Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gazeteer of the Wasted Lands 3: Fennokarelia

Situated to the northeast of Hyperboria lies the rocky, desolate, gray region of Fennokarelia. The people of Fennokarelia are a hunter-gatherer culture, similar to the Hyperborians, if only slightly less warlike. Where the Hyperborians tend to be stocky and muscular, the Fens tend towards a lankier build, though most still sport well-corded muscles and well-toned bodies.

The primary diet of the Fens is meat from mountain goats, elk, and oxen, fish (particularly in the coastal regions) and hardy grains, some of the few edible plants that can be cultivated in the rocky soil of the land. Seal meat is also a delicacy to Fens, as the animals are found in wide varieties along the Northern Coasts. Like the Hyperborians, they trade with hobbit communities to the south, where farmland is richer and night and day are more likely to be stable cycles.

While the Fens are slightly less warlike than their Hyperborian neighbors, they do field a fierce warrior culture, and do not hesitate to defend their borders. They are known to be excellent craftsmen and artisans and have a rich musical culture. Like Hyperboria, the sky remains dark in Fennokarelia for six months out of the year, and it is said that during these six months, the greatest crafts and music are produced.

Fennokarelia is notable in one major respect: where Hyperborians live and intermingle freely with dwarves, the Fennokarelians intermingle freely with vast elf communities. These elves, it is said, are rarely seen during the half-year of light, but when the sun sets, they are ubiquitous and the coming of the Fey is celebrated with a wild festival throughout Fennokarelia. Elf villages and domiciles spring up seemingly out of nowhere and the fey join their Fen brethren, hunting, spying, and defending the land for six months.

It may seem that the six months of the year when the sinister elves are not present would be an ideal time to invade Fennokarelia, but as nobody knows where the elves are during the six months of day, and nobody knows from whence they come when the sun dips, an invasion of Fennokarelia is a frightening prospect to those who might undertake such an effort (the Hyperborians and Rossikans, in particular).

Legal System, Crime and Punishment
Fennokarelia is ruled by a council of elders and priests, these forming a primitive court system. The Grand Priest (in game terms, the highest level Cleric in the land) oversees this council, which is one of the few bodies where elves can be found year-round, the Fey simply showing up whenever a council is convened. When a crime is committed, the council convenes, hears evidence (hearsay is not only accepted, but encouraged on all sides), and renders a decision. In general, penalty for a crime is expressed in terms of barter value. A murder, for example, does not necessarily result in execution, but in harsh reparation to the family (twenty horses or a dozen oxen might be the decreed price, for example). If such reparation cannot be paid, the convict may end up serving as a slave to the family for a term determined by the council. It should be noted that such slavery can be as punishing to the victims as the convict, as they are required by law to treat such a slave well--humiliation is allowed, permanent injury is not.

Of course, quite often these crimes result in generations-long feuds between families unsatisfied with the penance handed down, and a great deal of blood has been shed over the years as a result of such feuds.

Religious Festivals
There are four main religious festivals celebrated throughout Fennokarelia. The first is Longday, celebrated in the middle of the light season. The second is Longnight, celebrated at the height of the dark season. The third is Hjul, the end of the dark season and the return of the light, and the fourth is Kevat, the coming night.

Each festival is celebrated with feasting, dancing, song and merriment, in the light festivals to celebrate the lifegiving sun, and in the dark festivals to ward off evil spirits by entertaining them and thus convincing them it would be wrong to harm the people of the land in the dark times.

Gods of Fennokarelia
The deities of Fennokarelia are a proto-Finnish pantheon and can be found in Deities and Demigods. As with the proto-Norse and proto-Egyptian pantheons, these deities are NOT intended to be an accurate protrayal of actual Finnish myth, but rather a primitive, prehistoric analogy to the real-world mythology of Finland. Thus, as with all the pantheons herein, liberties have been taken. The author asks not to be "corrected" about errors in the actual myths. This is a fantasy world, not real world mythology.

Ukko, Father of the Gods: Ukko is the god of the sky, thunder and storms, crops, and the land. Ukko appears as a great, bearded man of fierce countenance. Thunderstorms are said to be a manifestation of his anger. In battle, he wields a great, two-handed axe that throws lightning bolts at his enemies.

Ahto, the Water Dwarf: The god of the seas and oceans, Ahto is the patron of sailors and fishermen. When he appears directly, he appears as a green-bearded dwarf. Whenever a sailor or fisherman goes on a trip at sea, land animals are bound and cast to the waves as a sacrifice to Ahto. The larger and more deadly the animal on land, the greater the sacrifice to Ahto, and at one point in history, as the Fen navy prepared to go to war in a great naval battle against Hyperboria, a polar bear was cast to the waves as a sacrifice. Legend says that when Ahto was mortal, he was a great warrior who vowed to live his life in peace after a near-apocalyptic battle. When he broke his vow in vengeance, he fell in combat and was set adrift at sea, where the waters adopted him as their own.

Vellamo: The wife of Ahto, and goddess of the sea, where Ahto's realm is that of the waters of the ocean, Vellamo's domain lies with sea-dwelling creatures. She appears as a stunningly beautiful mermaid, and has absolute power over every creature that swims through the sea. When great sea serpents, dragon turtles and leviathans attack ships, it is said that Vellamo has been displeased. Vellamo is as cold as the ocean depths in which she dwells, showing a warm heart only to her husband. Legend has it that when Vellamo as a mortal lost Ahto, she cast herself into the ocean depths after him, where the merfolk took pity on her. A powerful sorceress, she managed to raise her husband, imbuing him with the essence of the sea, and as her own powers grew, she gained dominance over the creatures therein.

Hiisi: Hiisi is the god of evil, but rarely appears himself, rather preferring to subtly aid his followers through short-lived boons of power. He appears as a huge man, clad in finery with a rough, scarred face. The legends are quiet on the origins of Hiisi, though some believe he is one of the Masks of Nyarlathotep, sent to be the scourge of the Fennish people. Hiisi is the patron of goblins, orcs and trolls.

Ilmater: Also known as Materakka (or sky-mother), the mother goddess who is both wife and daughter of Ukko. Ilmater is the feminine spirit of creation, manifest. As such she has a special fondness for mothers and children, and smiles her favor upon them. Likewise, she visits great vengeance upon those women who abuse or abandon their children. It is said that in life, Ilmater was a miraculous birth, born of Ukko but with no mother. For reasons unknown but possibly related to her strange birth, Ilmater was barren, and spent all of her days in search of a way to have children. As she devoted her entire mortal life, when she mounted the Celestial Stairway she was made the mother of all mortals.

Louhi: The crone of the underworld, she is the consort of Hiisi and patron of evil magic users. She stands in staunch defiance of all that is good and noble, and often sets near-impossible tasks for heroes, just to watch them suffer as they struggle against their fate. She is the mistress of harpies, and her natural form is said to be that of a giant harpy.

Lowyatar: The blind daughter of Tuoni and Tuonetar, Lowyatar is the goddess of pain, disease, torture, and poison. When she appears, she appears as a coldly beautiful woman clad in pallid garments, the color of dead flesh. As a goddess of poison, seduction and betrayal, Lowyatar is revered by assassins everywhere. Yet, as evil as she is, even good clerics call upon her to banish disease, as this is her sole domain. Why she grants the ability to cure diseases is beyond the ken of mortals, but it is said that it has something to do with a lingering sadness from her days as a mortal...

Lowyatar uses the statistics of Loviatar in Deities and Demigods.

Tuonetar and Tuoni: The king and queen of the underworld, and parents of Lowyatar, Tuonetar and Tuoni represent the eternal darkness of death. Tuonetar is the manifestation of the horror that all men fear as death approaches, and Tuoni the harsh guide to the underworld. Clerics of Tuoni are often eager to help those near death reach their final destination, stripping them of all valuables to pay for the service of being euthanized. Tuonetar and Tuoni are also patrons of the undead, soulless creatures that they allow to plague humankind to send more souls their way.

Mielikki: Goddess of the forest and the hunt, she is the patron of hunters and gatherers. Though fickle in her affections, she has a deep reverence for all life, and is often revered by the few hobbit communities in and around Fennokarelia. She appears as a dryad, cloaked in forest green and armed with a short bow and long dagger.

Untamo: The god of sleep and dreams, Untamo's face is never seen, as he is always cloaked, and within his cowl can only be seen the infinite night sky. Untamo is revered by the Fens, as it is during sleep and dreams that inspiration comes, and every great bard of the Fens is said to dream great dreams and be favored of Untamo.

More information, and more deities suitable for use in the Fen pantheon can be found on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_mythology


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