Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

Five Shires (the)

Location: Along the southern coast of Brun, west of Karameikos, east of Atruaghin territories. OW

Area: 10,660 sq. mi. (27,610 sq. km.).

Population: 210,000 hin, 9,600 demihumans and humans (elves and humans being the most common, with gnomes and dwarves more rarely).

Languages: Thyatian (Darokinian dialect). The ancient tongue of Lalor is only spoken by hin masters and a few sages.

Coinage: Yellow (gp), star (sp), sunset (cp).

Taxes: Each year, the clanmasters determine what money and chores need to be done to maintain their strongholds and towns. Clan members then share in cost and labour (according to their wealth) to accomplish these chores. This typically comes out to about 5 to 10% of their yearly income.

Government Type: Each shire is administered by a sheriff; together, the five sheriffs govern the shires, although much of the day-to-day affairs of individual shires are handled by the clanmasters. Sheriffs are voted upon by the 100 clanmasters of the shires, although they operate with relative autonomy thereafter. The sheriffs appoint local deputies (krondar) to handle day-to-day law enforcement and military matters. Member of the Western Defence League.

Industries: Agriculture, including tobacco, alcohol, vegetables (peas, beans, radishes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and asparagus) and some fruit (apples, cherries, grapes, watermelons, cucumbers).

Important Figures: Joam Astlar (Sheriff of Seashire), Tarisco Highnose (Sheriff of Highshire,), Maeragh Littlelaughs (Sheriff of Eastshire) Delune Darkeyes (Sheriff of Heartshire), Sildil Seaeyes (Sheriff of Southshire).

Flora and Fauna: As well as all the normal flora and fauna usually found in the Five Shires' climate and terrain, the shires are home to a number of fairy creatures, including dryads and wooddrakes, and the more wild areas sometimes hide lycanthropes, a few undead and other unnatural creatures, including a number unique to the shires. Goblinoids can also be found in the northern Cruth Mountains.

Further Reading: GAZ8 The Five Shires, previous almanacs.

Last Year's Events: See below.

Description by Larn Fastbuck.

Hail and well-met once again! I am Larn Fastbuck, tailor and merchant from Wereskalot in Eastshire.

This is my second such contribution to these atlases, and I have to say I am greatly pleased with the success of my initial endeavour. To celebrate, the merchants of Wereskalot have agreed to offer a ten percent discount to any patron who brings in a copy of this year's atlas to their shop (purchases must be over 100 yellows, and the discount is only good once per shop per atlas). Just our way of thanking kind readers and encouraging those from across the Old World to explore the wonders of Wereskalot, the Gateway to Karameikos!

But, as my wife Lori always says, the customer is here for the merchandise, and not your wool-gathering, Larn Fastbuck, so herewith is my great nation, a shining example for all of Brun.

The Land.

While the voyage of the Blue Turtle may make it obsolete, for the hin of the Hundred Clans, "the land is the people and the people are the land." Ever since we arrived on these shores, the hin and the land that would come to be called the Five Shires have been one. It is a land that rewards hard work with comfort and plenty, but that seems to attract ne'er-do-wells who get it into their heads that being comfortable means becoming soft. We chased the Black Eagle out enough that you'd think everyone today would get the message, but over the years men, orcs and dwarves have all tried plundering us or taking us over outright. Of course, it's a hin writing this, his feet up and a pipe in hand, so you know what happened there!

Besides being good for grazing and raising crops, the land is pleasant in other ways: Even in winter, it's rare we get snow below the peaks of the Cruth Mountains. The Sea of Dread coastline is mild and temperate, and while we do have seasons, they're among the mildest in all the Old World.

As the name suggests, our nation is divided into five shires, each ruled by a sheriff, with what is almost a sixth shire, our capital of Shireton, jointly ruled by them all.

Glorious Eastshire, the shining star of the shires, is the shire most outsiders know best, as it lies just west of Karameikos's Blight Swamp and Achelos Woods. This proximity to the old Black Eagle Barony also meant that the shire spent decades skirmishing the Black Eagle's forces in the swamp and woods, as well as on the soil of the shire itself, although it was Eastshirers who finally brought him to justice in the end.

Those who claim that the Five Shires are too settled to be a home for adventurers-although this is always a strange complaint to make about one's home, and a rather rude thing to wish upon one's friends and neighbours-should wend their way to Highshire. Its rich forests and mines provide much wealth for the nation, but also lairs for goblinoids, lycanthropes and strange beasties of all descriptions. While still a civilised land, Highshire has the dubious honour of possessing enough ruins and dangers to keep any adventurous young yallaren busy.

Heartshire, the contented heart of the shires, lies further west and south along the Cruth Mountains from Highshire. The region's mines have long since run dry, and the shire now centres on the farms, nestled along the Flur and Ithypool Rivers. I spent my yallaren years productively here, working as an accountant in Fishtickle Bridge, where I first saw elves, passing through the woods on their way to Shadowgate.

It was in Southshire that our ancestors from the southern hemisphere first landed, long ago, and shipbuilding, shipping and commerce remain the principal occupations. It is a quiet realm, especially compared to the more boisterous maritime regions found in other countries, or even to our own Shireton.

The last proper shire, Seashire, is the opposite of Southshire. Where Southshire is sleepy, Seashire is busy, crowded (more than half of all hin live here) and always on the go.

In any other nation, our capital city of Shireton would be counted as a shire of its own. But this marvel of architecture, commerce and-something snobbish outlanders rarely associate with the great homeland of the hin-its cosmopolitan nature make it stand out, no matter whether it's a city, a shire or a nation unto itself. Traders from all around Mystara, ambassadors of a dozen nations, and anyone with a dream seem to gravitate here, and find a home.

The People

The hin grow up as a cheerful contradiction, one which outlanders have a hard time wrapping their heads about, but which is as natural as looking forward to the comforts of home after a nice walk in the woods for us: We love our homeland with such a fervour that I pity other races for living their entire lives without having similar dispositions, and yet we grow up stricken with a wanderlust, which we call yallara.

Hin who are struck by yallara, the yallaren, typically set out to see the world as youths, and can be found across the Old World and ports beyond. Hin hire out as guides on the Isle of Dawn, fight as gladiators in Thyatis or serve as food-tasters in Sind. The goal is to experience life and discover what it is that the individual hin should do with his or her life. In the last year, many of our yallaren set sail for the southern hemisphere aboard the Blue Turtle, seeking out the origins of the hin race in the adventure of a dozen lifetimes.

Once the yallara passes, hin typically return home-although a handful can be found in other lands, notably Darokin, Karameikos and, recently, Highforge-to the land of their birth, the land of the Hundred Clans of the Five Shires. We each spring from one of the Hundred Clans (or near enough that it don't spoil the soup, as my mother always used to say), and most of us are born and die within sight of our clan's holdings. But wherever they live, it's a rare hin who doesn't contrive to have a warm fireplace, a full pipe and a fuller belly.

As a rule, my people tend towards good humour and good will, and a community spirit that provides in times of hardships. Few disagreements are settled with anything but sitting down and discussing it through, perhaps with a wiser, cooler head not involved in whatever the mess might be. (Of course, outsiders who see a two-century-long prank war going on between two clans might mistake it as something other than what it is-good fun-but that's them bringing their own problems in with them, isn't it?) Even the hin pirates who sail the Sea of Dread are a merry bunch, preferring that everyone live to laugh about the adventure afterwards.

At this point, the correspondents for other nations talk about their Immortals, and the relationship their people have to Them. The hin tend to frustrate clerics of other nations, because while we have High Heroes who have ascended to Immortality, they don't go putting on airs and telling us what to do, and the notion that a mortal hin isn't capable of figuring out how to live his or her life-perhaps with a bit of advice from clanmates-is simply, well, un-hinnish. The High Heroes do have their agents in the Five Shires, but the hin masters are more akin to the druids of the Old World, focusing on keeping the woods and hills and streams of the land healthy rather than telling decent folk how to live their lives. So was the land guarded in the time of the Gentle Folk-the elves who loved this land before we landed on these shores in the distant past-and so may it always be.

I'll drink to that.


In the nine years since the hin finally ended the threat of the Black Eagle Baron in nearby Karameikos, life has gotten back to normal in the Five Shires, I'm happy to say. The biggest news of recent years has been the arrival of a congregation of Leehashire hin from Norwold last year. Their tour of the nation, including many lectures about life in the north and points in between, has excited a great number of hin. While some yallaren headed north to Norwold, all the talk of the Leehashire hin of coming to the Five Shires, the "homeland of the hin," ended up firing the imagination of the nation like few things in recent memory.

A thousand hin, men, elves and gnomes signed up to sail aboard the Blue Turtle-including ne'er-do-well "travelling correspondent" Joshuan Gallidox-which headed out late last year, before the seas turned nasty for the winter, sailing first to Ierendi, then to the Serpent Peninsula and from there to points south, attempting to retrace the steps our ancestors took coming here, millennia ago. Reports from Ierendi and the Serpent Peninsula say that the voyage began well, and indeed, picked up a few scholars and adventurers on the way, adding to the lore the scholars aboard were assembling.

Last year was an eventful one for other reasons: there was a scandal at this summer's Seashire Summer Fair, when the legendary "Phantom of the Fair" began killing off award-contending livestock. A group of adventurers finally brought an end to it, but it was a messy one, to be sure, with a Glantrian transmuter and the oldest hin still living in the Shires, Ashmore "Old Hin" Battlebur, among those mixed up in the incident. A crying shame, and not at all representative of how we do business here in Wereskalot, the Gateway to Karameikos.

My grandfather always told me stories about a gold dragon who was sometimes seen in the skies over the shires, and last year his stories were proven true: A gold dragon was seen several times throughout the year, including an incident where it went digging about in the middle of the standing stones of Ringrise, which just goes to show you that dragons are bad neighbours, whatever the bards might say.

Don't Miss

My editor has told me not to recommend the summer fairs each shire holds again this year, as I did in my first draft, so under protest, I will not, although they make an excellent second choice.

Instead, I recommend every visitor to the Five Shires to seek out Shireton, and to explore its whimsical and endlessly creative architecture. Generations of future architects return from yallara, inspired by the forms and shapes that they have seen in their journeys, and they all seem to want to build their creations in Shireton. Buildings shaped like seashells, like castles, like ships, like birds or like nothing ever seen before by this hin can be found throughout the city. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and that's a lesson that can be learned even by sitting on the whale-shaped balcony of a hotel in Shireton, enjoying a good meal and looking out to sea, and listening to the hin in the bar below enjoying a good sing-along...