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2015.07.10

Its the seventh day. The whole town gathers in the town hall. Narbett ascends the platform, stands behind his lecturn. His halfling voice booms unnaturally as he brings the fire and brimstone about the horrible outsiders that forever threaten our community. He’s not wrong. 

Milobroth and Samrook appear to have found another half-orc to weigh down their pew. No doubt he’s just as useful as the other two. It’s the goliath that interests me most; don’t see a lot of those in town.

A commotion outside brings the gathering to an abrupt break. Everyone rushes outside to find the receding dust storm. As the dust settles we notice the horses have disappeared. Gwin calmly assures everyone that they’ll return. No they won’t. They didn’t run off, they were ridden. I follow the tracks to Pim’s ferry. By the time I stabilize poor Pim and pull the arrow from his chest the new half-orc and the goliath show up: looks like he took the time to collect and don his armor. No doubt a wise decision, one he could have avoided if he’d had it on all along. Despite his poor planning and the obvious disadvantage of his race, his skills at healing are impressive, as Pim is up and about in no time. The poor man is completely confused by what happened and why the bandits left him for dead, but he saw the direction they ran when they were done with him. 

The Watchtower is in the forbidden mountains. The tracks are easy enough to follow. Either the bandits thought they were free and clear and stopped for a break or the old horses just couldn’t keep up, but we come upon a half dozen of the bastards and two horses. I catch one off guard and shoot an arrow through his throat. The druid talks to the horses, apparently sending them home. Glad she’s here. She helped. The half-orc jumps on one of them as they retreat and chases down an archer. In the end, we leave two alive and wounded for questioning

The giants take the two bandits back to town, and the girl insists on scouting ahead with me. I’m sure we’ll find a use for her eventually. 

Thitherfields

Your home is in a village called Thitherfields in western Merrilyer. It has less than 200 people. You know all the families for the most part, and many of its regular visitors. The village itself produces mostly wheat, rye, beans, and barley.The village head is Gwin Trefor. He is an older human who is very serious about protecting the village’s interests, and everyone defers to him to lead. His word is final. The Trefor family were serfs over a thousand years ago to Brecon Manor, before the manor’s tragic end with some internal feud that killed all the noble family. Since then, the Trefors settled the Thitherfields, preferring a simple life. Gwin dislikes outsiders, sees them as nothing but trouble, but being so near a pilgrimage site has very little choice.

The town cleric is a Merrilyean Halfling named Narbett Featherlight. He is considered a bland fellow with no sense of humor. The temple of the town acts as the town hall, and is the largest building in the estate.

There is a general store called Tabby’s, run by Tad Tabby and his family (humans). They are the business center of the town and get regular shipments from the same vendors on a regular basis.

The blacksmith is Tulga Stynwryte. She is a female dwarf, former adventurer, decided to settle in the town after the last blacksmith left with his entire family in the middle of the night. Tulga has many children, her husband is Osmo Forty Nods. She is the matron of the family, Osmo is just the brewer of the town and obsessed with his art. Gwin abides Osmo but punishes any public drinking – he has brought more people to town than any other legitimate business because of his Thither Ale.

The tanner and tailors in town are all high elves that have many other elven visitors. They are Rhydderch and Eilona – a husband and wife team. Their one son is a paladin, named Rhydan, for the Merrilyer Estate, and no one in town has seen him.

The town has no garrison, jail, or walls. All able-bodied adults are to act as defense in the case of town “trouble”, but there are two half-orc huntsmen Milobroth and Samrook, who pride themselves as the protectors of the town. They have been tolerated in the town since they behave. No threat has come against your town in your lifetime.

The rest of the town has farmers, huntsmen, and simple craftsmen (chandlers, cobblers, etc). More info on them later.

 

Pem’s Ferry nearby is one access to civilization, along the Gnorren River. It is run by the Pem’s, and is one of the ways of meeting interesting folk from other estates. The river flows from Ialdabode through Merrilyer, then back through Kellis. The river flows to the East, and its next stop is the fishing town of Fishguard. West, the river flows from Sulfaeli (an elven city that has no road), and then around to Abermaw in Ialdabode. Gwin Trefor has forbid villagefolk from visiting here without business due to fear of drowning – the water is rough and gets deep fast.

A large inn named Wayfarer’s Rest seven miles outside of town is the prime resting spot for travelers on the road to the holy site Stuljvad, seeing all sorts of people.

Stuljvad used to be an outpost on the border of Merrilyer and Ialdabode. It is where the plate Tristan turned the undead army of Zilwyn. Near it is Brecon Manor, now an unvisited ruins. Near that is Brecon Sanitarium and Stuljvad Monastery. Many users to and from this holy site travel Last Road to the Merrilyean city of Loderberg. Users can also take the road to Ialdabode to its very large city Abermaw.

Before The Faith, there were the racial gods. Humans did not have a racial deity like other races. There was Deitarch, the first and greatest deity, that created the World and all the other gods/beings. He was not worshipped directly. One of Deitarch’s children, Theocrat, discovered that mortals had souls, to be used as Deitarch’s playthings. Deitarch then imprisoned Theocrat, which caused a schism – many Outsiders sided with Theocrat, becoming angels. Those that remained allied with Deitarch were devils. A great endless war took place in the heavens, but this did not affect worship in the world. 

When the Sixteen took control of Defenixal and enslave them, a Prophet showed up and taught The Faith. No one knows much about the Prophet, whether it is a him or her. The Faith had a grip on humanity, essentially becoming its racial deity, even though other races could worship The Faith all the same.  

Core concepts of The Faith:

1. All mortals have a soul – it is their imprint in the world, that can become affected by their actions in the world. On death, souls part from the world and ascend to the Fold.

2. Based upon a soul’s conduct in the World, they will join Theocrat’s struggle, or Deitarch’s dominion.

3. The roadmap to how to keep your soul from corruption are through eight Edicts.

The Edicts of the Faith:

1. Suffer no Malefaction to live

2. Shelter and protect the weak

3. Do not steal from the labor of the Faithful

4. Cause no harm to the Faithful

5. Practice any Faith, but the True Faith above all others

6. Your Faith will be tested

7. Honor your family, lords, and neighbors in word and deed

8. You must share Faith to have Faith

The Edicts in detail:

1. Malefaction is deemed to be anyone that intentionally corrupts the soul of a Faithful. It is broadly interpreted as Deitarch’s minions made manifest in the world, such as demons, devils, the undead, or other mortals that liberally violate the Edicts. This Edict is considered to be the line in the sand, defining what the religion will NOT stand before, before showing what it will stand for. Interpretation as to what is Malefaction is debatable.  

Generally, people can be categorized as Faithful, Faithless, or Maleficent. The Faithful and Maleficent are easy to understand, but the Faithless are those caught in between – either not strong enough in conviction, or stray the path too often, or use the Faith for personal gain without contributing to it, but not quite falling to Malefaction.

2. The Faith was founded by those that would not let their ilk be enslaved by the Sixteen any longer. It is considered the duty of all Faithful to watch after one another.

3. This is not just theft of personal property, but the stealing of ideas or exploitation.

4. It is never considered acceptable to kill the Faithful, nor harm them bodily or cause them distress with lies and deliberate misfortune.

5. The Faith legitimately does not mind the worship of over Gods, but insists that Faith trumps Gods. This causes some turmoil with the elder races.

6. It is prevalent in The Faith that Malefaction will always be present for Faith to be validated in its existence. Without Malefaction, there is nothing to test your resolve. It is thought that an untested soul will not be strong enough to defend itself in the afterlife.

7. To ensure Malefaction does not simply stamp out mortality in the world, it is important to band together and keep community. To be a hermit or to shun your own family allows the Malefaction the potential to succeed. Despite something not agreeing with your lord, it is important to show Faith, as that lord would to his lord.

8. Faith is meant to be infectious. If it did not spread during the reign of the Sixteen, humanity would likely have still been enslaved

The Edicts boil down to ensuring The Faithful survive in a world where they were once the minority. Now that Defenixal is as powerful as it is, with The Faith as its state religion, these Edicts have had more relaxed interpretation, causing mostly peaceful schisms in Faith practice.

The Marshall Faith – this is the state religion of Defenixal. It is the beginning of the Faith. Its core belief is draconian adherence to the Edicts. Due to Defenixal’s success, events in the Estates Wars, the alignment of the religion has shifted from Lawful Good to Lawful Neutral. This Faith is also called The True Faith (only by its own practitioners). It has its own army – the Paladins. Paladins are warriors chosen by The Faith something from their birth to puberty by having the mark of the Faith. Those that learn to foster their Faith when they discover this mark could walk the long road to paladinhood. Those that do not make it, or do not notice the mark on their body, will see the mark “fade” to only be barely seen – and they may never become paladins.

This Faith does truly run the government. All government workers swear to the Faith, then the Kingdom, then the King – in that order. The King must be a Paladin, and like all Paladins, must be ordained by the church, and swears to protect The True Faith, and Kingdom. When they die, the church picks the next Paladin from his line to take his place – or from another Estate if no immediate kin. 

The church is known for opulence and rigid order. It is a religion of numerous saints and Templars, rites and rituals. The cross of the Faith has eight jewels on it, for each Edict, and looks like a tree bearing fruit. This acts as symbolism borrowed from druids that assisted in freeing people from the Sixteen, but the brotherhood between druids and Faithful clerics end there.

The Golden Faith – Started by the Sai’Adir but they claim no ownership of it, it is also called The Common Faith. Practitioners are less interested in the regalia and rigid structure of the state church, and are more interested in harvesting community and protecting it from corruption. The priests of The Golden Faith are often called “Lanterns”, and prefer less extravagant crosses. Their alignment is usually Neutral Good.

There is no bad blood between the Faiths, and there are some paladins instead raised by The Golden Faith, albeit rarely. The paladins of the Marshall Faith have a military career, a future in politics and tax exemption, noble lines etc. The paladins of The Golden Faith do not get any of these, though commoners believe these paladins are true saviors for it.

Merrilyean Faith – This is a more peaceful outlook on The Faith, less about martial prowess and more about personal contemplation. It still abhors the agents of Malefaction and will combat them, but focuses more on the healing aspects of the Faith. The base alignment of this religion is Neutral Good, uses the same churches and practices as the Marshall Faith otherwise.

The “New Faith” – Recently, there has been a popular new movement called The New Faith by its followers. It has different Edicts:

1. Defeat the enemies of the Faith

2. Your Faith is your power

3. Do not steal from the labor of your equals or betters.

4. Do not take oaths lightly

5. Practice any Faith, but this New Faith above all others

6. Respect Defenixal’s might as a testament to its Faith

7. Honor your family, lord, and neighbors if they exhibit strength

8. Have this Faith, and share this Faith, to build your strength.

Obviously this Faith differs from others, has a mysterious cell-based network throughout the Estates with an unknown leader. Its base alignment is Lawful Evil. Followers believe the times have changed, and with it, the need to band together against the weak.  

There are countless other versions of the Faith that I have not documented here, and if you can come up with your own, we can try it out.

There are also many “false Faiths”, similar to the New Faith albelt much less successful, peddled by charlatans, the insane, or devils in disguise. These false Faiths can also grant magic, scarily enough, proving that Faith itself really is all there is to it.

Any gods can work as part of the Faith – they can be viewed as another aspect of the Faith, and grant divine spells all the same. Any domains or alignments can work for worshipping the Faith. Paladins are respected among all Faithful, regardless of denomination.

Sai’Adir

The Sai’Adir have a wanderlust and desire to seek out danger in the unknown. Sai and Adir were husband and wife from unknown lands, they came to fight the Sixteen when they heard word of them, had no personal stake to the land there. After the First Estates War, they fought with armies of mercenaries to ensure no other tyrant ruled over them. Sai and Adir were both old and ill, grew tired of fighting over land when there were stories of others that were slaves in the worldo. They spoke to their eight sons and eight daughters, their last words were “Find and Free.” They embraced the Faith’s tenants to spread the word of the Faith and seek out Malefaction in the darkest corners of the world, and created legends in the process.
The Sai’Adiri people are a nation with a strong identity and are seen as exotic by all those on the outside. Though their lands nearest to Defenixal City are small, they are known for opulence and uniqueness. The Sai’Adiri do not keep slaves but have many servants, believe coin is a legitimate thing to fight over, enjoy indulgence, and enjoy that people balk at their dark sins. They don’t like to be tied down to ancestral holdings, enjoy exploring for their own good, have had their share of great stories fighting dark evils, but have also been responsible for unleashing them upon the world by accident.

In their exploration, they bring back many goods and new things to the civilized world, with new people and races. They believe it is their manifest destiny to do this. What sets them apart from the Kellisite view of manifest destiny is that the Sai’Adiri do not wish to conquer. The Sai’Adiri Golden Faith believes it is not man’s right anywhere to lord over anything, and that all is transitive. The only thing that matters is purging the Malefaction from the realm while spreading the Faith, in equal parts. A Sai’Adiri riddle is that if they had to choose

​-Coat of arms – Blue elephant head on gold and white

​-Estate alignment – Chaotic Neutral

​-Capital – Chatama

-Populace/Climate – Warm tropical coasts, deserts/savannah, dark-skinned humans and various races not typical to the realm.

-Stereotypes from the outside – exotic, unique, strange, wealthy, gold and ivory, ruled by commoners, music and spices

Roncevolde

War is Roncevolde’s vocation. They are peerless commanders on the battlefield, believe the best way to maintain the Faith in the realm is to have an active standing army, the best equipment and training, and the resolve to do what is necessary. During the War against the Sixteen, the last stand with the wizards was a pyroclasm produced by great red wyrms. Roncevolde was a human who fearlessly led a charge against this force, and came out of the flames a different person. At the time, all those that swore fealty to Roncevolde were also transformed – into the tiefling bloodline. People saw this as a signed that they were cursed, but these devil-men insisted they are willing to do whatever is necessary to win.
Fortunately they fought for Defenixal instead of against it, being great strategists, opening war colleges, and training for inevitable conflict. They have no racism and no quarrel other than the foes of Defenixal. People that live in this estate understand it is a military-governed estate with emphasis placed on pragmatism. Humans and other races can live and swear fealty to Roncevoldigs, but the original tiefling bloodline still maintains its presence as the leaders of the estate.

Ironically, those that swore off the blade after the original conflict against the Sixteen were blessed to be Aasimar instead. The Aasimar are not isolated to Roncevolde bloodlines, but are traditionally allowed to serve in the estate all the same. There is no animosity between the two races, despite all thoughts that they cannot coexist.

​-Coat of Arms – Red and black checkers

​-Estate Alignment – Lawful Neutral

​-Capital – Eisenfaust

-Populace/Climate – Cold, Germanic/eastern European climate, hills and mountains. Tieflings, Aasimars, Humans

-Stereotypes from the outside – devils and angels, warlike, uptight, bureaucratic, regimented, high quality weapons and tactics, very chivalrous, honor code

Merrilyer

Merrilyer is legendary for its neutrality in major conflicts. Peace talks occur in Merrilyer by tradition; many treaties have been signed in the capital. Ambassadors and emissaries of the court at Merrilyer are known for their guile but honorable intentions. Of all estates, it has the largest standing private court of other estates-men that come to keep strong relations, much like the actual Defeni Council of Banners. It is also a rich estate with lots of business, commerce, and investing.  
This is the one estate that has never fought to expand its territory, and believes it is anathema to raise arms against its brothers. Merrilyeans are fairly religious, like most of Defenixal, but their interpretation of the Edicts to be entirely peaceful have been seen as the Merrilyean Faith, or also called the Belltower Faith. Others found their version of the Faith naïve, especially how the first Edict is “Suffer no Malefaction to live” and seemed incompatible with pure peace, until the year 1512. A large army of undead was amassed by the insane wizard Zilwyn, a high elf Ial witch, threatened Defenixal saying they had the phylactery of one of the original Sixteen. These undead were soldiers from the original Estates War that were never buried properly. Armies fought against Zilwyn’s legions and failed. When they finally entered Merrilyer, Torsten the Plate famously stripped naked and stood atop the Belltower of a Golden Faith church outside the town. Soldiers were instructed to stay in their homes instead of manning the garrison. Advisors tried to urge Torsten, who was a devout Faithful, to act sensibly, or at least visit a church of the Marshall Faith instead, but he insisted that any and all Faith can defeat those with no Faith. The undead army approached, and Torsten rang the bell, shouting at them, “You rose to war once and failed. Not one Merrilyean lines your ranks, and never shall. Faith command your souls to peace!” The army famously crumbled to pieces, along with the belltower and Torsten. His body was never found. Zilwyn was never found nor sought. Some Defeni criticize Merrilyer for not pursuing the witch, but the Merrilyeans consider it a pivotal point in their devotion to suppressing conflict.

The estate stretches from the coast, where they maintain a respectable navy and trading expeditions, to a large lake called Vestila. This is not far from the belltower that stopped the undead, which is a holy site.

​-Coat of arms – Orange bell on white

​-Estate alignment – Neutral Good

​-Capital – Merril

​-Populace/Climate – temperate (but colder than Kellis) plains, forests, mountains. The land is like Belgian/Switzerland. Very even spread of all typical races.

​-Stereotypes from the outside – Serene, peaceful, compromisers, cowards, spineless, naïve, religious nuts, retirees, businessmen, politics

Kellis

Kellis was once the largest estate, known for explorers and warriors. Their army is very large and has an overabundance of pride. They believe they have the strongest army (arguably true), the most beautiful women (completely unsubstantiated), are the greatest rulers (arguable at best), the most accomplished explorers (arguable at best), the best ale (essentially a complete self-acknowledged lie), and best musicians (arguably true).
Their army is exceptionally strong, they label it as the “army of Defenixal” due to its size and role in major wars. It has never lost a war, though it has lost many significant conflicts.

Kellis prides itself on being the first and mightiest ruling nation. When the Sixteen were deposed, the warrior Kellis took the throne without a word. Others threatened him to relinquish the throne lest he been seen as a conquerer, and he said, “Faith and Glory – to any who can best me.” No one challenged him at the time, marking the two year reign of the first king of Defenixal. Kellis dynasties come and go throughout history, known for strong rulership and displays of force.

Kellis explorers are known to have no fear and a manifest destiny. They claim land for the empire, but everyone knows they consider Defenixal and Kellis one and the same. They believe they are an extension of the Faith incarnate – with the right to go where they please.

All this sense of pride leads to their greatest embarrassments. Many scandals involving their bloodline, which would just be minor setbacks for others, are blown out of proportion. One major taboo is Cordus Kellis, an old Plate who willingly married a gold dragon, producing offspring. People can always start a fight with a Kellisite by calling them dragon fuckers.

​-Coat of arms – red and gold with a gold dragon in flight upwards

-Estate Alignment – Lawful Good​

-Capital – Goldwall

-Populace/climate – Humans, Anglo-Saxon, fair-skinned. Temperate plains mostly, with some forest and hills

-Stereotypes from the outside – Great warriors, self-righteous knights, champions of the empire and good, fearless, brash, arrogant, assholes, hot-heads, self-entitlement, loud, trumpets, “dragon fuckers”, gloryhounds