Drakensban: End Times
The known lands of Drakensban comprise Argonn, and Glasrayn on the West of the Gulf; Pelsyt, Bryun, Teoma, Hastin, and Quam on the East of the Gulf; the vast expanse of the Wastes and beyond that the Ice Wastes to the North; and the Drakenisle to the South.
Argonn is one of the twin kingdoms to the West of the Gulf. Argonn is mostly rich‐soiled plainsland, and its agricultural industry thrives. The kingdom owes much of the strength of its economy to trade—both its own trades with the lands East of the Gulf and by control over taxes imposed on traders passing through Argonn to or from Glasrayn.
Argonn is famous for the two elite orders of bodyguards that protect the royal family: The White Ward and the Black Ward. The two orders are a traditional holdover that existed from the time of a very paranoid king, who created both so that each could watch the other for treacherous activity. Though they still take their original duties seriously, the Wards have taken a change for the practical in modern times, reflecting two separate roles in the defence of the Crown. The White Ward train as lightly armoured duelists and archers, and they make able scouts, messengers, and advance riders. The Black Ward are heavily armoured swordsmen who more closely resemble traditional knights. Rumours persist that the present day King, young Theold, has created a third Ward into which he recruited the elite of the first two, though no one knows for what purpose.
Current Events: Unification and Resistance
As recently as two decades ago, this nation to the East of the Gulf had an uprising which toppled its monarchy. In their place has risen a council of members from prominent merchant houses. The council rarely manages to come to agreement on anything, as any decision tends to prefer one or more of the Houses. The net result of this is that in practice Bryun is a collection of city‐states that owe fealty to the House which currently holds the most power within that city. Nowhere else in Drakensban will a traveller discover as much a minefield of politics, false loyalties, and betrayal.
Neither will the traveller find another nation outside of Pelsyt where the general populace are so reliant on the Church, nor a government so content to let the Church take over its responsibilities. Indeed, it is rumoured in some circles that the Church itself was behind the uprising, hoping to destabilise Bryun and subtly take over control of the country. Those members of the Houses intelligent enough to see what is occurring fight a losing battle to make their peers see sense, especially now the Church has enough influence in Bryun that they dare not speak out openly against the faith.
In theory, the most powerful House in Bryun has control over the council. Currently, the House in question is House Gerrault, led by Taryan Gerrault.
One of the twin kingdoms to the West of the Gulf, Glasrayn is a heavily forested domain near‐surrounded by mountains. It is quite a wild land, and has more trouble with monsters than most of the lands. Despite having a comparatively small civilisation and population, the Glasrayn populace’s readiness for adversity has kept the kingdom surviving through the centuries, despite monstrous attacks and not infrequent conflicts with neighbouring Argonn.
The forests of Glasrayn are home to several types of giant spider the natives call phusbahn. The kingdom is notable for having tamed many of these creatures as mounts. Most have their spinneret removed as a legal requirement: a phusbahn that still possesses its spinneret is usually a mark of it’s owner’s knighthood. There is a particular variety of shaggy‐haired phusbahn that only nobility may ride. The current King of Glasrayn is Parrin, a man of middle age who has replaced the fire of his youth with a pragmatic outlook. He has arranged for the young King of Argonn to marry his daughter, Kaia‐Ann, in the hopes of creating peace between the two nations.
Current Events: Unification and Resistance
Decried by the Church as the “Last Bastion of the Ungodly”, Hastin is unabashed in its dismissal of both monarchy and organised religion. This democratic nation was forged as a social experiment by some unusually civic‐minded nobleborn philosophers. The effort was laughed at, and yet Hastin survived and even flourished. According to the nation’s constitution, “all individuals have equal merit, and all must have equal opportunities and equal access to knowledge and the truth”. While in practice no nation could really do justice to such a high‐minded ideal, it is still true that a citizen in Hastin has more and better opportunities for self‐advancement than anywhere else in the world.
Hastin has become a natural home for philosophers, scientists, and those desirous of an education unbiased by Crown or Church. Not unexpectedly, new ideas and technologies are its main exports.
The current First Minister of Hastin is Lady Bisal Thorn, DSc Biology; SSo Anthropology.
In this case “Lady” (or “Lord”) is an honorific title associated with the post of First Minister. Additional academic titles were granted for meritous graduation by the Hastin National University. DSc stands for Doctor of Science, SSo stands for Student of Social Science.
Pelsyt is unique among the other nations as the lone theocracy. Indeed, it is said to be the homeland of the Church and has acquired a reputation (deserved or otherwise) as a Holy Land to which the faithful make pilgrimages. It is the Church’s complete control over Pelsyt that is at the heart of the Church versus State debate in other lands—governments feel threatened by the growing influence of the faith, as every bit of power the Church takes for itself is effectively the same as handing over that power to another nation.
Though the Archon is nominally head of state as well as head of the Church, in truth the day‐today running of Pelsyt is delegated to an official known as the Primos. On a purely national level, the Archon is equivalent to a King while the Primos would be equivalent in power to a First Minister.
The current Archon, to use his full title, is His Holiness the First among Us and Our Guiding Light The Beloved Archon Goual XI, and the current Primos of Pelsyt is His Reverence Most High Primos Uan II.
One of the lands East of the Gulf, Quam still exists as a nation largely because no one particularly wants to conquer it. Primarily swampland, it is home to the Quami peoples who arrange themselves into tribal units and live on stilt‐towns built above the swamps. These days the Quami are quite peaceful and the younger generations are even well educated, thanks to the contact and influence of neighbouring civilisations, particularly the many established missions of priests from Pelsyt. The tribes still occasionally go to war with each other due to perceived breaches of their laws, which are often obscure and even baffling, but they are cunning and careful enough to present a unified front when dealing with outsiders.
Quami sculptures and rush art are currently in vogue with the continent’s elite, and account for much of the country’s growing capital.
There is no real centralised government in Quam. Each tribe shares responsibility between the Tribe Chief, the Tribe Mother (a female elder, often but not always mother or wife of the chief; she is usually the “power behind the throne”), and the Tribe Shamen (the tribe’s mages). A visitor would be wise to seek the approval of these whenever passing through the lands of a tribe. Courtesy demands a gift for the Chief in compensation for his time, and trouble. The Mother and Shamen do not require gifts but should be treated with due respect. Travellers particularly canny of Quami culture will often pay reverent compliments to the Mother and Shamen during their first address to the Chief, and will also offer them good will gifts (which must be mere tokens so as not to overshadow the Chief’s own gift, but the thought is what counts).
East of the Gulf lies Teoma. Much of Teoma is a rock‐strewn desert very nearly as barren and dangerous as the neighbouring Wastes. Teoma survives because of the same tenacity that has allowed its people to thrive in their wasted domain. Much like the abrasive desert sands, the Teoman people are aggressive and unforgiving, whether this manifest itself in terms of trade, politics, or even war. Many centuries ago Teoma’s armies raged across the land and it was once the heart of a small Empire that spanned the entire Eastern side of the Gulf, and it remains prominent and wealthy despite the fact the Teoman Empire toppled.
The ruler of Teoma is always known as Dassin, whatever his name before ascending to the throne. The current Dassin of Teoma is Dassin the Jewelled Sceptre, son of Dassin the Honoured Throne.
The Drakenisle is an inescapable reality in Drakensban, for the mountain at its centre is titanic. It is said the mountain was long ago the home of the Draken, fearsome beasts that supposedly once blotted out the continent’s skies. Nobody tries to reach the isle any more, nor do they attempt to sail out to the ocean, for powerful currents drag any ship that tries onto the Drakensmaw, a maze of jagged rocks surrounding the isle.
The Wastes and the Ice Wastes
The Wastes are the most dangerous place to travel in the entirety of Drakensban. They are vast barrens inhospitable to human life, filled with unnatural predators that have grown cunning and strong surviving in this setting. The further North one travels, the colder the Barrens get, until finally the dry ground gives way to ice. The Ice Wastes are no less hostile given the deadly cold, blizzards, and the fact that even here there are natural predators.
It is rumoured that there are still Draken out in the Wastes, biding their time patiently and waiting for the day their race returns to Drakensban.
There would seem, at first glance, absolutely no reason to travel North of the civilised lands. However, for those that brave the Wastes there can be rewards. The ruins of ancient civilisations are here to be looted (though these, too, hold hidden dangers), and the finest gems are to be found within its mountains.
Most leave the exploration of the Wastes to those individuals whose bravery, foolhardiness, or will to die has caused them to make a career of it. These are the Waste Rangers. Successful Waste Rangers are among the strongest, fastest, most cunning and powerful people to ever live—surviving the Wastes requires great physical and mental strength and enhances a person’s talents further through constant adversity. To see a veteran Waste Ranger fight is to see something beyond human, for the terrors and hardships they go through have ultimately enabled them to harness the power source within them to achieve things even trained warriors would find impossible.