Ahlonia Isle
Ahlonia Isle is island in name only. This vast land comprises rough hills, green plains, foaming seas, shadowy woods, rocky wastelands and majestic mountains within its bounds. A land of forgotten legacies, where one land is torn by intrigues and the manoeuvrings of its council of rulers, and the other is dominated by myth grander than the pen of any historian could aspire. And between them a brooding and savage wood of countless centuries, swarming with green-skinned raiders who seek to overthrow all men have built. In the east, outlaws and traitors roam arid badlands. And in the far north a mysterious mountain range is shrouded in impenetrable mist, and a sorcerer who would be a Divh plots the land's fate.

Physical Geography


The isle of Ahlonia is a continent unto itself despite being belittled by its expansive neighbour. A huge landmass, almost a third of its surface remains covered in ancient primordial forest that was once part of the immense wood to the north. The southern coast is torn by what the locals call the Wild Sea. The ferocity of these fabled waters leave the contours of the land gravely wounded. Great grey cliffs and lone standing stones emerge from the softer sandstone under the deep, dark sea’s furious assault. Offshore storms perpetually drive foaming waves against the towering cliffs, and chilling winds whip up their rocky faces and race inland. The land here is rough and flat, with only the hardiest plants surviving the storm’s temper, and venerable menhirs are dotted about haphazardly amongst the yellowing grass. Despite ill winds the climate remains warm and damp all year round and you can seldom escape the taste of salt on the air. Further inland the light forests and hills begin, but immediately before these the land is marshy and dangerous to the unwary traveller.

On the western side of the island the inland regions comprise mostly lightly forested hills, with most of the plant and animal life in the deep, fertile vales carved out centuries ago by countless of shallow, fast flowing rivers that once ran here. The plants grow huge and the soil is almost jet black. The hills themselves are nicknamed the Monks by the local people, because their sides are thick with life, but their tops are almost totally clear like the shaved pate of a Diounic initiate. The bleak-hued standing stones of the south coast still emerge here and there, but dense ivy coats their surfaces. Trees are generally low and sprawling, and their boughs become bare in autumn and winter, but the undergrowth is thick and healthy all year round. Ferns and similar damp-loving plants grow around the bases of fat beech trees, and those spots devoid of growth prove to be brackish marshes disguised as welcoming flats. The roads and towns have been built up on layers of broken down rock to keep them dry.

Towards the centre of Ahlonia there is a region simply called the Forest Kingdom. This place is trackless, an ancient, thick forest of sprawling interweaving trees stretching the full length of the isle. The land is almost untouched by the race of men, save a single road that runs through the narrow southern section of the wood. Here and there the ruins of the Siele culture that once dwelt in the heart of this great forest penetrate stealthily from the greenery. Long passed, that race's mark is all but vanished however. The forest seems almost supernaturally tenacious, and has been able to withstand the march of armies countless times through its borders, as well as the depredations of the Goblyns, who have called this place home since the departure of the Siele. The people call the woods simply ‘the Forest’.

From here east there is a fertile vale running up from the coast parallel to the forest’s borders, and eventually meeting the mountains in the north. This area is very similar to the Monks to the east, but here the weather is drier and the woodland coagulates in dense copses in the gaps between steep, terraced hills. Mostly the lands here are gentle prairie, but the touch of civilization is apparent. Low stone walls criss-cross the plains, and crude bridges cross the streams. More protected from the weather of the coast, these heartlands are warm and humid, but not as stormy or extreme as their cousins in the east.

Even further east the land slopes up to sheer craggy mountains through a region of weather-beaten, bare hills of dark brown stone and thick clay. This area is desolate, but there is life hidden in river valleys and caves. In these rough barrens men find it hard to eke out a life, and yet they do. This region extends all the way to the coast of the Wild Sea in the west. Here the storms are fewer, but the land even less habitable. Very little beyond the hardiest of coastal grasses and weeds grow here and the coastline is dotted with all kinds of cave complexes that flood at high tide. The Maethian Arm reaches out here and protects the northern mouth of the Straits of Solon where they enter the Wild Sea.

Setting Trait (2): Isolated Ahlonia Isle is very close geographically to the coastline of Ralstaa and Iria, but it is very much on its own. The scarcity of skilled mariners and seagoing vessels capable of crossing the Wild Sea without risk. This means that the folk of Ahlonia have little knowledge of, or contact with, other civilizations, though they are certainly aware of them.

Spirit of the Land

The elementals of Ahlonia are, for the most part, retiring and gentle creatures. Though to the south wind spirits rage, and fly screaming over the lands of the isle, hammering the lands below with gleeful wroth, or else whip up foaming waters to smash against the shore, the elementals of the land lie in placid silence under such assaults. Stirring only fitfully to irritably and futilely thrash their continental limbs, and spit tongues of molten rock out to the tormenting sea. In the west they are creatures of wet earth and old stone, slumbering in deep dreamless repose, while to the east they are livelier, given to waking fitfully, but seldom shaking the ground nor tearing at the skies like those of the mainland. The river spirits are swift, capricious creatures of infinite but perilous mirth, while those of the marshes are tired, apathetic, sometimes ill-tempered. In the roughlands they are sour creatures of rock and dust, tossing and turning in their rest, or else vigilant and suspicious in the secret mists of the mountains. And in the forest the spirits are arrogant, often cruel. They have seen horrors, and many came to secretly like the battles of the mortals. But others cry out in pain at the polluted wounds wrought by Goblyn pick and fire.

Political Geography


Ahlonia is made up of three great nations, and three lesser, younger nations broken away from the great ones. To the west lies the largest of these; the nation of Reddown was once two realms, but the Earls of Reddown conquered their southern neighbour Sigard over two hundred years ago. The land here is old and fertile, and has been occupied by landsmen for longer than anywhere else on the isle. It is made up of rolling farmlands, prosperous and peaceful, and ruled over by a powerful council of hereditary Earls who divide the various sections of the domain between them.

The central portion of the isle is dominated by the huge wood, known only as the forest. This domain is called the Forest Kingdom and was once the heart of the Siele kingdom of Sheil-Mieal. Centuries of war with man and Goblyn drove the Siele out however, and they left the ruins of their nation to the men and Goblyns who allied against them. After several more generations of war amongst these allies the land was seized by the goblyns, and today their tribes are all allied under the banner of the Goblynking Rasch Pachak and his black eye tribe. They rule from a giant mountain fortress called Cravenrock and raid their neighbours for supplies and slaves. The land is not entirely theirs however, to the south stands the ancient Siele tower-citadel of Eil-sheire, known now as the tower of the High Warlock, where men mastered the secrets of channeling. And throughout the land, small groups of Siele warriors who did not flee with their kin have sworn to pursue the bloodwrit they proclaimed millennia ago against those who broke their nation. The Forest Kingdom is a land of extreme danger and mystery to the unwary traveller.

Further east once sat the great kingdom of Highdunn, but in the last few generations its power has been split several times. Highdunn is the youngest of the three great nations, and has always struggled to exist. It is supported by only a narrow strip of fertile farmland and most of its surface is dominated by the Roughlands, a region of barren, near lifeless hills leading up to the sawtooth mountains. The coast is unsheltered and the weather rips across its surface. The kingdom is harsh and draconian, but it remains powerful. The power of the King, currently the granite-hard Eldin Reise, is absolute, and enforced by his army, which answers solely to him and to the ancient Earls of the Tresser Veldt, who are his prized generals who defend his domain from the Forest Kingdom and command his armies, and who joined the first King Martel Baldardun when he forged the nation together from several conflicting settlers. Over time Highdunn has been forced, either by circumstances or by its neighbours, to grant freedom to several of its provinces. First the Siele of the Forest Kingdom fled to the verdant valley to the north, where they created a colony among the people of the north, which they called Mierellia, and in the true style of the Siele, demanded the lands be given to them. When the King sent his army north, personally commanded, the Siele sorcerers raised up great magic, and the king and his entire army to a man was lost. Since then the kingdom has been shielded by a silvery mist, which ejects anyone trying to enter it somewhere totally different to where they entered, crossing leagues of mountains in mere seconds or sometimes finding themselves on the coast or even in the sea when they leave the mist.

On the southern coast of Highdunn sits the nation of Southaven, around the city of the same name. This is the seat of the Church of the Dioune. The city was always the religious capital of the isle, but the Earls of Reddown and the Steward of Sigard always resented Highdunn’s apparent power over their spiritual well-being. They demanded that the city be granted freedom, and then later they demanded that it be granted territory to stop it being entirely dependent on its host nation. Today it is ruled by a council of High Prelates, several of whom stay in the city with the Grand High Prelate and the other four are stationed in Thairon, Daultin, Doraust and Lierkist. Despite Highdunn’s claims that governance of a nation will detract from matters of the faith, Southaven has very quickly grown into the Isle’s first city, eclipsing even Daultin in size and Leirkist in wealth. Debatably the throne of the Grand High Prelate is the most powerful position on the Isle. Under the hand of the faith Southaven seems capable of incomparable growth and prosperity.

The last and youngest of the nations of the isle is the Black Barony of Maethas. Less than a generation ago one of the previous King Dane Reise III’s most loyal house guard, Dietric Kessel, led a huge coup against the crown. He besieged the city of Thairon and killed the King, but Eldin, last in the royal line, was saved by the unexpectedly quick intervention of the Earls of the Tresser Veldt. His army and those who had openly declared their allegiance to him very quickly moved to a pre-arranged point of retreat on the Maethian arm through the Roughlands from which the Barony takes it’s name. Here in this hard land they built a nation while the King and his allies were still too weak to strike at them. Still very young, Maethas is more like a military camp than a nation, but it too is growing quickly. Some claim that it is being funded by the Earls of Reddown, or, even more disturbingly, from the vaults of the Goblynking himself, however those who knew the stern Kessel deny this passionately.

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Social Geography


Ahlonia is almost entirely inhabited by landsmen who come from the fifth tribe of the Ral, though they have been cut off from their kin in Ralstaa for millennia but for marginal trade contact over the Straits of Solon in the broad, shallow hulled galleys they use for coastal trade. Most of the settled land here is inhabited by simple farmsteaders, who derive whatever living they can from the land around them. Some open up mines or mills on their lands, but mostly they produce food and leave such other ventures to their liege lords. The landholders keep serfs in their employ and service, and they answer to their lord. The legal and political systems of each of the great nations differ, but this structure remains almost totally the same.

The people here have been a settled people for centuries, and the settled centres are secure and prosperous, but so much of the land lies in the constant shadow of war that power tends to belong to those who can take it. The people identify strongly with their lords and protectors, and every boy dreams of becoming a soldier and marching into battle with the Goblyns or their lord’s foes. Feuds and disputes of property and heritage are common here, but the various rulers have always proved more than capable of dealing with them as they arise, and lesser landholders tend to fanatically attach themselves to one of the great powers of the isle. Concepts of hospitality, etiquette and nobility are important to the people of Ahlonia and they place great value on respect and adhere strictly and almost fanatically to their class and position. Even serfs have pride in their work, their position and their families and strive always for improvement, whether it be by becoming a freeman or simply by being given responsibility by their lord.

Spiritual life remains pragmatic and utilitarian. The people worship the Divh and make sacrifices to them in the interests of placating them and getting what they want rather than from piety, and faith is neither called for nor justified, even by the church itself. Religion is roughly unified in the worship of the Divh Aliel and Koroth, collectively known as the Dioune, but differences of religious practice and approach to religion differ between major settled regions.

Setting Trait (2): Goblyn Horselords Men of Ahlonia have not tamed horses as mounts, and these beasts of burden, so essential to the ancient world, are all but absent from any but the most wealthy parts of society, while the goblyns are born in the saddle, and defend that monopoly brutally. The horse, with its military and transportation uses, is all but absent from landsman culture.

History


Common Calendar

The entire isle’s landsman population uses a year system called Hanna’s Count (HC), named after an ancient religious figure discussed later. The year itself is based on the Kelorn Calendar, being four hundred and two days long, and is formed of four seasons, each one hundred days long, and high summer and low winter. Dates are simply expressed as "the thirty-fifth day of summer fifteen eighty-two of Hanna's Count". As a result many less educated people cannot keep count of the exact date, and simply say early, mid or late summer and the year, for which they usually have a name. The present year is the Year of the Rains because of the particularly wet spring. The festival days of high summer and low winter are held on the first full blue moon of mid summer and the first full yellow moon of mid winter respectively.

Setting Trait (3): The Lost Years: Any outsider looking at the calendar of the Ahlonians would realize that they have lost several centuries somewhere. At some point after Ahlonia was hewn from the Irian Empire they lost time, and in this time the folk of Ahlonia have forgotten their clearly Irian heritage, and start their history with a group of Ralstaan warriors who likely conquered the tribeless dwelling here. Even the sundering itself is never mentioned in Ahlonia history. What the cause of their mis-recorded history, or their erroneous claim to Ral descent, when their appearance and language more closely resemble the tribeless is a mystery - be it merely history lost, some quirk of the sundering that fractured even time, or something more sinister at play.

Timeline

Prehistory The Heir-Kei move into the southern section of the Starwood and found Sheil-Meial. A Kei-Sang called tel-Shiva occupies the northern section of the isle.
-68 HC Landsmen arrive on Ahlonia, the fifth tribe of the Ral, called the Raed, remain in the western hills.
0 HC The Ral leader Shaenian dies, the people split. The Earldoms of Galastry and Sherevon are established under his eldest two sons. The division is peaceful but competitive.
58 HC The council of Earls declare war with Shiel Meial, and raise their war banners. Surprisingly initial campaigns meet with surprising success, and huge tracts of forest are torched and have keeps raised on them and garrisoned, the Siele pull back into the deepest forest.
61 HC The forces of Reddown suffer their first great defeat where the Forest Way now lies, there are no survivors and the line of the Earls of Galastry dies out completely. The Siele mount the bones of the men in the ruins of their tower at Tel-Celeste. The war begins to rapidly move against the landsmen.
70 HC The Earls ally themselves with the newly landed goblyn tribes of the north, most notably Dyurvar’s Hammers, in an effort to stem the tide of battle in their favour. This works well, as the goblin’s prolific numbers and strip-mining programs prove a fatal combination to the Siele. Dyurvar himself is admitted to the Earl’s councils of war.
92 HC The nation of Sigard is founded by King Lander, the accord of Ennis is signed by many of the southern trading towns bringing them under Sigard’s banner. Also the southernmost province of Reddown joins Lander.
268 HC The Tresser Veldt is founded by the three brothers Tressilian in the centre of Shiel Meial. They begin using this region to launch raids, station armies and stockpile supplies. The three Earldoms are laid out more like military camps than actual domains.
352 HC Highdunn is founded by Martel Baldardun, a Sigard veteran of the Siele wars, when he lands his fleet where the city of Thairon now lies. He takes the title Earl, but later that year crowns himself King to emulate his lord. The King of Sigard grants him full independence, calling this tiny domain ‘spoils of war’.
421 HC Dissatisfied with being excluded from councils because of their distance from Daultin the Earls of the Tresser Veldt declare independence and King Vandar Baldurdun quickly moves to ally himself with these northern powers, beset on all sides by foes and with no real trade to speak of the Earls agree to the alliance.
703 HC Shiel Meial falls and the last of the Siele flee into the Roughlands. The Siele-King Fieme is killed when his tower is besieged, and his sister the Siele Queen Amiaiele takes command of the refugees. When they arrive in the northern vale they settle among the landsmen there. The King of Highdunn tolerate these refugees only because he can’t spare the forces to assail them.
735 HC Mierellia demands independence, King Baldardun marches in force on the Siele refugees, however the Siele veterans of guerrilla war against the humans prove impossible to engage.
736 HC King Henry Baldardun and the Kings-Own are lost when the mists of Mierellia rise. In the scramble to find an heir his Lord-Commander launches a second attack, but becomes completely lost and his men are scattered to the boarders of the nation.
1012 HC The goblyns in the Earldoms seize the Forest Kingdom colonies and name it Talthak. While no formal alliance is made between the tribes, they co-operate well with a common foe. Earl Barven is exiled from his own domain and flees to his cousin Earl Marak’s Keep.
1018 HC The twenty-year war begins.
1037 HC The twenty year war ends when the combined forces of Sigard, Reddown and Highdunn are trapped at Cravenrock and driven into the lake by the goblyn Vachak Taar. He takes the title goblyn-king, but only survives three months after his victory, before the tribes splinter again.
1042 HC Henry, last of the Kings of Sigard dies leaving no heir. The nation falls into civil war between several small factions with loose claims to the throne and various merchant lords backing them.
1044 HC After a brief period of civil war the ageing Chancellor Freir Grimm unites the navy and, under the threat of invasion by Reddown becomes Steward of Sigard.
1067 HC Grand High Prelate Ondres Mourghndoer relocates from Harkfal to the Basilica at Southaven under pressure from Sigard and Highdunn. He begins construction of the Great Basilica.
1139 HC The city of Southhaven is granted diplomatic independence by King Lavin under pressure from his neighbours, who were uncomfortable having their religious capital under the control of another nation. The table of Patriarchs is established.
1145 HC The High Warlock appears and takes over the ancient Siele Citidel of Skyreach or Eil-sheire.
1186 HC Southaven is gifted with it’s surrounding lands up to the banks of the river Stower in order to be self sufficient. It’s growth begins out of control as pilgrims and traders crowd it’s streets.
1199 HC The Earl of Sherevon Markam Vaun arrays an army along Galastry’s northern boarder and demands that Earl Daine Daultin immediately surrender control of the city of Daultin and the Earl’s council. Daine sends an army north, but before general war breaks out Earl Seleine Marak threatens alliance with Galastry and Markam’s army stands down.
1221 HC Calis Marrathar inherits the throne of Marratharn after his father’s fatal ailment and immediately launches a disastrous campaign against the Burned Stump camp.
1223 HC After a lengthy campaign Marratharn’s entire army is completely lost somewhere in the Forest, nothing further is heard and small numbers of men from the army begin to appear in goblyn slave camps. The council of Earls is forced to restore Marratharn’s garrison from their own forces.
1228 HC With the combined forces of his restored army under his command, Calis feels confident enough to order them to embark on a second campaign into the Forest. He is summoned to the Earl’s council where he is ejected from the council, he is then killed by an unknown assailant while leaving the Castle Proudmoore, his bodyguard inexplicably absent.
1304 HC The Earls of Reddown march on Leirkist, after a brief battle they besiege the port city.
1305 HC Sigard appeals for aid from Highdunn, but the King turns them down, telling the Steward “My ancestor swore an oath to the King of Sigard, and when his missive arrives so will my troops.”. Most people speculate a secret accord between Reddown and Highdunn. Boer Shenien becomes the first student of the High Warlock. When he returns from the tower he is sworn to complete secrecy about what he has learned and what lies within the tower’s walls.
1307 HC Sigard surrenders to the Earls Reddown and is split among them, the Steward is allowed to retain his post but he is almost powerless.
1372 HC Harald Bravin, High Prelate of Reddown declares in favour of the doctrine of the twin faces and declares the church of Reddown doctrinally dissident. In an emergency meeting the Order of the Garden convenes and accepts the possible legitimacy of dissident doctrine.
1350 HC The first caravan travels down the Forest Way from Ennis to Cavaliers Falls then to Southaven, arriving unharassed.
1468 HC The Black Baron Dietric Kessel stages a coup in Highdunn, he is defeated but in a battle with Dane Riese Kessel kills the king personally with the help of the rebel King’s-Own. Kessel and his allies flee into the roughlands to a pre-planned point of refuge on the Maethian Arm.
1469 HC The Nation of Maethas declares independence, meanwhile Prince Eldin Reise returns to Thairon and takes the throne of Highdunn. He tries to raise an army to march of Maethas, but cannot muster the funds or manpower.
1474 HC The warlord Rasch Pachak emerges in the Forest Kingdom, kills Madvak gal-Shurgar of the Black Eye, taking his position, and then unites the remaining goblyn tribes under his banner.
1476 HC Pachak, now calling himself Goblynking, instates the Yurga Pogom, and massacres the priests of the Talthak.
1477 HC In a series of massive lightning raids the Earldoms of Maratharn and Kirshire have their borders pushed back from the forest kingdom by hundreds of miles.
1482 HC Present Day.

Major Races


The Isle is dominated by landsmen who claim to be of the Fifth tribe of the Ral. They are a broad, strong-featured people with large eyes and squarish jaws. Though they are small compared to the other tribes of men, the people of the isle tend to be stockier and long-limbed. Unlike their northern cousins in Ralstaa colouration here must have been dulled by centuries of separation. For the most part the people of the isle are fairer skinned and tend towards hazel or brown eyes and light to dark brown, or black hair, although extremes with the blond hair and the blue eyes of the Ral do appear they are much-admired rarities. The men of Ahlonia are a stoic sort of people. Tight lipped with a stern demeanour and a strong belief in hard work and doing one’s best in all one does. They are prone to an earnest kind of piety, and they tend to look down on those below them and have the greatest respect for their superiors.

The Siele to the north are of some of the purest blood that can be found left in the world since the second sundering, but their numbers are dwindling, and in another couple of generations they will be all but gone. The only other major race are the Goblyns of the Forest Kingdom and their ancestors, who serve the Giants in the Roughlands. They stand between five and five and a half feet tall and have coarse hair of black or orange, and tend towards extreme hairiness. Their tusks are small, but effective against their prey and their skin a much deeper green than Goblyns elsewhere. Their eyes tend towards jet black, and like their under-dwelling kin in the east they dislike direct sunlight. However unlike their kin they are more than willing to tolerate it if the reason is a good one. They tend to be very lean and quite muscular and practice covering their males in henna markings, especially on the face. Warriors are also ritually scarred or have their faces decorated with metal studs as marks of honour.

There are said to be giants in the roughlands which legend tells are the kin of the great, two headed Mountain-King Ettin who died battle with Koroth, and whose tanned skin the Divhi now wears as armour. These monstrous creatures stand a little near to eight feet tall, and thanks to a their viewing eating as a mark of prestige, most are enormously fat, especially the most cunning or dangerous. Their thick, leathery skins are of a mottled grey, like granite, and their hair is merely a paler shade of their skin. Many of their number sharper their claw-like fingernails, and their teeth have two great tusks and two smaller fangs for ripping apart the mountain goats that they farm and eat. They are often found in small families, or as solitary individuals being served by hill goblin communities. Despite legends of their riddles and tricks the creatures are, for the most part, fairly simple, and people need only fear them because many consider human meat a delicacy, or even a staple of their diet.

The Southern Isle of Ahlonia
The Earldoms, The Storm Sea Coast, Southaven, The Tresser Veldt, The Heartlands, The Roughlands, The Maethian Arm, The Vale of Mists, The Forest Kingdom
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