The Uthrael Bëoac
Uthrael Bëoac (Bëoac, « Vale of the Kinfolk of Bëoac »)
by David Wendelken
Stories from the Elder Days
Of The Barghûn and the Ramparts of Pain
Long did the tribe suffer the yoke of the Dark Lord in their lands in the uttermost East, for who could hope to stand more than a moment against his dread might ? Yet in the youth of Bëoac the Barghûn bethought them of a new torture and afflicted the tribe with it. So it has ever been in all dealings with the Barghûn, for they have a never ending search for hate-filled ways to defile that which is beautiful and wholesome. The fairest of the youth were taken, at set times or at unawares in the dead of night, and hung by one wrist upon a high precipice deep within valleys delved into the northern mountains. Cunningly were their bonds fashioned, wrought of dark steel smelted in the bowels of the earth from ore unwashed by the stars in the heavens, with steel pins woven through the wrist within the bracelet that fastened them to a cliff face. Of great thickness were the chains from which the bracelets hung from the cliff sides, and stronger still were they and in their mounting into the rock face. More hideous were the sites chosen for their doom, for the echoes of their screams and pleas were amplified throughout the chosen vale. Yet their greeting did naught to aid their kin in finding them, for the echoes bounced throughout the vale, in and out of side valleys, until their kin were lost or made mad from the sorrow of it.
« Thisss iss our lesssson to you, frail onesss, » hissed the herald of the Barghûn as he took yet another season’s tribute to bedeck the Ramparts of Pain. Bëoac’s father died that summer of a sudden ailment, and Bëoac’s first words as King to his tribe were thus, « Lessons are not taught unless they be needful ! But needful for whom ? By this do we know that the rumors of the Shining Folk who fight the Dark Lord on the shores of the are true. For it is needful to the Dark Lord that we obey him, not needful for us to do so ! Let us leave our homes when the crops yield their harvest and find the lands in the west where we can live in freedom and honour ! » From that day, the tribe was free folk and never more did they accept the yoke of slavery.
Of How the Uthrael Bëoac was Settled
In ancient days, a tribe of men heard rumour that the Shining Folk waged war against the evil that lived in the Northern Wastes beyond the ice-capped, razor-sharp ridges of the Ramparts of Pain. They left their homes in the Uttermost East and migrated westwards, driving ever onwards to find the land by the Setting Sun where they might find allies stronger than themselves to drive back the Lord of Darkness in the North.
Long they traveled under the wise leadership of the patriarch of their folk, the powerful warrior named Bëoac. Despite the insignificance of their numbers, the Darkness in the North took heed of their rebellion and sent a host of his demon-spawn, the foul Barghûn. Ever they pursued the children of Bëoac, and ever he eluded them until his people crossed the and faced a range of tall mountains rising sheer and steep from the forested lands surrounding the . Scouts ranged forward from the banks of the river and found a pass through the mountains. Soon the tribe would escape across the mountains through narrow defiles where a brave rearguard could ensure their safety from the host that even now rushed to overtake them.
The Dark Lord’s hands swept across the night sky in anger ! The utter cold of their passing blotted out the stars with torrents of hail and snow, leaving the mountain passes clogged with snow too deep to win through with an enemy close behind them, now swarming over the Great River in makeshift rafts hate-hewn from forest timber.
Bëoac took counsel with the wise among the tribe to explain his last gambit. A small number of warriors were to take their beasts of burden and livestock and head south, downstream along the as fast as they could travel, beating a trail that none could fail to follow. They were to make their numbers seem greater than they were in order to mislead the Dark Host for as long as could be. Bëoac would lead them. The rest of the tribe was to escape in another direction, unknown to those who saved them, for the cruel Barghûn were masters of torture and few were strong enough to withstand them until their spirit was released from their flesh.
« No ! » cried the elders and the wise among the tribe. « You must lead the tribe to safety, for we have not your cunning, and your sacrifice would be for naught. »
« Then I will go in his stead, » called forth Bëoart, the eldest son of Bëoac. « For none who take that path will be seen again, and I know my Father would be unwilling to choose anyone to take his place on that journey. » Bëoac hung his head in sorrow, for his son spoke the truth. « Let no one say, in the warm days of safety to come, that my father sent away their kin to death that he and his might live long in the blessed lands we search for in the West. For I go in his place, that all would know that he sacrificed what he held most dear to save you all. » Well did all know he was dearer to his father than any kingship, even more so than Larëc, his wife and the mother of his son.
Thus Bëoart’s command tramped out that very night leaving a broad trail southward. Bëoac led his people north, towards the Ramparts of Pain that had stretched across the Northern sky through the five years of their journey, for surely the Dark Lord would not expect his vanquished foes to flee towards him for safety !
But the passes to the West remained frozen, and the sky and the lands filled with snow from the Dark Lord’s anger when his folk slaughtered those who led them astray. For all that his hosts searched, the folk of Bëoac were not to be found.
Bëoac found a fertile, sheltered valley hidden in the very midst of the Ramparts of Pain, only reachable by a narrow pass on its southern slopes. No sign of the Barghûn was found in that land, and his people rejoiced. The tribe spread out across the western end of the vale and grew strong again from nature’s bounty. Three years they waited, sending out scouts each summer when the passes cleared, but each time they returned with news that the passes to the West were blocked with Barghûn too numerous to displace by any strength of their arms, and the forests were full of fell folk who hunted for them still.
Yet, one cannot take shelter in the arms of evil without cost, and the folk of tribe awoke a servant of the Dark Lord asleep in the eastern lands of the vale. Wounded it was from some dread battle, its scales hewn and its hide scarred and seared. Long it was, narrow of body like a wind-ribbon but upon four massive legs. Its tail swept aside shield-walls, its claws sliced through shields and armour, its jaws swallowed the bravest whole, then spit them out sundered and lifeless. Bëoac stood before it, unshaken, and with a cunning feint slipped under its guard and pierced its breast with his spear before he was crushed under its fall. Its scream of pain filled the valley and broke the will of even the bravest among the tribe. Long hours passed before they crept back up the vale to find it slain and their leader broken underneath it, burned by the poison in its blood.
« I will not leave you until we have found safety in the West, » were his last words and then his spirit left his broken flesh. But the word of Bëoac was his bond, and his spirit refused to leave his tribe until the path westward had been achieved. Larëc took command of her people, and none dared speak against her with the spirit of Bëoac at her side, though leadership by a woman was not the custom of their folk. « I bear Bëoac’s child, and his child shall rule after him. » Thus were the folk reconciled to her leadership until a girl-child was born and dissent once again reared against her, for the spirit of Bëoac had not been seen for many months. « We must find another to rule us. A man-child. » called out the elders of the tribe. « The daughter of Bëoac will be stronger than any man-child among you, and more wise. She will rule as Regent, for my husband is still King. » Thus did Larëc answer their outcry, but to no avail, until the fell eyes of Bëoac formed behind her, followed by his visage, dark with anger at his people. Ever since has the leadership of the tribe fallen to the eldest child in the lineage of Bëoac, and the members of the tribe tracked their lineages with equal fervor upon the mother’s side and the father’s.
Each spring scouts were set out to find a way westward, and each year their tidings were grim. After a few seasons more, none of their scouts came back, and the tribe chose to remain hidden for a time. The valley was fertile and the tribe prospered, and little heed was given to the lands outside their borders. Yet, some among the tribe did not forget the Oath of Bëoac in the morning of the world and took his promise as they died, thus binding their souls to the substance of the world until Bëoac’s promise was fulfilled.
The world changed outside of their watchful vale as the millennia passed. The winters grew colder, the summers shorter and less warm, and their numbers dwindled. The western portion of the vale was abandoned to the elements and the folk of the tribe grew expert in hiding their presence.
Upon occasion, a Barghûn patrol would find its way into the vale. The Barghûn believed that the burial mounds the tribe set up for their dead were haunted and that the vale was inhabited by a drake. For the tribe had taken the horn from the slain drake and, by their arts, caused it to echo from the mountain walls in imitation of their king’s slayer. Against those who were not driven away by fear of the drake or the burial mounds, the tribe became adept at warfare by ambuscade and misdirection upon their own territory. Nor did the ancestors fail to do their part, for they could feed to their heart’s content off of the life essence of their foes without fear of harming their own kin. No Barghûn who ever saw any trace of human habitation in the vale ever lived to communicate it in the thousands of years the tribe has sheltered in the vale.
Of Larëc and Larëoc, Bëoac’s Daughter, and the Line of Bëoac
Larëc grew slowly into the ways of leadership, for in that tribe men had always ruled, but the dark eyes of Bëoac glared down any that would naysay her ruling. His daughter, Larëoc, born after his death, was one destined to rule by nature. She was wise in the ways of the human heart, and ruled with an iron will that few found the courage to challenge to her face. The seed of Bëoac was strong in her, few could best her at running or climbing the steep walls of their vale.
Larëoc was not a strong warrior, most among the menfolk were her better at arms, but none were as cunning or resourceful in battle or strategem. Thrice did she utterly defeat the Barghûn who entered her vale, each time drawing them inwards into the vale with a different ploy, that they might be slain without hope of escape. Barghûn scouts entered the vale each time afterwards and found the trail of a great drake and remnants of Barghûn corpses, cunningly wounded after death to appear rended by claw or tooth. No Barghûn dared to enter the vale for many generations of the tribe, lest the drake consume them in its ravenous hunger.
The only child of Larëoc was a daughter, and so it remained for four generations after Beoac’s death, and thus the tribe became reconciled to rulership by a woman, though in each generation there were strong men who chafed at the lordliness of the women of the tribe. Yet in some matters the old customs lived on. For example, no woman may ask a man to wed her, it is a man’s right to press a claim to marriage with her parents or guardians.
Of the New Rise of the Dark Lord
Less than twenty hundreds of the tribe still live. They exist in the shadows, tending (as best they can) the barrows of their ancestors. Their Wise among them have realized that the Dark Lord has grown strong again, for once again the Northern Lands grow cold under his breath, and a few of their barrows have become haunted by the Umkhâadi. For even the brave and true among the ancestors can sense the temptation that the Dark Lord whispers upon the night wind to them all, and some have failed the test, gaining power but losing their souls to the Dark Lord.
The leading warriors and those wise in lore destroy these creatures when they can, for they sense the presence of the Dark Lord, whom they name « The Eater of the Dead. » The very Wise among the tribe know that soon the tribe must leave its refuge ; and they hope that the Shining Folk still do battle upon the shores of the . But few among the tribe are ready to venture forth to do so unless circumstances force them, for a life in a fading vale, with extinction many generations away, seems less foolhardy than leaving their secrecy behind and openly facing in battle the forces of Dark Lord.
The Eldest of the Ancestors, when roused from their slumber, maintain that there is a new Dark Lord, who fell and has risen again, for they hear his whispers in the dark and remember his voice from the Elder Days, and that of the Dark Lord before him.
Bëoac architecture is functional first and foremost. It must be warm in winter, cool in summer, invisible to spying eyes upon the mountain ridges, hard to see even nearby, and easily defensible if surprised. Once that has been achieved, there is no lack of carved ornamentation upon the stone or wood used in its construction. Interior carvings are highly coloured with a variety of dyes extracted from local plants or ores. Exterior carvings are used to visually break up the man-made lines of the structures so that they are harder to see, as are the colourings used upon them. Stone is used for exterior walls (for strength), but two interior wooden walls (separated by ‘dead air’) are built within the stone walls to provide insulation from the cold winter winds. In summer, the interior walls are removed and stored away, which allows air to freely circulate throughout the building through opened wooden shutters. In times of trouble, the interior walls can be quickly cast aside so that the windows can be used by archers within.
Because of the cold winters and frequently unheralded snow and ice storms, the hearth(s) in a structure take on a special significance. No one, even the most hated member of the tribe, even bound in a solemn blood feud, will be denied a place by the hearth if a storm rages outside and they cannot safely make their way to another shelter. Tales from the elder days, when the tribe was more numerous (and thus feuds between families were ignored by those outside the kinships in feud) even tell of raiders forced by sudden storms to return to the hearths they raided and seek storm-right from the survivors of the raid ! Honour is dearly clung to in lands where one’s ancestors walk the earth, where the bravest and most resolute of the kin may will themselves to join them.
Agriculture and Diet
None can know if the Barghûn will ever find another path over the mountains into the vale. Because of this, it is imperative that no trace of croplands, buildings, or roads are visible from the mountains lest the Dark Lord send a host to destroy them. Crops are dispersed along the sides of clearings or within lightly forested areas. Great care is taken that no “human pattern” is visible to the placement of the crops or orchards. There are no paved roads. Paths are varied to avoid overuse and made to look like game trails where necessary. Where possible, they stay within tree cover or in broken ground to make observation from above that much more difficult.
This, along with the short growing season, greatly limits the numbers of the Bëoac within the vale. Winter wheat, apples, berries, nuts, roots, and goat’s milk are the staples of everyday life. The flesh of animals (other than squirrels and rabbits) is reserved for feast days and special events (such as victory celebrations over a Barghûn incursion). This includes deer, mountain goat, and fish. Fish from the mountain lakes and streams are a delicacy, as is a pale white fish from within the Bat Matrëoc whose two eyes are on the same side of the fish. Bird eggs and meat are also favorites, but hard to come by.
The Bëoac have domesticated some mountain goats, but no other animals. All of the domesticated animals they herded from their homelands in the Uttermost East were lost in the Great Deception in ancient days, when Bëoart led their pursuers astray to the south.
Cold Weather Travel and Gear, Summer Clothing
Cold weather gear is made of woven or felted goat’s hair, occasionally trimmed with wolves’ fur. Many layers of clothing are worn so that the wearer can remove or add them at need, depending upon the weather and the amount of their exertions. Breeches, long-sleeved tunics and coats, covered with a hooded parka are worn. Face masks are worn for protection against the North wind, with thin eye-slits in them to avoid snow-blindness. Dark patterns are woven below the eyes for further protection from the elements.
The Bëoac use skis and snowshoes to maneuver in the snow-clad winter months. They are careful to avoid leaving tracks in the snow visible from the mountain ridges whenever they can do so. At need, they may request aid from their ancestors, to bear them up so that they may run weightless over the snow and leave no trail upon it at all. This is not done lightly, nor is their boon granted unless tribal need compels it.
Summer clothing is a thinly woven linen-like fabric made from the crushed stalks of a hardy reed that grows along the lakebeds.
Natural colors are used, woven or appliquéd in patterns that aid the wearer to blend into their surroundings. In all their clothing, and in all their architecture as well, the Bëoac go to great lengths to hide the hand of man. Well they know that they exist in the shadow of the Dark Lord’s might only by such arts that keep them hidden from his sight. The asymmetrical patterns used to hide the regular lines and shapes of man-made objects are disconcerting to those who have not grown up around them.
The Bëoac are lightly armored save for the Royal Guard, who wear an eclectic assortment of ancient armor captured from the Barghûn, smithed (and cleaned!) to fit human stature. Because their foes are better equipped with heavy armour, the Bëoac prefer to avoid pitched battle whenever possible. Rockslides, traps, and archery are the preferred way to whittle down the Barghûn bands. Occasional small bands of Barghûn who enter the vale and find no trace of human habitation may be allowed to leave unmolested. More accurately, the Bëoac will attempt to frighten them away with tricks to convince the Barghûn that the vale is haunted and inhospitable to them. Then again, if a good ambuscade can be set, the Barghûn will be slain outright.
Once a group of Barghûn have evidence that humans live in the vale, they are mercilessly hunted down and slain lest they escape and report to the Dark Lord. First, the Barghûn are led deeper into the vale to reduce the chance that any will ever return. The Ancestors will give all the aid they are capable of to stop any escape, growing stronger with each slain Barghûn as they feed upon its life essence before slaying the next.
Healing and Herbal Medicines
The Bëoac make use of a variety of herbal infusions and poultices for healing purposes. They have the skill of setting bones and stitching up cuts with thread woven from reeds. They have no skill at surgery (nor any concept of it), nor would they amputate a limb, for the shape of a body so maimed would follow the spirit if it chose to become an Ancestor.
The Bëoac know how to treat frostbite, hypothermia and snow-blindness, as well as how to avoid them. They have less success in treating diseases, but they do not seem to suffer from very many, either.
The Bëoac measure their descent from both parents. Women, aside from their child-bearing duties, have evolved to have equal rights with their male counterparts. Marriage is for life, although no shame is placed on a woman for choosing to bear children without benefit of a husband.
Language and Literature
Ancient lore, older by far than the Great Migration, tells of a time when all men spoke the same tongue. But mankind had sundered its ways and its speech long before the Barghûn and the Dark Lord gained power over them.
The language of the tribe has remained very stable over the millennia (perhaps because the Ancestors still speak to their descendants). It has changed, however, to reflect the peculiar circumstances of the tribe. Words that do not relate to daily chores or the survival of the tribe have become little used. Some words have been invented, in particular to describe the highly variable weather and frozen precipitation.
Literature remains wholly an oral tradition, the concept of a written language was unknown to the tribe before its isolation from outside lands, and the continued presence of the Ancestors has removed much of the need to record knowledge for later generations.
Magic and the Ancestors
The Ancestors need the life-force of the living in order to remain bound to the tribe. This presents a difficulty for them, as they do not wish to cause harm to their living kinfolk. After all, the reason they remain behind is to aid them in reaching freedom ! To this end, the customs of the Bëoac have evolved to feed the Ancestors and protect the living as much as may be.
Women feed them their monthly blood in bowls of silver beaten from ore found in the Womb of Larëc, the underground cavern complex sacred to the women of the tribe and those few men they accept within their domain. Men feed them their seed once per week in bowls of obsidian hewn from the highest ramparts of the valley walls. It is part of one’s preparation for the rite of passage to adulthood to gather the materials for these bowls, which are highly personal in nature, and to craft them. Only the closest of friends would show their bowls to one another, while both still live. Boys and girls come of age at the first Holy Week after they reach puberty, and are considered adults in all things but the ability to rule a clan or the tribe. One must be at least twenty years of age before allowed to rule over others.
The Eldest of the Ancestors, those most weary of maintaining their presence upon the Earth, do not come among their kin very often, for it takes great force of will and energy for them to do so. Although they despise its “taste”, the Ancestors relish feeding upon the life-essence of the Barghûn, for then they can grow strong without drawing strength from their kinfolk. High feast-days after a big victory over a Barghûn incursion are remembered for many generations, for then do most of the Ancestors, still strong from their “feeding”, come forth to meet their living kin.
The Ancestors are venerated as “living” embodiments of tribal lore, wisdom, courage and self-sacrifice. Only those Ancestors who are fully committed to the tribe find the inner strength to bind themselves to the tribe after death (instead of going to wherever spirits more naturally go, which remains a mystery to the Bëoac).
Custom allows the Bëoac to politely ask the appropriate ancestor to assist them with a task. In return for this assistance the Bëoac tend the barrows of their forebears. The ancestors lend what aid that they can, interpreting the request based upon their understanding of it, their own abilities, and the greater effect upon their kin and the tribe. The ancestors are not slaves to the living, and thus they choose whether to honour the request and how to do so.
The ancestors value tradition and continuity and, in general, place the interests of the tribe over that of any one living relative. For this reason, they will not act in a manner they deem dishonorable or dangerous for the tribe.
The Wise among the Bëoac fear that the presence of so much death among the living has a price, and that a reduction in fertility among the tribe has been that price. They do not know what to do about it, for the aid of the Ancestors is essential for them to retain their foothold in their mountain vale. In their hearts they know that the tribe must soon leave their homeland and search for the lands of the Shining Folk upon the , but do not wish for that time to come whilst they can still enjoy the peace and liberty of the vale.
The Bëoac do not have any skill with magic, save that a few of them can, through force of will and the ritual aid of their Ancestors, embed their intent into an item that they craft with their own hands. The Wise among them know how to prepare herbal medicines that, in principle, aid those who are injured or sick. No other magic is known to them, though tales out of the Elder Days speak authoritatively of foul sorcery by the servants of the Dark Lord, and more fancifully of the fabled magic of the Shining Folk.
Because the tribal culture is so intensely embedded in all that they do, such Bëoac as have any magical talent are disposed towards the Realm of Channeling rather than that of Essence or Mentalism.
It takes a good amount of energy to for an ancestor to manifest itself visibly, and even more to affect the world around them. They do not do so unless need drives them. The more energy they have to use, the more they need to feed off of the life essence of those around them. For this reason, and due to pride in one’s own abilities, the Bëoac do not ask for help when they can do the task on their own.
The Bëoac have an intensely spiritual culture. Nearly every action that a Bëoac would undertake has a proper “ritual” way to conduct it. For the most parts, the rituals are highly pragmatic and act as a repository of “best practices” for tribal members. Precedence exists for ignoring the rituals, but most tales tell of disaster rather than innovative success for those who do so.
The Bëoac believe that the souls of their ancestors still linger in the valley and take an active part in the affairs of the tribe. A family line that has no surviving members will adopt younger children from another family, for how else would their own graves be tended in the years to come if no family survived to conduct the proper rituals ?
The Bëoac have no direct knowledge or True Lore about the Divine Powers. Yet, they are not ignorant, and in some ways they are more knowledgeable than “better educated” men in the world outside their vale. For the Ancestors know the Dark Lord exists, and the meaning of evil that he espouses. They are under no illusions on that score. Only by great force of will can the Ancestors stay with the tribe, for they can sense that their souls have a proper place to go to upon the body’s death ; and that that place is both fitting and proper for their souls to journey to. There is no taint of evil in that tug upon their soul, and thus the Bëoac know that there is a place that the Dark Lord does not rule and has never ruled. By this have they ascertained that there is another great power in the world that can hold the Dark Lord at bay, and perhaps defeat him. Not knowing its true nature or name, they revere it, but do not call upon it, for fear of giving offense. Each high feast day the elders of the tribe give praise that their Ancestors have been allowed to remain and protect the tribe.
There are five major holy weeks during the year. The first four are centered on the winter and summer solstices, and the spring and fall equinoxes. The primary holy week is centered on the seventh day of the seventh month. This is the day on which the lands of the Uthrael Bëoac were settled in ages past. All of the ceremonies are similar in nature. All the folk of the tribe (except those who guard the passes and the royal gates to the cavern fortress of their folk) gather at the burial ground of their ancestors. The first three days of the holy week are spent purifying the spirits of the living tribal members.
The fourth day of the week, the holy day, is spent communing with the ancestors in their ancient barrows. It is at this time that newly deceased members of the tribe are taken to their new home — the barrow of their ancestors. The living and the dead spend the day together, sharing stories and memories of days gone by. Children who reach adulthood, and new family members, are introduced to their forebears at this time. Those who are found unacceptable are taken by the spirits — and never seen or spoken of again.
The next three days are spent on the shore of a sparkling lake high in the eastern slopes of the vale, in feasting, dancing and feats of skill. Marriages are arranged and performed during this time.
Deep within the royal cavern fortress, the Anghat Bëoac, is a large underground lake. Named the Bat Matrëoc, the Mother of Waters, it is sacred to the women of the tribe. Here is their refuge from the cares of motherhood or maidenhood, for it is death for any man to enter therein unless a woman gives him leave to do so. The waters are heated by the veins of hot Earth’s blood interlaced below it. The crops of fungi and moss that grow in the heated caverns adjoining the Bat Matrëoc have allowed the reduced numbers of the tribe to survive the increasingly colder winters, and it is the duty (and privilege) of the Regent and their spouse to distribute it to those in need.
Crime and Punishment
There are two categories of crimes in Bëoac society. First come those crimes which, though acknowledged as crimes, the tribal members would still feel safe living with the perpetrator among them. Second, those crimes for which they would not. Punishment for the second category is simple. The criminal is chained until the next High Feast, upon which they are given to the Ancestors to feed upon. If, for whatever reason, the Ancestors refuse to do so, then the person is set free. Otherwise, their life-essence is forfeited to their Ancestors as they have failed to make honourable use of it. This not intended to be cruel. The Bëoac have little enough to spare and not enough to feed non-productive mouths held in prison for the rest of their life. The tribe cannot risk the capture and torture of the criminal outside of tribal lands where they might reveal their homeland’s whereabouts to the Barghûn.
As for the lesser crimes, the criminal is set into bondage to the victim’s family to work off their debt to the victims. The amount of their personal liberty is at the discretion of the victim’s family and, of course, they are given the worst sort of chores to do, but otherwise they may not be harmed. Those who refuse their assigned duties may be given to the Ancestors to feed upon.
Characters from the Tribe
Character Professions allowed
To facilitate the use of this material in a variety of gaming systems, I have listed professions rather than “character classes.” Note that all members of the tribe, unless physically or mentally unable, are expected to bear arms in the tribe’s defense. (None of these professions have access to spells.)
Free Skills based upon culture and upbringing : Language (spoken) Bëoac : 4,Climbing : 3,Region Lore — Uthrael Bëoac valley : 3,Weather Watching : 2,Culture- Uthrael Bëoac : 5,Body Development : 2,Dance : 1,Skiing : 1,Snowshoes : 2,Spear : 1,Dagger : 1.
Skills which must be purchased by all level 0 characters : Climbing : 1,Region Lore — Uthrael Bëoac valley : 1,Weather Watching : 1,Culture — Uthrael Bëoac : 1,Body Development : 2,Dance : 1,Skiing : 1,Snowshoes : 1,Spear : 1,Dagger : 1.
Skills which must be purchased by all level 1 characters : Climbing : 1,Region Lore — Uthrael Bëoac valley : 1,Weather Watching : 1,Culture — Uthrael Bëoac : 1,Body Development : 2,Dance : 1,Skiing : 1,Snowshoes : 1,Spear : 1,Dagger : 1,
Skill cost adjustments : Climbing, Weather Watching, Skiing, Snowshoes : as Ranger character class unless own class has a better cost structure, while the character still lives with the tribe. The first rank per character level in Culture — Uthrael Bëoac is free provided the character’s lifestyle is appropriate, the character lives with tribe, and the character makes a culture skill roll on attaining the new level.
People of Note in the Uthrael Bëoac.
Uthrâd (Bëoac, « Bringer of Spirits ») The leading member of “the Wise” in the tribe. A truly gentle soul, wise and loving.
Atlareöc (Bëoac, « Mother of ») The current ruling Regent of the tribe. Strong-willed, but aging badly, and fast.
Tascûûth (Bëoac, « Scion of the Dragon-Lords ») The eldest daughter of the Regent and heir-apparent, but not well-respected and too young to rule.
Ulcûnâth (Bëoac, « Leaping Goat ») Commander of the Uthrael Tagthâd, the Royal Guardians. Old and very conservative. Very gruff, but extremely loyal to the Royal House.
Latacûûth (Bëoac, « Dancing Drake ») Commander of the Uthrael Vûl, the Guardians of the Passes. Young, charismatic, powerful warrior who wants to marry the Regent’s daughter. Has sufficient royal blood to make an offer to marry Tascûûth, and sufficient skill and popularity to make the offer credible. Wants to change the old ways, to forge a brotherhood of arms led by men.
Game Master (Only) Information “From Here On”
The entire section detailing Bëoac culture and history has no direct references to Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This is intentional because it allows the game master to start a campaign in Middle-earth without any of the players being aware of it.
Tribal members are completely ignorant of the history of the world after their people found refuge in the Uthrael Bëoac (and the eldest of the Ancestors knew very little of it before that!) The material in the sections above can be given to any tribal member to read as useful background material that any tribal member would know.
Outsiders should not be given the material, they should be made to learn or experience it.
Campaign Background Notes
The original Dark Lord was, of course, the Morgoth. His foes, the Shining Folk, were the Noldor from Valinor in First Age Beleriand. His servants, the Barghûn, are better known as orcs in the Common Speech of the West.
The punishment meted out to Maedros (being hung by the wrist with an unbreakable bond from the walls of Thangorodrim) was considered highly amusing by the orcs all along the chain of mountains across the North of Endorë and found its way into their repertoire of torture. As the freeing of Maedhros was not discussed by those servants of the Morgoth wishing to retain their tongues (or their lives), the torture lived on in lands in the uttermost East of Endorë in the mountains renamed by the Bëoac’s forefathers as the Ramparts of Pain.
The tribal language, called Bëoac after their heroic King, is linguistically best classified as proto-proto-Adûnaic. It is relatively unchanged from its original form (except for those matters dealing with the lore concerning Ancestors and that of cold-weather alpine climates). The Bëoac are pure-blooded tribal relations of the ancient Edain and are counted among the Free Folk and the Edain by the Valar, who know of their long sacrifice and struggle against the Dark Lord (though they do not approve of the Ancestors remaining to assist their kinfolk).
The Uthrael Bëoac is situated in the north of the Mirkwood and east of the source of the . Characters leaving the vale have four likely directions to take. The vale is easy to spot on the ICE map of the , it is a long vale, oriented east-to-west, with a barrow marking in its eastern end.
- Due south takes them into the heart of the Elvish realm in northern Mirkwood (also called the Great). Given the immense nature of the wood, it is unlikely that the characters would venture far into such a dense forest without knowing what lay within. Bëoac characters would certainly have sufficient woodcraft to penetrate into the forest and hold their own in stalking and hiding with all but the best of the elves. However, the characters might mistake the for the of legend, unless they remember that the tales say it was several arrow flights wide (or they convinced one of the eldest of the Ancestors to accompany them as a guide).
- Eastwards around the forest and then in a southerly direction. Although the easiest route to take due to geography, it is also known to be in the wrong direction to reach the fabled lands of the Shining Folk along the.
- Westwards around the forest and then south along the Anduin, the in the old tales.
- Westwards around the forest and then across the into Eriador.
The suggested timeframe for this campaign is in the mid-Third Age. The “new” Dark Lord the eldest of the ancestors refer to is Sauron, and he has newly risen again in his fortress at Dol Guldur. I suggest either the 1390’s or the 1590’s. The 1390’s allow for enough time for the characters to gain skills and stature within their tribe (due to increasing numbers of Barghûn incursions) and their own restless nature to excel at what they do. By the time they leave their homeland (the early 1400’s), the Great Northern War between Arthedain and Angmar will be in full swing (with the fall of Amon Sûl and the crushing of Cardolan on the event horizon) should they travel west over the Misty Mountains. South along the Anduin leads them into a brutal civil war in Gondor, with all the fun that entails. For added fun, make sure “the Stranger” (see « Scenario : A Stranger in the Womb of Larëc ! ») is from a military unit and minor noble family in Gondor. If the party goes to the east around Mirkwood, the stranger should be from a unit and family that was loyal to Castimir. If they go down the Anduin, the stranger’s unit and family should have been loyal to Eldacar. (Eldacar took refuge with tribal allies to the East of Greenwood the Great.)
In the 1600’s, the civil war is long over, but the Great Plague should make for an interesting time for strangers. The long association of the Bëoac with their Moss of Life (see Game Master Info on Healing and Herbal Medicines) has an advantage here, as they are more resistant to disease than the normal population in western lands.
We will not dwell upon the risks inherent in invoking the assistance of the dead, no matter how well related, as one gets close to the Necromancer’s stronghold in southwestern Mirkwood. Any Ancestor traveling with the party will sense that they can « hear » the Dark Lord more « loudly » as they approach Dol Guldur, and they will communicate their fear to their living kinfolk.
Game Master Info on People of Note in the Uthrael Bëoac.
This section contains additional notes about the notables within the vale that are not common knowledge.
Atlareöc (Bëoac, « Mother of »): The current ruling Regent of the tribe. Strong-willed. Her health is fading fast and her only daughter is still too young to rule.
Ulcûnâth (Bëoac, « Leaping Goat »): Commander of the Uthrael Tagthâd, the Royal Guardians. Old and very conservative. Very gruff, but extremely loyal to the Royal House, and very helpful (behind the scenes) to those he likes and trusts. He has recently become aware of the disrespect for the heir apparent and its source. Being an honourable man, and well aware of the heir’s fine personality, it never occurred to him that others would think otherwise, and none dared say so to this face.
Latacûûth (Bëoac, « Dancing Drake »): Commander of the Uthrael Vûl, the Guardians of the Passes. His plan is to discredit Ulcûnâth and build up his own claim to become the Royal Guardian, so he can force his own marriage to Tascûth. Wants to change the old ways, to forge a brotherhood of arms led by men. Latacûûth has been undermining the respect for young Tascûûth since she was five years old, and Tascûûth’s treatment by the other children shows how effective his strategy has been.
Game Master Info on Healing and Herbal Medicines
Athaûth (Bëoac, “Moss of Life”)
This moss is used as a basic foodstuff and grows in damp areas in alpine climes or in caves in those climates. In its natural state and even when cooked, it also acts as an anti-bacterial agent. Minute amounts of its airborne spores enter the lungs and grow, in symbiotic fashion, extremely thin patches within the lungs. The moss is the major reason that the Bëoac do not suffer from many diseases or infections. Although the symbiotic moss spores can continue to grow within its human host outside of the vale, the moss cannot spread to children via childbirth, its spores must be inhaled.
Distilling the moss into an oil over fires made of burning rock found within the Womb of Larëc intensifies its healing properties. Prepared in this manner, it can heal major concussion and internal organ damage and hemorrhaging. However, it also affects the chemical balance of the body, most especially that of the brain, and causes long-term amnesia in those not immune to it. Because the Bëoac ingest the moss as part of the daily routine, they have built up a natural immunity to the chemical imbalance. Tribal members “act silly” for a few days after such a treatment (they are carefully monitored to keep them from harming anyone, including themselves). Since the Bëoac have no experience in healing outsiders, they have no knowledge of the true magnitude of this side effect, nor that they need to consume about 10% more foodstuffs than average humans to feed the symbiotic moss within them.
As a note, occasional clumps of the moss have so much oil concentrated within that they do not need to be specially prepared. Almost all Bëoac can easily tell the difference, and all know to avoid it as part of their normal diet.
Player Characters from the Tribe
If you have a really good role-player, who can handle a female character, Tascûûth might be a good character to have as a player character. However, remember that her freedom to adventure (and remain true to her people) will drop off dramatically once she becomes the Regent and moves her people to the “safety” of Arthedain or Gondor. Of course, if her people are destroyed by the Barghûn or Latacûûth becomes the Regent in all but name (and she escapes), she can do what she wants.
Regardless, the players can observe the treatment that Tascûûth receives from the other children and younger adults and decide for themselves whether she deserves it or not. If she is a non-player character, she is a quite shy and somewhat socially awkward, but a true friend and very capable at any task given to her.
Scenario One : A Sudden Storm !
The characters are all young tribal members out hunting game high on the mountain ridges, in the months just before their coming of age. One is injured in a fall, then the party is beset with a sudden snowstorm that rushes over the Ramparts of Pain with no warning. The party must find a way to survive and get medical aid for their wounded friend.
Scenario : A Stranger in the Womb of Larëc !
This is a companion scenario to “Scenario : Where am I ? Who am I?” told from a different perspective, that of a young woman (or man present by their leave) who finds a stranger (a non-tribal member and non-Barghûn) within the Womb of Larëc. The stranger is badly wounded and needs immediate medical attention in order to live. Only the use of the oil of Athaûth will be sufficient to save the stranger’s life, for his injuries are mortal otherwise.
Scenario : Where am I ? Who am I ?
This adventure allows a non-tribal member to join a campaign set in the vale without disrupting the setting with too much character knowledge about the world outside. It can serve as the final impetus for motivating the Ancestors and the Wise to allow the tribal characters to leave the valley and search once again for freedom in western lands. It is recommended that the tribal characters have already gained a number of experience levels and have a reputation among the tribe for both ability, good character, and good sense. (Otherwise, the Ancestors and the Wise would choose different people to explore the outer world ! Then again, they might choose to send out those who are young, reasoning that the world may have changed greatly whilst their tribe has hidden in the vale, and those who are young adapt best to change.)
A well-seasoned scout (or ranger) is performing a reconnaissance along the southern slopes of the . The scout is discovered by a patrol of orcs and chased up into the mountains. While attempting to escape high up in the mountains, he falls through snow-covered crevice that concealed a very deep ravine. The collapsing snow-bridge cushions the fall enough to save the scout’s life, but not enough to prevent serious injury and knock him out for a time. The orcs can see part of the scout’s prostrate body a hundred feet below and leave in disgust, unable to safely reach the body to loot it, and after missing it with several arrows (shot only for fun, as the scout clearly appeared to be dead.)
Upon coming to consciousness, the scout will be able to painfully work their way deeper into the ravine, from which they can feel warm air rising. The ravine is an undiscovered exit deep within the cavern complex named the Womb of Larec. (It is the warm air that undermined the snow that had filled the ravine.) The warm air comes from the Bat Matrëoc, for a portion of the cavern ceiling has collapsed, having been weakened by the elements on the surface above.
Pick Gondorian or Arthedain for the scout’s country of origin, depending upon your campaign preference. Remember that, based upon the scout’s nationality, the party may be steered in different directions once they leave the Uthrael Bëoac and learn to converse with others. Other nationalities can of course be used, but with ramifications for the character’s survival (both immediately and in their ability to be accepted by the tribe and allowed to leave). An elf would have the least trouble as the Bëoac would leap to the conclusion that the elf was one of the Shining Folk. Woses, dwarves or black Haradrim would likely be killed outright as the Bëoac have no knowledge of them and might mistake them for a servant of the Dark Lord. Hobbits would be considered children at first. Blond, blue-eyed Éotheod might also be thought to be of the Shining Folk. Easterlings are problematic, with their chances of survival decreasing based upon the extent of racial differences in the way they look from the “Bëoac norm.” Clothing styles that show “good taste and artistry” rather than the hate-filled craftsmanship of the Barghûn would up the odds of initial survival, as the Dark Lord’s servants were not known to the Bëoac as having any artistic merit (and thus a seed of doubt in favor of the character would be sown).
From the “Lost Character’s” Perspective :
You wake up in the dark, screaming… shouting. You remember : Pain. Fear. Fleeing. Rocks. Blood. Falling. Images, fragments of thought, fill your mind, then darkness takes you. Crawling. Pain. Darkness.
Some time later :
You are in a warm, snug bed. The room around you is of finely carved wood, but seems … different. You do not know what it is different from, only that it seems different. There is a light in the room, and it is getting closer ! A girl’s face appears over you, speaking calmly and softly but with no meaning to her words.
You have no strength, no control over your limbs. She pushes you back down on the bed, you fade into unconsciousness.
What you learn, as time goes by :
A man teaches you. He is a holy man, of that you are sure. You are different from the others they teach. You are their size, the others are very small children. You are taught, with infinite patience, even though you are the slowest of all to learn. You are taught to speak and understand others, to walk and ride the land on skis and snowshoes, the laws, rituals and customs of the tribe. Many of the children make fun of how clumsy you are. You are not the only “child” who is treated poorly by the other children. One young girl of about 12, named Tascûûth, appears to always have been on the losing side of a fight. She is in the “older” children’s class, and you remember her taking care of you.
You learn to fight, to run, and to climb. These things are natural to you, as if you had always known them and had just forgotten for a time. As you get older, you come to learn that you were not born into the tribe, you were found in the Womb of Larëc by one of the women of the tribe who had gone their for solitude, Tascûûth. You are given the name Bâthat (Bëoac, « Gift of our Mother ») because of where you were found.
If the character earns the holy man’s love (Uthrâd), he will adopted into Uthrâd’s family before the coming of age ceremony. If not, unless another does so, the certainty of death by the Ancestors is a given, and all within the tribe know it.
This is not your homeland, you home is someplace else, someplace you cannot remember.
Sometimes, you have fleeting visions of other places, very different from here. Other faces, very similar to here. Other objects, usually incomprehensible to you in this environment, are in those visions.
Scenario : Coming of Age !
The characters are young tribal members approaching the time that they come of age and must be presented to their Ancestors. Young women must craft a bowl of silver to hold their moon-blood in preparation for the ceremony, and must locate and mine the ore within the Womb of Larëc. Young men must climb to the top of the mountain ridges and hew from them a block of obsidian, then chip it into a bowl to hold their seed. When the Feast Day arrives, they must enter the barrow of their Ancestors along with their living family members. If they are found wanting in courage or honour, they will be consumed by their Ancestors as unworthy.
Scenario : First Barghûn !
The characters, recently come of age, are out patrolling the western vale with an experienced leader. They may be a bit annoyed, because they were assigned to the patrol with no notice, and now they will miss the festivities of the upcoming holy week. Then again, they may be excited, because this is their first patrol in the western vale.
They encounter their first Barghûn patrol. They must decide whether to avoid the patrol, ambush it immediately, or attempt to draw it further into the vale before attacking it. The leader is there to help them make informed judgments (and avoid stupid ones), but his job is also to train them for the future, so they have more “command decisions” than would otherwise be expected for novice warriors. The leader will only intervene if absolutely necessary to prevent a disaster. What the novices do not know is that the leader knew the Barghûn patrol was present, having received a signal from the patrols in the western vale. The patrols have led the Barghûn deeper into the vale to facilitate this training exercise. They are positioned to cut down any Barghûn that escape the novices.
The characters, unless they are too injured to return in time (or have embarrassed themselves and choose not to), will be able to return in time for the festivities.
Scenario : Dissension in the Tribal Council
Uthrâd argues in council that the time has come to begin searching out ways to the West, to see if the Shining Folk still war against the Dark Lord. Latacûûth and Ulcûnâth, in a rare show of full agreement, counter the argument. They point out that the Dark Lord is growing stronger (the Ancestors who are present murmur in agreement with this), and that the tribe should remain hidden. The council agrees with them and forbids the sending out scouts outside the vale.
Scenario : The Stranger Comes of Age !
When the time comes, the stranger must brought before the Ancestors for their “coming of age” ceremony. The stranger is expected to be consumed by the ancestors, even though (if the player earned it), he is well-liked by the tribal members. The Ancestors in the barrow accept the stranger as worthy of trust, but not of their kin, and thus subject to death. To the surprise of all, the stranger is accepted as kin by one of the eldest of the Ancestors, one not seen in hundreds of generations. The stranger is named as the seed of the Ancestor’s child, one of the “Lost Heroes of the Great Deception”. The Ancestor has to draw a greater than normal amount of life-essence to come forward quickly enough to save the stranger, for he has been dormant for a very long time, and he draws his strength from Uthrâd, the holy man who is the stranger’s teacher. The holy man dies shortly thereafter, with shrunken cheeks and withered, parchment-like skin, happy that his adopted child has been accepted.
Scenario : Barghûn Find the Tribe !
Erosion and an avalanche conspire to open a new path over the mountains around the eastern vale. A Barghûn scouting party works its way up the winding trail and is surprised to see the entire tribe gathered together for the final festivities of the Autumn Holy Week. They are spotted by the vigilant scouts of the tribe and the Beoäc, both living and Ancestors, break into a run and pursue the hated Barghûn to the death. Many are killed, but the initial sighting was too far away to accurately count the Barghûn, and some are believed to have escaped the vale. This is a disaster !
Scenario : In Search of the Shining Folk !
Atlareöc’s frail health cannot bear the strain of having been discovered by the Barghûn, and she collapses at the onset of the council. She will not last the night, a fact that is obvious to all present.
Once again, the subject of sending out scouts to search for the Shining Folk who war against the Dark Lord in the uttermost West is brought up in council. Uthrâd is not present to lend his weight to the council, and Latacûûth still argues against it. But his credibility has been weakened, having failed his responsibility to guard the passes, and Ulcûnâth argues for sending out scouts. Ulcûnâth wins both the argument and the regency, but he too is old, and he is unlikely to hold it long enough for Tascûûth to come of ruling age.
Even with this disgrace, only an extraordinary deed will undo the long-term damage to her reputation and enable her to rule without being dominated by Latacûûth and his supporters. Ulcûnâth decides, secretly, to send Tascûûth on the quest. At worst, she will die in the service of her people, a fate she finds preferable to becoming Royal Chattel as Latacûûth’s wife. Uthrâd will accompany the characters if the Stranger or Tascûûth go upon the quest.
Some in the outside world, such as wizards, the wiser of the elves and more powerful of the dark priests, the undead, almost any animal (and an occasional highly “sensitive” person), can sense the presence of the Ancestors. Those more learned in the lore of the Dead will know what they perceive, others will just feel a chill and a sense of dread and unease.
Scenario : Barghûn Invasion !
The season after the existence of the tribe is revealed, Barghûn, aided by Barghûn-At (Trolls) and Barghûn-Vorgs (Wargs) begin to raid in stronger numbers. After several years (or a few decades at most unless the Barghûn are decimated by some outside power in the interim), the Barghûn and their allies invade the Vale of Bëoac in horrendous numbers. Dread servants of the Dark Lord travel with them and force back the Ancestors or enslave them to the will of the Dark Lord. The tribe is almost certain to be destroyed, its remnants hunted down and devoured by Wargs, and its Ancestors enslaved by dread rites of the Dark Lord’s priests.
Master Military Tables
|Uthrael Tagthâd Senior Warrior||15||Chain Shirt, Quilted Tunic and Braes (Pants), Spear, Dagger, Bow, Sword, Shield, Iron Helm.|
|Uthrael Tagthâd Warrior||30||Chain Shirt, Quilted Tunic and Braes, Spear, Dagger, Bow, Sword, Shield, Iron Helm|
|Uthrael Vûl Senior Warrior/Hunter||50||Chain Shirt, Quilted Tunic and Braes, Spear, Dagger, Bow, Sword, Shield, Iron Helm.|
|Uthrael Vûl Warrior/Hunter||200||Quilted Tunic and Braes, Spear, Dagger, Bow, Sword, Shield.|
|Warrior/Healer||5||Quilted Tunic and Braes, Spear, Dagger, Bow.|
|Other Part-time Warrior||900||Quilted Tunic and Braes, Spear, Dagger, Bow.|
Use wilderness encounter charts for the Grey Mountains, but filter out encounters that are inappropriate due to the secluded nature of the vale.
(download : first type : document)
Pour les fichiers .markdown, préférer un clic droit et sélectionner
« Enregistrer le lien sous... »