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Here you'll find random assorted stuff as my setting starts to take shape.

Contents

General Goals

Lots of people set out with an ethos, or whatever you kids called it; I never kept track. On the other hand, for this setting, I have general goals I'd like to stick to. There are only two of these. See the second goal.

Designed with play in mind

My settings typically end up as works with me as the primary audience. This setting, however, is intended with players as the audience.

Minimalism

Designed to go hand-in-hand with my first goal, I will try and focus only on those things that really need to be built, not everything plus an extra kitchen sink.

The Lay of the Land

Unlike a lot of my previous settings, I have decided to focus on one region this time, going along with my second goal. It's a fairly large region, mind, but not an entire world. For a lot of my work, I have set several goals I'd like to try and aim for.

Keeping with my first goal, I have two goals for this part:

  • Each region should have at least one detailed settlement as a base of operations for players.
  • Each region should also have two or more secrets for players to discover, some perhaps fictional.


Ambitious, I know.

So the whole of the Land is divided into three parts. The East, the West, and the Heartlands. As the names imply, the East is to the east, the West is to the west, and the Heartlands are in the center. There are other lands, like the Far West, or beyond the Great Forest and the Blue Mountains, but I'm going to leave them vague for now. At more of a meta-level, the East and the West are a way for me to define and border the region I'm going to design. They have natural features that further this.

The West

The two main areas in the West are the Shield Mountains and the Inner Sea.

The Shield Mountains are located in the northwest. Even more so than the Desert they overshadow, the Shield Mountains are uninhabited. They are simply too barren for any kind of community to make their living. However, on the very southern tip, the land supports just enough life that mining has taken hold.

The Inner Sea is located in the southwest. On the northeastern part of the Inner Sea, one can find many small fishing communities. However, none of these communities build very large boats; at most, one can find a single masted fishing boat. It is rumored, especially amongst the more intoxicated fishermen, that one can find merfolk living in the inner sea.

If you keep going west, you'll end up in the Far West.

The East

The two main regions in the East are the Great Forest and the Blue Mountains.

The Great Forest is the closer of the two, forming a "J" shape around the east, the southeast, and the south. The edges of the Great Forest are regularly logged by people from the Heartlands. However, they are generally careful how much they take, as bands of fey and giants roam the deeper parts of the Great Forest, and the fey in particular don't take kindly to outsiders meddling in “their” forest.

Further on through the Great Forest is the Blue Mountains. They form a "J" shape, much like the Great Forest. Because of the difficulty and distances involved with the trek, most people from the Heartlands do not travel to the Blue Mountains, much less cross them.

The Heartlands

The Heartlands have two main regions as well: the Great Desert and the South.

The Desert is in the north, bordered to the west by the Shield Mountains, and then stretching on into the East. The Desert is inhabited by human nomads who eek out an existence as herders. Some nomad legends say that they have been nomads from time immemorial. Other legends say that they fell from some past glory.

The South is the main populated region. The south is the capital of the Kingdom that claims the region, though their claim outside of the South, especially in the Desert and the deeper parts of the Great Forest, is sometimes tenuous. The Capital is, of course, located here. Not far from the Capital, is the Ruins, an immense ruined city built long before the Kingdom was established. Legends in the Kingdom say that the first King came from elsewhere after some kind of catastrophe.

Races

Ohgodwheredidthiscomefrom.

Giants

Physical Description

Giants are essentially giant-sized versions of humans. Giants and humans may perhaps have some common origin, but the truth of this is not known. Most giants live in semi-nomadic bands, migrating with the seasons. Giants as a whole are aware of the strain their size can put on the land, and many aspects of giant life revolve around lessening their impact on their environment. Giants call themselves Tanata, loosely translated as “people.”

While humans average just shy of two meters tall, giants average a little over three-and-a-half meters tall, with less variation between males and females as is found in humans. Giant skin color ranges from olive at the lightest to a light brown at the darkest, tending towards the latter. Eye and hair color among giants is universally dark.

Giant clothing is commonly much more “primitive” than human clothing, with leather and fur being more common than textiles. This “primitiveness” is due in large part that giant's size makes producing textiles much harder than animal products. However, giants are prolific blanket makers, as this tends to be the most efficient use of their limited textiles. Giant clothing is, on the whole, much more functional than fashionable, though many giants make their clothing works of art, with intricate, abstract designs and patterns. Jewelry is not very common among giants, but bone is the most common material. Body modification is quite common among giants, with tattoos and piercing being the most common types.

Society

Giant society is, to most outsiders, deceptively simple.

For most of the year, giants live in gender-segregated, semi-nomadic bands. Semi-nomadic in this case means that giants migrate with the seasons from one general location to another. In autumn, however, several bands which form a single clan join up, which they call Sarafai. If a band belongs to more than one clan, it will rotate between clans each year. Outside of the family and the clan, that is, within the band, giant society is under a simple hierarchy based on merit. Giants freely come and go from bands within their clan (or a related or allied clan) base on whether or not they respect the person leading the band.

The prototypical clan is composed of four bands, each containing anywhere from two to eight families. These families are distinct from clans, and one band can belong to one or more clan. Clans are traced bilaterally (that is, on the mothers side and the fathers side).

Families are traced matrilineally (that is, on the mother's side). Most giants only keep track of family out two two steps (for example, as far as their first cousins or grandparents)

Gender-segregation among the giants is often one of the least understood aspects of giant culture among outsiders. Though it has been enshrined in giant culture over the centuries, it serves a very practical purpose: it is a social form of population control. Giants, due to their large size, can put a significant strain on the environment if their population grows too large. Thus, keeping males and females separate provides a simple and effective way of keeping giant population down. There is, however, no taboo on male and female giants meeting each other by chance.

Another common, related misunderstanding is that giants do not meet with each other except during the fall. It is actually a regular occurrence for giants to meet up throughout the year. Bands have no qualms with trading with one another or whatnot, and giants often need no better excuse than for one band to meet another to have a party. They do however, limited these meetings to a day or two at most. Both bands must move on eventually.

Giants are typically hunter-gatherers, though contact with other peoples has given them an understanding of agriculture. However, giants are horticulturists, tending to gardens. There are two main differences between horticulture and agriculture. The first is the scale; horticulture is on a much smaller scale than agriculture. The second difference is that agriculture focuses on a single species of plant, whereas horticulture often involves many types of plants. Several bands in a clan often rotate between one garden, each taking turns tending to it.

Customs

There are no real special customs surrounding the birth of a child, which, for obvious reasons, is typically attended only by other females. However, the child is formally introduced to their clan at their first Sarafai. If a child belongs to more than one clan, they have multiple introductions at each “first” Sarafai they attend.

Giants only have one rite of passage: when a child reaches puberty, they leave their mothers' band and join another band in the clan (or in a related or allied clan). While a female giant would not necessarily have to leave her mother's band, giants are insistent that the now-adult giants must join a different band.

For the most part, giants die among their band. For the most part, bodies are neither buried nor cremated by giants. Instead, they place their dead on platforms a bit shy of four meters above the ground. Ceremonies surrounding death occur once the band returns for the next Sarafai. The ceremony itself is called Turi, or “Silence”. The band returns and is silent; other members of the clan are meant to infer what happened for themselves. Generally, when other family members find out, they go silent as well. After three days, the band begins to speak again. If the deceased giant belonged to more than one clan, the Turi is repeated at each “next” Sarafai their band attends.

Though cooperation is highly valued among giants, disputes within a clan do occur. These disputes are settled at various levels. Typically these disputes occur at the band-level, and are solved by the band leader. When a dispute involves a band-leader, other band leaders in a clan often intervene. Further, disputes are so looked-down upon by giants, that a band leader often finds themselves band-less during a prolonged dispute. If a dispute is purely familial, generally the oldest relative intervenes. Disputes between clans, however, are often long-lasting and bitter as there is no higher level authority to appeal to.

Giant greetings are formalized, but can have some variation between clans. Generally, there are two kinds of greetings: those between bands and those between individual giants. When two individual giants meet each other, they exchange a soni, a greeting in which they press noses together. When bands meet each other, the leaders have specific order in which they soni. First, the leaders soni each other. They then soni any members of the other band they may know. Finally, they soni other members of the other band in no particular order. Other giants will perform a similar greeting ritual. Any formal dealings is done between the leaders of the bands. If there is any task at hand, all members are now expected to equally participate.

Magic

Geasa

Geasa (singular geis) are one of the fundamental aspects of magic. Every practitioner of magic is bound under certain geasa, or taboos. Violating a geis invariably results in some kind of penalty. A geis can be almost anything, from something that might not even be noticed by others, to something very obvious. Some geasa are so ridiculous or innocuous that those who have them can be come obsessed , paranoid, or develop phobias or paraphilias about them. This likely has much to do with the general tendency of magic to drive its wielders insane.

Example

A geis of the sorceress Lasa requires her to never wear footwear. Most of the time, this geis presents no disadvantage; most people wouldn't even notice it. However, there are obvious times where it might make her stand out.

If, say, the Guard was after her, and they know to look for a woman without shoes, she could be easily spotted. Or if she would stick out if she was invited to the Grand Ball, and was the only person in attendance without shoes. Or, while she's at the ball, a bunch of bandits rush in, breaking the stained glass windows, she would have no protection for her feet. In her mind, however, being without her magic would be a greater disadvantage. Breaking her geis even moreso.

In addition to the above, Lasa is meticulous when it comes to her feet. Every single night, she at least attempts to give herself a pedicure. She even does this when it may not be the best idea. Like pitching camp while on the run from the Guard half an hour earlier than she should just to do so. Or taking a break from tunneling out of prison with her wooden gruel spoon to do so right before the nightly check by the guards.