First up for today, it’s another bit in the “Introduction to Atheria” series: in this case some basic information about Parack, the Storm Realm. More information on the various d20 campaign settings for our games, on Eclipse Classless d20, and related topics can be found under the d20 tab.
Parack is primarily the domain of Storm Magic – but it borders on the realms of Dimensional and Solar Magics, which makes for some very interesting weather at times along the borders, which helps land travel to and from Parack limited. Inside, Parack is far less densely settled than the more stable and accessible domains of Atheria. It’s jagged landscape of hills, mountains, valleys, gorges, rushing streams, and small waterfalls is constantly eroding, and being thrust upwards again, by some natural magic of the deep earth. A thick and well-watered, if – for the most part – relatively low forest clings to all but the steepest and newest surfaces. While there are a fair number of foresters, tribesmen, trappers harvesting the (impressive) local furs, lumberjacks harvesting the (extremely dense and tough) local hardwoods, and prospectors exploiting the way in which the constant upheavals and erosion exposes rich, if relatively small, veins of minerals, such activities have relatively little impact on the landscape. The floods, rains, shifting of the earth, and growth of the forest tend to swiftly swallow up settlements who’s reason for existence has passed.
The population is denser along the coast, where the regular storms constantly stir up the bounty of the seas – while adding to the difficulty of harvesting it. The villages here tend to cling to the more durable rocky outcrops, and go to considerable trouble to provide relatively safe anchorages for their fishing boats. Unlike most realms, in Parack gathering stormwrack is a regular industry.
The people of Parack tend – unsurprisingly – towards rugged independence. While they acknowledge a loose community of interests, and derive a vague unity from their respect for the overlords of the fey who moderate the wild magic around them, there is no real “government”. The occasional powerful individual, or wealthy merchant, may exert a great deal of influence locally however. Overall, the population is surprisingly prosperous: the fishing is good, the lumber excellent, and the ready supplies of gems, precious and exotic metals, and skillful sailors (who find most other seas incredibly easy to cross) bring in plenty of trade. In part thanks to the general abundance of opportunities, in part due to the wealth of wild – but merely ordinarily hazardous – forest to head off into, and in part due to a distinct shortage of stability and organization, Parack is one of the few realms on Atheria with relatively few slaves, strong traditions of freedom, and well-developed notions of individual rights. Who knows? Perhaps their Storm Birthright has something to do with it as well.
Unfortunately for visitors, the “currency” of Parack is simply based on carrying around rough gems, nuggets and lumps of valuable metals, and semiprecious stones – all of which are in good supply in Parack. Unfortunately, lacking the locals lifelong experience in casually assessing the worth of such offerings, visitors often find the experience an over-expensive headache. On the other hand, while individual villages may charge some docking fees, and individual locals may gouge strangers a bit, there are no organized taxes or other fees.
Religion in Parack is a multi-leveled thing. While the population sees, and acknowledges, the wild power of The Dragon all about them, and acknowledges the existence of the Unknowable One – believed to be the entity behind the various “higher” gods worshiped in other lands – most actual individuals worship one of those “other faces” and pay regular respects to the elemental powers of the Fey in appreciation of their intervention in their daily lives. In response, the local Fey / Elemental Spirits usually make some allowances for their human worshipers when driving their storms across the land.
The people of Parack tend to see adulthood as a matter of competence, and thus have no firm system for determining it – although, if you’re out on your own and managing, you’re an adult. They don’t see the distinction as being very important anyway: once you’re old enough to talk and reason sensibly, you’re old enough to be apprenticed and to take at least a fair measure of responsibility for what you do. Most crimes are dealt with by banishment (for social offenses), by shipping the offender out (for minor criminal activities), by duels (for offenses against individuals, such as slander), or by execution (for anything major). The people of Parack see no reason to coddle criminals: perfectly inoffensive people, including children, die at sea, in floods, or of various other causes. Why shouldn’t “inability to learn to behave” be just as fatal as “bad luck”?
Finally, the people of Parack speak a wide variety of languages, although virtually everyone there speaks Ikunn. Names for characters from the region can be drawn from 18’th and 19’th century English: the widespread contamination of the local dialect of Ikunn by other tongues – thanks to the heavy emphasis on trade and relatively small local population – has led to a similar melange.