The Barony is a melting pot of different cultures and no two places will have exactly the same customs. However, some traditions have spread across a wide area.
Most parts of the Kingdom celebrate a spring festival, midsummer, harvest, and midwinter (aka Yule or Christmas). The holidays have multiple meanings, both secular and religious.
Many patrollees have come to view these festivals as times to lock themselves away somewhere secure and comfortable – the holiday season always seems to bring out peculiarly strange or deadly beings intent on causing havoc.
Officially the Prince’s Birthday and the Baron’s Birthday (late September) are Barony holidays. Mostly they are an excuse to have a drink.
Other festivals include:
The curse festival is an outgrowth of many religious traditions. Around the central religious purpose of celebrating curses, the festival of cursing is a series of curse-related events and contests culminating in an awards ceremony for the best curses of the last year. In 118 prizes were awarded in the following categories (the winners being chosen by a panel of judges).
Additional prizes are awarded for
The winners being chosen by counting. The prize for Most Cursed is very large and very important to the balance of the event, as otherwise judges for the other categories tend to suffer excessive cursing from the runners-up. Many people attend for the street food and sideshows. The Curséd Fringe offers a prize for Most Cursed Street Entertainer.
Curses are often employed as a form of vengeance of the oppressed against the powerful and so there are those who object that a joyful open contest takes away from the central religious significance of furtive violence. Many attempts to address this issue have resulted in astonishingly twee works of literature in which various people are taught the True Meaning Of Cursemas by Cursy the Curse Spectre. It is believed that the entire genre is cursed.
More practically, many competitors wear luchador masks.
The CurseFest’19 disorganising committee is proud to announce that they will co-locate with the Celebration of Anti-Sneezing for the convenience of delegates.
Many players have created different cultures and groups that their characters come from. Some common themes that everyone is welcome to play with are:
Though rarely ‘official’ nobles with Kingdom titles, there are ancient elven houses rich in dignity with old wealth and tangled histories.
Amongst human society, below the official nobles with real political power there are many wealthy, landed families with minor titles and little worldly impact but a lot of class.
The Towers, the Circle and the Temple of Freedom are often depicted as academic institutions akin to universities, where people learn, study, give lectures and conduct researches. Junior members of the guilds often have student-like activities such as writing dissertations and sleeping through seminars, and senior members are often called upon to teach or publish papers.
Although many half-orcs are the product of a human-orc liaison, there are increasing numbers of ‘pureblood’ half-orcs, the children of two half-orc parents. As their numbers grow they are exploring their culture and identity.
Some players have also created detailed cultures or groups within the Kingdom, listed below, or whole new nations with their own cultures. Ask them for permission if you’d like to play a character from their background. If you would like to add a culture, please contact the committee; as a general rule only cultures that belong to characters that have survived past rank 20 or have appeared in the plot of at least three games will be included.
It is known that in or near the area where the Kingdom of Exiles now stands there was once an elven civilisation. Whether the fall of this civilisation was brought about by the expanding Hassani Empire, the Empire expanded into the void left by the collapse of the elves’ kingdom or the two events were wholly unrelated no one knows. It is, however, well documented that the Hassani were a human dominated society with a strong dislike of other races. So, during the years of Hassani rule, fragments of elven society were pushed deeper into wild and inaccessible areas in order to survive. Some retreated into deep, near-impenetrable forests, others clung to high, secluded valleys where the air is thin, rumour has it that yet others took ship searching for islands in the last sea that they could call their own.
Following the fall of the Empire, some of these groups re-emerged into the world, settling their own villages and eventually mingling with the human populations around them. Others, more isolated or less trusting of the world around them maintained their seclusion. It has only been comparatively recently that the Kingdom has begun to make contact with some of these groups, now mostly devolved into primitive, tribal societies, and has made progress on convincing them that they are not Hassani and bear no ill-will towards them.
The Daeleth is a clan of wood elves that live about in the Bringewood forest. Consisting of several tight-knit families there are roughly 50 members. They tend to keep their main camp well hidden and so an inexperienced person may have difficulty finding them, unless they wish to be found. The camp itself consists of very well camouflaged tents hidden amongst the undergrowth. You’d have to get close up to notice them. They are the sort that would want to move about quickly and leave little trace. Largely consisting of hunters, the members are skilled in scouting and tracking.
For most of the entire history of the clan, one of the things they do is to keep people out of the heart of the forest. The exact reason is kept secret amongst the elders. They tend to roam about as nomads within the forest, ostensibly for sustainability reasons.
First contact with the Hassani Empire was not particularly friendly because of their rules of keeping people out of the heart of the forest. Leo’s parents were amongst the casualties of this. As a result the clan decided to keep their camps even better hidden as the roam about the forest.
Eventually after the fall of the empire – when the Kingdom expanded to the area – the clan made a peace pact with the Kingdom: for them to be left in peace they would lend some of their skilled hunters to join the Defenders.
In the year AE 115, the Daeleth clan was instrumental in the fight against the return of an ancient evil: the Blight. They assisted a group of adventurers in performing the rite that has come to be known as “The Sealing”, to avoid this evil returning again. During the battle that preceeded the rite, the elders were controlled by a blighted god of nature, and two of them (Besran and Mailyn) were killed in the fighting.
NPCs: Athena, Syrion Laraethor
PCs: Leo (Lee Z.), Syrdan Laraethor (Tadeo C.), Synick Laraethor (Phil H.)
No details at present.
PCs: Helyanwë; Sural
North of the forest of the wood elves, clinging to the high, eastern foothills of the Tyr mountains live the hill-elf tribes. The four tribes get along fairly well and will trade with each other and cooperate when required by outside forces, such as threat of invasion from the orcish wastes to the north, but still engage in occasional raiding of each others’ cattle and light border skirmishing – mostly as a way of blooding fresh warriors and allowing others to “keep score”.
All 4 tribes were brought into the Barony only relatively recently. Largely, it has made little difference to life in the hills; the tribes still govern themselves much as they have always done, now they just send a portion of their taxes to the Baron and can call on his aid in case of emergencies (famine, invasion etc.)
Largely speaking, society is egalitarian. Whilst lairds should in theory be shown deference from day to day they are mostly just another member of the community or a first among equals (bearing in mind that even in the tribes that have kings, they are still vassals of the Baron Van Heusen); a laird really is about equivalent to a local mayor/village headman, with leaders of whole tribes being on the level of minor nobility in the Barony/Kingdom as a whole.
The four tribes are
PCs: Caledfwlch & Rose Dumnonii; Eirlys mab Padran Perdii
Where the Wild Elves retreated from the Hassani, the High Elves used their strengths to maintain strongholds of their culture and civilisation.
The Seven Houses are a ‘nation’ of High Elves spread liberally around the continent; as they put it, they were here long before the humans came and will be around long after, and in the meantime they will do their best to protect and guide the elven race as a whole.
To put it bluntly, they’re elitist and somewhat racist snobs.
Occasionally an eighth House may be mentioned, usually sadly or in anger – this is House Hunnith’Anea, the Sisters of the Shadows, who according to the stories of the Seven Houses became the Drow race due to an ancient war with the new-born Human race, turning the School of Dark towards the miraculous Paths in their madness. Whether this is true or not is lost to time and prejudice. Part of the story of House Hunnith’Anear’s fall links the creation of Demonology and Necromancy to Humans trying to corrupt magic to something they could understand, hence members of any of the Houses have a particular dislike of the ‘corrupt’ Schools and those who wield them.
Those of the Seven Houses within the borders have ‘integrated’ into the Kingdom of Exiles by joining the Kingdom magical Guilds that have compatible views (Circle, Towers, Illuminati and Bladesingers), paying their taxes and generally playing nicely. Most of their Light mages are Illuminati (one or two of the younger generation are in the Tower of Light but it’s well-known that this is mostly the option for those likely to wash out in combat) and all of their Spellswords are in the Bladesingers (each House has a small corps of loaned Bladesingers to act as their healers). In order to work with the vows of the Bladesingers those who choose to take the School of Spellsword generally find a spouse and help raise a child in their first few centuries before joining the Guild. It is considered bad form to take a spouse for love in this case, and if there is any sign that affection might overrule duty then the Bladesinger in question is generally sent to a House or Guild hall as far away as possible before problems arise. It would be highly unlikely to ever find a member of the Houses in the Defenders in any capacity nor any of the Guilds of a miraculous flavour; the Artisans and Artificers are looked down on as ‘trade’ Guilds.
Each House has a magical speciality (although there will generally be at least one mage for each ‘pure’ School present in any House) and, over time, has evolved in personality around that element. With the exception of Tyr’Urdrenn the details of each House are still fairly undefined and there is plenty of scope to shape individual Houses as seen fit. However, what is known is that each House has a stronghold of sorts and, while trying not to be too obvious about it, maintains combat readiness at all times.
It’s this last that allows the occasional scion to function within the patrolling system without too much hassle; the commanding officer might be a non-elf, but they’re still the commanding officer and thus (unless they’re a complete idiot) should be obeyed. Likewise, throwing fellow patrollees under the wagon for being the wrong species is frowned upon if caught doing it – although if the choice is between saving an elf and a non-elf, the elf is first priority. Common reasons for joining the patrolling system are information gathering and spouse hunting; marriages tend to be formal and arranged, but finding a suitable person to have a marriage arranged to first is considered a valid tactic (as long as no hanky panky goes on).
Somewhat ironically while the gods and Paths are generally frowned upon as weak and corruptible things the Houses tend to not-quite worship the magical Schools in their place.
Formality is encouraged at all times and in all things, although how this is presented is dependant on the House and the situation. A member of the Houses solely amongst other elves is likely to be a lot more relaxed than in any mixed company and may lower the level of formality accordingly. However, dressing well is always highly encouraged and crudity highly discouraged at all times; if one must be insulting, it should be done through cutting wit or snubbing or not at all.
A useful resource for anyone wanting to play a member of the Seven Houses is the VortexShadow Elven Name Generator as this is what’s been used to create the House names and some of the other names of PCs and NPCs.
Stoneburn Keep and Tyr’Urdrenn Holt that makes up its surrounding lands is located on sea cliffs in the south-west of the Kingdom (think Northern Portugal for real-world climate equivalent), overlooking a semi-circular bay with a matching semi-circular reef. For all that it’s been built with elven sensibilities in mind it is quite clearly a defensive fortification, up to and including the presence of the Stoneburn stream itself under the Keep.
The Holt is largely elven – there are a handful of humans, a couple of half-orcs and a single half-ogre, but absolutely no half-elves. This is because Tyr’Urdrenn is still very bitter about what the stories say happened to its sister House of Hunnith’Annea, and as such are the most anti-human of the Seven Houses to the point that half-elves are banned from the area (and will be killed if it’s possible to do so without falling foul of Kingdom law).
Tyr’Urdrenn also tend to take their duties to the elven race very seriously; all are combat trained and kept as combat ready as they may (with what counts as ‘combat trained’ being appropriate to the individual – magic is considered just as apt as physical weapons), and formality and decorum are the order of the day (a certain amount of youthful romping is allowed in the right company). Marriage is considered an eminently suitable way of introducing other elven groups to the benefits of civilisation and alliance.
In appearance those born to the House tend to have ears that are multiply scalloped rather than pointed (like these) due to a long-standing closeness with House Myrth’Aear.
PCs: Illuminati Alitae Tyr’Urdrenn (Judith O.)
NPCs: First Lady Solianna Tyr’Urdrenn, Laird Ianoleth (Ian) Tyr’Urdrenn t’a Dwin’Nddare, Sir Maihar Tyr’Urdrenn, Illuminati Lady Amatria Tyr’Urdrenn.
No further details at present.
Their Keep is described as being ‘in the high hills where the sky is clear and the wind blows sweet’ but no other details are currently known. They are ruled by a Council of Elders rather than a single strong leader and are generally considered by the other Houses to be a bit informal and lax at times – Laird Ianoleth Tyr’Urdrenn was born to House Dwin’Nddare, and between insisting on being called ‘Ian’ by friends and generally being quite friendly with humans that have proven themselves worth the effort is considered very much ‘typical’ of his birth House.
Unusually some members of House Dwin’Nddare have unbent enough to learn a few Animal miracles, the Path of Nature being considered ‘safe’ compared to the others, as this allows them to bond more closely with the birds of prey with whom they share their home and lives. They subsist through hunting and deer-herding, and as such a large part of the house is semi-nomadic, only returning to the Keep for the winter. As archers their best are second to none; in combat they prefer to use the stealth and accuracy of the hunt.
In appearance those born to the House tend to have very long, single-pointed ears (like these).
True sea-elves, their stronghold is an island in the Last Sea. They rely more on the sea for protection than walls, and all members of the House are excellent swimmers and capable canoeists.
In appearance those born to the House tend to have ears that are multiply scalloped rather than pointed (like these) and may have blues or greens in their hair, possible evidence of a very close alliance with ‘acceptable’ magical sea folk.
No further details at present.
No further details at present.
Somewhat Paladinic in nature and outlook; they consider themselves to be very much the first line of defence for the elven race, and take formality to the next level whenever opportunity permits.
Created by: Judith O.
A nomadic people whose clans can be found generally spread throughout the roads of the Kingdom of Exiles. It is generally known that they have been present for at least as long as the Hassani and there is a tension between those two groups that suggests the Empire might not have been the friendliest place for them, perhaps explaining why the Vanneri are more likely to be friendly towards non-humans than other humans.
Clans consist of a small number of families linked by blood or marriage, generally no more than 50 people at most; each clan has an associated colour and symbol, and coloured headscarves are used to recognise each other at a distance. Clan members are generally traders, hunters, trackers and guides – any work that gives them an excuse to stay in the great outdoors as much as possible – and they dress to match the job (although will indulge in bright colours and flamboyance if they can justify it). Clans generally are lead by two Elders, one of whom is concerned with physical defence and one with spiritual/magical defence.
While most of the clan are likely to pick up small, useful bits of magic and miracles actual priests and mages are rare; any powerful enough to deem needing training outside of what the clans can teach tend to be gently encouraged to leave entirely. The priests that stay generally become Elders; the mages tend to be shared equally amongst the clans, travelling with one or another as paths cross and opportunity permits. There is no particular preference for Paths or Schools – each clan generally follows its own god or gods – but the other clans will not tolerate one that follows Anarchy or the nastier faces of Death or Chaos, nor a mage that specialises in Necromancy, Demonology or Shadow.
Each clan tends to have a preferred area over which they roam, although they will go elsewhere if a trade opportunity arises, and a secure over-wintering spot that they aim to be in before the bad weather kicks in. There is a gathering each Midsummer of all of the clans in a ‘safe’ place agreed in the spring between the Elders; this is a chance for gossip and news, for sorting out trade agreements and making new friends, for resolving arguments and falling in love.
The Vanneri tend to keep to themselves; they’re not exactly hostile to outsiders, but it takes a fair bit of time and patience for one to be accepted as a friend. Outsiders that have been deemed worthy of friendship are given a token that denotes them as ‘okay’ to other Vanneri they may meet; those rare few deemed worthy of being brought into the clan are formally adopted in a secret ceremony.
This clan is unusual for having a touch of fae blood running in their veins, sometimes with odd results. They normally overwinter in the north of Laird Dresari’s lands in Ludshire. They have a very strong tradition of storytelling and songs to the point that two of their greatest heroes were bards. Their colour is dark blue; their symbol is a falcon.
NPCs Jadry, Elder Galen.
PCs Kadija (Judith O.), Tully (Caroline E.), Linte Masta (Dominic D.)
Normal fortune tellers make things up; members of clan Rumaro are often terrifyingly accurate in their predictions once you know what it is they’re actually talking about. Their colour is light blue; their symbol is a chain of three links.
NPCs Suraya (Ruth S.)
One of the more relaxed clans as far as outsiders are concerned; if you need a guide in the wilderness, Dikilos is generally good for the job. Their colour is dark green; their symbol is an ivy leaf.
NPCs Lily and Rose.
A relatively small clan after an incident in Ludshire with a necromancer left everyone except an Elder and a few others undead; as a result, the clan is in a state of flux after taking in members of other clans wanting a change. Their colour is light green; their symbol is a bunch of grapes.