Friday, June 21, 2013

The Outlands

The tale of the Outlands is a tragic one. Once, the Outlands were the most wild, the most vibrant, the most untamed and open lands in all of Morden. Settled over 700 years before the Witches and their armies crossed the Darkwall, the Outlands were originally a home for pioneers, adventurers, and farsighted merchants. The Outlands were verdant, rich in flora and fauna, and they were only limited in their development by the growing wealth and influence of the more southern realms such as Hyphrates and Manreia.

Some folk, however, desired wide open spaces and new opportunities to the entrenched culture and civilization of Morden’s southern and western regions. These settlers headed north, into the shadow of the Darkwall, and there they founded the Outlands. Three realms made up the Outlands: Deepshadow, Riverspring, and Seaharrow.

For centuries, these realms were Morden’s rough-and-tumble frontier, home to hunters, trappers, and the most stubborn of settlers. Drifters, vagabonds, and opportunists from the other nations of Morden added to the Outlands’ population. In time, the Outlands grew to rival any or the other realms in population, civilization, and military might.

Foremost amongst the Outlands was Riverspring, centrally located just north of Valkenholm’s vast forests. Riverspring was home to a proud and martial people, tough and athletic. The climbing contests of skill and strength celebrated by the people of Riverspring were legendary, and they celebrated many heroes who battled against the aggressive beasts lairing within the deep mountain passes. Riverspring had a large and well-trained army, composed mostly of blocks of pikemen supported by light cavalry.

Seaharrow was the westernmost of the Outlands, far north of Steppengrad. Seaharrow’s settlements were largest near the coast of the Discordian sea, and its citizens were a resilient and hardy people—mostly sailors, fishermen, and farmers. Seaharrow weathered numerous disasters over its lifetime, from typhoons and floods to devastating earthquakes. However, the people of Seaharrow survived, and thrived, in spite of these setbacks. The storm-lashed coast of Seaharrow bred some of the most courageous sailors and sea-captains ever known, and its well-trained force of marines were able to defeat forces many times their size in any sea-going encounter.

To the east once lay Deepshadow, lush with grassy foothills and windswept plains. Deepshadow served as a breadbasket realm for Morden, filled with herds of sheep, cattle, and winter-furred deer. The realm was home to ranchers, hunters, and trackers – its people were in tune with the land and the seasons like few others. The defenders of Deepshadow were a mobile force made up of rangers, prowlers, and a surprisingly effective group of knights, the legendary Shadow Riders.

The Outlands were the first to suffer when the Witches and their hordes came for Morden. The people of the Outlands fought for every inch of their lands. They resisted—in fact, they battled to the last. And, for all their valor, the Outlands fell.

The survivors of the Outlands were gathered by the Witches into camps, and one by one they were transformed into mockeries of their former lives. Some became Banes, others transmuted into the dreaded Cauldron-Born. However, most of the Outlanders were destined to become the Accursed, unwillingly serving as shock troops against the remaining nations of Morden.

After the conquest of Morden, the Outlands remain a place of chaos and turmoil. Many regions are utterly destroyed, a wasteland of ruins and smoldering craters. However, the land remains. It recovers. It waits for new life.

In the last few years, many would-be warlords and rulers have staked their claim on parts of the Outlands, raising banners of their own design to try and found a new nation amongst the debris of the old. So often do these self-proclaimed “noblemen” fail that the region is mostly ignored by the rest of Morden, as no potentate has yet managed to build any stable foundation for a new realm.

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