Fist in the North
To the Players
In the world of Oroth, PCs begin as “regular” people. Depending upon their will and ingenuity they will face and overcome challenges. As they achieve success over these challenges, they will rise above the “chaff of humanity,” to become just a little more “special” than their former peers. Much like those in modern times who accomplish great things, these PCs will be revered, hated, or ignored depending upon their deeds, reputation, and with whom they interact.
This is not to say they are not “special” from the start. The spark is there and the potential for greatness lies within each of them. It all depends upon the decisions they make in life. Faced with challenge, do they step up or lay down?
The world itself:
We’ll all be starting among the environs of the Free City of Fist.
(At the page bottom is a Fistian citizen’s view of the known world.)
The city of Fist was first a small fortress. Nicknamed ‘The Fist,’ for its squat, original design, this fortress guarded the mouth of the Thorbal River. Over time, the fortress was replaced by a keep, then a castle, until its current state as a citadel. Built on an island between the two branches of the river that empty into Vormal Bay, the city has spread onto each mainland bank, encompassing the many, smaller fishing villages that grew up in the protective shadow of the fortress. Each village retains its own governance, but is counted as a vassal of Fist. These villages have even popped up on the nearby islands of Vormal Bay.
Counting nearly 75,000 citizens among the city, villages, and islands, this is not a small outpost, but a large and influential metropolis. It is one of the major cities of the northern continent. Background professions for the PCs families are nearly limitless in possibility, non-human PCs included. We’ll discuss backstories during character creation.
On magic use: Legends tell of great magic splitting the land far to the west and of magicians causing the near-ruin of mankind in the time of Lord Mark (see below, Mark’s Keep). On this continent, magic has been in disuse ever since. Now the base citizenry of is inherently afraid of true magic, but amused by sleight of hand trickery (much like our modern times). In real life, we would be truly shocked to see someone lob a fireball, as would the “normal” citizens of Oroth!
For similar reasons, Divine users are as rare as Arcane users. Simply put, the vast majority of priests do not have cleric levels. They are merely devout followers of their god of choice. Consider real life once again: some guy heals a few diseased people then comes back from the dead, so they created a 2000 year old religion around it (no offense intended). Divine magic is potent both in function and reputation.
This lack of magic, both divine and arcane, makes the magic-using PC something special. On the other hand, it marks them out.
Don’t despair! There are users of both types of magic in the world. For example, Lord Reginald of Fist retains among his “cabinet” both Arcane and Divine advisors. Other users around Fist tend towards aloofness or use only secretly or with subtlety.
On magic items: no +5 holy avengers at level 1, sorry! However, ancient creations do survive somewhere in the world. It’s the rare person who seeks out the very things that nearly destroyed the world, so powerful items remain rare at best. But, they are out there, both the items and the seekers.
Non-human entities: elves, halflings, dwarves, and gnomes are all considered “normal” races on Oroth. The average Fistian citizen has seen at least one of each of these in their lifetime, but probably not more than one. There is certainly a racist quality to the locals’ reactions to non-human peoples, so be prepared for that possibility as a player. Legends tell of twisted creatures that used to prey upon the peoples of Oroth, but, much like our own “boogiemen” they live primarily in the imaginations of children now. Still, you don’t find many Fistians wandering the mountains alone and unarmed. Humanity is bad enough news to keep knives sharp.
And here it is, the Fistian commoner’s view of Oroth:
The city of Fist, home to sea- and land-faring tradesmen marks the mouth of the great Thorbal River. The city not only hugs both banks of the great concourse of water, but the heart of the city lies on a raised island that splits the river in two. There are several bridges that lead from the shores into the city proper, but most travel takes place by ferry. The shores of the mainland and island fairly bristle with docks and launch points for the thousands of watercraft of every size that ply the waters.
Atop the highest point of the island rise the high walls of the fortified, royal palace. As the river wends its way into Vormal Bay, so does the slope of the island, rising in the south to the palace walls, then descending through the temple district, into a region of walled enclaves that house the nobility of Fist, and then into the sea. To the south of the citadel lie the homes of the richest tradesmen and south of these the homes of the servants and craftsmen of the island. Both shores are well equipped with high walls that protect the sprawling villages that lie close to shore. Beyond the walls to the northeast and stretching in a great line across the southern horizon lies the great Vorrad mountain chain, both isolating and protecting Fist from the outside world. The river snakes its way down from a great lake found on a plateau high among the peaks directly south of the city. To the Southwest lie several thousand acres of relatively flat farmland beyond the villages of Valois, Larkia, and Cwansit. Beyond this land lies the Vorrad Mountains. To the north of the city is Vormal Bay, a deep, watery cut into the continent. Several small islands sit near Fist, three of the largest holding enough land to sustain villages.
Dominated by humans, Fist is somewhat welcoming to the other races of the land. Elves seldom venture this far north even though the forest elves’ home, the Great Forest, is a relatively short distance away by water. Land travel would require crossing some of the steepest portions of the Vorrads. Other elven lands lie far to the east along the far coast: the island of Chrsah. These elves are also seafaring and are seen in Fist on occasion. Dwarves are uncommon visitors to the city. Some of their mountain homes are nearby with Fist, representing the best opportunity for trade with the outside world. The royal seat for the dwarven Kingdom is quite far away however, deep in the Stuhl Mountains to the northwest. Halflings are scarce at best. Gnomes are very rare.
Nearby the mountain lake to the south lies Mark’s Keep, a mountain fastness named after a legendary human leader. Said to the be the last bastion of humanity in one of the great wars of ancient history, Mark’s Keep is now a trade city. While high in the mountains, it has the luxury of being close to several important things: one of the main entrances to the southern dwarven kingdom, a steep, but short pass to the eastern plains, and Mark’s Lake, a source of fish and gold dust. The Thorbal river spawns in this lake and is navigable from just a few miles south of Mark’s Keep, where wide, stone landings have been constructed, to Fist.
To the far east of Fist, beyond the Vorrads, lies the peninsula of Kinshome and the island Kingdom of Chrsah. The elves and halflings call these areas home, hidden behind the closely guarded Boar Pass Keep found in a steep group of hills that cuts the peninsula off from the mainland.
To the northeast, also beyond the mountains, lie the steppes of Punjal, home to nomadic human tribes. Visitors are discouraged except for approved caravans that travel for the annual meeting of the tribes.
To the south, beyond the Vorrads and Mark’s Keep, lie expansive, temperate plains. Human settlers dominated this region long ago in the past and now it is a quietly pastoral region. Further to the south and claiming dominion over the plains is the human kingdom of Geralium. The eponymously named capital city lies against the southern coastline of the continent. An uneasy, trade-based truce stands between Geralium and other settlements and races of the continent. A rigid society, all citizens are raised not only by their parents, but also a government-sponsored “Aunt” or “Uncle” that is responsible for educating the children.
To the west of Fist, past a narrow, nearly impassable section of the Vorrads lies the Great Forest, home of the forest elves. Humans call their capital city “Siril” as the elven name is beyond the tongue of man. Relationships between the elves of the forest and the surrounding humans are stable, but rocky at times. Not much else is known as visitors are discouraged.
Beyond the Great Forest can be found the city-state of Morkond. Bordered on the north by the dwarves’ Stuhl Mountains, the east by the Great Forest, and the south by Geralium this city survives through diplomacy and trade, much like Fist. As a source of many strange elements and crafts (e.g. their steel comes out of the forge with a dark bluish color), little else is known about Morkond in Fist other than the singular hill it sits atop in the middle of plainslands.
Beyond Morkond lie the Wastelands, a broken land of rocks, peaks, crevasses, and little rain. Its desert-like conditions make travel prohibitively difficult. Legends speak of kingdoms and peoples inhabiting this land until a great, magical cataclysm destroyed them ages ago. It is said the Morkondians delve the Wastelands for rare tradegoods.
Far to the north, beyond the bay and sea, lie the icy islands of Vanaheim. Very rarely do southron men travel there. On more rare occasions does the sea ice make foot travel possible. In the past, inhabitants of Vanaheim would surge south over the frozen seas for plunder only to return north with the warming weather.
Far to the south, beyond Geralium and the sea lies another continent of which little is known other than the men are of dark complexion and sail oddly angular ships. Trade relations are limited to the city of Geralium.