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KAARJALA (Kingdom of)
Location: Continent of Brun, north of the Great Bay, between the Kaarjavi and Vaaranavi rivers (known as the Landsplit River to most people). NW
Area: 63,206 sq. mi. (163,704 sq. km.).
Population: 60,000 settled humans plus 50,000 nomadic humans (on the average); demihuman population is negligible; humanoid population is unknown, though relatively low in the patrolled areas.
Languages: Saamari (a language unrelated to any spoken in the Known World; spoken in two dialects, Kaarjalan and Vaarana); some Alphatian.
Coinage: Markka (gp), penni (sp), oren (cp); coins of Alphatian and Littonian origins are also in common circulation here. Most of the economy is still based on barter, as coins cannot be eaten or wielded as weapons.
Taxes: Commoners usually give one-fifth of their assets at the end of each year (Kaldmont 28) to their ruling nobles, who then pay tribute to the king, usually one quarter to one third of their wealth.
Government Type: Monarchy, with a strong and independent minded noble class.
Industries: Agriculture (grains and potatoes; production is high due to the Great Saampo, an artifact held by the king of Kaarjala), dairy, fishing, logging and trapping. The nomadic Vaarana rely on the herds of reindeer during the winter months and farm ancestral lands in Kaarjala during the summer.
Important Figures: Kaarlo Taavinen (King), Rikka Kaalwa (Maga), Vaalkoi Taapionen (Great Druid of the Kaarjalan Circle), Pekka Seppanen (High Priest of the Church of Kaarjala and Grand Smith of Ilmarinen).
Flora and Fauna: Kaarjala itself is unusual in that it has a rather more temperate climate than is the norm for this region; thus, creatures of a more southerly nature can be found in the land between the rivers. In terms of plant life, one can find scattered stands of pine and other coniferous trees within the region covered by the Great Saampo, as well as scattered flowers and shrubs. Outside this region, however, lichens, mosses, and short taiga grasses predominate.
Domesticated animals include shaggy cattle, horses (ponies, mostly), dogs, cats and ferrets. Outside the region protected by the Great Saampo, of course, nature reigns, and the northlands are very, very cold. Creatures native to the region include moose, elk, bears, wolves, reindeer, and so on. It is also home to every sort of monstrous creature native to the arctic and sub-arctic: snow apes, white dragons, frost giants, frost salamanders, and worse. There are also large numbers of nomadic humanoid clans and tribes, primarily living in the northwestern part of the country.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, Kaarjala by James Mishler, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
While we were visiting the Kingdom of Littonia, many of the locals suggested that, if we were to truly understand the far north of Brun, we would do well to venture to the Kingdom of Kaarjala, which lies west of Littonia. After we had seen what we wished in Gaudavpils, we restocked our supplies, and hired a guide, Andrejs Birkavs, to show us the way to this mysterious nation, of which we had only heard fragmentary tales. The journey from Gaudavpils to the Kaarjalan capital of Kaarja lasted two weeks, but we were rewarded amply for our efforts, as you shall see below.
Kaarjala consists of a wide swath of verdant fields and forests on the high ground between the swampy, lake-strewn valleys of the Kaarjavi and Vaaranavi Rivers. While the land is set dead centre on the arctic circle, the climate between the two rivers is much more like that further to the south; cool and moist in the spring and autumn, muggy in the short summers, and dry and chilly in the long winters. In the north, the land consists mainly of taiga, great plains covered with short vegetation and blasted by harsh winds from the north, broken by the occasional bog where the Kaarjavi River flows. In the south, the Vaaranavi River dominates a half-frozen realm of bogs, swamps, and blasted heaths. The lands under the influence of the Great Saampo are a different matter entirely. Here, as mentioned before, the land resembles those territories further south, with forests, meadows, and a much warmer climate in general.
The Kaarjalan people are the Saamari, a group descended from a mixed tribe of Oltec and Neathar peoples from the west. The Saamari have a long tradition of the heroic warrior, and the royal family and many nobles claim descent from ancient heroes of legend. The realm is ruled by a hereditary king, though his power is usually only as strong as his personality; his function is primarily ritual in nature, as he is the Keeper of the Great Saampo, the ancient relic of the Saamari peoples.
The Kaarjalans primarily revere three Immortal Heroes, all of which were Great Heroes of Saamari legend. They are Vainamoinen, the founder of the kingdom as well as the Great Leader who led the Saamari out of the west; Ilmarinen; the Great Smith who constructed the Great Saampo; and Lemminkainen, who was the Great Wanderer of the Wastes, an heroic figure who battled the forces of evil wherever they appeared; all three led the battle against the humanoid hordes that ravaged the region centuries ago. The Church of Kaarjala reveres all three of these Immortal Heroes as well as the Ancient Ones (older Immortals who were the patrons of the Great Heroes and the Saamari during the elder days) and the Exalted Heroes (heroes from ancient days who did not attain Immortality, but were made into Exalted level associates of their respective Immortal Patrons).
The Vaarana still revere the Ancient Ones as well as the Spirits of Animals, Plants and Elements; they have priestly shamans as well as sorcerous (wizardous) shamans. There are also the Druids of the Circle of Kaarjala, who work with both the Vaarana as well as the Kaarjalans; they revere The Mother (Djaea) and are "led" by Her son, Taapio and his wife Mielikki (Exalted level entities who reside in the forests south and west of Kaarjala). There is another Exalted level being directly involved with Kaarjala; an entity known as the Lord of the Yuletide; Saanto Klaas, who visits children on special holidays and leaves gifts (he is said to be allied with certain clans of elves, gnomes and fairies who make his special, magical toys).
As regards wizardry, Kaarjalan wizards mostly learn their magic as apprentices to the local hedge wizard or wise woman, though the king and his maga, inspired by the success of Uppsala College at Norrvik, have considered founding their own School of Magecraft. It was around the time of the Battle of White Bear River that several groups of peaceful Alphatian wizards began to settle in these lands; they were assimilated into the general population and shared their knowledge with Saamari wizards and their apprentices. It is from their influence that the more modern aspects of Kaarjalan wizardry originate, though aspects of the shamanic wizardry practiced by the Vaarana still are found in some areas (a Vaaranasi wizard is, in fact, more likely to use a drum rather than a wand as his focus, for example, and is in many ways similar to the hakomons of Ethengar).
The Kaarjalan Saamari peoples migrated from the west to the land between the rivers in the early 1st century BC, fleeing from the advance of several humanoid hordes. They were led by the legendary hero Vainamoinen, who remained with the Saamari for over a century before continuing on his quest for Immortality. The Kingdom of Kaarjala was founded to maintain unity between the various Saamari clans, which formed the nucleus for the modern districts. The king of Kaarjala is the hereditary holder of the Great Saampo, entrusted to the royal family by Vainamoinen himself (who was, in fact, the grandfather of the first Kaarjalan king, Taavi Kaalevinen).
In those early years, the lands now occupied by Kaarjala were thinly settled by Littonian homesteaders, who resisted Saamari attempts at settling the land. A series of wars broke out between the newly-unified Kingdom of Littonia and the Saamari people. After ten years of intermittent and inconclusive warfare, the two peoples concluded a peace treaty, in which the nation of Kaarjala was formed. The two nations have been on good terms ever since.
The Kingdom of Kaarjala existed peacefully until the mid 6th century, when the Vaarana Saamari, cousins to the Kaarjalans, fled into the region following a major series of defeats at the hands of the humanoids. The Kaarjalan Saamari and the Vaarana united with the nearby elves, dwarves, hin, and Littonians to defeat the invasion of the horde at the Battle of White Bear River in AC 640. The Vaarana then returned to their nomadic life, wandering the northlands, centred on the warm lands between the rivers. Since that time there have been no great threats to Kaarjalan sovereignty or to the Vaarana until the late 10th century, when new dominions, nominally under the rule of King Ericall of Norwold, began to spread northwards. Some elements of Kaarjalan society resent this colonisation, considering it to be encroachment upon traditional Kaarjalan lands.
The capital of Kaarjala is Kaarja (pop. 12,000), the only settlement of any notable size north of the Great Bay, with the obvious exception of the Littonian capital city of Gaudavpils. Kaarja is found in the exact centre of the kingdom. Compared to the sheer ruggedness of the rest of the nation, this small city is a veritable island of paradise.
One thing that surely must be seen in Kaarjala is the Great Citadel, which is the centre of Kaarja. This great stone building, rising from the stony ground like a great carved needle, is where the king holds court. We were truly honoured, while staying in sheltered Kaarja, to be invited to sit with the king one afternoon as he went about his duties. Make no mistake, while Kaarjala may be an isolated realm, it is certainly not lacking in politics and factionalism. A lively stay, to be sure.
In an open steeple, on the highest tower of the Great Citadel, is found the Great Saampo, a mighty artifact in the shape of the sun. Truly a fascinating item! Deactivated, we were told, it is about 3 inches in diameter and unremarkable, appearing as burnished bronze covered in tiny black runes. When activated, however, it transforms into a golden sphere approximately three feet in diameter. It levitates at about seven feet above the ground and glows as a continual light spell of some sort, but the brilliance was so intense that we dared not gaze too long at it. It is said that the Great Saampo was constructed by the Kaarjalan legendary hero Ilmarinen, and brought by Vainamoinen on the long journey from the west. The Great Saampo ensures that the entire kingdom will enjoy a beneficial climate as well as abundant harvests, since Kaarjala's location all but ensures that it does not enjoy the same sea-borne microclimate enjoyed by nearby Littonia. There are many other powers available through the Great Saampo, but these can only be used by those who know the magical runes or rhymes that will activate them, or so we were told.
The Great Saampo has been known to do many things: Call down the Great Aurora, which burns creatures of the night as though it were daylight; create gold; raise the dead; and, in times of extreme distress, it can be called upon to act as the sun. Truly a powerful construct!
While Kaarjala is truly a fascinating nation, filled with honest, good-natured people, there are many dangers here, which should be avoided if at all possible. Perhaps the most obvious threat to one's safety lies in the northwestern reaches of the nation-namely, the many tribes of humanoids that follow the reindeer herds. While they normally keep to themselves, these fierce tribes have been known, under the guidance of a powerful chief, to overcome their petty squabbles and wreak havoc. During these "years of strife," as they are known locally, no country village is safe from their depredations, and it is only through a concerted effort that they are beaten back into the wilderness from which they came.
To make matters worse, the inhabitants of Frosthaven, a great tribe of frost giants, have been known to raid the Kaarjalan countryside on occasion. Though they normally prefer to plunder its comparatively wealthy neighbour, Littonia, the giants sometimes cast their shadow in this fair land, too.
Finally, Kaarjala must also deal with a foul being known only as the Rimal Hag, whose frigid domain occupies the half-frozen bogs in the southern reaches of the kingdom. So steeped in legend is this enigmatic figure that few Kaarjalans dare mention her name, or acknowledge her existence, saying that misfortune befalls those who are not so cautious. No one admits to ever having met her, or even seeing her, for that matter, but the pall of dread that overshadows everything in Kaarjala during the Hag's Night (Eirmont 20-the time of the year when she is said to be at her most powerful) speaks for itself. Some claim that those who die horrible deaths are doomed to serve the Rimal Hag for all eternity in their afterlives, while others say that she is the sole cause of all of Kaarjala's misfortunes. Regardless of what the truth may be, travellers would be well advised to avoid the southern bogs of Kaarjala.