The High Kingdom of Fioré
Life and Society
Major Geographical Features
Points of Interest
Plots and Rumors
Religions: The Golden Church (Fioran remnant of the original Golden Temple of the first Pentatra), worship of Oemag especially in rural areas.
Imports: silk, fabrics, spices, wine, oil, herbs, medicines, grain, vegetables, fruits, magic items (black market)
Exports: iron, wood, crafted items of metal, especially weapons and armor, low-medium quality gems, ale, mead
Alignment: LN, LG, NG
Close to the Beneath and ever cold, the nation of Fioré is said by some to be a cursed land. Those who live there, however, are a stalwart warrior people, who fiercely defend their beloved homeland. Though often covered in snow, Fioré is beautiful country. Fioré as a whole seems to have been built on a larger scale than the other shards; its mountains seem bigger, its valleys wider, and forests deeper and more verdant. It’s seven major shards are very large, and abundant in both in wood and metal.
Known as the Steel Kingdom dues to its highly demanded steel alloys and proliferation of shining plate mail and razor-edged blades among Fioré’s armies, Fioré has the largest standing military of any of the Shards. Were they not perpetually engaged in fighting the Beneath’s undead hordes, Madragat’s spawn, and the savage Tleyan raiders, Fioré might be a threat to their neighbors. Occasional rebellions or inter-clan skirmishes make Fioré a place where a warrior can find easy work.
Fioré’s one weakness is its lack of wizards. Wizards are forbidden to practice their art, for the Pentatra is seen as untrustworthy and unnecessary. The High Kings of Fioré instead turn to the sorcerers of the kingdom, and now after great service to the crown, the sorcerers of Fioré are given the status of minor nobles, and grants of land have farmed. The Pentatra is distrusted and refused entrance to the shards of Fioré, on pain of death. Still, the sorcerous arts are notoriously untrustworthy and less reliable than the formulae of the Pentatra’s mages, and so Fioré is weaker than most nations in terms of magic.
The religion of Fioré is the Golden Church, also called the Church of Life. Avashek is revered as the pinnacle of martial prowess, while Avasha is looked to for aid in the harvest and succor to the wounded. The Golden Church believes it has a strong connection to the First Pentatra, and so has nothing to do with the new, ‘impure’ version of that organization.
Life and Society
Hardship and horror have forced the Fioran people to grow tough and fearless. The people of Fioré are pale of skin, fair of hair, and given to blue or violet eyes, especially among the nobility. Their land is rich and bountiful, and in spring is a fair and beautiful place. Once seven separate kingdoms on seven neighboring shards, the Noble Family Sparstag forged them into one great kingdom through military conquest and strategic alliances. Constant struggle with the Beneath has forced Fioré to become advanced in military prowess and the arts of forging weapons and armor. Despite the abundance of resources, and the wealth of the upper classes, Fioré spends so much time defending its people that a great rift exists between the wealthy nobles and the common man. Nobles are born to education, martial training, and plenty. Those peasants outside the rich cities live in crude huts and cottages, and know little of education or prosperity; they spend their time striving to raise crops in the short summers, and beset by foul creatures from the mountains and beyond. Though Fioré is a kingdom rich in resources, much of the land is wilderness, and dangerous wilderness at that.
Many young men dream of becoming knights, and thus improving their lot in life. While it is true that some few knights are elevated from common stock due to valor on the battlefield or some other exemplary service, most knights come from the nobility, who can afford the training, steed, and equipment of a knight.
The finer things in life come only to the nobles of Fioré, and even then tastes in Fioré run towards the simple. Compared to a jewelry-encrusted Mezzoni merchant-prince, or the majesty of a member of Xauphinelle’s Imperial Court, the nobles of Fioré seem somewhat drab. The truth is that the people of the Steel Kingdom appreciate truth and directness over fancy distraction. They are a rugged, down-to-earth people. From food to clothing, to speech, Fiorans are sober and matter of fact, perhaps from their nation’s long history of battle and war.
The High King’s court is not one of flowery speech and idle entertainment. It is a place of blood, mead, and steel, where epic ballads of fallen heroes are the mainstay of the local skalds.
Only a small part of Fioré is truly settled, and villages are far apart. Each of the seven great shards has one true city, and a smattering of towns. Caerdamon is notable in that it has two large cities, due to its size, wealth, and more temperate climate.
Beyond the villages and small centers of civilizations, in the most inhospitable and isolated regions, people can be found who care nothing for the High King’s authority. Among these are scattered clans of dark-haired Highland barbarians, both human and merren. Some drakken seek to keep to themselves in the snowy mountains. Occasionally these highlanders will raid remote farms for cattle and other sources of food. If such farmers are lucky, their liege-lord will send out warriors or call for members of the Iron Bastion to punish the highlanders. Humanoids from the many mountains of Fioré are also notorious raiders of settlements, though they prefer to ravage and slay rather than simply steal the odd cow. The barbarian highlanders and the goblin tribes are dire enemies.
The Fioran people were of old divided into two separate stocks. The fair haired, tall Fiorans we know of today, and a swarthy, smaller people. These people, called the ‘barrow folk’ by the Fiorans of today, are something of a mystery. While the fair Fiorans made their homes on the snowy interior of the Shards, the barrow folk settled on the edges of the great shards, and buried their dead in barrows across their lands. According to legend they spoke a different tongue, had different religious beliefs and rarely interacted with the fair Fiorans.
After the second Rising, their barrows were tainted and the dead within began to walk the night. Whether the barrow folk were all slain during the second Rising, or whether they fled is unknown. From the little investigation that has been done, they seemed to have been a primitive folk, and it may well be that some of the highland barbarian tribes are descended from them. Sorcery is also sometimes attributed to these ancient people, and so the term "barrow-blood" is sometimes used to describe a sorcerer.
Regardless if their true fate, their legacy continues with the plague of undead that roam the night beyond the mountains that rim the shards of Fioré. Over time, these foul creatures have slain more folk, and so the ranks of the dead continue to rise. The problem is compounded by the combination of winds, large mountain peaks, and cloud cover that typifies the Fioran skies; while a pegasus rider can fly low enough to avoid most problems, skyships find it dangerous and difficult to travel into the interior of Fioré, and so are often forced to land on the edge of the Fioran shards to deposit passengers and cargo. After the second Rising, Fioré found itself effectively cut off from the rest of the Shards.
Eventually, the need for travel and communication led to the creation of squat fortress-ports to provide mooring points in the perilous Barrowlands. Once the first fortress port were established, Fioré was finally able to build new skyships. Up to this point, the new Fioré had been seven separate kingdoms. The border keep, as the fortified port and castle was called, allowed the seven kingdoms to exchange commerce and news. It also allowed the seven kingdoms to go to war with one another more effectively. At first raids and later the sacking of villages became common, then towns were besieged. The seven shards of Fioré became a hotbed of violence and petty wars.
However, one king made a bold move. Through marriage, he allied his strategically important Shard, that of Clan Sparstag, with that of the largest and most abundant in food, Caerdamon. Sparstag itself was a shard located in the center of the seven great shards, and had no Barrowlands ringing it; Sparstag was also able to reach the other six shards with ease. After a particularly hard winter, he was able to send a well-fed and well supplied army to crush the two most fierce shard-kingdoms. Slowly, he used a combination of diplomacy, force, arranged marriage, and bargaining to either persuade the remaining shards to join under him, or conquer them. The fighting was at times long and bloody, but in the end he prevailed.
The new High King was a fair man, and he made sure that all of the shards of the new kingdom of Fioré gained from his kingship. He made of these fallen kings his six Dukes, and took their sons to raise and foster as a guarantee of their loyalty.
He commanded his most heroic allies to build a series of walls to keep back the undead of the Barrowlands and the twisted beasts of the mountains. He installed one of these bold heroes as the First Shroud, set to guard Fioré’s walls from evil. The new techniques of forging steel that the High King had used in his weapons of conquest were eventually shared with all of his vassals. Only the peasantry was slow to feel the benefits of this new kingdom.
Eventually, high above Fioré, the Pentatra recovered from the Rising, and sent out mages and missionaries, to reassert the influence they had inherited from the First Pentatra. Farthest away from their newly built Grand Tabernacle, Fioré was the last nation to be approached.
The High King, now grown older and wiser, did not trust the Pentatra. Though without any magic but that of the Golden Temple, the High King refused this new Pentatra and their arcane magic. The Golden Temple of Fioré was likewise distrustful, and more loyal to the High King, who had funded new churches throughout the shards of the snowy kingdom, than to the Pentatra who had abandoned them for so many years. The Golden Temple of Fioré changed its name to the Golden Church, or more simply the Church of Life, and Avasha and Avashek became the main gods of Fioré. The other gods gradually faded from worship. Today some are venerated by mystery cults or as lesser powers akin to saints. Worship of Õemag began to reoccur in the villages far from civilization, and the Golden Church accepted this and worked such worship into their services. The Pentatra was forbidden to enter Fioré, and Pentatric magic was banned.
Over the years, Pentatric spies were discovered in Fioré, and provided a break from the recurring battles with the Beneath’s creatures. Such spies had their fingers chopped off, and were then burned alive. As always, the High King was true to his word and his law; such has been the Sparstag tradition since Fioré’s founding. Though a land ruled by tenacity and characterized by hardship, the uncouth people of Fioré are slowly being civilized due to the vision of Clan Sparstag. The Royal Clan leads by example, and are the first to promote such relatively new concepts as chivalry, honor, justice, and obligation.
Worried at the lack of magic at their kingdom’s disposal, the later High Kings began to engage the many sorcerous wyrrdinmen into their service. The peasantry regarded these native sorcerers with superstitious fear or concern, but some few nobles engaged them to perform feats of magic. The wyrrdinmen’s talents were somewhat unreliable, but in a land without the Pentatra, they were unrivalled in power. Eventually Tandamar, one of the six Dukes of Fioré, plotted to overthrow the High King with Pentatric aid. The High King enlisted the aid of the wyrrdinmen, and crushed the upstart duke before his plot was ready to be hatched. The duke was executed, as were all his grown sons. The rest of his household were exiled from Fioré forever.
In return for their service, the High King gave the wyrrdinmen sorcerors a great parcel of the dead duke’s lands to see to as his vassals. The wyrrdinmen were elevated to the status of nobles and lesser knights, and since then the tradition has been among the wyrrdin to swear fealty to the High King and work in his service. This has given Fioré a needed boost in magical power, regardless of its sometimes wild nature, and given the wyrrdinmen station and a legacy to be proud of. A small host of true Wyrrdin knights have sprung up at the High King’s court, and eagerly test their mettle against their mundane counterparts; tensions between the Wyrrdin and the older Houses are on the rise.
Of late, the House of Duke Heldrake, the drakken, has attempted to thwart the High King’s authority. The current High King, Grahm Max Sparstag, has been careful to put down his treasonous behaviour while avoiding the extremes that led to Duke Tandamar’s execution. Another such loss would most likely be bad for the kingdom and the morale of Fioré’s warriors, yet the High King cannot continue to treat Heldrake lightly, lest the common man see Sparstag as breaking his word and law.
Major Geographical Features
Clan Gwyren:Their homes are rough mountainous shards. Their symbol is the warhammer. They are home to the richest mines in all Fioré, and from Gwyren’s shard come much of Fioré’s legendary ‘Fioran steel’. Properly forged, weapons of this metal are harder and more resilient than common alloys. Dwarven mining teams are commonly seen here fulfilling work contracts for their holdfasts, mining for Gwyren and taking a share of the best ore. Much of the shard is covered by deep forests.
Clan Sparstag:The Royal Clan. Tor Arristan, the royal castle, lies in the central shard of the seven shards of Fioré, from which it holds a position of great strategic importance in the kingdom. High King Grahm holds as wards the children (usually male children only) of lords of questionable loyalty. The High King usually invites his lords to a great feast and tournament during Avashek’s Vigil. At the end of this tournament, the Lords of Fioré swear new allegiance to their High King. The High King’s brother, is the head of the House Sparstag and governs the family lands.
Clan Heldrake: The drakken noble household, recently responsible for an attempted rebellion. Clan Heldrake has, over the years and through various hardships, adopted the customs of human houses and no longer follows the drakken ways of other shards. Clutches are no longer group raised. Though small in number, the drakken of House Heldrake are notably fierce, and mighty warriors.
Heldrake does not have the largest skyship fleet, but it does have the mightiest warships, chief among them the flagship of the clan: the Great Wyrm.
Clan Iceheart: Housed in remote Castle Iceheart, on an island in the middle of the Frostmere, an ice lake. Clan Iceheart has a number of merren retainers, some of whom were born to the merren ice barbarians who live on the rocky spinward shores of the Frostmere, far from the castle. Clan Iceheart maintains the largest fleet of skyships in all of Fioré, due in part to the fact that the Clan traces its roots to early sky-pirates who plundered the trade routes between the various Fioran shards. Many merren are married into the Iceheart line; this is a common custom in their shard, but is regarded with mixed feelings by those of the other shards. The Iceheart shard is the coldest of all the Fioran shards, yet has a pristine icy beauty to it that has stirred the poetic heart of many a merren bard.
Clan Trueblood: Ever loyal to the Throne, the Truebloods rule from the fertile farmlands of their shard. They have a large population of farmers and craftsmen, and large tracts of fertile farmland. Though not exceptionally mighty warriors, Trueblood has a very large standing army, and several Truebloods have served in the Order of the Black Hart, the High King's elite knights. Trueblood’s shards are rife with superstition, and arcane magic is seen as unnatural and a mark of evil. Since the ascension of the Wyrrdin, Clan Trueblood’s once doubtless loyalty has been strained.
Trueblood’s greatest problem is the Tain, a stretch of cursed ground where the wyrrdinmen of old were put to death. The Tain is a magical ice flow that periodically creeps around the shard, flowing over things like a fog. Things within the Tain are entombed in ice, The Tain is home to a great many magical beasts and dark fae creatures. The Tain is hard to navigate and is said to drive men mad; despite this, Trueblood offers all manner of rewards for heroes to enter the Tain and slay the troublesome monsters therein. In recent years, the Tain has started appearing in those lands bordering Trueblood's shards.
Clan Caerdamon: Warmer and larger than all its cousins, Caerdamon is a pleasant shard criss-crossed by many rivers and covered by many forests. Though in winter cold bogs and chill swamps make travel dangerous, in spring and summer the rivers come alive with traveling barge people. It’s wide borders are hard to guard effectively, despite the Shield Wall. It suffers many attacks from the barbaric armies of Tleyzu, who occasionally scale the mountains or pass the Shield Wall by magic.
Clan Wyrddin: House Sparstag claimed a portion of this shard, but the bulk of it was gifted to the sorcerers who aided the former High King against the Pentatra. These wyrrdinmen took up the name Clan Wyrrdin, even though they were not truly a house by blood. Now a tradition of adoption allows House Wyrrdin to accept any who show the talents of the sorcerer. The High King always keeps a Wyrrdin advisor close to him, who also speaks as the voice of the noble sorcerers in matters of government. The lands of Clan Wyrrdin have many keeps and castles that were ruined during the Tandamar Heresy; the House is working on restoring them.
Points of Interest
Frostmere, the Ice Lake: Located in the center of the largest of the shards of Clan Iceheart, the Frostmere is the largest body of water in all Fioré. Around it a number of wild merren tribes exist, and feuds and raiding are common among these passionate folk. The highland folk of the Iceheart lands, called barbarians by some, are known to marry merren of the Frostmere tribes, both for their great beauty and to forge alliances between their two peoples. In ancient times, the Lord of Clan Iceheart made war with the barbarians, but now a peace has settled around the lake. Merren wyrrdinmen are common here, and often serve as advisors to their tribe; it may be due to their presence that Lord Iceheart has ceased his aggressions against the merren tribes who inhabit his lands.
Serpent’s Tooth: The tallest mountain in Fioré lies far from civilization in the lands of Clan Gwyren. The Serpent's Tooth has two tall, narrow peaks that catch the wind strangely and cause frightening, mournful dirges to be heard in its vicinity. It is known far and wide as a fell magical place, and strange beasts lurk there.
Barrowlands: The vast majority of Fioré's inhabited land is found within great valleys. mountains ring the shards of Fioré, and outside them are the Barrowlands. Here the barrow-men of old buried their dead, and now the Beneath gives them a semblance of life. At nightfall, hordes of undead make their way across the Barrowlands, stopped only by the Shieldwall of the Order of the Shroud and the Bastion Ports. Travel from the Shieldwall to the Bastion Ports is never a sure thing, and many travellers have died due to unforeseen delays in their mad dash across the lands between the Shieldwalls and the Bastion. The only living things in the Barrowlands are the most canny and elusive animals, and stunted trees.
The Tain: The creeping death of Clan Trueblood, the Tain is a strange icy flow that appeared in the Trueblood lands, covering and killing all it happens to touch upon. Legend says that the Tain is the result of a curse left by the ancient wyrddinmen, who in the days before the Sparstag conquest were persecuted and often put to death. The Tain usually stays in certain areas, but recently it has started appearing in the shards of other Clans bordering Trueblood's. It is said to travel as an icy mist, during the night, only to turn solid and entomb those within it come morning.
Monastery of the Dragon’s Heart
Ancient Bridges and Ruins:
Watchtowers and Shieldwalls:
Plots and Rumors