Seven Hands of Orcus
Gythnorwynn, dwarven in name, is a huge mass of land and a relatively new discovery referred to by those that don’t live there as Freevein. It has only been inhabited by the “master-races” for the last 2800 years and as a result, many of the longer lived peoples of Gythnorwynn are still vying for power and lands. Though well established, many settlements are spread out, some of its lands still unexplored or uninhabited and it’s not unheard of to see roads slowly become overgrown, only to find out the village inhabitants at its end were slaughtered months ago. Though a rugged countryside, beset with rogue war-bands, orcish tribes and dwarven war patrols, its inhabitants manage to make prosperous lives for themselves as rugged frontiersman, keeping their noses to the wind, hacking their living from wilderness with their own two hands and bearing their children along the way. This type of removal from the masses has created somewhat of a wariness in those that live there and plant seeds of superstition in their hearts, but also forge a more hearty than average populace capable of enduring much.
While magic and its use is a very well known and a much coveted ability, there is little seen outside of Gythnorwynn’s major towns and cities and is usually met with distrust. The continent’s lack of spell-casters, combined with its remote location in the world has given rise to a well founded paranoia of anything arcane among its many far-flung farms, hamlets and villages, but is mostly attributed to the humans and younger races of Gythnorwynn whom have never been to a populated area, let alone a big city. Many adventurers have told of being stripped of their magic items upon discovery in smaller towns and even being killed for them on the open road after displaying their use. For the most part, spell-casters and anyone with half a brain have found it fairly easy to hide the fact that an item is magic from a vast majority of people who can’t detect it. It is said, however, that the two dwarven kingdoms of Gythnorwynn are hoarding magically imbued paraphernalia, mostly weapons and armor and have been for centuries, trying to gain the upper hand in coming conflicts.
They employ wizards and conduct raids to track these items down on a regular basis. Newcomers, especially wizards, often feel they have traveled instantly back in time once their feet touch these distant shores. Many, if not all keep their ability to create a magic weapon or even craft a wand, a guarded secret outside of where it is more common.
While arcane magic is rare, divine is just the opposite. When the human peoples of Gythnorwynn first settled and the land was wholly untamed, life was hard. They prayed to the gods for safety and prosperity and turned the continent not into a religious belt, so much as the belt buckle itself. Duringthe mass exodus of the Grantlands or ‘old world’, droves of priests and clerics flocked to the new continent eager to convert and/or claim the thousands of refugees, farmers, workmen and adventurers that headed there.
Though Pelor, St. Cuthbert and Moradin are the most common deities found, whatever faith you follow, will undoubtedly net you a temple to go with it, albeit with some searching. Divine magic items are under strict control, overseen almost exclusively by the associated temple and/or faith it’s created by. Each must be sold from a temple accordingly, lest an unworthy faith take credit for saving your life or curing your pesky disease. The kingdom of Grazier has made it law for any temple within its borders to label their potions and scrolls appropriately. Most others try.
Firemyst, the neutral, honorary capital of Gythnorwynn is also its largest metropolis and, as such, very little is unavailable depending on what means you resort to in obtaining it. Shulamyth far to the south, is the only exclusively elven city on the continent and, as such, little is known. Port Grazier is the capital city of the human kingdom of Grazier carving out the eastern most peninsula of the continent for themselves and, as a result, usually the first place foreigners set foot after the 6 month sea voyage from . Aram’ral and Falgrim, the northern and southern dwarven kingdoms respectively, divide the western half of the continent claiming many mixed race farms, towns, cities and settlements within their vast borders.
Many have continued to journey to Gythnorwynn over the years for several reasons. Most notably, is the promise of a new life, free from the crowded streets of Sorn in the Grantlands or to escape the iron thumb of bureaucracy known well in the vast city of New Justice. Adventurers and opportunists have grown fat on the simple minded settlers and met many fantastic and not so fantastic ends in the streets of Gythnorwynn’s major cities. Talks of recently discovered ancient temples and forgotten settlements have fueled the greed, wanderlust and curiosity of some of the most hard-headed homebodies. Bards and scholars can hardly keep up as new lands are settled, heroes created and whispers and rumors of an old civilization before this one are spread around. Throughout the world, people of all races have been seduced by the gold and mithril rich Spires of Apathy, or Spires, often argued to be the most treacherous expanse of mountains in the world. Those peaks alone account for the vast dwarven population.
(Known, if you are an elf, otherwise ignore) Gythnorwynn was discovered by elves, but of the specific race that founded them, little is known. It was named Acadia after the elven princess of their kind, but her deeds are wholly forgotten and/or not commonly told. Elves are discriminated and stereotyped a great deal by the dwarven races of Gythnorwynn. Though accepted and often revered by other races, elves lead a rough existence trying to claim a space around them, let alone live their lives. When dwarves arrived in the early years, before the land even had its name they enslaved the elves and hunted down the ones that resisted. After the ‘Great Apology’ elves where allowed to live free, but their long racial memory makes it hard for them to move on. The elves that remain are elusive at best and only the most powerful and or duty stricken choose to live among other races which furthers the racial divide. The continent is more racially charged than the old world Grantlands, which is mostly to blame for how young the land is relatively. For the most part, dwarves and elves do not get along well, though the animosity is more pronounced as the races get more segregated. The few who are duty-stricken to do so, begrudgingly accept one another, but most nastiness each race has for the other is unfounded. The dwarves have accepted their past, having put down slavery once and for all and no longer hold elven servants. They just wish the elves would put the past ‘dwarven wrongs’ behind them, but are convinced they never will and assume all elves despise them, as such. Though this is not true, the assumption creates an uneasy feeling amongst most dwarves and causes more annoyance and frustration among the elves than any real cruelty or malice they might have for them. Many elves and especially the elders of Shulamyth can still find within their past, the sting of dwarven whips and can still hear their slender bones crack as they hauled earth from mines and served the power hungry dwarven warlords. For them it was only a generation ago, after all. Honestly, elves have found more trouble with the current warmongering dwarven kings of Gythnorwynn than they do with their dark past. If they could have the dwarves do their bidding it would consist of putting their axes down and shutting their mouths, nothing more.
Half-elves are a bit different. Most humans of Gythnorwynn look upon half-elves with a bit of sadness, thinking that their lives are harder with elven blood in their veins, given the high dwarven presence. Humans assume that elves see half-elves as lesser beings. Dwarves and humans could care less about their mixed breed status, but think full elves frown upon such racial fraternization. While elves can never truly accept a half-elf or as they say, half-human, into their communities given their short lifespan, they see half-humans as somewhat of an escape from the madness and though only a few may feel this this way, secretly envy the fast-burning seemingly care-free life they have been granted.
Half-orcs are as they have always been, looked upon as less than human by humans and even less reliable or trustworthy by other races. While half-orcs and half-elves have something in common, they rarely see themselves in one another, elves as far removed from orcs as they can be with humans taking up the slack in between.
All in all, the continent is rife with growth, excitement and discovery. The recent encounter with what humans are calling a Goliath in the last 20 years, has managed to traverse the seas and has many wondering what this new strange race is all about. Gold is plentiful in nearly every economy, but is going directly to pockets of dwarves and opportunistic others leading the oncoming war effort. Though a begrudging peace has lasted the last 33 years, the two dwarven kingdoms of Gythnorwynn, Falgrim and Aram’ral threaten to clash at every turn and at every neutral intersection. A place where the god you worship is among the first things asked and the land you hail from among the last. Gythnorwynn is both an adventures’ dream and often the reason for their untimely death.