The Shade Isle Campaign
The land of Rûne is a vast expanse of dramatically varying terrains: high mountains, rolling hills and valleys, and lush forests. Of all the northern countries, Rûne is perhaps the most hospitable to humans and therefore the most densely populated. The Rûne Range, a chain of tall, jagged mountains, runs east and west across the southern border of this country, mostly cutting it off from Corscony. To the north, a fell and troll-infested bog makes overland travel to Laomark extremely difficult. To the west are the Caesg Sound and Sylûl Bay, connected by the Highrun Channel, which also runs from the Sylûl down to the Auradeep Sea. On the Rûnish side of the channel are deep fjords and high, sheer cliffs (known as the Clarrid Cliffs). To the east is pretty much open plains, leaving Rûne wide open to two hostile territories: the breakaway police-state called Dolheim and the goblin-haunted wastes of Arkhänia.
Dolheim was once part of Rûne, with a free city known as Gran-Heath standing on the coast there. But when Sir Svartsen the Black marched his armies through the troll-swamps and started to pillage and destroy every goodly thing in sight, no help came to Gran-Heath from the other Rûnish thanedoms. Internecine squabbles and petty civil wars kept the Rûnemen from rushing to the aid of their own. By the time they’d noticed that trouble was on their doorstep, it was too late; Gran-Heath was destroyed, and Svartsen was already building his new capital, Jearing, atop its ashes.
The closest thing to a central authority in Rûne is the fortified city of Castleforge, high up on a single, lonely mountain that towers over the surrounding plains. Here, the thanes hold moot and have the power to elect a High King in times of crisis; since the fall of Gran-Heath, Angus of Thaneskeep (the de facto capital of Rûne, a knightly city of humans and centaurs) has ruled as king, but it’s all he can do to hold the other chieftains together; Rûne does not yet have the strength to attack Dolheim.
Two great dwarven strongholds, Rûnehenge in the Rûne Range and Sariah-Dhûm along the Clarrid Cliffs, are home to the Rûne (or Red) Dwarves. The Red Dwarves are famous for two things: bright red beards and the finest metalwork in all of Lethandria. Sariah-Dhûm in particular is rumored to hold vault after vault, gallery after fine hall, of fabulous works of artistry, the greatest treasure in all of Dwarfdom. Rûnehenge, meanwhile, ruled by Lord Karak “the Bonebreaker” Stonefist, is famed primarily for its breeding of châkka, large yellow-feathered riding-birds (called “birdsteeds” in the common tongues of men) that the dwarves prefer to ride instead of horses (which they despise).
Except for the dwarven kingdoms, which are small and mostly confined to the mountainous borderlands, Rûne is a land of fiercely independent city-states called thanedoms. Each has its chief or thane, few of whom are ever bold enough to style themselves with a royal title like “duke” or “prince”, never mind “king”. The humans of Rûne (often simply called Rûnemen) are the most chivalrous in Lethandria: skilled horsemen and lancers, to the Rûnefolk the call of knighthood is the highest honor. (It is for this reason, especially in the south of Rûne, that centaurs—which make unparalleled knights for obvious reasons—are welcomed among the Rûnemen as equals; this is in rather startling contrast to the way that centaurs are treated in their own homelands in northern Corscony, where they are very much second-class citizens).
The Rûnish language is more closely related to Laeshic than to the Nhordi tongues. As in Laomark, both the dwarves and the humans of Rûne worship the seven gods of the north, Alfader and his pantheon. The Imperial Church has some pull in the south of Rûne, but not nearly enough to banish the old Nhordi faith; so it exists there in uneasy tension with what it considers paganism. Also in the southern regions are many centaurs, who worship a horse-goddess of their own, Epona; this faith has actually become quite popular among the Rûnemen around Thaneskeep, making Epona practically an eighth deity of the northern pantheon there.
Rûne’s economy is vibrant, varied, and always thriving. Because of this, the Rûnish silver guilder is one of the most widely-accepted currencies in Lethandria.