East of The Realm As The Crow Flies

An overview of the lands east of the REALM

Hereafter may be found passages describing the lands to the East of The Realm and such lore and legend as is recorded in the Red Books by the Great Sages of The Realm.

The Eastern Border of The Realm

The Realm is separated from the lands to the east by a great wide river, the Coldspur, whose strong icy current carries melting water down from the glaciers of the Northern Mountains southward to the Shining Seas. There is only one place to cross the Coldspur River, at the Watermen’s Ferry, for the glacier’s water is so cold to fall in it risks death. Here a few hardy bargemen ply their trade ferrying travelers to and from The Realm. At this lonely outpost a strong camp of soldiers 300 strong are posted to keep an eye on the border and their duty is to see that no enemy enters The Realm. All travelers are questioned as to their intent by the watch and if found wanting, turned back whence they came. After crossing the Coldspur River one finds an irregular road built in ages past by the unknown kings of the Bordermen. This flagstone paved road has not been well maintained and they are worn, heaved upward by frosts, or missing entirely. The road winds eastward through the wilderness toward the Keep on the Borderlands and thence beyond to pagan lands and perilous destinations.

North of the Borderlands are the Northern Mountains which are, thankfully for The Realm, impassible, and rumoured to be the home to soul devouring demons. Large glaciers and deep crevasses are a feature of these snow covered spires. The glaciers flow down their sides each summer and are the source of many watercourses in the Borderlands including the Coldspur River. What lies beyond the Northern Mountains? Rumours speak of a great inhospitable desert inhabited by whispering spirits that drain the blood from the bodies of the living.

The Coldspur River never freezes, not even in winter, and has long served as a natural bulwark against foreign invasion due to the difficulty it presents for any army in crossing it. The river is sufficiently wide to prevent the arrows of archers from reaching the far side and deep enough that building a bridge is impossible. In ancient times an Army from the terrible Shadowland of Orkir once tried to pass through the Northern Mountains and glaciers, thereby turning the flank of the Coldspur, and entering The Realm but this effort came to naught and it met a terrible fate, or so it is said. Possibly this is the origin of the Boneshakers, the undead which roam the foothills of the Northern Mountains. These undead always appear in greater numbers annually, with every spring thaw and wander southward in search of the living…

The Borderlands, which lie east of the Coldspur River on one side and south of the Northern Mountains, are a wilderness shaped from time immemorial by the great glaciers which have long since retreated northward to their homes in the Northern Mountains. All this land is deeply scarred, watercourses flowing from the mountains and foothills follow the course of the twisting ravines, ever southward until they reach the Shining Seas. The ridges are either covered with pine forests, or scraped bare to the bones of the rock. Great stones of all sizes pepper the landscape, often many times the height of a man, and were left by the passage of the retreating glaciers. Marshes and bogs may also be found in this wild land and although trails pass through them they are mosquito filled dangers which ensnare the unwary.

In the taverns travelers speak of the Bordermen, a wild race of men, whose descendants still haunt the forests and ravines of the Borderlands. The howling of apes may be heard in the far off ravines and few can say they dared to camp at night in this wilderness. Robbers are also said to haunt the eastern road, they lurk in waiting for careless travelers and traders to waylay.

None living today have seen the fabled lost city of the Bordermen, now a tumbled ruin, which the forest has reclaimed. Its tumbled stones, fallen gods, and stele may yet reveal the ancient secrets of the priests if anyone is brave enough, or foolish enough, to find the lost city.

Were we to return and follow the Coldspur, or the watercourses of the Borderlands, southward to the coast we would find ourselves within a verdant pine forest whose trees are many hundreds of years old. This Great Forest extends to the beaches of the Shining Seas. Here at the great wash of the Coldspur the Town of Waterby has grown up around the anchorage and fortification built by the rulers of The Realm. This port is well guarded for several Ships of The Realm call this their home port and patrol the Shining Seas to protect trade interests. This coastal region is known as the Savage Coast for buccaneers ply their foul trade and prey on unwary merchant vessels.

Waterby itself is divided into two with a stone fortified town and fortress on the Realm side of the Coldspur while the greater part of the town on the wild shore of the Borderlands is built of wood and plaster and protected by a ditch and palisade walls. Wyldesyde is built from timber felled in the great forest. Woodcutters do not linger long at the edge of the forest and always return before nightfall or they don’t return at all. Wyldsyde has a rough reputation as a tough rollicking and sometimes lawless sea town. Wharves line the edges of the town harbour, and merchant warehouses store the goods which arrive here from far away destinations beyond the sea before being shipped overland or by sea to The Realm. Waterby is protected by a garrison of regular soldiers but Wyldesyde is protected by Watchmen and an informally raised militia.

The part of Waterby which is protected by its sturdy stone walls and ditch is known as Stonesyde. It is forbidden to build next to the fortified walls or ditch by the edict of the Castellan of Waterby. Within Stonesyde may be found the rule of law for this is the seat of the Castellan and property within the crowded town is at a premium. Wealthy merchants live here but they do not enjoy the liberties of self government as they do in Wyldesyde.

Ferrymen dodge floes of ice, and anchored vessels, as they take passengers from side to side. Sedan chairs may be hired within Wyldesyde or Stonesyde as donkeys, ponys, and horses are uncommon except as beasts of burden.

The Mayor of Wyldesyde is charged with its daily administration and counting houses collect the taxes and administer regulations. All crimes short of Murder are tried in its civil court. Capital crimes are summarily dealt with by the Castellan of Waterby as empowered by Writ. Prisoners who commit crimes against the state, such as treason, are held pending the bi-annual arrival of the travelling High Court which makes a circuit through the Realm. Although the Castellan of Waterby is empowered by a Writ to try Capital crimes and render summary judgement he will sometimes refer politically loaded cases to the High Court which normally tries these offenses.

The Shining Seas, which bring Waterby its prosperity, and in so far as they have been navigated to the east, are known to sailors as hoodoo seas due to the Driftwind Isles. There are a hundred or more of these floating islands, some of which are of considerable size, which circulate unpredictably in the currents and winds of the Shining Seas and ships lookouts must always be alert for them. They seldom drift as far west as Waterby, unless provoked by some hurricane or gale. Some ships masters, navigators, and sages are rumoured to know how to predict some of their positions. More often incautious sailors find them selves wrecked upon their hostile shores. Fabulous riches may be found upon these islands which are often guarded by monstrous creatures with little use for treasures and an unnatural hunger for manflesh.

The merchants of The Realm who are brave enough to take a long dangerous journey by sea through the Driftwind Isles must then pay a premium in the Coastal City States for goods from far off Saphir and safely return. It is fabled that the old road in the Borderlands leads to the source of these desirable goods in far off Saphir and finding a land trade route which bypasses the Coastal City States would bring great riches to some of the Merchants. However, this would also threaten the monopoly the Merchants of Waterby and the Coastal City States have on such trade with Saphir. Expeditions to find a new overland trade route have set out but none have returned. Political intrigues and schemes of various kinds related to the opening of the trade route are rife in Waterby. Many say it will be necessary to bring order to the unruly Borderlands. This is the task before the Castellan of the Keep on the Borderlands. The Merchants of Waterby, and the Coastal City States,  place obstacles in the path of those known to be seeking the overland route and in the pacification of the Borderlands. The Rulers  of The Realm would like to see the land trade route opened but are mindful of the risk such contact poses with the Eastern Realms. The most notorious of the Eastern Realms is The Shadowland of Orkir, a realm of sorcery, poison, and intrigue bent on expansion through conquest. Its cruel ruler is no doubt the source of the many troubles which threaten the its neighbours.

Undoubtedly the Chaos Cult also originates somewhere in the Eastern Realms.

The Atlas Map of the Borderlands to the East of The Realm
The monochrome Atlas Map of the Borderlands to the East of The Realm

This map of The Borderlands is available as a Hexographer File: Monochrome Map or as a Colour Map, for easy editing. The font used in the image is Argos, Arial Black is used for the index numbers and map scale. The blank columns to the left and right of the map are numbered but not used. They are present only to allow the Atlas Grid to be shown. For example Square A1 of the Atlas Grid  is at the bottom left of the map.

Notes:

Not all features on the map are explicitly named. Explorers often name rivers and geographical features. A DM may create interest by allowing Players to name some of the features, rivers, mountains, islands etc.

The Driftwind Isles are not shown because they move. The DM may detail various sub maps for Atlas Squares B1, C1, D1, and E1 as they wish introducing new islands or removing them as they see fit thus providing new  locations for adventures as needed. These islands may ground themselves temporarily and then move on with the next gale.

Revision 2017-01-27, I was unaware that in the next article the next Hexographer Monochrome Map “B” was missing from the zip file. I have revised both articles and provided colour maps in Hexographer format. I will revisit the issue of the missing monochrome map B in a subsequent post. It may be that users do prefer colour, I don’t know myself. as monochrome is easier on printer ink, and easier to annotate with a pencil while playing. I’m currently working on Map “C” the Great Desert Caldera.

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GregMacKenzie

Greg MacKenzie is the author of the novella Seven Crows a Secret, the Fenris 2d6 role playing game, adventure modules Gloomland, and Wildwood, as well as countless other adventures.

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