Thursday, November 13, 2008

Regions: Habruk

The area branching north and west from the Eifalos mountain range is called Habruk, and it is one of the smaller geographical regions of Aarn. Normally, I would group an area as small as Habruk with one of the other regions of Zenninfal, but for historical, religious and racial reasons, Habruk is notable enough to be considered a world region in its own right. Originally, I used the word “Habruk” to refer to the entire northernmost Aarnian subcontinent. As my ideas of the setting changed, the eastern region of this continent became known as Zhanpai, and remained too culturally diverse from Habruk to maintain the whole continent as a single region. Now, “Zhanpai” refers to the entire northern continent instead of “Habruk.” The area I continue to call Habruk has become smaller and smaller over time, and now bridges a region shared by both Eastern Zenninfal and Western Zhanpai.

Habruk is the last refuge of the Habrukkan people, who are the direct descendants of the Tehxiona, one of the three original tribes of humans. These people are hardy, jocular and warlike, which makes them friends to be cherished and enemies to be feared. The Habrukkans have divided themselves into two distinct groups, the Sky Tribe who inhabit the coastlines and islands to the west, and the Deep Tribe who inhabit the mountainous mainland.

Regional Religion:

The Habrukkan division between Sky Tribe and Deep Tribe is a religious one. Though all Habrukkans recognize the same set of gods, those gods themselves are divided into Sky Tribe and Deep Tribe, constantly at war with one another. The Habrukkans themselves have simply aligned themselves with the gods and ideology they prefer, and wage the war on Aarn that they believe their gods wage in Heaven.

The gods of the Sky Tribe, to an outsider, would seem distant and judging. They are paternal figures (even the female gods) who claim to guide by example from afar. Paradoxically, the Sky Tribe gods are also seen as passionate and expressive. Their dogma seeks to repress sexual urges and encourage other forms of emotional expression. The gods often forget to follow their own rules, though. The mythology of the region suggests the gods follow a “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. These gods are as harsh and unforgiving as the northern winds and seas, but they also have a spectacular energy that inspires and makes the Sky Tribe Habrukkans strive for glory.

The gods of the Deep Tribe, conversely, are maternal and nurturing. They are warm and close, like the earth itself, but they do not seem to concern themselves with glory or honor. Deep Tribe gods are passive and dispassionate, content for things to continue as they are. These gods seek to encourage sensuality and drink in their followers, but their dogma does not hold other forms of expression and art in high regard. Artistic pursuits are seen as a waste of time and a waste of energy, when one could be digging a new tunnel or farming more food.

Naming Styles: The people and place names in Habruk sound similar to words in the scandinavian, uralic, and eastern slavic language families.

Major political factions:

Since the fall of the Jerolan Empire, there have been no true nations in Habruk. Instead, the people have divided themselves up into city states who war with one another just as consistently as they war with outsiders. Even two city states who follow the same tribe of gods have been known to war with one another.

Frejord: : The most important port city of the seafaring Sky Tribe is Frejord, a massive complex of wooden palaces, shipyards and docks. Originally it was a small port town on the southern cape of Freos, the largest island in the Habrukkan region. More recently it became an important staging area for Sky Tribe naval expeditions, and has quickly grown into the unofficial capital of the Sky Tribe culture. It is arguably the third largest pirate staging ground in the world, second only to Pellisar in the Eastern Islands and The Caserian Islands in the Jhettan Rim.

Kuulainen: Currently populated by the Deep Tribe, Kuulainen is considered one of the wonders of the world. Its interior is a tropical paradise maintained by magic, while the outside lands are snowy, harsh and unforgiving. Historians estimate that it was originally built by the Tehxiona, and the fortress itself may even predate the Aledoran empire, which would make it the eldest populated city in the world. Only very mindful care and constant upkeep has kept the fortress functional for so long.

When the Jerolan Empire conquered Habruk a thousand years ago, this city was the only part of Alatra that they could not claim. A combination of the environment and its magically sustained farms make the fortress impossible to siege. During the occupation, the fortress's Deep Tribe society accepted certain members of the Sky Tribe as a kind of asylum, but the demand for asylum easily outstripped the limited space in the fortress and its subterranean catacombs.

The city remained politically independent until the collapse of the Jerolan Empire three centuries ago. Although it was hated by the Habrukkan locals who were not allowed to escape inside, it was largely this fortress that preserved the Habrukkan “old ways.” The Sky Tribe members who sought asylum in the fortress have since been kicked out, which has made Kuulainen's inhabitants even more disliked by its neighbors.

Lovalta: Lovalta is a southern city-state in the temperate region of Habruk, which is at about the same latitude as the northern regions of Cerenbaun's Shanbar province. It has a proper summer, spring, and growing season, and while the area is not rich in resources, the soil is fertile enough for its inhabitants to be comfortable. Lovalta is famous for being a beacon of peaceful life in an otherwise war-torn region. As its population grew, its notoriety grew. At this point, it is so large that the entire region sees it as an almost holy neutral ground where Sky Tribe and Deep Tribe can commingle without fear of violence.

History: There have been at least three empires based out of the Habrukkan region, which historically makes it one of the most politically unstable regions of Aarn. The original Tehxiona inhabited much of Habruk and Eastern Zenninfal, and were eventually driven out of Eastern Zenninfal and back into Habruk by war with the Aledorans.

After the Aledoran Empire fell and the Era of Lies began, the Habrukans were the first human civilization to reach prominence again, their culture largely surviving the hardships of the Silent Era by waiting out the catastrophe in Kuulainen. They spread south and west, driving the remnants of the Aledoran people down into the islands of the Jhettic Rim and the Yesshan desert, where they interbred with the Rensvaja people to create the ancestors of the modern Yesshan race.

The ancient Yesshan empire of Yun used the islands of the Jhettic Rim to retake Western Zenninfal, driving the Habrukkans back east and north. The interbreeding between the native Aledoran refugees of those islands and the Yesshan warriors helped to create the ancestors of the Jerolan race, while the Igan race evolved out of the commingling of Habrukkan, proto-Jerolan and Kaipu people in Igakari. Even to this day, the barbarians of Rothysia continue to practice many aspects of Habrukkan culture, including speaking some of the language.

Several thousand years later, the Habrukkans had another revival. A group of them based out of Freos invaded Shanbar and the Hightrade Rim in Western Zenninfal. Their influence on the language and the culture of the area helped to give birth to the very first people to use the Jerolan name. After approximately 200 years of enslavement, the first true Jerolans drove the Habrukkans out of Western Zenninfal again, then began their conquest of the Jhettan Rim, Western Zenninfal, Yessha and Habruk, leading to the formation of the Jerolan Empire.

Magical Styles:

It is not surprising that the expressive Sky Tribe would specialize in divine magic, while the pragmatic Deep Tribe specialize in wizardry. Habrukkan divine casters practice their craft by singing, a fact that they are famous for. The raids of Habrukkan pirates are done from small boats that carry a great deal of warriors. Each boat has at least one divine caster, whose singing provides powerful, controlled wind that gives the boats unprecedented speed and maneuverability. These songsingers have even been known to rob the wind from the sails of their victims' ships.

Habrukkan wizards tend to specialize in alchemy and runic casting, using potions, scrolls and rune crafted items more than other kinds of magic. It may be that the cold of their environment reduces the dexterity of their fingers enough to inhibit proper spellweaving. It may also be that they prefer the hands-on, practical quality of magical items rather than the act of storing potential spell effects in their own auras. Habrukkans in general already enjoy tattooing themselves for battle, and many of these tattoos are used for enchanting their own bodies with runecrafted effects.

Major Conflicts:

Pirates from Frejord have been raiding the fishing villages and merchant ports of the Hightrade Rim. Locals have tried to petition Cerenbaun to provide protection with its powerful magically-driven warships, but so far the pleas and fallen of deaf ears.

Political strife in Kuulainen threatens to plunge the fortress city into civil war, and many outside forces wish to see this happen.

With increasing frequency, members of the Deep Tribe have decided to follow Sky Tribe gods. This has led to the permanent exile of a great many Habrukkans who are outcasts wherever they go within their homeland.

The fighting between members of the Deep Tribe and Sky Tribe have become increasingly common during recent years. There are calls on both sides for the other side to be completely eradicated. Some religious zealots believe such a conflict will be the start of the end of the world.

The island of Goldblood to the south is the site of a three-way war between the Sky Tribe and two Eastern Zenninfal nations.

The tunnels of the Deep Tribe which are expanding east have begun to intersect with the tunnels of the Lennshin which are expanding west. Tensions between the two godtouched races are high, and a violent conflict seems inevitable on both sides.

Points of interest:

Freos: The largest island in Habruk. It is cold and inhospitable. Its growing season is only 4 months long on the southern cape of the island, and farther north there is virtually no growing season at all. Its Sky Tribe inhabitants are largely sustained through fishing and piracy.

Alatra: Alatra is the local name for the cold, marshy coastline of Habruk. It is a surprisingly moist (if cold) environment. Some of the coldest marshes and bogs in the world exist in this region. Its highly irregular coastline and proximity to the sea helps to keep its temperature more moderate than it otherwise would be. The farmers in this area have two growing seasons, one for vegetables and grains, and one for fungus. Each season is about five months long, with a two month period of overlap.

Sevirska: The name the Habrukans have given to the region that includes the Eifalos Mountain Range and everything to the north of it. Due to both its altitude and its northern latitude, it is one of the most inhospitable, yet still inhabited places on Aarn. The communities that live here are almost all subterranean, sustained by a combination of magic and ingenious hydroponic gardens inside the deepest caves.

Nolevsk: The largest and most famous of the Habrukkan subterranean cities in the Sevirska region. The Deep Tribe members who live here are highly xenophobic and do not tolerate outsiders of any kind. Its full population is impossible to know, but some people claim that there are a full million people in Nolevsk and the surrounding caverns. What few reports have gotten out describe an entire world below the surface, complete with a “sky” painted with magic on the cavern ceilings, rolling hills with trees, grasses, and farms, massive stone castles hanging from the cavern walls and ceilings, and a huge subterranean freshwater ocean.

Rissenacht Sea: This large body of water is what separates Western Zenninfal from Habruk. It is famous for its thunderstorms and blizzards, and is very treacherous to navigate without magical aid.

Goldbood: This island could be considered a part of Eastern Zenninfal as much as a part of Habruk. It is inhabited by a large number of people who share Habrukkan lineage and culture, but it is also inhabited by Igans from the mainland nations of Ulda and Heirsenn. The island itself is very fertile, and a source of the most profitable gold mines of Aarn. This has made the island extremely desirable. As mentioned before, the southern Sky Tribe and the nations of Ulda and Heirsenn have been in a protracted, three-way war over their respective claims to the island and its gold. Any natives that Goldblood originally had were exterminated long ago by this conflict.

Climate: Much of Habruk is constantly cold and stormy as air from the northern Arctic Sea mixes with the relatively warmer waters of the Rissenacht Sea. Blizzards accompanied by lightning are so common in Habruk that there is even a bit of a tourist industry for outsiders to come and watch the storms. Habrukkan natives balk at anyone who has never experienced a Habrukkan storm, yet still has the gall to complain about the weather.

Godtouched Races: Humans (Habrukkan), Ardlins (Cave, Snow), Dragons (Frost, Metal), Lenneshin

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