Nations of the Worlds:
The Cloud Peak:
SpoilerThe Cloud Peak Mountains: Much smaller than the Dwarf Wall which divides the western coast from the rest of the continent, the Cloud Peak mountains are the tallest mountains in Masor. The land is rough and its most valuable resources, those metals found within, are controlled by the dwarves which dwell beneath its surface. Aboveground the region is a land inhabited by giants, trolls, and even dragons. Scattered human settlements dot the valleys of the great mountains, founded by peasants fleeing their overlords in the east or taken as slave stock by the dragons inhabiting the mountain peaks.
Races of the Cloud Peak Mountains:
Dwarves: The main humanoid inhabitants of the Cloud Peak Mountains. They lack a centralized government, instead living in various fortress-cities which are autonomous. The dwarves of the Cloud Peaks also organize themselves into extensive clan systems, built by marriage and birth. A dwarf’s first loyalty is to clan, not city and these clans stretch throughout the entire range. With the exception of specific clans the dwarves show little interest in the outside world.
Humans: Though the surface is dominated by giants and trolls some human settlements do exist in the mountains of the Cloud Peaks. Many of these settlements were founded by Kothian peasants fleeing the terrors of their forest for the alien terrors of the Cloud Peaks, or by humans brought as slave and cattle for draconic overlords.
Goliaths: Scattered goliath tribes live on some the middle range peaks of the Cloud Peaks. They worship the spirits of the region and the god Kavaki. The goliaths live in loose tribes doing their best to avoid the more dangerous races of the mountain. They do not always succeed and many tribes are enslaved by giants or dragons.
• Clan Bolverk: Specializing since ancient times in the construction of magical goods, and in the use of magical arts some would call “dark” or “black” magic. Clan Bolverk works with these arts and often their loyalty to the dwarven people is questioned, but in times of danger they stand firm alongside their brethren wielding magic that other dwarves would forbid themselves.
• Clan Biflindi: Traditionally followers of Hadur, the dwarven god of war, Clan Biflindi have an honorable tradition of the front line warriors of the Cloud Peaks. A perpetually small clan due to their losses in war, Biflindi has a strong tradition of courage and integrity. Biflindi have close relations with humans on both Alli’ur and Masor, allying themselves with those they see as standing by the cause of justice.
•Clan Golđađr: The master smiths of the Cloud Peaks, clan Golđađr is known for the quality of their metal and stonework; many of the most powerful items enchanted by Clan Bolverk require base materials of such detailed and precise craftsmanship that the enchanter-clan cannot make them and must instead buy such items from clan Golđađr. Golđađr is a wealthy clan, and its merchants are well known and trusted throughout the Cloud Peaks. Even dragons have been known to trade with them fairly less they risk that no further artisans of such quality come near them again.
•Clan Tuladr: Like Clan Biflindi, Tuladr follows Hadur the god of war and fights along the front lines. The two clans have had a long history of kinship, and tend to stick together. The important dividing line is their stance on outsiders. Where Biflindi supports humans and others that they deem as “just” or “noble”, clan Tuladr promotes isolationism, withdrawing from interaction with other races and focusing on defending the dwarven homesteads and only the dwarves.
•Clan Galvariđ: Clan Galvariđ turns from the dwarven reliance upon stone and steel and instead looks towards potential allies in the form of the animals and magical beasts of their mountain homes. Galvariđ is one of the oldest clans, its history stretching back into the roots of the dwarven past, but its members are known for undwarf-like behavior spending too much time above ground and away from civilization.
•Clan Duvarđr: Clan Duvarđr is said to be the oldest clan in the Cloud Peaks. It is the clan of miners, and architects of the dwarven cities and held in high esteem by the dwarven people. Clan Duvarđr has little connection with humanoids, but are amongst the dwarves who work most closely with stone giants which are sometimes hired to aid in mining.
Monstrous Cultures of the Cloud Peaks:
• Orcs: The orcs of the Cloud Peaks are a rarity. Worshippers of Conand, the god of the orcs, they fled to the Cloud Peaks when their neighbors on Alli’ur fell to the Hallowed Empire’s forces. This transplanted species found their small numbers too few to carve out a place in the Cloud Peaks and they were beaten back by the dwarves and goblins, and enslaved by giant and dragons.
• Goblins: The goblins of the Cloud Peaks can be divided into the tunnel dwelling mountain goblins native to the Cloud Peaks and the forest dwelling goblins which have immigrated from Mirrith and Morrit. The mountain goblins have all but died out, driven from their homes by the dwarves, on the surface they have mostly bred into the forest goblins altering the culture slightly from that of the forest goblins of Mirrith; leading to a mixture of worship of the goblinoid pantheon and the beast spirits commonly worshipped in Mirrith. On some of the snowcapped peaks a third type of goblins exists, the descendants of mountain goblins who were forced out of their homes long ago.
• Giants: Giants populate the surface of the Cloud Peaks. Powerful mountain giants slumber in deep sleep that has lasted decades or centuries only occasionally stirring as hunger drives them. Hill giants roam the lower valleys, degenerate descendants of the mountain giants which still slumber within. Higher up, but well beneath the snow line, live the stone giants. These giants sometimes trade with the dwarves either serving as mercenaries or labor in exchange for dwarven goods. Once you reach the snow line, though, you reach the domain of the frost giants who perform sweeping raids down the mountains gathering slaves from those foolish enough to roam on the surface. Above even the frost giants dwell the cloud and storm giants, but few venture to these peaks.
• Trolls: More dangerous in the valleys and mid-reaches of the mountains than even the hill giants, the trolls prowl the mountains and the tunnels beneath them looking for food, and slaves. They are the sworn foes of the dwarves who have grown to hate trolls and kill them on sight; even those poor souls unfortunate enough to have trollish blood fall prey to this unrelenting hatred.
• Ogres: Found in the tunnels beneath the surface and scattered throughout as second-class citizens amongst the giant tribes. Ogres are enemies to the dwarves, brutish and selfish subsisting primarily by raiding.
Monsters of the Cloud Peaks:
- Mountain Spirits:
Cultural Feats of the Cloud Peaks:
SpoilerArts of the Bolverk:
You have been trained in the magical arts of the Clan Bolverk, learning to eek out the full potential of magic items in your possession.
Prerequisites: Member of Clan Bolverk, Arcane Caster Level 3+, Spellcraft 6 ranks, Wis 13+.
Benefits: All magic items used by you, including both worn items and use activated items, have their caster levels increased by 2 (this cannot raise an item's CL to above 20 unless its CL is already above 20 or your character level is above 20).
In addition Use Magic Device is always a class skill for you and you may use Wisdom instead of Charisma for the purposes of Use Magic Device.
Craft of the Golđađr:
You have learned the crafting skills of the legendary Golđađr craftsmen.
Prerequisites: Member of Clan Golđađr, Skill Focus (Craft any one), Craft (any one) 6 ranks.
Benefits: When crafting you double the result of all Craft checks for determining the rate at which you complete work, or how much money you make during a given week. In addition you may lower the DC of any Craft check to create an object by 10 (this reduces the speed at which you complete it but greatly increases the intricacy of things you can make).
Craft is always a class skill for you.
Battle Arts of the Tuladr:
You have learned the combat styles of the Tuladr which aids you in bringing down larger foes.
Prerequisites: BAB +2, Power Attack, Str 15+, Con 15+
Benefits: Whenever you take a -2 or more to your attack roll to power attack you gain +1 to melee attack rolls for 1 round. If you take a -5 or greater penalty to your attack roll from power attack you instead gain a +3 bonus to melee attack rolls for 1 round.
Whenever you Power Attack a giant, you deal additional damage equal to the penalty you took to your attack rolls for Power Attack. This bonus is not from Power Attack and is therefore not multiplied with Leap Attack, Frenzied Berserker, or for wielding a two-handed weapon, conversely it technically applies to light weapons.
Faith of the Biflindi:
Following Hadur's example you fight bravely and boldly for the dwarven people learning to combine pure martial prowess with the strength that your faith gives you.
Prerequisites: Aura of Courage, 1 or more Stone Dragon maneuver, Member of Clan Biflindi.
Benefits: You add your initiator level to your paladin level to determine your effective level for Lay on Hands and Turn Undead if you have that ability, this may not increase your effective level for either ability to greater than your Character Level. In addition you count Paladin levels at full for the purposes of determining your Initiator Level.
While in a Stone Dragon stance you may use Constitution for Divine Grace and Lay on Hands instead of Charisma.
Growing alongside the animals of the mountain from a young age, dwarves of Clan Galvariđ learn early on how to deal with both wild and trained animals.
Prerequisites: Member of Clan Galvariđ, Survival 3 ranks, Handle Animal 5 ranks.
Benefits: You gain Galvariđ Empathy with a bonus equal to your character level plus your Charisma modifier. This functions as Wild Empathy, except that it only works when dealing with animals, magical beasts, or aberrations with Int 1 or 2, and which occur naturally in a subterranean or mountainous environment. Like with Wild Empathy you suffer a -4 to checks dealing with Magical Beasts and Aberrations. If you already have Wild Empathy you also gain a +2 synergy bonus to Wild Empathy checks.
In addition the time needed to rear a wild animal that is native to the mountains or underground is halved, and the time required to teach an animal a trick (or train it for a general purpose) is halved if the animal was raised by a member of Clan Galvariđ.
Duvarđr Engineering Training
You have been trained in your clans techniques for building mines and the great underground structures of the dwarves.
Prerequisites: Member of clan Duvarđr, Stonecunning, Profession (Miner) 5 ranks.
Benefits: The range of your Stonecunning increases by 10-ft and the racial bonus from it also increases by +2.
You gain a +2 bonus to Profession (Miner) and Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering) checks. In addition both skills are always class skills for you.
Prestice Classes of the Cloud Peaks:
The Gnomish Lands of Nelpino:
SpoilerSouth of the Hallowed Empire, touching upon the Sea of Doves, is the gnomish realm of Nelpino (marked Gnomes on the Alli'ur map). This region is hot and dry, a land of salt and stone and brush-grass. Too hot for most crop plants, at least not without more water, the area is mostly barren except near the rare rivers connecting the marshlands to the east to the sea. Nelpino itself is a small ridge, rising up from the sea to the west and the lower marshlands to the east, a row of rocky hills which seem almost lifeless at first glance. The region is best divided into four. The eastern border, where rains are heavier and the hills give way to marshland, the rivers, where nutrients wash in from the east along with a steady flow of water forming bands of verdant life, the coast to the west where the sea provides its bounty, and the majority of the country, rocky hills where life is hard.
It is these hills which belong to the gnomes. While they dwell throughout the country, and build their largest settlements at the western and eastern edges or along the rivers, it is the hills where most of the gnomes live if only because the proliferation of life at these places extends scant miles at best and the vast majority of the land is relatively barren. Despite this the gnomes have a relatively good life, able to live unmolested by the outside world. That is not to say Nelpino is free of monsters, but between their illusions and less magical means of hiding their homes the gnomes are relatively safe from these terrors, though few gnomes would travel alone overnight. In fact a gnome who knows how he is going can travel the country without ever sleeping outside, going from friendly homestead to friendly homestead. The most common travelers are traveling bards who know how to use their illusions and magic to the best of their ability to avoid monsters. The oldest homesteads have ancient illusions placed covering their entrances, placed upon them in years passed by such traveling bards. While it is possible to find such wards with simple spells to detect magic, the gnomes have learned how to overcome such methods and developed specialized spells to hide the auras of illusion magic.
Nelpino is singularly rich in diamonds, a fact attributed in myths to it being blessed by Flidais or even the goddess’s birthplace. The gnomes trade these diamonds to the coast elves and the Hallowed Empire in exchange for goods, and in large part a steady stream of imported food, as such the diet in Nelpino contains many imported foods. The relationship is not all good between Nelpino and the Hallowed Empire; as the Hallowed Empire expanded the orcish hordes fled before them and that meant that four hundred years ago the orcs reached Nelpino. It was a time of darkness in Nelpino, the orcs rooting out gnomish homesteads to loot, plunder, and use for their own. The gnomes managed to fight off these dregs of the orcish hordes, but many of the gnomish elders still remember these days and blame the Hallowed Empire’s carelessness for the Three Months of Flame.
The gnomes of Nelpino fiercely defend their independence from other nations, always making sure not to become reliant on foreign powers. Even, though, they import large amounts of their food, every homestead has extensive tunnels beneath it for the purposes of fungus farming growing a rather bland mushroom known as nelfearo (loosely translated it means “staple”). This mushroom has great cultural importance, replacing the wheat in Daire’s holy symbols within the country and serves as a daily foodstuff and the basis of their heavy ales. The gnomes of Nelpino perhaps can trace their distrust to other humanoid species to their long time neighbors, the orcish hordes which once ruled much of the land north of them, and with which there was little love lost. The lizardfolk to the east do little to improve matters, as every few decades they invade gnomish settlements in the verdant regions to the east or beside the rivers. Masor’s kingdom of Morth has traditionally had little to do with the gnomes of Nelpino, meanwhile the isle of Shadowcleft often raids Nelpino’s coast looking for bodies to place into eternal slavery only furthering their distrust of the big folk. Toyama takes an isolationist approach to the gnomes and they are happy to keep to themselves.
In the southern reaches the gnomes are more outgoing when dealing with other humanoids, and hide their homes less thoroughly. Not only did they traditionally have less dealing with the orcs to the north, they have allies to the west and east in the form of the coast elves and high orcs of Alli’ur. These combine to make them friendlier to outsiders. They also have the nation of Jorri’une to deal with instead of Shadowcleft and Morth, a country inhabited by a variety of humanoid races and which is quite happy to trade food and other supplies for Nelpino’s diamonds.
Religion in Nelpino: The gnomes of Nelpino worship the traditional gnomish gods, Lugh receiving praise as the patriarch of the gods. Daire the Giver, acting as he does as the god of their primary food staple and patron of the celebrations all the more necessary to keep the thinly spread community cohesive, and Flindais the Light in the Gem, patron goddess of Nelpino’s diamonds, take the second and third role and it is said that Nelpino is specially blessed by both gods. Fand the Beautiful, goddess of the water, is regulated to a more minor role, as the powerful ocean spirit, Crossopterygi, which dwells in the sea to the west has long since taken Nelpino into his personal protection. Nuada, also, is regulated to a more minor role, as the importance of adventure is downplayed; even so he takes the special role of patron of the Hearthwanderers. Urdlen, the gnomish god of destruction, is especially reviled in Nelpino, and cast in the role of enemy of Flindais whose gems he hates.
Outside of the core gnomish pantheon there are still other gods who are important. Aidoneus as the god of commerce and husband of Flindais is important to the gnomes of Nelpino due to his role in their dealings with other countries which while not a true necessity goes quite far towards improving their lives. Volturnus is well pleased with the gnomes of Nelpino, as throughout the barrens of the country every household holds a shrine to him in hopes of sustaining his favor and a steady supply of spring water. Hadur, though, is strangely unfavored his position of primary gnomish war god usurped by Camellus of the Fey Court who is favored by their coast elf allies.
Religion doesn’t dominate the lives of the Nelpinonian gnomes. The gods are remembered and prayed to, but it is considered each gnome’s personal duty and not something for others to interfere with. Priests do exist, and are respected for their devotion to the community in their roles as healers and intercessors with the gods. The priests of Daire are especially important due to their role in orchestrating the Gnome Meet.
The Hearthwanderers: A number of travelers, usually bards and illusionists, the hearthwanderers move from homestead to homestead ensuring that the illusory wards, and those spells which hide the auras of these spells are also strongly active. The Hearthwanderers also act as the main news service in the country, bringing information from across the region. Few Hearthwanderers stay anywhere for long, instead staying only for a day or two at any cluster of homes. Hearthwanderers bring tales of the dangers they faced as well, and warnings about the dangers that brew within or bordering Nelpino.
The Gnome Meet: The greatest festival in Nelpino, the Gnome Meet occurs only once every six years during the Year With No Star and lasts for three weeks in the month of Huskarl, celebrating the survival of the worst of winter and the coming spring. Free to eat what remains of their stored food with the promise that a new fungus crop will be ready for the harvest when it’s done, gnomes gather from across the country to the mountain of Flindaisastir which is situated in its center. In addition to three weeks of celebration, the Gnome Meet also serves as a time for deciding new laws, ruling judgment on feuds, and deciding if a certain path needs to be followed by Nelpino as a whole. So for the twenty-one days of the Gnome Meet cases are judged, and the course of the country is debated, and for twenty-one nights there is a series of feasts, contests, and celebration.
Contests range from sparring matches with padded weapons, poetry competitions, and even recitals of gnomish myths that can easily take all night to listen to. Of the contests, though, none is more respected than that to determine the Phantasmographist Extraordinaire. This contests challenges those in attendance to create illusions which are more beautiful than life, more enthralling, and more perfectly crafted, yet still such that even the gnomish audience cannot disbelieve their truth. It is not a test of illusory power, so much as skill and craftsmanship, and the contest often ranges for the full 21 nights. On the last night of the Gnome Meet the Phantasmographist Extraordinaire is crowned, awarded recognition for his skill and excellence. It is said that, many thousands of years ago when the gnomes of Nelpino still had kings, this was a contest by which the king was crowned and even in this modern age the Phantasmographist Extraordinaire’s position is one of universal respect throughout the nation and even amongst gnomes throughout the Three Worlds.
The Gnome Meet is also the place where young gnomes go to seek a spouse. Living in scattered and usually interrelated homesteads, gnomes of Nelpino have few choices for spouse amongst their own homestead, so instead eligible gnomes go to the Gnome Meet to try and court their future spouse. This serves the secondary purpose of linking distant homesteads and forming an alliance of blood throughout the country. It is for this purpose that it is common to see the holy symbol of Deiopea, and small charms to call her favor worn by many gnomes attending the Gnome Meet.