31 August 2011

Barael's Europe

We're talking about the Shepherd Map, which shows The Germanic Kingdoms and the East Roman Empire in 486 AD. At this early stage, I'm still figuring out exactly what's what, which is code for "You're going to read about the setting as I create it." For now, that means I'll start with generalities and zero in on details later (and sporadically at that—my goal is to "seed" the setting and let individual GMs decide the on the specifics for themselves).

1 hex = 125 miles
I've applied a 125-mile hex grid, which will ultimately fit into the Welsh Piper hex grid templates when I detail individual areas. This puts the map at 2,855 x 2,232 miles, or 6,372,360 square miles. To put this in proper perspective, I'd say that's about the size of Greyhawk.

The map shows continental Europe packed with Germanic Kingdoms populated by barbarian peoples who live by might, sorcery, and cunning (and by sorcery, I mean pagan demon-stuff). With few exceptions, each Germanic Kingdom is a confederacy of petty states who cooperate only to thwart the aggression of neighbouring kingdoms. When not so engaged, they fight amongst themselves. Most are ruled by kings or sub-kings, but some are under the control of sorcerers who use demonic allies and minions to enforce their rule.

The East Roman Empire is all that remains of the Roman supremacy that once stretched west to Gibraltar, yet Christianity still holds sway there, and it is far more ordered than the Germanic Kingdoms as a result. While firmly rooted in the land of its birth, Eastern Christendom seeks to recapture the Holy Lands of Europe, where the great evil of pagan gods was once defeated. It is the hope of the Church that the Germanic warlords will again bow before the cross (else it is the task of the Christian fighting orders to make them kneel under the sword).

There are four principle areas shown on the map:
  • Germanic Kingdoms (shaded areas): "Civilised" and thus support cities, towns, agriculture, and commerce. In the absence of Roman stability, many have reverted to the pagan ways of the Germanic Paganism (Wotan). However, some are Arian Christian (West Goths, Vandals, and Lombards), having "broken" from the Catholic church adopted by Rome under Constantine. [1]
  • East Roman Empire (green shaded border): Consisting primarily of Thrace, Illyricum, Asia Minor, and Egypt. This is the seat of Christian power in the setting—any Christian found outside the Empire is either an Arian, a missionary, or a crusader.
  • Lost Colonies (British Isles): The Roman departure from the British Isles left them just as (if not more) chaotic than when they arrived. The barbarians who remained—the Celts, the Picts, and the Britons—fell alternately to warring amongst themselves and defending their borders from the Angles, Jutes, Saxons, and Frisians who turned greedy eyes toward the Isles when the Romans left. It's possible that this is the most tumultuous place on the map.
  • Wilderness (white areas): Holy crap, these are crazy places! The Darkness mentioned in Barael's Blade is creeping across these lands, encroaching upon Christian holds and pagan states alike. The wilderness is populated by nomads and barbarian horsemen, dragons, giants, demons, and worse.
Next up, a quick capsule history of How Things Came to Be.
Listening to: Marian McPartland, Marian McPartland with Dave Brubeck
  1. Fr. Dave notes that "Heretics were not killed by the Romans, they were banished to the barbarian lands outside the Empire. There, they managed to find some footholds." IOW, Arian Christians exiled from Rome no doubt found there way to Arian states. Certainly, some ended up knee-deep in the wilderness, surrounded by yapping horsemen with bows, but maybe these guys weren't Christian anyway...I like to think it all worked out for them.

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