Thursday, November 8, 2012

Foresthome: Suthermore & Tutleby

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

The United Kingdom of Foresthome encompasses a total of eighteen dominions, including the Queen’s Lands.  The nation stretches more than 900 miles from its southeastern edge to the Fris River in the northwest.  Provinces defined their borders from a combination of natural barriers, non-human clan demographics, and spheres of political influence radiating from key cities.  Original aristocracy grew from close friends and war leaders who'd sworn loyalty to the very first monarch and taken the same oath.  Forested areas, although sparsely populated, almost invariably relate to non-human clans who gave their allegiances to counts and barons in order to better fit among the kingdom’s governing structure.  This system of allegiances involves a balance between local aristocratic authority and Clan Houses whose role is to defend non-human interests, usually related to the protection of forests as well as the rights and autonomy of their inhabitants. 
Imposed upon each dominion, this political structure reflects royal edicts issued when monarchy was established.  The exception to this system is the dominion known as the Clan Lands, which occupies the largest stretch of forest at the center of the kingdom, including the Lonely Forest, the Feywoods, the Riddlesnatch Woods, and the Faerie Woods.  A largely autonomous tribal council governs this region.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Map Suthermore
Suthermore closeup, scale: 8 miles per hex

This dominion occupies the realm's southeastern corner bordering with Bettlellyn.  It breaks down into three physical regions: lowlands, highlands, and mountains.

Lowlands are the wealthiest and most populous, featuring a majority of human population.  The count’s court resides in the Town of Igoin (pronounced AY-gon).  Much of the local business involves trade with Bettlellyn merchants.  Farming involves essentially wheat and pig farms.  Law enforcement, a significant portion of which operates from Tenoboa and the fortress of South Scion, concerns itself mostly with watching the border and catching Elarion missionaries on their way north.  Those caught are branded and expelled, a practice causing as much grief in Bettellyn as the latter’s deliberate policy inflicts up north.  Diplomatically, the deadlock contributes to mounting tempers on both sides of the border.  Common police duties in lowland towns and villages are performed by hired watchmen, typically “colonials” from northern Bellissaria.

The fortified Town of Tenoboa (pronounced TEN-oboe) harbors a concentration of the Queen’s Army, as opposed to local county troops.  This town provides the only suitable way across the White Rapids which runs briskly through the lowlands.  During spring, the river swells dangerously and occasionally floods its banks.  Parts may freeze in the dead of winter, but the crust remains thin and treacherous.  Only the length from sea to town permits navigation.  Tenoboa’s bridges are fortified and feature spans that can be drawn up.  Getting past the city would probably require a naval strategy, which explains why Tenoboa also happens to be one of the three main military ports in the kingdom.

Highlands refer to the stretch of windswept grasslands along the plateau’s edge.  Other than the village of Highbough along the Upper White Rapids, population there remains fairly low.  It is the domain of horse and cattle herders, humans for the most part.  The plateau forms a rocky cliff rising from the lowlands to nearly 1,000’ on the far south.  The formation provides a crucial component of Foresthome’s southern defense, preventing a major assault away from the coastal areas.  Although light infantry might be able to scale the cliffs, cavalry and siege weaponry would never follow, and supply-lines would be very hard to maintain.  This allows Foresthome troops to concentrate on lowland bottlenecks in Suthermore and neighboring Tutleby, possibly withdrawing entirely from the kingdom’s first line of defense—the East Llyn River—the moment it appears to be breached.

Spine-Ridge Mountains remain the domain of hill and mountain giants.  The former were largely pacified and no longer raid settled lands, on the other hand, it is safest not to venture into the hills without good cause.  Mountain giants have proven a considerate and thoughtful bunch because they are better organized and far more powerful than their poorer cousins.  There is little that they fear and thus may afford courtesy and magnanimity.  Representatives of the giantkind occasionally attend Clan House meetings in Igoin, but for most of the run-of-the-mill business there, they rely on trusted human rangers.  Their influence on the count’s decisions is significant.  If summoned, giants will send some of their best warriors to help defend the county.  As can be expected, their presence in Foresthome constitutes another reason for disagreements with Bettlellyn’s faithfuls who see them as dastardly spawns of chaos.

Part of the hills known as the Silkspider Crags belong to giant spiders.  They do not answer to anyone’s authority, and the count has not deemed it productive to risk troops against such dangerous creatures.  Several costly attempts were recorded in the county’s annals, but spiders always seem to reclaim the area within months, inferring nests may exist below the surface.  It is sometimes possible to purchase natural silk strands from the beasts, which can be used in the making of magical vestments and ropes.


Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Map Tutleby
Tutleby closeup, scale: 8 miles per hex

Tutleby is located on the eastern bank of Llyn Lake, on the border with Bettellyn.  As its eastern neighbor, this county features three distinct parts: the lowlands, the highlands, and the mountains.  As such it remains in many other ways similar to Suthermore, although smaller and not quite as wealthy.

Lowlands feature a political center in Dema, and a military stronghold in Tutlos.  The latter had been the ancestral seat of the Counts of Tutleby, but after it was burned to the ground as the result of Bettlellyn reprisals in a past century, it was deemed safer to relocate the count’s palace to the smaller town of Dema.  Trade takes place mostly with the other eight counties around the lake, under the auspices of the League of Eight.  It is a merchant guild that enjoys a quasi-monopoly on trade across the lake.  In some ways, it instigates the growth of business, but its influence at the royal court and privileges dating back to the kingdom’s formative years enable the guild to inflate prices and retain much of its profits despite efforts to the contrary on the part of local counts.  The risk of sabotage looms high for non-guild merchant ships venturing in the area.  The guild controls many people working at the ports, from county officials to humble dock workers, if not a band of cutthroats.  Local county soldiers handle law enforcement with the help of private hired-hands, an apparatus performing with varying degrees of success.  One source of income for the county includes tolls collected along the Essith Trail (running from Tutlos to Green Bay), the High Trail at Needles and Saplings-by-the-Cliff, and Preachers’ Trail at Willowsway (pronounced Willows’ Way).

Since its last destruction, Tutlos was rebuilt mostly at the expense of the Royal Treasury, and heavily fortified to take advantage of the Flickwick River.  A good number of royal troops garrison its walls.  Bridges are fortified but a chink in the defense remains with the presence of a gap between Tutlos and the edge of the southern plateau.  An invading army could bypass the fortified town and target instead the village of Three Leaves.  The count was ordered to build a trench and a wall to close the gap, but the project goes poorly and has yet to be completed due to graft, corruption, and sabotage.  For various reasons, Queen Aberria chose Lakim in the neighboring Principality of Llynsey as the region’s main military port, which somewhat reduces Tutlos’s strategic value.  Local counts (and strategists south of the border) have seen this decision as a certain lack of confidence in Lord Tutleby.  Nonetheless, the loss of Tutlos would be tragic since it would open the way to the highlands northward and eastward.

Grasslands and forested areas
of Tutleby’s highlands are home to several clans of strange creatures called wemics.  They are believed to have migrated from the Imperial Territories for reasons still unclear.  These centaur-like beings possess leonine bodies with human torsos and heads.  This fierce and ever-so-unruly bunch largely bears responsibility for Bettellyn erecting a major fortress across the East Llyn River (Devouts' Gate).  Their past raids, highly destructive and virtually impossible to intercept, eventually prompted the punitive expedition ending with the historical sacking of Tutlos.  In the opinion of the counts and the monarchy, wemics are both blessing and curse, as much a liability within the realm as a thorny military threat to an invader, so great is their fierceness and craving for combat.  They remain so profoundly hated across the border that Bettellyn offers substantial rewards for any wemic warrior killed, double that for females.  On the positive side, no Elarion missionary has ever been known to survive a foray into wemic-land.  Naturally, the issue remains another bleeding abscess in the diplomatic relations between Foresthome and Bettellyn.  Wemics have been troublesome to cattle and horse herders in neighboring Suthermore as well.  In the view of Dema’s townsfolk, there is nothing more irritating than a haughty, puffed-up wemic clan leader parading down main street to attend a Clan House meeting and demand a prerogative or two just after having laid waste to an equal number of farmsteads in the highlands.  The only residents who seem to get along well with them are the giants living in the Spine-Ridge Mountains.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Tutleby Wemic
As a result of the county's various challenges, Count Tutleby’s authority remains a tad shaky.  The dominion is financially cash-strapped, internal rivalries have yet to be settled, the League of Eight continually exploits the county’s foibles, while corruption and civil dissatisfaction add several more layers of confusion and waste.  Wemic antics and ill-will from Bettlellyn make matters even worse.

Wemics: AC 6 (5*), MV 120' (40'), HD 5+8, AT 2 claws + 1 short sword or club, Dmg 1-4/1-4 + weapon, Int 10, AL N; Special Attacks: leap 10' up or 30' forward, females gains a +2 bonus to hit if cubs are threatened; Special Defenses: (*) shield, only surprised on a 1.  Clan leaders can have as many as 9 HD (AC3, d8/d8/weapon +2 dmg bonus) while shamans and wokans can attain C7 or MU4 abilities respectively.

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