Thursday, December 15, 2011

Of the Gods: Pyros, God of Fire

Pyros is the God of Fire, Sun, Light, The Forge and the Hearth.

Odilon Redon

Gustave Moreau

The third day of the week in Calabria is called Pierosdag, in remembrance of Pyros sundering the Darkness on the third day of Creation.

Thomas Cole

Samual was the Archon of Fire, and it was he who taught the Secret of the Flame to Man.

Artist Unknown

Villages throughout Calabria host an ancient round tower, Tower of the Eternal Flame. These towers average over 100 feet tall, and are some 20 to 30 feet in diameter. At the top is a chamber with windows facing each of the cardinal directions, and in this chamber a fire always burns. A devotee Path of Pyros spends his or her life within the tower. Tributes in honor of Pyros are left in a small room at the base of the tower. Wanderers traveling at night can often identify a town in the distance by light from such a tower.

The Festival of Flame begins on the first day of Winter, as a call to Pyros to keep the cold at bay until Spring arrives. All fires throughout Calabria are extinguished, except for the Eternal Flames. All hearths throughout Calabria are re-kindled with torches born by Lamp Bearers, honorary Lampades. Each torch is lit from the Flames of towers.

Imperial Cathedral

The Cathedrals of Calabria each hold a shrine to Pyros. Fire is one of the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Time) which make up all Flora and Fauna.

Joseph Wright of Darby

Volcanic sites are particularly significant places for worshippers of Pyros.

Arnold Böcklin

Of course among more isolated people, simple rituals suffice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fenrow Parish, County Carr

Fenrow Parish extends from the Mern River to the eastern route of the Via Imperium through Merchant's Republic in County Carr. The Village of Fenrow lies about 2 leauges southwest of Carrdech. The territory is mostly gently rolling farmland, with several small groves. Carrdech has a population of some 6,000. The Village of Fenrow is home to nearly 800 people. Another 1,300 people live throughout the parish.

Philip de Koninck

Carrdech lies nearly 5 miles from the Mern River, across which lies the sitster town of Carnach in Harrow Parish. The Mern is a widely used trade route in the Republic, particularly near Carrnach through the Dire Bogs where the western leg of the Via Imperium is impassible by large caravans.

George Turner

Life is pleasant for the people of Fenrow Parish, in a countryside unmarred by war for generations.

Philip de Koninck

The area is blanketed in farms, with grain and livestock being the main resources of the region.

Jacob van Ruisdael

Numerous Imperial ruins dot the landscape. Most are shunned by the locals as the dwelling of ghosts, spirits, and Sidhe.

Caspar David Friedrich

Jacob van Ruisdael

The Town of Carrdech is famed for its tailors and weavers. The finest rainments in Calabria are fashioned in Carrdech.

Albert Anker

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Greenwood

The Greenwood is the second largest contiguous woodland in Calabria after Woodbury Forest. Situated between the Iron Hills and the Merchant's Republic, The Greenwood a lush woodland of Oak, Ash, Yew, Chestnut, Alder, Rowan, Maple, and Elm. 

The forest is divided into three distinct sections, two of which are dedicated to the Clans of the Men of Old;  of the Clan of the Bear, and the Clan of the Wolf. The third and southernmost section is the Weald of the Merchant Princes.

Asher Brown Durand

The Clan of the Bear is bordered by The Greenrush on the south, and extends to the northermost reaches of the forest. All forestry in this area is done by consent of the Clan of the Bear. The steading halls of the clan are situated in the sloped woodlands of the Iron Hills.

Thomas Moran

The Clan of the Wolf spans from the Red River to the south, and The Greenrush to the north. The steading halls overlook the gorge of the Red River, some 1000 feet below.

Rosa Bonheur

The Weald of the Merchant Princes extends from the Red River to the southernmost reaches of the forest. The Merchant's Republic has long made use of this land for foresting and hunting. It it still called Kingsweald by some, an antiquated term dating back to the Empire.

Sanford R. Gifford

Wyvern Falls drop precipitously from near Erech's Peak (el. 6,000 feet), down almost 4000 feet to the forested floor below. The lake near the bottom of the falls is neutral ground between the Clans of Bear and Wolf, and has been the site of many negotiations between the clans.

Thomas Moran

Imperial Falls cascade some 1800 feet over the course of less than a mile. Further up, the Red River continues to climb toward the summit of the Iron Hills, nearly 13,000 feet above the lands below.

Caspar David Friedrich

Barech's Peak climbs nearly 8,000 feet, and is said to be the home of giants.

Benjamin Williams Leader

The Gryphon's Spine, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, is home to the Clan of the Gryphon. The peaks above 10,000 feet are seldom without snow gracing their caps.

Caspar David Friedrich

Maren Vale conceals the ancient burial tombs of Imperial and Pre-Imperial rulers.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Harrow Parrish, County Carr

Harrow Parish is a vibrant locality, located in County Carr in the heart of the Merchant's Republic. The fortified town of Carrnach sits high atop a hill, giving it's residents a vantage point to see for miles in all directions. The parish contains the Village of Harrow, as well as hamlets in the North Hundred, South Hundred, and East Hundred.

Harrow Parish, County Carr, Merchant's Republic, Calabri: 1" = 1 Mile

George Vicat Cole

The town of Carrnach boasts some 7000 residents, and can be seen from miles around. Carrnach is governed by a council of 7 Merchant Barons and Princes, and controls trade traffic on the western route of the Via Imperium through the Merchant's Republic. Together, both Carrnach and Carrdech control river trade down the Mern.

Jan Van Goyen

Village of Harrow is host to some 1,000 residents. Another  1,800  residents live throughout the parish. The Village of Harrow is accessible by the Harrow Ferry.

Harrow Keep lies across the Harrow Lake from the town of Carrnach.

Thomas Miles Richardson

The waters of Harrow Lake are deep and hold many secrets

The Parrish offers the best of idyllic life, and has seen many generations of peace. The Parrish is a flourishing fishing, farming and shepherding community. Other resources are the plentiful peat of the dire bogs, timber from the Greenwood, and iron from up the Red River.

Some of the finest spirits in Calabria are brewed in Harrow Parish.

Eduard von Grutzner

County Carr, Merchant's Republic

The Merchant's Republic, like the Confederacy of Traders, is divided into regions called counties. The name harkens back to Imperial times when actual "Counts" ruled over large regions of Imperial kingdoms.
Today, the term county signifies a coalition of parishes who choose to operate certain business transactions as a single entity, giving them more power than any single parish. The Merchant Barons and Princes of the individual parishes continually jockey for positions of greater power, but generally all conflicts within a parish are judged by a local parish Brehon. The name Brehon is an ancient term for "judge", which comes from the tradition of the Clans of the Men of Old.

County Carr, Merchant's Republic: 1" = 3 miles

Lying between the Greenwood and Woodbury Forest, County Carr contains the southern portion of the Dire Bogs, and controls trade passage on the Mern River. The county gets is name from Carr, a legendary Centaur who is said to have perished while leading his kinsmen to victory in a war between Man and the Monstrous Races in the days before The Shattering. Calabria's largest monument to the Centaur race sits atop Carr Peak, some twenty leagues north of Carr County.

Carrnach and Carrdech are the two most strategic towns of the county. Both towns are fortified, and are perched upon hilltops, allowing vantage points from which to surveil nearly the entire breadth of the county from the Greenwood to Woodbury.

There are some half dozen villages in the county, each situated a league or two off of the main trade route of the Via Imperium, allowing for a level of privacy to the villagers which is greatly valued. In addition to the villages, there are also smaller hamlets scattered about, with some farmers living in near isolation. Villages typically host a smith, a carpenter, and a chapel, with some providing masons, cobblers, coopers, butchers to nearby villages and hamlets. Villagers may travel up to three leagues to have their grain milled, an undertaking requiring an entire day's investment.

Hubert Robert

A fortified bridge spans the Mern between the sister towns of Carrnach and Carrdech, which lie less than two leagues to either side. The bridge was greatly damaged in The Shattering, and in times past the bridge's tower served many purposes, from home to prison. Today, the restored bridge and tower loom imposingly over the Mern, and control traffic up and down the river with support from the nearby towns.

Travel north on the Via Imperium is treacherous, as the paved roadway has sunk into the Dire Bogs in several places. The river is commonly used by traders to circumvent this portion of the Via Imperium.

Woodbury Forest and the Greenwood are rich sources of timber, and many a woodcutter makes his living on the edges of the county. However, tales of things best left undisturbed are common among the more isolated villages.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spirits of Darkness

From beyond the Veil come spirits of darkness, ever seeking to tempt man and wrest from him the things he loves. Some offer power and wealth in exchange for a chance to walk the world in physical form, even if for the briefest of moments. Other prey on more primal impulses, coming to the unsuspecting in pleasing forms. Still others freely roam the wilds, drawing the hapless into their frenetic revelries.

Johann Henrich Fussli

Franz von Stuck

Frank C. Pape

Franz von Stuck

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arcadian Beasts of the Wood

These elusive beasts mostly inhabit the vast woodland of Woodbury Forest. Some, however take to smaller forests and groves throughout Calabria.

After Sir Edwin Landseer

The White Hart is believed to be an aberrant member of the red deer family. Seen only once every few generations, this enormous male is a ghostly figure, and it said to be able to outrun an arrow in flight. The sight of the Hart is said to inspire courage against odds. Legends tell of tides of battle that were turned when the White Hart appeared. Eating the heart of the creature on the eve of battle is said to assure victory. The droppings of the Hart are highly valued by alchemists.

The Golden Hind is counterpart to the White Hart. She bears antlers of pure gold, and is said to appear to star crossed lovers. A trinket of golden antlers is a symbol of forbidden love.

Barbara Longhi

The Unicorn is a solitary beast, in all the ages of Calabria seldom seen beyond the borders of Woodbury Forest. It is said that there is only one Unicorn at any given moment in time, and it can foretell the hour of its death. Knowing this, it mates only once in its lifetime, and a newborn Unicorn comes into the world as its sire draws its last breath. The unicorn foal is born to a mare which has been marked by the Unicorn during a full moon. Legend tells of one such mare that was captured to lure a Unicorn to its death, and resulted in the birth of a Unicorn in captivity. The young Unicorn was set free when it seemed it would surely die in absence of its freedom, resulting in perhaps the extinction of the creature entirely.

The Unicorn horn is prized as proof against poison, and is highly valued by those with numerous enemies.

Viktor Vasnetsov

The Calabrian Wolfhound is an enormous lupine with an affinity towards humans. Various tales tell of Wolfhounds raising human babies lost in the woods, fending off creatures of the Monstrous Races, and even carrying humans on their backs away from danger. Various attempts to tame such creatures inevitably fail, as the Wolfhound is fiercely independent, and could never be mistaken for a "pet".

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Arcadian Beasts of the Air

Arcadian beasts are elusive creatures, typically displaying uncanny awareness of human intention. While most are wild beyond any hope of taming, there are notable exceptions.

Francis Blackwell Mayer
The Gryphons of Calabria make their homes in high peaks of the Iron Hills. These bright minded and inquisitive creatures are ferocious hunters, and enjoy pursuing prey trough the winding valleys and thin woodlands of the mountain range. They prefer feet footed or deft winged targets, and therefore pay little heed to herd animals. Their diet consists mostly of wyrms, deer, horse, mountain lion, wolf, eagle, and salmon. Being normally day hunters, their interaction with nocturnal creatures such as wyverns is rare, yet such aerial combat is a spectacle to behold.

The Clan of the Gryphon have the Gryphon as their totem, and elite members of the clan called the Gryphonym each form a lifelong bond with a Gryphon. Such Gryphons allow the Gryphonym to use them as mounts. The Gryphonym have a treaty with the merchant guilds of Calabria, and serve as messengers and couriers in times of national emergency. A Gryphonym rider is stationed at each of the main cities of Calabria, where they serve for 30 days before being replaced by one of their kinsmen.

The Gryphon is protected by bounty in Calabria, with any harm to a Gryphon usually resulting in death by public hanging or decapitation. Possession of even a single Gryphon feather is a punishable offense.

Gustav Moreau

The Pegasus is a rare winged beast resembling a horse. Legend tells that the original Pegasus was a unique immortal that bred with the common horse, spawning an entire race of creatures. The Pegasus haunts isolated valleys among the Iron Hills, typically making its home in cave openings in sheer cliff walls.
The bone of the Pegasus is highly prized by Alchemists for its lightweight yet durable nature.

Pegasus, the being after which the race of creatures is named, is rumored to yet live on an island in the seas beyond Calabria. Some say he lives among the Elves, and cherishes their company.

Arnold Böcklin

The Wyvern is a fearsome nocturnal beast, with bat like wings. Wyverns typically haunt the mountains of the Iron and Silver Hills, but have been known to descend into the low lying hills of Freehold. They feast upon timid creatures such as deer, and have a particular taste for herd animals. Wyverns have been known to be tamed by Hobgoblins and other fearsome creatures and used as mounts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Arcadian Simians

Arcadian creatures are solitary or belong to small groups, and seldom engage with man. They fall into two main categories, Simians and Beasts.

Simians are called so, seeming in ways similar to humans, yet alien. They often have upper torsos of resembling humans, with lower bodies of beasts. They build no structures, yet they may excel in craft and art. Among them are Centaurs, Satyrs, Nymphs, and Sphinxes. They make their beds in natural environments or in the abandoned ruins of man.

Guiseppe Maria Crespi

Centaurs are perhaps the most likely to engage with man. Stories are still told of the days before The Shattering, in which the  Centaurs of Calabria united with man in a war against the monstrous races. Place names honoring the sacrifice of the noble Centaurs remain throughout Calabria. Carr Peak, which lies between Merchant's Republic and Freehold and through which the Via Imperium winds, features the largest monument in Calabria to a Centaur warrior.

There are numerous legends of Centaurs mentoring human youths in the ways of archery, poetry, and music.

Arnold Böcklin

Satyrs are timid creatures which relish the simple joys of sensual delight. They are famed for frolicking with nymphs of the wood (Dryads), and being lovers of music and dance. An encounter with a Satyr may result in good or ill, as they are temperamental beings, and are easily offended.

John William Waterhouse

Nymphs are female creatures aligned with nature. They include the Dryads of the Trees, Oreads of Mountains, Naiads of the Streams, Aurae of the Winds, and the Lampades, bearers of Flame.

Many a sad song and story tell of ill-fated romances between mortals and Nymphs.

Gustave Moreau

The Sphinx is perhaps the most cunning of all creatures, and rarest of the Simians. They are famed for their knowledge of the histories of men, as well as their grasp of logic, puzzles, and riddles. They are fierce creatures, with little patience for the arrogance and ignorance men.

 They inhabit remote ruins, where legend says they may reconstruct the daily deeds of an entire city merely by studying the shards of pottery and refuse left behind.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Restless Undead

Edward Henry Corbould

Restless Undead are incorporeal entities that once lived natural lives. Though their bodies have perished, their spirits linger on, unable or unwilling to leave the world of the living. They vary in their ability to manifest physically, and to affect the world around them. They include ghosts, poltergeists, wights, and wraiths. These spirits are typically tied to a specific landmark or geographical area. They may sometimes be summoned from beyond the grave against their will.

Francis Danby

Ghosts are the most common of these spirits. Their physical manifestations are the weakest, yet they can exude a strong emotional presence. These apparitions often appear in sites where tumultuous events have occurred, and may try to communicate to the living through subtle clues. There may be strong feelings of sadness or joy, unusual fragrances, or the occasional object left out of place. They can appear in dreams, and in rare situations communicate through psychic mediums. They tend to appear near to the place they died.

Gustave Moreau

Poltergeists have discovered how to physically interact with our world, and are capable of manipulating objects. Often they are harmless, and simply resent their homes being altered by newcomers. Sometimes they display ritualistic or obsessive habit that they exhibited in life. On occasion they can be quite dangerous, or even deadly. They are most often associated with a specific dwelling where they spent the most meaningful period of their lives.

Howard Pyle

Wights are tomb spirits. They tend to appear in cultures where it is custom to bury the dead with valuable possessions they held in life. They refuse to part with the material goods which they covet, and can be quite capable of manifesting physically and defending their domain. They may also be able to affect the mind of those who enter their tombs. They are seldom seen far from their burial place.

Harry Clarke

Wraiths are truly terrifying creatures capable of wandering the countryside. They are ethereal and can pass through the smallest crack, yet capable of physical manifestation. They are often shrouded, cloaked, or hooded, forming the shape of the living, yet being empty within their garb, save for their glowing eyes. They cling to power they once knew in life. Ancient stories of terrifying wraiths, mounted and armed, capable of speech, are told in fireside tales.