GM Opening Letter
The land is simply called Duender. Perhaps in some ancient time it had a more grandiose name, but these days, short and simple wins the day. There were once many great kingdoms across Duender, with trade routes spanning the continents, however now a few well traveled routes among subdued territories are all that remain. No one is entirely certain why the great civilizations of yore fell apart, and a few with the luxury and time to research it have tried. As near as they can tell, a great conflict occurred more than several hundred years ago, the earth was scarred, and the great nations shattered.
In their place, new civilizations rose, but they have yet to grow and prosper enough to even approach the former levels of grandeur. There are a few main civilizations that are known to the majority of the populous.
There is the land to the North, called Chishar by most, though few can pronounce what it’s residents have named it. Somewhere in that vast forest lives the Elves, and somewhere, high on a plateau overlooking their cousins, dwell the Eladrin. Chishar’s people keep mostly to themselves, and it is said that they deal harshly with those who would destroy their forest home. Younger members of these two races have been known to occassionally succumb to the pull of wanderlust, and a desire to explore the world around them. Most eventually return, but a few find the outside lands… interesting, and stay for their own reasons.
The eastern side of the mainland is a great plains, bordered by Chishar’s mighty forests to the North, and Draeknia’s Peaks to the South. There are hills in the northernmost part of the land, where Winter’s chill lingers long into the Spring. The land is sparsely populated by a loose network of what can only be called towns if one is using a generous definition of the concept. Settlements is a more appropriate term. Humans live here in abundance, as the land is incredibly fertile. Not too much is known about the area, to be honest, it seems almost as if someone absentmindedly dropped the plains in the middle of the land. The foothills to the North are nowhere near as fertile, and the mountains to the South seem almost to have been flattened over. Its people like to stay with their own kind, and are remarkably loyal to their familial and social groups. They are not hostile to outsiders unless they percieve a threat or offense. These may include, but are not limited to: large armed groups, comments about their relations, an ill fitting tunic, and encountering them on a bad day. Granted, most of this is hearsay. They are not uncivilized, and eagerly trade their excess foodstuffs for harder to find materials and items, but they are somewhat rigid. This land is predominantly human, moreso than any other.
To the South lie the mountains of Draeknia. Here mountains thrust themselves into the sky, as if challenging the earth to call them back down. It seems almost as if the sun would rather not linger on these lofty peaks, and it is bitterly cold and dark during the long winters here. Driven into Draeknia’s mountain walls and valleys are cities of Tieflings and Humans. Humans are the dominant race here, but this where Tieflings are most abundant. The loose city states all serve one leader, in a city at the center of the mountains, where roads meet. There are a few coastal settlements as well, but the Tieflings tend to avoid them, leaving them to their human cousins. The valleys also boast some mountain dwarf settlements. They do not exactly belong to the cities here, but being the craftsmen that they are, the other races don’t seem to mind.
Bibdan is the kingdom of humans. Ruled by the unmarried, young, and somewhat stubborn King Marquay Jensen, Bibdan stands East of Draeknia, and West of Vuspecci. This is a land of rolling hills, some grasslands, and plains. A few rivers run through, helping to connect the Capital, Warchester with the more remote areas. The southernmost edge of this Kingdom is on the coast, where those wishing to brave the seas may depart. Sailors here are rather skilled, and it’s said that those heading to or from Bibdan always have the wind at their backs. Hill dwarves have a few settlements here as well, and provide many goods for Bibdan’s merchants to trade with those across the continent. Tieflings, wandering Elves and Eladrin, Dwarves, Grolth’s more curious countrymen and even some Dragonborn from Maek’Trokkar pass through and settle here. The easiest overland route to Vuspecci is here, on the trade route from Warchester, through the Duchy of Thesterfield, and finally from Eddersway up the ridges to Culver’s Hill, in Vuspecci.The border with Vuspecci is very easily defined; it is as if an entire plate lifted itself above the rest and then settled, leaving a steep drop down from Vespucci to Bibdan.
Vuspecci is the Westernmost land in Duender. It lies above almost all else, on a high shelf above Bibdan and Chishar. The river along the road from Culver’s Hill to Eddersway goes down a sharp series of waterfalls, making it impassable to boats, leaving only a land route for trade. Vuspecci prides itself on its government, and is organized into a group of city states that govern their own neighboring towns, with a central government to watch over it all. The full name of Vuspecci is “The Organized Territories of Vuspecci,” but they are the only ones who call it that. They have had their government in this fashion for longer than anyone can remember, and have a rich history of magic and culture. Of course, they don’t exactly go out of their way to share it. They keep the sources of their lands magical infrastructure very secret. They like their country and its luxuries, and with a few notable exceptions, they stay there. They can see a great deal from their position, including the Eladrin’s mountains and forests in the North of Chishar. But those who leave cannot see any of their beloved homeland once their are gone….
There is one more country of note here, and this is the nation of Maek’Trokkar. On an island due east from Grolth, reside the Dragonborn. They are protective of their home, their people, and their heritage. Their people have been known to travel and explore the other cultures of Duender, taking note of the best and worst of what the land has to offer. The Dragonborn know that they can always return to their ancestral home, and that there is a place waiting there for them. They trade with other cultures, and have swift ships that have shallow enough draft for many rivers, yet are sturdy enough to roam the seas offshore the main continent. Non-dragonborn are tolerated in their land, but not entirely encouraged.
In the center of Duender lies another area, called Mass’s Fen. No one knows who Mass was, what he did, or much about when he did it. All they know is that a long, long time ago, he lived, and in some way was involved with this Fen. It is a dark place, and keeps the nations from meeting at a central point. Not many have dared to traverse its murky swamps, and legends say that dark things that should not be on this earth have taken residence there. The tales from the few intrepid (or foolish) explorers who have made this journey would indicate that this disturbing fact is true. Perhaps what is most disturbing, however, is that they also say that they saw signs that the fen has not always been this size, and that it has begun to expand….