Monday, December 21, 2015

Offline until 2016

I'm going to be essentially offline until the new year. Will be back with bells on come January 1st.

Keep an eye on my new blog, the Grymdark Lands. That's where I'll mostly be posting going forward until I have completed the 64-Page Campaign Setting Challenge. The blog will detail the development of the Grymdark Lands, and at the end of the process, I hope to have published my first print, full-color cover, fully-illustrated, 64-page book...

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2015

[Castle Adlerstein] Adlerstein Gazetteer Material

Here's some introductory material that was written for the Castle Adlerstein Gazetteer that would go with the Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack. Maybe someday I'll get back to that...

This booklet is the first in a series that will provide sandbox campaign level detail for individual 25-Mile Hexes of the Olden Lands campaign setting. Each such booklet provides details on the history, society, people, religion, politics, flora, fauna, monsters, geography, domains, settlements, castles, forts, towers, ruins, and special sites found within the 25-Mile Hex.

The map breaks down each 25-Mile Hex into a map 25 1-Mile Hexes across, containing a total of 625 1-Mile Hexes in area, also gridded off into 25 5-Mile Hexes in area. 19 of the full 5-Mile Hexes are subsequently detailed at a further level of scale, down to the 1/5th-Mile Hex level; one such hex and its details are included in this product, while the other 18 hexes will be made available separately as supplements.

Each 25-Mile Hex product is intended as a sandbox for the Judge to use as a campaign setting. There is enough material presented in each 25-Mile Hex product to provide years of adventure in and out of game.

The Adlerbergen Mountains have always been possessed of a dark and fearsome history. Time out of mind, from the Dawn Ages, the land was associated with the Accursed Titan Moerdreth, He Who Passed Into The Abyss Yet Returned, the Dungeon God. For here it was that he built his fastness, the First Castle, in defense of his taking up the cause of Chaos against the other Elder Titans.

The very mountains were his walls, the valleys his gates. Torn down and reduced to slag were his battlements at the end of the War of the Titans; reduced to the state of near beasts were his goblin and elven minions; nearly extirpated were his priests and sorcerers. And yet still, ages later, the mountains echo his cries of hatred, bear scars of ancient wars, and harbor Chaos at their hearts.

Settled by barbarian Gotha after the centuries of strife that followed the Doom of Elysion, the region has, save for a brief glorious moment, remained a backwater; and that brief, shining moment was born in sorcery and birthed a darkness not seen since the Dawn Ages. For here it was two centuries ago that the first Gottic Emperor, Ernst I “The Archmage” had built his great fortress and sepulcher, Castle Adlerstein, the Eldritch Keep. The mountainside an altar bathed in the blood of the monsters of Chaos, the stones and bricks mortared with the ichor of demons, its donjons were designed to hold devils and demi-gods, and its debaucheries and decadence became legend.

Since the disappearance of the Emperor Emeritus 100 years ago, the castle has stood forlorn and empty, abandoned and in ruins, a haunt fit for ghosts, outlaws, and babe’s bed-time tales. The fall of the Gottic Empire and the chaos and tumult since had caused the ruin, far off the beaten path and guardian of no mortal avenues of invasion, to be all but forgotten. Until, five years ago, when the distant descendant of The Archmage, Fuerst Axel III Oereik von Adlerstadt, Prince of that realm, decided to transform the ruin of his childhood tales into a summer palace…

The local region is home to the Gotha peoples, of the distinct cultural division known as the Gyrazisch, the Gotha of Gyrax. Before the Doom of Elysion a thousand years ago, the region was part of the Northern Provinces of the Empire of Elysion. The mountains, hills, and moors of the area were generally avoided, even by the Elysians, as they were home to vicious goblins and monstrous creatures. Thus, it became a haven for Guidhel outlaws and others who sought freedom from Elysian tyranny.

When the Doom came to Elysion, the goblins of the area debouched forth from the Underworld of the mountains in numbers unheard of since the Wars of Chaos. They, together with wandering tribes of Gotha, Guidhel, and others, virtually extirpated the native Guidhel-Elysian peoples and then set to exterminating each other. By the time the Golden Kingdom re-established some sort of civilization in the region, in was virtually depopulated, and that realm made little effort to settle the area, having few enough resources as it was.

Following the collapse of the Golden Kingdom, migrating bands of Gotha made their way into the region from the East. Most of these settled in the far more fertile lands to the south or along the rivers of the interior. It was not until the last of the tribes of Gotha, the stragglers who had remained in the Starcrags the longest, made their way west that the valleys of the Adlerbergen were finally settled once again by humans. The bands and clans that settled this area were not united at first, and had no real group identity, though they shared a common dialect, religion, and broad cultural beliefs.

Thus, while the Gotha of the river lands, especially along the Great Heart River and the interior riverine valleys, were of more mixed sort, having absorbed the few survivors of the Guidhel-Elysian and Guidhel tribes, the Gotha of these highlands remained fairly unmixed with other cultures. Today, though their dialect is distinct and there are several differences in material culture developed since the migration, the Gotha of the Adlerbergen are remarkably like those of the Starcrags, and thus not unlike the northern, or Nordgottisch peoples of the far-away Thundigoth Isles.

Unlike their eastern cousins, however, the local Gotha are more civilized; even the most rustic backwoods dweller of the Adlerbergen is far more civilized than the savages of the Thundigoth, though is probably comparable in civilized manners to the average Gotha of the Starcrags. This is due to two factors; first, the uniting of the local peoples during the Itlanian Empire, and second, the strong civilizing influence of the Gregorian Church.

During the rule of the Itlanian Empire, when the crusading clerics of the Gregorian Church first arrived in the Pagan North, as the region was then known, the local bands were still divided. It was then, when their religion and even their Gottic identity was in danger of being wiped out that the locals united. In the late 16th Century the chieftains and people came together, united through mighty oaths under their highest totemic deity, the Immortal Eagle, Iolarh, and called themselves the Adlerslaegt, or “Eagle Kindred.” While the Empire eventually conquered the region anyway, the Adlerslaegt were able to retain their identity and religion, thanks to their coherence and the local retreat of the Empire a mere generation after their conquest in the early-17th Century.

The Adlerslaegt grew great in numbers thanks to the peace that followed their conquest, as the clans no longer feuded with one another. Following the chaos after the local withdrawal of the Itlanian Empire, the burgeoning tribe migrated out of the mountain valleys south and east, to the broad rich plains of the Great Heart River. There they conquered and held the rich towns and villages, their chieftains becoming barons and counts, the chief of these the lord of the town of Heartbridge, today known as the city of Adlerstadt.

That chieftain’s son, who united the disparate domains of the Adlerslaegt of the plains, married an Itlanian Princess. Their son, the first Prince of Adlerstadt, went on to conquer Moorgaard and much of northern Gyrax, then a divisive and debatable land. His son married into the royal family of the Itlanian Kingdom of Gyrax, which dominated the southern lands of Gyrax, and later declared and won the independence of Gyrax from Itlania during the War of Succession. It was his great-grandson, High King Ernst V of Gyrax who, by marrying the daughter of the King of Aurlandia-Gregorius, united Gyrax with that realm and founded the Gottic Empire, with Adlerstadt at its heart.

It is thus ironic that the Gregorian Church, under the authority of that self-same Gottic Emperor and the Patriarch of Gregorius, razed the Pagan temples and forcefully “civilized” the then far-more backward local Adlerslaegt rustics of the Adlerbergen during the early days of the Gottic Crusades in the 18th Century. Part of this was the effort to unite all the Vestgottisch or West Gottish of Gyrax under one religious and cultural banner; another part of the effort was to eliminate the strong taint of Chaos that had emerged among the Pagan faithful of the Adlerbergen in the previous century. Some say he was jealous of the power of the Cult of Iolarh then strong in the Adlerbergen, a counterpoise to his power over the Order of the Golden Eagle of Adlerstadt.

His fame, or perhaps, infamy would have been great enough merely because of the deeds he performed in his quest to attain the uttermost skill in the arcane arts that earned him the epithet, “The Archmage.” But he went further than that, and had raised the great and terrible pile of stone and brick known as Castle Adlerstein. Castle Adlerstein is perhaps the most storied of all ruins in the Olden Lands, or at least certainly, in the Middle Lands. While other castle ruin/dungeon complexes have been longer known and much better explored, few possess the sheer depth of history as Adlerstein. For the complex is not merely that of an old Gottic emperor’s castle and its cellars; no, it is much more.

While Ernst I “The Archmage” built his palace-fortress atop the ruins of a much older castle, he knew not (perhaps) that that ruin had been built upon the ruins of a more ancient castle, which itself had been built upon a ruin, and so on, back through the ages, all the way to the oldest ruined castle – the ruins of the Great Keep of the veritable First Castle, Geádhyfreann, the Hell Gate of Moerdreth, built by the Accursed Titan to defend himself against his brethren in the Dawn Wars and the War of the Titans.

Legends speak of the days when, 200 years ago, the knights and apprentices of the Archmage had to fight terrible foes in those ancient ruins, ere the foundations could be laid for the new palace. Many of the tales of these battles live down to today as fables and stories told to children at bedtime, reduced to mere bedtime stories. And so, five years ago, when the workers who were to restore the palace for their current lord, Fuerst Axel III Oereik von Adlerstadt, went to the old ruins, they went laughing merrily at each other’s childhood fears.

They weren’t laughing after they broke through a wall in the lowest of the known sub-cellars. Then they were screaming, gibbering, and crying out for mercy. Few survived to flee; only one of the guards, who went down into the depths of the newly-opened tunnel to find survivors, lived to tell his tale… a tale of wonder and horror, adventure and tragedy. And a tale of riches, great riches, for when he returned from below, in addition to scars physical and mental, he returned with a bag of jewels and gold, a prince’s ransom in wealth.

The Gyrazisch peoples are said to be an orderly and ordered people. While this is true of the Adlerisch (as the lowlands Adlerslaegt are today known), the rustic peoples of the hills and mountains are rather more laid-back and happy-go-lucky. This often clashes with the preferences of their lords, who are more often than not, descended from or at least fostered in Adlerisch families.

PEASANT: At the basic level of local society is the peasant; while there are villeins and serfs elsewhere in Gyrax, such has never been the tradition locally, and attempts to establish serfdom, or even a state much like it, have always been met with violent uprisings. Thus, the local common folk, or bauernschaft, are free, as much so as any such common folk are free, and much moreso than most. The average peasant is a farmer and herder, a tender of field and garden and keeper of sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs; his father was a farmer and herdsman, his grandfather was a farmer and herdsman, and as far as he believes, his ancestors back to the Dawn were all farmers and herdsmen. Most local peasants are happy to remain farmers and herdsmen; being native to the Adlerbergen, far too often adventure comes to them, so few seek to go off and adventure. It is enough of an adventure every day to ensure a good enough crop and herd to have enough to eat and still pay the lord’s taxes, fees, and fines, and the tithes of the church, thank you very much.

Clothing is of woolens, usually in bright solid or checked colors, mostly blues, blacks, yellows, and reds. Men are usually clean-shaven and wear their hair short and covered with a wide-brimmed hat, while women wear their hair long in braids. Eagle patterns are popular, and men wear eagle feathers in the band of their hats; to wear them honorably, one must have collected the feather personally from an eagle’s nest. Typical peasant entertainments are ancient traditions tied to the basic lifestyle of mountain-dwelling farmer-herdsmen, some dating to pre-migration days in the Starcrags. These include yodeling, playing the great-horn, wrestling, and stone-throwing, a sport which is said to date to the Dawn Times when their ancestors lived among stone giants in the Starcrags.

The vast majority of people encountered in the Adlerbergen are peasants. Most are merely normal men and women, perhaps a bit hardier than the average peasant of the lowland plains, and certainly more experienced with dagger, bill/hook/pitchfork, and shield. One in four men, the most experienced members of the militia, are equivalent to men-at-arms and are armed with dagger, short sword, and wolf spear, and when danger rises wear studded leather armor and carry a heater shield. Local peasant leaders are usually equivalent to a 1st level Fighter, are armed as per their militia members, and wear scale mail or perhaps even a mail shirt and heater shield. Attempts to introduce the pikes and formations so successfully popular among the Starcrag cities have invariably failed. Peasant women are typically armed with daggers. Men and women often carry metal-shod walking staffs, equivalent to a quarterstaff, for use in crossing hills, climbing mountain trails, and testing snow-covered ice.

BURGHERS: Socially and economically above the large peasantry is a moderate-sized middle class of burghers – the urban artisans, craftsmen, merchants, and other middle-men that conduct trade between the local villages and the outside world. Locally, there are rarely more than one such of each kind of trade in a village, there not being enough custom for much competition, and each paying his lord well for the right to hold the monopoly; Hoch Adlerdorf being the exception, it being a large village verging on a small town. The burghers are usually wealthier than the peasants, though locally none approach the wealth of the guildsmen of the cities and towns of the plains. Most work closely with the servants of the local lord, as it is the lord’s laws and licenses that allow the burghers to operate… for a fee, of course. The local lords have, to date, succeeded in keeping the guilds out of local business, though with the growth of the Principality of Adlerstadt, a firm guild ally, changes are happening in the recently-conquered domains.

Burghers generally wear the same kinds of clothing the peasants do, but of finer materials and richer cut. Some wear imported clothing, the current style being that of the hose and doublet in rich silks from Elysion, tunics of imported wool from the Septarchy, and fanciful, often farcical high and sumptuous headdresses for both men and women. Another trend imported from Elysion is the use of the litter, or palanquin; while slaves carry such in Elysion, it is considered a sign of wealth and power to have hired men carrying one about town or even between settlements; as there are no good roads in the area, it is perhaps the easiest and most comfortable way for one of wealth to travel in the highlands.

It is a matter of honor (and loot) for even the lowliest artisan or craftsman to be a member of their lord’s militia. Thus most burghers have the best weapons and armor they can afford, and often arm and equip their apprentices and servants well, too. Most apprentices and servants are armed with long spears or halberds and wear studded leather or Cuir Bouilli. Burgers themselves are usually armed with broad sword, battle axe, or mace and wear banded mail and carry a heater shield. The wealthiest hire mercenaries, both as personal guards and to provide to their lords in their petty wars, for a further portion of the spoils; these can be from just about anywhere, though most are Gyrazisch from elsewhere in Gyrax, and usually include crossbowmen and a few zweihaenders (wielders of the two-handed great sword). Only in the domains bordering the plains states, such as Adlerburg, Talstadt, and Horstburg are cavalry found in any numbers, such being worse than useless in the hilly country of the Adlerbergen.

CLERGY: The clergy of the Gregorian Church exist in a state somewhere between that of the burgher and that of the noble. Many come from noble families, being the second or third or later sons, while many burgher families also send their second or third sons to join the Church. The vast majority of the clergy serve in simple positions, the novitiate, assisting parish priests, wandering as a mendicant, or joining a monastery. Only a few of the clergy are actually capable of fully working the miracles granted by Theus; these advance either as the wandering clergy armigerous, or crusading clerics, of which there are but a small number compared to the more common religious servants, the cloistered clergy.

The typical cleric that most peasants will encounter is the pastor, who serves either as a priest of a mid- or large-sized village or travels between several smaller villages to perform the needful rites and services for his flock. A large village or small or medium-size town might have a full priest with several pastors as assistants. A large town or small city will have an archpriest and several priests, plus numerous pastors and assistants, and a monastery or nunnery; the archpriest is usually also the chief hierarchy in a county. Medium size and larger cities may well be the seat of a bishop and the home of a house of the curia armigerous, the umbrella organization that oversees the various chapters and sects of the clergy armigerous, led by a curate; the bishop is the chief hierarch in his home county, and the archpriests in the nearby counties answer to him. Usually the largest city in a duchy or similar-sized agglomeration of domains will be the home to the local archbishop. The largest city in a region or kingdom will be home for the regional primate. For historical and political reasons some regions and large kingdoms are divided into two or more primacies, such as Gyrax, which has four primates, though Aurlandia has but the one.

The local regional primate, the Primate of Eastern Gyrax, is based in Adlerstadt. By old Gottic rights he is the Premier Primate of Gyrax, and is supposed to be accorded appropriate honors by the other three Gyrazisch primates, but such has not occurred since the fall of the Gottic Empire. In the local region, most villages have but a simple priest, with perhaps a pastor or three as assistants, one of which handles the duties in the smaller thorps and dorfs of the local domain. Each of the local grafschaften (counties) has, at its capital (whether a large village or small town) an archpriest.

Speckdorf is the home see of the Bishop of Adlertal; all the archpriests of the former Duchy are supposed to answer to him, but they are as divisive a bunch, with their own loyalties, as the nobles of that shattered realm.

Adlerburg is the home see of the Bishop of Adlerburg, which includes all the north-western non-riverine domains of the Fuerstentum of Adlerstadt.

The Grand Priest of Hoch Adlerdorf is a special see, carved out of the Bishopric of Adlerburg during the early days of the Gottic Empire. Old Ernst I felt it not meet that he should be served by a “mere” archpriest yet didn’t want to appoint the local archpriest as a bishop with all the rights appertaining thereto. Thus he created, with the approval of the Patriarch, the position of Grand Priest, which he and later emperors used to entitle specific archpriests with additional rights and privileges short of those of a bishop. The Grand Priest still must provide honors to his bishop, but is superior in rank to other regional archpriests. In other areas with Grand Priests this has developed, like the Prince-Bishops, into a situation where there are Grand Priest-Freigrafs, enfeoffed with both secular and church lands.

The vestments of a typical parish pastor or village or town priest, when at services or performing rites, are a simple black ankle-length robe over which he wears an ankle-length white tunic. The tunic is held together by a wide girdle and partially covered by a wide stole. The Gregorian Cross is worn on a chain or necklace, prominently displayed on the chest above the robe and tunic. The colors of the girdle and stole can vary depending on the specific rite, service, or season. In addition, archpriests also wear skull caps and bishops wear miters.

Rank     Social Equivalent
Tonsured Religious/Oblate     Peasant
Novice – Porter     Peasant
Novice – Lector     Peasant
Novice – Baptist     Peasant
Novice – Friar/Brother/Sister     Peasant
Acolyte/Monk/Nun     Burgher
Subdeacon/Canon     Burgher
Deacon/Prioress     Burgher
Pastor/Prior/Abbess*     Noble
Priest/Abbot*/Presbyter**     Lord
Archpriest*/Monsignor**     Baron
Bishop*/Curate**     Count
Archbishop*/Prelate**     Duke
Primate*/Cardinal**     Prince or King
Patriarch     Emperor

* Depending on the lands that they hold in the name of the church, these are the lowest social equivalents for these ranks in the hierarchy.

** These are the members of the clergy armigerous, the wandering crusading clerics of the faith.

The Gregorian Church only ordains men beyond the level of Pastor; though an Abbess is equivalent to a Pastor in honors, she is below him in the hierarchy, regardless of the extent and wealth her nunnery might hold in the name of the Church. All those of Priest rank and above, as well as all those who enter a monastic order, must take a vow of Celibacy (including a vow of Chastity). Those entering a monastery or friary must also usually take vows of Poverty and Obedience.

10% of Oblates are 1st level clerics; in the novitiate, this increases to 15% at Porter, 20% at Lector, 25% at Baptist, and 50% at Brother/Friar/Sister. 100% of all Acolytes, Monks, and Nuns are at least 1st level. Subdeacons are at least 1st or 2nd level, Deacons 2nd or 3rd level, Pastors 3rd level, Priests 4th level, Archpriests 5th level, Bishops 6th level, Archbishops 7th level, Primates 8th level, and the Patriarch is at least 9th level. Note that though a cleric might attain great spiritual power, represented by his attaining 10th or greater level, he might never advance higher than a mere pastor in the hierarchy of the church.

NOBLES: Finally, a small number, perhaps one in 50, of the peoples of the Adlerbergen are counted among the nobility, or edlen, ranging from the landless adeligen, or aristocrats, who merely have the right to claim descent from noble lines, to the rich, powerful, grasping, and petty Freigrafs (Grand Counts) of Talstadt, Radlerburg, Heideburg, Hochstein, Grosstal, and Vesttal. Most edlen are of highly-mixed type, due to intermarriage with distant noble families. Thus the edlen are often quite distinct in appearance, if not culture, from their local subjects.

What was stated about the burghers with the wealth and ostentatious nature of their consumption also goes for the nobility, though this is tempered by the need of the nobles to maintain their knights, men-at-arms, militias, and fortresses. By tradition remaining from old Gottic Law, the Hermelinrechte, only nobles may wear ermine cloaks, non-sovereign nobles limited to a cape, while the untitled nobles may wear only ermine cuffs and collars. Similarly, only nobles may wear federmanteln (feather coats), while burghers may wear feather capes, and commoners only individual or bunches of feathers; one of the laws promulgated by Ernst I long ago. Finally, also by tradition dating to the Gottic Empire, only nobles may wear Royal Blue; other blues are allowed, but only nobles may wear that color known as Royal Blue, and then they are limited in how much they can wear by their rank and title. Only the Gottic Emperor could wear all Royal Blue.

Nobles are also entitled to wear a circlet of gold; those of Freiritter status and higher may wear a circlet; those of Freigraf and higher may wear a coronet; and those of grand duke and better a full crown. Locally, the preferred decoration for these forms of headgear are egg-shaped orbs, of gold and silver, the more in number and the greater in value the higher the title (or claim). Lesser sovereigns may wear a jeweled eagle head, while royalty may wear a full eagle complete with wings. Local favored gems are pearls, sapphires, and amethysts; pearls and sapphires are favored, blue being the color of the Gottic Throne, while rubies and emeralds are right out, being the colors of the Itlanian and Elysian Thrones, respectively. Many of the more ostentatious nobles have iron crowns, in the style of their regnal crown, done in relief upon their helms, sometimes complete with gems.

Nobles wear the best armor they can afford; usually this is plate mail, though some have full plate. Knights are always armed with long sword, mace, and lance, while those not sworn to the arts martial have a much wider variety of weapons to choose from. Few are the nobles who dare lead their men from behind, so most nobles are well-acquainted with weaponry; if they are not knights, they are usually fighters, usually of 3rd to 5th level.

Common     Gyrazisch
Noble     Edler
Knight     Ritter
Lord     Herr
Free Knight     Freiritter*
Baron     Baron
Arch Baron     Freiherr*
Viscount     Burggraf
Count     Graf
Grand Count     Freigraf*
Marquis     Markgraf
Duke     Herzog
Grand Duke     Grossherzog**
Prince     Fuerst**
King     Koenig**
Emperor     Kaiser***

Titles indicated are the masculine versions; add the suffix –in to transform the title to a feminine title. Thus, edler becomes edlerin, herr becomes herrin, and graf becomes grafin, etc. The exceptions to this rule are ritter which becomes walkuere and baron which becomes baronessin. The wife of a ruling noble holds the same title as her husband, while the husband of a female ruling noble holds whatever lesser title his wife may give him; if he has no other, he is known merely as the prinzgemahl, or prince consort, the only time the term prince is applied in a non-royal situation.

* These titles indicate sovereignty from the rule of another greater lord.

** These titles are considered sovereign and royal titles; though other titles may indicate sovereignty, they are not considered royalty. A ruler of a principality is a fuerst (or fuerstin); an heir to a royal throne is a prinz (or prinzessin). A young noble non-royal heir or even an adult noble who does not stand directly in line to inherit is referred to as a junker (or junkfrau), or “young lord.”

*** The Imperial Throne of the Gottic Empire has been vacant since 1953. The title of high king (hochkoenig) has remained vacant since the ascension of Hochkoenig Ernst V of Gyrax to Emperor Ernst I of the Gottic Realm.

Type     Coin
CP     Pfennig, Penny (Moorgaard)
SP     Schilling, Guilder (Adlerstadt)
EP     Thaler, Half-Crown (Moorgaard)
GP     Mark, Crown (Moorgaard)
PP     Adler (Adlerstadt only)

Typical exports of the area include wool, cow hides, cattle on the hoof, cheese (each valley having its own style), and beer (ditto). Most of the grain and hay raised is for local consumption, and only cheese and beer are produced in enough quantities for export.

Other minor but notable exports are mentioned in the locales from which they originate. Of late, of course, the vast treasures acquired beneath Castle Adlerstein and other nearby dungeons and caverns of the Underworld have flowed through the region, especially Hoch Adlerdorf, which has experienced boomtown resurgence (and inflation). All legal adventures into the depths beneath Adlerstein, of course, require the writ of the Fuerst of Adlerstadt, especially as his men hold the partially restored castle above. However, every nook, crevasse, crack, and cranny of the region that might, by myth, legend, or rumor wend its way into the dungeons is also in the process of being explored…

Gotha have pale pink to ruddy skin tones; they tend to freckle rather than tan. Eye color is green, blue, indigo, or violet. Hair color ranges from tawny brown and sandy blonde to gold and platinum white and is straight to curly. The Gotha peoples of the Adlerbergen, like their distant cousins in the Thundigoth Isles, are very hirsute. Height is medium to tall, with a medium to muscular build. Skeletal structure is heavy, with pronounced brow ridges, cheeks, and jutting jaw, though not remotely as severe as that among the goblinoids.

The Adlerslaegt of the Adlerbergen remain true to the classic type, though the Adlerisch of the lowland plains are much more mixed. Other Gyrazisch are heavily mixed with the old Guidhel/Elysian base, moreso among the southern Gyrazisch across the Lesser Heart River from the Septarchy and less so among the Gottish on the plains of Gyrax. Those from the west are mixed with the Bagaudians, while those from the north and northeast are mixed with Mhoriedhel and the Aurlandish, respectively.

Names are German in form, though Old English and even modern English names are common among the lowland plains peoples, while slightly more Nordic names are found among the Adlerslaegt and Adlerisch. Most peasants have but the one name, though some families use an old clan name based on an honored ancestor. Individuals are differentiated with an epithet, usually based on some physical or personality characteristic, or based on their home using the particle af, or of, as in Jorgen af Hochstein.

Burgher families often have family names based on their craft, trade, or an honored ancestor; those with a famous family hall might be known as being of that hall, as per peasants, above, though no burgher would ever be named as being of their village or town, let they are confused for a peasant or mistaken for a noble.

Noble houses usually have a family name based on an ancestor, but are also known by their domain name, using the nobiliary particle von for their place of origin; thus, Ralf, Baron of Obersee is also Ralf von Obersee. Similarly used particles include zu (sometimes used in the construct von und zu, or from and of). Nobles of houses that claim descent from ancient Gotha heroes of the migration era or before use the particle ur, rather than von or zu; there are no such noble families in the region.

MALE NAMES: Abbo, Albrecht, Alf, Andreas, Arnd, Arno,  Ari, Aric, Arnulf, Axel, Bard, Beorn, Bernd, Berthold, Bodo, Botho, Brand, Bruno, Dagobert, Dagur, Den, Dierk, Dieter, Dietrich, Dolf, Egil, Egon, Einar, Eirik, Elmar, Elvis, Emil, Erhard, Ernst, Erwin, Ewald, Fabian, Falko, Felix, Ferdinand, Florian, Franz, Friedrich, Fritz, Gandalf, Geir, Gerhard, Guenther, Gustav, Hagen, Haldor, Halfdan, Halvar, Hans, Hansel, Harald, Hartmut, Hartwig, Heiner, Heinrich, Heinz, Helmut, Herbert, Holger, Horst, Hrafn, Hugo, Iarl, Ivar, Jens, Jorgen, Kai, Karl, Keld, Klaus, Knud, Konrad, Kurt, Kurt, Lars, Lenz, Leon, Leopold, Leuk, Lothar, Ludwig, Lukas, Luther, Lutz, Magnor, Manfred, Martin, Max, Maximilian, Meinhard, Nils, Norbert, Odd, Odo, Olaf, Ole, Olof, Orvar, Otto, Ragnar, Raimund, Rainer, Ralf, Randolf, Reinhard, Reinhold, Rikard, Roald, Rudolf, Ruediger, Rupert, Siegfried, Sigismund, Stenn, Stigg, Sven, Sverr, Tarben, Till, Tobias, Torsten, Udo, Uffe, Ulf, Ulrich, Urs, Uwe, Vidar, Viggo, Viktor, Volker, Wendel, Wenzel, Werner, Wilfried, Wolf.

FEMALE NAMES: Alheid, Alva, Ana, Anka, Asa, Asdis, Asla, Asta, Astrid, Berta, Birga, Bodila, Brinia, Britta, Brunhild, Dagmar, Dagny, Daniela, Dora, Ebba, Edda, Eidis, Eira, Eirika, Elfriede, Elka, Elsa, Elva, Embla, Emma, Erla, Erna, Frieda, Garda, Geira, Gertrud, Gida, Gisela, Gitta, Gretl, Groa, Gudrun, Gulla, Gunna, Hedda, Hedwig, Heide, Heidi, Heike, Helga, Helma, Herta, Hilda, Hiordis, Hulda, Ida, Idun, Ilka, Ilsa, Ilva, Inga, Iorun, Irma, Jana, Jutta, Karin, Karla, Katia, Katrin, Klara, Laila, Lara, Lea, Lena, Lenora, Letta, Linda, Lotta, Ludwiga, Magna, Maxine, Meina, Mila, Mina, Monika, Ottila, Ragna, Renate, Ritta, Rosa, Runa, Sabine, Sabrina, Saga, Sandra, Sassa, Sieghild, Sieglind, Signa, Sigrid, Sigrun, Silke, Silvi, Solveig, Tania, Theda, Ulla, Ulrika, Unner, Ursula, Uta, Vigdis, Walburga, Walpurga, Wendelin, Wilfrieda, Wilhelmina, Wilma, Winfried.

Dwarves are native to the Starcrag Peaks. Known as Drunglor (plural, singular Drunglo) in the Dwarvish tongue, dwarves have slate gray skin, gray or black eyes, and curly or wavy black hair. They are very hirsute, with some males approaching the description of “furry.” Males and females alike wear long beards, leading to the myth that there are no female dwarves. Dwarves stand 4’ tall on average and weigh 150 pounds. They can live to be more than 400 years old.

Dwarves are masters of mining, stonework, jewelry making, smithing, and warfare. Goblins are their especial enemies, as they seek the same mines that the dwarves claim for themselves. Drunglor have settled the lesser mountains and more pertinent hills of the Middle Lands, and can be found in the cities, towns, and even villages of the Middle Lands, where they work as masons, smiths, and jewelers. The local clans, known as the Drunglospitze Clans, rule the domains of Drunglostein, Drunglodorf, and Drungburg, while individuals and small family groups can be found in the larger villages of the Adlerbergen.

Drunglor are capable of interbreeding with humans, elves, gnomes, and halflings. The child of a dwarf and an elf or a dwarf and a gnome results in the birth of a gnome, while a cross with a human or halfling results in a halfling of the Stout variety.

Once upon a time the elves ruled the Olden Lands, from the Twilight Peaks to the Sea of Storms, and from the Vahendhath to the Serene Sea. Today they are a much-reduced people, keeping mostly to their kingdom of Avalandia in the Verdhulann Forest. Known as Avalanté (plural, singular Avalantí) in the Elvish tongue, elves have pale, almost shimmering snow white skin, large piercing ice-blue or emerald-green eyes with very large pupils, and straight or wavy golden hair. They have no body hair other than eyebrows. Their ears have no lobes, are twice as long as those of men, and pointed. Elves stand 6’ tall on average and weigh in at 150 pounds; their build has a fey, angular, inhuman grace. They can live to be more than 1,200 years of age; some are said to be truly immortal.

Elves are masters of woodworking, weaving, smithing, and magic. Orcs are their especial enemies, for it is said that orcs are descended from fallen elves. Avalanté settlements can be found throughout the forests of the Middle Lands and Western Lands, though few approach the size and glory of the elf-towns of the Verdhulann. There are two such settlements in the region – Birkenturm on the eastern slopes of the Central Adlerbergen and Albenhoehe in the southern hills. Most “elves” encountered in the villages of the region are actually half-elves, a result of the isolated incidents when elves find agreeable human mates – for a time.

Elves are capable of interbreeding with humans, dwarves, giantings, gnomes, and halflings. The crossing of human and elf results in a half-elf; half-elves are actually slightly shorter than humans, with a more human-like build, and can have skin, hair, and eye color like that of their human parent, but otherwise similar to their elven parent. They usually live for up to 400 years, though some have the lifespan of their elven heritage. Half-elves as such are a stable sub-race, as the half-elven type is always dominant, and when half-elves cross with humans or elves or half-elves, the result is always another half-elf. Other crossings of a half-elf are as per a human.

The crossing of an elf with a dwarf or an elf with a gnome results in a gnome. The cross of an elf with a halfling results in a halfling of the Tallfellow variety (aka, a wood elf).

Gnomes are native to the Hills of Hugelin in the Middle Lands, east of Mhoriedh and north of Aurlandia. Known as Hugelôr (plural, singular Hugelo) in the Gnomish tongue, gnomes have light gray skin, blue, gray, green, or hazel eyes, and curly or wavy sandy blond, brown, or black hair. Males usually wear short beards; some females are capable of growing beards, or at least extensive sideburns. Their ears are elven, though rather than standing tall and firm they flop and droop a bit, and they have large, bulbous noses. Gnomes stand 3’6” on average and weigh 80 pounds. Gnomes can live to be more than 600 years old. Gnomes are not only an independent, stable race; they also result from the cross between a dwarf and an elf. Most gnomes welcome these cousins with open arms.

Gnomes tend to small gardens and trade their gems, jewelry, and worked wood and metal items for needed grains and other foods. Gnomes prefer to use illusion magic, the better to shield their communities from the depredations of men and humanoids alike. Hugelôr settlements are rare, save in Hugelheim, their native homeland. Elsewhere they live in the cities and towns of the big folk, safely behind stout walls. Gnomes are very rare in the area, due to the local enmity between the Drunglospitze Dwarves and the Elves of Albenhoehe. Most of the gnomes native to the region fled for other lands following the start of the feud during the Twelve Years War; a few remain in Hoch Adlerdorf, where they are agents for their cousins who trade along the Great Heart River.

Gnomes can interbreed with humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings. The cross between a dwarf and gnome or an elf and gnome is always a gnome; the cross between a gnome and a human or halfling results in a halfling of the Hairfoot variety.

Halflings are native to the meadows and plains of the Middle Lands, particularly their own domain known as Thornshire. Known as Fhraloidheen (plural, singular Fhraloidh) in the Halfling tongue, halflings have light tan skin, brown, green, or blue eyes, and blonde, brown, or black curly hair. Males of the Stouts (Ghearoidheen) regularly grow beards; beards are less common among the Hairfeet (Gruaigoidheen), and all but unknown among the Tallfellows (Aihroidheen). Ears are elf-like, most prominently so among the Tallfellows, less so among the Hairfeet, and least among the Stouts. All halflings have large feet covered with curly hair; this is most pronounced among the Hairfeet (naturally), less so with Stouts, and least among the Tallfellows. Stouts stand 2’9” tall, Hairfeet 3’, and Tallfellows 3’6” tall, while all varieties weigh in at about 60 pounds. Hairfeet can live to about 100 years, Stouts 150 years, and Tallfellows 200 years.

Fhraloidheen live in green meadows, fertile vales, rolling hills, and fair forests. Most Hairfeet live in well-build artificial subterranean dwellings; Stouts prefer natural caves and Tallfellows prefer fine wooden houses or treehouses (those living in the trees often being misnamed as “wood elves”). Halflings are mostly concerned with the rustic needs of farm and field, garden and orchard, brewery, home, and hearth. Few are martial in nature, and far fewer are adventurers. They are unlikely to wield magic or pray to the gods, believing that the simpler life has no need of such complexities… though they do enjoy a good pyrotechnic show! They have no particular enemies among the humanoids or any other race, though bugbears are the featured boogey-men of their bedtime tales, due to their stealth and propensity to eat a small halfling in one bite.

Fhraloidheen settlements are scattered throughout the Middle Lands. While they prefer to hold their own lands, some have no problem living with the “big folk,” as they call humans, dwarves, and elves. Stouts generally live near dwarves, Tallfellows near elves, and Hairfeet near humans. Thornshire is their great independent homeland, to which all other halfling settlements defer in issues of culture and legal precedence. Though not all that distant from the Thornshire, locally most halflings are of the half-breed variety; halflings are quite rare in the area. Being raised among their human, dwarf, or elven family means that they know little of the Fhraloidheen culture, not even so much as the language.

While halflings are a stable race, they can also result from interbreeding between other races. The child of a human and a halfling or gnome and halfling is always a Hairfoot halfling. The child of a dwarf and halfling is a Stout halfling. The child of an elf and a halfling is a Tallfellow halfling. Stouts, Hairfeet, and Tallfellows are stable within their own varieties, but any cross between two varieties results in a Hairfoot.

The primary faith of the human populace is that of the Gregorian Church, also known as the Temple of Law. Founded 1000 years ago by the First Prophet of Law, Gregorius the Law-Giver, it is dedicated to the God of Law, Theus, said to be the Father and Maker of the Titans. The faith rejects all other gods as being merely imposters; though it acknowledges that they are powerful beings, they are at best subservient to Theus, and at worst in opposition to Theus and His Ordained Way of Law. Though the Church is dedicated to Law and Good, for the most part the hierarchy concentrates more on Order than the common Weal, often a point of contention between the wandering Poor Brothers and the local Parish Priests.

The three Great Enemies of the Church are the Dungeon God, the King of Hell, and the Crimson God, all powerful beings dedicated to the ways of Chaos. The Church of course opposes all Chaos Gods, naming them, naturally, as merely Demons and not Gods, but these are the Big Three. The clergy are well-armed in their battles against these, possessing the ability to turn or even destroy their primary servants, the undead, devils, and demons, respectively. The innate power of the Gregorian Cross, the Theus-Rune and symbol of the Four Pillars of the Faith, is such that it can hold creatures of such ilk at bay, even if held in the hands of a non-religious.

Locally, the Dungeon God is the primary fiend in the harangues of the clerics and the witch-takers, as the Adlerbergen remains near and dear to his heart, having been his primary hold during his first life as the Accursed Titan Moerdreth. The goblins of the mountains are his servants, and the Underworld of the region is said to be his own private domain. Less important is the King of Hell, a Western gold-eyed devil, though with the arrival of his worshipers, the Paynim Kartaghans, with their invasion and extirpation of the Grand Duchy of Moorgaard to the north, more of their foul priests have been encountered of late. The Demon of the South, the Crimson God, also known as the Old Serpent, is little known locally, of interest only to sages and those interested in the Gottic Crusades in the South.

Of the Pagan Gods, most are not directly opposed to the Gregorian Church; most merely seek to stay out of the way of its clergy. Some have been allied with the cause of Law from the first, acknowledging the superiority of Theus; these cults are trusted, more or less, by the clergy and enjoy special status where the Gregorian Church is supreme.

Locally, the most important of these is the Cult of the Immortal Eagle, Iolarh. God, father, and king of the giant eagles, his worship has been kept by the barbarian Guidhel and the Gotha since time immemorial. He is a god of the hunt, a god of war, and a god of kings. Though personally neutral with respect to the battles between Law and Chaos, Iolarh and his followers struggle for the common Good, within the understanding that, in the natural world, there are always predators and prey – in the terms of men, lords and servants. Adlerstadt and the House of Adlerstein are major supporters of the civilized cult of Iolarh, which recognizes the supremacy of Theus. The Royal Knights of the Golden Eagle of Adlerstadt are all cult members.

Locally, in the Southern Adlerbergen the independent worship of other Pagan Gods has been all but extinguished, though there remain plenty of old shrines that the rural populace tend to now and again, as a hidden undercurrent of Druidism remains strong among the rural peasantry of the region. The local Druidic faith swept up and absorbed the remnants of other Pagan cults during the local Gottic Crusades that razed the Pagan temples of the region in the late 18th Century. The Druids, locally quite solitary and usually reclusive hermits, primarily maintain the old rites of Mother Earth, the Sky King, the Lord of the Forest, the Lady of Flowers, Old Tree, and even the Reaper. Regardless of the warnings of the Gregorian sermons, they have no truck with the bloodier rituals more popular among the Druidic Circles of the Northern Wilds.

The local Druids answer to the High Druid of the Adlerbergen, who holds his Circle in the Northern Adlerbergen, where Paganism in general and Druidism in particular are much stronger and more open. Recently the High Druid has sought to expand the influence of the faith in the Southern Adlerbergen, concerned at the resurgence of Chaos at Castle Adlerstein, seeking to bring things back to a proper balance ere a terrible war breaks out between Law and Chaos. This is in opposition to the wait-and-see policy preferred by the Archdruid of Gyrax, resident in Pfeilburg to the west (where Druidism is the state religion, and seems far less threatened). The local Druids are split between the two factions of action and inaction.

The local dwarves revere the Lord of Stone and Mother Earth, whom they consider to be their creators, and adhere to ancestral sects within the greater Dwarf Temple. Dwarf smiths also honor the Iron God, while warriors follow the Storm Lord as a patron of battle. The elves follow their classic trinity of Lord of the Forest, Lady of Flowers, and the strange and the mysterious Laughing God; some also revere the Hidden God, for his power over magic and hidden wisdom.