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Michael has worked in the computer industry for over 7 years with windows, linux and as/400 technologies including development in several languages including c#, php and sql.

EQRPG: The Northlands


The Northlands

Far to the north, Antonica becomes bitterly cold, the land itself frozen and buried beneath ice and snow. These are the Northlands, where few races dare go. Yet one race not only dares but conquers, making its home here amid the ice. The Northlands are home to the barbarian nation.

The Northmen (as they call themselves) are a powerful force in their own lands. The Northern Nation is a loose collection of tribes and villages, in part owing to the harsh conditions of their lands — storms often prevent contact with other groups for weeks or even months, so the Northmen are accustomed to handling their own affairs. This makes the nation less cohesive, perhaps, but its individual components are stronger, and if the nation’s leaders were to fall, the rest of the nation could still survive. History has in fact proven this to be so, and while other nations may scoff at the Northmen and belittle their “primitive” communities, few have attempted to invade the Northlands. and no one has attempted it twice.

The icy, inhospitable lands of the frozen North are filled with unsolved mysteries and potential threats, as well as hidden treasures.

Conditions

The Northlands are cold year-round. Temperatures hardly ever rise above freezing except near the coast and along the southern border, and even in those places it rarely gets that warm. In the interior and to the north, the temperature is often below O degrees Fahrenheit, and water will freeze in an instant. For the most part, summer isa time of clear skies and temperatures just below freezing, while winter is filled with intense cold, bitter wind, and violent storms that can last for weeks or even months. The ground is always frozen, and in most places it is covered by at least a foot or more Of snow and ice. Few plants can survive here: only evergreen trees and small scrub brushes. For further details on the weather and terrain of the North, see Chapter Three.

Cutting up from the southwest and running through the center ofthe nation are the Everfrost peaks, a collection of jagged. rocky mountains, sometimes covered in treacher- ous snow and other times bare to the wind. The rest of the Northlands is mostly plains, cold flat expanses of land with nothing to shield the wind and snow. Some canyons and gulleys exist, worn deep into the rocks over time, and villages often nestle within these for protection from the harsh winds. The city of Halas sits in the largest of these canyons, an actual valley cut into the Everfrost peaks. To the east of Halas lie the Frigid Plains, vast glacial lands which even the Northmen rarely cross.

Creation

The Northmen’s skalds tell of a time when the world was still unformed, when the gods did walk upon it creating animals and plants to suit their own natures. The last two to reach Norrath, Mithaniel Marr (god of Valor) and Erollisi Marr (goddess of Love) created the barbarians together. These twin gods imbued the race with the hardi- ness to withstand the cold northern climes, but also with an inherent nobility many others lacked. Their exterior was created rugged and rough, the better to endure wind and Snow , but deep within the barbarian beat a heart of pure and noble intent, and a mind unsullied by the baser desires of the other races. In this way, according to legend, the Northmen became one with their environment — often cold and unforgiving, sometimes even harsh and cruel- seeming, but always without deception or ill intent.

According to these tales, the Northman has always lived in the Northlands, and was indeed created specifically to dwell in that region. The barbarians therefore consider the Northlands as their birthright, a gift granted by the gcxls themselves, and hold to that land with a religious fervor. Indi viduals may depart the area, traveling to the south or even to other continents, but usually this is treated as a long-term quest to gain wisdom and experience. Most barbarians retum to the north eventually, whether they settle in their original community or in a new one, and use their new knowledge and skills to further the nation as a whole.

Some even claim, although it is considered a conceit even among most barbarians, that the Northman was shaped from the ice of the north, and this explains his inability to stay away from his snowy homeland — leaving the northern climes becomes uncomfortable over time, as body and soul begin to thaw and melt. Only in the north, where the air is crisp and stings the lungs, can the Northman’s blood remain cool and his body stay whole and strong.

Legends

The first king of the Northmen, according to tales, was Dugan the Golden, a tall powerful man whose beard and hair were of streaming gold, Crowned by the Marr twins themselves, and granted the fabled Croum of the North as a symbol of his leadership, Dugan transformed his clannish people into a cohesive race, uniting them by their love for their land and their love of battle. During this time, other races had made forays into the Northlands, but Dugan and his warriors drove them out, clearly establishing their possession of the North and creating border towers to maintain watch against future incursions.

Interestingly, most Northmen do not worship the Marr twins. despite owing their creation to those gods. Instead, the N orthmen worship the Tribunal , also known as the Six Hammers. This worship dates back to the Time of the Axe, when the Northmen were ruled by Killian Blood-Axe, a mighty warrior whose great axe constantly dripped blood — human as well as animal or goblin. Killian was a powerful man, blessed by the gods themselves, and no mortal could stand against him. But Killian’s reason was soaked in blood, like his great axe, so that he became cruel and peremptory, issuing commands that increased his own wealth and power at the expense of the nation. Many tried to reason with him, but objections were met with the blade ofhis axe, and eventually no one remained to challenge the Blood Axe’s rule. The people appealed to the Marr twins, begging their aid, but the gods refused to involve them. selves. Mithaniel stated that Killian was a mighty warrior whose valor had been proven many times, so the tyrant had his blessing by Covenant, despite any misgivings; Erollisi loved Killian as the direct descendan t ofher beloved Dugan the Golden, so she could not countenance any rebellion against him.

The bloody reign continued for many years, until finally a young warrior named Connall stepped forward to cham- pion his people’s rights. This powerful youth confronted Killian Blood Axe — and was Exaten near to death for daring to oppose the sovere ign. Battered and bloody, left for dead, Connall cast one last appeal to the gods, and his bitter cry was answered. But not by the Marr. Instead, he was visited by the Six Hammers, who restored Connall to health and granted their blessing on his quest to remove Killian Blood-Axe. The Six Hammers embodied justice, and the Northlands cried out for vengeance against the atrocities of their own ruler. Connall returned to the Killian’s keep and slew him in combat, shattering the axe with a blow from his own mighty sword. He then refused Killian’s crown, tossing it instead into the air, where it passed above the clouds to become a constellation of stars that forever after showed Northmen the way home. ConnaIl appointed a council of elders to rule in his stead, and disappeared. Some say he is still standing on a tall peak, watching over his nation, to ensure that no new Killian can rise to power.

The next great ruler of the North was King Ian Malcomson, who began life as a skald but went on to become a mighty warrior. Ian traveled to the far eastern edge of the Northlands, deep into the Frigid Plains, and had many strange and wondrous adventures. M alcomson fought many ice goblins and ice giants and withstood attacks by various wild beasts. Finally, he reached the edge of the land, and there he beheld off the coast an island made from a single block of ice. Even as he stood and watched, the central spire of the Crown of the North, high overhead, began to gleam brightly. Then, from that star, a bright light burst forth and crashed into the island, shattering it into a thousand knife-edged fragments and creating a great gout of steam and heat. Ian took this for a sign and hastily constructed a small boat, which he then paddled across to the island’s remains. There, resting upon a piece of ice barely larger than itself, he found a circlet of metal the likes of which he had never seen, for it was as cold and clear as the purest ice, and freezing to the touch.

Malcomson carried this object back with him, and through trickery and other means he prevailed upon the smiths of the ice giants to craft him a crown in the image of the Crown of the North, and around the base they affixed the circlet itself, so that the crown seemed to rise from ice. Malcomson bore this treasure back to his people and there proclaimed himself the new King of the North. His fair demeanor and clever words won the love of the peop le, and his brave deeds eamed the respect of the warriors, so Malcomson’s proclamation was upheld by the council, and he became king. For many years he reigned wisely and well, and his crown granted him power over ice and snow so that the Northmen profited as never before and were happy. Upon his father’s death, Malcomson’s son Virgil claimed the crown and the throne, despite the objections of the council. He set the crown upon his head — and then screamed in pain, for suddenly the circlet had become white-hot, as if the heat of its impact with the isle had finally been released. Virgil died before any could save him, and the council took this as a sign that the next king should not be chosen by blood but by virtue.

History

For centuries the Kingdom of the North stood, like its people, tall and proud. The Northmen maintained a solid border to the south, with border towers strung across it and guards posted at each location. Roads had been carved into the ice to facilitate travel between villages and cities, and messengers traveled these routes on a weekly basis. carrying news and any directives from the capital. The land was ruled ably by the King of the North, although the position was not hereditary: At the death of the previous king, the council of elders would meet and select a new ruler, sometimes from their own ranks. King and the council shared their power, and the Northmen grew prosperous from trade and through their own industry.

Unfortunately, this increased prosperity drew the atten- tion of other nations, and of other races. Small skirmishes had occurred in the past, but each time the Northmen beat back any invaders, and the other races had learned to fear their strength at arms. But as the Northlands grew in wealth, southem monarchs became more determined to ravage those lands and claim their riches. At the dawn of the current age, the Goblin Empire formed a pact with the gnolls and the ice giants, and the three combined forces to destroy the Northmen. This attack took three forms.

The first was a direct assault from the south, targeting the border towers to prevent an alarm from sounding. The towers were torn down at night by giants and their guards slain, so that the armies could then march across the border without fear ofdiscovery. The second element of the attack was a clever foray by the goblins, armed with magical torches provided by the giants — these quick-moving invaders ran along the tops of the Northem roads, using their torches to melt the causeways and bury the channels in snow. This isolated each village and prevented the Northmen from rallying quickly. The third portion of the invasion was the most vicious, for the gnolls massed upon the capital of the Northern Nation and razed it to the ground, slaughtering everyone they could find. The King of the North, old Gristag Winetongue, was murdered in his sleep, and all of his family with him. Likewise, the council of elders were slain to a man, leaving the nation without a single leader and without any way to organize a proper defense.

Individual Northmen fought back, ofcourse, and villages mounted local defenses, but the nation itself was lost to the hordes of goblins, gnolls, and giants. Those three races demolished every building they could find, tearing down centuries of work in a matter of weeks and making off with every valuable they could carry. Fortunately, the gnolls had no desire to remain in the cold and the goblins soon lost interest once there was little easy blood left to be spilled, so they both returned to their own lands after the devastation, leaving only the ice giants behind.

For many years the ice giants ruled the Northmen as local lords, forcing the Northmen to provide them with food and drink and other comforts. Several times villages rebelled, but each time the giants crushed them before the news could spread. It was not until the rise of Burke Wingfoot that the reign of the giants came to an end. Burke was a young hunter, so light on his feet, it is said, that he could run across loose snow as if it were solid ground. While his village made ready to defy the giants, Burke traveled to the other villages in their area and convinced each to join the rebellion. The local giant lord suspected trouble, and several times he pursued Burke, but the youth’s speed was such that he outran the giant and his servants easily. Eventually, all was prepared, and the villages of the area rose up as one and slew their giant oppressors. Burke then carried this news to the next area, and so on, until the entire Northland had been won back from the ice giants. In gratitude, his people offered him the crown, but Burke refused it, as had Connall in the ancient tales. He suggested instead that the council of elders be recreated, but that no new king be crowned after this time so that the kingdom’s government could be less centralized to prevent a recurrence of the last disaster.

This gave rise to the Northern Nation, which remains in place to this day. Due to the Nation’s unusual new struc- ture, though, it was many years before other countries even realized that the barbarians had any organization or gov- ernment, and even longer before they recognized the Northlands as a sovereign nation. Antonius Bayle I was the first to officially acknowledge the barbarian dominion. His scouts had traveled to the north, ostensibly to map all of Antonica, but actually to help Bayle decide whether he should annex the North as part of his new kingdom. Upon reaching the Northlands, however, the scouts found them- selves surrounded by barbarians who moved so stealthily that they had seemingly arisen from the ice itself. Swearing that they harbored no ill intent, the scouts were brought before the local chieftain, who listened to their explana- tion of why they had entered the area. “Tell your master to stay clear,” the chieftain finally advised. “The Northern Nation is not open to claim, and any who try will discover just how tightly we control our lands.”

Upon receiving this message, Bayle sent a second team of scouts to a different area of the Northlands. These men were trapped by a different band Of barbarians and taken to a different chieftian, who yet told them, “Your master already been warned: Stay clear of the Northern Nation,” After a third attempt, with a similar degree ofsuccess, Bayle finally conceded that the Northlands were united in some way, and after that point he treated the distant area as a fellow nation, albeit one with no clear government or ruler.

Organization

Before the great attack of the giants, goblins, and gnolls — known to skalds and historians alike as the Devastation — the Northern Nation was ruled from the capital city of Loch Lir, built alongside the frozen lake of the same name. The nation was divided into many regions, and each area had a central keep; ifenough people lived nearby, the keep grew into a city of its own. Each keep was responsible for its area, and for the roads linking it to its neighbors. Border towers and watchposts were only neces- sary to the south, although each keep maintained patrols to watch for wild animals and other roving monsters. Within the keep’s region were several villages, each one with its own elder who then answered to the local chieftain.

After defeating the ice giants and regaining their home- land, the Northmen decided not to rebuild those keeps — the walled buildings would be obvious targets if any force invaded again. Instead, their villages became more impor- tant, each one having a local chieftain to decide “matters ofstate.” In this way, ifa single village were to be destroyed, its neighbors could still function and the area as a whole would survive without major damage. The villages are dotted about the landscape, each at least a half day’s travel from its neighbors, and they are maintained at their current size — if enough children are bom to require expansion, several enterprising locals move and start a new village elsewhere.

The one exception to this rule is Halas, the only remain- ingcity in the Northlands. Halas is the center of the North, located almost exactly in the middle of the northern coast, and as such it is a major destination for most travelers. Many assume that the city is the seat of government in the North, but this is inaccurate. While Halas does hold some influence over the rest of the Northlands, it does not directly control the villages, and if the city were to fall, the villages and the Nation itself would still survive.

Borders

The Northern Nation covers the entire northern end of Antonica. Its territory stops just shy of the Unkempt Wood in the West and the Lavastorm Mountains in the East — probably as much because the North men didn ‘t want those areas as because anyone opposed their claim. Although other races sometimes refer to the northwest tip of Antonica as the Northlands, the name properly includes Everfrost peak and the Frigid Plains and all the lands between the two.

Ofcourse , not many people would contest the Northmen ‘s claims, since few other races wish to live in such a cold and bitter climate.

Villages

On the surface, to an outlander, each Northman village is merely a collection of dome-shaped tents. These small dwellings are usually made of animal hides stretched over a frame of wood or bone, with flaps for doors. A small pile of coals is kept burning in the center of the room to heat the dwelling, and a hole in the top Of the hut allows the smoke to escape. Furs are thrown on the ground as well , to keep the cold from seeping in, and a pile offurs is used for a bed. The huts have little else in the way of furnishings, since the furs can serve as chairs and tables as well as a bed.

This rustic appearance is a ruse, however. The Northmen are more complicated and more sophisticated than most visitors realize, and their villages’ appearance is deliberate.

Each hut contains a trapdoor carved of wood or bone which is covered in frozen dirt and ice to match the rest of the hut floor. When raised, the trapdoor reveals a short tunnel carved into the ground itself. This leads to the actual dwelling, which is belowground for warmth and security. The Northmen dig their homes into the ice, and each dwelling contains a large central room with several small sleeping nooks around i ts edges. A fire is kept buming in the center of the main room, which heats the entire dwelling and is also used for cooking — the smoke is carried up to the pile ofcoals above, which actually sit on a metal grate. The smoke and warmth in each hut are created not by the coals themselves, but by the larger fire beneath. The integrity of the icy walls and other surfaces is maintained due to pacts the village shaman makes with various spirits when a new dwelling has been completed and before it’s occupied.

The surfaces of the dwelling, every square inch of the floors and walls, are covered in furs or woven tapestries, functioning as decoration and insulation (keeping both the air warm and the ice walls cold). The central room is carved in steps, so that people can sit around the fire and eat with their food resting on the step beside them. Sleeping nooks have thin curtains for privacy and contain piled furs and, usually, a small cupboard or trunk for personal belongings. Each dwelling also contains a back door, a trapdoor in the wall that leads to a narrow tunnel. The tunnel arches up and away from the dwelling and emerges in a snow bank several dozen yards away. The snow bank is hollow. made from cawed ice with snow on top, and Northmen can emerge into these hollow banks, peep through spyholes to check for enemies, and then escape through a hole in the back of the bank when no one is watching.

Each village contains one or two huts that do not have anything beneath them, and these are for visitors. Anyone staying in these huts might notice that their fire doesn’t seem to provide as much warmth as the other huts they’ve visited, but the Northmen simply give them more coals to pile on, and the difference is generally not enough to raise suspicion. Some visitors may even suspect the truth, but if so they are too considerate (or too interested in survival) to say anything. When visitors are in the village, several barbarian fami lies usually take turns each night sleeping in their huts to maintain the illusion of habitation.

Most villages are built in a roughly circular pattem, with the huts arrayed about a larger central hut. This is the home of the village chieftain

Chieftains

The chieftain is the leader of his (or, more rarely, her) village, directing his people in all matters. He is usually chosen by unanimous decree of the village elders, although the selection process often includes both physical and mental competitions between the eligible men and women. Chieftains are not always the strongest in their village, but they are usually among the strongest, as well as the smartest and wisest, and are always men of great personal honor and compassion — the elders will not consider a man who does not show respect for his neighbors and a desire to improve the village in general. Young men are never chosen as chieftain, in part because most young Northmen travel for several years and a chieftain must stay with his people at all times. Once selected, a chieftain retains that post until he steps down (usually due to advanced age), is removed (perhaps due to inappropriate behavior), or dies.

The central hut passes from chieftain to chieftain and is larger than any other hut in the village, containing three rooms. The first is a large meeting room, where most of the village’s adults can gather at once. The second is a tiny sleeping room, and the third is a medium-sized room meant for the chieftain to meet with smaller groups or with individuals. The entry to the lower dwelling is concealed in the sleeping room. Below ground, the chieftain’s home is similar to that of his neighbors, with one exception — it generally has two escape tunnels instead of one, and some- times even has three. In some Of the larger villages, a large central meeting space is carved out next to the chieftain’s home, and every other home is linked to this meeting space by further tunnels (separate from their escape tunnels). This allows the villagers to meet unnoticed when they wish, instead of walking openly to the chieftain’s hut each time they are gathered.

The chieftain determines when a youth becomes a man, what occupation each youth should follow, where the village should hunt, what crafts the village should practice, when a villager may marry (and to whom), and when the village must relocate or split (usually due to overpopula- tion). He is responsible for every decision about village life in general, with the exception of medical or religious matters. These are the province of the village shaman.

In most villages, the chieftain is denoted by his beard, which contains three equal braids. For another Northman to braid his beard in this way is considered a grave insult to the chieftain, and a mark of hubris from the culprit.

Shamans

Each village has a shaman, and this is most often what prevents or triggers the creation of a new village, for even if a village’s population has grown the Northmen cannot send half their people to a new location without a shaman of their own. The village shaman is in many ways just another member of the community and usually defers to the orders of the chieftain. Shamans often do other tasks in the village, such as hunting, fishing, or crafting, pursuing their shamanistic calling only when needed. But shamans are always respected as elders, even if they are actually very young, and their advice is always treated with great respect.

The shaman is the village’s link to the Tribunal and (perhaps more importantly) to the spirits of the natural world, and he sees things beyond the scope of other men. Each shaman is responsible for the spiritual safety of his village. This means several things. The shaman handles the village’s religious practices, convening any services and officiating during any religious rites. Shamans are also the villages’ doctors Or medicine men; they help tend the sick and the wounded, using not only magic but also their knowledge of herbs and other substances. Shamans are Often called upon to assist the village midwife when a woman is having a difficult or dangerous labor.

Shamans handle their village’s spiritual safety in another way, however. As a member of the spirit world, the shaman must defend the village from any malicious spirits in the area, and also coax aid from those more benevolent spirits nearby. The shaman helps ensure that the weather is favorable and that hunts are successful, shields his people from disease by warding off spirits who carry such illness, and generally works to keep the village and the villagers safe and healthy.

Under attack, the shaman is also vital to the village’s defense. The more powerful ones can call upon the spirits for aid, creating winds, ice and hail storms, and other weather-based attacks. They can also deal direct damage, of course, but Northern shamans usually strive to conceal their capabilities from outsiders, masking their magic where possible as natural occurrences.

The shaman and the chieftain preside together over the village’s various ceremonies and festivals, as a cooperation between the spiritual and temporal powers. Most shamans are close advisors to their chieftains, but rarely become chieftains themselves — the village elders prefer to keep those roles separate, so that they have two powerful leaders at all times instead of only one.

The village shaman’s dwelling is indistinguishable from those around him, at least to outsiders. The hut is still only a single room, though the fire usually has a small brazier above it. The underground portion is also standard. This is because most shamans do their summoning and other magic outside, just beyond the perimeter of the village itself. Usually the shaman selects a particular rock or hill or block of ice for his activities, and returns to that same location each time. This practice is believed to enable the spirits to locate him more easily, and the location is kept removed from the village so that the other villagers will not be made uncomfortable by the presence of so many spirits.
Shamans generally braid their beard in twain. It is also common for a shaman to weave a golden wire into his beard in intricate patterns, so that the hair gleams like metal in the firelight.

Carvers

Since so much of a Northem village is below ground, the role of ice- or earth-carver is extremely important, one of the most respected occupations in the Northman society. A carver learns her craft at a young age, practicing first w ith sculptures and small handheld objects. Eventually she graduates to larger objects, and then finally to dwellings. Building a dwelling is a complicated process, and requires more than one individual. Whenever a new dwelling is created, the entire village participates, with the carver directing the action. Even the chieftain and the shaman are put to work, taking orders from the carver like everyone else, for only the carver knows how to create the dwelling so that it is water-tight and solid, but still airy and open and clean. In many ways the climate is a boon, since the ground is frozen solid and can be carved in solid blocks. In a warmer region the ground would be looser, and more liable to fall apart, and the carver would most likely need an external support frame to maintain the room’s shape and stability.

Of course, new dwellings are not required that often. A Northern couple moves into a new dwelling once they’re expecting a child, and stays in that same home unless they relocate to a new village. Thus, the carver spends most of her time doing minor repairs on dwellings and crafting smaller items like fumiture and weapons. Most Carvers create small, carefully detailed wooden shapes — animals and weapons being the most common — and tie these to the ends of their beards to denote their occupation.

Skalds

Northern villages write very little. This is not because Northmen are illiterate, as their neighbors tend to believe. Writing materials are expensive and hard to create, and anything written can be stolen and read by an enemy. Therefore, the Northmen maintain their history and other records orally instead. And this is the responsibility of the village skald.

The skald is part bard, part historian, part teacher, and part bookkeeper. He keeps all of the village’s records in his memory, and can recite any of them at a moment’s notice. His recitations include the list of the village’s chieftains back to the its first founding, the names of everyone currently in the village, the date of the village’s founding and the origins of its founders, the annual festivals and their origins, the items and amounts traded that year with other villages, and the ancient legends ofthe North. Skalds work closely with the chieftain, providing records of any recent business and reminders of upcoming activities, but they are usually with the chieftain only in the morning and after- noon. In the evening, the skalds become teachers instead. The children of the village gather in the skald’s hut and receive lessons. First, he teaches them how to read, how to write, how to do simple math, and how to read the stars. Then the lessons move to history and mythology, covering the origins and ancestry of the Northmen. Additional lessons include the history Of the vi I lage and Of the area, and stories about the outside world. Skalds do not handle religious studies, however, nor do they teach how to hunt or fish or how to perform any craft. These tasks are left to the shamans and the other village elders.

Skalds are always aware of the village children , function- ing as their primary guardian when the parents are not available. Each skald also watches for children with par- ticularly sharp memories, good heads for numbers, and a love of stories. These become their own apprentices, and one of those will become the next skald. Each village has at least one active skald and one apprentice, so that the knowledge is always preserved. Skalds are always part of the village council, and their recitation is rarely contested. Thus, the fate of the village often rests in the skald’s hands — or, more precisely, in his mind.

Tribes

The Northmen are unusual in that their society is divided into tribes. These are hereditary groups, with each Northman taking the tribe of his or her mother, and most tribes occupy a particular area within the nation. In ancient times, the tribes fought one another for territory, but Dugan the Golden united the tribes into the Kingdom of the North and taught them to live together. Since that time, tribal warfare has broken out four times — first, when Killian Blood-Axe came to power and the Raven Tribe resisted his rule, insisting that he was unfit to rule. Killian assembled the Other tribes and killed every Raven in the North, eliminating that tribe forever.

The second incident came when Ian Malcomson returned with the second Crown of the North and declared himself king. His own Seal tribe stood behind him, and several Others flocked to his banner, but the Shark and Whale tribes both refused to acknowledge his Claim and convinced Wolf and Hare to join them. The North nearly came to blows, with the country evenly divided. Fortunately, Malcomson was a clever man, and he called together the shamans and chieftains of each tribe. Then he revealed to them his power. NO one knows exactly what was said or done at that meeting, but the leaders universally declared him their king, and their own tribes could do nothing but accept the decision.

The third tribal war began over Burke Wingfoot and his refusal to take the crown. Several tribes felt the nation needed a new king and were willing to force him to take the throne. The Shark tribe was the most outspoken for this idea, leading several to believe the tribe intended to control Burke somehow. The Mammoth tribe, which had long hated the Sharks, opposed them openly, and the two tribes fought. In the end, the Mammoth tribe was reduced significantly in numbers, but the Sharks became the second Northern tribe to vanish utterly.

The fourth and final tribal war was fought over possession of the guard towers along the southern border. Both the Wolf and the Hawk tribe lived in those regions, and each felt it was their right to maintain the towers. A united council of elders divided the towers evenly between them, and this placated both tribes for a time. But then a pack of young Wolves decided to claim a Hawk tower for them- selves, and their tribal elders actually approved their actions, though their reasoning is lost to history. The two tribes were poised for battle when the other tribes appeared as a single group and issued an ultimatum — back down, and accept the council’s decision, or become extinct as the Ravens and the Sharks had done. Both the Wolf and the Hawk recognized their own danger and agreed to abide by the council’s decision, though the Wolves were forced to make restitution for the damages their raiding party had caused.

Except for these four events, the tribes of the North have lived peacefully together. Each tribe has its own region, and those villages within that region are peopled entirely by its tribesmen. Long ago the tribal leader would have lived within the tribal keep, providing a visible focus for the area. Now, the tribes have no set leaders. Instead, the chieftains of their villages form the tribal council, communicating with each other on anything that might affect more than their own village. When major events occur, the chieftains might gather together to reach a united decision, but in general they are each responsible for their own village and its immediate surroundings. If war were to occur, the tribal council would appoint a war leader, and that leader would be given full control over the entire tribe until the war had ended.

Shamans hold a high position within the tribe, and together they form their own shamanic council. Through their magics, the shamans can speak together more easily then the chieftains, so they often handle messages between the villages. The shamans ofa tribe only gather when some major event threatens the entire tribe, especially an event of a mystical nature.

Each tribe denotes its area through the use of carvings and paintings. Every member Of the tribe carries a small image of the tribe’s totem, usually either carved into a piece of jewelry or tattooed somewhere on the body. Shamans and chieftains often have tapestries depicting the totem, and many villages have a totem pole planted alongside the chieftain’s hut. The tribe’s totem is said to watch over its people, granting them some of its own qualities and also shielding them from attack and harm. Shamans often call upon their totems for aid and advice.

The surviving Tribes of the North are, in descending order of tribal population, as follows: Fox, Hare, Leopard, Bear, Wolf, Caribou, Hawk, Otter, Seal, Walrus, Porpoise, Whale, Mammoth, and Owl.

Government

The government of the Northern Nation is complicated and simple. The system is fairly simple. in that at each level the barbarians are ruled by their elders, who, as a body , select the chieftain. Tritws are ruled by their elders, the chieftains who form the tribal council. Halas is ruled by its elders. And the Nation itself is ruled by its council of elders, which includes the tribal council of each tribe and also Halas’ city council.

The complication lies in the fact that no one individual rules anything larger than a village, and that most of the rulers do not live near one another or communicate very often. Tribal councils rarely meet, since the chieftains are spread acrcss the tribe’s territory and are busy running their own villages. Halas’ council meets more frequently, since all of its elders live in the city, but even so they do not meet more than once a week unless a crisis occurs. The nation’s council of elders only meets when summoned by at least three of its members ( only one of whom can be from Halas). Thus, to outsiders, it appears that the Northern Nation must rarely accomplish anything, since it takes so long to gather its leaders.

This is inaccurate, Of course. The Northern Nation does quite well with its peculiar government, as it has been deliberately structured so that each of its regions can survive alone. Villages are largely self-sufficient in terms of government and rare ly need tribal intervention. Tribes can handle their own areas and rarely need national aid. The city Of Halas handles its own affairs without difficulty.

The main reason the Northern Nation’s government works well is that it has very little to do. The nation does not have a capital or a standing army — villages defend themselves or call upon their tribe for aid. Since the nation does not maintain any fiscal responsibility itself, it does not need any money and charges no taxes. As a result, the nation does not require any way to collect, record, store, or distribute money, food, shelter, clothing, or other items for anyone. The laws Of the nation are already established, so the nation does not need to create new ones unless life in the Northlands changes dramatically, and since each vil- lage polices its own, the nation does not have toenforce the laws NO jails or judges are necessary — every shaman handles his own vi llage ‘s crimes, and the chieftains mete out punishment. Thus. the nation’s government only meets in times of emergency, when whole portions of the nation must be mobilized or when something occurs which is not covered by the existing laws and customs.

Neighbors

Despite the harsh climate of the Northlands, the barbar- ians are not completely isolated from ignorant Of the world and its many inhabitants. Just south Of the western border lies the Hatchlands, a mountainous region filled with yeti, air elementals, and dragons. Below that is the Unkempt Wood, controlled by a band of druids and rang- ers. The Lavastorm Mountains, to the southeast, are home to dark elves. And directly south of Halas stands the Misty Thicket, which is overrun by Pickclaw goblins. Most of these people do not trouble the Northmen, or vice-versa. Each race or group stays in its own region, perhaps tacitly acknowledging each other’s presence but in any case not actually (or at least only very rarely) making any direct contact.

Long ago, the Northmen had neighbors both closer and more sociable. The dwarves had their mining city of Moradhim in the mountains to the northwest , and not only traded with the Northmen but fought alongside them against Orcs and Other local monsters. The gnomes were in Klik’Anon, their city in the northeastern mountain range, and though they rarely ventured from its walled valley they re happy to trade both information and with the Northmen, and could be counted on to defend that edge of the continent from attack. Sadly, both of those cities diminished or were destroyed long ago, and now the only dwarves or gnomes in the North are travelers and adventur- ers wandering into Halas.

Foes

Not every neighbor is so friendly, or even indifferent. The ice goblins and ice giants have always posed a threat to the Northem Nation, although after the Devastation nei- ther race dared send a full army against the Northmen. Small groups and even clans still dot the North, however, preying upon unwary travelers and sometimes even upon careless villagers.

Orcs constitute a greater threat, as they have never been driven from the land. Various orc clans make their home in the Everfrost Peaks or the Frigid Plains, harrying any Northmen they find. The Frosteye clan is traditionally the most numerous and the most dangerous of these, and barbarian tribes have occasionally called together large forces Of villagers to battle the Orcs and diminish their numbers. Recently, a newer breed of icy Orcs” (see Appendix One) has arisen, and this Ice Clan is establishing a strong presence in the vicinity of the orc temple north and east of the Nest.

The worst foes, however, are the gnolls. These vicious creatures live in the Blackburrow Downs, hidden deep within the Everfrost peaks, and often mount raids on the Northmen villages. Gnolls are tall and Strong, and a mature gnoll fighter can march a Northman for strength and stamina, which makes the fighting that much deadlier to both sides. The two races have been traditional enemies for centuries, and in fact the gnolls took part in the [hasta- tion not because they wanted anything from the Northmen but because they delighted in the notion of destroying the Kingdom of the North.

Wild animals are also a danger, especially for the unwary. The Northlands are filled with polar bears, woolly mam- moths, snow wolves, snow leopards, and other creatures. The waters are also dangerous, as they teem with sharks, whales, strange tentacled creatures, and even smaller fish that will nonetheless strip the flesh from a man in moments.

Outsiders often joke that the Northmen need to be hardy to survive in the North, and, of course, they are actually quite right, although the cold is only part of the problem. This explains to extent why Northmen are so suspi- cious of strangers — normally, most any animal or creature they meet that isn’t a Northman is trying to kill and eat them.

Defenses

Despite the fact that few others would want to seize the Northlands from them, the barbarians take their defenses seriously. Their lands have been invaded before, after all, and the last time left them under the ice giants’ yoke for decades. Since regaining their freedom, the Northmen have devoted a great deal Of effort to protecting themselves and their territory.

Tower

The first line of defense for the nation is its border towers. Long ago, these were tall towers of cut stone, columnar in shape and with high windows in each of the four directions. Dugan the Golden built the first Of these towers when he and his men had driven the monsters from the North, and those same structures withstood centuries of weather with- out blemish. The towers were destroyed by the giants, however, and after finally conquering those oversized foes the Northmen (at the suggestion of Burke Wingfoot) decided not to create such obvious targets a second time. Instead, new watchtowers were devised.

These new towers are cleverly built to blend into the landscape itself. Many of them are carved from the living rock of a cliff or mountain, while others are shaped from ice and snow. Where no rocks or ice formations provide sufficient height, the Northmen built a hill themselves, piling dirt on the spot and then splashing it with water to create a new layer of snow and ice. Strangers to the area can walk within a foot of these watchtowers and never even notice them, and the Northern guards appear as if from nowhere. Most of the towers have exit tunnels rather than doors, so that the guards can enter and exit some distance from the tower and thus not reveal its location.

Inside, the towers are built along the same lines as a village home, with a large central room and smaller sleepe ing nooks around it. If the rock or hill does not have enough space on top, the tower contains a small lookout room at the top and the rest of its quarters down below, linked by a tunnel with a ladder cut into its side. The tower windows or peepholes are designed to resemble natural openings, sometimes concealed behind panes of thick, clear ice or crystal, so that the guards can watch without being seen. Each tower also has four holes cut in the walls, one for each compass point (usually built with a plug to keep the cold out when the hole is not in use). Beside each hole is a polished brass disc — these are used to reflect the light of sun or moon, and the resulting flashes are used to communicate along the border. A small lantern sits to one side of the plug, so the guards can create their own lights if the day is too cloudy for the sun to be seen Or if the moon is too dim to register clearly.

The Trench

The second defense, if invaders make it past the towers, is the Trench. Just past each tower is a wide band that stretches, quite remarkably, all the way from the base of the Everfrost Peaks to the eastern coast. This ID-foot-wide stretch (in some places it is considerably wider) has been specially prepared by the Northmen, dug out to create a deep trench lined with sharp stakes. Then, a thin lattice of specially-prepared ice sheets is laid across the channel and water is then sprinkled across the lattice, freezing instantly in the cold air, until a fine layer of ice completely conceals it. Snow eventually covers the ice as well, so the Trench is invisible to the naked eye. The thin ice cannot handle the weight Of a full-grown man, and certainly not an armored one — anyone attempting to wa 1k across the trench weighing more than about 100 pounds is likely to crash through, and most likely be impaled on several stakes.

Of course, 5-foot-wide paths of solid ground were left along the length of the Trench so that the Northmen themselves can cross without danger. Their knowledge of these paths’ locations is a closely guarded secret, however, and is also based upon locating the nearest tower (since the paths are a set distance and direction from the towers). Whenever a section Of the Trench is opened, the local village sends warriors to retrieve the victim, then constructs a new lattice and re-covers the hole.

Other Traps

Past the Trench are the ice traps. Scattered almost randomly about the land, these traps can take two common forms. The first is similar to the Trench, except that this trap is an isolated 10 ft. by 10 ft. pit (sometimes larger if large predators are common in the area) rather than part Of a continuous band, and is usually 10 to 20 feet deep, sometimes deeper. The other type, most often used along the coast or in the mountains, is the Slide. This is an area that has been specially prepared, brushed smooth and then given coat after coat Of water to create a completely smooth and amazingly slick surface. Anyone trying to cross the Slide will find himself falling immediately and then sliding downward. Because the Slides are built on solid ground or on thicker ice, digging down for handholds is virtually especially since it’s impossible to anchor one’s self long enough to dig. Trees and large rocks are carefully cleared from the area Of a Slide as well, thus preventing anyone from using a rope to haul themselves across the Slide. Some Slides simply form a sort of barricade, keeping people from going any further, but most direct their victims to a particular spot — over the edge of a cliff, into freezing water, or into a stake-filled pit.

Individual villages have their own defenses. Most have a small Slide around them, so that strangers will announce their presence by slipping and falling on the hard ground— these Slides are always built along the same pattern, so tribesmen from another village will know how to navigate them safely.

Another common practice is the snare trap, similar to that used for hunting animals. Made from tough, corded animal sinew attached to a pole embedded at least several feet into the ground, these traps are used to capture but not incapacitate. The loop of the cord is sometimes placed over a pit trap so that the creature caught is hung suspended inside the pit, and is thus unable to climb out. Net traps, like those used in hunting, are also common. These Often consist of a hidden net suspended from an overhang, set to fall when a creature trips the cord underneath; alternately, a net may be spread across a pit trap (without spikes) so that the creature falling in becomes entangled and cannot climb out. When bait is used in these kinds of traps, it is often aimed at intelligent beings — canteens, jugs of (watery) wine, stray weapons (always flawed ones, upon closer examination), maps of the area (with false information), and other scraps of paper are common.

When dangerous predators such as bears or ice lizards are known to be in the area, a village’s hunters will place large irontooth traps around the area (these are like very large, toothed, jaw-like traps attached by a chain to a metal rod driven deep into the ground). These traps can be quite deadly, so their locations are always noted very carefully, and the traps are brought in once the danger has passed.

Many villages lace the snow around their outskirts with ice bubbles (these are blown like glass bubbles, but use water to Create a thin bubble Of ice). These bubbles are spread throughout an area in the shape of a ring at least I feet wide surrounding the entire village, broken only by occasional pathways that only the villagers know. Anyone walking into this ring breaks at least one bubble, and the sharp crack(s) premiuced alert the nearby village. Villages in the interior rarely bother with sentries, preferring ice bubble traps and other hazards to alert everyone at once and trusting in their neighbors to keep larger threats away.

In times of war the village mobilizes, and patrols are established to protect them from attack. Those tribes who live along the borders of the Nation also maintain roving patrols. These are usually bands of younger men, who simply travel along the outskirts Of their village’s area, watching for any Strangers or other threats.

Communications

Barbarian villages communicate with one another in several ways. The first, of course, is by messenger. As well, skalds often travel to neighboring villages to trade information, and they sometimes accompany other villagers with goods to trade as well. Young men ( oroccasionally women ) , particularly skalds or warriors in training who have not yet settled down, may be sent on a tour of the tribe’s villages; these energetic young folk are also used to carry messages from place to place in the process.

When a messenger cannot be sent for some reason, a village resorts to other methods. The most common is the smoke signal. Each village has a stone-lined fire pit behind the chieftain’s tent, and this can be used to send signals to the other villages nearby. The tribes all use the same smoke signs, so any Northman can read the signals provided the sky is clear enough for the smoke to be seen.

Another method for sending messages is to use animals. Falcons and hawks are best for this, but occasionally a Snow cat, owl, dog, or even a hare can be trained by a competent beastlord or ski Iled shaman to take messages to a particular location and then return home. Some shamans can use spirits to communicate with one another over a distance, and thus handle many of the daily messages between their villages. In times Of crisis, they can contact one another quickly, and can sometimes even make travel between the locations more rapid.

Finally, the guard towers along the border use flashes Of light instead of smoke signals. These are created with large, polished metal shields and a bright light like a hot flame or a small lantern. The advantage Of a light signal is that, unlike a smoke signal, it travels parallel to the ground instead of upward, so unless people are looking in the right direction they won’t see it at all. This allows for a more private message system. The disadvantage, of course, is the same— if the intended recipient isn’t looking in the right direction at the right time, he won’t get the message either. Since most Northmen know where the guard towers stand, they can look for their signals without any problem.

Travel

The easiest way to travel between two villages is to go overland using snowshoes or skis, or to take a boat if the two villages are both along the coast. All Northmen are proficient with snowshoes and skis — many were skiing before they leamed to run. Those who live along the coast also learn to use boats, ranging from longboats with a large crew to one-man kayaks. For messengers, the kayak is far more useful; this small, lightweight boat is made from sealskin stretched across a wooden or bone frame, and it can be carried on the back as easily as a large shield or a loaded backpack. Sailboats are not used along the coast due to the strong winds and dangerous rocks, but in need, conceivably, a messenger could risk one.

If speed is important, the messenger may use a sled pulled by a dog team. Dog sleds are common in the Northlands, and can move through the snow at several times the speed of a running man.

Ice Roads

The Northmen have another method of travel between some places, one they use only in emergencies — the Ice Roads. For years now, each village carver has worked at digging paths deep through the ice near the village, leading towards similar passageways constructed by the carvers of other v illages nearby. These paths are often I O or more feet under the ice, sometimes even carved through dirt or rock where necessary. The Ice Roads have been under construc- tion for decades now in some places. and many are complete, The passages all enter and exit near one another, so that a messenger can take the Ice Road from one village to the next, surface briefly, and then dive into the next tunnel and continue on his journey.

These tunnels are seldom used except when travel or communication is required during times Of dangerous weather conditions, for although they are generally quite safe and very well-concealed, they have no Other exit or entrance. Further, even for a typical Northman they are cold, being surrounded on all sides by ice: A character in normal clothes traveling via the Ice Roads must make a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) every 10 minutes, taking Id6 points of [cold] subdual damage with each failed save. The Wilderness Lore skill is of no assis- tance in making these saves, but characters wearing appropriate clothing for cold-weather survival need only save once every hour.

The entrances to a village’s Ice Roads are taught to every member of the village, but not to others — even a messen- ger from a neighboring village in the same tribe will have to ask for the location of the next Ice Road if he’s not traveled it before, and the entrances are always watched so that no one can exit without notice. The Ice Roads are being created partially as a messenger system, partially as an escape system, and partially as one piece of a last-ditch national defense, which has, thank- fully , never been tested. If the entire Northlands are overrun, every member of the village has been trained to enter the Ice Roads with as much food and drink as can be carried. Then, the shamans will set off a series Of avalanches and storms, burying the entire nation in deep snow, and the people will simply wait until the invaders have gone — whether due to hunger, thirst, cold, or boredom — before resurfacing.

Laws

Most Strangers believe the Northern Nation to be a land of savages, where the barbarians have no laws beyond the most basic natural law of survival. This could not be further from the truth, as those who befriend Northmen soon discover. The Northmen are an extremely honorable race, and believe strongly in the principles of justice, respect, and good conduct. As such, they have a variety of rules which every Northman observes, no matter his tribe or village.

Guest-Right: One Of the oldest and strongest laws in the North is that of guest-right. When a Northman accepts a person into his home, that person becomes his guest. The Northman and his family then assume the responsibility of hosting, which means not only providing food and drink, shelter and entertainment, as much as can be offered at the time, but also protection from harm. A Northman host will lay down his own life to defend his guest, even if that guest is in the wrong. Legends tell of a Northman named Karl Ignarson who accepted another man, Rolf McLain, into his home; McLain, although Ignarson did not know it at first, had just murdered his own brother. Not only did Ignarson not attack McLain himself, but he actually died defending the murderer from other villagers who had come to punish him for the crime. In order to prevent guest-right from being used as a permanent shelter, a host is only required to accept a guest for three nights. After the third night, the host is free to cast the guest from his home (although this would only happen in the rarest of circumstances). Once beyond the door, the guest is no longer legally under the host’s protection.

Blade-Right: Another ancient and still potent law is that of blade-right. Any Northman, and by extension any respected opponent, must be allowed access to a blade before his death. This does not necessarily mean that no one can be killed without fair combat. For instance, stories are still told of Edmund the Sly, who snuck into another man’s home, tossed a small wood-carving knife on the man’s chest, and then promptly ran him through. How. ever, most Northmen abide by this law more equably, and will offer their opponent at least a dagger for defense. A corollary Of this law means that Northmen cannot kill sleeping or bound opponents — the notion of “access to a blade” includes being awake and aware enough to draw the blade, as well as hav one’s hands free to do so. This latter provision, Of course, is rather more easily overlooked than the principle article of blade-right, and, as in the case of Edmund the Sly, has been abused in the past.

The Bond Of Secrecy: The Northern law that Carries the harshest penalty for violators is the bond of secrecy. No Northman can ever tell any non-Northman anything about the nation’s defenses, including but not limited to such things as the watch towers, their light signals, the Trench, the Slides, the smoke signals, and the Ice Roads. A Northman also cannot reveal the underground portion of any village, even his own, unless he is prepared to stake his own life and reputation on the honor and discretion Of the visitor. The Northmen have worked very hard to keep their true lives hidden from others, and every member of the race is taught from birth not to reveal those secrets to anyone outside the nation, barring only those people sworn as blood-brothers and honorary Northmen. Of course, some outsiders have realized that the barbarians are not as simple and crude as they seem, but the Northmen do their not to prove such Wild notions.

Lesser Laws: The Northern Nation does not have laws regarding money, since it rarely bothers with such things, or about taxes, since none exist. But there are laws for granting right of way to one’s elders (required unless the younger bears news of urgent importance, or is, for instance. shepherding a pregnant woman or an injured in need immediate medical attention); fishing and huntingonly in one’s own (or one’s tribes own) territory; for kenneling one’s dogs properly (so they don’t howl all night or get loose and tear apart someone else’s hut) ; for sharing food and drink (also required by convention, unless there is only enough for one to survive and it is imperative that at least one return with vital materials or information); and other niceties (GM’s discretion)

Society

Within their villages, the Northmen do lead relatively simple lives. They hunt and fish for food and (during the few warmer months in more temperate regions, such as along the coast) grow whatever crops can survive. Craftsfolk create objects and clothing and other useful items. Every- one within the village shares — food is gathered for everyone and parceled out evenly to all. If someone needs a blanket or a new cloak or a new chair, they ask the proper craftspeople and receive it quickly. The craftsperson always has the right to say no if she feels the new item or material is not warranted, and disputes of this nature are always settled by both the chieftain and the shaman.

Money is not used in villages, nor is barter — villagers are treated as extended family, and it is inappropriate to haggle with a family member over something he or she needs. Some people are called upon for services more often than others, but the latter tend to provide more involved ser- vices. For example, a carver may only be summoned once by a new family to build their home, and then a few more times over the next two decades to effect minor repairs, but that does not make the crafter’s work any less valuable than a dozen blankets or two dozen pairs of pants.

Most Northmen rise with the dawn to begin their day. Hunting and fishing require hours of preparation and care, and the villagers ei ther form hunting partiesor travel together for a distance and then split apart so that each can hunt alone but close enough to come to one another’s aid at need. Children also rise early and perform various chores around the house, such as cleaning out the ashes from the fire and washing out the dishes from the morning meal. Most Northmen carry lunch with them, rather than return home for it, and an extended trip may require packing dinner as well. If not, they return home for dinner, which is usually taken around the fire in the family’s underground common room. After the meal, the Northmen usually gather in larger groups, either in the home of their chieftain or that of their skald. Children are given lessons, while the adults trade stories or play games or work on hobbies like woodcarving or painting. Some nights, a skald recites an ancient tale or sings a song to children and adults both. Still, everyone tends to tum in early, except for the shaman who may stay up late to perform magic or communicate with spirits.

Most nights, the Northmen (men and women) drink mead or vodka. Beer is difficult to get in the North, as is wine, but bees can be kept along the coast and near the southern edge of the nation for producing mead, and certain hardy grains can be grown there as well for making vodka. Elsewhere, vodka is made from potatoes grown in special pots ofearth and transplanted outdoors in the warmer months.

It is true that Northmen have little use for reading and writing or for conventional philosophy, but this does not mean they are all mindless brutes who only enjoy drink. Northern villages are full ofmusic and art, and most Northmen can play at least one instrument (the flute is common, as are the drum and the harp). Throughout most of the year, but more often in the dead of winter, the village often gathers for impromptu musical performances, as the villagers take turns on their instruments or singing. Those not performing dance to the music. Many Northmen can paint or sculpt, and each home is adorned with carven statues, tapestries, paintings, and beautiful fumiture. Perhaps most surprising to outsiders, however, would be the Northmen’s tendency to spend hours debating subjects such as law and religion and nature. Not every Northman dwells on these subjects, but enough do that at least one large debate is likely to occur during any given week, and these discussions can last for hours and range across a variety of topics. Northmen simply are not comfortable revealing these thoughts to anyone outside their own village. Of course, the barbarian race is a very physical one, so many of their entertainments are equally physical in na- ture. Foot races are common, as are swimming races for those who live by the water, and dog sled races are held regularly. Wrestling and unarmed combat occur almost nightly, both as a way of staying warm and a method of working out aggressions — plus, this is considered a good form of training for the young. Weapons practice is often held, although this is taken more seriously and usually involves wooden replicas with blunt edges. Eating and drinking contests are also common, provided the village has enough extra food to afford such displays of gluttony.

Customs

The Northmen have a variety Of local customs and practices, some of which began for practical reasons and have since become highly ritualized, and others which cannot be so easily explained. Many of their practices derive from the harsh weather and the fact that daily life is largely conducted indoors and below ground, while others have evolved at least in part from the Northmen’s direct, physical approach to most problems.

Apprenticeship: Barbarian children live at home with their parents, do chores around the house, and are taught in the evening by the skalds and sometimes by the shamans. As they learn to walk and talk, the parents and the skalds pay close attention to each child, noting the child’s strengths and ski IIS as well as his or her interests. Children who like numbers and stories may become skalds. Those who express an interest in spirits and an aptitude for magic could become shamans. Others who show patience and a love of the outdoors might become hunters or fishers, or perhaps even beastlords.

After a few years, but generally before the child’s eighth birthday, a child’s parents meet with the chieftain and the skalds to discuss the child’s future. They look for an occupation that suits the child, but also for one that will aid the village — not everyone can become a skald, and no village needs a dozen carvers. Once the decision is made, the child is summoned and told of her future occupation. Then, within the next year, the child begins her apprenticeship.

The child continues to perform her daily chores, but once those are over she goes to her mentor to learn the arts of her new occupation. At first the child only watches, but eventu- ally she is allowed to ask questions and even to take part in basic tasks. The mentor is responsible for teaching the child all about the craft, and for preparing the child as well. Hunters and fishers need patience and the abi lity to stay physically still for long periods, plus an understanding of their prey. Carvers need strong hands, sharp eyes, and a deep appreciation of their materials. Most children spend years doing training exercises that may seem pointless at the time, like gripping a stick tightly and then releasing it, but which eventually prove to have helped prepare them for their tasks (the gripping and releasing strengthens the hands).

Virtually all barbarian children receive at least some training in weapons and combat, and all but the most inept or unlucky get basic training in fishing, hunting, and tracking. Most learn to sing and dance in the evenings, and many also learn to play some instrument from an elder who has mastered that particular skill. A child is considered an apprentice until being declared an adult by the chieftain.

Adulthood: Most Northmen become adults at the age of fourteen. At this time, the chieftain declares them a full member of the tribe and a great feast is held in the village — all of the children who come of age in the same year are declared at once, so the feast is an annual event. As adults, they are now expected to handle their share of their trade, although in practice most continue to work with their men- torsand even to live at home for another few years. Adults are no longer required to do the household chores, which are handed to any children still at home; if a household has no more children, the tasks are shared between all the adults of the household as befits each member’s skills and abilities. Northmen are not allowed to braid their hair (and, for men, their beards) until they become adults.

Wanderlust: Once he has been declared an adult, a Northman is free to leave his village if he chooses. Other villages within the same tribe might accept him, particu- larly if his trade is in short supply there, and in this way villages often trade carvers, shamans, skalds, or other craftsfolk, as well as keeping their tribal ties strong through intermarriage. People from a different tribe are only ac- cepted by marriage or if the other tribe was massacred (rumors claim that some Ravens actually became Hawks, and if this is true, then some barbarians might conceivably still claim descent from that extinct tribe).

However, many Northemers who leave their homes go not just to another village but to the outside world, beyond the Northlands altogether. This practice is not frowned upon — actually, most villages encourage their new adults to travel a bit. This seems unlikely, as reason would dictate that allowing warriors to leave must, of necessity, weaken the village. However, the loss of one or two or even a handful of relatively untried swords at any given time is not a matter of great concern to the Northmen, and in any case this practice keeps the village from becoming crowded. It also gives the young adult a chance to see the world, thereby gaining experience and knowledge before coming home again. A surprising number of Northerners do return home, despite the many dangers of Norrath, although the return often takes at least severaI years — the youths explore o ther cities and even other continents, learn new trades, gain new scars, and generally become wiser and more capable.

While out in the world, a Northman always remembers and honors his village and his tribe, knowing that his every action reflects upon his folk — he must always strive to bring honor to his people as well as to himself. Some seek to do this by gaining great wealth, while others are more interested in reputation or in martial prowess. Eventually, tiring of the crowding and the dirt, the heat and the distrust, most Northmen travel back to their villages, hang up their swords and knives and other traveling gear, and settle down again. This also means that many adult villag- ers know very well how to fight for their lives, having learned a few tricks during their own Wanderlust, which makes the village defenses that much more formidable.

Weddings: Northmen do not believe in forcing people to marry. Villages are small, and young people often have dalliances while growing up, but no one can form a perma- nent bond before adulthood. After that point, casual romances are still allowed, provided both parties are will- ing. A more permanent arrangement is made when the couple decides to live together. with their families’ bless- ing. This means that they both move into the woman’s family’s house. If the couple becomes pregnant or stays together a year, they are considered to be married, although most often they undergo a formal marriage ceremony at that time. Marriages are performed by the shaman, who invokes the blessingofthe Tribunal, and the chieftain, who declares the couple wed in the eyes of the village and the tribe. Weddings are of course an excuse for a large feast for which the entire village provides the food and drink.

A married couple can never be separated by the will of the village — ifhalfofthe population is sent to form a new village, both must go or neither. This is the only special consideration given to married couples, however. Both members are still expected to handle their share of tasks about the village, and since all fc»d and items are shared equally, they do not get a larger or smaller portion than before.

Weddings can occur between people from different vil- lages, and this is sometimes encouraged to keep villages from becoming stagnant and inbred. Villagers often meet their neighbors, either while trading or while hunting and fishing, and every few years it is common for a village to invite one its neighboring communities for one of the major festivals. Since the neighboring villages are part of the same tribe, they are considered to be distant cousins, and thus marriages between the two are perfectly acceptable.

Children: When a married woman becomes pregnant with her first child, the couple go to the chieftain. The carver is then asked to build a home for the expectant couple so that they will have room for their new family. Sometimes, if either partner’s parent lives alone (for example, if the other parent died and there are no other children) the couple will not require a new home for themselves. Children are considered a great blessing, both for the parents and for the village, and the expectant mother is offered many gifts and luxuries as the pregnancy nears term. For the first month after the baby is born, the mother is not expected to work, instead staying home to tend the babe. Following that time, she returns to work, but either carries the baby with her, leaves it home with its father, or asks another woman (usually her mother or mother-in-law, or another female relative who works at home) to care for it during the day.

Funerals: When a villager dies, the entire village moums. If the villager was married or had children, the spouse and children are visited and condolences are offered. A great feast is held behind the chieftain’s hut and around the firepit, where the deceased lays in his best clothes. Then the fire is lit, and the deceased is burned to ashes. Northmen are not superstitious about the dead, and have no qualms about discussing a dead friend or family member by name. Often at night they will reminisce about lost friends and family, remembering their deeds and words, and in this way they keep those people alive. Given the prominence of shamanism among the Northmen, it is widely believed that the dead still exist among the living as spirits, visible only to a select few. If a deceased villager had a house and no immediate relatives, the home is given to any young couple that needs it. If no one currently needs a new home, it is left vacant until someone does, and cleaned occasionally by other villagers to keep the home in good shape. Any equipment or tools are given to the villager’s apprentice or family, or are simply held by the chieftain until someone needs them. If a villager had no immediate family and no apprentice, his belongings are divided up among the other villagers so that everyone may have something to remember him by.

Festivals

Northmen love to celebrate, throwing feasts whenever they have the chance (and the resources). Weddings, births, funerals, and adulthood ceremonies are all well- established reasons for feasting, but barbarians commonly hold feasts at both the start and end of the hunting or fishing season, again when crops are harvested (in more southerly or coastal areas), and whenever a wandering youth returns or a fellow tribesman visits. They don’t have many religious holidays, however, nor many festivals cel- ebrating historic events. In fact, there are only two.

Ihe first is Dugan’s Day, the anniversary of that day when Dugan the Golden was supposedly crowned King of the North by the Marr twins, thereby uniting the tribes into the Northern Nation. The second is Giantdearth, which cel- ebrates the day that Burke Wingfoot and the assembled tribes finally felled the last of their ice giant masters and freed the Nation again. These two festivals are full-day events, during which no one works. Everyone drinks a great deal, and the village is filled with music, dance, and numerous competi- tions and games. Prizes are often given to the winners of each competition — on Giantdearth the highlight is the Race, which includes running, swimming, and sledding, and the winner is declared Wingfoot for the year. Sometimes, Giantdearth is celebrated by two or more villages that come together for several days of feasting and competing.

Clothing

Northerners are raised in the intense cold and learn to endure it, but that doesn’t mean taking foolish risks. Their clothing is made from animal skins, often with the fur still attached for warmth. Most Northmen wear leather leg- gingsor trousers. thick boots with the fur inside (for warmth and comfort, and because the outer surface is thus more waterproof), a leather tunic, and a thick fur coat with a lined fur hood. Some prefer cloaks instead of coats, particu- larly in the southern region — the cloak is easier to sweep back in warmer weather, but can be drawn in for added warmth. They also wear fur-lined gloves or mittens, de- pending on whether they need their fingers while outside.

Most people assume Northern clothing is boring and ordinary. After all, how much can one really do with fur? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is that the Northmen can do a lot with it. Stitching is an artform among them, for one thing, and a competent stitcher can make clothes that actually tell stories, with decorative borders and designs as detailed as any painting or tapestry. Some garments are made of a single piece of leather while others are patched together — not because the maker ran out of material but to highlight the contrast between different colors and even different textures. Fur can be used for edging, like on the cuff of a coat, in which case the colors are carefully chosen to match the rest of the garment. The Northmen some- times wear brightly-colored inner shirts or light inner jackets decorated with elaborate beadwork and stitching. At home, they take off their heavy outer coats and cloaks to reveal these colorful and attractive garments.

The Northem kilt is easily recognizable anywhere in Antonica, and even on some of the other continents. Most people is what Northrnen wear all the time. Theyre generally wrong, though. Even though kilts are surprisingly warm arul durable, to wear them instead of leggings in sub-zero weather would be suicide unles the wearer is truly a hardy paragon ofhis race. Most wear their kilts at home home for special occasions. Younger Northmen often dress in kilts when leaving the Northlands, both because they do not need their heavier winter gear down south and becatse they’re proud to show their heritage. Each kilt is made of at least six yards of thick wool, dyed to a particular design. Traditionally, the kilt is put on by laying it out on the ground lying down on top of it at one end, and then rolling over and overr so that it wraps solidly around the body from the waist to the knees. Then one stands back up and flings the rest of the kilt over one shoulder, fastening it to hisorherside with a brooch or pin. The hanging portion is often used as a pouch to store iterrus, though a belt with an actual pouch is usually wom as well. Women usually, although not always, wear a light, loose-fitting shirt with the kilt well.

Equipment

Most Northmen train with at least the sword, the hammer, or the axe, and frequently with two or three of those weapons. Northmen never leave home without a weapon, at least a long and a light axe for throwing, and they never leave their village without a larger weapon. This paranoia — animals and other moruters are common in the Northlands, and ids notunusual for a hunter to encounter a bear or a snow leopard or even an ice goblin. Some Northrnen bows, but rncst prefer throwing spears or harpoons, which they can use to good advantage with their great strength.

Aside from weapons, a Northman often carries snowshoes or skis, and is never without his drinking horn, a packet of dried food, flint and tinder, fishing line and hooks, cord for snare traps, and a scoop-pick (see New Equipment below). These are all tied to the belt or stuck in a belt pouch, worn outside the jacket, except for the snowshoes and the scoop-pick.

When not in use the snowshoes are slung across the back, and the scoop-pick is also worn on the back and tied across the chest with a thin cord.

Currency

Northerners do not use currency within their own vil- lage, but merely request what they need or want and provide whatever another villager requests from them. For trade with other villages, they generally barter goods. Sometimes, however, another village will not have what they want or need yet, so a chit will be provided instead. The local skald and the skald of the visiting traders meet, and both listen to the terms arranged (“l am providing these three wolf pelts, and in exchange I get a small whale-bone table and a quart of whale oil”) so that both sides can verify the trade. Then the chit is given to the Northerner still waiting for payment. Once the item is ready, the chit is returned, again in the presence of both skalds, so that everyone knows the debt has been paid.

These chits are always made of mammoth-bone or ivory and carved with the villager’s personal mark. Each adult villager carries several chits, usually on a necklace or bracelet (or sometimes an earring), so he can buy some- thing and use the chit as a mark of future payment. It is considered dishonorable to let a chit stand unpaid for more than a month, unless a longer period was established at the time of the trade.

When dealing with foreigners, Northmen do use gold and other coins. The village chieftain keeps any coins the village has obtained, and gives them to villagers who are leaving to trade with foreigners. These coins may also be given to youths who leave the village, though it is expected that, whenever they return, they will bring back something of equal or greater value (either more coins or some goods from another land).

Religion

Most Northmen worship the Tribunal, or at least believe in them as an ideal. The Six Hammers embody justice, which all Northmen consider a worthy concept. In general, however, Northmen do not bother much with religion. Their shamans handle the vil lage’s connection to the gods and to any spirits, leaving the other barbarians to live their lives in the physical world from day to day, Some would take this to mean that most Northrnen are agnostics, but that is not the case. They believe in the gods because their shamans assure them these deities exist and the shamans are respected and trusted. They technically worship the Tribunal, in that their shamans worship those deities and assure the villagers that the Tribunal favors them. But Northmen do not stand on ceremony, and see no reason to speak directly to their gods. The shaman can handle that aspect of life, being entrusted with the spiritual well-being of every villager. ms makes life simpler for everyone — the villagers know of their gods and know that those gods are being properly appeased, while the shaman knows his villagers have given him full permission to speak and pray on their behalf.

Northmen who have traveled into the world sometimes become more religious, or at least handle their religious duties personal ly—once away from the village they cannot expect the village shaman to pray for them, so they must pray themselves if they wish to retain the Tribunal’s favor. A handful turn to other gods, usually either the Warlord (Rallos Zek) or the King of Thieves (Bristlebane), depending on their chosen profession.

Source: Realms of Norrath: Everfrost Peaks

Celebrating Jeremy Soule in EverQuest


If you think of Jeremy Soule you might immediately be hit by the feeling of warmth that comes with outstanding soundtrack of Skyrim and Oblivion. But did you know Jeremy Soule was involved in multiple projects in the EverQuest franchise?

Most PC gamers first introduction to Jeremy’s everquest vision was that legendary moment he walked on stage at the EverQuest Next landmark presentation leaving us breathless

Jeremy filled Landmark with an enchanting atmosphere that filled you with wanderlust as you explored, what could have been, one of the most impressive projects to hit the gaming scene since minecraft

It’s clear just how much Jeremy wanted to make this project succeed. I often am left wondering what this game could have been like if it had been given the extra time it needed in the oven. To find that perfect combat system and gameplay appeal that could be backed by a patient investor

Sometimes I wonder if the soundtracks will be left to rot in some headquarters never to see the light of day in another project (despite efforts to build an EMU). I still listen to them to this day – they fit very well in many great roleplaying games that have a lack luster soundtrack and oh boy do they enhance the gaming experience

I used to be sad thinking Jeremy would never wish to join an EverQuest project again due to his bad experience on EverQuest next. It was then that I noticed jeremy had been involved in not just landmark but nestled in the credits of EverQuest Online Adventures you can see Jeremy Soule’s involvement

Admitedly i had never played much of EQOA (but maybe there is time) though I had heared it’s halas soundtrack many years ago and some of the pieces used in the Plane of Time zones in EverQuest. Maybe it was because he wasnt’ as famous and there wasn’t a big announcemnt back then – despite his many successful projects on some of my most beloved games (Dungeon Siege, Total Annihalation <3)

Knowing this makes me realise Jeremy was coming back to EverQuest for Landmark and if he can do that once maybe he can do it once again to finish what he started

Jeremy, wherever you are and whatever project you’re working on, thank you so much for the special moments you have given me in so many games over the decades. Maybe one day you might see little old norrath worthy of your bardic presence once more

PS. Please can we get EQOA soundtrack on Youtube Music

Please take the time to visit Jeremy on Soundcloud

EQRPG Characters: Vagner


Barbarian Warrior
Son of a chieftain from north Of Halas. Vagner left the Everfrost Mountains to seek his destiny. Marked with the vigor of youth and armed with a blade handed down to him by his father, he fought his way past the gnolls of Blackburrow and into the lands of Qeynos.

Though his reputation as a fierce slayer of gnolls grew, his destiny urged him to greater things. Joining with Halwain, cleric of Rodcet Nife, Vagner sought to cross the great continent of Antonica In search of his higher calling. With the hills of Qeynos to their backs, they entered the Plains of Karana.

The journey turned perilous when the two found themselves face to face with a beady-eyed werewolf that had found their campfire. Outmatched by the snarling foe, the two stood their ground until Halwain had run out of healing prayers and Vagner hung onto life by a thread. One arrow shot from the darkness, and then another flew forth, until finally the beast slumped to the ground with a shudder. A wood elf stepped quietly into the firelight, and then he kneeled before them to bind their wounds. “These lands are not safe for ones so young, and ones so … stubborn to retreat,” he chuckled. am Fyodor, “he said. “Rest tonight and tomorrow I shall guide you through the plains.”

Fyodor proved an invaluable guide, and once the two were safe in the Commonlands near the city of Freeport, he vanished as quickly as he had first appeared. Freeport provided a new source for adventure as Vagner’s company grew in number. Gifted in the ways of leadership, Vagner led the Wolves of Freeport — a company of heroes bound by common dreams and destiny — back to his homeland to answer the threat of oncoming war. The dragon Vox had assembled an army of ice giants and goblins to assault the barbarian city of Halas.

Victory, however, came at a price. After the bittersweet triumph. the Wolves of Freeport disbanded from his company one by one, returning home or seeking out other destinies. Wanderer. warrior and reluctant leader. Vagner now seeks to bring hope where only darkness exists. Though his enemy knows no specific name, his sword serves the greater good of Norrath and defends her against the persistent forces of evil.

The Scroll of the Burning Dead

Halwain clutched the symbol of Rodcet Nife at his neck. The Prime Healer would have much to say through his vessel this day, Halwain would see to that. The other man was much larger, not only for the thick furs that bundled him. A massive sword in each hand, Vagner asked few uestions and required fewer answers. There could be little doubt that monsters like those now before him were the foes his dreams bade him seek.

But for the moment the two listened, crouching where the wind-blown sand of these arid lands met the worn rock of the sunken and haunted tomb of Befallen.

There were six skeletons ahead of them, including a leader, a foreman of sorts. The creature’s hollow voice carried clearly to them: “Dig faster, fools. We are close. This ost alone stands in the way of the great one’s return. ncover his hiding place so that the forces of the Burning Dead might destroy him and restore the legacy.”

Vagner and Halwain locked eyes, their scowls barely visible in the deep shadows. The big warrior nodded almost imperceptibly, then leapt to his feet and rushed forward, choking back his howl so that other fell beasts of this place would not be alerted to their eventual doom.
Halwain stood, somewhat obscured by the dust left swirling in the warrior’s wake. He bowed his head and said a prayer, extending his hands, and a soft glow spiraled toward Vagner. When it reached him, the light covered the barbarian’s body, which grew even larger, muscles swelling to the limits of the flesh.

The warrior crushed into the group of skeletons, three or four of them ending in a tangle at his feet. One that remained standing prepared to plunge its pick into Vagner. but was cut short when a blast ot magical energy from Halvvain washed over and destroyed it.

As the other skeletons clambered back to their feet. Vagner hacked one in twain and then smote another’s fleshless skull. The skeletal foreman rose to meet Vagner, but another blow clove away the skeleton’s arm. Un- daunted. the foul creature drove face first at Vagner, surprising the normal ly imperturbable warrior. The barbar- ian felt his shoulder burn, and realized belatedly that the skeleton’s teeth had been filed to razor-sharpness.

Vagner kicked the undead foreman out from such close quarters, striking downward with both swords, crushing the already dead being into a truly lifeless pile of bones. Halwain then closed to smite the final skeleton, wielding his mace with desperate strength. As he fended off the creature’s blows, however, he stumbled over a fragment of old stone; he grunted in pain as the skeleton’s heavy pick punched through his armor. Then, in a blast ofbone shards, the skeleton was gone and Vagner stood in its place.

Halwain inspected Vagner’s injury, and with a mur- mured prayer, the wound was gone. His own wound was too minor for concern.

As Vagner began to kick the piles of bones to one side of the tunnel, a glowing mist began to issue forth from a small vent in a rockfall that blocked one portion of the tunnel. Vagner shoved Halwain back three steps and stood his guard between the cleric and the billowing mass that slowly formed inro a humanoid s . When the mist resolved, it was clear the warrior and c eric faced a ghost, for it pos- sessed a soft white luminescence and hovered a foot off the grime-covered floor.

The benevolent, clearly elven face put Halwain at ease, but Vagner was not impressed and remained poised to counter any attack.

Halwain nudged the warrior aside and spoke directly to the apparition. “l sense a deep pain within you, ghosu Is there some way I might assist you so that you may find eternal rest?”

Turning, the figure inspected Halwa in for a moment, and then replied in a taint, reverberating voice, like that of one who spoke only softly and from the opposite end of a great hall. ‘Our time is short, hero, for the minions of rhe Burning Dead will soon sense something amiss here. Will you perform a task so we might lay to etemal rest the evil that dwells within Befallen?’

Over Vagner’s growled warning, Halwain hurriedly re- plied, “l will perform any task that will cleanse this place.” “Then take this,” the ghost said, bringing forth a rolled archment from the deep recesses of its faintly glowing Form. “This must be delivered to the paladins of Marr in the city of Freeport. It details a terrible plan to restore to life a foul necromancer called Marnek. The Burning Dead must not be allowed to achieve this goal.”

Halwain accepted the scroll with some surprise at its weight, and then responded. “But who or what are you?’ “1 was Sir Ariam Arcanum, a paladin of Tunare. There is no time for my own story, which in any case is of little account. ” The ghost paused. “But if you wish to know more of me, and to do me a personal favor after you’ve traveled to Freeport, then please seek out my family in Felwithe. Will you travel there?”

“There is evil enough here to busy us — but, yes, we will travel to Felwithe as soon as we are able,” the cleric answered smoothly.

“Then deliver to this my family. It is my love for them that binds me here. Deliver my sister’s token,” said the ghost. The ghost carefully removed a necklace and handed it to the cleric. Immediately, the post van’ ed, though its gentle radiance shimmered faint y for several moments afterward. “May your journey take you through the Plane of Health. there to lighten your soul,” Halwain intoned, “and then on to your place beside the Mother of All.”

Soon, the ghostly paladin’s glow was gone entirely, and the grip of the dank tomb closed in on Halwain and Vagner. Both men squinted, muttering oaths to return some day, and then turned their backs on the evil and prepared to seek a paladin in the city of Freeport.

To Bind A Soul

The wind played coquettishly with her azure robe, and Arrialla wondered, not for the first time, whether the Oracle could possibly have inconvenienced her more than by requiring her to make six separate trips to his island in these past few months. She doubted it. She alsodoubted that even the extensive travel in which these visits had resulted might reveal to her even a portion of the enlightenment she had left Felwithe to seek. Certainly, her brother had been unsuccessful in the quest he had undertaken at the Oracle’s insistence.

How appropriate, the young high elf thought as her slender finger dabbed a single tear from her cheek. She stood on the prow of the Siren’s Bane as it plowed eastward across the vast and as yet largely unexplored Ocean of Tears. She sailed in the same direction her ancestors had traveled as they fled from Tunaria to the continent of Faydwer, where their new civilizations would rise. If the tears of those elves had not formed the ocean, they had at least christened it. How appropriate, then, that Arrialla should mourn her brother here.

And also how strange it seemed that the Oracle, one of her earliest mentors, should prove to be the link that brought her brother and his quest back into her life. It seemed only a handful of years ago that Arrialla had won the trust of the Oracle of K’Arnon. As the Koada’Dal thought on the matter, she smoothed the silken fabric of her elaborate robe, loosening it from where the sea breeze tangled it around her lean, graceful legs. The robe had been her first gift from the Oracle, a gesture of thanks all those years ago for her contributions to his library, the same collection she had come to increase now.

Her recent journeys had started with a message her father received, addressed to those two men who’d brought news of her brother’s fate. However, Vagner and Halwain could not be located. Her father assumed that the message, sealed with the mark of the Paladins of Truth in the city of Freeport, must be urgent, so Arrialla had searched for the men, but could not find them. Rumors suggested only that the two were traveling the breadth of Norrath in search ofshadowed men, evidently sensing some connection between that mysterious folk and the evil tomb of Befallen where they claimed to have met her brother’s spirit and received a dire warning from him.

Although her father had felt it a gross violation of the humans’ privacy, Arrialla had opened the message. The contents easily justified her prying, however, and she set out at once to find Sir Artanis in the walled-off northem section of Freeport. “I received your summons,” she’d told him, and explained her arrival in the place of the human cleric and the
barbarian warrior. The knight had offered his sympathies regarding her brother’s death, but in that peculiarly human way did not long linger on the past. He indicated that Vagner and Halwain’s assistance had been requested, but that he would accept hers if she was willing and capable. Arrialla, still misty-eyed in her reverie, nearly smiled as she recalled the flicker of surprise on the paladin’s face as, before his eyes, she had transformed into a human woman. The lithe form was every bit as lovely as her own, in its own way, and no doubt stirred even the dour paladin’s interest, but that wasn’t the effect Arrialla had sought. The man understood her point immediately: Arrialla, an enchanter, was indeed capable.

Arrialla was invited at once to meet with Sir Artanis and several other senior paladins; the council took place instantly, such was the priority of the matter. Arrialla soon understood why. The knights shared with her information they had gained from a Tier’Dal wizard they had captured as he attempted to slip through the Freeport sewers, which all too often
served as a place ofmeeting for the fell-minded. Under magical coercion, the wizard admitted he had been trying to contact the leaders of the Dismal Rage, a cult dedicated to the Prince of Hate, Innoruuk. The cult had nearly completed the construction of a phylactery, a near-legendary device that could serve as a soul receptacle for a powerful necromancer,
whose body might thus live on endlessly in a sort of undead state. The dark elf identified himself as a follower of Solusek Ro, with whom (as the paladins knew all too well) the necromancers of the Burning Dead were also affiliated.

Consequently, Sir Artanis and his fellows feared a connection between these activities and the warnings of Arrialla’s ghostly brother, Sir Ariam, regarding the imminent resurrection of the necromancer Marnek.

The Knights of Truth normally counted the Oracle of K’Arnon among their allies, but in this instance the Oracle had apparently turned them away. They had sought answers elsewhere, but Arrialla suspected that the Oracle must know something of the matter and had told the knights as much. “He likely expects you are unwilling—” Looking at Sir Artanis
with a friendly smile, she continued, “or unable to meet his price.”

So, with their blessing, she had set sail for the Oracle’s island in the Ocean of Tears. If indeed he could not help her, then she would retum to Felwithe and seek Vagner and Halwain so that they might know of the quest she’d taken up in their name. The weather had been stormier on that first voyage, more like her thoughts both then and now.

Salt water spraying around her, Arrialla finally spied the Isle of Erollisi in the distance. Here dwelt the Sisters of Erollisi, and it was also where the enchanter would disembark. She relinquished her position at the prow, strolling now to her quarters below deck. She traveled exceptionally light; she had little need for anything beyond a small amount of food and
water. If some emergency beyond her skill presented itself, she could always use her magic to teleport herself to the safety of her ancestral home.

She did bear one unusual possession: a book bound in red leather, one the very few known or even rumored copies of the so-called Sanguine Tome. It was a volume of immense power that told of unspeakable magics from the ancient past.

Source: Page 89 – EQRPG Players Handbox

Notable NPCs – Antonius Bayle IV


The line of Qeynos rulers by the name of Antonious Bayle has continued for centuries.  The current one, is the fourth in the line.  He was born in 5275, and crowned in 5299.  He controls the city as well as the surrounding area.  He has many allies, but has found a formidible nemisis in his brother, Kane.  It is said that he, has been linked romantically with Lady Shea even though the two have not been seen together in some time.

The first Antonious Bayle, born in 5105, formalized the existence of the Lawful City of Qeynos  and was crowned in the same year of 5130 For his part in uniting the humans of the plains and founding the city, he was known as the “Great Unifier”.

Antonious Bayle II was crowned in 5191 at the age of 36.  He led the movement to have the continent of Tunaria renamed Antonica, ostensibly in honor of his father, but of course his own name was the same, as some sages wryly noted at the time.  During his reign The Hole was formed when the Heretics of Erudin revolted against their high council and left their citadel.  This marked the beginning of the Age of Turmoil, during which Antonious Bayle II was dubbed the “Great Defender.”

The third member of the dynasty was born in 5214 and spent his childhood watching the events of the world unfold.  During his time, Sir Lucan took over the trade city of Freeport and the Heretics of Erudin completed the construction of their city, Paineel.  When he came to power, he did his best to be neutral.  His efforts at remaining so earned him the nickname the “Great Diplomat.”

Source: Page 367 of the maps of myrist

Xerkizh the Creator


The titanic shissar Xerkizh, a being almost as large as the
Emperor himself, engages in diabolical experiments on
iksar slaves in this chamber, intent on making them more
tractable and cooperative. Several captive iksar are here at
any given time, along with 3 shissar experimenters (use
shissar noble stats); there are also 2 imperial golems placed
here to prevent any of the prisoners from escaping.


In the floor are two pits filled with boiling blood, part of
Xerkizh’s latest experiment. Several iksar have perished,
boiled alive in the blood, but so far the shissars’ attempts at
forcibly extracting rebelliousness from their slaves have
proved fruitless.

Tattered Book


Another fool doth step upon this path to power. Another fool most assuredly will die. It is of no consequence if you succeed or fail, the outcome is yours to decide. What is needed from you is to stalk the land as the dark master you wish to be, and obtain the following components through stealth, guile, and deceit: An assassins Bloody mantle, a druid of renown’s pure heart, and a crystal of capturing. When done, place them within the enchanted soul trap and incant upon them that they may be combined. If you have not failed miserably, take the resulting Soul Trap to the soul you wish to manipulate.

Porlos’ Fury


You say, ‘Hail, The Dragon Sage’

The Dragon Sage appears to fade in and out. The ghostly figure seems to stare through you, as though he is not aware of your presence. ‘Do you know who I am?’, he asks, as if he is inquiring for his own benefit.

You say, ‘Who are you?’

The Dragon Sage begins to smile. ‘It has come back to me, just now’, he says. ‘I am the Dragon Sage. I lived in the once great elven city of Takish Hiz, where I studied the dragons of Norrath.’ The figure appears to be concentrating on something in the distance. His image begins to fade as he says, ‘If I am among the world of the living again, then Norrath must be in great danger.’

You say, ‘what danger?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘Thousands of years ago, Veeshan, the Mother of All Wurms, made her mark upon the face of a young world called Norrath. She struck the planet with her godly might, laying her claim to the world, and created the beings known as dragons. This began the Age of Scale.

You say, ‘what is the age of scale?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘The Age of Scale was the time when dragons ruled supreme. They controlled the lands, the sea, and the sky for some 3000 years. That was when other gods took notice.

You say, ‘what other gods?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘Tunare, the Mother of All, Prexus, the Oceanlord and Brell Serilis, the Duke of Below formed a pact in response to Veeshan’s claim to Norrath. The elves, the dwarves, and the aquatic kedge were all created to help keep the dragons in check. Rallos Zek, the Warlord, learned of this pact and created the giants. This began the Elder Age.

You say, ‘what is the elder age?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘The Elder Age was the time of the first humanoid races, the oldest on Norrath, next to the dragons. The elves prospered, while the giants struggled to survive. The giants on the frozen continent of Velious were in constant skirmishes with the dragons. It was at this point that the observations began.

You say, ‘what observations?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘The giants, smarter than expected, began watching and observing the habits of the dragons. They paid close attention to the things the dragons avoided… certain plants and watering holes. It was determined that a particular type of plant, when mixed with other reagents, was deadly to the dragons. The giants adapted their technique to specifically harm Yelinak’s brood in order to give them an advantage. The ancient Kromzek King, Porlos, used this to aid in his battle with Hsagra, Yelinak’s mate. Porlos killed Hsagra, forever bringing Yelinak’s vengeance upon his family. Thus began the eternal war between the giants and the dragons.

You say, ‘what plant?’

The Dragon Sage says ‘The name of the plant eludes me at this time, for my thoughts have grown cold through the ages. The findings of the giants were written in a book of lore by some of our sages. You should seek out one of the giant’s Tomekeepers. If you find a Tomekeeper, ask him about the herb that harms dragons. Perhaps if you give him this trinket he will assist you. Maybe they will remember my tired soul.

You receive a coin called a Giant Loyalist Token. At this point take the coin to Tomekeeper Bjordnessin in Wakening Lands Northeast corner (+665, -4586) and hand it to him.

Tomekeeper Bjordnessin says ‘Amazing! Simply Amazing! The legends must be true! This item was said to have been given to the Dragon Sage as a sign of friendship and trust, but I have always considered it to be legend. The discovery of this artifact will work wonders for my status! I have discovered a legend! Oh… oh yes. You sought information on that herb. Take this back to the sage. Maybe he can decipher it.

Tomekeeper gives you the Giant Scalebound Tome that you need to take back to the dragon sage in Western Wastes.

The Dragon Sage takes the guide and immediately begins to scan through it. He then says, ‘Ah… Ah yes… According to this book, the dragonbane herb grows only in one place, deep inside the lair of the sirens. If my memory serves me properly one of the creatures there is very fond of its flavor. I will also need the blood of a dragon, but not just any dragon. The blood
must come from a beast of Lord Yelinak’s bloodline. Please go now and see if you can find this herb and the dragon blood. No time to waste, child. You will need to take this box to contain and combine the herbs and dragon blood in. Once you have accomplished this, please return the box to me.

You now have in your posession an Ornate Reagent Box. You will use this box to combine both the herb and the blood. The herb is called a ‘Dragonbane Herb’ and
drops in Sirens Grotto off of random mobs that frequent the water areas. One has definitely been dropped from a seahorse.

The blood is called Dragon Blood and is found on Myga in Western Wastes. Myga looks like Yelinak and wanders all over the zone. It would be wise to bring a tracker. Killing Myga will lower your Claws of Veeshan faction.

Once you have both items, put them in the Ornate Reagent Box and hit combine. Once combined, the box will turn into a Sealed Reagent Box. Hand this sealed box over to The Dragon Sage to receive your Porlos’
Fury spell.

The Dragon Sage says ‘Ahhh! With the knowledge that I have gained from the Giant Scalebound Tome and these reagents, I can finish my research and create a most powerful spell for you! If successful, I will call it the Porlos’ Fury spell. It will cause near fatal wounds to any dragon or dragon kin in Lord Yelinak’s bloodline. Take this and study it. The magiks contained within will aid you in your fight. The Dragon Sage hands you the scroll and says, ‘You will need a reagent to channel the magical energies through to enhance the power of the spell. Two peridots will be required to cast this spell. I wish you good fortune in your fight.’

Source: https://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/quest.html?quest=1294

Kilij’s Plans


You say, ‘Hail, Bilrio Surecut’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘Greetings, friend. If fine weapons are what you seek then you shall find them here in my shop. I have traveled far and wide for the finest weapons. Still, there are a few [unusual weapons] which have eluded me.’

You say, ‘What unusual weapons?’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘Unusual weapons? Yes. There are a few which I sought. Such an item is the [brazen brass kilij].’

You say, ‘What brazen brass kilij?’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘The brazen brass kilij is a legendary magical weapon designed by the ancients and long lost to the winds of time. I have searched the world for it to no avail. Perhaps the [legend of Husam] will add some insight to my quest. I have some knowledge of its design and I am sure I can [craft the kilij].’

You say, ‘What legend of Husam?’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘Legend says the kilij was forged for a great paladin for his assault on the land of the dead. He was to slay the evil siblings Dimetreas and Byzola. It is said he killed Byzola. With the kilij he was unstoppable. Dimetreas knew this and cast an [evil spell] upon the kilij.’

You say, ‘What evil spell?’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘The enchantment would allow only rogues, warriors and the feeble minstrels to wield it. And so Dimetreas defeated the now unarmed paladin and shattered the kilij. He then found the only kilij plans and sent them to the Plane of Man to be held forever by his evil servant, Husam.. Husam of the burning sun.’

You say, ‘You can craft the kilij?’

Bilrio Surecut says ‘I can craft the kilij. All I need are the kilij plans and three enchanted gold bars. The blend of metals is not entirely brass and only an enchanter can provide the enchanted metal I need. As for the plans, perhaps during your great adventures you shall happen upon it. If so, I can make one for you.’

Sandgiant Husam spawns in South Ro.

You have slain Sandgiant Husam!
–You have looted a Kilij Plans.–

Bilrio Surecut says ‘You have succeeded in your quest for the kilij!! Wield it proudly.’