Varn Lorsmun

Varn Lorsmun no label

Male Half-Elf Ranger

Location: His cottage, along the eastern edge of the Narlmarches.

Varn Lorsmun is an interesting sight to behold; the large man, standing tall at six and half feet, is usually covered in thick furs and leather armour. His ears are curved and pointed, revealing his half-elf heritage, but his eyes betray some hidden bestial nature. Varn  is a known amongst the inhabitants of the Greenbelt as a good-natured man and a skillful trapper. He’s mapped a good portion of the woods, but has mostly kept to the eastern half of the Narlmarches ever since Breeg Orlivanch came to the forest.

Varn was happy to make the Associates’ acquaintance, and upon being asked about the current state of the woods, shared his own investigation into recent usual behavior of the wolves, who seem to have become abnormally malevolent. After the Associates agreed to look into the matter, he shared some of his maps of the western Narlmarches to aid them.

 

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The Rostland Plains

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The region of grassy plains and rolling hills to the east of the Sellen and south of the Gronzi Forest are the heart of Old Rostland, dotted with farming towns and villages with a mixture of Issian and Taldan heritage and manners, but with more of an emphasis on the Rostlandic descendants of the original Taldan colonists. Although close to the capital of New Stetven, the Rostland Plains harbor some simmering dissent against the crown, the man who presently wears it, and the very idea of Brevoy as a unified nation.

Port Ice

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House Surtova’s ancestral lands extend from Port Ice, a settlement that has shifted increasingly inland, like its masters. Although connected to the lakeshore villages by a reasonably well-maintained road, Port Ice is locked behind its walls for much of the cold winter months, visited only by sled and the occasional foolhardy traveler. The rest of the year, the city is open to stockpile all the supplies needed for the next season. The White Manor is the Surtova ancestral seat, currently in the care of King Noleski’s uncle, Domani Surtova.

New Stetven

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Choral the Conqueror established the Brevic capital of New Stetven after his successful campaign, building over the ruins of the original Taldan settlement of Stetven. It remains the center of political and economic power in the land, in spite of the recent upheavals. Of particular importance is New Stetven’s place as a trading city, carrying goods to and from Brevoy along the East Sellen River and the major trade roads that meet here along the shores of Lake Reykal.

New Stetven earned the nickname “The City of Wooden Palaces” for the abundant use of timber to build everything from walls and houses to mansions and forts. Even some of the city streets are “paved” with planks laid in the near-
constant mud from the snow and slush. Raised wooden sidewalks are common in the wealthier parts of the city, allowing people to walk up out of the mud as much as possible. The only great stone structures of the city are the Ruby Fortress, the seat of power to the crown of Brevoy, and the Bulwark of Gorum, Brevoy’s greatest temple to the Lord of Iron. Fire, like that which destroyed Old Stetven, remains a constant threat, and the city relies heavily on the services of volunteers aided by local spellcasters to put out the handful of fires that occur each winter.

The Lake of Mists and Veils

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The people of Brevoy know the vast Lake of Mists and Veils simply as “the Lake,” and it defines the northern border of the land as well as dominates Brevoy’s seasons and weather. In the winter, the fiercest storms howl down from the foggy waters, driven between the mountain peaks to pour freezing rain, sharp hail, and heavy snow drifts upon Issia, slowed only slightly by the forest and the hills around Rostland, before exhausting their fury on the southern hills and plains. The lake gets its name from its tendency to warm enough in the peak months of summer so that when the first chill of winter sets in, the water “steams” with heavy layers of mist at night, slowly burning off each morning.

The Icerime Peaks

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The Icerime Peaks wall off most of Brevoy from the former lands of Iobaria to the west. Their heights are perpetually covered in ice, even in the summer months, when cold rivers tumble and cascade down their sides, forming towering waterfalls and clear mountain lakes. The late spring thaws open what passes there are through the mountains, although few make use of them.

Skywatch is by no means the only ancient site in the Icerime Peaks. Tales tell of half-buried entrances to mountain dungeons, some of them outposts of old Iobaria, others even older. Some of the ruins are said to be haunted by the chill shades of soldiers or miners who perished there, still guarding whatever treasures they found in life.

The Gronzi Forest

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The dark expanse of the Gronzi Forest is simply “the Forest” to the people of Brevoy. It extends from the highlands of the Icerime Peaks to the shores of Lake Reykal, forming part of the old border between Issia and Rostland. Although technically the forest belongs to the Brevic crown, hunting and even woodcutting is largely unregulated around its outskirts, particularly in the western reaches. The stretch of forest nearest New Stetven was largely cleared generations ago for the wood to rebuild and maintain the city, and Brevic woodcutters must delve deeper each year to meet their needs.

Although there are many tales of the hazards of the deep forest, the most recent stories are of human origin. A mysterious bandit chief known as Duma the Sly has led raids on merchants, travelers, and tax-collectors near the bounds of the forest. He and his band are known for their ability to strike without warning and vanish just as quickly into the greenery. Duma is no friend of King Noleski Surtova, but the common folk love him for his generosity, and therefore aid him in evading royal sanction. Tales claim Duma is everything from the son of a wronged Aldori nobleman, a fey-blooded trickster, or the lost Rogarvian heir.

The Golushkin Mountains

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The Golushkin Mountains are home to Issia’s greatest concentration of natural resources, as the peaks sit upon deep veins of iron, nickel, copper, silver, and tin, along with some other useful or precious ores. Humans like the Surtovas showed little interest in mining these riches, particularly since the Golka clan of dwarves were already doing so. House Garess established trade with the mountain dwarves, building a reputation on metalworks and a stronghold in the defensible mountain lands.

Brevic Culture

“The dragon has two heads,” goes the Brevic saying. Some see it as a reference to the dual nature of the nation’s culture—Issian and Rostlandic—others to the division between the ambitious nobility and the often grasping priesthood, or between the noble houses and the self- proclaimed swordlords, all with the common people caught in the middle.

The Lords of the Land

Apart from the king and royal family, the highest ranking nobles in Brevoy are its lords—the heads of the noble houses. The lords of Brevoy are male; eldest sons inherit their father’s estate and titles. Younger sons often receive some provision, but it need not be much under the law. Women exert influence through their husbands or sons, and may even rule as regents for sons who have not yet reached the age of majority (15 winters). Lords tend to have many children as a result, at least to secure a male “heir and a spare.” This leads to various cadet branches and lines of houses, as well as alliances by marriage, such that in the past 200 years the seven major noble houses have become both more closely related and more widespread. There is an ever-greater demand for land and titles, and more young, disaffected nobility looking to make a mark in the world.

Gold, Red and Black

Although Brevans make it a point to honor all gods, three hold particular prominence among these hardy folk. Although worship of Erastil is not uncommon in far-flung rural areas, and cults of Lamashtu have a tenacious ability to endure all manner of cleansing crusade, the following three religions have the greatest influence over life in Brevoy.

Abadar: The Master of the First Vault is the unifying religious power in Brevoy, favored of the merchant and tradesman class, as well as those nobles more interested in prosperity through trade and the rule of law than the iron fist of battle. Temples of Abadar are places of judgment and trade, and the bearers of his golden key are often invested as neutral judges or arbiters.

Gorum: Our Lord in Iron speaks to the needs and interests of the nobility of Brevoy: strength through force of arms and prowess in battle. The household priests of the great keeps and strongholds of the land are iron-clad followers of Gorum, wearing their red tabards and swinging iron censers heavy with pungent incense.

Pharasma: Our Lady of Gentle Repose is the divinity of the common people of Brevoy, more concerned with cultivation, birthing, and harvesting than wealth, and less involved in the outcome of battles than in the repercussions of the corpse-strewn fields they leave behind. Inhabitants of scattered villages are far more acquainted with the local bone-thrower, midwife, and black-clad mortician-monk than they are with the splendid clerics of Abadar or Gorum.

The Salt of the Earth

The vast majority of the Brevic people are simple peasants, primarily farmers and craftspeople who owe their fealty (and their taxes) to one lord or another. A Brevic peasant’s life is largely the same throughout Brevoy—up with the sun in the short spring and summer months to tend the fields in Rostland or fish and mine in Issia, with household chores filling the rest of the day. In the long, dark winter months there is no shortage of mending, brewing, carving, and cleaning. Men may visit the local tavern or taphouse in the evening, and such places host dances or revels perhaps two or three times a season. The wise man attends to his own house and avoids the attention of noble and priest alike, praying to all their gods simply for decent weather, good crops, a healthy family, and the peace with which to enjoy them.

 

Brevic Geography

Brevoy is divided into two lands historically, culturally, and geographically. The vast Lake of Mists and Veils forms the northern border of Brevoy, bound in ice during the winter months, the domain of fishing vessels, merchant ships, and the pirates who prey upon them the rest of the year. The Awzera and East Sellen Rivers, along with the dark depths of the Gronzi Forest, divide the nation into north and south. The Golushkin Mountains south of Port Ice mark the western border, while the Icerime Peaks to the east form a barrier with the old lands of Iobaria beyond.

Issia

The northern half of Brevoy, Issia, is a broken expanse of rugged, rocky hills stretching between the bordering mountain ranges of the Icerime Peaks and the Golushkin Mountains, with the lone peak of Mount Veshka rising in its midst. Small, windswept scrub and spiky grasses are all that grow in the rocky soil, save for in small, painstakingly tended plots and in some of the more fertile areas long the lakeshore (which must deal instead with storm surges, floods, and other hazards of equal concern). The mountains offer plentiful stone for quarrying and building, and occasional veins of metals and precious stones for mining, although the locals are generally poor at mining.

Issia first came into existence when explorers from Taldor came across a disease-ravaged frontier colony of the ancient Iobarian empire. The area that came to be known as Issia was too barren to allow true agriculture so the inhabitants turned to raiding to support themselves. Issia became renowned as a land of river pirates and other such scoundrels with the center of raiding activity being the boisterous Port Ice. Despite Issia being a nation of raiders and pirates it was relatively stable, being ruled by House Surtova for the last thousand years of its existence. House Surtova ruled by virtue of being the most cunning of all the river pirates and by beating the resistance out of all who would oppose them.

When Choral the Conqueror came to the region in 4499 AR and laid waste to the nation of Rostland to the south, House Surtova surrendered, deferring to him and the self-proclaimed nobility of House Rovargia. As a result, Issia survived the transition into the new nation of Brevoy far better than Rostland did. Their surrender also allowed House Surtova to ingratiate itself into the new regime more easily, eventually allowing it to gain control of Brevoy after every member of House Rovargia within Brevoy’s borders mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind a power vacuum in the capitol of New Stetven.

Rostland

Compared to the land north of Lake Reykal, Rostland is a gentle and fertile place of grassy plains and rolling hills. Watered by the lake and rivers, Rostland’s soil is better suited for farming, and the mountains and forest help to blunt the worst of the storms that roll down off of the Lake of Mists and Veils. Still, Rostland is known for its chill winters and its long, slow, and muddy spring season. Rostland is relatively poor in minerals, so most construction is of wood, supplemented by local fieldstone. A few great structures, like the Ruby Fortress or the Bulwark of Gorum in New Stetven, are built with imported stone, but otherwise even the great manor houses are built mainly of wood.

Rostland was first inhabited by Taldan explorers in the latter half of the Age of Enthronement under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, a hotheaded, impulsive noble forced to emigrate from Taldor after losing one too many duels. When the fledgling colony suffered a number of brutal attacks from bandit lords to the south, First accepted the challenge of the ruling bandit lord—a duel for the future of the burgeoning settlement. Unable to best the bandit king, First paid his wager and disappeared, most assuming he was gone for good, too embarrassed to show his face after the defeat. Several years later, First returned a changed man.

Answering to the name Sirian Aldori , the “Sword Baron” challenged to bandit lord to a rematch and defeated him handily in seconds. He followed this with a standing offer of 100,000gp as a reward for any who could best him in a battle of blades. None could defeat him, whether through legitimate means or trickery and magic. At first, Aldori refused to teach any his techniques, but he eventually capitulated and began to train a select group of swordsmen under the condition that they each swore to change their name to Aldori and never teach their techniques to any outside the swordpact. These swordsmen became known as the Aldori swordlords. They ruled Rostland for generations, each as prickly and impulsive as the order’s founder.

In 4499 AR, the armies of Choral the Conqueror swept into Rostland, and despite a strong resistance mustered by the swordlords, the nation fell at the barbarian’s hand and at the talons of his red dragon servitors. The most memorable conflict between the Rostlandi and Choral’s armies is now known as the Valley of Fire, and somber songs of swordlord Estruan Aldori’s defeat remain a popular aspect of folk culture in Brevoy, the River Kingdoms, and Mendev. After annihilating the Rostlandi army, Choral’s red dragons turned their attention to Rostland itself, and initiated a brutal onslaught of fire and blood that brought the once-proud nation to its knees. In only a handful of days, the people of Rostland surrendered to their new ruler and his heirs in House Rogarvia.

Many Aldori swordlords fled Rostland under Choral’s rule, establishing a strong presence in the city of Mivon to the south, amid the River Kingdoms. Others fled to the Free City of Restov in the far south of Brevoy. The Aldori stronghold of Skywatch maintained the resistance even after the rest of Rostland had fallen, but even this seat of independent Aldori power was reduced to ashes by Choral and his dragons, eventually to be rebuilt by House Rogarvia.