by Carteeg Struve & Nael
Population: 128,000 (Hartdar 48%, Human 37%, Half-Dwarf 5%, Gnome 5%, Adlar 3%, Other 2%)
Government: Egalitarian Council
Religions: Nekkarb (Shinare), Mirac (Sirrion), Melik Suud (Reorx), Anphlasaad (Habbakuk)
Languages: Common, Dwarven
Trade: Exotic Dyes, Mineral Wealth, and Trained Engineers
Legions: No formal military
Alignment: NG, LN, N, and NE
Hudiechia (Hoo-deech’-ee-ah) is an egalitarian mixed society of dwarves and humans. The area was settled initially by small groups of allied Midlander and Hartdar dwarves after the Drowning. It is also one of the few places where a large number of half-dwarves are known to reside and live in general peace and acceptance.
Life and Society
Life in the Archenwald, the raised stone platform tiers that make up the city of Rebria are fairly comfortable. The city itself is supported by elegantly crafted stone arches and reinforced stone platform tiers. It is topped with minarets and a multitude of water cisterns that have been constructed to provide the only sophisticated indoor plumbing in all of Adlatum. By Council decree no building on the Archenwald may be built of wood. Instead most buildings are formed from pour stone, a malleable mixture of burnt lime and concrete mortar reinforced with iron rebar. This mixture allows for lightweight building materials that can be shaped into many different forms that are absolutely watertight. Beneath the Archenwald is the Foul Burg, or as it is sometimes called the Undercity. The Undercity is home to the itinerant traders and those trades that cannot be supported in the Archenwald such as the ironmongers and dyers guilds.
Everyone, regardless of race, is a member of a guild. To be a citizen is to be a part of a guild. There are more than 300 acknowledged guilds, each guild has one vote that it casts in order to determine the five members of the Guilded Faction of the ruling council. The other two factions consist of the five members appointed by the Engineers and the five members of the Foresters association. The current Regent of Montegron is Dalys Thal, a half-dwarf who was appointed directly by Montegron to lead overseeing the Council of Fifteen.
Humans and dwarves share the land equally at least in theory, while dwarves seem to make up the majority of the population, humans seem to supply much of the ingenuity that has sparked the dwarves into creating one of the most unique societies of Adlatum.
The religion of Hudiechia reflects the ethics of its residents. Reorx, Nekkarb (Shinare), and Mirac (Sirrion) are revered, as are Anphlasaad (Habbakuk) and Miraphayt (Mishakal). Although the Midland names for the gods are used in Hudiechia, just as often the dwarven names are often used as well.
The government of Hudiechia, as mentioned above, is a council of elected and appointed individuals representing the guilds to which every citizen belongs to, as well as the two largest consortiums made up of those self same guilds. Up until the Council of Fifteen and Lord Montegron made a treaty of non-aggression and trade, the Council ruled the area with little dissent and much mutual benefit to its citizens. After the compact Lord Montegron established the Regent, an individual who would represent Montegron’s interest in the area. The Regent has the ability to veto any council decision, but does not have the authority to instate new policy. He may request that a member of the council present his wishes to the council for consideration however. The current Regent is a half-dwarf by the name of Dalys Thal (NE male half-dwarf noble 7); a self-serving sycophant of Lord Montegron who believes his human heritage makes him superior to his dwarven forefathers.
All citizens living in Hudiechia are considered to be part of the military. There is no official standing army, however a small contingent of the Midland Guard has taken up residence and recruits from the local citizenry. The Regent has lately had several members of the Council ask to have the Midland Guard recognized as an official guild of the city.
Magic and Mysticism
Magic and mysticism are more common in Hudiechia than in most other dwarven lands. It is assumed that the large number of humans present has slowly modified the dwarven mindset. While wizards and sorcerers are rare, Wood Witches and Fire Weavers make up the majority of the divine magic users available outside of the temples. Wood Witches (Plant Mystics), Fire Weavers (Fire Mystics) Stone Brothers (Earth Mystics), Dowsers (Water Mystics) and Wind readers (Air Mystics) are fairly common.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Buraachak: Once a city larger in population than Rebria, Buraachak was destroyed during the Days of Darkness. Almost the entire population was killed protecting themselves from Chaos’ horde, but in the end the platforms and pillars were twisted and smashed and the land cursed. The few survivors found were insane and could tell no cohesive tale of what happened. Those who have since traveled into the ruins during the night and escaped all tell various stories of horror, none consistent with another. The wise avoid the ruins at all cost.
Lonespire: A left over from some forgotten time, Lonespire is a ruined keep located on a treacherous rock outcropping, which might at onetime have had a fortified bridge. Many have tried to scale the cliff walls leading to the tower but none have ever returned. Theologians and historians have noted that the appearance of the tower closely resembles the myths concerning the Bronze Tower of Lesuthiyat (Morgion) located in the Abyss. The Lesuthi clergy are silent on any association between the two locals.
Low Vale: A deep valley located in the north of Hudiechia Forrest. It is said that a great battle during the First War of the Prophet was fought here. It is now a semi-sacred place teaming with oddly fearless wildlife.
The Spill: Located at the western end of Tamerlane Pass, the spill is a series of narrow cutbacks leading down the mountainside. In bad weather entire trade caravans have been know to be washed over the treacherous path as devastating flash floods stream down the trade way.
Tamerlane Pass: A profitable trade way from east to west bringing much needed wood and mineral wealth to the eastern kingdoms and coveted spices and silks to the west. It was recently constructed within the last ten years, granting the southern kingdoms faster access to the opposite side of the Midlands. The pass was Lord Montegron’s idea and its construction was completed ten years ago.
The Wax Forest: An anomaly discovered after the Days of Darkness where an entire potion of the wood seemed to melt under some intense bizarre heat. Over the last few years a strange waxy substance seems to have covered everything. This substance is highly flammable and slightly caustic to the touch, but when processed correctly produces many alchemical substances.
The ancient history of the region known as Hudiechia is vastly unknown by the civilized world of Adlatum. The thick lush forests are sub-tropical in nature with some southern areas beginning to resemble the tropical vegetation of the Vacant Lands. This cuts down on visibility in most places and allows for easy ambush, which many believe is what happened to earlier explorers.
The Thunderhead Mountains to the east and south protected much of the forests in the western half of the land, but what happened to the rumored inhabitants is unknown. It was said a mysterious and territorial race of elves used to live deep within the forests and mountains, but historians have yet to find any definitive proof. The only evidence that the area was once settled is the fact that the language of Hudieran is said to have originated in the region. There are also accounts of battles during the War of the Prophet having been fought there, but many of the specifics of that ancient history were lost with time.
After the Drowning, one large group of tradesmen and artisans sought to escape the wrath of the gods by heading into the previously avoided region. This group of travelers was made up primarily of Midlander humans and Kedaltol Hartdar displaced hundreds of miles from their home, many of whom were not even sure of the survival of the rest of their families and friends. But stuck between known regions of devastation and an unknown land lush with vegetation, clean water, and rocky mineral deposits, the choice for them became obvious.
Throughout the forest and the mountains, relics of a lost civilization were found. In many cases, it did not look like they were lost for very long. But regardless of what was left behind, no complete villages or cities were discovered. They’d marble statue on top of a fountain in the middle of the forest in one spot, and a grandiose archway leading nowhere would be found miles away with nothing but wilderness in between. No roads were found. No farms were found. Just random items that said civilization had been there, and nothing else.
Several historians claim that these items were washed into place from elsewhere during the Drowning, or that other parts of settlements likely built with weaker materials were washed away. However the diaries of a few of initial immigrants said they saw no signs of debris or that the items had been washed into place. One diary had an entry that claimed they found no sign of the Drowning at all. Many historians discount their statements based on the fact that these initial settlers were untrained in what to look for to make such assessments.
Soon the settlers came to realize how dangerous the region was. Wild predators, quick sinking swamp bogs, and poisonous mobile plants began to whittle away at their numbers. Even in the mountains beasts that blended into the surrounding rock feasted from the camp while most slept and others stood watching their surroundings. Using their skills and training, the men and women began constructing massive platforms called the Archenwald, lifting them away from most predators. Traps were set to ensnare many of their would-be killers, and meat and plants were provided to settle their appetites. Many became skilled in not only hunting the creatures in the trees and rocks, but new and innovative ways were developed to fend off the wild and help the town of Rebria prosper. Various tasks were given to groups of individuals who showed promise in their related fields, and the initial guilds were born.
Each guild did not only have the duty to provide the essentials needed for Rebria’s survival, but they were also tasked to come up with new and better ways to provide those same needs. In time wells were discovered in caverns deep under the ground, and wells were constructed through the massive stone pillars supporting the city. Later generations would then come up with methods of using air and pressure to push the water up to higher levels in order to make retrieving the water more accessible. Some plant-based substances that were initially poisonous to the settlers were discovered to become medicines for several illnesses when combined with other mixtures. Simple machines of weights, swings, and pulleys allowed people to have easy access to the ground while also being able to quickly pull up ramps and stairs to seal off hungry wildlife. Methods of grinding and disposing of waste were also refined over the years.
The centuries passed, and the population grew with new settlements were founded elsewhere in Hudiechia. For centuries the only major settlements were Rebria, Fort Donnacadh, and Buraachak, but many other smaller towns sprouted up in time. Still, contact with the nations outside of Hudiechia was kept to a minimum. The Drowning was a sign that the gods cursed rest of Adlatum, and that the key to a good life was by remaining in Hudiechia and letting the ways of the cursed land alone.
Rebria continued to grow in population, but the ground beneath wouldn’t take additional weight from move pillars holding up more of the city. Most of the wildlife had learned to keep distant from the city, so many of the underprivileged had begun to build homes on the ground underneath the platform high above them. The Undercity, or Foul Burg, was born. Eventually, the Undercity began to make a living for itself and several guilds found that operating on the ground made things must more convenient. With enough protections around the city, most thought the older threat from their environment was all but gone.
The Days of Darkness changed much for Hudiechia, if not during the horrors but after. As the hordes flew out of the Path over the other side of the mountains, much of the wildlife became twisted and perverted by Chaos’ touch. Shadows in the forest became hungry for marrow and life itself. Other creatures bore into men’s minds and drained them of their ability to think and apply their skills, rending them useless in the eyes of others and themselves. During the struggles, many people were torn apart or maimed beyond recognition. The greatest damage to the nation wasn’t realized until after the Starfall, when the entire city of Buraachak was found destroyed. The city platform had collapsed and all of the pillars impossibly twisted and ruined. Not all were dead, but all of the so-called survivors had been driven insane. Up to this day, Buraachak is left alone as a place where Chaos took root and make it His own. The stories of those who venture into the ruins at night vary wildly, but always those who make it out refuse to go back.
Buraachak took with it over half of the nation’s population, and the loss of many other isolated villages and towns depleted the population even further. The creatures roaming the forests, mountain passes, and caves did not all revert back to normal “safer” predators after the Starfall either. The land truly became even more dangerous than it was to the initial settlers almost four centuries earlier. The ruling Council came to the conclusion they needed help.
A small body of travelers was sent out into the Cursed Lands (what the Hudiechian’s called the rest of Adlatum) to search for a foreign body strong enough to establish diplomatic and trade ties to. They say the rising power of Lord Montegron, and the Council agreed that he would be the one to pull Adlatum out of its accursed state brought on by the Drowning.
Lord Montegron was initially shocked by the arrival of the representatives from Hudiechia. When planning on unifying the Midlands, he had discounted the commonly thought haunted region as too dangerous a place to risk sending anyone into. But now he had its civilized people begging for assistance.
And so he gave it.
In return for his assistance, and help from the nearby Midland Sovereignties, he would assign a Regent to be his representative in Hudiechia’s Council of Fifteen. No decision of the Council would be allowed without the Regent’s permission. As a check to power the Regent would not be allowed to propose or enforce policy, but he would be given the right to call a member of the Council to hear his suggestions. It would then be up to the called member to present the suggestion or not. Eager to join the growing superpower of the Midlands, the Council agreed.
Montegron’s forces found Hudiechia to be a much tougher land to assist than was first thought upon signing the agreement. The wildlife was found to be untamable and almost at times unbeatable. Several members of the Midland Guard lost their lives or simply vanished as Rebria and other settlements scrambled to rebuild and improve their defenses. In time the city was refortified, and many of the Midland Guardsmen who transferred out of Hudiechia said the land was the harshest training ground they had ever seen. One guardsman who was lost for over a year told his superiors “It was if the Days of Darkness never ended.”
Upon such reports, Montegron decided that those people who had the potential and willingness would be sent to Hudiechia to train. The casualty rates for this training is known to be exceedingly high, but those who survive are often on the fast track to promotion (or even assigned to dark ops).
To further assist the people in rebuilding their economy, Montegron ordered the construction of a road cutting through the impassable mountain range in the east, leading to the cities and towns in western Tashramada who were loyal to the Sovereignties. Many gnomes risked moving to Hudiechia to learn of their laws and legal structure, as no record of that nation’s events had been known for hundreds of years (a great tragedy by gnomish standards).
For the last twelve years, Dalys Thal has been Montegron’s selection for Regent. Although Hudiechia has a measurable number of half-dwarves within its population, Thal has adopted several of the prejudices of the outside world. Specifically he believes that his human blood makes him superior to his dwarven kin, but he is also suffers a mild depression over the fact his blood is tainted by his dwarven heritage. This has made Thal a pain to deal with in the opinion of many of the Council, but others have come to realize that when Thal speaks for Montegron, regardless of the spirit of the initial treaty, Montegron’s will is made reality. And lately, Montegron has wanted the hard working populace of Hudiechia to produce devices and equipment for the upcoming war with the Tashrama. This puts many people in confusion in how to handle many of the political and economic decisions. Most do not want to be pulled into a war that most feel do not involve them, but yet the assistance of Sovereignties and especially the Midland Guard has given the nation a second chance.
- Adlar dwarves from the east have begun preaching The Path and are seeking converts in Rebria. Some of the more fanatical have taken to wearing red robes and inciting small riots.
- Montegron has requested that a large number of siege engines be constructed and sent to his forces along with teams of trained sappers. He is also pushing, via the Regent, for the Council of Fifteen to recognize the Midland Guard as an official guild.
- Caravans traveling between settlements have begun disappearing in the middle of the forest regions. Scouts in the area claim to have seen creatures during the night resembling mutated centaurs with the upper body and heads of insects.
There are no large settlements other than Fort Donnacadh and the capital Rebria, although the growing Tumask is beginning to be considered as one. Most settlements are itinerant or semi-permanent mining and logging camps, or small Fortified Clan Holds.
Fort Donnacadh (Small City, 10,000): Also known as the Large Fortified Clan Hold called by residents, Fort Donn began as little more than a small hill fort built to protect the small farms of the region from hostile invasion. Since then it has grown into a relatively large Fortified Clan Hold. Fort Donn is also home to the largest concentration of half-dwarves in the region, Dalys Thal. The Regent was born in Fort Donn.
Rebria (Metropolis, 28,545): The first major settlement of Hudiechia, it was constructed in the years following the Drowning in efforts for the initial settlers to escape the predators of the forest. Made up of raised stone platform tiers called the Archenwald along with the poorer Foul Burg beneath, the city is an engineering marvel in the middle of a dark forest filled with violent creatures and natural traps. The Midland Guard has one of its elite training facilities located here.
Tumask (Small City, 5,013): Instead of being fully supported by pillars, the platforms of growing city of Tumask project outward from the mountainside of the Thunderhead ridge. By reshaping the rock face, Tumask has limited the number of passages leading into and out of that side of the city while insuring access into the mines buried deep underground in the mountains.