The Tresser Veldt
In the early days of the east's settlement, the Tresser Veldt emerged - a penned-in outpost amongst stygian woods, beset on all sides by dire foes, holding strong. And though its eastern border is now pasture and field, that adamant resilience has never left the Veldt. Where land meets wood, where men ride horses, and riders sometimes wield swords, the Veldt is a strange place to most. A land of warriors, where even the farmers are determined, grim, and ready to raise arms in defence of the peace of their esterlands cousins, without thought of repayment.

Tech Code: 6
Governments: Monarchy under the King of Highdunn.
Religions: Orthodox Church of the Dioune.
Industries and Trades: Forestry, Timber, Agriculture, Weapon and Armour Smithing.
Major Terrain: Flatland, Wood.
Primary Languages: Trade Tongue.
Major Settlements: Arrowgar Keep, Caneburrough, Cavalier's Falls, Crosston, Estar, Fendale, Hillborough, Katrenburrough, Kithridge, Madagar Keep, Pelay.

Geography


Physical Geography

The Tresser Veldt is a broad, clear cut strip of fertile grassland and low hills bordering The Forest. The Veldt was clearcut by the first Earls Tressilian when they came here and as their territory has expanded so has the clearing of forests and the encroachment on rich grasslands. All remains of the tangled forest that once that once dominated this land are a few pine woods planted in neat rows between farmsteads to be logged for timber. Dotted with large powerful castles, the Veldt is also characterized by a large number of quarries. The stone for these fortresses is usually gathered from the hill on which their built, and so the western approaches to any castle is usually defended by a hand cut cliff face and a flooded quarry.

A single major river, the Northflow, is the lifeblood of the Veldt, and oxen-drawn barges and fishing vessels ply its gentle waters the year round. Its promontories and the dozens of little streams that feed it keep the Veldt soil rich and fertile, but its banks tend to be marshy and mangrove swamps are common. In the far north towards the coast grasslands give way to tree-choked fenns which hide the crumbling remains of Siele ruins. While these lands might seem dangerous the locals have long since learned to make their homes and livings from them, and where a stranger stumbling unprepared into the fenns will surely come to some harm the folk who live here think no more of their flooded overgrown home than the farmers of the south. These fenns stretch right to the northern coast where swamps give way to the sea.

The western escarpment, not as tall or constant as it's eastern counterpart in Reddown, stretches from Katrenburrough down to the city of Pelay. It is formed from low ruddy-brown jagged cliffs with the smaller trails and passes intentionally blocked with large menhirs or landslides. More of an obstacle than a fortification, it means that an attacking force of any size must break into smaller factions to scale it, and this alone makes it a useful boarder.

Political Geography

Despite being within the boarders of Highdunn the Tresser Veldt is older than the Kingdom that hosts it, and has been allowed to retain much of it's tradition and it's autonomy. The Veldt is split into three Earldoms, each based around a large boarder castle, and the military presence of the Tresser Veldt both represents the bulk of Highdunn's regular army and the most important political role of the region. The three Earls take it in turn to control all of the military of the Veldt, and effectively of Highdunn, while each of the Earldoms are governed independently though they must adhere to the laws and edicts of the King of Highdunn, and his various agents. Each Earl takes an oath of fealty to the king of Highdunn and in return the King takes an oath to respect and uphold their station within his kingdom.

There are three Earldoms in the Veldt, from south to north these are Rotheron, Roen, and Tireste. Each of these has its capitol in a large castle built right on the border with the Forest Kingdom, at least a half day's ride from civilization. So common are the raids by the goblyn slavetakers that this means that the Earls are free to hold their superior position in these fortifications without fear that the raiders will have freedom to ravage economically vital regions.

Rotheron in the south is the richest of the three, controlling the eastern end of the forest way where all of the goods flow from Sigard and Reddown into Southaven and beyond. Rotheron is also one of the safest regions of the veldt, with few immediate hostile neighbours. As a result there are more farms and crops here than herds, and the Earl of Rotheron is able to feed most of his people without any aid from Highdunn. It is also where the Earls drill their armies when they come together as a whole.

Roen is the most militant of the Earldoms of the Veldt, being the most obvious target for attack, goblyns raid monthly but seldom brave the passes of the western escarpment in great numbers. Because of this the Earls of Roen tend to keep the largest forces in the Veldt spread across their three large border-forts, and also tend to have the most experienced men, and the most to spare when minor events in Highdunn like the Maethian coup call them to arms away from their home. Tireste in the fenns of the north is the smallest and most densely civilized of the three earldoms. It's herds are relatively safe thanks to the difficulty of launching the lightening raids of which the goblyns are so fond, but the Black Eye have proven willing to penetrate deeply into Tireste in more protracted campaigns of pillaging on occasion.

Social Geography

Society in the Veldt is indistinguishable from that of the rest of Highdunn outside of the boarder-fortresses. People live in small but interconnected townships and hamlets based around either major resources or major thoroughfares, or often both. Most of these settlements, especially the smaller ones, are relatively self-sufficient. Unlike Reddown steaders are replaced by landed nobility formed from settled veterans. They are tasked with establishing and holding a defensible position when they are retired, which is usually little more than a walled manor, and with defending the serfs in their employ.

There are considerably fewer professionals in the Veldt, relying on goods from the heartlands of Highdunn and Southaven for such goods as the freemen there produce. The only freemen common to the Veldt are the armourers who maintain the weapons of the Earls' armies. Vagrancy however is more common than in other parts of Highdunn, as serfs are displaced by raids and, unwilling to return to their homes, take to hiding in the wilds, especially in the fenns of Tireste.

History


Timeline

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 programmes prove a fatal combination to the Siele. [[[Dyurvar]] himself is admitted to the Earl’s councils of war.
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 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 tolerates these refugees only because he can’t spare the forces to assail them.
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.
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 Goblynking, but only survives three months after his victory, before the tribes splinter again.
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 Kingown. 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 declairs 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 man-power.
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.
1482 HC Present Day

People


Flora and Fauna

The Veldt's flora is affected by deciduous forest and coniferous woodland. Plants and animals found in the Veldt are those generally common to The Forest. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute the edges of the forest, though farmsteaders plant pine along their boundaries to sell as timber. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the fenns and towards the Roughlands, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. Ferns are fond of warm, damp environments and a number of varieties can grow quite large in small wooded areas.

Wild animals include deer, wild boar, foxes, badgers, hare, and small colonies of beavers. Quail, wood pigeons, wild turkey, falcons, sparrow hawks and along the coast large grey gulls are all common, but migratory birds are rare. Small wild rodents like squirrels and field mice are also very common, but oddly rats are a rarity around The Forest and it's boarders. The Veldt has a distinct wasp infestation thanks to the clearing of trees, and so the bees that represent a huge potential industry in Reddown are all but gone here, but the upshot is that the kakker has also largely abandoned the Veldt.

Domestic animals include sheep and cattle, oxen, goats and mules. Pigs are kept, but their meat is unpopular, so they are rare and normally just used to dispose of rubbish. However in general herds are less popular in the Tresser Veldt than in Reddown or Highdunn, and mostly sedentary animals are favoured to allow the maximum amount of land to be under cultivation.

The Fenns in the north lack the fearsome Fenn Wyrm common to Highdunn swamps, and is mainly populated by fresh water fish, frogs and lizards and several species of heron ranging from a faded yellow to blue-grey. Occasionally larger and more unpleasant creatures will swim into the fenns from the open sea during particularly bad storms, but these seldom stay long and because they are out of their environment they tend to be extremely reclusive.

Notable Individuals

Earl of Roen, His Lordship Alvin Roen
Alvin Roen, the Goblyn Slayer, a living legend of the Isle. At the sight of his banner entire tribes have fled the field. At the mention of his name men draw sharp breath and at the sound grown men fall upon their knees and cast their eyes to the ground. Despite only being in his late middle years, experiencing the close of his sixth decade and still strong and vital, Alvin Roen’s titanic reputation has travelled from one corner of the Isle to another, and the goblyns of The Forest quake at the mere mention of the man they call Kashar Kar, or ‘death-hands’. All kinds of legends circulate around the military and martial prowess of the Earl of Roen and he does little to either confirm or deny the factuality of the rumours that float around his person, but few men deny that he is one of the most fearsome and feared warriors on the Isle today, and also one of the most respected and talented animal breeders too. His stables and kennels produce animals of the finest pedigree available on the Isle, animals the Earl himself is deeply involved in the rearing of. Alvin is a consummate combatant, an expert rider and a ruthlessly efficient field commander with an exalted military record. His men have such respect for him that they refuse to ever meet his gaze and he inspires near fanatical confidence in the men he commands.

Earl of Rotheron, His Lordship Davin Rotheron
The current Lord Commander of the armies of the Tresser Veldt has held the position for only a few months after assuming the post from Varn Tireste. Davin is a man in the twilight of his life though he is scarcely two years Earl Roen’s senior. Old wounds and battle scars have been less kind to Davin and his prime is past, but he remains strong willed and astute of mind despite the failings of his body. Davin Rotheron is a veteran of a dozen brutal wars, he fought along the forest road against the burned stump and held against the killing claw and black eye. He commanded a pursuit force during the Maethian coup, he put down the Whitehale rebellion and famously slew the Wyrm of the Lorinn Fenn, whose dessicated claw he still wears mounted atop his helm when he rides to war. But unlike Alvin Roen Davin has not always walked away the hero. The scarred Earl limped, bloodied from the majority of the battle he has seen. Davin Rotherin is a survivor, he refuses to die or to be defeated and his body, criss-crossed with livid scars evidences his tenacity starkly. Blind in one eye, with a marked limp and a missing ear, two missing fingers on the right hand, bones fractured and healed at oddly jagged angles, a rudely crushed nose and a number of other small injuries give the Earl of Rotheron a crooked, broken appearance that would be ugliness in a man of lesser bearing, but such is the Earl’s dignity and stature that he seems more imposing than damaged in his scarring.

Traederic Rotheron
Traederic is the eldest son of Davin Rotheron. With four elder sisters Davin was lucky to produce an heir in a timely fashion. Traedric is a tall, statuesque young man with powerful, square features. In the face of fashion he wears no facial hair and keeps his hair regularly cropped close. His appearance speaks of nobility and dignity, but also of extreme vanity, and indeed Traederic has proven fond of flattery and extremely fond of images of himself, though if these are not to his liking, or not sufficiently adoring his rage can be terrible. In person the young Rotheron heir has heavily lidded, bovine eyes. But those parts of his visage of which he is not fond are struck from all the artwork that attempts to render him.

Earl of Tireste, His Lordship Varn Tireste
The youngest of the Earls of the Tresser Veldt, Varn is mere months shy of his fourth decade. While he is terrified of being seen as a naive junior by his fellow earls, Varn is an accomplished leader and has served as Lord Commander of the forces of the Tresser Veldt for the full five years of his reign since the death of his father Malcolm, only recently turning the post to Alvin Roen. A slight youth with a quiet manner and strange intensity people are often intimidated by the young Earl, and even his commanders find him humourless and stern. Despite this Varn is considered very eligible, and though he is no beauty he is not aged or scarred like so many noblemen of the Veldt are, and many of the local lords would love nothing more than to offer the Earl of Tireste their daughter's hand in marriage.

Culture


Social Etiquette and Customs

In the same way that the folk of Southaven give a special prominence to their priests regardless of social station the people of the Tresser Veldt have a special respect for soldiers. While a soldier might be a mere infantryman he will find that farm labourers and wealthy merchants alike show him a special respect when he is out in his armour. This healthy respect is thought of as a form of thanks to these men for defending the way of life of the Veldt dwellers, and usually generosity is expected whether it is simply giving up ones table in a tavern to giving soldiers a special price in a shop.

Aside from this the usual shows of respect are normal, a serf must doff his cap or raise his forelock to a superior, and hospitality for one's superiors is an essential point of pride, and piece of expected etiquette. A guest in general must have the best of everything in a household, and a guest of higher station must not have a single request denied or the host will suffer a severe loss of face.

Diet

The staple diet in the Veldt is largely based around simple fare, wild fowl and boar is common, as much of what is farmed here is sent to the heartlands of Highdunn and the beef and mutton of the Veldt is rarely eaten here. Most towns can mill flour, and so bread is also a staple of the daily meal, as is pastry meaning that game pies with root vegetables are popular as are stews. Always hearty regardless of the contents, morning and afternoon meals often consist of preserved cuts of meat, especially in Rotheron where the so-called 'white gold' shipping from southern Reddown means that dry-preserving food is comparatively inexpensive. Veldt corn whiskey has a nasty reputation for being the most disgusting thing a man can consume, but this doesn't change the popularity of this bitter, burning, dirty coloured liquid.

Ahlonian Arms and Armour

Noblemen usually carry dirks, light warriors or scouts use a machete-like short sword, most true warriors use a mace of some kind, usually footman's or similar, and a pole arm, most common being spears, pikes and halberds. Shields are usually wooden bound in iron, armour usually consists of toughened leather grieves, gauntlets, breast plate and cap, but mail is common among professional soldiers, even then forged iron is valuable so usually only a mail shirt or coat and helmet are worn. Mounted men often have iron grieves too, and elite infantry may have metal bracers and helmets, generally metal armour is the province of goblyns. Goblins usually wear fitting mail, their shields are beaten iron and they use axes, maces, and swords designed for double handed optional use. Because they rely heavily on cavalry pole arms are uncommon, and mounted goblyns tend towards extremely long bladed spears, or even the spear-sword used by the siele. The siele use long spear-swords, versatile weapons, and also tend towards mail, although the better the warrior the less armour he uses, with their finest fighting totally nude. The siele are the only individuals to commonly use bows, though goblins are fond of slings and both men and goblins like javelins. Archers are usually a skirmisher with a short-bow and a dozen or so arrows, and they fight like a skirmisher when battle is joined. Highwaymen and robbers usually carry a knife or cudgel.

Setting Trait (2): The Grim Borderlands There is a grim, almost fatalistic determination about the Tresser Veldt, a grim loyalty to a cause that the Earldoms to the west do not share. To a man the people of the Tresser Veldt seem to think it their duty to hold fast against the incursions of the forest, and they are resigned, even pragmatic about their duty. They gladly rally to any who offer them strength and aid in their cause, but have little time for other matters.

Transportation and Communication

Bulky farmers wagons are common here, usually pulled by powerful oxen, similarly barges ply the Northflow carrying goods and materials. Tresser Veldt Cavaliers ride horses, but as in all of Ahlonia these are exceptionally rare and are really the province of the goblyns of The Forest. Mules are more common for passengers rather than goods, but by and large people are often happy to walk. Young men who are the sons of freemen without their own professions will usually run messages between towns, but they can be unreliable as they are young and the young are easily distracted by frivolous things. The Forest Way is possibly the most important overland passage in all of Ahlonia, and the Earls of the Tresser Veldt share the responsibility for it's security with the Earldom of Werndel, and also share the great profits that this duty can bring.

Government


Political System

The Earls of the Tresser Veldt cycle complete military command of the Veldt between them in three year periods, and swear allegiance directly to the King of Highdunn, who, for his part, recognizes the military pressures on these territories and takes a very light-handed approach to them. In return for their fealty they are left with relatively free reign over how they govern their lands, though all laws and taxes are set by committee between the three Earls rather than independently. This situation means that the Earls need relatively few agents and bureaucrats in their employ. The King of Highdunn's agents levy their taxes and pay a portion to the Earls coffers and a smaller portion goes back to Thairon, and the Earls of the Veldt are largely left to military and litigious affairs. The lower landed nobility is almost entire formed of retired veterans, either Cavaliers or Elite Infantrymen, awarded small plots of land for long service, with the understanding that they pay taxes when Highdunns excisemen come, protect their serfs, enforce the Earl's law and provide them with strong young men as recruits.

Legal System and Enforcement

The Tresser Veldt works on harsh, draconian laws and a basis of military service for all it’s eligible citizens that enforces a harsh militaristic discipline on it’s people and a sense of barren, grim loyalty to their commanders so long as they continue to succeed. This status quo is frowned upon by the Veldt's neighbours, who prefer to allow people to pursue their own legal affairs to a local magistrate, but the Earls of the Veldt have clear written laws paired with appropriate punishments in a document called the Map of the Laws which they ensure all the landed nobility are familiar with. Disputes are settled by the local nobleman or an agent he appoints, and wrongdoers are apprehended by whatever force he employs, but if he does not prosecute and punish in accordance with the laws of the Veldt he could quickly find his lands and title taken from him or, worse still, criminal proceedings levelled against him. Of course only an Earl can try a nobleman accused of a crime, and there is a great deal of leniency shown in cases where a serf is the wronged party - their serfs are, after all, essentially their property.

Military

Primarily the Tresser Veldt is a military power, an equivalent to the eastern earldoms in Reddown, but their independence and relative military success, as well as the trust of all of Highdunn, has made them much more powerful bastions of strength. Next to the united goblyns of the forest the Tresser Veldt is the most powerful military centre on Ahlonia. The Veldt's military is organised around small elite bodies of heavy cavalry known as Cavaliers armed with maces, spears and javelins and each accompanied by three to five highly trained war-hounds and mounted on a similarly trained war horse. These elite units usually number no more than a dozen men, and together at the heart of a battle line they can often turn the tide of a fight, or deploy to outflank an advancing enemy. The infantry are given a spear, wooden shield and helmet when they enlist, but most also obtain a loose ring mail shirt and heavy leather jerkin if these can be supplied at the time. These are used in very large tightly packed phalanx, and skirmishers with mace and javelin are used to guard these phalanxes flanks. Elite infantry are deployed in much smaller numbers and usually have a metal bound tower shield and a more complex polearm such as a halberd or pike. They also get the best of the armour available, though this is seldom more than a chain mail coat and conical helmet. Elite infantry are better drilled, and their shields usually bear heraldry for formal occasions, and they normally represent the garrison for the boarder forts that barrack the other elements of a force.

Technology


Architecture and Construction

As in Marratharn and Kirshire keeps replace the farmstead as the centre of a community here, and the keeps of the Veldt are formidable structures. Veldt keeps consist of a stout donjon with a single square tower raised up on a motte surrounded by a low curtain wall. Because they don't encounter siege often the concept of a central strong point, namely the donjon's tower, is very effective. Active keeps are also surrounded by earthworks, though moats are rare, but the approaches to a keep are usually protected by a flooded quarry where the stone for the structure was sourced. Unlike the fortresses that really hold the boarder against the goblyn raiders these keeps are the heart of a small settlement, and so it is necessary that structures exist outside these. Generally the settlement is located directly opposite the quarry and a healthy distance from the keep so as not to provide cover for attackers. The people are encouraged to flee into the courtyard of the keep for shelter when attack seems imminent, and abandon their homes. Veldt homes and shops are usually timber and wattle, both because timber is so readily available, and so that they can be easily torched if an enemy uses them to hide.

Major Industry

With the close proximity of the Forest logging and timber milling are a major industry here, but crops of corn, wheat and barley as well as a major cotton production industry form the cornerstones of the Tresser Veldt's economy. Large granaries are dotted all over the land, always close to fortifications, and these store the years surplus for trade. Milling flour and other grains is also common here, with water-mills all along the banks of the Northflow. Making ringmail armour and treating and hardening leather is also something done well in the Veldt, and leather armour made here, as well as boots and belts and the like, are of the highest quality and are in great demand all over the Isle.

Medicine

Field medicine is excellent in the Veldt, and soldiers have access to all kinds of treatment for injuries at their garrisons where bones can be set, wounds cleaned and bound and if necessary leaches can be applied and amputations performed. The commoners don't have access to these facilities, and largely rely on the ministrations of either local priests or a wise women who has had remedies passed down from mother to daughter. Leeches are even more popular here than they are in the rest of Ahlonia, and the purging of bad blood is often something simply done therapeutically every month or two as well as part of treatment.

Economy


Trade

The Veldt is one of the largest metal consumers in all of Ahlonia, both for its plough blades and spearheads, and raw metal out of Shornfar and the Roughlands pours into the Veldt. In return it pushes out grains, corn and barley to the more metropolitan centres of Ahlonia, and sells its soldiers to merchant trains passing the forest way. Mainly the veldt is self-sufficient and only relies on the gold of the outside world to support its armies, and those armies are of such value that nothing is asked in return. Timber is plentiful here, but no more so than in Highdunn or Reddown, and so only in the north where the veldt boarders the roughlands does milled timber and raw logs dragged by teams of oxen leave the boarders of the veldt for the barren hills.

Money

Barter remains common and popular here, and the common people have not taken to currency, possibly due to the self-sufficient nature of individual settlements. However in the south where gold comes down the forest way every day the people have learned the advantaged of minted currency over the exchange of often exotic goods. Here the plain discs of gold and silver used throughout Ahlonia and the more detailed minted coins from Reddown change hands easily.

Today in The Veldt…


Without argument the most dramatic recent event in the veldt has been the disappearance of Princess Serina of Highdunn from Fort Rotheron. She was present with her mother as part of a tour the two were taking of the boarder with the Forest Way when their party was ambushed by an enormous force of masked men in black and the princess was snatched away before the forces of the Earl of Rotheron, a mere mile back from the royal party, could come to the rescue. Davin's scouts had secured the area thoroughly and there are whispers that at least some must be disloyal for a party of this size to go unnoticed. At present a Reddown emissary named Lord Adrien Peran, a cousin to the Earl of Galastry, is being held on suspicion of involvement as several attackers killed were found to be men from his personal staff, but the princess herself seems to have completely vanished. Kingsown are combing the forest way for some sign of her passage, and relations with Reddown are quickly deteriorating as Eldin, never a master of tact, levels accusations against the very heads of Daultin.

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
Director's Miscellany Amenities, Gear & Prices, Professions, Random Encounters, Small Settlement Generator, Supporting Cast Generator