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The Adakaners - Frontier Folk of Davania

by Geoff Gander

A Minrothaddan merchant gives some free advice to a young would-be adventurer:

“The lands surrounding the Adakkian Sound are dangerous, my lad. To the north are fierce lizard men and other folk – who’d as soon roast you on a spit as look at you, if you’ve nothing to offer them. To the south there’s naught but trackless, steaming jungle, where you’ll more than likely die of some blighted fever than meet anyone interesting. Even so, the local jungle orcs would probably try to eat you first. Explorers say that there are lost cities out there, too, but that the treasures they contain are guarded by all sorts of nasty critters. Truly, it’s the land of the damned; no one in his right mind would go there! Trust me boy, I know of what I speak!

“The waters of the Sound aren’t much better! They’re full of pirates of almost every stripe – and not a few lizard men among them, too. Those nasty buggers show no mercy to any explorers or merchants they capture; I’ve seen their handiwork myself. The dark-skinned jungle orcs, in their devilishly fast war canoes, are even worse if that’s possible. Far better to slit your own throat and save them the trouble, I say.

“There’s only one place down there, on the northern shore, where a man can safely drop anchor. There, the jungle has been cut back a bit, and you can dock at a real port – well, as real as you’re likely to find in that forsaken place! I speak of Cap Saimpt-Renard, where the bloody lupins staked their claim. Truth be told, the town wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the lupins – dog-headed bastards’ll buy-low-sell-high faster than you can count, and before long all you’ve got to show for all your trading is a handful of pocket change, while they sell your hard-earned goods to wealthy stiffs in Renardy! Still, after you’ve sailed around the Sound for a while, you won’t be too picky about where you hang your hat for a few days, I tell you, even if your hosts rob you blind!

“But it’s not the damned lupins or their cesspit of a port town that I remember most about the Sound – it’s the folk who live many miles inland. They came down from Glantri many years ago, though only the Immortals know why they’d do that. Must’ve been a hard life if they came all the way out to this place, and stayed! Anyways, they carved themselves a home out of this hostile country, and defended it against all those mindless savages out there. Then of course the bloody lupins came in and took over, after they found out that this part of the world is swimming in diamonds, but that’s another story. Anyhow, these ‘Adakaners’, as they call themselves, are a tough lot, and I’ve never seen people show so much strength, despite the odds stacked against them, as these folk do. Something to admire, even if I think they’re all dumb for staying out there, farming and mining, when better and easier lives can be had almost anywhere else. Still, they’re a fairly honourable lot – good thing to know if you’re in a bind out that way!”


The Great Trek

The people who would become the Adakaners originated in the Glantrian principalities of Aalban and Bergdhoven. Being of solidly mundane stock, they spent their lives farming and mining, and paid very little attention to the affairs of neighbouring territories, or to the nobles who claimed dominion over them, save during tax time. Their rural existence was dominated by two things: a deep respect for the land that provided them with the food on their tables, and a reverence of Terra, the Immortal who, in their view, created all life and guaranteed their prosperity.

The affairs of the upper classes intruded during the 40 Years War (AC 788-828), when soldiers loyal to the local mages descended upon this remote territory, accusing the inhabitants of supporting their opponents, and of promoting the worship of the Immortals – an act that had been banned recently by the nascent council of mages. The country folk denied supporting the rebellion, and refused to abandon their faith. Thus began a series of brutal pogroms in Aalban and Bergdhoven, in which mage-led soldiers looted the homes of those deemed to be rebel sympathisers – a lesson to those who, in the minds of the wizards, might speak out against the new magocracy. This campaign was also intended to drive people away from the temples and churches of the established religions, in order to aid the wizards in their plans to remake Glantrian society.

For many years the ancestors of the Adakaners tolerated the abuse, convinced that Terra would protect them, and that the rebels would come to their aid. Unfortunately for them, the civil war was not going well for their purported saviours. Faced with repeated setbacks, many rebel generals became more desperate to secure a lasting victory against their foes, and so turned to ever more extreme measures to do so. Ultimately, in the lands they controlled, they were no less cruel than the mage lords they opposed, and in some cases were even worse – particularly to the people whose loyalties they thought were suspect. This was the fate of the Adakaners’ ancestors – to be freed from magocratic rule in Aalban and Bergdhoven, only to be subjected to another round of brutal repression as their new masters sought to uncover the enemy spies that, they were convinced, were being harboured by the farmers and miners. Although they were sustained spiritually by their clerics, the folk of this remote corner of Glantri felt that they could not remain on their lands any longer, and what followed was a migration of several thousand people southwards, to what they hoped would be safer country.

Unfortunately for the refugees, pursued as they were across the battlefield that was once Glantri, their passage over the Silver Sierra Mountains did not lead them into a promised land. Instead, they found the great Streel Plain dotted with city-states and petty kingdoms, all of them in varying states of turmoil. The peace of the Darokin Kings had been forgotten, and the Flaems knew they would find no welcome here. The Flaems passed through Ardelphia, Daelbar, the Streel Marches, Almarand, the Kingdom of Darokin, and ended their journey in the city-state of Athenos in AC 802; although some had settled in other states along the way. It was there that Terra, seeing how Her followers had suffered during their trek, took pity on them. Terra knew that much of the Known World was in chaos, and that the Flaems would never find a save haven there, and so She sought a new home for Her followers, and in the meantime bade Her clerics tell the people to wait; their journey would end soon.

Soon, Terra directed Her clerics to guide their people south, across the Sea of Dread. Although no one in Athenos was willing to ferry the Flaems across the sea, there were enough craftsmen among the refugees that they were able to build a small fleet of rudimentary sailing ships – all under the guidance of their clerics. By AC 804 the ships were ready and the final leg of the Flaems’ trek was underway.

The voyage was dangerous; many Flaemish ships sank in storms and were beset by pirates, but well over half of their vessels landed near the city-state of Garganin. The newcomers received a cool welcome from the reclusive city dwellers, who nonetheless traded with them. Soon enough they resumed their journey, this time westwards along the coast. They passed through the Serpent Strait, docking briefly at the friendlier city-state of Kastelios. A handful of Flaems abandoned the trek for the comfort and protection of a city. Continuing the journey, the remainder continued southwest, sailing past the fertile Green Coast, where still more went ashore to live off the land, but the vast majority pressed on, promised by their clerics that a richer land awaited them.

Finally, after many weeks of travel, the Flaems passed through a narrow strait, and entered the Adakkian Sound. From there, the clerics guided their followers to a calm stretch of northern shoreline, and proclaimed that they had found their promised land. Within a few years, the village of Nieuw Bergdhoven had been founded, but most of the Flaems moved further inland, clearing the forests and establishing farms, while others headed northwest, to a line of heavily forested hills in search of metals.

Nieuw Bergdhoven

The Flaems’ land truly was rich. The hills contained veins of diamonds, the soils produced bountiful crops, and there was plenty of fish to be had in the shallower waters. Before long, too, the Flaems encountered native tribes – reddish-skinned people of Oltec stock – who were willing to trade with the newcomers. Some of the settlers intermarried with the natives, but for the most part the two peoples remained separate.

Over the next decades, the Flaems pushed deeper into the interior, clearing more land for settlement, and uncovering more veins of precious metals and stones in the nearby Diamantbergen – “diamond mountains”, although they were really little more than hills. During that time they encountered no other peoples, and their society evolved to accommodate their new environment. Owing to the guiding role played by the clerics on the Great Trek (as the long journey to Davania was becoming known), and their provision of healing spells and other aid during the early years of settlement, the clergy became even more influential – to the extent that their dictates were taken by most settlers to be holy writ, almost as unquestionable as the words of the Immortals themselves. For the most part the clerics were rather benign, but they, too, had been shaped by their experiences, and the memories of the Glantrian pogroms had not been lost. Thus, Nieuw Bergdhoven was a society where magecraft was forbidden, and where the worship of Terra was supreme. Those few who followed other Immortals were tolerated, but were required to acknowledge Her as being the most glorious.

Beyond this, however, the settlers’ new home forced its own changes upon them. Although the land was rich, the sea-borne weather was prone to sudden storms, which could destroy homes and provisions with shocking ease. This reinforced the Flaems’ reverence for the land, but it also bred in them a stoic resolve to persevere in what they saw as their promised land.

Strife in Paradise

Eventually, the continued expansion of the Flaemish settlers placed pressures on the surrounding environment, such that the Oltec-descended tribes could no longer hunt sufficient game to feed themselves. At first, they approached the settlers in peace, and asked their neighbours to cede land to them, so that no one would starve. The settlers refused, unwilling to relinquish any lands that they had developed, as they believed Terra had given the region to them. What followed were a series of raids on Flaemish holdings, punitive strikes against native villages, and finally, by AC 873, open war upon the coastal plains. While the natives were better prepared for battle, the fortified Flaemish settlements allowed a relatively small group of people to hold off a larger force for many hours, if not days, until help could be sent. After the Battle of Pieterberg (AC 878), the greatest conflict of this period, the natives withdrew to the forested hills far to the northwest, and cursed the fair-skinned settlers who had forced them from their homeland. The Flaemish clergy declared the final victory to be auspicious, confirming that the lands they occupied were a gift from Terra.

All was not well among the Flaems, however. A generational divide was growing within the settler community – between those few elders who remembered the accounts of their parents during the Great Trek and the tribulations they had faced in Glantri, and those who grew up on the open plains, never knowing religious persecution. The younger folk did not identify with the old Flaemish ways and philosophies; they forged a new identity for themselves – they were Adakaners, people of the Adakkian Sound region. Some of these Adakaners began to question their people’s almost blind adherence to the strictures of their clerics, and the so-called “divine right” of their people to occupy these lands. These folk had had some contact with the natives prior to the latter’s expulsion, and knew that the Flaemish way of life was not necessarily the best one. Thus, some Adakaners set out in search of the natives, to try to make peace with them. Some of them discovered the native refuges, and, after a long, painful process of reconciliation, were accepted by the natives and learned from them.

Over the subsequent years, many of these Adakaners returned to their farms and villages full of new ideas, and began to question the clerics and their pronouncements openly. The clerics, fearing the erosion of their influence over Nieuw Bergdhoven, denounced the Adakaners as malcontents and ordered them into exile. Most of the dissidents refused to be silent, and willingly left their homes. An uneasy peace reigned after their departure, and the clerics grew even less tolerant of diverging views. The land was still seemingly endless in those days, however, and so those who could not accept the laws promulgated by the clerics simply moved deeper into the continent’s interior, in some cases building their homesteads in the southern foothills of the Adakkian Mounts themselves, well out of sight of the open sea.

Forging Ties with the Outside World

While Nieuw Bergdhoven settled down once more, the Adakaners were anything but quiet. Many of them never left Davania, and instead wandered as far north as Kastelios and the Green Coast – places they had heard of in the tales of their ancestors. A small number, however, ventured offshore, working on Yavi and Sindhi trading vessels. Some of these adventurous folk made it as far as Darokin, Thyatis, and Ierendi, where they settled and put their unwelcoming homeland behind them. Others sailed west, and reached the young realms of Robrenn and Eusdria, as well as Renardy and Bellayne.

Although the Adakaners were welcomed in Robrenn and Eusdria, they did not stay there, fearing the threat of humanoid invasion from the north. It was the Kingdom of Renardy that welcomed the strangers most openly, and it was here that the Adakaners settled, plying their trades. Many were content to forget their pasts, but the more vocal Adakaners were not. They were convinced that their homeland could be a rich nation – comparable to any land they had seen thus far – and they encouraged some of the Renardois to consider forging trade links with Nieuw Bergdhoven. They thought, in doing so, that their homeland could be opened up to the world, and the power of the clerics could be reduced. Finally, in AC 917, a small trading expedition set out for this enigmatic nation, guided by some of the Adakaners.

The Renardois reached the port of Nieuw Bergdhoven, where, after the townsfolk overcame their initial shock at meeting the lupins, the clerics denounced them as emissaries of the corrupt outside world. Some locals heeded their call to ostracise the foreigners, but others began trading with them. For many years, only the town remained open to Renardy, as the clerics’ grip on Adakaner society was strong in the interior. Eventually the Renardois left, but they established a trading post, establishing the Compagnie royale d’Adacie du nord (the Royal Northern Adakkia Company) in AC 922 to operate it, and to control commerce with Renardy. What the Adakaners did not know, however, was that the Renardois exercised complete control over the commercial relationship at their end – the location of Nieuw Bergdhoven was kept secret, and foreign vessels that tried to find it were attacked if they were discovered.

In the following years, Renardois vessels came to Nieuw Bergdhoven more often, bringing more trade goods, and carting away more diamonds and other Adakaner products. The ships also brought settlers - eager lupins who wanted to make their fortunes in a new land. Although most of them remained in the town, a handful fanned out into the countryside to build their homes alongside their human neighbours. Decrying this immigration as another invasion, the Adakaner clerics used their influence to lead attacks on the lupin settlers, burning many homesteads to the ground. Many Adakaner families who defended their demihuman neighbours were similarly attacked.

Before long, word of the attacks spread to the port of Nieuw Bergdhoven, and many lupin-owned homes and businesses were looted by local thugs. Although the town was quite tranquil compared to the countryside, the lupins felt increasingly threatened, and formed their own militias to maintain order. Tensions grew, and finally clashes erupted between the lupin militia groups and conservative Adakaners, many of whom were supported by the clerics. Many lupins fled Nieuw Bergdhoven on merchant vessels still in port, and the Renardois presence in the town was effectively ended when the warehouses and offices of the Company were burned in AC 957. With the removal of the lupins from Nieuw Bergdhoven, the clerics of Terra reasserted their control with a vengeance.

The Cap Saimpt Renard Colony

Word of the expulsion of the Renardois from Nieuw Bergdhoven was greeted with anger in Louvines, and almost immediately there were calls for retribution. The king was reluctant to invade the land of the Adakaners; he was concerned about recent tensions along the border with Bellayne, and the goblin tribes to the north were mustering their forces yet again. He feared that if he sent too many troops to deal with the humans in the far south, his kingdom would be too poorly defended to hold off an attack from either front.

Representatives of the Compagnie royale d’Adacie du nord provided a solution for him. Although much of their wealth had been located in Nieuw Bergdhoven, and had therefore been confiscated by the clerics, the company still possessed a small fleet and had trained a small militia to protect their assets. The Company offered the services of their troops, with which they would seize Nieuw Bergdhoven in the name of Renardy. After doing so, they would govern the region in the name of the king, and remit sufficient revenues to the royal treasury that the kingdom would prosper. With a royal blessing, the Company set sail for Nieuw Bergdhoven in AC 959.

The fleet landed at the port, and the lupin militia quickly seized the town, pronouncing its inhabitants to be under the protection of the King of Renardy. Local sympathisers to the lupins, who had fared poorly under the clerics’ rule, informed the Renardois of the locations of several caches of seized Company assets, which were recovered in short order. This time, the lupins were here as conquerors, not partners, and they imposed the laws of Renardy upon the town’s populace. Those who opposed the new rulers were imprisoned, or they escaped into the surrounding wilderness. Within months, the Company began constructing a citadel overlooking the harbour, and, after a particularly bloody demonstration orchestrated by the remaining Adakaner clerics, a great cathedral to Saimpt Renard was built upon the site of the main temple of Terra, which was demolished in response to the riot. When the cathedral was completed in AC 964, Etienne Fortier, the first Gouverneur of Nieuw Bergdhoven, renamed the town Cap Saimpt Renard.

Since that time, lupin influence has spread inland, placing more Adakaners under the rule of the Renardois kings. Those who refused to accept lupin suzerainty migrated deeper into the wilderness, where they still remain free. The Adakaners who live within the colony have, over the past few decades, adapted to life within the nascent Renardois colonial empire. Many of them keep to their farms and orchards, but some within the town and villages have begun to adopt Renardois customs.

DM Notes

For the benefit of DMs, a summary timeline has been provided, followed by a Mystaran Almanac-style entry for Cap Saimpt Renard.

AC 798-799 Flaems flee their homes after 10 years of war, Great Trek begins.
AC 804 The Flaems leave Athenos.
AC 805 Flaems reach the Adakkian Sound, end of the Great Trek.
AC 807 Nieuw Bergdhoven established (a village plus outlying farms).
AC 811 Contact with natives made.
AC 829 Diamonds discovered.
AC 860s Tensions rise with natives over land use.
AC 873 Open war with natives.
AC 878 Battle of Pieterberg (most decisive battle – natives withdraw to northwest afterwards), only a few old people remember the Great Trek firsthand. Some of true Adakaners (those who have no memory of Glantri or the trek) abandon clerical teachings, leave settlements.
AC 880s Some Adakaners return to their people, bringing new ideas with them - clerics exile them formally.
AC 890s First Adakaners settle in Renardy.
AC 917 First Renardois expedition guided to Nieuw Bergdhoven by Adakaners, contact between the two peoples.
AC 922 Royal Northern Adakkia Company (RNAC) established to control trade with Renardy.
AC 940s Lupin settlers arrive, protests by conservative Adakaners & clergy. Violence erupts between the two groups, intensifies as time passes.
AC 957 Renardois expelled from Nieuw Bergdhoven.
AC 959 RNAC leads invasion of Nieuw Bergdhoven, port town conquered.
AC 964 Citadel completed, territory renamed Cap Saimpt Renard. Adakaners who disagree with lupin rule migrate inland, establish freeholds.
AC 980s Renardois rule spreads inland, Adakaners under lupin rule adapt.