Setting:Hail and Kill
Hail and Kill was a setting based on metal music, made up by /tg/ in the month of October, 2011. The setting is more fantasy and has less obvious references than the Heavy mythril setting. The aim is to make a heavily metal inspired fantasy setting with factions inspired by the many genres and sub-genres of metal, such as Thrash and Power metal.
It is also the hardest, most metal contribution /tg/ has ever made to the world of RPGs. In this world, tribes of corpse-painted Blackened fight against the blonde warriors of Tyrnoth, the Steel Kingdom; waste druids smoke the stickiest dope in the desert; and the hoary undead wait in frozen torture for their release, listening for the growl of death to signal their icy freedom. Meanwhile, the gods above watch, wondering what the future of this world holds for them...
This setting was made in 2011, but eventually, the songs of metal fell silent, and the threads died. But then the gods of metal looked upon the setting, crunchless, and with all threads dead, and they said: THIS SHALL NOT BE. So came the 2015 threads, in which we're developing the crunch largely based off of FFG's 40k RPGs. As of the 23rd of February, all is going well.
- 1 The Birth of Metal
- 2 Timeline
- 3 The Land of Ferrumgard
- 3.1 The Kingdom of Tyrnoth
- 3.2 The North
- 3.3 The Wastelands
- 3.4 The Sovereign Principality of the Sunset Isles
- 3.5 The Helgrad Highlands
- 3.6 The Dark Realm of Nostrem
- 3.7 The Farports Confederation
- 3.8 The Kingdom of Arkdam
- 3.9 The Hordes of Drakenos
- 3.10 The Kingdom of Varangia
- 3.11 The Rail
- 4 Religions of Ferrumgard
- 4.1 The Old Gods
- 4.1.1 Kronn the Allfather, God of Thunder, Wisdom, and Might
- 4.1.2 Aldri the Mother, Goddess of Fertility, Sleep, and the Hearth
- 4.1.3 Avaenar the Crusher, God of War
- 4.1.4 Svargjall the Gravelord, God of Death
- 4.1.5 Lyre the Skald, God of Music
- 4.1.6 Ostavor the Moon Guardian, God of Protection
- 4.1.7 Skoldrimr the Firebeast, God of Fire, Hate, and Revenge
- 4.2 The Nature Spirits
- 4.3 The Gospel of the White God and the Left Hand Path of the Raven Prince
- 4.1 The Old Gods
- 5 History and Myths
- 6 Special Topics
- 7 Google Docs with the crunch
- 8 Gallery
- 9 Archived Threads
The Birth of Metal
In the beginning there was silence. A static nothingness that petrified space and time.
Then, as if the very cosmos cried out to flow forth like a river breaking free from the chains of winter, the Riff rang out. It was a sound so heavy and mighty, it split open the astral void and caused the very universe to erupt into existence. The Riff was the first note in the Song of the Cosmos that shapes the universe. In the early ages, the melody was a tumultuous one. This aeon was known as the Brutal Verse. Realms of fire and hatred were birthed into existence as celestial wombs for baleful gods. For countless eons, astral wars raged between demons at the behest of their insane masters. Worlds collided, realms were shattered, and the tide of blood left by this primordial Verse forever stained the heavens. In time, the melody developed a more even, stable pace, enough to accommodate less volatile realms and saner gods with clearer intents (for better or worse). Woven forth from this melody were the roots of the Empyrean Tree anchoring and connecting the infinite realms of the cosmos. Seeing how the power of music shaped the universe around then, the gods began to use song to manipulate the universe as they saw fit, thus ushering in the age of the Progressive Verse and populating the realms with Man, beast, angel, demon, and other creatures yet. This ethereal flow is the very force that holds reality together. As war rages yet again across the realms, the current Verse is an uncertain one, referred to by theological scholars as the Bridge. Should the Song of the Cosmos be silenced, the universe would implode back into the void. The force that allows beings both mortal and celestial to contribute to this melody is known as Metal.
- 1 Anno Metallum: The Metallican Empire is formed. Territories include all mainland, but the Helgrad Highlands, as well as Drakenos. Anno Metallum calender standardized throughout Ferrumgard.
- 317 AM: Expansion campaign sees the island nations either as tributary states or under direct rule by the Empire. Lasting trade outposts finally established in the Highlands. Metallican Golden Age.
- 550 AM: Helgrad outposts sacked, tributary island states break away. Empire in decline.
- 600 AM: A noble house hires a powerful bard to play a song to cast a curse on the ruling family. Each member of the extended royal family dies of various causes and circumstances. Every other house declares themselves rightful heirs to the throne. War of the Carrion Princes begins.
- 666 AM: Armies of all houses clash in the central provinces at the Battles of Crystal Mountain and Tartarus. Bards weave songs too potent, emboldening spells throwing soldiers into frantic bloodlust, damaging spells scouring the land to infertility. By the end of the month, all sides are devastated and the Wastelands are created from the wild magics released in the battle. The Metallican capital is destroyed in the process.
- 668 AM: With all sides devastated after the events in the Wastelands, a peace treaty is signed and all noble houses agree to rule from their respective provinces. Terrified by the bards' power displayed in the Wastelands, music is outlawed throughout Ferrumgard. Bards are hunted down and slain, their musical tablets destroyed. Still, powerful song tablets are rumored to have been kept safeguarded by underground bard orders.
- 814 AM: Gospel of the White God spreads to Ferrumgard. Most of the kingdoms establish theocratic regimes. Old Gods and Nature Spirits worshiped in secret by many, especially in the Helgrad Highlands, Varangia, Drakenos, and the North. Golden Age of the White God begins.
- 1223 AM: Several of the nations of Ferrumgard are called to spread the word of the White God by the Great Disciple. Tyrnoth, the North and Drakenos spearhead the Great Crusade in lands far off.
- 1511 AM: The people of the North rebel against their king, led by Sortem the Black (the title given to him in reference to his opposition to the White God). The North falls to civil war.
- 1515 AM: Sortem's forces route the last of the loyalist forces and the Northern king is beheaded. Sortem becomes the first Black Emperor. The kingdoms of Ferrumgard, fearing similar uprisings, secularize to prevent the same fate. Bards, as well as the Old Gods, experience a renaissance.
- 1715 Anno Metallum: Current year of Hail & Kill.
The Land of Ferrumgard
The Land of Ferrumgard is the primary continent of play. It has a plethora of cultures and myths. The main race and possibly only sentient race capable of civilization on the continent is Man; man is spread out into a vast number of factions, cultures, and religions. From the northern Blackened, to the Sages of the Droning Bog. The psycho riding marauders of the wastelands to the honorable echo of an Empire that is Tyrnoth.
The Kingdom of Tyrnoth
"Agalord arise, greater than before
Time of peace, not of war
Shouts of freedom from the castle walls
Freedom in the land and hope for all"
-Unholy Warcry, Rhapsody
An idyllic kingdom located on the western side of the mainland. It is the last remnant of a once great Empire long forgotten. Where other lands have fallen to barbarism and decentralized to city-states, Tyrnoth remains a bastion of civilization united under its king. The peasantry of Tyrnoth typically venerate the Old Gods as tradition, while the nobles of the higher courts follow the faith of the White God. Its capital is Tyrn, one of the great cities of the Empire. Tyrnoth has a distaste for the Blackened, they see them as lowly simplistic tribesmen with no culture. It is currently ruled by King Avalonius the Dragonheart.
It in the late years of the Metallican Empire, the earth lay cracked and burned, fresh from it's wounds that had be wrought by the Bards of the old days. General of the 17th Metallican Legion, Tyrn, oversaw the last bastion of Metallican rule. It was an unnamed fortress turned refugee camp. The remnants of his dead, once proud Empire clinging to life in the desolate haven. Something had to be done.
Tyrn had long accepted that the Metallican Empire was long dead. It's colonies fallen into savagery, it's core turned to dust, and now it's last cities losing their way. His people however, refused to believe that the Empire that had lasted so long, was finally gone for good. To reinforce the fact that there will and never could be a Metallican Empire again, Tyrn had the fortress named after him. And a new Kingdom formed; Tyrnoth.
Tyrn was rapidly expanded in short time. Builds were raised around the tower, and when the city was complete great fortifications were raised. High walls of glistening steel rose all around it's circumference of Tyrn, guarding it from most forms of assault. In the center of the circle was the shining tower of marble, the white stone reflecting the sunlight brilliantly. At the top of the tower was the throne room of Tyrn, which his successors still use to this day.
The streets of the city are made up of crushed rock from construction of the buildings, which has been flattened and pressed to be as flat and smooth as the Tower of Tyrn that looms constantly overhead. The noble elite can be seen occasionally riding on flamboyant motorized cycles, the people wearing simple but beautiful clothing such as tunics and vests. Purple is the color of wealth since the dye to make it can only be acquired from the blood of rare and exotic seabeasts killed in Kingsford.
The Forest of Gael and Droning Bog
Partially within the domain of Tyrnoth is the Forest of Gael. In the northern region of the forest, settlers dwell in houses built into the trunks of giant trees. Sometimes, they live secluded as hermits, but often they make entire villages that seem to blend into the forest itself. The citizens of Gael are typically friendly and hospitable, eager to entertain travelers with drink and song. To the south of the forest, the terrain becomes darker, rich with mushrooms and rare herbs and fungi. This area borders the swamp of the Droning Bog, which gets its name from the soft, low, and ever-present droning noise emitted by gas escaping the sludge. It is in both locations where hermit Druids squat in the overgrown and half-sunken remains of watchtowers from the lost Empire. Through mind-altering herbs, fungi and spells, these sages hope to reach enlightenment.
A bustling port city renowned for its gristled seafarers. These sea-hunters often venture out to the perilous sea surrounding Ferrumgard, and often beyond, in search of ferocious seabeasts to slay. With crews often carrying powerful sorcerers and bards, these hunter fleets battle beast with harpoon, spell, and song (and bullet, if they can afford it) until they bring back exotic meats and scales or die trying.
"Far above the ravengate
The spread wings of Blashyrkh waits
Above the roaring depths
Sits the oath of frost
On the elder Raventhrone"
-Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark), Immortal
To the frostbitten forests and mountains of the North lies the realm of the Blackened. Descendants of a clan-based warrior culture, the Blackened have returned to these tribal roots after centuries of monarchistic rule during the Golden Age of the White God. Here, warriors don black and white corpsepaint as they storm, screeching into battle! The religions of the Blackened vary from clan to clan. Some stay true to the Old Gods or Nature Spirits of the Wilds around them. Other clans turned to the Raven Prince during the great rebellion against the followers of the White God. The de facto capital of the North is considered to be Everost, the Black City, the only urban settlement of the region. It is lorded over by the Black Emperor.
Often referred to as the Black City. For nearly a thousand years, the many noble houses of the North lorded over the clans, taxing them and persecuting that many clans that openly worshiped the Old Gods and Nature Spirits, instead of the White God. During Sortem the Black's civil war, the clans enjoyed an autonomy they had not seen since before the days of the Empire. As the Northern King faced the chopping block and stability was returning to the North, the clansmen realize they rather liked governing themselves and ousted the nobles residing in their lands, regardless of what god they served, thus driving them to Everost. Since then, the Blackened noble houses have carved out domains within the city as petty baronies, districts they oversee on behalf of the Black Emperor. Although they may have relocated, the noble houses still harbor the same rivalries they fostered for generations when trying to expand their holdings and monopolize trade within the Kingdom of the North. Clandestine skirmishes and raids between noble houses are common as they fight over territory within the Black City and trade with the Blackened clans. It is not uncommon for these secret wars to escalate into larger conflicts that draw in many of the houses' allied clans and mercenaries, which may force the Black Emperor's personal forces to intervene. Currently sitting on the Raven Throne is Nagrish of the Sortemson Dynasty.
The ruling dynasty for the past 200 years, ever since Sortem the Black usurped the throne (at the cost of collapsing Everost's authority over the North). Their primary concern is maintaining stability within Everost, which is appears to be a futile effort. Still, they have been known to intervene harshly when the situation calls for it. Most members of House Sortemson typically venerate the Raven Prince, Old Gods, and Nature Spirits at the same time. Their sigil is the Raven of Everost.
This House is infamous for its activities in espionage. The House Patriarch is on the Black Emperor's council as spymaster. It is suspected to have spies in all the major capitals. The Everost Blackened have a saying about them, "Whenever a secret is spoken, a Corax ear receives it. Whenever a back is stabbed, a Corax hand holds the dagger." Those of House Corax typically venerate the Raven Prince. Their sigil is a raven in flight, holding a dagger in one claw and a scroll in the other.
Feared for their military might. Their house troops are seconded only to House Sortemson. When they want something (usually in the matter of enchanted treasures of trade routes with the Northern Clans), they are not hesitant to attempt to take it. They are also known to fund raiding parties of coastal clans. Their House Patriatch is the Black Emperor's High General. They typically venerate the Old Gods. Their sigil is a bloody double-headed axe.
Their holdings in Everost lie mostly in the port district. As such, they are the masters of trade in the North and the richest House. Because of this, they are often at odds with House Corax and House Zyrhakh, who mean to take this wealth through scheming and plunder. However, their ties with several Northern Clans makes their trade routes the best defended. House Guldrik's Matriarch serves as the Treasurer of Everost. They worship no gods in particular, preferring the Sunsetter way of life and putting most of their energy into hedonism and decadence. Their sigil is a scale.
The Northern Clans
After nearly a millennium of being lorded over by Whitist nobles, the clans of the North took their independence in Sortem's Rebellion and have ever since jealously guarded their domains from outsiders and other clans.
Located in the southern end of the forest, Clan Gorschek is known for raiding trade caravans that cross into their lands. Travelers in small bands are typically left alone, unless they appear to have something valuable on them. Still, those who journey through Gorschek turf report feeling the icy stares of scouts on their backs and bowstrings being drawn in anticipation. This clan worships the Raven Prince, even being rumored to take part in cannibalistic rituals that they neither confirm nor deny. The music and shrieks from their rituals can be heard echoing from the woods to haunt the settlers on the outskirts of Kholdon.
Deep within the forest is Clan Allarn. Like most clans in their area, they have a deep reverence for the Nature Spirits. Though they mostly prefer to keep to themselves and tend their woods, they have been known to send raiding parties against Everost loggers that encroach too closely to their sacred groves. Though they are not otherwise hostile toward Everost, they are often the most reluctant to cooperate in their military ventures. Clan Allarn rarely mobilizes for war, unless the North itself is threatened.
In the perilous and frost-bitten Great Northern Mountains is Clan Vorsung. Because of their location, they are an exceptionally resilient clan. Their sorcerers are legend in the North and feared on the battlefield. They revere the Old Gods and Raven Prince in equal measure. It is said that the clan elders of Vorsung know the mysteries and secrets of the realm of Blashyrkh that lies beyond the moutains, but few are capable of making the journey to meet them.
The largest and mightiest of the seafaring clans, they have piracy and raiding down to a tradition. For generation, Ávinstrigr has been feared and hated in the coasting regions of northern Ferrumgard. Like most coastal clans, they praise the Old Gods, believing their frenzied berserkers to be empowered by the ancient war gods in battle. They are often the vanguard in Everost's invasions.
Through the haunted forests and over the perilous mountain ranges of the North lies the frozen wastes of Blashyrkh, a grim and frostbitten land. The biting winds and crippling cold prevents even the hardiest of Northerners from settling here. Just as well, since there is nothing here to offer Man; only tundras, mountains, and plains of infertile permafrost. Should one dare to venture this far north and be equipped with the means to survive it, they just might stumble across ruins of a civilization predating the Metallican Empire, where ancient, otherwordly evils dwell...
"Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil
You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say
I don't share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace of Spades"
-Ace of Spades, Motörhead
To the east of the grassy plains, hills and forests of Tyrnoth lies the dreaded Wastelands. Not a unified land by any means, the Wastelands are home to over a half-a-hundred petty kings ever-feuding with one another for useless land and the little resources to be had. The terrain is covered with hard, infertile dirt, sand, and rock, the landscape varying from dunes of shifting sand to great sun-scorched mountains and canyons, to plains of flat infertile land. Arkdam is notorious for dumping its industrial waste here, causing the Wastelands to be dotted with lakes of toxic sludge and women living near them to give birth to mutants. Villages often wall themselves off to defend themselves from bands of raiders that roam the Wastelands on motorcycle, horseback and larger vehicles. To think a millennium ago, the region was once green, fertile, and home to the center of Ferrumgardic civilization. There are many old ruins here and the Lost City of Metallicus, the capital of the Old Empire, is fabled to be buried somewhere in the sands of the Wastelands, waiting to be uncovered by a sandstorm. Tension is high and duels are common, be it by sword, spell, or song. Travel is difficult, for the ever-present dangers of raider and beast. The gristled citizens of the wasteland tend to follow the White God, if any at all, or less commonly, the Old Gods. The de facto capital of the Wastelands is Tartarus, an urban trade city. Don't go out here on foot, you won't make it long on foot.
Unquestioningly the center of wealth in the Wastelands, Tartarus is a veritable oasis of safety from the marauding raider bands. However, inside the impenetrable walls of Tartarus, travelers are at the mercy of the thieves, gangsters, slavers, and other unsavory characters beyond count. As the Rail runs through the city, Tartarus also acts as a waypoint for trade goods. In fact, it is said that for the right price, almost anything can be found and bought in Tartarus. From his keep within the city reigns the Lord Protector Anhast, who plots to unite the Wastelands and bring stability to the troubled region- even if it means having the raider lords bend the knee, but continue their oppressive reigns as his vassals.
The Cult of Kainus, Crystal Mountain
In the rocky, sandblasted region of the Wastelands lies the ominous Crystal Mountain. This gigantic, copper-colored landmark is the home of the Cult of Kainus, a blood cult of the Raven Prince. Their massive temple, named the Festering Palace, is built right into the mountainside, where the cultists hang their kidnapped victims, living or dead, from meat hooks to be sacrificed in blood ritual to summon demons and spread curses upon their enemies. The cultists typically wear black robes with pointed, featureless hoods, devoid of even eye holes. The military arm of the cult wear grimy black armor with their trademark hoods.
The Skaggar Dominion, Northern Wastelands
Once a savage gladiator and a member of the High Council of Drakenos, Lord Skaggar was unpopular among the Council for his harsh temper and habit of declaring duels for the most minor of slights- always to the death. He is noted for his immense size, ominous spiked armor and twin dragonsteel broadswords, Agrun and Vekna, enchanted with flaming blades. His downfall in Drakenos began when he began to push for an expansionist agenda, claiming that Drakenos had more than enough military might to unite Ferrumgard under its rule. Rumors began to arise; whispers of plans to overthrow the Council and unite the hordes under one Emperor. Many claimed he consorted with the Raven Prince's demons and sold his soul for otherworldly power. The tension against him in the Council erupted one night after a heated argument over his character. Skaggar accused the Council of being cowards and weaklings and without warning, draw his swords and cut down several members of the Council, wounding and maiming several others. He escaped Drakenos, slaying anyone in his way and is said to have walked straight into the sea as a ferocious storm raged.
For several months, it was thought that he had gone insane and killed himself. That is, until reports came of a hulking beast of a man in spiked armor walking right into the stronghold of a petty raider lord in the northern Wastelands, massacred almost everyone inside of it and declared himself Lord Skaggar, Future Emperor of Drakenos. With the help of the surviving raiders of his massacre (now his minions) and the black magic of the Raven Prince, he was able to amass an army of raiders impressed with his might and carve out an ever-growing domain in the northern Wastelands. Ruling from the dreaded Keep of Thorns, the Skaggar Dominion proves to be a threat to Tartarus' unification ambitions and prospective Wasteland holdings.
The Waste Kings
To call these despots "kings" is almost a mockery of the term. Most are little more than eccentric brigands, often granting themselves meaningless titles of "Lord", "King", "God-Emperor", and the like with hordes of common waste raiders as their loyal "knights." Others are honest about their occupation and revel in their notoriety as feared and hated marauders. Those who do not settle in camps use makeshift forts or the ruins of ancient keeps as their strongholds and home-bases.
The Sovereign Principality of the Sunset Isles
"Welcome to the Jungle, we got fun 'n' games games
We've got everything you want, honey we know the names
We are the people that can find whatever you may need
If you've got the money, honey, we got your disease"
-Welcome to the Jungle, Guns 'n' Roses
Nestled to the south of the mainland are the twin Sunset Isles. Home to a rich port city, Paradise City, it is a hub for exotic cultures from far off lands. The people wear extravagant clothes and wild hair. Being an elective monarchy, the Sunset Isles' hedonistic noble houses constantly scheme and plot against one another to influence lesser houses on the island into voting for their patriarch to take the throne, come the elections every 5 years. The people of the Sunset Isles typically don't follow any religion, instead turning their attention to themselves.
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Paradise City is a densely populated haven for hedonism and the musical renaissance. It is also the site of the palace where the ruling family resides until they are dethroned in the elections. The current Sovereign of the Sunset Isles is Prince Salgo of House Esquire. Arkdamite youths tired of the monotony of working the farms, mines, or whatever their niche in feudal society may be often dream of sailing to this wonderland of wanton women and wild hair to stake their claim in the Sunset Isles' thriving music scene. It is also the epicenter of the unforgiving web of intrigue that is Sunsetter politics. When passing through here, trust no one, but try and live a little!
The Noble Houses
The Sunset Isles are home to dozens of noble families each governing holdings throughout the Isles. The size of one's holdings (ranging from a minor island to a sprawling city) implies their relative power. Since, the most powerful ones are usually the most apt at playing the deadly game of Sunsetter politics, the few elite houses are usually the ones with any shot at the title of Sovereign. The lesser houses are seen as pawns by the greater houses to ally and betray at whim, while the lesser houses are eager to suckle at the greater house's power-teats in hope of ascending in status. Disputes between houses are usually settled with bribes, assassinations, raids, and on occasion full-scale civil war.
The current house in power. Though the Esquire Sovereign currently resides in Paradise City, the family itself has domain over the city of Goldsmarch and the coveted wine country outside of it. Only marginally more wealthy and powerful than the other greater houses. The Esquires are notorious for holding wild and hedonistic "dancing balls" which more accurately resemble to the "feast-drink-and-fuck" orgies of the Metallican Empire. These events often last several days and rarely go without a drunken duel or two.
The prime rival of House Esquire. Their domain, Angel Valley, is renowned for its brothels. Their corps of prostitute assassins keeps their more lustful rivals on their toes.
The governors of Saint's Bay, this house is allied with a noble house of Arkdam guaranteeing them a regular influx of steel tempered in the forgeries of the Anvil of Glory. Whitezephyr troops are especially well armed. Making Whitezephyr all the more dangerous is their employment of powerful wizards. Many Whitezephyrs are powerful wizards and bards.
The Helgrad Highlands
"Brothers I am calling from the Valley of the Kings
With nothing to atone
A dark march lies ahead, together we will ride
Like thunder from the sky
May your swords stay wet like the young girl in her prime
Hold your hammers high"
-Hail and Kill, Manowar
The eastern side of the Ferrumgard mainland is known as the Helgrad Highlands. A host of monsters and demons are the indigenous to Helgrad, making it a land where only the strong survive. Thus, the humans of Helgrad are renowned as some of the mightiest in all of Ferrumgard! The barbarians of Helgrad do battle against the various beasts around them by day, feast and make love by night. It is not uncommon for Helgradians to venture beyond their homelands for even greater challenges, often serving as mercenaries or turning to piracy or marauding the wastelands. In Helgrad, only the Old Gods are venerated, as they have been for thousands of years. The barbarians of Helgrad are ruled by mighty warrior kings, who hold their hammers high and keep their metal true.
The Dark Realm of Nostrem
"I've seen the place where they meet, I know where it lies
Where ancient demons gather, where angels die
The darkest pits of the abyss, where flames burns bright
Where Satan reigns in terror, there's eternal night
I invoke the elder to lead me, into that place
Drain myself from blood, and drown in sulphur grace"
-Unleash Hell, Naglfar
Once a close ally of Arkdam, Nostrem fell to the blight of the undead after an ambitious wizard-king named Bal-Mortus sold his soul to the Raven Prince to be blessed by his power. This was around 700 AM, before even the White God made its way to the shores of Ferrumgard, so the nature of the Raven Prince was not well understood (rather, less understood than it is now). He besought the Raven Prince to make sure he and his kingdom would never die. In his dreams, he could hear the Prince cackle, "Your wish is granted..." Reports came in of the dead rising from their graves, of his subjects living on after horrific mortal wounds. Everything within his domain refused to die! As time stretched on, the lifetimes of the Nostremans began to outlast their flesh and minds until they were naught, but walking, decomposing husks with a curious hunger for the flesh of the living and desire to spread their curse. His soldiers' souls trapped within their suits of armor, carrying about lifeless, rattling bones within. Demons and horrors from planes beyond, summoned forth by sorcerers corrupted by the Raven Prince began to stalk the land and patrol the royal palace. Since then, Arkdam has built a great wall along the valley connecting it to Nostrem, now known as the Valley of the Damned. To this day, the wizard-king of Bal-Mortus sits with blackened, mummified skin stretched across ancient bones in tattered royal silks and a tarnished crown upon his head, a Lich forever more and ready to lash out at the living.
Although the realm of Nostrem and its horrors are mostly contained within its mountainous borders, these mountains also contain vast networks of tunnels, dungeons, and strongholds dating back to the Old Empire. It is not uncommon for Bal-Mortus's forces to use these passages to make pillaging forays into the Wastelands and Helgrad Highlands. However, if Bal-Mortus wishes to march in full strength, he must first break through the Kingdom of Arkdam's Red Wall.
The Farports Confederation
"When I come back from a mighty quest
I have no need for sleep or rest
I head to a tavern for a drink
And get so drunk I cannot think
A wench by my side and a jug of mead
These are the things that I most need
So I sit back and sing this song
And drink and party all night long"
-Wenches and Mead, Alestorm
A cluster of islands off the west of the Mainland, the Farports are home to several port towns that act as the gateway of trade from lands beyond. Goods, items, creatures, immigrants, and slaves from lands far off must pass through the Farports before setting foot on the Mainland. Many passersby often stay indefinitely to eek out a living in the bustling docks or enter the lucrative business of piracy and smuggling. As such, many settlements dotting the beaches and lagoons of the Farports are notorious hangouts for pirates, smugglers, and other shady folk. The Farports are not unified under any one ruler, instead allied as a confederacy of city-states guaranteed protection from invaders by Tyrnoth.
The Kingdom of Arkdam
"Halls of justice painted green
Power wolves beset your door
Hear them stalking
Soon you'll please their appetite
Hammer of justice crushes you
-...And Justice For All, Metallica
Arguably the economic hegemon of Ferrumgard, the Kingdom of Arkdam is not without its struggles. To the east lies the corrupted realm of Nostrem where the demonic and undead forces of Bal-Mortus march to break through the Red Wall containing them. To the south is the anarchy of the Wastelands, where bordering villages are at risk of pillaging by raiders. To the north, the hordes of Drakenos hunger for war and plunder. The people of Arkdam are a hardy people, raised on the notion of danger from all sides, whether it be outside forces or the notoriously corrupt and brutal regime of King Reingard. The constant threats from multiple fronts have encouraged a strong military presence in the Kingdom of Arkdam. Villagers are expected to accommodate passing soldiers with housing and meals. The upkeep of Arkdam's large army and many defenses requires high taxes. Even more, the conditions in Arkdam's mines and oilfields are infamously hazardous. All of these factors have bred a climate for rebellion within the kingdom. However, should a revolt arise, the chaos would leave Arkdam vulnerable to the countless threats beyond its borders.
Built around the Anvil of Glory, Smithmark is the capital of Arkdam. It is a bustling city of industry, as it is here that the finest steel is smelted and the finest weapons and armor smithed. Still, the oppressive rule, from King Reingard in his castle to the pitbossess patrolling the mines, has bred a rebelliousness in Arkdam's youths. Smithmark is well known for the number of underground taverns run by rebel cells. These taverns lure youths frustrated by the status quo by hosting bands that play songs critical of the Reingard dynasty. Though most simply come these taverns to vent, many end up joining the rebels. It seems that for every one tavern the Smithsmark city guard raid, three more spawn in different areas.
The Red Wall
The Red Wall is a massive wall and stronghold blocking off the Valley of the Damned that leads to the cursed land of Nostrem. On an almost yearly basis, the wall comes under siege by the forces of Bal-Mortus. 50 years ago, the undead legions, personally led by Bal-Mortus himself, broke through the wall and began a war of which the eastern half of Arkdam still bears scars. Bal-Mortus was eventually forced to retreat back into his domain, but since then Arkdam has been ever-wary of another attack of that scale.
The Anvil of Glory
Predating even the Old Empire, the Anvil of Glory is fabled to be of divine origin as a gift to man from the Old Gods. Housed within a massive armory complex shaped in an anvil's likeness, only the most talented of blacksmiths are privileged to practice their craft upon the anvil. Every piece hammered upon the Anvil of Glory is imbued with a magic essence. Within the anvil's complex, hundreds of other blacksmiths work tirelessly, smelting coveted Arkdamite ore into steel and creating weapons and armor of legendary quality. Even an enchanted knife smithed from the Anvil of Glory is prized as a symbol of status.
The Hordes of Drakenos
"Devourment upon the sands of conceived legal pain
Open the gates of the lion's den
Lacerated bodies scattered under the rain hunger lions devouring fury unchained
Warlords clash in a maelstrom of swords and shields
Vultures behold, slaughter unfolds, bloody stories to be told"
-Violentia Gladiatore, Krisiun
A militaristic nation of warriors, governed by a High Council, where the steel is sharp, the ale is dark and bitter, and national sport is war. It seems almost every decade, the Drakenoi are sailing off to fight a different enemy, be it a particularly troublesome raider band in the Wastelands, the undead and demonic hordes of Nostrem or a realm far away from Ferrumgard. Gladiator colosseums are found all over Drakenos and the two islands that flank it (of which Drakenos has domain). In these arenas, proud warriors volunteer to fight exotic beasts, hardened slaves or one another for the glory of the Old Gods. It is said that the every member of the High Council itself must be an accomplished gladiator, as disputes among them are often settled through blood duels.
Although the High Council is the overall authority in Drakenos, the territories of Drakenos are governed by dozens of autonomous Warlords each in charge of maintaining their own Horde. Although training practices and laws vary by Horde, all of Drakenos abides by the belief that freedom is not a right, but a privilege to be earned. Every Drakenoi is born a slave and most Warlords import slaves from all over the world to be made honorary Drakenoi- if they survive to earn their place in the ranks of their Horde. Most are designated as serfs to work agriculture or mine for resources. Those considered to have potential are either recruited into the Horde's army as auxiliaries or sent to the arenas to prove their worth. For children born to freemen, it is possible for the parents to buy their child's freedom at birth. However, it is common practice for Drakenoi children to be given to friends or allies of their parents' upon adolescence to live as a slave until maturity, where they are granted their freedom. Although this practice may seem brutal, social mobility in Drakenos is much more fluid than the strict Noble/Commoner classes of neighboring kingdoms. Every Warlord, every Councilman, and their respective heirs all began life as slaves. A slave that earns their freedom may purchase the freedom of other slaves- namely family members and loved ones. Slaves can also earn their freedom by slaying a freeman in a duel. In fact, it is possible for a slave to become a Warlord just by slaying a Warlord in single combat. Freemen are known by a scar on their chest depicting the Old Metallican rune for freedom. This rune is branded onto all freemen in a ritual during which they swear a sacred oath to die before they are ever shackled again.
The High Council acts as a source of moderation and direction for the Hordes, ensuring that no single Warlord claims superiority over the others, and calling the other Hordes to intervene when rivalries between Warlords escalate into more than just "sporting wars."
The city of blood and steel. This is the seat of the Drakenoi High Council and the site of the grandest colosseum in all of Ferrumgard. Here, only the mightiest of warriors do battle for prestige and honor. The rest of city is alive with the klang of hammer against hot steel as the region's finest smiths forge high-quality weapons and armor out of the latest attempt at topping Arkdamite steel to make the greatest army in the realm even greater. Only those with exceptional martial prowess are sworn to the High Council as their personal army. The Council's small, but elite army marches under the banner of a red dragon's head on a black backdrop.
Trojag's Exalted Horde
The largest and most prestigious of the hordes, the Exalted Horde marches under a golden banner with a black hammer sigil. Warlord Trojag's keep rivals the strongholds of many kings, a gargantuan complex of near impenetrable defenses protecting immeasurable wealth from the horde's numerous iron and gold mines, as well as generations' worth of loot and spoils from dozens of wars the world over. Trojag's warriors have a reputation as being only second to the High Council's forces in terms of equipment and training.
Varg's Bestial Horde
Feared for their swiftness, the Bestial Horde is often used as the vanguard of a Drakenoi attack. Under a green banner with a light grey wolf's skull, this horde is comprised of cavalry almost entirely. However, Varg's Horde does not ride mere horses. From all over Ferrumgard and beyond, countless varieties of beast are imported to Drakenos to be trained and bred as mounts. Those facing the Bestial Horde must not only fight its savage warriors, but also the monsters on which they ride. Some ride creatures with horns and tusks that can rend and tear through enemy lines. Others are quick and nimble with claws and fangs. Some beasts have hides so thick, no normal arrow or spear can fell them. There have even been reports of mounts that breath fire or spray acid from their mouths. The horde's mobility allows them to cover ground rapidly, cause disarray in sudden skirmishes and ambushes, and strike deep behind enemy lines.
Harlock's Drowned Horde
Under a dark blue banner of a white trident, the Drowned Horde is renowned as bearing the largest navy of Drakenos. Although the immense cannons that adorn Warlord Harlock's fleet yield terrifying firepower, the warriors of the Drowned Horde are just as well to board enemy ships and slaughter their foes up close. Once on land, the massive artillery of the Horde is deployed, making them just as deadly in a siege as they are at sea.
Skarn's Forsaken Horde
Even the other Drakenoi are wary of the black banner of the white goat's head upon an inverted pentagram. As their banner suggests, it is no secret that those of the Forsaken Horde pay tribute to the goat-headed Raven Prince. Skarn's Horde is known for its' uncommon proportion of sorcerers and bards, weaving black magic to summon demons, smite the enemies of Drakenos, and invigorate their warriors with unholy strength. Warlord Skarn himself is well established as both one of the most skilled warriors and most powerful sorcerers in all of Drakenos. However, his faith makes him untrustworthy in the eyes of the other Warlords and Councilmen and thus, his horde is often given little support in campaigns. Skarn's growing resentment and dissatisfaction has spawned many rumors. Some whisper he plans on defecting as an ally to the exiled Skaggar, while others yet claim he schemes to take a place in the High Council and leave his lover, the Mad Sorceress Xorabelle as heir to the Forsaken Horde.
The Kingdom of Varangia
"When pagan poets speak of heathen heroes
Holding high the old way
Warriors waging into the storm
On wings of dragons, fame and fortune
Into the storm"
-Into the Storm, Týr
Home to a hardy and stern people. Despite the ferociousness of their raiders, this seafaring nation makes its primary mission trade with its neighbors. They venerate their heroes (both contemporary and those of legend) with almost as much reverence as the Old Gods; Their Skalds are known to be able to recant these epics from heart and channel the magic of the sagas. The heroes, known as Hersirs, are individuals who have proven themselves not only in battle but during times of peace as well, with the sagas recording mighty heros driving foul monsters from land, and then dividing it up freely so that many could live there. Politically, the island is controlled by several Jarls, appointed from the clans Thanes, who each preside over their clan and those that they may have conquered. The Jarls meet and curry favor with the voting Thanes to be appointed as High King. Often choosing a High King is a bloody affair, but the feuding ends if and when the High King proves himself an able ruler. Though emerging from a past of inter-clan warfare, the current High King has been both a fair judge when settling disputes and brutal in his dealings with those that would oppose him, and Varangia is enjoying a period of time where the Clans fight side by side... for now.
The naming conventions of Varangia are simple. The first born son is named after the mother, but the name is changed to a masculine form. The first born daughter is given the name of the father but in a feminine form. If there is a second son or daughter, they are given the same name with the additon of "Lesser" while the first born gains the addition of "Greater". This explains why Horsk (see: The Varangian Civil War) is named Horsk the Lesser in the earliest found texts of the civil war. His brother, Horsk the Greater, died when he was cornered by Wastelanders during his mercenary work. The third (and so on) born child is given a name chosen after what the family owns or trades in.
Spanning from the Tyrnothine city of Eistad to Kholdon, a trade town located on the Northern/Helgrad border and overseen by Everost, the Rail is a massive railroad managed by the Kingdom of Arkdam. The train that travels it, only more massive, many sections being half a dozen stories high, if not more. Its main purpose is mass travel and the transportation of trade goods. The quality of the compartments vary by ticket price and section. The cheaper tickets will give you a cramped bunkspace in a poorly kept section, where fights among travelers are common and security roams the corridors with thick armor and heavy maces. Meanwhile, the more expensive tickets take you to sections that are essentially mobile mansions with all the flair and comforts of a noble manor. Because of its size and relatively slow movement, the train is often at risk of brigand and raider attacks, especially when traveling through the Wastelands. To protect itself, the train has been made to be somewhat of a moving fortress, vigilantly patrolled by guards on the outside, armed with bows, crossbows, ballistas and the occasional machinegun. However, this does not mean the train is completely impervious to attack. There have been instances when bandits have successfully raided a section or two.
Religions of Ferrumgard
Religion is hectic business in Ferrumgard. In the ages of the Old Empire, nearly all of Ferrumgard from the western shores of Tyrnoth to the frostbitten North bent the knee to the Old Gods and the indigenous Nature Spirits. Since the introduction of the foreign White God and Raven Prince, religious strife has been unending, from rogue crusaders sacking Pagan settlements to naive souls making ill-fated bargains with conniving demons. As war rages in the heavens, the turmoil occasionally spills into the Mortal Realm, where battles between Angel and Demon tear cities asunder in the crossfire and the faithful are recruited by the celestial for quests to determine the fate of the cosmos.
The Old Gods
Fabled to be those who bestowed the gift of Song upon man, veneration to the Old Gods has been the traditional religion of Ferrumgard for millennia. The gods themselves are too numerous to count and go by many names, each having domain over multiple aspects of life and the elements. Although they do not have as many followers as the ages before the coming of the White God, the Old Gods grant might to those who would stay true to their heritage. The Old Gods, while they value strength and cunning, have little time for 'civilized' people. They are quarrelsome and factionalized, and often battle one another. Those who follow the Old Gods and Nature Spirits are referred to as Pagans.
Kronn the Allfather, God of Thunder, Wisdom, and Might
And from the settling of the astral storm came many gods to challenge the wretched beings spawned by the Chaotic Verse. Leading the charge in the war for the astral plane was Kronn. With his mighty thunderhammer, Skybreaker, Kronn conquered his dominion and established his throne in Valhalla. He is the Bringer of Thunder, the Keeper of Wisdom, and the lord of the Pagan pantheon.
Aldri the Mother, Goddess of Fertility, Sleep, and the Hearth
Mother of Man, Tender of the Hearth, Singer of Lullabies, Aldri is the goddess Pagans pay tribute to before attempting to conceive a child. She is said to dotingly watch her children sleep and bless Man with pleasant dreams. Sages from all over Ferrumgard have claimed to have met her while in drug-induced trances. She is said to whisper secrets of the ethereal plane in their ears.
Avaenar the Crusher, God of War
And so Kronn and Aldri beget Avaenar, a god born of blood and battle. He is the one destined to lead the armies of the Einherjar in the final battle for the heavens. Avaenar is the god kings, generals, and soldiers pay tribute to in hopes that he will possess their warriors as his avatars to and crush their enemies with an ungovernable berserk frenzy.
Svargjall the Gravelord, God of Death
A bitter rival of Kronn and his kin, Svargjall reaps the souls of cowards, oathbreakers, and kinslayers to row as slaves on his immense boat, Thrallheim, a realm in its own right. For millennia, the souls of the damned shall row through the astral plane under the watch of Svargjall and his brutal slave drivers until they reach their destination- the sun, where Skoldrimr will be unleashed from his prison to unleash his vengeful wrath upon the gods.
Lyre the Skald, God of Music
“Wake up! Wake up!! It worked! You know how I’ve been struggling with ideas for new material, right? Well, I sacrificed my first guitar to Lyre last night and I just had a vision! No, I am positive it wasn’t a dream! He told me where to find them! The sacred music tablets the Gods hid in the realm of Man! The details were a little blurry, but I’ll know the tomb when I see it! Yes, they’re in a tomb- a perilous one! Now pack your shit, we need to start heading east! Lyre promised me a sign if we just kept heading east!”
Ostavor the Moon Guardian, God of Protection
“You see that up there, boy? Yes, it’s the moon, but do you know what it is? It’s a shield! Strapped to the back of Ostavor himself! You see, lad, he stands guard outside the realm of Man, ever vigil, to protect us from the beasts and horrors that lurk beyond the stars. And it’s a full moon out! That means Ostavor is at his strongest! Quick, whisper a prayer to him so that he may watch over us!”
Skoldrimr the Firebeast, God of Fire, Hate, and Revenge
One of the last dark gods birthed by the Chaotic Verse, Skoldrimr is kept prisoner inside the sun by Kronn, deemed too volatile and dangerous to be left unchained. His flaming sword Ashcaller is prophesized to bathe the realms in flame, should he ever be reunited with it. Those who wish to seek vengeance upon their enemies will invoke his name or make a burning sacrifice so that he may channel his rage into them and grant them the righteous fury to exact revenge. Asking for Skoldrimr’s might is considered taboo amongst most Pagans and is only done in the most extreme situations.
The Nature Spirits
Thought to be as old as the Old Gods themselves, if not older, the Nature Spirits are the shepherds of the sprites. Spirits are paid tribute to on a local basis, each general area having its own collection of spirits to venerate, often alongside the Old Gods, and in some communities, the White God and Raven Prince. The sprites watch over the Nature Spirits' domains, often protecting those who live there and defending it against those who would cause it harm. Sprites often take the form of translucent, ghostly animals native to the environment they watch over, often being able to shapeshift into different forms. On occasion, this includes human.
Generally the spirits are manifestations of the natural world, but some adventurers claim to have seen disturbing, alien or insane spirits that don't seem to represent anything of this world. These spirits, claim the Sages, are the relics of the distant past, or are the only traces of the races that predate humanity. If this is true, then it could bring the accepted view of creation into question.
The Gospel of the White God and the Left Hand Path of the Raven Prince
About a millennium ago, strangers from a far-off land made landfall on the shores of Ferrumgard. With them, they brought the gospel of the White God. This God commands its followers to abide by specific rules, which differ from sect to sect. The Ferrumgardic kings of old saw this as a means of controlling their subjects and converted, forcing all beneath them to do the same. And so Ferrumgard saw centuries of oppressive theocracy. That is, until the people of the North rebelled and began a revival of the Old Gods at the price of the lives of their converted king and those who continued to turn their back on the Old Gods. This began the collapse of the White God's rule and most of the land secularized as a result. In most places (excluding the North), the White God is still tolerated, but not as widely venerated. The truenames of the Gods, Demons, and Angels of this religion are kept secret from most mortals. As such, these Gods are often referred to by titles or falsenames. Followers of the White God are referred to as Whitists. Those who follow the Raven Prince are known as Ravenites.
The White God, The King in Heaven, The Lord of Creation
Yea, and so from the darkness of the Chaotic Verse did come the greatest and most benevolent of Gods, the one true White God. It is He who created Man from clay and water and sang the song of life. In their hearts, the True Believers know that one day, even the proudest of Pagans will bend the knee to the One True King.
The Weeping Mother, The Angel of Sorrow, Lady of the Dead
For the starving child in the streets, she weeps. For the warrior left for the crows on the battlefield, she weeps. For those who have none to weep for them, she weeps. Her’s is the name men whisper to embrace the souls of the dead and guide them home to Heaven. It is to her that the Dirge sing slow and mournful songs at their ritual funerals.
The Raven Prince, The Lord of Hell, The Devil
If The White God is the King in Heaven, that makes a Prince next in line. Once the White God’s greatest archangel, he was cast to Hell for reasons only known to them. Now, the Raven Prince reigns from Hell, ever-plotting his next move in the War in Heaven. Sustained by ritual and blood sacrifice, it is the duty of every Ravenite to ensure the throne of Heaven is given to its rightful ruler. The Raven Prince is depicted as a goat-headed manbeast with cloven hooves and pitch black raven wings. He is also rumored to take the form of a common raven to whisper temptations and dark secrets into the ears of Man.
Kainus, The Reaper, Bloodthirster
One of the most prominent villains in Whitist/Ravenite theology, the arch-demon known under the falsename of Kainus fearfully whispered of among the Whitist clergy. Empowered by blood sacrifice in his name, he leads the Raven Prince’s armies in the War in Heaven. In the holy scripts, it is prophesized that he will bring the war to the Realm of Man and bathe the ensuing sea of red. The Cult of Kainus works tirelessly to uncover the secret ritual to summon the Bloodthirster and fulfill the prophecy.
Kytherion, The Tainted Engine, Daemonium Ex Machina
A less well-known yet equally deadly servant of the Raven Prince, Kytherion's true name is not known to mortals, yet his effects are felt across the world. He is the dark temptation of technology given flesh, whispering in the ears of mankind whenever a new invention is made that it could be more efficient or could be more effective, without paying heed to the increased cost on people or the landscape, until the land is a barren waste and the air is thick with a black, choking smog. He spreads his demonic technology across the world, mutating people into horrific cyber-abominations known as the Tainted who form the majority of his cult. In the gospels of the Whitists, it is said that he was the one responsible for the fall of the Old Metallican Empire, causing them to build ever-larger weapons in their wars until they destroyed themselves. Some say he now has his sights set on Arkdam. If it should fall to the Taint, then Ferrumgard will surely fall with it, as Bal-Mortus is unleashed.
History and Myths
Sortem's origins are a mystery. Is it said that before his rise in 1511, his entire clan was massacred by the ruling lord for worshiping the Old Gods in secret. The only survivor, by virtue of being on a hunt at the time the lord's forces razed his village. Having no clan and no home, he wandered about Ferrumgard as a mercenary, soon becoming known as a warrior poet, chanting Old Metallican hymns as he marched into battle.
It is said that in one campaign, his regiment happened upon ancient ruins of the Metallican Empire where many artifacts and scrolls were looted as trinkets. Sortem collected all of the scrolls he could and studied them, being fluent in Old Metallican. As it turned out, many of these scrolls were old myths and poems about the Old Gods and their virtues. They say his studies awakened an appreciation for his Pagan heritage and soon afterward, he left his regiment and rode back to the North, where he began to travel from clan to clan, preaching the ways of the Old Gods. It wasn't long until he was captured by the King's forces and taken to Everost to be hanged for promoting heresy.
His friend from his time as a mercenary and fellow Northerner, Addock, happened to be in Everost when he heard about the hanging. He managed to sneak into the prison where he was being kept and smuggled two swords in with him. It is said that together, they fought their way through half a hundred guards before escaping the prison, although others insist he had simply started a riot and escaped in the commotion. Either way, news of his defiance traveled quickly throughout the North and it was not long until he had dozens of clans rallied in rebellion. He is quoted having remarked, "If we are to wage war against a White God, then we must make ourselves blackened." The term "blackened" stuck.
The ensuing civil war against the Whitist Loyalists and the Blackened Rebels lasted four years, with both sides pushing the line to where it seemed neither side was going to win. In their desperation, many Blackened clans, as well as Addock, embraced the Raven Prince. It is not known whether or not Sortem himself embraced the Raven Prince, but he did approve of using him as a symbol of the rebellion, proudly fighting under a raven banner.
The siege of Everost was the bloodiest battle in the war, a fitting climax. Sortem knew he could not besiege a port city with his navy and commanded his forces to breech the walls at all costs. By nightfall of the third night, the mighty battering ram finally shattered the gates of Everost and thousands upon thousands of screaming clansmen spilled into the city.
What resulted was a massacre and what many non-Blackened agree to be an atrocity rarely seen in history to such a devastating scale. By the end of the Battle for Everost, Sortem the Black was standing at the top of the steps to the castle with the King of the North's head in his hand. Thus began the reign of the first Black Emperor. Not long after he usurped the throne, the Whitists of the North either fled or converted, less they suffer the fate of those slaughtered in the Battle for Everost. It is said that when Sortem died, the blood had still yet to fully fade from the cobblestones.
The Varangian Civil War
Varangia of the modern Ferrumgard is a peaceful place, but this was not always so. A mere forty six years ago, the island continent was a mess of violence, death, and destruction. Now, many tales are exchanged over the fires in the many mead halls, stories of hard battles against foreign foe and monster alike. The men of Varangia drink and fight in harmony once more with one another.
But what of the past? What was the Varangian Civil War? This turbulent time which mothers refuse to tell their sons of, which fathers shy away from telling out of shame. It was the darkest hour of the proud Kingdom, when brother turned against brother, son against father, and even the wives and children were preyed upon. It began in the year of Metal, 1669 on a freezing August night. Former High King Áfastr had passed unexpectingly during the night, in a manner no Varangian wishes to die; in peace, in his bed, at home. The fact that this great warrior never was able to bleed out on some foreign field covered in the blood of his enemies feeling the bliss of his stinging wounds is one of the many tragedies that marked this time.
The clan of Hadgarak live deep in the frozen north of Varangia, and over the years they grew an exceptional hatred for their fellow man. It had been only two hundred years since the last High King was chosen from the Hadgarak Clan, and he wasn't even of their blood. He was an orphaned child from the Kistgard, their neighbors, which they raised after he was abandoned by his whore-mother. They made an oath to the Old Gods of the West, that if a High King wasn't chosen from their clan, they would topple the whole of Varangia and put their king on the throne of Skalhiem by force.
Now we come to Horsk the Lesser, second son of an unremarkable Thane from Ragunselk. He worked tirelessly on the southern edge of the Great Wood, the large thick forest of central Varangia. The lumber harvested from the mighty oaks were put to use creating hundreds, if not thousands of longboats. He began cutting down trees when he was at the ripe age of twelve, and continued till he grew to age of seventeen when the Civil War grew out of control. Others considered lumberjacking an unworthy job, since you can't exactly tell an exciting story about felling a giant tree in the woods. To Horsk, the job was honest, humble, and suited to his personality. Someone had to collect the lumber needed to construct the mighty longboats required for trade and mercenary work. He was more than happy to fill the role needed that others shied from.
While Horsk cut trees in the Great Wood other Varangians were cutting each other in half. The civil war had erupted just after the High King Halvar Trungyv was slain in his feasting hall before he could move to the safety of Skalheim. The men of ice brought down the chilling fury of the north down upon their brothers. The first to fall was Kistgard, their former close friends and allies. This marked the first in a long series of betrayals made by Hadgarak.
Urdengar is characterized by it's worship of the Raven Prince, for most Varangians venerate the Old gods of the West. The clan lived entirely in the moutains directly east of the Great Wood. Hadgarak allied with them first. Dyrndunhold, their neighbors, had become a thorn in the side of the Hadgarak advance. Making use of their new Urdengarian allies, the Hadgarak gave them a task; complete and utter annihilation of the Dyrndunhold clan.
No one had known that the Urdengar Clan choose to side with the Hadgarak Clan. When word was sent to the Dyrndunhold that a splinter force of Hadgarak warriors had moved around their force, and was heading straight for their halls. The home-guard and Housecarls of the Dyrndunholds wasted no time in gathering to arms to fight the invading clan. With the defenders out of the way, the full force of the Urdengar force descended down on the easy prey. Hundreds were slaughtered in a single night. Children, women, dog, cattle, all were put to the sword. The heads of all those who were slain were put up on spikes, just outside the main mead hall of Dyrndunhold.
When the warriors returned from their wild chase, they came upon the horrifying sight at their hall. Their loved ones, butchered mercilessly in a cowardly act of deception. They had not died slowly either. Most had fallen from multiple stabs and cuts, others bleeding out after their limbs were hacked off. Hymns of the Dyrndunhold's lamentations is common dramatic song sung late at night in feasting halls to calm the drunken warriors down. They use what happened next when the party is in full swing.
The Dyrndunhold Clan pulled all their warriors from the front that were battling with the Hadgarak. When both forces met, the rage that sparked in their hearts could melt the ice at the foundations of Skalheim itself. Faces contorted, voices were raised, and swords rose into the sky as they sounded a fierce battlecry rang out over the winds. A terrible storm descended down upon the island of Varangia. Lightning struck the ground, glassing the earth as it roared constantly. Many named it the Fury of the Gods, as they too had become enraged with the heathen Urdengar.
In a blind fury similar to the Dyrndunhold warriors, the Urdengarians threw themselves upon the shields of their enemy. Swords clashed with axes, pikes with shields. The clattering of arms filled the mountains along with the thunder of the furious storm. The storm passed when the sun rose. The battle was over. Two clans had utterly destroyed each other in a single night. Only a few dozen warriors remained on either side, too tired to finish the conflict. They returned to their wecked halls which was filled with the blood of their kin.
This vile act stirred Horsk into action. While only seventeen he asked his father if he could take his position as Thane. At first the aged Róaldr, his father, thought he had become mad but it was clear when he saw the fire in his son's eyes. He agreed upon looking into his eyes. In three years, with some smart thinking and good dealing, he was elected to Jarl. His best friend Póraldi was elected to Jarl of the Talleskeird Clan in the same year. Together they readied to do battle with the accursed Hadgarak Clan.
Now we come to Skalheim, home of the Varangians. It is built at the end of a fjord, eternally alive with trade ships. Four wooden walls surround Skalheim. Two around the base, while another set of walls guard top, built around the keep. The Hall of Kings lies in the center of Skalheim. Within it is the mightiest feasting hall in all of Varangia. When first built by the very first High King, it was meant to be a testament of Varangian strength, intelligence, and pride. A bastion that would last longer than the fabled Metallican Empire.
When Horsk brought his Clan, the Ragunselks, and his friend's, the Talleskeird, three clans held the fortress city.
The Bjaldkurn Clan, bloodthirsty pirates and raiders, sworn enemies of the White god and Tyrnoth. Not as wealthy as other clans due to their lack of friendly trade, the Bjaldkurns have mostly scavenged arms and armour from Tyrnoth raids. The beautifully crafted crests and emblems on the chest plates they have stolen long since faded and scrubbed away. The Bjaldkurn honor the Old gods by drinkng their fill of enemy blood, savouring the taste of a well earned kill more than anything else in life.
The Vardskeil Clan, a cabal of the finest warriors the Varangians had to offer. Several of their most famous figures have been named Hersirs, and they are fierce in both blade and word. Long scrolls of lore detail their geneology all the way down to the first landing of Varangians in Varangia. Their pride knows no limits, matching that of their bitter rivals, the Seahunters of Kingsford. Horsk knew that a fight with them would be a difficult one indeed.
Finally, there was the clan that started the civil war in the first place. The target of Horsk's righteous anger, the Hadgarak Clan. Locked away in the north they have taken to hunting and trapping to scrape a horrid extense on the edge of land no other clan wants due to it's landscape of ice, ice, and more ice. Hailstorms are as common as the wolves which seem to breed faster than rabbits. Because of this, many warriors of Hadgarak put wolf pelts and heads on their person, hoping to gain the spirit and fury of the animal.
Two minor clans versus the three most powerful, warlike clans. Wolf trainers against Wolf Hunters. Honor-bound master warriors against huntsmen and lumberjacks. Horsk was called mad when he show them his battle plan. They would draw the enemy forces into the Great Wood, and try to use the natural terrain to their advantage. Not a single soldier deserted that night. Horsk's voice was smooth, calming. He had an aura of authority about him. He spoke calmly, and was never quick to anger. All knew that if Horsk had a plan, he would see it through to the end.
The Talleskeird Clansmen started to draw the enemy by rousing their chained and leashed hounds, their barking and gnashing awakening all within the city. While the Vardskeil warned of caution the Bjaldkurn and Hadgarak Clans did not listen, for battle called. Blood lust had muttled their minds with nothing but death and clashing steel. The armies raced out of Skalheim to met the Talleskeird. The vanguard clashed with the full force of the enemy. They focused primarily on defense rather than striking back. A signal from a bannerman came, and they disappeared into the woods.
The whole of the enemy force chased after them. In their haste, they didn't notice the traps laid out for them. Dozens fell in pit traps. Trip-wire triggered crossbows fired off, taking down giants clad in scale armour. The woodaxes came down upon the heads of the Hadgaraks, cleaving them from the torso. The battle had begun. The wolves struck down the men of ice. Spears dug deep into flesh of men, ripping apart bone and organ. Swords split neck and arm. The exact numbers of those who fought are not known. The figures are in the thousands on both sides however. The grass was stained a dark shade of crimson when it was all over.
Horsk had taken an arrow to the eye, and a spear to the thigh. His friend Póraldi had been stabbed in the gut with a spike. He still lives to this day with his clan. All of the Hadgarak Clan warriors had been destroyed in the battle, along with the Bjaldkurn's. The Hadgarak Clan had moved into Skalheim. This meant their women and children were still in the keep when Horsk's army marched to take the keep. Horsk walked forward towards the frightened innocents, his sword grasped firmly in hand, drenched with blood.
The son of the Hadgarak Jarl, only four, walked right up to him without fear. He stared up at the tired, worn Horsk. Before, any Varangian with sense about him would cut him down then and there. You couldn't have the son of a rival walking around to come back and attempt to kill you when you were old and aged. Horsk allowed the Hadgarak Clan to leave, not wanting to further the bloodshed. He was titled the Child's mane, in mockery. He gladly accepted the name. Most Varangians adopted this tradition as well. Children and women are left alone, no longer targets of raids.
Years later, Skalheim stands as bastion to all Varangians as it was once meant to be. The Hadgarak Clan's remnants joined with other clans, bringing with them their history and traditions. The Kistgard Clan, the Bjaldkurn Clan, the Urdengar Clan, the Dyrndunhold Clan, and the Hadgarak Clan have all been destroyed. Never again shall they rise to the positions they once held. They can only hope that they can find a place intergating the other clans now.
An ancient order of knights sworn to being justice and stability to the realm of Ferrumgard. In a time where Wasteland raiders sack helpless villages, the noble elite of Arkdam brutalize the commonfolk to keep them in line, and ancient evil stirs in the frozen wastes of Blashyrkh, the Painkillers are needed now more than ever. Where there is injustice, they right it. Where there is corruption, they excise it. Where there is pain, they kill it. Those who wish to join their ranks must venture to Steelhall, located in the mountain range east of Tyrnoth. Regardless of creed or religion, if the elders deem them worthy, they will be given training in the arts of combat, magic, and Painkiller philosophy. Their final task, before becoming a full-fledged Painkiller is to go on a quest. Either they will be given one by the elders or will be allowed to complete one of their choosing. These Aspirant Painkillers will often rally a band of adventurers to help them on their quest, or find an already questing party welcoming of assistance. It is possible that two or more Painkillers may face off on opposite ends of a conflict, each believing their cause is most just. If they survive the ordeal and complete the quest, surly word of their deeds will reach Steelhall through the bard songs. Upon the Aspirants return, he will be accepted as a member in the ranks of the Painkiller Order.
Known for their modest black robes and melancholy demeanor, the Dirge are the Whitist order tasked with dealing with the dead. While funeral proceedings are typically left to the local priest in Whitist society, the Dirge are a sought-after preference to those living near a Dirge monastery. “Living near” being a relative term as these monasteries are notorious for their isolated locations. A typical Dirge funeral ritual entails the priest swinging a thurible over the deceased, who is wrapped in a white sheet, as he slowly chants a prayer accompanied by Dirge musicians or bards. The priest then tosses a handful of mixed ash and salt over the body and disposes of it as appropriate to region (usually burial, pyre cremation, or sent down a sacred river into the sea). The consecrated salt is considered the earthly embodiment of the tears of the Weeping Mother, to whom the order is devoted. The ashes are from dead Dirge so that their spirits may guide the departed to Heaven. The Dirge are often seen walking amongst fresh battlefields of Whitist armies, murmuring somber prayers and tossing ashes and salt over the slain. This has earned the Dirge the nickname “Vultures” by non-Whitists.
Clad in black cloak and cowl and armor to match is the military arm of the Dirge known as Pallbearers. To Whitists, necromancy is of the utmost taboo and as such, the Pallbearers are among the first to respond to sightings of undead. As Pallbearers it is their duty to bring the misbegotten dead to their graves. On occasion, Pallbearers are given living targets under the justification that “it is their time to die.” In most cases, these targets will be Ravenite cultists or insurgents operating within Whitist territory. In the Wastelands, it is not uncommon for especially infamous raiders to find Pallbearers announcing that it is time to take them to their grave.
Known by their soot-stained white cloaks, tabards, and surcoats, the plague knights are a blessing or a scourge depending on who you ask. These ruthless followers of the White God seek out reports of disease and respond swiftly, donning their haunting masks bearing either a hose connected to a crude filter or a bird's beak stuffed with flowers and herbs to keep the stench of pestilence at bay. They are known to set entire villages to the torch in their attempt to contain plague outbreak, whether there is actually a plague or not. They are extremely active in Arkdam and the Wastelands and often find themselves faced with foolhardy adventurers seeking to put an end to their perceived tyranny. It is common practice for this order to recruit victims with non-contagious illnesses, convince them that their disease is punishment from the White God and grant them a chance at salvation as their auxiliaries. The conditioning for this auxiliary work leaves mentally more beast than man and the crazed flagellants are often driven toward the enemy by whip, just so they don't accidentally attack the knights as the cleansing spirit of the White God possesses them in a divine frenzy.
Technology and Aesthetics
Technology in Ferrumgard is, for the most part, inspired by medieval European aesthetics. Although firearms like machineguns and vehicles are available (recent innovations of the past 200 years), they can only be crafted by the finest of blacksmiths and their upkeep is expensive. Because of this, warfare is still conducted in a medieval fashion, with minimal mechanized support. Because of the rarity of vehicles and the price of fuel, horseback is still the preferred mode of transportation. As for apparel, both medieval and modern styles of clothing are available, although the latter is seen more often in the Wastes and Sunset Isles than Tyrnoth and Drakenos.
Metal and Magic
Music is very important in Ferrumgardic society and has multiple functions. Most musicians possess little actual magical affinity and simply travel from tavern to tavern to play for money. However, skilled bards are able to tap into the magical potential of song and use it weave a variety of spells. Ferrumfolk often play slow and mournful dirges at funerals, believing the dirges to be spells that protect the passing spirit in their journey to the afterlife.
To Man, Metal represents more than just music. Metal is a force of will. Keeping ones’ Metal strong and true is the highest of virtues. It is this essence that all must tap into in order to weave the arts of song and magic. In a sense, song and magic are one and the same. In order to wield these powers, one must channel their Metal through an enchanted object. Others dare yet to forgo channeling and harness the power through more volatile means- Drawing blood (theirs or others’) and unleashing the Metal that runs through their very veins! Those who choose to channel through musical instruments are known as Bards. Those who have mastered the arts of the Silent Song and channel through items such as wands, staves, orbs, or rune-engraved skulls are referred to as Sorcerers, Wizards, Warlocks, Witches, and a variety of other alternatives. The various spells that can be cast and rituals that can be performed can be recorded on scrolls, bound in spellbooks, or etched onto tablets. Some spells are commonly known among the circles of Wizards and Bards, while others are jealously guarded in secret libraries and forgotten tombs. Others yet are fabled to have been destroyed, feared to have been too powerful to be trusted with Man.
While all Bards play music, not all those who play music are Bards. Simply picking up and instrument and playing does nothing to cast spells, just as waving about a wand does not give one the powers of a Wizard. Not unlike learning to play an instrument, learning the ways of song and spellweaving take years of practice to master. While being a teacher’s apprentice is considered the most efficient way to learn, self-teaching is not impossible. Especially talented and creative musicians often make powerful Bards if given the proper guidance.
The common tongue of Ferrumgard, descended from the Metallican Empire, which dominated the continent and made its language standardized throughout the realm, even making its way into the Highlands, which the Empire never fully owned. Dialects and accents vary from region to region, but it is for the most part mutually intelligible. Uses the Vaedric alphabet.
The language of Vaedros, where the Faith of the White God originated and the holy language of both Whitists and Ravenites alike. Although most followers of these religions know a few phrases associated with prayer, any Whitist or Ravenite Disciple worth their salt should be fully fluent.
The language of the Metallican Empire, unintelligible to speakers of contemporary Metallican. Only learned and spoken among scholarly groups like Sages, historians, and adventurers out to locate and plunder tombs and dungeons from the Age of the Empire. Most of its utility comes from learning the alphabet of Old Metallican runes, which are still stamped into metalwork and carved into trees by worshippers of the Old Gods to this day. After the coming of the Vaedric Whitists, their alphabet was adopted and the language gradually evolved into modern Metallican.
Unknown Language of Blashyrkh
Adventurers daring to venture into the frozen wastes sometimes come back with sketches of unfamiliar glyphs found carved in caverns and entrances to ruins built into mountains that were frozen shut. No far, no one has been able to make anything of it.
Although cultures vary throughout Ferrumgard, one constant is the universal Ferrumgardic greeting- Throwing someone "the horns" and exclaiming, "Hail!" There are multiple ways to throw someone the horns, which usually varies by personal preference; what matters is that ones fist is curled with the index and little fingers extended.
There was a time, it is fabled, when man was not the only civilized race in Ferrumgard. Elves, dwarves, orcs, and other fantastical races forged their own kingdoms throughout the land and regularly traded and warred with man and each other. The myths of the Old Gods are rich with depictions of such creatures. All of this took place long before the rise of the Metallican Empire and most civilized Ferrumfolk disregard such tales as whimsical stories to delight children and teach them the nature of the Old Gods. However, in places like the Forest of Gael, the Helgrad Highlands, and the North, there are still those who believe that if you dig deep enough, you may happen upon an underground dwarven city and that the watchful eyes of elves are always upon you when traveling through the woods. A few claim to have met these creatures of lore, but few believe them.
Trumpets sound as the victors are rushed back into their barracks, where doctors tend to the wounded, and slave girls and drink are given, along with large sums of cash, to the victorious players. Skalds and bards of note ascend to the main stage, playing songs of glory, sport, steel, and triumphant struggle. The audience whoops and cheers, no matter their origin, they throw the horns towards the bloody sand and the roaring stage. The new teams enter after the show ends, hurling curses and readying their fists and poles for the oncoming bout. This is an average game of Hragskrin.
The traditional game dates back to the diffusion of Helgrad culture to the Old Empire with the help of Lorrc Tigern, a famous warlord. The game was observed in the warlord’s camp when he was hired to join an Imperial campaign; the Imperial observers thought Lorrc was facing a camp mutiny, as men were running around with staffs and crude Brass Knuckles, pummeling and spilling blood in a rampage of semi-organized brawling. The Empire’s scouts watched the scuffle, and were surprised to see that Lorrc himself was beckoning for them to join his team.
From there it slowly became a facet of Ferrumgardic culture, a game that outlived the empire. It's played with staves, which are used to hit the ball to team mates, or hit other players, each team commonly has about 8-10 players, with 1 staff per team. The other players use their fists, or improvised, crude knuckle-enhancing weapons. The ball is commonly made of rubber; and is kept in play for the entire game, with a fistfight between team captains deciding who gets the ball first. A point is scored when the ball is carried to the other team’s end of the field, or hit to a player standing there. Tackling, tripping, uppercuts, bone-breaking, joint-snapping, and fatal group kicking are all legal ways of obstructing the other players. Eye-gouging, biting, and poison are discouraged, but are not usually punished except in extreme circumstances. Play stops when the ball is out-of-bounds, or a score is made, at which point, the team that lost the ball or the team that scored hands the ball over to the other team. A match ends when one team is no longer standing, which is the more common ending, at least among the Helgradis, Varangian, and Blackened teams, or a when a team scores 20 points. The teams meet yearly, bringing commerce to which-ever city hosts the games. In times of war, the games are hosted in neutral territory.
Notable teams are:
- Arkdam: Iron-shod Arsenal
- Tyrnoth: Order of the Regal Lions
- Tartarus: Dune Stalkers
- Varangia: The Shield-kin
- Drakenos: Valorborn
- Helgrad: Thunderkeep Fist Throwers
- Farports: Anchorheads
- Sunset Isles: Stryped Panthers
- Everost: Carrion Host
Google Docs with the crunch
We'll compile these into a proper pdf when we're done. For now, this will have to do.
General Information: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wkzr4bEd4NLFN-lPjfi546L6RS-Q0lahBxL8WmxYkFg/edit
Attributes & Skills: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ScyqZ6GogGRKucHhxkCxk7xHPpeW2xNU9kAmqBlJYEE/edit
If a link isn't functioning correctly, post in the thread on /tg/ or wait for one to come up.