Rivenheart is a barony of the Vale of Morin. A red-coloured scarp sits above the western reach of the Sea of Grass, a large stream entering a maze of canyons, meandering through the mountains. It is 25 miles south of Resmaldi, and 10 miles west of it.
The seat of the barony is abandoned, and although it owes fealty to the Duchy of Carzala, no taxes will be collected until it can support peasants and field troops productively. However, in return for the the patent of ennoblement and the land it is attached to, his grace expects the barony to be a workable part of his grand duchy.
The manor house sits 50 metres above the scarp and is served by a small, constant spring in the form of a fountain. It is an ugly, squat four storey building made of the local stone and chert, facing aggressively east. Some seventy feet high, the building is one hundred and twenty feet long, with two small wings appointing a fortified central structure.
Although the title has been extinct for some thirty-seven years, the previous baron dying alone, dejected, in poverty and without issue, it has remained upright even though uncared for. It would require the work of thirty workers over 8 months to return it to its former glory. This would cost 550 tsg (includes the attendant materials, wages, transport and living expenses). The spring, however, will only provide sufficient water for 24 adults a day. Three acres in front of the hall, once a decorative garden, will support crops such as wheat without drawing upon the spring, although raising sheep, goats or beef will quickly exhaust that supply.
Behind it, a ridge rises to a height of 500 metres over a distance of 7 kilometres wending back and forth in a direction west and a little north. The terrain is extremely rough, being mostly canyons, arid hillocks or shaded riparian fields. There are flat areas that, in a more temperate environment, might have been called alpine meadows and upon which spare, sere grass grows. Bushes and trees like scrub pine etc grow here and there, even on cliff faces, but only the hardiest survive.
Crops can only be supported on the few riverbank fields, almost all of which are heavily shadowed.
Arsenic has been found in the area although, since abandonment, no one has been working it.
The Sea of Grass supports plenty of animal life, and some will find themselves in the area of the barony.
A flock of razor kites (about ten adults) roost upon the high outcrops above Rivenheart. They are about half the size of eagles but are pack hunters,although they take carrion when hunger presses. In large enough numbers, they are quite capable of bringing down prey as large as a wild pig and willingly take on a lone kobold.
- Their vision is spectacular and can distinguish details on something the size of a human from 5 miles away. When one kite descends, others soon follow. Except for their keen eyesight, they possess no special talents, skills or magic. They are not tool users.
|WP:||8-10||PC:||17-20||PB:||8-10||TMR:||12||NA:||Feathers absorb 1 DP|
Weapons:A kite may attack with each talon and beak without penalty:
- Talon: BC 60%, [D10-1], Close, Rank 1-3.
- Beak: BC 50%, [D10], Close, Rank 1-2.
Wild pigs thrive on the plain, and hunters usually look for spoor along the riverbank where they might have wallowed.
A band of baboons (about fifty adults) lives on the plains below, but travels along the riverbank and climbs up to the various plateaux from time to time. The apes are territorial, do not fear people, and become vicious if they perceive they are being threatened.
Red Wolf Pack
A pack of red wolves (about 24 adults) migrates into the area from the second half of autumn, traveling north again in the second half of spring.
- The wolves will displace the baboons when they arrive. Even though outnumbered, their greater FT, EN, TMR and hunting behaviour are a telling advantage and will force the baboons into the high meadows and plateaux where the wolves cannot easily follow. The baboons, nevertheless, find it difficult to survive as there is not much for them to forage, and their young are at risk from the kites.
A Community of Kobolds
This group comprises 5 families, for a total of 24 adults. These kobolds are small, elderly-appearing people whose skin colour is dark blue and who wear hoods of bright colours. They are about 2 1/2 feet tall, and have gnarled faces. They are heavier than they look, an adult weighing about 60 - 70 lbs in their drawers. Not that they wear drawers.
- They have higher than usual primary statistics outlined below. They improve their Stealth Chance by 20, and each Rank increases at a rate of 6 rather than the more usual 5.
- They may learn and advance the General Knowledge Spells or Rituals of any College. However, they Cast and Advance them as Special Knowledge magic (costs 2 FT normally, receives no Experience reduction for high MA).
- They may become an Adept of either the College of Earth Magic (Pacifistic) or the College of Dark Celestial Magic (but not both). They must be literate in a language at Rank 8 and have learnt all of its General Knowledge Spells & Rituals. Once this has been achieved, any Talents of the College become available to them, and they may learn the Special Knowledge Magic if they can find someone to teach them. They may continue to advance General Knowledge Magic outside of their chosen College that they have already learnt, but only as Special Knowledge Magic.
In general, they get along with people very well. They are one of the few earth dwellers that will tolerate faerie. They actively cooperate with brownies and are good at working with stone or detecting unusual constructions. They can see in the dark out to 50 feet so long as there is some light available, and 10 feet in any level of darkness. They are a hard-working people, with a simple, direct view of life. They are unlikely to take up arms against the powerful but will fade away into the environment, never to be seen again if they grow worried.
They carry daggers, hammers, indeed any weapon that they can wield and will wear as much armour as seems practical.
The leader of the community is Grandma Flint, who is a Rank 5 Artisan Physicker, a Rank 6 Artisan Whitesmith, Rank 7 Stealth and a Rank 4 Highlands Ranger.
She is 150 years old, and quite surprised by it. She is very protective of her people, all of whom have some family relationship to her.
The community has established itself near a tin mine although the kobolds are not actively mining since they have no way to sell it. Nevertheless, Grandma Flint, being a journeyman whitesmith, is able to repair metal implements and simple tools so the ore occasionally comes in handy.
The kobolds are unable to support an increasing population because they lack farmers, gardeners, fishers, husbanders or someone with the much-prized miller skill.
They stay away from the fossergrims, do not let their young play near streams and keep an eye on the baboons over winter. They actively avoid Dhaio Janis, who, even though they have negotiated a careful neutrality with him, scares the marrow from their bones.
An Infestation of Fossergrims
The streams that run through the various canyons are the hunting ground of two families of Redcliff Fossergrims, the Chert and the Mikeba. Each family is about 8 adults strong, and have been feuding for generations. They are very difficult to find, the river and its environs being favoured ground for them. They willingly eat other people, preferring the meat of children above fish and cannot be dissuaded from it unless an opportunity to bring down their hated enemies presents itself. Redcliff Fossergrim have 50% more EN and FT, and many are Illusionist Adepts. All of them know a few General Knowledge spells of the College of Water Magic (excepting the Mage Current, Wave Control, Navigation or Ship Strength spells).
Dhaio is a primitive mountain dweller who stumbled upon a lost library which contained wondrous works lost to Philosophy. Indeed, one of the works was a copper scroll which, upon reading, granted him an abiding curiosity along with the requisite discipline to read and research.
Unfortunately, he has a total hatred of fire-makers, and even as he has grown into an educated and cultured entity, still, he is a pitiless enemy of dwarves, elves, humans and hobbits. He has come to an indifferent peace with the kobolds, and although he seems not to have any animus toward the fossergrims, he has been known to fall upon their lairs from a great height now and again. He has, in the past, hesitated before stepping on an orc, but he will hunt down a hill, stone or fire giant and feast on their hearts if he thinks any are nearby.
He is known to enjoy exotic tisanes, fine art and barrels of good quality pipeweed.
He lives in the high passes of the Mountain Wall above Rivenheart, there to fall upon unwary travelers.
His skill in the troll Martial Arts, a discipline of his own devising, is non-pareil.
Rivenheart's climate is warm and dry:
|4-6, Moderate to strong breeze||2-6, Light to strong breeze||4-6, Moderate to strong breeze||5-7, Fresh breeze to near gale|
|6-8, Cool to comfortably warm||7-10, Comfortable to uncomfortably hot||9-6, Uncomfortably hot to cool||7-5, Comfortable to cold|
|3-5, Humid to drizzle||0-3, Dry to humid||2-5, Comfortable to drizzle||4-6, Damp to showers|
Grass fires are not uncommon in the hills over the summer period, and snow never falls except under the most unusual circumstances. Spring water is borne along subterranean aquifers from rainfall as much as 200 miles to the south and east. Rivenheart Manor has underground cisterns which hold twenty cubic metres, but these rarely fill to more than 7 cubic metres, and are mostly stagnant by the beginning of summer.
The area is prone to electrical storms, particularly when the gauge is 9 or higher, and the force is greater than 5.