Friday, January 23, 2009

Campaign Update #10 (by Ironbeard)

Campaign Time: September 1 - October 1

As you spend your first night in camp after fleeing the the holdings of Baron Malsvir, Tranna, the elven concubine of the Baron relates the following information to you about this strange land that you have found yourselves stranded in:

Blixt is a feudal monarchy ruled by a king, a Blue Dragon Wyrm named Yed. King Yed the Beneficent is his main title. He has a chief consort, a female blue Dragon, but she holds little direct political power. She does, however, wield considerable “behind the scenes” power in the court. Each of the kingdoms three Dukes also has a Dragon consort as well.

As Dragons are known for their voracious sexual appetites, King Yed and his three Dukes also keep extensive seraglios of sexual slaves, mostly humans and elves. It is quite common for these slaves to bear Half Draconic children for their royal masters. Curiously, while the mothers of these offspring are slaves, mere chattel, their children have royal Draconic blood flowing in their veins and are thus considered to be of royal birth themselves. These Half Dragon descendents form a complex layer of aristocracy directly below that of the ruling Dragons. In fact, much of the actual running of the day to day activities of the kingdom falls to these aristocrats. The most powerful and favored of them have been granted land holdings themselves along with the titles of Earl and Baron. These positions are hereditary, though the court can always revoke a Half Dragon family’s right to rule a fiefdom for unsatisfactory service.

A few times each decade, each of the royal consorts, the King’s and the Dukes’, births a clutch of eggs. The female Dragons use a complex set of ritual divine spells to ensure that few Dragons are hatched from these eggs. Rather, they typically give birth to a wide ranging variety of Spawn of Tiamat (MMIV). These various creatures are sent off to be bred further or serve in the armies of Blixt’s feudal lords.

Occasionally, however, the sacrifices to Tiamat and the divine rituals performed in her honor are deemed unsatisfactory or simply don’t work. In these cases, actual Blue Dragons are born. These royal offspring are raised together in a kind of cohort group until they reach adulthood. At this point, Blixt law requires that all of the members of a given group engage in ritualized tournament combat to death so that only one survives. This system ensures that a line of descendents continues, while limiting the amount of potential rivals to King Yed’s power. The most senior of these royal offspring can potentially become a Duke of one of Blixt’s three major provinces, that is, if a vacancy presents itself. While females can hold office, most typically enter the clergy of Tiamat as a means of advancing in political power.

Outsiders often wonder why the fiefdoms and minor holdings are ruled by Half Dragons and not by the younger blue Dragon descendents of the King. It is widely believed that by restricting the amount of true Dragons in the kingdom and the amount of power given to them, the King lessens the potential for rivalry. The Half Dragon nobility are much less likely to directly threaten the King’s power. This, of course, does result in a potentially unstable distribution of power. The younger Dragons technically have much higher status and rank within the kingdom’s hierarchy and yet they do not have access to land and troops. Because these Dragon princes and princesses are considerably excluded from direct governance of the realm, they tend to be rather spoiled and self indulgent, often given to cruel whimsies and exotic entertainments to relieve their boredom. Basically, these Dragons are princes in name only. Some of them leave Blixt entirely. Some choose to serve as elite combatants in the service of other “lesser” nobility. Most, however, simply establish lairs somewhere within the kingdom and live in relative seclusion. These Dragons live somewhat outside of Blixt’s feudal hierarchy, though it is understood that they still owe fealty to the King and the Dukes and can thus be called upon for service if needed.

The church of Tiamat also wields considerable power in Blixt. The clergy of this organization is largely female in composition and its clerics give birth to many of Tiamat’s bizarre and monstrous spawn that serve throughout Blixt in a variety of capacities. Tiamat has a church or shrine in every single holding across the land and this organization forms a kind of parallel government in the kingdom. Technically, the church has no direct power, but the blessing of Tiamat is considered to be essential in any undertaking. Her holy matrons thus form a considerable force to be reckoned with.

Culture: In Blixt, Dragons reign supreme. They are the undisputed rulers of the country. Below them are the Half Dragons. Below the Half Dragon is everyone else. In Blixt, the more Draconic someone is the more prestige and potential power they can acquire. The kingdom is thus home to many schools, cults and cabals that are devoted to studying, worshiping and emulating Dragons in a variety of ways. These include the Dragonfire adepts, the Dragon mages, and the disciples of the eye just to name a few.

The holdings furthest from Teslereng, the capital, tend to be populated by greater numbers of humanoid tribal creatures, kobolds, lizard folk, and goblins predominating. All of these creatures swear fealty to the Baron or Earl who rules the larger territory. The towns and cities are also home to such creatures but significant numbers of evil humans live in them as well. This is because the towns tend to be centers of artisanship and skilled handicrafts. Humans tend to be better at these endeavors.

Relations with Neighbors: While Blixt is an extremely militaristic society, it is not expansionist in its overall outlook. Blixt’s foreign policy reflects the basic psychology of Dragons. When all is said and done, Dragon’s are all about the defense of the lair and the hoard. Nevertheless, the kingdom is surrounded on all sides by enemies and thus needs a powerful military.

To the east lie the Usk Mountains, home to many fierce creatures and Giant tribes. While the giants of the Usk have not formed anything approaching a level of organization above that of a tribe, they raid the eastern holdings of Blixt almost continuously. Bands of Fomorians are particularly numerous in the Usks and pose no end of problems to Barons of Blixt. Beyond the Usk range lies the ruined city of Urufar, home to Necromancers of Matozar. Every decade or so, these mysterious and death worshipping wizards send hordes of undead minions and abominations through Hell’s Gap against Blixt. The hordes have always been beating back, however, but as is the case with the walking dead, there always seem to be more of them.

To the southeast and south lie the Shroudshar Marshes and the shores of Lake Ostryd. While some waterborne trade takes place on the lake (mostly centered on the Blixtian town of Versvesh), the marshes shelter all manner of weird and fearsome creatures that continuously prey upon the surrounding environs. On the southwest, Blixt is bordered by unorganized battle plain simply known as The Wild. No natural boundary divides Blixt from this territory and during the spring, summer and fall, the kingdom is routinely assaulted by raiding parties of orcs. These orcs are of the Bloody Hand Tribe that dwell to the north and the Yellow Eyes who hail from the burnt hills to the south. It is also common for raiding parties of gnolls to storm up from The Packlands to the south. While these humanoid raids pose little threat to the overall security of the kingdom as a whole, they necessitate the maintenance of a constant military defense to the south
To the west, the Ash Peaks loom. Though this mighty range forms a protective barrier for the lands of the Bloody Hand Orcs, it harbors many dangers of its own, most notably, trolls and lots of them. And while the northern coast along the Gulf of Orm is perhaps the least threatened border of Blixt, it too sees its share of dangers as human barbarians from the north descend upon it every summer in their longboats.

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