intro (don-NAY)

Tech Code: 5
Governments: The Incorporated Feudal Fiefs of Vanele, Shere, and Onen.
Religions: The Temple of the Sun; The Vanele Cult; The Onenreth Cult; Lodge Spirit Cults.
Industries and Trades: maintain formatting
Major Terrain: Flatland, River, Sea.
Primary Languages: Ralstaan.
Major Settlements: Onensholm, Ralsholm, Sheresholm.


Physical Geography

Donnaigh sits along the stretch where it is said that the Ral first came to the Knives on their exodus from the Isle of Men with the earthly Divhi Rallah. This long, jagged, towering stretch of coast and the low wooded hills that form the terrain further inland could not have been a finer indication of what all of Ralstaa would be; dark, unwelcoming, rugged and yet starkly beautiful. Bridging the western and eastern coasts of the westernmost knife, directly abutting the Irian Straits, north of Rhuovaith and south of Caldare, one might imagine Donnaigh to be a fine seafaring land, with ties to Iria and Ahlonia, and even west to the Bair of Suirene, but the truth is that the bleak cliffs seldom abate, and the sea is full of barely hidden rocks, reefs of razor coral, and on a still day the mysterious and sinister mists float across the water, and ships that sail into them have been known to disappear for centuries, only to emerge again, either as ghost ships or sometimes with crews intact, sure only days have passed. Even those mad enough to brave the razor coral, and the great serpents that dwell in these waters, would not dare chance the mists. At the centre of this so-called misty passage there is an island that, at the height of summer, is free of the mists. Legends about about Shallen Isle, some promise mystical fey folk, with fabulous treasure, and others a terrible monster imprisoned there in time immemorial. Whatever the truth, at attracts a party of treasure hunters every few years. None ever return.

Inland, away from the great basalt cliffs, Donnaigh was once the southern extent of the mighty starwood. But since the coming of the Ral the forest has been forced back. Not tamed, but isolated. Broad hilly plains, broken by boggy moors and dense, tangled woodlands are the norm here, and where the woods still stand they are slowly trying to reclaim the lands they once ruled. The grasslands are a dark grey-green, and ripple like water in the breeze. Groves of willow dot the north, while to the south grasslands give way to mangrove swamps and wetlands, with mudflats on the higher reaches. Kalbyr Wood and Redthorn Wood are the largest and most sinister wild areas here, while the marshes to the south are an extension of the great Swamp of Sorrows that dominates Rhuovaith to the south.

The east coast of Donnaigh is different from the west. The basalt cliffs are here too, but they rise inland of long black sand beaches. Harbours are poor, but large junks often drop anchor off the coast and send boats ashore. The Dawen River flows in the north, and the Aster flows out of the marsh in the south, but smaller streams and rivers are common too, but large lakes are less common than flooded wetlands. The rivers and streams are usually a muddy brown, and white water where they cross rocky ground is common enough. There is a bleak greyness to Donnaigh that is pervasive, and even settled lands find their crops dull and their homes dusty or muddy. Especially in the autumn rains, or after the winter frosts the ground in areas where the forest has been forced back turns to mush, and peasants go about their business on wooden clogs, with short stilts crafted into them. Warm mineral springs are found here and there inland, and settlements or monasteries spring up around them for their fresh water and medicinal properties.

Summers in Donnaigh are temperate, but often moist, and only on higher ground and on the coast does the brisk breeze keep the air fresh. Elsewhere, even in summer, the land has a loamy scent that can become oppressive to outsiders. Spring and autumn both bring heavy rains off the Gulf of Shay, and with them cool temperatures, while in winter the winds tend to turn northerly, and cooler mountain air sometimes brings with heavy morning frosts, and sometimes even light snow. Storms are common in the east, coming in off the water or else surging down through Caldare in the north, and wind is often violent, while electrical storms seem to stay at sea for the most part. Still, sheets of blue ripping through the clouds are common enough, and junks, bursting into flame as the lightening licks their masts can be seen from coastal settlements most years. When they Ral first came here they must surely have known that they had come to an angry and vengeful land.

Political Geography

The bulk of Donnaigh is divided between three Kingdoms; the lands of Vanele ruled by House Vanele from the first capitol of Ralstaa, historic Ralsholm; the lands of the Kingdom of Shere now controlled by the usurper Uthrac Kingsbane who controls it in the name of House Shere from Sheresholm; and the Kingdom of Onen ruled over by the Kings of House Onenreth in the southern port of Onensholm.


Once the kings of all Donnaigh, before the inevitable expansions of the reformation, if the Vanele line resent the reduction of their territories to those they can actually lay claim to, there seems to be sign of it. Vanele is the smallest kingdom of Donnaigh, occupying the lands north of the Vane river, to the coast and Caldare, around Ralsholm. This elder house is well respected amongst the Shaeish Ralstaans, and though these staunchly traditional monarchs have not approved of the recent uprisals in Shere to the south, they have largely managed to remain aloof amongst the struggles of other fiefs for generations. Strong alliances with Caldare have helped considerably,


Shere more or less accounts fore the rest of northern Donnaigh, all up the west coast and the southern border of Caldare, though its borders shop just shy of a small passage of land up the eastern coast, thanks to an ancient series of conflicts with the Onen kings. The lands here are not resource rich, and so Shere has long been a militant domain, keeping a generous standing army that it would field to the south in Rhuovaith, for generous coin. However it was also known for rattling it's sabres along the Onen border to the south. When the Shere line died out eight years ago the standing armies splintered between several knights. Uthrac managed to seize control by killing all of his serious opposition, earning the name 'Kingsbane' and antagonizing most of his neighbours in the process. Now he is left with an enormous, well seasoned army to feed and house.


The Thanes of Onen have long been instrumental members of the Canonate, and the current Thane Valmon, like his father and grandfather before him, has claimed the post of Arch-Canon of all Donnaigh, one of the most important positions in the church, charged with protecting the very homeland of the faith. As a result, Onen is an abnormally pious fief, welcoming many pilgrims from all over Ralstaa. Sellers of relics and guides to holy places abound, but the people are principled in their devotion, and intolerant of the swindlers that operate around it. Personal sacrifice and devotion are considered the highest virtues here, and many offices are awarded to individuals based on such things, often rankling the more established nobility.

Social Geography

Life here is typical of the western knife, with the Kings being served directly by at least half a dozen lesser noble houses and knights bachelor, all of whom control sizable tracts of land in the name of their chosen monarch. The Kings are the centres of both state and church, and are expected to enforce the High King's laws, tithe certain taxes to Tohl in his name and so on, as well as being charged to see to the spiritual health of their people. Below the noble houses who serve the king are the households of these noblemen, castellans, seneschals, reeves, stewards and the like. Then there are the city dwelling citizens who are subjects of the local monarch, the rural villeins who are serfs in the possession of their local lord, and the free hamlets who are settlements allied to and protected by no kingdom occupying the unclaimed land between the kingdoms.

While not blanketed with wood, Donnaigh remains a true Ralstaan land, with the bulk of its people gathered in and close at hand to the walled tohls of its kings. As far as a man can see from the highest tor of the monarch's caer falls into the fief's purview, and at the fringes of this more tors are build to bolster the borders, and between these fortified settlements villages grow crops that travel to the tohls in tihe. Of course, the land is relatively safe, and so between these incorporated fiefs many free hamlets stake their claim to a life unmolested by a noble family and their distant high king (and unprotected by their armies). Rougher, cruder lands, there is little wealth in the free hamlets, but the lodges value their freedom with fierce tenacity and stoic pride. Even in the incorporated villages the lodge is central to life, with its worship of the ancient spirits of the land, alongside veneration of the more traditional temple of the sun. People here are quicker to speak the name of their guardian spirit, and their ancestors, than that of Rallah, but they respect the import of the land in which they dwell, and though they may trouble her little they venerate the name of Rallah with as much gravity as any place in the high kingdom.



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.

936 D Viran Uth-Rallis marches into Donnaigh.
937 D Alric Uth-Donnaigh is defeated and slain in the siege of Ralsholm.

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

1100 D Carin Uth-Rallis is crowned High King.
1114 D Present Day.

Setting Trait (value): name trait


The Old Shaeish

It would be an affront to the Shaeish to see a Lleweith house settled in so sacred a place, and even Viran Uth-Rallis' heavy-handed reforms did not go so far as to change the fiefs of Donnaigh very much. As a result here, as in Rhuovaith, only Shaeish dwell, and even amongst the nobility a Lleweith accent immediately earns slight mistrust and derision until it's owner has been in Donnaigh long enough that his speech softens into the musical Shaeish lilt. The people here live as their ancestors did long before the reformation, in their family lodges, formed from a single extended family, having little contact with the outside world. Those settlements outside the dominion of a fief are, theoretically, free churls, and those in incorporated hamlets are serfs. They are the chattles of their knights and crofters who govern them, protect them, and enforce the law. There are no myr in Donnaigh - here the few who did reside were driven off by the early Ral, and have never made any attempt to return. Trols may or may not haunt the loneliest moors in their shrouds of mystical fog, but by and large when these creatures strike none can say for sure what causes the mass disappearances attributed to their fell kind.

Shaeish of Donnaigh and Rhuovaith differ from their more northerly cousins in that their appearance harkens more to the older times. They speak in more archaic phrases, the men wear beards, with braids in them, and the women weave flowers into their hair, while noble ladies wear their long trusses bound in lacy netting. People are wont to break into song, and even lowly field hands have rich voices, and know a few old ballads on one instrument or another, as the shaeish are known for being a musical people, and these are the truest of the old shaeish.

Character Option: Any Ral character with origins in Donnaigh is automatically assumed to have the Natural Music trait unless the player decides otherwise. Players who choose not to take this trait often have the Unnatural Music trait instead.

Flora and Fauna

Life amongst the forested moors and rolling hills of Donnaigh characterize that of the bulk of southern Ralstaa, with stands of beech, and maple intermingling with hardwoods like oak, wild apple and cherry. The coast add chestnut and juniper to this mix, while the plains are blanketed in heather, thyme, fragrant lavendar, lilac, and snarled patches of thistle and blackberry. Where the hills rise, or along the seaside cliffs, hardy grasses hide beds of nettles, and inviting beds of soft moss are also home to mushrooms of all varieties, especially the indigo corpus and the deadly king in gold, also known as the mad death.

Rats, fieldmice, stoats, hedgehogs, shrews, weasels, rabbits, hare, and otters grow more common with the sluggish spread of civilization, and even in the face of heavy predation by eagles, hawks, many different owls and falcons they seem to maintain their numbers. Other land based predators include bobcats, badgers, and wolves, with black bears more common in hilly or forested regions. forming the staple of their diet, as well as that of many churls. Wild goats and hrid are common in the south, where the grasslands are rich for grazing, giving way to red deer in the north. Birdsong fills every still moment of the day, and Donnaigh harbours warblers, thrush, magpies, crows, and grey and black gulls are common, with albatross and gannet colonies found here and there on the eastern coast. In the woods pheasants, turkeys and partridges are also common, with storks, terns, buntings, herons, and egrets are populating inland waters, where they feed on eels, pike, carp, roach, and an abundance of freshwater shellfish. Giant hermit crabs strut about the beach, demonstrating their unchallenged dominance, but out at sea off the west coast massive pale-fleshed sea serpents battle massive squid, driving one another to grisly ends on the razor coral in flight. All manner of insects live in the grass and forests, but barring the odd swarm of locusts they go all but unnoticed by men. The only threat are large poisonous centipedes, but so retiring are these creatures that only truly ill fortune sees men even sight them. Livestock, alongside hrid and goats, include cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, geese, and ducks, and while wolves pursue the herd animals, foxes are far bolder in their pursuit of fowl. While men here also love to domesticate hounds, and strong bloodlines of thoroughbred hunting dogs are pampered but lethal beasts, while cruder war-hounds are kept hungry, wild and savage. Dog fights between these war hounds root out the weak, and give the strong a taste for blood.

Notable Individuals

His Highness; Prince of Vanele, Bernard Ur-Vanele
Of all of the Kings of Ralstaa, House Vanele has always held itself to the highest possible standard, as insurmountable warriors, as fair and just rulers, and as loyal, learned, and pious spiritual leaders. They are a large house, for only with many options for an heir can a King of Vanele ensure that he chooses someone worthy of the throne that once belonged to Rallah herself. Bernard was that chosen heir, as was his great uncle before him, for seldom does succession chance to pass from father to son in Vanele. Undefeated at tourney, or on the battlefield; judged amongst the wisest and most sage at the Royal University; proven in quest upon quest; there is little doubt that Bernard of Vanele us the cream of Rallah's sons. The one mark against the King of Vanele, one that stains his honour and haunts his dreams, is that he could not prevent Shere from falling to the usurper Uthrac, for while the Kings of Vanele are the finest of their ilk, the fief itself is weak, and fight as he did to aid the rightful heirs of House Shere, they all fell, and he was forced to acknowledge Uthrac's right of conquest, and leave Shere's borders.

His Highness; The King of Shere, Uthrac Kingsbane
After the death of the Shere royal line the Kingdom was in chaos, and Uthrac happened to be the man with the largest military following. After an efficient massacre of all of his opponents he restored the peace with impressive speed. Ruthless, savage, and ambitious, Uthrac was indeed a questing knight in the Shere court when the last Sheres still sat on the throne, and so he has the bearing and training of a true Ralstaan lord, but he spent his time questing from Robbersholm in the south, and now many find his manner effete, his temperament spiteful, and his taste for the wealth and station of a king excessive. What gave Uthrac power was a group of mercenaries, given license to take what they wished in vanquishing Uthrac's foes, and these men have taken as much of a liking to the trappings of power and influence as Uthrac. Either the kingslayer will have to learn the ways of a true king quickly, or he will surely have to seek plunder elsewhere if he is determined to keep Shere whole. And with little respect or support in any quarter, further war seems almost inevitable.

His Highness; The Aetheling Prince, Sean Ur-Rallis
Introverted, studious, soft spoken and intense; the warrior-philosopher Sean is the eldest of Carin’s three children but he has a strange combination of childish youth and venerable wisdom about him that strikes all who meet him. He seldom speaks and when he does he is concise and germane and his soft voice carries barely above a murmur. Most of the Prince’s life has been spent travelling the land of his ancestors observing the world and drawing what lessons he can from it, and his strange and profound, and often poetic ideals of what it is to be a prince and a warrior mark him as both wise and temperate. He seems completely without pride, or vice, and people either are immediately in awe of him or else deeply suspicious.

Devian Blacksword
Sean is accompanied wherever he goes by a small band of former pirates led by the once infamous Devian Blacksword whom he bested in single combat then set free. Blacksword was so impressed that he swore an oath on the spot that his life belonged to Sean and that for as long as he lived he would use it in his service. He and his small band have followed Sean and served him with unswerving loyalty and tenacity since. He is much impressed by the Prince but has little time for other nobility and tends toward being intentionally offensive and openly hostile, though he would not dream of openly harming his Prince’s peers. He remains utterly devoted and obedient, and is legendary for his skill with the two short curved blades he wields, as well as for the treasure he is said to have hidden somewhere along the coast south of Caldare.

His Most Eminent Lordship; The Thane of Onen and Arch-Canon of All Donnaigh, Valmon ‘Sunchaser’ Ur Onenreth
As the head of one of the most pious royal families in Ralstaa and a supposed descendant of the first priest of Rallah Thane Valamon is not without reason to be proud and bold, even amongst his peers. One of the nine arch-canons of the Temple of the Sun, and the only one of their number to also hold a fief of his own, many in the temple look to Valmon as a leader - at least a spiritual one - and this has made him many foes within the temple, not least of all the stern Danae of Tohl Dannis. Valmon, for his part, is too torn between his dual roles to concern himself much with politics - and many say that it is his influence and his prestige that keeps the peace in Donnaigh. However with the appearance of the knight Uthrac Kingsbane in Shere, Valmon knows that the fragile peace of the Ralstaan homeland could be shattered, and he is hurrying to use his position as priest, more than that of king, to pacify the lands around him. To this end, it is he who has called for his former student, the Aetheling Prince Sean, to attend Donnaigh, ostensibly as a pilgrim, to keep a victorious army from seeking out a new foe.

Today in the Old Heart of Ralstaa…

The people of Vanele are growing tense. Almost five years ago Bernard, Prince of Vanele, took to wife a startlingly beautiful commoner named Alana, but though the two have been united for many years, she has yet to bear him a child, and some two months ago what appeared to be a promising pregnancy failed before her belly was even swollen. Now the people are saying that Rallah has cursed Bernard for marrying so far below his station, and his underpriests have been urging his to take further wives, even going so far as to bring candidates to Caer Ral, however the Prince has remained absurdly intractable in his faith to Alana, in a move that pleases only the minstrels. Common folk have even begun to suggest she is a witch, come to ruin House Vanele.

Less a matter of debate, is the massive Onen army massing at the heart of the fief. It seems absolutely certain that Uthrac must march, but whether it will be to the north or south none yet know. Perhaps the Aetheling Prince's presence here is intended to quell what is set to be a bloody struggle, but with the rights of kings laid down clearly by the Oercorast, Sean really has little recourse to interfere. Uthrac, for his part, knows that his claim is tenuous, even with all of his might, and needs to cement his rule with a decisive victory, before other warriors in his stalwart army feel that they might be better suited to rule than he. And if some of these ambitious warriors were to perish in a protracted war, well all the better.

Finally, and perhaps most bizarrely, they say that three nights ago a man in antique dress, sailed out of a particularly dense fog in a vessel of a design centuries-antiqued and made landing on a beach scarcely a league from the coastal free hamlet of Morten, ostensibly on Onen's western coast. People vanishing into the mists is certainly not unknown, but an individual coming out - and with such strange accoutrements - begs a number of pressing questions. It is unknown where the man went, or whether his is still in Morten, but word of his appearance is already spreading.

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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