The Grace Lands
The Grace Lands
The Grace Lands are both the name of the land bordered by the western wastes, Southern Delta, and the Northern and Eastern forests. Splitting the Grace Lands is the River, running from the somewhere in the Frozen Lands in the North to empty into the Delta Bay. In the east, the Smoke Mountains divide the great Northern and Eastern forests. The southwest is largely uninhabitable. The Dry Lands (as they are called) mark the Grace Lands’ border with the Sand Sea. The “civilized” (i.e., organized settlements) population of sentient humanoids within the entire Grace Lands numbers less than 20,000. While there are visits of those who are from the outside, the lands surrounding Grace Lands are extremely dangerous. Few who attempt to travel past these natural borders ever return and those who do are no better off than before they left. This is enough to convince most of the indigenous peoples to stay where they are – life is hard enough within the Grace Lands.
As documented in the archives of the city of Graceland, the Grace Lands were founded by Jacob Gary more than 15 generations ago. He was said to be aided by a man from the stars who fell to the earth after witnessing the Fall of the Ancients. Tay-Lor (the star man) had pity on those left behind and chose to help Jacob rebuild the world that was left. Learning basic masonry, hunting, and agriculture from the star man, Jacob went on to teach his family who built what is now the city of Graceland. As the first successful crops were harvested, Tay-Lor vanished. On the anniversary of Tay-Lor’s departure, Jacob began travelling the countryside with his son Elwood, helping those he found by sharing his knowledge. Through the course of years, Jacob and Elwood Gary attracted assistants and volunteers. These followers carried on this work and named themselves the Peace Brigade.
The primary population of the Grace Lands consists of humans and humanoids. Small pockets of sentient animals and plants are known in the area, but they generally do not mingle with the larger, established humanoid communities.
The groups of settlements within the Grace Lands are loosely affiliated with each other and have generally peaceful relations. The communities have established open trade and have a history of helping each other in times of trouble or outside threat. The Peace Brigade, headquartered in the city of Graceland has reached out to help fortify and protect the surrounding settlements and towns. In return they exact a small tax each year (in currency or trade goods). Beyond that, each town governs itself as it sees fit and there is no ruling body presiding over all of the Grace Lands.
The common currency of the Grace Lands is the domar. Left behind by the Ancients, the domar is a disc inlayed with colors and symbols. The colors denote value as indicated: Yellow = D1; Red = D3; Blue = D5; Green=D10; Black=D20; Orange = D50; White = D100. The discs are uniform in size: 3 mm thick and 3 cm across. Gold can also be used to purchase goods, especially in outlying areas; 1kg of gold is generally traded at the value of 175 domars.
Religion and ideology take a back seat to the day to day survival. Certain common celebrations are held that primarily reflect the changing seasons. For the most part, social and ethical mores illustrate an acceptance of intelligent and peaceful sentient beings, regardless of genome. A society called The Brotherhood of Thought has grown from those who embrace this view as more of a maxim than a civilized courtesy. A mysterious cult called Rebirthers is said to be operating in the Far East near Atlan. As mentioned earlier, the Peace Brigade was founded by the prodigy of Jonas Gary and is headquartered in Graceland. The traditional views of the group are prevalent and only a minority support the reformed viewpoints. A radical organization calling themselves Knights of Genetic Purity has established a stronghold called Harbortown in the south.
Graceland is the name of the largest settlement in the region. Graceland sits just to the south of an Ancient city (believed to be called “Graceland”) on the banks of the River. Located in the heart of the countryside, Graceland is a fortified city with surrounding farms and homes. The population here is estimated to be about 5,000. Graceland has grown into a melting pot of culture and openness. The government consists of the Council of Elders headed by the Bono Vox. The Shelby are the ruling branch of the Peace Brigade and maintain local order while providing civil support and service. Graceland boasts the healthiest mix of humanoids; even the occasional sentient animal or plant can be seen in one of the three markets or business halls.
Hopkins is a farming community several days to the northeast of Graceland. They are known for the production of Raspberry wine and wheat from the Steeler Fields. There is a roughly a population of 2,000 in and around the town. A community of Hoops abides in the surrounding grasslands and on more than one occasion, the towqn has been subject to raids resulting in destroyed homes and crops.
Meridian is said to be the birthplace of Jacob Gary. Meridian consists of a fortified city of about 3,000 surrounded by 10-15 farms. The land here is very rich and yields the best crops in the land. The climate is very regular and there are relatively few dangers in the area. While this is a very devout Seeker community, they openly accept help from the Peace Brigade with the understanding that no weapons of technology higher than crossbows are allowed within the town proper.
Texark is a small town of less than 1,000. They engage in a form of communism that ensures after first fruits are taken by the laborer, all other bounty is shared among the community. They elect a mayor once every lunar cycle (19 years) who also acts as the town’s judge in legal matters.
Harbortown is the newest settlement on the Grace Lands and sits directly on the coast of the Delta Bay. It is a closed community of about 1,000 that openly supports the ideological racism of the Knights of Genetic Purity. New settlers are allowed after a lengthy application process, strict initiation rites and economic dues are paid.
Shamrock is more of an outpost than a town. It started as a collection of buildings along a single street where families that live nearby can come to trade. In the past 15 years, it has gained notoriety as a gateway for those coming from the Far West. Food, shelter and goods can always be found here.
Clearwater sits on the southern tip of the Kay Sea, a fresh water lake. It is a fishing community of about 1,000 that attracts visitors interested in the ruins of Topic and Kay Sea that guard the western and eastern borders of the lake.
University is the seat of higher learning and spirituality for Graceland. Well preserved letters from the Ancients were found here 4 generations ago and people from all over have come to University to learn and eventually return to their homes to teach and lead.
The Cape is a town onMiso Lake. The cursed ruins of Louis sit just to the north. In an attempt to keep the Curse from flowing into the River, the residents built dams and closed one of the river’s forked channels closest to the ruins. As fresh, untainted water gathered, the Miso Lake was formed. The forest situated on the other side of the lake provides much of the work as trees are cut down and easily transported south to Graceland.
Many ruins dot the landscape of the Grace Lands. Only three are believed to hold the Curse: Louis in the north; Fort Ranger in the dry lands; and Atlan in the east. All other ruins range from a small grouping of buildings (Jackson and Hunt), to sailors’ tales of underwater cities (Rocket Town, Saints’ City, Talon Sea). The ruins are generally avoided as they have a negative stigma generally associated with the Ancients. The general populous believes them to be haunted with the spirits of the Ancients. Much of what could be termed as valuable or useful has long since been scavenged. Buildings are generally overrun with vegetation (except in the cities tainted with the Curse) and tend to hold dangerous inhabitants to include live metal.
For the past 3 years, the Carnival has traveled through Grace Lands just before Lammas. The Carnival hosts games of chance; a market of linens and tools primarily from the villages of the Great Rocks; and the most popular of all, the Games. The Games are a gladiatorial-like, three-night event that pits fighters against each other in deadly duels. Patrons flock to see humans, moreaus (which are very rare in Graceland) and animals fight in a caged arena.