forces of the Wintervale unveiled their secret weapon - the Blacksun Regiment. These elite drow soldiers were as far above their kindred as ordinary drow were above a hositan farmer, hardened against the sun's brilliance and the disorienting absence of a ceiling.

Now the ferekkin were vastly outmatched and immediately abandoned their assault, retreating below the surface once more. Although stymied at the last, the counterattack had otherwise been expertly coordinated, the victory overwhelming. In the space of two hours, the ferekkin took back all the territory they had lost below ground, suffering one casualty for every twelve they inflicted. Inexplicably, the captives they had seized were returned to the surface with their wounds patched up, bearing messages encouraging a truce. Faced with the near-annihilation of their military, the Kunese hatefully accepted, but refused to participate in further negotiations, hoping for reinforcements from the Wintervale in order to launch a counter-offensive.

In no small part due to Dweller's lack of interest in anything other than the Book of Seven, the few reinforcements that did come belonged to minor warchiefs who simply occupied Yrrkune itself, preventing it from changing in any way that might challenge its subservience to the Wintervale and to Vornoth. The personal power they and their successors enjoyed from lording it over this nation, no matter how pitiful or primitive, more than made up for being stationed in a backwater.

For their part, the ferekkin maintain a watchful eye on the surface world, seeking only to preserve that territory which was always theirs, rather than to return to those that once they had sought to inhabit, but been driven from by the earliest human settlers. They know full well the lies spread about them to keep the Kunese ignorant and fearful of them, but also know that this is mainly the work of the Wintervale, keeping the old wounds open for its own purposes, and that they do not have the strength of numbers or of arms to challenge that terrible power yet.

From time to time though, a lone ferek will be gripped by the urge to do just that. They will leave the warmth and comfort of their warrens, creeping up through the passages that yet link Yrrkune with the Fereksfold. Most go no further, trying to stir up trouble in the cities of Shonmi or Guang. Some travel north to frigid Cadocia, or south to blistering Eruna, seeking allies there. And a very few, the most foolhardy and fanatical, dare to brave the Wintervale itself, to try crossing into Farland and thence the kingdoms beyond, where true opposition is mounting...

*****

MODERN FEREKKIN AND THEIR WARRENS

Not for nothing did the ancient Kunese contemptuously describe the Fereksfold as the Empire of Vermin, for in those times ferekkin were little more than gargantuan rats of unnatural cunning and insatiable hunger, albeit ones prone to fashioning flint weaponry and imitating human speech to lure their prey into their clutches. They ate almost everything, bred rapidly and on extremely rare occasions, died of old age after five years.

After their resurgence however, the ferekkin were almost unrecognizable even as descendants of these creatures. On average, a ferek is three feet at the shoulder when on its hind legs, though as it apt to be 'sitting' back on them, it can reach up to four feet when standing fully upright. They are covered in a soft, downy fur that can have numerous patterns and markings, or be of only a single color, usually a shade of brown. Ferekkin tails are nearly as long as their entire bodies, pink and hairless and muscular, which is often used as a type of fifth limb, albeit not so delicate as a forepaw.

Indeed, their forepaws are equal in dexterity to the hands of a human or elf, despite lacking a proper thumb, for the fingers are widely splayed out and can manipulate objects just as effectively. Ferekkin are entirely able to use tools and weapons made by other species, with no discernible loss of expertise. When it comes to writing in other languages, however, they have expressed a preference for dipping a claw into an inkwell rather than a quill.

A ferek has exceptionally good darkvision, even keener than that of dwarves, but is dazzled by anything brighter than a torch or lantern, such as sunlight. Its senses of smell and touch are also highly developed, and a blinded ferek is not considered impaired in the same way as might a human or elf, at least among its own kind - their written language was designed to be read by touch, rather than sight, and they can extrude a natural musk to leave scent-messages of astounding complexity.

For a creature normally so sedate and controlled, a ferek becomes extremely animated in spoken conversation, tail lashing and forepaws waving about uncontrollably in all directions, punctuating every syllable. In moments of great stress or emotion, ferekkin can sometimes begin running words together at random, or repeating them, at such a pace that their naturally high voices swiftly reach a pitch beyond comprehensibility - even to other ferekkin! Those who are able to master this tendency frequently rise high in the ranks, most usually serving as mediators between warrens.

Leading each warren is the Council, composed of four Warrenlords, each responsible for one of Judgement, Meditation, Supplies, and Tunnels; and eight Waychoosers, chosen for their mastery of a different school of magic. It is these twelve who decide exactly how the warren will operate, from its borders to its population, across all facets of life and activity within it. Each position is filled for life, surrounded by complex legal safeguards to prevent any one of them from gaining influence over another and encouraging cooperation.

Below the Council are the Observers, experts in their own fields who are charged with reporting to the Council what needs to be done, how quickly and in what manner, so as to keep the warren running smoothly. Their aides, the Inspectors, examine each individual ferek throughout its life to ensure it is working in the place most suited to its skills, in the most efficient manner, and with as little supervision, as possible - indeed, specialists are the rule, not the exception, in ferek warrens. Those who fail to work to their potential or prevent others from doing so are typically punished with increased quotas for their family members, who thus compensate for their relative's idleness.

A ferek who repeatedly abuses this, seeing no harm in having others do their share of the work, will be referred to a Condemner to receive further sanctions. These are not merely harsher than common punishments, but tailored to each individual to produce the most extreme terror and revulsion. The scarring, mental or physical, of one who was sent to a Condemner is almost always visible enough to others to act as a further deterrent - prevention as well as cure. The ranks of the Condemners are bolstered by those they have punished, so that they feel empathy from experience to their patients and are kept from wanton cruelty.

When war threatens, a warren will turn to its Shades, recluses who have spent so long in meditation that they have all but superseded mortal needs such as food. Even the smallest warren has at least one resident Shade, a necessity no less than any Council member, for the Fereksfold is constantly under threat from more than just wrathful Kunese. It is the Shades who, in their solitary exile from the comforts of the warren, are closest to the nameless reaches below even the tunnels of scheming drow and raving derro. Compared to the monstrosities that dwell in those depths, the horrors of war are nothing.

*****

FEREKKIN OUTLOOK AND FAITH

Ferekkin are a highly introspective race, the rapacious hunger of their past no more than a bad memory, kept alive as a warning of what a lack of self-awareness and discipline can cause. Almost from birth, a ferek is taught meditative techniques to practice at all times, until it ostensibly becomes as natural as breathing. There is no shame in failure, so they say, only in not trying.

This attitude pervades every facet of their lives. Ferekkin will never abandon a task, even when it is clearly beyond them, instead taking a step back to reflect on how the obstacle might be overcome, then seeking aid in doing so, implicitly in exchange for returning the favour at a later date. Reneging on this unspoken deal is considered the very height of bad manners, not to mention an insult to the community spirit fostered in the warren.

Ferekkin are not especially religious, acknowledging the gods but not, strictly speaking, worshipping them, with the exception of Neltak, whom they name Bringer of Gifts, and who holds an honourary seat on each warren's Council. Neltak is believed to have bestowed each of the great attributes of the ferekkin to them, from the ability to think and reason, to the capacity for mercy and introspection. Ferekkin pray daily to him for the mental fortitude to overcome their shortcomings and to serve the needs of the warren without unjust complaint.

Note on ferek names: The ferekkin do not have many personal names, perhaps fewer than two hundred across all of their warrens. What they do have is a seemingly infinite list of titles and descriptors that they use to distinguish between individuals that otherwise share the same name.

Typical ferek names:
  • Akrich, Askalz, Askanch, Astiktik
  • Chek, Chetch, Cheltzak, Chezquk
  • Ichilk, Ikit, Itsak, Izik
  • Khrech, Kreelzich, Krink, Kronchak
  • Qalqal, Queelch, Quol
  • Schalk, Sinkrink, Skirchik, Skuitsek, Skut, Stilk, Strik, Susuk
  • Telk, Thakra, Thektek, Thrakach, Tleek, Tlanskan, Tliquach
  • Zech, Znirch, Znitik, Zreen, Zualk, Zueelk

>>>>>

YRRKUNE, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT

Once, Yrrkune might have been a great nation, a beacon of wisdom and ingenuity in the east to rival the Summervale or Wawmar. Its people were hardy and resourceful, as dedicated and tireless in their own way to philosophies and crafts as the ancient races of elf and dwarf. Seven hundred years before it appeared in Aelfar, the notion that women might be equal to men was proposed there, if rejected at the time. Nearly a century before the dwarves grudgingly explained the mechanisms to Farlandish engineers, a crossbow was designed in Shonmi.

That, however, was the last innovation of Yrrkune, a desperate outlier that sought and failed to turn about the degeneration that had gripped the realm. It had set in early and insidiously, as might the slightest cough in winter-chilled lungs, then revealed itself invulnerable to remedy. The stagnancy of obsession seized the Kunese, first with their proud adherence to tradition, then their relentless hatred of the Gaishkokka beneath their feet, then their loyalty to and deifying of the Dweller.

The spirit of altruism, that had bonded the ancient tribes and kept them fed when others hungered and warm when others froze, gradually twisted into a code of laws that demanded self-sacrifice. To serve another was the highest of honours, to be without a lord was the most shameful of lives. Chieftains, technically beholden to none, were instead permitted to pledge oaths of ultimate fellowship to each other, so important that to break one was to dishonour their entire tribe.

The will to mastery, once a tool to debate moral conduct and seek lasting improvements that would benefit all others, became a need to perfect only that which already existed and abandon all attempts to replace it with something untested. The secret of steel never reached Yrrkune. Currency was nothing more than a shorthand for the accounting of the bartering power of a tribe. Neither horse nor hound was friend to man, nor oxen worked in the fields.

The art of magic, on the cusp of developing unique and wondrous variations in this land, stagnated. It became associated with creatures that were in no way equal to men, but their superiors - demons and qilin, dragons and tatsu, gods and tenko, and more besides - so that to use magic was to announce you had stolen it from its rightful owner. Or perhaps, if you seemed too adept with it, that you were its rightful owner in disguise, and might be malicious or benign according to your whim. Dangerous either way.

Those outsiders who have visited Yrrkune usually leave with the impression that time has simply passed it by, and not necessarily for the better. Most, being servants of the Wintervale or other allies of the Dweller, consider this exactly the way it should be, for change, no matter how small it may seem, could threaten its usefulness to that dark power. The very few not of that number cannot decide whether to pity the Kunese for the barbarism the Dweller keeps them trapped in, or to despise them for having built that trap for themselves.

*****

THE APKAUN AND THE SHENZAKUSHAN

The Kunese can be culturally divided into two groups, the fisherfolk and trappers who live by the Apkaun Bay and the Shadow Forest, and the farmers and herders south of the Shan Range to the Greatwall Mountains. It is the former who most closely resemble the aboriginal settlers of Yrrkune, having barely changed how they live in over four thousand years. By comparison to their southern cousins, the Apkaun Kunese speak slowly and softly, have longer and healthier lives, and recall more of the ancient folklore of spirits and gods - whereas the Shenzakushan Kunese always seem on the verge of hysteria and collapse, working themselves to exhaustion, and fanatically devoted to the service of Vornoth.

Much of this can be attributed to the extended war between the Kunese and ferekkin, which took part entirely in the southern regions of Yrrkune. When the shallow Fereksfold was occupied, the Kunese that did so became increasingly isolated from their surface relatives in the north of the country, the major stresses of living in that unsuitable environment gradually changing them. After the ferekkin reclaimed this territory, the half-adapted Kunese refugees were forced back into a world that they had been drifting away from, forcing yet another change upon them.

Genealogically, Shenzakushan Kunese are only about a tenth of the total population, but their cultural influence is extended over most of Yrrkune, sufficiently so to be considered representative of the Kunese as a whole. They became increasingly vocal and visible in their worship of Vornoth following the loss of the shallow Fereksfold and apparent omnipresence of Vale troops thereafter, which served to overpower the earlier polytheism of the region. Their emergent dialect has even replaced most of the old tribal languages, except among the settlements along the Apkaun Bay.

Note on Kunese names: One of the major differences between the Apkaun and Shenzakushan dialects is that family and personal names in the former are interchangeable and rarely limited to either men or women, whilst in the latter they are separate and gender-specific. In both dialects, the family name precedes the personal name and is considered inappropriate to share with anyone who is not a blood relative or an extremely trusted friend. Also, Apkaun Kunese names are often combined; eg. Lin and Zhu might become Linzhu, or Mei and Xia might become Xiamei.

Common Apkaun Kunese names:
  • Ai, An, Ang
  • Gan, Guan, Gui
  • Fa, Fan, Fei, Feng
  • Hai, He, Heng, Hong, Hu
  • Jan, Ji, Jiong, Jun
  • Lang, Li, Lin, Liu, Long, Lu
  • Ma, Mei, Ming
  • Pang, Pei, Ping, Po, Pu
  • Qan, Qi, Qo, Quan, Quo
  • Ra, Rong
  • Shang, Sima, Song, Sun
  • Tan, Tao, Te, Tong, Tsao, Tsen, Tsun
  • Wang, Wei, Wen, Wu
  • Xia, Xie, Xin, Xong, Xu, Xui, Xun
  • Ya, Yan, Yao, Ying, Yu
  • Zhao, Zhang, Zhen, Zhong, Zhu

Common Shenzakushan Kunese male names:
  • Aito, Akio, Akira
  • Daichi, Daiki, Daisuke
  • Hansuke, Haruke, Hibiki, Hikaru, Hirohito, Hiromochi, Hiroyuki, Hisashi, Hitoshi, Hyosuke
  • Ichiro, Ikki, Isao, Itsuki, Izumo
  • Katsume, Kazumi, Kenzo, Kobe, Koji, Kousuke
  • Raidan, Reiji, Ren, Riichi
  • Seiichi, Shunsuke, Sora, Souji
  • Tadaki, Tadashi, Takahiro, Tetsuo, Tomiichi, Tomohiro, Tomomi, Tsukiya
  • Yamato, Yasahiro, Yokuto, Yoshiaki, Yoshimi, Yosue, Yukio

Common Shenzakushan female names:
  • Airi, Akane, Asami, Atsuko, Ayako
  • Hana, Harue, Haruyo, Hideko, Hidemi, Hiroka, Hisako, Hitomi, Honami, Honoka
  • Kaguya, Kahoru, Kanae, Kanako, Kazue, Kazuko, Keiko, Keikuho, Kimiko, Konomi, Kumiko, Kyoko
  • Manami, Masae, Matsuko, Mayumi
  • Naoko, Nariko, Natsuko, Nishi, Noriko, Nozomi
  • Tamiko, Teiko, Terumi, Tomiko, Tsukiko
  • Yoko, Yoshiko, Yukiko, Yukina, Yuri

Common Shenzakushan family names:
  • Kato, Kimura, Kojima, Kondo, Kubo, Kudo
  • Nakagawa, Nakajima, Nakamura, Nishimura, Nomura
  • Sato, Saito, Sakamoto, Sakurai, Sano, Sasaki, Shibata, Shimizu, Sugimoto, Sugiyama
  • Takagi, Takahashi, Tamura, Tanaka, Taniguchi
  • Uchida, Ueda
  • Wada, Watanabe
  • Yamaguchi, Yamamoto, Yokoyama

*****

HANAKAZE, THE BLOSSOM WIND OF YRRKUNE

Though its western reaches are somewhat blighted by the brutish cities of Haigrog and Gorug, there is a serene beauty to Yrrkune that even these patches of ugliness only seem to accentuate via contrast. As winter comes to a close, the first cherry trees begin to flower in the lowlands about Darken Mount, over the next three months spreading north and east until they reach the Shan Range. The Kunese say that to profess love beneath the cherry blooms is the most honest and romantic of gestures, be it a childhood fancy or reaffirmation of marriage vows.

In the last few weeks of the rose-pink cherries, the land becomes spotted with crimson as maples awaken from their slumber. Maple-red is the colour of luck to the Kunese, who consider it a point of honour to care for the maple trees near their villages, defending them from disease and pests with a fanatical fervour. As rare as magic is in Yrrkune, its seeds can be found in the families most dedicated to this task, hints of druidic and fey understanding of plants struggling to take root in them and grow.

Midsummer passes and the red softens to yellow with the blooming of the katsura, threading Yrrkune with gold along its rivers and streams. Ranging from gigantic trees that easily surpass a hundred feet in height, to the 'Little Sisters' who rarely reach twenty feet, the katsura are revered as symbols of strength and vitality. Their wood is the most prized of all, and as the largest and most impressive trees in Yrrkune, they are held to be places sacred to spirits and gods. For this reason, harvesting their wood is done only when the tree falls naturally, when the occupying spirit is believed to have departed, adding to the rarity and value of items crafted from it.

At last, the land begins to sleep and the long cold sets in. Yrrkune has one last surprise for the outsider, a final tool to bolster the flagging spirits of its people. The meizi, or Kunese plum, swells on branches that have been bare since the start of the year. White and silver flowers burst from their buds, showing that even in the depths of winter there is life and renewal. Every village in Yrrkune has a copse of mei trees nearby, from which they can gather enough food to subsist until spring. The Kunese have found almost every culinary use imaginable for the meizi: pickled or smoked reserves for difficult years, thick sauces from the juice, a sweet liqueur even from boiling them. They are indeed a symbol of hope and health when things are most difficult.

This year-round blossoming of the four trees central to Kunese culture is known as hanakaze, or huafeng in the peculiar dialect of the Apkaun fisherfolk, which can be literally translated as 'the wind of flowers'. To the Kunese, it is an eternal reminder and proof that there is always something good to be thankful for, and that as a people they are blessed with a bountiful and wondrous home unlike any other in the world.

Thanks! I'll read and post my thoughts soon. Looking forward to checking this out.

Rat people. I like it. I especially like your idea of a project of detailing Yyrkune and Eruna. That is sorely needed.

Glad it's looking good so far. I noticed the other day that I am really reliant on a specific trope, that of the hybrid, to fill out my work. Ironically, if my fondness for subverting expectations is kept in mind, my work becomes very predictable. Halflings on dire elks, minotaurs who are cultured and abhor violence, a civilisation of ratman monks, etc.

Anyways, I'll keep adding to each portion as I finish my personal edits. I'm hoping to be done by the New Year, then we can get to work on integrating it all.

And yes, I will also go to town on Cadocia once Yrrkune and Eruna proper are complete.

Quote:
Glad it's looking good so far. I noticed the other day that I am really reliant on a specific trope, that of the hybrid, to fill out my work. Ironically, if my fondness for subverting expectations is kept in mind, my work becomes very predictable. Halflings on dire elks, minotaurs who are cultured and abhor violence, a civilisation of ratman monks, etc.

Anyways, I'll keep adding to each portion as I finish my personal edits. I'm hoping to be done by the New Year, then we can get to work on integrating it all.
As long as you're aware of it, it's not necessarily a bad thing. And we all have our tropes we rely on. I appreciate other's tropes so that the site isn't filled with mine only.

As for as the rat folk, the only thing I would like as an adjustment is in the early history to make the dweller's forces a little more powerful in terms of facing off to them. That way it doesn't subvert the over all theme of the might of the Wintervale.




 

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