I have been working on a new campaign set in the Vaaran Kingdom of Palus. This is still material I may change as time goes on but thought I would share it with Sertorius fans looking for information on the region. Also be sure to check out my post on Vaaran Castles here: VAARAN CASTLES.
I am including an encounter chart below as well.
Some things to note. I do have stats on the Dunger-gel but want to hold off sharing them publicly until it has been used in my personal campaign (both to keep my players on their toes but also because I may revise it further). For the Barga use the Monstra template on a Bear (I will also be giving this stats and posting it).
Ruler: King Hanno-Kar
Languages: Gruskel (Vaaran), Khubsi, Ronian (Aristocracy)
Religion: Church of Ramos
Exports/Resources: Salted Cod, Tar (exported to Shahr and Ronia for shipbuilding), Timber, Relics*
Races: Humans (40%), Halfling (20%), Dwarf (15%), Gru (15%), Orc (2%), Ogre (8%)
Palus is a kingdom that spans the Gashta forest and northern coast of the Varian Sea. It was once part of the Ronian Empire but before that its southern territory was settled by halflings from Shahr whose descendants still live in the region. When Ronia split after the Caelum invasion, Palus (like many of the northern provinces) grew unstable and it fell to Gru invaders. However it was reclaimed by the humans in the area with the rise of Voharus and a line of Ronian kings was established. The present king is a Halfling of Khubsi descent named Hanno-Kar.
King Hanno-Kar has developed strong ties with Khubsi speaking regions in the south, notably Bukhra and Shahr. In exchange for access to Tar pits he has been given a large army of dwarven mercenaries to help protect Port Sul.
In Palus the Church of Ramos is strong and fear of Sertori rampant. Most view Sertori as demons or thralls of demons. Sertori are hunted here and the king has a standing offer of 100 Gold and a horse to anyone who kills one. Suspicion often falls on non-Sertori who earn the envy of their neighbors. In both cases the most common form of execution is impalement during sleep. The body is always beheaded then burned. A community of Sertori hunters exists, led by Gesara of Palus who has the support of King Hanno-Kar. Many of them are Ogres.
Construction of homes and buildings vary but wattle and daub are predominant in the interior. Stone is also used occasionally, with the bricks bound using tar. Many of the houses use tar for mortar. Castles in the area tend to be wooden structures with wooden walls. These are little more than hill forts built on mounds with ramparts and ditches circling the structures. They either protect the personal residence of the castle lord (Maorides) or enclose a settlement.
Taxes are levied by the king through his lords and the structure is loosely feudal with Ronian-Blooded humans and Khubsi-descended Halflings occupying the ruling class and humans of Kash stock (primarily Gruskel speakers) living as slaves, villeins, freemen, or craftsmen. In the cities this structure tends to less predictable. There is a simmering low-grade conflict in Palus between the Ronian aristocrats and Khubsi aristocrats.
There are two major classes of Lord in Palus: Castle Lord (Maorides) and Minor Lord (Archon). Generally speaking anyone living within the sphere of a Castle Lord is under his authority. Anyone living on the manor of a castle lord or minor lord is also under his authority. A Castle Lord will often parcel out his land to Minor Lords. Only members of these two classes may own swords and command armies. While the true power lies with the Castle Lord, he usually delegates powers to Minor Lords. Not all of these have land of their own, many simply have the title Archon and serve a Castle Lord. To become a Maorides or Archon one must be from a Ronian or Khubsi family line that traces its origins back to the establishment of Palus during the uprising of Voharus. While Latari speaking Orcs of similar pedigree can also become Lords this is almost never done in Palus (which makes it something of an exception in the region).
Cities and towns that produce goods of value to the kingdom or that attract merchants are given special exemption from lordly authority and taxation. They answer directly to the King and can appoint their own leaders as well as make their own laws (provided they do not conflict with the King’s wishes or the rules of the Church of Ramos). They are usually named after the King who bestowed special status on them.
There are two large settlements of note in Palus: Port-Sul and Shahr-Tel. Port Sul on the coast, a former Shahri colony that is now the seat of the king. Shahr-Tel is an important trade city bridging the eastern and western sections of the kingdom. It is also known for its strong black market in ancient Nong Sai relics. Shahr-Tel has a reputation in the countryside for being a haven for Sertori as well. It is about 160 miles North of Port Sul. Beyond Shahr-Tel things grow increasingly unstable.
Gruskel is the most common language. Due to the large presence of Halflings who settled here from Shahr, Khubsi is the second most common tongue. Nobles tend to speak Ronian and Khubsi.
The population is predominantly Gruskel (Vaaran) speaking Humans of Kash stock. Ronian Humans are also common and form the bulk of the aristocracy. Halflings are also quite frequent here both populating the aristocracy but also forming an important class of merchants, craftsmen and engineers in the cities (where they tend to live in greatest numbers). Most Halflings speak both Khubsi and Gruskel. There are many dwarves in Palus but they are mainly mercenaries though there are also dwarven blacksmiths and stone masons who have lived here for generations and usually tie themselves to reputable Halfling families in the cities. Ogres are unusually common here as well and exist outside the normal system of taxation and lordly rule. They live primarily in the cities where they often find employment as soldiers, bodyguards or Sertori hunters. The people of Palus value Ogres and treat them better than other places due to their resistance to Sertori magic (Ogres are considered blessed and a sign of luck). Orcs are less common here than other Vaaran kingdoms but not unheard of.
Gru tribes are an increasing problem in Palus, particularly North of Shahr-Tel where the Tari have taken root. But the Gru are not the only invaders. In the east a group of human hill tribes called the Warngel have grown increasingly bold, crossing over from Apprea and raiding local settlements.
The people of Palus take oaths more seriously than other places. They believe in a creature called the Dunger-gel. According to legend the Dunger-gel was an important Ronian general who commanded the northern armies of the empire before its split. He violated his oath of loyalty to the empire and church and sided with Caelum in exchange for land and offices. But before he could claim his prize, Ramos cursed him to turning him into the Dunger-gel, a beast whose arms are wrapped in the thick roots of trees and whose body made of earth and flesh. From head to toe the Dunger-gel is wreathed in spiny thorns that carry the venom of the Thorny Death Moss. Now the Dunger-gel haunts the forests at night, devouring those who have told a lie.
Because this was once the seat of Nong Sai (thousands of years in the past) there remain many ruins in the Gashta Forest and a trade in relics has developed (sold mainly to Shahri and Ronian merchants). Tongasha is the most well known of these but there are others like the Chok Sai ruins. However Grim Beasts are abundant in the forest and particular near the Nong Sai ruins, so those who venture into the tunnels and stupas of Nong Sai are wise to come prepared.
ENCOUNTER TABLE: GASHTA FOREST I
3 Haunchback Spiders (1-5)
4 Hill Tribesmen (1d10)
5 Sabaqi Giants (1d10)
6 Haunchback Spiders
7 Elk (1d10)
8 Thorny Death Moss
9 Bandits (1d10)
10 Wolves (1d10)
13 Gru Tribesmen (1d10), 1 in 10 chance of a Berserker being present
14 Strix (1d10)
15 Worm Wood
17 Ogre Tribesmen (1-5)
18 Gru Slave Traders (1d10)
19 Sertori Hunters (1-5 Ogres and 1d10 Humans, Halflings or Gru)
20 Roll on GASHTA FOREST II
TABLE: GASHTA FOREST II
6 Krut (1-2)
7 Elk (1d10)
12 Theklan Raiders
14 Trolls (1-3)
17 Boar (2d10)
20 The Barga (Bear Monstra)