Plains of Ventrad
Plains of Ventrad
Population: Adonai 52%, humans 26%, orcans 11%, dwarves 5%, dromites 4%, others 4%
Government: Individual by tribe
Imports: (Almost none) weapons, tools
Exports: (Almost none) mercenary work
Inhabited primarily by the adonai, humans and orcans in what is collectively called the Ventrad Tribes, these plains are nestled directly between the north-eastern borders of the country of Alyria and the south-eastern border of the Barony of Soleil. Historically, the tenacity with which the tribes have defended the plains against intruders has proven a barrier for most other cultures. They were the unavoidable barrier to the north for the Alyrian Empire at its height, forcing the armies of Alyria to seek alternative routes to the north. Now they have slowed the unstoppable advance of the Barony of Soleil to a trickle of civilization efforts.
The tribes all tend towards having a totem animal, which defines the entire tribe. The Hawk Tribe, for example, holds the hawk as being the prime animal, the state of existence which they strive for. In fghting, they tend to stay far away from their enemies before striking hard at a chosen target, often ripping it to pieces before disengaging from combat. In real life, the members of the Hawk Tribe choose one partner with which to live for the rest of their life, raising children together – but once that partner dies, they never fnd new partners. The same goes for all different tribes, each tribe emulating traits of their chosen animal totem – the Lion Tribe emulates a pride in their tribal culture with a male leader, with the remaining men fighting vicious battles against each other to prove themselves to the female hunters of the tribe, who get to pick and choose with whom to copulate. Men in the Lion Tribe are warriors and the women are the hunters, providing food for the entire tribe.
This animal emphasis is, however, also based in their philosophy – the residents of Ventrad have a very distinct initiation rite common amongst all the tribes. To become a member of the tribe, one must hunt down and capture the totem animal of that tribe and consume it while it lives, or
at least consume its still beating hard ripped from its chest (in the case of larger animals, like the lion or bear). This ritual is meant to fuse the Pattern of humanoid with that of the animal, merging to create a symbiotic pattern, infusing the tribal member with the strength, cunning or ferocity of their chosen animal. To them, animals represent the apex of their niche, being master specialists at what they do, and so they strive to merge that into their being.
Toiling the land, or most other restraints of civilization seem, to the Ventrad tribesmen, to be the easiest way to degenerate once more and draw forth a new disaster. There is a complexity to the relationships between the tribesmen and the cultures around them. The tribesmen need the civilized cultures to provide them with new blood to prevent inbreeding and most specifcally, to provide them with weapons and tools. The civilized cultures around them also, unknowingly, need the tribesmen, for they thin the herds of vicious predators as well as the herds of grazing animals which would otherwise allow the very same predators to breed and spread, stalking and killing in the cities before long.
Major Geographic Features
The most obvious aspect of the Plains of Ventrad is the lack of geographic features. Small streams and brooks can be found across the plains, and there are several major rivers used to mark the boundaries between the different tribes, but there are virtually no trees, hills, or other natural formations aside from tall grasslands. Some travelers call it the Evergreen Sea, since the tall grass waves and folds as harsh winds howl across the plains. In the Evergreen Sea,
there is a large number of grass-eating animals, as well as a dangerously large amount of predators who compete for food with the tribesmen.
As the residents of the Plains are nomadic, there are also few man-made structures to be found within the Plains. However, a number of ancient ruins dot the coastline, tumbling into the sea in steep cliffs. Most tribesmen call this area the Coastal City, even though nobody actually lives there. The area stretches on for almost three hundred miles, something which suggests either a very large city, or some form of defensive construction that survived both the Impact and the millennia since that horrible event. It is no longer a place where one can live, its lands are arid and stony, punished by the howling wind and grinding away even the tenacious grass.
A large number of rivers crisscross the plains, providing quick and easy transport for those who have mastered them. There is a large group of river tribes, using boats and river rafts built from crystalpines harvested from the Crystalshard Mountains, traversing the plains. These rivers are viewed as the territory of the river-bound tribes, but many of the land-bound nomads use these rivers for fishing and replenishing their supplies. It is these rivers, together with the torrential autumn rains that give life to the fowing grass of the Evergreen Sea.
Trident Rivermeet – Where three smaller rivers come together to form one major water artery, Trident Rivermeet offers a safe place to cross the waterways safely, while for miles to both east and west it is nearly impossible to ford rivers. This forces the tribes to travel to Trident Rivermeet to cross if they are moving north or south and this has become the de facto stronghold of the river-bound tribes. These tribes travel up and down the four rivers that dominate the area, coming to Rivermeet to trade both internally and with the land-bound tribes. This place is the hub for most of the trading in the Plains of Ventrad and as close as you can come to a “capital area”.
Blood Valley – The rivers cut deep into the verdant earth that makes up the plains in the north and in the area called Blood Valley, it cuts especially deep. Here two rivers, snaking from opposite sides, have torn a gouging rift into the earth and as the chasm becomes deeper and deeper, the waters become redder and redder. At the very bottom a wide chasm opens up into what seems to be an endless cavern stretching into the bowels of the earth for all eternity. Just before the rivers cascade into this chasm, they fow straight for a few hundred yards, having cleared away all the dirt leaving only polished rock. Here one can fnd the Bloodied, the tribal outcasts who make a living from gathering up the iron ore in the water and smelting it into new weapons for the tribes to trade. Whenever a tribal member dishonors himself or his tribe, he is taken to Blood Valley where he is forced to either fing himself into the abysmal chasm, or join the Bloodied. For this reason, Blood Valley contains one of the few permanent settlements, consisting of hundreds of tents deep inside the chasm, situated near fires fueled by mysterious oils the Bloodied make use of.