intro (COOL-bye)

Tech Code: 5
Governments: The Incorporated Feudal Fiefs of Calliand, Aldberrow, Andaval, and Valendor
Religions: The Temple of the Sun; The Calliandra Cult; The Alvish Cult; The Norn Cult; Lodge Spirit Cults
Industries and Trades: maintain formatting
Major Terrain: maintain formatting
Primary Languages:
Major Settlements: Aelish, Aldberrow, Caer Feighan, Caer Rhieban, Garet's Passage, Kalaigh, Loch Twmbhenn, Meeting, Mwrgynn, Ravan, Senoril, Solis, Tabath, Tohl Alvish, Tohl Dannis, Tohl Eresgard, Tohl Rhuen.


Physical Geography

Situated at the northern point of the Gulf of Shay, around the Coolbai that gives the region it's name and the more-trafficked Bay of Islands to the east, Coulbaigh is a a land dominated by the sea, and with the second largest port city in all of Ralstaa and the most settled coast to be found anywhere in the Knives life here is similarly focused on the sea.

The coast of Coulbaigh, where it arcs elegantly around the the Coolbai and Valen's Isle in the west, around Cape Aldber and Tower Island, up into the Bay of Islands with its plethora of sea-bird infested islets in the east, is the defining natural feature of the region. Though the waters are choppy, and full of obstacles, only Cape Aldber rises in craggy basalt grandeur from the sea, as does the rest of Ralstaa. Around the coast of the Coolbai and the Bay of Islands the coastline is made up of black-sand beaches that drop steeply into the water, broken by low headland, battered into submission by storms before men came here. These make both excellent ports (though the Coolbai has many sand bars that require a local guide to navigate at low tide), and good fishing, and the sheltered nature, both of the northern Gulf of Shay, and the bays themselves, makes them some of the few desirable seas in the region.


Inland, Coulbaigh is equally blessed, for while it does technically fall within the borders of the Starwood, it is a region known as the Ruirewood, one of a few regions where the Starwood has been tamed (or as tamed as that sinister land can be) and though no right minded man would choose to live there, with civilization instead clinging instead to the coastal plains, travellers can pass through in relative safety should their business take them that way, and logging camps working for the shipwrights of Tohl Alvish don't take the risks they might in Breconn or northern Wynd. The woods are evergreen and dark, but they are less dense than the Starwood proper, and the brush is less dense, the thorns more sparse, and less thirsty for blood, and the trails tend to last more than a season or two before completely vanishing. Still, the wilds are home to many of the dangerous animals that make their homes in the north, and not to be trifled with.

The farmlands, cities, and the great northern highway all cluster in the plains along the coast, except where the Highway leaves Tohl Dannis, and turns north for the City of Lights. These plains are heavily cultivated, almost the length of the highway, and a traveller might be forgiven for mistaking Coulbaigh and Caldare on a day when the seas are rougher. Flat farmland, divided by seemingly endless stone walls, into some semblance of square fields, some fallow with grazing sheep, others with corn or wheat or beans, are common. These are broken only by small woods, where woodcutters and hird keepers take over, and men gather their firewood. Small coastal bogs are also a frequent sight, where men dig for peat and pitch. However upon travelling inland, incorporated hamlets and villages quickly disappear, and only the occasional free hamlet, or barely settled tor stand as marks of civilization. And even in the relative safety of the Ruirewood, they are walled, and surrounded by flooded ditches.

Political Geography

Coulbaigh is the fastest growing region in all of Ralstaa, this gateway into the Shaeish Kingdoms, both by and and sea, is the place where the wealth of the farmlands of the west must pass to reach the markets of the east up and down the Great Northern Highway. Four kingdoms dominate the area, all prosperous and influential. Calliand, home of House Calliandra, ruled from Tohl Dannis, the City of Dawn, is easily the foremost amongst them, but the Kingdoms of Aldberrow, Andaval and Valendor ruled by houses Norn, Andavalis and Alvish respectively are all wealthy, influential, strong and fractious.


Undoubtedly Calliand is the greatest, and largest, of the fiefs of Coulbaigh, and with Tohl Dannis, the second city of Ralstaa, forming the new seat of the Canonate, there can be no doubt that it will only grow in prominence. Under the guidance of House Calliandra, the four fiefs of Coulbaigh are closely allied, and though each of their voices is equal (unlike in the situation in Caldare) they ensure that they are never divided, settling their differences amongst themselves. Calliand is the hub of this alliance. Wealthy, politically and spiritually prominent, and at the heart of the great northern highway, where it meets the trade routes at sea, Calliand is mighty indeed.


Aldberrow is by far the most troublesome of the four fiefs, with Meril frequently speaking out of turn, and rankling the other rulers. However so well thought of at Tohl is she, that they tolerate any outburst. Aldberrow is the poorest of the rich Coulbaigh fiefs, having little natural resources of its own, being located on a long, barren peninsula that forms the eastern coast of the Coulbai, but some of the finest artisans and professionals in the province, and its goods can be found in markets in Tohl regularly. However since it must buy all of its raw materials from caravans out of other fiefs, the cost of living here is abnormally high.


Andaval is the fief of the City of Tombs, and the grim moniker of its capitol personifies the fief as a whole. There has always been a kind of strange darkness about the Princes of House Andavalis, and they make great demands of sacrifice and devotion of their people, who becomes equally determined in their faith. Strict laws prevent buildings from overshadowing temples, and everything in Andaval is focused on the aggrandizement of the faith. House Andavalis' attitude towards their duty as keepers of the Temple of the Sun, and the souls of the Ral people, has leaked into Calliand and Valendor, and a strain of fanaticism born here is beginning to spread, and drive out the traditional Shaeish divh that have resurfaced elsewhere.


Valendor in the far west of Coulbaigh occupies the coastland at the very northern tip of the Gulf of Shay. Though no landsman land would claim to truly be a naval power, Valendor is as close as any in Allornus, with no less that sixty ship yards in Tohl Alvish, and a formidable force of warships in its command. Valendor holds the Coolbai undisputedly under the sway of Coulbaigh's combined fiefs despite the resource-rich fief of Nounan's generous coastline on the bay.

Social Geography

Like Caldare to the west, the kingdoms of Coulbaigh have mostly abolished serfdom, with the exception of Valendor. But without the unity of Caldare, this means that dissatisfied villeins and citizens can simply migrate to another fief, or to a free hamlet (if they have the means of course) and an unpopular monarch can find their workforce ebbing quickly into another land. For this reason it has been suggested that nowhere in Ralstaa, or even in the world, does a low born man wield such power. Still, class is as starkly defined here as anywhere, with the divide in wealth and status between the villeins, citizens, artisans, and various levels of nobility remaining vast, and outlaw merchant cabals being harshly dogged for fear that gold might eclipse blood as the currency of influence.

The sea, and noble-sponsored trade enterprise dominates the economy of the various lands of Coulbaigh, and while the Ralstaans as a whole disapprove of the eating of fish, it still keeps the majority of the poorer folk of the region fed. The lowliest commoners wait on the docks, to load and unload ships and caravans for a coin or two each day, or else board those same ships as crew. Further inland they work fields around border tors or in free hamlets, or occasionally venture onto the highway, to travel its length collecting pelts and hunting game along the sides of the road, but almost never in the deeper wood. Worship plays a big part in any native of Coulbaigh's life, and the most pious are admired and revered by their neighbours, while they think nothing of ruthlessly persecuting those that do not follow the Temple's teachings to the letter. Even house cults are viewed with some suspicion, and remain exclusive to the families that descend from them here. For what is a hero, if not a distraction from Rallah herself?



c. -1020 D The Ral leave the Isle of Men with the other three last tribes.

0 D Rallah ascends, leaving Ralstaa in the charge of her people.

938 D Alan Caldare arrives in Coulbaigh on behalf of Viran Uth-Rallis, to negotiate their oath to the High Kingdom.
939 D Viran Uth-Rallis arrives at Tohl Sonneth, accepting the vassalage of Allenhargh of Coulbaigh.

972 D Viran Uth-Rallis dies in Tohl aged seventy-one.

1110 D Carin Uth-Rallis is crowned High King.
1114 D Present Day.


Folk of Coulbaigh

Coulbaigh's people are defined very clearly by two things: faith and wealth. Thanks to generations of zealous overlords the people here have become utterly devoted to the temple of the sun, and look down on their fellows to the west, calling them heretics for splitting their loyalties between sky and earth. By outsiders they are often accused of thinking themselves superior, more favoured by Rallah than any other peoples of the Knives. But, if they are not, then their great wealth is indeed an uncanny boon. Trade and coin flow through Coulbaigh like the tide, except that unlike the tide, the wealth never sweeps away again. Though trade cabals remain outlawed, laws here allow merchant caravans to grow to considerable size as long as they have a noble sponsor. Couple this favourable environment with the only intersection of the great northern highway and a major port on that road's entire length, and it is only sensible that the poorest churl in Coulbaigh is able to live like a villein artisan elsewhere in Ralstaa.

Setting Trait (value): name trait

Flora and Fauna

More settled than the lands to the east and west, the wildlife of Coulbaigh remains typical of that found along the coasts of the Gulf of Shay, with deep forests of oak, maple, willow and beech dominating the north, and birch, poplar, ash and others emerging where the forests are darker, denser and wilder. The coastal lands have chestnut, juniper, and weeping willow, especially on the banks of rivers, ponds and around bogs. The plains in the west wear dense robes of of heather, with thyme, rosemary, boysenberries and strawberries hidden amongst the coarse tussocks. But in the forests briars, ferns, scrub, and sometimes starberries make the forest floor dense, and almost impassable save along game trails.

The plains and moors are home to shrews, weasels, badgers, beavers and all manner of small mammals and rodents, while black lions, bobcats, griffins, black and brown bears, and grey wolves share out the prey between them. Rabbits and hares are a pest in cleared lands, but eagles, hawks, owls and falcons all take their toll on the population. Warblers, tits, thrushes, crows, buzzards, and starlings are all equally common, both as sights, and meals for birds of prey, while in the forests pheasants, wild turkeys and fat wood pigeons stalk the undergrowth for grubs and shrews. Terns, buntings, herons, and egrets are found around rivers, and black and grey gulls fill the coastal regions with raucous cries of dominance. Ikars and griffins avoid the coastal regions, but are a common enough sight in the north, where they sometimes come into conflict with brown bears stealing their eggs. The rivers and coastal waters are home to pike, perch, carp, roach, eels, salmon, and trout, with basking sharks, boarfish, lumpsuckers, and thresher sharks out at sea, and dense colonies of octopi and lampreys around the Horn of Rhuen. Lobsters and giant hermit crabs are found on the coast further to the east, and large seal colonies are found on most small islands.

Farms and ranches keep large herds of hird and goats, but cattle and sheep are becoming popular, and a common sight around large villages. Chickens, turkeys, ducks and other fowl are also a common sight wandering village streets - used for eggs and meat, they are a staple of the local diet.

Notable Individuals

Her Majesty; Queen of Coulbaigh, Gweneth Ur-Calliandra
The Queen of Coulbaigh has always been fanatically loyal to the temple of the sun, believing that Rallah herself guides her rule, and that she hears the voice of the divhi at the dawn guiding her every edict. With a reputation for great wisdom and piety, few would refute such a claim. Especially since the House of Calliandra is one of the few that can still trace direct descent back to Rallah. Gweneth holds the title queen of Coulbaigh despite only holding two cities in the domain of that name, and to avoid confusion her fief has been dubbed Calliand - hence she is also Queen of Calliand, despite these titles referring to the same land. Even in her twilight years the Queen of Coulbaigh is still considered a great beauty, and though she has three husbands now, she believes firmly that her dynasty must be kept strong, and is always willing to meet another suitor, should be be of suitable wealth, influence and station.

His Lordship; Ruire of Tohl Rhuen, Warden of Coulbaigh, Garvis the Fair Ur-Calliandra
The elder brother of the Queen of Coulbaigh acts as ruire of Tohl Rhuen. While he gained the moniker ‘the Fair’ in his youth it has become misleading to those who know him by name only, because nothing could be less appropriate to the dour faced, apathetic Garvis. This once-famous knight was known, amongst other things, as a great beauty in his youth, but the battles have been hard and the tourneys brutal and his vitality and appeal are distant memories. Only the name remains. There is no doubt that there is a strain of bitterness and regret in the scarred Garvis, and this is no more apparent than when he sits in judgement as the city's chief magistrate. Criminals can expect little mercy from Garvis' judgement, and the people of Tohl Rhuen have learned not to appeal the judgement of lesser officials at the ruire's court, for they almost always come away worse off.

Her Eminence; Arch-Canoness of Tohl Dannis, Danae Uth Voer Ur-Nara
A scion of House Voernal and the leader of the new faith in The City of Dawn is the Arch-Canoness Danae. Danae served the canonate in Tohl for many decades, and was overlooked for the position of arch-canoness in the last appointment. It is perhaps fitting then that she received the post in the emerging new heart of the faith. A matronly lady with countless years of experience administrating the temple, she is a hard line purist of the faith, with a firm belief in the old ways of the temple and the very letter of the scripture that has won her the instant support and admiration of queen Gweneth. However her passionate belief in the importance of the power of the temple over the kings of Ralstaa - given their key position in the temple - and he willingness to treat kings as subservient rather than presenting herself as a spiritual advisor, which would be the traditional role of an arch-canon, has made her many enemies quickly.

Her Majesty; Queen of Aldberrow, Merrel ‘Bittertongue’ Uth Norn Ur-Maral
Queen Meril has earned her name 'Bittertongue', and many were surprised how readily she embraced it. While most of the rulers of Coulbaigh are an outspoken lot, known for wielding great influence in the Oercorast - even greater then the princes of Bradenthyr, or the rulers of Tohl, perhaps only outweighed by the inner circle themselves - Meril is by far the most vocal of their number, and easily the most tactless. Were she not in such a stable land, Merrel would have sparked a dozen major wars bay now, but then the canny and ruthless Queen of Aldberrow probably would have been victorious in as many. While the courtiers of Aldberrow admire their queen for her successes, they loathe the prospect of actually having to deal with her, and many look forward to the day when her son Athelred will take the throne

His Eminent Highness; The Prince-Canon of Andaval, Arn ‘The Vehement’ Uth-Vernem
The Prince-Canon of the City of Tombs is the hereditary and traditional leader of the Shaeish arm of the church of Ralstaa, and while his family role was long ago usurped by the centrality of the Royal University merging nobleman, priest, and knight into one his influence still extends throughout Coulbaigh and beyond. As a direct result the man known as Arn the Vehement exercises a great influence over the newly fanatical cities of Tohl Dannis and Tohl Rhuen and over their Queen, though she is certainly aware to a healthy extent that The Eminent Prince-Canon of Andaval is merely a man and not some conduit to divinity; a conduit she herself believes she may be. Arn, for his part, is a scholarly man, proud of his extensive knowledge of scripture and history, and wise and temperate in his advice, judgement, and legislation. Almost beautific, he sits at court welcoming all, from the lowliest churl to fellow kings, into his presence, to benefit from the careful and thoughtful wisdom of his post.

Siegfrid Stromreaver
The vicious pirate Siegfrid is the scourge of the Gulf of Shay, but especially of the ships bound to and from Coulbaigh. Clearly of Ralstaan origins, little is known of the pirate himself, or his past. His unusual vessel is one of Ahlonian make, likely taken from traders in the Irian Straits, but this means that his ship is one of the most seaworthy, distinctive, and crucially shallow hulled in the Knives. And Stormreaver uses this to his advantage, chasing larger, faster vessels into rocky waters and onto shoals where he can plunder them while they are trapped, or else leading pursuers into shallow waters, or even over razor coral when he operates around the Rhoude Horn. But his favourite waters are those south of Aldber Point, where it is believed he lairs in a cave somewhere in the cliff sides where no other vessel could reach.

Trevan of Tohl Dannis
Trevan is one of the most well known, and by far the most approachable practising magician in all Ralstaa. His powers are considerable, and the stuff of folk lore, but also most compellingly they are unquestioningly for sale at the right price. Desperate people from all over the knives come to Trevan’s door seeking his aid, and Trevan is happy to help those who can meet whatever eclectic and arbitrary price he chooses to place upon his service. The fact that Trevan helps so many makes people hopeful, but many are angered by the mercenary nature of his services. Trevan himself seems nonplussed by the alternate pleas and accusations of those too unfortunate to afford his price. He asserts that the arcane arts are dangerous and unreliable at the best of times, as well as demanding of great skill and resources. If a master smith or a jeweller would not be expected to work as a charity, why should he? Many call Trevan reasonable, until they have need of him, then deep-seated prejudices come to the fore, and they are quick to call him selfish and callous, and to call to his attention that the price of the same spell might vary wildly and eccentrically from one client to another. Still, Trevan is afforded unprecedented tolerance by the authorities of Tohl Dannis - which doubtless costs him a great deal of the often exorbitant prices he demands.

Today in Coulbaigh…

Coulbaigh might be amongst the least wild lands of Ralstaa, but it is also a hotbed of political and religious competition, the new seat of the Temple of the Sun is a hub for rank who seek wealth, influence, and prestige. Rumours are circulating that a woman named Joslin is rising up in the City of Tombs, gathering popular support around her. A former temple virgin, it is said that the young lady claims to hear the voice of Rallah in her head, and is gathering a zealous following quickly. However Joslin has yet to make a public appearance. As yet the Prince-Canon seems content to monitor the situation, but if her popularity grows she might prove to be the heart of civil unrest. At best she cannot be allowed to make such claims outside the temple.

In Tohl Dannis, meanwhile, religion remains the talk of the town. Some rumours have suggested that that Canonate aren't all behind the movement of the centre of the faith to a partisan land, away from the neutral territory of Tohl, and would like nothing better than to see the construction of the monumental new temple to fail. Small accidents plaguing the building do seem to support such gossip. Meanwhile, off the coast on Tower Island sailors have reported seeing strange lights from the clifftop of the supposedly abandoned island, especially around its ruined lighthouse. No mere bonfire could produce the weird hues reported, and so the mystery deepens with each corroborating report.

The Knives of Rallah, High Kingdom of Ralstaa
The Shaeish Kingdoms Caldare, Donnaigh, Rhuovaith, Kileirey, Balleymoore, Cannavin, Wynd, Breconn, Coulbaigh
The Lleweith Kingdoms Avalaigh, Haeliard, Lammornia, Branddale, Talladale, Bradenthyr, Tohl
The Starwood Cwmbran, Kentallen Wood, Uerenuell
Tuarvael Castrette, Serlot, Friesse
The Dunsain Kingdoms Byrnham, Blackstone, Craigbyrn, Duncarrick, Strath Gorge, Garynshae, The Clanlands, Aulorn's Gate
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