Archive for the ‘Lands’ Category

Tribes of Gracia

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

So far we’ve looked at a variety of aspects revolving around how the Gracian people see themselves in the world and some of their belief systems. Today I’d like to expand on this by going into a little more depth with regards to the structure of the Gracian Tribes which includes a brief of one of the great tribes.

As always enjoy the read and feel free to write your comments below or email me if you’d like a more indepth answer.

There are many tribes throughout the Gracian lands and they range in size with the smallest comprised of between 50 and 80 people while the largest of the tribes have tens of thousands.  This has led to a fairly fragmented and complex system of relationships between these people.

Typically the smaller tribes will either be conquered by a neighbour or absorbed into a larger tribe through marriage or diplomacy. While midsized tribes are the most active in terms of power struggles and political machinations as they constantly vie for increased power and prestige against local tribes but also in regards to prestige in the eyes of their respective Kings.

The large number of tribes also means that loyalties amongst the tribes are a complex matter as each tribe will have alliances and friends amongst their geopolitical area, but they will also have allegiance to their respective King who may call upon them in times of need.  It is only in times of great emergencies that Gracia will band together and become one.

The most influential tribes of the three respective bloodlines are currently the Iribane, the Irrian and the Veyan.

The Iribane

Current Chieftain:            Argandest “the Bloodied Handed”

Chiefs Champion:            Deramest son of Anlyeh

Symbol:                        Griffon facing front in a rampant position with wings spread

This is one of the oldest tribes and is the direct descendants of Kafaris, as such they have always been strong and influential amongst these people.  Kafaris was a powerful warrior and follower of Oda, the God of the Forests. Legend has it that he rode a griffon as a steed and that he was granted the Spear of Va-haugen by Oda.  This weapon of legend and power has since been lost to the Doth-Erian’s during the previous war where the General Harvrim took it as a trophy of his victory against the Tribes at the battle of Taymor Valley.

Due to the tanistry line of progression amongst these people the Iribane are the leading and most prominent tribe amongst the Kafaris and thus Argandest is the current Eastern King.

The tribe has had many glorious moments and spread their lands through exploring and sailing the seas to the east, discovering trading partners such as the cities of Two Waters and Arondeer.

Gracian Weapons of War

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

A strong part of the Gracian culture revolves around conflict and proving your worth in battle and as a skilful warrior.   Due to this dominant aspect to the Gracian mindset the Tribes have honed their skills in particular weapons of choice and also developed a variety of unique warrior professions.

Favoured Weapons

Spear: This weapon is ubiquitous to the lands of Synathia with every culture using one or more forms of this very simple but effective weapon.  The Gracians tend to favour two handed long spears during battle using them to form phalanxes to defend their villages and forts. While the smaller one handed spear are preferred for hunting as it provides more flexibility when transverseing the forests.  One handed light spears called pillums are also typically carried by hunters and raiders as their light weight and long reach provides a great versatile weapon to compliment their arsenal.

Bows: As one of the major sources of food comes from hunting, most Gracian children are taught to use a bow so that they can hunt for food and provide for their family and village.  Not all children will continue using this weapon as they age but all Gracian’s will have some natural affinity with this weapon.

The Gracian’s use three types of bows, the standard short bow, a long bow and the supreme Gracian ranged weapon, the war bow.  All Gracians are permitted to use both the short and long bow, but only Gracian nobles are allowed to use war bows.  The nobles who take up this honour form a group known as Noble Archers and are deadly marksmen.

Axe: The axe is the most notable and featured melee weapon of the Gracian culture and features heavily in the cultures symbolism.  It is believed that the love of this weapon stems from its uses outside of warfare such as for lumber which saw the reliance on this tool to build the homes and villages of the people.

It is no surprise that this weapon has come to prominence with its two bladed two handed axe being the more revered and prized weapon for the culture with many of the most notable warriors preferring this style of axe.

Hammer: In a similar manner to the axe this weapon’s use as a tool for construction has seen this weapon proliferate as a weapon of choice for many Gracian’s and mirroring the love that these people have for more brutal devastating weapons the two handed hammer or maul is far more common than lighter single handed hammers seen in other cultures.  For those warriors who choose lighter and single handed options they will typically choose a mace, morning star or flail as the impact and look of these weapons inspires greater fear than a simple hammer.

Swords: As with many other cultures swords are also common amongst these people but do not hold the notoriety of some of the proceeding weapons.  In a similar vein two handed swords such as the claymore or bastard sword are preferences amongst these people however single handed swords such as the broadsword also feature amongst the Gracian arsenal of younger warriors.

Dirk: Teaching how to use a dagger goes hand in hand with teaching Gracian children how to hunt with a bow. Not only is this weapon useful for close quarter fighting it is an invaluable hunting and household tool.  The daggers that the Gracian’s uses are called Dirks and they are larger than the average dagger.

Death Amongst the Gracians

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The death of an individual is seen and celebrated differently amongst all cultures both in our real world and also amongst our fantasy settings. It is such an integral part of our existance that I feel the need to include a brief look at how the Gracian’s view death and how it impacts up the lives of the living. In this way I hope that it helps to increase your understanding of these people and their way of life.

The death of a Gracian is a moving time for the family of the deceased but it is never an unhappy one as Gracian’s believe that when a person dies in this world they become spirits and take on lives in the spirit world. As such they view death in this life as the beginning of life in the spirit world and the continuation of existence. This is why spirits play such an important role within their culture and in the lives of every member, for not only can communication with the spirits be achieved but the spirits will also influence the lives of the living.

In this way the living will bring into their lives the spirits of those people or elements who are truly meaningful to them.

There are typically two types of ceremonies for when a member of a tribe passes into the spirit world, preservation and burial. Preservation is reserved for the noble class and will involve the removal of body parts from the corpse that epitomises the individual. These body parts will be preserved in liquid and placed within ceremonial urns. The urns are highly decorated and made from exotic materials, typical decorations will include imagery that tells a tale about the person and why the body part has been preserved, patterning associated with the tribe and gemstones that encrust the urn. The bodies of the nobles who go through this process will be wrapped and buried with the urns in an individual cairn or family crypt.

Commoners amongst the Gracian’s will by default be buried in a simple grave. The site of the grave will vary depending on the family as they may have an area of the lands that they prefer or have some attachment to that all of their family members will be buried in or the individual may have an affinity with a particular area which they will be buried in such as a favourite hunting ground. Alternatively if a large amount of warriors have fallen in battle the commander may demand that the fallen are all buried on the site of the battle, particularly if it was a great victory, in this manner they will forever be recognised for their part in bringing about glory to the tribe.

The Gracian Mindset

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

As part of my series of posts relating to the Gracian culture I thought that I would do a small writeup regarding the mindset of the Gracian people. It’s written from the perspective of a hunter and helps to highlight how they view the world. Enjoy …

I place the soles of my warm deer skin boot softly upon the ground; their supple hide base makes little noise upon the ground cover.  My shins part the leaves of the ferns that make a green blanket for the forest, covering it a foot and a half above the soil. The air is still damp from the night time rains and all around me I can hear the dripping of water from the leaves as the last of the rain drains from the canopy above to the forest floor.  There is little breeze this morning and my warm breath clouds in the chill air as I exhale. The forest is clear now, the fog of the morning has lifted and it has been cleaned from the previous rain. I have marked my body with woad to signify my intent to others, now it is time to hunt.

Looking to my left I can see my uncle, he is crouched against the trunk of a large tree, his bear skin cloak wrapped around him as he waits patiently, in his hands is a fine bow and although I cannot see it I know that he has an arrow knocked ready to release at a moment’s notice, he is a skilled hunter and in the absence of my father he has taught me all that I know.

I take a few steps forward and like my Uncle I rest my back against a nearby tree and search for my brother.

It is not long before he reveals himself and with a hand motion he signals for us to move. He has spotted our game and now it is time to make a kill and then it will be time to feast.

This is our world and this is my part in it.

Woad Tattoos

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

As the next product that i’m working on details a very different culture to that described in my previous work so far I would like to do a series of posts that bring their culture to life.  The first is one on tattoos, enjoy and remember to leave me your thoughts about it.

Markings and body paint are important parts of the Gracian culture; they denote a person’s prowess in their chosen art, station, whether they are favoured by the gods, social rank and a warning to others.  The majority of markings utilised by the Gracian’s are normal tattoos inked upon the body however amongst the Gracian’s not all markings are benign.

The greatest of the markings is made from a plant known as Woad.  When ground a blue dye can be made which is put upon the person and enchanted by the gods in a ritual creating a group known as Woad Warriors.

The ritual must take place in a sacred grove, where a Druid will mark the potential recipient with woad in a simple design.  The recipient will then lay within the centre of the grove as the druids in attendance conduct a ritual which will ask the gods to judge the warrior.  If they recognise the warrior’s deeds and believe that their heart is stout then the gods will enchant the woad permanently upon them and in doing so they alter the shape of the tattoo from its basic form into a symbol of the language of the gods and enchant the tattoo with a power.  Through this enchantment the warrior is given a gift of power that draws on the spirits of their dead ancestors to offer strength, courage and protection during times of need.

This ritual is very taxing upon the druids and is not always guaranteed of success for if a warrior presents themselves in judgement to the gods and are found unworthy the gods will wipe the intended marking from them.  This brings shame to the warrior and his tribe and as such only members of a tribe who are truly worthy will seek such enchanted markings.

Tattoos created in this manner will bear a sparkling silver lining indicating that the person is seen in the eyes of his kin as being worthy and having achieved much.  Yet there is another way that woad tattoos are bestowed.

The second method is rare but is the most revered of all markings, it is a tattoo lined with sparkling gold.  This is given to Gracians by the gods when the gods themselves believe that the person is worthy not when they request judgement.

The Ruins of Mehn-Toth

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

These haunted ruins are located deep within the southern mountain forests of The Barrowlands, near the border with Gracia.  Originally this was one of the largest forts of the Gracian Tribes and was built to protect a sacred shrine to Oda, the Gracian God of the forest.

During the last war between the Gracian’s and the Doth-Erian’s this fort became the scene of one of the most brutal battles.  When the Doth-Erians finally arrived at its gates they immediately besieged the fort.  The siege lasted two years before the Doth-Erians assaulted its walls and exterminated the population of the fort.  It was during this battle that the Chieftain of the Irrian’s lost his life solidifying the authority of the Iribane Tribe over the Gracians.  This fateful day saw a change in the war which eventually led to a ceasefire between the powers.

Due to the spirits that remain in the ruins, the woods that surround it remain quiet as animals have learnt to give this area some distance.  The lack of wildlife only goes to enhance the haunted feel of the ruin and impose a sense of fear to those who travel near it.

Upon approach the ruin seems to have become part of the forest, as its breached stone walls are weathered and covered with moss, ivy and brambles that will take a strong arm and a sharp blade to cut through.  The gates lay catawampus half rotted upon the ground, their iron hinges and reinforcing bands rusted with thick undergrowth obstructing passage through the gate house.

The interior holds a similar scene of overgrown vegetation, covering the courtyards, stone buildings and defensive structures.

Strewn amongst the foliage is rubble from boulders, buildings, walls and the dead.  Their skeletons still litter the ruin on wall tops and open ground and reinforce the scale of the battle that was fought here.

There are two major structures in the ruin the first is the central keep.  Made of stone and standing forty feet tall its thick walls held against the battering rams and catapults of the Doth-Erians until the very end, which saw a fight for its control held at every doorway and stairwell until the Gracian’s no longer lived.  There was no surrender and no quarter given in the final assault by either side.

As such the doorways are littered with decayed skeletons, scorched by the burn marks of magical spells and covered in cobwebs.

The second major structure is the sacred shrine.  This once was a grove of huge Oak trees that had grown in a ring, surrounding a natural pool of warm water and the sapling of the sacred Ashfern, a rare and magical tree sacred to the followers of Oda as these trees are delivered to the mortal realm and planted by Oda himself.  This shrine’s great Oaks have now started to regenerate after being burnt by the magical fires of the Doth-Erian wizards but their trunks still show signs of the devastation wrought upon them.  Missing however is the sacred sapling, taken as a trophy by the Doth-Erian’s its location is now unknown.

The brutality of the battle was such that many of the fallen, both Gracian and Doth-Erian, still haunt the area.  Many are benign yet there are those self willed ghosts who seek revenge upon the living for what has happened the most powerful of which are the guards of the sacred shrine.  Known as the Uth Vast, these powerful spiritual warriors still guard the shrine in the afterlife against anyone seeking to damage or defile it.  In life these men and women were of noble birth, well armoured, armed with mighty two handed axes and wielded the magical powers of Oda.  In death they are no less fearsome.

Gibsview Abbey

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Half a day’s travel to the north of the citadel of Langhorn is Gibsview Abbey.  Located on an overhang looking out upon a valley called Gibs Vale, this is a small quaint Abbey of worshipers of Belemai, the god of knowledge and wisdom, who spend the majority of their time in reflection upon the words and teachings of Belemai .

When not in quiet contemplation and discussion they spend their time growing barley and making Ales in their brewery.  These Ales are highly sought after and are usually high alcohol, very flavoursome rich brews that utilise an open ferment system to obtain unique flavours.  Their most commonly requested beer is the Serpents Wing Ale, but produce a great range of ales from the small brewery that they have built.  Below are some of their creations…

Serpents Wing Ale: This top fermented brew is bottle conditioned and has a smooth frothy head, which is derived from the light carbonation of the beer and when poured into a glass it literally sparkles as if golden flecks floated throughout the liquid.  The brew is full of flavour and has a moderate alcohol content combined with a crisp bitter finish.

Tortlan’s Abyss: Tortlan was a former member of the Abbey whose learned study led him to believe that there were ancient texts of Belemai buried deep within a tunnel system in the Tarisan Ranges and set off to rediscover them so that the Abbey could benefit from the lost knowledge.  At the best of times Tortlan’s sanity was questionable by the members of the Abbey; however they humoured his theory and allowed him to pursue his agenda seeing little harm in it.  Unfortunately poor Tortlan has never been seen or heard of since he left the Abbey gates and is presumed to have perished upon his sojourn.

In his honour the Abbey brewed this beer which is a heavily roasted brew as black as the abyss that Tortlan set off to find.  In an attempt to mimic the juxtaposed nature of the man this brew is slightly sweet with a strong chocolate flavour and only a moderate level of alcohol.

Gibsview Cassis Ale: Made from the blackberries that are grown in the gardens of the Abbey, the Cassis Ale is one of the most expensive ales produced from the Abbey as it is aged four years prior to being released for consumption.  This ageing process helps to integrate the flavours so that the drinker is provided with a complex taste sensation upon their palate.

This fruit driven beer has a deep purple colouring and holds great balance between the blackcurrants flavours from the fruit, the sweetness of the alcohol and the bitterness of the hops.  To round out the drink its high alcohol content means that it will test even the heartiest of Dwarves.

The Doth-Erian Empire Brief Overview

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The Doth-Erian Empire has been forged over the past four hundred and thirty years.  From humble beginnings as a single and only moderately sized nation to an empire that now encompasses fifteen provinces and stretches from the Great Synathian Ocean in the west to the Alasean Sea in the east.  Many of these province’s boarders are the original boarders of the nations that were conquered however several have been constructed by the empire to its own benefits.

In the past four hundred and thirty years the empire has seen very little time of peace, historians claim only as much as fifty years without bloodshed.  The Doth-Erian’s came to power due to their development of superior cavalry and the use of artillery on the battlefield.  Conquering two out of three of its neighbours in separate wars over a twenty-five year period they set a precedence for the years to come and with this in mind the empire continued to expand to its current size.

As is the case with all great empires, unity is seen as a key to ensuring the future of the empire thus the Doth-Erian’s routinely dominate the culture and society of the lands they conquer thus there are many dialects throughout the empire but many of these such as the Apathian or Gracian languages, practices and beliefs are banned from use in preference for the Doth-Erian culture.  This has however had benefits for those wishing to trade with and within the empire whether they be foreign or local merchants alike.

The Doth-Erians are routinely portrayed and depicted by other cultures and neighbouring countries as arrogant and in the minds of the Empires nobility why should this matter, they have won the right to be so through victory at arms.  To this date there has been nothing that has successfully challenged the Empire’s might and few on the continent of Synathia would rival its power.  Thus their demeanour is seen as justified and true amongst its aristocracy.

The Barrowlands

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

‘Bring into your mind a picture of grand landscapes, forested mountain ranges littering the countryside with streams and rivers running freely down the slopes, gradually carving valleys out of the rock.  Before the mountain ranges stretches rolling grass covered plains as far as the naked eye can see. Now soak that lush foliage and  rich soil with the blood of hundreds of thousands of men women and children so that when you walk those lands it is not moisture from the recent rains that wells in your footprint but the blood of those who have died in defence of it.  These are the southern lands of our great empire, riddled with the memories and pains of the dead.’

Carma Othius

Imperial Court Bard to Emperor Arias 3rd

The Barrowlands is a land of some diversity as its northern boundary run along the base of the Denaris Ranges holding lush, fertile plains suited to grazing sheep and dairy cattle, but as you travel further south the terrain changes to forested undulating hills, valleys and eventually mountains as they stretch further south into the lands of Gracia and the Grand Duchy of Koras.

In this southern area wide open valleys are home to small self sustaining villages nestled next to lakes and rivers.  The deeper you travel into the land the more untouched it seems to be with the landscape covered with forests, abundant wildlife, foliage that clings to the rocks of the cliff faces as they try to reach the ridges peaks, and water that cascades down the valley walls in a myriad of thin waterfalls.

Yet do not let this serine picture fool you as the lands are both wild and dangerous, particularly if you are from Doth-Eria.  The primary threat is from one of the Gracian tribes as they consider the lands still to be theirs and anyone not of their people to be trespassers.  The most common encounter with these people is from tribal scouts who have come to investigate an incursion, hunters, night time raiders or warbands.  The further south and closer to the border between The Barrowlands and Gracia one travels the higher the risk, within the midlands and north of the province the risk is not so much of open battle or capture rather it is of insult and distrust by the villages and townsfolk who descend from the Gracian tribes.

The west and north-western parts of the province broaden into a more open landscape until you reach the coastline where rugged cliffs and lashing salty waves whip against the rocks.  The western area is the most civilized with the largest settlement, the Citadel of Langhorn, solidly standing as a beacon and testament to the power of the Doth-Erian Empire.

This is a harsh land, and one that is torn between two distinct cultures.  The original lands were held by a collective of tribes who loosely aligned to form a nation they called Gracia.  This is a vibrant warrior culture who is one with the lands around them, worshiping the spirits of the forest such as the wolf and the bear above all.  The current rulers of this province are the Doth-Erian Empire.  A highly technologically and magically advanced civilization that have continuously expanded their borders over the last four hundred and thirty years.  War between these two factions has lasted for over a century and has seen the gradual retreat of the Gracian’s.  Although the Empire has never been able to completely defeat these people they have pushed them deep into the southern mountain range Known as the Tarisan and conquered much of what they once owned.

Peace has now lasted for twenty years after a ceasefire was brokered by the Iribane tribe, however those descendents that were left in the occupied territory have known nothing but repression and subjugation, with the Doth-Erian’s enforcing laws which outlaw their language, religion, beliefs, dress, names, historical teachings and folk law.  Although the Gracian’s should not have expected any special treatment as this is standard policy for Doth-Eria as a means to take control of the captured lands and bring it completely under its control.