The Free Lands
Table of Contents
- Population: 13 million
- Surface area: ca 1,462,600 square km
- Capital: Cairlinn Tor
The Free Lands in the name for the collection of tribes who live on about one third of the continent of Theuma. The inhabitants are called Freelanders.
In the Empire known as Nemeria. Inhabitants are called Nemerians.
The Free Lands historically began on Theuma, established by alenti who refused to live in the Empire and wanted a different life. The alenti left Alentum together, but their opinions pulled them apart after the war against theumites was won. Though the Freelanders also see the war was necessary, they do not agree with the Empire on anything else.
- 1 – The Covenant of the Tribes is signed in the circle of Cairlinn Tor. The first King is Ragath from Tribe Lugen.
- 68 – Official ties with the theumites living in the Free Lands are established.
- 102 – The first society, the Society of Casters is established.
- 376 – The negotations about the borders between the Free Lands and the Empire fall apart, war begins.
- 843 – King Namira offends the god Zer-Nim, who unleashes a plague on Kingland. More than half of the inhabitants die.
- 1011 – God Nal-Mat curses a squad of Imperial soldiers who desecrate a holy place of their, and those soldiers become the first wulvers. Wulverism spreads both in the Empire and the Free Lands.
- 1176 – The King’s light theumite advisor Abarza dies in suspicous circumstances duering their trip from their home source to Cairlinn Tor. The king orders that those responsible be found, but the perpetrator’s identity remains secret.
- 1298 – Strongland is conquered by Imperial soldiers.
- 1315 – Strongland is freed from Imperial occupation and king Velder orders all war prisoners to be executed.
- 1392 – Rumors of dead alenti walking spread in the Empire.
- 1433 - Zer-Nim unleashes a plague in the Empire, which kills most of the inhabitants of Katam.
- 1598 – The united tribal navy sails over the Great Lake to conquer Rhaentium but it forced to retreat when hit by great storms.
- 1617 – The Fortress of Mist Pass is attacked to claim the pass for the Free Lands. After three months of siege with no success king Satha gives the order to retreat.
- 1629 – Rumors of bloodsucking creatures spread in the Empire, they are called lagars. Due to the Empire’s tough laws many of them travel to the Free Lands.
- 1790 – Cliffland is attacked by an Imperial draugr mage. Before Cliffland’s tribes are able to react, Imperial soldiers stop the mage’s troops. All the soldiers who followed the mage are executed.
- 1907 – A natural disaster in the north end of Redland breaks off a part of the continent, creating four new islands. The members of Tribe Ilvoed who lived in those areas die in the disaster.
- 2076 – An Imperial legion which has attacked Cliffland repeatedly disappears one day without any explanation.
- 2195 – Freelander spies return from the Empire with the knowledge of the printing press. While the technology is expensive, more important texts and songs begin to be printed and sold.
- 2563 – King Irvald creates the Codex, the first written record of Freelander law.
- 2614 – There are unexplained storms all over the Free Lands. Thousands lose their homes, hundreds die. The same happens in the Empire.
- 2839 – The tribal army conquers more than half of the Empire county Renek.
- 2841 – The Empire retakes Renek.
- 2845 - Signing of the peace treaty. War between the Empire and the Free Lands comes to an official close. Negotiations establish the border zone and its legal exceptions, including tax benefits.
- 2846 - The inhabitants of both countries start to settle the border zone, creating many new settlements. The first caravans are established.
- 2847 - Religious negotiations between the Synod and the Freelander priests culminate in an edict allowing the worship of all gods in both countries.
- 2848 - A large conflict between Leontites and Freelanders in the border city of Telit. The border guard enter the city to resolve the situation. A couple of tense months follow and the participants are fined.
- 2849 - The Emperor creates a new palace guard unit consisting exclusively of Freelanders. The king’s brother is one of the first to join.
- 2850 - Archaeologists from the University of Rhaentium find various theumite artefacts at dig sites in the borderlands. Diplomatic negotiations for their ownership begin. 2851 - Current year.
- 2717 - 2729: Faen, of Tribe Magar. One of the youngest kings, only 25 when he succeded in the trials.
- 2729 - 2744: Mekel, of Tribe Darais.
- 2744 - 2757: Balden, of Tribe Kerr.
- 2757 - 2765: Temmir, of Tribe Areun.
- 2765 - 2782: Vognar, of Tribe Xenit.
- 2782 - 2795: Erim, of Tribe Lofn.
- 2795 - 2814: Lerde, of Tribe Azen.
- 2814 - 2830: Rigan, of Tribe Brig. Was a chronicler before becoming king.
- 2830- 2841: Zelia, of Tribe Kathen. Had a very good relationship with theumites and thanks to her theumites currently help the apeiron miners on Howl Islands.
- 2842 - praeguseni: Alix, of Tribe Turahan. Brought peace with the Empire.
The Free Lands consists of fourteen lands. None of the lands belong entirely to one tribe, but the tribe holding the capital of the tribe usually has authority over the land. There are two exceptions: Kingland and Borderland. Borderland was created after the end of the war, it includes an area of 10-25 kilometers’ width that is next to the Empire.
- Kingland (capital Cairlinn Tor) – The center of the Free Lands, the living place of the king and the Tribeless.
- Borderland – The Free Land part of the border zone. Consists of a strip of land taken from all bordering lands by the order of the king and the Landsmeet. Unlike the other lands, Borderland has no capital or ruling tribe. In Borderland the legal exceptions agreed upon by both sides are in effect.
- Edgeland (capital Kasal)* - One of the bordering lands. The fire theumite source Ureth is situated here. Edgeland is important because of its historical apeiron deposits. Thought most of the deposits on the continent are empty, successful mining is going on Howl Islands.
- Strongland (capital Piska)* - One of the bordering lands. Strongland is one of the lands most hit by the war and the warlike Tribe Norak lives in its western parts.
- Cliffland (capital Ommel)* - One of the bordering lands. The earth theumite source Lilir is situated here.
- Mistland (capital Storra)* - :One of the bordering lands._ Mistland has usually been safe from Imperial attacks due to the Sky Mountains on its western border. Mistland is also known for its persistent mists that often stay even during the days.
- Braveland (capital Dermen)* - One of the bordering lands. The Hunger Islands also belong to Braveland, and Tribe Helet has always guarded them. Though a bordering land, Braveland is protected by the Sky Mountains which separate it from the Empire.
- Woodland (capital Ragald) – This land is nearly wholly covered by forest. The living place of the gods, the Deep of the Worlds is situated here.
- Plentyland (capital Hetse) – Named for its bountiful land, Plentyland boasts the finest fields in the Free Lands.
- Valleyland (capital Erendi) – Valleyland is divided between two bigger tribes, Brig and Turahan. In the large Oldwood grow the strongest of the trees in the Free Lands and their wood is known all over the continent. The shadow theumite source Primin is situated there as well.
- Redland (capital Jugad) – The biggest of the Free Lands. The air theumite source Shiale is situated on one of the East Watch islands. The water theumite source Lenal is situated on the bottom of the Red Bay. Redland is also known for its sailors.
- Windland (capital Vinte) – Windland is known for its chaotic weather. The light theumite source Droat is situated here.
- Dawnland (capital Arling) – Many smaller tribes live in Dawnland and it is known as a good place for hunting in the Free Lands. Especially many hunters come to the Claw Islands.
- Duskland (capital Ithen) – Duskland is one of the richest lands, for it is situated in a strategically beneficial place and has many opportunities for trade with the other lands. Duskland tribes have always gotten along well with the other tribes, even as they compete with one another. As an exception the capital Ithen is usually under the influence of most of those tribes.
Other points of interest
- Aren - A village on the southernmost point of the land border, with bustling trade. Both caravans and ships come there.
- Claw Islands – Here live large fanged predators, who are hunted by more headstrong Freelanders. Capturing one of them is a great honor.
- Deep of the World – the deepest point of the continent, at the end of which live the gods and their servants. Those who go there, never return.
- Deepwood – A thick evergreen forest Woodland has been named for.
- Eastwatch – This archipelago is the easternmost point of the Free Lands. The air theumite source Shiale is situated here on a hidden island. The locals of the Eastwatch are the best sailors and fishers in the Free Lands.
- Fast River – A fast-flowing river that courses through three lands and two capitals: Storra in Mistland, Ommel in Cliffland and starts from Braveland.
- Four Elders – These islands were a part of the continent a thousand years ago, but were divided from it by a large earthquake.
- Howl Islands – These cold and windy islands would be abandoned if they did not hold valuable apeiron deposits that are mined with the help of theumites.
- Hunger Islands – The most dangerous criminals in the Free Lands are imprisoned on these islands. Here are sent those who have broken the law and for whom death is deemed too good. There are many legends about these islands, but the only visitors are the ships that bring new prisoners there.
- Great River – The river that connects the Great Lake to the open sea. The river can carry ships, but one must go against the flow to the west. The Freelanders have attacked the Empire many times through the river, but without success so far.
- Great Lake – The name of the inner sea in the middle of the continent.
- Leafwood – A large forest of leafy trees.
- Mist Pass – The only place in the Sky Mountains that can be traversed.
- Oldwood – Here are the oldest forests in the Free Lands, where the most pricey wood on the entire continent comes from.
- Sky Mountains – The mountains on the border of the Empire that guard Mistland and Braveland. The only point in the mountains that can be traversed is Mist Pass which has been the site of many attacks from both sides.
- Sources – Situated in various places. Fire – Ureth, Water – Lenal, Air – Shiale, Earth – Lilir, Light – Droat, Shadow – Primin.
- Telit - A village on the northern end of the land border, a hub of trade alike to Aren.
- Thickwood – The largest leafy forest of the Free Lands. The earth theumite source Lilir is situated in the west part of it.
- White River – One of the longest rivers on the continent which flows through Plentyland and Valleyland and ends in the Red Bay.
There are many dialects of the Alenti language spoken in the Free Lands, which the inhabitants of the Empire understand as well and vice versa. (Estonian and English mark two of these in the game). The priests and the Tribeless of Kingland use the less common holy tongue. The users of the runic arts use the runes as well.
In the Free Lands a person usually has just the one given name. Family names as such do not exist. Since there are many people with similar or even same names, many have nicknames to separate them from each other. A nickname may be given for a physical attribute or a great deed.
(OG: you may use Scandinavian, Celtic and Germanic names as inspiration but we recommend you modify them a little.)
Childbearing and birth
In the Free Lands the child bearing alenti works as long as they can. Weaker childbearers are looked after by healers. Usually gone gives birth at home, and the closest known healer will be on guard to give help if needed. Most births usually pass easily.
The newborn is immediately proclaimed as the member of the tribe once they have been washed. This proclamation may be made by the other parent or any other witness to the birth. The child is usually named by the parent who bore them.
The close family helps and supports the new parents as well as possible. It is customary to let the parent who bore the child to rest for a time. It is important that the child is safe and looked after. If the parents have no other family, people selected by the clan will take on this role.
Casting of lots
When a child of less than a year of age becomes an orphan, the elders cast lots over them. There are two options – either the child remains the charge of their clan and the elders find them a foster family or the child is taken to Cairlinn Tor to be raised by the Tribeless. In the latter case the tribe gives away the child and the Tribeless take them as one of their own. Such children are no longer spoken of in the tribe and they are not members of the tribe.
The tradition was started as a way to establish a connection to Kingland for all tribes.
The smallest of children are taken care of by those who work in the settlement. Usually those are older relatives. Older children are taken along to work and they are taught early so they can be useful. Children tend to learn what their parents can do, but if another clan member sees the child would be good at their occupation instead, they can take the child or adolescent as a student if the parents agree.
A Freelander is counted as an adult usually at the age of 15-17 when they receive the permanent mark of the tribe. Before this the adults close to the young person and the elders give them several tests. If they jointly agree that the young person has done well, they will be proclaimed an adult.
The ceremony of proclamation is conducted by the chief and as many clan members are present as is possible. After that there is a small party for the family.
Friendship and love
Relationships are important, but a Freelander’s closest person can be either their spouse or their best friend. Usually one finds their future partner by themselves. Usually being or not being with someone is a private thing, and there are many ways to be together, depending on how the people involved like it. Many never look for a partner.
Marriage and family
Any adult may get married, regardless of gender. The proposal is made to the person in question and their family, and there is a custom to bring something to show their skills and what they will offer to their intended. It is common to live together for a time before getting married, and those who wish to get married are traditionally sent on a trip by the elders during which they have to complete different tasks. This trip is meant for the couple to discover if they can be together in hardship and if their marriage is meant to be.
The marriage ceremony is conducted by an elder chosen by the couple, and it is common that the people getting married get a mark to symbolise their marriage. All of this is accompanied by a big party where all locals are welcome.
Usually people get married inside their own tribe, but there are rare cases of people from two different tribes finding love and wishing to marry. First they must decide which of them will leave their own tribe to go to the other. Such couples need to pass the tests of elders from both tribes. If the tests are successful and the couple gets married, the elders will keep an eye on them and may initiate the newcomer into the tribe itself.
Old age, death and funerals
The elderly are respected and most of them taken to be amongst the clan elders. Their work is to give their wisdom on to the younger ones so it will not go unremembered.
Many decide when to die instead of going slowly. For that one goes to the priests of Lir-Neth, who have the right to help the dying on their way. Sometimes when the person is in a very bad shape, the priests are asked to come to them instead.
The deceased is treated with respect and guarded for at least a night to make sure the soul has departed. After that the funeral is held, conducted by the priests of Lir-Neth. The custom is to bury the dead in the forest without any clothing so that they may became a part of the earth. The trees around the resting place are decorated with fabrics that carry the dead person’s name and different holy words. After that there is the wake where people tell stories about the deceased. The place may be visited to remember the deceased, until the forces of nature have taken the last of the messages from the trees. That is a sign that it is time to stop grieving.
The items of the deceased are split according to the wishes of the family. When one speaks of the deceased, their name is not used, instead the speaker will say how they knew them.
Clan and tribe chiefs are buried in a similar manner. Every clan or tribe member is welcome to leave messages for them and at least one of their cohorts will keep vigil over the resting place until the messages are gone.
When the king has departed, their name will be carved in the stone in the middle of Cairlinn Tor. Where the king is exactly buried and what rites are held for them is only known to the Tribeless.
Freelanders mark their tribal affliation or any other deeds with marks. They are usually worn on the arms, but there are some who receive marks on their faces. Usually marks are made with pigments of different colors that last for a long time. Punishment marks are branded instead.
Children and youth wear the tribal mark, but it is made with a pigment that washes off over time. The mark is renewed when needed, until it is time to receive the lasting mark of the adult.
There are many types of marks which mean different things, and it is impolite to ask the meaning of a mark directly. However, if someone is marked for a great dead, it is appropriate that this person’s friends and companions tell others how they received the marks. Usually marks are a private thing not discussed in public.
If someone is made into an outlaw, they will be marked accordingly. If they are meant to be an outlaw for only a certain time, the mark is made on bare skin. If they have committed a crime great enough to be exiled from the tribe for good, their punishment brand is put on their tribal mark.
There are many sorts of celebrations. Each clan and tribe celebrates different important days. These are usually the birthdays of important people, the changes in the seasons and other such days.
Birthdays are celebrated along the wishes of the person, but it is still customary to go wish well even if they have decided not to hold a party.
Greetings and introductions
It is polite to greet upon arrival or when joining a gathering. Greeting in return is also polite, ignoring a person means they are not being welcomed. The host or the person who arrived first is responsible for properly accepting the new arrival.
When introducing oneself, one says their name and possibly their tribe or the society they belong to. The host may ask someone’s origins if they wish to, but too much curiosity is also seen as impolite. When two people are meeting for the first time, a handshake is appropriate and not accepting an offered hand is another insult.
Contact is more common between family and friends. Touching a stranger especially without their permission is quite rude and may earn one injury in return.
An outlaw may not touch anyone.
Romantic contact is meant to be private between two people. Short interactions are usually allowed, but more is seen as rude.
Most people wear a knife at the least. Better weapons are worn by warriors or those going to war. Usually there are not many places where it is rude to arrive with a weapon, but then it must be sheathed or restrained in some other manner. Waving a bared weapon around is usually sign as a sign of the person looking for a fight and rude in the presence of unarmed people. It is also improper to enter a place with a bared weapon.
The others enjoy fairly relaxed treatment. It depends more on the attirude of the particular clan or tribe towards that particular type of other. If a wulver desecrates the holy place of a clan, then no wulver will be welcome at that clan’s living place.
The Free Lands tribes all have different opinions on what is culture.
There are many options for entertainment, they usually include various competitions or tests. Competitions range from usual competitions of strength to storytellign competitions where skalds compete to see who knows more stories. The public’s opinion also matters when winners are chosen.
There are many reasons for a party and all present are welcome, even if they are travelers who arrived the same night. Usually parties are accompanied by good food and proper drinking.
Freelanders use circles of different metals as currency. There are three types of them – copper, silver and gold.
100 coppers = 10 silvers = 1 gold
- 1 gold = 150 staurus
- 1 silver = 15 staurus
- 1 copper = 1.5 staurus
All the circles have been weighed with exact scales by officials tasked with the responsibility and contain same amounts of the metal in question. However, most of inner-tribe trade is done with the barter system where money is not necessary. The cirles are used for trade between the tribes and with the Empire.
Favors for the future are a legitimate article of trade in the barter system. These favors usually mean promising one’s work or help. Fulfilling these favors is a matter of honor but the Codex also has certain punishments for failing to fulfil favors of a certain level. Usually fines (or trials if the nature of the favor is in doubt). Selling favors for money (circles, not goods) is considered unseemly, but it does happen, especially when one is in financial trouble (alike to getting a loan).
After the end of the war the Free Lands and Empire began to trade. The Free Lands export into the Empire various alcohols (especially mead and beer), rare wood and plants. From the Empire they import pigment flowers, cocoa, tobacco, coffee, new types of grain and different luxury goods.
The sale of galdar and mining permits is also a great source of income.
There are no taxes in the Free Lands like there are in the Empire, but each tribe sends yearly tribute to Cairlinn Tor as agreed at the Landsmeet. These tributes are different, both goods and volunteering servants (for a measured amount of time) are sent.
The highest authority in the Free Lands is the king. They live in Cairlinn Tor aided by the Tribeless.
The king has authority to sentence chiefs to death, to call the army and to declare attack on the Empire. The process of becoming king is partly secret, all is known that the candidates must complete certain tests successfully. The tests include going into the caves under the Circle of Cairlinn Tor. If more than one candidate returns from the caves having succeeded, the elders of the Tribeless will choose between them.
The king who has been chosen in such a manner must go to the caves every year and may reign for the next year if they make it out alive. If the king does not come out in a week, the Tribeless will lead the search for a new king. A search means that a message is sent to all directions for all tribes and the candidates have three months’ time to show up.
The only permanent residents of Kingland are the Tribeless. They are descendants of the people that decided to stay and guard Cairlinn Tor when the first king called volunteers from all over the Free Lands.
The Tribeless never leave Kingland. Their tasks are to take care of Cairlinn Tor, to serve the king and to advise them. They also keep chronicles for the Landsmeets and other ceremonies, using their secret language.
The Tribeless keep their blood strong by raising orphans brought to them. There are also cases of the Tribeless accepting those amongst themselves who have claimed to see omens that direct them to come to them. How exactly they decide this, is known only to them.
The Landsmeet is the gathering of all tribal chiefs which is called to Cairlinn Tor every five years. It does not do not to attend, for decisions that affect all tribes are made there. The king may call for a Landsmeet at any other time, but this has happened rarely. Every chief brings at least one tribal elder to advise and the high priests of Ban-Mawr also attend.
Laws are changed and great decisions are made during the Landsmeet. The tributes to Kingland are also discussed. Every tribal chief has a vote no matter the size of their tribe. The chiefs may also make proposals to the king or demand blood money from another chief. What happens at a Landsmeet is generally up to the king and whether they prefer to let the chiefs make suggestions or to direct things themselves.
Judgements are commonly held inside the clan or tribe. There are very few things serious enough to be brought to the king. Despite that, one of the king’s tasks is to judge and give sentences over crimes committed in Kingland.
Tribal and clan government
The clan chief is the leader of the clan. The chief is chosen by the adult members of the clan and leads either until death, someone else being chosen or the elders naming them unfit for the work. The ideal chief is a clever speaker and stands for the interests of their clan. This job is not easy and a failed chief will be deposed swiftly, since any adult clan member may present their own candidacy at the clan meeting held at the beginning of each year. One must give a speech outlining the reasons why they would be a good chief, and if they are better at this than the current chief, the clan may choose them instead.
The chief has authority to sentence to death and to go against the advice of the elders unless all the elders are unanimously against them. The elders are the oldest members of their clan, their number is chosen by them themselves and depends on how many worthy people there are in the tribe. They strive to make decisions for the wellbeing of the clan or tribe, even if it means going against the chief. It is important that both sides are respected, since a weak chief or a weak council of elders is good for no one.
The tribe chief is the leader of the tribe. The chief is selected by the tribal council. The tribal council is made up of all the elders of the clans and comes together at the historical center of the tribe. The tribal council is held every five years or when the tribe chief dies or is held as incapable. Any adult member of the tribe may take the job, but usually the best candidates are those who have led their clans well. The candidates are given various tasks by the elders and completing those tests is a big part of becoming chief.
Six theumites are numbered amongst the king’s advisors, representing the theumite sources of the Free Lands. Their task is to speak to the king in the name of the theumites. The position of these emissaries in Cairlinn Tor is strongly dependent on the king’s attitude and has historically been quite varied.
Power works differently in the Free Lands compared to the Empire. A chief may order his tribe or clan members around or punish them, but if his orders are selfish and stupid and his punishments too severe, it is possible they will not be followed. This goes for the king as well.
The Free Lands have a rich folklore as every clan and tribe has their own legends, passed along throughout generations. Historically stories were told orally, but that changed a few hundred years ago they began to be written down due to the initiative of the Society of Rememberers. Unlike in the Empire, old-Alentum folklore has not been held in high regard and therefore is mostly gone from memory. Interest towards it is seen as strange, but in recent years the Remembers have begun to record all they can about the Empire.
Everyone knows at least a few stories as they have grown up hearing them, but in knowing a story one must also know how to tell it. Those who know stories and how to tell them, are respected.
Many stories also give knowledge about various creatures a traveler might meet on the road.
The Free Lands: 13 million (no more exact figure is known)
- Alenti: 12 200 000 million
- Moroia: 87 000
- Wulvers: 310 000
- Lagars: 71 000
- The Old Blood: 50 000
- Theumites: 800 000
Serviles: none are known
- Military: ca 1 million
- Clergy: 200 000
- Farmers: 7 million
- Artisans: 2 million
- Police/city guard: 400 000
- Others: ca 2.5 million
Lands and capitals:
- Kingland: 484 000, Cairlinn Tor 16 000
- Edgeland: 910 000, Kasal 102 000
- Strongland: 966 000, Piska 74 000
- Cliffland: 832 000, Ommel 67 000
- Mistland: 1 340 000, Storra 89 000
- Braveland: 878 000, Dermen 56 000
- Woodland: 711 000, Ragald 62 000
- Plentyland: 1 258 000 , Hetse 223 000
- Valleyland: 1 360 000, Erendi 219 000
- Redland: 1 044 000, Jugad 176 000
- Windland: 970 000, Vinte 109 000
- Dawnland: 1 298 000, Arling 120 000
Duskland: 1 065 000, Ithen 113 000
- Aren: 54 000
Telit: 36 000
- Bigger tribes: ca 250 000
- Smaller tribes: ca 1000
Faith in the Free Lands is as serious a thing as in the Empire. The gods unite the Freelanders since while the tribes may be different, faith is the same everywhere.
Gods are depicted with animal heads as every god has their own sacred animal. Legends tells the gods live in the Deep of the World, the deepest place on Theuma.
The priests are the representatives of the will of the gods, as are their emissaries in rare cases.
Titles: Guardian of Oaths, Chief of the Free
Symbols: axes, fangs
Domain: chaos, promises, blood, freedom, chiefs, contracts and oaths
Sacred animal: bear
Colors: green, crimson, yellow
Ban-Mawr is the leader of the Freelander gods. When one gives an oath, it is given in Babn-Mawr’s name and the god’s anger will turn on those who break their oaths. Ban-Mawr’s priests are often present for judgements and give their advice. Before the Codex was created, it was the primary task of the priests to remember the laws. Ban-Mawr’s blessing is the binding power of blood oaths.
Titles: Wind of Loss, Edge of Seeing
Symbols: skulls, winds, eye (usually one)
Domain: death, visions, fate, memories
Sacred animal: owl
Colors: dark blue, dark grey, white
Lir-Neths priests guard the dying, the dead and the ancestors. They have also been given limited power to see into the future and to interpret it for others. They are those who call ancestors back on the request of the tribe. Lir-Neth’s blessing is the passage of the dead to the Deep of the World.
Titles: Hidden Knowledge, The Trickster
Symbols: snakes, spirals, dice
Domain: night, shadows, tricks, caves, luck
Sacred animal: raven
Colors: teal, purple, black
Vael-Ser is a different god. All those who are alone and think of their luck pray to Vael-Ser. This god’s priests keep all sorts of secrets and riddles. Vael-Ser’s blessing is the endlessness of possibilities.
Titles: Bringer of Plenty, First of Songs
Symbols: bowls, honeycombs, berries, baskets, rhythmic instruments
Domain: stability, hope, fertility, songs/poetry
Sacred animal: ram
Colors: yellow, brown, light green
Arim-Wol is the god of preservation. Arim-Wol’s priests bring hope and perseverance despite tribes or societies or feuds and heal the world with their song. Arim-Wol’s blessing is the fertility of the earth.
Titles: Ruler of Storms, Lord of the Hunt
Symbols: lightning, bows, arrows
Domain: hunt, fighting, wulvers, rage, storms
Sacred animal: boar
Colors: brown, light red, light blue
Nal-Mat is the god of the hunt and conflicts. Nal-Mat’s priests bless those who are going to war. Nal-Mat’s blessing is rage for the willing.
Titles: Horned Wood Dweller, Last Guardian
Symbols: wild animals, trees, earth
Domain: forests, home, ancestors
Sacred animal: elk
Colors: green, light red, black
Rhen-Apa is the god of forests and other ancient places. The priests of this god take care of the earth’s secrets and often guard the resting places of the ancestors. Rhen-Apa’s blessing is the bounty of forests.
Titles: Doombringer, Flame of Endings
Symbols: flames, insects
Domain: decay, time, destruction, illnesses
Sacred animal: rat
Colors: black, peach, crimson
Zer-Nim is a feared god. Zer-Nim’s priests study diseases and other related phenomena. Zer-Nim’s blessing is ending things so that new things may begin.
Titles: Daysinger, Sender of News
Symbols: winds, sunrises, blowing horns
Domain: day, passion, movement, winds
Sacred animal: rabbit
Colors: light green, grey, brown
God of travelers, messengers and others who move around. Eil-Gann’s priests often travel the lands and bring news and stories. Eil-Gann’s blessing is winds from the right directions.
Heroes and ancestors
Every tribe has ancestors. However, it can happen that a departed elder is so respected and revered that the tribe wants to listen to their wisdom in the future. For that is a custom that Lir-Neth’s priests may ask the ancestor to stay on the tribe’s request. Since the ancestor’s body is still meant for death, their soul departs into one of the tribe’s sacred places to be a voice in the wind. Often there is more than one ancestor in such places. They do not stay forever, but depart when they feel they have given all their wisdom to the tribe.
While all know that the ancestors are in the sacred place, one should not speak or make jokes of them. They are spoken of like the other ancestors, who remain in the tribe’s memory through stories.
There are heroes who earn a place in the tribe’s memory with a legendary deed. They are brought as examples to the youngsters of the tribe and are a source of great pride. Some may choose to make their way according to their historical deeds and to uphold their principles. Such a choice is however quite private and is marked by carrying an item that reminds the bearer of their example.
Becoming a priest
Any adult unmarried alenti can become a priest, with the exception of moroia, lagars and wulvers. For this they must first speak to the priests of their chosen god, who will test them. If they succeed in the tests, they become an initiate. An initiate must serve for at least a year, but usually for two-three years, until they have shown they call fulfil what is expected of them.
The requirements are following:
- Showing the virtue of their god
- Keeping from all secular relationships like marriage and bearing children
- Speaking the truth
- Understanding the wisdom and rules of priesthood
- Physical asceticism and dedication to the spiritual
After this the initiate must complete a test. Nothing more is known about this test that to pass it one must use all their knowledge and skills. If the initiate fails, they are sent away from the temple and never taken as an initiate anywhere. Those who pass are named priest and receive the symbol and power of their god in a secret ceremony. A priest who has served for 30 years is called a high priest. A priest serves until their death. Every priesthood has titles they use amongst themselves. Regular people refer to priests as ‘Revered + their name’.
Every god’s priests have different tasks, but they are all united by their dedication to the gods and the wellbeing of society. An ideal priest inspires people around them and is an example of their god’s virtue. The priest themselves is not holy, except for their symbol.
The priest must follow their god’s example and tenets, or they may lose their powers for a short time or for good for a bigger transgression.
One may pray to whichever god for their blessings. Bringing a small offering to the temple and praying there is seen as more effective. Sometimes the priests may give the person a task to fulfil. It can mean a longer pilgrimage. A task may also be given if a priest feels during confession that the person has acted against the virtue of the particular god, and deserves a chance to make it right. After all aforementioned things priests also bless various items to be given as gifts during celebrations or for favors. After the peace treaty worship of the Imperial gods is also allowed in the Free Lands, but at this point only Leontites living in the Free Lands do it. At this moment they have no official temples.
The Free Lands does not have a permanent military. Most of the population knows how to fight to some degree and the army forms only at the king’s call to attack the Empire. The only professional warriors are the personal troops of clan and tribe chiefs.
The mustered army is organised into bands by clan and tribe. Custom has been that the clan chief names a war chief for the departing band.
The war chiefs follow the king and the war leader appointed by the king. Historically clan war chiefs were expected to follow a war chief appointed by the chief of their tribe, but this has changed during the years as the bands of different clans from the same tribe may fight in different places.
Every tribe has their own fighting tactics and weapons. Some tribes’ bands work better as scouts, others as front line attacker with their war steeds. The Freelanders are generally quite inventive with their attacks and use the tactics they have developed while warring with each other.
The borders are usually guarded by the tribes who live there. After signing the peace treaty, however, the king formed separated border guard units out of volunteers from different tribes.
Anyone not an outlaw has the right to move in the border zone. Despite that most units tend to interrogate whichever wanderers they meet. The border guards also deal with smaller misdemeanors by fining the offenders. These fines go to supply the border guards.
The units work with the Imperial border patrol and there are mixed units that work in areas with mixed populations, like the border villages of Aren and Telit.
The society of the Free Lands is an amalgam of different tribes and societies that live apart, but join together at the king’s call. In the Free Lands all are equal and everybody can aspire to what they want to be.
Unlike the Empire, the Free Lands have no separate noble class.
Tribes and clans
The largest and most important unit of society is the tribe. The tribes are descended from the hundred bands that came east to create a different society than in the Empire. There are about a hundred tribes even now, but only ten are markedly large. The tribes usually live on their own, but join when the king calls. The tribe is led by the tribe chief.
The clan is a small part of the tribe. A clan is usually considered to be a group of people who live in the same place for most of the time. Clans are led by clan chiefs, who also obey the tribe chief. Clans are mostly important inside the tribe, those outside the tribe do not usually pay much attention to them.
Every tribes has their own legends and sacred places, their own traditions and trades. There are very large tribes and very small ones. A tribe exists as long as it can sustain the next generation. In the beginning there were more tribes, since the legendary band leaders did not always agree with their followers, but none have disappeared recently. No new tribes have appeared either. The creation and dissolution of clans is likelier to happen since tribal borders move and some places are left behind to be returned to twenty years later.
The tribes do go to war with one another, but such conflicts are meant to be friendly and to test the troops. There are however tribes who do not speak to one another and avoid one another even in Cairlinn Tor. Such conflict and true war inside a tribe is not allowed, and those who ignore this law, are punished severely. All such conflicts must be forgotten if the king calls for war against the Empire.
10 most important tribes
- Brig - Having long reigned in the south part of Valleyland, Tribe Brig has always been feuding with Tribe Turahan. They compete over who gets to control White River and the trade on it. The current tribe chief is Wolan Nightstalker.
- Turahan – Tribe Turahan has reigned in Valleyland, north of White River. The current king Alix is from this tribe. The current tribe chief is Dager Riverwolf.
- Norak – One of the biggest and more warlike tribes, Norak has always fought the Empire, even when the king has not called for it. This is because they have always lived in Strongland, sharing a border with the Empire. The tribe was also one of the biggest opponents of the peace treaty. Their previous chief fought a trial to stop it, but lost. The current tribe chief is Yaner Capable.
- Helet – Living in Braveland, Tribe Helet has always guarded the Hunger Islands. When the treaty was signed they helped to establish the village of Aren and the tribe has grown richer thanks to trade. The current tribe chief is Teria Brightmind.
- Lofn – Tribe Lofn, the inhabitants of the East Watch, is home to the headquarters of the Seafarers and both tribe and society have enjoyed a good relationship. The tribe also has connections to Tribe Brig whom they trade with for wood from the Oldwood for their ships. The current tribe chief is Mallend Small.
- Areun – Nearly all of this quite small tribe lives in the Sky Mountains, though some of the members trade with Tribe Helet. The current tribe chief is Iser Pathfinder.
- Skara – Tribe Skara has always lived in the north of Edgeland and their representatives played a large part in opening the Howl Islands galdar mines. The current tribe chief is Peran Breezewatcher.
- Xenit – Tribe Xenit in the south of Dawnland is home to the best hunters in the Free Lands. Many of them often go to the Fang Islands to hunt. The tribe offers transport for other interested parties, but do not guarantee their survival. The current tribe chief is Argis Finder.
- Ilvoed – Tribe Ilvoed lived in the northern area of Redland which became four islands after a catastrophe. Even though most of the tribe died, the rest decided to stay and the tribe is now known all over the Free Lands as a symbol of stubbornness. The current tribe chief is Xagha Bluehead.
- Saless – Tribe Saless is known for good relations with theumites. Many theumites traveling the Free Lands tend to end up in the east end of Mistland at the historical centre of the tribe. Legend has it the tribe helped a retinue of theumites centuries ago, and received gratitude remembered to this day. The current tribe chief is Maras Lamefoot.
More tribes: Azen, Darais, Kathen, Kerr, Lugen, Magar
A society is a collection to people with similar interests and knowledge. Just like tribes, there are many societies, those with the most members are given below. Societies have formed over the years and they all have different locations. Each society has their secrets and while they work to benefit the Free Lands, they keep what is theirs close.
Societies also help to keep communication between tribes open. Even if the tribes of two members of the same society are at war, the members may not join the conflict, at least not opposite their fellow society members. For many their society is more important than their tribe. Societies also have their hierarchies and titles which are used in communication between members.
One must join a society on their own. This means finding the closest location of the particular society and requesting to join. Each society gives the person their tests and one must complete these tests to join. Sometimes a very skilled person catches the attention of a society and they are asked to join, but this is rare.
Societies do expel members: those who betray the society or attack a fellow member. It often means a mark of shame from the society. This decision is made by the leader or the council of the society.
The bigger societies
- Casters – The society of the runic arts.
- Wanderers - The society of hunters, foresters and scouts.
- Ragers – The society of berserkers and wulvers.
- Healers – The society of healers and herbalists.
- Rememberers – The society of chronicles, storytellers, researchers and skalds.
- Traders – The society of those who know the value and prices of different goods, many of whom work in the border areas.
- Makers – The society of all sorts of artisans – from smiths to tailors.
- Seafarers – The society of those who go the sea, the best of the Free Lands sailors.
- Empty Hand – The society of those who fight unarmed.
- Brewers – The best beverages in the Free Lands are made by members of the Brewers’ society. They are selective in allowing membership and only accept those who surprise them.
- Feasters – The society of those dedicated to creating the best meals.
- Daring – Only the daring win.
- Foresight – One must think of their actions and see their consequences.
- Ingenuity – A clever thinker survives in every situation.
- Submission – The world is as it is, not all in it can be changed and it must be understood.
- Rage – One defeats their opponents with rage.
- Voice – One must speak for themselves, no one else is likely to do it.
- Ending – Better to end things than to let them lie.
- Action – Nothing is given for inaction.
Others and their treatment
The attitude towards moroia, lagars and wulvers in the Free Lands is different from the attitude in the Empire. There is no enforced registration and usually beings with different conditions are allowed to live whereever they wish. Many of them have also used their powers to fight the Empire.
The Old Blood do not enjoy such a positive attitude as in the Empire, but they are also let to exist as they wish.
Law and punishment
The Free Lands law system was kept by voice for years. Only a few hundred years ago the Codex was created at the order of King Rihen. The Codex was carved into stone in Cairlinn Tor and it has remained more of less unchanged all these years. Each tribe’s elders and Ban-Mawr’s priests keep the written record of the Codex.
There are monthly clan meetings for matters of justice, led by elders. In these meetings crimes are judged, conflicts resolved and sentences given. The elders may ask advice from the ancestors. The sentence for criminal deeds is either a fine or being declared outlaw. Two thirds of the fine is paid to the aggrieved, the final third goes to the judges. One may be made outlaw for a certain amount of time or for good. The outlaw is branded with the shame mark. No one may aid the outlaw or talk to them, and there is no punishment for killing them.
More complex cases or those that involve many tribes who cannot agree, are resolved at the Landsmeet in Cairlinn Tor under the judgement of the king.
Upon confusion about law the elders may consult the ancestors, many of whom remember precedents and old principles of law.
Civil cases are usually settled outside the clan meeting (or the elders declare it so). The solution is a trial – the exact nature of it is agreed on by the people involved or by a third neutral party, usually an elder. If the offense is clearly on one person, the sentence may also be physical punishment.
The trial needs at least three witnesses, one from each side and one neutral witness, usually an elder or a priest of Ban-Mawr. For a more serious conflict the trial may be combat, but it may only be fought to the death if the parties are from different tribes. It is believed that through the trial the gods give victory to the one in the right.
Seeing the punishment through is not the responsibility of the elders or the chief, it is usually given to the family or the clan of the aggrieved. If needed the punishment may be ordered by the tribe chief but that is uncommon.
The king may pardon whoever is sentenced, but most of those cases reach their attention.
The most depraved of criminals, declared traitors by the king, are sent to the Hunger Islands to live.