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The Savage Baronies
I feel it only appropriate that I begin my description of the Savage Coast with the Savage Baronies, including my homeland of Saragón. In some ways, these small states are misnamed, for they are certainly less "savage" than other areas of the Savage Coast. Still, battle is common, and not all the states are as civilised as my own. While there exists great variety in the baronies, they also share a number of common traits. Thus, it seems appropriate to talk about all of them together before delving into details regarding them individually.
The Chronicle of the Curse
by Don Luis de Manzanas
This section details the homelands of most humans of the Savage Coast, lands in which many adventures begin. The Savage Baronies comprise nine small, independent nations that occupy the eastern reaches of the Savage Coast on the western shores of the Gulf of Hule. Each of the baronies was founded by adventurers and conquerors who entered the lands during a wave of colonisation just over 100 years ago. Most of the founders were human, but the people of the baronies also include elves, dwarves, and a few halflings.
This introductory section gives an overview of the peoples of the Savage Baronies, the customs and prejudices they observe, their adjustment to the Red Curse, and their general environment. In addition, it offers a history of the region. The next few chapters describe each of the baronies in detail.
Of the nine small states, six are coastal nations, while three are landlocked. The strongest sea powers among the baronies are Vilaverde and Texeiras. Narvaez and Torreón, lands of mercenaries, supply soldiers for hire to many of the nations of the Savage Coast. The three "enlightened" states are those least repressive and most advanced baronies Almarrón, Gargoña, and Saragón. The two remaining baronies, Guadalante and Cimmaron, are home to the Gauchos.
Along the Savage Coast, someone or something from one of the Savage Baronies, is referred to as "baronial." For example, a "baronial long sword" is a long sword made in one of the nine states; a "Baronial" is any person from one of these small nations. The people of the baronies are also referred to as Los Guardianos, "the Guardians," because they defend the Savage Coast from Hule and other powers.
Other classifications refer to smaller groups of people or things. People are sometimes referred to according to the language they speak. Inhabitants of Vilaverde and Texeiras, who speak Verdan as a native language, are sometimes referred to as Verdans. Individuals from the other Savage Baronies are sometimes called Espans, because of their native tongue.
Each nation also has ways to refer to its inhabitants. Those from Texeiras call themselves Texeiran, while those from Vilaverde refer to themselves as Vilaverdan. Since the cultures of these two states are so closely related, items as well as people from both are sometimes called Verdan. Texeirans are easily offended on this score, because the word Verdan too closely resembles Vilaverdan. The people of Texeiras prefer to be called Texeirans, and woe betide the fool who refers to a Texeiran settlement as a "Verdan colony."
The baronies also have adjectival forms of their names; some have risen more from convention than from linguistic logic. While people from outside the baronies sometimes refer to items from the Espan-speaking states as Espan, Baronials seldom do. Adjectival forms for individual states follow:
Examples include "That is a fine Cimmaron wheellock," "I was ambushed by Gargoñans," and "We hired Torreóner mercenaries."
In the baronies, the translations of place names seldom sound as romantic as the names themselves. For example, while "Serra Sanguinea" translates as the still interesting "Bleeding Mountains," "Mina do Sul" has the descriptive, but rather boring, translation "South Mine." Most place names in the baronies are descriptive and refer to either something commonly seen in that area or the first thing an explorer noticed upon arrival.
Like place names, personal names are often descriptive. For example, the literal translation of "Miguel Hernando de Montoya" is "Miguel Hernando, of the Montoya district." The ruler of Vilaverde is Jorge o Temerário, or "Jorge the Intrepid."
People of the Savage Baronies
The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Savage Baronies are humans, descendants of the Ispans who colonised the area a century ago. Over time, the Ispan colonists split into two groups, Verdans and Espans. The vowel shift delineates the "birth" of a distinct cultural group. Natives of Oltec descent with strains of Nithian and Traladaran ancestry have also entered the mix. Some natives have remained isolated, but the majority intermarried with Ispans.
In addition, human colonists from Yavdlom intermarried with both Ispans and natives in Vilaverde and Texeiras, while colonists from faraway Ylaruam intermarried with the people in Saragón. These different influences created modern baronial inhabitants with a very mixed ancestry. It is rare to find a human who is of "pure" descent from any one group. However, a few Ispan households do exist, notably some of the older noble families who have avoided intermarrying with natives for at least the last few generations. Some natives also consider themselves "pure," not realising their Oltec blood was mixed long ago with Nithian.
Resulting from this intermingling, humans of the Savage Baronies tend to be moderately dark-skinned. The Red Curse also causes red overtones. Most humans have straight, black or deep red hair.
Also, a few elves, dwarves, and halflings live in the Savage Baronies. Elves make up a significant portion of the population in Torreón, but they are also prominent in Narvaez. Additionally, a few elf families live scattered throughout the other baronies. Dwarves are common in Cimmaron but are seldom found in the other baronies; a handful still live among the elves of the Montoya district in Narvaez. Halflings are more often found in Cimmaron than any other barony, but they are not common even there.
Additionally, tortles live in some of the southern baronies, notably Cimmaron, Almarrón, and Narvaez. Other races including lupins, rakastas, goblinoids, and lizard kin visit throughout the baronies, but families from those races almost never settle down here. Lupins are the most frequent visitors to the region and are common sights in Vilaverde and Texeiras. Note that some Herathians do live here, but their disguises effectively prevent discovery.
In general, the people of the baronies are tolerant of folk who are different, having come from such a diverse background themselves. The least tolerant nation is Narvaez, but some individuals in each barony still dislike outsiders. While some national prejudice does exist among the people of the Savage Baronies, discrimination because of race is rare.
For the most part, humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings are considered equals in the Savage Baronies. They mingle freely and generally get along well with one another. People from other nations might be viewed with curiosity but are treated kindly. Visitors from the furred races (lupins and rakastas) are considered equals as well, though some more insular peasants, unaccustomed to seeing such folk, might view them with fear.
Goblinoids, having caused many problems for the baronies over the years, are usually met with disgust, fear, or anger. They are seldom welcome in the towns and cities of the Savage Baronies because they usually come to raid or steal. The presence of a goblinoid, even a peaceful one, might well cause a fight.
Lizard kin and the races of the Orc's Head Peninsula are rarely seen in the Savage Baronies. On the infrequent occasions when they do visit, they are subject to close scrutiny. Their odd appearances make them a fearful sight, even to the more educated people of the baronies. However, because they are an unknown quantity, individuals are usually given a chance to prove themselves and are judged on their individual merits. They remind many people of the peaceful tortles found in the southern baronies.
Tortles are a special case. While not derided because of their race, they are sometimes looked down upon because of their peasant status. Like other peasants here, tortles are often characterised as slow and lazy, unwilling to work for a better life. Laziness is a great sin to Baronials, most of whom are staunch believers in the individual's power to succeed through hard work.
The attitude toward tortles typifies the wealth-related prejudices of Baronials. Many, but not all, members of the nobility look down on those who are less fortunate. The middle class including merchants, crafters, and adventurers tends to view peasants with disdain. Peasants envy the wealthier folk but often forget or repudiate their origins if they come into money, looking down on those who remain peasants.
Despite cultural differences, the Savage Baronies have many commonalities, ranging from language to duelling conventions. These often become a basis for comparison and competition. Inhabitants of each land believe their accent or dialect to be more pleasing than others, their variations of the duelling rules more noble, and that their coinage better. The following text points out many similarities to which few Baronials willingly admit.
The people of the Savage Baronies usually wear simple, light, cotton clothing, though suede and leather are popular among the middle and upper classes, especially with Gauchos and Swashbucklers. Swashbucklers and Nobles also wear silks and velvets. Even the poorest people tend to wear at least one brightly-coloured item of clothing, and Swashbucklers are positively vibrant in appearance.
Clothing is a status symbol among adventurers and the upper classes. Baronial society considers good taste in dress a virtue. Often, adventurers to carry spare clothing for occasions when they want to impress others.
Weapons and Equipment
Most equipment and weapons available in a standard AD&D game campaign can be found in the Savage Baronies. Items vary in popularity, however, depending on the exact barony.
Due to the spread of swashbuckling, plate mail, field plate, and full plate armour are rarely seen in the baronies, though a few Narvaezan nobles own suits of full plate. Breastplates, however, are extremely common and are worn even by Swashbucklers. Chain mail, ring mail, and scale mail are worn by mercenaries of Narvaez and Torreón and by warriors of Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña. Leather and studded leather armour are the types most likely to be found in Vilaverde, Texeiras, Cimmaron, and Guadalante.
Heavier armours are avoided by seafarers of the sea powers and mounted Gaucho warriors. Heavy armours are also avoided in Cimmaron because firearms are common, which all but negates the benefits of armour (see the "Equipment and Economics" chapter for details).
Cimmaron County is known for making and exporting smokepowder and wheellock pistols. These weapons are frequently seen throughout the Savage Coast, though somewhat less outside the Baronies.
The development of firearms has not diminished the popularity of other missile weapons. Hand crossbows are popular among the upper classes in Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña, and because they are reasonably common in the baronies, one can be purchased there for only 40 oros (gold pieces), rather than 300 gold pieces as listed in the PHB. Likewise, quarrels for a hand crossbow can be purchased for one dies (silver piece) each.
Larger crossbows, both light and heavy, are popular among the mercenaries of Narvaez and Torreón; the militias of Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña; and among the seafarers of Vilaverde and Texeiras. Short bows are popular with peasants throughout the baronies, as are long bows with adventurers. Gauchos of the Savage Baronies swing bolas. The lasso is also a common weapon in Cimmaron, Guadalante, Almarrón, and Saragón.
Blades are by far the preferred melee weapons of the Savage Baronies. Because the rapier is the favoured armament of the Swashbuckler, it is common throughout the Baronies. Sabres are also popular with both Swashbucklers and Gauchos. Rapiers can be fitted with basket hilts (more common to sabres), but are more likely to have a swept hilt, which has the same game effects as the basket hilt.
Swept hilts are sometimes found on short swords as well. Both short swords and long swords are common in Narvaez and Torreón. These weapons tend to have more ornate hilts and guards than their counterparts outside the baronies. It is not unusual to see a forward-angled or curved guard on a long sword.
Daggers and similar weapons also tend to be very popular among Baronials, particularly peasants, due to their affordability. Swashbucklers prefer such arms as second weapons, wielded in the off hand, opposite a sabre or rapier; the main-gauche is another popular complement to the rapier. Gauchos like daggers for their many uses and have even been known to duel with daggers on occasion.
Red steel weapons are especially popular in the Savage Baronies; while the metal is not readily available, it is still much more common in the Savage Baronies than elsewhere.
Los Guardianos revere several Immortals, the SAVAGE COAST setting's equivalent to deities. Five Immortals are venerated throughout the baronies: the Ambassador (Masauwu), the General (Thor), the Judge (Tarastia), Milan (Mealiden Starwatcher), and Valerias. Some baronies have local patrons as well.
In Cimmaron, Kagyar is revered as the patron of artifice and the master of firearms. al-Kalim is venerated in Saragón as the patron of scholarship, tolerance, and courage. He is the favourite of sages, wizards, and warriors who favour strategic planning.
Narvaez also reveres two Immortals: Ixion and the Inquisitor (Vanya). Ixion is the centre of the Church of Narvaez. He is the sun, fire, life, power, and wisdom; citizens of Narvaez see him as the one Immortal worthy of true veneration. Much religious persecution has been carried out in his name. The Inquisitor acts as Ixion's avenging servant. She represents pride and the correctness of beliefs, seeking vengeance against those who do not follow the way of Ixion and punishing those who stray.
In Vilaverde, Texeiras, and Torreón, the Inquisitor is revered as Fanha (spelled "Faña" in Torreón). She represents war and pride in those states. She is the patron of warriors and the representation of self-defence and vindication, especially against those who deliver insults.
The Red Curse
As mentioned, the Red Curse has existed in baronial lands since well before they were the Savage Baronies, indeed, long before it was even known as the Red Curse. Until a year ago, the Red Curse was confined to a few isolated spots in the baronies: in valleys and swamps, on certain hills, in selected caverns, and even in the plains of some regions. For the most part, people native to the land just avoided these areas. However, the Ispan colonists and their descendants did not avoid the curse; they studied it.
At first, Baronials affected by the Red Curse simply suffered its effects, acquiring Legacies and becoming Afflicted. Wizards, priests, and sages studied Affliction but were largely unable to help its victims. Then, cinnabryl was discovered in what would eventually become Cimmaron. Years later, a Torreóner smith discovered the properties of depleted cinnabryl and named the substance red steel.
Cinnabryl and Red Steel
For almost 80 years, cinnabryl has been mined in the area now known as Cimmaron County. Deposits were also discovered in Terra Vermelha slightly over 40 years ago, and two mines in that region have been operated by Vilaverde for more than 10 years.
Red steel, once an extreme rarity because of the low demand for cinnabryl, has become much more common with the recent spread of the Red Curse. Because of the three cinnabryl mines in and near the Savage Baronies, red steel is more common in the Savage Baronies than anywhere else. The City-State of Slagovich even trades cinnabryl to the baronies in return for red steel weapons.
In the baronies, most users of cinnabryl are nobles, merchants, mercenaries, or adventurers. Obtaining cinnabryl is a primary motivation for people to become adventurers to make enough money to afford a steady supply of the metal.
Most traffic in red steel and cinnabryl is controlled by Inheritors. Cinnabryl is most common in Texeiras, Vilaverde, Cimmaron, and Saragón, and less likely to be found in the other baronies. Red steel is most common in Texeiras, Cimmaron, Saragón, Torreón, and Narvaez; less common in most of the other baronies; and rare in Guadalante. The related substance of smokepowder is most common in Cimmaron and somewhat less common in Guadalante, Vilaverde, and Texeiras. Narvaez and Torreón have both been trying to acquire large amounts of smokepowder to experiment with building large guns; none of these experiments have yet been successful.
Many Inheritors live in Saragón, including the leader of the Order of Crimson. Inheritors are common throughout the baronies, except for Narvaez, where they are considered outlaws. Inheritors are hated and feared by the peasants of Torreón, who blame Inheritors for keeping cinnabryl from them, causing many peasants to become Afflicted.
Overall, Inheritors are accepted. Many are considered heroes, others as villains. Frequently, Inheritors (especially warriors) are famous in the baronies; a town enjoys the notoriety of claiming a heroic Inheritor as its own.
As mentioned, numerous Afflicted live in Torreón, where peasants are too poor to buy cinnabryl. Most of these Afflicted have never used cinnabryl, so their defects are relatively mild.
In most of the baronies, Afflicted live in small enclaves isolated from other people, but not always. In Torreón, many Afflicted join the ranks of mercenary units; they make an effective fighting force, with the added factor that their appearance often surprises (and sometimes disgusts) opponents. In Narvaez, few become Afflicted because the church distributes cinnabryl and maintain spells. Those who are Afflicted usually move into small camps within the towns and villages, where they are attended by clergy.
In Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña, the rare Afflicted are generally cared for by family or friends. However, because some Afflicted cannot stand the thought of being seen by others, they run off to live solitary existences in the wilderness.
All baronies except Narvaez, Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña have villages formed by Afflicted individuals. Very often, Afflicted are shunned; in response, many gather to build enclaves where they need only traffic among themselves. For the most part, these are squalid shacks of forgotten remnants, but a few are clean and well-built. Afflicted villages typically boast fewer than 30 people and are located away from main roads and trails. Common folk happily avoid the villages of Afflicted. People in these villages seldom hold Inheritors in high regard, even Inheritors who do become Afflicted.
The Savage Baronies face many threats to their continued existence, both internal and external. Most threats have been around for decades, and Baronials have established ways to deal with them. However, as evidenced by the last decade, occasional surprises call for extraordinary measures. What follows serves as a quick reference regarding the individual threats.
The Sanctified Land, Hule, is a nation run by its clergy. The leader of Hule is the Master, a mysterious dictator who leads the nation's veneration of Bozdogan (or Loki), patron of deceit and mischief. Political intrigue within Hule often leads the Master to start an external conflict to unite his people and bring temporary stability to his nation again.
Hule is a repressive and often aggressive state. While currently at peace with the other nations of the coast, Hule sends spies in many directions and regularly launches small plots to upset stability in foreign regimes.
The Yazak Steppes
The Yazak Steppes are home to many tribes of goblinoids, notably the so-called "great tribes." The Hupkur, composed of hobgoblins and ogres, is the strongest tribe, but they are located far from the Savage Baronies. A recent alliance between Dankut (orcs and trolls) and Kuttai (orcs and goblins) has many Baronials worried; the alliance is close enough to strike, and an alliance between great tribes almost always preludes an invasion. The closest great tribe to the baronies is the goblin Gosluk; members of this tribe raid into the baronies with some regularity. (For more information on the goblinoids, see the "Other Places" chapter.)
The Yazi are goblinoids of the coastal regions. Most prominent of them, at least to observers in the Savage baronies, are the gnolls of El Grande Carrascal and goblins of the Badlands. Gnoll lands have borders with Almarrón, Saragón, Gargoña, Cimmaron, and Guadalante; these nations suffer the gnolls' presence in the region to keep their neighbouring baronies from gaining territory in El Grande Carrascal. Gnolls are actually relatively civilised; they both negotiate and engage in honest trade, and they do not immediately attack humans or demihumans.
Goblins are another matter. They are definitely warlike, but recent losses keep them in line for the most part. Occasionally, rumours about the Badlands goblins having commerce with the Gosluk of the Yazak Steppes are spread, but the accuracy of such claims is questionable.
The baronies have few problems with nations other than Hule. Of course, relations between the Savage Baronies and the City-States on the eastern Gulf of Hule are unstable because both groups vie for control of the seas. The baronies effectively block commerce between the City-States and the rest of the coast, and pirates based in Vilaverde and Texeiras are known to raid ships from the City-States. The City-States occasionally discuss banding together to destroy the navies of the baronies. Fortunately for the baronies, the City-States are about as likely to work together as are the Savage Baronies themselves.
The baronies also trade with nations of the Savage Coast and maintain colonies and outposts in these distant lands. The coastal nations outside the Baronies depend on Texeiran and Vilaverdan shipping for much of their commerce, so they do not want to disrupt such shipping by contesting. Though difficulties occasionally arise, the nations of the Savage Coast tend to be on friendly terms with the baronies.
Renardy, in particular, has close ties with the baronies, especially Torreón. The Renardois have adopted several of the styles and conventions of Los Guardianos, from their form of government to their swashbuckling style and duelling conventions.
The nations east and south of the City-States, such as Yavdlom and distant Thyatis, are too far away to be of concern to the Savage Baronies. It is possible that Yavdlom might send more colonists or expeditions to the region, but Yavdlom is peaceful, so the possibility represents a trading opportunity more than a threat. Also, it is unlikely Thyatis would be willing or able to devote the time and manpower necessary to tame and reclaim the other, fiercely independent Savage Baronies.
The Savage Baronies have often been their own greatest threat. Conflicts within a barony and clashes between baronies are all too common. Internal conflicts are discussed in the entries for each barony.
As for conflicts between baronies, Torreón has periodic disagreements with Vilaverde and Texeiras over cinnabryl deposits in Terra Vermelha; because Almarrón's former dictator hired Torreóner mercenaries to enforce his will, Almarróñans sneer at Torreón. Narvaez does not get along well with any other baronies, particularly Saragón, which it regards as a haven for heretics and the spawn of chaos. Narvaez also wants to compete with the Vilaverdan and Texeiran navies, which escalates tensions there.
Except for their problems with Narvaez, the sea powers get along with all the baronies except each other. Texeiras and Vilaverde are competitive, and their ships often come into conflict. Texeiras grants letters of marque, sanctioning privateers to prey on Vilaverdan shipping. Likewise, ships from Vilaverde attack Texeiran ships, whether they have letters of marque or not; the Vilaverdan government has been known to grant a retroactive letter of marque to captains who make port in Porto Preto after having raided Texeiran shipping for some months.
Except as mentioned, the other Savage Baronies get along with their neighbours. In particular, Gargoña maintains neutrality in most conflicts. It is not unusual for a Gargoñan delegate in the Signatory Council to be elected leader of the council.
The climate is warm temperate to subtropical. Overall, this climate is favourable for human habitation. The weather is seldom harsh; it snows in the northern baronies as often as once a decade. Rains come with some frequency, though most downpours soak the coasts rather than travelling far inland. Storms are not uncommon, and the coastal baronies suffer occasional hurricanes. Some flooding occurs each year with runoff from the mountains but is seldom cause for worry.
The natural flora and fauna of the region include kudzu, tomatoes, potatoes, maize, plains grasses, deer, alligators, armadillos, prairie dogs, turkeys, and eagles. Monstrous lifeforms of the baronies include many creatures from the MONSTROUS MANUAL tome. However, few lycanthropes exist on the Savage Coast, and intelligent creatures are limited primarily to goblinoids and those races mentioned as PC races.
A few especially horrible monsters are native to the Savage Coast; one such is the Inheritor lich, the undead remnant of an Inheritor who increases his or her power to great levels. Two of these creatures are currently found along the Savage Coast one in Renardy, the other in the Savage Baronies. The Inheritor lich that inhabits the baronies is called Doomrider, a formidable enemy for any group of would-be heroes.
History of the Region
To understand the diverse forces that affect the current Savage Baronies, it is helpful to learn about the history of those cultures. Several civilisations have lived in the region now known as the Savage Baronies, and each has left a legacy of some kind some through their descendants, some through their ruins and artifacts. In addition, the Red Curse has had a profound impact on the lands of the eastern Savage Coast. According to the calendar of the baronies, the current year is 1010, which is 1,010 years after the crowning of the emperor in the ancestral lands of the baronial humans.
Before the Baronies
Approximately 4,400 years ago, the first humans arrived in the area that would become known as the Savage Baronies. Driven by war from their eastern homeland, these people were the Oltecs, a coppery-skinned race who brought arts, agriculture, and basic metalworking to the region. At the time of the Oltecs' arrival, few (if any) sentient beings inhabited the area, though a few tortles or manscorpions from the central coast may have lived nearby.
In any case, Oltecs quickly became dominant in the eastern portion of the Savage Coast and established settlements along the central coast as well. Oltecs never built cities, but they did have ceremonial centres that included step pyramids, giant stone heads, and statuary. They built edifices of earth and stone. The Oltecs' largest structures were of earth; little evidence remains of their locations, except for some oddly shaped hills in the baronies. A few stone pyramids still exist, but most disappeared as later natives took the stones for their own construction.
About 3,300 years ago, elves arrived in the region, migrating from the Serpent Peninsula, which lies on the eastern side of the Gulf of Hule. Like the Oltecs, elves settled the eastern and central coast. Elves did not affect the existing local culture in any significant way; they built settlements near human villages and traded with them, but they did not intermingle.
Elves and Oltecs held sway in the area for almost a millennium. While they occasionally fought each other and faced internal squabbles, they built extensive civilisations, creating what would eventually become ruins for later generations to explore.
The most direct cause of the transition from civilisation to ruins was the arrival of a horde of goblinoids about 2,300 years ago. The elves and Oltecs were decimated by these goblinoids; though they had dealt with minor raids before, mounted goblinoid hordes represented the first truly organized external threat that either the elves or Oltecs had ever faced. Some elves and humans remained in the area, but both races fell into savagery.
About 17 centuries ago, another group of humans arrived in the region. These were the Nithians, sent to the Savage Coast by their pharaohs to explore and colonise. These dark-haired, dusky-skinned people settled along the eastern and central coast, expanding their proud empire over the region. Nithians captured what savage tribes they met, the remnants of the humans and elves who once dominated the area. Some savages were kept as slaves, and interbreeding was not unknown (though it was much more common between humans than between humans and elves). Along the central coast, Nithians came into conflict with manscorpions, driving all of them to the far west. Tortles were largely ignored, perhaps because they were still rare on the eastern coast.
Unfortunately for the Nithians, their culture was the target of the Immortal Thanatos' malicious manipulations. He manoeuvred the people into conspiring against their pharaoh and irritating numerous Immortals. About 200 years after the Nithians' arrival, several Immortals banded together to destroy them. They were eradicated entirely, leaving behind only a few pyramids and artifacts in the area. The Immortals destroyed all memory of the Nithians as well. The cultural legacy of art and philosophy that humans, elves, and tortles of the region absorbed over their contact with the vanished race is now most often believed to be Oltec. Theories suggest that the ruins belonged to some other culture of the Savage Coast, such as wallaras (who never actually settled east of the Orc's Head Peninsula).
At the time of their destruction, the Nithians had just created a powerful magic in the region, laying the foundation for Legacies, cinnabryl, and red steel. About the same time as the eradication of the Nithians, conflicts on the Orc's Head Peninsula caused other Immortals to take an interest in the region and place curses upon the land and its peoples. These curses and the magic of the Nithians combined to produce the affliction known as the Red Curse. However, powerful mages in the far west were able to confine the effects of the Red Curse to those lands that would later become known as the Savage Baronies.
All those who remained in the region after the destruction of Nithian civilisation suffered from the effects of the Red Curse. Many fled. Others discovered that the Red Curse did not exist everywhere and avoided the cursed areas. Those who stayed were joined by communities of dwarves who migrated to the region not long after the Red Curse began. As with the elves and humans, some dwarves fell; some left; and some adapted.
Over the next few centuries, little of note happened. In the east, tortles had a brief flirtation with civilisation. About 1,150 years ago, tortles built a few settlements along the coast, initiating trade with some surrounding colonies.
Tortle civilisation fell about 900 years ago when another horde of goblinoids swept down from the Yazak Steppes. Dwarves, elves, and humans were also hurt by this horde and were prompted to establish permanent, fortified settlements. None of these settlements were very large, but villages appeared throughout the eastern portion of the coast.
In approximately the year 450, another wave of human colonists arrived in the area; these were Traldar, descendants of Nithians and light-skinned Neathar, and thus lighter-skinned than those humans already living along the Savage Coast, who were mainly of Oltec ancestry. The Traldar formed several city-states on the eastern side of the Gulf of Hule; those settlers who travelled to the western side were mostly absorbed by the populations already living there(lightening the average westerner's skin tone).
Following is a timeline of events pertinent to the development of the Savage Baronies. Most dates are approximate.
B.C. 3500 In the Atruaghin Plains far to the east, the Azcans break with the Oltecs, and the two groups war.
B.C. 3400 To avoid the ongoing war in their homeland, some Oltecs migrate to the Savage Coast, settling the eastern and central shores. Manscorpions and tortles already live along the central coast, and aranean and wallaran civilisations flourish on the western end.
B.C. 2300 Elves arrive in the region and settle the eastern and central Savage Coast. They live alongside, but not among, the Oltecs.
B.C. 2000 Elf and human mages settle in the forests of the western Savage Coast, supplanting the araneas; they name their land Herath. Enduks are created on the Orc's Head Peninsula and begin building the civilisation of Nimmur.
B.C. 1700 Goblinoids settle in the Yazak Steppes.
B.C. 1300 Goblinoid hordes decimate elven and Oltec civilisation. Those humans and elves who remain fall to a savage, semi-nomadic existence.
B.C. 700 Nithians arrive on the Savage Coast. They interbreed somewhat with Oltecs. Elves of the eastern coast establish settlements in and around what will eventually become Torreón and Narvaez.
B.C. 500 Herath wars with Wallara; manscorpions betray the enduks and take possession of Nimmur; Nithians disappear, leaving little evidence other than a few relics and pyramids. The Red Curse is created, but confined by Herathian mages to portions of the eastern Savage Coast.
B.C. 450 Dwarves arrive along the eastern coast and build small colonies.
B.C. 150 Tortle civilisation rises on the central coast.
1 The first Emperor of Thyatis is crowned.
100 Goblinoid hordes sweep the coast again. Tortle civilisation falls, and humans, dwarves, and elves remaining along the eastern coast are prompted to build permanent settlements.
450 Traldar arrive in the region. They establish several city-states on the eastern shores of the Gulf of Hule. Traldar who settle on the western shores and absorb the existing human cultures descended from the Oltecs. Humans of the eastern coast begin to establish permanent villages and intermingle with elves of the region.
500 Humans move into the areas that will eventually become Eusdria and Robrenn; some elves and dwarves ally with these humans. Lupins and rakastas form permanent settlements along the central Savage Coast in lands that will eventually become Renardy and Bellayne.
History of the Savage Baronies
Beginning around the year 900, another wave of colonisation came to the Savage Coast. This brought many more humans to the region, primarily a large expedition from the Thyatian Empire far to the east. Sent by Emperor Gabrionus IV, the people who came to the Savage Coast were from a particular ethnic group among the Kerendan people of the Empire, the Ispans. Like other Kerendans, Ispans were olive-skinned, dark-haired, and fond of efficiency and fighting ability; unlike other Kerendans, Ispans also possessed a fair amount of wanderlust.
Ispans settled along the western shores of the Gulf of Hule. They founded villages, and from these, adventuring expeditions ventured inland. Some expeditions were lost, but several returned with great riches, gained from raiding ancient ruins, trading with gullible natives or robbing horrid monsters. Many adventurers founded villages of their own, claiming domains around them; most called themselves barons, equating themselves with landholding nobles from their faraway homelands.
No fewer than 20 petty baronies were founded in the first two decades after the Ispans came to the Savage Coast. In most cases, the baronies absorbed natives into their cultures, intermingling local blood and philosophies with the more Thyatian culture of the coastal villages. Other colonists also arrived and intermarried with both Ispans and natives; dark-skinned humans from Yavdlom settled in what would eventually become Vilaverde and Texeiras; and copper-skinned people from the faraway desert Emirates of Ylaruam settled in what would become Saragón. The Ispans eventually split into two peoples: those who called themselves Verdans, merging with the people of Yavdlom and forming the naval powers of Vilaverde and Texeiras; and those who styled themselves Espans, making up the other baronies. The Espans chose to differentiate their new culture from their old, colonial roots with a vowel shift from an initial "I" to initial "E"; the shift persists to this day.
The early baronies fought among themselves, and many fell. Others merged, either through conquest or through diplomacy. About 25 years ago, the baronies stabilised into the nine states currently known as the Savage Baronies. Though the modern baronies still squabble, each is sturdy enough to survive minor threats. More importantly, they usually have enough foresight to put aside their arguments and unite against major threats, but getting them to cooperate is no easy task.
A little over 40 years ago, a few states cooperated diplomatically to avoid a war; this resulted in the Treaty of Tampicos. This famous treaty initially signed by Torreón, Texeiras, Vilaverde, and Hule defined mining rights in Terra Vermelha, the Red Lands. In addition, the Treaty of Tampicos covers claiming land and defining borders in general. Those who signed it (Hule and all baronies except Narvaez) are known as the Signatory States, and their representatives meet in informal councils to discuss disputes and other problems. While the decisions of this Signatory Council are not binding, member baronies usually obey such decisions to avoid conflict with the other baronies. Hule seldom sends delegates to conferences and often ignores any decisions except those contained in the original Treaty of Tampicos.
The Coming of the Curse
A century ago, the Red Curse was confined to scattered areas of the eastern end of the Savage Coast. Twisted monsters occasionally came scrabbling or oozing out of the cursed areas, but few humanoids fell to the Red Curse because they had learned to avoid the lands under the curse. Ispan colonists also discovered the Red Curse, but unlike earlier inhabitants, these colonists neither succumbed to nor avoided the Red Curse. Instead, they fought and studied it, eventually finding ways to protect themselves from it.
A few people even settled in the cursed lands. While some died, others reportedly changed, acquiring magical Legacies and twisting deformities. These individuals were studied by scholars, mages, and priests in the nascent baronies; ways were found to slow the progress of the curse, first through spells and then with cinnabryl.
About a decade ago, in response to an invasion from Hule, Los Guardianos began experimenting with cinnabryl and power gain, and the first vials of crimson essence were produced. The affliction, previously called just "the curse," became known generally as the Red Curse as its effects became more widely known and more people began experimenting with its power. None knew why its effects were confined only to certain regions.
Baronials were aware of the nation of mages, Herath, at the western end of the Savage Coast, but they paid little attention to it. None realised it was the mages of Herath who confined the Red Curse to its limited areas of effect. Then, about one year ago, disaster struck: magic worldwide suddenly failed completely for several days. During this time, the capital of Herath was sacked by goblinoids, and the magical protections were destroyed. By the time magic was restored, the Red Curse had spread, covering almost the entire coastal region. People of the region know the Red Curse spread greatly during the troubles, but except for the Herathians, none know why. Most attribute it to the wrath of the Immortals, to which they also attribute the multitude of wars that have occurred over the last decade.
For the most part, the people of the Savage Baronies have learned to deal with the Red Curse. They have studied it and developed ways to protect themselves though not all can afford to obtain cinnabryl. Inheritors, red steel, and cinnabryl have all become more common since the spread of the Red Curse, particularly in the Savage Baronies. Commerce has increased in the baronies, and class stratification has become even more pronounced.
Timeline of the Savage Baronies
Dates are precise in this timeline.
900 A new wave of colonists reaches the eastern Savage Coast, including people from Ylaruam, Yavdlom, and the Thyatian Empire. They bring feudalism and class structure. Adventurers establish domains that eventually develop into the Savage Baronies and absorb the elven, dwarven, and human cultures already in the region. Settlers discover the Red Curse but decide to stay anyway. A few halflings also begin to arrive on the Savage Coast and are absorbed into local cultures.
902 The Barony of Narvaez is founded along the coast by an expedition of Ispan people from the distant Thyatian Empire. Narvaez claims a great deal of land, from the Claw Peninsula to the Bay of the Siren (Baia da Sereia), including land already occupied by human, elven, dwarven, and tortle inhabitants.
903 The Dominion of Vilaverde is founded by Ispans and people from Yavdlom.
905 Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) declares independence from Narvaez.
906 Dwarves and elves in lands claimed by Narvaez declare themselves the Barony of Montoya.
908 The State of Copetez is founded in the plains.
909 The Barony of Montejo is founded inland from Narvaez; the Dominion of Tanaka is founded by people from Yavdlom.
913 The Barony of Narvaez splits between two heirs; the northern section remains Narvaez, and the southern portion becomes the Barony of Sotto.
915 The State of Aranjuez is founded in the plains near Montejo.
916 The Barony of Cristobal is founded several miles north of Narvaez.
921 The inland State of Escudor breaks from Sotto.
926 The Barony of Rivera is founded within Sotto, causing a small civil war; Rivera achieves independence.
929 The State of Texeiras is founded along the eastern part of the Bay of the Siren.
930 The Barony of Marino declares independence from Narvaez, claiming the western shores of the Bay of the Siren.
931 A cinnabryl mine is discovered near Nueva Esperanza. Sages discover its protective value when used against those affected by the Red Curse, but others discover that it harms those unaffected by the curse. Cinnabryl is known, but not generally coveted. At this time, depleted cinnabryl is discarded after use.
934 The Barony of Gargoña is founded in western Sotto; after a short civil war, Gargoña is granted independence.
935 The Barony of Quimeras declares independence from Narvaez.
936 Sotto declares war on Gargoña; after a few months, Gargoña conquers Sotto and absorbs all but the southern portion, which organises into the State of Almarrón. The official name of the culture of all baronies except Vilaverde and Texeiras is changed from Ispan to Espan; the language spoken is Espa.
937 Narvaez attacks Quimeras and Montoya, re-absorbing both after a short war.
939 To encourage internal consolidation, Almarrón strikes south and takes over Nueva Esperanza and surrounding territories.
940 The Barony of Alcazar is founded near Cristobal.
941 The Barony of Torreón is founded south of Cristobal and Alcazar.
942 A human smith in Torreón experiments with depleted cinnabryl; she discovers its usefulness and names the substance red steel. A few small weapons of red steel are produced.
947 The State of Bigotillos is founded north of Copetez.
948 Dwarves near Nueva Esperanza begin experimenting with steel seed found in the local cinnabryl mine. When they accidentally mix it with vermeil, they stumble upon the formula for smokepowder. They begin searching for ways to use the new substance.
951 The Barony of Babosas is founded east of Vilaverde.
957 The first arquebus is constructed in Nueva Esperanza; a function for smokepowder has been found, but it is rarely used because of the dangers.
958 Texeiras conquers the Barony of Marino.
962 The Barony of Los Elegidos is founded north of Torreón, Alcazar, and Cristobal.
963 Yazi gnolls attack Saragón and Aranjuez.
966 Montejo and Aranjuez unite diplomatically to form the Barony of Saragón.
967 The Barony of Morales is founded just north of Torreón, between Cristobal and Alcazar.
968 Torreón wars on its neighbours, conquering and absorbing Morales and Alcazar; Cristobal and Elegidos are weakened but do not fall. Elite Torreóner warriors use swords of red steel, the first recorded instance of its use in a large battle.
969 Torreón discovers deposits of cinnabryl in Terra Vermelha, and moves to take over those lands; to forestall a possible war over mining rights, diplomats gather and form the Treaty of Tampicos, which is signed by Torreón, Vilaverde, Texeiras, and Hule.
970 Elegidos disappears without a trace.
971 Babosas is conquered and absorbed by Hule.
975 The wheellock is developed in Nueva Esperanza. Certain leaders, including a warrior named Cimmaron, encourage the secret production of the weapon.
977 Almarrón conquers and absorbs Escudor, then turns north and initiates hostilities with Gargoña and Rivera.
978 To help defend itself from Almarrón, Rivera agrees to be absorbed into Gargoña. While Almarrón is distracted, Nueva Esperanza begins hostilities; Cimmaron's pistoleers make quite an impression.
979 The revolution in Nueva Esperanza continues, led by General Cimmaron. Almarrón and Gargoña end hostilities, and both ratify the Treaty of Tampicos.
980 Armed with a wheellock pistol and a red steel sword, General Cimmaron leads his forces to victory over troops from Almarrón at the Battle of Hondo; his followers declare him Earl Cimmaron, and Nueva Esperanza becomes the centre of the newly independent Cimmaron County. Dissatisfied with recent leadership, the people of Almarrón revolt against their leader and overthrow him. Making use of old Traladaran philosophies, they establish a democracy.
981 Cristobal relinquishes claims on its holdings, except for one tower and a few square miles of land; the Lord of Torre Cristobal gives up the title "Barón" but maintains independence from other powers.
984 Saragón ratifies the Treaty of Tampicos.
985 Copetez and Bigotillos unite through marriage; the lands are merged to form the State of Guadalante. Guadalante ratifies the Treaty of Tampicos.
986 Doña Esperanza comes to power in Gargoña and leads her state into peace, beginning a policy of neutrality regarding all the other baronies.
990 Cimmaron ratifies the Treaty of Tampicos.
992 The Treaty of Cortesillas, between Guadalante and Saragón, solves the question of watering rights for cattle between the two nations.
994 Almarrón faces a time of troubles. An opportunist seizes control of the state and declares himself dictator of the nation.
997 Cinnabryl is discovered in Slagovich; it is mined and traded to Torreón, Texeiras, and Cimmaron for red steel.
999 The first vial of crimson essence is produced by an alchemist in Saragón. The secret spreads to a group of adventurers who become the first Inheritors. Some of the Inheritors rise to power in both the Brotherhood of Order and the Friends of Freedom. To balance them, other Inheritors join the Neutral Alliance.
1000 The Immortals begin a conflict that eventually begins to affect mortals throughout the world.
1001 The Inheritors face internal conflicts and reorganise the aligned societies (the Brotherhood of Order, the Neutral Alliance, and the Friends of Freedom) into the three Orders of the Inheritors (the Order of the Ruby, the Order of Crimson, and the Order of the Flame).
1005 Prompted by attacks from Bellayne, the goblinoids of the Yazak Steppes begin unifying. Robrenn attacks and irritates the Yazi goblinoids.
1005 An internal holy war begins in Narvaez. The church of Narvaez unifies the factions by providing an external enemy: the other Savage Baronies. Narvaez carries its Inquisition to the other baronies.
1006 Torreón, Vilaverde, and Texeiras ally with Narvaez, rather than fight that state. The other five baronies (Guadalante, Cimmaron, Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña) ally to fight against the Narvaez alliance. Gauchos and Swashbuckler "freedom fighters" prove effective against the naval power and mercenaries of the Narvaez alliance.
1006 Hule attacks the Savage Baronies. The baronies end their conflict to unite against Hule.
1007 Yazi gnolls attack the baronies, which have been severely weakened by previous conflicts. The Master of Hule sets a curse on his enemies, inflicting floods and other natural disasters on the Savage Baronies.
1008 The Savage Baronies again enter into border conflicts. Tortles and other peasants revolt. In Almarrón, rebels oust their dictator and install a Barón descended from their former noble rulers. The Colonial Revolt begins, and many colonies rebel against their parent states. Yazak goblinoids attack throughout the Savage Coast.
1009 Magic stops working, and Yazak goblinoids sack the distant capital of Herath. Though magic is restored a few days later, the Red Curse has spread across the coast. Inheritors of the baronies begin introducing cinnabryl throughout the coast, while taking control of most of the cinnabryl mines as well.
1010 The present.
Possibility of Unification
More than a few people have suggested that the problems of the Savage Baronies could be solved if they became united under one ruler. While this idea is attractive to many Baronials, including a majority of the barons, no head of state is willing to give up power.
For now, the closest thing to a unified government in the baronies is the informal Treaty of Tampicos council, the Signatory Council. In practice, this group has no real authority to make or enforce laws and serves merely as a forum for airing arguments that could affect all the baronies if not curbed.
Each of the nine Signatory States (Hule and each of the baronies except Narvaez) is allowed to send one delegate to the council, along with whatever assistants the delegate feels he needs. The leader of the Signatory Council is selected each time the council meets from those delegates who attend. Typically, the selected leader is someone with experience and no vested interest in the dispute at hand.
The council leader is seldom a man or woman of great charisma. It is possible that were a charismatic leader to arise on the council, he would be elected to serve many times and actually begin to carry some authority. However, the charismatic individuals of the baronies (many of whom are Swashbucklers and Inheritors) seldom have an interest in council meetings. Thus, the council is an unlikely source to provide unification for the baronies.
Another potential road to unification is warfare. For decades, rulers in the Savage Baronies have considered extending their rule to adjoining areas. Several have even been successful; compare the number of states that once existed to those that exist now. However, the current group of baronies has lasted for a quarter of a century, and none seem to be in danger of falling. While border wars and other difficulties occur with regularity, if such conflicts were to escalate to the point of complete conquest, chances are that other baronies would involve themselves either as mediators or reinforcements to prevent any one state from becoming too powerful.
In addition, each of the current baronies has attained a unique cultural identity. Vilaverde is a sea power, Narvaez holds many religious fanatics, and Guadalante is home to free spirited gauchos. Trying to bring these diverse cultures together to agree about national policy is a task for Immortals. Los Guardianos tend to be fiercely independent and patriotic, and their leaders reflect those attitudes.
Another possible way to unify the baronies is through marriage. Since all of the states pass on national leadership through inheritance (except possibly Cimmaron, where the policy is under question), if heirs to two baronies were to marry, their child might inherit both baronies. Baronesa Esperanza of Gargoña has managed to marry two of her children into other ruling families, one in Narvaez and one in Saragón; while these marriages have helped her keep the peace, they have not yet provided heirs capable of ruling both states. Their are serious problems with this form of unification: the prospect is risky because someone two generations down the line might not be a capable leader for a larger nation; supporters of independence might assassinate potential heirs; there are few heirs in the baronies, and fewer of marriageable age; and the delicate diplomacy required to arrange such a marriage is difficult for the people of the baronies to master.
Should events fall into place, some baronies might be able to cooperate and conceivably unite. Vilaverde and Texeiras are not so different; Cimmaron and Guadalante are similar; and the three "enlightened states" of Almarrón, Gargoña, and Saragón have much in common. Any of these three groupings could conceivably unify into a larger nation under the right circumstances.
In conclusion, while total unification is a possibility, it is an unlikely one. If a charismatic and powerful leader were to arise among the baronies, perhaps he could unite two or more of the lands; if heirs married, some pairs of states might unify. However, the independence and cultural diversity of the people would likely prevent most unions from lasting for very long.