The Heart of Haven
Overview and Introduction
Haven General Overview
The Year is 899.
Haven is the non-ancestral homeland of the human race. Vassals and Lords control most of the land and resources. Poverty, strife, and sickness are rampant. This is an unstable and volatile world where powerful leaders vie for supremacy and the regular men and women pay the price.
The most powerful of these noble families are colloquially called The Prime Houses. There are currently 8 prime houses. Between them these families control most of the continent. Lesser lords and vassals typically pledge themselves to one of these 8 houses. There is no official decree that dictates whether a House is considered Prime or not, it’s more of a colloquial nickname than an actual title, though questioning whether a house is prime or not can be seen as a significant diplomatic faux pas.
Historically men and the other humanoid races have had mixed relations. To the far South is the Elven Homeland, known as The Sister Isles in Common. Legend says this is the ancestral birthplace of man, and thousands of years ago High Elves were our protectors during a large period of wealth and prosperity. As legend tells, man’s ambition got the best of him, asked for too much, rebelled, lost, and was exiled to the continent now known as Haven. This event has become known as The Exodus.
The Shepherd is the most widely worshipped god. Religious texts tell of a great being who protected and guided the early humans in their exile. This is the only truly organized religion, and it’s influence spans the continent.
Other religions include localized sects of nature worshippers or local heroes who have risen to something akin to Sainthood in our Earth. These “pagan” religions have little clout outside their region.
Dwarves and Gnomes are considered “Deep Races” as their ancestral homeland is from beneath the surface. Most of these live in the area known as The Bulwark. Dwarven and Human relations have historically been lukewarm. While man has never gone to war with the dwarves, there have been smaller scale conflicts over the course of history. Currently, The Dwarven Noble Houses have a trade agreement with House Diresh, known as the Black Powder Treaty.
This gave them the military might to seize the throne several generations ago during a bloody civil war. The current monarch was married as a boy to a lady from House Galilan, a pious and influential house. The unification of these two families has made the other 6 houses incredibly nervous. They were married in 897, two years ago. Tensions are high as the other houses scramble to keep up with these two houses.
Gnomes have little holdings or racial wealth or political agencies. They live in peace amongst the Dwarves, typically as tinkerers, mages, or scribes. Gnomes have proliferated throughout the continent, but have no organized hold, nor any claim to any land. Instead they integrate peacefully with humans and dwarves.
The Elves are split up into three distinct races: High Elves, Wood Elves, and Snow Elves. High Elves reside a few hundred miles south of Haven on twin islands. HIgh Elves rarely travel to Haven unless it is for diplomatic reasons. Most men and dwarves regard High Elves with awe at best and utter contempt and jealousy at worst. Wood Elves are elves who migrated to Haven thousands of years ago. Their life span is dramatically shorter than High Elves, but their age can still dwarf a human’s. These continental elves are xenophobic and typically unwilling to work with the other surface races. They are typically nomadic in nature and live amongst the various deep forests that dot the Western coast of The Vale. Snow Elves are the most mysterious and unknown of all the humanoid surfcace races. Men rarely interact with them, as they live in isolation in an incredibly inhospitable land known as Qenya Manir, or more simply “The Barren North.” Little to nothing is known about this alien race, but most consider them to share some sort of common descendant with elves due to their shared qualities of lithe appearance and aloofness.
Orcs are completely bestial and savage. They are from the Deep Realms, an area underground that is completely alien and inhospitable to man. Beneath the Deep Realms lies the Underdark, an area that exists only in theory. Orcs, and other goblinoid races, live constantly in conflict with the surface races. but rarely organize themselves to be any major threat. Goblins, while seemingly native to the surface are frequently hired, recruited , or press-ganged by Orcs and other deep races.
Half-Orcs are seen as an abomination against nature and rarely make it to adulthood. Those who do usually keenly hide their heritage to avoid persecution. Half-Orcs are rarely (if ever) born from a mutual union, and are almost always abandoned or killed as newborns. Half-Orcs must hide their heritage or face immediate danger.
Half-Elves, while not as persecuted as Half Orcs, still face prejudice and persecution due to Man’s mutual contempt for elves in general. While mutual union of a human and Wood Elf is not uncommon, it is certainly not accepted by the general population. Half-Elves rarely make it to adulthood as they are frequently abandoned or sold into slavery as newborns. Half-Elves that make it into adulthood still face prejudice, but are typically not attacked on sight like a Half-Orc.
Halflings do not exist in this world. Halflings instead are colloquially known as Sun Dwarves. While rare, sometimes dwarves leave the safety of their mountain homeland to find fame and fortune out on the surface. Over the centuries these surface dwarves have become less hearty and more capricious than their mountain dwarf cousins, and are almost an entirely new race. Larger than typical Halflings, they are still only about 3’-4’ feet in height, and are much less bulky than typical dwarves. They have no holdings or clout, and typically integrate peacefully in human villages and towns, but never hold positions of power politically. Most humans regard Sun Dwarves with respect and acceptance.
There are no other “peaceful” surface races. Goblinoid races dot the landscapes with various lairs or small warbands, but are never organized enough to hold land. Monsters from deep beneath the earth harry and harass the surface dwelling races. The forces of vassals and Prime Houses typically exterminate these nests as needed, but the roads and general countryside are frequently dangerous and violent if not within distance of a lord’s hold.
Human villages and towns tend to stay within a day’s travel of a lord’s hold. but more remote settlements are not unheard of. While safer from monsters and savage races, these people are not safe from the sins of other men, and life as a typical Havenite is far from easy.
There are two metropolises on Haven: Griffin’s Port, and Strife’s End. Griffin’s Port is the seat of power in The Vale, and is the center of commerce and trade in the region. Favorable trade winds led to Griffin’s Port being the most central location for trade along the east coast, and has often been seen as the most prized hold for any House. Strife’s End, while not as centrally located as Griffin’s Port, or as contested, is instead a walled and sequestered city where humanoids go to study magic and history. Strife’s End hosts the only true great library in Haven, The Grand Athaneum and is home to most of men’s technological and philosophical writing.