Most of Neng is lightly forested with a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees, with relatively small areas of cultivated land surrounding the human settlements. It is full of rocky hills to the West, sweeping down out of the Feridorra Mountains, and becoming more and more densely forested in the Northwest until it eventually becomes the Wilds. The seashore is mostly rocky, often with spectacular cliffs, broken only by a few narrow sandy beaches. Neng is dotted with a myriad of lakes and ponds, and crisscrossed by rivers and streams. The largest river is the Cydryl, which has its origin in the Feridorra Mountains, and winds its way across the hills of Loiborra, where it is joined by the outflow of the sacred Lake Tyn, until it reaches the coast at the Straight of Cyfall.
Prior to the advent of human-kind, Neng was ruled by the powerful and cruel Nefari, who had enslaved all the other races, and treated them like cattle-breeding them to be better servants and more amusing toys. Nefari had tremendous powers of mind, and none could resist their commands -- they could even command someone to drop dead. The Nefari held the Arcana known as the Seven Swords, and these gave them powers over the elements that rivaled those of the gods. They were allied with (although you couldn't truthfully say worshippers of) the Old Pantheon, chiefly the God of the Stone.
When the humans arrived, over four-hundred years ago, they were fleeing a catastrophe that had wiped out their old land, the Land Across the Sea (sometimes called Nod in the oldest writings), which had sunk beneath the waves. They were led by their king, a tremendous giant named Noah, who came to the land wading through the Sea of Storms, towing a huge ark bearing the survivors of Nod. It was Noah who supported the Land Across the Sea on his back during the final days, giving the people time to construct the ark as he directed. Noah bore the Scepter of Command, and some say that it was that which granted him the power to chance his size, while others say he was born thus.
They came to Neng in the midst of a huge storm that drove the ark upon the rocks and would have drowned the passengers if Noah had not carried the deck of the ark upon which they crowded to safety. It was said that this shows how even at the beginning Harm and the Old Pantheon opposed them. Noah and his personal guard, the twelve bravest knights of the realm, set out to explore the new land. It wasn't long before they came upon the Nefari, who were pleased to be presented with a new race of slaves. They ordered Noah to surrender his people to them, but of course none may command he who wields the Scepter. Thus frustrated, they turned to the Twelve and commanded them to drop dead on the spot. Noah, using the power of the Scepter, commanded them not to die, but found that he could not command them to live, for that was beyond the Scepter's power, and so the Twelve became the Deathless. Seeing that his choice was to allow the Nefari to take his people into slavery, or to condemn them by his own hand into an eternity unable to live and unable to die, Noah surrendered to the Nefari, and thus began the Captivity. Since the chiefest delight of the Nefari was cruelty, they did not enslave Noah, but left him to wander free, to see the horrors that they visited upon his people, and to know there was nothing that he could do about it; meanwhile his people would be tormented by the knowledge of his helplessness.
It was in the hundredth year of the Captivity that Noah met the little man. By this time, Noah had retreated into the Feridorra Mountains, outside of the realms where the humans and Nefari dwelled, for in those days the Feridorra mountains were directly under the sway of the God of the Stone, and the legions Stone Golems, which he created with the arcanum the Hammer, gave intelligence to with the arcanum the Eye, and ruled with the arcanum the Throne. He was playing a melancholy air on his flute, when he heard a cry for help; seeking its source, he found a small man with bristling bright-red hair, beset by a small army of Stone Golems. The man was dodging in, over, under, and among the Golems, who were too slow to catch him-yet it was obvious that he was tiring, and soon they would have him. Dropping his flute, Noah grew in size until he towered over the Golems, and grabbing them by the handful he threw them all the way across Neng and into the Sea of Storms.
The little man expressed his profuse gratitude, and vowed that if Noah ever needed his help, he had only to call upon him. Noah was amused, although he tried not to show it, for what could one little man do against the Nefari that a great giant like Noah could not? Gravely he thanked the little man, and went on his way-however he forgot his flute and left it behind.
The little man found the flute where Noah had left it, and picked it up, fascinated because it was like, and yet unlike, the instruments that he knew. Carefully he blew across the hole, producing a sweet sound unlike any he had ever heard -- and then nearly dropped it, for the sound had pierced him to the core, and stripped away his glamour, revealing his true form-a man-sized fox, clad like a man, standing on his hind legs like a man, but a fox nonetheless. The Fox was astonished, for what the giant had left so carelessly behind was an Arcanum, and one of a surpassingly subtle power, for it could alter magical bindings, even the bindings created by a god-for such the Fox was.
The Fox hurried to overtake Noah, and return his flute, for he could not return bad for good. But when he found Noah, after re-assembling his glamour, Noah made him a gift of the flute, for it was counted as no great thing among the humans-merely a child's plaything. The Fox was impressed; he had never met any humans, but they must be powerful indeed to count Arcana as playthings. Perhaps, he thought, humans might aid him against the Nefari, whom he hated above all things.
The Fox revealed his true nature to Noah, and proposed an alliance against the Nefari, for the Fox had a plan. The alliance among the Old Pantheon was a shaky one, held together by the fact that the God of the Stone kept Lilith, the daughter of Baal the God of Death and Dreams, prisoner in his realm beneath the mountains. With the power of Baal to back him, and the Nefari as his allies, he was able to compel the allegiance of Harm, Uruth (who had been the chief god of the pantheon before him), and Erish. If someone were to rescue Lilith from the God of the Stone, then Baal would be free to do as he pleased, and with such an ally, they might be able to alter the balance of the Pantheon in their favor.
Noah and the Fox set out to rescue Lilith, along the way picking up companions from among the humans. After many adventures, not only did they succeed in rescuing Lilith, but the companions also stole from the God of the Stone two of his Arcana-the Eye and the Hammer. Without the Eye, the Stone Golems ceased to be intelligent and could only follow the God of the Stone's commands with blind obedience, and without the Hammer he was unable to create any more. Worse than that, when they gave the Eye to Baal, he was able to use its influence to channel the power of the sun so that should sunlight hit either the Stone Golems or the Nefari they would be forced to fall asleep-the Stone Golems turning into lifeless rock, and the Nefari, who were creatures who could never sleep or dream, crumbling to dust. The balance of power in the Old Pantheon was not merely altered, it was shattered, and a new Pantheon formed.
During their escape from the Lands Beneath, Noah and Lilith fell in love. Unfortunately, Noah was mortally wounded in the last battle with the Nefari. Lilith pleaded with her father on his behalf, so that rather than dying, he would be placed in an endless slumber, his body laid out in the mountains that were to become known as the Sleeping Giants; Lilith would then join him, and live with him in the land of Dreams.
Harmody is a city-state surrounded by high cliff, except where the inner harbor opens onto the outer harbor and the sea. This opening can be covered by the great gates (rocky outcroppings that rise to block the entrance), which are closed by the god Harm in a ceremony marking the beginning of the storm season, and then opened again in the spring by the goddess Bar-ara.
The Harmodians number around 20,000 ( 4/5th that of 12th c. London). They are typically tall and dark-haired. Most work as fishermen and sea traders, typically raw-boned, weather-beaten, and taciturn.
Fishing and trading, both up and down the coast, and with the far off Spice Islands. Major imports are timber and iron, major export is salted fish and carved ivory.
Town-meeting appoints officials by acclamation. Speaking is by invitation of the officials. Highest official is Purse, charged with spending public moneys, collecting taxes, keeping the public records. (Not a full-time job, not a paid position.) Astrologer announces and organizes the public ceremonies. (closest there is to a religious leader). Laws enforced by a sheriff (full-time job), but sentencing is done at town council meetings by acclamation.
Individuals are usually armed with no more than a fishing knife, but in battle they carry cutlasses and halberds. Leather armor, no shields. On the sea, their ship use war nets and rams, along with small siege weapons incluidng scorpions and ballista.
The Harmodians worship Harm (God of the Sea), Bar-ara (Goddess of the Bay), and Basatia (Sea Harvest).
Package deal: Increased Char Max PD 10 (2) PD +2 (2) Immunity to vertigo (2) Change Environment: Summon Wind (4" radius, no range) (10) Absolute Time Sense (3) Distinctive Features: Leathery Skin (-5) Vulnerable: 1.5 Stun EGO attack (-5) Char Max EGO 16 (-4) Package Bonus (-1) COST 4
Population of Fericope and Feridorra Mts. 180,000
Shepherds, miners and metal-workers. Fericopeans are the pre-eminent engineers of Neng, and are responsible for most of the technical innovations of the past few generations. They've built a railroad, with magically animated iron dragons as the engines, and are in the process of linking Feric's Landing with Tetsudarev in Theinorra (and eventually on to the capitol) at the behest of the Thein of Theins. They have an unerring sense of direction, and keen judgement of angles and distances.
Fericopeans are black-skinned pygmies. They are habitually clean-shaven as part of religious observance; mustaches are permitted although rare.
Major exports metal and metal goods. Major imports food, clothing, and gossip.
Political System Hereditary feudal. The ruler is the Archon. Archon selects a council from the most skilled members of the community, the foremost among whom is the Lore Master, charged with remembering all the lore (non-hereditary, passed from generation to generation by apprenticeship). The Archon need not appoint the Lore Master to the council, but civil war is a likely consequence.
In war, individuals are typically armed short-swords, warhammers, pikes, and cross-bows, while armored with chainmail and shields. Their units are organized and disciplined -- heavy on the artillery and bow-men, with pike troops holding off the enemy.
Package Deal: STR Max 25 (5) SPEED Max 3 (-5) Sense minerals discriminatory (10) -1" Running (-2) Distinctive Features (-10) UV Vision (5) Bump of Direction (3) Immune to intense heat (3) Vulnerable to Air Magic 1.5 Stun (-5) Package Bonus (-1) COST 3
A shipping center for the metal goods, ore and lumber that come from Fericope and Andorra, but the fierce winter storms and unprotected harbor make it a seasonal town. The population is a heterogeneous mix of Harmodeans, Andorrans, Fericopeans, and cross-breeds: numbering around 15,000 in summer, but only 5,000 in winter. All the goods have to be shipped at least as far as Harmody before the end of Autumn, and then the people move to their winter homes in Fort Winter, a protected valley.
The town exports furs, timber, and metal -- while importing pottery and various trade goods (luxuries?).
The political system is divided. The local government's summer leader is the Harbor Master, the position being auctioned off every season, and the winter government's leader is the Commander, appointed by a tournament (participation in the tournament is open only to residents of Fort Winter; if the Commander is well-liked it's considered bad form to try and beat him). During the summer, there is a parallel Council of Ambassadors, with representatives of the various communities that trade in Port Autumn, selected however their local communities choose (e.g. the Andorran ambassador is the oldest Andorran in the settlement). The Council of Ambassadors is charged with enforcing the laws on their compatriots, and held responsible for any failure to do so.
In war, the cavalry lancers (known simply as "Lancers") are the Commander's primary force. During the winter they have to maintain a border watch and regularly patrol Port Autumn against the depredations of sea-raiders. The militia are armed with only longbows and spears, with cloth armor -- although some individuals might have leather or (rarely) ring-mail.
The Andorrans are a scattered people, tending to live in small homesteads containing a single extended family. They number around 100,000. In appearance, Andorrans are large, heavy-set, and very hairy. In mannerisms, they often seem slow of wit, but are usually very perceptive and alert -- little escapes their notice, particularly in their home patch of forest. They really love to eat, and especially sweets. Women are bosomy and roly-poly.
The Andorrans are animists, believing that all spirits deserve respect, and the forest of Andorra is relatively free of the big spirits.
Major exports furs, timber, maple syrup. Major imports metal, pottery, candy and other sweets.
Their politics are organized along clan-dynastic lines, where everything is determined by constellations of families. Ultimate punishment is banishment. There is a strict system of ranking of families and within families by seniority-basically strictly by age, with no attention paid to gender or achievement. In some clans there is a speaker for the eldest to interpret the mumblings of the eldest.
In war, individuals are armed with battle axes and hand-axes, along with javelins, and wear leather armor (or ring-mail for important personages). They also use archers in selected company. Overall, they fight in typical barbarian, a-battle-is-just-a-bunch-of-personal-combats style.
Package Deal: Growth (1 Level, always on, 0 end, persistent) (8) Bump of direction, only in woods (3) Spatial Awareness (only in home forest) 12 Increased CON Max 23 (6) Light Sleep (3) Reduced DEX Max 18 (-3) Vulnerable 1.5 Stun Fire (-10) Distinctive Features (-10) Package Bonus (-1) COST 7
The Theinorrans number nearly 400,000. They are settled in two walled cities, Gantiope and Chandiope, numerous walled towns, as well as small hamlets and single homesteads. These are divided up into 132 theinholds, each ruled by a Thein (Duke). Each theinhold is divided up into 30-40 farmholds, each ruled by a Farmer (Baron). The common people are known as Theals, and there are outcasts known as the Theinless. All are ruled over by the Thein of Theins, who moves from his Winter capital of Chandiope to his Summer capital of Gantiope.
The typical Theinorran is of medium build, with russet or brownish-red hair and freckles (some blondes), clean-shaven, with large hands and feet, and pug-noses commonly.
Their religion focuses notably on Alia, the Goddess of Fertility. The ruling nobles of the land (Theins and Farmers) and their wives are the high priests and priestess of Alia. Paired with each priest/priestess are the professional priest class, who are seconds in ritual but conduct the practical matters of the church. The priest/priestess conduct fertility rites which maintain Alia's blessing on the land. Polygamy is legal but not the norm, and is considered old-fashioned.
Other gods of note are Ryam, God of Rain and husband of Alia; Caf, Goddess of Lake Cafrya; and Tyn, Goddess of Lake Tynrya.
Theins are named "(personal name) `ein' (place name)". For example, Cassiaz ein Togothen. Theals are named "(personal name) `eal' (place name)".
Their primary economy consists of farming, horse-raising, cattle ranching, and brewing. Their major exports are grain, beer, horses, leather goods, and cheese. Their major imports are metal (from Fericope), cloth (from Loiborra), pottery, salt, and dried fish.
Theins are primarily military leaders, but are metaphorically the head of every household. The Theins select a leader for life, the Thein of Theins, by contesting for the Scepter of Noah in a battle of wills. However, he can be deposed by personal challenge, which opens the position to a new contest. About 10% of the population is of the Thein class. Theals are freemen, not bound to the land; the Theal's oath gives him the right to work a certain section of land, irrevocable except by prior breaking of the oath on the part of the Theal. There's always a population of master-less men roving and looking for work (commonly called the Theinless).
In war, the aristocracy are fitted out as heavy cavalry, wearing scale mail, and armed with lances and bastard swords. The Theals are armed with spears, knives, and slings.
Package Deal: Ego Max 23 (6) +3 Resistance v. Interrogation (3) Detect Plant, discriminatory (8) Psychological Limitation: Stubborn (common, moderate) (-10) Package Bonus (-1) COST 6
A set of tribes who make their traditional living herding sheep and alpaca, total population 370,000. In appearance the Loiborrans are tall, thin, long-nosed, and fair-haired. They generally have neatly-trimmed beards and are slightly doleful-looking.
Through contact with the spirits of Neng, the Loiborrans have greatly-enhance Presence and Quickness. They are slightly enhanced in Memory, Empathy, Intuition, and Agility. Their voices are uniquely melodious and calming, and generally well-trained. However, they are vulnerable to all forms of magic.
They are organized by tribes, with each tribe being lead by a hereditary ruler, the Ysir. Inter-tribal disputes are settled by a pilgrimage to Tynrya to consult the oracle of Tyn. Their culture is very musically oriented: markets will have seller hawking their wares in song, and the holy order of Pyryd maintain a body of songs of the Loiborran history.
Economically, the Loiborrans produce considerable wool, cloth, and pottery as well as respected music and poetry. They import most of their metal, particularly precious metal jewelry, and decorated arms such as gilt swords. They also import food and salt. The border tribes impose local tarriffs upon trade moving through their lands, so smuggling is a serious concern.
In war, individuals will use slings and staffs -- while wealthy leaders have short swords. They have little armor, usually of cloth. Their forces are highly mobile, often hiding in ambush and rolling rocks down on their enemies.
The Loiborrans have particular respect for Baal (God of Sleep and Death), Cyd (God of the River Cydryl), Tyn (Goddess of Lake Tynrya and mother of Cyd), and Pyryd (Goddess of the Arts). The Pyrydains are the holy order of Pyryd, who collect songs and tales, the equivalent of skalds or bards.
Package Deal: PRE Max 25 (5) Perfect Pitch (3) INT Max 25 (5) Mental Awareness (3) Distinctive Features (voice) (-5) Vulnerable 1.5 effect Illusions (-5) Package Bonus (-1) COST 5
Church of Harm, Storm God
Specializes in sorcery, enchanting nautical items, particularly figureheads of ships. Provides sailors with good-luck charms.
Church of Baal, Death & Dream God
Funeral services, exorcisms, cures for insomnia, dream interpretation, protection against necromancy. Note that funeral services are very important; corpses left without service will usually become inhabited by spirits and turn into undead.
Church of Tyn, Lake Goddess
The oracle of Tyn at Tynrya, resolves disputes and gives advice. Performs rite of passage for the Loiborrans and Theinorrans (and others if they're interested)-the guidance counselor of the gods.
Knights of the Sun
A fraternal organization for veterans of wars with the forces of evil, by invitation. There are rumors of inner circles of Knights who still take an active, if hidden, role.
The Blue Sash Gang
A loose group of high-spirited young Theinorrans (mostly), who try to top each-other's deeds of daring- do.
Giants: Really, really big (can straddle a city, sort of thing) humanoids, with great magical prowess--the natural enemies of the Nefari. None are currently known in Neng, but once in a long while one passes through the border areas.
Nefari-bred Servitor Races: