Humans & The Empires of Man
Humans are the youngest of the races of Saas. In comparison with the elder races of Saas, and the Elves in particular, Humans are scrawny, sickly, stupid, ugly, weak, frail, slow, clumsy, foolish, incapable of long-term thinking and given to a may-fly existence which is over before they achieve even the least of things. Dwarves regard human artifice as slipshod, centaurs perceive them as being disconnected from nature and naďve, while elves have always treated humans like very simple children. Typically lower class humans will be lucky to live to 50 years old, while upper class humans will be lucky to live to 100 – more than any other race a human’s living conditions will determine their life expectancy. In all areas humans are a pale candle next to the divine fire of the elder races. But humans have one advantage that no other race can claim: they are adaptable. The dwarves would never abandon their mountains, the lizardmen cannot leave the high humidity of their swamp, the dark elves need close contact to the dark fragment of their fallen master and all that prevents the elves from running wild across the whole world is their desire to live within the Green Wood. Humans, as a creation in which so many gods meddled, can live anywhere from the icy north to the central desert to the subtropical south with equal ease and it is this adaptability which has allowed humans to spread so successfully across the entire continent.
The empires of man are many and varied.
In the icy north, beyond the eternal mists of the Ringar Hills, is the tribal fief of Nordun. Nordun is cold, bleak and perpetually windswept, unsuitable for cultivation and hostile to all life. The humans who inhabit the icy north live by their skills as hunters and fishermen and by sea trade routes; selling the hides of the many beasts they kill. Nordun is not one land which is encompassed by a single border, but takes the form of a number of homesteads defended by powerful Berserker warriors and Shamans who are constantly under assault by the wandering armies of orcs and fimir that dominate every inch of wilderness north of Ringar. The Norden as they call themselves are the hardiest of the human races. Norden of both sexes clothe themselves in the pelts of wolves and hairy walrus hide, they are tall, blue-eyed, blonde-haired and live by the strength of their arm and the sharpness of their axes. The leaders of the Norden are homestead chiefs whose position is hereditary, while the position of ruler of the race is seldom as clear cut as one individual being declared king upon birth. There are recognised power blocks within Nordun, these being South, South-Centre, Centre, North & East, each of which consists of several homesteads and each of which will have their own preferred candidate for king. As a result of this factionalism few kings are ever crowned and it is not unusual for Nordun to endure 50 or 60 years without a ruler. Currently Nordun and the Norden are ruled by Young King Belthos, who is the first king to come from the storm-lashed East in seven hundred years, and though he rules to the best of his abilities his land is beset by orcs and ravaged by a new generation of winter wolves who raid both the humans and orcs from the fastness of the glacial core of the icy north.
Bordered to the south by the World Spine Mountains, to the north by Ringar, the Green Wood and the Buzzard Mountains, and to the east and west by oceans, Alanthor is the largest of the human nations and stretches across the girth of the whole continent. In the west near Capitol, the heart of this human realm and seat of its millennia long Imperial dynasty, Alanthor is plush and green with light woodland and rolling grassland, while in the east lies the continent’s central desert; the land is scorched by the sun and scourged by the remnants of ancient evil magics which have destroyed all life. As a land of contrasts it is no surprise that the people of Alanthor are not of a common stock but were unified under the campaigns of many emperors who have long since joined the revered dead. The west was home to the Hund, who lived in Ringar and were driven to the south before the human race learned to write, and also to the Yiln, who were the first of the tribes of man to speak with dwarves and elves and who in turn became the forefathers of all the human tribes who live south of the World Spine. To the east were the Arba, who founded the first true empire of man, which was infamously destroyed and whose final years are recorded only in the Journal of Shezaram: a rare book of necromantic lore. The Arba who survived founded the second empire which was subsequently conquered by Alanth, the king of the Yiln, who took the title of emperor, established mighty standing armies to defend his empire, and became the first (but not the last) Alanthorian Emperor to perish in an ill advised attempt to storm Greathold and subjugate the dwarf race. As a result of this dwarves have the saying “there is no death so certain that all men will avoid it” from which the extremely common phrase “certain death” comes. The Hund did not fall under the heel of the third empire until the reign of Emperor Tarquinius The Backstabber, who seized power through several acts of infamy culminating in the assassination of the Hund royal family. Tarquinius became the first ruler of all the land of Alanthor as it is today, but he enjoyed such a reign for less than a month as he was killed by his own assassin, whom the Emperor had “neglected” to pay. The Backstabber’s successor was Richard Elf-friend, who fought against the black dragon Belutraxus Durrunthrax The Despoiler and whose bravery and nobility so impressed Aethlis, mightiest of the Dol Cadradriel, that the archmage made the king a throne that would “sit at the head of all tables” and a crown which would “rule all men justly even were the wearer unjust to all men”. The throne is called simply the Imperial Throne and is kept at the court of Capitol, while the second artefact, holiest of the Empire’s relics, is called the Crown of Kings; it resides in the priestly city of Immambar and is brought to Capitol only for the coronation of a new Emperor. Alanthor is held together by a strictly regimented feudal system with the Emperor at the top, beneath him are his Dukes and Military Dukes (who command the armies), beneath them are the Barons who collectively control 80% of all Alanthor’s land and population and beneath them are the Knights of the Realm, the merchant class and the peasantry. The current Emperor of Alanthor, effectively the most powerful man in the world, is Reynir Northolt II; an aging but mentally sharp and dangerous sly politician whose labyrinthine plots and schemes touch every nation in the world.
Alanthor is the greatest of all the empires of man, its armies are disciplined, its navy a powerful trading force, its wizards numerous and skilled, its natural resources vast and its great cities thrice ringed with high stone walls. It is an indomitable nation whose spirit has endured innumerable hardships and whose rulers, though occasionally terrible and cruel, are thankfully very often wise, learned, just and brave. It is either with great care or great carelessness that any incur the wrath of this land.
There are three distinct tribes in Alanthor: the Hund, the Yiln and the Arba. The Hund clearly show their kinship with the Norden, they are fair-skinned and blonde, tall muscular and athletic. The Yiln are convivial yet determined, industrious and politically savvy. Yiln are tanned with dark eyes and hair, shorter than the Hund and more given to gymnastic wiry strength than brute force. Arba are dark skinned, though the tone varies from as light as a typical Yiln’s shading to pitch back, their hair is always black and their eyes are a spectral and discomforting shade of green, which is a result of living in a high-magic environment. Arba are the mathematicians and engineers of the human species; they have exacting minds and have a remarkable understanding of abstract design.
To the extreme west of the continent of Alanthor, and south of the World Spine, are the Windward Steppes. These rough hills with scraggly grasses and spiky tuberous plants are home to the goatherds called the Burrani. The Steppes is a poor country with few resources of any kind, and no standing army. There are several towns on the Steppes, but only one real castle with defensive fortifications in the capital Ultersfeld. The Burrani are humble, warm and generous people who share the Yiln appearance and physique. Windward Steppes is ruled by a duke, which is a legacy of its one-time vassalage to Alanthor which was ended by the Burrani rebellion about 300 years ago. The current duke is Martisse Huppe, and the old man is currently making political manoeuvres to ensure his only child, the Lady Elise Huppe, is able to assume the throne without first having to be married to some foreign power. Emperor Reynir has made several advances to the Windward Steppes, attempting to marry one of his sons to the Lady Elise and thus regain control of the rebellious dukedom. All of these advances have been rebuffed, but as the duke’s strength fades and his nation is left without an army to defend it this situation may change at a moment’s notice.
Boune is the second greatest human nation. This ancient and troubled monarchy is often wracked by internal strife upon any sign of weakness from its King. This is in part due to the structure of the nation; it is divided into twelve principalities (Forgone, Lotno, South Enshall, North Enshall, The Marchings, Dundersdenn, Glen Murdo, The Peaks, Humbervale, Arwan, Western Arwan and the Port of Mensh) each ruled by a Prince, each of whom has only one ambition, which is to become King. A King can only rule successfully by playing the Princes off against one another so each King works to ensure that the Princes are evenly matched. Ironically the most successful Kings (the ones who actually get to die peacefully in bed, not having been poisoned) have been the ones with the smallest military might. Dominant Kings quickly inspire alliances among the Princes while the weaker ones appear to be very little threat and thus remain secure as rulers while the Princes plot amongst themselves. Because of this unstable structure, mercenary companies are politically very important; their shifting loyalties make and break rulers. Currently Artemis Darandan, Prince of Western Arwan, is the King of Boune and having ruled incident free for almost 10 years it seems likely he will live out his days as the incumbent. The people of Boune are descended from Yiln stock.
The City-State Of Paldor
On the rocky east coast of the Boune peninsula stands the fortress city of Paldor. Its indomitable walls are black rock and its battlements, lined by war machines and patrolled by guards both night and day, have never been stormed. The city was once a free port where merchant lords decided the law and trade was the city’s only concern. That was the case until 3 years ago when the city was seized by the enchantress Sealu Fiore and a band of adventurers. Sealu quickly killed the merchant lords and took possession of their assets, then used her magic to charm the city guard and reneged on her deal with the adventurers in a most final way. Since then the despotic self-appointed Queen of Paldor has ruled the city-state with an iron fist. Trade continues according to her wishes and the law is her whim. She sees very few people but is said to have access to several scrying devices which allow her to be almost constantly aware of activity within the city. The people of Paldor are mostly human of Yiln stock, with their recent roots in Boune, but there is a great deal of racial mixing since all human races can be found in this trading city.
To the extreme south of the continent of Alanthor, beyond the World Spine, beyond even the Great Plain, is a sun-kissed peninsula where the weather is warm and invariable; two oceans meet at its tip but the coast is shallow so the waves are small and the waters clear blue. In the hills and valleys of the peaceful land a wise and artistic people grow olives, tend goats and harvest wild maize. Life in Metereria is peaceful and in living memory the country has been unmolested by war or famine. Of all the races of men the Metererians are the most elf-like; they pursue art above all things and value wisdom and skill more than gold. Metereria is a republic divided into five provinces (Mederin, Leran, Villicia, Al-Greppe & The Islands) which are ruled by democratically elected counsels and the region known as the Wild Wood, which is the protectorate of Wosan the Sorceress. Metererians are of Yiln stock, though over the years there has been much interbreeding between them and the Arba, so they are much darker skinned than their closest relatives and display a higher propensity towards having normally coloured green eyes. The nation does not have a permanent counsel, instead one is convened in times of trouble and one representative is sent from each region. This counsel sits in the city of Arten in Al-Greppe and were it to meet now the five most likely candidates to be on the counsel would be Tomas Biaster, Oron Klen, Fudo Mieldel, Orten Miedel, Gordion Urn and Wosan.
Creating A Human
All characters on Saas have their abilities determined by a points system rather than dice rolling. Humans have the racial capacity to excel in any area, but are not remarkable in every area as Elves are so they have only 79 points to spend, but their final scores must be within these limits. Humans, as an extremely adaptable race, may be of any class except the mage – humans may pursue magic as a specialist wizard with standard benefits, but do not have the capacity to understand broad theories of magic. All humans will be of either Norden, Hund, Yiln or Arba blood or a mixture of those.
Attribute: Min / Max
STR: 3 / 18/00 (it costs 1 point for each 20% of exceptional strength)
DEX: 3 / 18
CON: 3 / 18
WIS: 3 / 18
INT: 3 / 18
CHA: 3 / 18
The following special rules apply to humans.
Non-Vital Race: Humans are the least magical, least divine of all races. As such their wizards require magical +1 staffs (which they begin the game with for free) to cast any spells. These staffs replace any spell components worth less than 100gp. Non-wizardly spell casters require similar focal objects.