Clashlands

Along the western coast of Zenth, south of the Bay of Corsairs, in the western foothills of the Daalands, and north of the Goblinfens sits the orc-dominated stretch of coast known as the Clashlands. The seasonally variable northern expanses of Hal'Ashan's Sea border the Cairnfire Cape south to the marshes and north to Khlan Island and the calm waters of Aqamen Bay, before becoming the blasted and barren Carrion Coast.

The Land


The Clashlands are a vast expanse of arid grassland. The land is not so fertile or rich as the Heartlands of the Padishar Empire, but the foothills of the Daalands are rich with minerals, and the sparse forests of twisted hardwoods are (mostly) a pleasantly dryad-free source of building materials. The coastal plains are highly cultivated and the little wild growth found is mainly brushwood. On the slopes of the Daalands are remnants of pine forests, while oak, chestnut, pine, cypress, olive, fig, orange, pistachio, almond, apricot and pomegranate trees can also be found, and scrub oak grows in the less well-watered central portion around the Traq Basin. The entire region is criss-crossed with roads, built using the massive surplus of manpower the invasion force provided.

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The wildlife of the nor-west includes bears, ornately-horned antelopes and deer but more commonly found are squirrel, wildcat, otter, jackals and hare. In the desert to the north, various breeds of snake, lizard, and chameleon are found in relatively large numbers, while in the marshy south of the Dry Marches large constrictors and wading birds are common. Camels are kept by herders of the Ramze-Ka, but are common pack animals as far south as the metropolis of Aqamenad. Birds include snipe, hawk, pelican, large gulls and other game birds.

More exotic beasts and monsters of the Clashlands include gryphons and tarrasqs, swooping down from the mountains and lumbering through the badlands and sparse forests respectively.

Places of Note

Petran Karsts, the Werewood, the Ekarez-Ain Depression, the Ashen Plains.

Settlement


Once a sparsely populated land of goblins and dwarves, the Empire invaded through the high passes, the long road through the Goblinfens and by sea, and began settling the region a little under two centuries ago. They discovered that they could raise olives and nuts and citrus along the coast, as well as establishing ports for freer trade with the elves coming out of the northern desert, and herd camels. The coast is heavily settled, and bulky orc cargo vessels ply the coastal waters past vast slave-run plantations. But all is not well, and the Clashlands earn their name. Elven cosairs pirate these waters more heavily than anywhere else in Zenth; goblins freedom fighters lurk in hidden cells in the foothills, raiding orc settlements and striking out against the settlers. The insidious influences of the human gods stretches through the northern passes from the Margin, and those tainted by their touch lie in wait for when they are next called to rampage across the land.

The thinly-peopled Traq Basin, formed south of the River Traqar is rich with minerals, but more than once dwarves and orcs have clashed over the resources here, and treaties that define the borders between Saana and the colonies of the Clashing Flats are tested constantly. The presence of a large goblin community within dwarven territory up the Daal Valley has only led to more tension between orc and dwarf that does not exist around the heartland of the empire. Dozens of orcish houses are still emerging and fighting to stake their economic and political territories, their mercenaries and bravos contesting from one end of the region to the other, and on the streets of any settlement they share. Proud generals lead factions within the mighty orcish armies work to undermine and discredit one another, towards the goal of ruling Aqamenad, and thus the whole Clashlands, in the shar's name.

The dryads of the Clashlands are examples of both the most gregarious and most bloodthirsty extremes of their race. They are the fewest in number of the major races in the region, and are generally of one of three types. Some are traders, ship-builders, or emissaries from the Mangrove Court. Because of the Mangrove Court's close relations with the goblins, they are often caught up in the intrigue between rebels and occupiers.

The Driftwood Court are independent seafarers, allied with some elven trade-clans. They look different from other dryads, as the salt wind and sun strips their bark and bleaches the wood beneath, making them look sleek and pale instead of hoary. They are light-hearted, inquisitive and adventurous, almost swashbuckling in character. They travel on ma'janah that have made allowances for their needs, bringing troughs of earth and extra fresh water, often serving as carpenters, lookouts and a convincing argument against being boarded by pirates. The Driftwood Court owes allegiance to Archon Half-Mast, an elder dryad who was nearly cut down by elves looking for materials to repair their ship. Unusually, he came to forgive and even befriend them after their 'misunderstanding'.

The Shrikewood Court is not a true court in dryad terms, as they lack an archon. Shrikewoods are cruel and sadistic carnifexes. They lurk in the few small areas of woodland dense enough and isolated enough for their tastes, but frequently raid caravan routes and outlying towns, carrying victims off to a grisly fate. Their groves are bedecked with bones and sinew, and they have learned the art of tanning leather, to make clothing and armour out of the other races they seize.

Race Percentile (Accurate Demographics) d20 (Exaggerated Demographics)
Dryad 1 (1%) 1 (5%)
Dwarf 2-19 (18%) 2-5 (20%)
Elf 20-34 (15%) 6-8 (15%)
Goblin 35 - 55 (21%) 9-12 (20%)
Orc 56-100 (45%) 13-20 (40%)

Politics


All of the Clashlands are considered to fall under the command of Satrap-General Aghnad Oqantar in the name of the glorious Shar Qamahl Ata'orq XVI of the world-spanning Padishar Empire, and he carries the mandate to rule as a military dictator. However, extensive conflict with goblins in the south trying to hold the northern mouth of the swamp-route - essential for trade and supply to the colonies - and skirmishes with dwarves over the Traq Basin; frequent naval battle with corsairs; trying to tame the more savage wildlife of the Ramza-Ka; and a plethora of other conflicts demanding his attention and often his personal attention leaves a distinct power vacuum amongst the more peaceful towns of the Clash. As a result half a dozen of the most powerful and wealthy plantation owners have all begun to vie for rulership of the region's civilian assets. Whether hiring private armies and launching covert attacks to both cripple their opponents and undermine the military regime, making the janissaries left to hold their towns look incompetent or ineffective, and even dealing with pirates and brigands, these families will do anything to get ahead and stay there, and the not-so-secret war waging between their various agents leave the region in a state of near-constant tumult. Alliances form and collapse in the course of months, and bloody purges shift the allegiances of major mining and forestry operations several times a year.

Dwarves have a small presence in most major towns, and elven enclaves exist along the Desert River, and in most of the coastal towns. While the elves do not own property they are left as free citizens - unless they are suspected pirates or bandits. Dwarves who refused to move their settlements when the city-states of the Daalands negotiated borders with the Clashlands have a few small independent settlements that fiercely resist orcish rule, but many others have moved into the orc cities to ply their trades as craftsmen or miners. The orcs of the Clashlands might be a brutal, fractious people, but they are wealthy and their coin buys them a lot of loyalty.

In the south, hidden goblin cells plot nothing but ill for the orcs. Assassin-cult cadres and freedom fighter cells alike, they remain hidden, often in the hearts of orcish settlement, disguised as slaves, or even living unseen in the eaves of houses or amongst untenanted fields where they take every opportunity to kill passersby. The military do their best to root out these cells, and when they do find one the fight is usually a short one, but they find precious few of the number suspected to be in hiding throughout the south.

Economy


The huge olive and orange plantations that dominate the coastal areas of the Clashlands form the major export. The Clashlands are hungry for building materials and so while wood and stone are plentiful, they are in even greater demand than they are in supply. Nickel and tin are mined in the Daaland foothills, and a number of wealthy sponsors have also delved into the veins of deep iron in the Traq Basin. Gold panners working claims on the banks of the rivers north of Aqamenad have limited success, enough for gold to be considered an export, and shipyards along the coast of the Aqamen Bay produce the bulk of the towering hulks that carry orc goods from the Clash to Sutharad, on the long and pirate-haunted naval route around the Mangrove Court. In the north massive camel herds provide milk, meat and beasts of burden depending on the quality of the animal. Camel meat and milk is not popular, but it is plentiful and cheap, and stocks the tables of most of the common orcs of the region for most nights of the week. Orcs take great camel chains north to the trademeet over the Desert River at the Ruby Span to meet the da'janah of those elves that don't venture out of the desert. Camels also pull the massive, multi-storeyed goods wagons that make the dangerous run with settlers through the deadly pass to Qasafran and the Medraphayrus and back - though the camels abhor the temperate climes and foetid swamps.

Government: Military Governorship
Predominant Religions: Orcish (Shar Cults, Caste Cults, especially devoted to Miners, Soldiers and Olive Growers)
Major Exports: Olives, Citrus, Camels, Ship Building, Mining; Tin, Iron & Nickel, Some Gold Panning
Usual Climate: Semi-Arid
Predominant Terrains: Flatland, Coast, Mountain
Predominant Language: Orcish