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Other People, Other Places
The Lizard Kin
At the western end of the Savage Coast lie three kingdoms inhabited by lizard kin. The three races that inhabit Shazak, Ator, and Cay were originally created by the mages of Herath to serve as slave-warriors and servants. Having proved unsuitable, they were released into the bayous and woodlands that today form their kingdoms.
Shazaks are very similar to lizardmen (as found in the Monstrous Manual). For the most part, they are peaceful primitives who have only recently begun to develop art and a written language. Many are used by Herathian nobles as mercenaries and they have served as front-line troops for Herath in times of war.
Shazak feels the pressure of an ongoing conflict with Bellayne, which contests their rights to the forested area between Ah'roog (the shazak capital) and Bellayne's Marches of Wyndham. They are also beset by gurrash incursions that are savage and all too common. The gurrash think of the shazaks as tasty fare.
Appearance: Shazaks stand six to seven feet tall and weight from 200 to 250 pounds. Their skin tones range from dark green to a greyish brown, with their scales giving them a flecked or dappled appearance. Their tails average three feet long and are not prehensile. Shazaks usually have golden yellow eyes with slit pupils much like those of cats; occasionally, a shazak is born with brilliant green eyes, and these are marked to become Wokani or Shamans. There is little overt physical difference between male and female shazaks to the unpractised eye.
Shazaks usually wear loincloths and a harness that holds their weapons. They like jewellery, particularly jewellery with quartz and opals. Those in service to Herathian nobles wear whatever armour they are given to wear.
Personality: Though they can be fierce when aroused, shazaks are for the most part peaceful. They are both tough and cunning, having been first abandoned in the bayous, then forced to move to the woodlands and adapt when the savage, brutal gurrash moved in and began to hunt them. They have formed a stable government, begun the production of art and goods, developed a written language, and learned the rudiments of trade. They make dependable mercenary soldiers. In the last century, shazaks have domesticated huge bats that are used as mounts by their Beast Riders, important Wokani, Shamans, or the Shaz (their equivalent of a king.)
Lifestyle: The shazaks are survivors and adapters. When turned out by the Herathians, they banded together under a war leader named Shaz, adopted others into their tribes (rather than killing them and thereby wasting their potential), and created a synthesis of those who could survive-those who had learned more advanced skills living in the Herathian cities. Shazaks live in family groups within larger tribes. Many are potters, woodsmen, fishers, and hunters. Others are various sorts of warriors, thieves, wizards, and priests. All fulfil their roles within their tribes. Females are held in as much esteem as males, perhaps because their original war leader was female.
Shazaks as PCs
Shazaks are probably best described as strong, tough, and stolid. They are dependable and usually reasonable. Though they are not as ferocious as gurrash, they are more highly advanced and able to comprehend and implement more complex plans. They do not care for rakastas, having encountered them too often in battle to feel really comfortable around them, and they greatly fear the gurrash raids that plague them all too often.
Miscellaneous: Shazaks have a natural affinity for water and receive swimming as a bonus proficiency. They have a natural Armour Class of 5 due to their inherent toughness and scales.
Language: The shazaks have their own language (known as shazak) that is nearly identical to the Malpheggi language used by the more civilised lizard folk in the rest of the world. It has a syllabary used by shazaks, some caymas, and a few gurrash wizards. Common is little spoken among the shazaks, though some do speak it because of their trade dealings with Herath.
Character Classes/Kits: Shazaks are still fairly primitive. As such, they have not yet developed a great deal of job specialisation in their society, which is reflected in their relatively few choices in kits. They can be fighters, wizards, psionicists (if allowed), priests, thieves or bards. Multiclassed shazaks may be fighter/thieves or fighter/psionicists (if the class is allowed in the campaign). Those who are native to Shazak may choose from among the following kits: Inheritor (rare), Spy, Beast Rider, Defender, Honourbound, Savage, Wokan, Shaman, War Priest, Bandit, Filcher, or Scout. Multiclassed shazaks are allowed to choose a single kit; they cannot take kits in both classes. Shazaks raised in other cultures may choose from among the following kits: Local Hero, Swashbuckler, Myrmidon, Militant, Mystic and Fighting-Monk. They are never Nobles, Gauchos, Mendoo, Heralds, or Skalds, no matter where they were raised.
Savage and hardy, with a bloodthirsty streak bred into them by the Herathians when they crossed them with alligators, the gurrash of Ator are a crude but powerful people. They escaped Herathian control long ago and fled into the bayous, where they bred so quickly that the Herathians were unable to eradicate them. Their favourite prey were the shazaks who lived in the bayou. The shazaks were soon forced to abandon the bayou to the more ferocious gurrash.
Appearance: Gurrash stand seven to eight feet tall and weigh close to 300 pounds. They are covered with deep green scales. Their heads resemble those of alligators, with large mouths filled with sharp teeth and slitted pupils in their eyes. Eye colour ranges from an almost toxic-looking yellow to a deep red. They favour simple clothing such as loincloths and tunics and may wear bandoliers to carry their equipment and weapons.
Personality: Something savage always lurks just beneath the surface in even the calmest and most civilised gurrash. Many are evil-tempered and prone to excessive violence, though some are more controlled and reasonable. Gurrash are not as advanced as shazaks and, indeed, tend to view them as tasty snacks. Some few among the gurrash have learned to control their harsher natures and violent impulses enough to become adventurers.
Lifestyle: The gurrash hunt and fish in the bayou and defend their home from all interlopers. They are more likely to kill strangers than open a dialogue with them. They are beginning to develop the concept of family and tribal unity beyond that of monarch and subjects, though monarchs still rule through fear, brutality, and the support of the Shamans. Any monarch who is outdone in savagery by a lesser gurrash can look forward to a challenge for the right to rule the tribe.
The gurrash trade with the wallaras, though they do so almost accidentally. They have found that if they leave certain items at designated places along the Wallaran grasslands, other items that they need appear in their place. Because the gurrash believe that the grasslands are the home of their Immortal patron Goron, they do not venture there, allowing the wallaras (utilising their camouflage abilities) to make these switches without the gurrashes' knowledge.
Gurrash as PCs
Though gurrash are able to assume many roles within an adventuring party, they must be treated with caution. At any time, a gurrash may lose control and become terribly savage, even turning against his companions. Besides this, they have a tendency to be far too direct and brutal in their dealings, and this may cause problems for parties, especially if they are trying to be diplomatic. Nonetheless, once a gurrash joins a party, he regards the party members as blood kin, to be supported in all situations (of course, the gurrash's understanding of the situation-or lack thereof-may cause a few problems, even then).
Miscellaneous: Gurrash automatically receive swimming as a bonus proficiency. Beginning gurrash characters may not take the reading/writing proficiency unless they are wizards. They have a natural Armour Class of 5.
Gurrash have trouble controlling their tempers and suppressing their inherently violent and savage natures. Any time a gurrash is placed in a situation that he or she cannot understand or that is frustrating, the character must make a Wisdom check at -2. Failure indicates that the character has become enraged (like the "courage" entry under the 4th-level wizard spell Emotion) and remains so for five rounds or until the rage is countered (by magic or through removal of the frustration). Success indicates that the character has controlled his or her temper and may choose actions other than blindly striking out in rage. Whenever the gurrash receives at least 8 points of damage from a single blow, the character must make the same roll as above or throw caution to the winds in his single-minded attack on whoever caused the wound. In this case, the rage can only be stopped magically, when five rounds are up, or by the death of the target.
Language: Gurrash speak a variant or dialect of the shazak tongue. A few of their wizards can write, using the symbols of the shazak written language.
Character Classes/Kits: Gurrash may become fighters, priests, wizards, thieves or psionicists (if the class is allowed in the campaign). Natives must choose from among the following kits: Inheritor (rare), Defender, Honourbound (uncommon), Savage, Wokan, Shaman, War Priest, Bandit, Filcher, or Scout. Multiclassed gurrash may be fighter/priests or fighter/thieves. Gurrash priests must be either Shamans or War Priests; multiclassed fighter/priests must take either the Shaman or War Priest kit (and should take the War Priest). They cannot choose to take a fighter kit because they must choose the priest kit in order to be a priest at all. Gurrash raised in other cultures may be Local Heroes, Myrmidons, Militant Wizards, or Fighting-Monks. Gurrash may never become Nobles, Spies, Swashbucklers, Beast Riders, Gauchos, Mystics, Mendoo, Heralds or Skalds, regardless of the culture in which they were raised.
The third in the experimental creations of Herath, the cayma was their attempt to create servitors who would become their builders and slaves. Having failed dismally to produce large warrior types, the Herathians chose to make the caymas small, agile, and intelligent. Unfortunately, in so doing, they wrought creatures whose pride in their work kept them from admitting faults within the structures they built. After several disastrous collapses, the Herathians gave up and dumped them north of the bayou. The cayma have established their own monarchy and expanded into the open lands to the north.
Appearance: Caymas are around 12 to 18 inches tall and weigh 6 to 10 pounds. They are quite dexterous, but most lack any real strength. They have skin tones that range from a dull brown to a rich green and have black eyes in which the pupil cannot be seen. When not in combat, caymas prefer to wear tunic-like wrappings and feathered headdresses. They like small bone and feather jewellery as well.
Personality: Caymas are peaceful and avoid combat whenever possible. Their small, agile frames are far more suited to thievery than fighting. When defending their homes and villages, however, they can become quite fierce. In general, caymas are a proud people, easily hurt by the slights other races unintentionally bestow upon them. Often, they are not taken seriously and the Herathian judgment that they were poor builders has led them to frenzied attempts to construct complex structures despite their lack of understanding of architecture and engineering. On the other hand, they are endlessly enthusiastic and certain that they can succeed.
Lifestyle: Aside from their building projects, caymas give most of their attention to herding and trade. They have been herding wild aurochs for some time; more recently they have domesticated small lizards that they harness to war chariots to use in herding. Though some few among them have proposed using the chariots as actual war chariots, the general consensus is that they are too small to be effective. Some caymas forge metal, though their methods are as yet primitive, but they trade cinnabryl and auroch meat with the shazaks.
Caymas as PCs
Caymas can be useful additions to a party. They are small and stealthy and usually willing to risk themselves to prove that they are as good as the big folk. Foes often underestimate cayma fighters, and while many people know of their abilities as thieves, very few are aware that they make very talented wizards.
Miscellaneous: Caymas have 90-foot infravision and receive swimming as a bonus proficiency. They may choose to take a non-weapon proficiency in either architecture or engineering as another bonus proficiency, but gain only half the usual ability with it, rounded down. For example, since engineering is based on Intelligence -3, someone with a 16 Intelligence would normally receive the proficiency at 13 but a cayma with a 16 Intelligence would have the proficiency at half that, or 6.
Language: Caymas speak a variant of the shazak tongue. Some few among them speak Common as well.
Character Classes/Kits: Caymas may be fighters, wizards, priests, thieves, or psionicists (if that class is allowed). They may be multiclassed fighter/thieves or thief/psionicists. Native caymas may be Inheritors (rare), Defenders, Savages, Wokani, Shamans, War Priests, Bandits, Filchers or Scouts. Those raised elsewhere may be Local Heroes, Myrmidons, Militant Wizards, Mystics, or Fighting-Monks. They never become Nobles, Spies, Swashbucklers, Beast Riders, Gauchos, Honourbound, Mendoo, Heralds, or Skalds, no matter where they were raised. Cayma warriors are often accorded little respect initially.
The Western Orclands
Spread along the eastern shore of the Arm of the Immortals lies another jungle area known as the Western Orclands. The Ghonam, Yamekh, and Sulkar tribes of orcs rule this jungle. They prey upon ships brought too close to the coast when the navigators become confused by the ee'aar's controllable light spells (this has earned the Vilaverdan port its gloomy name, Porto Maldição, or Port Malediction).
Originally from the orc tribes of the Dark Jungle, the three tribes that inhabit the rainforests of the Arm of the Immortals are the descendants of smaller tribes who refused to be subjugated by larger and more powerful ones or they spring from orcs that were lost at sea in their giant outriggers during raids. Because of a shortage of female orcs among the western orc tribes, females are held in high regard by the tribes and often serve as tribal chiefs or advisers.
The Sulkar tribe claims the southern jungle that lies below the Grubb Nest Marshes. Though there are two good grassland beach areas where ships might land, they are divided by an area of hidden reefs and sand bars that have wrecked many fine vessels that sailed too close to the shore. Much of the rest of the Sulkar lands are forested hills, which form part of the eastern framework for the mountain range known as the Great Immortal's Shield.
The Sulkar have no main fortress, relying on quick strikes and moving their villages to keep the Yamekh from gaining mastery over them. Their current chief is Tookala One Eye, a savvy female who rules by right of having slain the last chief. The best approximation as to the Sulkar population is 1,000 orcs.
The Yamekh tribe to the north also claims an area of coastal grasslands and interior forested hills. Their land lies just north of the swamp and includes several mountains, including Mt. Ej-Täar, an active volcano, and a mine that produces gold. Foreign captives and orc slaves from other tribes are put to work in the mines, while especially intriguing captives may be reserved for sacrifice to the spirit of the volcano, to appease its hunger and keep it from doing more than smoking.
A small jungle area just to the west of the marsh is disputed territory, which both the Sulkar and the Yamekh claim as their own. Both tribes hunt in the area. Both lay traps for the others' hunters, and border clashes between the two are frequent. Like their cousins to the east, the Yamekh have constructed a wooden fortress-city called Yamekh-Pyrr.
The leader of the Yamekh is Furul Fire-breath, though younger challengers are threatening this older orc's position almost daily. He rules from the fortress of Yamekh-Pyrr, which is set among the hills north of the mines. There are approximately 2,200 orcs who claim to be Yamekh.
The Ghonam tribe is the largest and has the most land. Unlike their brethren to the south, the Ghonam's land is mostly low altitude rain forest and a few miles of hilly jungle in the interior. Their main fortress is Ghonam-Pyrr. Led by the half-orc priestess Sutunu, the Ghonam number about 3,000 orcs.
The Ghonam must also contend with a foreign colony along their northern border. Mato Grande and Porto Maldição together form an enclave of civilisation. They serve as trading posts for goods to and from the Kingdom of Nimmur, the Colony of the Horn, and many of the countries that makeup the Savage Coast. The Ghonam have repeatedly tried to overrun either the fortress and village of Mato Grande or Porto Maldição for the riches the colonial port represents. The rest of their northern and part of their western border are formed by the Rot Swamps.
At one time, the Ghonam tried to find a way onto the Eshu plateau. The resultant Battle of Urduk cost many hundreds of orcs their lives. Though many would like to expand into the grasslands to their southwest, the memory of the battle of Urduk is fresh in their minds, and they have given up the idea of trifling with the enduk kingdom.
More recently the Ghonam have been trying to extend their southern border a little farther south, in order to directly threaten Yamekh-Pyrr. They believe that if they can take the fortress, they can subjugate the Yamekh and take over their lucrative mines for themselves. Also, when the Yamekh are no longer in the way, expansion into Sulkar lands will be much easier.
All of these orc tribes have been being pressured to submit to Pyre's overlordship. Thus far, representatives of the dragon have attempted to urge their acceptance but the tribes have been resistant. Though the dragon seems far enough away to ignore, Pyre has simply not stirred himself to action as yet.
The Colony of the Horn
The Colony of the Horn consists of the small village of Bom Jardim and the Fortaleza da Boa Vista, a combined fortress and prison. Located on the extreme tip of the sandy arm of land that juts out into Trident Bay, the Colony of the Horn is a dumping ground for Texeiran misfits, criminals, and political dissidents.
Half the population of the colony are prisoners, many of whom are afflicted with severe physical deformities due to their forced removal from lands affected by the Red Curse and the confiscation of their cinnabryl. They provide the labour for the colony, from building structures to hauling in fish and attempting to farm what little fertile ground exists there.
Their guards and administrators are little better off. Whether lazy, inept, corrupt, or just plain stupid, these Texeirans have earned their placement in the "pit of misery" known as the Colony of the Horn. Like the prisoners they guard, they have undergone the painful withdrawal from the Red Curse and its protective cinnabryl. Unlike the prisoners, most of these were given the benefit of magical healing to ease the transition and recoup their lost abilities.
Nonetheless, they realise that they, like the criminals they oversee, are for all practical purposes exiled to this backwater. Most are too old or too debilitated to risk returning home and once again undergoing the stresses of the Red Curse.
The village of Bom Jardim arose around a missionary clinic founded to provide relief to the Afflicted or immigrants from the lands in which the Red Curse is active. The priests there help to reverse the horrid transformations and cushion the recovery from the curse's manifestations. Unfortunately, though they would like to be able to offer their services for free, they cannot do so. Texeiras will not fund them because those in charge have no wish to see the dregs of their society return to their homeland-much less will they spend money to "coddle" criminals and misfits.
Almost a quarter of Nimmur's foreign business passes through Porto Escorpião, the Vilaverdan colonial enclave and best port facility in the country. Paying the manscorpions 15,000 nuggets of red steel for the privilege, Vilaverde acquired a promontory near Asur, which overlooks a protected cove. There they were allowed to construct a trading post, a colony of Vilaverde, to which they hold full ownership for a century.
A stone stronghold has been constructed as well as a lighthouse. Several Vilaverdan soldiers and scribes under the command of Don Jorge de Vilaverde (elder son of Baron Jorge, ruler of Vilaverde) maintain order and conduct the business of the port. Porto Escorpião was granted independence two years ago and most of its troops recalled. Some stayed loyal to Don Jorge and remained. The baron recently gave complete control over the holding to his son. Vilaverde and Porto Escorpião maintain cordial relations and trade, but Don Jorge is beginning to feel abandoned and wonders if he will be his father's heir or not.
Vilaverde arranged for rival traders to be virtually locked out of Nimmur by levying a 33% tax on everything shipped by anyone except Vilaverdans through Porto Escorpião. What little remains of maritime trade involves scores of private traders between Bellayne and Slagovich, the shallower ports along the coast of Nimmur. The Nimmurians have no ships of their own. For all practical purposes, Vilaverde has a monopoly on trade from Nimmur.
Rumour says Don Jorge is an Inheritor who maintains his Legacies and fends off cinnabryl poisoning with a wondrous magical ring.
The Unclaimed Territories
Stretching along the western coast of the Orc's Head Peninsula from Nimmur to the Colony of the Horn is an area collectively known as the Unclaimed Territories. The Wind Flats is an area of sparse grassland that Nimmur hopes to claim soon. Aided by a new treatment against the black killer flies that infest the region, the manscorpions plan to use the grassland as pasturage for their flocks of sheep.
Low, barren hills partially screen the Wind Flats from the Grey Swamps. The swamps derive their name from the silvery-grey reed that grows abundantly along every water course. The reeds, known as grey slicers, have sharp edges that easily cut through clothing and skin, leaving a thin, painful slit. Slime mould, which coats the reeds and gives them their distinctive colour, enters the wound as it is made. A powerful decaying agent, the slime causes the wound to fester and become infected within mere hours.
To the north of the swamp area is another region of sparse grasslands known as the Mosquito Land. Heavy rainfall in this area creates many pools of stagnant water. Mosquitos breed so quickly and abundantly here that there are hordes of these insects, which literally look like dark clouds moving across the sky. They carry disease in their bites, most notably "the fever," which causes alternating periods of high fever and terrible chills. Many victims of "the fever" suffer periodic bouts of the illness, debilitating them terribly and eventually causing death if left untreated.
Lastly, there is a large territory called the Land of the Shifting Dunes. This stark, sandy area holds miles and miles of nothing but sand and scorpions. The few sea grasses that manage to survive are hardy, but poisonous. No one has officially laid claim to any of these territories as yet.
Once a Vilaverdan trading post, Porto Maldição proclaimed its independence when Porto Escorpião became autonomous. Since this small fortress and village were very far away and unimportant, Baron Jorge raised no objections. It is a rundown, seedy port filled with lowlife searching for a quick profit and not too squeamish about how they get it.
Grubb Nest Marshes
The best thing that can be said for the marsh is that it provides a marvellous wetland sanctuary for hundreds of birds and small creatures. The sea hydras, who also make this area their home, prey upon passing ships and the occasional luckless adventurer who strays into their territory. Rot grubs, for whom the swamp is named, infest much of it and usually kill those that the sea hydras miss.
Although one might think that this swamp was also infested with rot grubs, it is named for the miasma that hovers over the area. Horrible sulphuric odours, decay, and dead fish combine to create the nauseating stench that permeates the swamp. Those who enter the swamp must successfully make saving throws against petrification upon first entering and every hour thereafter for the first three days of travel, to avoid collapsing into retching. Quicksand and vicious black caimans (crocodiles) are the swamp's other attractions.