by Kipper Snifferdoo & Carteeg Struve
Capital: The City
Population: 35,500 (Voda kunda 97%, Other 3%)
Religions: Danbhala (Zivilyn)
Languages: Kundaspeak, Etlarnish, Common.
Trade: Services (readings, séances, etc)
Legions: Volunteer Guard
Alignment: NG, CG, N, CN, CE
Formerly known as the Serpent Valley, and often currently known as the Swamp of the Dead, the Kundamarsh is the ancestral home of the kunda, the kender-blooded race of Adlatum. Originally the Serpent Valley was a lush beautiful land the kunda thrived in, but the Great Wave flooded the valley, killing most of them. After the Hoda tribes left in the parting, the Voda tribe remained. The renamed Kundamarsh became their new home, and the death kunda have spent years learning about the world of the afterlife.
Life and Society
The connection between the mortal world and the spirit world drives the lives of all Voda kunda in the swamp. Although the kunda of the swamp have a cheerful and outgoing personality, their fascination and morbid curiosity of all things related to existence after death lends to others seeing the Voda as creepy and unsettling. The swamp is also covered with animated corpses who are used by the kunda for various minor jobs. The philosophy of the Voda is that since the original inhabitants of the bodies are no longer using them, they are in the free and clear to put the flesh to use. On occasion, some animated bodies are discarded and allowed to roam in the wild.
The Voda live in the ruins of the old kunda city, severely damaged by the Great Wave. Now they live in the worn out buildings and towers that were first constructed centuries ago. They have allowed the swamp to encroached into their walls in order to allow the spirits of those who have “moved on” to feel more comfortable.
Every evening the entire population of the Voda leaves their city and gathers to perform ceremonies honoring the dead. Every year the grandest of ceremonies is held to celebrate the death of loved ones and the loved ones of friends. The kunda ceremonies are said to be both beautiful and eerie, much like the swamp. Chanting and rhythmic music emanate throughout the entire Kundamarsh.
The Voda respect ownership, but they also believe that if something is better needed by another, it should be given. This attitude extends beyond their own property however, and so many believe Voda are thieves when by their view they are simply putting an item to better use for someone who needs it more. Upon death, everything owned by a kunda is distributed to insure their use, including the clothes they died in if salvageable.
Beyond that, they believe in making the most of life, not fearing death, and accepting what comes even while striving to make things better.
The High God Danbhala (Zivilyn) is revered above all others in the eyes of the Voda. They see Danbhala as the gatekeeper and overseer of the Spirit World, and they praise him for the assistant granted to them upon reclaiming the their homeland after its destruction. The shamans in the Kundamarsh are referred to by the honorifics Mama and Papa, depending on their gender. They are seen as the spiritual leaders in the Voda society and seen by most as Danbhala’s favorites and those most closely connected to the Beyond.
According to their faith, Danbhala has a twin sister named Antaeun (Sirrion) who is a harsh mistress who forcibly controls nature. Antaeun is believed to be the god who brought the Drowning to the Serpent Valley, but the Voda have no ill-will towards her or her followers. Like Antaeun, there are a variety of other deities respected by the Voda but not worshipped. Interesting variations in their pantheon include details like the moons not being associated with the three cousins, who they see as gods of power and not magic. They also do not divide the gods between pantheons of light, dark, and twilight. To them, all gods are under Danbhala and on equal footing.
The shamans represent the closest thing the Voda have to an elite class or governmental rule. The people come to the shamans for advice, and the shamans commune with each other or the spirits persisting in this world. The only requirement for one to become a shaman is to be able to focus on their training and dedicate themselves to helping those of this life by using the wisdom of the next. Training requires years of one-on-one study and practice between a single shaman and the tyro (student).
If there is a hierarchy within the ranks of the shamans, the populace doesn’t show much interest. Individual Voda may have their favored shamans to visit and confer with, regardless of where they live in the city. Beyond that, nobody is certain who leads the shamans. According to the shamans asked, they say they leave decisions of the greatest importance to those who have gone beyond first and Danbhala second.
The shamans also never issue orders to the people. The Voda do not subjugate themselves to those who are supposedly in a position of authority. Instead the shamans listen to people’s issues and suggest what would be the best course of action. Even after suggestions are made, there is nothing to enforce their decisions. A suggestion is only a suggestion, even if it is from Danbhala himself.
The kunda who guard the marshlands have elected to do so purely on a volunteer basis, but most who volunteer have a tendency to remain protectors of the marsh for a majority of their lives. Since the early days when a majority of the kunda warriors left during the Parting when the Hoda left, there has not been a great need for protection. The stories of the death kunda and their haunted city in the Kundamarsh have encouraged most invading forces to keep distant.
Magic and Mysticism
Talents of the arcane are rare in the Kundamarsh. Sorcery has been known to happen in very rare circumstances, but wizardry is unheard of. Non-practicing Voda find the talent fascinating, and those who master it often use the talents to assist in understanding the Afterlife and the connection between this world and the next.
Mysticism and clerical magic is more widely available. Prior to the Starfall, the shamans were primarily trained in divine talents, unifying their faith in Danbhala with their dedication to the Spirit World. After the Starfall, mysticism was immediately discovered as a method to take the place of directly using their faith in Danbhala. Their dedication to their High God did not waver, but the shamans took the opportunity to focus on building their own talents. With the Starfall undone, the shamans are now respectfully split in how they practice their art.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Serpent Valley: The valley itself is now a vast lake in the middle of the Kundamarsh. The level of the waters has dropped since the Drowning, but it has not gone down anywhere near as much as the kunda survivors had hoped. Even though the lake has replaced the valley, the Voda pay homage to the memory of what was lost by not changing the name. Parts of the city are still under the dark and haunted waters, but they are often explored by those interested in places of death, which for the Voda is just about everyone.
The Kundamarsh: The swamplands outside of the valley are home to wild beasts that can tolerate the unnatural creatures who also hide within the trees. The swamp is almost perpetually dark under its thick canopy, but even with the haunted presences of undead corpses and spirits, the land has an unsettling beauty not seen anywhere else on Adlatum and Krynn. The Voda believe that even the spirits of the trees and wildlife sometimes remain here, and they treat the region as a holy place. The nomadic Hoda also risk small ventures back into the marsh on extremely rare occasions in order to restock their supply of teonanàcatl, a sacred mushroom used in their Celebration of the Elements.
Shevama: In the marsh is a small village of spirits. It is believed to be populated by those who died in the Drowning. Spirits can be seen moving about their own lives on roads and in buildings that seem just as ghostly as the spirits themselves. No one has been able to fully explore this village however. It has been spotted from a distance through the marsh, but upon approach Shevama fades and vanishes from view, only to be found in another location months to years later. The Voda have long since wished to reach the village but have been unable to. (The phrase “reaching Shevama” is a common expression for the Voda. It refers to one reaching for dreams that will always be beyond reach.) Those who have seen the village claim the spirits do not all appear to be kunda, which is odd for the region. Legends and tales about the village have become numerous in Voda folklore. The Voda believe seeing the village is a sign of good luck. Everyone else, including the Hoda, are certain seeing the village is a foreshadowing of doom.
Within a hundred years from when the kunda first appeared on Adlatum, they had successfully settled the Serpent Valley and made the land their own. They also became prominent enough to be chosen as one of the last races to be given on of the Volumes of the Prophet by the Brotherhood. For thousands of years the kunda lived in the valley in relative peace while exploring the world only during their Terratrek.
In 158 PD, the minotaur sages of the Chôt-tang Empire learned of the powers gained by combining the Volumes together. Legions were sent into the Serpent Valley, but only a handful of a single legion made it out with the tome. Fifty years later, using the power of the combined Volumes of the minotaur and kunda, the Chôt-tang Empire began a massive invasion against its neighbors.
Although most of their efforts were focused westward, the valley and Etlarn were not left alone. Attack force after attack force came to avenge those legions lost during the initial taking of the Volume. The kunda held their borders for thirty years, once even pushing the front back enough to take over a minotaur city, but by 69 PD the Chôt-tang Empire had successfully occupied the kunda homeland.
The occupation did not last. In 34 PD, the kunda warrior Zachar Tressife organized multiple strategic attacks against the minotaurs, damaging their hold on the region. In three years the kunda had successfully ejected the minotaurs from the city, and two years later the kunda had reclaimed the entire valley. Even with the Empire pressing its control further and further west and south, the kunda were able to more than hold their borders for the remainder of the war. In 6 PD, they became the only power to launch an attack against the Chôt-tang capital. The attack was never meant to overthrow those running the war, but instead it was meant to stand as a sign to demoralized troupes throughout the Alliance that the Chôt-tang was not impervious. The assault resulted in the destruction of three city blocks worth of the exterior wall along with four guard towers. The kunda took heavy casualties, but the survivors returned home heroes of the Serpent Valley and the Alliance.
On the eve of what was to be the largest battle of the Canon War, the Drowning struck. Serpent Valley is permanently flooded, resulting in the death of nearly all kunda. Only some those who were either away on Terratrek or fighting in the war were spared. With the Canon War suddenly over with the Chôt-tang’s destruction, the surviving kunda returned home to find their paradise of a home destroyed. Word began to circulate that one of the gods most revered by the kunda was responsible for the Great Wave. Angered by their loss, that god’s name was stricken from every tale passed on through the generations. Today, that god’s name has been forgotten. Even the story of what caused the flood was altered. A story claiming that the goddess Antaeun had unleashed the fury of nature to prevent complacency in their lives was made known, and most kunda today hold by that tale.
In the following years, the lake that replaced the Serpent Valley failed to recede much, and the kunda split into two tribes. One tribe, made up primarily of the spiritually trained, decided to stay in the swamp and marsh that formed around their lost home in order to pay respects to the dead and learn lessons from those who have “gone beyond.” The other tribe no longer felt comfortable in such a place of death. This tribe, made mostly of the warriors, chose to become nomadic. This way they were never had a true home to lose again. The nomads became known as the Hoda (the “Nature Children”) and those who stayed became known as the Voda (the “Spirit Children”). The Hoda tribe eventually split even further, forming multiple smaller tribes throughout the eastern landmass of Adlatum. The Voda remained unified and turned their faith towards Antaeun’s twin brother Danbhala, but their building fascination with death and the afterlife resulted in others (from the Hoda tribes or most other races) keeping distant from them.
As the decades passed the water in the valley lowered, but not by much. The Voda moved into their lost city, but they did not try to revitalize or rebuild. Believing that the rundown ruined state was more comfortable for those who had died, they kept the city as it was, only fixing things up to make sure the city was still livable for the living.
- The Hoda tribes have risked visiting the region more often as of late. It seems the teonanàcatl mushroom is no longer thriving in lands outside of the marsh for unknown reasons. This is resulting in more contact between the Voda and Hoda tribes, which has never been for the better.
- Unlike in other regions, since the Starfall was undone, more and more spirits are appearing in the marsh rather than less. Something in the swamps appears to be drawing those who have passed on.
- Some plants and animals in the swamp are becoming corrupted by tainted spirits. Many Voda have been attacked for unknown reasons and are desperately trying to figure out what is causing the ethereal taint.
The City (Large City 23,168): The kunda have always called their home by what they had known it as: back home, homeland, the Kundamarsh, etc. They have never given a name to the city itself since to them it was always just “home.” The conditions of the city are poor compared to what it used to be before the Drowning, but reasonable maintenance by the Voda make it more than just barely livable. It is now overrun with vegetation and decay from the surrounding marshlands, but back in its heyday, the city was a walled marvel with large structures, towers, and archways of various creative design. Some who had seen it doubted the city was constructed by the kunda, but there has been no prove saying otherwise.
Part of the city is submerged under the water of the Serpent Valley, but the Voda have already fully explored its depths in their research of the ruins. It is believed by all that the city, both above and below the water, is haunted with spirits and animated corpses. Due to the practices of the Voda, this is likely true.