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Antalia 2300 BCby John Calvin
Below is an excerpt from the Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting Overview that details Antalia.
Location: Continent of Brun, north of the Shimmering Lands.
Area: XXX sq. ft. (XXX sq. m.); additional notes if any
Population: Estimated XXX (X% human, X% dwarf, X% giantkin, X% other).
Languages: Several different dialects of Antalian are spoken by all races residing here, including Valharian, Vanitarian, Aesinarian, as well as a smattering of others.
Coinage: Lower class Antalians rely on the barter system rather than on minted coins of any type. Ancient coins still see some use, though they are coveted more as raw materials for jewelry making than anything else. Gems see more use as a pure currency in the Winter Lands, and most Antalians are experts when it comes to assessing their values.
Taxes: Antalians may collect coins in tribute from some of their neighbors (in return for not raiding their settlements), however internally Antalian freemen are expected to devote 6 months of the year to raiding with their Jarl. Spoils are divided evenly among the raiders, with 10% of the booty being paid to the Jarl for expenses incurred.
Government Type: Elemental Monarchy (with an increasingly limited radius of control)
Industries: Raiding, slavery, trade goods, jewelry
The world may have ended in a rain fire, but its resurrection was presaged in a blanket of ice. It is from that ice that the Antalians were born. Raiders ply the seas, the terror of coastal cities in northern Brun and beyond, but the frozen ships are merely the tip of the iceberg. The Winter King and his court survey their shrinking domain from the fabled city of Oltima Thaul, praying to their gods for an eternal winter.
The frozen domain of the Winter King stretches from the Inner Sea of Hawld, through the frozen mountainous peaks of Wolid, and all the way to the boreal forests of Geffron. Few longships set sail in the Sea of Hawld except those doing trade with the Shimmering Lands. The frigid and choppy waters of the Janivarian Sea are more to the Antalians liking.
The Halskur Bridge which reaches from the frozen wilds of Brun to the northern Dawn Lands marks their southernmost territory, though the Antalians rarely ply its southern shores. Where the Wyrmsteeth Mountains collide with the Frozen Sea, the land of the Antalians comes to an end. Not even their icy resolve is strong enough to occupy lands further north.
Flora and Fauna
The northern realms of the Antalians are dominated by massive glaciers and windswept tundra. Boreal forests predominate most areas where plant life does manage to take hold, and the brief passage of the sun leaves the ground frozen and solid even in the summer months.
Larger animals tend to flourish under these conditions with herds of caribou and elk being the most commonly encountered creatures, although mammoth, wooly rhinos, and giant sloth are not unheard of. Packs of wolves and lone flat nosed bears roam the tundra, while ice drakes and the occasional white dragon terrorize the skies. Other cold loving creatures, including tribes of giants, are not uncommon.
When the fires from the Great Rain had finally burned themselves out, and the chill of winter overtook the land, the ancestors of the Antalians were nearly a destroyed people. While others fled from the cold however, the Antalians embraced the ice. Like the slow crushing march of the glaciers, the Antalians built themselves an empire in the north. But winter would not last forever.
Mystara began to heal itself from the devastation caused by the Great Rain of Fire. The poisonous clouds of the Wasting blew over the lands less frequently, and the climate began to once again grow warmer. Winter receded, and with it the power of Thool. The Winter Kings however are loath to give up their power, and won’t go down without a fight. Deep in their frozen redoubts they seek methods to halt the new summer that falls across their lands and to once again extend the icy grip of Winter.
Antalians are the predominant race in the freezing north, and the undisputed rulers of Thaul. They tend to be tall with fair complexions and light hair color, though rumors abound that in some their veins flow with ice water giving them a deathly blue pall. Antalians tend to be grim and stoic in battle, but are prone to cheer and festivity when the occasion calls.
The Antalians faced the dual problems of the Wasting as well as an eternal winter brought on by the axis shift after the Great Rain of Fire, and many of them turned to elemental worship to ease their suffering. As a reward they were infused with the essence of fire and ice, enabling them to survive in some of the harshest climates on Mystara. That legacy can be seen in the communities of genasi that continue to thrive in these lands. Still Antalians in outlook and overall appearance, these folk have been infused with the raw elements of fire and ice.
Other folk live under the dominion of the Winter Kings. Scattered dwarven clans and families, those who did not continue in their migrations to the south, live here. They are renowned as craftsmen and weapon makers. Some giants and giantkin also call the north home. Most are emigrants or outcasts from Grondheim who value the individualistic ways of the Antalians.
Survival in these harsh winter lands is the top priority of every Antalian, and if it were not their society would cease to exist. The cold climate makes it difficult for a sustained agrarian lifestyle, and most Antalian tribes supplement the meager resources they generate internally with those gained from raiding and trading with neighboring settlements.
Antalian society is polarized by two extremes, the need to survive and a strong sense of freedom and individuality. Often time these two forces oppose each other, and many Antalians live through a constant struggle to find the proper balance in their lives. The Winter Kings offer protection from the deadliest environments in the heart of Antalian territory, and they demand nothing less than abject worship from those under their care.
Fiercely loyal to clan and kin, Antalians in borderland territories often choose to follow a leader who is dedicated to bringing wealth and prosperity to their community. This right of leadership is not a birthright however, and is only guaranteed to last as long as those Antalians choosing to follow it are satisfied with their lot in life.
Regardless of where their loyalties are placed, many folk of the Winter Realms spend a good portion of their time conduction raids or mercantile ventures, which in the eyes of the Antalians are one in the same. Goods acquired from weaker neighbors can be bartered and traded to acquire more valuable resources from stronger neighbors.
Villages are composed of several longhouses, often surrounded by a palisade or ditch. Each longhouse may contain individuals from one or more families, with the more powerful families claiming the most ostentatious abodes.
For Antalians religion is a deeply personal experience, and most households have their own patron immortals. Odin and Protius are favorites, but Zugzul and Hel have nearly as many adherents. Many of the ancient giantish gods also have followings in the northern lands, although their worshipers tend to be vicious and savage.
In the core lands, the Winter Kings discourage immortal worship of any kind, replacing it with worship of themselves. Although they do their best to stamp out any religious fervor, most Antalians continue to worship the old gods in secret.
Settlements of Note
Oltima Thaul (pop. XXX): Built between a volcano and surrounding glaciers, Oltima Thaul is a city of Fire and Ice. This is the seat of the Winter King’s power, which once extended from here to the Helskir Bridge, but has since eroded due to the receding winter. Thaul is truly a city of wonders, with tiered palisades built along its cliffbase, finally ending in a great crystal dome. It is here that the Winter King resides, and from here that he extends his icy reach across the lands.
Isbeorg (pop. XXX): A floating fortress of Ice that sails the Janivarian Sea, Isbeorg has long been a bane to northern coastal communities. Frozen longships sail forth from its belly to scour coastal communities of all their treasures. The Reavers of Isbeorg are the most feared pirates in the northern hemisphere, though they seldom travel south of the Dawn Lands.
Konabrand (pop. XXX): Last refuge of the Valharians, and stronghold of Fire, the forges of Konabrand are renowned for creating some of the most spectacular weapons in the Antalian world. A fortress constantly beset by attacks from Grondheim and Urzud, Konabrand is nonetheless a popular pilgrimage for craftsmen and merchants alike.
Appearance and Dress
Antalians live in a cold, harsh environment, and their dress reflects this. Furs are the material of choice, and line boots, tunics, and cloaks. Normal folk of all races, tend to dress in layers and will wrap additional furs around their bodies especially when traveling through the wilds. Genasi and other folk with the raw stuff of the elements coursing through their veins tend to wear fewer layers.
Long hair is the norm for both sexes in the Winter Realms, and in addition men wear full beards, often braided and adorned with any manner of bands, clips, and other functional jewelry. Helms are often adorned with horns and antlers for decorations, and scrimshaw brooches serve as clasps and buttons for clothing.
Weapons and Armor
Bronze swords and wooden shields are the norm in the Winter Realms. Spears and javelins are used for hunting as well as in warfare. Most warriors make do with hide or leather armor, although the very wealthy will supplement this with a bronze cuirass.
It is rumored that deep within the citadels of the Winter Kings, forging techniques of old are remembered, and indeed some of their most devout heroes wield weapons of iron and steel. Still more fantastic artifacts find their way from the vaults of the Kings. Clear swords of blue ice, bracers of molten iron, and spears of lightning all see use in the service of Winter.
Male: Alrik, Ander, Arni, Asgrim, Bjorn, Ceowulf, Einar, Eric, Godfred, Gunnar, Harald, Hrolf, Ivar, Knut, Njarl, Olaf, Ragnar, Snorri, Sven, and Yngvi.
Female: Astrid, Brynhild, Elsa, Gunnhild, Helga, Inga, Ingrid, Olga, Ragna, Sigrid, and Yrsa.
The Antalians speak the Antalian language which is derived from ancient Skandahari. As such there are a smattering of Blackmoorian words and phrases that have crept into common everyday speech over the years. Many Antalians also speak smatterings of dwarvish and giantish, depending on which neighboring communities are closest.
As a raiding society, the Antalians have few close allies. The dwarves of the Shimmering Lands are protected from the ice boats by the Bridge of Oost, and the waters near their home are typically too warm for the Antalians to traverse. Especially cold seasons can encourage them to travel further south, and raids upon dwarven and gnomish settlements are not unknown. Mostly however they Antalians are content to hire themselves out to the dwarves as mercenaries in their wars against the giants of Grondheim.
Other nations of the Known World rarely have dealings with Thaul, although there is ample evidence that the northern culture once covered many of their lands, extending as far south as the northern tip of Taymora.
Only the savage elves of the north, the giants of Grondheim, and the beastmen of Urzud have any real contact with the Winter Kings and their folk. Between the Antalians and Grondheim, trade is just as likely as war. These two people have built up a grudging respect for one another and many cultural elements between the two nations are similar.
Between the Antalians and Urzud there is little love however. Both are predominantly raiding cultures and compete over many of the limited resources in the harsh lands of the north.
The skills of a warrior are some of the most prized in these lands, and unsurprisingly this is reflected in the mindsets of the Antalians. Fishermen, farmers, and other craftsmen all supplement their primary trades by raiding and pillaging neighboring countries. Likewise, Antalians are in tune with their surroundings, and many have skills as foresters and trappers.
Skalds and their ilk are not uncommon in the northern lands, and in addition to being renowned poets, many are also proficient in the elemental arts. Though feared, such individuals are also respected, and families take great pride in members with elemental talents.
After 2300 BC
With the climate warming, and the area of the frozen north steadily shrinking, the dominion of the Winter Kings is never able to recover from its downward spiral. The rule of Oltima Thaul is eventually broken, and the power of the Winter Kings is shattered.
2000 BC sees many tribes of Antalians migrating south, into warmer climates, where their newly transformed culture flourishes. This marks the beginning of a golden age for the Antalians, in which many of their warrior heroes prosper and attain immortality. With the decline of the Shimmering Lands circa BC 1800 the Antalians become a major force in the north once again. This newfound prosperity is not to last however.
Humanoid hordes and attacks by a new enemy in the south, the Nithians, take their toll on Antalian culture. Several tribes are captured and enslaved, and the rest are doomed to extinction on the outer world. Not long after a sizable portion of their population is moved into the Hollow World by the immortals. Those Antalians that remain on the outer world will eventually develop into the culture of the Northern Reaches.