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Graakhalian thoughts

by Matteo

here are some consideration I made writing down some preliminary ideas for my campaign in Graakhalian's region.

I found that all the stuff, from the location to the story and behaviour, as described in the Explorer manual of Champions of Mystara boxed set, are perfectly suitable for a melting between usual fantasy underground atmosphere with a post-holocaust situation flavour. like the movies of Mad Max series.
the Graakhalian are a cultures of survivors in a terrible hostile environments. so as the shadow elves cut their way with the creation of a strictly organised stantial society, the Graakhalians had chosen the way of demi-nomadism in order to survive.
so what I picture in my mind is a society of survivors that know that its only chance to avoid oblivion is to remain survivors all the times.
the Graakhalian regions are so harsh and hard that everyone must act in every moment of his life thinking what's the best way to life another bit.
I speak about tribes of skilled hunter and scout, hardened by centuries of struggle and fight, that is in some way wild, but only in the aspects in which a certain grade of wilderness id best suited for survive.
in this way also the semi-permanent encampment are built in a very practical way, what everything could be used, in the most clever way possible.
the post apocalyptic flavour given by the use of rudimentary fire weapons, or the use of remains of old technology can easily be changed in a particular use of magic.
in Graakhalian society there aren't many powerful spellcaster (elves and shaman are not so skilled as wizard and priest), but surely, every one that have the gift of magic will use it in the daily struggle for life. so we will have a great number of spells created in order to help the everyday tasks ( such hunt, gathering, harvest, defence and control of the natural ambient). I suppose, also, that in century of isolation the magic of the Graakhalian elves has lost great part of its former delicacy. the Graakhalian spell often act in very direct rudimentary way with loud effect, this doesn't mean that a fireball would be more effective, but that every spell is studied and cast with two base idea: minimum possible not necessary effects and maximum possible effectiveness.

the hard life that they had brought up for century, had eradicated in Graakhalian mind the believing that every decision has to be taken in the minutest time possible. because the risk of a wrong decision are more faceable that the risk that come from indecision and waiting. this custom has radiated so deep in their culture that every dispute of a certain importance that arrives at a stall position will be solved by a Duel.
in the first century the Duel was a real fight between the two contestants that often ended with a death. again the practical mind of the Graakhalian brought them to view the death of some valid members of the tribe as a risk for the sopravvivence of the tribe itself. so the Duel slowly changed form and became what now is Know as the Race. the race is a test the will prove every aspect and skill that a Graakhalian need for survive. the reason is on the side of who is the best Graakhalian, this the same as say who have the best skill to assure his life and the life of the tribe. So the race is a challenge in which two Graakhalians try to arrive first in a determined places and accomplish a task. this travel must be done alone, without the help of no one else.
the two contestants stand up in face of all the tribe when they declare that a race is called. the chieftain of the tribe then consults his counsellors and the shamans present in the encampment and decide a route that the two racer must accomplish, and the same for the task. The travel can take many days, and sometimes weeks. in this travel the Graakhalian will manage to survive and move faster than the other using all his abilities for orienteering in the maze of tunnels, defend himself for the thousand danger of underground, and gathering the food, as the tradition want that the racer will start they run without any rations.
an example of race could be descend in lower regions and arrive in a cavern used by the tribe as granary or deposit, control the state of the situation, and come back with a proof.
the practical mind of this people again has done that every race in some way could be considered a risky mission for the tribe. their common sense says: if someone want run at his own risk in the tunnel, let them run, but in a useful way.
very important race, like a challenge between chieftain could take much time, long and dangerous tunnels, and a very hard task to performs. more is important the race, more is difficult the success.
the races are called only for motivations of honour or treason, that in Graakhalian culture are strictly connected with the effectiveness of collaborations and duty inside the community.

I was also wondering what immortals could be interested in Graakhalians, they have shamans both gnoll and elves, so they probably have some immortals.
maybe Mealiden once became immortal, had found and rediscovered this branch of the Sheyallia elves, and intrigued by their strong willpower had chosen to patronise them. I don't remember the period in which Mealiden became immortal so if someone could give an advice I'll can try to set better this idea. I think the Mealiden could see in the gnoll component of Graakhalian culture some good points and so he can put an eyes also upon them.
I want put Ilsundal out of all. for a time in the Mystara history I would give to the poor Mealiden the chance to step out from his friend's shadow. probably Ilsundal know of Graakhalian elves, but for they alliance with gnoll skip them, leaving the camp to his lieutenant.
another immortal that can be became interested with them could be Rafiel. maybe for his dedication to subterranean elves, Rafiel can watch also on these. I'm thinking also that in the century a small group of shadow elves had travelled until reached the most eastern tunnels of Graakhalian region, and for some reason was not able to get back. maybe they were absorbed in some Graakhalian tribe that lives quite isolated from their brethren and have create a subculture by the melting of shadow elves with the other two races. maybe are they that had brought the cult of Rafiel in this regions. of course there will be also Ranivorus, the will be the patron of the most ferocious gnoll in Graakhalian but I see him as a figure disgusted by the way chosen by the Graakhalian gnoll. they don't plunder, destroy and kill for survive, they had forged a strong bound with the hated elves. so I think the Graakhalians are a torn for him.
and that he will happily patronise everyone would bring the gnoll on the good old ways of slaughter and bloodthirsty. maybe he is helping Bozdogan in supporting the move of the master, bringing even more humanoid in Graakhalian regions. maybe the gnoll will follow the example of more proper humanoids. this bring me to think, that if the Graakhalians gnoll are a torn for Ranivorus, Pflarr could have cast a benevolent eye upon them. I think that the main concern for Pflarr are still the Hutaakan, but from times to times, he look upon this strange elf-gnoll culture.