Shadows with Tales to Tell - The Grim Islands
The Setting and Story
The Old Kingdoms
No one really knows why the Old Kingdoms fell. Some say that it was a plague of death and decay, the residual effects of which are still felt. Others argue that greed and treachery lead to massive rebellions, which seems reasonable given the nature of current politics. A strange few have even claimed that the gods, if there ever were such things governing this forsaken land, abandoned the world. There are countless other stories, tales, and theories about the death of the Old Kingdoms… but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. What is known for a fact is that they fell, and the damage done has not been repaired even after centuries. Now known as Kosmaro, or the land of nightmares, this broken region’s basic makeup has changed.
Many of the major settlements within the Old Kingdoms fell into the hands of local lords with old money. Many of these settlements have come and gone over the years, and the social roles of the Old Kingdoms have undergone many different changes in both structure and power. Groups who previously had nothing have been given the ability to govern themselves for a change, while many of the social elites lost their power over time. Bickering over power, prestige, and wealth has lead to constant feuding between the different settlements, though there are also a good number who have learned to work together in spite of their differences.
Like in the days of the Old Kingdoms, various Guilds have formed based on different ideologies. Though they often have their own hierarchies and followings, these guilds are too spread out to truly rule over people, and instead work alongside the regional lords and various smaller settlements to create independent branches; it is rare to find a large settlement without the presence of at least one guild, and where there is one, there are often many. Among the most important and wide-spread guilds are the Church of Avalon and the Circle of Magi; these two groups are unique in that they were major multinational entities even before the collapse of the Old Kingdoms, though their basic structures and beliefs have changes drastically.
Of course, settlements and guilds aren’t all that make up Kosmaro. The majority of Kosmaro is wild and untamed, having been reclaimed by nature in the years since society’s collapse. Even when Kosmaro was ruled by the Old Kingdoms, the infrastructure was rather poor; the roads and ruins have only become more dilapidated since, with many regions having been left with absolutely no outside aid. The wilderness is made even more dangerous by the weird alien forces that have slowly been seeping in from places unseen by mortal eyes. It has been said over and over again that these forces are growing stronger, but it is unknown whether there is any truth to this. Likewise, ocean travel is even more difficult, with freak storms and terrible monsters plunging many would-be explorers to the dark depths.
The Island of Grimmen
Grimmen is a somewhat small island in the land of Kosmaro, and though it has had its periods of turmoil, it is one of the most peaceful islands to settle down on. They don’t have much in the way of dragons, raiders, slavery, plague, or civil unrest. Though they have had a few conflicts between natives and immigrants in the past, at present Grimmen’s peoples are at peace with one another. Though each town is an independent entity ruled by a lord or elected official, they send representatives at least once a year to discuss the issues of the island. The main groups on the island are:
Entrana — Though a fort-town that originally served as a point of contest between various groups, Entrana is where the original treaties are housed, and where the Grim Counsel meet once a year to discuss any political issues. Entrana is the most major logistical point on Grimmen, due to it being the location of the most prestigious military colleges and merchant houses. Entrana mints and regulates the use of currency on Grimmen, and many believe that a contract or loan between groups cannot be officiated unless overseen by one of Entrana’s trade brokers. Their economy is mostly themed around imports and exports.
Fossegrimen — Populated mostly by ethnic natives to the island of Grimmen, the city of Fossegrimen is named after the spirits said to dwell in the rapids and waterfalls that border it on either side. They are supposedly ruled by the same bloodline that was in power during the days of the Old Kingdom, though this claim is dubious at best. The slowest to change as time goes by, it was only in the last sixty years that slavery was fully abolished here, though there are always rumors that it didn’t end. Their economy is based largely on conservative, utilitarian products produced through farming, logging, and mining.
Nykken — Formed in response to a sudden influx of foreign settlers, Nykken is an ethnically diverse city of progress. It is said to be named after the house Nykken, who opened their expansive farmland to foreign refugees and runaway slaves, but alas, the Nykken household met tragedy during one of the conflicts nearly one hundred years ago. Nykken has a system of elected officials in charge of their city, each one responsible for a different part of the city and its surrounding areas. Their economy based mostly on artistry, fishing, and spice trading, but criminal activities are also lucrative business here.
Fask — The southernmost represented township on Grimmen, Fask was founded by those attempting to harness its resources, but the harsh land became infamous for killing nearly all of its prospectors. Only house Firestone remained, and they needed more workers, but were ethically opposed to the notion of slavery as a birthright. A deal was struck with the Grim Counsel; criminals were to be committed to Fask where they would be used as cheap labor, in exchange for resources found nowhere else on the island of Grimmen. Their economy is based on the products of cacti forests and volcanic activity.
Relleka — Originally a simple rest stop for those traveling north, Relleka underwent great population growth when the most recent wave of foreigners arrived on Grimmen’s east coast. The foreigners brought with them new methods of crafting and water travel, which were accepted eagerly. In exchange, the new people adopted the culture of Relleka, settling in as though they had been a part of the island all along. Relleka now boasts the largest elven and half-elven population on Grimmen. The economy of Relleka is based on crafting, fishing, logging, as well as teaching people to tame beasts.
Rannikko — The only permanent settlement of the Uralic people, Rannikko is the traditional birthing place and burial ground of the Uralic peoples, and has grown into a successful port-village. Rannikko is associated strongly with those either too young or old to wander, with people who settle here typically becoming boatmen, herders, or wandering tradesmen. Using their superior navigation and boat building skills, they are capable of maneuvering canoes and rafts in places others would find it impossible to do so. Their economy uses no currency, being instead based on performing favors and sharing what is needed.
Uralic Nomads — A group of wandering tribes with a rich cultural history, the Uralic peoples have always been part of Grimmen, and are sworn to protect the sacred lands where they believe the spirits dwell. They can be found moving about the Ural lake most all year round, so as not to cause permanent damage to any part of the surrounding forests. They only seem to openly deal with Relleka, Rannikko, and the Temple of the Crescent Moon, with all others being looked at as dangerous and greedy ingrates. Their economy uses no currency, and is instead based on performing favors and sharing what is needed.
The Temple of the Crescent Moon — Hidden away in the central mountains of Grimmen is a temple of monks, ninja, samurai, shrine priests, and others who follow the Way of Nirvan. Followers of an esoteric tradition from a foreign land, those who live at the temple rarely venture far from their mountain sanctuary, and it is even more rare for them to have visitors. Though they had a major role in bringing peace to Grimmen, they have politely stepped back from the political workings of the lower lands. They have no real economy to speak of, with no need for bartering or currency.
Cathedral of Radiant Dawn — The Church of Avalon is one of the most well-known groups across the land of Kosmaro, with a branch present on nearly every island. Grimmen is no exception, and is home to the Cathedral of Radiant Dawn. Though they originally intended to convert the native peoples away from their pagan beliefs, they have since set their sights on the Mage Tower at Grimmen, fearful that the magi will discover something that might offend the Gods of Avalon. Their cathedral is located in Entrana, and though their members must follow the local laws, they are recognized as an independent political party.
Mage Tower at Grimen — The Circle of Magi, who are also sometimes called the Mage Association, are an independent group of scholars, spellcasters, and other ‘enlightened’ peoples. As a rule, their group only truly respects those with magical aptitude or who hold greater knowledge, looking at all others as pawns. They are largely mistrusted by the residents of the island, as they insisted that they be allowed to build their own tower and be treated as a separate entity altogether. Their economy is based on trading alchemical products and magical services for currency, but they seek information above all else.
The Ties that Bind
Three years ago, a handful of people from around Grimmen began to have disturbing nightmares. They came sporadically at first, once every month or so, but became increasingly common and disturbing as time went by, with the dream now coming every few nights. The first dream was of a faceless human girl standing in a puddle of black liquid, her clothes torn and dirty, but her flesh clean and pale. There was a faint, incoherent whispering at that time. Each new dream added a new faceless child, and a new whispering voice; now, each time you see the dream, you hear dozens of whispering voices, and see dozens of faceless children of all races. When you heard word of the Grim Counsel calling an emergency meeting due to the disappearance of a number of children, you set aside your own personal lives, and ventured out to find answers.
To see where the plot is currently, please check the Adventure Log.