The Land of Salvagard is a green one when not covered with snow, with most of its surface covered by evergreen forests. It is bordered by mountains on three sides, whilst the northlands are secured by a massive glacial sheet that stretches hundreds of miles across the north. The winters in Salvagard are long, usually lasting between 7-8 months, and in the deep winter are cold enough to sometimes trouble even the Salvagardians hardened physique. The main problem is the water table, which is actually higher then many of the lowland areas of the kingdom. If there are storms in the summer months then major flooding is guaranteed, with the ground containing large areas of permafrost that prevents most of the water from draining away. Although a rare occurrence, it is still an ever present danger in the summer, and is close behind blizzards as the main environmental killer in the Kingdom.
Although there are many rivers in the land, along with several lakes, most freeze over in the winter, with only the River Grenamir remaining ice free all year round, as it is fast flowing enough to prevent any ice cover, although stories tell of times when even this had been covered with ice during the winters of the Great strife.
There is only one major road in the Kingdom that stretches between Prophet’s Pass and the City of Salvagard. Most other marked passages through the kingdom are merely dirt tracks, with many natives choosing their own routes through the forests to get wherever they are going.
As to the placement of the settlements trough the land, many are located close to areas of bountiful hunting complementing any other resources, and can move or be abandoned if the game becomes too scarce. There are several large towns catering as population centres, their positions fixed and relying on their orbiting satellite villages to keep them stocked with food and other basic resources. The only true city in the kingdom is the capital, Salvagard, which stands close to the centre of the realm and has been the seat of the Norberg Kings since the founding of the realm.
There are many landmarks in the Kingdom of Salvagard, most being areas of local importance to the natives of a domain. However there are some that are known to almost every citizen of the realm.
-The Ice Wall
The face of the northern glaciers, it is a sacred place, seen as the barrier between this world and the frozen wastes beyond. It is also immensely dangerous, as many Icemen still rove the area on raiding parties and wild beasts hunt down the unwary among the frozen snowdrifts. It is also an obstacle that must be passed during the Trial of Heirs to reach the Pool of Life.
-The Diamond Hills
Located around a large range of mountains to the west, the diamond hills are the source of the kingdoms wealth, being made primarily out of the precious mineral diamond. The reason for this is unknown, but it is theorised that a cataclysm in the past may have cause the transformation of common minerals into the diamond, allowing it to be dug up in open cast mines by the people of Salvagard. It is also restricted royal land, and anyone found there who is not authorised by the crown is to be killed on sight to prevent the theft of its riches from what is seen as the kingdoms treasury.
-The Pass of Prophet
A wide valley running through the Southern mountains, it is renowned as the route taken by the Prophet Salvagard when he led his people to the land that would become the kingdom 1800 years ago.
The Great Gate was what prevented access to the kingdom of Salvagard for the invading human forces after the Battle of Prophet’s Pass. The original was designed as a final escape measure during the Ice War in the event the people of Salvagard needed to flee the kingdom. It has since been rebuilt to be more defensible and allow trade to flow more freely if a caravan does approach through the pass of the prophet.
-Blood Queen’s ruin
Located on the banks of the Teilman, several miles from the town of Frosgard, the ruins of the Blood Queen’s keep is a reminder to all that vigilance must be kept against those who would usurp the people through seduction. However, the land around it is almost completely uninhabited, and few venture there as many see it to be cursed.
-The Great Arena
Located outside Salvagard City, it is where much of the people’s non-alcoholic entertainment comes from, where professionals duel one another or savage monsters captured to demonstrate their deadly nature. It is bloody, but entertaining, and the duels are usually only to defeat, not death.
The arena is also used for nobles settling disputes and the execution of criminals.
*Major Population Centres.
Whilst villages in Salvagard are designed to be mobile in the event that a source of game dries up, the towns of the kingdom are in fixed positions, and have been for many centuries, acting as focal points for trade and meetings between village counsels, especially in times of dispute. They are usually controlled by a lord appointed by king. The town will usually give their name to the Domain they oversee, although this has only been the case since the time of the Great Strife (Note: all locations are described using the City of Salvagard as the centre of the kingdom).
-The City of Salvagard
The Capital City of the kingdom, Salvagard is renown by everyone in the realm, most having travelled there at least once in their lives. It is the centre of culture, with many of the artisans of the kingdom living there, although usually not on the mesa but in the surrounding outer city.
It is also the focus of worship for the Twelve, especially among the nobles, with the Great Temple being located high on the mesa and close to the palace itself. The people here are considered the most educated in the realm, but it is also an area of great political struggle, with many lesser nobles attempting to gain status whilst causing their rivals to lose it, a game of politics mirrored the world over.
It is also home to the Great Arena, Situated on the very site that hosted the Duel of Heirs many centuries ago. It is now used as an attraction, hosting both sporting events and matters of justice. Convicted criminals will be sentenced here, fighting to the death against wild animals and each other, and it is also where as two parties may fight in order to settle a dispute, the victor being judged worthy in the eyes of the gods.
The city is large, but by no means crowded, as the outer city is spread out to allow for space between neighbours and to prevent the spread of fire.
The City is also the hub of trade for the region, with many domains sending traders to the city in order to get the best price among the wealthy citizens of the capitol.
The people of the city are seen as some of the most cultured in the kingdom, with many noble families living in the city in order to be close to the King, especially in times of conflict. However, this also means that the people of Salvagard are seen as arrogant, especially by those of the northern domains, who view them as pompous and putting on airs when they should be honing their hunting and fighting skills. There is also a complete lack of any game in the area, and many have to travel great distances in order to hunt anything bigger then rats, meaning the price of food is far greater in the city then it is anywhere else, which can be a problem with the poorer citizens who cannot obtain anything beyond their usual food dole.
Note, to avoid confusion most citizens of Salvagard know call the Capitol merely ‘The City’ as opposed to Salvagard, which is the cities true name.
The domain of Eadburg is situate on the Boarders of the Diamond hills, west of the City and the only place in the domain that is accessible to citizens who are not registered as members of this Domain. The town itself is the second oldest settlement in Salvagard, being over 1500 years old and brimming with history. However, apart from the cleric’s shrine and the lords manor the buildings of Eadburg are quite unimpressive, more straightforward and utilitarian then other Settlements, reflecting the hard business that is carried out here.
The people reflect the town, being grin and determined. Almost all the citizens who don’t perform a public function work in the open cast mines situated in the hills themselves, digging up the diamond with special tools and the breaking them down to be processed in the royal mint on the outskirts of town , being made into currency that is used throughout the kingdom. The way the miners extract the Diamond is a mystery to the rest of the realm, and a closely guarded secret amongst the people of Eadburg. Whilst dour, the people of Eadburg are also some of the wealthiest, and well off, where the miners can match their riches with many minor lords in other the other Domains of Salvagard.
The most North-westerly domain in the Kingdom, Velgamir is one of the three northern domains that stand at the southern edge of the Ice Wall, and serve as the first line of defence against the frequent raids that spew forth from the Great Northern expanse. It contains two garrison towns, Enverik and Doorge, both constructed with high stone walls and stockpiled with weapons and previsions, more then enough to weather a siege at the hands of the Icemen.
The land itself is desolate, with snow and ice remaining a constant factor year round, especially in the valleys and dales that are sheltered from the sun. Trees are sparse and the small forests that do exist are full of knurled and broken trees, all warped through repeated exposure to sub-zero temperatures. The land was also one taken by the Icemen in the First war, and many remember stories of the savagery by the Icemen at that time even after the scars had faded from the land, with many learning the histories from the clerics, reading from the history scrolls and preaching to the masses. The pain remains, and the land will always be marked from it.
However, the people are a different matter. Most are soldiers or hunters, many of whom seek the great wyrm who is said to have made its lair in this domain, and is awaiting a worthy opponent to challenge it and take its treasure.
When not on the Wyrm hunt the locals delight in contests of strength and skill, usually at the same time whilst also consuming a fair amount of alcohol which is shipped especially to the region to keep spirits up even during war. For this reason the other domains see the Velgamir people as both strong, respected warriors and total drunkards.
A land situated west of the City but East of Eadburg, its boarders run from the Milgar mountains that boarder the Ice wall down almost to the southern mountains, and is well populated by Salvagardians passing between the two oldest settlements in the land. It contains 3 major settlements (Greeven in the north on Lake Veleskii, Yyshden and Halaf in the south). The major town in this domain is Yevre. It is more a fortress then a town, and was home to Rastmir during the great strife. Although it was sacked after Vilhelm won the duel of Heirs it was rebuilt and repopulated in the time shortly after and is another line of defence between the Icemen and the City.
The major industry here is timber, with much of the logging going into construction of homes for the people of the City. However, the werewolves are careful to replace what they take, replanting a seedling and keeping the number of trees felled to a minimum to stop any damage to the land. Hunting is prohibited here, as game is scarce to begin with due to the logging. A special permit from the local lord is needed to hunt here and they are usually given only to master hunters. Fishing is practiced in Lake Veleskii, as it is one of the few lakes deep enough to allow pletiful fish to survive the cold winters and return to the surface during the thaw. Many are caught and sold across the kingdom for a high price, especially if they are smoked beforehand. The people of Raveeven are some of the most multicultural next to those of Prophets Pass and the City, and tend to be quite wealthy due to their proximity to the mines of Eadburg.
Located south of Eadburg and southwest of the city, Ordemir is one of two domains that boarder the western mountains, and so is very heavily wooded. Whist still cold, it receives a lot less snowfall then other areas of Salvagard due to the Mountains of Eadburg capturing the snow storms that blow down from the Great Northern Expanse. As a result there is a large amount of game available for hunting here, and many nobles keep retreats here for the purposes of hunting in their leisure time.
Ordemir has two settlements, the fortress of Ordemir itself and the farming community of Velskis. Whilst the Fortress handles most of the administrative work of the region, most of the population live in and around Velskis itself, as the main industry of the region is the Bamboo Rice harvest that occurs every summer, and although other regions produce far greater quantities Ordemir has a reputation for quality, and it is well known that King Olof will only eat the rice crown in Ordemir unless times are truly hard. The people are friendly enough, but are weary of outsiders, as they were close to the corruption of the Blood Queen which occurred in Frosgard, south of the Ordemir’s domain boarder.
Located east of Velgamir and north of the city, Vagonbrii is another of the three domains that Boarder the Ice wall and have to weather continued attacks from the Icemen hordes that maraud south of the great glacier. It was completely devastated during the First War and had to be rebuilt from scratch. There are two fortress towns in the domain, Vagonbrii and Ilccorv, both of which act as protection and a first line of defence for any horde that would make an approach on the City itself.
However, there is one other location of interest in Vagonbrii, the monastery of Yyelevir, the training place for all clerics of the twelve and the final resting place of the body of the great prophet Salvagard. The body was moved there after the crowning of the first Norberg king, where it is now safe against all interlopers. The Monastery was even untouched by the Icemen during the first war, many crediting the Twelve with its protection.
The monastery can be seen for many miles, being set on a raised plateau that allows it to be seen even whilst traversing the dark forests paths that lead there.
Because of the presence of the Monastery the people of Vagonbrii are considered some of the most pious in Salvagard, and have the highest intake into the holy orders of any domain, including the City itself.
Located south of Vagonbrii and east of the city, Torlaken has only one settlement, the town of Torl, and mainly includes the Torlaken range, a group of low lying mountains that contain the majority of Salvagard’s relatively spares metal wealth.
The major industry in the in the domain is mining. However, unlike the mines in Eadburg, the mines of Torlaken delve deep under the earth, and thus play to one of the Salvagardians greatest fears, tight enclosed spaces.
However, Torl is also one of the realms only towns that construct weaponry, and the spears made here are used all over the kingdom, both by the nobles and by the common citizenry. For over 1500 years the need for metal far outstripped what could be taken from the few veins that run on the surface. Thus the people of Tolarken have taken on a characteristically shunned task of delving beneath the earth for minerals in order to meet demand. This has led to several changes in their physiology.
Torlarken’s are typically half a foot shorter on average then other werewolves in any form, and tend to be bulkier, better for mining and working the metal. They also have overcome their inherent claustrophobia, but not without taking on personalities that seem a little brazen to other Salvagardians. Many see them as overly aggressive, even for a werewolf. They also have a higher resistance to magic poisoning, as the mines run close to the labrinthin system of caves that run beneath Salvagard that are contaminated by magical energy.
Another notable feature of the domain is that it holds the only enclave of Humans to live outside the confines of the Prophets Pass domain. The reasoning behind this is that humans do not suffer from contact with silver, which to a werewolf would be like putting their hands into a smelting pot and the dust itself would set their lungs on fire. The human miners are able to extract the silver safely, which are then turned into Silver tokens and can be shipped to Yyelevir to be blessed by the clerics there.
Notable metals found in this domain are Gold, Copper, Iron, and Tin with Silver in small quantities.
The third and final domain that boarders the Ice Wall, Askir lies to the east of Vagonbrii and Northeast of Torlaken, and so is the most north-eastern domain in Salvagard. As such it also boarders the eastern mountains, and so not only has to contend with the problems of Iceman raids, but has other problems as well that arise from the high magic field that seems to envelope the whole of the eastern mountains.
There are two settlements in the region, the fortress town of Askir and the community of Llyindrik, and both suffer from frequent attacks. There are many threats that include the Icemen and Snow Trolls, which are common in many parts of the Northern domains, but they also have to contend with the Ice Giants that have come to plague the eastern kingdom in recent years as well as regular incursions by fire breathing Salamanders and other bizarre creatures that are rarely seen in other parts of the kingdom. They also suffer from regular incursions by magical demons, and the land is scared by magic portals that can grow at any time into gateways. These allow huge and fearsome demons to enter this world and lay waste to the countryside before fading away back into whatever realm that originally spawned them, and means that many extra precautions are use into the defence of the area. Gold is woven into the very fabric of each settlement’s wall, which prevents the Demons from coming near, although it does not stop them from laying siege to Askir, sometimes for weeks at a time until they finally fade away.
The constant incursions by magic creatures and the bizarre reality altering effect magic portals can have tends to make the people of the domain very pragmatic, who are seen by others as both stoic and relatively cynical when faced with the constant threat of combat. However, they are a proud people, fiercely defending their corner of the kingdom and keeping the dangers from travelling to other lands.
The professional soldiers that are recruited here are also considered to be some of the best in the realm, with the threat of danger teaching even the youngest pup to adapt quickly or die. Even the civilian levies are always above average fighters, and many soldiers are sent to Askir fortress to be educated in the finer points of combating magical creatures.
The most easterly domain in Salvagard, it is located south of Askir and east of Torlaken. It contains 3 major settlements, the fortress town of Iishrik in the north (Built as another line of defence from the Icemen), Majarok in the centre of the domain and Laavek itself in the far south, close to the great southern barrier that separates Salvagard from the human lands. It was also Laavek that was the Headquarters of Villhelm during the Great strife.
The regions east boarder is located along the same mountainous frontier that bordered Askir. However, the domain is far larger then Askir, and its distance from the Ice wall makes the region far safer then its northern neighbour, and the people’s lifestyle reflects that, being more peaceful and allowing for greater emotional empathy. Whilst the garrison here is strong, it is not as accustomed to battle, and spends time patrolling the eastern edge of the domain, ensuring the Trolls and giants remain passive in their mountain homes.
The hunting here is very plentiful, although patchy in places due to magic contamination. It is also here that the herds of cows used for the leather industry are found, and can be slaughtered for meat if the hunting season looks lean.
One of the major places reputed across the kingdom is the academy in Majarok, where many young nobles are sent to be educated in their 16th year, allowing them a greater appreciation of combat tactics and administration, vital skills for any Salvagardian Lord.
However, because of its location, close to large sources of magic, the academy of Majarok has another function, to research magic and develop new ways of using/ combating it. Many patrols are sent into the mountains, locating the entrances that lead to the catacombs beneath the kingdom. Here many of the samples for the magical research are collected, and it is here that many werewolves lose their lives. The Magic researchers have to wear specialist robes that cover their bodies and faces, reducing exposure to the magic, but even such clothing can only inhibit, not prevent the corruption. The Researchers are called the Walking Dead in many parts of the domain, as they usually have a greatly reduced lifespan through exposure. But their research is vital, and their families are well compensated for the time they give, so research continues at a steady pace.
Located south of Torlarken and west of Laavek, Selvon is the main producer of Bamboo rice for the kingdom, shipping 90% of the kingdoms total consumption each year to all corners of Salvagard. It has two small settlements (Grigir and Frivig) in the North east and west respectively, and the market town of Selvon itself in the south, close to the Great Southern mountains. Here the produce of the domain is collected together to be shipped to every major settlement in the kingdom, and handles hundreds of tonnes of produce every day during the summer. It is also the main manufacture of ale for the kingdom, and its beverages are drunk by every noble in the kingdom who can afford it.
To celebrate their produce the nobles of Selvon hold an annual festival at the height of summer to celebrate the harvest, and to give an excuse for excessive drinking of alcohol. Many Salvagardians will travel from across the kingdom to attend, and even the King has attended on a regular basis. It is an opportunity for old friends from across the kingdom to meet and celebrate, whilst old enemies will be invited to break bread together and put aside their hatred for one night whilst the Domain celebrates.
However, the views of the locals are a lot less pleasant, as many see the Selvons as both soft and lazy, saying that their region, so far from war or death, allows them a peace few other enjoy, and so a lack of challenge to truly test themselves. They are also usually accused by more vindictive persons of being of a lower intelligence then others in the kingdom, but this is usually attributed to their positive and pleasant nature regardless of the situation.
Located south of Salvagard city and west of Selvon, Prophet’s pass is the one route into and out of the kingdom, especially for any human visitors the kingdom receives.
Not to be confused with the Pass of Prophet, it is a small fortress town surrounded by a domain situated at the base of the pass, making it impossible to cross into the kingdom of Salvagard without travailing through the town first. It is renowned for being almost completely destroyed 250 years ago during the battle of the same name. It was rebuilt by the human prisoners who originally destroyed the town, and is now the centre of trade between Salvagard and the outside world. It is inhabited by both Werewolves and the Human decedents of the prisoners, along with any visitors from outside who come to see the Kingdom of Salvagard itself, albeit only seeing the very edge of the kingdom.
Its primary economy is funded by trade between the outside and the kingdom, with many huge warehouses full of treasures being position strategically around the town and guarded by a small army of Soldiers. The town is also known for having the only official money storage vault for citizens anywhere in the kingdom, located on the outskirts of the town. Here all Salvagardian currency must be handed over before entering the town, and is the method of policing used to prevent any of the kingdoms money from leaking out into human lands, as even one Salvagardian coin would be worth a small fortune to a human. Anyone found smuggling money into the town is sent to the stockade and can be charged with treason if enough money is found on them.
Because human coinage is worthless to a Salvagardian the sole method of exchange in Prophet’s pass is bartered exchange, trading one set of goods for another. Most exchanges will also be overseen by an arbiter that can help determine fair trades if two merchants cannot agree on a price.
Prophets pass also has the largest garrison of Professional soldiers south of the Northern domains, who whilst not on truly active duty must always remain vigilant against the possibility that the humans may send another army to make and incursion into Salvagardian lands. The Great gate is always manned, and scouts make routine forays into the pass of the prophet as a precaution and a deterrent to any bandits that may take up residence
A desolate domain, Frosgard lies west of prophets pass and south of Ordemir. It has been almost completely abandoned by the people of Salvagard since the reign of the Blood Queen, with the majority view that the land has been cursed by her heresy. This may be true, as here game is scarce and many of the trees are stunted and brown, with the soils being barren even in a year of heavy rainfall.
However, there are inhabitants here, who live in the remains of the town of Frosgard, who are known as the Shunned. They are a community of those seen as undesirable by Salvagardian society, mainly those who failed their trial of ascension and are seen as cursed by the twelve. There are also others here, mutants who were exposed to magic energy but did not have the good fortune to die. They can be hairless or covered in sores, be missing appendages or even have too many in some cases, and any who live in this state either come to Frosgard or are executed by the Clerics.
It is a dammed community, and whilst they are shunned by the rest of Salvagard, they are also left alone, as it is better to have them all in one place the spread out across the kingdom.
"You don't have to be mad here, but it helps."