Greater Pentland is a multi-ethnic empire stretched across a series of large volcanic islands to the south of the continent. The islands are known for their breathtaking abundance of life, including great dragons, dragonkin, dinosaurs, merfolk and thousands of exotic species of plants and animals that can't be found anywhere else.
The people are known for having one of the most powerful navies in the hemisphere; a substantial air force of drake and wyvern riders; and their militant expansionist doctrine. Though Pentlander ambitions have once been curbed by a prolonged civil conflict, the reunited empire has once again set its sights on its neighbors.
- 1 History
- 2 Geographical Features
- 3 Government and Politics
- 4 Military
- 5 Religion
- 6 Society and Peoples
- 7 Groups of Interest
- 8 Language
In ancient times, most of the isles were part of a landmass inhabited by High Dragons, who used it as a laboratory of life, according to research by religious scholars. The stewardship theory posits that dragons created new species to thrive or perish. This explains the abundance of dinosaurs and strange plants and animals. Scholars argue about whether the stewardship is still ongoing.
Thousands of years ago, a colossal volcano exploded and shattered the landmass into islands. The blast also caused tsunamis and darkened the skies, killing thousands across the South Sea.
Meanwhile, the merfolk living on continental shelves throughout the area slowly developed a centralized society and entered a golden age, according to Oneidhae loremasters. But harsh treatment of the laborer castes caused an uprising, after which the society entered a decline. As unity dissolved and Tuil Sianaach was no longer the center of merfolk life, cultural progress slowed and decentralized. Conflicts drove out several factions, spreading them across the oceans.
Early Human Migrations
The Tuil Fionn people are the earliest recorded humans to populate the remaining archipelago. It's unknown whether they came from Veth's main landmass or from undiscovered lands in the Great Ocean. Using their multi-hulled canoes, the tribal Fionn explored most of Greater Pentland's current territory, settling down and forming communities on some of the islands. The main community settled on the Tuil Sianaach's above-surface portion. The Fionn were the first surface men to make contact with the Oneidhae.
The proto-Pentlanders came to the isles from the continent, most likely from Vallaria. They settled on Kargaan-Eurymedon, which is now called the Imperial Isle. Most of the area's volcanoes were still active and massive dragons and dinosaurs roamed the land. The Pentlanders survived against these odds, carving out ever greater feudal enclaves and slaying or taming the terrible beasts. As they expanded, the Pentlanders pushed existing Fionn communities aside and came to intrude on the dragons' territories.
After a prolonged and terrible stalemate, the dragons made an agreement with the humans about how much land can be developed and how much must remain wild. The dragons are rarely seen these days, preferring to stay in the wilds for mysterious reasons. The militant history left a mark. Pentlanders see themselves as heroic monster hunters and bringers of civilization.
Later Human Migrations and Imperial Formation
Tollorian explorers also came to some of the isles and settled several of them. Though some Fionn and a handful of Pentlanders already lived there as independent enclaves, the Tollorians' negotiation skills let them establish colonies. The largest was called Arrantiada, which became their collective name. After a few generations, hostilities broke out between the colonial residents and the Tollorian governor, who was overthrown by a nascent spiritual-revolutionary movement.
Elluria and Tollor sent warships to reclaim the area and the Arrants asked Pentland for help, knowing that the Pentlanders were several years away from conquering the area anyway. Through shrewd diplomacy, the Arrants retained a great deal of independence including the right to a representative republic, while becoming Pentland's tributary.
While this was happening, Pentland made the transition from a union of semi-independent fiefs and cities into a true empire. Bloodshed accompanied the change, but relatively few people died and the newly Imperial Pentland remained a strong nation, with everything to gain from its newly expansionist doctrine.
As Pentland's naval technology developed and grew thanks to independent discoveries and cribbing from neighboring cultures, their ships became a growing presence in Tuil Sianaach. Eventually, Pentlanders discovered a wealth of natural resources, both organic and inorganic. The ensuing exploitation was the last straw for some of the locals, who killed several ships' worth of Pentlander sailors, marines and scholars.
Soon, the imperial navy navy descended on the atoll in force. The Fionn were eventually subdued but Pentland had more trouble with the Oneidhae. A solution was found in the form of alchemical ships designed to release concentrated poison into the Tuil's massive coral reef system. The Oneidhae surrendered instead of watching their ecosystem be destroyed. Pentlanders deny ever using the poison in a demonstration, while the merfolk insist that a demonstration did occur, ruining part of the reef for several generations.
Pentland's colonial ships also sailed around the Inland Sea and the western edge of the continent, establishing cities like Amparos, Placida Nova, and others. They often clashed with the local cultures and made heavy use of their powerful warships and their drakes, wyverns and dinosaurs to claim territory and pacify insurgents.
Civil War and Modern Day
A few decades ago, King Arcturus died while on the throne, leaving only his infant son as heir. As Pentland was already having economic trouble from colonial over-extension and a bloated military, some of the opportunistic nobles saw their chance to fight for dominance. This turned into a brutal internecine conflict that almost resulted in the loss of most colonies. Former lord general Wyrne seized the throne and held onto Pentland's territories but also instituted brutal repressions at home.
Wyrne's opponents rallied against lord general Philemonis, who had a drop of royal blood and showed himself a more honorable ruler. Philemonis killed Wyrne and became king, launching his own dynasty. He continues to be a generally competent but not amazing ruler. One of his goals is to greatly increase Pentland's trade with Arangoth, the Southlands, Najjir, Mwayambi and the Orient.
Greater Pentland consists of one massive island (Kargaan-Eurymedon), four very large islands (Tuil Sianaach, Arrantiada, Thule and Adoración) and dozens of smaller isles. It also has respectably sized colonies on the mainland, along the north and south coasts of the Inland Sea.
Kargaan-Eurymedon, also known as the Imperial Isle, has the lion's share of the population living in its well-defined provinces, united by decent roads and over a dozen rivers. It is also home to the famous wilds of Kargaan Vale, situated around the massive Eurymedon river. The vale is the most intact piece of the former Draconic life stewardship experiment. Its unspoiled nature is both breathtakingly beautiful and extremely deadly. The north of the island is mountainous, with small dead calderas clustered around the single massive Halistur volcano, which hadn't erupted for centuries.
Arrantiada is technically four islands - one big and three small. It has a mild climate, ideal for agriculture and the sea around it is usually teeming with fish. It is mostly settled, with cities and large plantations covering much of its arable land. The island faces the strait of Aranquivir, which is used by many imperial and foreign ships.
Closer to the equator, a crescent island juts from the water, surrounding a round seabed shelf that supports an enormous coral reef and drifting motile isles made of flotsam and life. Indigenous peoples call this place the Tuil Sianaach – sickle of the ocean. Two intelligent species share this ecosystem: the air-breathing Fionn and the underwater Oneidhae merfolk.
Thule, Adoracion and other islands have features that are a mix of what has already been described.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of Pentland’s tall trees is the Thymvraan Oak. Distinguished by their colossal size (hundreds of meters), and their teal-colored leaves, their wood is exceptionally strong for its weight. When the wood breaks, it has a fantastic ability to repair its own structural failures, even after it's been cut to planks (up to a certain degree). It is extremely prized in shipbuilding. The leaves and sap of the Thym-Oak contain medicinal properties that can be used to remove pain and greatly increase a body's healing rate. Each cultivated oak is a plantation unto itself, carefully harvested and kept alive for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Iridion Trees describes pairs of species: the Wyrdant Nightshade and Feyglow fungi. Primarily growing next to streams, the twisting tree spreads its night-flowering canopy overhead while the symbiotic fungi grow on the branches of the tree, feeding off its juices. Once fully mature, the fungus begins to glow with a soft light that ranges from pale blue to violet. This light attracts nocturnal insects which then pollinate the tree and keep it reproducing. Sometimes, the fungus releases luminous spores which drift through the forest like sparkling fey.
One thing to always look out for is the magical Krimian pine: short and solitary trees that have developed a frightening defense method. Their reddish needles contain traces of magic elemental fire along with hollow cavities in the stubby branches. If someone disturbs the tree with force, the cavities burst, showering the offender with incendiary needles that burst into flames and cinders. The tree self-reproduces by growing a number of rounded pine cones that explode violently when the time comes, scattering their rock-hard seeds throughout the surrounding area. These trees usually have a several yard barren space around them. Resourceful humans have learned to carefully harvest them for alchemical and military ingredients.
Pentland is renowned for its reptilian and draconic life. It also has many other strange beasts and critters.
High dragons are the undisputed masters of the wilds. Kargaan Vale, which takes up nearly a quarter of the Imperial Isle's total landmass, is off limits to human habitations larger than ranger huts, because of an agreement for the humans to keep settlements out.
Imperial drakes look like two-legged dragons with wings, roughly the size of a camel. Drakes aren't fully self-aware but some species are highly intelligent and possess weak telepathy. The dumber, more common varieties are called "wyverns" - instead of empathy and breath weapons, they evolved quills and stingers. Humans have trained both types as mounts and all airborne cavalrymen are called drake-riders.
Kargaan Raptors are fast carnivorous lizards about the size of a horse. They walk on two powerful hind legs and have smaller vestigial front “arms” that are mainly used for balance and bracing. They use long jumps and bursts of speed to chase down their prey and devour it with their jagged teeth. Though extremely dangerous when encountered in the wild, humans have been able to capture, train, and even breed them as mounts.
The drakontos (or 'ontos) are herbivorous beasts distantly related to dragons. Far less sinuous, they have large stocky bodies resembling a longer-legged version of basilisks, with hind legs that are notably bigger than the other limbs. They are covered in hardened scales and massive horns on their heads that protect them against predators. The bull varany have magical breath weapons: usually fire or corrosive gas that they also use for protection and territorial fights. These have also been domesticated in parts of Pentland. Bulls are sometimes trained as special mounts for important people.
Kaas rippers are numerous small lizards that travel in packs. They like to swarm larger prey, surrounding it and eventually gnawing it to death. Many rangers have horror stories about these little creatures. One way to hold them at bay is to exploit their fear of fire.
Glowscales can generate an electric charge from the hundreds of tiny filaments on their bodies. One shock is usually enough to deter most predators. If many are close together and shock at once, it can kill a human.
Vampiric gliders are furry tree-dwellers with flaps of skin between their arms and legs. They usually pounce from trees and glide up to their prey, injecting their fangs into the flesh and releasing a numbing, paralyzing toxin that makes it hard for the victim to move. They then drink the victim's blood. Few victims ever die from the blood loss but their hampered movement makes them highly vulnerable to other predators.
Kargaan vale is home to a big number of insect species, some of which are quite large and range from annoying to deadly.
Government and Politics
Strong central authority is a relatively recent phenomenon. The early Pentlanders’ tendency to form survivalist enclaves developed into a sort of feudalism with strong, turbulent nobility that doesn’t always obey the will of the Imperial Liege. Noble fiefs dot the land, fortified behind keeps and castles. In the past few centuries, a number of towns and villages sprang up in south of the main island, as Pentland is now safe enough not to require people to live behind walls.
Pentland became an empire several hundred years ago and since then, has been more centralized. The imperial ruler is called either King or Emperor, depending on the social context of the conversation. The kings, usually dynastic, inherit the Obsidian Throne in the capital city of Kalimnost. The king's power is somewhat balanced by a council of nobles. While it's rare for a noble coalition to successfully challenge the king's decisions, the monarch depends on his nobles for his power and must have at least some of them on his side to govern effectively.
Notable Government Officials
When talking about the military, it’s useful to note that there are two types of armies: that fielded by the king, and that fielded by the nobility. The latter consists mostly of vassals, conscripts and however many knights a nobleman’s dominion might have. Frequent alliances keep a shifting balance of military power. If Pentland is called upon to fight some battle, the nobles are clearly obliged to unite under the flag of the king. Depending on the strength of the monarch, that may not always happen immediately.
Still, it’s a bad idea to get on the monarch’s bad side. He commands a standing army as well – this one mostly volunteers, around Valgrade and Perrenia. These soldiers are considerably better trained and better paid, which speaks of their superiority. The Lord Protector commands the king’s infantry and dragoons.
The regulars are subdivided into arms (battalions) and claws (companies) in that order, named after parts of the dragon anatomy. Each claw is commanded by a high officer or knight. Each arm is commanded by a general.
Pentland's navy is the pride of the empire and the strongest military branch.
Early Pentlanders used dromons and galleys, which began to be displaced by oarless vessels early on. Cogs and hulks were the mainstay for centuries until the development of the caravel. The Pentlanders iterated on these designs, favoring the square rigged foremast of the caravela redonda. Continued experiments led to Pentland developing a type of carrack independently from other nations, which came up with their own forms of carracks around roughly the same time.
Pentland's most formidable warships are its large four-masted carracks, some of which are made from Thymvraan oak, which gives then unparalleled resistance to structural failure. The use of this construction material, however, is too expensive to use for the majority of its men o' war and merchantmen. Smaller carracks and square-rigged caravels comprise the backbone of the navy.
While broadside combat has been around since 400, line of battle tactics are a recent development in Pentland's history, which the empire is eager to test out and perfect.
Pentland also uses specialized vessels, some of which are still experimental. Coastal defense ships called Ankylos utilize dinosaurs' bone plating as an armored sheath over its deck as it rams, ignites or boards enemy ships from close range. These haven't been used extensively due to the rarity of any vessels assaulting Pentland's coastline.
Pentland's largest ships by far, are trimarans developed and greatly scaled up from Fionn multi-hull canoes. While massive and ponderous, they are not any slower than the biggest warships and can generally keep up without an issue. While the trimarans have initially been used for logistics, they have now been adapted to carry one to several cavalry drakes or wyverns, along with their riders, handlers and feed. This enables Pentland to bring its air superiority to any sea battle or coastal raid. The use of these carriers is limited by their great expense.
The Pentlander navy employs some Tuil Oneidhae expatriates. It presents some logistical challenges to accommodate a water-breathing species aboard ships but a handful of Oneidhae myrmidons can dive underwater, swim underneath an enemy ship and make a big hole through it. The merfolk can also act as marines and sneak up on enemies right from the shore.
While Pentland has horses and routinely uses them for internal communication and transportation, the military cavalry utilizes mainly reptilian/draconic creatures as mounts (see fauna.) On the ground, riders are trained in the use of Kargaan raptors, and the highland drakontos. The latter are used by particularly gifted riders, usually in conjunction with various shooting weapons. The raptors with their rapid speed and sharp jaws are considered lighter cavalry, while the drakontos with their tough hides, large size, and breath weapons are considered heavy. The king has a number of personal 'ontos specially kept for him and no one else.
The flyers are slightly less numerous than the ground cavalry and use drakes and wyverns as mounts. The Pentlandite drakes are semi-sentient beasts that make use of their breath weapons and spell-like abilities in combat. Wyverns are considered of a lesser quality, because they are just beasts that must be guided with limited vocal and tactile commands. Neither has an advantage in speed but wyverns lack breath weapons, which adds to their list of drawbacks.
That said, drake riders are somewhat less common due to the greater level of skill and commitment it takes to handle one. Since drakes operate best under a single rider with a close mental connection, they are less interchangeable than dumber mounts, and bonds between drake and rider tend to last for a long time. Wyvern riders are a little more common, and what they lose in striking power and prestige, they make up for in rider-mount versatility. Still, the act of taming a drake is considered a paragon act of manhood in Pentland and the flyer corps are some of the most smug and oversexed in the military.
The flying unit often does not resemble the rest of the military. It consists mainly of small-framed and light individuals (because lighter riders fly better). They are divided into the first and second wings, and trained in the use of bows, crossbows, lances and javelins, as well as how to use the claws, teeth and stingers of their mounts to maximum effect.
Finally there are the battle mages and clerics. While there are few dedicated evokers in their ranks, Pentland’s supernaturalists excel at using the mana-drenched organic life in their country as a weapon. Their acumen ranges from externalizing the explosive potential of a Krimian pine into their foes or imbuing allies with some combat features of dragons. Many of these mages tend to be Arrants who are ecstatic to study something as exotic as Pentland’s flora and fauna. Priests form the medical corps of the military and are called upon to use their knowledge of chirurgery and magical healing.
Religion is a tangled subject in the empire mostly because its constituent races have different viewpoints about gods and afterlife. Pentlanders and Arrants have three divisions of the world: earth, sea and sky. Fionn and Oneidhae take out the earthy middleman. The lizardfolk worship only their supposed creator. Minor deities and spirits from each of the faiths bleed over into one another through cultural diffusion.
The Pentlanders worship a trio of major gods: grim and reclusive Jormandares for the earth, impulsive and hotheaded Sevelos for the sky and wise but malleable Thurisaaz for the ocean. Each god commands two different colored dragonflights. A variety of smaller gods and goddesses have more specialized roles delegated by the trio. Pentlanders will pray at different shrines depending on what they want.
The Arrants also have a major trio of gods they inherited from Elluria – Gitaro, Ekki and Seviro. Attempts have been made to reconcile the two religions but there are some major differences – for example, the Arrant sky/sun god is calm and wise while the Pentlander one is frequently angry. One forward-thinking king built a series of shrines dedicated not to gods but to elemental domains. These caught on in bigger cities and it’s common to see a Pentlander merchant praying to Thurisaaz for fair winds next to an Arrant fisherman’s widow begging Seviro to restore her husband.
Outside of their pantheon, many Arrants also follow the teachings of Sofia Sidonia. Some of what she preached seems contradictory: standing up to unjust rulers but also nonviolence; justice and fairness for all but also unlocking individual human potential through the gathering of knowledge. There are multiple interpretations but the philosophy’s bent away from confrontation, towards negotiation predisposes Arrants to be an indirect, manipulative people. The mystic core of the discipline allows for near-arcane feats of misdirection, pattern reading and human influence.
The Fionn believe themselves to live on the narrow strips of land that separates the two great abysses of sky and ocean. They have gods similar to the sky and sea gods the Pentlanders but these are background watchers and most movers and shakers are the many spirits and entities that live throughout reality. Spirits come in two types: Tuatha de Siamnhaill and Tuatha de Tuilseach for air and water, respectively. The Oneidhae merfolk have similar notions of these spirit-realms but they revere the totemic “Deeplords” such as the dreadwhite shark, the sea serpent, the kraken, etc.
The dragon-god, Malkras, appears heavily in both the Pentlander and lizardfolk mythologies. He is the master of Pentland’s wilds and makes his home deep within the spirit-mirror of Kargaan Vale, invisible unless he wants to be seen. He maintains the natural balance, introduces and removes species from existence and assigns caretakers. The Malkraan lizardfolk believe that they are one such caretaker race but many human rangers revere Malkras as well. They say that only the beasts that Malkras had personally killed, eaten, and revived can be seen by hunters; the others are invisible to the human eye.
Society and Peoples
The Pentlanders are the dominant human ethnic group that lords over all the others. Most of the nobility comes from their stock and they are stereotyped to be cool and haughty. Like most stereotypes, it doesn’t always hold up to reality and Pentlanders come in both rich and poor. However, there is a culture of supremacy among the Pentlanders and they enjoy the best standard of living compared to the others.
Due to centuries of battle against nature, monsters and each other, Pentlanders value ruggedness and determination. They tend to look down on frivolity – whimsy is beaten out of children at a young age with the sharp smack of a ruler. Youths are trained to stand their ground. Pride and 'face' is important in society and this importance grows with higher socioeconomic status.
Women aren’t encouraged to fight but they win respect for being multitaskers. Among the free folk, the more trade skills a woman knows, the more she is valued as a wife and as a citizen. On the other hand, serfs are serfs and few distinctions are made between men and women on a lord’s estate.
Pentlander folklore includes many national epics that describe the feats of the forefathers in forging a future for the rest. The peninsula’s fauna left storytellers with a wealth of material: tales of dragon slaying and monster hunting abound. One example is the series of stories about Pendran Astartes whose family was slain the moment they set foot on the isle (though some tales have him being born from a volcano.) He becomes the first drake-rider and he and his allies perform fantastic primordial feats.
Sculpture and architecture are also favored artforms. Builders and artists often use bones, scales and enamel of dead dragonkin for building material and enjoy inserting a decorative twist into an otherwise functional siege tower or moat wall.
Arcane Horticulture became a popular artform recently. Practitioners use biomancy to twist and shape Pentland’s exotic plantlife to their bidding. Through careful manipulation of selective strains, a master could organically grow an entire house with waterproof leaves for roof shingles, inner spaces for rooms and furniture and bioluminescent fungi for lights. A few elves from the mainland have emigrated to Pentland to better learn the style.
Sample Pentlander Names
Male given names: Vifrim, Nillas, Adraast, Andronikon, Dragos, Ajaan, Angkoor, Nidrus, Theunis, Praxio, Talos, Xaander, Norlin, Dysmas, Eton, Krysos, Zosim.
Female given names: Altheia, Alexandra, Neventhia, Nihilit, Annika, Akantha, Alcimene, Cassimi, Danae, Kyria, Polymia, Taanis, Malarie, Semile, Ilythia, Zenais.
Surnames: Philemonis, Erebyrne, Vaasilik, Wyrne, Tessavraal, Taaldis, Eurymach, Kallistrat, Kyriak, Metrophan, Onesiphoros.
The Arrants were originally Ellurians who colonized a hospitable segment of the archipelago closest to Bahija and declared independence, only to be reconquered and made a protectorate by Pentland. Unlike their staid colonists, Arrants are considered inquisitive bon vivants who enjoy intellectual labor more than the art of war.
The Arrants descended from the most adventurous pioneers who entrusted their lives to the sea and foreign climes. They speak an evolved, musical-sounding version of the Southlander dialect with noticeable Pentlander influences. Most urban dwellers are at least educated enough to read coarse-hand. Arrants do a lot of trade and fishing but the island is big and mild enough to sustain significant agriculture and thus, cuisine. Arrant dishes are renowned throughout the empire.
The main theme of Pentlander art is combat but the main Arrant motif is romance. Arrants love music and dance, especially singing and stringed instruments. One famous musician quipped that his culture has more love-songs than it has eligible maidens. Arrantiada has a great number of festivals, some brought over from Elluria and some of more recent origins. Many of these involve singing, dancing, masquerades and feasting.
Sophia’s influence created a stronger drive towards education among the well-to-do members of society. Arrant nobles tend to put their children through long, tedious curriculums as a status symbol. The most prestigious is the Merced Academie, colloquially known as the School of the Flower, where up and coming movers and shakers get trained in diplomacy and rhetoric. Other departments study natural science, history and magic.
Arrants live in towns and haciendas throughout the isle. There are several major cities, Caperne, the capital, being the largest. Pentland contributed resources towards the city’s beautification to make it a pleasant vacation spot. As such, Pentlander architecture can be seen interspersed with the lighter, Rococo-style of the Arrants.
Sample Arrant Names
Male Given Names: Guillermo, Andrenas, Berenguer, Emigdio, Quio, Fernan, Injgo, Joaquin, Octavio, Ramir, Tadeo, Zekario, Hieronymo, Marius
Female Given Names: Amparo, Adoracion, Belen, Dolores, Caridad, Ynes, Reina, Odalys, Nita, Nieve, Lucia, Carmelita, Esperanza
Surnames: Fonseca, Quintana, Tenorio, Sandluco, Greyes, Penasco, Maduras, Fresneda, Himaras, Barrameda, Sidonia
The Fionn are humans who lived on small islands for many generations and have adapted to marine life. Their hands and feet are larger and more flexible; with longer fingers and toes. They tend to be muscular, capable of easily storing up and metabolizing large amounts of body fat, which results in greater body fluctuation than other humans. Their chest cages tend to be larger, to accommodate their extremely high-capacity lungs that enable them to stay underwater many times longer than other humanoids. They tend to have good strength and excellent cardio and excel at detail work.
Generations under the subtropical sun caused them to evolve from their pale ancestral hues to darker olive skin tones. Their eyes can be a variety of colors.
Rare Fionn are born with physical anomalies like their neighbors, the Oneidhae. These usually express as minor marine mammal-like traits, making them look like merfolk-human hybrids. These people are considered closer to the ocean, but by the same token, farther from humanity. More often than not, they end up being loners, with jobs that take them away from contact with other people.
The Fionn live as a series of tribes across a large series of islands extending into the South Sea and the Great Ocean. Most of these cluster around the Tuil Sianaach. Some Fionn are even rumored to live on legendary motile isles: floating landmasses on the backs of placid seabeasts or collections of vegetative matter, that are tiny ecosystems unto themselves.
As island specialists, the Fionn are known for their excellent boat building and navigation skills. Early on in their history, they have pioneered a double-hulled canoe that took them farther than many larger deep-water ships that other races have come up with, much later in their development. They are also well-known for taming aquatic creatures such as giant crabs and other exotic marine life. Some creatures are herded, others are used for hunting, transportation, or even battle. The Fionn have an almost supernatural understanding of how to make use of the marine life in their vicinity. They practice underwater and surface agriculture as well, sometimes trading with the Oneidhae or other visitors.
Fionn otherworldly beliefs describe the two domains of ocean and sky. They consider themselves the people who straddle the border between these realms and also think that they live close to the edge of the world where sky and ocean blur into each other. Their folktales are full of air or water spirits that control the elements or steal children into the depths. As a cultural trait, caution competes with the spirit of adventurousness that enabled them to explore so much of the ocean. Since the conquest by Pentland, sullenness and melancholy crept into the ethnic character as well.
Sizable Fionn ghettoes exist throughout the empire. They share a lingering resentment towards the Pentlander ruling class for their bloody conquest and towards Arrants whom they consider “bootlickers.”
Sample Fionn Names
Male Given Names: Partry, Niall, Bradach, Feidhlim, Odrhan, Tearlach, Murchadha, Domnhaill, Ciaran, Aedh, Maddoc, Teague
Female Given Names: Caitrionn, Aibhilin, Else, Muirinn, Siochain, Creirwy, Gwenhwyvi, Mairghana, Margwen
Fionn use no surnames, instead using the first names of their parents for identification: (ex: Siochain-of-Teague-and-Margwen.)
Probably the strangest of the empire’s ethnic groups, the Oneidhae are a race of water-breathing humanoids that live under the ocean surface. They are able to spend limited time (a day or so) on land. Few detailed accounts exist of their underwater cities. The Oneidh have great variation in the way they look, from different fish tails, to manta-like ‘wings’ to sea-dragon-esque spines covered with leafy membranous ‘plumage’. Appearance usually determines capability and, as such, caste.
The mysterious merfolk live beneath the waves of the great atoll, making their home throughout the coral reef. Through pruning, they control the shape of the coral deposits, growing barriers, passageways and public fixtures as they see fit.
The Oneidhae or merfolk come in a range of different appearances most of which involve some humanoid torso along with the traits of fish, marine mammals, crab or even jellyfish. There is some variation based on which city they're from, but caste plays the biggest role in determining an Oneidhae physiology. Strict adherence to the caste over hundreds of thousands of years caused stark differences between each group.
Many Oneidhae, especially the nobility, believe that some castes are inherently superior to others and more fit to rule. The bottom castes have very little wealth and power, living like servants. When caste-mixing happens, the offspring tend to have difficult, ambiguous lives if they survive into adulthood. The Oneidhae have a dedicated warrior caste: The Myrmidons, who are some of the fiercest fighters in the South Sea.
The society is largely matriarchal. Females, while smaller than males, have a higher affinity for magic, naturally putting them in charge. The priests, mages and governors tend to be females, though males sometimes fill these roles. Lineages are traced from the mother. Still, female Oneidhae can be found in the lower castes.
Some merfolk are born with anomalies like multiple pairs of arms or as conjoined siblings. Their shape is considered auspicious, touched by the divine. This overrides their ordinary caste in determining their place in society.
Oneidhae religion is poorly understood. They revere the ancient gods of the deep and see sentient marine life as a single massive hierarchy leading from the divine to the mortal.
Sample Oneidhae Names
Male Given Names: Ixion, Anaxhid, Iakkos, Artairis, Innenin, Omphaelos
Female Given Names: Nerys, Una, Anais, Nyx, Ismene, Mneme, Nada, Ullisa
Instead of surnames, Oneidhae identify each other by caste and if that’s not enough, by some physical trait. Example: Bluegreen Ionar the Myrmidon.
Malkraans walk on two legs but share the blood of dragons. They are found mostly in the forested wildlands of Kargaan Vale and the volcanic heights of the central island where they revere Malkras, the Draconian god of wilderness and the hunt. The group is somewhat aggressive and xenophobic and its tribes have accepted the preeminence of their human liege to different degrees. Still, as time wears on, it became increasingly common to see Malkraans in human cities.
The powerful Malkraans inhabited the imperial isle before it was a glimmer in any human’s eye. Nowadays, most of them live in the Kargaan wilds and the magma pools of the Heathdern volcano. Pentlanders refer to them as Lizardmen which is a misnomer – the proud creatures have more in common with fire-breathing dragons than with cold-blooded reptiles. The ancient race lives to serve their god, Malkraas, master of the wilderness and patron of the hunt.
The Malks stand over seven feet high, with a hunched posture, a scaly lizardlike flesh and a long, toothy mouth. Tufts of quills extend from the base of their heads; their serrated tails reach to the floor. They walk on a pair of powerful legs and sometimes wear metal plates to augment their already impressive natural armor. Their eyes are a molten orange. Their partial draconic qualities make them highly resistant to heat and flames, making them natural smiths.
Malkraans don’t have much of a society to speak of. One time they lived in greater numbers with elites and institutions but even then, they were a highly individualistic race, prone to wandering alone and lording over a territory in solitude. Long battles with the humans and the deaths of great wyrms who once ruled over the race have driven them farther and farther apart. It’s uncommon to encounter two Malkraans in the same place at the same time.
Still, the lizardfolk have built a series of meeting markers throughout the island and come together there sometimes to exchange goods and information. Males and females pair off and produce several children, then drift apart again once the young can survive on their own.
The lizardfolk believe that they were created by the dragon-god, Malkras, to have dominion over the beasts of the isle and to maintain and enforce ecological balance. As such, some become rangers. Their tales say that their god has given them the power over tools in order to compete against larger predators, including enemy dragons. Despite being behind humans in civilization, they know certain tricks of how to make watered steel and adamantium. Some of the most renowned armor and weapon smiths in the realm come from Malkraan stock.
Nowadays, most lizardfolk live as citizens of the realm, for the most part, obeying the laws set forth by the king. But they weren’t meant to live this way and their numbers are on a slow but steady decline. A few have banded together to demand domain throughout Kargaan Vale and Heathdern but they run up against local human lords who will not hear it.
Sample Malkraan Names
Male Given Names: Tammuskerebrazassek, Anaxirandolovrejs, Pengrastragvenrtr
Female Given Names: Malinaxatararesh, Vinitrianiskrite, Imbohlinadrashattra
The Lizardfolk do not use surnames.
Groups of Interest
Stalking through middle Pentland’s wilds are those best suited to the zone’s survival: the Kargaan rangers. These hardy men and women were usually born in the vale and have learned to thrive in the midlands. They know most nooks and crannies in the woods, the safest paths from town to town, and whether a herd of ontos has passed by, and how long ago. The rangers tend to be consummate lifers who don’t imagine a life outside the kingdom’s forested heartland. Fortunately, their services are in high demand. Rangers tend to be Pentlanders and Malkraans.
Most rangers split their time equally between human towns and their wilderness dwellings. They are usually on the move, whether escorting their countrymen through the vale, scouting for useful flora, or following prey. The king and nobility, recognizing the rangers’ usefulness have been known to issue “letters of domain” that give the rangers certain rights like policing lumber works and freedom from taxation. The letters are often given in exchange for services like surveying and reporting on the state of the forests, rivers, and activities therein.
Kargaan rangers are best known for the following:
Living so closely side by side with Pentland’s animals and semi-sentient creatures gives the rangers an in depth understanding of their behavioral and communication patterns. Unlike the royal dragonriders who might have a mental connection to one particular drake, the rangers have a more diffuse almost-supernatural knowledge of just how to handle Kargaan vale’s unusual beasts and tame them if necessary. The royal cavalry depends on the services of rangers for some of their mounts.
An esoteric weapon that only the rangers typically know how to use. When made out of Pentland’s magical trees, these tools become invaluable. Besides returning, they can be used to efficiently kill several creatures in one throw, draw out prey with an affixed noisemaker, and strike a target from a completely unexpected direction. Depending on their makeup, the boomerang can occasionally have other functions. Designing a ranger’s boomerang is a trade skill in and of itself and oral traditions abound throughout the kingdom.
A ranger’s career by definition falls under the purview of Malkras, the god of the hunt and caretaker of the wilderness. While the Huntsmaster does not require dedicated worship per se, there’s a certain set of understood rules among the ranger and hunter communities of what Malkras does and does not allow. For instance, white animals are not to be touched; creatures are not to be hunted for enjoyment alone; pay attention to the balance of plants and animals in your area and don’t just kill or chop down one kind, etc. In addition, Kargaan raptors are sacred to the Huntsmaster and have a set of rites associated with either killing them or trying to tame them for a mount. These rules are not always observed by non-rangers, and are sometimes a point of friction. Rangers always mention terrible things that supposedly happen to people who break the Huntsmaster’s covenant.