Runelords Age of Kings
The kingdom in which the characters are a part, and through which much of this Adventure Path takes place in, is called Caer Twyn. Caer Twyn is a part of the land known as Cict, and is one of the four most powerful kingdoms of the land.
Politically, Cict has been divided for many centuries, and warfare and disputes are as common as wind and rain. The King of Caer Twyn is a man named Ulgan the Vice, and is descended from a long line whose house has claimed the crown of Caer Twyn for a very long time. King Ulgan earned the title “Vice” for his hard demeanor and his unmoving stubbornness. He strongly contends for the Crown of Cict, a title given to the overall ruler of all nine kingdoms, of which there has never been one for many generations.
Caer Twyn is the most populous of the nine kingdoms, and many of those that live here serve actively in the King’s Army, for it is written as law that all able bodied boys of twelve summers serve ten years, and all exceptional women do the same. The end result of this mandated military service is an army that has many soldiers, and only a fool would openly cross swords with the warriors of Caer Twyn.
This vast manpower is countered by the exceptional poverty that encompasses most of the land. Caer Twyn is definitely a land of contrasts, for no real middle class exists. A small percentage of people claim a large percentage of the wealth, and most of that is concentrated in the capital city of Haegesta. The soldiers are all paid their wages through the heavy taxation of the people, but keeping the armies happy serves to keep a tight militaristic grip on any uprisings or rebellions that may occur.
Caer Twyn is a wet and rainy land, much like most of Cict. Its summers are short, though warm. Its springs and autumns are brief, and its winters are harsh and cold. The people of Cict have long ago learned to live off the land, for the land is fertile despite the weather.
Much of the coast is covered with thick forests, and rivers drain from the western foothills to the sea. The mighty Lake Tyrnis occupies much of the land in the middle of the kingdom, and many fishing villages and towns dot its shores, providing food for the people as well as Lake Pearls and Anactite Steel, which can be found underwater along the lake-bed (the Lake itself formed thousands of years ago from an impact crater and scholars say the steel is remnants from the otherworldly body that fell).
To the west the mountainous Erethas region rises, and the forests give way to rugged foothills and sharp cliffs. Mines dot the area as the people retrieve gold, silver, copper, and in some cases mithril, from the bones of the earth.
The people of Caer Twyn are taxed heavily by the king, for it takes a lot of gold to maintain the large number of soldiers and their equipment. Despite the flow of treasure that enters the coffers of the kingdom, many towns and buildings are ill maintained. Buildings are crumbling, and often people are left to their own devices to repair and upkeep their surroundings.
Mining is a common occupation in Caer Twyn, and many metal workers come from the region. Haegesta is home to the Metal Worker’s Guild, and their factories and smelters produce many fine works of metal that includes both military and non-military uses.
This polarity between those with money and those without has caused bitterness and anger amongst the common people, but the threat of military action against those that oppose the taxation laws has for the most part kept the citizenry under check until recently.
The commoners make their living off of the land, growing their own food and fishing and hunting for their villages. Many villages contain secret larders so that the king’s tax collectors do not know about the extra food and do not take it from the people.
The poor conditions of Caer Twyn leave many envious of their southern neighbors in Landinium. These bitter feelings are endorsed and encouraged by the crown, for this motivation to knock down the fat southerners is a mindset that allows for easier military service. Most people in Caer Twyn dislike Landinium and believe that the southerners’ greed is a grievous sin on the land and that the poor conditions in Caer Twyn is a direct response by Auratach the Flame God punishing them for doing nothing to stop this.
People and Races
The majority of people in Caer Twyn are humans. Caer Twyn is also well integrated with the orc population, and many orcs have taken the banner of the Flame God as their own with zeal. Orc smiths produce well made products of black-steel, which can be found near the region of Betlekep and from the lake.
Black Steel is native to Caer Twyn and is the remnants of a fallen star that landed before any inhabitants occupied the island. It is difficult to work with due to its nature, with a high melting point and fast cooling, but arms and armor forged from the stuff hold a wicked edge and can take a lot of punishment.
Smiths opting to work with Black Steel can convert the stuff over to masterwork items as normal. Masterwork Black-Steel armor is always considered heavy armor, but instead of the normal benefits of masterwork armor, black-steel armor grants Damage Reduction.
Halflings are also populous in Caer Twyn. Most reside in the foothills of the west and live as miners or farmers.
Other races can be found, though are an exception to the rule typically. Elves of the Hunt reside in the forests, ironically enough hunted by the King and his men for spreading pagan religions throughout the land. Elven characters found in Caer Twyn will predominantly hail from a wooded region and be biased against humans due to their being hunted.
Dwarves are rare in Caer Twyn, feeling that the metal smiths of Haegesta are a blasphemy to the craft, and that the intermingling with orcs is unnatural. Dwarven characters will typically come from the northern kingdom of Caendun and will be hired as metalsmith scholars or fill other craftsman positions.
Religion and Beliefs
The central theme of Caer Twyn is rooted deeply in the peoples’ religious faith. Caer Twyn has mostly been a poor kingdom monetarily but a rich one in belief. Temples, shrines, and holy sites abound here. The people of Caer Twyn are mostly monotheistic, believing in the hero Saturnalia who ascended to the heavens and became Arna’Lasar, the Flame God during the Age of Heroes.
The cleric Vusthar Tan became the first saint of Arna’Lasar, and authored the Oracle, a holy text inspired by Arna’Lasar Himself and the basis of the religion. Vusthar’s body lies enshrined in a glass case within Haegesta itself and is the end site of the Pilgrimage of 100 Visions, a long journey that the devout follow that is said to trace the life and location of Arna’Lasar when he walked the land.
The religion of Arna’Lasar the Flame God is the majority religion of Caer Twyn and is the official kingdom dogma. Other religions are seen as false, and the church of Caer Twyn actively tries to root out other religions and put their followers to the sword for spreading daemonic falsehoods.
Caer Twyn is technically a kingdom, but the church’s influence is so strongly felt in everything that the King does, that many call Caer Twyn a Theocracy. The main church in Haegesta is a beautiful building made of marble and capped with gold and lit by the Nine Flames of God. The head of the church is the Cardinal Giles, a middle aged man who recently assumed the leadership role after the previous cardinal died of the plague.
The King himself is granted his authority by divine right, and wields Saturnalia, the hammer of the Flame God, as proof of his right.
As such, religion and the divine are major influences within Caer Twyn, and will be major influences in the campaign.
Some player classes will be a bit easier to adapt than others, but all classes are welcome and should fit in.
Fighters and Paladins
The fighters and Paladins make up the majority of those encountered in Caer Twyn. From serving in the mighty military arm of the kingdom, to mercenaries and sellswords offering their service to the highest bidder.
Paladins of Caer Twyn would more often than not serve the Flame God in some fashion, though an elven paladin to the old faiths or something similar would not be unheard of.
Clerics, Oracles, and Druids
Divine characters fit right in to the setting perfectly, for Caer Twyn is one that is run by the church, and its agents are everywhere. Be you a priest of the Flame God spreading the faith, an Inquisitor rooting out the old religion, or perhaps a druid of the old faith, religion and the divine are woven tightly about each character and the setting, and those that work with the divine powers will have a great deal to contribute.
There is plenty of opportunity for the undercity to let loose its rogues out on the world. Treasure seekers, cut throats, fencers, and scouts all ply their trade across the kingdom. With the wealth tied up as it is, a smart rogue knows how to get to some of the hoarded gold of the wealthy without breaking their backs in the mines.
Traveling bards are a common sight and spectacle in many villages and towns, carrying the news back and forth across the kingdom and telling fantastical stories or spinning entertaining songs and dance at local inns. A bard’s arrival is often a critical event for a village, and many places will make a festival out of it.
Wizards, Sorcerers, and the Arcane
Arcane classes are viewed with suspicion and fear. The religious overtones deem that arcane users are daemonic and only those wizards who are sanctioned by the kingdom may openly practice their craft.
As such, arcane characters employing their skills in the open are at risk to being hunted by inquisitors and interrogated for consorting with daemons and devils.
Current Events and Happenings
Caer-Twyn is often a nation in upheaval. As the common folk are mostly poor, it has been a priority for the crown to keep down uprisings and upheaval through fear-based tactics such as the Inquisition, which brands people as heretics and has authority to execute them in public.
Only a few short months ago, a council convened in Haegesta to update the sacred Oracle of Arna’Lassar. The thought of updating a book inspired and written by the divine has infuriated many devout followers, who see the changes as nothing more than an arrogant move by the Crown to give more power and authority.
Of particular irritation is the inclusion of The Book of Kings, which was supposedly one of several books omitted from the first version of the Oracle due to space constraints, but allegedly written by Vusthar Tan under divine guidance. The Book of Kings focuses mostly on the divine right of kings to rule their people and has been given providence over the people by the divine’s will.
Despite the council being heavily divided on the inclusion of this book, it was done so anyway. This outrage has sparked much dissension, which boiled over recently at Raegen’s Hill. A temple of Arna’Lassar was beset upon by a detachment of the King’s soldiers, who proclaimed the high cleric and his acolytes heretics and disturbers of the peace.
The cleric was not interested in being arrested, and local villagers rose up against the king’s men and slew them in the name of the divine.
This open act of rebellion has ignited a powder keg amongst the people, many of whom see the sacriledge of a holy text as unspeakable. Armies wander the countryside now in an attempt to quell any further uprisings, but open rebellion has been organized and the smaller rebel forces have been waylaying the royal armies and picking them apart piece by piece.
This civil war plays a dominating theme amidst the campaign and the people within it, and players may choose to pick one side or the other (or neither) throughout the course. These decisions will prove weighty.
The Fajkor Region
Fajkor is one of the larger towns in Caer-Twyn, located along the western shores of the deep blue Lake Tyrnis. The lake was created by a large meteor crashing into the ground and forming what became the deep lake. The lake provides a stirring economy with its fish and pearl trade, as well as the metal that can be mined from the lake bed; the remnants of the object that crashed so very long ago.
Most of the architecture of Fajkor are simple log longhouses. A couple of buildings have a stone foundation, but these are rare due to the stone quarries being a long distance from the town.
The town itself has mostly dirt roads. The largest structure in town is the temple, which is a wooden structure with a glass dome sitting over the center which refracts the light in many colors inside. At high noon on the summer solstice, a crystal fresco is illuminated and glows with white fire, a trick of the light and the dome’s refraction.
Politically, Fajkor has stayed away from the rebellion though many subjects who live there side with the rebels.
The town of Gaester rivals Fajkor for size. Like the other town, Gaester’s architecture is predominantly wooden with little stone available for foundations. Appearance wise, they are both nearly identical, except that Gaester’s largest building is a three-story manor which is currently home to the poet and scholar Achmedes who has retired here from a storied adventuring career.
The ruins of Yaekl predate recorded history. They have existed since the first kingdoms many generations previous. Who built them and what they were built for is a mystery that has never been solved, though it often becomes a shelter for bandits and other nefarious creatures looking to remain outside of sight.
A royal stronghold housing a couple thousand troops. Ft. Kael is the headquarters of the military presence in the region.
The walled fort of Sageford is where the Justicar of the region makes his home base of operations. Sageford is where most religious criminals are sent for execution as well as traitors and other undesireables. A stone dungeon houses the condemned, and an elaborate execution ground allows for a large audience to witness the death or deaths.
The Godshrine is an ancient site, with three large stone statues weather-worn to be nearly featureless. It is said to be the site of daemonic worshippers and other unsavory folk… though that could be the talk of people not tolerant of the older religions.
The Tower of Blyx is a remote location located atop a windswept bluff overlooking a dried up riverbed and village. Blyx is the name of the goblin wizard who has made his home there and built the tower. The locals typically shun him, for fear he is in legion with the devil due to his sorcery, though Blyx has aided the crown in the past and his library is expansive with tomes of knowledge dating back one thousand or more years ago.
The Barrows are a site for the buried remains of ancient heroes and warrior-kings. Despite its name and what it contains, the church keeps paladins and clerics on duty there to prevent any dead from rising and causing problems.
Unfortunately due to its contents, the site is a favorite for necromancy and other unsavory characters hunting for artifacts or items of power.
Child of the Hammer God
You are a religious follower of Arna’Lassar. Your faith is your cornerstone and your belief structure empowers you. You may be adventuring to root out followers of the older faiths, to spread the word of Arna’Lassar, or to help ease the suffering of those caught in the midst of the civil war.
You gain a +1 modifier to your WILLPOWER save to denote your iron-will and dedication to your god, as well as a +1 modifier to KNOWLEDGE (RELIGION) rolls.
Follower of the Old Faith
You are a follower of a faith other than Arna’Lassar. As such, you are seen as a heretic and devil worshipper and have learned to conceal your beliefs from others. You may be adventuring for protection, to help preserve the old faith, or as a cover for your real motivations (whatever they may be).
You gain a +1 modifier to BLUFF and SENSE MOTIVE rolls, experience granted from having to conceal your beliefs and in trying to figure out if someone is trying to find out about your secret.
You hail from one of the settlements of Caer-Twyn and work for one of the crafting halls. Perhaps you are setting up a small business of your own, learning secret craftsmanship skills from ancient sites, or supplying the rebels (or the crown) with arms and armor.
You gain a +1 modifier to working with the meteoric iron from the lake. In addition, you are seen as an asset to the town, and gain a modifier to attitude adjustments one step up in a positive way when dealing with people from town.
Soldier in the Kings Army
You either have had experience fighting in the king’s army, or are currently enlisted within the army. As a fighting man (or woman), you have been trained with your weapon beyond what normal training one would have obtained. You may be adventuring as a sellsword, as a rebel, or as a loyal soldier in the army rooting out traitors.
You gain a +1 bonus to hit with a weapon of your choice to indicate your training.
You hail from the wooded areas of the region, or have had training and experience serving as a scout in the royal armies. You know the trails well and your expertise in surviving in the wild is second to none.
You gain a +1 bonus to survival rolls as well as a +1 bonus to your FORTITUDE save.
You have spent a good portion of your life studying the histories of the region as well as the landmarks and sites from the capital city of Haegesta. You may be employed as a royal scribe, you may serve as an adviser to one of the military’s commanding officers, or may simply be a wandering collector of information.
You gain a +1 bonus to knowledge history, knowledge religion, and knowledge nobility checks.
You hail from the bardic college of Haegesta, a traveling minstrel who brings entertainment to the people of Caer-Twyn. With that comes a good ear for gossip, news, and other information which you pass from town to town.
When you come to a settlement, the people cheer and set up festivals. Drinks are had by all, and there is much merry-making. The bards of the bardic college are a big deal, and nearly everyone looks forward to one coming to their town.
You gain a +2 bonus to diplomacy and streetwise checks.
You hail from one of the smaller villages in the region. Perhaps you have orc-blood in your veins. Regardless, your people are strong-willed, and rugged… living off of the land and doing so well, you have little need for any kings telling you how to live your life, or any church telling you which god to worship.
You gain +1 bonus to WILLPOWER saves as well as a +1 bonus to survival skill checks.