Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Foresthome: Hârnmayne & Grünfold

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

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Harnmayne map
County of Hârnmayne, map scale: 8 miles per hex

The Land of Hârn to this day retains a fairly low population, at least outside its forests.  For the longest time, the Gulon Clans remained rebellious to any outside influence, including neighboring woodlands beings.  Gulons are remnants of an ancient race afflicted with the curse of lycanthropy.  Half-men and half-wolverines, these gulons were notorious for a ferociousness and gluttony far beyond that of the fiercest of werewolves.  They live in the large forest known as the Weeping Hârnbosks, named after the many intruders who’ve lost their lives there, and in the foothills of the Rumblesnap Mounts.  Although adjacent to the Queen’s Lands, Hârnmayne was the very last dominion to join the kingdom.  It existed as a lawless borderland well into Foresthome’s annals until Maretha-the-Furrier, a daring and clever sorceress, discovered a way to alter the curse.  At long last, the fear and horror ceased, and common people began settling the newly-established county.

Today’s gulons are no longer thought as “wereverines” but as the Gulon Clans.  These muscular man-like beings have light-to-medium-brown fur covering their heads, the back of their necks, hands, and feet, their shoulders, and their back.  They feature short bushy tails, very strong lower jaws, thick eyebrows, and dense fur drooping from their sideburns.  Beard, which many shorten to stubble length, gives the lower faces of males a dark shading akin to a wolverine’s muzzle.  Their hands and feet are clawed.  As can be expected, gulons are voracious eaters, leaving little in their plates but the hardest of bones.  As to romance, an outsider bold enough to seduce one had better have a solid constitution to survive the night.  Cautiousness ought to behoove the more adventurous, as gulons mate for life.  Although naturally jovial and boisterous, angering one is a bad idea.  Angering an entire clans is a disaster.  When challenged or threatened, Gulons shape-change into giant wolverines, a sequel to their former lycanthropic affliction.  When  in anger, gulons must succeed Wisdom checks to resist the change or to change back.  When calm, however, they may voluntarily change back and forth if it would be of benefit.

Gulons: as normal men (min. St 13, min. Co. 17, max. Wi 14; two claw attacks/round, 1d4 dmg each, or one weapon attack), ML 11, AL any, with shape-changing ability.  Gulons can speak to all weasel-type creatures, including normal wolverines.  They often use normal wolverines as familiars, despite not being wizards.  Insults, wounds, and willful attempts to harm a friend or a kin are enough to trigger anger.  Gulons no longer infect their victims with lycanthropy.

If permitted as a player characters (fighters or clerics), gulons incur a -10% penalty to all experience gains.  Since a player character left the clan to go on a life of adventuring with outsiders, the shape-change ability when angered is no longer automatic.  Intentional shape-change may be attempted only once per day and lasts for one battle or 1 round per experience level, whichever is longest.  Base chances of success are 10% +7% for every additional experience level, up to 73%.  From level 11 onward, the percentage score increases +1% per additional level.  The odds of an unintentional shape change are half as much, rounded up (only when angered; rolled by the DM).  Gulons do not wear armor other than shields as it would restrict their shape-changing ability and destroy their armor.  For that matter, they wear loose-fitting garments that can be discarded when switching forms.  When changing, all equipment drops to the floor around them.  Using these mechanics, a higher-level fighter (level 10-15) may lead a clan.  Gulons can become Foresthome rangers (see previous post) connected with a gulon clan, with an additional –15% experience penalty (total -25%). 

Giant Wolverine*: AC2, HD 6*, MV 120’ (40’), AT 2 claws/1 bite, Dmg 2d4/2d4/2d8, Save F6, ML12; Int 10, AL N (regardless of the original gulon alignment).  Special Defenses: half-damage from non-silver or non-magical weapons, half-damage from cold-based attacks, relative Constitution is 19; can move at full speed in deep snow.  Giant wolverines do not infect their victims with lycanthropy.  If all enemies have fallen or fled while a giant wolverine is still in battle rage, it may attack an ally (15% chance), usually the closest.  When switching shapes, previously accumulated damage remains proportional to the previous form’s maximum hit points.

Since the pacification of the gulons, normal life began in the region.  Aside from the seat of the county in Keelmeadows, only one village was founded, upstream on the Dreeneth River.  Other settlements include hamlets with about 50-100 inhabitants each, mostly farmers and fishermen.  The town was originally a fishing port.  After some initial successes, the community failed to expand in any meaningful way as it came under regular attack by the gulons.  The proportion of forested land in Hârnmayne clearly shows the extent of gulon clan territories, and illustrates their political influence in the count’s administration.  It also explains why the paved Silkstone Road was never extended past the Queen’s Lands.  Gulons naturally object to developments aimed at facilitating outsider settlement of open areas.  Nonetheless, the Esterhold Trail came into use, connecting the Queen’s Lands with the Kingdom of Ar.  Farming communities are slowly growing along the trail, the coast, and the Falkenstone River.  Beyond Keelmeadows, the Dreeneth waterway is navigable only by smaller vessels (Norse-style longships or smaller) up to Shrubsnag.  By law, outsiders may freely travel the river but not leave its banks while in gulon territory.  The clans operate an amber mine as full partners and on behalf of the count—the other partner.  The mine is dangerous due to seismic activity under the mountain range.  The name “Rumblesnap” comes from the noise rocks often make, and the sudden snapping sound when a crack opens.


Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Grunfold map
County of Grünfold, map scale: 8 miles per hex

This northern dominion is another heavily forested land, although it fared infinitely better than its southern neighbor as regards its present population.  Its history ties into the Realm of Ar more than that of Foreshome.  Much of the outsider population there grew from runaway serfs and renegades escaped from Ar.  Early on, sasquatches living in the woods, recognized the value of having allies to keep the wizards of Ar off their land.  The truth is that much of the sasquatches’ sympathy for outsider settlements originated from vast amounts of vegetables, fruit, and ale generously purveyed by their newfound allies.  Unlike Hârnmayne, the inhabitants of Grünfold, whether clansfolk or outsider, could not wait to swear allegiance to the new king.  Initially, their decision engendered a rash response from Ar, in the form of air raids and fiery attacks upon their woods and farmsteads, wreaking desolation upon wide swaths of land.  The behavior ended progressively as royal troops sailed in and reinforced the new dominion’s defenses.  Joining the empire definitely put an end any open conflict with Ar.


Sasquatch: AC6, HD 5*, MV 150' (50'), AT 2 claws or 1 boulder, Dmg 2d4/2d4 or 1d8, Save F5, ML 6 (11 in lair), Int 6, AL N.  Shamans with 8 HD exist in the clans.
 

Another war took place some years later.  Without a clear reason, masses of ogres and other horrors emerged from the depths beneath the crags, the region south of Crystal Lake and mainland Ar.  At first, their onslaught seemed directed at Foresthome, chopping down trees wherever possible, enslaving or slaying all in their paths.  Several historians surmised that some malfeasant wizard from Ar, in an act of selfish wanton spite, might have aroused these ogres and channeled their wrath toward the sylvan realm.  It seemed to have worked for some time until the ogres turned upon the tantalizing northern lands, richer, easier to penetrate for their lack of woods, and oh so packed with defenseless, juicy farmers altogether ready for slavery in the Pits of Sorrow.  The war went on for decades, laying waste to all that fell to the ogres, until combined operations from both Foresthome and Ar finally sent them reeling back to their somber domain.  Although raids still do occur on either sides of the crags, a mass ogrish invasion has never taken place again since the last battle, where ogres fell in such numbers that one could not see the ground for miles.  The event served to bring the two realms closer.

Since then, a fort and a castle remain to watch the northern Grünfold border.  Bristlecone, Whitebark, and Foxenmast are still fortified.  The Town of Shipswort houses the county’s seat and features reasonably good port installations.  In the absence of conflict, trade has grown with the northern neighbor, on land and at sea.  There was a time when sasquatch clans had to contend with gulons in the forests along the southern border.  They held their own, developing tactics to discourage their raids, mostly relying on nasty traps and drugged foods abandoned in their paths.  Over time, the gulons avoided the Grünfold Barrier and concentrated on southern outsider settlements instead.  The pacification of gulons came as a great relief and enabled the expansion of outsider farmsteads in the southern meadows.

Shipswort is the traditional jumping point from mainland Alphatia to the southern tip of the Yannivey Islands. It is one of the few gates through which immigrants from the insular dominion reach the mainland.  Unwelcome in Ar, many head straight for neighboring Hârnmayne.  Some continue on to faraway Westford to find employment with horse and cattle farms.  Poor, filthy, barely able to speak the local vernacular, they are often abused and unjustly treated among outsiders.  From the point of view of the clans, they are just another wave flowing by.  Following the wisdom that today’s meek might be tomorrow’s lords, the clans remain more neutral toward them.

The Wander Waters River is a very shallow waterway.  Even longships, favored vessels in these northern climes, travel upstream with great difficulty.  As the name suggests, its riverbed shifts its path randomly from one month to the next.  The reason has yet to be discovered, although locals speak of elemental creatures haunting the waters.  So far, the indication remains to be confirmed.  The fact forest breweries dump their sludge into the river might have something to do with its odd behavior.  One beer-maker, however, has found that the dregs of production can be compressed, salted, mixed with butter, and sold as tasty snacks to the sasquatches who seem to get high on the stuff.  To outsiders, the substance merely tastes like salty, rancid dirt pies.  New laws are being debated at the Clan House in Shipswort to restrict the evil concoction before the problem gets out of hand.  And yes, Grünfold beer is a thick, dark, and potent beverage, due to unique molds growing there.  It is one of the county's main exports.

Cheers!  Click HERE to continue.