Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ballad of Scintillus Sulpicius Severus (composed by Vinhalaloen)

Verse 1
Have you heard of the Last Schoolman?
Yes, it's Schoolman Scintillus!
listen close, you folk of Varan
of that bloody blacklake baron

Chorus
Look out! Vampire!
Sharpen stakes and polish mirrors
If to save those you hold dear-er
The valeguard marches chivalrous
on Suspicious Sulpicius Severus

Verse 2
Dont let tricks let you forget him
Yes, it's Schoolman Scintillus!
He's Lord Servillus, Schoolman Scintillus
Sulpicius Severus; he means to kill us

Chorus

Verse 3
You know a corpse in need of burning?
Yes, it's Schoolman Scintillus!
hide your wife and hide your children
from that viscous voracious villain

Chorus

Verse 4
There's a vampire worth destroying
Yes, it's Schoolman Scintillus!
Vale's protector,  to blacklake
In his heart, you plant your stake

Chorus

Verse 5

A great sacrifice made to Akem, to fight a great evil
Yes, it's Schoolman Scintillus!
Three great bulls, bled and burned
Eastwick saw, and Blacklake learned

Chorus

Verse 5
Let's send them off, to fight great danger
Yes it's Schoolman Scintillus
Off they go now, Valeguard ride,

We'll see you back with a vampire's hide

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Academics in the 10th Age

Apropos of the Academician kit that Arneth the Cautious, the party's new wizard, I am here collecting a number of academics from throughout the setting, as well as introducing a number of new ones. Part of the Academician's benefits include exchanging communication with other academics and sages and having access to a wide network of knowledge through them.

Very Famous Academics and their Fields
Ceylon the Thoughtful
Ceylon is a monk who dwells in the Heartland of the Empire, in a small abbey south of Miles. He is known for his meditations on theogony, Milean history, and ancient history in general. His most famous work is the History of the Heartland, followed closely by Theogony.

Cyon Greenmantle
A vanished scholar of halflings and the Greensward, Cyon Greenmantle was a wizard who once lived in the Lamp Country with his apprentice Aurelien. Several years ago, he left to find out what had become of the Conclave and its members... and was never seen again. Considered the foremost scholar on halflings and gnomes.

Drozon the Red
There is no scholar in Arunia as learned as Drozon the Red, one of the rulers of occupied Kallatha when it comes to the matter of Wyrmish histories, beliefs, and religion. Drozon is a scholar of dragons and has studied them in more detail than any man now living, although conversation with him can be difficult, as he is also a mighty and reclusive wizard.

Hamish Letterfriend
Another wizard. Hamish Letterfriend is a sage of one particular topic above all else: food. The history of and making of various foods are his pride and joy. A gnomish illusionist, Letterfriend was once a member of the now-vanished Conclave. He is also a scholar of illusions and general history.

Nauheryon the Recorder
An elf-scholar who resides in the Library of Sulcania in Aita Valmindene, Nauheryon is the foremost historian of elvish wars, including the Elf-Dragon Wars, the War of the Moon, and the Rot War.

Reynarius di Llun
You know this scoundrel; a Dorl who now spends his time behind enemy lines in Essad, Reynarius considers himself a Sage of Renown on all topics. He wrote several guides for adventurers early in his career.

Sarent de Vayens
A Milean historian, well-known for his histories of the First and Second empire.

Local Academics near or Within Craftsman's Reach
Ilisia the Sage
Ilisia is a historian who specializes in Elvish histories, but is well-versed in all history of the west. She resides in Aita Valmindene, and is frequently patronized by the royal court there.

Varius of Tyreth
Varius is a man who grew up in Tyreth under Prince Aegus, but left for the Library of Sulcania in Aita Valmindene. He is a religious scholar, studying comparative religions of the various races. This includes the mythology of monstrous folk, when he can get his hands on it.

Aurvangr the Aged
A dwarven scholar at Aella's Hall, Aurvangr is an ancient dwarf with no hair on his head and a long white beard. His knowledge is focused on the eddas, the law, and the hated enemies of the dwarves: giants, dragons, orcs, goblins, and other such races that have troubled his people since time immemorial.

Lastresis of Aellon
An Aellonian  scholar of the Art, Lastresis has come all the way west to study in Aita Valmindene amongst the elves. He is one of the wisest arcanologists, most witty historians, and a master of each of the fields of spellcraft. The elves consider him a prodigy.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Valley Kingdoms: Sifekgae, General Information

Wondering what the hell is going on with these blog posts? Well, head on over to this here post to get a general feeling for the Valley Kingdoms. If you'd like to read the other Valley Kingdoms pages, you can click the button up top or just follow this link to the index.
Light brown: Hills, Yellow-brown: regions of heavy cultivation

SIFEKGAE
Kingdom of the Throne
King Izeid II, b. 1168, r. 1189
Geography and General Information

Sifekgae is divided into a number of small lordships, most no larger than 10 miles by 10 miles or so. These lordships are the descendants of the territories controlled by the former warbands of shipfolk that settled the coastline. The kingdom is also mentally divisible into several major regions; the first is Shalpirith, the royal demesne, ruled from Vabaten by the aging King Izeid the Second. Other regions include the Cirran Peninsula, Valley Country, the Pirian Plains, the Tamadar Bay, the Western Highland, the Great Araden Wood, the Vale of Piris, the Cheset Fen, the Ruban Highlands, the Northern Marches, and the Nithis March, also called the Nithis Narrows. Each of these areas will be addressed in turn.

Ethnically, Sifekgae has pockets of wandering folk, particularly among the hilly regions. These are former natives of the area who were never fully settled by the Sifik empire and, like the wandering folk of the other kingdoms of the valley, share a unique but interconnected ethnic identity. They call themselves the Rarun, which in their tongue means "they who walk." They are to be contrasted with the seafolk who live on boats and rivers -- there are few of these in Sifekgae, as the new lords from the ships drove most of them out after their invasions.

Fethas, who take their name from the mythical sea-monster forebearer of Izeid I, comprise the bulk of people in Sifekgae, no matter their ancestral heritage. The only other recognizable kingroup from before the landing of the Fethas are the Great Sifiks, who retain power in some of the marchlands. These are nobles who trace their heritage back to Sifhem itself, and prefer to retain old Sifik customs. The Great Sifiks stand in sharp contrast to the Fethas, posturing themselves as heritors of an older, more mighty, and more noble tradition. However, in recent generations, Great Sifiks have been dying out -- not that they have been having less children, but those heritors of the Great Sifiks have more and more been identifying as Fethain and attending the king's royal court.

Fethain Culture.
The Fethas are essentially a warrior culture, like most of the Valley. They have inherited a healthy respect for wizards, and as such permit the sages who claim descent from the High Wizards of Sifhem to have prominent places at court. Fethas nobles dress in bright colors, made from expensive dyes, and wear knee-length tunics with tight hosen. Breeches are considered barbaric (though they themselves wore breeches when they first game to ruined Sifhem), and longer dress is considered effete.

Unlike the other Valley cultures, the Fethas have no long-standing history of ruling queens. As such, though women can hold property and title, they are much more constrained in Sifekgae than in other realms of the Valley.

Fethas culture focuses on martial prowess and loyalty, both in inter-personal relationships and political ones.

Great Sifik Culture.
Those who still call themselves Great Sifiks can be immediately singled out by their dress. Great Sifik nobles tend to wear long ankle-length tunics; they are often mocked for their "retiring" style, and they are generally taught to read, a rarity in Fethas culture. They preserve an ancient respect for the Empresses of Othan, and thus are unlike the Fethas in that women have full rights in Sifik law. Generally, Sifik written law only prevails in the Northern Marches.

Wanderer Culture.
Wanderers are not quite as mobile as they sound. They live in small, decentralized communities, with elders acting as their leaders, rather than lords. The kings of Sifekgae have been forced to recognize this way of life as legitimate, much to their cost. Wanderer townships are mostly concentrated in the Valley Country. They have very little social hierarchy, although most Wanderers are fanatically devoted Sivans and will follow the word of a Sivan priest before they will listen to the word of a king.

Wanderers are also a storytelling culture. While most of the Valley Kingdoms have a strong tradition of oral storytelling, the Wanderers in particular host storytelling competitions at their village centers in the summer, and their high poets are revered above all other members of their society. Indeed, Wanderers are far less martial than Fethas or even Great Sifiks.

THE KINGDOM
Sifekgae is a feudal kingdom, strongly reliant on the individual loyalty of its lords to their king. Izeid is well-loved by most of his people, and is considered a fair and upright overlord. The laws of the kingdom are primarily inherited from old Sifhem, and King Izeid maintains a whole chancery of notaries to digest and distribute it. Literacy has increased to be somewhat more common under King Izeid, as he often requires written replies to his own letters and commands.

Court is held at Vabaten. No longer do the kings of Sifekgae maintain their courts at the various coastal strongholds, but rather every lord is required to attend the General Thivatin which is held twice a year. The General Thivatin is a gathering also of the mightiest interests in Vabaten, and serves as a ratifying body for the king's decrees.

Justice is done according to Sifik law, and King Izeid has trained a whole corpus of magistrates. These magistrates are also his personal retainers, and are dispatched to each lord in turn to do the king's justice. There are usually twenty such knights at any given time, known as the Knights-Justice. While the transgression of certain crimes are left to the local thivatin assemblies, the most grievous may only be presented to a Knight-Justice and the court he convenes in the locality.  This courts have come to be known as Kingscourts.

However, Sifekgae is riven with conflicts of the law, as the conqueror Fethas never had a written law, and several generations have gone by with the locals adhering to the old Law of the Chiefs. Thus, while a strong promulgation of Sifik law does exist, judgments are also made pursuant to local common law as gleaned by the Knights-Justice from elders of the community, or from a vote by the local thivatin assembly.

Generally, the geography of the kingdom is divided into low population inland areas and the remains of the great old Sifik cities on the coasts. Sifekgae is much less well-populated than Sifhem was, and most of the old imperial roads have fallen into very bad repair. The only cities that remain even shadows of their former selves are Vabaten and Medolin.

THE HIGH WIZARDS
Like their more powerful rivals at Medenleb, the High Wizards still stage a yearly pilgrimage to the Black Stone for their apprentices. However, they are much reduced since the days of Sifhem. In the modern era, the High Wizards are a secretive, withdrawn, and much-maligned sect. Other kingdoms see them as serpents, coiled to strike at the heart of Ya, while King Izeid has made good use of them. Many lords of Sifekgae, indeed, pay the Wizardry Tax to the throne for permission to keep their own pet wizards near.

None now know the power that remains in the High Wizards, but it does not do to test them. They drink strange concoctions and are always brewing madness out of herbs in their bubbling retorts. They rarely work magic, and indeed seem to do anything they can to avoid it, but rumors say that they still have some quite powerful spellcraft, and where they ever moved to, they could change the tides of a battle, a war, or of fate itself.

The Isle of Shalpirith
Shalpirith is a royal demesne, administrated entirely by the royal household of King Izeid and his knights. Royal wardens control the land, much of which is given over to farming to support the court. The island is hilly, filled with winding valleys and ravines, and those are occupied by a great many shepherds and drovers.

Though the court is fed by Shalpirith, the Royal City of Vabaten must import food from the continent. The only remaining road on Shalpirith is the grain highway that crosses the Darish Straits, over the monumental ancient Sifik bridge that spans the water.

The last High Wizards also have their home and central meeting place on Shalpirith, hidden somewhere in the royal hunting grounds, which have become known as the Wood of the High Wizards for that very reason. These are an old and hoary preserve, dominated by massive trees that were old when Sifhem was young. The forest has always been protected by emperors, kings, and potentates, and remains so to this day.

The Cirran Peninsula
On the far side of the Darish Strait stands the old city of Cirr. Like most of the coastal Sifik cities, it was raided nearly continuously in the period leading up to the founding of Sifekgae. The Lord of Cirr is a powerful person in the peninsula, but only one of four lords in the region. The peninsula is one of the few regions that, like Medolin, remains under heavy cultivation by farmers.

Cirr has a thriving market, but little else. It is a collection of about 8,000 people in the old city center. Stone ruins surround the city proper, and are often used by the locals as quarries. The peninsula proper is divided more or less into a cultivated region on the eastern side and a forested region on the west. It's most powerful lord, Crioch, is only slightly more influential than Lord Malgos of Etriel, who commands the loyalty of all the farmlands north of the Cirran Wood.

Because of its position near the Valley Country, there are a fair number of raids down into Cirr by bandits and rogue Wanderers. For this reason, most Cirrans have a strong dislike for the Wandering Folk, and they suffer a fair amount of discrimination in the townships of Cirr.

Lords
Crioch, Lord of Cirr
Dasmas, Lord of Dariesh
Tirovin, Lord of Calmost
Malgos, Lord of Etriel

Valley Country
Valley Country is an extremely difficult to pass region; it has no roads or clear trails, and is shot through with deep gullies and high hilltops. These range from lightly wooded to very heavily so, mostly with pine, juniper, and and northern hardy oak. Bronze- and Ironwood is also found in great quantities in the Valley Country.

The region is ruled by five Great Sifik lords and two Fethain lords. There are long stretches belonging to the Wandering Folk and their decentralized towns. These communities are mostly appointed Royal Wardens to administer them and ensure that their lord treats them well. There are no major cities in the Valley Country, and it is haunted by bandits and outlaws.

Lords
Deniot, Lord of Malmis (Great Sifik)
Coros, Lord of Temm (Great Sifik)
Lemogar, Lord of Filith (Great Sifik)
Tuvor, Lord of Sem (Fethain)
Maldohere, Lord of Prothas (Great Sifik)
Eldogar, Lord of Maas (Great Sifik)
Thudein, Lord of Jorat (Fethain)

Pirian Plains
The Pirian Plains provide food for much of the rest of the realm. This is the site of Medolin, the largest city outside Vabaten, and the location of the yearly Medolin Fair. Two great lowlands are interrupted only by the Middling Hills between them, and the thirteen lords of Pirian gather every year for the Fair at Medolin, each contributing to the draw of the great fair.

The Pirian townships have mostly preserved their shapes from the Sifik period. These small villages and towns are grouped together in manors of 3-5 villages under the authority of a local knight (also, confusingly, called a Lord's Warden). Each lord, ruling over a demesne some 250-400 square miles, controls many of these manors, and owes service of his knights to the crown (the so-called knight's fee, 40 days of unpaid military service).

Medolin is a large walled city, well-known for its linen and cotton industry. Medolin cloth is shipped all over the Valley. It also plays host to the Merchant's Courts, where fair business and inter-kingdom laws are decided during the celebration of the fair.

Lords
Savalis, Lord of Medolin
Tria, Lady of Alcai
Venir, Lord of Morred
Thonis, Lord of Aldir
Mavos, Lord of Tiriot
Thirik, Lord of Malan
Thraya, Lady of Timort
Amirath, Lord of Arolin
Korath, Lord of Avisus
Mira, Lady of Toravin
Fora, Lady of Stavin
Nonir, Lord of Ariot
Valin, Lord of Halled

Tamadar Bay
A region that focuses around the old city of Tamadar, which is now little more than a glorified fishing village on the shores of the bay, this region also encompasses the old cities of Erano and Avomel. Of the three (known as the Three Cities in Sifekgae), Avomel retains the most of its old glories. Ancient Sifik monuments still stand there, and the city actually retains its ruling thivatin, one of the few Sifekgae cities to be ruled by an elderfolk council instead of by a lord.

This region has poor soil and its people tend to be fishers or herdsmen. Numerous small sandy islands off the coast provide for good oyster hunting ground. Of course, there are many coastal and even inland farming villages, clinging to the earth. Scratch-ploughs predominate here.

Western Highland
The Western Highland is another wild region, taken over with grazing and Wanderers. It is nearly uncontrolled, with only a handful of fortified manors and a few castles amongst its wild uplands. It is well-known for its herbs and lavender.

Great Araden Wood
This heavily wooded area is culturally focused around the Royal City of Araden, which is ruled by its own thivatin, much like Avomel. The city itself holds a franchise to a huge territory, the size of a lord's demesne, and commands taxes like a lord. It is the only city in all of Sifekgae that trades with the inhumans of the lands beyond the sea, and one of the few seaports in the Valley open to folk from beyond the mountains.

The wood itself is a peaceful place, having been well-groomed and well-settled in the Sifik times. Portions of it are reserved for royal hunting, and Araden keeps the rest clear of bandits and outlaws with their legendary Araden Guard, who are drawn from the wealthy children of the city and trained as soldiers.

Vale of Piris
Another forested region, this one wild and uncontrolled. Like the Marches, the Vale of Piris lies at the very frontier of Sifekgae. It is a deep wood, hard to travel, and rumored to be filled with spirits. They say the gods are strong in the Pirinvale, and that they still scrutinize the world there and act within it. It is also rumored to be wrapped in sorcery, and to hide renegade wizards who seek refuge from the High Order.

The Lords of Piris are a strange lot, but brave. They hunt bear and boar recreationally, and for that reason often think of themselves as the natural enemies of Nithisgae, whose heraldic sign is a bear. They are eager warriors, and excel in the tournaments when they are held throughout the kingdom.

Cheset Fen
A religious refuge, where Yasivan priests hid during the sea invasions, Cheset Fen is known for its Sivan temples. On a lonesome mound in the center of the swamps there stands Isma's Hideaway, a temple renowned for its beauty, stained glass, tapestries, and vast library. Though outlaws also lurk in the fens, the fen lords do their best to root them out.

In the northern fenland, the ruins of an old Othan city can be seen, slowly sinking into the swamp, some miles downstream from an ancient and cracked Othan dam.

Ruban Highlands and Northern Marches
Marcher lords rule these lands. Both regions are rough hill country. The Northern Marches play host to many Wanderers, while the Ruban highlands see almost none. Both are heavily militarized, although the castles in the Highlands are much larger and tend to be self-sufficient.

The demesnes in these realms are both parceled out to the most loyal knights and lords of the realm, as they border the inhuman lands of the Outside and protect not only Sifekgae, but the entire Valley. The Unified Temple sends money and aid to the marches as well, and pilgrim-mercenaries known as Flails, who serve in the castles and fortresses at the borders and help fight inhuman incursions into the Valley.

Nithis March and Nithis Narrows
Both these regions focus around the Lithas Castle, the linchpin of Sifekgae's defenses against Nithisgae. These regions are caught between the hills, the mountains, and the sea, making them narrow but important. Bones litter the fields of the Narrows and are still tilled up at the Field of Sighing where the great armies of King Azar's were finally halted.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Spells from the Tenth Age: Kurjamieli's Triad

The following three spells have a common availability in the Vales, and were crafted by Kurjamieli the Elf during the autumn and winter of the year X511 in preparation for a confrontation with the sorcerer and possible vampire, Lord Servillus Blacklake.


Kurjamieli's Wall of Coursing Water (Lvl 1)
(Enchantment)
Range: 30 yds.
Duration: 2d4 rds. +1 rd./level
Area of Effect: A circle 10' tall x 10' in radius x 1" thick, or a Wall 10' x 10' x 1" + 10' tall x 10' radius or 10' x 10' x 1" per caster level over first level.
Components: V, S, M (A barrel of water 10 cubic feet or any other source of water of equal or greater volume)
Casting Time: 1
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast, a circular wall of coursing water springs up. It is 10' tall and 10' in radius and is considered running water when faced with vampires or other creatures that cannot cross such barriers. Alternately, the wall can be a straight wall that is 10' wide by 10' tall by 1 inch thick. The wall does not stop arrows or other projectiles, but the swift-moving water does cause any ranged attack passing through it from either side to suffer a -2 penalty. Anyone on either side of the wall can see through it to make melee attacks with no penalty. The wall disperses after 2d4 rounds plus 1 round per level of the caster, or if the caster chooses to dispel it before that. The material component is 10 cubic feet of water. Note that this spell can use any kind of water, including holy water.


Kurjamieli's Uncanny Step (Lvl 1)
(Abjuration)

Range: Touch
Duration: 24 Hours
Area of Effect: 1 creature
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1
Saving Throw: None

This is an augmentation of the Armor Spell, but works only against unarmed attacks. It grants the wearer of the spell an AC of 4 vs. Unarmed Attacks only. Otherwise it operates just like the Armor spell: It is cumulative with Dexterity, does not work on those with an Armor Class of 4 or better, is not cumulative with the Shield spell, but in the case of fighter/mages, stacks with the shield bonus. This spell lasts for 24 hours.


Kurjamieli's Mystic Mirrors (Lvl 1)
(Enchantment)

Range: 60 yds. plus 10 yds. per level.
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: 10' x 10' square + 10' square per level
Components: V, S, M (A silver mirror or mirrors worth at least 150 gp each; mirrors may be reused)
Casting Time: 1 rd.
Saving Throw: None

When cast, this spell raises up a number of silver mirrors (equal to the spell caster's level) to catch and angle sunlight into an area 10 square feet per level of the caster (A level 2 wizard can cover an area 20 square feet, for example). The sun must be visible in the sky for this spell to work. The final mirror must have a 'line-of-sight' on the area the caster wants to affect. The spell lasts until the spellcaster stops concentrating on it (due to moving, desire, or a successful attack that causes damage) or if something obstructs the final mirror's 'line of sight' or the mirrors are attacked. The wizard may lower the mirrors gently to the ground by concentrating, thus ending the spell, but if he starts moving or is attacked successfully the mirrors will crash to the ground and become unusable.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dirty Rules for Taverns

The players in the Valeguard were awarded a tavern and inn when its owner died, by decree of the local moot in Eastwick. Most of the retired NPC adventurers in the town are dead due to old age or just terrible things happening, leaving the Valeguard the chief adventurers in the region.

Here are some fast and dirty tables and rules for the running of the Oldwall Inn and Tavern.

For each month that the Oldwall is in operation, roll 1d6 or pick a result on this chart.
HOW WELL IS THE TAVERN DOING?
1-2. Terribly
3-4. Moderately
5-6. Well
7-8. VERY well

MODIFIERS
-4 if there is war or unrest in the Vales

-2 if there are bandits in the Vale
-2 if the weather is particularly bad
-1 if there is war anywhere along the Saltgate Road
+1 for every 100gp invested in the tavern for the month
+1 if the Valeguard have been particularly active this month

INCOME (based on month quality)
Income is built off of maximum potential income per month. Since the Oldwall can fit 25 guests at the merchant level (5sp/night) and 50 guests in the common room (1cp/night). This works out to 125sp and 50cp maximally each night, 3,900sp/month. We'll also say there's a maximum of 5,000cp in food and drink sold every month. Let's say it's 10,000sp/month or 1,000gp/month when operating at its best.
Below Zero. Losses of 3d100gp
Terrible. 3d10% of 1,000gp
Moderate. 2d10+30% of 1,000gp
Well. 3d10+40% of 1,000gp
Very well. 5d10+50% of 1,000gp

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Valley Kingdoms: Successor States -- Sifekgae, History

Wondering what the hell is going on with these blog posts? Well, head on over to this here post to get a general feeling for the Valley Kingdoms. If you'd like to read the other Valley Kingdoms pages, you can click the button up top or just follow this link to the index.

SIFEKGAE
Kingdom of the Throne
History


Royal Shield of Sifekgae

The Sifik Empire ended more or less officially in 971 F.V. with the Time of the False Emperors and the death of Empress Calia in the Battle of Arsenn. In the years thereafter, Sifhem spun apart and devolved between the control of powerful nobles or mighty wizards. A powerful religious backlash, however, prevented too many wizards from taking control; wizardry was seen, in most of the provinces, as being the mark of the renegade emperors. The election of Archpriest Arwas in 967 F.V. coincided with the issuance of a decretal marked Anathema of the Emperors. This decree set official Sivan doctrine on sorcery for a century: wizards were marked as the foes of Ya, and to have congress with one was to risk one's own humanity. Though the harsh effects of this decretal were to mellow over the following centuries, it set the stage to deprive mages across the Valley from their power (save, of course, in Medenleb). There were a handful of sorcerer-kings in the early period, but as the Temple of Yasivan gained more and more power with the crumbling of the states wizards found themselves unable or unwant to rule.

In 1015, a new wave of shipfolk swept into the Valley, and with them a series of attacks on old Daredin. By 1035-7, Daredin was abandoned by the nobility and the wizards who remained there. The Litha Palace stood empty, and the throne of Sifhem was transported to the much older city of Vabaten. This ancient Othan-founded city had a functioning council as it had under the Sifik Empire. The conquerors of Daredin and the shores of Sifhem, the new raiding-shipfolk, made their way to Vabaten for legitimacy.

This union of Vaben history and the might of the ship-folk gave the first King of Sifekgae, Izeid, a power-base on which to work. By promising to elevate the old families of Vabaten above Dariden and the other coastal cities (many of which were partly destroyed or looted by this time), King Izeid won over the preening aristocracy of Vabaten. He moved his vast treasure-hoard to Shalpirith and established his dynasty upon that isle. Izeid was crowned King of Vabaten, Shalpirith, and the Coasts in 1090. By the end of 1113 his son, King Nayash, had made inroads into most of the old Throne Provinces of Sifhem.

The leaders of Sifekgae began with King Izeid, though in his dead it was merely called the Kingdom of Shalpirith.

King Izeid, r. 1083–1109. Built the Kingdom of Shalpirith and extended it to the old coastal cities. Concentrated plunder in Vabaten and made it his capital. Married Uran of Medolin to secure the allegiance of the inland nobility.

King Nayash, r. 1109–1162. Second son of King Izeid. Disinherited his elder brother by plying his father with constant attention. Known as the Scourge of Sifekgae, united the kingdom and destroyed all the rebel lords in the countryside who thought of themselves as Imperial Sifik.

King Azar, r. 1162–1189. The Conqueror; brought new territories into Sifekgae and had his court minstrels and writers compose fifty ballads honoring his father and grandfather. Died childless, passing the throne to his sister-son, Izeid II.

King Izeid II, r. 1189-current. The current King of Sifekgae. 42 years old, having been born in 1168. Nearing the end of his days, but known as a scholar-king who has increased the influence of his court, summoned back a number of lackey-wizards to his side to serve as his courtiers, and made peace with the Archpriest of Yasivan, publicly doing penance for the misdeeds of his fathers.

Modern Sifekgae, the Throne Kingdom, is highly reliant on the settled descendants of those reavers, shipfolk, and raiders who came with Izeid and his grandfather Armaud to plunder the fallen reaches of Sifhem. These men and women have been installed as lordly families, overseeing estates of their own. Most of the great cities of old Sifhem have been completely depopulated or destroyed. The wealth of their vaults has been transferred to flourishing Vabaten, where the old Sifik nobility claim ancestry from Othan itself.

Sifekgae is the most powerful and warlike of the Kingdoms of the Valley, and though its satellite cities are still recovering from the plunder of three generations past, it is a kingdom growing in wealth and trade as well. The crowned basilisk has been adopted by the royal house, symbolizing the might of Izeid I and II, as well as the link to the Sifik past. Now that the old raiding nobility are firmly ensconced and those Imperial Sifik lords of old have come to identify themselves as Sifekgae instead of Sifhemish, King Izeid II has felt it useful to recall the glories of Sifhem as a culture -- indeed, it gives him a monopoly on wizardry and hegemonic rhetoric all over the Valley.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Valley Kingdoms: Empire of the Throne, the Fall

Wondering what the hell is going on with these blog posts? Well, head on over to this here post to get a general feeling for the Valley Kingdoms. If you'd like to read the other Valley Kingdoms pages, you can click the button up top or just follow this link to the index.

SIFHEM
The Empire of the Throne
The Fall


Eastern tadunum armies at the Gates of Hrum
The Sifik Emperors expanded the influence of Sifhem beyond the mountains, colonizing the edge of the Eastern Steppe with roads, garrisons, etc. Imperial soldiery and civil servants stationed in what became known as the Hrumgae (the Lands Beyond the Hrum) were never required to serve for more than five years outside the Valley, lest they lose their connection to Yasivan. Sivanic temples were founded on the steppe, but the status of these extra-territorial temples was constantly under dispute at Medenva. This would eventually lead to the War of the Fire, which would encompass most of the empire in its bloodshed.

Archpriest Ruwan objected to the construction of temples for the Hrumgae soldiery under Emperor Varungath. He promulgated an edict stating that any priests assigned to those temples were themselves acting against the will of Ya. When the temples stood empty, and the fires unlit, there were riots in the Hrumgae. The soldiers demanded priests be sent to them to absolve them of their inhumanity.

Ruwan refused. The Emperor summoned him to Daredin and held him hostage in the Litha Palace, and contemplated bringing charges against him for treason. Instead, he forced Ruwan to capitulate and write instructions to assign priests to the Hrumgae temples, as well as appointing a High Divine to the Outremar. Immediately upon being released from the Litha Palace, Ruwan recanted the so-called Palace Writings. He issued countermanding orders, but by then the High Divine Ulcas was already appointed and residing in the Hrumgae.

Between the High Divine and the Archpriest, a fully-blown praxic dispute was underway. The Emperor obviously backed the High Divine of the Hrumgae. However, the nobility found in Archpriest a way to strike at the power of the Wizards, and the Great Thivatin. Outside of this purely pragmatic consideration, there was also deep religious belief motivating the resistance to the High Divine. Although the dispute did not become violent during Ruwan's lifetime, his successor was a much younger man -- the Archpriest Thibru.

Thibru immediately pronounced a declaration of anathema on Emperor Varungath. The Sifik Emperor replied predictably: he sent for Thibru to join him at the Litha Palace for a temple synod. Thibru went, but he did not go alone. He came with fifty chosen temple-knights and a retinue of thousands of faithful. When he met with the Emperor, the palace was surrounded by chanting, singing, bell-ringing penitents in white. Thibru sat before the Sifik Throne and smirked at the emperor, informing him that he was more than willing to go to his death for the Faith of the Fire.

The emperor obliged. He arrested Thibru and all his knights and had them executed moments later on the steps of the palace. The crowd erupted, predictably attacking the palace. The Sifik Emperor unleashed a wave of destructive magic against his own people, and open war was upon the empire. The War of the Fire lasted for three generations, on and off, and was only finally extinguished with the arrival of the Uvarun -- the people of the East.

Pressure on the Hrumgae settlements grew. Battles and engagements outside the Valley grew in number. The Archpriest Krulef ended the War of the Fire with a theological compromise and temple synod. The settlement was too late. The Empress Avatha died at the Gates of Hrum defending the empire from the Easterners. This began the Time of the False Emperors... which ended with the collapse of the empire.