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Information on Western Karameikosby Patrick Sullivan
About a week and a half ago, I asked if anyone would be interested in my development of Western Karameikos, loosely based on
by Lloyd Alexander. Several people expressed interest, so I am posting this to the mailing list. Given the recent copyright debate, I should like to make clear that much of this material is derived from the excellent work of Lloyd Alexander and that of TSR. I'm sorry it's taken so long, but here it is...
Geography: The Cruth Lowlands are very sparsely settled, wild, empty lands. Small Traladaran farms and tiny villages occur occasionally along the rivers or on one of many smaller tributary streams. Narrow trails, barely discernible to the untrained eye, wind through the countryside, connecting the isolated villages. The Black Peak Mountains form a beautiful backdrop for these lands (see the picture on p. 5 in K:KoA). They rise from only about 1,500 feet above sea level to peaks over 5,000 feet. The two most dominating mountains are Mt. Tybor (5,100'), known to the locals as Mt. Achelos, which juts sharply out into the surrounding lowlands between the Magos and Gustos Rivers. Mt. Dread (5,400'), farther East, is a high, isolated mountain with a bad reputation; a unique situation causes Mt. Dread to be visible from many sites far away: Riverfork Keep, the village of Verge, and, on especially clear days, the treetops of the southern Canolbarth forest. Lights, possibly large fires, are frequently seen atop Mt. Dread on the Equinoxes or Solstices, and sometimes on the Day of the Dead, but for as long as anyone can remember, massive fires blaze on the Night of Fire, indicating that a great treasure must be buried on the mountain. However, few brave Mt. Dread, and even fewer return. The Mountains are inhabited by several races of giants, some of whom are rumoured to have a predilection for human flesh. The Cruth Lowlands are a very old country: broad river valleys carved in eons past by great glaciers. Towering bluffs and stony hills, canyons which wind for miles to end up simply as a dead-end box canyon, hanging valleys, beautiful layers of sedimentary rock, all rise above the marginally-forested valleys, which serve as the home for the majority of the human population. The hills are extremely isolated, inhabited by the occasional ogre or bugbear, and teeming with wildlife. The rivers run lazily through the hills; all are navigable until near their sources. The Achelos' River is officially named the Black Peak River, but the locals still use its traditional name. History: The Cruth Lowlands have always been rather sparsely settled. The inhabitants of this area were enslaved by the Beast-men during that epic invasion, until the forces of Halav drove the beast-men to defeat. Around 500 BC, this area was claimed as a kingdom by a man named Achelos Chardastes, who claimed to be a direct descendant of King Halav. Achelos established a capital on the river named for him, nearly due north of the current location of Koriszegy Keep. Achelos was a wise and beneficent king who helped protect his followers from the monsters of the area. He was also noted as a great healer and worker of miracles, so the people loved him greatly. Soon after Achelos abdicated the throne in favour of his daughter he disappeared, but the people believed that Achelos would return to protect them in the future. For the next 17 centuries, the dynasty (renamed Vargos after Achelos' daughter married) ruled the area very loosely, trying as best they could to protect it from various threats. The legends of Achelos grew greater and greater, and he was soon venerated as an immortal. Remarkably, clerics who dedicated themselves to his teachings received spells and clerical benefits. This continued for 17 centuries, until the Thyatians began attempting to conquer Traladara in 900 AC. The Cruth lowlands were the target of a military operation launched from Tel Akbir and led by the intelligent and dashing General Muktar al Harb. The King had died only a year before the invasion, and his son, Achelos Vargos (King Achelos II), took the throne. The new Achelos and Muktar were both honourable, expert adventurers, and they fought each other for years, the Thyatian invaders paying dearly for each advance they made; the Traladaran defenders slowly retreating toward the Black Peaks. According to legend, Muktar finally sent a magical army against Achelos, defeating him. Muktar established his command at Riverfork Keep, and, even through the acquisition of Traladara by Stefan Karameikos, the area has remained under the control of the invaders from Tel Akbir, now under Karameikos. The area suffered greatly from the attacks of the Black Eagle Barony, but it seemed at times that the Fury did less than it could have to prevent these raids. Sites: Riverfork Keep is still the centre of the Thyatian presence in this area. It has a village of about 500 people surrounding it, but it is dominated by "The Fury of the West," a battalion of Karameikos' Fifth Division. Many smaller villages dot the countryside. The ruins of what are claimed to be Achelos' castle, although mostly destroyed by a series of earthquakes soon after Achelos' defeat, are located on the Achelos River north of Radlebb and Koriszegy Keeps. At the foot of Mt. Tybor (Mt. Achelos) is a large cave complex which is partially unexplored. Note that while a river, a large forest, a prominent mountain, and many other geographical features bear Achelos' name, it is unlawful in these parts to refer to them as such (Thyatian names, ie Riverfork Woods, Mt. Tybor, etc., must be used).
Customs: The Traladarans of this area share many customs with other Traladarans. In addition, they are highly likely to follow the immortal Chardastes (known to them as Achelos) and follow older, season-based rituals. The Traladarans also believe strongly in their would-be saviour, Achelos. They still believe fervently that Achelos will return to save his people. They resist the attempts to convert them to the Church of Karameikos, and they despise their Thyatian overlords far more than do other Traladarans. The Thyatians, on the other hand, enjoy brutally suppressing rebellion in the Traladarans. It is illegal to refer to natural features as "Achelos'" anything, and the soldiers brutally put down any insurrection. On the other hand, the soldiers do help greatly to protect all the inhabitants from attacks by Giants, ogres, or bugbears.
General Nizar al Harb: (F8, AL: LN) Commander of The Fury of the West and descendent of Muktar. Suleiman is overwhelmed by his task as commander of Riverfork Keep. He spends most of his time running the Keep itself, and the rest is focused primarily on destroying the humanoids in the area. He would prefer to live in peace with the Traladarans, but he cannot bear the threat they make to his authority. He therefore authorises his advisers to do pretty much as they wish with the ethnic population.
About 35 years old. He has black hair, a moustache, brown eyes, and dusky skin. He's about 5'10", 165 lb.
Captain Suleiman ibn Subay (F6, AL: LE) Administrative Captain, second-in-command. Suleiman pretty much runs the show at Riverfork Keep. He has accepted bribes from the Black Eagle Baron for years (Ludwig would send criminals to the Cruth lowlands simply to be killed by the Fury to show that they were fighting Von Hendriks). Now that this source of income is gone (in 1011, I believe), Suleiman is casting around for a new patron. In the meantime, he is perfectly content to go on brutalising the Traladarans just for the sheer pleasure of it. He has many spies, so he knows nearly everything that goes on near the Keep, and he occasionally arranges the disappearance of a "problematic guest" (ie, anyone who tries to dig beneath the surface of affairs in the Cruth lowlands). Suleiman is completely without morals or ethics regarding anything whatsoever; Ludwig von Hendriks loved him.
Suleiman is in his mid-thirties. He is overweight and shaves his head completely. His skin is remarkably pale for one of Tel-Akbiri descent.
Natasha Tibonerial: (MU6, AL: CN) Magist of the Fury of the West. Natasha is the daughter of immigrants from Thyatis City. She was also on von Hendriks' payroll. She really has no interest in the Traladarans, she simply wishes to live in as much comfort as possible. She has several business ventures operating in the lowlands that she will try VERY hard to protect. For now, she believes that her best bet is to retain her alliance with Suleiman, but she would desert him if she really thought it was for her best.
She is about 30 years old. She is 5'9", 145 lb. Long, beautiful brown hair, brown eyes. Though she is physically fit, she is not particularly attractive: her nose is large, her eyes are small, and her face just looks somewhat strange. She speaks with a slight lisp, although she is able to overcome it with concentration. These factors help make her seem harmless and slightly hapless.
Mahmud Buqumius: (C6, AL LN) Mahmud is the chief chaplain of the Fury of the West. He is an elder of the Church of Karameikos. He is not a bad individual at all, but his primary intent is to win converts to the Church, so he has no love for most of the ethnic Traladarans and their stories of Achelos.
Usually found in comfortable priestly robes, although he occasionally wears armour for adventuring. He is about 5'6", 150 lb. His hair is black, his eyes are brown, and he has a distinctively Alasiyani look about him. He cuts his hair very short and sometimes smears it with oil to look more fashionable. He also walks with a slight limp, and is more than happy to tell the long story of how he received his injury years ago in an effort to spread the Good Word of the Church of Karameikos into the wilderness and has never fully recovered.
Achelos: (?, Al: N) Of course, there is currently a Traladaran leader who calls himself Achelos. He claims to be of the lineage of the Royal Family, and, from his secret base (in the caves at the foot of Mt. Achelos) he directs the effort to kick out the Thyatians from this part of Traladara. It is up to the DM to decide whether this is the real Achelos Chardastes, travelling forward in time to help his dynasty, or if the true Chardastes will return to bring a peaceful coexistence between the Thyatians and Traladarans.
None but loyal Traladarans know his (or perhaps even her) identity.