Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gazeteer of The Wasted Lands: Hyperborea

I hope to get a world map together soon to present, but for now, let's just work out the realms of the Wasted Lands.

Hyperborea
Situated to the northwest of the Great Continent lies the vast realm of Hyperborea. Hyperborea is a cold, gray, unforgiving land where it is dark for six months out of the year, and dimly daylight the other six months. The clouds rarely lift in Hyperborea, and the cold wind that sweeps through the rocky hills and mountains strikes all who journey there like a thousand daggers. This land is home to a race of men as hard and unforgiving as the land over which they stride.

It should be noted that dwarves and humans share the realm of Hyperborea, the men striding the surface lands and the dwarves roaming the underworld, but the two species intermingle freely, and all refer to themselves as a single race: Hyperboreans. The inhabitants of this realm place cultural pride above matters of simple biology.

The Hyperboreans are a hardy, warrior race. They measure the whole of their worth on conquest, honor, and victory in battle. More a loose confederation of tribes than a true kingdom or nation, the Hyperboreans constantly war amongst themselves, but will set aside all differences to band together against any perceived threat from the outside. In such situations, the Hyperboreans are ruled by a tribal council known as the Thing. The Thing is made up of the chieftains of each individual tribe, and the member with the most prestigious record and spotless honor acts as the overall lord, setting the tone and strategy of the war until the threat is vanquished--which in Hyperborean terms generally means obliteration.

Certainly the greatest threats faced by the Hyperboreans are the humanoid races. Orcs, goblins, kobolds, and gnolls swarm the lands of Hyperborea, a constant scourge on the Hyperboreans. It is rumored that high the dark mountains there live evil dragons who play the parts of gods, accepting sacrifices in return for guarding the land.

Along the southern borders of Hyperborea are scattered villages of Hobbits. Aside from occasionally harassing the Hobbits for grain and vegetables, the Hyperboreans generally leave the Hobbits alone. The reasons for this are twofold: first, the Hyperboreans recognize the importance of having such expert farmers with which to conduct reasonable trade, and second, nobody wants a confrontation with the Elves that no doubt guard the Hobbit-shires.

The Gods of Hyperborea
The gods of Hyperborea are a proto-Norse pantheon; most have analogies in Supplement IV.

Wotan: The one-eyed father of the gods. Known as the Far Hunter, Old One-Eye, and All-Father. Wotan is a warrior born, but is also known for his pranks and cons. It is said he possesses a strange form of magic based upon the writing of magical sigils and glyphs, and with this magic he can know, see, or do nearly anything. Wotan is a paradoxical schemer who seems caught between honor and chaos. His plans and schemes may be laid out for centuries in advance. There are whispers that the scheming and chaotic aspects of Wotan stem from his relationship to his wife, Freyja, who may or may not be the same being as the Khemite goddess Isis.

Donar: Wotan's favored son, the god of thunder, lighting, and storms. His great achievements surround the defeat of mighty dragons with his thunder and lightning hammer. Donar is fond of food, drink, and fighting. He never turns his back on a friend or foe and expects the same respect in return. The best way to earn Donar's favor is to stand toe-to-toe with him and hope he likes you.

Lodurr: The trickster. There's very little that is certain when dealing with Lodurr; it is said he appeals more to Elves than to Dwarves or Men, and he is considered the patron of goblins and orcs. He is the father of beasts and dark gods, among these the three-headed wolf Fenrir, and the hag, Hel, who rules the underworld. Lodurr is said to be a giant in his true form, and may pre-date the gods--he may even be one of the thousand Masks of Nyarlathotep. He is known to be a shape-shifter and to foment chaos and destruction wherever he goes, just for fun. For all of that, Lodurr is not necessarily evil; he is fickle and often acts in an evil manner, but is just as likely to engage in selfless and protective acts.

Baldr: The god of light and beauty, he holds sway for those six months of the year when it is never dark in Hyperborea, and those rare days when the sun comes out, any aggression and violence stops that the people might engage in hedonistic rites to honor Baldr's presence.

Heimdalr: The polar opposite of Lodurr, Heimdalr is the god of wisdom, law, order, and guardianship. It is him that the Hyperboreans tribute when they act with honor and directness. It is believed that at the end of days, he and Lodurr will slay one another. Most of Heimdalr's priests are Neutral in alignment, as they seek to always preserve the balance between good and evil.

Hel: The goddess who holds sway over the underworld, Niflheim. She delights in the torture and punishment of those who die in dishonor, and can often be found trying to tempt men from the path of righteousness into darkness. She is the patron of betrayers, murderers, and renegades. Her true form is that of a hideous hag, but being the daughter of Lodurr, she has the ability to change her shape, and sometimes appears as an alluring, irresistible young seductress.

Freyja: The wife of Wotan, Freyja is the goddess of love, fertility, marriage, and magic. The mother to all the gods (and lover to more than a few), she has a feathered cloak that allows her to fly and to change shape, and is the keeper of the Draupnir, the great rings of fortune which she passes on to those who capture her favor. Freyja, though patron of marriage, has been known to engage in indiscretions with other gods and mortals, and while she holds a deep reverence for life and the natural order, all too often acts in as fickle a fashion as the wild energies she commands. Some believe that Freyja is the same figure as the Khemite goddess, Isis, or that Freyja is a magically created duplicate of this forebear. A wild-eyed and adventurous goddess, Freyja also holds some sway over war, battle and death, receiving those warriors who die honorably in the Great Mead Hall where they will fight and feast for eternity. Freyja is attended by the fearsome Valkyrie warriors, immortal women who are ferocious berserk fighters and ride steeds who run on the air itself.

Freyjr: The twin brother of Freyja, Freyjr is the god of agriculture, weather, fertility and animal husbandry. A generally peaceful deity who is one with the land and all living things, Freyjr is revered by the Hobbits of the Southern Shire on the borderlands of Hyperborea.

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