Monday, 17 December 2012

The Barbarian Border

Another chapter from House of the Lion, unfinished and unedited.

LEMINKAINEN

Cast in the sanguine hue of its dying red star, the color spectrum is heavily distorted on Leminkainen, the dominance of the red portion of the visible spectrum most colors from the green to blue portion appear darker, or as black. Though reds appear richer and yellows more orange.
From space, Leminkainen then appears to be an anomaly amongst the worlds of the Phoenix Empire. It’s great oceans appear black, its land masses appear reddish brown or with dark almost purple-ish areas of vegetation. The cloud cover is cast pink or orange. Despite its strange appearance Leminkainen is a lush and verdant world, though it owes much of its survival to the extensive bioengeering conducted during the last days of the Second Republic. By all rights Leminkainen should be a desert world, but somehow it continues to bloom. A planet of stark contrasts, Leminkainen is both a border world at the far end of Hawkwood space and yet hosts many jumproutes.

Planetary Traits

Star: Suryan (giant red star)
System: Nax (0.75AU), Leminkainen (1.99AU; Staltos, Cox, Momerath), Shylkor (3.3AU), Tantalus (21.65AU), Ivald (31.44AU), Asteroid Belt (45.01-51.23AU), Mord (48.31AU), Bilgo (95.12AU), Jumpgate (101.58AU)
Jumps: Byzantium Secundus, Ravenna, Aylon, Pentateuch
Capital: Hakkonen
Resources: minerals, agriculture, prisons
Exports: pygmallium, giant vegetables, medical technology

History

Discovered from Byzantium Secundus (then New Istanbul) in 2407, Leminkainen was a primordial planet with a yellow sun only slightly more massive than Sol (1.2 solar masses). It had a rich diversity of plant life, but animal life was limited to arthropods, although the variety of their insectile forms and environments to which they were adapted allowed for extreme variations in form. The warm oceans teamed with species, from tiny microscopic krill, to hulking brute crabs that were larger than an automobile. With the planet in its early primordial development relatively few species had made the transition from the oceans to land.

The First Republic

From the beginning, the planet’s role was that of a scientific laboratory for the First Republic’s wealthiest conglomerates. Several corporations formed a cooperative to purchas the planet outright from the cash-strapped First Republic and funded the first colonial expeditions. Details of these years are incomplete, but some of the better-known concerns were Agricorp Interstellar (which took over the continent now called Grikkor), several major mining concerns, and Dextrite Medical Interplanetary, which built bio-weapons for various First Republican and corporate military factions. It was an axiom of the time that Leminkainen did not have citizens, only employees.
Without having to answer to official agencies of any sort, the planet’s corporate owners were free to remake the planet in their own corrupt mercantile image. Agricorp seeded the world with experimental plants and fertilizers, turning it into one of the largest food exporters of the day, rivaled only by Grange (now Pandemonium).

The Diaspora

The corporate pact that ruled Leminkainen lasted for over 1,000 years, surviving the dissolution of the First Republic, the Diaspora and much of the Second Republic era with little change in ownership. This apparent stability did not mean there was no conflict on the planet. Corporate wars took the place of nationalist conflict, making much of Leminkainen a battle zone for centuries at a time as various magnates fought for ascendancy with corporate rivals both internally and externally.
In the long centuries since corporate pact took control of the planet society had slowly become divided between those who were wage slaves of the corporate masters and those who were unemployed or at least those who were not employed by the corporate pact. Many outside of corporate control began to resent the power exerted by corporate citizens and the unrestrained greed of the corporate magnates. Amongst these second-class citizens a new movement was starting to take hold. Gjarti was a religious practice that had begun on Sutek in 2613, but when it arrived on Leminkainen almost two decades later to quickly took root and spread through the population, though the Gjarti faith is slightly different on every world, Leminkainen is synonymous today with the core ideals of the faith and its practice.
The corporate pact initially cared little for the spread of a backwards animistic faith, until it started to command adherents within ranks of their employees, inevitably they past laws forbidding religious practice, not just of Gjarti but of all faiths, but had little real power to command the hearts and minds of the people at large. After a period of protracted peace, a new round of corporate wars ignited in the late 28th century driven as always by greed and competition for resources. The practice of the “dirt worshipers” was unimportant by comparison as more immediate and pressing concerns cane to the fore.
So involved in these struggles were they, that the Prophet’s historic (2803) meeting with the Ur-Obun Disciple, Ven Lohji, went scarcely noticed. Corporate control did not fully stifle philosophical debate, however. Zebulon’s Church eventually found devout adherents among the planet’s citizenry.

The Second Republic

All things must come to an end, however; the combined might of the corporate pact could not hold sole property of the planet forever. As the planet continued to transform under their control, space around them also changed. Leminkainen’s neighbors—among them New Istanbul, Ravenna and Aylon—had changed in disposition and were no longer content to leave such a strategic world solely in the hands of greedy irresponsible corporate powers.
Historians record that the terminal event came when a shipment of Agricorp fruit carried a deadly plague to New Istanbul, killing over a million people. In 2952 House Hawkwood seized control of the planet, putting its land and people under more responsible stewardship. The Dextrite Medical Interplanetary corporation’s leaders managed to survive this transition of power by producing a cure for the plague; although many maintain their timing here was questionable, no proof was ever found that they were responsible for the outbreak. Already for all practical purposes a noble house, House Dextrite made allies among other corporations (and later certain factions in the Supreme Order of Engineers) and has survived (initially under the protection of House Masseri patronage) on the island of Kriel through the present day.

The New Dark Ages

As many planets divested themselves of technology after the Fall, Leminkainen resisted this trend. The planet was bombed into submission (4208) after the Doctrine of the Cleansing Flame. The events leading up to this bombardment took over a century as the Universal Church, planetary leaders and family members in House Hawkwood bickered, negotiated and threatened. Eventually the Patriarch excommunicated Leminkainen’s leaders and persuaded nobles from more devout planets to bombard Leminkainen into submission. This period is now infamous as a time of civil war between the families of the Hawkwood House. Abandoned by Delphi, under attack from Ravenna, and unable to receive adequate aid from Gwynneth, Leminkainen was on its own. By the time Leminkainen recanted, its cities were in ruin and there was no longer any choice about a returning to the pastoral existence. Leminkainen’s reputation as one as a tolerant world of religious freedom, where the Gjarti and other pagan faiths flourished drew the Inquisition’s wrath in the years that followed.
The dates are confused and uncertain, but at some point around c.4400 the people of Lemiankainen started to notice a change in their sun. Over the course of a few short generations the sun began to grow darker in hue, turning first orange and expanded to many times its original size as it became a deep red. As it did so the star shed a massive storm of ionic particles commencing a solar storm on a scale never experienced before or since. Leminkainen did not survive untouched; the shedding of the star’s mass caused the planetary orbits of the solar system to shift outwards, the strength of Leminkainen’s magnetosphere shielded it from the worst ravages of the solar storm, but even as the planets orbit settled into its new equilibrium on the inside edge of the stars expanded green zone. In time the ionic dust would settle into great rings like those common around gas giant worlds.
The effects on the world were profound, the oceans evaporated; plant and animal life died off in mass numbers. Ironically, what technology may have caused, it could also partially cure. Drawing upon deeply buried botanical secrets, the planet introduced hardy strains of fauna that could survive, even thrive, in the planet’s new hothouse conditions. These biological miracles have super hard skins, fibrous water-stingy interiors, and roots that can find purchase in solid rock and live for years without rainfall. The faithful see this tenacious plant life as a blessing from the Pancreator, while the Gjartin shamans see it as the bounty of their “Good Gjarti.”
The “fading” of Leminkainen’s sun also happen to coincide with the arrival of the first barbarian raiders. The first raids were sporadic and struck at lone loan shipping or outlying or isolated settlements. In these first years there were still colonies on the moons and distant planets of the solar system, though many of these were abandoned as the disruption of the solar storm reached them.
In 4520 the planet became a battleground as barbarian invasion swept into the Known Worlds. The invaders fully justified the label of barbarian: they brought with them strange diseases and foreign pathogens that killed over a third of the planet’s population and further. Many have leveled accusations of the use of biological weaponry, but in retrospect it may be that these were released as a defensive measure against the barbarians that then got out of control. Even now, centuries later some of these diseases resurface and combine with older native plagues, enforcing a gruesome legacy on the cursed planet. It is rumored that the barbarians have an antidote for the worst of these epidemics, Kessler’s Plague; both House Hawkwood and the Phoenix Empire have offered rich rewards for anyone who can recover this antidote. Despite these hardships, however, Leminkainen held out against overwhelming odds and absorbed much of the barbarian assault, giving other planets time to rally their defenses.
The planet did fall to the barbarians, though the fighting continued throughout the occupation. The Leminkainen Hawkwoods called for aid from their brother worlds, but Ravenna and Delphi had already fallen as well. Only Gwynneth remained untaken and deliverance from the barbarians did not arrive until the combined might of the Vladimir ALecto’s coalition could be brought to bare 4558, much of the world was then claimed by House Alecto, though the transfer of power back to House Hawkwood came in 4550 after the assassination of the Emperor. Although House Alecto lost all of its sons in the years immediately after Valdimir I’s assassination many of that bloodline sought protection from the Lion and intermarried with the Hawkwoods on all the homeworlds, but nowhere was this more obvious than on Leminkainen, which had largely become an Alecto world after its liberation. In the years following House Hawkwood reasserted its authority over the territories it had lost, though Vuldrok settlers continued to fight to hold their lands, mostly on the continent of Valdala, which proved impossible to route out. Although barbarian raids halted after the liberation, it was only a century later that he barbarians be began to raid again, all be it in much smaller numbers.

The Emperor Wars

The proximity of the Vuldrok barbarians has been an ever-present thorn in the side of Leminkainen. Even centuries after its liberation the barbarians continued to make claim to the world and small raids continued to pick at Hawkwood defenses. In 4963, the invasion forces came again, although not on the scale of the previous incursion into the Known Worlds. Leminkainen was briefly cut off, with the planets defenses overwhelmed the fighting was intense. The arrival of a combined fleet of Hawkwood and al-Malik under the command of the Regent Darius turned the situation around, and forced the invading Thanes to the negotiating table. In 4965 Leminkainen formally recognized the existence of the barbarian Thanedom of Valdala and other territories held in the Leminkainen system with the signing of the Teldor Treaty. This treaty bought enough peace that the Regent Darius could attempt to capitalize on his success against the barbarians to unite the Phoenix Empire behind him, but his dreams of Empire were short lived.
Leminkainen played its part in the Hawkwood war effort during the Emperor Wars, though many local lords held back forces in fear of their Vuldrok neighbors with whom they were supposedly at peace. The presence of barbarians on what many still consider to be Hawkwood soil is a sore point. The Temple Avesti have used the inherent distrust, and religious bigotry to gain in roads to the population and have in the last few decades increased their cognation many times over, now rivaling the Urth Orthodoxy as the dominant sect of the Universal Church. That said, Leminkainen is still a world that can be considered religiously diverse, including large numbers of Avesti and Orthodox adherents alongside the heretical Perceptors, and the pagan Gjarti, and related Vuldrok beliefs. Attempts to stamp out the heretical and pagan religious movements have been largely unsuccessful particularly in rural areas, where these beliefs have been long established.

Solar System

Suryan: A giant red star with an elaborate and beautiful ring structure extending almost 1.5AU. The ring is composed of micro fine ionized dust that forms a layer only with width of a gain of sand. The ring’s alignment with the plain of the ecliptic means that it is all but invisible to observers on Lemiankainen and those travelling between that planet and the Jumpgate. Only when a ship ventures for the plain of the ecliptic can it view the magnificent phenomena.  Some nobles have been known to take tours of the ring spectacle, but the threat of raiders in ever present in the system and most choose not to take such risks.
Nax: Prior the expansion of Suryan, Nax was the second planet in the solar system, the inner most planet was a small rocky world called Zerum, but burned up in the Suryan’s expansion c.4410. Observers at the time record seeing a bright scare across the darkening sphere of the star, many now consider that this was the death of Zerum.
Nax then is a medium-sized planet that boasted a science complex during the Second Republic. Now it sits in the outer fringes of the sun’s corona and is a desolate molten world. The world has not received visitors since the before the Suryan became a giant star, and those who once called the facility home are assumed to be long dead. Long-range observations had been able to pick out the twisted and melted metal wreckage of the Second Republic’s ceramsteel pressure domes.
Leminkainen (Staltos, Cox, Momerath): Leminkainen is now the system’s second satellite and the only planet with a life-sustaining atmosphere. The planet’s three moons cause unpredictable tidal swells and are considered to be three sister goddesses by the Vuldrok barbarians, they also hold a special place in the pantheon of the surviving Gjarti on the planet. All three moons have the bombed remains of great cities that once survived under pressure domes, but were destroyed by the same noble fleet that bombed Lemankainan’s own cities by order of the Patriarch.
Shylkor: Vuldrok barbarians seized Shylkor and claimed it for the Vuldrok Star Nation, during the early 50th century prior to the signing of the Teldor Treaty. In accordance with the Treaty, the Vuldrok have promised not to use the planet as a base for staging raids, but House Hawkwood believes they have broken the treaty on numerous occasions. Shylkor is a rocky world blanketed with frozen snow and ice. The atmosphere is toxic to humans but at sufficient pressure to make it possible to survive with only a breather, rather than a space suit. The atmosphere is thick, and soupy with a combination of blowing dust and frozen particulates, stirred up by volcanic activity at the planets poles.
The Vuldrok maintain a number of settlements here, including a spaceport and possible weapons caches hidden in caves and chasms. The world is of limited strategic value, which has given, Hawkwood observes pause to consider why the Vuldrok would be so interested in the world. Some have speculated about the presence of Annunaki ruins or valuable mineral reserves.
Tantalus: Tantalus is a rocky, volcanic world with a thin atmosphere containing a large percentage of free-floating oxygen. Past explorers discovered liquid water under the planet’s surface and primitive microbial plant and even fish life in subterranean caves near volcanic vents.
The world sparked renewed interest when House Dextrite established a permanent base on the world in 5009, and declared that they had claimed the world in the name of the Emperor. Hawkwood reactions have been mixture of bemusement and irritation. Marquis Telvarion Emery Dextrite has named himself as Duke of Tantalus. Though this title has yet to be confirmed. Some suggest that this may be some kind of power play within the Dextrite House.
Ivald: A seething, violent world, Ivald has over a dozen major volcanoes spitting lava and ash hundreds of miles into the planet’s atmosphere. The planet is so contaminated with radioactivity that it would take lead shielding several feet thick to protect any visitor.
Some speculate as to the origin of this radioactivity suggesting that the world has in the nuked with dirty bombs some time since the Fall, but no records have been discovered to suggest why or exactly when this event occurred. Whatever the reason some one wanted to ensure that no one would ever step foot on this world again.
Asteroid Belt: Sometimes called the Mord Belt after the large rocky world that sits within it rubble field. It has long been a hiding place for pirates and raiders striking at commercial shipping. Since the end of the Emperor Wars many veterans have found work, hunting pirates, in and around Mord.
Mord: Mord is a desolate, heavily cratered rocky planet in the middle of the system’s great asteroid belt. Ships that try to land on Mord must be skillfully piloted or be smashed to pieces. Treasure hunters and prospectors frequently visit the planet despite the risks seeking mineral riches and persistent rumors of an ancient research colony established during the Diaspora era continue to be a lure for the foolish and unwary, few of whom return.
Bilgo: Bilgo is an icy asteroid-pitted world, which serves as a base and a listening post for Hawkwood forces protecting the Jumpgate. In recent years these forces have been augmented by Merchant League, and Imperial Navy support, in a bit to protect the system against piracy or another Vuldrok push.

People and Places

The people of Leminkainen reflect the diversity of the world itself, reflecting its vast cultural differences. House Hawkwood is the dominant power on the planet, by the minor houses of Dextrite and Vasalyana both have sizable domains and their practices and religious identities are very different from their Hawkwood neighbors. Vuldrok settlers have only increased that diversity further and polarized some in to militant opposition of what they see has invaders.
Leminkainen has four major continents (Jyväskylä, Grikkor, Valdalla, and Isalight), and six major islands (Kriel, Vree, Mog, Tesla, Mazor, and the Cordan Chain). Despite its hot arid climate, most of the planet remains lush with vegetation, though under the light of the dying red sun this verdant greenery appears near black, its true colour only visible under artificial lighting. The planet’s three moons cause massive tidal swells in the shallow salt laden seas, with high tiding in some places being up to 50 miles in land of the low tide mark.
Leminkainen is divided into three duchies, and six counties, the foremost of which is the Duchy of Jyväskylä, ruled by Duchess Catherine Hawkwood who holds the planetary throne. Duke Redoran Blake Hawkwood rules the Duchy of Grikkor, Isalight once an independent but allied Kingdom, but is now a Duchy, ruled by Duke Sasha Vasalayana. Valdalla is part of the Vuldrok Star Nation but notionally owes fealty to Duchess Catherine (under the terms of the Teldor Treaty).

Jyväskylä

The largest continent on Leminkainen, Jyväskylä is broken in to four roughly equal parts by the Barrier Mountains that frame Central Jyväskylä. Arranged around the Central Jyväskylä are three regions; to the north is Tansid, and the south Gruvion, while to the east lays the Blood Desert. Each of these four domains constitutes a county. The terrain of the continent ranges from hard rock plains to great forests, low mountain ranges and a vast desert of scarlet sand. A series of great rivers also wind their way through the continent’s interior, though these are mostly sluggish and heavy laden with silt. The regions along these rivers are also quite fertile and teem with jungles, verdant woodlands, or plantations.

Blood Desert

The so-called Blood Desert is a vast wasteland of scarlet sand, covering the eastern portion of the continent. The desert gains its name from the oxidized metals in its sand, and was once a major mining and industrial region. Heavily bombed in consecutive wars, the central area is mostly devoid of human activity. The eastern coastline is often battered by storm force cyclonic winds that can create dust storms that choke a man in minutes if not properly equipped. Inhabitants of these lands are few and far between, but they do survive in ancient terracite buildings in the coastal regions, and in small villages, enclaves in the Barrier Mountains. The remains of ancient ruined cities still protrude from the desert sands and rumors strange monstrosities keep the deep areas of the desert free of all but the boldest explorers.
Ruled by Count Rubin Strom Hawkwood, the Strom family was amongst the poorest of Hawkwood nobles on Leminkainen, until that was, a geological team from the Supreme Order of Engineers discovered previously unknown deposits of Pygmallium amongst the grains of scarlet sand. Sand mining is a relatively new industry that uses a dune crawler to suck up and filter different materials that can then be utilized by local industry. Many serfs also pan and sort minerals by hand or with archaic devices that can separate metals from the sand magnetically. In only a few short decades the fortunes of the Strom Hawkwoods as been completely reversed and the families previously valueless fiefs are suddenly being put to use again, some say that the local Barons have resorted to cutting deals with the Muster to repatriate their lands with serf / slaves brought from other worlds.
Somvor: Located at the southern end of the storm belt, Somvor is constructed of low terracite buildings, re-enforced against the cyclonic winds that bring torrential downpours in from the Sedat Ocean. At first glace Somvor is almost 200 kilometers inland, but during the high tidal wash caused by Leminkainen’s moons the city can experience flash floods and in the last few centuries the cities rulers have erected the stormwall, a massive barrier construction and drainage channels designed to protect the city and bleed the surging water further in land in to a network of irrigation ditches and canals.
In recent times the size of the city has been swollen by guildsmen and prospectors drawn by the newly discovered wealth beneath the oxide rich sand so of the Blood Desert. Count Rubin has recently financed a considerable investment into a civil engineering project to improve the storm drains and create a gated water channel between the city and the coast by which to export the new mineral wealth of his domain.

Central Jyväskylä

Central Jyväskylä is mostly isolated from the aberrant weather systems that plague the Blood Desert; the Barrier Mountains act as a rain shadow preventing the winds from the Storm Belt from penetrating further in land. Combined with the Shield Mountains to the west, the over all affect is a tranquil weather system that brings little rain. Instead the lush tropical jungle is fed by many rivers the flow from both mountain ranges, that eventually find their way out to the Teldor Ocean to the west. Although the planetary capital, Hakkonen, is actually on the far side of the Barrier Mountains, on the edge of the Blood Desert, Central Jyväskylä is the personal domain of the Duchess Catherine. The area is divided up amongst many lesser lords who’s fiefs make a living from the natural abundance of Leminkainen’s unique growing conditions. Many such fiefs are wealthy plantations for herbs, spices, coffee beans, and locally derived tobacco variants, which are said to be mildly euphoric.
Hakkonen: The continent’s capital city, Hakkonen is beautiful despite its tenuous existence at the edge of the Blood Desert. A maze of graceful, sand-blasted terracite structures from the days of the Second Republic forms its center, and gold towers and smoked glass thrust out from the desert. Air-conditioning comforts the Muster executives, the nearby spaceport and the nobles in the queen’s Crimson Palace. Even those of lesser stature have access to clean water and shelter from the sun’s intense heat. “Every serf a king,” was a popular expression in Hakkonen as little as 50 years ago, though the planet’s increasing prominence has forced many serfs into poorer dwellings, as Merchant League, Universal Church and Imperial off-worlders have swarmed to the planet. The great eight-sided Morali Cathedral in Hakkonen houses one of the largest libraries in the Phoenix Empire.

Tansid

North Jyväskylä (Tansid) is cooler and receives more rainfall than the central areas. The area is able to produce a wide variety of vegetables and grains, including millrice, and red wheat, many of these vegetables grow considerably larger than they do on other worlds because of the favorable growing conditions under the red light of the dying sun.
The ancestral domain of the Blake Hawkwood family many of the local lords are closely related and tend to be insular, and suspicious of outsiders. The Blake Hawkwoods were once amongst the premier bloodlines within the House, but allegations of incest and inbreeding have darkened their reputations at court, though few members of the line now attend in person instead sending their seneschals in their steeds. The lord of Tansid is Count Roger Blake Hawkwood, who rules from Colvor City on the northern coast.
Although the Universal Church has a presence in Tansid, the local lords far from welcome it. In the recent years Count Roger has made several requests for an inquisitorial review of the local bishoprics claiming that they have preached the heretical doctrine of the outlawed Preceptors. Bishop Icarus Krant, was mortified by the accusations and instead leveled some of his own in return, claiming that certain (unspecified) nobles were engaged in unholy practices, possibly Gjarti or worse, Manja.
Colvor City: These days the name Colvor City is something of a misnomer. During the Second Republic it was a thriving seaport through which foodstuffs could be exported around Leminkainen. During the bombardment of 4208, an orbital drop plasma bomb struck the port district; the resulting inferno raised the city to the ground. What little survived was vaguely crescent shaped where the city extended beyond the primary blast. The ocean water rushed into enormous crater that was left in destructions wake. The modern city was rebuilt upon the crescent remains of the old city. The new docks were built out into the sea filled crater, but the city is little more than a large town. Most constructions now are traditional timber frame houses clad with wood or stone, or from scavenged terracite blocks cut from the ruins of the old city. The counts manor is an imposing site, much like the rest of the city it is timber framed, but clad in scavenged terracite that was burned black with the plasma bomb struck.
There are six other small cities in Tansid, all ruled by Hawkwood lords from the Blake family, and all in better condition than Colvor City, but Count Roger, like is fathers before him is steadfastly rebuilding his domain.

Gruvion

South Jyväskylä (Gruvion) is densely forested but the soil is a thin sandy layer over hard rock that grants little purchase to the trees. When rain soaks the ground, a strong wind can easily fell the largest and most top-heavy trees. The serfs of these climes know better than to seek refuge from the weather within a forest, as they are more likely to be crushed by a falling tree than gain sanctuary from the downpour. The forested areas a densely packed with fallen tree trunks and smashed wood, creepers and vines thread through underbrush making travel by foot very difficult. Combined with the poor light from Leminkainen’s sun and the preponderance of wet weather in the southern subtropics Gruvion can be a dangerous place to navigate. Despite the region’s seemingly diverse plant life, farming here is a tricky business. What little industry remains here is focused on lumber, or trapping.
The area was the only part of Jyväskylä to have suffered invasions during the last barbarian incursions at the beginning of the Emperor Wars, much of the rural population travelled for days to take refuge in Vaunheim. Only to discover that although they were safe from guns and bombs, a deadly plague spread swiftly between the closely packed people. The sick were so many that their bodies were said to have lined the streets, in a bid to save the city the Countess’s father (Count Anstrak Vinculus) had bodies loaded on to great barges and set alight, for the rocky terrain made mass graves impossible. Over a third of the population died in the years that followed and now much of the region is deserted. The Hawkwoods did eventually expel the invaders, though there are persistent rumors of barbarians and pirates operating in this region to this day.
The small population that remains here does so in relative isolation, most are fearful of outsiders, particularly the Vuldrok who are often demonized or depicted as part man and part beast. The Temple Avesti has made large gains amongst the faithful in recent years, by playing on the fears of the local people, preaching against the unclean nature of aliens and barbarians.
The present ruler of Gruvion is Countess Isobella Vinculus Hawkwood, is Emperor Alexius I’s cousin on his father’s side. Her ancestral keep rests in the city of Vaunheim on the eastern coast of Gruvion looking out towards the island Vree.
Vaunheim: Vaunheim could be considered one of the bastions of technology to survive the pogroms of 4208, despite being a primary target for the attacking noble fleet the city survived completely undamaged, thanks in no small part to a Second Republican tech cache that the ruling noble (then Count Artimus Vinculus Hawkwood) had access to. As a result the city has a reputation for being unassailable and capable of projecting a shield large enough to encompass the whole city.
Today the city population is much diminished; many fled back to the rural settlements the barbarians had driven them from when the plague took hold in the mid 4960s. Whole districts stand empty, although the Countess is keen to encourage new settlers to her domain. She has recently appointed two Barons to otherwise lordless fiefs within her domain, both were second sons of off-world Hawkwood lords, both from Ravenna and both distant relatives.

Grikkor

Located in the planet’s northern hemisphere, Grikkor was originally controlled by Agricorp Interstellar and derives its name from the now extinct corporation. A small and dispersed population of hardy farmers scrabble a subsistence living from the arid land. Grikkor has so far escaped the wild weather patterns and tectonic instability of neighboring Jyväskylä. Despite its luck in this regard, Grikkor has gained a dark reputation for having more husk plagues than any other place in Hawkwood space. Grikkor’s southern regions are mostly difficult to farm and largely unpopulated except by hardy forest nomads and genetic monstrosities. Despite this, the planet’s most fertile area is in South Grikkor’s Mikkelshire Region, a place renowned for its unique plant growth. Situated in a wide river flood plain, the region produces a fantastic quantity of red wheat and the planet’s specialty: enormous vegetables. The region has drawn the Inquisition’s attention because of stories about Changed humans and other Second Republic monstrosities stalking the land.
The majority of the continent’s population lives along the northern coast, in rural enclaves or in the domed city of Sardan. These northern, “polar” climes are somewhat cooler than the planet at large and receive rain on a regular basis. The region was once covered with glaciers, and is now a rugged territory of river valleys, fjords and steep moraines. Glacial ice still covers much of the region, and boulders the size of houses sit incongruously in the middle of open grassy plains. Hardy grasses and various lichens and mosses cling tenaciously to almost every surface.
The region is mostly peaceful and hospitable, though it has had increasing troubles with bandits and barbarian raiders who live in the foggy cliffs. Many of these barbarians do not consider themselves bound by the Teldor Treaty and have taken to openly attacking farming villages. Even given the continent’s many troubles, it remains a politically cohesive state under its ruler, Duke Redoran Blake Hawkwood.
Dyrak: The continent’s capital, Dyrak sits on the edge of an extinct inland sea and appears to be an unimportant city of maxicrete jutting from the continent’s otherwise abandoned southern region. Despite appearances, the city maintains a grim vitality. The inner city remains functional, but is not a place to elevate one’s soul. Technologically advanced in some ways (the city has an airport, but no spaceport), Dyrak was originally an Agricorp center. It is still a site for advanced food production, producing everything from advanced hydroponics and hyper-intensive factory farming to self-perpetuating foodstuffs. Despite this productivity, transportation difficulties, corruption and barbarian raids prevent the city from effectively feeding the entire planet.
The city is built in a radial pattern around the ducal palace and the royal concourse. The palace is a Second Republic terracite structure (originally Agricorp’s corporate headquarters), and shares the royal concourse with the city’s cathedral and the central agora. The agora was once an opulent structure, but its richest fixtures were sold to service its debt. The Merchant League is strong here and includes a criminal element with suspected Scraver backing. Around the royal concourse are hundreds of abandoned office buildings and maxicrete factories. Many of the latter are still functional, though their windowless facades give little indication to their function.
Sardan: This pleasure resort on Grikkor’s northern coast is either an oasis paradise or a pit of sin and iniquity, depending on to whom you listen. Shielded from the elements under great blue poly-shielded domes built with scavenged Second Republic technology, the resort is for the super-wealthy of any planet. Indeed, the city allows guests from any background, as long as they are willing to pay. The operation has been a major source of income for the continent, handsomely rewarding its investors. Here one is likely to meet extravagant dilettantes from any house, League deans, successful criminals, archbishops, barbarian chieftains and—if you believe the gossip—undercover agents from the Li Halan Jingcha, the Imperial Eye or the Decados Jakovian Agency. With such interested parties, it is little wonder the city has successfully resisted Inquisitorial efforts to terminate its operations.

Valdalla

Ceded to the barbarian invaders by the Teldor Treaty (4965), Valldalla is an ever-shifting alliance of rival barbarian thanes. Owing nominal allegiance to House Hawkwood in accordance with the Teldor Treaty, Valdalla has taken on some civilized Hawkwood aspects, but its citizens remain barbarians and pagans nonetheless. Many of the Vuldrok here are Gjartins, though their practice apparently varies somewhat from the native variety on other continents. Those who follow this path espouse a philosophy of personal enlightenment that is at variance with the Universal Church.
Trade and cultural exchange is limited, but does exist. The Valdalla barbarians follow a variety of religious practices, including a variation of Gjarti, Vuldrok Paganism, and in some few places even Urth Orthodoxy. The Universal Church has been quick to send missionaries to the halls of the leading thanes in the hope of gaining some foothold over the barbarians. Although Valdalla is considered a barbarian territory, many of the people who live there and toil in the fields are the same ones who toiled under Hawkwood masters only a few short generations ago. The Vuldrok have primarily displaced the nobility with their own crude aristocracy.
Although the Teldor Treaty proscribes barbarian military activity beyond the Valdalla border, this has not stopped them from violating the treaty’s tenets in the past. The barbarians are fractious and prone to rebellion within their own ranks. Some claim no particular interest in honoring past treaties; the Valdalla barbarians occasionally sally forth on wars against their neighbors, specifically the Cortran Barony and the Isalight Fiefdom. In both cases the Thane of Valdalla, Thorium Ukrops has made accusations that Valdalla had been attacked first.
The only part of Valdala not under the domain of barbarians is the small southern fief of Cortran. Once the whole continent was a fiefdom ruled by various branches of the Cortran Hawkwoods, now all that remains is a single barony, though largely protected by the Shimir Peaks mountain range that separate it from the larger Valdalla.

Isalight

The Duchy of Isalight was until 5004 an independent kingdom ruled by House Vasalayana. While the house is largely honorable and a nominal Hawkwood ally, its independent nature lead it its former ruler King Vaclav II, to make some ill considered choices, not least of which was to attack its patron house. The war was short and brutal, with Vasalayana forces quickly expelled from the neighboring Cortran Barony.  Among the Hawkwood dead was Sir Erasius Henry Hawkwood, a favored nephew of Princess Victoria of Delphi, his body was taken by the Vasalayana. King Varclav II died under mysterious circumstances in 5001, his three sons each made a bid for the throne, with the Hawkwood backed Sasha emerging from the power struggle as the new King. He promptly sued for peace with Duchess Catherine.
Eager to renew Hawkwood overt favor, Sasha first action as King was to offer up the body of Sir Erasius. The body however, showed not, as had been maintained, that the knight had fallen in battle, but that instead he had been the victim of torture. This revaluation further enflamed the fragile political situation. Hawkwood knights began arriving from Delphi in “Erasius Brigades” to seek vengeance upon the Isalights, which again plunged the continent into the Second Isalight War. House Vasalayana desperately sued for peace, leading to a political stand off between Duchess Catherine and Princess Victoria, although this situation is little known outside of the Hawkwood courts.
A ceasefire was negotiated in 5003 when Sasha Vasalayana willingly presented himself, bound in chains, before Princess Victoria to “answer for his father’s crimes”. In the months that followed the terms of surrender were negotiated, though Sasha was permitted to return to his fief he did not do so as King. Instead, an arranged political marriage saw him forced to take a low station Hawkwood lady as his wife (Lady Rebecca Langford Hawkwood), and accept the title of “Duke of Isalight” sworn to Princess Victoria. In addition House Vasalayana were forced to pay a staggering restitution to the family of Sir Erasius Henry Hawkwood and an area of north western Isalight was given over as Hawkwood fief to guard against any future Vasalayana misdeeds.

Mazor

Mazor is a small and, for Leminkainen, relatively peaceful place. Miraculously resisting the earlier barbarian invasions, the jungle island now exists in a state of fearful vigilance. Its ruling noble, the Marchioness Latera al-Malik, maintains an orderly court from her hillside mansion. The court has garnered a reputation for its high art and civilized ways, attracting artisans, poets and scholars from a dozen worlds. Unfortunately her wealth has also attracted pirates and other brigands; only a powerful automated defense system has maintained the island’s independence.
The estates of Mazor once belonged to the now almost extinct House Usher, its last remaining descendents now rule but a single small province on the islands southern coast. Many claim that the minor house is plagued by madness that has steadily consumed the family line over the centuries.

Kriel

Kriel is the traditional home of House Dextrite. How this house, more appropriate to Decados space, has survived all these years on Leminkainen is as much a testament to the house’s roach-like ability to adapt and survive at any cost. The Dextrite have garnered wealth and privilege by selling their admittedly superior medical skills to House Hawkwood and the Engineers. Even a few Amaltheans have turned a blind eye to their atrocities in return for their advanced healing technology.
For the past 200 years Kriel has had an infamous reputation as a penal colony for violent criminals from throughout Hawkwood space. Few spare any pity for these offenders and fewer still see any sign of them again. Although the penal colony (Drexhavel) occupies only a small portion of the island, the lords of House Dextrite have done nothing to dissuade the common misapprehension that the entirety of Kriel is a massive prison.
House Dextrite was until 5007 a vassal of the minor House Masseri, however with that House’s fall from grace, the Dextrite was swift to rise, devouring its former master from within and taking over their fiefs on Cadavus. House Dextrite now owes its allegiance directly to House Decados, a situation that makes many Hawkwood lords uncomfortable.
Some suspect that it is little coincidence that strange deformed pirates ply the waters of the surrounding oceans in metal submersible ships. These Changed corsairs launch brutal raids on shipping lanes and vulnerable coastal townships on Mazor, Vree, Isalight, and sometimes further afield before seeming vanishing into the oceans depths.

Tesla

House Hawkwood gave the Supreme Order of Engineers a 100 year lease to Tesla Island in 4965 for unspecified services. In little time the guild constructed a research facility (an austere maxicrete complex) and mined the waters around the island to discourage visitors. The island’s administrator is Master Gridjz Kodak, and the scientific work that he oversees is done so in the utmost secrecy. There are many rumors, including proscribed research into genetics and changed sciences, golem construction and even symbiot research, all of which are baseless in fact.

Vree

Like much of the southern Jyväskylä coast, Vree is catacombed with fjords from the planet’s previous ice ages, now laid bare by the pitiless sun. Great stone arches, numerous caves and subterranean rivers provide ideal hiding places for pirates, escaped serfs, rumors of strange variation of Gjarti is practiced here, that depicts the mother goddess as a fish or mythological part human, part sea creature. The island has a haunted reputation; its few legitimate citizens inhabit three towns along its northern coast and live in fear.

Mog

A small forested island, Mog shares Vree’s craggy coastal appearance, but is ostensibly uninhabited. Used for nuclear testing and bio-weaponry research in past centuries, the island is rife with plague and inhabited by a host of unusually large and voracious insect life forms. There was a Dextrite research lab on the island’s center during the early years after the Fall, but even they have not considered the recovery of its resources (if any) not worth the danger involved in returning to the island. Hawkwood naval vessels pass the island from time to time; access is strictly forbidden.

The Teldor/Imperial Annex Zone

The annex zone consists of the Cordan Island Chain and occupies a strategic position in striking distance of Grikkor, Jyväskylä, Valdalla and the Isalight Fiefdom. The Phoenix Empire maintains a large military supply cache distributed between the three heavily fortified Taggart Forts. The sturdy dome-shaped forts fashioned from maxicrete and pre-fabricated ceramsteel ribbing offers a proven defense against several invaders during the Emperor War. Access in and out of the area is only allowed to those with the appropriate credentials.
Overseen by Master Nostroma Del of Brother Battle, the Annex Zone came under Phoenix Throne control in the wake of the Teldor Treaty. Both Hawkwood and Imperial ships patrol the sea around the annex zone; the militarized zone provides a bulwark against barbarian aggression in case they fail to live up to the terms of the Teldor Treaty.

The Cortran Barony

The Cortran Fiefdoms were ancient Hawkwood territories that once covered almost half of Valdalla. The Cortran Barony is now all that remains of those once extensive estates. Ruled by Baron Antonius Cortran Hawkwood, the barony has always followed a proud martial tradition, and one that bitterly resents the loss of its territories to its barbarian neighbors.
The Barony has long been on a war economy and much of their on going war effort is financed by wealthy donors from amongst the political elite of the Hawkwood family. Relations with the barbarians of Valdalla are hostile as would be expected, but there is a grudging respect for their prowess on the field of battle. The Cortran Hawkwood’s had always regarded Isalight as a potential ally in their struggle, but then to suffer aggression from their flank has brought about a bitter divide between the two fiefdoms.
To the north of the fief lies the Shimir Peaks a high range of mountains that acts as a natural bulwark against the barbarians of the Valdalla, the mountain passes have long been a strategic holding, seeing many battles fought between the two sides. Cortran is a roughly triangular peninsula, bordered on its remaining sides by the Sedat Ocean, the Isalight Channel, and the Angol Sea to the east. The Barony is heavily fortified with great maxicrete blocks placed along its shoreline to prevent the barbarians from making landings with vehicles or heavy armor. Pillboxes are dug in to both the mountain passes and as coastal fortifications, and the Angol Sea has been laid with mines, to prevent barbarian landings.
The Cortran Fiefdoms were established in the aftermath of the 4208 pogrom against Leminkainen and awarded as a duchy to Duke Askarus Cortran Hawkwood, he relocated his family from Delphi and subdivided his holdings between his children and favored advisors. When the barbarian invasions flooded the Known Worlds in 4525, much of the planet fell to the invaders, the Cortran Fiefdoms banded together and fought with unity and tenacity loosing only fringe holdings, but the barbarians came again in 4963 the Cortran were sure of their martial prowess, but their defenses crumbled before the barbarians, one by one each of the Cortran holding were over run until only the barony remained.
Baron Antonius Cortran Hawkwood (born 4967): A man born to a long military tradition who has spent his entire life fighting on the Valdalla border. Though he is the rightful ruler of the barony he seldom has the time to rule and his duties have been assumed by other ‘ranking’ but displaced Cortran Hawkwoods, primary the Duchess Estesia. The Baron leads his men into battle personally but despite several stunning victories has not been able to push the barbarians back for long.
Duchess Estesia Cortran Hawkwood (born 4952): The rightful heiress to the Valdalla throne, the Duchess spends much of her time ruling the barony and overseeing the activities of her displaced court. She often dispatches family members to other Hawkwood worlds to keep the families struggle alive in the minds of the extended family and she encourages others to funnel resources, weapons, and able-bodied soldiers to the war front. Unlike many of her family she has not been publically critical of the Emperor, or Princess Victoria for not providing greater efforts on her families behalf. Behind closed that is a different matter. Duchess Estesia is playing a dangerous game, supplying stolen Decados weapons to the barbarians, which in turn are used to inflame popular opinion against both the Mantis and the barbarians, perhaps even bringing the Teldor Treaty into question.
Men-at-arms: Almost everything the barony has and produces goes to supporting the war effort. Over 20,000 troops are currently garrisoned in the fortifications on Shimir Peaks and another 10,000 are held in reserve. Most are poorly trained levies equipped with antiquated weapons, but others are knights of the house armed with some of the best technology that firebirds can buy.
Using Baron Antonius Cortran Hawkwood as a Patron: The Baron is always in need of good soldiers, accurate intelligence, people he can trust to perform missions behind enemy lines. He is also keen to identify how the barbarians come to be in possession of a number of high tech weapons that may be of Decados origins. Information he has recently received casts doubt on Decados involvement, but he needs to be sure of his facts and some independent operatives could prove useful at getting to the heart of the matter.
Using Baron Antonius Cortran Hawkwood as an Adversary: The Baron is not a man to be trifled with, he expects no quarter, and would never offer it. His view of the world has become increasingly black and white over the years; either you are with him or against him, and he feels that much of his house and even the Emperor has abandoned him, forsaking Valdalla in return for false peace with the barbarians. If the characters engage with the barbarians on anything approximating friendly terms they will make an enemy of him.

Drexhavel

Drexhavel is what most people think of when they hear the name Kriel though most are ignorant penal fiefs actual name. Overseen by the elusive Count Carsden Hanvel Dextrite, Drexhavel has the distinction of being the most widely feared purgatorium outside of Decados space. Drexhavel is much more that just a prison, it is a place of torture, experimentation, and slavery. It is here that many of the young Dextrite lords are squired in the forbidden lore of their House.
House Hawkwood turns a blind eye to what occurs there simply because it has a vested interest in being able to dispose of violent criminals and political agitators without getting its own hands dirty. For the right price, Drexhavel accepts any prisoner from anywhere, and ensures that they never again see the light of day. As a result, inmates of this horrific place come from all corners of the Known Worlds and the profits from this business have turned House Dextrite’s fortunes as well as allowing them to engage in research that the moral majority would consider distasteful at best, and heretical at worst. It is no coincidence that House Dextrite has a reputation for merciful lore, and as masters of anatomical, and surgical sciences.
Drexhavel is constructed on two levels. Above ground resembles a prisoner-of-war camp, with its long huts fenced in and guarded by high towers, there are also workhouses and charnel houses. This part of the facility is reserved for low risk, non-violent prisoners who are allotted to work gangs and used for slave labor in the production of food, manufacturing, or manual labor for the benefit of their Dextrite masters. In truth there is little difference between the lives of these prisoners and the typical Dextrite serf, except the right to family and offspring. Located below ground, away from prying eyes is a labyrinth of tunnels, that connects to a secure solitary confinement prison just as House Dextrite claims, but there are is also physick laboratories wherein are conducted horrific invasive practices upon selected inmates.
Drexhavel is more than just a prison; it is a great experiment in behavioral control. The lessons learned in the deep laboratories are applied on a wider scale to the House’s serf population to ensure a passive obedience and an inability to rise against their masters and betters. Interestingly, Kriel has almost no freemen population at all, even the term ‘freeman’ is seen as a threat to Dextrite supremacy. By definition, freemen have free will and the right to control their own destinies; this is the greatest threat to the Dextrite way. In the ideal Dextrite society all would be obedient and subservient to the House, behaviorally programmed for absolute loyalty to their masters.
Kriel should be a paradise, a fertile land of temperate weather and plentiful water with which to grow crops. But instead it is viewed with suspicion and fear. It is a place of terrible horrors and monsters that wear the skins of men. If popular myth is to be believed the whole island is a dumping ground for murderers, thieves and rapists. Most maps available of Leminkainen mark the whole island of Kriel as a penal colony; though this is not strictly accurate, the Dextrite lords prefer not to correct this misunderstanding, as it deters unwanted visitors to their lands.
Count Carsden Hanvel Dextrite (born 4981): Count Carsden only recently made his acent to power, after the death of his uncle and elderly mentor, his father, and two older brothers died swiftly on unknown ailments leaving the way open for his ascension. Since then his younger siblings have all met with unfortunate accidents. The Count is a master phsyick, but unlike many other Dextrite lords he does not concern himself with genetic manipulation, or cyber implantation to build his perfect and subordinate population, instead he pursues “the perfect order” through nerve agents, and chemical behavioral modification, his ultimate desire is the creation of willing subjects.
Subject 05769376 “Captain Nemus” (born: 4972): A figure of Leminkainen folklore, the dread pirate Nemus has been the scourge of the high seas for over quarter of a century. His great metal submersible has been inspired fear and awe in equal measure. Nemus is a Dextrite experiment, an attempt to enhance and induce a tactical instinct into a cowardly criminal. The treatment saw him subjected to torture and drug therapies that ravaged his body while pushing his mind to the limit of sanity. To his credit Nemus embraced the changes that his Dextrite masters instilled into him using his enhanced intellect to plan complex raids with a casual disregard for human life. Over the years he has studied naval tactics and specific styles of the prominent naval captains who have been ordered to bring him to justice. Often able to second guess what his quarry is going to do his uncanny foresight has given much fuel to the idea that he has made a deal with the dark powers in return for being undefeatable.
Men-at-arms: Drexhavel has 60 guards that work the above ground facility and as many again who work in the labyrinth below ground. Many of these men were prisoners once themselves, but have been “reformed” sufficiently that they can take up duties, as guards, torturers, and for those few with true potential as physick assistants to their masters. Above ground they are armed with clubs, and a few even have primitive rifles or other assorted weapons. At the lowest levels of the tunnel complex, there the submarine pens are located, the most trusted and “successful” experiments are dispatched on missions to recover valuable cargos, intercept enemy agents, or acquire more subjects of bizarre experiments.
Using Count Carsden Hanvel Dextrite as a Patron: The Count rarely leaves his fief, and when he does so he prefers to travel in secrecy. When beyond Kriel, the Count employees the services of the characters to ensure that his travel plans go uninterrupted, they will serve as advance riders heralding the Count’s immanent arrival, meeting with various shady characters, and performing whatever small tasks he needs done.
Using Count Carsden Hanvel Dextrite as an Adversary: There are great many prisoners in cells under Dexhavel, the characters are given information that someone they need can be found there. Mounting a rescue mission is only half the problem, working out how to get in and get back out again without being captured.

Wildlife of Leminkainen

to be done