Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[The Realm] J is for Jotun Hills

In ancient days, the hill lands known today as the Jotun Hills were home first to Dwarves, then later Goblins, then later still Gnomes, and finally, in the waning centuries of the Elder Days, settlements of Elves. These Elves were a mix of the old Taur Annoc and Taur Elthoniel, or rather, of Sun and Star Elves, who were more commonly found in mountains and forests, respectively. Their domain, the Realm of Sun and Stars, spread from the ridges of the Dusty Hills in the north to the southern valleys of the Giant Spine Mountains in the south, and from the Giant Spine Mountains in the east to the meadows and forests where stand now the Wastes of Kishar. Hither in the last of the Elder days came clans of Men, of tall and goodly mien, who befriended the Elves and learned much from them.

These Men were the direct ancestors of the modern Highlanders, and though their bloodlines are long since watered by those of other Men from other lands, the modern Heartlanders. With time, over the ten long millennia of the Mortal Compact, the Heartlanders mostly moved down into the meadows, and cut down the forests as the Elves retreated to make way for Men, though many clans still remained in the hills of old, and these too eventually moved further afield, keeping the old traditions in new homes among far-distant hills. By the time of the Wizard War, the forested hills of the northern realm of Sun and Stars were home mostly to Elves, allied Gnomes, a few friendly clans of Men, and under the hills, tribes of Goblins, more or less tamed and friendly, weaned from Chaos by long centuries of labors on the part of Gnome and Elf alike. The southern realm of wind-swept heather and moor was given over to the clans of Men, who even then were a semi-barbaric peoples apart from their civilized kin of the cities of plain and field.

Many of these clans of Men moved into the Giant Spine Mountains when the Sun Elf cities were abandoned during the early years of the Wizard War. True Giants migrated south along the Giant Spine, eager to reclaim their ancient homelands. Unfortunately for the clans of Men, this was the time of the outbreak of the war between the brother wizards Shelmorian and Daraztheon Vorl. The clans of the Tribe of Sun and Stars joined in the war, mostly on the side of Daraztheon, for the southern clans were great enemies of the northern clans through ancient blood feuds. Thus, when the True Giants invaded, most of the men-folk were away at war, and their homes and families fell to the ravages of the northern Giants. The few stragglers who returned from the disastrous War of the Brothers were able to do little to oust the invaders; conversely, the disaster that struck the region with the Wrath of Kishar caused the invading giants no end of troubles, and they were not truly able to consolidate their gains, as each of the surviving clans fell to bickering in the shattered hills.

Centuries passed, and the peoples of the hill lands became even more savage as they were hunted by Giants like beasts. No few fell into complete degeneracy, devolving to such a low cultural state that they took to living in caves and lost all knowledge of metallurgy. Some few clans held on to the old ways; these are the ancestors of the modern Highlanders of the Jotun Hills, savage and barbaric by even the standards of the Highlanders in general. Then, as the Mannish clans once again grew great enough in numbers to challenge the presence of the True Giants, another disaster struck. Migrating clans of savage Northlanders passed into the region, pushed there by the city-states of the wastes (these unified for the first time in centuries against the common enemy). These Northlanders, a tribe known as the Jotun due to their Giantish blood, swarmed into the hills and shattered the power of the Highlanders and True Giants alike.

Today, the settlements of the Jotun Hills are a patchwork of savage and barbarian tribes of Men (descendents of the savage Northlanders known as Groezlingas, Highlanders, foreign merchants, and degenerate Cavemen), Giantings (known in local parlance as Jotun or Verbeeg), and True Giants, with a leavening of Ogres, Orcs, and Dwarves (these last attracted in the last century due to re-discovery of the ancient rich mines of their forebears). The modern, post-Wrath geography of the hills includes all the highlands and vales south of the Flaming Highlands of Herkull, west of the Great Fungal Forest, east of the Putrescent Pits and Brigand Ridge (inclusive of these hills), and north of (though including) the southern vales of the western spur of the Giant Spine Mountains, including Mimir’s Vale (these last vales and hills being south of the edge of the map). The Hillfalls Ridge south of Pendrayk between Herkull and the Great Fungal Forest, strictly speaking, does not fall within the Jotuns geologically, but as peoples of the Jotuns moved in there in the century before the conquest of that region by Djiabaleur, most of what applies to the Jotuns applies there, too, save for a greater frequency of dragonnels.

Groezlingas are descended from savage Northlanders, with a dash of Gianting blood by way of the Jotun clans (which the Highlanders and Heartlanders call the Verbeeg). Like their cousins to the north they average 6’ tall and 200 pounds, are usually blond or redhead, blue or hazel eyed, pale to ruddy skinned, and like to wear beards and long braided hair. Due to intermarriage and wife-stealing with the Highlanders and Heartlanders, though, many have other skin, hair, and eye colors. They use scale mail armor, spangenhelms, round shields, and wield spears, swords, and axes. Their clothing has adapted to the more temperate climate of the Jotuns, but like the Highlanders, they like to wear furs, especially bear furs; some of their clan leaders, particularly among the Kor (Koram) and Thyrm (Tyrm) worshipping clans, are werebears. The bulk of the 21 clans, though, are druidic, with their own rather bloodthirsty canon, made moreso by their unpleasant encounters with the city-states of the wastes generations ago. They are led by Earls (Clan Chiefs), each of whom rules his clan with the support and assent of his Thayns (warriors). Like the Highlanders before them, the Groezlingas today live on cattle ranching (and cattle raiding), farming, and raiding. They speak Groezlinga, a dialect of the Northlander tongue, though most leaders speak a bit of Common, Heartlander, and/or Highlander.

Highlanders of the Jotuns are a savage people, even in comparison to their cousins elsewhere. Like most Highlanders, they average about 5’10” and weigh 185 pounds, have black, brown, or tawny hair, green or hazel eyes, ruddy to light brown skin, and generally wear their hair in braids, though the men are otherwise clean-shaven. Due to intermarriage and wife-stealing with the Groezlingas and Heartlanders, though, many have other skin, hair, and eye colors; those of mixed Groezlinga and Highlander blood are often pale-skinned redheads or raven-hairs. They use chain mail armor, conical helms with short bull horns, oval shields, and wield spears, swords (bastard swords especially), and hammers. They prefer to wear woolens with fur trimming and fur cloaks, even in summer, eschewing shirts and pants in favor of fur cloaks on hot days. They prefer wolf furs over other kinds, especially wolf furs of pure white or black. Most of the 18 clans are druidic, belonging to a tradition distinct from and inimical to that of the Groezlingas. Many clans also have a patron Demon Prince of one sort or another, much to the chagrin of the Druids; the Makkhus Clan is renowned for its patronage of the cult of the Charonadaemon, Kharun. A handful of clans follow the old Elven Ways of Flumon Fey-Moon, seeking her protection against the faeries of hill and dale. Ravens feature prominently in local Highlander tradition and superstition, traits that the Groezlingas have adapted to their own druidic and other cultic traditions.

The Verbeeg clans are similar in culture to their cousins, the Groezlingas, though since they arrived in the Jotuns, they have “gone native” to a great degree, and turned back to the ways of their Giantish forebears. Thus they remain only semi-civilized, if still cultural paragons compared to the local Ogres and Orcs, whom they often lead, sometimes in the service of their True Giant cousins.

2d6 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 1

2. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters

3. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters

4+5. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters

6-8. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 2: Common Encounters

9+10. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters

11. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters

12. Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters

* Ravens in the day, Bats at night

D20 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 2: Common Encounters

1. Bear, Black

2. Bear, Brown

3+4. Cattle, Wild

5. Dog, Wild

6. Dwarf

7. Giant, Hill

8+9. Herd Animal

10+11. Man, Groezlinga

12+13. Man, Highlander

14. Mule

15. Ogre

16. Orc

17+18. Raven, Common*

19. Skunk

20. Wolf

D12 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 3: Uncommon Encounters

1. Bear, Cave

2. Cat, Wild

3. Faerie, Leprechaun

4. Giant, Verbeeg

5. Goat

6. Horse

7. Man, Bandit

8. Man, Pilgrim

9. Ram

10. Raven, Huge*

11. Skunk, Giant

12. Stag

D30 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 4: Rare Encounters

1. Adventurers

2. Bee, Giant Killer

3+4. Boar, Wild

5. Bowler

6+7. Cat, Mountain Lion

8. Chimera

9. Giant, Cloud

10. Giant, Stone

11. Harpy

12. Hobbit, Black

13. Jermlaine

14. Lycanthrope, Werebear

15+16. Man, Caveman

17+18. Man, Merchant

19. Ogrillon

20-23. Raven, Giant*

24. Shadow Mastiff

25. Stag, Giant

26. Unicorn

27. Wasp, Giant

28+29. Weasel

30. Wolf, Dire

D30 Jotun Hills Encounter Table 5: Very Rare Encounters

1. Badger

2. Banshee

3. Boar, Giant

4. Bull

5. Cockatrice

6. Dragon, Pseudo

7. Dragon, Red

8. Dragonnel

9. Faerie, Atomie

10. Faerie, Brownie

11. Faerie, Grig

12. Faerie, Nymph

13. Forlarren

14. Galeb Duhr

15. Ghost

16. Giant, Fire

17. Giant, Frost

18. Giant, Mountain

19. Griffon

20. Grim

21. Hippogriff

22. Hornet, Giant

23. Lycanthrope, Wereboar

24. Man, Berserker (d6: 1, Groezlinga; 2, Highlander; 3, Kharun Cultist; 4-6, Madman)

25. Manticore

26. Ram, Giant

27. Spriggan

28. Vilstrak

29. Wolfwere

30. Yeth Hound

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