Hinterlands of Kesh
Danger and opportunity amid the hills
Capital: The High Hill of Atiri (currently unoccupied)
Major Settlements: Bailyton (pop 4,700), Dupressix (pop 3,200), The Fortress of the Eye (pop 1,500), Valshal (pop 13,300)
Government: Divided along tribal lines
Major Races: elan, half-cyclops, hobgoblin, human
Major Faiths: (Elan) Philosophy (Half-cyclops) Neria (Hobgoblin) Kamus, Linium, Lyvalia (Human) Ul’Ul, Veiloaria
Resources: Copper, Lumber, Slaves, Tin, Weapons (firearms)
Languages: Common (Steelidun Dialect), Cyclops, Goblin
Kesh is a land of many clans and petty states, once they were unified under a High King who was elected and ruled wisely from the High Hill of Atiri. What is not widely known is that a secret society of the Elan used to manipulate the choosing of the High King as well as serving as advisors among the various tribes. With the guidance of the Elan, the rule of the High King was usually just and wise and friction between the tribes and clans was kept to a minimum.
The human tribes were the ascendant power in the age of the High King but the NewGod war hit them hard, killing the High King and many of the lesser rulers, along with their Elan advisors, allowing the hobgoblin tribes to ruthlessly advance and conquer until stopped at the Battle of Morrow’s Ford where the last remaining free tribes under the leadership of Kaja Steelidun slew the High Warlord Kovish “Steelarm” and broke the back of his army causing the hobgoblins to descend into a decade long struggle for tribal dominance which ended in the exhaustion of all.
The half-cyclops once held a position of power in Kesh, the Fortress of the Eye, dominated the major land and river trade routes through eastern Kesh taking tribute from all and controlling all of the nearby lands. The NewGod wars changed all of that, shattering the old trade routes and ending the regional dominance of Fortress of the Eye as those that had been prey to the half-cyclops took their revenge driving them back until they only controlled a narrow strip around the Fortress.
The Hobgoblin Tribes are the strongest of the powers in Kesh, but they do not wish to directly impose their will on the other groups by conquest fearing the cost of such a task. Instead, they impose tolls on the roads and conduct raid for loot and slaves, though other hobgoblin tribes are as often the target of these raids as are their neighbors. The hobgoblins are organized under a matriarchal system, while the war chiefs are usually male, the administration, organization and priesthood are all controlled by the mothers and grandmothers of the hobgoblins. A covert organization of witches, the Sisterhood of the Black Glass, ensures that no vendetta or feud among the hobgoblins is allowed to threaten their unity in the face of outsiders and tries to shift the target of the hobgoblin raids to people outside of Kesh.
The last holding of the half-cyclops is the Fortress of the Eye and its surrounding lands. To their distress, they have been forced to ally with the Steelidun Clan to fend off the encroachment of the hobgoblins and with that alliance came an end to the long slaving tradition of the half-cyclops peoples. While they occasionally consider breaking away to return to their ancestral ways, the very real threat of becoming the slaves of the hobgoblins keeps the half-cyclops unhappy allies of the humans.
The humans are loosely organized under the banner of the Steelidun Clan, though they exist in tribal groups ruled over by a variety of rulers, the Steelidun Clan form a rather anarchic federation that meet twice yearly for a Thing, which is part negotiation, part shouting match but mostly a drunken party. What the Steelidun do agree on is that an attack on one member of the Clans is an attack on all and everyone is free, slavery is not tolerated.
The High Hill of Atiri, the unfortified buildings that held the High King’s court are abandoned but maintained by ancient magics. War and people both avoid this place partly from tradition and partly from the efforts of the Elan who protect it as a symbol of unity.
Bailyton, this walled town is closest the Steelidun have to a city on the river Baily, it is the major place for trade with outsiders of Kesh, even the hobgoblins come to trade here. It is also where the Steelidun thing is held twice yearly.
Dupressix is a new town, built almost on top of a high quality seam of iron ore, Dupressix is the hub of weapon manufacturing in Kesh especially firearms. The town is named after the first of the Steelidun to walk the way of the gunslinger, the infamous Cousin Dupress, and it has been the subject of multiple hobgoblin raids, none of them successful.
The Fortress of the Eye, the most fiendish and efficient fortification in all of Kesh but the half-cyclops are hard pressed just to maintain the core fortifications. The slave pens, now abandoned, are extensive and still figure in many a Steelidun ballad.
Valshal, the central meeting point for the hobgoblins and the center of their slave trade. The city is divided into walled sections by tribe and raids and conflicts between them are endemic and reflect their shifting alliances.
- Crafting a New High King: The Elan move behind the scenes, trying to organize Kesh so that a new High King can emerge and bring peace and order to the land again. To do so, they sponsor and advise potential heroes and leaders, seeing to influence them toward seeking the High Kingship if they have proven themselves worthy.
- Freedom Seekers: Brave young people of the Steelidun often prove themselves by rescuing slaves from the hobgoblins, they are always happy to have aid on these missions. Freeing slaves is always a way to win respect and status among the Steelidun, so if something is needed from the tribes, rescuing slaves may be a good starting point.
- Spies: The Hobgoblin Matriarchy is always in need of new information on its rivals, both in Kesh and beyond, and pays well in copper, slaves or weapons. The Sisterhood of the Black Glass maintains this network of spies and scouts through good pay, bribes and, when needed, magical control.
Elan Taught (Regional)
You were one of the fortunate few to have been taught by an Elan Tutor who prize clarity of thought above all. You gain a +1 bonus to saves against confusion and to resist Bluff checks and you may choose either: two knowledge skills and gain a +1 bonus to skill checks with them or one knowledge skill and make it a class skill.
You were born or adopted into the Steelidun Clan, from them you have learned to be brave and stubborn about matters you care for, you gain a +1 bonus to saves against mind-affecting spells and abilities. You also have learned how to entertain yourself and others, choose a Perform skill, you gain a +1 bonus on skills rolls with this skill and it is a class skill for you.