Grygsdraal overview

The major elements of the dwarven kingdom/city of Grygsdraal are as follows:

1. The dwarves maintain extensive grain crops and herds of feed animals in remote mountain valleys accessible only from dwarven tunnels, but open to the air. In these valleys they raise cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, barley, hops, wheat, etc. In some cases they actually partner with humans or other races to live in the valleys as herdsmen or farmers for years at a time (think of programmers who move to Saudi Arabia for five years at a premium and then return home). This is also where they get the raw materials to brew their famous dwarven ale.

2. Underground caverns are full of fungi, and underground rivers, lakes and seas provide a bounty of blind fish and invertebrates. The giant albino shrimp of the dwarves is a renowned delicacy throughout the civilized lands, and is exported as a cash crop.

3. Deep underground are mostly secret tunnels which connect to ancient passages. Most of these are firmly locked up and guarded. They are heavily trapped and dwarven mages have set many detection and alarm spells in the tunnels. Although it is rarely spoken of, the dwarves maintain trade with Drow and other underground races. Trade includes the exchange of rare gems and metals (particularly mithril) which the dwarves never have enough of, for dwarven armor, dwarven ale and other dwarven trade goods.

4. “Dark dwarves” are not unheard of either, and in many cases they provide the liaison between dwarves and other underground races.

5. Dwarven architecture blends the darkness with the light, much as dwarves themselves represent a link between two worlds. Dwarves do not live in the dark, they love the sight of light shining on, through and reflecting off of gems and precious metals far too much. For that reason the dwarven city has many great silver-coated shafts bringing sunlight deep into the city, where it is reflected and directed into many rooms. They also use magic to create light where they want it and that is just about everywhere. The great dwarven city is no dark and gloomy place, it is a place of splendor and beauty with color everywhere. Darkvision has no color, and dwarves appreciate darkvision for its utility, but they do not live in the dark.

6. The dwarven city also has great shafts which direct fresh air through the city. They have learned that they can use the differential pressures between openings to the outside world to drive fresh air through the city without the need for mechanical or magical means. They just let nature take its course. As such the dwarven city is not stuffy and smelly.

7. Water from underground rivers and lakes is pumped through the city as well, and dwarves are among the few civilized races that have running water and active sewage processing.

8. In the event of a war or a need to shut off the city, all of these outside systems can be closed. Dwarves can manage for long periods of time in conditions that would sap the strength of humans or elves. But eventually they need air and water regardless. They mostly rely on the location of their shafts, pipes and tunnels being secret to keep water, food and air flowing through the city.

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Hudbyd theology

The world of the Elania campaign is called “Hudbyd” by its inhabitants. The universe that harbors Hudbyd is one that contains actual divine beings. Here is a short summary of the theology of Hudbyd, especially in case someone is considering a theological tie in.

For all practical purposes the gods listed in the core Pathfinder rulebooks can be said to be the gods of Hudbyd. However there are some caveats. First and most important is the idea that mortal beings can become demigods through some great heroic effort or sacrifice. Once they become demigods, they can attract their own followers and gain power in the great god-game through the faith or fear of mortals. It is rumored that the dwarf, Forkovr, is one such mortal who attained demigod status. And there are, in fact, shrines and temples built to Forkovr, although the Forkovr creed is one that has a strange focus on drunken debauchery. Oh well, gods, what can you say?

There are quiet whispers among the wisest of the wise and the basest of the base that the gods are not truly the most powerful beings in the universe. Some whisper that there are elder gods which came before the gods and which will one day return. Some whisper that the gods are a charade foisted on mortals by the true gods who play some incomprehensible game using mortals as tokens and the known gods as agents to achieve their mysterious goals. Others whisper that there are no gods at all, or that the gods are merely extremely powerful practitioners of the magical arts who have mastered the secrets of immortality and whose power grows endlessly. Some who have studied deeply believe that the magical powers of the gods are a pale shadow of the power that could be invoked in the name of the true elder gods.

But most denizens of Hudbyd go through their lives comfortable that their traditions and myths are accurate and those who pray to the gods are granted boons so that is all the proof many of the devout need.

Introduction to Elania

Elania is one of the larger city-states in Hanoria. For centuries Elania was a rather sleepy rural town with minor trade of agricultural, lumber and some mining goods which mostly traveled through the main road to Three Oaks to the southeast. The main claim to fame for Elania during that period was that it was the closest reasonably sized town to the mysterious geological formation known as “Flattop” which is situated to the east of Elania. Flattop has long had a reputation for strange phenomena, unusual local flora and fauna and freakish storms. Elvish wizards, in particular, seem to be drawn to Flattop for study. The land around Flattop is arid, tortured and rumored to be haunted so there is little actually known about the area, even within Elania.

Elania itself was populated originally by humans, with some halflings, half-elves and a smattering of gnomes. During the generations of the dwarvenwyrd, before the resurrection of the dwarves, Elania also held the distinction of being the closest inhabited city to the dwarven ghost-city “Gryggsdral”. The lands around Elania have mostly been owned by remnants of feudal lords from the ancient Hanorian Empire. Lands have been handed down from father to son for generations. Of the remaining “royal” blood families, two have maintained significant power, each attempting to gain full control of the area for generations. This has led to many skirmishes and bloodshed over the years as the two families’ fortunes waxed and waned.

Roughly a century before the present time a group of great heroes discovered a secret of the Dwarvenwyrd. Led by the great elf wizard Ceorl and the monk Void, the party fought a great battle against demons and evil sorcerers to recover the last ancient burial ground of the dwarven royalty, whose bodies had been preserved by powerful magic which also hid them from the world. Ceorl raised the dwarf “Forkovr” who joined the party and struck the final blow which defeated the demon led forces. Once the demons had been banished from Hudbyd and the evil wizards killed or driven into hiding, the remaining dwarves were raised and the race of dwarves was restored.

After a few generations, a wizened Forkovr led his people back to their ancestral home, re-opening the gates of Gryggsdral. Thus Elania became the gateway to the dwarven city, and the focal point of trade between the newly revitalized dwarves and the rest of Agnara. As the dwarven race multiplied and dwarven goods and services became highly desired by the wealthy and powerful of the world, a steadily growing flood of gold and goods poured through Elania.

This precipitated a bloody civil war between the two families. This war raged for a generation, ending just a few years prior to the present day, with the Rovell forces winning a bloody and decisive victory in the very shadow of Flattop. In the few years since that decisive battle Lord Rovell quickly moved to consolidate his power and take control of the trade routes and fill his coffers with gold.

Lord Rovell publicly claimed this to be a great victory for the people of Elania. And indeed his rule seems to have begun with a generous and compassionate heart. Taking advantage of the nearby dwarven workforce, Lord Rovell has been rapidly building roads, bridges, aqueducts, public buildings, dams, etc. The resulting boom has transformed Elania from a sleepy rural town to a bustling minor metropolis. The latest public works effort Lord Rovell has funded is a large theater suitable for the presentation of the most sophisticated plays by the best actors in Agnara.

While Lord Rovell has consolidated his power effectively and is the acknowledged ruler of Elania, his enemies persist around the city. Determined to police his own city, as well as to effect peace in the surrounding lands, Lord Rovelle has chosen not to pay for Hanorian army protection as most city-states in Ariador have done for generations. Instead he has maintained and even expanded his own army which has become both the military and the local police, all under the iron hand of the man known only as “Captain Kane.” Kane is thought to have once been a high-ranking member of the Hanorian palace guard, but is now the leader of all military and police forces in and around Elania. There have even been minor skirmishes between the Rovell forces and Hanorian forces. Lord Rovell has demanded that all Hanorian forces remove themselves from Elanian land. This has resulted in Hanorian ambassadors attempting to negotiate a treaty with Lord Rovell.

This sudden militarization of the town of Elania has not escaped the notice of the elves, who wish to maintain easy access to Flattop. For that reason a contingent of elves representing Elvenholme are also involved in negotiations with Lord Rovell to ensure uninterrupted access to Flattop. Lord Rovell has also maintained strong ties with Gryggsdral and has allowed a minor enclave of dwarves to settle within Elania as equal citizens.

At the present time Captain Kane is advertising far and wide for men to join his army, navy or police forces. The Rovell palace is entertaining high-ranking members of the Hanorian and Elvish ambassadorships, as well as frequently hosting important dwarves as well. The recent completion of the theater has also brought in the most famous acting troupe in the land as they prepare a special play written in Lord Rovell’s honor.

But something is killing dwarves in and around Elania. This has created friction between Elania and Gryggsdraal. Rumors of angry words between the dwarves and Captain Kane are common. Threats have been made by the dwarves to carve a new road north through the White Mountains into the Dwonland for trade, cutting off the flow of riches into Elania. Hanorian forces continue to occupy the boundaries of Elania and as the Rovell army grows, more and more Hanorian troops are moving into the ancient forts and keeps in the area. And Rovell’s own ancient enemies may have been beaten down, but they have not been entirely defeated.

And Flattop has begun to stir. Rumors of powerful monsters roaming the night are getting closer and closer to Elania. Orcs, hobgoblins, goblins and other wild folk have been spotted in growing numbers to the east and south. Rumors persist that the evil races are preparing for a sack of Elania to steal her riches. And strange apparitions have appeared in the form of holy men of many races, each preaching of the return of “The One” amid predictions of fire in the sky and the “Day of two suns”.

Hudbyd described

Hudbyd, the world which contains the continent of Agnara, is a satellite world in orbit around a Jupiter-mass planet which is itself in orbit around a sun-like star in an earth-like orbit. (Convenient, that….)

There are other satellite worlds in orbit around the gas giant, and on occasion their orbits result in close passes between worlds.

Hudbyd itself is one of the farthest orbiting satellite worlds, and as such the gas giant is a rather small object in the sky. Hudbyd orbits the gas giant in roughly 30 days. The resulting geometry of the system ends up with the gas giant appearing to go through phases as Hudbyd finds itself on different sides of the gas giant compared to the sun.

Hudbyd rotates on its axis in a roughly 24 hour cycle. The variance in the orbits of the gas giant and Hudbyd result in infrequent eclipses of the sun.

The other satellite worlds that can be seen from Hudbyd are known as the “racing wanderers” since they move so rapidly and seemingly unpredicatably compared to the background stars. There are other “wanderers” visible as well, which are slower and not as easily noticed by casual observers. These wanderers are planets in other orbits, similar to our planets.

Most of the known world breaks the monthly cycle of orbits around the gas giant into four weeks of seven days each. Every three months a six-day holiday is declared to restore the weekly cycle to be in sync with the monthly orbit. In this way the “new moon” is always on the first, second or third day of the month, and the full moon is always on the 14th, 15th or 16th day of the month. The yearly orbit around the sun is broken into twelve months of 30 days each. The year is close enough to 360 days that adjustments are only needed every fifty years or so.

The days of the week have names, as do the months, but those names tend to detract from game play so months and days are generally referred to using earthly names to make things easier for game play.

Legendary Heroes and villains of Hudbyd

In the world of Hudbyd, there were great heroes who fought demons and evil wizards to eventually restore the race of dwarves from the genocide they had suffered. Among those heroes was the first dwarf to be resurrected and three other great champions who descended into the abyss itself to fight the demon lords and wizards who dwelt there.

Those champions were:

Ceorl the wizard. Greatest of wizards in myth and legend, Ceorl was the leader of the legendary Dwarvenwyrd heroes. Half elf and half human, Ceorl mastered the most powerful arcane forces and cast the final spell which imprisoned the evil wizard Arnot, the most powerful of the evil wizards allied with the demons.

Drax the defender. Mightiest in combat, Drax defeated the great demon lord in hand to hand combat.

Forkovr the dwarf. First raised and mightiest of dwarven warriors. Forkovr was rewarded for his great sacrifice, courage and battle prowess by being raised to demigod status. Forkovr now has his own followers and is rumored to appear from time to time, most commonly in taverns with buxom wenches aplenty. The town of “Forkovr” on the Singing River is named in his honor.

Dane the divine. Part warrior, part healer, Dane’s mastery of the blade was equaled by his healing powers. Dane raised the first dwarves and without his divine healing, the Dwarvenwyrd would never have been undone.

Azmodeus – Demon Lord, nuff said.

Arnot – Evil elven wizard bent on world domination, has total and complete hatred of all things dwarven. Leader of ring of evil wizards who perpetrated Dwarvenwyrd on the world. Rumored to be immortal. Currently thought to be imprisoned by Ceorl’s binding spell.

Elwe – Insane human wizard whose unpredictable nature and powerful abilities cause nations to tremble.

Aaron – Evil human death cultist who sometimes partners with Elwe and is rumored to be Arnot’s most trusted servant.

Agnara

In the world of Hudbyd, the major continent and the location of the vast majority of my RPG campaigns is “Agnara”. Here is a map of Agnara, at a high level (Click on the image for a larger view).

The continent is dominated by the country of Hanoria. Hanoria is a constitutional monarchy with a ruling family that has ruled for centuries, but the power in Hanoria is divided between the King and the Parliament. The power of Hanoria is derived from their great wealth which comes from dominating the land and sea trade routes, as well as having the most disciplined and well-equipped military on the continent. At one time Hanoria was an empire which covered most of the western half of the continent, but over time the ruling family and parliament have decided that empires are too expensive to maintain and they now mostly dominate through trade and diplomacy. Their military is frequently sent to help out in troubled areas to keep the overall peace, much like the US military is dispatched in the real world today. Hanorian troops typically wear gray and tend towards pikemen with shields accompanied by heavy cavalry and magical artillery.

The second most powerful country is the Elvish Domain. The main difference between Hanoria and the Elvish Domain is that the elves typically don’t care what is going on in the rest of the world, unless they have an interest in the activity for their own reasons. At the height of the Hanorian Empire the elves were the most difficult subjects to control, and it was primarily due to the difficulties of trying to keep control of the Elvish Domain that Hanoria finally decided to abandon their imperial goals. There is an elven “king” but elven high society is quite complex and it is not always known outside of Elvenholme itself who the actual “king” is at any one time. This doesn’t usually matter in terms of diplomacy since the elves are very consistent about their interactions with other races no matter who the current “king” or “queen” might be.

The Dwonland is a growing power on the continent. It is a republic and is by far the most “cosmopolitan” country on the continent. The Dwonland is populated by a wide variety of races and is currently ruled by a coalition of half-elves and humans. Cities in the Dwonland typically have human, elven, halfling, gnome and even orcish enclaves. The laws of the Dwonland are very much geared towards treating races fairly, which is not true in most other countries where laws tend to favor the dominant race of that country.

Ariador is the next most important political entity, although it isn’t really a “country” by any normal definition. Ariador is a collection of individual city-states which have banded together to provide protection, trade, and diplomatic leverage. However, those city-states tend to have much more friction than more organized countries, and conflict in Ariador is fairly common. Most of Hanoria’s troop commitments outside of their own borders are in Ariador to try to keep the peace. On occasion city-states themselves can flare into civil war when powerful families conflict over the control of that city-sate. That is the case at the “current time” in Ariador with the city-state of “Elania.”

The further east you go on the continent, the wilder the land gets. Many areas in the extreme east, south and north are essentially terra incognita. The exception is the Domishar which is a halfling kingdom.

Millenia ago a powerful coalition of demons and evil wizards went to war against the dwarves. The reasons for this war are lost in the depths of history, but the end result was the total eradication of dwarves from the continent, and perhaps from the world. The elves, humans and halflings eventually joined forces and defeated the demons and evil wizards, but the dwarven race was lost for generations in the event known to the world now as the “Dwarvenwyrd”.

Several hundred years before the “current time” a group of heroes discovered a great secret of the Dwarvenwyrd, and went on a quest to restore the race of dwarves. At great cost they eventually succeeded in their goal and discovered an ancient hidden tomb of the last dwarves. Using powerful magic they resurrected several hundred dwarves and restored the race.

At the current time in Agnara dwarves are still uncommon, but the race is hardy and has grown greatly in the past few hundred years. The main dwarven population lives in the underground city of “Gryggsdral”, which is located in the White mountains between the Dwonland and Ariador. Dwarven craftsmanship is highly prized by all races, and as such the restored dwarves have grown rich by providing armor, weapons, stonework, architecture and construction services to the rich nations. This has created a flood of wealth into the area around Gryggsdral, particularly in the city-state of Elania. The sudden surge of wealth in Elania led to a major power struggle between two families, which ended up with a generation long civil war which has just “ended” although not all combatants have laid down their arms. The victorious family in Elania has set about a huge civil reconstruction process and appear to be determined to challenge the capital city of Hanoria (“Amroth”) in wealth, art, culture and, some believe, power.

Hudbyd introduction

Hudbyd is the world where most of my campaigns are set. It is a world with a rich history and geopolitical background. The header graphic on this blog is a section of a scan of the first map I drew for the first campaign I ran as a “dungeon master.” That was about 1982 I think. The Tolkien influence in Hudbyd is pretty extensive, but back then the whole RPG hobby was heavily influenced by Tolkien. The section on the map called “Shiredom” is obviously a place you would find halflings of course. I’ve since renamed that area to be less obviously hobbit-influenced.

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