|MAP||RELIGION||MAGIC ITEMS||HOUSE RULES|
The cities aren't as huge as they look; that's area of control you're seeing in addition to actual city size. My little village of Timber, though, really is enormous now. The white space is unknown territory. A question mark after something means that it's assumed to be there, but no one we know has been there in a while.
A couple of the forts ringing Timber have names which I couldn't squeeze into the digital map. The one farthest south is Fort Snake and the one on the Therno River is Fort Therno. The brown lightning-bolt shaped thing going from the Ashen Plain into the Sesrolwood Forest is a big ravine.
THE TIMBER REPUBLIC
Floods of refugees from the south and east (see below) have swelled the population of the once-insignificant border town beyond anyone's expectations. Timber now covers a large area of land (including Dagger Rock) and has a population numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
A Senate elected by landowners governs the city-state. The Senate appoints a Foreign Minister to deal with other nations. High government officials are often attended by a Spiritual Advisor, a monk or cleric loaned out to serve and advise the official; temples and monasteries are only too glad to provide this service in exchange for the influence it brings. The current Foreign Minister is served by a monk who worships Shao Tsang, and this monk's openly pacifistic views are often blamed for the Minister's recent hesitation to respond to encroachments from the Sakharians.
The Republic contains citizens of nearly every race; Humans, Halflings, Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs are the most common, followed by Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes, in that order. Half-Orcs, while technically of the same legal status as the other races, are generally expected to live in the "Orc Quarter" in the Northern District of Timber. Many of these Half-Orcs are poorly adapted to city life, and their "Quarter" is essentially a ghetto. The Half-Orcs of Timber, however, find even second-class status preferable to life among the brutal barbarian clans dominating the plains to the northeast.
Victor, God of the Sun, is the most commonly revered deity, but nearly every god has some sort of organization in Timber. Worshippers of Shao Tsang maintain temples and monasteries in the heart of the city, while Daiten's followers tend to settle closer to the borders, serving as mediators and protectors instead of scholars and ascetics. The worship of Tellar is more common in the northern areas of the Republic. Ash and Kayla are both popular on the less settled fringes, particularly to the north and northwest. Most arcane practitioners worship Ezren. There are no organized temples devoted to Mogdar or Malligant, although their worshippers are not unknown in the Republic. Worship of Ophion is strictly outlawed in Timber. Outside its walls, and in the more rural outlying farms and villages, there may be those who pay homage to Ophion, but if their inclinations are known they are likely to be carefully watched.
THE EMPIRE OF SAKHARIA
The Empire is now essentially a theocracy; Ophion-worshipping reptilian abominations control every aspect of government. Exactly when and how this came to occur is a mystery to most outsiders. Many in Timber theorize that the Yuan Ti first came out of Azzarian ruins beneath Kethys, but this is only speculation. The truth is, very few benevolent humanoids have spent much time in the population centers of the Empire and returned to tell about it.
The Empire is constantly seeking to expand its borders; it is generally considered to be bounded by the River Chiranis to the north and the mountains to the west. Eagle Hill was the most recent human city to fall to the snakes, and since its destruction, Kranford is no longer easily reached. It is not known if Kranford, or many of the other eastern lands around the White Lake, have managed to hold out. The Sesrolwood Forest has become contested territory in their latest advances, and has become a sort of "Neutral Zone" between the Empire and Timber and its allies. Of late, the Foreign Minister of Timber has pursued an increasingly isolationist policy, and the Republic's military presence in the Sesrolwood is fading. The burden of holding the forest has fallen mostly to bands of Elven skirmishers, who are effective harassers but not trained or equipped for taking and holding ground. Many in Timber, and especially those in the outlying towns and villages that are essentially protectorates of the Republic, are concerned that if the Sesrolwood is abandoned to the Yuan Ti, everything south of the Therno River will be vulnerable to their predations as well.
Just what life is like behind the borders of Sakharia is a subject of much speculation for the people of Timber, and tales of heroism fighting the Serpent Menace form the basis for a great deal of popular romantic fantasies. Just what goes on behind their walls, and what their ultimate goals may be, however, are unknown to almost all outsiders.
Halclef, until recently ruled by a hereditary oligarchy of landed nobles, has recently undergone a strange transformation. A prophet of sorts, announcing the arrival of a new god to the White Lake, has apparently captured the imagination of the entire city. He is so far known only as "The King in Blue" or "The Blue Prince," apparently because the ruling council has happily ceded its authority to him. According to those who have recently left Halclef for Timber, most of the city has been converted to the worship of this god beneath the lake, whose name seems to be forgotten by all of those who have left Halclef. The Blue Prince first appeared after a massive storm over the lake, exhibiting great powers and performing dramatic baptisms in the lake itself for his converts. The religion grew by leaps and bounds, and soon outpaced all others.
In the past few weeks, the trickle of people leaving Halclef for Timber has stopped completely. Among the last of those to leave expressed vague disillusionment with the King in Blue, and reluctance to work on the massive construction projects that were among his first edicts, but were able to provide little detail for the curious. Travelers and fishermen have reported some strange goings-on in the lake; several claim to have seen something truly gargantuan surface to roll in the moonlight, but these reports have all been subsequently discredited by other witnesses who admitted the stories were fabricated for profit. The proponents of the stories insist on their truth, claiming that the creature was too large to be taken in in one glance, but that it was revolting and unmistakably malevolent. Drifts of some strange substance have been reported on the surface of the lake near Halclef as well. One popular rumor holds that a fisherman's nephew, peering at the stuff, fell into it face-first. Despite being pulled out almost immediately, he seemed unable to breathe after touching it, and suffocated soon after. The fisherman-uncle of the story, however, has not surfaced to confirm it, and so it is probably a rumor as well.
Aleph-Kur is both a city and a kingdom, controlling most of the northeastern desert along two fertile river valleys. Humans are its undisputed rulers, but the other races are represented as well; Elves, Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs give way to greater numbers of Dwarves and Gnomes than are seen in Timber. Dwarves are common in the mountains to the east, and Gnomes in the hills to the southeast. Both races travel to Aleph-Kur frequently to trade; the humans of the city are by far the most technically advanced and mechanically clever of their kind. The humans are outstripped in manufacturing and mining techniques by the Dwarves, and in engineering sophistication by the Gnomes, but all three benefit from the presence of the others. Halflings are as common and adaptable here as anywhere, but, as elsewhere, often keep to their own kind.
Aleph-Kur is a monarchy, but an odd one. Power in the city is concentrated in the opposed churches of Malligant and Mogdar, whose political philosophies differ mainly in the degree to which they think power should be concentrated in the "Kronarch." The followers of Malligant favor a Kronarch with near-absolute power backed with a divine mandate, while Mogdar's worshippers see the Kronarch as a symbol, a religious or arcane scholar, or at most the central administrator of a more diffuse and localized government.
It is in any case an unenviable job, as the Kronarch, once selected, is a virtual prisoner. He can never venture far from the palace, as the enchantments connecting his life force to the enormous and complicated Clockworks have only a limited range. Every important act of the Kronarch, including the precise moment of his death, becomes part of the eternal formulae constantly processed by the Clockworks. Without this information, most especially the moment of death, a new Kronarch cannot be selected. The data go into a massively complex combination of mathematics, divine guidance, and random chance that points the way to the next Kronarch. Even the most devoted outside scholars admit that the intricacies of this process are completely beyond them. The process is performed only by the chosen representatives of each church, and these are always talented scholars who literally spend their entire lives studying and preparing for this singular ritual. Because it is only performed when a Kronarch dies, most who spend their lives so preparing never get to actually participate in the process. The ritual often must be performed several times to settle on a new Kronarch, until both participants arrive at the same answer. Theoretically, the ritual could point to anyone as the next Kronarch, but it almost always results in the ascension of an official of one of the two main churches. The current Kronarch, a devotee of Mogdar, has had a long and successful reign, but he is very old and his health is said to be failing.
The Kronarch is supported by a Council made up of hereditary nobles, said to be descended from those who built the first Clockworks. The Clockworks have been expanded several times, each time clothed and shielded by great stone monuments erected to house them. Just what the Clockworks are calculating is as obscure to outsiders as it seems to be obvious to the people of Aleph-Kur.
Despite the domination of politics by its two main religions, other sects are tolerated and even encouraged in Aleph-Kur. In fact, while it is clear that Mogdar and Malligant are revered above all other deities, governmental discrimination against any "secondary" sect is frowned upon.
THE BARBARIAN TRIBES
These are composed of humans who mostly came from the Skyfall Mountains, and Orcs from farther north and east, and the mixture of the two. Tellar, Gruumsh, and Balthazar are the most common deities, and indeed many human and half-orc clans and tribes claim Tellar as an ancestor. Some of the tribes are willing to trade with outsiders or hire themselves out as guides, but the vast majority are hostile and very territorial, and would as soon execute outsiders by slow and elaborate torture as talk to them. Most of the tribes are nomadic hunters. Those who tire of the constant tribal warfare often journey to Timber, where they are accepted if somewhat marginalized. Not much is known about what lies on the other side of the barbarian territories, but no large settlements are known on the shores, and the Yuan Ti are not thought to have expanded so far north around the White Lake.
THE LIADON FOREST
The Liadon is itself a thing of magic, born from the old Sunsea Desert when the Apocalypse leveled much of the Skyfall Mountains and a new range sprang up to the west. By Elven magic or the hands of the gods, or perhaps both, water was diverted and desert somehow transformed into grasslands and forests. A new Elven homeland was born, and was soon needed when refugees, fleeing the advance of Sakharia, began to arrive from the south and east.
The Liadon Elves consider themselves allies of the humans and other races of Timber, although they're not much inclined toward formal treaties. They oppose the Yuan Ti expansion, but don't form large, regular armies. The elves are very confident that, even if Timber should fall, the Yuan Ti could never take the Liadon. They view the human fascination with the mystery of life in Sakharia with thinly veiled scorn; the snakes are to be eradicated, not studied by journalists and immortalized by bards.
Human envoys are accepted in the Liadon (although, for some reason, halflings are preferred by some), and half-elves are sometimes allowed to stay, but for the most part any non-elves are strongly discouraged from permanently settling in the Liadon. Human barbarians from the Skyfall Mountains and beyond are treated almost as a completely different and distinctly Orcish species, and the more extreme elves of the Liadon treat them with no more patience or mercy than they would an Orc.
Freeport is an independent town established by sailors, pirates and traders. It remains a freewheeling, active city, as well as a convenient stop on a water journey from Westgate to Aleph-Kur or back.
WESTGATE AND OAKHURST
These two towns are technically independent, but benefit from and pay tribute for the protection of the armies of Timber. Westgate, an important stop for commerce traveling to Freeport and Aleph-Kur, or into the sea beyond, is larger and more active. Oakhurst is a smaller, older community, housing merchants, farmers, and ranchers. Nearby are the lifeless Ashen Plain and a deep ravine, which is occasionally the subject of expeditions by local adventurers and explorers. Rumors abound as to the origins of and connections between the odd geographical features near Oakhurst.
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|Daiten||Valor||LG||Good, Law, War, Strength|
|Kayla||Woodlands||NG||Animal, Good, Plant, Sun|
|Tellar||Strength||CG||Chaos, War, Luck, Strength|
|Shao Tsang||Order||LN||Travel, Law, Protection, War|
|Seisha||Masks||N||Luck, Protection, Travel, Trickery|
|Ash||Nature||N||Air, Animal, Earth, Fire, Water, Plant|
|Binkknutt||Rogues||CN||Chaos, Luck, Trickery|
|Cain||Terror||LE||Destruction, Evil, Law, War|
|Balthazar||Slaughter||CE||Chaos, Evil, Destruction, War|
|Mogdar||Time||N||Knowledge, Magic, Trickery|
|Ezren||Secrets||CG||Magic, Trickery, Chaos, Fire|
|Ophion/Typhon||Death||NE||Death, Evil, Earth, Fire|
|Victor||The Sun||NG||Good, Healing, Plant, Sun|
|Malligant||Tyranny||LE||Evil, Law, Magic, Trickery|
|SHAO TSANG||Unarmed Strike|
Non-human deities are the same as in the PHB: Yondalla, Corellon Larethian, Gruumsh, Garl Glittergold, Moradin. Other pantheons have not granted powers for 100 years. Any clerics of unlisted deities will be prophets of newly reborn sects.
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