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Renardy and Bellayne
Located in the centre of the Savage Coast, the kingdoms of Renardy and Bellayne are dominated by the furred peoples of the Savage Coast, the doglike lupins and the feline rakastas. The spirit of adventure is present in both races, as are such qualities as nobility and honour. I believe their help would be important in the removal of the Red Curse.
The Chronicle of the Curse
by Don Luis de Manzanas
The kingdoms of Renardy and Bellayne are the domains of non-humans: lupins and rakastas, respectively. Both races are native to the region, and on the Savage Coast, they are nearly as common as humans.
The Kingdom of Renardy
Known to its inhabitants as the "Royaume de Renardie," Renardy is the kingdom of the canine lupins. The kingdom's coat of arms shows a golden fox rampant in the 1st and 4th quarters, and fleurs-de-lis in an azure field in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, with royal crown and golden crest overhead.
Early lupins were nomads, tribes of hunters who roamed the Yazak Steppes and the southern central plains. Then, the goblinoids of the Yazak Steppes captured much of the lupins' hunting grounds, scattering many tribes. About 1,000 years ago, five tribes regrouped to the south and formed an alliance to defend their lands against the goblinoids; they are hailed as the founders of Renardy. Over the next 10 centuries, the tribes developed into typical medieval dominions under the authority of a king, who built his capital on the site of an old lupin camp. This site became the city of Louvines, on the Dream River. Most recently, the inhabitants of Renardy have begun imitating the clothing and fighting styles of the Savage Baronies.
The Dream River (or River of Dreams) flows into Renardy from the Plain of Dreams, a vast field of amber lotuses whose pollen induces sleep. To prevent the lotuses from plaguing their lands, lupins installed a water lock whose sole function was to strip out all debris floating on the river (particularly plants) before the water flowed further south. Construction was possible due to the help of lupin clerics, who protected workers against the effects of the plants. Eventually, the water lock grew into the mighty fortress, Château-Roan.
Sleep-producing plants also infested lands nearby, so clerics directed a purge about five centuries ago. They systematically destroyed the plants and scorched the earth, slowly gaining territory to the east and north. This infuriated the goblinoids, who thought their conquered territories were being threatened, so they launched a brutal campaign to slay all lupins. Fortunately, the valiant dog-people held their ground. The war led the lupins to build border fortresses, and most towns and villages erected walls. The late King Gaston de Clairvault ordered the construction of le Grand Mur (the Great Wall) to protect his subjects from the goblinoid hordes and halt the spread of the cursed plants. Today the wall is complete, and the Plain of Louvines is a lush, fertile valley dotted with hamlets and farms.
Within the last hundred years, the lupins have been strongly influenced by the humans of the Savage Coast, especially the people of the Savage Baronies. Renardy has close ties with Torreón and gets along well with Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña. The Renardois have even adopted the swashbuckling style of people of the Savage Baronies, and duels are quite popular in Renardy.
The Renardois are at peace with most of their neighbours and have a nonaggression pact with Eusdria. King Louis IV ("the Theatrical") of Renardy has held formal talks with King Sigismund of Eusdria, occasionally discussing an alliance against the goblinoids. King Sigismund is also willing to trade an undisclosed amount of red steel for the lupins' ancient, secret protection against the cursed plants in the Plain of Dreams. Both kings dream of conquering wide swaths of the northern plains Sigismund to gain imperial power, Louis to recover ancestral lupin hunting grounds.
The wine trade is of particular importance to Renardy, affecting many things in the Renardois' daily life, from business to political power. The existence of the small châteaux (country houses and estates) and vineyards have a greater significance than most outsiders might think. Nobles and bourgeois (members of the self-employed middle class) commonly own such châteaux and seek prestige for the quality of their wines. Châteaux range from small fortified manors to well-defended towers. Most have armed guards.
Bourgeois commonly settle north or west, outside the limits of the kingdom on lands that are not part of the established nobility's domains. For a fee, a bourgeois' claim on the land is registered at the Palace of Louvines by the royal bailiff (Bailli du Roi). This practice angers the goblinoids, who see the fringes of their immense tribal land being nibbled away. Renardois nobility defends the bourgeoisie, who are slowly regaining the race's ancestral lands.
Each winter a jury of wine-tasters, the Brotherhood of Vintages, judges which wine in Renardy is the best. The king, bourgeois, and nobles are allowed to present samples, which are numbered but otherwise unmarked to preclude cheating. The winner receives a golden vine leaf from the Brotherhood. A bourgeois who, over time, receives seven leaves is elevated to nobility. The king recognises the bourgeois as a baron. In exchange for the title, the new baron swears fealty to the king, and the estate becomes a dominion of the kingdom.
Likewise, seven leaves allow a noble to ascend a rank, such as from baron to count, with "Grand Duke" being the highest attainable title. A rank cannot be lost except by royal decree (a punishment for treachery). If a noble's family is dispossessed or becomes extinct, the king divides the land into châteaux. The lords of the manors who administered vineyards for their noble master can purchase the land if they meet a price set by the king,
thus becoming bourgeois. Otherwise, the land is auctioned. Until nobility rises from the nouvelle bourgeoisie (new bourgeoisie), the land remains with the king.
Monasteries often own vineyards. Should they win seven leaves, their territory would become a royal dominion under the authority of the Renardois clergy. Depending on the number of awards, the landlord could become an abbot, a bishop, or an archbishop. Although not shown on the map, many such monasteries within larger dominions eventually escape a noble's authority, including taxation and other regulations. Clergymen cannot attain royalty.
The first king of Renardy was put on the throne by allied tribal chiefs. Since then, the crown has been a hereditary title. Should the royal family become extinct, the noble of the highest rank and with the highest number of leaves would become the new king.
Besides prestige, the wine trade encourages territorial and economic growth for the kingdom. The more "leaves" a wine is awarded, the more popular it is among the connoisseurs, and the more expensive it becomes. Legends state that some of the best vintages (seven gold leaves or more) have mystical powers, such as the abilities to heal, instil joy or sadness, enhance strength or bravery, or even compel truth (thus the saying "In Vino Veritas," although simple inebriety often achieves the same results). Of course, wine-growing and fermentation techniques are utterly secret, invaluable family heirlooms never discussed with outsiders.
Competition among vineyards is fierce, if not outright sordid. Almost no guile or villainy is too low. Although lupins tend toward law and good, nearly anything goes when it comes to wine. Local bourgeoisie usually rush to bid for a fallen competitor's land (they may even coerce the latter to sell out) or establish a new claim at the Bailli du Roi should all legal owners of the land be gone or deceased. This is often how nobles and bourgeois increase their domains.
Capital and Ruler
Capital: Louvines (population 31,700 mostly lupins, some humans, demihumans, and tortles). Ruler: King Louis IV "Le Cabotin," son of Gaston de Clairvault (an aged Beast Rider). The royal domain includes the communities of Daens and Saimpt Vézy. Patron: Saimpt Renard. Typical NPC: bourgeois or peasant.
Dominions of "Sa Majesté le Roi"
Each domain owes fealty to the king, whose word is supreme. However, daily operations are left to local rulers.
Baronie de Brégoigne. Capital: Rochefort (population 3,100). Ruler: Baron Philippe "Le Chevalier Sans Puce et Sans Reproche," son of Grégoire de Rochefort (Noble fighter). Typical NPC: cleric. Patrons: Saimpts Mâtin and Malinois.
Comté de Marmandie. Capital: Mons-en-Plécy (population 7,300). Ruler: Comtesse Marguerite "La Soyeuse," daughter of Gilles de Saimpt Gens-de-Bout (Local Hero ranger). Typical NPC: swashbuckler, adventurer, or explorer. Patron: Saimpt Clébard.
Marquisat de Noijou. Capital: Pertignac (population 6,300). Ruler: Marquis François "Le Hautain," son of Fouques de Valefroi (Noble wizard). Typical NPC: wizard, sage, palace or cathedral architect, or wine merchant. Patron: Saimpt Ralon.
Duché d'Ysembragne. Capital: Deauvais (population 8,300). Ruler: Duc Henri "Le Grognard," son of Thibaud de Châtelguyon (Beast Rider). Typical NPC: Beast Rider. Patron: Saimpt Loup.
The Lupin Pantheon
Lupins refer to Immortals as saimpts, holy lupins who achieved ultimate greatness in this world. Over the centuries, many saimpts were authenticated, either genuine Immortals or heroes of the lupins' history now long gone. Following are descriptions of some of the more popular saimpts.
Saimpt Clébard: Patron of loyalty, fidelity, and family.
Saimpt Loup: Patron of mercy, hunger, destruction, night, and winter. Saimpt Loup portrays both good and evil among lupins.
Saimpt Malinois, the Were-Slayer: Patron of hunters, revenge, courage, warriors, blacksmiths, and those who go to war.
Saimpt Mâtin: Patron of fortresses, guards, and those who died on the battlefield defending their kin. He is the master of safety and happiness at home.
Saimpt Ralon: Patron of life, good food, fun, health, wealth, farmers, merchants, and those who produce goods.
Saimpt Renard (Korotiku): Patron of wit, freedom of thought, wisdom, sense of smell, cunning, and trickery. The chief Immortal of the pantheon, Renard has so far guided the royal dynasty of the Clairvaults well. He is the only Immortal of this group who was not a lupin (although everyone in Renardy would object to this statement).
The Kingdom of Bellayne
The people of Bellayne are rakastas. Like the lupins, they were pushed toward the coast by goblinoids of the steppes. About 500 years ago, they discovered Bellayne, a nation of mostly humans and some dwarves and elves. The humans had a feudal society, just beginning to develop a system of national laws and justice. Some rakastas settled permanently on the edges of Bellayne, while most remained wanderers. Not long afterward, the humans and many of the demihumans were slain by a mysterious plague. Those remaining citizens invited the rakastas into Bellayne.
A great tribe of savage rakastas eventually settled, most adopting the humans' feudal system and taking over the ruins to establish a society that is an odd mix of human culture and rakastan mystical tradition. Present-day Bellayne has a feudal system of government and a fine system of justice and law. Additionally, many rakastas have begun to shed their traditional ways; the firearms and fighting styles of the Savage Baronies have even managed to take hold in this society. However, this is somewhat misleading, for most rakastas are still warriors at heart. Those settled in Bellayne have simply managed to gain control over their emotions.
In addition, nomadic rakastas still wander the lands of Bellayne and the Yazak Steppes. When within the borders of Bellayne (which they largely ignore), these nomads wander from town to town, trading for (and sometimes stealing) the goods they need to live. The nomads regard the town dwellers with some disdain, not understanding why they would give up the freedom and independence of the nomadic life. The town dwellers, in turn, do not understand why the nomads scorn the comfort and stability of settled life. Many of the nomads are Beast Riders who have feliquine companions (see the "Character Kits" chapter for details). The town dwellers view these warriors as brave and skilful, but nevertheless savage. When a nomadic tribe faces great hardship, the towns offer solace; in return, the nomads help protect the towns. Note that while town dwellers readily accept humans and demihumans, only a few exceptional elves have found places with the nomads.
Warriors are quite common in Bellayne, with the Noble, Beast Rider, and Honourbound kits the most popular. Defenders, Myrmidons, and Local Heroes are not uncommon though. Wizards of Bellayne include the rare Militants who ride with the nomads and the hermit-like Wokani, who carry on traditions hundreds of years old and are regarded as bizarre eccentrics by most rakastas. Fighting Monks are very popular in Bellayne, blending ancient warrior traditions with scholarly pursuits, and some War Priests are found in Bellayne. Oddly, many thieves live in Bellayne, mostly Scouts and Local Heroes. Bards are also popular. (For information on these kits, see the "Character Kits" chapter.)
Perhaps the greatest innovation in Bellayne is the traditional entertainment. Bellayne harbours a number of illustrious companies of bards, the Heralds of Bellayne. These bards gather information and relate it to the common people, often using illusions and other magic. Their guilds are so eager to find news they will often organise spectacular events or send some of their best members on amazing adventures across the world. Another activity of the guilds is to write colourful manuscripts and sell them to nobility. Each guild has a headquarters in Leminster, where new members are registered, stories are learned, and manuscripts are filed.
Bellayne is also home to several Companies of Honourbound. Each dominion has at least one Company, and each Company usually maintains a hostel in every town of Bellayne. Honourbound are also given quarter in the various castles and towers of Bellayne. The code followed by the Honourbound is a mix of ancient rakastan Beast Rider creeds and elven tradition, even adopting a few human notions of chivalry. The code is followed by all Honourbound, as well as most Beast Riders; most other warriors of Bellayne follow at least the Protocols of the code. The code is described in detail in the Honourbound kit in the "Character Kits" chapter.
Two Companies of Honourbound are devoted to the queen: the Royal Honourguard, which guards the queen and her household; and the Defenders of Bellayne, who patrol the nation and serve as military leaders in times of war. Each Company allows members of any race, though rakastas are by far the most common. There are many other Companies as well, including single race groups, such as the Company of the Shell, which allows only tortles; the Red Company, which allows only rakastas; and the Friends of the Forests, which allows only elves. Each Company is registered in Leminster and must receive a royal charter to operate legally in Bellayne.
With their strong warrior traditions, the Bellaynish have succeeded in keeping the goblinoids at bay. An organized defence of its land and a disciplined, loyal citizenry have allowed Bellayne to prosper.
Lupins and rakastas competed in the past for territorial control of the Yazak steppes, their common ancestral lands. Although presently at peace, the two races have remained somewhat suspicious of each other for this reason, but the goblinoid threat in the north keeps the two nations friendly. Also, over the years the Bellaynish have developed a taste for Renardois wines, which the latter trade for Bellayne's excellent wools, tea, liquors, and coal.
Bellayne developed land trade with Renardy and other kingdoms with the "help" of Vilaverdan sea traders. Vilaverde established a colony south of Bellayne, its primary goal to control naval access to Theeds. Queen Catherine views Vilaverde's colony of Terra Leãoça (pronounced leh-ah-OH-sa) as a mixed blessing. The Vilaverdan quasi monopoly of sea trade in the region is costly, at best, for Bellayne.
Vilaverde maintains a strong military presence at Rocha dos Gatos (the "Rock of the Cats"), a very large fortress and port of Leãoça that includes Torreón swordsmen and rakasta outcasts. Bellaynish rakastas show outstanding seamanship, but Vilaverdans contend that this is due entirely to the rakastas' amazing ingenuity at avoiding the water altogether. Indeed, very few rakastas master swimming skills, but they still remain without peer when it comes to fishing.
Recently, a community of dwarves established itself in Bellayne after an explorer discovered "black rock" deposits in Penwick. The coal became particularly useful in metal working.
Capital and Ruler
Capital: Leminster (population 30,300 mostly rakastas, many elves, some humans, demihumans, and tortles). Ruler: Queen Catherine I "The Lioness," daughter of the late King Lionel I of Dorsythe (noble). The queen's domain includes the communities of Chansea and Bromstow, and the ruins of the town of Chatsworth. Typical NPC: urban peasant, crafter, or warrior. Patron: Pax Bellanica.
Dominions of Her Majesty
The queen works with a council of nobles from the various dominions. While her word is considered law, she tends to listen to the council. Bellayne has a set of national laws that affects everyone, even on a local level. The various dominions are in charge of enforcing the laws.
Bishopric of Kitting. Capital: Glenswych (population 4,500 mostly rakastas). Ruler: Sir Humphrey "The Exalted," son of Sir Jasper Cockerfield (Noble cleric). Typical NPC: rakasta War Priest. Patron: Belbion.
Duchy of Pachester. Capital: Wallingford (population 6,700 rakastas, humans, and elves). Ruler: Lord Perceval "The Iron Clawed," son of Sir Hume (Noble fighter). Typical NPC: rakasta Honourbound warrior. Patron: Belbion.
Earldom of Penwick. Capital: Norchester (population 7,800 rakastas, dwarves, halflings). Ruler: Lord Mortimer "The Defiant," son of Sir Edward Hillsborough (Noble). Typical NPC: rakasta or dwarf coal miner. Patron: Kagyar.
Earldom of Theeds. Capital: Theeds (population 22,400 rakastas, elves, some humans, halflings). Ruler: Lord Rodney "The Intrepid," son of Sir Winston Gladsworthy (Honourbound fighter). Typical NPC: rakasta merchant or fisherman. Patron: Felidae.
Forest Marches of Wyndham. Capital: none (population is mostly rakastas, some elves). Ruler: none. Typical NPC: free-spirited forester, hunter, or elite longbow archer. Patron: Tawnia.
Queen Catherine plans to deforest Wyndham some day in favour of farming. Unfortunately, the fierce people of Wyndham hunters and foresters at heart oppose the plan and have revolted many times against the monarch's autocratic rule. Wyndham is often thought of as a dangerous bandit haven by the common Bellaynish folk.
Viscounty of Farfield. Capital: Wickerton (population 6,600 rakastas, elves, humans, halflings). Ruler: Lady Meghan "The Gaunt," daughter of Sir Melville Parringstoke (Honourbound fighter). Typical NPC: rich farmer. Patron: Pax Bellanica.
Immortals of Bellayne
The rakastas have adopted Immortals of other cultures, primarily those of the humans that founded Bellayne more than five centuries ago. The cat-people revere these Immortals in their own way now.
Belbion (Vanya): Patron of pride, honour, war, and conquests. She is a favourite of warriors and those who believe rakastan culture to be inherently better than any other.
Felidae (Calitha): Patron of oceans, travellers, adventurers, good fortune, and merchants. She is an Immortal common to both rakastas and elves.
Kagyar: This "foreign" dwarven Immortal was primarily followed by dwarves in Penwick and northern Farfield. His following then grew among rakasta coal miners working with the dwarves. Being the only male in the rakastan pantheon, he became a favourite among masculine rakasta males with an axe to grind against the high-brow, stuffy, Bellaynish philosophic establishment.
Pax Bellanica (Tarastia): Patron of rakastan justice and peace. It is often in her name (and in Belbion's) that the rakastas mount holy crusades against the goblins.
Tawnia (Ordana): Patron of the people of the forests in general, defender of hunters, archers, and druids.